Category Archives: Life Experiences

Sharing My Whirlwind Relational Journey!

I so want to get in some writing!  There is much processing, shifting and integrating through my being!  Life has been a bit of a whirl wind!

Living Alive Phase

Selfie with Carole from the Phase!

Last Friday around this time Carole Ames and I were having lunch, laughing and unwinding from our Living Alive Phase 1 experience.  The month is always a very special and transformational journey for me.  This past month was no exception.  Having said that, each is unique and offers me many different lessons.

This month I was amazed at the younger people in the circle.  I found myself reminded of my first Phase when I was in my early twenties, trying to find a reason and way to stay alive and on the planet!  The stories of these folks was different but underneath the differences there sure were threads of the same desire to connect, to find purpose and somehow know that in those dark and painful places there’s a way through.

It was inspiring to be a part of the range of ages, careers and life experiences!  So much richness and depth.

Yes, the 26 days is intense and this year due to some additional meetings I only had one day off.  So when I was heading home, I was aware of my fatigue.  But hey, I wasn’t about to let that stop me from jumping in to celebrate my Mom’s 90th birthday.

Mom’s Big 90 Celebration

Mom Waving to the crowd at Blake Island after a Happy Birthday sing-along!

Fortunately I was not the composer or coordinator of all the activities!  That was my sister, Penny and her family.  They were awesome.  Plus, Melissa, my other sister, and her husband Monte, made the Friday evening I missed quite the party at the Northgate Plaza!  I just got the joy of being on the cruise to Blake Island and having some great moments with family.

I know without The Haven and the many lessons I have learned about relating, loving and finding a way to hold multiple storylines, I would never have been there celebrating with my Mom.  I am very grateful!

Speaker Session

Coming home hasn’t really offered much time to unwind.  CrisMarie and I have been wanting step more fully into speaking and had been introduced to an amazing woman, Renee Rogen, who is a speaker and now focuses on mentoring others in the business of speaking.  Renee arrived for a two day intense strategy session just after I got back to Whitefish!

I was very grateful she came to our town and our home.  I also was humbled by all there is to know and learn about speaking!  The two days were great for us.  I believe we have a path and a clear way to engage and make more of our speaking going forward.  I am looking forward to that AND was also grateful that though Renee did encourage to get started, she also suggested not to try to do everything at once!

Taking The Next Speaker Step

Of course, a great opportunity presented itself less than 24 hours after Renee left for me to step up on the stage here in Whitefish as part of a local event S{peck}: The Business of Mountain Living  (this goes to the FB Live feed) I had agreed to be a speaker before I left for Phase and this was going to be one of the few times I was speaking alone.  CrisMarie was already booked for a NYC trip so I thought I’d give it a go.

I had done a little prep with the leadership team while at Haven.  However, I decided to be a bit more personal and vulnerable from the stage after our two day session with Renee.  I was nervous but I am super glad I did it!!!!

My topic:  Business is Personal: The Challenges of Living and Working Well Together in a Mountain Community.  I think I was really speaking to the challenges of living and working well together in any community.

In our world today there is so much suffering, disengagement and apathy from what I believe is compartmentalization and fear of fully bringing all of me to everything I do.  We are so busy trying to do it right, be good, stay positive or create some type of work/life balance – that we don’t show up.  We manage. We let our stories control us. Instead of checking things out and sitting down next to someone who’s different or challenging, we don’t!  We believe our stories.  We miss the chance to share ourselves and to relate!  That’s deadly.

I learned that long ago when I was in my twenties.  The Haven taught me a way to do things differently!  I have been walking that path ever since – not perfectly and not without some additional scars, heartbreaks and the odd two-by-four to get me back to the basics – breath, be real, risk being messy and stay curious about those around me!

So I was happy that last night  I decided to share a few moments from archives.

In so many ways, I believed I had the circle Phase folks with me, my family and my friends.  It was special.

Find Your Mojo in Montana – Up Next!

SkyDancer and Promise Saying Hello!

I have this crazy idea now that I will have a few days of rest and recovery – but really I imagine life is going to keep going at a rapid relational pace!  Find Your Mojo in Montana is kicking off next Thursday and I am getting excited and reconnected with Bobbi and the horses!

Life is good!

Hearing The Music With The Horses

When I was young I was a lot like our puppy, ZuZu, full of life, vibrating, sprinting towards friends, and jumping or bowing to invite play.  As I watch ZuZu interact with Rosie and they wrestle each other on the floor, I can feel my heart swell, and I touch a memory of that time in my life.

