Tag Archives: Healing

Confession Number Twelve: The Bear Is Sleeping…For Now…

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An Unexpected Peace:

“It was then that Tristan came into the quiet part of his life.  The bear inside him was sleeping.  It is hard to tell of happiness.  Time goes by and we feel safe too soon.”  – One Stab (Legends of the Fall)

For better or for worse, I have, for many years, been fascinated with the movie, Legends of the Fall.  This movie has irresistible sweeping landscapes, sweeping music and sweeping passions.  The story takes the viewer beyond the internal “…and they lived happily ever after…”,  and shows what happens to the characters in the “ever after”.  It reflects the way real life ebbs and flows, albeit with far more dramatic storylines.

More dramatic than my life storylines, at least :).However, I do relate to the concept of the sleeping bear. Ah yes, the bear of hope, anxiety, yearning, fulfilling potential, being driven and my pesky inner “demons” that need healing.

I am in one of those times right now.  The bear inside me is sleeping and I am enjoying a wonderful period of rest, renewal, release and regrouping. (Yep, the truly essential 4 Rs)

By making the difficult decision to bring myself and my three horses back to Florida for a time, I have been shown very clearly that there were underlying issues that needed to be addressed beyond my own exhaustion and stresses.

First of all, my horses.  My horses are very content not to be constantly blanketed and un-blanketed!

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Serenity, in particular, is enjoying the balmy, breezy warmth of Florida

They are enjoying respite from the challenging winds of Wyoming.  They are very peaceful at the beautiful barn I’ve found for them.  Even finding that barn was a miracle.

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I had been making making inquiries about boarding barns in South Florida on a  barn-resource website, and this particular barn owner was the first to reply.  It was the first barn I visited when I got here for “reconnaissance”.  The beauty and peaceful energy, seemingly coming up from the land itself, were all I needed to know.  Although I visited a couple of other barns after this one, there was simply no comparison.  The barn decision was easy and has turned out to be better than expected.

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Spirit and a masked Baby Doe (protecting her eyes from the sun) who had recently had a lovely roll in the dirt ūüėČ

Second of all, I was able to get a farrier to see my three within a few days of arriving.  He’s been with this barn for 20 years.  He actually looked at the x-rays of Baby Doe’s navicular arthritis and spent a long time pointing out things in the images that no one had showed me before.  He has made a plan of action for her best pain management and to help her be a sound as possible. Yes, he’s actually a farrier who “shows up” on many different levels!

He then recommended a trainer that he and the barn owner have known for many years.  I had  already begun interviewing trainers but my “spidey sense” was sending red flags of “No”.

This trainer was open and listened to what I was hoping for for my three.  Each of them has a different personality, background and issues.  She heard that.  As we’ve begun work with them, I see more and more that she really does “get” that each of them is on a different path.  As for my own training ūüôā well, she sees to it that I’m understanding what she’s doing and gives tips and instructions on how I can also do these techniques…in time…

She also made me aware of a new treatment for navicular disease and I’m having the new vet, who understands navicular, out to the barn to implement this treatment this week!  Oh, to see Baby Doe out of pain…!

Then there’s getting back to my riding training…in time…

That’s another huge part of my sleeping bear.  I am consciously choosing to only do one thing at a time…I am resisting the ever-present pressure to take on more than I can handle.  I am taking care of my slightly fragile psyche right now. (By the way, in my way of thinking, it takes a lot of strength to let oneself feel fragile…)

I am also giving myself the gift of time….time to grieve Hercules’ death; time to grieve the loss of some of my dearest, most private hopes; time to sit on my balcony and just watch palm fronds blowing as the sun sets; time to sit in the pasture where my horses peacefully graze and allow my inner time clock to meld with their time clocks.

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Spirit and I having a “discussion”…while Serenity occupies herself in another direction ūüôā

Their clocks move very slowly… I watch each move, each ear flick, each eye expression change.  I watch how they’re chewing their grass or hay.  I watch each interaction in the wordless dance they weave together.

I am also giving myself permission not to know. Not to know what’s next.  Not to know when I need to do the next thing for the ranch.  Not to know who is going to be part of my life there, whether as staff or visiting friends.  I really don’t know.  And, surprisingly, I don’t care that I don’t know.

I am enjoying things that I had not given myself permission to enjoy for a couple of years now.  Yes, indeed!  Things such as shopping, not for tack, but for sparkly high heeled sandals.  Things such as actually putting on a cute outfit for the day; something other than jeans, boots and a cotton shirt, since my days, before this respite, had always ended up at the barn, and any clothing gets muddy, torn and faded with barn work ūüôā Things such as taking naps, reading good books and seeing friends I hadn’t had time to see in the past while.

