I think of all of you often. I really do. I think of your pains, your hearts, your joys, and your loves, both the horses and the people. I hope you’re doing well.
So… Where have I been?
I finished college!!!
I’ve been finishing up college (finished my final classes in mid-August, whoop!) and will get my official degree in February. My Bachelors was in Applied Psychology and Holistic Health under the UWW program at University of Massachusetts. That program is the bomb–they allowed me to design my own curriculum, write a portfolio and get credit for my work and non-traditional learning that I’ve already developed and submit special transcript credits (so I got credit for the courses that I’ve taken in bodywork, anatomy, biomechanics, and somatic movement therapies).
An Actual Vacation
After that, I took a two-week long vacation with a friend (who I’m now in a long-distance relationship with), first in Asheville, NC and then just exploring the mountains around the homeland of Chattanooga. It was beautiful, spiritual, and allowed me to connect back to my roots, nature, and deep kinship and express myself through art, yoga, dance, and somatic movement. Spending that time expressing myself through other modes and therapies really made me want to start to bring more of those elements into my work.
Jonas Gerard is amazing (that’s his van, and that tree is right outside his studio). If you’re ever in Asheville, he’ll let you touch his art. That’s right, I said touch it. Which I did, thoroughly. And he plays bosa nova music in his studio. And his secretary is precious and incredibly helpful. Imagine me flowing my hands over the art with my eyes closed, looking either endearingly odd or like a complete weirdo. His work touched me a lot, and a specific idea he shared in a video that was rolling in one of the back areas has especially stuck with me:
Love without fear. Create without fear.
Working Student, Tent-Time:
In September I took my second ten-day course of the year and ended up staying on as a working-student through September and October with Aimee Brimhall-McCord (and let’s be honest, also her husband, her horses, her trees, her birds, her cats, and her mountains–if you’ve been there, you know what I mean). I lived in a tent (and for about a week and a half, the back of my bumper-pull horse trailer), made some beautiful friends during the clinics there and with the other working student (not sure if she wants me to share her name, but y’all, she is downright amazing), saw one of my horses every day (first Hope, and then about halfway through I switched my ladies and brought Cherish), deepened my connection and understanding with them, and grew a lot personally. Hope, especially, taught me some really beautiful things while I was there.
One of the things that I fully absorbed only after my time there was this… for me it’s really just one feeling, but it takes a lot of words to describe:
Let go of all expectations of the horse.
Let go of your ego around horses.
Whatever you do… ask them. Do what they are happy to do. Do not contribute to fear or tension. Not at all, not in the slightest. Be gentle with them. Be accepting of how they truly feel. Wait for them. Be patient with them. Show them you really, truly care. Breathe with them. Be with them, present, in each moment. Drop your agenda.
Let them shine. Give them the space, the time, to express. They might shine softly. They might shine slowly. That is okay.
Really, closely, gently, carefully listen to them.
And of course… enjoy. Enjoy your horses. Don’t worry if you’re doing it right or wrong. Just love them, and let that love spread, let it free, let it exist in every moment. Share your love with them in every moment. In every moment, remind them how precious they really are to you. Don’t stay away from your horses because you feel bad. Enjoy being with your horses without expectation, and soften your yucky feelings. Don’t expect them to take it for you, but allow it to dissolve in the peace that exists in being with them.
I’m now a Certified Residual Strain Therapist!
In early November I went to Florida and took (and passed) the exam for Residual Strain Therapy certification, a series of six fascia release courses I’ve been taking since last summer. I love this work more and more every day. It’s helping to change and grow a new foundation for all of the work I do, and changes the way I think about the body and the process of healing. It’s given me a way to assess tension and function at any point in the body (pretty incredible feeling tension deep in the dura mater around someone’s spinal cord) which has made me a much more accurate and effective therapist. I can now help people with problems that previously, if I’m being honest, left me stumped. This work has shown me how intricately connected the body is… who knew that releasing tension in a foot would change the fascia chain all the way through the body and create freedom of movement in a shoulder or the lower back. Biotensegrity is fascinating. I hope to write more about this work as we go along.
- Wanna learn more? Until I write more, visit Fascia Sense.
My Beloved Work, Burnout, and The Process of Change
During the summer and fall I tried my best to keep my work to a minimum, still having a couple of days of work per week, while studying and working for Aimee, and took a break from social media and developing my writing so that I could stay focused and show up fully for all that I had to do.
I really didn’t start to integrate all of this learning more deeply until I hit a heavy period of burnout. I was beginning to struggle pretty intensely off and on while I was still at Aimee’s with vertigo. My body was telling me to slow down, get more sleep, and take care of myself. And then I flew about as far south and about as far north as I could get within the bounds of America in a two and a half week period. Seems like a reasonable next step. During that “reasonable next-step” my hands started going numb, and I began having even more vertigo and overall lack of well-being that surprised me a bit at its intensity. I told my body that I wanted anything but for my hands to go numb, that I couldn’t share my work if my hands went numb.
