Got boundary issues? Ask Precious!

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

One of our equine co-facilitators (yes, that’s a fancy name for “horse friends”) at the recent Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat was a handsome little horse they astutely call “Precious.” Precious is a popular member of the Wildcatter trail string, and once we conducted a practice session with him, we knew he was the perfect one to illustrate the whole boundary issue exercise.

When Precious — cute, sweet, and gentle as he is — got all up in our grill(s) as he is in the photo, not one single one of us (myself included, I’m reluctant to admit) pushed him away.   Because he seemed so friendly and interested in us, he nuzzled and pushed into our personal space, quite uninvited.

And we let him. And once we let him, it was nearly impossible to shake him loose.

Is there anyone or anything like that in your life?

While it’s fairly obvious to even the mildest of us that we need to protect our space from the mean-spirited or ill-intentioned (things, events or people), the real challenge can come from those well-meaning busy-bodies who come on all friendly, sweet and harmless — and before we know it are all up in our business, wrecking our confidence and putting us in a position of defensive vulnerability that is as irritating as it is debilitating. What’s worse is that it’s hard — if not downright impossible — to take our power back once it’ s been sucked away from us through these velvety soft nostrils.

But how do you differentiate true interest and support from nosiness and impending boundary violation? How do you cultivate discernment that accepts genuine kindness and support without developing a “prickly pear” personality that repels anyone who tries to get close?

Looping back to the answer-question that always comes from spending time with horses, “What do you think?” It is only in geting in touch with the profound observations of our “inner lead mare” that we can pick up on the subtleties of interaction that tend to provide the most reliable clues.

Any thoughts on this subject out there? Anyone, like me, who unintentionally invites these well-meaning boundary crushers — and then has to figure out how to disengage to avoid drowning in self-doubt? (Do you ever feel like you MUST have a “Tell me what to do” sign stuck on you somewhere?)

This issue, like so many others women, in particular (but some men, too), face, especially at transitional times of life, is very often brought to light in the horse world (and in barns of all sizes, shapes and disciplines worldwide, apparently) where none of us has all the answers, “experts” are everywhere, and horses have a special way of leveling the playing field.

Weigh in, everyone! How do you cope with a well-meaning busybody? How do you listen without letting unsolicited advice crack your confidence? How to you shield yourself from the negative opinions of others without getting sucked into their vortex?

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. There’s wisdom in numbers, and from what I’m hearing and seeing, this is an issue we could all benefit from romping around in together. Comment here, on our Facebook page, Twitter or YouTube (free t-shirt to the first person who talks to me via YouTube video!). We’re a community created to pull for one another on this Midlife Horses trail . . . it’s time to unite against whatever or whoever is being “Precious” in your life!

 

 

Got Zen? Here’s how a horse can help you find it.

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

In one of my favorite new books, Zen Mind, Zen Horse, author Allan J. Hamilton, MD calls horsemanship “a journey of compassionate awareness.” Wow. Coming off our recent Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat, these words ring especially true, and Dr. Hamilton’s book hits the nail on its proverbial noggin.

So how do we get to that “holy ground” with our horse? Dr. Hamilton offers us the specifics; it’s up to each of us to figure out how to get there from wherever we are right now. These include:

• Clearing the mind
• Making your intention clear
• Being responsible for your own energy
• Being present
• Honoring relationship
• Stop trying to make things happen

It never ceases to amaze me how working with horses brings to light the same exact things we are trying to achieve in our human existence and relationships. Or, as Dr. Hamilton says in his recent webinar at myhorse.com (click here to listen!) that in a human setting, like a retreat (owwwww!) or classroom or lecture or book, it’s hard really know what these things mean, “but it all becomes crystal clear when you’re working with a horse.”

Check out this interview with Dr. Hamilton and see what bubbles up for you about the spiritual practices and lessons we discover when we interact with our horses.

What has your horse taught you in these areas? How have you taken these lessons into your human “herd”? What advice do you have for others trying to incorporate a little more equine energy into their inner human existence?

Let us hear from you! Comment here, on our Facebook page, Twitter, or email me at mkfolse@gmail.com .

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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.

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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!