Sometimes I want to go back there.  I want to be that innocent, playful, and alive.  Sometimes I do touch that vibration, and I experience joy.

Just the other day I had one of those moments with a horse, Luke, a mustang at Stillwater Ranch.  Bobbi, my horse whisper partner in our Find Your Mojo in Montana workshop, was giving me a spring refresher riding lesson.

Though I have found my mojo and ease with creating relationships with the horses on the ground, I am still new to riding.  Plus, I had taken most of the winter off to play on the mountain skiing.

This day everything with the horses felt a touch awkward.  However, instead of being rattled by my nerves and fears, I took a breath, acknowledged my anxiousness and bowed to my four-legged friends.  They gathered around and pushed at me a bit, reminding I needed to be grounded in me, not focused on them.

That’s really all they wanted – me to show up.

I did.

I moved through the pasture greeting each of my friends.

I felt calmer and ready to make my way to Luke, to see if he wanted to ride.

Setting up to ride was the next huddle. I struggled because I didn’t remember all the steps to getting the soft saddle on and the side-pull harness set up right. In all worries about getting the buckles, straps, and blanket just right, I was totally disconnected from myself and Luke, and he let me know it.

Luke bobbed his big head and was mouthing at me.  Finally, I got the message, took a breath, and slowed down.

Once up on Luke, I struggled to find my balance.  I started to get overly focused on the techniques I had learned, trying to assume a certain command in my role as leader.  But Luke wasn’t interested.  For a while it seemed more of a power struggle than a dance.

I had to catch myself and remind myself what I love about working with horses.

 I may want to have a great relationship with them, but first I must get into a great relationship with me!

I’ve had to accept that I’m not naturally smooth and graceful.  No. I am a bit rougher on the edges. More made up of lines, scars, and rust – than silk, sweet, and smooth.

But I haven’t always been willing to accept my lines, scars, and rust.  I wanted to look good.

So yes, I started out innocent, and somewhere along the way I made a decision to protect that child by creating barriers, walls, and defenses.  My armor saved me from feeling pain, loss, and giving up entirely.

What I recognize now is I’ve became a bit over identified with the armor, and lost my connection to my little girl inside, Susie (as I was called through my earliest years).

I have done lots of work to breakdown those barriers between me and the world around me. What’s left are those lines, scars and rust.

When I accept myself – including lines, scars and rust – something special happens.  Maybe it’s cracks that let the light and music back in.  When I’m with the horses the music comes.

So, once I finally relaxed and settled into riding and dancing with Luke…

once I stopped trying to prove anything and just be me…

I heard my music playing and suddenly Luke’s joined in.

It was a magical moment.

This was the first time I’d heard the music while riding.

Yes, I regularly hear the music of the horses when I coach in the round pen or walk into the pasture with them. It’s what I love about working with the horses.

They call, and all they’re asking is for me to show up – not perfect, not powerful – just present!

What a lovely song.

Until we meet again,

Susan

P.S. Why not join us for Find Your Mojo in Montana  and see if you can hear the music of the horses?

Cell-shifting, Energetic Learning – Now That’s Mojo!

For holiday gifts I put together a 2018 Mojo Moments Calendar, filled with photos from the magical Mojo Moments of 2017.  My heart felt warm, remembering the many amazing times with friends, clients, colleagues, new faces and the horses.

So much learning and growing!  What most people don’t realize is this type of learning isn’t cognitive or intellectual, it’s energetic, body-based and cell-shifting. It can take your mind days, weeks, or even months to catch up. 

Just before the holidays Andrew, my first Mojo Intensive client, returned with friends for his third Mojo Intensive.  It was a remarkable couple of days for me.

I love all the shifts and changes I have noticed in Andrew.  I’ve known Andrew a long time and what I have witnessed during his mojo journey has been deep and sustaining.  He reports similar shifts though he can’t figure what it is he’s doing differently.

He shared how he has seen me grow, develop and shift over our journey.  I, too, can struggle to explain what it is I am doing differently!

That’s why I thought I’d write about our journey together.  Because as I mentioned I have noticed deep and sustainable changes in Andrew.  I imagine he is also a mirror for me!  

My mind doesn’t seem to have a cognitive or intellectual explanation for what seems like a deep, cellular shift that has been taking place as I have developed my Equus Coaching practice.

