The Legacy of Navaho Painted Lady

It was one of the most beautiful Spring days of the season. The chatter and songs of the birds sounded like a symphony, a gentle breeze blew, deep blue skies accented the bright green of the budding trees, and the warmth of the sun kissed my skin. The stage was set for a perfect day, and I knew this day would be one I’d always remember.
 
Our family, people and animals, gathered in the arena under one of the horse’s favorite shade trees. There was a hushed reverence as each of us held space and prepared to share our last moments with one we deeply love.
 
I'd spent most of the night before reflecting on our life together and all this very dear friend meant to me. Ironically, our time together had started 7 years ago, almost to the day. Seven years ago, I was making final arrangements to bring Butler home; a second horse wasn’t even on the radar. Yet the Universe had a surprise in-store that involved a beautiful paint mare named Navaho Painted Lady, known as Princess.

Princess Collage

As you might imagine, the moment I met Princess I feel in love. When I first approached her I was engulfed with the strength, power, compassion, and love that radiated from her. Traits that many would experience through her in the years to come, and provide valuable insight that touched souls and changed lives. But on that day, the work we'd develop and do together was still a twinkle in the Universe's eye. I just knew I was in love.
 
A love that had grown tremendously over the years, and had brought us to this moment of parting. After we’d said our goodbye’s I shared the news of her passing in a Facebook post. She has a large following, and I knew there were many who’d want to know. I invited people to share how Princess had touched their lives. Many beautiful memories were shared. As I read each and every comment, I saw her legacy emerge from the words on the screen. A legacy anyone would be honored to leave. Here are just a few of the many comments and memories shared.
 
“Strength, patience and love”
“Pure love”
“She taught me to look inwardly for peace.”
“Princess taught me to stand in my truth, my power, to back away from what felt inauthentic, to step into my heart, to be okay bring a "princess", to show love, to allow for vulnerability, and not to take anyone's shit. Also, to allow for men to stand up for me knowing that does not make me weak.”
“She taught me strength & patience.”
“She taught me to always search within and keep moving forward.”
“I’ll always remember the look in her eyes and the powerful messages she had for me the last time I worked with her.”
“…presence and stillness. Simple quiet presence.”
“Grace. She was the essence of grace.”
“She taught me so much about authentic leadership and I will never forget the imprint she left with me.”
“I’ll never forget what Princess showed & told me….See my heart Follow yours.”
“…strong vibration of unconditional love and healing.”
“…her strong presence reminded me that love is all around and within us…”
“Her message to me was when good things happen don't feel guilty. Embrace the happy times.”
“She showed me to step into my power and speak my truth.”
 
As I’ve read and re-read the comments and memories shared, I’m very humbled by the legacy one beautiful paint mare left to the world. The effects of this legacy lives on in the people she touched, and the people those people will touch. It quickly ripples out to the world at large from the time they shared with her in a dusty arena on a small piece of desert in Phoenix, AZ.
 
If one paint mare can create that kind of positive ripple in the world around her, what is the impact of the legacy you’re going to leave?

 

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Navigating The Times Ahead with Confidence

Throughout the world big changes are regularly taking place. Surrounding each of these changes is a sea of strong emotions and energy, both positive and negative. And it’s in this sea of emotions and energy that many are feeling tossed around, battered, and challenged. When this happens it can make you feel powerless, overwhelmed, hopeless, afraid, as well as many other things; or not. It’s what you do amidst the change event that makes all the difference.

Two foundational actions you can take:

  1. Being connected and centered in your authentic self.
  2. Making a choice

Let’s talk about you first. What is your authentic self? It goes by many names: true self, your essence, and your core self are just a few. It’s the opposite of your false self, your ego, or the masks you hide behind.
 
Your authentic self is who you’re here to be, including the lessons you’re here to learn and the greatness you’re here to achieve in the world. When centered in your authentic self, staying true to your beliefs, your life vision, and your greater purpose are more important than what others think of or may do to you. You remain centered and focused, not letting others doubts, opinions, or fears steer you off course.
 
Why is this so important? You can be stripped of all else, but never your truth, or your authentic self. There are many stories of people who have been subjected to all kinds of atrocities, stripped of everything including feeling like they are human. Yet they survive and go on to thrive. How is that possible? They never lost who they truly are, their core self.

Here are a few signs you’re living from your authentic self:

  • You're comfortable and confident showing the world who you are.
  • You’re congruent. Your inside and outside self’s match.
  • You’re confident in stating your beliefs, and taking the actions that support your beliefs.
  • You honestly and whole heartedly love yourself.
  • You’re sense of self isn’t threatened by outside sources.
  • Others feel comfortable and at ease in your presence.

When you lose connection with your authentic self in many ways you become powerless. It’s easy to be overcome, overshadowed, overwhelmed, and feel swept away in the energy and emotions of events and people around you. You may feel trapped, stuck, or feel like you have no choice.
 
Which brings us to the second foundational piece: choice. You always have a choice of how to respond, think, and act. When you consciously make a choice you remain empowered. When you allow outside events and people to sweep you along, by default the choice is made for you and you’ve given your power away.
 
Sometimes you respond and react to things unconsciously, maybe even forgetting you have a choice. The good news is that once you realize this, you can consciously make a different choice and change your experience.

I want to share with something I use daily to consciously make choices.

today-i-choose_edited-1

This poem is on my desk to remind me I always have a choice. And to bring our discussion full circle, when I have a choice to make I naturally check in with my authentic self to choose the one that’s congruent with me. Can you see how being connected to your authentic self and consciously making choices helps keep you centered, focused, and congruent? When you're feeling this way it's easier to navigate the world around you with confidence and clarity.

Your time is NOW! You personally need the clarity, empowerment, and confidence that being centered in your authentic self brings to confidently move through the coming times. And, the world needs you to be the best possible version of you that you can be, each and every day.

 

 

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Degrees of Change

The past few weeks in working with clients I’ve noticed a recurring theme. And, in the event you’re experiencing the same thing I want to take just a moment to call it out.walking-in-circles
 
You have dreams, and often envision a lifedifferent from where you are now. Yet sometimes in the process of thinking or pursuing these dreams you find the same “old” situations, people, experiences, etc. continue to happen over and over again, making you feel like you never make any progress and always end up back where you started.
 
Why is this happening?
 
Simply put . . . you continue to make the same choice(s) over and over again. The situation or circumstance may vary slightly but the decision you make causes the same “rinse and repeat” cycle that dumps you back out at the same place over and over again. Only every time you return to this familiar space you’re a little more worn, ragged, or disheartened.
 
How do you change this?
 
You make a different decision, and follow that new decision by a series of other new decisions.  Sometimes these decisions are big, yet often they’re a series of small decisions that build into something bigger and put you on a new path. Usually small degrees of change are more sustainable than big changes.
 
When you make even a small choice to consistently do something differently, you forever alter the course you’re on. You experience the world a little different, you gain a new insight or different perspective, and create a new destination.degree-of-change
 
A 1° change in your direction today turns into a whole new destination down the road.
 
How do you recognize when you’re making the same old decisions that keep you stuck?
 
There are many ways, here are a few:

  • What do you feel in your body? You might feel heavy, feel a pit in your stomach, you get a lump in your throat, or something similar when you make the choice.
  • You feel stuck, hopeless, depressed, or as if you have no choice.
  • The decision creates emotional turmoil within, or you become angry.
  • You feel trapped, helpless, or insignificant.
  • You can’t see any other way.

Any of these can signal it’s time to make a different choice.
 
Will it take courage or boldness to do so? Likely.
Will it be hard or uncomfortable? Possibly.
Will it change your course? Definitely.

 
What can you do?

  1. The next time you feel these signs or other symptoms, STOP. Take note of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
  2. Consider other possible choices and notice how you feel about the new options. Particularly note how you feel in your body.
  3. If you’re not aware of another choice, take a step back and get a new perspective. There’s another option there waiting to be discovered.
  4. If you realize after the fact you’ve ‘done it again’, take time to run through the scenario in your mind, repeating steps 1-3. Sometimes it is easier after-the-fact to recognize what happened and gain a new perspective.

Is it time for a new choice? New options? A new perspective? It's time for a 1° change! Often it's the smallest changes that create the biggest results.

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Clarity = Opportunity

It’s not planned or premeditated, yet acted upon whenever the opportunity arises. If a gate has been left unchained or ajar it’s only a matter of minutes before Princess has seized the opportunity and is out exploring places she couldn’t get to just seconds before. And usually, she doesn’t go alone.

If you’ve ever seen her in action, you know it’s an act of skill and precision. There’s never a pause to think about it, nor a wasted movement. Just the opposite. As soon as she sees the opportunity she on it! I’m pretty certain she can open a gate faster than most people.

Princess knows her abilities and clearly knows what she wants. I’ve never seen her open a gate and then stand and ponder her next move. Just the opposite.


How about you? Are you prepared to spring into action at a moment’s notice? Do you clearly know what you want, so you’ll recognize when the opportunity presents itself? Are you confident enough in your abilities to act immediately?

Watching someone who’s very clear, focused, and prepared take advantage of an opportunity is impressive. It can almost seem like luck smiled their way and things just fell into place. What you don’t see is the preparation that’s gone on behind the scenes, long before that moment. The preparation that enabled them to spring into action when the opportunity arose.

One of the first steps in preparing, is becoming clear on what you want. There isn’t a shortcut around this one, and it can be the place people get stuck and frustrated. Why? Because they know what they don’t want, but aren’t sure of exactly what they want.

Two key steps to creating greater clarity:

1. Take 100% responsibility for your clarity. Clarity isn’t something that arrives from outside of you. It isn’t a matter of luck either. It’s something you create for yourself. Clarity is a decision.

The word decide comes from the Latin decidere, which means “to cut off from.” To make a decision, you must cut off all other directions. If you remain open to lots of different possibilities at the same time, you get confusion and fuzziness. When you commit yourself to one specific direction, clarity is the natural result.

Think about a time you went to the grocery store because you were hungry but didn’t know what to buy. There were lots of options, which made deciding even harder. Now recall a time when you went to the grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread. You were very clear on your purpose and were in and out of the store in no time.
 
2. Stop creating the opposite of clarity.

Clarity-reducing patterns include:

  • Hanging out with fuzzy, unfocused people who are drifting aimlessly with no direction.
  • Living with people whose goals and values are in conflict with yours.
  • Distracting yourself with excessive TV, web surfing, video games, or other numbing activities.
  • Numbing your mind and emotions with junk food, alcohol, or other addictions.
  • Overstimulating yourself with caffeine (which for many people leads to racing thoughts).
  • Whining about your lack of certainty or complaining that you don’t know what to do.

Clarity-boosting patterns include doing the opposite of the above:

Hanging out with clear, focused people who can tell you their purpose and direction.

  • Living with people whose goals and values align well with yours.
  • Feeding your mind with inspirational and motivational material like quality books and audio programs.
  • Eating healthy, unrefined foods (especially fruits and veggies, fresh juices, and smoothies) that keep your mind sharp and alert.
  • Avoiding stimulants that cause swings in your thoughts and emotions.
  • Thinking about your goals and the next actions you can take today.

As you create greater clarity about what you want in life, just like Princess, you’ll be primed to seize opportunities when they present themselves. What if that gate of opportunity is ajar directly in front of you, just waiting for you?

 

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Focused on the Umbrella

A large clap of thunder jolted me back into reality from the typing I was doing at the computer. Glancing out the window I realized while I had been pre-occupied, dark storm clouds had gathered and were ready to let loose the moisture they’d gathered.
 
The horses were out in the arena, and I knew from the feel and look of the brewing storm I better bring them into their stalls. Before I got to the back door I could hear the rhythm of steady rain falling. The horses were gathered under a tree looking towards the house. They seemed to know this storm was going to get wet and wild and the mesquite tree they used for shade wasn’t going to offer much shelter from the storm.
 
Quickly I darted out and opened access to the stalls. The wind was blowing harder, the rain came down faster, and the constant roll of thunder came from every direction. Looking at them I could tell they weren’t sure if they wanted to move out into the rain, even though they were already dripping wet. Luckily I’d thrown on my mud boots, because it looked like I was going to need them.
 
Holding my umbrella as best I could to keep somewhat dry, I headed out to provide a little encouragement to get blue-umbrellathem moving. Butler, who doesn’t like to stand in the rain any longer than absolutely necessary, quickly moved into action and headed for the cover of the stalls. As I turned to focus on Princess and Max I realized something was wrong.
 
Princess’s eyes were large as saucers and her nostrils flared as she suspiciously stared at my umbrella. In my haste, I’d forgotten Princess’s great dislike of umbrella’s. No matter how much we’ve worked to get her accustomed to them, she held firm to her belief they are never to be trusted under any circumstance.
 
By now water was running through the arena as if it were the Rio Grande, and every step I took towards Princess resulted in a panicked move to run in the opposite direction. Max was no help either, as whatever move Princess made, he shadowed. While Max isn’t afraid of umbrella’s, he had decided it was his duty to stay with Princess and protect her.
 
After a couple of failed attempts in moving close to Princess, I found the right distance, about 40 feet, between us where I could keep her cautiously moving without instilling fear and panic. I also found the right direction to approach her from that moved her towards the gate, and not her fear-driven response to bolt in the opposite direction.
 
Once I’d figured out these things it only took a couple of minutes of this dance to move her close to the gate. To this point she’d been so focused on me that she didn’t realize she was now standing in front of the open gate. Once she noticed the gate was open she ran to her stall, and in true Princess fashion shut the stall gate behind her. Then she turned to look, or should I say sternly glare, at me as if to say, “You stay out!”
 
I have to admit that last move, closing the stall gate on her own, caught me by surprise. I nearly fell to the ground laughing, and I think I had more tears rolling down my face than rain. It was priceless. Max on the other hand wasn’t so amused because he was also shut out of the stall and still standing in the rain.
 
Twice that day, within the period of half-an-hour, I’d experienced the situation of being too focused and not noticing what was going on around.
 
The first time, was when the thunder alerted me to the change happening outside. When I sat down at the computer the sky was cloudy, but not threatening. It took a while foralways-remeber-your-focus-becomes...-400x400 the storm to gather and build steam, and yet I didn’t notice. I hadn’t looked up and around me for quite a while.
 
The second was when Princess suddenly realized she was standing in front of the gate and could move further away from me. She’d actually been standing there for a couple minutes, but was so focused on me, or should I say my blue umbrella, she didn’t notice that her escape route was right beside her.
 
Focus, like anything, when applied to the right thing at the right degree creates wonderful outcomes. Yet when taken to an extreme can be detrimental to your joy, personal evolution and the momentum of life.
 
Too focused and you won’t see the easier path, the open door inviting you in, or limitless other possibilities. Not enough focus and things are never started, left incomplete, or disappear from your life.
 
How can adjusting your focus change your results?

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Light The Fire

I’m guessing you, like many of my clients, have a bigger dream that despite how much you visualize and think positively about it, just never seems to happen. And likely, some of you have been carrying these dreams around for a long time. 

So play along with me for a minute . . .
 
Imagine it’s a chilly evening, and you long to cozy up to a warm fire. You gather wood and lay it in the fireplace in preparation for the warm fire you desire. Satisfied that you have enough wood, you comfortably settle into your favorite chair along with a good book, preparing for the warmth of the fire to melt away the day. And you wait, imagining how comfortable you’ll soon be as you sit back and relax.
 
A few minutes go by and you look at the wood laying in the fireplace, wondering when it will light itself. The chill of the evening settles a little deeper in your bones. You’re puzzled by what is taking the wood so long to catch on fire, and begin to get a little agitated. More time goes by and you grow annoyed that the fire hasn’t started itself.
 
The longer you sit, the more irked you become. You can see in your mind’s eye the crackling fire you desire. Yet all thoughts of a cozy evening by the fire vanish as you shiver and throw off your blanket, annoyed and disappointed that this evening didn’t turn out as planned.  

 
What happened in the story above, is what often happens when you have a goal or dream you want to create. You set the stage by knowing what you want as clearly as possible, but you forget to light the fire.
 
Lighting the fire is the action that sets everything in motion and makes your dream real and attainable. It’s the missing link in creating and manifesting your goals and desires. Purposeful action is the strategic piece to break you free from the inertia of your present life and create momentum towards your goal.

 

Creating something new always requires new action.

Where to Start
 
The most important question to ask is, “Who do I need to become to be the person I am in my vision or when I’ve reached my goal?”
 
To create anything new in your life, requires you to evolve. How does the “you” in your vision think, act, and feel differently than you do now? What do you need to change, learn, strengthen, release, or eliminate to be this new version of you?
 
Here are a few areas to take a close look at:

  • Beliefs
  • Habits
  • Thought Patterns
  • Physical Health and Fitness
  • Financial
  • Skills
  • Knowledge

Your biggest breakthroughs, the ones that create the most momentum, come from actions taken in the areas that require the most growth and change. Once in motion, you’re well on your way to evolving into the person you need to be.
 
What Happens Next
 
Creation and manifesting requires movement. Once you decide on an action or two, you break free from the inertia that has kept things status quo. This movement then opens up space that use to be filled with stillness.
 
Think of a large city on days where there is no wind or movement. The air fills with a brownish gray layer of pollution that continues to grow the longer the air is still. Now imagine what happens when a breeze or stronger wind comes along. A breeze slowly begins to stir things and create movement. While things are stirring and moving, it will take a long time to clear the pollution. A stronger wind will quickly clear things out.
 
The process of taking action, building a solid foundation, and creating space for your dream inherently invokes the law of attraction, where like attracts like. You’re certain to experience surprises and opportunities crossing your path that wouldn't have happened before.
 
Without it movement and momentum, your dream remains a dream.
 
To bring anything into your life imagine that it’s already there. But don’t stop there. Take action! The magic happens when you start evolving.
 
Four Steps To Creating:

  1. Know what you want with great clarity. Use details, feelings and emotions to strengthen the clarity of your vision.
  2. Ask yourself, “Who do I need to become to be the person I am in my vision or when I’ve reached my goal?”
  3. Identify the areas that require change and action.
  4. Take action!

Is it time to strike a match and light your fire?

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Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Long before the GPS, directions were often given using landmarks and signs. As you moved towards your destination, these signs gave you confidence gpsyou were going in the right direction. If you didn’t see the right signs, you’d find someone along the way to ask for help.
 
Today many of us use  GPS to guide us. Most who come to the ranch use a GPS that accurately directs them right to my front door, and yet the comment I often hear is “When I saw your sign I knew I was in the right place.”
 
Navigating your personal life is similar. You have a built in GPS, your intuition. Just like the device you plug into your car, or access on your phone, your intuition provides all kinds of directions. It can tell you when to turn, when to recalculate your path, and give you available options similar to asking your GPS to show local restaurants. It also warns you of construction zones and congested traffic, even suggesting alternate routes when needed.
 
Regardless of whether you’re using your external or internal GPS, seeing signs and landmarks along the way that confirm you’re moving in the right direction is comforting. Just like clients seeing the Fire Horse Ranch sign when they arrive at the ranch.

I too like signs, and like many of you, sometimes I see them and sometimes I don’t. Two mornings ago I received a sign I couldn’t miss. I’m grateful that at certain points in my life this same sign has shown up in such a manner I couldn’t help but see and recognize it. However, the first time it presented itself I nearly missed the message.
 
The first time I received this sign, I’d experienced one of those deep, life changing conversations that alter the course of your life. I was feeling excited about it, yet also very vulnerable, overwhelmed, and truth be told unsure if I had made the right choice. In short, I was second guessing myself and ready to bolt and run back to who I was before that conversation had taken place.
 
The next morning, as I was mulling this over in my mind and feeling a lot of fear, perfectly placed in my path to the corral laid a big beautiful owl feather. I picked it up, surprised at such a find and went to set it aside to take back to the house later, but couldn’t put it down. There seemed to be something about this feather, and then I realized it was a sign. A confirmation I was heading in the right direction.

IMG_0307                             
Over the years, at important moments, an owl feather has appeared directly in my path as a sign. Until a few days ago, it had been several years since I’d received this sign. This time I instantly recognized the sign and message. I knew I was in the right place, and making the right choices.
 
How often do you wish for a sign or message from the universe confirming the direction you’re going or giving insight about what to do next?
How often do you know what to look for, or recognize the sign for what it is?

 
Over the years from my personal experience, and in working with many people like you, I can attest that the messages and signs are always there, but are often missed.
 
Why? Three common reasons are:

  • You’re expecting something big, and earth shattering.
  • You’re too busy to stop and “see” or “hear” the sign and message
  • You’re too distracted.

Three tips to help you recognize signs and messages:

  1. True signs and messages are often gently whispered. They may come through nature like a brightly colored butterfly or owl feather. A word on a billboard or license plate. Or, casual conversations and comments by others.
  2. Signs are often overlooked as they seem too random, coincidental, or unbelievable. If it’s caught your attention above all the other noise and chaos in your day, it’s likely a sign or message.
  3. You’ll always receive a confirmation through one of your six senses. (hearing, sight, touch, smell, taste, or intuition)

Incorporating signs into your daily life offers you a new way of thinking, manifesting and receiving. It’s an awareness, a practice, and way of being that you can learn to partner with. And when you do signs, guidance and miracles are an everyday occurrence! Not only are they accessible in your personal life, but in your business, career, and public life as well.

The next time you find yourself looking for insight or guidance, listen for the whispers, watch for what catches your attention, and pay attention to the guidance of your senses.

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MOTION: Why You May Not Be Getting What You Want

At first mention the task may have seemed like it should be fairly easy. But as Liz and Pam contemplated their first move, it wasn't clear at all how they were going to accomplish it. The task? Move Max, my miniature horse, into a square in the middle of the arena without using any tack. Two adults versus a horse not even as tall as a table, seemed doable. Right?

In case you're wondering, they accomplished this task not just once, but twice. However, a lot happened before Max went into the square.

There were lots of take-aways and learning moments for Liz and Pam through this process. Today I want to share a few with you. It's about motion, and why you may not be getting the results you desire in areas of your life.

Let me set the scene in the arena. Max stood directly behind Princess (a full grown horse), letting her tail swish the flies from his face. They stood under the shade of their favorite morning tree, and were content in the moment. A fence was a few feet behind him, the square several yards in front of Princess. Liz and Pam approached and stood next to Max, one his right side and the other on his left. They gently nudged him, waived their arms, laughed, shrugged their shoulders and turned to look for help.

“That didn't work, now what?”, was about all I said, encouraging them to try something else. They regrouped, tried several different things, and aside from Max looking a little annoyed at all the commotion, nothing changed. They really gave it a gallant attempt. However, they weren't any closer to reaching their goal than when they started. And they'd expended time and energy without any gain.

This time I offered a different perspective when we talked about what was happening. They had Max boxed in. His front path was blocked by Princess, each of them blocked any movement to the right or the left, and while their was room for him to move backwards towards the fence, he saw no need to do so. In addition to Max not moving, neither of them were moving their feet either.

What does this have to do with you not getting the results you desire in life? Here are two key takeaways from this scenario that hold insight:

In order to put something into motion, you must also be in motion and and an integral part of the motion.

The first step to getting Max to move his feet was for them to move theirs. A couple of things happened in this scenario.

Max was only motivated to move when they were moving. How often do you want to do achieve something yet don't put forth any effort to move in that direction? The effort doesn't have to be big and over the top, it just needs to be steady progress towards what you want to achieve.

If they did get Max to move, but they themselves were not moving, Max left them behind and went in whatever direction he wanted. Because they were standing still it took them a minute to get into action. By then it was too late, Max had moved away. How often do you desire something, the opportunity arises to obtain it, and because you're standing still and unprepared to take advantage of the opportunity it passed you by?

If everyone moved together, they stopped because they didn't know what to do next, while Max continued to walk away and go where he wanted. The key is to have a plan, so once one step is completed you can use the momentum to move onto the next step. Do you have a plan, or at the very least know the couple of steps?

Movement requires a place to happen.

Forward and side movement were blocked so Max couldn't move forward. There wasn't anywhere to go, even if he started moving. Where are you wanting to move forward yet are standing in your own way? Where might you be trying to create forward movement where there is not place to go?

Sometimes we're our own obstacle and create our own blocks. Know what direction you want to move and make sure you have the space to do so. It's like driving a car down a dead end road. You get stopped without any way to continue moving forward.

In all of these scenarios, planning and preparation are key. It's true, sometimes you don't know how something will work until you try. But before you try, have your next steps planned. When you stop, starting again takes a lot more effort and sometimes never happens.

Are you ready to create forward movement in your career, relationships, health, or life? Here are 4 steps to get you moving:

  1. Know what you want.

  2. Begin moving. Take the next step, then the next, and then the next. They can be big or small, it really doesn't matter as long as you keep moving.

  3. Learn to recognize when you're blocking your own path forward, have boxed yourself in, or gone down a dead end road. Then make the necessary adjustments.

  4. Keep moving!

Often it's helpful to have the guidance of someone who's done what you're setting out to do. Trusted friends, family members, mentors, and professional resources like coaches, therapists, and counselors are all great resources from which to seek guidance. However, make sure they see and support your vision or they too may become roadblocks.

Is it time for new movement and momentum? Is it time to refuel to maintain the movement you have?

What's your next move?

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Ideas Worth Considering

Imagine a knock at your door. You open the door andGift are greeted by a very dear friend. Before you can say anything your friend reaches out to hand you the most beautifully wrapped gift you've ever seen. Just seeing it fills you with excitement and happiness. It fills you with hope, a sense of expansion, and wonder.

With eager anticipation you reach out to accept this beautiful gift, but just before you touch it you freeze, step back, and refuse to accept it. All the excitement and wonder you just experienced instantly turns into fear, doubt, feeling unworthy, not good enough, and that certainly your friend mistook you for someone else when they presented you with such a beautiful gift. In fact, you completely shut down and slam the door shut.

Has this scenario ever happened to you? You're first reaction might be “Of course not!” But I suggest that it has, on does on a daily basis.

Throughout the day you have ideas, gifts if you will, visions of things you could do, the person you could become, lives you could touch and influence, and a positive impact you could have in the world around you. Yet as quickly as they appear, you usually dismiss them because you don't think you're good enough, worthy enough, have the time or resources, the right person to do such a thing, etc., etc., etc.

And when you quickly dismiss such ideas, it like stepping back and slamming the door shut. These ideas/gifts aren't presented to you to show you how inadequate your are.  Just the opposite. They're shown to you because they are real possibilities that exist within you.

I believe you're never given an idea without the potential to fulfill it. Now it's likely true that in order to do so you'll be required to step out of your comfort zone, stretch and grow, and perhaps even stub your toe a time or two. That's often the process of learning and growing, of evolving into the person you are here to be.

Just as you would never treat a dear friend and their beautiful gift to you in such a way, I encourage you to rethink the way you treat these glimpses of potential, these ideas, that come to mind. They're beautiful gifts being presented. In reality, if the above situation happened you'd likely react quite differently. You'd welcome your friend in, undo the wrappings and ribbons to see the gift, and even if you didn't like or need it, you'd graciously accept it and express thanks.

How do you begin to welcome and acknowledge these ideas and gifts? Here's a 5-step process to get you going:

  1. Write down or record a voice memo of all the ideas you receive during the day. This is a great place to start if you don't believe this really happens for you on a daily basis. My clients are always surprised at how many ideas there really are. At the end of the day, read through or listen to all the ideas. You'll likely notice some of them sound really good, and even lead to more ideas around the subject, and others might seriously be gifts you don't like or need. What often happens for people who do this for several days in a row or longer, is that many of the ideas share a common theme.
     
