1. Free class starting TODAY! How to Survive the Holidays with Joy and Frolics...even if you're sensitive to the noise and chaos and family drama. Virtual eggnog, Dysfunctional Family Bingo, and somebody wins a bottle of Veuve! Sign up here.
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Ok, mischief managed. On to my story.
Here is my fantasy of how horse whispering would go.
I would step into the pen calm, grounded, serene. I would smile gently at Koelle (the master horse whisperer) and then with a gentle flick of my wrist, I would effortlessly send the horse galloping around in smooth, gorgeous circles. Koelle would whisper that she had never seen anyone so innately in tune with the horses. I would be flooded with love and power. My clients would gasp and see how awesome I am and hopefully forget that the night before I got turned around and had them walk ten blocks in the wrong direction from the restaurant. (true story!)
That is almost exactly how it happened. Smooth, serene, loving.
For my clients, anyway.
Seriously, they were ridiculous; they were like horse whispering prodigies. They stood there naked in their power and their compassion and it was impossible not to fall completely and even more in love with them. (No they were not literally naked, people. It's not THAT kind of retreat.)
They got the horses to run, and stop, and turn, and all sorts of impressive feats.
Not so much.
I flailed. I faltered. The horse chewed my hair. Then it snorted so close to my ear that it sent off a tiny little panic attack in me and I completely forgot what to do or how to calm myself down again. I couldn't set a boundary to save my life. The horse was laughing at me.
Even so, the whole thing was hilarious and exhilarating and utterly thrilling.
At two in the morning, I woke up mortified. OHMYGOD. I am supposed to be the COACH!! And that horse was TOTALLY the boss of me!!! I have no leadership energy! And all my clients are better than me at EVERYTHING!!! They probably wouldn't even have been scared to drive the minivan!!!!
For a moment, I actually flushed bright red there in the dark.
I thought about driving off and running away, but the damn minivan was bigger than a bus and I wasn't sure I could maneuver it out of the driveway in the dark.
Maybe I could sneak off and pretend I had gotten bitten by a poisonous spider. A tarantula!
And then I remembered....
WAIT. There is NO WAY to win at horse whispering!!!
The whole point is that we are there to learn. To stretch bigger. To work on a pattern that isn't working for us. To get stronger. There is absolutely no way to do it wrong. I had told my women this multiple times, but of course it turned out that I needed to hear it more than anybody.
Within seconds of blushing, I was laughing out loud.
(Still in the dark, folks. All alone in my hotel room. Cackling out loud. Never a dull moment!)
And then I was flooded with joy and relief. I remembered; oh that's right! Just behind shame is joy. Just behind doubt is love. Just behind frustration is elation.
I am not enlightened. I am a radiant being of light, and I am also a total freaking mess. I am wise, and I am a complete idiot. I am so human, and I LOVE BEING HUMAN SO MUCH.
My own sweet self lying in that bed laughing out loud was infinitely precious to me.
I loved her the way I love my clients.
I loved her the way I love my daughter.
I loved her the way I love the ocean.
And then I went to sleep beaming and slept for approximately sixteen hours because I was a single mom in a hotel room BY MYSELF.
And the next day I went in and horse whispered like a motherfucker.
(Remember how I said that there is no wrong way to do it? No way to win or to fail? True. But here is what I mean.)
The next day, I was in with one of my beautiful clients doing a "herding" exercise, which is when two humans on foot try to get a horse to go where they want in a big field full of cones and obstacles and things. It is sort of like trying to herd cats. With toothpicks. In a swimming pool.
And it was the most joyful thing I've ever done.
I couldn't stop beaming. We both got really quiet, and then the horse got really quiet, and we tiptoed and the horse did too, and I could feel the horse's energy all big and muscly and gentle, and I could feel my lovely client, and I could feel myself. And between the three of us and the earth beneath our feet there was a deep sweet silent humming that thrummed up through my feet and made my feelings come right out of my eyes.
And compared to the vast and deep humming, it was a tad inconsequential, but as it happened that sweet equine creature did walk right through those cones for us.
(I know, it doesn't sound like much, but wait til you do it. It was a triumph. It's the best feeling in the world.)
But for me the real triumph had already happened in the hotel room in the middle of the night.
For a minute there at 2am I slipped back into all my old shit-- needing to perform, to pretend, desperate to contort any way possible just to seem ohhhhkay and pass, oh please oh please-- and then, like exercising a new muscle, I just turned it. Flipped it. Laughed at it.
And poof-- behind the shame was joy.
And this is why my clients hire me, even though they are all better at navigating the physical world than I am-- I bet they didn't lose their phones or keys once the whole trip, which is honestly kind of braggy, don't do you think?-- it's because figuring out this dance, developing this new muscle of loving yourself, is really the secret to joy.
Not to put it plain or anything.
You don't have to go horse whispering with me or coach with me to have that joy. (Though I highly recommend it.)
You just have to learn to look down at your sweet self having a total meltdown and think, Oh honey, you are just unbelievably precious and I love you more than peonies and you are going to be just fine.
That's all. That's the big secret. It's kind of worth everything.
Over and out.