Lesson Twelve – Money vs Nootka

Who doesn't want a cute face like mine?

I’ve thought about selling Nootka. I did put one ad up online to see if there was any interest. Yes..it’s hard to do but it would be good to have the money.

I sold my BMW before moving down here (man was that hard to do). I’m now driving a truck my mom bought for me. It’s a 1994 Ford Ranger and let me say it is the opposite of the BMW ride! On the positive side it has been great to load compost into or take loads of brush or old barbed wire to the dump BUT quite honestly it needs a make-over. When you get to over 180,000 miles a make-over is in store. I’m being too PC now. Let me be honest…sorry Ranger but you need more than a make-over..you need surgery! Someone had to say it.

I did have a woman come out and try Nootka. She got on her and did the walk around pony ride then told me her trainer would have to come take a ride too. I rode Nootka for her to see what she could do and she was fabulous. This horse just gets better and better. Which ironically brings me to my problem. Do I sell her or keep her? I was on the sell her side before I rode her tonight. She was great! We almost have the Flutterbooks Ipad application done but I’m not sure anyone can predict the revenue.

Is the lesson…weight it out more money in the bank account or more riding? Which feels better?

Lesson Eleven – Baby Steps

I love this video with Ira Glass (of This American Life fame). The video isn’t great but his voice and of course words are worth listening to.

I feel like I put too much pressure on myself to get things right! Like Ira says, “You have a high bar and you really want to reach it quickly.” When you are starting something new or taking a risk, it is so easy to say, ‘I suck at this…I’m not going to be good enough to get it done right.’

It takes a certain level of belief in yourself to keep plugging away day after day with enthusiasm.  It’s a matter of setting the bar high but seeing everything you are doing (yes, even the baby steps) as part of the process.

With Nootka I can see the baby steps leading to the next training level but I still find myself wanting her to process faster. Why are we so conditioned to time/speed being the most important thing?

The lesson is: Get up everyday with the intention to write, paint, sing, exercise…whatever but do it no matter what!

Lesson Ten – Growth vs Protection?

Rasping the trimmed hoof level

Farrier rasping a hoof

Perception is a tricky thing! I had a new farrier come out to trim Nootka’s hooves and put new shoes on. My usual farrier didn’t return my calls and missed an appointment so I had to find someone else on the fly.

The new farrier (let’s call him ‘Bill”) reminded me of how much as a child I hated when the farrier would come to do my horse’s hooves.  I hated that if my horse didn’t do exactly what the farrier wanted, he would grab a tool and smack him real hard and yell. I never understood the yelling and hitting before even trying something else.

So fast forward to ‘Bill’. Nootka swatted her tail and hit him in the eyes. He automatically assumed that Nootka wanted to hit him. He decided that there weren’t flies on her and that he needed to show her who was boss. This all happened in seconds. He hit and screamed at her.

Does this make sense to you? Horses don’t think, “Oh, I’m a bad girl for hitting the human in the face- I better be good.”  All that happened was Nootka went on high alert because she thought she might get hit again.

It made me wonder why people can automatically jump to a conclusion that someone is out to get them?

I think there are two states that people function in. One is growth and the other protection. If you are in protection, you wack the horse and assume it was out to get you. If you are in growth, you think okay I can do something different. You think about tying the horse’s tail in a loose knot or putting on some more organic fly-spray.

With my iPad application, I feel like I’m in growth most of the time but I do have moments of protection. This weekend I thought our artist was falling down on the job. My first reaction (one of protection) was to write a demanding sharply worded email. I scrapped that idea and thought I needed to give her more detail and direction. She sent much better work today and I felt nothing but good vibes.

Lesson: Don’t ‘wack’ the horse…stop and try something different. 

Lesson Nine – Grazing Part II

Known to Unknown and Back

Yesterday a lovely lady came over to ride Nootka. She was looking for a horse to ride on the weekends and Nootka is always game for more exercise (my words not hers-she says). As she rode, I saw Nootka keep looking down the hill outside the ring. I knew what she was looking at which was the backs of the other horses (Flutter and Image) grazing.

From her perspective, she just saw that something looked off, out of place. There was an unknown and this worried her. She kept wanting to figure out what it was and started losing her concentration. She became fixated on it. Every time she circled close to the hill she wanted to stop and stare. No, going back to grazing or focusing on the riding in that moment. It was all about what is it? what is it? When the two horses came up the hill, she was almost like ‘only them?’ and went back to work easily.

I thought of the terms out there for the unknown. I’ve heard…education for the unknown (from a conference I went to at Harvard -preparing kids for an unknown future -I didn’t understand how you do that in a traditional factory-type education system…I don’t think they really knew either), there is unknown.com publishing (which is actually about getting known from publishing with them), going into the unknown (like Lewis and Clark exploring or that guy in the book: Into the Wild). All those unknowns have an element of being a little wary or afraid but then trying to do it anyway.