  2. Thoughtfully sort through your ideas. It's to be expected that not all the ideas you have are worth keeping or acting on, but you'll never know until you take a closer look. If an idea:

    • make you feel excited and brings up fear or doubt at the same time, that one's a keeper!
    • sounds good and you find yourself thinking “there's no way”, that's a keeper too!
    • holds absolutely no interest, or leave you feeling neutral it's likely you can let that one go.

    1 good idea

  3. Choose one to explore and act on. This exercise wouldn't be complete without doing something with the new ideas you've discovered. Spend some time meditating, automatic writing, or other reflective, insightful activity to help you get to know this idea better. Next, create 3 – 5 next steps you'll take. Keep it doable.
     
  4. Talk about it regularly with others. This starts to make it real and interact with the idea more frequently. Share your ideas with others you trust and who support you. You'll likely be surprised at the positive feedback and encouragement you receive.
     
  5. Actively seek the help you need along the way. Finding great mentors and coaches will move you light years ahead. The Lone Ranger attitude generally slows progress or leaves you frustrated and stuck.

Oh wait, what's that I hear. I believe someone's knocking on your door!

 

 

 

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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The picture below may get you to look twice and maybe even laugh a bit, as you quickly recognize the irony in this scene;  a 1,100 lb. horse tied to a plastic chair of only a few pounds. One quickly recognizes that if this horse really wanted to go somewhere the rope tied to the chair wouldn't stop him. Seems a little ridiculous doesn't it?

Yet, I venture to guess that a similar scenario may be playing out somewhere in your life, with the chair representing a belief keeping you from moving forward. The tricky thing about beliefs, they can cleverly disguise themselves as truth, when in reality they're just a really good story you're telling yourself.

If you're wondering how the scenario in the picture played out, here's the rest of the story. Butler, the horse, slowly moved off a bit until all the slack in the lead rope was gone. When he felt the resistance he moved back towards the chair to investigate. He nudged it with his nose, felt it move, and then turned and walked off dragging the chair behind him. Watching him, I could see the chair was more of an inconvenience than a deterrent from walking over to the water bucket for a cool drink.

Are you ready to release the rope tying you to your outdated, worn out, dis-empowering stories? Is it time to harness the power of belief to create those things in your life, relationships, health, and career you desire? Are you ready to feel the power of stepping further into your full potential?

If you answered yes, here are some next steps:

  1. Identify one of your plastic chairs. A belief or story you tell yourself that keeps you tied down.
  2. Identify a new belief you want to take it's place. Consciously create a visual, feeling, or knowing that represents the new belief.
  3. Release your attachment to the old belief. This may come in the form a visualization where you see yourself untying the rope, a simple recognition that this belief has no value to you, or any other means in which you can participate in an action that separates you from the old belief.
  4. Attach yourself to the new belief, however feels right to you. Again, creating a visual, feeling, or knowing that signifies your partnership with the new belief.

Your power is in your stories. To create a new experience, a different ending, you must change the current story. 

 

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Weathering The Storm

It was a normal morning, me sitting at the computer responding to emails, dogs napping on the window seat, and light gray clouds beginning to gather in the sky. They didn't look threatening and were keeping the heat of the sun at bay, always a welcome reprieve during summer in the desert.

IMG_0952Lost in reading emails, I was abruptly startled by a large gust of wind that shook the house and had the large mesquite tree outside the window hanging on with all its might. I quickly stood up from the computer in time to see the landscape outside my window disappear in a fog of dust. The wind screeched at a high velocity as the plants near the house thrashed against the windows, and I could hear the sounds of things not tightly secured being blown all around.

I hurried to the large bay window in the bedroom to check on the horses who were in the arena, about 50 yards from the window. I saw faint shadows of their bodies slowly disappear as a dense cloud of dust turned the world outside into a blurry brown wall of dirt. The wind howled, dust pelted the windows, and the inside of the house was oddly quite and still. Quite a contrast!

Checking the local weather on the computer I saw large clusters of storms with heavy rain heading our way. My next glance outside showed the dust storm slowing. I knew this was my window of opportunity to check the horses and the rest of the property.

Stepping outside I noticed the wind had slowed to a stiff breeze. The wind chimes in the tree where still pelting out a harsh tune, yet the dust was moving off and the world was coming back into focus. A quick survey showed that everything and everyone had weather the dust storm fine.

I'd gone outside with a rush of adrenaline pumping, ready to quickly get things cleaned up and horses moved to shelter before the rain hit. I discovered everything was in its place and remained secure. There was nothing to do but move the horses. Oddly enough, I felt a little disappointed that there wasn't a need to spring into action quickly, as I was primed and ready to go.

As I stood there feeling all this, I realized that when you're prepared, when you've done the work necessary, and secured things correctly, you can easily weather the storm. In fact, it gives you time to experience and enjoy the storm. I stood for several minutes and enjoyed the cooler breeze, the beauty of the clouds gathering, the smell of rain on the air, and the rumble of distant thunder. I noticed the calmness of the horses as they gathered at the gate, amazed that after the dust storm they'd just experienced they were calm and peaceful. I felt the calm and the serenity of the moment too.

After I was back in the house, listening to the first drops of rain fall on the roof, I pulled from my experience a few key points to weathering life's storms.

Four keys to weathering life's storms:

  1. Know where you are, and where you are going. A clear path, and a clear vision will be your navigation in any storm.

    I knew the end result I needed to create, and the steps necessary to achieve it.

  2. Keep perspective. Things look and feel different in a storm; emotions can run high, thoughts and fears can run away with you, and illusions can cloud reality. Stay present in the moment and clearly see what is happening. It's the safest way to navigate any storm.

    I was tempted to rush out and move the horses in the middle of the storm. For those that have ever tried to move large animals in a safe and orderly manner amidst fierce winds, limited visibility, and dust pelting your face, you know the futility in this and the danger you create for yourself and others. Knowing the difference between perceived and real danger was important. You'll often make matters worse when reacting to perceived danger, creating a storm within a storm.

  3. Know what is important. There are distractions present in every moment of your day, confusion present in life's storms. Remain clear on what is most important, and your next steps will be certain.

    I could have been distracted by all the debris that had blown into the yard, the remaining hay from breakfast that was now scattered in the neighbors yard, or the blanket of dust that had filled the patio and covered everything in sight. But I knew the most important task was to make sure everything was secure and ready for the rain the thunder was telling me was just a few minutes away.
     

  4. Be prepared. There are times you'll know when a storm is advancing, and there are times one will catch you by surprise. The best way to be prepared is to take a pro-active approach to life. Create life by choice, not by chance. You'll stand in your power and hold your ground during times that blow others over and knock them off course.

    Unaware a storm was approaching, I went through my usual morning routine of making sure tarps were secure on the hay, tools where put away and secure, and all doors and gates were closed. A routine I was thankful for only a few hours later.

Life's storms are inevitable. How you choose to prepare for and navigate them influences the experience you'll have. Will you be a victim of your preparation and navigation or will they empower you?

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Messy and Life Changing

It happens frequently, and when it does you feel the change. Sometimes it's a subtle shift that seems to happen without much effort, and other times there's a lot of emotion and energy that goes into it.

However one experiences it, the outcome is worth it. A coming into a state of congruency that aligns one's energy and sends a completely different signal out to the world. While coaching clients with horses I get to witness the amazing power of this transformation. Kristy recently experienced this. Here's her story:

PrincessKristy and I walked into the arena. The horses where on the opposite end grazing on their favorite summer treats, mesquite pods that had fallen from the trees. They notice us enter, and aside from a quick glance our direction, didn't pay us any attention.

Kristy had chosen Princess to work with and began to make her way towards her. Princess's ears pointed forward as she approached, but other than that Princess showed no signs of engagement. Kristy walked up to Princess's shoulder and began talking to her and softly petting her. Princess acknowledged by leaning in a bit, but kept her nose to the ground, slowly walking around nibbling on the fallen pods. Kristy kept pace with her for a few minutes, and then turned to ask if there was something else she should be doing.

We talked through the discomfort she was feeling. She felt tolerated by Princess, but not really engaged. Kristy and I pursued conversation and coaching around this, and within a few minutes some deep buried emotions and memories bubbled to the surface. Tears began to trickle down her cheek and then anger powered it's way to the surface.

While working through this, Kristy lost focus of the horses around her. The emotion, tension, and anger intensified within Kristy until they reached a pinnacle of release. A release that was was loud, messy, and beautiful.

As soon as the eruption was over, the change was tangible. You could feel in the air. It was a very powerful feeling. As the results of what had just occurred sunk in, Princess calmly walked up behind Kristy and rested her head against her back. After a few moments, Kristy turned to face Princess, and Princess moved her head gently into Kristy's chest. It was a powerful moment to witness. For the first time since entering the arena Kristy felt fully accepted and seen as an equal by Princess.

They stood together motionless for minutes, and almost instantaneously I watched them each come to a point of completion and voluntarily step back from each other. Princess quietly went back to grazing on mesquite pods. Nearby, Butler and Max lifted their heads and stared intently at Kristy, and after a few moments returned to grazing as well. Kristy turned and walked towards me, her head high, an aura of confidence and empowerment about her, and a life-changing moment tucked away in her heart that would last forever.

What had happened? At it's simplest, Kristy's inside and outside worlds had come into alignment. The effect of being in this congruent state immediately was felt in the space around her, prompting the horses to immediately respond in a much different manner than they had in the past 45-minutes.

And it wasn't just the horses that noticed the change, I felt it from a short distance away.

Kristy's time with Princess didn't fix everything she's stuffed inside, or make it magically disappear. That work was still to be done. What happened was more powerful than that. Kristy's energy and power came into full alignment, inside and out. Why is that important?

When you put on a happy or confident outward appearance, while something else is going on inside, you send mixed messages to the world. It's like tuning into two radio stations at once. The harmonies do not blend, there may be some static that comes through, it leaves you a little edgy and it's not long before you can't help but adjust the radio to just one station. Instantly the noise, static, and confusion go away and you feel much better.

What happens when you are in an incongruent state?

  • You spend a tiring amount of energy trying to ignore, push down, and evade whatever it is going on inside.

  • You send mixed messages to the world around you. It's like driving with one foot on the gas pedal, one on the brake, all while the emergency brake is on.

  • You're indecisive, can be easily irritated, seem to jump quickly from one thing to another, and are never really sure what you want.

  • You attract a whole bunch of weird things into your life, and usually very little of what you really desire.

  • Oh, and it's worth repeating, it's tiring. In fact it's often exhausting!

What happens when you are congruent and aligned?

  • The world sees you clearly, and therefore supportively responds.

  • You know the direction you want to go, and you do so with purpose.

  • You attract the kind of people and opportunities into your life that fill you, inspire you, and support you.

  • You feel energized, hopeful, happy, and confident.

  • Things that you once thought were impossible, become possible.

  • Life changes – for the better!

How do you begin to bring yourself into a congruent and aligned state?

  • First, realize that in order to do so you do not need to “fix” anything. A definition of alignment is recognizing all the parts and how they affect each other. It's as simple as that.

  • Next, recognize what's going on inside. You can speak to it, see it in your mind's eye, or anything that acknowledge's it.

  • And lastly, allow it to be part of you. Resist any urge to stuff it back in.

When you've arrived at this point it's important to work through whatever it is you've come into alignment with. You can do it on your own, or seek the guidance of a trusted advisor, mentor, coach, or therapist. Now is the optimal time to do something positive with what you've discovered, and create a new cycle. A cycle in which you stand in your power and create your best life!

 

 

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Your Ordinary is Your Extraordinary!

PrincessHave you ever done something that you considered normal or 'no big deal' only to find yourself on the receiving end of heartfelt gratitude from another? Have you ever done something that seemed insignificant to you that rocked someone else's world? Likely you have, and said or thought something like “Oh, it's no big deal” or “really it was nothing” discounting the experience.

The other day, huddled around the ranch equivalent of the water-cooler (a.k.a. the hay stack) with my four-legged co-workers, I was thinking how amazing each of them are. How naturally and confidently they own their strengths and gifts, effortlessly using them to create amazing experiences for the people we work with. How easy it appeared when they shared profound wisdom, awareness and insights with clients. And I have to admit, I found myself a little envious of the ease in which all this seems to naturally occur for them.

Lost in my thoughts around this I gently brushed the last of the winter coat from Princess when she turned her head to look at me. I glanced over and our eyes met in a gaze I've come to recognize as a pre-cursor to a profound moment. Anticipating what was to come, in my heart I heard her say “Your ordinary is your extraordinary.”

As the meaning of those words sunk in, the wandering of my thoughts ceased. Images, feelings, and knowing entered my heart and mind as I grasped the power of that statement. I realized that when we come from our place of authentic self, what seems normal and ordinary to us, often seems extraordinary to others.

For each of my horses, just like myself, our greatest gifts and contributions to others often come in what might seem easy or effortless acts to us, yet are experienced as amazing or profound by others. And then I realized the deep rabbit hole my envy was taking me down. For in the envy of another's gifts I discount the value of mine.

Within the act of discounting, we engage in some of the greatest acts of disservice to ourselves. We diminish our value in our own eyes, adding to or creating issues of low self-esteem, self-worth, and self-acceptance. These acts are far from benign. They're acts of self-sabotage and self-defeat that put our authentic power in shackles.

Often, attempting to counteract the negative results of discounting, we seek to make it up to ourselves by:

  • working to become exactly like someone we admire. In the process we become a mini-version of someone else in their full power. Not only does this cause a split-personality as your true self screams for recognition, it also gives your power away to a false persona.

  • learning new skills to prove ourselves. Often these skills aren't necessary or in direct conflict with our innate gifts and abilities. Learning can be empowering, but only when done for the right reasons. For instance you probably don't need just one more certification, one more class, or one more “magic bullet”. What you need is what you already have. Use it!

  • putting aside the person we truly desire to be and create an “acceptable, for public consumption” version of ourselves. This results in shaming and shunning who we truly are and putting our authentic self in solitary confinement away from the world, and even more sadly away from ourselves – the very lifeblood that creates us.

Each of these things takes us further down the rabbit hole.

So, exactly how do you recognize the ordinary that is your extraordinary? How do you stop the self-sabotaging act of discounting and turn it into a powerful energy that feeds you? Here are three things that make a world of difference:

  • Put yourself on notice. Take note each time you do something for someone and they express heartfelt gratitude and excitement for what they just received from you. What was it you did? How did you feel while doing it? Did it come naturally or seem like a lot of effort? If you're discounting it, likely it felt effortless and therefore easy to dismiss.

  • Acknowledge what you did. It may seem small or insignificant to you, because it just naturally happens. Often we think because it comes easy to us, it's easy for everyone. Not true! Take a moment and recognize what you just did as part of your extraordinary!

  • Own it! Over time as you notice and acknowledge your ordinary that is extraordinary you'll see patterns and potential, even new found strengths and abilities that you've overlooked before. The more you witness, acknowledge and own them, the more you give life to them. These are your traits, strengths, talents, and gifts that set you apart from others.

Whether it's writing, speaking, leading, cooking, gardening, or the ability to know when to listen and when to speak – take notice! Own your ordinary and make it your extraordinary! You're here because the world needs the real YOU – your unique extraordinary!

 

 

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Are You a Lizard in a Bucket?

The haystack is an interesting place. Of course the horses love to hang out there, but so do a variety of other critters. Bunnies, birds, snakes, scorpions, spiders, and lizards just to name a few. You never know who you're going to meet when you lift the tarp.

haystack

A while back on a cool morning I was cleaning the area around the hay and moved an empty pallet, through which loose hay had fallen. In raking up the hay I uncovered a large greenish gray lump. Upon closer investigation it was a fairly good sized lizard who'd made a warm nest of the loose hay. It took a little prodding but he finally woke up and scampered away.

To avoid being rudely awakened by rakes and nudges, the lizard started burrowing between bales of hay. We continued to meet and startle each other over the coming days until it simply became part of the routine.

desert_spiney_lizard_02One morning I filled the feeding bucket as usual and was putting it out for the horses. I dropped a large amount of hay on the ground and heard a 'thud' when it landed. Not the typical noise you'd expect from hay. As I looked down a bewildered lizard looked up. From the look in his eyes I'm pretty sure he was muttering something in lizard that shouldn't be repeated.

After catching his breath he scampered for the short brick wall into the back yard. The dogs had watched the event unfold and saw the potential for a chase as the lizard ran closer. Knowing what would happen if he crawled over the wall I was in hot pursuit. It took a little bit to catch him (need aerobic exercise – chase a lizard!), but he was finally safe in my hands.

Wanting to release him away from barking dogs and stomping horses, I headed back to the hay stack to let him loose. I gently set him on the ground and without hesitation he quickly scampered away. I've not seen him since.

We're often like this lizard. Comfy and cozy in the space we've created for ourselves. When opportunities for change present themselves, perhaps even making it uncomfortable for us to stay in the old space, we hunker down determined to keep things the same. Often expending a lot of energy that leaves us exhausted in the end. Every once in a while we get a not so gentle wake up call, like being dropped in a pile of hay to the ground, that finally gets our attention.

Do you recognize this pattern? All of us have done this from time to time, and you may even doing it right now! What can you do? Here are two important steps:

1. Create Awareness. How do you do that? First and foremost you must truly want to know what is going on. This can't be a half-hearted attempt or you'll create more frustration and uneasiness.

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” ~ James Thurber

Then start asking questions. Ask, answer and listen from a purely non-judgmental frame of mind. If you know a truthful answer will be judged you're more likely to create an acceptable answer rather than a truthful one.

What kind of questions can you ask? Here are a couple to get you started: “What is really going on?” “What am I feeling?” “Is this a symptom of something deeper?” “Why is this bothering me?”colored questionsStop and listen to your answers with an open mind and heart. Your answers will be the springboard to asking more questions that will take you to the truth. Questions that start with how, why, and what are a good place to start. Avoid asking to many yes and no questions as sometimes these skirt the truth rather than taking you directly into it.

Your answers will set the stage for the next step. . .

2. Make a Choice – a step of freedom and free-will. Now that you have a greater awareness of what is going on, what choices, opportunities, and possibilities exist? There is always choice. This is where you have a voice, where you take a stand, where you draw the line in the sand.

If you chose not to decide you still have made a choice.” ~ Rush

Always give yourself the freedom to make a choice. If you don't, like one of my favorite sayings above, by default you still have made a choice.

Making choices leads to creating. It sets in motion plans to change or stay the same, creates action steps, and most important shifts the power from the circumstance back to you.

Choice, not circumstances, determine your success.” ~Anonymous

Ultimately the lizard decided his chosen home in the haystack was not working out and made the choice to move to a quieter, more lizard friendly neighborhood. What choices will you make?

its-your-choice

 

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Shedding is Messy Business

Not too long ago I brushed a hand over Princess, my white/sorrel paint horse, and discovered a bunch of white hair stuck to my glove. “Uh-oh,” I thought, “it was starting,” Princess was shedding her winter coat.

Every few days I take a few moments to brush Princess out. The result is a carpet of hair on the ground, and usually a fine layer that covers me from head to toe. One day, as I was brushing myself off after grooming Princess the thought “shedding is messy business” kept running through my head. And in fact, shedding is messy business, whether its horse hair or letting go of things in life.

Rather than shedding a winter coat, shedding in your life might look like the releasing or changing of:

  • habits
  • doubts
  • limiting beliefs
  • relationships
  • attachments
  • unrealistic expectations
  • anything that no longer serves us

Sometimes when shedding these things, life seems to get messy before it gets better. Here are five key strategies to keep you moving forward in an empowered and conscientious way during this time.

Keep the end result in mind. In the midst of a really good shedding you might feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, or doubtful. These things can cloud your judgement and test your determination. If you find yourself in such a position, STOP. Then for a few moments allow yourself to travel forward in time, to the place where the shedding is complete and you are experiencing the results that you want to achieve. From this place feel, see, taste, smell and know the positive experience you're having now that the shedding is done.

  1. Know WHY you are shedding. Have a very clear, vivid, and succinct Why about the reasons you're going through this time of shedding and release. If the change you're experiencing gets a little rough in spots it's easy to start feeling sorry for yourself, or wonder why you are doing this at all. Keep your WHY statement nearby so you can read and reflect on it during these moments. Its common to find answers to questions, or realize the next step to take, when revisiting your Why.
     
  2. Stay in your power. Sometimes during change, the change itself seems to be bigger than you are, or in control of what is happening. When this occurs there has been a power shift, the change has taken your power. At this point you are no longer in the drivers seat, and it's time to take your power back. A quick way to start turning this around is to create two images in your minds eye. One image representing the change and one image of you. Allow the image of the change to shrink until it's a tiny small dot, and the image of you is very large next to it. This is you taking your power back from the change. Once your mind has experienced the visual, it believes it has happened. As you continue to work through the change keep this new image in mind. Repeat this exercise when needed.
     
  3. Go with the flow. There are times in the midst of a shedding that circumstances beyond your control will happen. Like the wind kicking up and blowing Princess' hair right in your face. Dust yourself off, laugh at it if you can, and keep on going. Refer back to your Why and do a personal power check to help put you back on track if needed.
     
  4. Allow for course corrections. As you work through the shedding and change, sometimes unexpected things happen and new opportunities or different ways of achieving the end result will appear. When this happens, revisit the end result you want to achieve and your Why. If the course correction supports these two things it might be the right thing to do. If the course correction detracts, deters, or points you back to where you've come from, side-step it and continue on your chosen path.

Shedding is messy business. Yet like Princess, when the shedding is over, you'll have a sleeker, lighter look, feel and experience in life.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Princess Approach to Obstacles

It had been a while since Princess and I been on one of our quiet walks off the property together. It wasn't schedules, weather, or such obstacles that had kept us from going out. It was her health, particularly issues with her feet, that had kept us at home. A couple of months ago she turned a big corner so to speak with her health, which brought us to this day. The day of our first walk together in nearly a year. While she is still recovering, she appears to be on the downhill side of this particular obstacle.

We didn't go far, just down the block and back a few times, but you could tell she was enjoying every single smell, the opportunity to wander and explore, and simply being away from home.

When we reached the gate to come back into the yard, Princess confidently reached out to the latch with her lips to open the gate. Then she gave the gate a good push with her head and walked on in.

I never get tired of watching her work her magic. It was while watching her that something I needed to hear came through loud and clear.

You see I'd been thinking about a goal I've set for the coming year. You know, one of those BIG goals that moves you beyond your comfort zone. A goal that has brought to light interesting limiting beliefs and is requiring I replace them with new empowering ones to achieve it.

All this was on my mind as I watched the process Princess went through to open the gate, navigating the obstacle between her and her goal. I marveled at the confidence she did it with. There was never a moment of hesitation throughout the entire process. She KNEW what she wanted, had complete faith and trust that she could get there, and did it. A closed gate, an obstacle in her path, wasn't about to deter her.  Here is what I saw that day…

It was after seeing this that I realized the nuggets of wisdom she'd just shared with me. Nuggets that each of us with dreams and goals can benefit from.

1. KNOW what you want – You've likely heard this one before, yet this simple step is the most important. There came a point in my walk with Princess that I knew she was ready to go home.

How many times have you spent time, energy and/or money to do, achieve, or get something only to discover it's not what you wanted in the first place? Or, you've gone with the flow, went with someone else's idea of what you should want/have, and ended up with something you never really wanted in the first place?

How do you know if its really what YOU want? Think of something you know for certain. Like the sun rising, or your favorite food, or your best friend. Know with that type of certainty that this (whatever it may be) is what you want. Only when you know with this type of certainty should you proceed.

2. KEEP MOVING – Princess only slowed and stopped when we were right in front of the gate.

How often do you know where you want to go, but when an obstacle appears (real or perceived), such as a gate, you stop or even turn around?

As we approached the gate, not only did Princess keep moving I dare say she picked up a little speed when her goal was in sight. She only began to slow her walk when she got right in front of the gate and came to a stop.

3. TOUCH and TEST – Once we reached the gate Princess reached out and tested the latch. She's accustomed to chains being on all gates, and when she found this one to be chain-free she didn't hesitate to proceed.

Touching and testing the obstacle will let you know how solid and real it is, as well as provide information you'll need to navigate it.

Obstacles are funny things. Sometimes they are completely 100% made up in our minds. Other times they are not as formidable as first thought. Some will require additional resources – time, money, knowledge, etc. And then there will be those times when the unexpected comes up and you'll have to learn to dance with the obstacle and circumstances surrounding it to navigate thru it.

4. GO FOR IT! – Once Princess knew the only obstacle between her and home was the chain-free latch she wiggled and jiggled it with her lips until it she heard it slide open. She had to find the right combination of pressure and movement, and kept trying until she found it.

Have you ever stopped trying after only a few attempts? Or maybe you never even tried because you perceived the obstacle to be greater than you?

5. GO DEEP – Once the latch slide open Princess nudge the gate open and boldly walked thru, reaching her goal. But, she didn't stop there. She kept walking.

Why? Her favorite spots to hang out, sleep, eat, and play are not just inside the gate. She knew that to get to the really good stuff she needed to not just step into her goal, she needed to go deep within it.

Once you've entered into the perimeter of your goal KEEP GOING. The best and juiciest parts of arriving in your goal aren't on the perimeter, they are deep within. It's deep within this space that your goal no longer is separate from you, it is an essential part of you. It's where your life and the way you engage and interact with the world changes. Its the place where you evolve into a more empowered version of you!

It's amazing how much a horse knows about obstacles and reaching goals when you really stop to listen. How can you apply a little Princess wisdom to help you achieve your BIG goals?

"Sometimes closed gates aren't meant to keep you out. They're designed to see how much you want something and the effort you're willing to put into getting it."  ~Diana Gogan

 

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Gratitude is an Action Word!

Last year during the holidays I began my annual Gratitude List, which I keep in journal form. Each night I'd write a few lines about what I was grateful for. Somedays the list was long, other days is was short. It's an activity I've enjoyed for several years, and little did I realize it was about to change.

One night as I was writing in my journal the thought crept into my mind, “This is nice, it's something that is uplifting and inspires me, but couldn't this be more?” I wasn't quite sure what that meant and decided to sleep on it.

The next day the proverbial lightGratitude-400x300 bulb went on in my head. (Sometimes sleep has a way of clearing out the ol' noggin so useful info can find it's way in!) Keeping a gratitude journal is nice, but it seemed like writing a birthday card to a friend and never mailing it. So I began expressing my gratitude. The first couple of nights I found myself creating a gratitude “To-Do” list. Things I wanted to express my gratitude for and how I would do so. I found through this process that gratitude could be shared after the fact, yet there were other times when the moment had passed and so had the opportunity to express it in the way I desired.

As the days moved on my focus changed from recounting my gratitude moments at the end of the day to recognizing and expressing gratitude in the moment as often as I could. Not only did this make me feel good, I could see it meant something to the people I expressed it to as well.

I also found I was more:

  • present in the moment
  • grounded in myself
  • positive and hopeful
  • connected to my surroundings and all that was in them
  • inspired by the exchange of positive energy that happened when I shared my gratitude

Yet it didn't stop there. I quickly discovered through this process that I was becoming more open and willing to accept gratitude from others. Boy doesn't that feel good! If I was experiencing this I suspected others were too.

