Can We Start The Day Again?

Yesterday was the first day back at school for Team Pike. I feel like we started strong. 50% of required participants were out of bed in good time, and the remaining 50% rustled enough to show adequate signs of life.

By 7:45 am, I still had a solid eye on the mother of the year crown. I mean, I had baked the night before (I know!) and made a lunch that was practically goor-met.

Giles and I made the decision between us to split rank. He would take Tommy to kindy, and I would take Flynn to school. This would allow for books to be collected and new classrooms to be found and settled into without having to complete aforementioned activities whilst being poked in the eyeballs and told knock knock jokes that inevitably have “poo” somewhere in the punchline on repeat dial.

After settling into separate cars, I nod smugly to myself. This is in the bag, I think, having completed the hardest leg of the activity- moving from the house to the car.

Driving up the hill, however, things start to feel not quite right. The car starts doing tiny lurches, similar to how I imagine a mechanical bull feels when it’s operating on only ten percent battery.

We make our way to the top of the hill before deciding that things are a bit off, and I pull over. Giles, who is behind us, pulls in also.

The decision is made to amalgamate. I attempt to not feel very irritated by said car-what-is-not-supposed-to-be-a-mechanical-bull and act like a carefree, easygoing Mumma whilst secretly wanting to show it (the car that is) who’s boss by ripping off a mud guard and throwing it into the neighbouring paddock.

Settling into my new driver’s seat, we begin again, now with two kids in the car. I think, we still have time, we’ve got this, and turn on the radio. A further five minutes down the road, Flynn turns to me and says, I left my bag at home.

Because I am carefree, I squeak out, no worries! And we turn tail and head home.

Bag collected, we turn again, now 15 minutes late for the first day of school.

Knock knock, Tommy says loudly from the back.

Arriving at school, I pick up a drink bottle whose lid is not on properly and it explodes down the front of me. Because I am carefree and I have baked, I smooth down my sodden front, pick up smaller child who shrilly declares “eww, you’re wet!” and escort eldest child to his new classroom.

Some 30 minutes late for the first day of school.

On the way home, I text Giles.

Can we start the day again please?

Starting the day again is a bit of a family institution. If things go pear-shaped, or the car turns into a mechanical bull, we simply start the day again.

I’ve used it in the middle of rides, where I have felt myself losing my centre. I stop, regroup, and start the ride again.

It’s all too easy to let the energy of a moment (or many moments) drag through the entire day and pollute the waters unnecessarily. Starting the day, the ride, or the moment again is a very simple and yet profound resolution to draw a line in the sand and realise that you always have the choice to stop, take a breath, and start the day again.

You can always start the day again.

Onwards.

❤️Jane

Time Spent or Time Invested?

Time spent or time invested? How do you look at it?

If we think of our time with our horses as being spent, we are operating from a loss framework, where time in means time gone.

If you’ve ever exclaimed, ‘I’ve been out here for an hour already and it’s still not working!’

… then this is the dance you’re jiving to.

Expectations, time delineated results and instant gratification all live under this umbrella.

Time invested, on the other hand, recognises that partnership arises off the back of compounded experience. I may not see the product of my hours invested immediately- or even after many weeks or months- but I understand that how I show up and how often I show up are placing cumulative deposits in the relationship bank, and with enough commitment, the fruits of that investment will make itself known to me.

Invested or spent?

Which perspective are you choosing?

❤️ Jane

Wellness First…

Want to know a little mantra that I’ve been using this year that has really turned things around for me?

Wellness first.

The idea of putting your wellness first has made everything in my life better. Towards the end of last year, I realized that I was feeling totally strung out.

I was physically sore.

I was tired.

I felt a loss of groundedness and centeredness that I know is so important to maintain.

The other thing I noticed?

It’s very easy to martyr yourself to the system. I could reel of a number of easily supported and legitimate excuses for why I felt that way…

… I was super busy with work

… I was super busy with family

… I had lots of things going on that demanded my attention

…but the reality is, I had yet to take full responsibility for myself and claim the time that I needed to make showing up for life in a wholehearted way sustainable.

I looked at what my body needed and came up with three practices that make everything better.

Getting enough sleep.

Drinking enough water.

Doing daily yoga.

So far this year, I’ve made them non-negotiable. I still notice times where I’m tempted to do “this bit of work” or “stay up this bit later to do this”. But I also know that the compound effects of that are disabling.

So if you are feeling me, I encourage you to do the same.

