Back to the Horses I go… (as seen on the Parelli website)
It’s trail riding time again in Montana and I can’t wait to get back to this thing that I so love. I used to do it for the lakes and forests, the runs across meadows of wildflowers, the swimming in the river bareback, the sacred time with my horse of 12 years. But this season, I’m doing it with a different set of needs and dreams. In the last three years I went from having no career, to having a bigger career than I’d ever imagined. I went from being an unpublished author of fourteen book babies…to a New York Times bestselling author with a book published in nine countries. I’ve been on the road for the most part of the last two years, doing book tours, major national and international television and radio, speaking engagements, teaching, workshops, book fairs. It’s been quite a ride, not unlike galloping across a meadow– fear of falling and all.
It’s taken its toll.
I recently treated myself to a Thai massage at a wellness center where I was giving a keynote speech. It was the day after I’d spoken to a large group of people, under a lot of pressure to perform and to hopefully help change lives with my story and my message about empowerment. Thai massages go very deep. The practitioner crawls all over you, walks on you, stretches you like nothing I’d ever experienced. And I started to weep. The practitioner said, “That’s okay. It happens a lot. Out of curiosity, are you going through a major life change? Your muscles are like armor.”
“Uh, I guess I am.” And I explained what has become my sudden new reality, adding, “I’ve had to be so focused and intense all the time. A lot of people reach out to me for advice and sharing since my book is so vulnerable and raw. I struggle with boundaries. I just want to help people. Maybe I’ve built an armor I didn’t know about in some sort of attempt at self-preservation.”
“Very definitely, you’ve built an armor. I’m going to ask you a question: can you do what you do without being so (in your words) focused and intense?”
It floored me. Because it dawned on me that at the beginning of this whole published author journey, I’d made a Statement of Purpose—or a mantra if you will. I wrote:
“I give myself permission to be exactly who I am and have it be easy.” And then a year in, I’d added to it, “And have it be fun.” I’d totally lost sight of this mantra. Easy? Fun?
Exactly who I am? I wiped my tears and I told her, “I used to have a life in balance. I used to work with horses. They were my grounding and ballast and teachers. I haven’t seen my horse in
months. And a brutal Montana winter is no excuse. I board him only three miles down the road where there’s a heated arena. I miss him. I miss who I am when I’m with him.”
And I realized right then and there, lying on that massage mat, that I needed to overhaul my entire relationship with my work, my mind, body, soul– and fast! I don’t need to be sitting at my computer twenty-four seven answering emails, social networking, simultaneously writing a novel and another memoir, taking speaking gigs, running to the airport to catch planes to my next gig. It’s my work and I love it, but I need to stop. Breathe a little. Just…be. If even for a few hours a couple days a week. I need to shed this “armor” and get back in my body again.
So it’s to the horses I will go this season to find that “play” again. They will sense my armor immediately and they will not trust it, being the prey that they are to my predator…and they will teach me moment-by-moment that it doesn’t serve me one bit. They will help me return to myself, as I shed that armor, and as they feel the way my body moves softer and softer on their back and on the ground. They will help me to go “with” life instead of muscling it. And if I pay attention and receive what they have to teach me, they will help me to re-set my intentions, gather my awareness, get in tune with my instincts. I simply cannot wait.