How often does someone share gratitude they have for you or something you did and you hear yourself saying, “Oh really it was nothing”, or “No problem, think nothing of it.”. Or perhaps you even quickly change the subject to avoid accepting it. When was the last time you smiled and said “Thank You”, completely open to accepting 100% of their gratitude without deflecting it?

Keeping a gratitude journal turned into a much more powerful experience than I imagined. It gives me a powerful key to joy, manifestation, and awareness of all the good that is happening in the world around me. It's created a powerful cycle that keeps the energy and rhythm of gratitude alive in my life. A cycle in which there's always some to give and some to receive.

The cycle is simple and yet profound at the same time. Here are the 3 easy steps:

1. Recognize – Create awareness of what you are grateful for. Notice the moments, events, and people who spark a feeling of gratitude in your heart. Take time to be in each experience and notice the warmth in your heart, the butterflies in your stomach, the ripple of feeling good that washes over you, or any other way you become aware of gratitude.

When beginning this practice it's often easy to start by setting aside some time for reflection. Recall the events of the day and the moments of gratitude that stand out.

Many find the practice of keeping a gratitude journal a good way to create this habit. Through creating awareness and recognizing gratitude you'll discover:

  • the ways you personally experience gratitude expands and is multi-faceted
  • the things you are grateful for are more numerous and varied that you thought

2. Express – Take time in the moment to express your gratitude. There's no better time than NOW. Gratitude expressed in the moment has the greatest impact.

Sometimes the moment passes, or in reflection we realize how grateful we are for someone or something. If you find the moment has gone, send a card, text, email, or give them a call. This simple act often means more than you realize.

You might also send out a silent expression of gratitude through prayer, thought or energy to the individual, event, or situation. Do what you feel is appropriate for the situation. This step will strengthen:

  • your relationships
  • your connection to the world around you
  • being grounded and present in the moment
  • make you both feel good!

3. Receive – An important step that often is overlooked! Receiving gratitude is nourishing on all levels. The more you receive the more you have to give. Without receiving it, it's like feeding your family and friends, but never feeding yourself. Receiving gratitude is as easy as saying “Thank You” or opening your heart and feeling the gratitude expressed fill you up.

gratitude opens doorCreating a cycle of gratitude changes your life. Consciously applying these steps will release old energy and beliefs, open doors and opportunities, and support you in attracting great things into your life! Each step in the cycle turns gratitude into an action word, combined they create an unstoppable cycle of high vibrational energy. You've likely heard that the energy or vibration you send out is what you get back, just like a boom-a-rang. And it is true!

Ready to start? Or perhaps add to your already existing gratitude practice? To make it easy I've created a Gratitude in Action journal sheet you can download. Turn gratitude into an action word in your life and enjoy the consequences!

How has the action of gratitude changed your life? The life of others? Share your stories in the comments below and put gratitude in action now!

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How Gratitude for Five Things Changed My Life

Written by Kate Shipp, The Window Within

“What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for today?”- unknown

I will never forget the first time I heard this quote. It was a few years ago and I was in yoga teacher training.

The instructor read us this quote as something to ponder for our practice that day. It was like someone took a huge bat and hit me upside the head. I think my breath stopped for a bit and I was taken back in my mind through all the times during that day that I silently complained about all the things wrong in my life. I was pretty sure I had not once said thank you for any of the incredible blessings I get to experience every day. If I kept going in this manner, I was going to wake up with pretty much nothing.

I remember thinking about how mad I got that sunset joy gratitudemorning over little things, like lights being left on all over the house and spilled juice on the floor. I thought, ‘Oh, how I wish I could take a vacation from this life and get away from it all for a little while’. We all go through those times and have those moments. Well, I tell you, hearing this quote created a shift in my life that I will never forget. I remember as fast as I could rattling off in my mind more ‘thank you's’ than I had probably said in months. Quickly thanking God, Universe, Mother Earth, etc for all the amazing blessings and gifts in my life. For the people, the memories, the materials things, the stuff…I mean down to the paper I was writing on and the pen I was holding in my hand. It was as if my eyes had opened to a new way of living and there was no way I was going to wake up the next day without God knowing how grateful I was for everything in my life. Clearly I had not learned the yogic practice of non-attachment yet but that’s another article.

So right then and there I decided I was going to start a gratitude practice. I began it that night. Every night I started writing in a journal at least 5 things I was grateful for from that day. Often times the list was much longer and it turned into pages of writing and I found myself going to sleep much easier and waking up the next morning with a new sense of peace and calm. I woke up looking forward to the busy day ahead and knowing I was gifted with all of it. My life began to shift and my ability to manage stress changed in beautiful ways. I learned I may need to take a pause and turn inward to connect in times of struggle and remind myself of the things I have to be thankful for at that time. I saw the positive sides of what I would have otherwise labeled as negative and found the light in what could be experienced as dark. My internal perspectives shifted and I began looking at my life with a new set of eyes.

We talk about gratitude as a feeling, as an emotion. I will suggest that our lives will truly start to shift and change when we approach gratitude as a verb, as an action.

While it is a wonderful and I will suggest a necessary practice to turn inward and feel grateful, in order to then create the positive shifts in our lives, we need to take the inward feeling and begin to share it out with the world. 

Gratitude-1aThat was the next step I knew I needed to take and one that I am continuously working on daily. Expressing gratitude out into the world through small acts of kindness and appreciation. How can we create an experience for someone else to feel the gratitude and love that we have cultivated within our hearts? A kind word to a stranger, direct eye contact and a smile as you walk by,  a sincere “thank you”,  a just because I care card written by hand and sent in the mail, a bouquet of flowers,  listening to a friend talk without needing to give advice, a warm meal dropped off next door, a long hug,  holding a door open for a mom carrying a car seat, or for a man because they, too, deserve it.

Every day we are gifted with the opportunities to create a beautiful life through experiencing the blessings and abundance that surround us always. It is when we choose to share that beauty with those around us and live in the joy of the present moment and express sincere gratitude for the gifts of each day that we truly begin to live in peace and love. Giving thanks and showing love to all those we interact with daily will slowly begin to create a ripple that will change the way we experience life. My daughter, who is now 5, said this to me when she was 3. We were lying in bed one morning and she looked at me and said, “Mom, I have a heart filled with love and I am going to splatter it all over the world.” I believe that is the best way to express gratitude daily. Fill your heart with love and go out there and in the words of Makena Shipp, splatter it all over the world.

A simple gratitude practice to get you started:

  • Every night before bed, make of list of 8 things that you are grateful for. It could be people, experiences, material things, emotions, places – anything goes. Challenge yourself to notice even the really small things.
  • After making this list, choose one item from your list and decide on how you can express gratitude to that person, situation, etc.. the next day. Take time to pause and notice how you feel after and the shifts it creates in your daily life. Reflect on that experience nightly.
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Bre and Max Barnaby

Written by Bre Lee, Part 1 of a 2-part story

Letting go, and living in a place of trust is a prerequisite for living in the space of grace and joy. I recently went through yoga teacher training, and one day at home, as I practiced I had a realization. If I didn't hold on to tension within my body, there wouldn't be a need to work toward alignment, everything would naturally align without effort. I instantaneously understood that life off of the mat must be the same. I must learn to live in the space of grace.

I had known that in all honesty, I broke my promise to Max. The day that I picked him up from the alfalfa farm I knelt before that feisty little tyrant and told him that I had heard his cry for help. That I knew he was a healer and that I was going to help him be that. I knew that, like me, he wore a tough outer shell to protect that little massive heart from being trampled by the world. His name was Shadow and as we drove home that day, our hearts stepped out of darkness. I gave him the name Max Barnaby, it means Greatest Comforter. We were that for each other as we moved along our merry little way, healing and growing, and I intended on that forever. But then one day, after a course of events, I knew in my heart it was going to be a long time before I was ready to move into the world of healing with horses. As per usual, I wore that understanding on my sleeve, almost to the point of grieving, as letting go is sometimes, most of the time, very hard to do. Max understood exactly what I did, as he always did. And he made it very clear to me that to make him wait for me was to only imprison him, to put him back into the shadow. How dare I? I couldn't. I wouldn't. 

So I cried. A lot. And then I let go. And prayed. And every time that I prayed Diana and Fire Horse Ranch came into my heart and filled it warmth and comfort. So I waited. Two weeks. Maybe three. I mean, after all, I could change … right? I could make myself morph. I could take the reins of this situation and control the heck out of it … right? Well, that tyrant part of Max that I first met came back. He was mad, hurt, angry and betrayed. I became a cheap trick and he went back to Shadow. Mortified is the word that comes to mind as I think back to that day. I was crippled and felt like the worst friend a person could be. How selfish I had been. How clingy and deceitful. I made some phone calls and some dear souls came forth to help me with him for some time until I could 'figure out what to do' …. AS IF I DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW! Anyhow, he was safe and momentarily content. So I went back to praying, and soul searching, and asking, and praying. And what did I get? More pictures of Diana and her happy little healing palace and all those warm fuzzies. If you sensed a little bitterness here, well there was, at the time. Why couldn't I HAVE THAT?! BE THAT?! Wasn't THAT what I was working for? Why did I have to be PATIENT?! Why did I HAVE to LET GO? Well two weeks of that went by and I didn't understand. I didn't get it and I certainly found zero logic (knowing full well that grace was often non-sensical and messy). So finally, again, I let go and called Diana, nervous, shaking and feeling like I was about to lose a portion of my heart. 

Welcoming excitement and a spontaneous yes is what I received. Fire Horse Ranch was looking for a new partner and was hoping for one in a small package. Of course. (Dang.) No, no, just kidding, no dang. Instantaneously, ALL of my sorrow was gone. Joy moved in. I couldn't be more relieved, more thankful or more fully rewarded for my 'work'. This was full on, busting my butt in overdrive, soul searching that required me to do the unthinkable and … trust mySelf … the Higher One … and let go. Let go of what should have been, could of been or used to be, and be present in my life now. That's it. No more, no less. Completely. With nothing to do, or undo. Utter gratitude is what I have to express.

So looking at life now, having let go of a little piece of my heart, I see that I am wrapped in a patchwork quilt that has been sewn together with love. Just as one piece of my heart is shared with another, I receive a new piece to put in its place. These pieces are named Grace. And here’s the kicker: the more I let go, of the shoulds and coulds, the more grace I receive; the more that I feel that happy little healing palace inside of me. To claim witness to the boundless and unthinkable ways that life aligns in the space of Grace, is nothing short of Divine Joy! It’s beautiful.

Read Part 2: And Then There Were Three

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And Then There Were Three

Part 2 of a 2-part story.  Read Part 1:  Bre and Max Barnaby

You know those times in your life when you want something, yet aren’t quite sure how it’s going to happen?  A few months ago I found myself right smack in the middle of such a conundrum. The work we’re doing here at Fire Horse Ranch is growing, and it was time to consider expanding our herd. 

Lots of things ran through my mind as I considered the possibility of bringing another horse into our family.  Was the timing right?  Did I have the resources to support another horse?  Where would I find one?  Full size or miniature?  Several months back I’d met a mini horse at a horse clinic who’d stuck in my mind and had me considering this possibility. 

I found myself getting caught up in the what if’s and how to’s and getting a bit overwhelmed.  Then I recalled what I’d done when I was ready to get my first horse five years ago.  At that time each evening I’d walk outside and stand under a starry sky and send up a heartfelt call to the Universe, trusting it was being heard by whoever needed to hear it.  (Read my article Wish Upon A Star, part of the story about how Butler and Princess came to be at Fire Horse Ranch.)

The words may have varied slightly from night to night all those years ago, but the general message was “Where ever you are know that I’m preparing for you and will welcome you with open arms and lots of love.”  And so I again began sending this heartfelt message to the heavens, anticipating that when the timing was right I’d receive a message back.

Each night I wondered who this horse was.  What breed, color, size, age, gender, circumstance, etc.  What were the circumstances around his/her current home?  When and how would we meet?  And despite all the details I wondered about, I knew the power of bringing us together was letting go of any expectations, and having faith that all would be as it should. 

On a Friday afternoon several months later as I was getting ready to walk away from my computer a message popped up on Facebook.  It was from Bre, who owned the miniature horse named Max I’d met at the horse clinic several months ago.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read her words.  After much soul searching she was honoring a promise she made to him many months ago when she brought him home.  You see, it is in her vision to help people heal through horses and she knew Max was a natural fit for this.  Yet the time just wasn’t right for her, but Max was ready.  Would I be interested?

A mixture of emotions erupted within – excitement, reassuring peace, a warm feeling in my heart, tears of joy, and a knowing that this was the answer to my heartfelt nightly message to the heavens.

“Yes” was all but out of my mouth before common sense jumped in and reminded me I’d better talk with my husband first!  Several years ago I’d committed to taking Princess home before I’d talked to him, which fortunately he was okay with.  However I figured I’d only have a few of those moments of grace to rely on, so I’d better reign in the horses so to speak before I committed.  It was only a few hours before all the details were arranged and we were preparing for Max to arrive.

I felt excited and giddy, much like a young girl on countless Christmas Eve’s nights wondering if this was the year the unbelievable would happen and I’d find a horse under the tree. 

After the dust settled a warm wave of gratitude washed over me as I reflected on how yet again my message to the heavens had been received and answered.  How seemingly serendipitous events had actually been divinely orchestrated.  How the circumstances surrounding this situation were perfect, for all involved.  And the blessing of being both a witness and the recipient to one of the greatest acts of unconditional love – helping someone you love, as dearly as life itself, move on.

Hearing Bre’s commitment to Max, the saying “If you love somebody let them go…” kept going through my mind.  And while I understand the message in these words, it was truly beautiful to see them in action.  This was not any easy decision for Bre, yet her deep love for Max was the inspiration to fight through her own attachments to both Max and the situation they found themselves in and keep her promise to him. 

Part of me felt great sadness and a sense of lose as I put myself in her situation imagining the emotions, feelings, and heartache involved in making such a difficult decision.  And another part of me felt the peace and calm that comes from knowing deep down in your heart you’ve made the right choice. 

And ultimately I was in awe and mesmerized by the experience of witnessing such a powerful love shared by two souls who knew their time together had come to a close. 

Max is a beautiful blessing in my life, as well as those of you who have already had the opportunity to work with him.  Nary a day goes by that I don’t reflect on the chapter in his story that reveals an unexpected plot twist.  An unforeseen change that stemmed from a promise made to him on the day Bre brought him into her life.  The promise that she had heard his cry for help, knew he was a healer, and that she was going to do everything possible to make that happen.  Neither of them knew what would be asked of them less than a year down the road.  And neither knew how through their story they would help others heal.

Since last August, when all of this occurred, I’ve been inspired by Bre and Max to take a look into my life.  What am I holding onto and love that is time to let go?  How can I learn to release any conditions I might have around the love I share with others so that it is truly unconditional?  And it is through this that I’m finding greater power in releasing attachments and conditions and allowing things to be as they are.  Granted, it’s not often easy, and there are times I struggle, yet the rewards are as joy-filled as seeing Max run across the arena for the sheer joy of running, whinnying at the top of his lungs, and knowing he is happy and fulfilling his purpose.

How can you harness the power of unconditional love in your life?

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Blowing in the Wind

WindmillIt was an overcast Saturday morning in June.  A storm was moving in with strong winds and the promise of rain.  High winds in the desert mean lots of dust, and in June the plentiful yellow blooms of the Verde and Mesquite trees filling the air and being playfully pushed along the ground.  They found their way into every nook and cranny, creating mounds and heaps in corners, along fences, against bushes, and anything that stood in their way. 

Despite the big gusts that playfully encouraged the hat on my head to fly, I found myself tuning into the rhythm and energy of the wind and nature around me.  Thoughts began to enter into my mind – messages from the wind.  There was a sense and order to them, each shedding light into an area of my life.  These messages were meant to be shared and here are some of them:

  1. Use the momentum and energy of the wind to release debris in your life.  Be that physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual debris. 

Often the wind, particularly the 20 – 30 mph gusts that were present that day, can send you seeking shelter.The next time you experience wind, whether a light breeze or storm powered gusts, sit or stand outside and allow its momentum and energy to blow through your body releasing that which you are ready to let go.

If you’d like to do this and it isn’t a windy day, find a quiet place to sit and recall a time you stood in the wind.From this memory bring the energy of the wind into your space and allow its energy to blow through your body and in the space around you.Allow that which is no longer useful to be released.

  1. Use the force and energy of the wind to recognize blocks within yourself.

In your mind’s eye, imagine the force and energy of the wind moving through an area of your life (be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) and notice where it seems to get blocked.  Be curious and explore the information and personal messages of this particular block.  Do you want to keep it or is it time to remove it?

  • What is the block? 
  • How does it react to the block?
  • Does it go around, over, under or through it? 
  • What else do you notice about the experience?
  • What messages or knowing are you becoming aware of through this experience?
  1. When your life is relatively clear, there’s little for debris blown by the wind to get stuck and/or trapped in.

Where do you have beliefs, stories, emotions, thoughts, or memories scattered about that belong elsewhere, maybe even in the garbage?It’s likely time to clean them up, put them where you want them, and allow the wind to blow through your life without leaving a trail of debris stuck in your nooks and crannies.

My experience that day was that in the areas of the yard where things had been stacked, set aside, or otherwise ignored, the debris piled up against these things, creating more work.  Not only did I have debris to clean up, I also needed to clean up whatever it had piled up against. Most of which had another place it should have been kept or even thrown away.

  1. When debris gets stuck, removing the obstacle can allow the wind to easily sweep it away. 

Yes, it can be that easy! Near the wood pile where pieces of wood had been scattered by the horses or dogs, simply picking up the wood and stacking it properly allowed the wind to blow the debris away.It didn’t require any other effort on my part.

It’s easy to get stuck in the story behind why on obstacle or barrier is in our life.  STOP!  This creates attachment and familiarity that can make it harder to release.  Pick up the obstacle and remove it. 

  1. If you’re prepared you can enjoy the period of wind in your life. 

Preparedness can be different things in the wind.  It might be dressing appropriately, having things you want to keep in place properly secured, keeping things clear with very few places for debris to gather, or having sturdy shelter to protect you.

For instance, if I’m worrying about whether the tarp over the hay is securely fastened it’s really not possible to enjoy the wind.  However if I know the tarp is secure, then the wind can blow all it wants and I can relax.

The wind is a force of nature; an energy that can either work for or against you.  Do you feel like you’re walking against the wind?  Being pushed around?  Blown off course?  Or, do you feel the wind at your back, supporting your forward movement?  Clearing the path ahead? Or blowing the dark clouds away?  Only you can decide which.  Just as the windmill harnesses the power of the wind to generate power, so can you!

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Size Does Matter

Max is a 6 year old miniature horse.  But don’t let his size fool you, it’s just a physical characteristic.  I’m sure Max knows he’s physically smaller than the other horses in our herd.  They can reach things he can’t, he can walk underneath them if he wanted, and larger horses like Butler and Princess provide some pretty decent shade in the afternoon.  One of Max’s other characteristics is that he is deaf.  It’s not a problem for him, it simply requires one to consciously engage in different forms of communication.

When Max arrived last week I found myself laughing and giggling at his whinny, the sound of his tiny feet walking on the dirt, the fact that the measurements I use to feed him are different (handfuls instead of pounds), and just how cute he is!  I marveled at how two of his hoof prints would fit into one of Butler’s, and try as he might his flirting with Princess would never go to the next stage.  Yes, he’s a gelding but a gelding can still flirt!

The first day he was here, while still figuring out how to get his attention and communicate with him, it was necessary to move him into a stall.  He didn’t seem to understand the hand motion I was making to walk into the stall.  His halter and lead rope were across the yard and not thinking I reached down to physically move him into the stall.  

No sooner had I touched him with that intent when the feeling washed over me that this was NOT acceptable to Max.  He was not to be moved or handled in that manner just because I could.  It was clear that he expected the same respect and consideration of a full size horse.  More than the manner in which I touched him, it was the intent with which I did it. 

I admit in my hurry to get him where I wanted him to go I figured he was small enough I was just going to move him where I needed.  If he were a full size horse the manner in which I attempted to do this would never have worked.  It would be the equivalent of trying to move a parked car with only a finger.  And so with a larger horse I would have had to engage them more directly to accomplish the task.  Once I realized what I’d done I backed up and sincerely apologized.  

As all this transpired within me, Max calmly stood there and waited.  With this new awareness in mind I approached Max with the same goal in mind, only with a different intent.  Once I engaged him and found a way to convey what I wanted to accomplish, he quietly walked into his stall without any resistance or fuss.

MaxThe lesson I learned is invaluable and has made a big difference in my relationship with Max.  It has also highlighted other areas of my life where similar experiences are happening. This new awareness provided me the opportunity to actively change how I interact with others in these situations.

You’ve likely had similar experiences of this being done to you; physically being moved out of the way by someone bigger, your feelings or emotions not being considered by another, or perhaps not being asked how to accomplish a task that involves you (like me needing to put Max in a stall).

Where might you be allowing another to overpower you in an unacceptable way?  This might be physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  How can you find your voice or the courage to speak up when this situation occurs?  Perhaps like my situation with Max this person, or people, might not be aware of what they are doing, or maybe they are.  Regardless, speaking up and clearly stating what is acceptable to you is empowering, and can be for the other person too.

Where might you be doing this to another?   How can you create awareness of your actions and make changes to empower all in this situation?  It’s amazing how interactions change and relationships grow when awareness and conscious decisions and actions are put into play.

You’ll discover your relationship with yourself and with others will change. How has my relationship with Max changed?

Since that day the dialog between me and Max has moved to a completely different level.  Consciously interacting with him is a pleasure, not a chore.  It has added more freedom, flexibility and understanding.  I’m always finding new ways to love and appreciate him.  There is a beautiful creative energy that presents itself when opportunities arise to cooperate.  This cooperation is not me always getting my way, but the two of us dancing together in the powerful exchange of give and receive; all the while learning from each other.

Size does matter.  Not your physical size, but the size of your presence when standing in your truth and your personal power.  For when you stand in your truth and your power your life positively changes!

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Old White Barn Shorts

shorts in garbageI had a pair of white shorts that a while ago were relegated to barn wear.  The kind of shorts I feed, clean, bath, and care for my horses in – and only in the direst of needs would ever wear out in public.

Aside from the stains and wear, they have another flaw that’s embarrassing.  The zipper is a little lazy and doesn’t stay up all the time.  I compensated for this by wearing a long shirt, just in case things go a little south with the zipper.  It’s usually just me and the horses so who would really cares, right?

Doing chores the other night I had to stop and fix the zipper a couple of times.  Each time I became more and more irritated with this wardrobe malfunction.   “Who do I put up with this?  It’s not like these are my only shorts.  This is stupid!”

Then a moment of clarity arrived and I realized I could simply throw them out.  You know how sometimes when the obvious hits you, you laugh a little at yourself and wonder why you didn’t think of that before.  Well that’s what happened.  A smirk crossed my face as I shook my head and vowed to throw them away when I went in the house.

And that’s exactly what I did.  I let go of something that irritated me and no longer supported me, that’s usefulness had worn out long ago.  I have to admit, there was a brief moment when I thought “Well other than the zipper they’re perfectly good for barn shorts.  Maybe I should….”  Fortunately I caught myself before finishing that sentence, tossed them in the garbage and walked away a little lighter.

This experience sent me on a quest to find other “white barn shorts with lazy zippers” masquerading as useful items and let them go too.  And you know what?  It feels good!

When you recognize discomfort, irritation, anger or other negative feelings or emotions, these are signs that something may no longer serve or support you.  Through this awareness you create an opportunity to make different decisions and bring about change.

Where do you have white barn shorts in your life that may be hiding behind the disguise of being useful?  Things that are really worn, irritating, and no longer serve the function they once did.  What beliefs, habits, patterns, emotions or physical items might it be time to release?

“If you’re hands are filled with things that are not useful, you can’t accept whatever new things the Universe wants to give you."

Look around you, notice those old white shorts and turn them loose.  With that one action you’ll create space for new things waiting to come into your life that will support and bring you joy !

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Sometimes You Just Have To Drop the Reins

IMG_0231Occasionally at the end of a day, I’ll slide up on Butler’s back and sit.  Sometime we may wander around the arena navigating whatever obstacles are set up, or casually walking and trotting patterns; nothing too serious, just some leisure time together.

During one of these rides the other night we were both relaxed and in-sync.  As we rode I realized the reins felt a bit cumbersome and seemed to be inhibiting our natural flow.  Without hesitation I dropped them.  Butler acknowledged this with a flick of his ear backward as the reins came to rest on his neck.  I felt his walk soften and his stride lengthen beneath me.

There was a time I would have never entertained such a move.  Why?  I believe it boils down to trust – my trust in Butler and in myself.  We both started off together green – he being my first horse, and Butler being on off-track Thoroughbred rescued from starvation.  He had little training.  And it seemed  the training he did get was done without gentleness or understanding.  

Over the years we’ve replaced our “greenness” with many new things including trust, understanding, courage, confidence, and love.  These have woven tightly together to create the foundation we now enjoy.

As I’ve reflected on the experience of dropping the reins, I realize that not only was it an important moment in our relationship, but that it also holds a greater message.  The message found in the question, “How does this experience apply to life?”

How often do you find yourself wishing, dreaming, or reaching for a goal AND tightly holding the metaphoric reins of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, lack of trust, or something else that gives you a false sense of control?   Unable to let go and allow the power of manifestation and creation naturally flow.

We often find ourselves holding onto these reins for many reasons.  The reasons may stem from fear, a sense of control, anxiety, uncertainty, lack of trust, or false sense of power.  By holding on too tightly we override the powerful creative ability of intention and manifestation.  Often leading to lack-luster or disappointing results, and can be why the Law of Attraction often fails to create and manifest what we desire.

Does this mean you should immediately drop the reins?   Perhaps, but only if you’ve created a supportive foundation.   A foundation built upon faith, trust, confidence, and courage.  It would include supportive emotions, feelings, wisdom, and relationships with yourself and others.

Or it might be time to build and strengthen your foundation.  Infuse it will faith, trust, confidence, and courage.  Weave into it supportive emotions, feelings, wisdom and sound relationships with others as well as yourself.  So that when you do let go of the reins, you have a strong foundation beneath you.   

Just as you wouldn’t drop the reins on a wild horse, dropping the reins in an area in your life without a proper foundation may likely lead to undesired results.  Take the time to needed to accomplish this important step.   In the horse world you might hire a trainer to help you build this foundation.  In your life it might be a close friend or family member, or a coach or other professional who can help you create a strong foundation.

If you have a good foundation upon which you can drop the reins – and you’re ready – do it!  And know that at first, navigating without reins might feel unfamiliar and unbalanced.  This is where the foundation you’ve built will support you.  It’s a source from which you can draw strength, confidence and courage while you get the feel of navigating without reins. 

And know, once you’ve successfully navigated without reins once, it will be easy to do so again.  Think of the possibilities and experiences you can create when you let go of the reins.

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Finding Balance When You’re Standing in Mud

Muddy PrincessThis past weekend it rained in Phoenix.  I mean it RAINED!  We received 2”+ at the Ranch within about 36 hours.  It was definitely one of those gully washers (I’ve a new appreciation for that term since moving to Arizona where we can get months worth of rain in a day) that fills every dry creek and wash with torrents of rushing water. 

