Lesson Eighteen – One Man’s Trash….

Care for a Dip?

Last winter I bought galvanized tubs for the horses to drink out of. The tubs worked fine but easily froze so I needed something bigger. I wasn’t keen on plastic as when it gets really hot it leaches into the water. In comes the bathtub idea!

I found two old crappy looking tubs that no one wanted. With help from the hubby, we scrubbed the rust off, prepped, and painted the tubs. They look great now and are nice water troughs for the horses.

While we worked on them, we noticed the year they were made…1920 was stamped on the bottom. These tubs have seen a few baths! It was easy to sand the rust off the claw-foot feet and see the beauty in the workmanship. Once the paint dried, I stepped back and really admired how wonderful they looked.

The whole process kept me thinking of re-purposing and how we can look through different lenses to see things being ‘useful’ or ‘beautiful’ in various ways. Why put the tubs outside when they could be ‘useful’ inside, someone might ask.

How many times do we try to think differently or just fall back on what is practical or easy? Lately, I have made an effort to think differently and see the unseen. I have found it interesting as our minds are so conditioned to only see what is.

How do you look beyond the usual, the concrete, and see something different?

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Lesson Seventeen – Letting Go and Feeling Great!

Nootka ready for greener pastures

Nootka is off to new green pastures. She walked right on her new owner’s horse trailer and stood there looking back at us as we closed the door as if to say, “Hurry up! I’ve got places to go and horses to see!” I think it really shocked her new owner how easily she loaded on the trailer.

I’m usually terrible at good-byes but this time I felt good. I was surprised that Nootka and I seemed to be so clear and happy at her transitioning to a new home. I know I’ll see her again at a horse show or somewhere and it will be so good to say, “Hi friend! – How’s the teaching going?”

My other mare, Aspen, did whinny for her several times but then went back to grazing. By the next day she seemed different too. When Nootka was with her she bossed her around and her life was controlled. Nootka was like you stand there and if Aspen didn’t want to, Nootka would chase her or kick at her until she was where Nootka wanted her. It reminded me of a boss I once had ūüėČ

Now, Aspen is very relaxed and seems more engaged. She has been a delight to ride and even decided to show me that she still has her fancy dressage self in there!

For me it was so wonderful to feel good about letting something go. Try it today…let go of a belief or object or a limiting thought…just let it go.

Lesson Sixteen – Look Beyond What Is

Good-bye dear friend and teacher

Nootka found a new home! She is leaving in a few days. Since the sale became final, I seem different and she does too. I think we both realize that our relationship is coming to an end. It made me think about closing chapters in life and reflecting on the lessons learned.

Noot can be a bully with my other horse, Aspen. Aspen is a lovely black warmblood with a heart of gold. When I’m with her I feel light and present. She has a very grounding effect on me. Noot, on the other hand, is more the ‘show me what you’ve got’ type of personality.

The biggest lesson for me was to stand up and be the leader, not by force but by intent. I remember the first time I worked with Noot and she was charging around me in a circle like a mad woman. Everytime she wanted to run too fast I stopped her and asked her to walk again. After several tries she did it and I stopped the session. That was good enough!

The next day she tried to kick out at me as she really likes to take charge and wanted to show me that she didn’t want to trot. I just ignored it and moved on. It was always a fine line with her between doing too much or doing too little. I learned that she did want to please me and with the right asking and inviting her to choose the ‘correct’ answer, she was learning.¬†¬†I knew that one day, I would ride her and she would be relaxed, happy and going nicely.

When her new owner came out to try her, she was so responsive and easy going. I felt so proud of her progress. She was like a different horse. I think she is comfortable in partnership with humans and more relaxed about it.

My lesson is:  See beyond what is. See the potential and what can be.

Lesson Fifteen – Check-in, Not Out

Girth Tight - check! Nootka Ready to Work

At university I took a course called Self-Management and Motivation. I thought it would be an easy ‘A’. I think I ended up with a ‘C’. It was all about making goals for yourself, making lists, multi-tasking, limiting yourself to a certain amount of time to do things, etc. Looking back now I see how none of that really makes sense.

It makes more sense to ‘feel’ your way through life with your emotions as the guides. For example, today I figured I needed to organize some paperwork and clean-up my workspace. At first, I felt a resistance to doing it then I thought that it would be great to listen to a podcast, drink some tea and relax about it.

Maybe I only needed to do part of it. I felt so much better that I actually enjoyed sorting those papers into files! If I had said to myself…just get it done now without seeing how I felt, it wouldn’t have felt good. I have figured out that resistance is a strong indicator. It means that something needs to change.

Nootka can be really crabby when the girth is tightened. Lately, I have been distracting her while I gradually tighten it. I usually scratch her belly (she loves that) then take the girth up a hole or two. She doesn’t notice. It takes longer but she is much happier.

Is the lesson…Make life fun! When there is a task to be done see how you feel and figure out ways to feel better about it.

Lesson Fourteen – The Beauty of ‘Feel’

The levade.

Dressage - the Classic 'Levade'

Riding well requires something that horsefolks refer to as ‘feel’. It’s when you know how to ask the horse to do something or react to what the horse is doing in an intuitive way. ‘Feel’ becomes a conversation between rider and horse. Often, it can turn into a beautiful dance.

There are many riding instructors that try to teach people how to develop feel. I’ve watched dvds that break training horses or how to ride into small chunks using a step-by-step program. It’s good to have the security of developing those practical skills in linear format but horses, like life, are not linear.