That shift isn’t just showing up with the horses.  Just as I have noticed Andrew as different, people have given me the same feedback. Apparently,  I am more open, lighter, easier to connect to and with.  That feedback is coming when no horses are present!

However, I do believe the horses and my Mojo moments have played a big part in the shift!

Mojo Intensives were the initial offering I put out into the world when I got my Equus Coaching certification.  Andrew was the first to sign up!  I loved creating that initial Mojo Experience.  I loved wrapping the time with the horses with coaching and other integrative types of experiences – like massage, tarot cards and simply walking and enjoying Whitefish, MT.

However, I think the moment that stood out to me at that first intensive was when Andrew spoke of connecting to his body when he touched his heart.  I, from the edge of the arena could feel the shift.  That shift stuck.

That moment made me  want more Mojo Intensives or Mojo Moments!!

In 2017, my offerings expanded!  We launched Find Your Mojo in Montana and ran the weekend program two different times.  Each rich with learning, connection and transformation. 

I believe for all involved and certainly for me!  I loved how my relationship with Bobbi grew and how CrisMarie, Bobbi, and I really started to weave our different styles of wisdom into the program!  I also loved that Becky joined us as our photographer and though she was taking pictures she also was so willing to open, learn and grow with us!

This past year we also had corporate leadership team members come down and spend a few days working on their team dynamics with us and the horses.  It was powerful to witness leaders discovering more about themselves while developing stronger relationships.  It was great to hear about, later back at the job site, how powerful and applicable the Equus coaching had been!

I also discovered ways for simply getting more people out to Stillwater HorseWhisper Ranch. We started a Saturday morning, Come Play With The Horses, which ran a number of times.  Each with new people joining and discovering what all this Mojo and Equus talk is about.

I think I am still working on my message.  Much like Andrew when he shares that he knows there’s a shift and yet he struggles to name what he’s doing differently.  I still haven’t quite found the right words to help people get that this Equus/Mojo work isn’t about horses. 

It’s about discovering yourself through developing a relationship with the horses that offers clarity, congruence and mirroring. 

I think of this as an energetic learning.  It’s not cognitive or intellectual, it’s body-based, heart felt and cell-shifting. 

There aren’t many words exchanged, at least not between you and the horses.  Yet, there is an amazing amount of communication and energy being transmitted. 

Sometimes it takes days, weeks and even months before your mind picks up the insights that your body discovered through your various engagements with the horses.

I imagine that is why both Andrew and I may not be able to share with ease what’s different. 

But I know my heart is more open, and I am more able to breathe and listen through my entire cellular system.

Not to mention I laugh and feel joy way more often – even in these wild and crazy times!

I highly recommend spending some time with horses. Heck, even better, come to Montana and spend a few days with us!!!  Our next Find Your Mojo in Montana happens in May.

Want something just for you?  Reach out and I’ll be happy to design a Mojo Intensive customized for you!!

Never Let The Truth Get In The Way of A Good Story

Growing up, we always had a saying in our house: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”  Now for most of my life, I simply believed that was a way that truth could be covered up and whatever evil was beneath the surface could be denied or kept unknown by a charismatic storyteller.

I admit to fury about this saying!

There were times in my life when I did seek to say what was going on and usually my version of the story was met with comments about my over- active imagination.  That was the good version.  The worse was when my anger after sharing a story was interpreted as ‘too much’ and I was given some type of medication to calm me down.

Maybe I did start to believe a good story was better than the truth – or at least created less pain and misunderstanding.

These days the saying is generally a good bridge in our family gatherings.  However, the new status has come after many years of working to try to understand each other’s vastly different versions of reality about the past.  The saying is no longer meant to shut anyone down. I do think it might be a signal to say we may be stepping into tricky territory and give each other a head’s up.

Our differences have never been reconciled.  But, now that we are adults and have been able to find ways to each feel heard and seen for whatever reality we were living growing up, we can have a relationship. 

I really appreciate that about my family.  We live the agree to disagree about some things and find ways to appreciate and value other aspects of who we each are now.

That may just be because of the saying – Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. 

Only these days I prefer to retranslate.  I think the saying would be best expressed as;  Never let a truth get in the way of deeply listening to someone’s else’s story”

That really is the lesson.

Too often, our individual ‘truths’ are so fixed that we don’t really listen to a different truth.  Especially when that other storyline may make us look poorly, guilty, cruel or unkind.