What do you need?

And,

Wellness first.

It’s better for everyone.

❤️Jane

Falling In & Out of Good Habits

You’ve probably heard me talk before about the life changing magic of simply showing up, and why it’s so important when it comes to creating momentum and building your courage muscles.

The other reason that showing up is so important?

To prevent the all or nothing cycle that is so easy to fall into when we feel ourselves having an off day. This cycle is pretty much the hallmark of the New Year’s Resolution, or indeed any habit or commitment that we make for ourselves that starts off with an initial flush of enthusiasm and ends with us realising that we’ve actually been scrolling Facebook for the last hour and what the hell and how did that happen.

And before any smugness sets in for those of us with well-established routines of showing up, falling out of a good habit or finding yourself unable to show up in the way you want to because of well, life (it happens to the best of us), is something that we need to be mindful of every step of the way.

For instance, the way I’ve engineered things means that I work with my horses every morning of the weekdays. It used to be that weekends provided reliable riding times, but now my boys are older, it’s much more about them than it is about me. For the most part, this habit is effortless. But there are times when I’m tired, or I have a lot of work to do, or something comes up where showing up to play together with my horse is not possible. The rules I play too is that it’s what you do most of the time that matters- one day is ok, but I don’t want one day to have a snowball effect. Consequently, I never let myself be totally absent more than a day. Even if on the second day it’s not possible for me to show up physically, I do something to keep my head in the game. Watch a training video. Read a book. Anything that mentally takes me into the learning and showing up space.

The reason? It’s as much about maintaining the sense of being a person that gets out there and shows up for their horse as it is putting in the hours. In fact, “putting in the hours” is never a framework I operate from; but despite the passion, enthusiasm and love I feel for my horses, life can pull us away if we are not intentional about maintaining what we love.

So when it doubt, keep showing up. For yourself as much as for anyone or anything else.

Onwards.

❤️ Jane

Are The Feelings You’re Having Your Own?

We’ve touched on a few contributing aspects related to anxiety the last few days, but I wanted to throw another into the mix that is perhaps the least considered and even less so understood; anxiety (or feeling generally) that is absorbed or taken on from something or someone around us.

This tendency to “catch” emotions is officially referred to as emotional contagion, and there are various explanations offered as to why this occurs. For the purposes of this (very brief) discussion, however, I want to talk about it from the context of what I refer to as “unaware or unskilled sensitivity”, where we act as an emotional sponge and become easily overwhelmed or disabled by the emotions of others, including our horses.

It’s my experience that many of us are actually afraid and avoidant of emotions, especially emotions that we consider to be difficult or uncomfortable. This arises, in part, because we aren’t skilled firstly, in understanding the motivating questions behind emotions and what they are communicating, and secondly because we have become disconnected from our own bodies to the extent where emotions no longer act as clear communicators, but form a swirling pool of feeling that is difficult to make sense of. Our tendency to suppress or deny emotion comes mainly, then, because we have no clue how to skilfully deal with what it is we’re experiencing.

Skilled sensitivity involves being aware of and able to identify emotions and feelings as they exist in yourself and others. The accuracy with which we do so depends on how aware you are of your own internal state and how proficient you are at acknowledging and regulating feeling.

Trusting how we feel becomes all the more important when partnering with horses. With humans, we can ask for confirmation of the accuracy of what it is we are sensing; this is obviously not possible with our horses. How then do we go about developing this understanding between us?

By acknowledging and noticing how it is you feel.

How you feel in your body is always trustworthy; it communicates the reality of what’s present in the moment. The next stage is infinitely more difficult; separating out what is yours and what is theirs; being able to identify what is being felt and allow for it; developing an emotional vocabulary that allows us to artfully deal with what presents instead of being at the mercy of it.

Skills that are built moment by moment through practice, awareness and interaction.

Onwards.

❤️Jane

Untangling Anxiety

Yesterday, we talked about anticipation anxiety and the delicate process of untangling the experience of it with the necessary next steps to move through it. The question was asked, what if my anxiety comes from the past, from an accident? To dive into this a little deeper, I want to break it down into a couple of different parts.

First up, what you feel is always true for you, but it is not always true for the moment. The differential I am always seeking to understand is:

Is this emotion true for the moment, or is it connected to a past experience or story that is making itself known in my present?

In emotions that are true for the moment, the feeling rises up in response to our experience. In order to stay in flow with it, we are then required to understand the motivating question behind it in order that we take action in alignment with it (or choose not to act as the case may be), and in doing so, the emotion understands it has been heard; we are in flow with our experience and move onto the next thing.

