Kick The Bucket!

Kick The Bucket!

Midlife Women and Horses

I don’t know about you, but now that I am definitely well into middle-age, I find myself thinking about that “bucket list” that seems more like something I used to hear my parents say they were checking off. Then I came across an article in Horse and Rider called “44 horsey things to do before you die.” Before I die? Whoa! I’m just getting the legal pad out to make my bucket list!

horse-buckets

And then something shifted. As I read through this list, I realized that while they were all worthy entries, many of them didn’t fit me as a rider. With one hand reining in my escalating anxiety and the other gripping my pen, I began my own list―but instead of listing all the horsey things to do before I die, I decided to list the horsey things I’ve already been able to do. When I considered that just ten years ago I barely allowed myself to dream of owning a horse, the memories began to unfold of all that has happened and changed in my life since that 1000-lb lesson in abundance (as in be very careful what you wish for) arrived in my life. Because of this added horsepower, everything around me and within me opened up in ways “awe inspiring” doesn’t begin to touch.

So as I made my retroactive horsey bucket list, my bucket overflowed with gratitude for all the people, experiences and hard-earned wisdom these generous and wise teachers have brought into my life. So much has happened because of that single moment when I said “yes!” to a horse. And in reflecting on all that has happened, I can’t help but wonder what else may add itself to my list as I continue to follow where these horsey things lead. I like this a lot better than thinking about dying.

Seven of my horsey experience favorites — and their life takeaways include:

Open yourself to unexpected beauty. “Horse camping” on the 35,000 acre LBJ Grasslands — where a two-hour ride turned into an 8-our odyssey, but I didn’t care because of the surreal “pinch me I must be dreaming” beauty of this experience. Takeaway: If you open yourself to new experiences, you never know what unforeseen beauty may await

Be willing to do something badly. Ranch sorting — where my horse had a much better idea of what to do than I did, but we managed to live through the experience and even sort a few cows. There was also a reining clinic that was both an ugly and wonderful opportunity to push some edges I didn’t even know I had. Takeaway: You don’t have to be good at something for it to be fun; being willing to suck a little bit means you get to try something new. People can be surprisingly kind and helpful to someone who is trying to learn.

Get bucked off and then get back on. This is where the big girl panties come in handy — and where pain is relative to the experience, and working through it has its own surprises. Takeaway: The reward of the ride is greater than the pain of hitting the ground every once in a while.

Experience an exceptional pairing of physical and mental fatigue— where physical fatigue was only exceeded by mind blowing information overload. Takeaway: I’m stronger than I thought I was, more capable than I realized, and my innate curiosity and thirst for learning is a gift that keeps on giving.

Immerse yourself in learning. Working for and traveling with Clinton Anderson and the Downunder Horsemanship team, ask all the questions I wanted to, and then shape the answers into training tips, articles, newsletters and a book, Clinton Anderson’s Lessons Well Learned was the horsey learning experience of a lifetime. Ditto the time I spent with the Drs. McCormick at Hacienda Tres Aguilas and the Institute for Conscious Awareness. Takeaway: Opportunities come along — and may be fleeting — but if you can manage to grab them and give them all you’ve got, the doors they may open are unimaginable.

Share what you’ve learned. Pitching and writing “The Smart Women’s Guide to Midlife Horses” based on my observations, conversations and experiences, both while working with Downunder Horsemanship and with my own experiences, struggles and insights with my own two midlife horses. “Riding Through Thick and Thin” was an opportunity to draw from a lifetime of body insecurity and self-help study, delve deeper and meld with expert advice from the horse and rider arenas to create a new toolkit for riders and non-riders alike that could be a body image game changer, in and out of the saddle. Takeaway: Everything you experience holds a gift, both for you and for those you are able to share it with.

Melinda Bucket Blog

Find the right help. In retraining a horse that everyone else had long since given up on — where painstakingly slow, steady and deliberate progress yielded results beyond what anyone could have imagined. Takeaway: Listen to your heart, show up, slow down and move forward one step at a time to scale impossible mountains and discover unspeakable beauty where you least expected it.

How about you? Is a horse on your bucket list? Has a horse already supplied more joy than any bucket list can hold? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out to me here, on Twitter, Facebook or my website.