However, I firmly believe that most of the time people really don’t need to be told their version of reality is ‘the truth’.  Instead, they are looking for someone to deeply listens and step into their reality, consider what that might be like and acknowledges their feelings. When this occurs healing happens.  Over and over, I see people get unstuck from their old stories and look at the choices they made and move forward in these scenarios.

Truth is I’ve seen people get their stories validated – by courtrooms and judges – only to see that person continue to struggle with the old story.  Unable to reframe, rewrite or redefine the outcome.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying some actions don’t warrant judgement. But I am saying that alone isn’t going to be what supports the ‘victim’ in moving forward.

What will? – never letting a or one truth get in the way of deeply listening to another person’s story!

Truth is relative.  Yes, we need to find our truth – but I just don’t think we need to let that get in the way of listening to someone else’s.

We can disagree.  We can not like it.  We may even decide that because of that person’s story we aren’t interested in a deeper relationship.

But I don’t think finding the one truth will work.

Listening and considering – that is a powerful path for contact and possibility and influence.

These days with all the stories coming out about men’s abuse of power and sexual harassment of women, I think we’d be better served if we did not get caught up in focusing on what did or did not happen.  Frankly I think the people speaking up need to be heard.

Our job is to listen. What is the impact of these stories? 

I am speaking to the men out there getting accused. Listen! Consider! Respond! From a place of understanding someone else‘s truth, instead of right versus wrong. Listen to the impact, the pain, the experience and a perspective other than your own. Don’t just deny or apologize and move on. Be influenced now.

I think that is how something different can happen.

When we simply go to right or wrong, the feeling and the impact can so easily get lost.  Listening and considering the impact of our actions, words or deeds on another – even if that wasn’t our intent or perceived outcome.  That is what will help heal and bridge our differences.

I know it did in my family and I have witnessed it over and over in couples, on teams and in families.  I think it can happen out in the world as well.

Now that is my truth – and I won’t let it get in the way of hearing your truth (story).

Just Breathe!

Recently I attended the Breathe weekend up at The Haven.

The program was perfectly timed to fit between meetings and the start of a Come Alive.  What better way to get prepared for leading a program than breathing!

I knew I would enjoy the weekend.  I love the wisdom of Linda Nicholls and though we get to spend time together in meetings – we rarely are together in programs.

The weekend more than met my expectations.  Thus the reason I am now writing about the program.

Breathing is so simple.  It’s free.  It’s healing.  Yet, when I ask people how often they take the time to consciously breathe deeply – the answer is usually – rarely or not at all.

Some share that they meditate or do some sort of mindfulness practice – but that isn’t quite the same in my view.  Sure it is something and valuable.  But does not always involve breathing deeply.

I know how valuable breathing deeply can be and though I would say I am a pretty committed to some type of regular practice – I often miss a day or more – when life gets busy.  I will often put my exercise routine before just breathing.  (Again exercise and consciously breathing are not the same!!!)

Why?

Though I say I want to be alive – aliveness is not always comfortable! often I consciously or unconsciously opt for comfort, control and certainty – over aliveness and uncertainty!

To drop my jaw and breathe deeply and fully (for those unfamiliar with Haven breathing – I mean taking a full deep breathe through an open mouth).  This does open me up for feeling more.  There is no guarantee  that means feeling good, happy or satisfied.  Often these days if can mean feeling my fear, my sorrow, my rage or my pain.

Sometimes I am not so willing.

There were many nuggets of wisdom offered during the weekend program.  Linda does have a way of integrating science, poetry and experiences that allow for the mind, the body and the breathe to mix and play well together!

Myself, I loved the breathing.  Being re-introduced to a variety of ways to deepen my own practice and having lots of time – I believe three blocks of 45 to 55 minutes of just breathing.

Breathing deeply demands a conscious choice – my will and my willingness to loosen my control and be vulnerable.

Pills and other measures are often more predictable in terms of eliminating symptoms or easing suffering.

However, aliveness isn’t really predictable.

I am not saying give up on prescriptions, exercise, meditating or whatever it is you or I do to find some comfort and ease in this human experience – I am though encouraging you to consider spending a little more time and attention on just breathing!

It’s free.  Drop that jaw and take a deep full breathe. (Highly recommend doing this more than just once!)

I came away with the intention to take twenty minutes each day and just breathe.  I am enjoying the practice!  Life is richer and more vibrant as a result!