So next, my feeling in my hands came back… but my overall feeling went away. The feeling that allows me to sense the deeper rhythms and tensions in peoples bodies, the emotions and energy that they carry with them, the feeling that allows me to connect so deeply and kindly with people and with horses and animals, the feeling that I have for trees and wind and water and nature. It was all gone. It was kind of like losing my connection to everything. I felt very lost, very sad, and very desperate.
My body was telling me. You can’t go on like this. You can’t work like this. Something has to change. Actually, quite a few somethings.
After coming home from Massachusetts I had some serious self-care time that I had to log. After a week of sleeping a lot, writing a lot, realizing that I had to fundamentally begin a shift not only in the way I live and take care of myself, but also in the way that I do my work, and generally laying low while still trying to learn and do as much as possible, I went back to work full-time but found myself really struggling to feel like my heart was in it. I love helping people and horses, don’t get me wrong, and of course I still did… But something was missing. The feeling was still largely numbed, but more than that… That vibrant heart energy, the intuition about where to work, the connection and passion that I have always felt for the work I do… the part of it that makes me come alive and feel connected to everything and everyone at the core of my being… that was gone.
That was tough for me to feel. I knew something had to change.
Since then, I’ve been in the process of change. Change is not always easy. Change is actually really incredibly difficult sometimes. But it’s also beautiful.
I’m developing more awareness around anatomy, biomechanics, mindfulness, and movement therapies so that I can bring more movement and mindfulness exercises and more accuracy into my work. I’m studying some, but I’m also practicing to develop my own work around movement and mindfulness that’s been quietly whispering in the back of my mind for some time now.
I’m also practicing not just for my work, but also for myself. I find myself doing a lot more self-care through all moments of the day, carrying love through every action, carrying awareness and alignment and balance through every activity I’m doing, whether it’s writing, reading, working with my horses, doing bodywork on people or horses, driving, cooking, or walking through the grocery store.
More than anything, I’ve found myself returning to curiosity. Openness to possibilities.
I had gotten into a space, with my own self-care and with my bodywork, where I “knew” how to fix things, how to manage things, how to release things, and how to take care of things. I stopped asking questions.
I’m finding that my own self-care practice and my work with my own horses is probably going to influence my work more than anything. It’s teaching me so much about how we not only need more movement, more mindfulness, more nature, more community in every moment of our lives (and we can do all of that simply)… we also need more love.
More love in each moment.
For our horses.
For the world.
Love is how we exist. Love is how we connect. Love is how we share. Love is how we open, experience, and breathe the air fully.
Here’s to Love. Here’s to Us.
Here’s to love. Here’s to awareness. Here’s to curiosity, and possibilities.
They seem pretty endless, those possibilities–some moments I’m not sure if I’m staring into a dark and open forest full of beauty and mystery and spots of moonlight, or a dark pit of nothingness. In those moments where it seems like nothingness, I start to connect back to why I’m doing all of this.
It’s for me. It’s for my heart. It’s for my horses.
But it’s also for you. It’s for your heart. It’s for your horses.
It’s for the people. It’s for the people you love. The people I love. The people no one loves.
It’s for the horses. The horses you love. The horses I love. The horses no one loves.
All of this… It’s for all of us.
It’s not really me. I’m just here as a conduit, here to help, here to shine, here to share as much as I can, here to help as much as I can. Here to help connect us all back to love, all back to awareness and connection of who we are, of what we’re experiencing in each moment, of our peace, of what makes our hearts sing. I’m here to help you remember that you’re alive. I’m here to help you connect to your horse more deeply than you ever have before. I’m here to help you become aware of how aware your horse is, and then help both of you help each other through your mutual awareness and understanding of each other. I’m here to help you listen to yourself, and listen to your horse, so that you can take suggestions and begin to change the way both of you move, feel, react, respond, listen, love, care, and breathe.
I’m here to help the world open up. I’m here because through helping you and your horses, little ripples will go out, and you’ll share the beautiful world of experience you’ve found with others, and they’ll share with others, and they’ll share with others.
But really… even if it’s just one.
Just one horse.
Just one person.
Just one being whose life has come alive, whose heart is rekindled, whose being and awareness of experience is opened, who suddenly sees and feels how beautiful the world is and shares their pain, their beauty, their suffering, their joy, and their peace with themselves and with others, tenderly and with great compassion… yeah, friend. That’s enough.
I wish you well as we move forward. I wish you well as we all change. I wish you well as we all stare forward, and start to walk forward, into all of those open possibilities, while constantly staying connected to the reason we all do anything we do.
Whatever your reason… remember it. Hold it close. It’s a beautiful reason.
You’re a beautiful reason. Plenty reason to keep asking questions, to stay curious. To keep moving forward. To loving the whole world.
With Love, for each and every one,