This post was originally published by Equisearch.com

Put On Your Big Girl Panties

Put On Your Big Girl Panties

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One of the things we face as horse owners of any age, and especially those of us who have spent decades telling everyone around us to “be careful, now”–is the realization of what can happen if we come off a horse. We know we don’t bounce as well as we once did. And grown-up responsibilities and commitments constantly run through the backs of our minds. Under the circumstances, it’s easy to let fear and apprehension (our own and the cautionary words of others) talk us back out of the saddle. But if you love the feeling of riding, and know in your heart that what you get out of the experience is far better than sitting back and wishing, you must learn to minimize risk and maximize joy. Is it a matter of putting on your big girl panties to force yourself through fear? Do you just need that 30 seconds of insane courage to put apprehension in its place? Should you listen to those who advise you to do something every day that scares you to death?? Well, maybe. Sometimes, insane courage is part of the personal courage equation, but you also have to be smart about it. Fear exists for a reason. So do riding helmets. One of the best ways to feel safe in the saddle is by knowing you’ve done all you can to minimize risk. Yes, you definitely wear the aforementioned helmet. But even more important than wearing protective gear is incorporating safe habits into your routines until they become second nature. And you educate yourself (and your horse) on the basics of horsemanship. So, how do you put all this together? I’ve learned that you can’t bluff a horse, so pretending not to be afraid when you are doesn’t serve any purpose. But once you have the safety and education pieces in place, you can call up those 30 seconds of insane courage. It’s called putting on your big girl panties. With well-earned confidence in place, you know that whatever happens when you’re in the saddle, you can handle it, so you swing your leg over with a “Just Do It” attitude that would make St. Nike proud. Here’s a quick story to illustrate. When we were shooting some video to promote The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, I got on Trace for some footage of me riding him, since my issues with this challenging horse were a major thematic element of the book. I didn’t feel nervous or unsure when I got on him, but he immediately started what I call his “agitated quick-step” that is a precursor to the leap-forward-kick-up “angry dolphin.” (Isn’t it sad that I have names for all his antics? Why I keep this horse is a story for another day). Suddenly, I felt my confidence I had slipping away. And the cameras were rolling. (I’ll put this up on YouTube when it’s ready, so stay tuned if you want a giggle.) “Sit heavy, sit back and push him forward,” Denise called out to me from across the arena. I did. Sure enough, he began walking more normally. But the tension remained in both of us. I tried to breathe deep and relax my hips and legs. It felt better, but still not good. “Still looks like you’re walking on eggshells,” Joyce, the videographer and producer, observed. “It’s OK, though,” she added as she unplugged herself from the camera. “I think we have enough of you riding Rio.” I dismounted and she started packing up her equipment. Then something strange happened. “No, we’re not doing this today,” I said to no one in particular as I turned Trace around to face the middle of the arena. Without any of my usual preamble or the mounting block I use to get on him in a “kinder, gentler way,” I climbed back on Trace. His head went straight up. I felt the familiar hump rising in his back. I squeezed him forward. “You’re going to do this today and you’re going to do it right,” I told him. To my great relief–and more than a little surprise–he did. The smile you see in the video as I reach forward to pat him after a very nice canter is one of those moments with far-reaching implications. Finding my big girl panties at the end of a long, hard fight through fear and uncertainty was a feeling of victory like no other.

This post was originally published by Equisearch.com

Things that make you say, WOW.

Midlife News Women and Horses

I’m not normally a person who attends plays I’ve never heard of, featuring actors I don’t know. But when a text from my friend, Linda, said, “Do you want to go see “God of Carnage” at the Dallas Theatre Center  Friday night? I watched myself reply, “YES!”

Seriously?!?!? Without even asking what that could possibly be about? (I usually try to avoid any sort of carnage as entertainment, but I was just recently on a bus for a week with lots of teenagers, so a quiet theatre and adult company sounded pretty good.)  And even now that I’ve seen this oddly enlightening play by Yasmina Reza, I really couldn’t begin to describe it — except to say it struck some very familiar chords. And, strangely enough, it relates quite directly (as I’m finding that most things do), to the revelations we gain through our interactions with midlife horses.

Like horses, this play puts people in an environment chock full of assumptions, and then peels back each of those assumptions to reveal the fragility of human nature. Working with horses sometimes confronts us with circumstances that challenge what we think we know to reveal the unvarnished truth.