I feel like I’m looking in the eyes of the unknown this morning. Quite honestly I feel like Nootka. I want to figure out what it is. Can I figure it out though? It’s a future unknown.  Maybe if I could only see a bit of it I could go back to grazing so to speak?

Could the lesson be: React, know you are reacting, see/do what you can and get back to ‘grazing’

Lesson Eight – Going Back to Grazing

Grazing is Good!

Today I watched Nootka spook at something. She ran then turned and kept looking back to where she thought the ‘spooky’ thing was. She finally stopped and stared. I have no idea what she thought looked or sounded out of place or scared her. Who knows? But it was only a minute or two before she decided that everything was fine and she could go back to grazing. She didn’t run around for hours on high alert just in case it happened again!

Most people don’t seem to go back to grazing well. I find myself ruminating on things I just don’t need to think about. It’s so easy to get on a loop of repetitive thoughts.

For example, today I kept thinking about what I would do if the artist didn’t have the menu art done by the end of the month. Now my intellectual mind says…no need to think about that now. Wait and see what happens then figure it out. My reptilian brain apparently doesn’t like that answer and keeps trying to think of all sorts of scenarios in case it happens. A TOTAL waste of time! I want to go back to grazing whines my neo cortex.

There are many different kinds of techniques to let go of this kind of looping thinking. The first step is a simple awareness that you are in the loop! It’s that awareness without judgment that counts. For me the most useful technique has been PSYCH-K. Pretty much you are able to tap in to your subconscious mind with simple muscle testing. It’s a quick and easy way to reprogram tapes that keep playing in your life.

Another thing I do is to jot down a few sentences around the topic. For example, I write down the art will be beautiful (that feels good so I write more), it will enhance the app (good feeling there), I know the artist will do her best to be on time (good again) and the whole project is coming together easily (not as good so I change it). The project is going to look amazing soon (that one feels better).

The lesson is: Go back to Grazing!

How do you go back to grazing?

Lesson Seven

Does your pain body look like this?

Over the weekend, I had an editor give me feedback on one of the stories I wrote for my new iPad app. In the story, I created a character based on Eckhart Tolle’s description of what a pain body is. Here is my abridged interpretation of the pain body: The pain body is a collection of negative energy that is a separate entity from your true self. It can be trigger by negative energy and thought. The pain body feeds on that negative energy and becomes bigger. I really like this concept. I find it very useful to knowing when I’m triggered and how to let go of those negative patterns. The letting go process is a whole different post. Right now, all I can say is that one of the best teachers out there is Sandra Wallin of Chiron’s Way (see my list of folks I love).

I remember getting Eckhart’s book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose , on audiobooks and listening to it on my commute to work. The odd thing was I just wasn’t that in to it. I would listen to Chapter One several times then go back to my standard fare of NPR podcasts like, This American Life.  I don’t think I was ready for the message at that point in my life.

Nine months later, I went to Arizona to do a workshop with Linda Kohanov, author of The Tao of Equus. I took the Ipod with me for the three hour drive from Phoenix. I put A New Earth on and was immediately hooked. An hour out of Phoenix and I was reveling in the open highway and the incredible high desert views while feeling so tuned in to Eckhart’s words.  I felt like his words were speaking directly to me. I remember feeling a great expansiveness and that yes! I could change my life and the path I was on.

I thought of that experience this morning as I rode Nootka. South Carolina mornings are divine! It was sunny, warm with blue skies and a few puffy clouds. Nothing better than that in my book! As I rode Nootka, I thought of the beauty of the moment. Just me and Nootka in partnership moving in straight lines and circles, sometimes backing up, other times halting, or changing our speed.  It reminded me of the start-up business process and of life in general.

Sometimes you want to plot the course in a straight line. You know the: I need to do this; to get that. I really wanted the Ipad development to be like that. I wanted to put it all down on paper from big ideas to small details then get a fabulous tech person to program it. It seemed simple enough. It has turned out to be more like the ride I had on Nootka this morning. Lots of starting and stopping, circles back to where (I swear) I was before, changes in speed from slow to fast, straight lines of progress, and beautiful moments of the clarity of possibility in between.

Then heard the words of Eckhart again. I heard him speak of mindfulness and being very aware of your body and actions. A clearing of the mind so to speak.  I thought this is how I feel on Nootka but not always with the start-up. With that I feel pressured make it perfect, funny, interactive, great visually, etc.

Is the real lesson about being in circles, straight lines, halts, and at various speeds and just enjoying where you are? 

Lesson Six

Is it really this easy?

This morning I saw an article in the Vancouver Sun about Jim Pattison speaking to a group of high school students. If you don’t know him, he one of the richest businessmen in Canada. He told the students to not be afraid of failure. I’m don’t know about you but I don’t find someone telling me to NOT be afraid of anything to be very helpful. I have never found this type of pie in the sky kind of advice something I’d refer to say…when I’m actually failing at something. Who in a failure situation thinks they aren’t afraid? I think it’s more like knowing when to modify, abandon, or get advice.