Generally it takes several days after such storms for the mud puddles to dry enough that you can walk through the turnouts and arena without slipping, sliding, and sinking.  Sometimes it’s all you can do to keep your balance, or keep from walking out of your shoes or boots!

Butler’s preference during these kinds of storms is to generally avoid any suggestion of mud unless he’s ready to roll.  Princess on the other hand can often be found laying, rolling and standing in the thickest, wettest, gooiest mud puddles to be found.  Of course it would be the white horse that loves the mud!

She often claims the best mud puddles for herself, and has a well thought out process to do just that.  If you were to watch her you’d see her walk around in them until she finds the spot she likes.  Then she proceeds to find the perfect place to put each hoof.  Sometimes she’ll dig a little mud out until it’s just right, other times she’ll move a little mud under a foot until she’s created the perfect footing.   It actually looks like quite a methodical process, as she tests weight on each foot until she finds the perfect balance.  I dare say she has a content, happy smile on her face at this point.

I share this with you as a metaphor for finding balance and stability whenever you find yourself on unstable ground or standing in the mud.  Sometimes we can’t avoid these situations, and sometimes we find ourselves in one before we know it.  Regardless of whether it’s by choice or circumstance, you’ll from time to time find yourself standing in mud. 

The next time your find yourself standing in a metaphoric mud puddle remember Princess.  Find a way to stabilize each foot.  Maybe you’ll have to dig a little deeper, or bring in a little more mud to find the perfect footing.  Test it out, try it out, change it as needed, and learn to recognize when you’ve found balance.  Once you find balance, however it looks or feels, you’ll have taken your power back from the mud that’s caused you to slip, slide, or roll.  It’s from this stable footing that your next steps will become clear and filled with the strength and confidence of empowerment.

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Lettuce? Why didn’t I think of that?

Last weekend at a workshop here at Fire Horse Ranch we ended the day feeding the horses treats.  Years ago I discovered they love all kinds of lettuce, and found it a good substitute for other lettucetreats like carrots and apples that contain a too much sugar for Princess.  I explained this to everyone and showed them how to feed the lettuce leaves without having their fingers nibbled on too.  I’m not sure who enjoyed this activity more – the people or the horses!

After the workshop a good friend, who is also an experienced horse woman, came up and said “Lettuce?  Now why didn’t I think of that?”  She shared a list of all the yummy fruits and veggies she feeds her horses.   Lettuce had never crossed her mind, yet now seemed like an obvious choice.  On her way out to the ranch that night she was going to stop and buy her horses some lettuce too!

Many times we get comfortable in our ways of thinking and what we see in the world around us.  And sometimes we overlook something obvious, sitting right in front of our eyes, because it’s not in our current reality or realm of possibilities.

I often hear the same response from people when they learn I feed my horses lettuce.  Carrots, apples and peppermints top the list of common treats people think of for horses.   Cucumbers, strawberries, bananas, sugar/snap peas, sweet potatoes, ginger root, and fresh mint or parsley rarely make the list.

  • Where in your life is there lettuce waiting to be discovered and recognized? 
  • How might you be limiting your experience by only recognizing carrots, apples, and peppermints? 
  • What can you do to recognize where there lettuce is in your life?
  • How might it create more options, variety, and completely change your experience?

How do you recognize something you’re not seeing?  Here's something to try…

  • Imagine the circumstance/experience in your mind. 
  • Allow yourself to float out above the scene.  Take a wide panormaic look around, see the bigger picture.  Notice what you can see from this perspective that you didn't see before.
  • Experience things from different angles (above/below/upside down/ etc.) and points of view of those involved. 
  • Look around and beyond the obvious of what you see and experience.
  • Release expectation and ask yourself “What if?”
  • Give your imagination free reign to explore options, suggest ideas (no matter how strange they might seem at first), and notice what you notice.

Today….step out of your box and discover lettuce!

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Running The Fence

b running1From the moment they first touched noses Butler and Princess have been inseparable.  This strong bond is often admired by those who see it.  However, when it’s necessary to separate them for training, riding, care, etc., this bond can create a lot of drama.

A few days ago I left Butler in the arena while Princess and I moved to another area to do some work.  Butler began running the fence as soon as he realized she was going somewhere and he wasn’t.  He gave himself a good workout racing around the arena.  After several laps he tired and settled down.   As his heavy breathing from all that expended energy began to return to normal he kept a watchful eye on us.

When Princess and I finished working together I took off her halter and let her freely roam around the property.  Her first stop was at the arena gate to undo the latch and let Butler out.  (For those of you who don’t know, Princess is quite adept at figuring out any latch or lock!)  She confidently flipped the latch, unlocked the gate, and then walked away.

As she walked away Butler began running back and forth calling for her, even though he’d watched her unlock the gate.  In his state of mind he didn’t realize that all he had to do was push the gate open and be free too.   Instead, he kept this frantic pace up for nearly five minutes before he calmed enough to stand in front of the gate.  Reaching out with his nose to nudge the gate it easily swung open, and he quickly trotted out and the drama was over.

  • Where might there be circumstances in your life that you’re too caught up in to see the available options or opportunities?  
     
  • How can you slow down or take a step back and see things differently?
     
  • Where might you be looking directly at the answer and not seeing it? 

    S-L-O-W D-O-W-N and see what is truly there.  I mean really SEE what is there, not what your mind thinks is there.  It wasn’t until Butler slowed down and clearly looked at the gate that he saw that it was waiting for him to open it.  With anxiety and feeling restricted controlling Butler, his mind continued to assume the gate was locked.
     

  • How can Butler’s experience be applied in your life?

The next time you’re feeling anxious, limited, confined, or controlled, remember to slow down, step back, and really take a look at what’s going on.  You’re likely to find there’s a gate unlocked just waiting for you to nudge open, take your power back and change your experience.

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What Makes You Think I’m Not Happy?

its what you seeThe world was dark and cold that winter morning as Princess and I stood together in her stall.  It was that peaceful time of day before the sun rises and the world wakes up.  Still too dark to start chores, I was taking advantage of this quiet time to share space and do some soulful reflecting with the horses.

Princess had been experiencing laminitis (a hoof condition that can be very painful), and hadn’t been moving as freely and pain-free as either one of us would have liked.  I put my hand up on her warm, thick neck and with a little heaviness in my voice remember saying something like “I wish your feet were feeling better so you could be happy.”   She slowly turned her head toward me and very clearly I heard her say “What makes you think I’m not happy?”

As the meaning of what she’d shared crept into my awareness I realized how profound it was.  How wrong I’d been to assume that due to the soreness in her front feet, she wasn’t happy.  Couldn’t she still be happy, even when not feeling her best?

And then my mind began to wander thinking how often we believe that things have to be a certain way, we have to have certain things, or because things might be beyond our control we can’t experience true happiness in the current moment. 

Take a moment and stop where you are.  Allow all the things that are going on around you and within you to continue.  Take notice of what you discover.  And within that discovery take another moment and find something that makes you happy.

Perhaps you’ll easily discover happiness, or maybe you’ll have to search a bit to find it.  You might experience it as a burst of elation or exhilaration or maybe a little calmer as sliver of delight that slowly rises into your awareness like the morning sun lights the horizon.  However you find and experience happiness, allow it to fill you with warmth, love, joy, and gratitude.   Give it freedom to fill your body, mind and spirit with bliss, well-being, and lightheartedness. 

Seek out happiness in your day – in the moment!  It’s there, and when discovered and whole-heartedly embraced will magnify and reflect out into the world around you. 

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Knocked Around By the Familiar

As soon as I reached over Butler’s neck I knew I’d put myself in a precarious position.   Butler, Princess and I were all standing very close together; in fact I was sandwiched between the two horses.  They’d been eating from a couple of buckets hung on the bottom rail of a fence.  It was quiet, the sun was setting, and I was enjoying hanging out with them and watching the quail eating seeds on the ground.  Relaxed and comfortable in the space we shared, I reached over to get Butler’s bucket after he’d finished and he’d shifted his attention to the morsels he’d spilled on the ground.

My arm came down on the top of his neck as I stretched for the bucket that was just out of my reach, when the warning sirens started going off in my head.  If Butler spooked as I was over his neck he’d likely raise his head and throw me backwards into Princess who was standing behind me.  She would also most likely startle and move too.  I knew better than this, yet went ahead and did it anyway.

And then something startled the quail.  Butler spooked, I felt the power of his neck come up and knock me backwards into Princess who was scrambling to get out of Butler’s way.  I hit the ground and held my breath.  The whole situation probably lasted 5 seconds or less, yet time slowed down as I saw hooves fly past my head, felt something hit my elbow, and could sense the horses trying not to run over me as I fell to the ground.

After I’d picked myself up and dusted off, made sure everything was intact and working, a big sigh of relief escaped and I was very grateful that the extent of my injuries was a scrapped knee (the kind I’d of been proud of as a tom-boyish kid) and what I was sure was going to be a whopper of a bruise on my elbow.  I was even more grateful that the horses were aware enough in their flight to avoid running over the top of me.  I can still clearly see the whites of Princesses eyes as she swerved to avoid hitting me.

Reflecting on what had just occurred, I knew what had happened.   Butler, Princess, and I spend a lot of time together and we’re very familiar with each other.  I was comfortable sharing space with them watching the sunset, and got lazy with my normal caution.

How often do you find yourself in similar situations or relationships that knock you around, take your power, or hurt you in some way?  Yet because you’re in your “comfort zone” or familiar with the situation or people you allow yourself to be knocked around.  How often do you wish things were different, but because it’s familiar allow the cycle to repeat?

Likely, just like me, your intuition tries to warn you.  And like me you may ignore it for whatever reason.  Since that night I’ve been much more present and aware in my actions around the horses.  I’ve also become more aware of other familiar situations and people in my life where I might feel like I’m getting “knocked around” in some fashion.

Maybe it’s thoughtless or cutting words or remarks, a habit that constantly creates an outcome you don’t want, a belief that controls you, someone treating you poorly, or perhaps even physical abuse.  Regardless of where you discover this in your life, you hold the power and the key to stop getting knocked around by the familiar.  If it’s something you can change on your own – now’s the time.  If it’s something you need help from others – now’s the time.

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Grow Where You’re Planted?

"Grow where you’re planted.”  “Bloom where you’re planted.”  Both are common quotes you’ve likely heard before.  In general, I agree with making the best of your circumstances.  However, after six years of living in the Sonoran Desert, I’ve met many fair weathered plants that would disagree with these inspirational quotes.

A few weeks ago I was wandering the yard looking at some of the non-desert plants that had just about given all they could in the never ending 110 (give or take a degree or two) degree daily heat of summer.  Truly the desert in summer isn’t for the faint of heart, or for water loving/cool weather plants.   (Cool in Phoenix, AZ terms is pretty much anything below 100 degrees.)

I recalled the first year I lived here and was excited for the traditional rites of summer, such as planting flowers and vegetables.  It made sense that the growing seasons would be different, and it was nice to be planting so early in the year, when the rest of the world was still waiting for the last of the snow to melt away.  Beautiful colors brilliantly stood out on some of my favorite flowers, and the vegetables I’d planted in my patio garden where growing nicely.  And then Mother Nature began turning up the heat.  Before I realized it green became brown, and vibrant flowers became crispy and dry.  The flourishing vegetables gave it their best, but eventually succumbed to the heat, almost withering in front of my eyes.   The plants and I gave it our best shot, yet it just wasn’t enough.

Since then my gardening has changed and now flourishes by sticking to native plants and working with the natural flow and timing of the seasons in the desert.  There are still a few non-native bushes in the yard that were here long before I was, and I work hard to help them survive the oven-like temperatures of summer.  However, I can’t help but feel a little sad as I see them struggle through the hottest months.  They will never truly thrive in this environment and exert a lot of energy to produce even the tiniest bud of green in the summer.

How often does a similar scenario play out in life?  Have you found yourself planted in a situation or environment where no matter what you do you are unhappy and struggle to exist?   Where you try so hard to make it work the stress, worry or unhappiness cause you to wither inside? 

Grow where you’re planted?  Well, yes maybe.  By all means give it your best shot!  If you flourish where you’re planted, allow yourself to bloom and prosper to your highest potential.  If you find you’ve given your best and still struggle to feel vibrant, happy, and fulfilled perhaps it’s time to make a change and find a new spot to put roots down and bloom.  Unlike a delicate summer flower that’s transplanted into the heat of a Sonoran summer, you have the ability to make a different choice.

 

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Hang On to the Rope?

Recently a friend and I were working with her horse.   Doing something her horse had done before, and wanting to perfect it.  As the day progressed there were a couple of instances when the horse pulled back and decided he was done with our plans and going elsewhere.   The horse did this to each of us that morning.

In talking afterward,  my friend shared that when the horse pulled back she became afraid and held on tighter to the lead rope, not wanting the horse to get loose or pull away from her.    I too experienced a moment when the horse pulled back, where I quickly realized I was outweighed by a thousand pounds and had to let go.  Each of us had the gut reaction to hold tightly onto the rope for a moment to see if the horse would settle down.  Sometimes they do.  However that day, we each had to let go of the rope.  And guess what happened?  As soon as the pressure was released from the rope the horse took a couple of steps and then quieted down and stood there.

Driving home I realized this was a good analogy of what we sometimes do in life.  When something in life pulls back and threatens to leave us or change we often tighten our grip.  Sometimes to our detriment we hold on so tightly we’re pulled along,  and the experience becomes painful or unbearable.  Remember the cartoon scenes where someone is drug across the ground behind a horse tightly holding onto a rope yelling “STOP!” or “WHOA!”,  yet, doesn’t let go.  Kind of crazy, huh?

What if instead of holding on so tightly we let go of the rope?  Yes, it’s true, sometimes the proverbial horse will continue running away never to be seen again.  Yet, like my friend and I experienced, sometimes the horse will move a couple feet away and stop.  Then you get to decide whether you want to go pick up the rope again or walk away and let the horse be. 

What are you hanging on to so tightly in life that it’s become painful or makes you unhappy?  It may take courage to let go, and if you do what would happen?  How might life change for the better when you stop getting drug along and get to make a new choice?

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That Was Cool – But Now I’m Mad!

It was taking every ounce of courage Kelsey had to walk behind Princess.  Over the years she’d heard “NEVER walk behind a horse”.  After all it’s dangerous and you’ll get kicked, or at least that’s what she’d been told and believed.  Ironically, until today she’d never been close enough to touch a horse, let alone walk behind one.  And the people she’d heard these words of wisdom from hadn’t ever been around horses either.  Yet, that warning stuck with her and was creating fear and anxiety in the present moment.

Now of course, I’d never instruct some to walk behind a horse without the understanding of how to do so safely.  Kelsey new this, trusted my instructions, and that I was standing right next to her and Princess helped too.  After all would I put myself in danger?  She assumed likely not.

Kelsey was standing very close to Princess with her hand high upon the horse’s back, as she slowly began the first few steps that brought her closer to Princess’ tail and the “kick zone”.  Her steps were tentative, yet determined.  She was going to do this.  After a couple of steps she hesitated for a moment for a brief moment.   I asked her to exhale and continue breathing, and then with renewed confidence she walked all the way around Princess and was soon on her other side.

The smile that spread across her face was contagious and soon we were both grinning.  Within an instant her smile changed to a puzzled look and then became rather stern.  The next words out of her mouth caught me by surprise, “Well that just makes me mad!”

Taken back I asked “What makes you mad?”  She shared with me that for over 40 years she had held onto a belief that was false; a belief that had created unnecessary fear and anxiety.    After all, as she’d just experienced, you can walk safely behind a horse.  In fact she realized for the first time that horse owner’s do every day.  One simply just needs to know how to do so correctly and safely.

Collapsing one false belief shed light on the possibility that there may be other false beliefs posing at truths.  What other beliefs was she holding onto as truths that are really false?  How might these beliefs be holding her back from enjoying life more fully, experiencing new things, and having fun?

Where in your life might false beliefs be lurking as truths?  What beliefs are holding your back that it’s time to collapse?  What do you think you can’t do, that you see others doing?   Exhale, continue breathing, and shatter those beliefs that keep you from experiencing new things and enjoying life!

 

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What Story Are You Telling?

It was a long time coming.  There had been many things to overcome, yet here we were.  I was sitting bareback on Alki Run, an ex-racehorse rescued by After The Homestretch AZ, for the first time since he arrived.  He stood quiet, head relaxed, tail swishing, and ears gently moving; listening to the sounds that surrounded us.

This was not the same horse that had come to Fire Horse Ranch eighteen months earlier.  When he first arrived he didn’t like to be touched, was in physical and emotional pain, and when you looked into his eyes they were often empty and distant.

The span between his arrival and now was filled with learning to trust one another, attending to his physical and emotional healing, and Alki learning to relax and engage life with confidence.

As we shared this moment of accomplishment I reflected on all that had happened over the past months.  And as I did so, tears of gratitude rolled down my dusty cheeks for this horse who didn’t give up and taught me a lot along the way.

Sitting there, connected in a way I’d only dreamed of until this moment, I realized it was time to help Alki let go of his ‘old’ story.  It was time to stop describing him as he was the day and months leading up to this moment.  He had moved far beyond that.  He was no longer mistrustful of everything and everyone, overly sensitive, in pain, and a little grumpy.  He was now learning to trust, engage life, enjoy being touched and rubbed all over, and even like being around people. 

I realized that by continuing to focus and re-tell the story of the “old Alki”, it was keeping his past alive, overshadowing all he had accomplished to reach this point.  It was now time to focus on his new story, the one that tells of all he’s accomplished and who he is today. 

How many times do you experience a period of change and growth in your life and strive to make this change permanent, yet continue to tell and re-live the same old story?  How often do you re-play the past in your mind or in conversation, causing your past to remain alive and fully present, overshadowing your new story? 

Imagine sitting upon the Alki Run in your life; enjoying the success of the moment, the feeling of having accomplished much and of coming so far.  This is the story to tell, the new chapter that will define your life from this point forward.  Bring it to the forefront, celebrate what you’ve accomplished, and boldly share it with the world around you.  By doing so you make it real, tangible, and forever part of who you are!

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Are There Loose Horses in Your Life?

I ducked into the tack room to prepare morning mash for the horses while Stacy was moving them into their stalls.  Just as I got the first bucket mixed and ready to go I heard a little ruckus outside and Maddie barking her “Mom, the horses aren’t where they’re suppose to be” bark.  As I stuck my head out Comet, Princess, and Butler were running around the yard, Maddie in hot pursuit.  Stacy was hustling to close the gate to the paddock so the others couldn’t join the party.

Now if you’ve been around horses you know this happens from time to time when the smallest opportunity presents itself for horses to move through an open gate.  The odds increase if there’s promise of food.

After we got everyone put where they belong and breakfast served, Stacy and I took a moment to laugh about the events.  It can be exciting to be in the middle of a bowl of dust and running horses, as well as a bit unnerving.

Stacy asked how I kept this scenario from happening.  We talked about different ways to handle this situation.  During our conversation I shared a couple of tips with her that made me stop and realize implications they had in other areas of my life too.

Tip #1:  Allow others to use their strengths and abilities to assist you.  In this case work with Butler, the leader of the herd.  He’ll put everyone else in line and order.  When entering the paddock, allow Butler to come up to the gate.  He’ll then make sure no one crowds him or the gate, moving the others away.  If you stand there a few seconds longer, the others will often line themselves up in the order they are suppose to be, based on rank within the herd.  Wait until Butler and the rest have settled down and then open the gate and the horses are likely to move orderly.

Often we think we have to do things ourselves, overlooking others who are available and eager to support us.  All we need to do is recognize them and ask.  Butler is definitely more efficient and faster at creating order in the herd.  He can do it within seconds, and often with just the flick of an ear, the raising of a hind hoof, or the famous Butler stare.  I can do it too, but it takes a little longer. 

Butler’s energy also influences the energy of the herd.  When he’s riled up and anxious so are the others.  When he’s calm, they are too.  By waiting just a few extra seconds for his energy to calm and influence the herd, my job becomes much easier.

Tip #2:  Recognize the tools you have available.  Comet loves an adventure and will try to sneak out with another horse.  He’ll often approach the gate behind a horse going out in the hopes he can squeeze through too.  Use what is already there to hold him, in this case the gate.  When opening the gate, open it into the paddock.  This creates a small pocket behind the opened gate, and acts as a barrier for anyone behind it.  Move Comet behind the gate, and let the gate hold him for the few seconds it takes to move a horse out of the paddock.  

It’s common for us to think we have to have a certain type of training, or have a specific piece of equipment to make a task easier or even possible.  In this case, horse training experience or some sort of handy dandy magic piece of horse equipment that would keep Comet from sneaking out of the gate with another horse.  Yet more often than not, we already have the knowledge and tools we need.

We often wield the belief of not having or being enough as an excuse to continue behaving as we are, or as a reason to not do something we are fully capable of doing.  Sometimes we just have to think outside the limiting belief box we’ve put ourselves. 

Reflect for a moment about your life and where there are opportunities to enlist the help of others to accomplish things quicker and easier.  It can be very freeing and liberating to find someone else to help. 

What tools, including knowledge, do you already have?  Sometimes we just need the courage to use what we know.  Confidence in your knowledge comes from putting it to use.  How can you use what is already present in your life to accomplish tasks, realize dreams, and create a different outcome?  Where are tools and opportunities already present that are ready to be put to use? 

Loose horses can eventually get where they need to be, but it takes a lot of extra effort.  It’s up to you.  Will there be loose horses in your life, or the power of a herd working together?

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Is Your Foot in Your Food Bowl?

Comet, a two year old quarter horse, is definitely the one at Fire Horse Ranch that can quickly put a smile on your face.  His personality, character and antics often contribute to smiles, laughter, and good stories to share.  Look into his eyes and you’ll find innocence, goodness and curiosity, and you can almost see the wheels turning in his mind.

When he’s fed his daily herbs, they’re mixed in with other food and placed in a large round rubber bowl.  Up until a few weeks ago he quietly ate from the bowl without any fuss.  Then things started to change.

I noticed a funny trail in the dirt one day and realized that as he was eating he’d begun to slide his bowl along the ground.  Mind you it wasn’t just a couple feet one direction or another; it was a good 30 feet!  And each time he ate out of this bowl the direction he moved was completely different.

After a while, I noticed he had stopped sliding it around and had begun putting his front feet into the bowl and pawing at it until if flipped over.  You can imagine what happened next….all his food ended up underneath the bowl and out of his reach.  Once he realized what happened he would start pawing at the bowl with a bit of frustration and make a fuss trying to get it to flip back over.  Rather than flipping it back over he seemed to just slide it and push it around, still upside down, with the food still out of his reach.  I would then have to go lift the bowl up and remove it so he could eat.

The first couple of times it was funny and I got a chuckle over it.  However, I eventually tired of all of his food ending up in the dirt and scattered all over.  So he graduated to a bucket that hangs on the fence that can’t be tipped over, and the food all ends up where it’s suppose to.

This scenario reminds me of how we often have everything we need right in front of us (the food in the food bowl), yet don’t recognize it for what it is.  We then try to rearrange it, make it look different, move it, turn it upside down and inside out, hide it, ignore it, and perhaps even eventually become frustrated.  Once we repeat these behaviors often enough they become habit.  At that point it’s very hard to see that what we want is already in front of us, and if the format doesn’t work (tipping the bowl over and not being able to get to the food) to try something new that does (putting the food in a different type of bucket that provides access to the food). 

Where might you be putting your feet in your food bowl, scattering it about, turning it upside down and denying yourself access to what it contains?  What have you become frustrated with that may simply need a new container?  Where have subconscious behaviors been created that once recognized can easily be changed?

Take a look at your food bowl.  Step back, walk around it, and look at it with a clear perspective.  You might just find a better way to partake of what it contains.

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Treats, Tummy Rubs, and The Law of Attraction

From the beginning she’s always been that way.  It’s her unique spirit and expression. Taken from her mother at only a few weeks of age, her life and her expression could have been much different.

In all her four years I’ve never seen Maddie mad or angry.  Yes, protective of her family and yard, but never mean or viscous.  People meeting her for the first time often comment on how happy she is.  Even the past few days as she’s hobbled around on three legs after twisting her foot, her tail is always wagging, her eyes are bright and shiny and she seems to have a smile on her face.  Her energy is contagious!

A while back she was in the kitchen with my husband and I as we were fixing dinner.  Sitting off to the side watching very closely as the food was prepared.  When either of us looked at her she wagged her tail, her face would light up, and you knew for certain she was anticipating a morsel or two coming her way.

My husband commented that she was always their waiting to receive whatever was offered.  In that moment it dawned on me that one of her strongest traits was her optimism and being open to receive.  Maddie is always optimistic that something good is going to come her way.  And, I’d say about ninety percent of the time she’s right!  It may be a treat, a ball to play fetch with, a tummy rub, or many other things she enjoys.  Talk about mastering the Law of Attraction.  Maddie’s got it down!

She’s always looking for new opportunities to attract something she enjoys – a sunny spot to nap in, birds to chase out of the yard, or her favorite treat.  When they arrive she graciously accepts and enjoys them.  On the rare occasion she doesn’t receive what she wants she quickly forgets about it and moves on to the next opportunity.

Talk about a big ah-ha moment!  Through her example, Maddie, a fun-loving dog is teaching me a lot about being optimistic, open to receiving, and how to let go and move on when things don’t happen the way I want them to happen.  And that sometime there is a bigger, juicier bone waiting just around the corner.

Where in your life can you be more optimistic and more open to receiving?  Become less attached to how things must occur?  Move forward in the flow of attracting and finding that which brings you joy and happiness?

When you do this, what might your life look like a day from now, a month from now, or a year from now?  Begin today and move forward with the optimism of Maddie.  Only then will you know.

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Around It or Through It?

Over the past several weeks I’ve watched it happen time and time again, and have even done it myself.  Once I became aware of it I realized all of us were doing it – human, horse, and dog.

Some may call it the path of least resistance.  And if what I witnessed had been hard or challenging I might agree.  However, I don’t think this is the case.

Several weeks ago I put up an obstacle.  It was simply a landscaping log placed on two cinder blocks.  It was a low enough to be easy to move over, yet high enough to cause one to think about where their feet were going.  I put it in place to do some work with several of the horses.  Because it was relatively out of the way, I left it up so I could use it without having to put it up and down each time.

It was placed near the route where horses walk to and from their stalls, and where we stack the hay.  Without exception, unless one was specifically directed over it, everyone walked around it.  Human, horse, and dog. In fact, each had to make the specific decision to go around it, at the cost of extra steps, rather than over it – the shorter route.

I soon realized that even though it was minor, each of us saw it as an obstacle.  Something to be avoided and go around, when in all actuality it was quicker and just as easy to go over it.

How often does an obstacle appear in front of us, and we instinctively go around it, avoid it, or stop in our tracks?  Once we’ve avoided something, how easy is it to avoid it the next time it appears, often without even thinking about it as it becomes a habit?  How easy is it to make the obstacle bigger and harder to transcend than it really is, giving our power away to the obstacle?

The next time you experience something in your path, rather than go around it, take a moment and see it for what it really is.  An experience, an opportunity, and/or an achievement that may take a little courage, yet will empower you with wisdom, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment when you move beyond it.

May you experience in the coming year perceived obstacles that melt away when faced with courage, confidence and strength.