In the case of the latter, here we find ourselves in the midst of an experience, and anxiety (for example) rises to the surface. In this case, we can appreciate that our reaction to what’s presenting is not true for the moment. A basic example of this would be standing in the arena with a relaxed horse in front of you and being overwhelmed by concern.

Is the anxiety real? Yes. It is real for you.

Is it real for the moment? No.

What you are experiencing in this moment is the residual effect of a past trauma making itself known in the present. A “glitch” in the nervous system which, given the right triggers, repeats on a loop until the tools are presented to provide it with a corrective emotional experience that sees harmony restored.

This restoration of harmony feels impossible, but it’s not. But it does require being gentle with yourself and developing the ability to recognize that in the midst of difficult experience, there is so much more that is available to you.

Understanding the difference between the two is the key to developing emotional flow.

Onwards.

❤️Jane

Trepidation & Anticipation Anxiety

Anxiety is such a curious experience, especially when it’s felt in anticipation. The curious part about it is that the trepidation is often felt in relation to something that we want; our desire to create something or follow through on something with our horses gets mixed up in concern, worry or unsureness and any joy that might have been simultaneously present gets sucked out in a matter of seconds.

Anticipation anxiety is an important thing to learn to manage simply because of its inevitability. If you are ever planning to push your comfort zone, step up to that next level or do something that’s important to you, then chances are you are going to feel a little or a lot of it at some point.

We are, after all, creatures of the imminent arrival. Being on a journey of any sort involves a series of anticipated arrivals at various micro destinations along the way, so it goes without saying; if we plan to journey, we already have in our heads an anticipated destination point that we wish to land in at a future place.

What happens will be something like this: something is coming. You might be riding at a lesson, doing something with your horse that causes you concern, about to be a part of a competition. And you find yourself feeling…. anxious.

Many times, the message behind anxiety is confusing.

Huh, you tell yourself. I’m not sure this is worth it.

And so in the midst of your anxiety, maybe you decide to not do it or to modify your efforts in some way that downgrades the experience.

Two things to remember: anxiety at its essence is a call for preparation.

And:

Anticipation anxiety is strengthened by a lack of follow-through.

The trajectory is this (overly simplified):

You feel anxious >> the concern builds >> you decide not to do the thing you want to do

In your mind, your anxiety says, I knew it! I knew there was something to be concerned about!

And the cycled is strengthened for next time.

There is no shame in anxiety. And there is no shame in deciding that for the moment, it’s all too much.

But understanding how it works and what your mind will tell you in the midst of it goes a long way to empowering yourself to navigate through it, and perhaps most importantly, to recognize you are not alone.

Anticipation anxiety is yet another expression of humanness.

Onwards.

❤️ Jane

Investing In Harmony & Flow with Elsa Sinclair

If horses were given a choice, would they let us ride them?

Two documentary movies and a whole new way of approaching things later, that question was somewhat of a sliding doors moment for Elsa Sinclair and one that I and many others have infinitely benefitted from.

As a member of her Taming Wild Insiders Patreon community and having done her online course, I’m constantly blown away by her skill, sensitivity and understanding when it comes to developing a deeper level of communication and trust between horse and human. Her approach, called Freedom Based Training is based on a simple principle:

“If we train and work with our horses without any tools or food rewards, they have the freedom in every moment to tell us how comfortable it is for them- and if it’s not comfortable, they simply walk away. This tasks us to develop feel and timing, and we learn to develop both within the comfort zone of the horse.”

In her first movie, Taming Wild, Elsa works with an untamed mustang and develops a relationship with her (including riding) using only Freedom Based Training Methods. Her latest adventure (an idea conceived on in collaboration with the wonderful Andrea Wady) explores relationship development in movement, taking two rescued horses across Costa Rica, culminating in the newest movie release Pura Vida.

In this episode we explore:

⭐️ The principles and practices behind Freedom Based Training

⭐️ The leadership scale: Passive, assertive & dominant leadership

⭐️ Width and depth in training; relationship and skill-based training

⭐️ Flow and harmony in horsemanship

⭐️ Pura Vida: The adventure of crossing Costa Rica with two rescue horses

You can tune your listening ears in here!

If you want to find out more about Elsa or purchase her movies, here are the links for you:

Taming Wild Website
Join the Patreon Group
Facebook
Instagram

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