I have been doing so much thinking and processing over here. Lots to keep me going while the weather is turning wintery and the footing is now mushy and slippery in the playground. Not to mention both of my broken arms being sore and weak… sigh. Holding ropes and wielding sticks and strings is not in the cards for me right now so it’s a great time for the thinking and the processing.
I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, and enjoyed every word. As usual Miz Gilbert is a word smith, putting words together in such a beautiful way. She gave me so much to think in about in terms of my writing, my in-progress book and this very blog! One quote that I loved from that book was,
I don’t know what I think until I write about it.” ~ Joan Didion
This quote rang true for me and is why I find myself sitting down to record my thoughts and feelings here on the blog. It’s a way for me to sort through my feelings and be held accountable for the things I say, think and do. By putting my vulnerabilities ‘out there’ on the internet I find it helps me find my voice. I get some pretty tough feedback when I do this, but I also get some very helpful feedback. And it keeps me real.
Speaking about vulnerability, I’m now reading Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong. She is such a warm and witty woman. And so wise. Of course she is the go-to-girl about vulnerability and working with and through it. This book is no exception.
This quote was especially powerful to me:
In those moments when disappointment is washing over us and we’re desperately trying to get our heads and hearts around what is or is not going to be, the death of our expectations can be painful and beyond measure.
Wow. The death of our expectations… I read and re-read that statement and then had to write it down. That is exactly what I’ve experienced. I was so happy, riding Billy in the mountains, riding him on the trails here around my house that I’ve been so excited to ride him on. The very same trails that we’ve hiked for the last 3 years. Then we had our accident and I felt my expectations die. And that death was painful.
I have had several people tell me not to “blow this out of proportion” or “don’t let it get to me.” And I have to wonder what kind of advice is this? I think it’s best to let what happened wash over me, think about it, then move through it. To try to blow it off does not help me and in fact causes me to become even more fearful about riding and being around my horse. He knows when I’m afraid, or nervous, or faking it. If I am not confident about being out there with him, then I better get my butt back in the house! I think when something like this happens to someone it’s best to give them encouraging words, not shaming words. It doesn’t matter how little or big the incident may seem to you, to the person it happened to, it’s their whole world in that moment. Understanding is key to helping people get past these kinds of upsets.
For me this was like death. I even told a few people that. It was a death of a lifelong pursuit of finding that true connection with another living being. That’s what it felt like in the moment.
Brené talks about how we ‘Rise Strong’ in her aptly named book. There is a process that we must go through. I felt a light bulb go off as I read through it:
The goal of the process is to rise from our falls, overcome our mistakes and face hurt in a way that brings more wisdom and wholeheartedness into our lives.
1)THE RECKONING: WALKING INTO OUR STORY
Recognize emotion and get curious about our feelings and how they connect with the way we think and behave.
2) THE RUMBLE: OWNING OUR STORY
Get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations and assumptions to determine what’s truth, what’s self protection and what needs to change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives.
3) THE REVOLUTION
Write a new ending to our story based on the key learning from our rumble and use this new, braver story to change how we engage with the world and to ultimately transform the way we live, love, parent and lead.
Her book is not about horsemanship, of course, but it is about life. And since horsemanship is also about life I think the two go hand-in-hand. I find it beautiful to move through my experience with Billy in this way. For my right brained mind this story structure is something I can do and actually HAVE been doing.
I’ve written about the story, how I felt about what happened, how I’ve been observing Billy and how he has felt about what happened, or as near as I can read. I am human and he is equine so things may get a bit balled up between the two of us. But for the most part I think I can get a very good read on him and his emotions. Then I’ve been connecting what happened with my emotions and Billy’s and I’ve been thinking about how I can further connect with him, myself and the partnership I am hoping to have. Changing the way I behave so that I can in turn change the way Billy is behaving.
I’m getting down-and dirty honest about my story. Figuring out the truth of the situation and what needs to happen, what I feel comfortable with and how I want to proceed, being sure it won’t further damage myself or Billy’s dignity.
Now I’m moving into the revolution part of the journey. How will I re-write this story? I know in this case there isn’t an ending, just a changing of direction and a constant re-setting of our course. Tiny adjustments and some BIG time adjustments need to be made.
I will write some more about those adjustments and my revelations regarding them as we go! Boy have I been having some major light bulb moments! The interaction between Billy and I on an every day basis is quite minimal, but the light bulb moments continue to jolt me awake at night and make me stop what I’m doing during the day, leading me to just quietly think. I walk every day and sometimes I literally stop in the middle of the road and just stand in amazement.
This is what they mean when they say,
Work on yourself. Play with your horse.