As “God of Carnage” demonstrated (and any horse worth his salt will teach you), when our ego-created “bubble of reality” collapses,  everything comes down to basic needs, desires and protective instincts. That’s when you drill right to the heart of who you are and what you need, courtesy of your half-ton teacher (who may or may not be horse-laughing at your arrogance as he invites you to check your ego at the barn door.)

“If you don’t reconcile with these things every once in a while, you’re bound to get a very nasty smack in the face,” says “God of Carnage” director Joel Ferrell in his Playbill interview (Joel most likely doesn’t know he could be a horse trainer and clinician if this Director thing doesn’t suit him).  Ferrell says he wanted people to leave this play with the understanding of how close to that edge we all live, all the time.  “At any moment — after a meeting with your boss, a near accident, or the subway gets stuck— anyone can be reduced to his or her five-year-old self.” (I immediately thought of trying to get Rio to lope in the round pen without dropping his shoulder. Except that usually, five-year-olds don’t yet know how to string that many four-letter words together.)

Ferrell suggests that real redemption and real knowledge can only come if you are willing to look at everything stripped down, without pretense. “I think what is hardest about finding a sense of peace or connecting with a higher power in the modern world,” he says, “is the ‘bubble world’ we have fabricated that appears to serve all our needs.”

In “God of Carnage,” Ferrell says that playwright Yasmina Reza speaks to change and redemption and the real human condition in its most vulnerable of places. “ I don’t know of anything as accessible that also feels as smart and dangerous as her work,” he says. Clearly Joel has not spent much time with horses.

Which bring me (at last) to my point.

The lessons brought to us by our midlife horses are universal.  We get this vital information from our horses because our love and interest in horses makes us receptive to this mode of delivery. We can, however, come by this information in other ways; we just have to find something that speaks as directly to our heart.  And often, as I just experienced, once a horse opens a particular door for you, we as midlife searchers find echoes of these lessons in other venues (in this case the Dallas Theatre Center) that adds texture, depth and context.

So here’s the question. What lessons from your midlife horse have you discovered in other formats and venues so far removed, yet so parallel, you just have to say, “WOW.”

 

Get back in the saddle on your own terms. But do you even know what they are?

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Whew! After a whirlwind spring of Dust Off Your Dreams retreat planning and launch, the joining forces of key retreat facilitators to develop a series of related programs of varied lengths, venues, and formats (details coming soon!), lots of book-related promotion activity, and serving as a presenter (with a great panel including Linda McDermott, Jennifer Fulton, and Cassandra Thompson) at the first annual AmerEquine Festival of the Horse, and talking to so many different women about their horses, I’m now back in my office with plenty of new things to ponder with you regarding the Midlife Horses experience — and the lessons it has to offer us as we navigate Life, Part Two.

One of my favorite stories to come out of AmerEquine audiences was a woman 72 years old (I assured her that Midlife was more a state-of-mind than any particular number) who had recently bought a new horse. At first I didn’t find this revelation all that unusual. Until, of course, she told us the rest of the story. She rode a lot when she was young and, like so many of us, took a break during the ensuing decades of raising a family. She bought her first Midlife horse in her mid 60s. And, like so many of us, she was a little apprehensive about getting back in the saddle so late in life. So, following the conventional advice we all tend to get, she bought a lazy older gelding instead of that young, shiny, sassy, forward-moving horse she preferred in her youth.

Well, in this case (proving that every rule has an exception and the bottom line is listening to your own inner wisdom when choosing a horse — or anything else, for that matter) this didn’t work out so well.

“I came off that horse six times in six months,” she said. “Luckily I wasn’t hurt, but I finally realized that that fat, lazy older horse didn’t want to move, and my expectations were making him more explosive than a horse that liked to move. So I sold him and got a bigger mover — a seven-year-old mare — and I have been happy — and much safer — in the saddle ever since!”

So what does that tell us about self-limiting beliefs? About finding our own answers? About the importance of self-awareness — and making choices aligned with who you are and what you need? Now, of course, this could have gone the other way. She could have bought the sassy mare first and found out she didn’t still have the chutzpah — or desire — to ride like that any more.