The horses are just fine. More than fine.  They are getting what they need.

Ah yes, the bear is sleeping. But time will go by.  I may indeed be feeling too safe, too soon.

I accept that.  For now, however, this is good.  This is very good.

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Confession Number Eleven: “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues”

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An Unexpected Decision:

It has felt like I’ve been seeing things from the wrong end of the telescope for quite some time now.  I’ve begun not to recognize myself.  Normally, no matter how sad or stressed or grief-stricken I am, there is always this well-spring of joy deep inside me that bubbles up and eventually washes away the sorrow.

This time is different somehow…

The duties, expectations and pressure of getting this little ranch up and running all by myself have been somewhat inexorable.  I’ve enjoyed much of it and I have wonderful, talented and integrous people working for me.  The land is truly God’s country.  The horses are happy.

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Morning antics behind the barn ūüôā

Yet, for the past three months, I’ve awoken each morning without my usual excitement to greet the day.  Instead, I’ve been waking up with an anxiety that recently has turned into what I imagine panic attacks to be.  Usually, going out to the barn to do the morning feed, even in subzero weather, has helped to calm down the panic attack symptoms. But not by much.

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Subzero Feedings…such beauty!

Then, since the diagnosis of my beloved cat, Hercules’ lymphoma and the aggressively growing mass in his abdomen a couple of months ago, I’ve had the constant pressure of unshed tears behind my eyes 24/7.  Oh, I’ve shed many MANY tears in private, but in order to do the work at the ranch, with folks around, there were many hours I couldn’t let them fall.  Any potentially joyful moments, instead of transcending the worries I was having, have fallen with a thud on my spirit.

I’ve needed to continually give myself pep talks that I’m doing right by my horses and that they’re okay if, for instance, the farrier flakes out on me, the temperature drops to zero in the middle of the night and I hadn’t blanketed them, if I don’t clean their hooves regularly, if, if, if….

Eventually, I found I’d stopped wanting to do anything and had just been “powering through” the hours in the day.

Then came help, in the form of a couple of dear friends, who were very vocal about my state of mind, “Christine, who the heck are you”?, “We don’t recognize this Christine”.  “You’re vibrating at too low a level for you”.  “What are you trying to prove”?

And the most eye-opening of all, “Did it occur to you that you weren’t meant to run this ranch all by yourself?  Maybe what God has planned was that you get the land, the place and the home ready.  Ready for the people and animals that are to come.  Now it’s all just about done.  Others can finish it up.  Why don’t you take a breather”?

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My home, before ANY improvements. But with that sun behind it…what’s to improve?

I thought long and hard about all this input. And here’s what I realized.

The pressures and grief about my cat and other personal losses  had put me into a “dark night of the soul” which was actually a profound blessing.  It was while wandering in this dark landscape of spirit that I realized I was tapping into areas of my being that were not yet healed.  Areas I hadn’t been able to access until now.

This healing is not a cathartic “one and done” type of process.  Instead it feels somewhat like the aftermath of food poisoning when the poison is out but one’s whole body is aching, cramping and sore.  My soul is aching, cramping and sore right now.  It will take as long as it takes…

So in order to take this “breather” (since, indeed, I’ve prepared this place and it’s ready!) I’m going to take the three darling horses and we’re going to rest in Florida until Spring.  I found a beautiful farm where I can board them and where they can be turned out in a spacious pasture just as they are here.  Their stalls are together and they can come and go into their stalls at night, as they please, just as they do here.

The grounds are beautiful.  The people are kind.  I will be visiting my sweetheart horses all the time but, for these months, they will be full-boarded.  In the meantime, I will get myself back to myself but, hopefully, stronger and more healed.  I will ponder the miracles that, even as I write, are pouring down upon me…as though God and the angels are trying to wake me back up to live in the joy that is normally mine!

And I will incorporate the lessons taught to me by Hercules, the cat and by my three horses.

As Hercules’ illness progressed, I observed him being slightly confused by his ever-changing condition BUT always finding a way to roll with it.  He adapted over and over again.  He showed me that one can adapt to just about anything.  It just feels different.

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Hercules in healthier, sassier times ‚̧

Baby Doe, my paint mare, has taught me to express myself honestly or just not bother expressing myself at all!  ūüôā  When I come to her with, either a hidden agenda for what I want to accomplish with her or with trying to hide what I’m feeling, she bites the air and throws her head and wants NONE OF IT.  But if I just talk to her with my voice and heart being in complete authenticity, she’s right there with me.