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We All Have A Little Dr. Dolittle In Us

It was going to be a tough decision.  After months of waiting, suddenly two great homes had become available for a rescued ex-racehorse named Felicia.  Each family had been out to see her, each had fallen in love with her, and each would be great homes for her.  This was the information I received when asked to if I would talk with her and see what she thought. 

When I connected with her she definitely had a lot to say!  Most important, she liked both families felt she’d be safe and comfortable with either.  Her biggest concern was that she didn’t feel she could physically keep up with the trail riding and desires of one family.   She felt the other family’s expectations were more in line with what she was capable of.

Her other concern was for a fellow herd mate who she’d become attached to.  Hope was an older mare who had been rescued from a similar situation.  Both mares had been abandoned in the desert to fend for themselves, both had nearly starved to death, they had been rescued within a month of each other, and they had healed and re-gained their health together.  They had bonded, and Felicia rarely missed the opportunity to stand watch over Hope as she slept. 

Felicia wondered what would happen to Hope and if Hope could come with her.  I told her I couldn’t make any promises that they could be adopted together, yet would happily ask.

I shared all this with my client, hoping it would help them make the decision.  I didn’t fully understand Felicia’s concern about not being physically able to keep up with the physical demands of the one family.  It was only after sharing this information I learned that she had recently been diagnosed with a mild form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Now it made perfect sense. 

And, the adopting family readily agreed to take in Hope too! 

Animal communication has come a long way since the original Dr. Dolittle film in 1967.  Today many are embracing the idea and often seek a professional Animal Communicator to talk with their animal companions.  Have you ever considered that you too can do this?  We all have the ability, most of us just need to learn.  Imagine how that would change your relationship with your animal companions, and the animals who cross your path.

We all have a little Dr. Dolittle in us.  If you’re interested in learning more about how to communicate with your animals consider a class at Fire Horse Ranch.  You’ll find a ride range of offerings; everything from introductory thru advanced classes.  Be sure to check our calendar for upcoming opportunities to enhance your relationship with your animal companions.

Our next class, Animal Communications – Getting Started is Saturday December 15th.

 

 

 

 

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Are You Willing to Own It?

From the moment Alki Run, an ex-racehorse rescued by After The Homestretch AZ, first arrived I knew I was in the presence of a teacher; a teacher with his own healing and lessons to learn as well.  He was a rather stoic sort; pleasant enough, yet able to keep the world at a safe distance.  When you looked into his beautiful brown eyes they seemed empty, skeptical, and detached.  You couldn’t touch him from the neck back without him taking a bite or kick at you.  Regardless, there was still something special about this horse and I knew we’d come together for a reason.

The fear, doubt and detachment that Alki walked off the trailer with almost a year ago are being replaced a little more each day with strength, confidence, and connection.  He’s become more confident and comfortable in his interactions within our herd and people too.  There’s often a sparkle of joy and contentment in his eyes that is beautiful to see.  He’s learning to reconnect with himself and the world around him.  He’s starting to trust and interact with others, and learn what it feels like to be happy and comfortable.

Alki was a loner, keeping a safe distance from the other herd members.  Now it’s common to see him comfortably eating and hanging out with any herd member, even with Butler, the alpha horse in the herd.  A few days ago I even caught Alki and Butler playing together, which says a lot on how far he’s come!

It hasn’t been easy.  It’s taken months of work, lots of steps forward, a few backwards, and the courage to break through barriers of fear and mistrust in the process.  Could I or anyone else have made these changes for Alki?  Most definitely NOT!  He had to decide to be an active part of his healing; stepping into his own strength and confidence.  He had to be the one to embrace it and own it. 

Today when I look into his eyes I’m often met with a soft eye filled with caring, connection, and gentle knowing.  He has his favorite itchy spots that he loves to have rubbed, and he’ll often follow me around like a great big puppy; curious about where I’m going or what I’m doing, and he’s comfortable just hanging out together. 

He and I were quietly hanging out the other day.  It was a peaceful moment at sunset.  We stood close together almost breathing in sync; sharing the experience without saying words.  I was reflecting on how far he’d come when I felt a powerful message in my heart . . . “Whether horse or human, the strength and confidence that will sustain and guide you can only come from within.  Others may help you embrace it; you must be willing to own it!”

It made perfect sense.  We can be surrounded by many who will guide us to find our inner strength and confidence.  Yet unless we are willing to own it, it can never truly be.  So the question is – Are you ready and willing to own it?

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Salves, Balms, and Ointments – Oh My!

Last weekend it was time to make a new batch.  A new batch of healing herbal salve that I use on cuts, scraps, burns, skin irritations, and just about anything else that comes up.  As you can imagine with five horses, a dog, and us two humans there is always something that needs a little TLC.  Needless to say I make up a large batch!

People are often amazed to find out how easy it really is.  You choose your own ingredients and custom blend a salve specifically for your needs.  I often use a mixture of essential oils and handcrafted herbal oils too.  The possibilities are endless. 

The top three salves I use the most are a creosote salve used for equine scratches, wound salve with anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-septic, and healing herbs, and what I call a healing salve good for minor cuts, burns, scraps, etc.  No chemicals, toxic or harmful ingredients in these wholesome salves.  In fact it’s common for the horses and dogs to lick the salve right out of the container when I’m not looking!

Here are a few pictures of the process.  If you’re interested in learning more about herbs, and especially making your own salve, join us for our upcoming Herbal Salves and Ointments for Horses workshop, Saturday December 8th, at Fire Horse Ranch.  Taught by Melanie Dunlap, Earth Mother Herbalist, of Peaceful Spirit Center.  Come and tap into the wisdom of her rich herbal background.  While we’ve based the workshop around horses, the same principles and recipes apply to all animals and people too! 

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Would You Ask Your Plumber to Fix Your Electricity?

Jubi, a handsome Paso Fino horse, was curious and open about the Reiki session I was offering.  As I approached him, introduced myself and shared with him what I was offering he tentatively let me touch and talk with him.  One eye or ear was always paying close attention to this new person in his stall.

His human companion had worked the better part of a year to help him overcome past training, physical, mental, and emotional issues.  Reiki was something she felt would benefit him at this time, and she was right.  It wasn’t long before he understood what this Reiki stuff was all about and relaxed into the session. 

During the session I asked him if he’d found benefit in the various therapies and professionals who had been out to work with him.  Clear as day I heard a response that was right to the point – “You wouldn’t ask a plumber to fix your electricity would you?”  This direct answer made me laugh and realize the wisdom behind it.

Jubi’s reply prompted further reflection later that day.  When we build a house we need plumbing and electricity, yet most likely we wouldn’t ask one professional to do both jobs.  How often do we set ourselves up for failure or mediocre results by taking a single prong approach to something? 

Where in your life is it time to seek assistance from someone with the right experience or knowledge?  How might things that seem stuck, broken, or unfixable suddenly move forward, mend, and be better than expected when the right knowledge/experience is applied?  What can you do today to connect with the right resource to help you move forward?

Would you like to learn Animal Reiki or how to communicate with animals?  Join us at Fire Horse Ranch in December for an Animal Reiki Class on December 1st (pre-requisite:  Reiki Level I)  and/or an Animal Communications – Getting Started class on December 15th.

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Too Focused On The Result

As I put the halter on Butler and headed towards the fence there were a few butterflies in my stomach.  It had been a while since Butler and I had worked on learning anything new.  I was excited about just being out and spending time with him, and was hoping he would be as excited about learning something new as I was.

A few weeks back my friend, and exceptional horsewoman, Lauren Woodard had given me her book “Curbside Service – Change the Way You and Your Horse Think About Each Other”.  I’d read it and was now ready to put it into practice.  The premise for Curbside Service is, on cue your horse moves in next to the fence for you to mount.  Remains standing perfectly still while you mount, and then waits for the cue to move off.

So here we were.  I’d read the book, Butler hadn’t.  Yet it seemed fairly straight up.  We reached the fence and I climbed up onto the rail and turned around.  Butler seemed to have this whimsical look in his eye that said, “Hmmm, I wonder what she thinks she’s going to do up there?”, and I swear I heard a little amused chuckle coming from his direction as he waited to see what was coming next. 

And so we began our work.  I heard Lauren’s voice in my head saying things like “Don’t move an inch, let the horse move” or “Don’t settle for okay, make it exceptional”.  And that’s what I strived for, the perfect Curbside Service.

Now I knew it was going to take several tries as we figured this out, yet held the end result in my mind.  And that’s where it all started to go wrong.  There were times I got frustrated, and times Butler got frustrated.  We even had a whole series of Butler doing the complete opposite of what I was asking.  Sometimes because he didn’t understand what I was asking, and other times because he didn’t see the difference as to why he had to have his left side next to the fence when he was perfectly willing to give me his right side.  After about 30 minutes we had an okay Curbside, yet they were more strokes of luck than skill or having actually learned something.  And it seemed like a good point to stop for the day.

I shared my results with Lauren, happy that we had at least a few okay results even if they weren’t

consistent.  Lauren in her direct and experienced way said “You’re too attached to the result.  Stay with the process.”

It was several more weeks before I had the chance to work with Butler again.  In fact it was the night before Lauren was coming to Fire Horse Ranch to do a Curbside Service demo and she was going to fine-tune what Butler and I had worked on.  I felt the push to give her something to fine-tune.  To make a long story short, I tried to stack the deck and get a result, and again only got a mediocre result that I was certain we couldn’t repeat.

The day of the demo it turned out I was Lauren’s demo in front of the crowd that had come to see her.  Rather than her showing how Curbside Service is done, she had me work with both Butler and Princess and coached us through the process.  Then I realized where I’d gone wrong, and what she meant when she said “You’re too focused on the result.”  It was all the little steps, the journey if you will, that took me and each horse from being two separate beings with different ideas to working in-tune with each other, and ultimately achieving a successful result.

Duh, I knew that!  Yet in this case I wanted the result and lost sight of being in each moment as the horse and I learned together; savoring our small successes, and seeing our disconnects as opportunities to work on doing things better.  I let go of achieving the end result as Lauren instructed us each step of the way.  This allowed me to focus on being in the moment, working through the ‘disconnects’ as they happened and savor each moment of success.  A far richer experience and we realized the end result much quicker and with more ease.

How often do we stay too focused on the end result, rather than harnessing the power of focus into each step along the way?  How often do we arrive at the end result and realize it wasn’t really the result we wanted, damaged relationships, missed better opportunities, or end up alone because we missed the chance to be fully present each step of the way?  Where can you shift your focus from the result to the journey?

Knowing where you’re going is important.  Yet focusing your mind and heart on each step empowers you to be fully present, savor the small victories, change course when it’s needed, and arrive at your result with more ease and satisfaction.

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Bring Out Your Sparkle with Confidence

The bright, sparkly necklace had been tucked away safely in my jewelry box since the day I brought it home, nearly four years ago. It was a raffle item I bought a ticket for on a whim. Afterwards I chided myself for being impulsive, as I don’t often go places I'd wear a necklace like this. Over the years I’ve taken it out and put it on for just a few minutes and looked in the mirror to admire it. Then I’d put it away again.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a weekend seminar. On the last day of the seminar as I was getting ready to go the sparkle of the necklace caught my eye, and as usual I quickly dismissed wearing it. Before I knew it I’d taken it out, put it on, and glanced in the mirror like I had many times before. Just as I went to take it off a thought crossed my mind, “Why not wear it today? It looks great with your outfit and it makes you feel good.” And so for the first time since I brought it home, I wore it.

What happened the rest of the day surprised me. I felt bright, sparkly and brilliant too! I stood straighter, walked with greater confidence, and felt great! Was it just the necklace? No, mostly it was what the necklace represented – something special. Not ordinary or common, something unique, unusual, and extraordinary.

Metaphorically speaking, what do you have tucked safely away in your jewelry box that is bright and sparkly? What part of your brilliance are you hiding that’s bursting at the seams to come out? Bring it out and put it on, stand a littler straighter, walk with greater confidence, and let yourself feel great in every part of your being. Today is your day!

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Wish Upon A Star

Several years ago, before I had horses of my own, I was sitting under a star-filled sky on a warm August night.  Lost amongst the stars I was reflecting on how long I’d been inspired by horses and how I was bitten by the horse bug at a very young age.  As a child they filled my daydreams, my room was decorated with their pictures and likeness in every form imaginable, and I read every horse story I could get my hands on.  I’d always dreamt of having horses of my own, and now forty years later the opportunity was nearly at hand.

As I gazed into the vast clusters of stars that night, a message began to stir deep in my heart.  It was a message meant to be carried by the stars to a horse I had yet to meet.    Before I realized it, this message became reality as I spoke the words aloud.  “Wherever you are, know that I’m looking for you.  Whatever your circumstances please find the strength to hang on.  Know that before we meet I already love you and am looking forward to the day you come home.”   Having worked with rescues I was fairly certain this horse would also be a rescue.  As I heard these words for the first time I felt tears welling up in my eyes that gently began to roll down my cheeks.  With certainty I knew that something had just been set into motion.

Night after night I’d step out under the stars and sent my message out.  Although there was no way to confirm it, I knew it was being received by someone, somewhere out there.

After a couple of weeks I felt the message begin to change.  The message naturally expanded to include….”And if you are with a loving family and well cared for, this makes me happy.  Enjoy every moment and know that when it’s time for us to meet I’ll welcome you with open arms and joy.”  Upon hearing this I realized that maybe this horse isn’t a horse in need of rescue, and continued sending this new, expanded message.

This went on for several months before I received a call from a friend, Joey, who said…”I think I’ve found your horse.”  Joey ran a local horse rescue where I volunteered Reiki services.  Of course I couldn’t wait to meet him, and when I did, fell instantly in love with him – Butler.  That was November of the same year.

Ironically, about the same time I began sending my message out to the Universe that August, things were set into motion behind the scene that would result in Butler being found and rescued. 

Another friend, who at the time was scouting horses for the Scottsdale Mounted Police unit, received a call about a tall Thoroughbred who might need a few groceries but might be a good fit.  My friend arrived to check out this horse and was horrified.  Needing a “few” groceries was an understatement, Butler was hanging on by a thread.  She immediately jumped into action to rescue him from these horrible circumstances. 

When rescued, Butler was fostered by two ladies, Jannelle and Judy, who not only welcomed me, but also encouraged me to come and work with him for a while to be certain we were a good match.  Of course I eagerly accepted.  Finally in March of 2010 I was ready to bring Butler home, and at the same time the Universe had another wonderful surprise in-store for me. 

There was again another horse needing a new home.  She had belonged to a lady who loved her very much and had taken great care of her.  I of course had to go through the “meet and screen” process with her current owner who quickly determined that “Princess” would be going to a home that would love and care for her just as she had.

Princess and Butler arrived home two and a half years ago.  I often reflect back on the circumstances and the entire story that brought us all together.  To me it’s greater than circumstances.  To me this story is filled with miracles, and a heart’s desire sent out to the Universe that was answered in a far grander fashion than I could have ever imagined.

What dreams or desires are safely locked away in your heart?  You know the ones….the ones that seem too far out of reach, unattainable.  Will you keep these under lock and key your entire life, and risk feeling regret that they never happened?  Or is it time to lovingly release them and wish upon a star?  This simply sets the energy in motion and sets the stage for the Law of Attraction to begin to work.  Maybe they won’t appear as you desire them too.  Yet, they might appear in a bigger, grander fashion than you might imagine.

Tonight, step outside and wish upon a star.  It’s not a silly childhood ritual – it’s real.  Imagine this wish coming true, feel it in every cell of your body, allow the emotions to fill your heart and soul, continue with intent and focus each day, allowing your dream to unfold.

I’ll meet you in the stars tonight!

 

 

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Riding Into Perspective

Birds were chirping and a light breeze was playing with Butler’s mane as we rode up Central Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona.  Miles away there were different types of commutes occurring on this same street as people rode in cars, trains, and buses to their city destinations in high rise buildings.  I thought about the irony of this for a moment, and then gladly left the bustle of the city in my mind’s eye and focused on the coyote crossing the road in front of us. 

The sun was slowly rising and the quiet rural community that surrounded us began to stir.  I’ve walked this road before many times, yet today it was different.  Butler was carrying me, which meant I was seeing things at a much higher level.  I marveled at how much further I could see and how differently the landscape looked.  What from the ground looked like acres of dense shrubs, cactus, and trees, was actually filled with discreet trails of animals and people as they moved over the land from one location to another. 

I also realized how much more I was seen and acknowledged by others we encountered.  Yes, I realize it’s hard to miss a 16.2 hand Thoroughbred and rider.  However, in a horse community like ours this isn’t an unusual sight.  Yet we were waved too and greeted “Good Morning” by far more people than if I’d been walking alone. 

Looking up into the sky I noticed hot air balloons passing overhead, and wondered what their view looked like.  Certainly from their angle Butler and I weren’t as dominating a presence as we may have appeared from the ground.  Could they see the winding paths through the desert connect and cross with each other?  Perhaps even someone walking upon them?  Did they see the birds fluttering from tree to tree, looking down upon them rather than up to them?  What was that like?

My mind continued to travel down this path of curiosity as we continued to ride.  I realized within a few brief minutes I’d experienced my position on earth from three different angles.  First, reminiscing about how the landscape appeared when I walked upon the ground.  Next, how I currently viewed my surroundings from horseback.  And lastly, imagining what the land looked like from the brilliantly colored hot air balloons floating overhead.

The same physical place experienced through three different perspectives.  Each one giving me a broader view the higher I moved off the ground.  As I transcended to the next level there were new things to discover and consider.  For instance, from a different perspective if I knew the trail to my left existed and was an easier trail, or would help me arrive at my destination faster, would I take it?  If I knew the path I was walking on was suddenly going to dead end, leaving me nowhere to go would I make different decisions long before I reached the dead end?  How do I experience the details and beauty of the desert differently when my feet are planted on Mother Earth?

Sometimes we find ourselves going through life experiencing things from just one view or perspective.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in some cases, but it can limit our experience.   The next time you’d like a new perspective or feel stuck and want new options consider enlisting your imagination.  What do you experience when through your imagination you:

  • Consider the situation at eye level, a bird’s eye view or from below the situation looking up into it?
  • Take on the role of others in the situation and consider what their perspective might be?
  • Release any perceived or actual restraints opening the door to new options and opportunities – no matter how unlikely or ridiculous they might first seem.
  • Allow the scenario to play out without inserting your will, acting as an observer only.

Will you discover new ways of seeing things, new options or choices?  Likely.  Sometimes that’s all it takes – a new or different perspective to make a change or shift in your life.  Or, you might discover that where you’re at is the right place to be.  Either way – you’ll have empowered yourself to make choices and consider options you might not have before.  This ultimately paves the way for greater confidence and courage in your life, giving a boost to your self-esteem.

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Are Your Gates Open?

On a hot Saturday afternoon I went out to move the horses into the shade and feed lunch.  In the process of putting out lunch and moving everyone Princess, our escape artist, opened the gate to the arena and let everyone out.  Usually not a problem as the horse area of the yard is completely fenced and the main gate leading off the property is typically chained and closed.

As I heard the familiar rattle of Princess opening the gate latch in the arena I glanced over to the main gate to ensure it was locked, only to see it was not only unchained but open as well.  Of course I was further away from the gate than the horses and they quickly noticed the opportunity.

The race to the open gate was on and three of the five horses managed to escape before I reached it.  Butler, Princess, and Cisco were out freely running around exploring the neighbor’s yard and racing up and down the dirt driveway.  Had this been an intentional outing I would have enjoyed the zest and zeal they expressed for this new adventure.  However, their excitement over this new adventure didn’t rub off on me and now I had my work cut out.

Fortunately within a few minutes everyone was back in the yard safely and without incident, quietly eating lunch.  Once the adrenaline had subsided the little voice in my head started giving a personal lecture about closing and chaining gates, how did I let that open gate happen, what was I thinking, and so on….. 

Realizing it was a mistake and I didn’t want to go down the path of beating myself up, it dawned on me.  There was another way to look at this experience.   As soon as this thought came into my mind a switch flipped and my experience changed to one of awareness and insight.

When we move through life without intent and purpose, dreams and passion, we can leave our gates unsecured and open.  Both good and bad can then easily move in and out of our lives, unchecked and uncontrolled.  And sometimes, as in this case, what’s precious to us can slip away.

Where in your life are there open gates needing to be shut?  Are there gates to your dreams and passions that have remained locked and secured that are waiting to be opened and walked through?  Have things precious to you slipped away from neglect, not feeling you’re worthy, or by being ignored?

Survey your life landscape.  Determine which gates or pathways serve and support your goals and dreams.  Recognize those that don’t.  Not all gates or pathways were meant to be used forever.  And then with intent and purpose open or close the gates you desire.  It may take a little courage and strength as some of the gates may be rusty from lack of use, let your heart and passion guide you.  Keep your goals and dreams in view, recognize mistakes and successes as part of the process, and keep moving through the gates onto the pathways you desire.

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Scars That Blossom

Several years ago an unusual storm swept through the Phoenix Valley, pelting anything outdoors with golf ball size hail.  This small cactus happened to be caught in the volley of hail flung from the sky that day.

Over the years it has struggled to survive.  I’ve often wondered if it would make it, and some have suggested I throw it out.  After all it wasn’t very pretty to look at and didn’t appear to be doing much.  There was something in my heart that wouldn’t allow me to do that.   I figured if the damage was too great it would have died.  However the scars healed, it remained green, and even though it wasn’t flourishing it was holding its own.

I found myself talking to this plant every time I passed it on my way out the back door or when I watered it, carefully watched its progress.  As you likely know, watching a cactus grown is a slow process.  There wasn’t much change other than the scarred area hardening and the cactus remaining green.

A few weeks ago I walked out on the patio and noticed two big buds had appeared overnight.  After two years of remaining fairly dormant while it healed the cactus was ready to bloom.  I could hardly wait, and watched daily for the blossoms to open.

Within a couple of days the buds had developed enough to bloom and beautiful yellow flowers appeared.   During the heat of the afternoon they’d open their petals as if to welcome in the sun and magic of the afternoon, and during the evening they would close to rejuvenate themselves in the cool evening air.  These were some of the most beautiful blooms I’ve ever seen.

Sitting on the patio one morning with the cactus I paused to reflect on my own life, as well as the lives of those who pass through Fire Horse Ranch, both human and animal.  How resilient we are.  How sometimes the blossoms after the scars are more brilliant and breathe taking, because of the scars.  How sometimes we simply need to rest and rejuvenate our body, mind, and spirit so we can re-emerge in spectacular fashion.  And how sometimes, it’s also nice to have someone else who believes in us.

We each have our stories and scars, as well as beautiful moments when we blossom.  Celebrate each, as they mold and shape life.  Life changes and transitions can leave us feeling a bit scarred and dormant like this cactus.  Yet too, these same transitions can move us to new and unexpected moments of beauty – moments where we bloom bigger and better than we can imagine.

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Does Reiki Make You Cry?

I just received a beautiful thank you card from a client who had a session last week.  Here’s what she said “Thank you for making me cry.  My experience was releasing, beautiful and opened my heart with love.”

There’s a lot of energy released in tears.  You’ve probably had an experience where you felt better after a good cry.  Tears tap into the emotions behind thoughts, believes, and experiences, many of which we hold in that may lead to energy blocks within our physical and energy bodies.

During a Reiki session clients can experience a variety of emotions and the releasing of the energy behind them.  When this energetic release is expressed it can release in the form of tears.  Tears of sadness, joy, grief, happiness, or a wide variety of other emotions.  Yet, the effect is still the same – a releasing of energy.  If kept blocked inside this stagnant energy can lead to a variety of things – depression, weight gain, addictive behaviors, and any number of physical and mental health issues.

Can you release this energy without Reiki?  Absolutely!  The question is do you know this energy block even exists?  Until the session began, my client mentioned above did not.  She only knew there was some sort of block, something that didn’t feel right, between her heart and her throat. She’d even considered going to the doctor to see if there was something physically wrong. Only when we started working with the energy of memories and beliefs during her session did a greater understanding come into her awareness, and through Reiki this block was released.

There are many ways Reiki can create balance and harmony in your life.  This is just one example.  What would you like to release and let go?  Consider how a Reiki session can support you in releasing stagnant or blocked energy and restore the natural flow of vibrant life force energy within you!

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That’s My Pile of Hay

Butler intently surveys the piles of hay laid out for breakfast.  Then he makes his move.  Walking forward he pins his ears at whoever happens to be eating off the pile he’s chosen.  If that goes ignored he steps his game up a notch or two by baring his teeth, taking a quick nip at the other horse or running to chase them off.  Sometimes that leads to squeals and a warning kick or two, and ultimately the other horse moves away and finds a quieter pile to eat.  This same behavior occurs many times during the day over food, water buckets, shade, or simply when Butler walks through the herd.

Clients and volunteers at Fire Horse Ranch are sometimes concerned or upset that Butler appears to be pushy and aggressive.  Many want to jump in and scold him.  I’m sometimes asked why I don’t intervene.  My answer is very simple.  If I were to step in and stop Butler or punish him it would disrupt the order of the herd.  This is usually followed by a puzzled look on the inquirers face…HUH?

Butler is the dominant horse and everyone in the herd naturally finds their position after him.  Stop Butler from being dominant and confusion sets in.  Everyone questions their position in the herd, uncertain who fills the dominant role, and what their particular role is.

We’re often taught that being dominant is an undesirable trait or action.  If used to harm others I agree.  However, many times we make this belief an absolute; banning, fearing, and resisting dominance in any form in all areas of our lives.

Consider this…dominance properly used creates order, harmony and clarity empowering your life – just like in the herd.  Improperly used it can leave you feeling powerless, confused, stuck, and maybe even depressed.

Take a look at an area in your life where you may be asserting too much or too little dominance.  Forcing and pushing your will upon another leaving them powerless; or, giving your power to the person or situation at hand, squelching your voice and your truth.  Like removing the dominant member from the herd this can leave you confused, with lots of questions and no direction.

Looking at the situation you’ve chosen and consider the following:

  • In this situation is the degree of dominance, or lack thereof, moving you towards something positive and supportive or towards harm?
  • Speak your truth, even if you think others will disagree.  After all this is your truth, not theirs.  Because it’s your truth you have the freedom to keep it or change it.
  • When faced with possibilities and options where you’d otherwise feel compelled to say yes even though you don’t want to, say no. 
  • Consider bravely saying yes to something you want to do but would normally say no to doing.  Being afraid or uncertain about doing something new or unfamiliar is normal.
  • Stand your ground with yourself or others.  Not all harmful dominance comes from outside sources.  Often it’s something we impose on ourselves.

Who is the leader within you?  Embrace the positive side of dominance and experience how empowering your life can be!

 

 

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Courage and Strength – The Stuff Your Legend is Made Of

You hear stories of great racehorses digging deep within; harnessing the courage and strength to break away from the pack and win a race.  History celebrates these moments of grand triumph as these stories are retold time and again, some even becoming legends.

I want to share a story about a racehorse with just as much courage and strength.  However this story happens years after his final race, far away from the cheering crowds and winner’s circle.  It happens in my backyard, surrounded by a small herd of horses and a few of us lucky to witness this moment of courage and strength.

This horse retired seven years ago at the ripe age of 8, earning modest winnings with the physical ailments to show for it.  Considered one of the “lucky” ones, he was awarded a life in a stall rather than being sent to auction and possibly to slaughter.  His most basic physical needs were attended over the years, but not much else was done for him.