But I submit that taking a step back and spending some time on the above questions will take you on a shorter path to the choices that will fulfill you in the second half of life, whether you’re choosing a horse, a hobby, an old dream to dust off, or a reinvented career.

What counterintuitive epiphanies have you run across in your own midlife explorations? How has knowing yourself better guided you to make different choices than those dictated by conventional wisdom or the well meaning advice of others? What have you learned about making choices on the midlife trail you’d like to share with others? Weigh in here, folks! This is stuff we’re all wondering about on some level — and your story may be just the spark someone else needs to dig a little deeper to excavate her own authentic wisdom. I look forward to hearing your story, either as a comment here, via email (mkfolse@gmail.com) or through Facebook, Twitter or a LinkedIn discussion.

 

 

 

Lead mare love, no strings attached

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses

So after spending a little time last weekend with family, the  horses, and now sitting here on my porch with my trusty dogs, reflecting on the whole concept of mothers day, mothering, and motherhood, quite easily the mother of all opportunities to become a better person,  I’ve come to a few conclusions.

Across America last Sunday we honored mothers and motherhood in as many different ways as there are mothers to celebrate. (I hope all of them included pie) Let’s face it. Mothering these days is a lot different job than it used to be. Easier in some ways (cell phones make carpools, schedule coordination and on-the-fly redirection of teenagers a whole lot easier); harder in others (have you ever tried to get the undivided attention of a teenager embroiled in a text conversation?). Nevertheless, as a generation, I think we have adapted pretty well.

And, for those of us whose role of “mother” has now moved, as one family therapist once put it, “from management to consultant,” don’t worry. It gets worse.

Or, as Academy Award Winning Actress Goldie Hawn told Oprah Winfrey in a recent installment of Oprah’s Master Class on OWN, “One of the most difficult things, and the most important gifts we can give our adult children is to let go.” Now Goldie, keep in mind, is one of us. Or, as USA Today reports, “Hawn, 59, is happy. And the Oscar-winning comedian, who grew up Jewish but is now a practicing Buddhist, shares her spiritual journey to enlightenment and contentment in her first book, A Lotus Grows in the Mud (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $25.95), written with journalist Wendy Holden.” Goldie is also one of a key group of Boomer women whom we can all probably agree had a hand in inventing reinvention. (We’ll be looking at a few others in this inspiring group. If you know of someone who should be featured in this upcoming series, feel free to add her name to my list!)

I don’t know about you, but this “letting go” thing is harder than it seems. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s more difficult than potty training. More harrowing than pre-teen sleepovers. More daunting than driver education.  The truth is, when you’ve invested two or three decades of single-minded focus on keeping someone safe, happy, and on the path to their highest potential, it’s just damn hard to now just step back and say, “OK . . . well . . . you’re done! Good luck!”

It’s quite frankly enough to wear a good woman out.

So where do we find the strength to “let go?” Where do we look for answers when we are still having a hard time understanding the questions? What do we do when “thinking out of the box” sometimes also means thinking outside the ballpark the box is buried in?

“Get quiet,” advises Deborah McCormick, PhD and co-author of Horse Sense and the Human Heart, Horses and the Mystical Path, and a new one I’m now SO excited to be editing that delves into this subject with solutions that guide us back toward nature, unplugging and learning to listen to our “inner lead mare.”

You may remember Deborah from Chapter two of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses as the one who explained how horses give us a “keen sense of direction, composure and inner strength, teaching you to elevate your desires and increase your capacity to love.”

So apparently, that’s the trick to this “letting go” thing. And once again, it is horses that seem here to show us the way. When we tap into our inner lead mare (the mother of all mothers), we find that “keen sense of direction, composure and inner strength” we’ve been ignoring in our quest to keep mothering until they get it “right.” (According to our terms, not theirs. This can be a BIG difference.)

“When you learn how to love from a place of strength, rather than from a place of fear,” says Rev. Linda McDermott, who led our guided meditations and “quest vs. quilt” discussions at our recent Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat (Look for more on Linda’s Life Patchwork sessions in coming posts), “you learn how to love more authentically, with no strings or expectations attached.”

What? No strings or expectations? Really? Is that even possible after this many years of careful mothering that created, and then knitted, those strings into a corral of safety for our little buckaroos? Our lead mares say “YES!” — and if we can manage to find her an coax her out of our shadows, she’ll be glad to show us the trail.