I got to see a good example of that over the weekend. I had two different riders on Nootka. The first was a professional dressage rider that has trained and ridden the higher levels of dressage. The other was an amateur, who has ridden off and on for many years.

The first rider got on Nootka and immediately started the conversation politely and then began asking Nootka for more to see where her training level was. When Nootka didn’t know what she was asking or couldn’t hold it for long physically, the rider backed off and tried something she could do. In a matter of fifteen minutes or so, Nootka was gaining more confidence and was engaged in the ‘conversation’.

The second rider was more tentative. She wasn’t sure what to ask Nootka to do so she walked around to gain her own confidence. When she decided to trot, Nootka said, “yes, ma’am” and threw the rider a bit off-balance. This conversation was more trial and error and required more regrouping. The first rider offered suggestions on what to do to the second rider and helped guide this conversation to several good moments of partnership.

In my ‘old’ career I felt like the years of gaining knowledge and good old-fashioned experiences helped me develop a great deal of ‘feel’. It was such a good feeling to know the answers and be super confident in the work. I liked it! Now, I feel like the second rider on Nootka. I feel like the start-up is much more trial and error and that I have to repeatedly regroup and think of things differently. It’s not a linear step-by-step process. It often doesn’t look pretty.

Could the lesson be….Trial and error along with creative thinking will lead to creation of beauty?

Steve Jobs – You Changed Us

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

Steve Jobs with the iPhone 4 in 2010

It’s strange the things you remember. As soon as I heard that Steve Jobs passed away, I thought back to 2001 when I worked at a middle school in Roanoke, Virginia. I had a grant funded position and some funds that allowed us to invest in technology for the school. The computer guy (Gary) was an amazing teacher and was always looking for best ways to engage students. He had encouraged me to buy Macs for the school and we did.

One day at lunch, I distinctly recall talking to him about buying stocks and asking him if he had invested in any company. He told me that he had invested in Apple. I was shocked as it seemed to me that Microsoft owned the computer world as it stood at that moment.

It seemed like a crazy bet to me. He told me that Apple was going to make a come-back because Apple was all about innovation based on design.¬†It all sounded good to me but all I knew was what I saw so I invested a little bit of money on a ‘safe’ company called AOL.

So now it’s October 6th, 2011, I see photos and articles about Steve Jobs and feel sad. Why do I feel sad when I never met him? I look down at the iPad I’m typing on and have my answer. Steve’s ideas changed us. He knew there was beauty and wonderment inside and outside devices. He wanted us to experience technology with ease and grace. He opened up new worlds…no more going to start to shut down the computer. He allowed our devices to be accessible, to have an easy learning curve..not a huge user’s manual within a clunky box.

Steve thought of it all. From the moment you lay eyes on that slick box to the moment you slide your new device out, it is all part of the experience. It is the texture, the colors, the design, the feeling of that first moment. Turning on your new device is a thing of beauty– Ready to use, not hours of reading ahead. Steve respected us and knew we deserved the best.

But he went even further, he saw what didn’t even exist. I remember seeing the iPad days after it’s release. My friend waited for hours to get one and was like a small child on Christmas morning showing it to me. As she laughed and demonstrated what it could do, all I could think was this is a total game changer.

For me the game changing is more concrete. I have an iPad application that is going to launch soon. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I could have designed an application. I mean it blows me away to see all of the wonderful (and not so wonderful) apps that people have designed and how many doors have opened. It’s like Steve knew he could give us the most amazing platform to create our dreams on. From simply reading books to playing games to seeing the world differently it’s all there.

Steve Jobs did what we are all capable of doing. He felt passion for creation and design. He believed he could change the world and he did.  Rest in Peace.

Lesson Thirteen – Living Like a King

Chillon Castle seen from Geneva Lake

Castle Living at Chateau Chillon... Is it better?

I listened to a webcast with Linda Kohanov, author of the Taos of Equus, Riding Between the Worlds, and The Way of the Horse over the weekend. I have done several workshops with Linda in the past. She brings wealth of insight to working with horses and how horses can help humans transform their lives.

During the webcast, Linda mentioned her research for her new book and how she was surprised to find out that we are living in better times than in the past. What struck me was that the interviewer mentioned that we are living in difficult times. I thought about how we can get in that pattern of gloom and doom thinking on any subject. Then I thought of a conversation I had with Jonathan Field, of Jonathan Field Horsemanship.

He said, “We live better than kings did.” ¬†I thought about this for a long time and you know he is right. We have sanitation and clean water. I’ve lived in third world countries and let me tell you that is a biggie. Years ago I visited the medieval Chillon castle in Switzerland. I was most surprised by the hole (aka toilet) in the upper story floor that would send the ‘stuff’ down into Lake Geneva. I, for one, love my indoor plumbing and hot water. Second, we have medical care that doesn’t involve a ‘bleeding’. We are able to heal many¬†illnesses and injuries that would have been life threatening in the ‘king’ days of old. Third, we are able to go places and have experiences unheard of in the ‘king’ days.

I feel like it is easy to take a negative view on things and find all that is wrong in the world. The media encourages it and promotes the negative because they think that is what people want. Why is that?

I think we need to seek out the positive and beautiful moments in our world. I see them everywhere when I focus and look. It’s seeing the unseen and using that as your point of attraction, not the person at work or at home that is annoying you. ¬†When I watch Nootka interact with other horses. I see her use horse cues to communicate her wants. I never see her ruminate over how the other horse got more hay or made her move when she didn’t want too.

The lesson…Seek out the good in life and don’t ruminate over the negative.