Alki is one of several rescued racehorses at Fire Horse Ranch from After The Homestretch Arizona horse rescue.  At first glance one sees a handsome bay gelding, but his eyes tell a different story.  After he first arrived we gave him time to settle, hoping he’d relax and leave his past behind.  He did to an extent, but his interactions with us and the other horses were guarded.  His physical ailments were addressed, as well as many Reiki sessions to work on deeper levels.  Each Reiki session seemed to help, yet I could always sense when we hit that boundary that no one was allowed to go past.

Last Sunday, at our monthly Animal Reiki Share at FHR several of us made the rounds and worked with  the horses.  During my time with Alki he slowly began to soften.  Just a bit a first, and then relaxed deeper and deeper until we again hit that stoic, invisible boundary.  Only this time, something different happened.  Before I realized it a sudden burst of heavy, sad emotion moved up from my heart, creating a lump in my throat, causing tears to uncontrollably flow down my cheeks.  Martha and Jenn, who were standing nearby working with other horses, also experienced what they described as a heavy wave of emotion washing over them.

As suddenly as it started it was over.  We looked at each other trying to make sense of what just happened and then we noticed Alki.  He stood relaxed with a soft look and feel to him.  There was a feeling of peace coming from him that none of us had ever experienced with him.  Instantly we knew he had found the courage to release some of the heavy emotion and energy he’d been carrying with him for so many years.

How many of us carry such emotional burdens within us?  The burdens of thoughts, beliefs, experiences, and emotions we’ve collected over the years, tightly stored behind our own barriers; weighing heavily on us as we silently carry them within our heart and soul.  How do these things keep us tied to the past and stuck?  How would releasing them free us and create space within to embrace love and joy?

Can we dig deep and find the courage and strength to release these things within us like Alki?  It does take courage to release and let go of things we’ve carried so long they seem to be part of us.  When released, it can even feel like we’ve lost part of ourselves because we’ve used these things as excuses and shields to keep the world out and disconnect us from our own heart and spirit.

Alki is one of my hero’s.  He dug deep, harnessed the courage and strength to break away from his past and race forward towards healing, love, and a life of happiness.  To me this is a story worthy of re-telling until it becomes a legend.  A story we can all embrace, copying this chapter into our own lives.

It takes courage to trust the process, to listen to your heart and embrace love, joy and happiness in a space that was previously closed.  It takes strength to move forward and break the patterns and chains that held you in the past.  To blaze new trails built on the truth and power of your authentic self.  It takes faith in YOU to break free of the pack and run with wild abandon into a life of empowerment that is rightfully yours.

How do you find this courage and strength? 

  • Surround yourself with people and experiences that support you, just like the place Alki has found.  It may mean leaving what you know, but once you’ve created the space and opportunity in your life for new people and experiences you’ll wonder why you waited. 
  • Trust in yourself.  This may be a new experience so allow some wiggle room as you learn to listen to the voice within.  It may take some practice.
  • Be clear in your intent.  Never lose sight of your finish line.  Others around you may try to box you in, cut you off, or steer you off track.  Again, never lose sight of your finish line – it is uniquely yours.

Is it time to write another chapter in your story – one worthy of re-telling until it becomes a legend?

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Finding Balance in a Squirrel Hole

A few nights ago I was in my horsey “zen zone” cleaning stalls and headed to the dumpster with a wheelbarrow full of the smelly stuff.  This is my time to let the world fade away and simply be present.  Ahead of me a saw what looked to be a stick on the dirt driveway.  Moving closer I realized it wasn’t a stick.

Living in diamondback country I naturally slowed my approach as my heart began to beat a little quicker.   Closer inspection revealed it was only part of the snake, the rest of him was slowly entering a squirrel hole.  With his head down the hole I knew I could safely get closer to see what kind of snake it was, discovering he was a Bull snake – who will strike but isn’t venomous.  My next thought was for the cute little ground squirrel I had made friends with over the past few months, knowing he was likely on the dinner menu.

Many things ran through my mind as I watched the scene unfold and the snake slowly disappear down the hole.  One of them was awareness that the scene I was watching was nature maintaining balance and harmony, and how delicate maintaining that balance is.  Removing snakes from the yard would tip the balance and those cute little ground squirrels would quickly overrun and take over becoming not so cute.

The next thought was one of those “ah-ha” moments.  We all seek to find balance in our lives – only in some cases it doesn’t appear as we think it should.  Therefore we either don’t recognize it or hold out and resist until it looks the way we want it.  Sometimes balance is warm and fuzzy, and sometimes it’s abrupt and in your face.  Holding out for warm and fuzzy can mean we never find the balance we seek.

By this time the rest of the world had disappeared and I found myself reflecting upon where in my life I sought balance and where I might be overlooking opportunities that were already present.  Suddenly the walls of the perceived “box” came tumbling down.  I saw for the first time where balance was naturally trying to present itself in a specific situation that I had not recognized before.  I had expected it to look and feel a certain way and had rejected anything that didn’t match exactly what I had in mind.  And guess what?  This new found balance supports me and the situation far better than what I had in mind.

Where in your life is balance presenting itself in a manner different than you expect?  How might being open to this balance support you far better than you could imagine?  Go ahead – take deep breath, allowing your attention to drop into your heart center.  Consider a situation where you desire balance, and open your heart to experience how balance may be presenting itself.  You may be surprised at what you discover.

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Tapestry of Life

Yesterday I said goodbye to a very dear friend Bingo.  She and I have been sharing regular Reiki sessions over the past year, and it’s an appointment I always looked forward to.  During our sessions she often shared an image of a tapestry – one that was continually being changed and added to.  I came to understand this as a symbol representing the intertwining of our lives.  As loved ones came in and out of her life, threads would stop and start.  When loved ones left their thread remained a vital part of the strength and character of the tapestry.  When loved ones arrived a new thread emerged, adding to the harmony and structure of the tapestry that was already in place.

Finding a warm spot in the sun I began a distance Reiki session to connect with her to say my goodbye’s and support her in her transition.  Almost immediately she again showed me the tapestry.  When I saw it I figured her thread would complete the beautiful piece of artwork and was surprised when it didn’t.

Instead, she shared with me that her thread was simply going to complete its last few stitches while the remaining threads continue on.  As I had become part of her tapestry, my thread was now intertwined with all the others lives, or threads, and would remain so.  Each individual thread would continue adding color, texture, and pattern to this unfolding symbol of life while continuing to blend with the other threads.

I sat back in awe, feeling a great sense of belonging.  We each are here, our threads weaving and creating our own tapestry and intertwining with the tapestries of others, creating different designs and textures; ultimately each individual tapestry becoming part of the larger tapestry of all living beings.

There are many lessons and “ah-ha” moments that come into awareness as I ponder this experience.  Questions worthy of asking also arise.  Am I creating the tapestry that I desire?  Does is have the strength, texture, and colors that bring me joy and happiness?  Are there threads whose time has come to end?  What threads would I like to bring in to create harmony, texture and experience?  And of course these are just a few of the questions that I’ve been contemplating since yesterday morning.

What does your tapestry look like and feel like?  Are there colors and patterns you’d like to change?  What textures and colors do you like and wish to continue?  How are your threads influencing the tapestries of others?  The beauty of a tapestry is that it can be changed at anytime.  One doesn’t have to unravel and unwind what has been created, as this is part of our experience.  We can simply do something a little different and create something new from this point forward.  Will your tapestry change or remain the same?

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Finding Empowerment In The Darkness

Five years ago this week I was experiencing one of the biggest transitions in my life. It was one of those transitions that catches you by surprise and turns your world inside out. A transition no one was sure I’d come back from. A case of food poisoning during our Thanksgiving vacation left my husband and I stuck in our hotel room for a few days. We thought it was just the flu. My husband came down with severe symptoms first and was beginning to recover within a few days, just as I started experiencing symptoms. Ready to be sick and miserable in our own bed, we cut our vacation short and headed for home – a two day drive. By the time we reached home I was very sick.  My husband had to “trick” me into getting into the car to go to the doctor because I was so stubborn, and soon found us pulling up in front of the hospital ER entrance. Convinced it was still just the flue I protested until we reached the ER check-in and rather than sitting in the waiting room for hours was immediately whisked into a room. That got my attention. Only very seriously sick people went to the head of the line. There was a whirlwind of doctors, nurses, needles, tests, and x-rays as the pain in my back around my kidneys grew to an intensity I couldn’t bear any longer. Just as the morphine was administered I knew, deep within my soul, that I was at a possible exit point. At this exact moment I had the choice to live or die. No bright lights, tunnels, or angels. Just a strong knowing that whatever choice I made would be final. I turned to look at my husband and knew I was staying. Then the world grew quiet as a slipped into the darkness of a drug induced sleep. Four days in ICU, a fifth day in a regular room for observation, and I walked out of the hospital to the amazement of the doctors and nurses in the ER. The doctor on duty the day I was admitted confessed that no one gave me very good odds of making it. Of the two cases similar to mine he’d seen over the years, neither had survived. Life was different from that point forward. Dependent on daily medication to maintain balance in my body changed a lot of my routines and habits. There were ups and downs as I came to grips with what had happened and who I was now. Yet, there was also a surreal calmness and knowing that all would be taken care of and this health transition was a transition that would influence my life for the better. Although I have to admit there were days I thought this feeling was just a bunch of crap. Looking back I now see how far I’ve come since the day I decided to stay. How a life transition like this can nudge you onto a path bringing you back to yourself more centered and focused, and can re-connect you with your truth and passion. Or how it can lead you down a path of worry and confusion; feeling betrayed and disconnected from life. Why do I share this with you? Because Fire Horse Ranch is a result of this and other life transitions that have challenged and molded me into who I am now. A place where women and animals come to find support and guidance through life transitions, whether big or small. A sanctuary from the world where you can tune into your heart and soul for healing, empowerment, and strength. Where you can connect with the balancing energy of nature and horses, unconditionally supporting you towards your highest and best self. It’s a safe haven where you’re both supported and you can support another to heal and move forward in your truth and strength. Whether you’re in the beginning, middle, or ending of a transition take a few moments and find the nugget of inspiration and empowerment within the transition. Connect with this and allow it to inspire forward momentum where you’ll learn, grow and come to embrace life more fully.  You might be pleasantly surprised where it takes you!

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Chasing Birds

This morning my dog Maddie was running around the backyard chasing birds.  I heard myself say to her “If you only had wings” thinking then she’d really give those birds a run for their money.  In an instant I heard her reply “Well, then I wouldn’t be a dog!”, and she happily continued barking and running after the birds.

At first I chuckled thinking how funny this simple statement was.  Then I realized the great wisdom lying within.  How sometimes our wish to be something or someone else doesn’t serve us and creates confusion.

In my work supporting women and animals experiencing life transitions, I’ve seen time and time again how confusion disconnects one from their truth.  How it deflates your energy and forward momentum.  How it can leave you feeling hopeless and stuck, giving your power away to the circumstance or people around you.

In Maddie’s case if she had decided to think less of who she is, wishing that "if she only had wings things would be different", she'd have missed the joy of being a dog and chasing the birds because it was fun.

Owning and acknowledging your truth empowers you to stay present and consciously make supportive life choices.  Owning your personal power also empowers those around you to do the same.

The next time you catch yourself wishing you were someone else, had something else, or were some place else simply find joy in chasing your own birds.

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Learning To Be Loved

How often is our self-worth based on what we do or offer to others? If we find ourselves in this situation, when are we doing or being enough? Is this something unique to only humans? Butler, my companion and rescued off track race horse and I recently shared a great moment of awareness.

A little over a year ago it was shared with me that Butler’s purpose in life is to learn to be loved. “Well,” I thought, “that’s easy…he is loved!” His then foster Moms, Janelle and Judy, as well as I, loved him. He was surrounded by those who cared for him deeply and would do anything for him.

Butler’s life lesson has continued to come to the forefront of my mind from time to time. Logically it made sense to me, he is loved. Something told me there was more to this simple statement that I had yet to discover.

Last year Butler and I began training in dressage. I got the sense that he wasn’t really looking for a new career, but because I was enjoying it he was good with our new focus too. A month away from our first schooling test Butler was diagnosed with ringbone on his front right foot. We stopped training for a few weeks to rest his injury, and the farrier fit him with some corrective shoeing. Within a few weeks we were back to enjoying some light riding.

Not long after this he came down with a severe case of cellulitis in his right rear leg. Very painful, swollen and hot we went through weeks of sweat wraps and lots of hand-walking before the swelling finally went away.

On our walks we shared some intimate moments of communication and connection. We also decided that we wouldn’t train to compete. We’d continue with our lessons and focus on enjoying each other’s company and companionship whether that was riding or walking the trails together.

All seemed to be progressing according to plan, until last month. He hadn’t grown any new hoof for the farrier to replace his shoes so we left them off. We also discovered ringbone was developing on his left front foot too. I knew he’d become lame if I rode him without the corrective shoes. The best and only option for Butler was time off for a little R & R.

I began to pick up some anxiety from Butler. Not the normal anxiousness that he shows when he’s made to slow down and rest. It seemed deeper than that. Not long ago while walking with him I came to know and understand his anxiety and concern. For the majority of his life he’s been valued only when he was doing something, like racing. He knew too well that when he no longer met his owner’s expectations, he was no longer valued.

The light bulb went on! Now I understood more fully what his purpose to “learn to be loved” meant. To be loved unconditionally for whom he is, not what he does. He was afraid that since he wasn’t ride-able he wasn’t going to be valued. I couldn’t hold back the tears as my heart opened and experienced his concern and fear. As these feelings flowed through me I turned and put my arms around his tall, strong neck and let him know unconditionally that he was loved and was in his forever home. He’s valued for who he is in his heart and soul, and to me that is all that matters.

One could see a simple, yet drastic change, ripple through his body. Some of this ripple was relief. I also believe some was the guarded piece of his heart opening and experiencing, maybe for the first time, unconditional love at the core of his being.

This moment of awareness has me looking at my own life and how I perceive my own self-worth. Are there times when I only allow myself to feel valued when I’m doing something for another? Where do I let others “perceived” value influence my own sense of self-worth? And if so, how do I change the perception or eliminate allowing others de-valuing me?

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Is This The Same Dog?

Bingo is Tracy’s soul companion and a retired agility dog. At nearly 15 years old her body is tired and she’s eased into a comfortable retirement. Like many dogs her age one can see the spirit and strength of the soul encased by an aging physical body. To support Bingo in this phase of her life Tracy thought she’d enjoy and benefit from energy work. The day Bingo and I met she greeted me at the door for the formal sniff down and then quietly found her spot on the floor to observe and interact as she felt necessary.

During my first session with Bingo I experienced the energy working directly to support her aging physical body with ease and grace. It was one of those sessions where during the hour I experienced the space Bingo and I shared was timeless and endless; yet also felt it was over in an instant. She easily relaxed into the energy flow, released several deep breathes during the session, and soaked up every vibration of the healing energy. Afterwards she was content to simply lay and rest while Tracy and I talked about her session, especially the insights and picture that Bingo had shared with me.

We scheduled another Reiki session for Bingo one week later. The Bingo that greeted me that day was a completely different dog. There was a lightness and sparkle in her eyes that had been dim the week before. Tracy had noticed she had more energy and brightness about her. Her incontinent episodes where much less, she seemed happier and the wart between her eyes had fallen off. (The wart was something Tracy had addressed with the veterinarian and told not to worry about, yet found it was persistent and continued to grow. You can plainly see it in Bingo’s picture.) That day rather than one long intense Reiki session, Bingo and I shared two short sessions. Bingo directed the length and intensity of each of these sessions.

Our second Reiki treatment began when Bingo her spot on the floor to lay. Rather than Bingo going into a deep relaxed space, she relaxed and was more alert and interactive. We worked together for about 15 minutes and then she got up and moved away. She went to find Tracy, take a drink, and wander around the room. Tracy and I thought she might be done, yet Bingo lay down once again and we shared Reiki for another 25 minutes or so. Again, when she was done she got up and moved away. This time I knew she had received all that she needed.

As always, I learn from each animal I work with. Here are some thoughts from my session with Bingo:

  • No two Reiki treatments are ever alike. Leave any expectations at the door and allow the animal and the Reiki energy to work in harmony together for the highest good of the animal.
  • Allow the animal freedom to move at their will. (An exception to this would be when the freedom of movement would endanger the animal or you. Set up your treatment space accordingly.)
  • An animal moving away during a Reiki treatment may mean they are done, or may indicate they are simply taking a break and will return. Watch and listen to the animal to understand which of these are true.
  • Reiki energy continues to work and flow within our bodies after the session. The effects of this are often subtle. Often as the subtle changes compound one will see a big change in the overall picture, just like I saw in Bingo just a week later.
  • Re-occurring Reiki treatments are beneficial. They support us in the moment for our highest and best good. One session builds upon the other.

Many people report great results from one Reiki treatment. More people experience longer lasting results and bigger overall life changes with regular Reiki treatments. Depending on the situation subsequent sessions could be days, weeks or even a month apart. I recommend a series of at least 3 treatments to experience the power of Reiki, and then a maintenance schedule thereafter. Consult your Reiki practitioner, as well as your own intuition, for the best follow up treatment schedule.

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Hands Off!

Chopper, a beautiful 7 year old brindle Boxer, has been with her human Dad since she was 6 weeks old. Recently her human parents noticed slight changes in her food intake, energy levels, and behaviors that over time signaled to them that something wasn’t quite right. This is where I come into the story and meet Chopper.

She greeted me with a couple warning barks as I walked to the front door, and once I was in the door her barks turned to kisses. Chopper’s Mom and I talked for a few minutes about the concerns they had and I explained what Chopper may experience during our Reiki session.

We started the session in the living room with Chopper lying on her favorite blanket. I asked permission to connect with her and then started the session. She had laid near me for pets and love while talking to her Mom before the session. Not thinking I started the session hands-on, as she was already familiar with my physical touch. She lay quietly for a few minutes then got up and walked to her favorite sunny spot in another room. After a few minutes I quietly followed her and was invited to join her and continue the session.

After another few minutes she got up, licked my face and walked back into the living room and again lay on her blanket. As I re-joined her a thought came to me that she would like the session to be hands-off. I then realized that my comfort level with her overrode my usual procedure of starting animal sessions this way.

We picked up where we left off, this time my hands were several inches from her body. She quickly settled into a Reiki nap and the connection between us strengthened. At some time during the session my hands again found their way to her physical body. This time she was good with the contact and immediately let out a couple of deep releasing Reiki breaths. The session was peaceful, restoring, and insightful.

Chopper’s gentle, yet persistent request for hands-off treatment at first was also a good reminder that Energy work is different from casual interaction. Here are some things to consider:

• Once the energy begins to flow it may be experienced different from normal touch.
• Beginning a treatment with your hands off the body several inches is always a good way to start. The animal will show you what they prefer, it’s up to you to watch and listen.
• Allow the animal to move around as needed. Confining Chopper would have likely resulted in a less pleasant experience for her, and potentially could have escalated into more intense “suggestions” from her to back off.
• Watch the animal for signs of acceptance or discomfort during the treatment and adjust your style/method of sharing Reiki as needed.

Animal Reiki is an opportunity to support the animal and work with them. By simply watching and observing their comfort level and respecting their personal space we can create a beautiful Reiki experience for both giver and receiver.

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Know What’s In Your Heart

The time had finally come after 40 years of dreaming to finally find a horse of my own. Because of my work with rescues, it was no surprise when I got a call from Joey at Luv Shack Horse Rescue. She said she’d found my horse. He was being fostered not too far away and we set up a date to meet him. In the meantime, I received pictures of Butler, and of course fell instantly in love.

Prior to meeting him, I wanted to connect with him and offer distance Reiki. I settled in for a distance treatment and asked to connect with him. Nothing. I tried several times and didn’t once receive a spark of a connection. And then the questions and uncertainty crept in. Hmmm, was it me? If I couldn’t connect was this really meant to be? Was I doing something wrong?

Realizing I had put myself in a state of doubt and uncertainty I took a few minutes for a self-treatment, re-centered and cleared myself. When ready I tried again. Still nothing. Realizing for whatever reason it was not meant to happen I offered thanks for the experience and looked forward to meeting him in person the next day.

Meeting Butler was a wonderful experience that filled me with joy as well as a strange feeling of not wanting to hope too much in case it didn’t work out. However, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for days afterwards.

That night I again wanted to connect with Butler and offer Reiki. Thinking that meeting each other would change things I again settled into a quiet space and sent out the offer. The next thing I heard stopped me in my Reiki tracks and brought a lump to my throat. Butler, in his direct and wise manner which I’ve come to appreciate, simply let me know that if I was not willing to commit myself 100% then he wasn’t either. He wasn’t interested in another half-hearted relationship.

I couldn’t believe it. How did he know? Did he really understand how much I wanted this, yet was afraid that something might happen to take it away? Right then and there the first of many personal lessons facilitated by Butler began. It didn’t take more than a split second to realize I was guarding my heart, just in case it didn’t work out, and to decided then and there to release it and move forward. Once I made the commitment, we entered into one of many Reiki sessions since that time.

Animals know what’s in your heart. They sense when your outside actions aren’t congruent with your inside thoughts and feelings. Why is this important when offering Reiki? Simply because we’re working in partnership with the animal, which means they must be comfortable with our state of mind, the feelings in our hearts, and our intentions.

Prior to connecting with an animal simply check yourself for emotions, feelings, thoughts, or physical discomforts that may not be conducive to a Reiki session. If they can be cleared and removed, simply do so. Here are a few suggestions to assist you:

  • Imagine a white light (or whatever color feels right to you) entering through the top of your head, filling your body and washing away the “stuff” that is ready to leave.
  • A brief meditation connecting you to the energies of the earth (a stable, nurturing foundation) and the sky (divine energies). This will help clear and ground you.
  • Before entering the animals space deposit all that is troubling your mind and heart in a container (real or imaginary) outside the animal’s space. When you leave you can decide whether to pick these things back up or simply release them.
  • Open your heart and share with the animal who you are at that moment – both the good and the bad. Let them understand you’re not projecting this onto them, yet want them to know what’s in your heart. Then let the animal decide if they want to proceed.

Animals are very forgiving. Likely, when you come to them from a place of love, honesty, and integrity you will be welcomed into their lives. And of course, if like me you discover personal issues you’d like to work on, Reiki is the perfect tool to help you heal and become whole.

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Good Grief

Reiki works at very personal, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. It’s common for my human clients to seek Reiki during times of grief or loss, whether that be a loved one, a job, or an abrupt change in life. It’s important to remember that animals feel grief and loss too.

Rose and Stella are two horses who arrived at Luv Shack feeling a great sense of loss and grief at the abrupt ending of their human companions life. Joey Ogburn, founder of Luv Shack Horse Rescue, instantly recognized what these two horses were experiencing and knew Reiki would help them find peace and comfort in transitioning to their new home.

Hungry and wary Rose and Stella watched me from a careful distance as I entered the arena where they were eating lunch. You could sense their gentle sweet spirits, as well as see their concern for each other as they settled into this new place. As I talked softly to them from a distance and opened my heart to listen I could feel the heaviness that was in their hearts. It brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes on this otherwise bright and sunny Arizona afternoon.

The Reiki shared with them that day was from a distance, and usually Rose was standing between me and Stella. Regardless I could feel the strength of three spirits connecting and the energy of Reiki filling the space between us. It was a session of understanding; releasing and experiencing peace at a very intimate level deep within our hearts. They continued to eat, move in close now and again for a sniff of my hands, and would occasionally stop and bask in the warmth of the sun as we shared Reiki that afternoon. When done, a definite feeling of calm and hope was shared by all.

Today, Rose and Stella are an intricate part of the herd. Enjoying the company of the other horses and the volunteers who eagerly care for them, they’ve made the transition from grief and concern to peace and harmony.

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Reiki and Veterinary Care

Bubba had an earache, Twister had sand colic, Comet has bulging disks, Duchess had an inoperable blockage in her digestive system, Max has struggled keeping weight on, and Caje has a sprained ankle. These are just a few of the animals I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the past weeks. Their symptoms ranged from uncomfortable to life threatening. They were each treated in a variety of spaces from the comfort of a couch, to a stall, to an animal hospital.

When is the best time to give a sick or uncomfortable animal Reiki? Reiki will do no harm and is always a good option for a sick or injured animal. However, Reiki is never a substitute for proper care or veterinarian expertise.

If an animal needs the medical expertise of a veterinarian that is the first call that should be made. Then follow up with Reiki. It’s common for me to treat an animal at the veterinarian’s office or animal hospital, depending on the circumstance.

Fortunately each animal mentioned was seen by a veterinarian if needed before I was contacted for Reiki. How are they doing now?

Bubba’s ear cleared up and he’s back to his happy, carefree self. Twister began eating and pooping (very important with colic) and is back out with her buddies. She’s receiving continued check-ups from the vet and extra care from her owner to help move the sand out of her gut. Comet and his family are exploring options for his back. Duchess’ blockage dissolved and passed through her system and she was out of the hospital in a couple of days. Max is on a special diet to put weight on. And Caje is on house rest if we can keep him quiet.

While Reiki miracles happen every day, first-aid or critical care needs should be addressed first. Reiki can be given in conjunction with any treatment. If you, or your animal Reiki practitioner, practice distant healing it’s an excellent option and can be given immediately, even if you don’t have physical access to the animal.

What will your veterinarian say about Reiki? Some know what it is and some don’t. This may be an opportunity to introduce it to them. It’s common for me to meet the veterinarian in critical cases where ongoing Reiki is requested. Some are open to it, some aren’t. I’ve never been asked to leave by a veterinarian regardless of their personal beliefs.

So again, when is the best time to give an animal Reiki? It’s always a good time. Remember to keep the animal’s best interest in mind and seek proper medical help and advice when needed. Reiki will support any medical treatment, as well as work on the mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of the animal at the same time. It truly is a win-win for everyone!

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Is Animal Reiki Safe for Practitioners?

As part of my Animal Reiki classes and shares I emphasize the importance of safety for both people and animals. When treating a person we don’t often consider such an issue as we are generally comfortable with the people we treat, as well as in a controlled environment such as a treatment room. However, treating an animal can be different.

The Animal Reiki students I work with, as well as those who participate in the monthly Animal Reiki Share, work with the animals at Luv Shack Ranch Horse Rescue. Most are accustomed to being around small pets such as dogs and cats. Coming face-to-face with a 1200 lb. horse can often be a little intimidating for the human. For some this even brings up fears and safety concerns.

At a recent Animal Reiki Share one of the human participants, I’ll call her Pam, had some experiences with horses in her past that left her feeling vulnerable and uncertain about being in close proximity to them. She worked up the courage to enter the large turnout where the herd was finishing up Sunday afternoon lunch. Things were fine until one of the grazing equines decided it was time to drag race around the turnout, stirring up a lot of action quickly. To Pam’s credit rather than calling it quits for the day, I watched her quickly and quietly go into a pen in the middle of the turnout and lock herself in. This allowed her to continue to work with the animals through the rail fencing while keeping her safe and out of harm’s way. It was an ingenious solution.