Trust your heart and ignore the naysayers: “Buck” director Cindy Meehl on following your midlife passion

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses

When Cindy Meehl, the 52-year-old first time director of the award-winning documentary “Buck,” first came up with this idea, it was the beginning of a  midlife dream we can all get our hearts around. Cindy, an artist and a housewife, had never made a film of any kind before — in fact, she didn’t know the first thing about documentaries. Except that Buck Brannaman’s story needed to be one.

Cindy describes this  pivotal decision in her recent interview with freelance writer and horse enthusiast Jennifer B. Calder: ” I didn’t go into it because I wanted to see my name in lights or make the great American film,” Cindy says. “I went into it knowing what this message was about and knowing if something moved me this much, to where I had that passion in my heart, then I should really think about it.” And I didn’t tell anyone—it was just this little thing, a little voice in my head, ‘”this should be a film; this should be a film…”

Cindy Meehl’s dream became major motion picture “BUCK,” Winner of U.S. Documentary Audience Award–Sundance Film Festival 2011

So how in the world would you go about making a documentary when you don’t know the first thing about film making? Cindy is a big believer that the right people come together at the right time to do the right thing if given half the chance. (I actually experienced this phenomenon while writing The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses!) “Where your mind goes, energy flows,” is Cindy’s favorite descriptive quote of this process. I couldn’t agree more.

So what idea, dream, or impulse do you have that deserves your passion? What changes are you willing to make — and what risks are you prepared to take to follow a certainty that something MUST be done and you are the right one to do it?

 

 

Wobbly confrontation skills? Practice with a horse!

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses

One of the most popular sessions at last week’s Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat was the “fill your toolbox” session conducted by Denise Barrows of Practical Equine Solutions. Her assistant, you see pictured here, was a wise old horse they call General. And believe me, when those beautiful blue eyes look right through you like you’re not even there, you know you’re going to have to dig much deeper to get his attention. (He’s actually kind of an old fart about this, but that’s what made him so perfect for this exercise. It does help that he’s so handsome!)

Meet General and his co-educator, Denise Barrows. Can your "inner lead mare" move his feet?

So here’s the exercise: gather up your core conviction  (or as Deborah McCormick, PhD, explains in Chapter Two of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses) engage your “inner lead mare.” And calmly but with all the inner force you can muster, walk straight toward the horse, asking him to move out of your space. All you want here is to see the horse recognize and honor your “inner lead mare” — and respond by taking a step back. Eyes and ears on you and a single step is plenty good enough.

This is where little bitty Denise showed the retreat participants how to “get as big as you need to” (and keep at it as long as you have to) to get the result you want. General, who oddly enough is not a therapy horse at all, but “just” one of the 20-something horses in the Wildcatter’s trail string refused to move until each woman got frustrated enough to dig deep enough in her core to find that inner lead mare who, in some cases, made her debut in that afternoon light of awareness (even though she’s been there all along, just waiting to be called!).

This was a fascinating thing to watch, and, judging from an email we received from one of our participants on Wednesday after the retreat, works as well on snarky supervisors in the workplace as it does on obstinate old horses in a dusty roundpen:

“I got to use some of my newfound “horse sense/confidence” already this week! Yesterday I had [a difficult meeting with my supervisor] (details and participant identity omitted for the obvious reason)  . . .She is very stubborn and non-flexible, a lot like Precious. . . I knew she would be rigid to [the change I was suggesting] and have some ridiculous excuse as to why.

So [just like Denise taught us in the calm courage exercise], I did my research and “scoped” out the situation before going in  . . .then, even though she caught me a little off-guard, I was still able to use my body language and just tell her that this is what needs to happen…She kind of huffed and puffed a little…. stomped her foot a couple of times… swatted a few flies, then agreed to [make the requested change] and get back to me next week. I walked away feeling good about [the confrontation] and knowing that it will be okay.”

