Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Hurry to Here

Ah, nature! There is so much beauty surrounding me here at home. Wild turkeys roam the fields. Song birds call amongst themselves. Tree limbs reach into the sky space. To the west, the sunset outlines the mountains. I pause and take this in, settling into the simple rightness of nature. No need to close my eyes and visualize; the beauty is right here for me to experience.

Well, most of the time. 

This morning I was reminded of other aspects of this locale. Cold. Rain. Ice lurking under puddles of manure soup. Me cringing from any contact with the dripping wet farm animals I love to touch. 

A part of me takes this in as I do the beauty. 

A part of me is grateful that I anticipated the slippery footing and struggled to secure the ice cleats over my barn boots.

A part of me carries on with the chores while a part of me rushes through them as quickly as possible, eager to be elsewhere, hurrying to be warm and dry inside the house. 

This hurry is what causes trouble.  

Hurry means I might stumble on a piece of frozen manure, or get tilted off balance by sheep crowding me as I carry hay. Hurry might mean the manure I’m shoveling falls to the ground not into the wheelbarrow. Sometimes it means I stand here in frustration, swearing at a bale of hay that refuses to be dislodged from the stack. 

Common thread in these scenarios? Me. Me when I am inattentive. Me when I am unsettled. Me when I am misattuned to the actual conditions of my environment. 

Inside again, warm and dry and safe from the dangers of the barn, I further ponder the nature of hurry and how it is a problem. 

Hurry lures me out of this present moment, drawing me into a state of disconnection. It is well endowed with restlessness and discontent. It steals my attention from what is, and locks it into what-isn’t. These what-isn’t places are familiar and reliably reside in the past and the future. 

I confess a certain infatuation with the past and the future. These two are infinitely entertaining. And permit me the satisfaction of choice. I can think about anything! Leisurely reminiscing or hope-infused fantasizing. Even when haunted by painful memories and perilous predictions, I am enchanted.

My cozy relationship with the past and future stems from the devoted practice of a self-improvement enthusiast, one who works diligently toward a future Self imagined as more whole, more capable, more confident, more loving, more productive, more worthy. This rambling around the past and the future seems a good enough use of my currently available life energy. Well, maybe a pretty lousy use of it, except perhaps when I’m weaving tales with my beloved Wordsmith Cap snug on my head.

The past and the future are rich for those of us in a love relationship with our memories and imaginations. A richness infused with images, narratives, emotions, and all the externally and internally oriented senses. We have this amazing capacity to create movies with our minds - and respond to them - without ever moving a muscle. These movies are what mesmerize me, bringing me through an unending series of experiential states, followed by an unending commentary in the quest for making meaning.

And what happens to this wealth of past and future when I don’t hurry? What happens then?

These mind movies morph and they evoke a different response. In some moments - very precious moments - the mind movies pause and I am simply being me.

Tears moisten my eyes now as I absorb the pinks and purples and oranges and grays that grace the western evening sky. Tears of release not loss flow as I shift from hurry to here. I rest from all that wandering through the past and the future, and settle into stillness. 

These still moments are alive with something so potent and elusive. I find myself serenely experiencing through my senses. My heart beats, and my lungs breathe, and my eyes see, and my ears hear, and my nose smells, and my skin feels. 

In the absence of hurry is this fullness of what is.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


This is the time of year for seasonal transitions. Winter approaches with swirls of snow teasing us into anticipating the months to come.

Lifestyle transitions accompany the weather changes. From an outdoor based day to a daily ear to the forecast in order to plan for temperatures that require layers of warmth readily available.

Checking fences and watering systems, wondering if the stacked hay will suffice, and watching the sheep finally comfortable in their lovely thick coats, and finishing getting the wood cut and split.

(Post originally drafted on 11/7/09)

Overcoming little challenges

Eight years later...

After numerous trials and much online research, I've found a way to post again on this blog. This has been my little challenge, one that frustrated me and motivated me to reach out to others for emotional support and technical help. I am amazed how tangled I can get when trying to problem solve with technology.

Meanwhile I've leaped this particular hurdle! I will either move my new blog writings to another site or carry on here. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ongoing flow of changes

I have been connecting with friends from the past and finding moments of solace and moments of elation and inspiration through these renewed contacts.

I have been practicing my best horsemanship and studying more with my most favorite teachers. My horses continue to thank me.

I have been working more away from home, spending my at-home moments checking in on Facebook, and making trails through the brambly fields here at home. Work still includes teaching at High Horses Therapeutic Riding Program, and I've been hired back to do some work for a local mental health agency again. And most exciting, I'm teaching from home now.

More later. I promise. Just can't tell you when 'later' is. Best wishes to all.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Maddie is here

I took in a new and free horse on Friday. A young mare who has the potential of being the horse who carries me into my 80s.

One of her first gifts to me is an increased appreciation of the horses I already have here. We have worked out space and boundaries and have pretty clear communication about what's expected. Maddie on the other hand comes with some determined ideas about what she can and cannot do. Most of those ideas are about what she can do and leaves her questioning -- sometimes ignoring -- my ideas.

She, being a Morgan, is a quick learner. Ok, all horses are quick learners under the right conditions, but I like to brag on my favorite breed so please ignore or forgive my self-indulgence.