 

Things Are A Little Bit Crazy

Just a couple weeks ago,  I woke to a haze of smoke that blanketed my town of Whitefish.  For weeks we have been hearing about fires – to the south of us – to the north of us.  Yes, we have had days of smokey skies and very poor air quality. Then, suddenly everything started moving closer.  Parts of Glacier National Park and Lake MacDonald Lodge were be evacuated! That’s close!

Next our little town and Flathead Valley faced a school closure due to the threat of an attack on people’s children.  Apparently due to a cyberattack of some sort that resulted and parents and children getting very graphic and threatening messages.  After three days of school closures, games and events being canceled there still isn’t certainty as to where the threat was coming from.

This is just what has been happening in Whitefish – I haven’t even mentioned reading the national news headlines!

Damn – I say – this is crazy!!  Floods, hurricanes – fires and mother earth’s fury – plus crazy stuff like cyberattacks, white supremest and a President who regularly sends out insane tweets, talks smack and threats at the UN, really?!

What is happening?  Chaos and what can seem like a definite message to stop, pause and ….. wait for it…

PLAY!

Yes, I bet you didn’t think that was coming.

But really – I wonder if a little more play, joy and pleasure wouldn’t be the best remedy for us all.

I get it.  Life as we know it is spooking us!

We could wrestle with the reality or not – of climate change.  We could fight about healthcare, building walls or disarming North Korea.  But really wrestling with any one of these big issues s with the intent to determine right and wrong – seems like it just ain’t working.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe in climate change.  I think we owe Mother Earth a major shift in our attitude and actions, but I’m not into proving that point.  I will recycle.  Ride my bike when I can. I participate and vote for measures that support recycling, science and alternative energy!

I also don’t intend to stop speaking up when I think someone is being a bully – making statements that seem cruel, mean or frankly racist, sexist or just ignorant!  But I am not interested in fighting about it.

Instead, I think our best path is to play.

Over and over in nature, there are signs that when under attack – especially a vicious attack – the best answer is to engage in play.

Stuart Brown did a Ted Talk on this very message.  One piece was a video clip of a hungry polar bear coming for lunch where there were sled dog huskies chained up.  Those huskies knew they were going to be the polar bear’s lunch, but what happened instead was amazing. One female husky did a classic play bow and the polar bear’s whole being shifted.  Instead of a meal the two had a play date!  Now the polar bear makes an annual trip to play with the pups!

I know, when you are feeling under attack or you are facing threat and fear – the last thing that comes naturally is to rollover and play.

But maybe we need to get back in touch with our joy, our innocence and remember play can be just as important and life changing as any work, spiritual seeking or political activism.

What can you do to add a little play and joy to your day?  How can you invite and encourage others to join in!

Don’t leave you work behind just add more play into your day and notice the results.  Let me know how it goes!

P.S. Need some help playing, give me a call. I’m happy to help.

 

 

 

Finding My Joy Through Horse Play!

Horses really are a joy to work with and amazing teachers!

I know I say that a lot.  I also share stories, pictures and videos of the fun we are having here in Montana with the horses.

However, I am not sure I have done the best job sharing with you just why I think this work is so rich, valuable and worthy of your time, money and energy.

There are lots of ways you can learn, grow and transform.

I, myself have tried many paths:

  • Create an crisis and have to change – be it health, money or relationship related.
  • Decide to get a honest 360 round of feedback (or have to get one) – from working colleagues, friends and family
  • Attend a personal or professional training programs like those offered at The Haven – Living Alive Phase, Come Alive, Couples Alive or a program like Passionate Ease.  (just to name a few favorites of all time) 

Of these paths I have taken, all bought about significant, deep, valuable transformational growth in my life.  Some of them I have done or would do over and over again.  Other paths (like the crisis route), I’d prefer to say one and done. (Although I think I have done that 4 or more times – at least). 

Even the ones I do over – like Couples Alive, Come Alive  or Passionate Ease – are in some ways a conscious effort and some hard work on my part to stay and and really show up.  I don’t regret the effort or the work and the reward is worth it – but it’s hard!

Here’s the thing for me about a workshop or an intensive experience around horses – it’s not hard!

Even when I was terrified of being around them – which was the case when I started in my training.  I definitely drop my armor faster, open my heart and feel joy more than pain in every experience I have.  Even when the lessons were HARD ones.