I thought about this afraid of failing idea when I lunged Nootka this morning. She still isn’t balanced when she canters 20 meter circles around me on the lunge line. So when she starts cantering she wants to go back to the trot. She thinks she is going to fail (be out of balance) at cantering that size circle.  I figure that I have a few options to show her that she can do it. I decide to make the circle bigger and get her into a corner of the ring that naturally bends. Then I ask her to canter. As soon as she starts to go back to the trot, I gesture keep going with the whip and she gives it a shot. She canters one circle very well and I stop to give her a ‘that a girl’ pat and change directions.

The lesson is:

So what if you are afraid to fail. Just say you are afraid and figure out how to modify, abandon, or get advice from someone.

Lesson Five

Oh no not the tightening of the girth! Grrr...

This is Nootka after two days off riding. She knows what’s next..the tightening of the girth. That sure isn’t on her top ten list of things that she loves.

I’m very familiar with that look on Nootka’s face. When I was commuting and working the normal 45hrs+ workweek, I had that ‘look’ most mornings. If I had ears like Nootka’s they would have been in that annoyed position. Although, I would have put them further back in a more threatening positions and said, “Where’s my @*ing diet coke?”

Now the cool thing about Nootka is that she only looks like that for a few short seconds after the girth is tightened. As soon as I get her working, she brightens up as she likes the engagement. I’ve noticed that if I go out to ride her with a list of exercises to check off, she seems to check out. If I turn it around and have general idea of what we are going to do and then modify it based on how she is doing and how I’m doing it works out much better.

I used to run my whole life off of lists. I had lists on the iPhone, on the iPad, on paper, or on post it notes. I always felt frantic if I didn’t get it all done. If I had one or two things on a list that would have been manageable, but when you have ten or twenty or even thirty it gets out of hand.

Now I have a couple of general things and that’s it. Never, never do I put more than four things on a list. I only put the must does.. nothing else. Just like with Nootka, I need to see how things are going and not freak out if things aren’t checked off. Is it that important to put your life on list of things to do?

Here’s the Lesson for me:

Have general ideas of things you need to do. See how things are going and modify on the fly.

Lesson Four

Happy Boyz

I just can’t resist! I have to deviate from Nootka for today and show you two very cute yearling colts. These two guys are best friends and live together in the back field. They make me smile everyday with their antics! They run, jump, rear, buck…you know all the usual horseplay kind of stuff. Yesterday morning I figured we needed a photo shoot with them as they’ve grown so much over the summer. The first few minutes of the shoot were awesome. Everybody was happy. Look at the great pic!

Then…two seconds after that pic things start going a bit sideways. Image (the gray one) decided that face fighting was much more fun than posing for pics.  Nice teeth don’t you think:

My bite is worse than my neigh?

We reorganize everyone. Whew…all calm now then I have the brillant idea of jumping up and down to get both horses to put their ears forward. Here is what happened:

RUN! You go left.. I'll go right!

So I was holding on to both horses as they went different directions. The rope burn on my hand was a nice touch.

The only lesson here is one I have heard a million times: You gotta roll with the punches (or horses for that matter).

Lesson Three

Nootka- Ready to Rock!

One of the things I have focused on lately with Nootka is not taking a great moment and asking for more and more great moments. What do I mean by this?

Nootka is a pretty green horse. Before she came to me, she had a very limited amount of training. Now, she has the basics of walk, trot, canter but that’s it. I’ve started teaching her to move laterally with several short and sweet exercises. I get really excited that she seems to get it much faster than my other horse.

Honestly, she is the smartest horse I’ve ever worked with. I’ve noticed that I get in this mindset of ‘oh you can do that easily so that means you can do this’. The ‘this’ is always harder. Plus I want to keep at it which is what I’ve seen many people do with horses. I’ve seen so many examples of horses pushed too hard. They either shut-down or become explosive. Neither of those is something I would ever want to create in any horse or human!

My mantra with Nootka is when she does something well and gets it I take that moment for what it is.  I love to just think wow that’s good and stop.  I’ve stopped thinking that I need to keep pushing her. Since I have taken this attitude with her, she actually seems to enjoy working with me.

Last night the hubby and I were trying to finish an important user interface design for our iPad application. It was late and the hubby was starting to get a bit frazzled. I really wanted to take our great design and get it to the programmer asap. I keep pushing and pushing him to get it done before we went to bed. Even though we had done good work on it, I felt myself wanting more and more. Then I thought of Nootka. Didn’t I make a pact with her to take the moments and not do the push/push thing? So..I laid off cajoling the hubby and you know what happened? The hubby rallied! I took the pressure off of finishing. As soon as the pressure was released he got his stride back and we finished it!

Lesson: Take great moments and feel how great they are in that very moment. Release the pressure of pushing too hard for too much.