She quickly told me she did not like things touching her hind legs. We have many dried vines curling around the ground and it bothered her just the act of being led to her paddock. I envisioned some serious stomping on trail rides and decided I'd help her feel better about stuff around her hind legs. We figured this out nicely with the help of a soft rope and a patient, determined human.

Today we reviewed my expectation that she stand still and quiet-minded while I mounted her. She picked up on the still while I'm mounting her, but struggled with the quiet-minded and staying still until I asked her to walk off once mounted. We made good progress with this today as well.

I love coming back the next day and seeing how much she retained from the last time together. So far so good. In fact, excellent to the point where I feel 85% confident she would not run me over in the herd should another horse crowd her. So I remain on hyperalert status when feeding hay for example, and will do what I can to help that 85% grow to 100%.

Meanwhile my appreciation of the horses I already have here ... especially thinking about little Riza. I am ready to resume getting her started under saddle now that I realize she is already a quiet minded, attentive, ready-to-do-things-with-me horse. Maddie came to me with some saddle hours on her. With Riza I will be the one putting those saddle hours on. And we started this weekend where I proceeded from mounting and dismounting to mounting and walking and halting and dismounting. A good next step for both of us.

I have started other horses in years past without really, really noticing how OK the horse was feeling deep inside about the new things I was introducing. With Riza I am practicing making sure she's ok with each step. So instead of 'colt starting' in three days, it's 'colt starting' in three years. Even if I'm not addressing the riding part of our relationship with her every day or every month, I'm daily addressing our feeling good together and her comfort and readiness to let go of her thoughts and follow my direction.

We're doing well. Life is good. And I can say that with certainty after spending a few hours with my equine buddies here at Fine Fettle Farm.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter horse activities

It's fully winter here in New England. Snow. Cold. Sun. Clouds. Cold. Mild. Really, really cold.

I am grateful that my dear RNB takes good care of the woodpile and the furnace and I have easy access to a warm home.

The horses are settling after their move to our new place. I love seeing them out the window in the morning. They know where to stand as they wait, and they can see our activity through some windows and patiently stand there until I come out to feed.

I'm getting more cardiovascular exercise since we moved. The hay is stored up top of a fairly steep, snow covered incline, and the gate to the horses' paddock as a bit of a walk as well. My body gets stronger and I find myself stopping between carrying bales to practice some Aikido, all decked out in my construction suit and sheepskin hat, there at the end of the indoor where the hay is stored.

It feels like I am endowing the indoor with some special energy each time I do it. I will make a small altar to properly acknowledge the spiritual side of my horsemanship.

My winter activity is developing my centering and connectibility through what I've been learning about Aikido. I suspect I will ride soon enough now that my horses and I are both in the same place as our indoor arena. But until I get mounted, there is so much I can do to practice -- paying attention, carrying myself properly, gaining emotional and physical strength, and integrating into my everyday life activities the wonderful morsels I gain each time I meditate and each time I invest in a clinic where my horsemanship and personal growth are the focus.

Life is good. There are moments when my emotions rear up and try to convince me that life is a struggle, but I don't believe that anymore. Sure, there are painful moments, energetic moments, tired moments, busy moments, quiet moments. But through it all runs a thread of increasing calm and acceptance. And I love bringing this to my horses.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Formula training

A recent online discussion of horsemanship prompted me to put a few things into words. People were talking about formula training, formula trainers, and what they found valuable or not with some of the current 'name brand' formula trainers. One noted that some students want formulas and formula programs are good for those folks.

My thoughts reflect my opinion about formulas. Please read on...

Because I know from my own experience how valuable it is to have something to hang on to when I'm trying to figure out a half a kazillion things about horses and myself at the same time, I like to give some simple 'formula' stuff to my students.

However my formula is not about technique. It is about awareness and intent.

It is not written in black and white, but basically includes:

1. Become more and more aware of and well managing of your body, thoughts, and emotions.

2. Become more and more aware of and able to rightly interpret the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of the horse.

So it's not about do this to make the horse do that. It is about learning and paying attention and having a two-way respectful and effective interaction with the horse as a living, thinking, feeling sentient being so all involved have the best chance to feel connected and proud of their relationship.

I will add that practicing #1 and #2 will lead eventually to a deep sense of interconnectedness and harmony. But in case anyone isn't clear about that possibility, I'll add that my 'formula' includes practicing withness. Doing things with the horse, not to the horse. Doing things together, now, connected, unified. It may start as a concept, but cradling the idea and the possibility will create opportunities for it to happen. And there is nothing better than withness.

So yeah, someone wants a formula? I'll give them one. :-) It's going to be one that encourages a commitment to developing mindfulness. And one that frees the student to be an active learner with the horses rather than learning from me.

Happy Holidays, everyone. May your days be full of insight and joyous surprises.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Rusty as barometer

Today Rusty told me I'm on the right track with my exercise regime and attention to using my core and releasing my back muscles. After all, if I want him to move with ease and release his topline, then I need to do the same. He's always been a horse who reflects the minute details of my presentation. And today we cantered both directions (haha, not at the same time!) without a hitch. And by hitch, I mean that literally. Nice even tempo set by me and no need for him to hop around with his hindquarters trying to match my tight back. Because my back was relaxed! Hooray!