So what have been some of the lessons I have learned or witnessed others learning from the horses:

  • Boundaries and boundarying – how important it is to be able to show up and be clear in self-defining.  Dealing with push back and staying in.  (Of course a 1500 pound horse is great in teaching that! )
  • What it means to be embodied and not just a walking, talking head.  Yes – there lots of programs about embodiment – but horses live it every moment and they love to provide you feedback when you are thinking too much!!!  ( a little nudge or they simply aren’t inclined to play!) 
  • The joy that can come from another living, breathing being holding a space for you – wanting you to be present and being okay with whatever you show up with as long as you are congruent!
  • The importance of play and sometimes just moving, dancing and finding your jig. (May be I should have said this one first!)

These are just some of the lessons I see that are a regular part of Equus coaching sessions.

All this feedback and interaction occurs and it’s offered in an amazingly warm and nonjudgmental way.

Horses are not story makers.  They come into the moment with each session waiting to see who and what shows up and working to create a relationship that ensures they stay safe and have some fun.

Horses enjoy the sessions and like moving and participating.  Some maybe more so than others and when that isn’t their thing they are usually quite clear in letting you know.

I know I will keep going to programs like Passionate Ease and Haven’s offerings – indeed I’ll enjoy my time in the circle and connecting people.

However, I do want to spend more time with the horses.  I encourage you to try it as well.

Besides discovering the joy in playing with the horses, if you come to Montana you will get an amazing experience – beautiful place, great people and CrisMarie and I bring all the other aspects of what we’ve learned to help you get the most of your lessons from the horses.

Intrigued?

Curious?

Want to experience more joy in your own transformational journey!

Come play with the horses!

Are you local? – Well join us for one of our Come PLay With The Horses Events – here’s the latest link – Come Play With The Horses August 12

Murphy & Me

Murphy & Me

We just finished an amazing weekend in Savannah, GA with Susan Hyatt and 10 other awesome business women. This was the in-person part of our six month long Make-A Scene MasterMind program.

There were many parts of the weekend I could share. It was a great time. Work got done. (You’ll be seeing more how we used that time as we launch Ignite Your Relationship Mojo). We had great food. (I was re-introduced to southern grits and sweet tea – : )!) I had my first facial. Laughed. Cried. Was reminded just how powerful and awesome a group of woman can be when working together to make each of us stronger and feel more empowered. Indeed, it was a great weekend.

However, what I find myself wanting tell you more about in this blog post is my magnificent mirror, Murphy the horse.

Part of our weekend was a day at Norwood Stables with Sheppard Lake and some horses. Now you know how I love horses. I was thrilled when I learned that was our special treat for Saturday. Plus, Shepard is an awesome coach and dear friend. So I was all in!!!

Murphy wasn’t the horse I thought I would be working with. No Murphy and I met when Sheppard needed another horse and Murphy was bought to the round pen early. Since Sheppard knew I had horse experience she asked me to stay with him until she was ready.

Murphy was very happy to wait and just enjoy the grass. I found myself stuck there in the hot, sweltering sun wondering if it wouldn’t be better to move into the shade. Murphy was not so inclined. We had a brief difference of opinion and compromised with me ever so slightly in the shade and him, still holding his sunny grassy spot. Not much was going to move Murphy!

Murphy moved into his round pen sessions. Both were sessions where Murphy mostly stood and held space for each individual to work through some deeper feelings. He looked content to just be present, no judgement, offering only quiet acceptance. I watched and wondered – was this really his nature or was he like the many horses I have witnessed – they’ll be whatever is needed.

The sessions ended and Sheppard had time for one more person. I wasn’t planning on stepping in with Murphy. But I had this curiosity.

Something you probably don’t know about me and the horses is that I often hear music. That’s right, music – sometimes whole tunes sometimes just notes. Different music with different horses. I know it sounds a bit woo – but I love the music of the horses!

So I had this wondering about the music in the background that I kept hearing the whole time I stood with and then watched Murphy. So I said, “I’ll go!”

Sheppard asked my intention for the session. I mentioned how I would really love to get more comfortable and at ease with just being me – all of me.

The next 15 minutes were pretty magical. Murphy wanted to play. He galloped, danced and moved around the round pen. I skipped, galloped and danced myself. It was easy. We were in rhythm, and it was awesome! That music in the background was a wonderful Celtic jig.

I stepped out of the arena feeling very alive and full.

The session really reminded me of my own mastery.  Murphy mirrored so many parts of me. I can be stubborn (or keep eating grass (insert craft beer here) even when I should cut out the calories). I can be present, hold space and go deep with people.