Do you know how to summon your inner lead mare? Test your ability to project your energy from your core by practicing it with a horse (any horse will do!) . . . and even if this doesn’t work as well as you’d like at first, the more you practice, the quicker and easier it is to get her to come when you call her (and stay happily grazing in the background until the next time you need her! [If you’re curious about this exercise, check out Chapter Two of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses and my interviews with Deborah McCormick of The Institute of Conscious Awareness at Tres Aguilas Ranch just outside San Antonio, Texas (I also highly recommend their retreats as a next step for anyone wanting to go deeper in these concepts and explore specific issues and goals), as well as the McCormicks’ two books, Horse Sense and the Human Heart and Horses and the Mystical Path)

Try it and share what happens! Comment here, on our Facebook community, Twitter, show us on YouTube (believe me, I wish the camera had been running when I tried this at my first retreat — it had to be hysterical the way that horse looked at me and ignored me like I wasn’t even there. But it got better. And it would have been fun to see the progression!) I can’t wait to see how practicing this exercise with a horse impacts your interactions and effectiveness in other areas of your life.

Click on the order button to buy this book now!

Dream Dusting Preliminary Report

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses

I know  you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to find out how last weekend’s first Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat went at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa.

Wellllllll . . . .

If it could have been any better, I couldn’t imagine it. A spectacular setting that turned out to be everything I hoped it would be and more. Leaders and participants whose interactions and explorations created just the right atmosphere of mutual support, spirit of adventure and quiet introspection that, by the final Sunday morning exercise, managed to coax even the most elusive dreams out of the shadows. (Sometimes, it turns out, the dream may be only to have a dream. Good enough!)

Even the questionable weather held off (except for providing us with an apropos dust-blowing-in-your-eyes corral metaphor that, while irritating at the time (literally!), just  bounced happily over to join the growing pile of life-changing metaphors gathering by the fire where we enjoyed our apres-dinner s’mores. (Bet you never thought you’d see “apres dinner” and “s’more” in the same sentence, now did you? Oddly, even this is a metaphor for the diversity of dreams in this group.)

Precious examines the thoughts of guest, DD Holmes, who describes the weekend as "inspiring, with new ideas and ways of successful thinking." "

Yes, this was a pilot group. Not horse people (or pilots, for that matter, although I do think we may have nudged a couple of latent horse dreamers back toward the saddle), and a good enough range of ages and interests to get a solid idea of how well our content and leadership team would gel. Even more important than that, we really got a good, up-close-and-in-person opportunity to see if this event will truly create insight pathways for women in transition to help them discover what’s next in their lives — and take decisive first action steps toward it.

I’ll be posting more (much more!) on the topics and insights dancing naked around the fire with us last wekend. (Oh, get your mind out of the gutter — the only things stripped away this weekend were the obstacles, excuses, fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, insecurities and judgment that keep us from getting more of what we really, really love back into our lives.)

Meanwhile, a question emerges. Do you know what your dream is? If I stopped you in the hallway (and you had only a few seconds to spare) could you state your dream in one quick sentence? Try it! And if you’re brave, send it to me here as a comment, via email to mkfolse@gmail.com , or post it on our Facebook page or Twitter.

One thing we learned for sure this weekend is that there is power in this midlife community that’s out there pulling for you. Gather it close and open your eyes to the marvelous resources all around you, just waiting to be invited to help Dust Off Your Dream!

Click on the order button to buy this book now!

Is today “Take Your Joy to Work Day? It can be!

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

This story comes to us from my feed store friend and was just too good not to share. And, paired with my recent participation in Terri Maxwell’s Finding Your Purpose Workshop last Saturday, got me thinking about jobs that are, as one famous baseball player once said (I forget who . . .anyone remember?), “like getting paid to eat ice cream.”

So here is is. On touring Purina’s mothership in St. Louis, my friend discovered that every species of animal Purina makes food for is raised from birth at this giagantmo facility (she said the baby dairy cows might have been the cutest), and there are people whose full time job it is to handle baby animals from the second they’re born, just to get them used to being handled, examined, and evaluated  as the  humans who work there seek to document the effects of their feed formulations on things like performance.

This, she said, was impressive enough until she was ushered into a large room for a presentation on a new high performance horse feed. As the crowd watched, Purina scientists strapped monitoring equipment on a full-grown horse and then put it on a treadmill for a demo.

 

I think at this point any detail about their new high-performance feed were lost on her as she watched with fascination the horse on the treadmill. On cue it walked, and then trotted, and then cantered. Yes, you read that right. A full grown, full-sized horse,  cantering on a treadmill. With monitors and a crowd of people watching.

