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.

 

 

 

Horse help for “heavy” lifting — and leverage on life baggage

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I heard an interesting story yesterday that’s too good not to share. It came to me by way of Jennifer Fulton, a trainer and riding instructor in Aledo, Texas, who spends a lot of her time and professional energy working with women on the Midlife Horses trail.

We were discussing our upcoming panel discussion at the AmerEquine Festival of the Horse next weekend, and she told me about one of her students, a 60-year old woman who came to her about three years ago and wanted to learn how to ride.

“This woman had no confidence at all,” Jennifer relates. “Her posture, her body language, her whole demeanor was downcast. She was carrying a lot of “life baggage” and it was clearly weighing her down. And, in the beginning, her horse even tripped a lot!” But for some reason this woman was drawn to horses, and Jennifer noticed something in her spirit that seemed to be asking for a chance to break free of all that downward energy. So slowly but surely, Jennifer told me, the woman has literally lifted herself up by riding and spending time with her horse. “Her posture is now completely straight,” Jennifer says, beaming, “She’ll look you in the eye, and she never would do that before. I’ve watched her confidence is blossom — and it shows in everything she does — and even in how her horse carries himself now, as well.” Jennifer smiles. “You know, this is why I do what I do. I love to say to her, ‘Just look what you can do! Just look at what your horse can do!”

I don’t know about you, but this story gives me goosebumps — and it is the perfect example of how our midlife horses can help us get “unstuck” in whatever transition we’re facing — and break free of whatever may have been dragging us down for who knows how long — right here in the middles of our lives. And as one of my guest panelists at our upcoming AmerEquine presentation, Jennifer has plenty more to share where that one came from. Come learn more about the transformation in confidence horses can bring — and share your own story of what changes your horse has brought about in you! We’ll be on the John Justin Arena Seminar Stage Friday 5:30 – 6:15 and Saturday 1:30-2:15, and in the Equine Network booth in the exhibit hall all weekend (stop by and say Hi!)

And meanwhile, what in your life builds that kind of uplifting confidence? When you’re facing a transition, what do you need in order to move joyfully forward? How do you prepare yourself to meet challenges and melt obstacles? How do you honor your own uniqueness at every stage of life?

These are among the topics brewing as we plan future events and programming to follow the Dust Off Your Dreams retreat. We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, comments and suggestions. The dynamic team we’ve assembled is ready, willing, and able to move forward to our next stage — and we’ve even rounded up a few horses to help bring about the awareness and insight to make the goosebump-inducing difference you’ve been longing for.

Let us hear from you! Comment here, e-mail me privately at mkfolse@gmail.com, join our Facebook community, or follow me on Twitter, and we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop for upcoming events and programs!