I also can play, dance and find joy and humor.

Murphy was a great teacher.

A stepped away from the coaching session, really the whole day with the horses, reminded:

Sometimes you need to hold space and just be,
sometimes you need to eat grass,
sometimes you need to play and do your own version of a jig!!

Yes, my moments with Murphy were special and he was a magnificent mirror.

Murphy reminded me, I really do enjoy being me. All of me.

Now me loving me, hasn’t always been easy. But I think I’m getting it. I am okay, and I do enjoy finding the joy and humor in all that’s crazy, dark and deep.

Thanks Murphy!
Thanks Sheppard!
Thanks Susan Hyatt and My MasterMind group!

The Lessons of Humpty Dumpty and Horses

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses and All the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

As a child this was simple nursery rhyme that was spoken, sung and incorporated into a variety of games.

I imagine I chuckled at the message back then.

Of course all the King’s men (and ladies) couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Why would Humpty Dumpty want to be put back together again?

We get so focused on Humpty being broken as the problem. I am beginning to believe that broken isn’t a problem at all. It’s an amazing opportunity for transformation and re-membering!

I believe we are having a Humpty Dumpty moment here in the States (and most of the planet) and of course all the King’s men are not going put us together again.

At least not in the way we think we should be!

So nursery rhymes are one thing and I know this is serious adult business.

So let’s apply a lesson from nature that speaks to the same message, only even more profoundly for me.

Yes, I am finding my joy working with horses. There are many, many reasons why this makes perfect sense. But there is one piece that I don’t hear talked about quite as much as all the science around mirror neurons and herd dynamics and such and that’s the story of how horses are the fastest species to go from domesticated (broken) back to feral (their true natural state of being in the wild).

You got to wonder – how is that possible?

Horses surrender!

We don’t, usually. But we can and there in lines the potential wonder of allowing oneself to be broken.

You got to wonder why horses ever engaged in their relationship with us. I know many will say they didn’t – we made them.

But let’s be clear – it was a relationship and like any relationship there were two parties playing their part.

Having now watched horse dynamics in many, many situations there is one thing that keeps shining through from the horse and that’s something about their ability to transform broken  into re-membering, returning to their true nature!

That horse in the picture above is Osa, she was broken and she wasn’t very comfortable with people when she arrived at Stillwater Horse Whisper Ranch.  Wouldn’t really now that now would you!!

Makes me think there’s more to the Humpty Dumpty story too. Because you know the truth is we started as an egg and frankly never would have gotten here with being broken.

Those Kings bring a mighty sword to the party and there’s all sorts of stories about why that is good, bad, painful, powerful etc, etc. – but again without that sword – that egg would have never been broken, you or me, would never have entered the picture. There’s something about that moment of conception that is worth considering.

I have been one to say at times, “you are not broken” – and I think I want to shift that. Yes, we are broken and that is a beautiful aspect of being human! It’s also a critical choice point. Will I surrender, will I fight, will I find a way home or make to my feral (natural) state!

I think we stay too focused on trying to stop people, the planet or simply the egg from being broken and that is not a problem to solve!

That is a very old story, that creates great suffering.

Just go watch a horse and discover another story-line that makes broken a beautiful opportunity for creating relationships.

My Fear of Fat

Just recently I stepped onto the scale and discovered that I had gained five pounds. Now I knew it had been a while and that I had been allowing myself some space to enjoy the Flathead Valley’s craft beers and various Whitefish food fare.

I was also skiing regularly, walking or running with my dog Rosie and was diligent with my home yoga routine. As I digested the new number on the scale, I reminded myself that muscle weighs more than fat. Therefore, I didn’t need to panic.

But within a short period of time, panic was in full pursuit, screaming a need to fast immediately. I was ready to apply whatever sum of cash was required to get into a 10-day cleanse, juicing experience, or something that would deal with my surfacing FEAR of FAT!

To distract myself, I turned to social media. As if in answer to my needs, what should appear on my newsfeed but an Ad with an incredibly buff woman in a fitness bra, tights, and doing a move that required great strength and flexibility. What was loudest for me was her rock-solid abs and perfect dimensions. Right there on the Ad was the statement: The 10-day yoga program that will make you look like this!!

You may be thinking I signed up. But no – I blew up! I went into a full-on rage. Bullshit! Her body was not the result of any damn 10-day program!