Here are some suggestions for safely engaging in Reiki treatments with animals:

  • Respect your own personal boundaries. Acknowledge and work within your own personal limits, fears, and concerns about the animals and/or space within which you are working. Ignoring these and stuffing them inside doesn’t make them go away. You will carry this energy into the session with you. Animals will sense this, and you will likely also be distracted during the session because of them. This may also be the perfect opportunity for some personal Reiki work with yourself to address and overcome these things.
  • Have the animal’s caregiver present if you’re uncomfortable with the animal. They can help calm and handle the animal if necessary.
  • Keep a comfortable distance between you and the animal. Remember Reiki is just as effective from a distance, especially if safety is a concern.
  • Working from outside the animals stall, kennel, tank, or other space is perfectly acceptable, especially if there are concerns about your personal safety.
  • Never corner, chase, or otherwise pursue an animal in an attempt to offer Reiki. The animal may think this is a game and you are playing with them or they may become defensive and irritated.
  • If working within a herd, pack, or flock, be aware at all times of the movement of other animals around you. One animal can set the rest into motion very quickly.
  • Avoid approaching an animal in what may be seen as a dominant or confronting manner. Approaching head on, staring at them, firm or harsh eye contact, quick movements, or trying to make yourself bigger than them may be perceived as a threat. Talk softly, approach from the side, use soft eyes, keep your movements slow and steady, and always enter the animal’s space with respect.
  • Never hesitate to move either you or the animal you are working with to a safer location, even during the session if necessary.
  • Watch for signs of discomfort or fear in the animal and adjust or stop your Reiki treatment immediately.

Following these guidelines will keep Animal Reiki safe for animals and practitioners alike.

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Fievel’s First Round Up

Just like Fievel the mouse in An American Tale, Fievel the horse had a big adventure in the Wild West. At only a few weeks old he wandered into a cattle roundup without his Momma. Knowing he wouldn’t make it on his own he was taken in and eventually made his way to Luv Shack Horse Rescue. Despite being small, thin, and malnourished he has a strong spirit and is curious about the world around him.

Upon arriving at Luv Shack he is estimated to be only 3 – 4 weeks old. After settling Fievel into his new penthouse suite at the Luv Shack Hilton, and a thorough exam by the vet, I went over that evening to work with him.

Due to the unique circumstances of his age and condition I was reminded of several things as I worked with him. Special considerations should be kept in mind when sharing Reiki with animals who’ve recently experienced trauma, young or old. While this is no means a complete list of things to consider it is a start:

  • Remember you’re there to work with the animal, not DO anything to them. It’s human nature to rush in to aid a helpless being. If the animal is safe, stop for a moment and consider whether your actions are based on doing something to the animal (picking it up, hugging it, petting it, etc.) or based on working with the animal in a manner that is comfortable and acceptable to them. Are your actions going to be more of a comfort for you than the animal?
  • Respect the animal’s physical space. As much as we would love to scoop them up and cuddle them this often creates more fear than comfort. Be careful not to corner them. Always leave the animal room to move around, including moving away from you.
  • Check your emotions at the door. No, I don’t mean to become unfeeling. Rather put your personal feelings and emotions aside and bring only positive, healthy, supportive energy into the animal’s space. And to a lesser degree keep your positive emotions in check. We can smother and overwhelm an animal easily with our emotions, both positive and negative.
  • Be mindful of the length of time an animal is comfortable in receiving Reiki. Not all animals, are going to be open to receiving Reiki, despite our best intentions. If the animal moves away from you, refuses to connect, or lashes out in some way (snarl, nip/bite, kicking, stomping feet, etc.) stop immediately. These may be signs they do not wish to receive Reiki at that moment, or you may also consider changing your approach. Consider offering Reiki from several feet away. Or maybe a distant session would be more acceptable if you’re a Reiki II practitioner or higher. Lastly, this may not be what the animal wants. Thank them and leave them alone.
  • As is often the case in a rescue facility, the newest arrival gets a lot of attention from attending to his physical needs to volunteers eager to great and comfort them. If there is a lot going on in the animal’s space consider waiting until a quiet time to offer Reiki. Your Reiki session will have a much greater impact when the animal is not overwhelmed with a lot of activity around them. And, you are less likely to become frustrated due to interruptions and distractions.

When I first arrived to work with Fievel there were just a couple of us and I was able to share some Reiki with him. He preferred short treatments, then we’d take a break and start a gain in a few minutes. Later as he needed to eat and volunteers came to greet and comfort him there was a lot more activity going on around him, sometimes with 4 – 5 people in his stall. I decided to stop offering Reiki and come back the next day when things would be quieter. Another option would have been to step back and offer Reiki to the situation as a whole.

The next day there were only the two of us, me and Fievel. I sat in his stall and let him come near me and move away as he desired. Like the night before he took the Reiki in small sessions and moved freely around his stall. Several times he moved and positioned his body near my hands where he wanted Reiki. The reward at the end of our time together was a soft nuzzle on the cheek. While the few moments of Reiki we shared the first night were good, going back at a quieter time was much more productive and rewarding for both of us.

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An Unexpected Exchange


Yesterday at the Animal Reiki Share we had a small group, which provides an opportunity to talk and share more within the group. Those attending were fairly new to energy healing and Reiki, and in the previous shares had been getting their “sea legs” or “Reiki legs” so to speak. Learning what energy felt like, how to connect with animals, and how to share the energy.

During our time with the horses at Luv Shack Horse Rescue, Christina experienced the energy being given back to her as she was sending it. The natural flow of give and take as the horse reciprocated in the energy exchange. Beverly also indicated she was experiencing the same. Is that possible?

Most definitely YES! If you’ve been close to animals yourself, you probably know how healing and giving they can be. They sense when you are down or not feeling well. Often simply spending time with an animal will lift your spirits and make you feel better. Numerous studies have been done reporting the positive effects animals have on depressed or sick people. Therapy animals are successfully used in many different programs in hospitals, psychiatric wards, hospice, and nursing homes just to name a few.

With this in mind, can you imagine the increased awareness of the animals healing energy when sharing Reiki with them?

I frequently hear comments like Christina and Beverly’s from Animal Reiki Share attendees and Reiki students alike. Completely amazed at what they experience when working with the animals. It is commonly said at our Reiki Shares that often we leave having received just as much from the horses as we gave.

This type of experience often changes the way people think of Reiki in regards to animals. It removes doubt, fear that they will not be able to connect with the animal, and uncertainty of not being able to speak or communicate with the animal. Experiences like this instill confidence of what is possible within a Reiki session, expands one’s heart and mind far beyond any limitations we may have placed on Reiki, and helps connect one to the Whole – the world and everything in and surrounding it.

Personally there are many times I’m working with an animal that I feel shifts and changes within me, which I’m certain are affects of the energy being shared by the animal I’m working with. I remember feeling the energy exchange for the first time and having tears of joy stream down my face as I basked in the energy and love of the moment. It’s an experience that changed my Reiki practice forever. It deepened my experience and connection with the animals and helped me remove some very limiting beliefs I had about my Reiki practice.

I’m often asked by people why they aren’t feeling this or how long it will take to experience this type of energy exchange. The only answer I can give is that when you are ready it will happen. This may happen the first time you share energy healing with an animal or it may be a while. (For me it was the later.) Continue practicing with faith, unconditional love, and most of all without placing restrictions on your Reiki practice. Then it will happen.

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Reiki at 112 Degrees

Let me just start out saying, it’s HOT in Phoenix, AZ! And believe it or not even at temperatures above 110 degrees, there were some wonderful Reiki practitioners that came out to the monthly Animal Reiki share yesterday to work with the horses at Luv Shack Horse Rescue. The conditions that met us that day were a good reminder of being prepared for your environment and the importance of being able to stay present and focused when offering a treatment.

As we sat in the shade cooling off we talked about the difficulties of offering Reiki that day. The temperature, and resulting discomforts
(sweat, blowing dust, hot breeze, sticky flies, etc.) made it difficult to focus for very long on Reiki. Each of us expressed that we were not at our best, and found it difficult at times to stay grounded and focused in the Reiki. Our conversation was a good reminder of the importance of being prepared for the environment you are going to be in, as well as knowing when you’re personally not in the frame of mind to offer a Reiki treatment.

Here are a few things to consider when offering Reiki to animals if you will be outside or at a shelter/rescue.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Bring plenty of fluids if working in the heat.
  • Take whatever time you need to center and focus your own thoughts and intentions for offering Reiki. Depending on distractions around you, it may be necessary to do this even during a treatment if you lose your focus.
  • Be honest and compassionate with yourself. While Reiki works under any circumstance, if you find you are distracted and not able to focus, stop. Do not push or force yourself. Forcing Reiki does not work for you or the animal you are working with.
  • Do not endanger your own health. Extreme heat or cold can quickly take its toll.
  • It may be more appropriate and effective to give several short sessions, rather than push through one long session.
  • If possible find appropriate shelter, etc. that you can move the animal into to offer the treatment. (Shade, a warm building, protection from wind, shelter from rain/snow, etc.)
  • Be aware of the environmental effects on the animal you are working with. If they are showing signs of discomfort or distraction you can either find a better space to work in or simply stop the treatment. If you are overheating or too cold, it’s likely the animal is as well. And if the animal is not physically well they may be feeling the effects of the environment more than you. A Reiki Level II distance treatment may be a good option.
  • If there are other animals nearby (i.e., in an open herd or pens/stalls/kennels) distractions from other animals are likely. In a herd a higher ranking member may come by, resulting in the animal you are working with to become agitated or walk away. In an open area another animal may become curious and disrupt your treatment. If the animals are in kennels, pens, or stalls, a nearby animal may disrupt the session. Simply be prepared for these events and if possible find an area to work where you will avoid these scenarios. I often have nearby animals gather close and partake of the Reiki all at the same time. You never know what wonderful experiences await you when working in an open area.

NOTE – A distance treatment is always a good option if you are a Reiki Level II or higher practitioner if the environment is not ideal for offering an in-person treatment.

By being aware of different possibilities you may encounter and preparing for them, you’ll find your Reiki experiences are more rewarding and fulfilling for both you and the animal.

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The Nature of Healing

I’m often asked, “What are the effects of a Reiki session?” At the very most basic and beneficial level it promotes relaxation. Why is relaxation so important? There are many reasons and we’ll simply focus on the 3 million new red blood cells created each second in our body.

When our bodies are under stress, new cells are created within that stress, and have the potential to be less healthy. On the other hand, those created while relaxed tend to be healthier. With the relaxation of Reiki we give a gift of health to ourselves.

“We know that repeated exposure to stress or stress sustained over a long period of time can have damaging results on one’s health and lead to dis-ease (a body not at ease).

When a person is stressed, whether mentally, emotionally or physically, the natural protective stress response releases various chemicals into the blood to activate the fight or flight response. Those chemicals are designed for a short-term response to help a person “survive” a perceived threat. If stress continues over a long period of time, these same chemicals can create an unhealthy environment for the cells to live in and can influence their growth or repair in a negative manner, moving them towards disease.

Reiki induces the relaxation response and puts the body in the best condition so it can do what it is designed to do – heal itself. Relaxation through Reiki promotes the release of health-affirming chemicals, which bathe the cells in a sea of life force energy, promoting normal growth and development. It is interesting to note that the traditional Reiki hand positions are located over the major glands and organs of the body. These major glands secrete the hormones that regulate all of our bodily functions. By placing our hands in these positions, we automatically nourish and help to balance the glands and hormonal system.”*

I hear many wonderful from clients after a session. Some of the most common in regards to relaxation are:

  • They were amazed they relaxed that deeply
  • Feel more relaxed than after a massage
  • Because they were so relaxed felt they were able to connect with their higher self

During an hour Reiki sessions you have the potential to create 180,000,000 million relaxed red blood cells a minute or approximately 10.8 billion cells in an hour. And even if you lose count of all these new cells being created, you will leave relaxed and reconnected with yourself. And who couldn’t benefit from that? Treat yourself and experience a Reiki session!

*Kathie Lipinski, RN “Reiki Myths and Misconceptions”

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I Heard Fiona Say No


Fiona is a beautiful miniature horse recently taken in by Luv Shack Ranch Horse Rescue. She seemed a bit down as if something was bothering her, so on my regular visit I stopped by to offer her Reiki.

I make it a practice to ask permission of anyone I’m offering Reiki too. I made a connection with Fiona and asked. I didn’t seem to get a response, so asked again. This time I heard “No” in a quiet, timid way. Just to make sure, I shared with her what Reiki was and even offered a distance treatment. Again I heard a soft “No” and this time she turned and walked away. I thanked her for the connection and let her be. This does not happen very often so I found myself reflecting upon the situation, grateful that I had asked before assuming she wanted Reiki.

We easily recognize when a person does not want Reiki, they will speak to us or move away. While animals will do the same, sometimes we aren’t in tune with their response. Here are a few suggestions when working with animals.

  • Animals often have things done to them or forced on them. Reiki should not be one of those things. Allowing the animal freedom of choice will build a trusting partnership for healing.
  • Always ask permission. This can be done verbally, silently within your mind, through a heart connections, or however you wish to connect with the animal.

If they do not wish to participate in a Reiki session there are many signs they may give. You may simply receive through intuition a “No”. Body language is often the first and best indicator that an animal does not want a treatment. Here are just a few physical signs:

• Walking away
• Stomping feet
• Swishing Tail
• Growling
• Signs of irritation
• Pacing

If you receive such signals adjust how you are offering the Reiki (hands-on, hands-off, short distance, further distance, etc.) If the signs persist and you do not feel Reiki flowing simply thank the animal and do not force Reiki upon them.

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One Reiki Students Experience

In talking to people about Energy Healing and what it takes to learn Reiki I often hear that people believe it takes years to develop the ability. And while years of practice at anything does improve your skills, even a beginning student can, and often will, have a profound moment when they feel the energy and see it’s effect on others.

Yesterday in the Reiki I class I taught we learned about the system of Reiki, as well as practicing various techniques, self-treatments, and working with others. By the end of the day, even those who at first experience ‘nothing’ as we began to practice Reiki had moments where they felt or experience the energy working through them.

Last night I received an email from one of the students in class that day and thought I’d share it with you.

My husband and I pulled up to our house after leaving the Reiki I class this afternoon. He had asked me questions about what the session was about and had let me know several times he was only interested in what healing he could receive from the Reiki.

Bill’s hand was in intense pain from arthritis and having worked on the Honda all day replacing the compressor. As we started to go into the house I was thinking to myself, “Let me get set up before I attempt Reiki on him.” The distress he was in though, gave me second thoughts and I said, “Here, give me your hand.”

Lo and behold as I held his hand and prayed to be used for his healing, and started visualizing the energy, I FELT IT! (the energy, that is) in my hands and lower arms! It was “heavy” and tingly and constant and was there almost immediately.

I held his hand and Reiki flowed on and off for a couple minutes. He said it felt better when we were done. I tried to be alert to what other factors were occurring, but honestly it felt good just to be feeling the energy and attempting the practice.”

Reiki opens the door to new possibilities and opportunities in the world around us. I’m confident in saying that the students in my Reiki I class yesterday have many wonderful opportunities and experiences that await them by simply being open to the gift of healing within.

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Energy Healing – A Gift Within Us All

When people learn that I am a Reiki practitioner it is common to hear something like “Wow, I wish I could do that.” I believe we all can.

Energy healing has been done for thousands of years in cultures around the world. It may likely be one of the oldest forms of what we today call “medicine”. Merriam-Webster defines medicine as “the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease”. This is also a fitting definition for Reiki, as well as energy healing in general.

Just as we are born with the ability to communicate, we are born with the ability to heal ourselves and the world around us. True, as young infants communication may be rudimentary, but as our communication skills are refined, we interact with the world in a much more effective way.

Energy healing is a gift we come into this world with. Modalities such as Reiki are systems that teach one how to use this gift. We have the ability, we just need to learn to recognize and use it.

As a Reiki Master/Teacher I regularly teach Reiki classes. Before we begin to learn Reiki I share my belief with students that they each already have the ability. By taking the class and receiving the attunements (blessings) I am not giving them anything they don’t already have, I’m simply teaching them how to recognize and use this gift. I then lay on my Reiki table and encourage each student to place their hands on me and share what they experience. For some there is an instant recognition of the energy and for others it may take a bit longer. Yet every student I’ve had recognizes this ability within themselves long before the first Reiki attunement is given.

Reiki is a system of personal healing and empowerment. It is a foundation and structure upon which to experience our own energy, energy in the world around us, as well as learning to direct and use it for the highest and best good. Inviting it into your life and practicing regularly is life changing. The only thing needed is an open mind and a willingness to learn.

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Energy Healing – No Experience Necessary

I believe we all have the ability to heal. It’s not a gift or an ability someone else gives us. We are born with this ability. Some of us are aware from a very early age that we have this innate gift, some of us find it later in life. Reiki is a beautiful system of working with this gift we all have, and when fully embraced will change your life forever. However, one does not need to know Reiki to heal with energy. A wonderful group of people, ranging in age from teenagers to adults, recently experienced just this.

Each month I host an Animal Reiki Share at a Luv Shack Ranch Horse Rescue. This is an opportunity for Reiki practitioners of all levels and experience to volunteer time working with the animals. While most attendees have a Reiki background the group is always open to anyone who wants to attend. From time to time people come just to see what Reiki and Energy Healing is all about. This month’s Animal Reiki share was unique because nobody attending this particular day had any previous Reiki experience. In fact, none had even ever received a Reiki treatment. Some had seen me work with the animals at the rescue and were curious about it, and others simply wanted to see what energy healing is all about.

We had a great discussion about what energy is, did an exercise to introduce everyone to what energy feels like, relaxed and grounded ourselves in a guided meditation, and worked directly with the horses.
These “first timers” to energy healing were an open-minded and adventurous group. At first it might have seemed a bit silly to be placing your hands near an animal trying to figure out if you or the animal were feeling anything, but each and everyone tried it. And I think across the board everyone had an experience of either feeling the energy or feeling a “connection” was made. Sometimes feeling the energy or connection was difficult to describe or put into words, but it was felt and experienced by each of them.

By the end of our afternoon each had experienced a connection with one or more animals and changes within the herd itself were noticed. The herd is comprised of horses and donkeys from yearlings on up, with a wide range of personalities. However, within a short time the entire herd settled down and mellowed out. The youngsters that don’t typically stand still for long eagerly stood and connected with the person working with them. The playful ones also relaxed and enjoyed the personal attention they were receiving. The shy and hesitant members came close, and some even directly approached one of us for attention.

When volunteers come to clean and feed, the typical routine is to feed and then clean. For whatever reason, that night they cleaned first and then fed. Typically they would have been meet with eager hungry horses wondering why they were not getting fed first. However, on this day each horse remained part of the calm energy of the herd and didn’t seem to notice the change in the routine.

The afternoon could be described as magical as each person experienced something new. For some, beliefs were challenged, uncertainty was felt, and some may have felt a little silly at first. But each worked past whatever doubts or discomfort they experienced and shared a magical moment connecting with a herd of horses. Now what could be more healing than that?

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A Horse, A Horse Trailer, and a Peppermint Candy

Smarty Who is now a retired racehorse from Turf Paradise here in Phoenix. She and her stable mate, Thinkin’ Bout Blake, had finished their racing careers and their owner was ready to send them down the road, most likely the slaughter road to Mexico. Fortunately their trainer couldn’t bear the thought of this and through a series of contacts these two Thoroughbreds found their way to Luv Shack Horse Rescue. And better yet, they’ve found a great place to rest and recover from their racing injuries in southern Arizona.

Everything from the human side had been planned and the pick up date was at hand. Thinkin’ Bout Blake loaded first into the trailer, ready to leave his racing career behind. However, Smarty Who was unsure and put up a fuss about loading. Now, Joey from Luv Shack has loaded many a wild horse, and after a few tries was afraid of Smarty Who hurting herself. So the decision was made to come back with a larger trailer that would be a better fit for this big, beautiful mare.

I was asked to send distance Reiki to Smarty Who to help her load into the trailer when they went back for her. She easily accepted my invitation and we had a good session. During my connection with her I explained what was happening, where she was going, and why we would like her to load up and go with Joey. As we neared the end of the session I kept getting the message that she wanted a treat. Not just any treat, but specifically a peppermint. I let her know I would pass her request on. When I told Joey about her request, she smiled and said that when they were trying to load her the trainer mentioned she liked candy. 😉

When the day came to go back and pick her up I had some extra time and asked to ride along. I wanted to meet this beautiful spirit in person. We arrived at the track and Smarty Who was brought out by her trainer. Her eyes were big and her head held high as she spotted the crowd of various people from the track that had gathered to load her into the trailer anyway they could. Not the optimal energy this already scared horse needed. As her nervous and wary energy met the forceful and “do whatever it takes” energy of the gathered “helpers” she of course began to resist. All the pushing, yelling, and arm waving that came at her from behind did anything but calm her. Standing off to the side I again offered Reiki to her and the entire situation at hand. It seemed to be the calm spot in this whirlwind of drama.

When Smarty Who finally loaded into the trailer I think she was grateful that the trailer door shut behind her. It safely separated her from that group of loud, pushy people. As the group finished patting each other on the back and final arrangements were being made to take her I went to the side of the trailer where I could see and talk to her. With peppermint in hand I told her what a brave horse she was and again re-affirmed that she was going to a wonderful place to heal. A place where she could simply relax and be a horse. The peppermint was gingerly nibbled from my hand and she eagerly smacked her lips together as she savored the treat. It was as if this was the reassurance she needed that all was going to be well.

The rest of the trip to her new home was peaceful and uneventful. We delivered both horses to a facility near Tucson where they waited a few hours to be picked up by their new owner. Smarty Who easily unloaded from our trailer and we were told smoothly loaded into the trailer of her new owner. I can sense the happiness and gratitude in her heart as she begins life anew.

I always find myself in a place of wonderment and thankfulness for the flexibility and adaptive nature of Reiki. Sometimes the situation is critical, like so many in the world of animal rescue, or simply an animal seeking peace, love or comfort. Regardless the energy always flows for the highest good of all. Whether my path with these animals is a few peaceful moments sharing Reiki or one that we walk together for a time, I’ve learned much from Reiki and the amazing animals I’m honored to work with. And in Smarty Who’s case, I’m thankful for peppermints!

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Healing With Valora

In my work with horse rescues I see many cases of severe abuse and neglect. Stories that leave one wondering how anyone could think it right to treat any living thing the way they do. This week I had the opportunity to work with a beautiful, resilient mare named Valora. Her story is now a well publicized case in Phoenix, Arizona. The short version is that her original owner, who was also neglectful in her physical, mental and emotional care, was losing her home, couldn’t care for her, and gave her to a man. The man’s intent was to load her in his trailer, shoot her, and take her to a meat rendering plant for money. The mare refused to load and the man proceeded to beat her. Neighbors saw what was happening and called the police. They eventually contacted Luv Shack Horse Rescue who eagerly took her in. Unfortunately Valora took the brunt of his beating and will lose her right eye, has a severe concussion, several skull fractures, many bruises, and 20+ stitches in various places on her body. She will likely need surgery to repair some of her injuries.

Joey Ogburn, Luv Shack’s founder, asked me to come and work with her. The Reiki part of this story is beautiful. Valora is nothing short of amazing. She readily settled in to a Reiki treatment, actively absorbing the healing energy into her bruised and broken body. Several times she placed specific body areas in or near my hands and gave me a gentle nudge with her nose when she was ready for me to move to another area. Time stood still as her session ebbed and flowed, even while her physical needs were being attended to by those caring for her. It was clear Valora knew she still had something to accomplish in this life.

I realized after working with her and reading the comments on Luv Shack’s Facebook page and the forums on the local TV stations covering the story, not only does she have much healing to do….but so do we. Much anger, disbelief, sadness, bewilderment, fear, and harsh judgment has been expressed in these outlets as well as personal conversations people have had as they hear of Valora’s story. I too am as guilty as some.

Feeling and expressing emotions I believe to be part of the healing process. But how many of us get stuck there? How does our involvement in this affect the healing of Valora? How are the ripple effects, both positive and negative, affecting all living things on this planet?

It’s then that I remember the Reiki Precepts. “Just for today…Do not anger, Do not worry, Be humble, Be honest in your work, Be compassionate to yourself and others.” Because I believe in these principles and keep them with me daily they have become an anchor to love and peace when outside influences are pulling me in other directions.

Yes, I’ve been angry, thought bad things about the individuals who caused this animal harm, shed tears of sadness, and had moments where the inhumanity of it all has swept over me. Through all this I am grateful for the compass and point of reference the Reiki Precepts are in my life. They help me refocus, see how my actions effect the much larger picture, and work through any personal issues the situation brings up within me. I understand that may sound sanctimonious, but trust me, it isn’t. I’ve found the past few days to be more challenging than not when it’s come to working through my own personal experience with this situation.

And I’ve found it very healing and helpful to send Reiki to the entire situation. Allowing healing to happen for the highest and best good of all involved.

Thank you Valora for being the beautiful soul you are. For being so valiant as well as open to the new love that has come your way. While none of us would ever wish harm upon you or any other being, thank you for helping us learn and heal with you.

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Lessons in Listening: A Mare, A Foal, And A Wild Yearling

I’m always excited to be able to adapt Reiki to the situation, as well as the temperament and needs of the animal. When I listen to the animals, they tell me all I need to know.

I was called to Luv Shack Horse Rescue to work with a mare, Whisper, and a seven-day-old foal, Jersey Girl, that were found wandering in the desert and rescued. How long the Whisper had been on her own is not known, nor if she delivered Jersey Girl before or after she was turned loose. Whisper was underweight, her hooves had grown so long they had started to curl, and she had an eye infection. Jersey Girl had a low red blood cell count.

Both were wild-eyed and fearful. I started working outside their stall (two stalls opened up to create one large stall) and quickly felt an invitation to come in. Whisper was watchful and her eyes were large and wary. Jersey Girl ran behind her. I simply stood at a distance and started the Reiki flowing.

Within minutes, Jersey Girl was nuzzling me and nibbling on my clothes. Whisper kept a watchful eye but began to calm. A couple of times she stood between me and the foal, eventually relaxing enough to allow Jersey Girl close to me without too much concern. The whole time I simply filled the stall with love, safety and peace. Jersey became my shadow for the rest of the treatment. She allowed me to work on her in short spurts. Whisper allowed work from a distance at first, and eventually came over and leaned into my hands, soaking it all in.

Several volunteers tried to get close to the Jersey Girl (she’s so cute no one could resist), but Whisper wouldn’t allow it. Those watching were amazed that I stood among them, with the baby nuzzling me and following me around. It truly was a testament to the wonder of Reiki.

I also recently offered Reiki to wild yearling horse who came to Dreamchaser Horse Rescue from Fallon Feedlot in Nevada. He was very wild and distrustful. In fact, the number sticker he got either at the feedlot or the auction was still on his rump. No one could get near enough to remove it. He’s was in a turnout, about the size of a round pen, with another horse; we hope the other horse will help calm him down.

As is common with work at rescues there were several volunteers around and enough activity that he was wary of it all. So I simply stood at the far end of the turnout and began my session. He was fidgety and anxious, and didn’t seem to trust what was going on. Of course, I let him know my intentions and that he was free to choose how much, if any, Reiki he wanted. I also surrounded us with love, safety and peace. He seemed to take a bit of energy here and there, but was more curious than anything. A couple of times he walked near me (within a foot or two), but didn’t stay close for too long. After about 10 minutes, I received the message he was done.