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble even walking on a treadmill — with only two feet to keep up with. And yet, this horse wasn’t even bothered.

So of course, my friend raised her hand to ask the obvious question (that, probably much to the presenter’s chagrin, had nothing to do with the new feed formula they were so proud of) “How do you teach these horses to do this?”

With a why-do-they-always-ask-this-first expression, the rep answered, “Oh, we have a full time vet tech staff whose job it is to handle these horses from the time they’re born. They just play with them on the treadmill every day and get them used to all the people and equipment and testing protocols.”

Really? People get paid to play with baby animals to get them used to their job? Doesn’t the very fact that there IS such as job as this make you wonder what other kinds of fun jobs there are in the world — particularly in the horse industry —  that you’ve never thought about?

Not coincidentally (Intrigue Expert Sam Horn calls this “Serendestiny”), since I just spent all last Saturday trying to boil my strengths and passions into a two-word, verb-noun construction (easier said than done!), I was still pondering the concept of  finding and creating work opportunities that create that “sweet spot” pairing between what we do and what we love. (I’m going to resist going off on a Starkids and Farm Planet riff here. I do have a fourteen-year-old. So smile if you get this.)

So with this concept in mind, I challenge you. What brings a smile to your face and fills your heart with joy every time you think about or do something related to it? How can you get more of that into your life? What if there was a job out there that would pay you well to have that feeling every single day? And, on the flip side, if that thing that brings you such joy becomes “work,” will it then be less fun?

Let me hear from you!  (If you want to know more about this workshop and its related programs, check out Terri’s book, Succeed on Purpose, Mindy Audlin’s book, What if it All Goes Right?  and Terri’s Website, www.succeedonpurpose.com). I think it’s easy when we get to this point in life to consider work as “what we do” and our passions (things like spending time around horses) as “what we love.” What if you could have both?

Click on the order button to buy this book now! (Free book included with retreat registration)

Last call! Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s retreat registration closes at midnight tonight with only four spots left to fill!

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses
If you’ve been sitting on the fence, thinking the Dust Off Your dreams Retreat sounds really good, but for whatever reason you haven’t signed up yet, stop reading right now and click here to register before it’s too late — registration closes at midnight tonight! (But the retreat’s still a month away!)
After our onsite dry run last week on our slate of activities for the Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat April 13-15 at the Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa in Graham Texas, this dynamic team of presenters was simply giddy. We knew what we wanted this thing to be, and I think for the first time we all fully realized how well it has all come together — and what a fantastically cool thing we’re offering women at this pivotal time of life — and how much truly usable life-and-awareness changing insight people are  going to get out of it.
That is, of course, if they’ll just find some way to stop their busy-ness for just a few days, grab a friend and come! I know, this is easy to say  — and I’m the worst saw sharpener you’ll even meet (remember that old Steven Covey analogy about the guy too busy sawing with the dull saw to stop and sharpen it?)
And, believe me, I KNOW it can be difficult, especially when we’re busy attending to the day-to-day urgencies of our life, to make time for self-renewal. To really believe our dreams are worth this kind of investment. But they are. And so are you.
It’s hard to imagine the difference just a brief weekend focusing on what brings you joy and how to get more of it into your life can make. But trust us. This is a weekend that could make an incredible and joyful difference in how you approach the “patchwork squares” still waiting to be filled for Part Two of your life.
So this is it. Last call for the April 2012 Dust Off Your Dreams Women’s Retreat. We built it — y’all come!
And if you’re interested but for whatever good reason are not able to attend this one, I’d still love to hear from you. Maybe you’re not quite ready to drag those old dreams back into daylight. Maybe the issue is time, maybe it’s money, maybe it’s a schedule conflict — or maybe it’s that laundry basket of feral Dachsund puppoes in your utility room. Whatever the reason, if this retreat concept is something that interests you, please let us know.
We’ll be doing more Dust Off Your Dreams events of all shapes and sizes around these topics, and we’d love some input and feedback from like-minded women. If you’d like to be on our email list for future programs and events (and to receive our free e-book of inspirations!) click here to go to our home page (scroll over to the box just to the right of the video) and enter your email address!
Click on the order button to buy this book now! (Free book included with retreat registration)

Want to know more about The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses? Click here to view book trailer!