Clear Space has been dark the past few weeks as I have been filling myself up with a family vacation and Soul Camp, both in the Adirondacks last month and Chantelle Adams Movement Maker’s Mastermind in Kamloops, BC last week. Spending time in these beautiful lakeside places, restores me to my core. I’ve been in the city half of my life now and I miss being in nature.
Chantelle’s retreat was for women business owners who she had worked with in the past and had a wonderful agenda for us. The goal being to create a profitable and sustainable timeline to grow our businesses all while holding each other accountable for our intentions over the next 5 months.
We had beautiful accommodations at her lake house. She brought in Dolores, an amazing chef, to cook our meals for us. Those of you who know how picky I am about food might be surprised to hear that I felt so taken care of with my 3 square meals each day. There were painting exercises, paddle board and kayak time on the lake and we were even graced by the presence of a bald eagle, it was *magic*
One of the activities planned was to have an intuitive session on a horse farm. I didn’t know what that meant, and I am still struggling to understand what really happened on that farm, but I had a major breakdown and breakthrough that I am still thinking about.
A little background for you: I love all creatures, but because of an early childhood experience, I am always quite wary of large hooved animals. I have ridden horses only a few times, and enjoyed it enough, but I’m always anxious to get up on the horse so I don’t have to stand next to it. When my mom and I traveled to Thailand ten years ago, while she was so happy talking to the elephant and connecting, I wanted to just get on the elephant so I could relax.
I grew up in a fairly rural area in the Hudson Valley, next door to a veterinarian who had many horses, Irish Wolfhounds and too many cats to keep track of. Down the road was an Angus Cattle farm and one day, when I was about 3-4 years old, a stampede of cattle came through my backyard. My family had about ¾ of an acre of land and I was at the farthest corner of my property by myself. The stampede was coming down my backyard, blocking the path for me to get to my parents who were on the back porch. They were yelling at me to stay where I was but the sound of the cattle was terrifying and I wanted the comfort of my parents. As I was prone to do, I didn’t listen and I started to run towards my house. Out of nowhere, my dog Bonnie, a border collie-sheepdog mix, herded the cattle away from me and surely saved my life. To this day, I remember the divots in my lawn being about 4” deep and I can’t imagine how my parents would have coped if we didn’t have that wonderful dog. If Oprah or Ellen had their platforms back then, Bonnie would have been a national hero.
Back to the horse session: In my mind, we were going to ride these horses, but instead, we were going into their pasture to observe and interpret how their actions mirrored our group and ourselves. The impatient New Yorker in me was getting frustrated watching these animals from a distance, I wanted to get the show on the road and see what was going to happen. I was reminded soon after to be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it.
Hillary Schneider, who owns the farm, suggested that we sit in the pasture and journal about our experience of what we had been witnessing. All I had to write were other people’s observations and I was noticing with frustration that somehow I seem to be more literal about things than I ever thought I was. While Hillary was talking in metaphors about the horses’ actions, I was struggling to make any meaning of it. I looked up from my blank journal and saw that the horses were slowly gravitating towards us and then more quickly. Before setting foot in the pasture, Hillary had briefed us on safety. I thought it was most dangerous to stand behind a horse, she explained that since they are prey animals (to bears and cougars in that area of the world) it’s much more dangerous to stand in front of them. If they get spooked, they will bolt straight ahead. Because of their eye placement, they can’t see directly in front of them. So, of course, this is all I could think about, other than watching for horse poop. Before I knew it, I was flanked by 2 horses with a third coming right at me, and how interesting that they all were black, just like the Angus cattle.
Since I’ve started my business, I have gotten used to looking fear in the face everyday and taking the step anyway. Chantelle recently had a Day Of Courage and I struggled with trying to identify a fear to conquer. I thought I was fearless. Haha, that’s funny to me now.
I was absolutely shocked to feel the compression in my chest and my inability to move as the horses descended upon me. I actually froze, had a complete flashback to the stampede and I was waiting to be rescued or told what to do. I can’t remember if the horses moved or I moved or someone dragged me out of it. When the herd left us, HIllary asked how that was for me, and I started to cry and told them my experience. Much to my surprise, Hillary asked, “so, in your life or work, when you are overwhelmed, what do you do?” Well, Hillary... as a matter of fact, I freeze.
This was an amazing revelation as I now have a new awareness around being overwhelmed and can clearly see how it plays out in my life. And like the many ways I teach about clearing space, awareness is the number one way to create a transformation. Earlier this year I learned a valuable lesson about learning to ask for help and I’m sure the lessons will continue to show up around this habit. I need to learn to communicate my needs effectively and create clear boundaries.
Right when I thought this brilliant experience was over, a horse named Chief came to me (pictured to the left with me - photo credit: Chantelle Adams). He nuzzled my hands and wanted some love. Hillary said he didn’t like to be touched, so when I pulled my hands away, she said, “No, it’s okay, he’s asking for it”. He was so gentle and loving and exactly what I needed in that moment. I learned shortly thereafter that Chief rarely mingles with the humans, the other times Chantelle had been to this farm he kept to himself or was facing the woods. I got all choked up with Chief as I felt so connected to him, the first time I’ve ever felt connected to an animal of this size. It felt absolutely healing and magical.
Now, I realize that was all very me, me, me and it would be a shame to not share with you what we learned as a group during this session:
As we were approaching the herd, one horse would look up to check us out. We would stop to respect the fact that we were coming onto their turf. This happened 3- 4 times along the way. Turns out the rest of the group was feeling as impatient as I was and someone observed that once we stopped waiting for them and focused on journaling, the horses arrived. This highlighted to us that when we focus inwardly rather than looking for approval or our next gig, the clients show up.
Jack, who we learned was lower in the pecking order, broke away from the pack and closer to us. We observed him getting pushed around by a couple of horses and Jack kicked at them. Hillary explained that horses don’t hold grudges, they let go of the moment and get back to grazing. We discussed that it’s time to step out and be the leader and not focus on what’s going on in the background.
Another great analogy for those who struggle with everyday annoyances that end up taking over your mind for the rest of the day (week...year…)
Be like the horse, shake it off and get on with it.
You can learn more about:
Chantelle Adams here: www.chantelleadams.com