Every animal and circumstance is different. Even the same animal may change preference from treatment to treatment. Listening to them and watching their body language will help you determine their preference for a treatment. Reiki is adaptable to any situation.

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The Lesson of One

Last week at the Animal Reiki Share I host at Dreamchaser Horse Rescue we had a unique experience. Something we had not experienced before.

Its common when we go to the rescue to have several animals that need attention, as well as those that each individual is drawn to work with. That day wasn’t any different as the Ranch Manager suggested several that may need some Reiki. We split up to make sure each of them received attention.

As I approached Yogi, an off track Thoroughbred with crooked front legs and arthritis, I asked as I normally do to connect with him and offer Reiki. Before I realized it I connected with an energy much larger than Yogi. It felt to be the energy of the entire herd. Again, I sought to make an individual connection with Yogi and again found myself within the energy of the herd.

While in that connection there was an overall feeling of contentment and that all was okay within the herd and that they didn’t require any special attention. Rather that attention was to be given to Susan Thompson, founder of Dreamchaser.

As I experienced this I “logically” thought that it must be my concern for Susan, who had knee replacement surgery one week prior, that was creeping into my Reiki with the animals. I tried several times, even approaching different horses, with the same results. Upon sharing my experience with the others we realized that each of us was experiencing something similar.

Even though the horses had not seen Susan since her surgery they were aware that she was the one that needed healing that day. And of course….special attention she received!

It was a humbling experience, as well as a good reminder that we are all One. It is possible to know, feel, or be affected by something that happens to another….regardless of whether what happens is good or bad. And how appropriate that it was a herd of horses, who live as One whether in the wild or domestically, that reminded us of this.

Diana

Diana

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From Crash Landing to Flying High

Animal Reiki

While intently working at my computer the other morning I heard a big thud against the sliding glass door in the other room and then heard Maddie (our Shepherd mix) get all excited about something. Knowing what this all meant I quickly ran outside to keep her away from the bird I was afraid was lying on the ground. Sure enough there the poor thing laid in shock unable to move.

After getting Maddie in the house, much to her disliking, I went back to see what I could do for my poor bewildered feathered friend. He was stunned and unable to move, but appeared to be okay. I quietly approached him,instantly feeling the familiar movement of Reiki starting to flow.

I gently picked him up quietly sat for a while loosely holding him in my hands. My instinct was to cup my hands around him and protect him. However my intuition told me that cupping my hands around him while doing Reiki was too intense for his precarious state. So I held my hands open to give him a safe place to rest knowing that the Energy would flow to the area(s) most in need.

As his limp body lay in my hands I found my mind and emotions catching up to what had happened. I felt that all too familiar lump in my throat and tears come to my eyes. When it comes to the welfare of animals my emotions often lay close to the surface. Knowing that obsessing on these feelings was not conducive to the healing this bird needed I grounded myself with the stable nurturing energies of the earth and opened myself to the love and healing energy of the heavens. (A variation of the Earth/Sky meditation I learned from Kathleen Prasad). Simple, yet very effective.

It was only a few moments before we were in the beautiful Reiki space where the outside world melts away and you seemingly become one. As I continued to watch the bird for whatever signs he would display I noticed his eyes become more alert and open. When we had started the session you could tell he was fighting to do this. We stayed in this place together for a several minutes, and as the bird became more alert he began to slowly move his head and I could feel his little feet stirring in my hands, start to get their strength back.

Knowing I had a client coming soon I looked for a place I could put him where he could safely recuperate. I found such a spot in a bird feeder in the front yard. He would be safely out of Maddie’s space and the feeder offered a large stable floor and a roof for protection from the sun. As I went to put him on the feeder his little feet grabbed tightly onto my finger, not wanting to let go. I energized the feeder with Reiki Energy and gently set him on it.

For the next few hours I checked on him and continued to do distance Reiki from inside the house. I could see he was starting to move even more and seemed to be getting his strength back. Several hours later I went to check on him and he was gone. It was a wonderful thing to see the bird feeder empty. :)

I’m grateful to have Reiki as one of my “go to” First Aid tools. In this instance it was only thing I knew to do, as I know nothing about birds. It’s comforting to know that I always have Reiki to offer in any situation and that I don’t have to know everything to help someone (human or animal) heal. Situations like this also remind me how grateful I am for the quick grounding and connecting meditation tool I have to use. This works for me when I feel my attention, thoughts, or emotions are not supportive of the healing work I’m doing. I’d highly recommend that everyone find such a tool they can rely on that is quick and effective for them to use.

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Farewell To Bravo

The first time you meet Bravo you can’t help but be in awe of his majestic physical presence. A handsome paint that towers above you. As you get to know him you quickly recognize the power, wisdom and depth of his soul. Bravo was the alpha horse in the Luv Shack herd, and the best four-legged friend of Luv Shack’s founder Joey Ogburn.

I met Bravo the first time I volunteered Reiki at Luv Shack. He was accustomed to new volunteers coming into his herd pretty regularly. However, each was checked out either from a distance or an up close inspection. I received the later. A full sniffing from head to toe, particularly my hands. It wasn’t long before I felt the weight of his majestic head resting in my hands. The connection was deep and the energy exchange was wonderful.

Over the coming months Bravo and I shared everything from complete respect for each other’s space to full hands on Reiki. With the wisdom of a leader there were times he knew when others in his herd needed attention, and there were times when he did. Regardless, I was often greeted by the gate or he would stop by for a few moments while I was roaming amongst the herd.

One of the most memorable experiences I had with Bravo occurred somewhere around four weeks ago. I think he watched me from the moment I stepped out of my car until I entered the paddock where the herd was. He watched from a distance as I worked with several of the other horses. Then he decided it was his turn and approached me. The herd stepped back to create a path for him and I couldn’t help but picture the scene of royal subjects making way for the king. It just made me grin. When he reached me I gently talked to him as his head found its way to my hands and I rubbed his face, neck and body. It was common for most of our Reiki time to be spent around his eyes and head and today wasn’t any different. We spent a while in the energetic healing space of Reiki before the energy flow subsided.

I moved on and worked with several others in the herd. Bravo followed me as I moved from horse to horse, but was keeping enough distance between us so that the horse I was working with was not threatened by his presence. Then he began to follow me much closer and everyone else backed away. It turned into a game. I would turn my back and walk around the paddock and he followed close behind within a foot or so. There were times I could feel his breath on my neck. He matched me step for step. When I sped up, so did he. When I slowed he did too. If I made a quick turn to the right or left, he never lost a step and fell in right behind. I lost count of how many times we circled the paddock. All the while I was laughing and seeing if I could shake him. I never did. I’m not sure which one of us was enjoying it more.

The last time I stopped he came right up behind me and put his nose on my back. I could feel the warmth and moisture of his breath through my shirt. It was clear he wanted more Reiki. And so we entered into the rhythm and flow of another Reiki treatment. This time when we finished he released a big “Reiki” sigh and I knew we had accomplished what he needed. Rather than following me out he simply stood with his head lowered adrift in the afterglow of the treatment. It was a peaceful sight.

Last Friday morning, in a freak accident, Bravo severed his Achilles tendon. I was just heading to my morning shower when the thought crossed my mind that I should check my phone. When I did there was a missed call from Joey and a text that read “Please come ASAP”. I quickly dialed her up and was greeted by tears and a struggle to find words. I simply told her I was on my way. Not knowing which horse it was my heart sank as I approached the turnout at a neighbors and saw people gathered around Bravo and blood on his right hind leg. I could see that Joey was in no position to talk about what had happened so I simply began Reiki flowing to not only Bravo, but all those gathered that morning. When the vet had him prepared for the trip to the hospital he was loaded on the trailer. I walked up to the window of the trailer and continued Reiki as they finished closing the trailer and gathered those who were going to the hospital. Bravo and I shared some incredible final moments, and I had the feeling that this was his last ride. However, I held out hope because you just never know. Later that afternoon I learned that the damage was beyond repair and Joey made one of the hardest decisions of her life – to let him go.

Bravo taught me many things. One of those being to step back and see the larger picture. How each individual affects the whole, as we are all actually One. Something very evident in a herd of horses if you stand back and observe. He also showed by example that there is a big difference between being a leader and being a martyr. There were times when others needed attention and times when he did. And he honored that. Bravo also knew when it was time to have fun and when it was time to be serious and stand your ground. He was compassionate, wise, and someone everyone looked up to – equine or human.

Godspeed Bravo as you begin your new journey!

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Grace, Gratitude & Peace

This morning as I was reflecting on the many wonderful things I have to be thankful for, my thoughts drifted to three amazing teachers I recently had the pleasure to learn from. What I learned from them will be with me forever.

I met these beautiful teachers on a dark, cool Arizona night. There is no way I would have ever been prepared for what I saw or experienced that night, or the days that followed. Alex, Daisy and Velvet had survived months of neglect. The kind of neglect and abuse that if they were human would have had the whole city in an uproar and the people who did it to them in jail immediately. However this evening all of them were safe and secure at Luv Shack Horse Rescue, under the vigilant care and love of Joey Ogburn . These were three of the six that had been rescued that day, and were the three in the most critical condition. Actually, they were beyond critical. The text message that called me to this scene had read, “I’m exhausted and have two skeletons that appear to be horses and a third that is trying to die. Can you come over?”

Each of these amazing horses has a story of their own. And on this evening their individual stories became part of a larger story. A story filled with unconditional love, acceptance, peace, calm, gratitude, and stillness. You see, over the coming days Alex, Velvet, and Daisy would each made the decision to leave and transition beyond this life. And in doing so share a lot of wisdom and love with those of us eager to make what time they had left the best it could be.

You knew that what they had endured the past several months was very unpleasant to say the least. And because each of their physical conditions had deteriorated so badly pain and discomfort was part of their day-to-day lives. Yet, unbelievably, they did not harbor any anger, hatred or fear. They were filled with love, gratitude, peace, and calm.

While I had the incredible opportunity to connect and work with them through Reiki on many different levels, some of the most amazing moments to me were the grace, peace and calmness that each experienced and shared with their caretakers. They soaked in every bit of love and attention that was offered. Enjoyed the hugs, brushing, soothing hands that ran across their heads, necks and backs. Each gently stood and soaked up our human tears when the emotions were overwhelming. And never once did you feel sorrow or sadness expressed by them, simply because they didn’t feel it.

And each decided on her own time when she was ready to go. Alex left quickest, leaving the following morning. Joey said you could see the smile on her face and feel the gratitude in her heart as she closed her eyes for the last time. Velvet’s body couldn’t keep up with her spirit. She left the next day with grace, dignity, and a quiet stillness that all was well. Daisy hung on the longest and at one point we all thought she would pull through. Three days after her rescue the effects of her neglect were more than her body could bear and she was ready to go. Again there was that familiar feeling of peace, calm and gratitude as she laid down for the last time.

These three beautiful horses taught me lessons I could not have learned anywhere else or from anyone else. There was not time or space in their lives for anger, hate or fear. They put that behind them the moment the stepped off the trailer at the rescue. They had no need to keep reliving the past or carry the energy of abuse and neglect with them. Nor did they have a desire to put that energy on to anyone else. Each freely gave as much love to others as was given them. There was not judgment placed on “humans” as a whole due to what they had experienced. They were open to experiencing each person as an individual. And death was simply the next step to take. No fear, regret, or resistance.

I often think of them and continue to learn from them. There is much more that we shared over the days we had together, and I’m grateful to be able to share some of these things with you today.

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Being Flexible

Raph is a 28 year old flea bitten gelding who is a favorite at Luv Shack Horse Rescue. He even likes to kiss! He has melanoma and has more good days than not. However, there are times he needs a little help.

I’ve worked on and off with Raph over the months. He is particular about receiving Reiki and openly communicates his desires. Sometimes we work together and other days we don’t. A while ago, during my regular Reiki day at the ranch, he was having a down day and I was asked to work with him. He was standoffish so I made the rounds of the others and waited until last to see Raph. When it was his turn he made it known he wasn’t interested. So I thanked him and moved off. I hadn’t taken 10 steps when I felt a nudge from behind. I turned around to see Raph softly looking at me. He requested that I connect with him later for a distance treatment. Which I gladly did! It was a great session.

Last Monday was again one of my regular Reiki volunteer days and Raph had been taken out of the herd and was in “sick bay”. He was not feeling good and having a difficult time pooping. And yes, I do realize this is the second poop post in a row. :) We had a nice long session and about half way through the session the tummy noises started up with a fury and lots of food and energy were moving around. I asked him if he would poop and he replied with a little impatience “Yes, but it takes time”. I couldn’t help but smile and love him for his direct way! We continued working and just as things were wrapping up he had a normal bowel movement – the first in a while. I couldn’t have been happier!

Early the next morning, around 4:30 a.m., I was gently but firmly brought out of my sleep by Raph. He wanted another distance session. As soon as I connected I felt his discomfort. We worked for awhile and by the end of the session I could feel the fluid movement of his energy from head to tail. Much more natural flowing and free than yesterday. Amazing!

Later that morning I send Joey a text to let her know about our morning session and check on Raph. She said he was doing much better and going back out with the herd. Great news!

A couple days later I was at Luv Shack and standing with my back towards the herd. It was lunch time and everyone was focused on their pile of hay. I was talking with several people and one of them said “Look who’s coming up to the gate.” I turned and there was Raph quickly walking up to the gate to say “Hi”. This was not a normal behavior for Raph and we knew he was coming to see me.

To me there is nothing more rewarding! It’s in moments like these that my heart over flows with love and appreciation for Reiki and the animals I have the opportunity to meet and work with.

I learn something from each animal. Raph has taught me to be flexible. Some days we work together in a hands-on session, other days it will be a distance session, and there are times we won’t work together at all. It is all about the animal and working with them for their highest and best good.

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Diesel Quickly Responds

Diesel is a very large, handsome Great Dane. He had a rough start to life, but has found a safe and happy home where he is now thriving. However, that was not always the case. Due to a health condition and life threatening side effects of the medication he was on his human companion Karen was just about out of options and facing a tough decision. The only procedure left they hadn’t tried was a blood transfusion, which unfortunately due to the cost was not an option. He was going down hill fast. He was not eating, drinking, or pooping and hadn’t for days.

You could tell when talking to Karen her heart was broken and she felt helpless. I asked her if she would like me to do a Reiki session with Diesel, to which she answered “Yes!”

That afternoon I knocked on Karen’s door and heard a deep throaty bark in reply. Having Great Danes myself I couldn’t help but smile, realizing how intimidating it sounded from the this of the door. Karen and Diesel greeted me and Diesel and I settled into a Reiki session.

It took a little bit for Diesel to relax into the treatment. When he finally did he rolled over on his side and you could see the tension drift out of his body. It was a deep and focused session, and I mostly worked hands-off until the very end. There was much to feel energetically with areas that were slow and stagnant, and areas that needed to be built up. It never ceases to amaze me how open animals are to Reiki and how easily they accept the energy. An hour flew by before I felt the energy begin to subside. I finished by lightly brushing his legs from the shoulder/hip to the pads of his paws. When I got up to leave Diesel stayed in his deep Reiki sleep.

I shared with Karen and her husband information about the session and some things to watch for over the coming days. And asked her to call me if she saw any changes or had questions. I hadn’t been home more than 20 minutes when the phone rang and it was Karen. When she had gone back into the house Diesel got up, stretched, drank water, ate some food, and went outside and pooped. Not once, but several times. That was great news!

A little over a week later I received another call from Karen. Diesel had again stopped eating, drinking, and pooping. Could I please come back? Her husband was a bit skeptical about all this Reiki stuff, and figured it was merely a coincidence that Diesel improved within minutes of his session. However, Karen believed.

This time Karen stayed in the room with us during the session. Reiki can’t be the most exciting thing to watch, but I find that the comfort and support of the animal’s person greatly adds to the session. This time Diesel quickly relaxed into the session and it proceeded much like the first one. I could feel the energy working at very deep levels, strengthening and building those areas that were depleted. The flow of his physical energy was compromised, but didn’t seem as severe as the first session. And he quickly responded to the Reiki.

Karen reported a few day later that again after the session was complete and I left, Diesel headed for the water bowl. This time it wasn’t just a good drink, it was a huge drink! He ate a some food and then headed outside to poop. And he has been going strong since. The latest blood work shows he is healthy!

As far as Karen’s husband…the weekend following the second treatment they went camping and he openly shared with friends and family the incredible results he saw from Reiki.

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The Pieces Come Together

Often during a session there is open communication between the one offering Reiki and the one receiving, whether the receiver is human or animal. Not in the typical fashion that we humans are accustomed to, rather an intuitive communication that comes through in many different way.

Sometimes it’s seeing pictures in your minds eye, other times it hearing something, feeling emotions, getting a taste in your mouth, a smell that comes from out of the blue (see Onion Clay and Stitches post as an example) or simply a knowing that you understand. It is intuitive, and therefore many people easily dismiss the information they receive. Does one have to be “gifted” to communicate in this manner? In my opinion definetely not. We all have the ability, some people’s ability is just more practiced than others.

In some recent sessions with Lyra (See the previous blog A Rocky Road Leads to Peace) I had the opportunity to have some extraordinary communication with her. However, there were pieces of that communication I didn’t understand and therefor didn’t share with the people who cared for her until a few days after her passing. Partly because it didn’t make sense, and partly because Joey and I didn’t have a chance to talk until a couple of days later.

The first session with her I the word “mushy” came to mind. Not once, but several times. It was an odd word to appear our of nowhere, and I couldn’t relate it to anything, so didn’t say anything about it to anyone. The next session I clearly understood the words “insides are liquid” off and on during her session. Again, there wasn’t anything I could relate it to and simply kept that to myself. Near the end of that second session I also heard the chorus to the song Baby Blue, by George Strait. I hadn’t thought of that song in years so knew it wasn’t a passing thought, rather that it was something she was trying to share with me. That song ran through my head the rest of the day and several days later.

When Joey and I were able to connect a few days later she was curious about my last session with Lyra. I shared the words I heard in the two session, thinking I was either going to sound crazy or it would make perfect sense to her. I was relieved and grateful it made sense to her.

She let me know that after Lyra passed they did an autopsy on her. So much was wrong inside her from the spread of the cancer. Her bladder had lost all elasticity and was, in Joey’s words mush. Her intestines had lost all structure and were simply masses of liquid tissue. As far as the song, after she read the entire lyrics it made perfect sense to Joey. And, it also seemed appropriate for what Joey experienced as Lyra transitioned. Lyra’s best friend Jamboree, and many believe her soul mate, was there in spirit to help her move on. (Jamboree had passed several months earlier due to complications from colic.)

You can imagine the goosebumps that ran through my body when I realized that what had seemed like strange and random words, turned out to make sense to someone who loved and cared about Lyra.

I quickly realized how easy it is to doubt what we experience during a session when we try to make it make sense. And even thought it doesn’t make sense to us, it may to someone who knows the animal well. Had the autopsy not been performed I wouldn’t have known any different, but I think it was a great gift and teaching moment from Lyra to get that confirmation after she left us. Her way of telling me to trust myself. :)

And, thankfully Joey is open to all of this and we could openly talk about these things that didn’t make sense to me.

Thank you Lyra, you are a beautiful soul and an amazing teacher!

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A Rocky Road Leads to Peace

Lyra is a beautiful strawberry roan and once you meet her you know she’s a sweetheart through and through. She was being fostered and was returned to the rescue because she had stopped eating and was rapidly losing weight. Last Saturday I had the pleasure to meet and work with her.

At first she wasn’t too sure about this Reiki stuff as I began offering Reiki from a short distance away. The session flowed like a rocky road. On, off, on, off, on, off….. Wondering if it was something I was bringing into the session I took a few minutes to do some personal Reiki. When I offered Reiki again to Lyra, the same awkward dance began again. Understanding she was taking it in the increments that were best for her at that time I continued the session for another 20 minutes or so.

Thinking the session was over I was preparing to leave when Lyra came and stood directly in front of me and I heard her say “I’m ready now.” And of course I happily obliged! The session continued for another 30 minutes with the energy flowing steadily. Within several minutes of starting back up again Lyra sidestepped, placing her body directly in my hands. You could feel the instant sigh of relief.

A couple of days later I received a text from the rescue stating that Lyra was fading fast, the blood work results did not look good, and asking if I could come over. Approaching her stall I knew Lyra was in a very different place that morning. She lifted her head in greeting as I entered and did not hesitate when Reiki was offered. She wanted nothing less than a full hands-on treatment. We worked together for a little over an hour. Sometimes I intuitively sensed where my hands needed to be, other times she moved her body a little this way or that way so my hands were just where she wanted.

When I felt the Reiki flow subside, I could still feel a faint trickle. So I happily gave her a full body rub-down from head to hoof letting the light flow of Reiki continue. She was very peaceful and content when I left.

Lyra taught me many things during these two sessions. Many of which are best experienced between Reiki practitioner and an animal, often difficult to put into words. However, a gentle reminder from Lyra was to allow the animal to decide how the session should flow. Often the beginning and end of a session will be completely different, and preferences can, and often will, change with each session.

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Onion Clay and Stitches

Several weeks ago Zeke was rescued from a killer buyer. (A person who buys horses at auction or other places to send to slaughter. They make their money by selling the animal to the slaughter house for a set price per pound.) He was an otherwise healthy young gelding who had the misfortune of tearing open his shoulder on a fence when being loaded into a trailer. The killer buyer tied him down tight and stitched the flap of skin up. Zeke, not thrilled about that procedure, when turned loose freaked out and tore the stitches open again.

The killer buyer again tied him tightly to the fence, but this time cut off the flap of skin, leaving a gaping wound exposed the size of a football. Without receiving the care this type of wound should have had, it began to fester and ooze. Luckily Zeke was rescued from that situation by Joey at Luv Shack. Zeke was treated with a mixture of Green Clay and onions to heal the wound and take care of any infection. Joey also called me to work with him and I gave him several Reiki treatments over a week and a half. (Did I mention I love my job?)

It’s been a week or so since I’ve seen Zeke, and yesterday started smelling onions at random times, in random places. I washed my hands several times, brushed my teeth, checked my clothing, all to no avail. I couldn’t find the smell. I also saw several Reiki clients that day and was hoping that they too didn’t smell the onions.

Then it dawned on me…the smell was the clay mixture used on Zeke. As soon as I realized that I also sensed Zeke’s presence, as if saying “Finally, you got it!”. I sent Joey a text to see how Zeke was doing. She said he was great, other than 5 stitches he had to have on his check. She wasn’t quite sure how he acquired the gash. I let her know I was coming by the next day and would see him, and the smell and feeling of Zeke nearby went away.

Fast forward to today. I’m at Luv Shack, just finished working with Lyra another horse, and headed to the turnout where Zeke and the rest of the herd are. As soon as I get out with them Zeke comes up and shows me his stitches. I just couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He was just like a little kid showing me his boo-boo. He, of course, received lots of attention and Reiki, seeming pretty pleased with himself. I just can’t help but chuckle every time I think of this. :)

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Morning Reiki with a Coyote Friend

This morning while my husband and I were cleaning up the kitchen we looked at the window and saw a coyote limping through the yard. Something was wrong with one of his front paws, as he was only walking on three legs. He stopped for a minute and looked at the house before continuing on his way. He was a full grown beautiful adult.

Without really thinking about it, I dried my hands of and went into the other room to offer Reiki him. At first our connection could best be described as wary. I simply explained what my intent was and felt the energy slowly begin to flow until it became a strong flow. I expected it to last for only a minute or so as he continued on his way. However, it lasted for a quite sometime. Eventually I received an indication that he was done. I ended the session with gratitude that I had been able to work with him this morning.

When I returned to the kitchen my husband and I were talking about what had just happened. I shared my surprise that the Reiki with the coyote lasted as long as it did. Mark went on to tell me that after I left the room the coyote hobbled through the yard and hung out under some mesquite trees for a while. Then as stealthily as he had come into our morning, he disappeared into the desert. Was he resting in the trees while I offered him Reiki? I’d like to think so.

I realized that Reiki has become such part of my life that I no longer think about offering it, I simply do it. Thank you to my wild coyote friend for connecting with me this morning, allowing me to share a some Reiki time with him, and helping me realize what an important part of my life Reiki has become. I wish him well on his journey.

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Bandit Knows Best

Last night I received a call from a good friend Georgia about her horse Bandit. (He is going through rehabilitation at Luv Shack Horse Rescue and she will adopt him when he’s ready.) Seems he was down and wouldn’t get up. She called a neighbor who helped him on his feet. They could tell he wasn’t feeling well, but not sure what was going on. Joey, founder of Luv Shack was away from the ranch and heading back home. Knowing help was on the way she called and asked if I could help Bandit with some Reiki.

My first thought was to go over, as they are less than 5 minutes from me. I then realized that there would be people checking him over and lots of activity going on and distance Reiki may be the better way to support Bandit. And so I began….

Almost immediately Bandit let me know that he didn’t feel good. Not knowing exactly why he was not feeling good I began doing a full body treatment for Bandit. Within several minutes I kept seeing in my minds eye his lower back, hips, buttocks, and thighs. Realizing this is where he wanted to be treated I began focusing on that area. I immediately felt an increase in the flow of Reiki as my hands heated up and the usual tingle became very strong. The Reiki continued to flow very strong for nearly 30 minutes, and then gently began to subside.

During this time I kept hearing the word ‘achy’ and sensed it was the word that described what he was feeling in that area. Near the end of the treatment he finally relaxed and his energy seemed to soften, with the edginess fading away. The session ended with a wonderful ‘Thank You’ from Bandit.

After the session ended I called Georgia to let her know. She indicated that the areas where I worked were the areas that Bandit did not want to be touched and seemed to be the most uncomfortable. Georgia also mentioned that achy seemed to describe what they were seeing as well, and finally Bandit had also relaxed and was not quite as edgy.

It was a wonderful reminder to allow the animal to direct where Reiki is most needed. Sometimes not knowing the exact circumstances frees me from any expectation and allows me and the animal to work together as partners in healing. I am thankful for the great reminder from Bandit to trust and allow that Reiki flows for the highest good.

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Animal Reiki to the Rescue

This blog comes from the promptings of my wonderful husband Mark, who is urging me to write about the experiences I’m having with Animal Reiki, and great friend Mary, who has also been prompting me to start a blog and even helped me set it up. Both are a great source of inspiration and amazing supporters!

A year ago I began offering a monthly Reiki Share for animals, inviting Reiki practitioners of all backgrounds and experience to join us at a local horse rescue, Dreamchaser Horse Rescue. Each month I am continually blessed by both the people who join us and the animals we work with. It has been an amazing journey and a wonderful opportunity to continue to grow within my own personal Reiki practice.

Today, I regularly volunteer Reiki at several rescues, and am working with people and their pets in my public practice. I teach both Reiki and Animal Reiki classes and place a high emphasis on educating the public about what Reiki is and what is can do.

Aside from the many animal friends I make in my work Mark and I have two dogs, Caje and Maddie, who share their lives with us. Caje is a 4 year old Great Dane, and Maddie, is a lively 9 month old Australian/German Shepherd mix. Both are wonderful companions and teachers. I’m sure they will be regular contributors to this blog as well. :)

So, I guess it’s now official, as this is my first blog! If you would like to follow my adventures in the world of Animal Reiki, especially in rescues and shelters, please visit often. Or, click on the “Follow” button in the right column to join my on Animal Reiki adventures.

Blessings,
Diana

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