Spirit, my gelding, has taught me to find the fun in everything and anything, even if it’s just finding a huge stick in the pasture and carrying it up to me in his mouth.  He has also taught me that it’s okay to be very strict with him, albeit with tons of kindness and love, but to not cave in to him when he challenges me.

Serenity, my other mare, likes to take a nap in her stall after evening feed.  When I come down to the barn to let them out, there she is, lying down,  sleeping with her eyes open in a trance, her breath soft and slow.  I sit next to her, pet her and breath with her.  She has taught me by communicating these words, in thought, “Just rest, child.  Rest, next to me. See how lovely it is”?

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My three beloved, goofy, personality-filled teachers and companions!

I will miss Wyoming SO much in these next couple of months but it will be there strong and awe-inspiring, waiting for us to return.  We will return!

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My first glorious sunset at the ranch…way back in August.

 

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First Confession: How I Went From No Horse To Two Horses In Less Than A Year :)! (3 Parts)

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INDEED… in life, expect the unexpected!

PART ONE:

I began my equine¬†“novice-hood”¬† by leasing and taking lessons on the glorious¬†mare, Serenity!

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She was both a “hot horse”, meaning even her walk was as fast as most others’ trots, and a gentle sweetheart.

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She was so easy on the ground.¬† When I’d clean her hooves, she’d just hand them to me. ¬†Harnessing, bridling, saddling…easy!¬† About a month into my adventures with Serenity, the Houdini of a horse, Fritz :), had unlatched her stall door in the wee hours of the morning.¬†She must have gotten out and¬†gone running into some fencing because she was found cut and bleeding early the next morning.

Enter the good vet, Dr. Hilton.¬† Serenity’s human and I¬†rushed to¬†the scene as he stitched her up, gave us instructions and predicted she would not be ride-able for at least six weeks.¬† Her human, who had many different agendas with Serenity, was appalled.¬† I had already fallen madly in love with this mare and I wasn’t going anywhere.

Thus began my journey of caring for Serenity.  Her human rarely came around during this time.  I went every day when she was stall bound and would groom her gently, massage her, give her treats, kiss her nostrils and just hang out with her.  Soon we were given the okay to take her out, hand graze her and walk her gently.032

I spent happy days and weeks doing this.   Serenity and I developed a poignant bond.032

She taught me things about horses that one doesn’t necessarily learn when actually¬†riding them.¬† She taught me how to be more authentic, patient and courageous.¬† She taught me that the best place to¬†shed one’s tears¬†is burying one’s face in a sweet horse’s neck, while hugging them.¬† She taught me that each horse is completely who they are and no two are alike. Eventually she healed.

I had the honor of cutting off her final bandage.  And the riding lessons commenced again.

So did my “accelerated education”…

I actually¬† found myself observing a lot of human behavior that I found troubling.¬†¬†Behaviors like taking things personally when a horse doesn’t do what one wants them to do.¬† I observed her human slapping her and violently longeing her when she wasn’t happy with her behavior.¬† It was almost as though the human was acting out how her parents had treated her.¬† Because I was only the” leasing human”, I had very little say in the matter and would often feel devastated and helpless with my stomach in knots.

After returning from a¬† weeklong trip to Wyoming, which was ALL about horses, I went to ride Serenity and she was acting strange.¬† She didn’t want the saddle on her, didn’t want to go forward, was wringing her tail constantly and on trail was jiggity beyond anything I had experienced.¬† I ask her human’s permission to have Dr. Hilton look her over.¬† He palpated her, did some other testing and provisionally diagnosed that she was incredibly sore in her hindquarters and needed rest for about 10 days.

Needless to say, her human was again appalled, showed up at the barn, tacked her up and put on a “demonstration” to show how not sore Serenity was.¬† The whole time, Serenity just looked at me with hollow eyes and dropped her head obediently while being ridden.

It was at this junction that her human and I had to part ways.¬† I could no longer participate in this.¬† I¬† often¬†tearfully pleaded with¬†her human, who was perpetually short of money,¬†to let me buy her so that I could be her human and take care of her needs.¬† But… no.

I would visit Serenity often in the weeks that followed.¬†¬† Then, one day, her human moved her to another barn.¬†I was devastated, even though¬†I had permission to see Serenity at the new barn.¬† But my life had taken a swift and unusual turn…

Part Two Coming Soon!!! ūüôā