I really, really hate that type of Ad campaign. It’s possible that with her genes and diet, at some point, she did ten days of intense yoga that shaped her into something even better than she already was. She may even believe her yoga routine maintains her excellent balance between muscle mass and flexibility. Well, let’s not forget her perfect bone structure, great hair and flawless young skin. But I can tell you one thing for sure: no 10-day program – be it yoga, fat camp, fitness boot camp – is going to transform my genes, scars, wrinkles and body into that!

The idea that Facebook decided this advertisement was best for me pissed me off! However, this Facebook Ad did knock some sense into me. I didn’t make any radical decisions based on my Facebook feed or my visit to the scale. Nor did I rant and fire off hate mail to that perfect looking yogini.

Instead, I decided it’s time to face my FEAR of FAT! Not run. Not stop eating. Not do a new intense exercise program. But stop and face my fear.

What you need to know is I was a fat kid. Since the age of 11, I started putting on weight, and can honestly say, with a touch of flush as I write these words, that I weighed more between the ages of 12 to 14 than I ever weighed as an adult.

Not only did I have weight issues, I did nothing to improve my looks. In fact, related to clothing, hair or make-up, I went the other way. I dressed more like a boy than a girl. My shoulder-length hair was either scrappy and full of tangles or cut short like I was wearing a soup bowl on my head. You could’ve read the invisible sign on my forehead that shouted: “Stay the f*ck away from me!”

I know now that kid had a whole bunch of reasons for getting fat, keeping everyone away and doing her damnedest to project “Don’t mess with me!” But I also know that young girl cared very deeply and had simply given up on humans.

Food was something that was comforting and relatively safe. Being called fat was simply a cost factor for a very reliable line of defense: fat, ugly and untouchable.

Then I discovered sports. I was a pretty good athlete – a fat one but a good one. I could play a mean game of tennis, and when I decided to make sports my new refuge – hockey and basketball became favorites. I wasn’t great, but I was determined, and underneath all that fat was some rock-solid coordination and tenacity.

Sports became my lifeline to human contact.

I soon discovered I could, with enough running and working out, stop the rising scales. I found a way to protect and guard myself that did not involve being fat! Exercise replaced food as a way to get far, far away from my fears, my terror and my demons, which made it critical to not get to close to people!

However, back to our perfect yogini. Even at the pinnacle of my athletic career, which involved playing three sports and practicing four to five hours a day, I never ever looked anything close to her – NEVER!

With all my exercise, I ran myself smack into the hospital in my early 20’s. I hadn’t noticed I had lost almost 60 pounds, which tells you about my relationship with my body. At 5’6” I was just under 100 pounds.

You might be thinking, eating disorder, and there’s some truth to that. But the real factor of my weight loss was cancer. Yes, the fight to not feel my fear, my terror and my demons had run its course. There’s a lot more to the cancer story but that’s a book, not an article on my FEAR of FAT.

Let me just say, in losing all that weight and even being very, very ill, I started to get lots of attention. Men suddenly found me attractive. I was boney and skinny and wearing a size 6. I was a piece of nothing, but there’s something about any woman that slender that attracts a certain response from men. I had never had that type of attention!

Sure, the dying of cancer wasn’t so great – but skinny – well, there was something about that I liked.

Seven years later, after a clean bill of health from cancer, I realized I had a new problem.

I was terrified of going back to FAT! This new problem has now been going on for the better part of twenty-five years. I don’t talk much about it. It’s not like cancer. It’s not the thing friends want to support you in facing. It’s a bit like mental illness, which I could write about too, but I’ll stick to fat.

When I saw the perfect yogini Facebook Ad, my rage exploded. I let myself feel fully. The rage turned into a deep grief and I wailed.

Then I realized my fear of fat would never be resolved by being thin.

Being fat was not the problem. I’m not ugly, and I am not even fat. I do, though, have trouble feeling fully. I don’t particularly like crying or feeling deep grief. Yet, life, and being in relationship with people and this world, does offer a lot to feel deeply about, and it is not all happy and positive!

I won’t be going on any radical diets or fasting for now, nor will I go on a Facebook fast. I just need to be kinder to myself and maybe stop running and exercising so much to the point of not noticing when my body, heart, or spirit needs some attention.

I simply need to feel deeply.

My fear of fat is not over. But I am much more committed to turning towards the fear and facing it rather than running to get further and further away from myself and my feelings.