It’s not often that we get a chance to share our story…or perhaps even have it published as part of a book. But this past summer I had an opportunity to do just that and I took it. Alumni of the Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning Certification Program offered by Horse Spirit Connections were pulling together a collection of inspirational horse stories to be published by Big Country Publishing. There was a call for authors and I jumped on the opportunity.
Big Country Publishing is an international multi-media publisher of print books, audio, video and electronic products distributed world-wide through over 39,000 on-line retailers. As part of the process of developing my story or chapter in the book, I had an opportunity to benefit from the coaching and expertise of Big Country’s publisher Christina Calisto Winslow. Christina is also a best-selling author and speaker, bringing training and support through her consulting and classes and she also hosts Reach for It radio, a live, nationally syndicated radio program.
I’ve spend a lifetime as a communications consultant writing for CEOs and corporate audiences so naturally I thought this would be an easy assignment for me. But writing from my heart about myself was a new experience. It put me out of my comfort zone. It required finding my own voice and tempo. I needed to go inside and write from my bones. It was the first time I’d worked with a writing coach and Christina’s expertise was clear on my first coaching call. I had completed a first draft and declared my project done. I was ready to move onto the next thing on my “to do” list. Christina had something else in mind. She intuitively knew exactly what my triggers were and where perhaps I needed and could go deeper, probing experiences that were easier to gloss over at a high level, while avoiding the messy, painful bits.
But it’s the messy bits that really make a life interesting and so I’ve allowed my story to unfold as it did and included the messy bits. That first call with Christina led to another one and more digging. I enjoyed Christina’s approach as she had no difficulty challenging my resistance and in the end, I think a much stronger tale has emerged. I have allowed my vulnerability to show as uncomfortable as that feels. Life is not perfect. We all have our stories. Mine is not particularly earth-shattering – just sunny with a chance of tornado.
It is a story about transformation. It’s a story about a horse named Sunny who along with other horses shared some unexpected wisdom along a trail of life experiences. It’s about how I learned to embrace success on my own terms in spite of the storms that hit my life and the expectations of others.
What is success? How do you measure it? Is it about making it to the top of the corporate ladder? Is it about personal achievements and community involvement? Is it a balance of both? Why is being “successful” even important to me? Why is being successful important to any of us?
I have always been a bit fixated on being a “successful” person. Who knew that a particular horse or horses could teach me about this elusive goal? But I have become a better leader, taking each moment, each day as it comes thanks to an unlikely herd of horses as my guides. They’ve given me reason to pause and take note of the way I move in this world and the impact I have on others. Most importantly, they’ve helped me appreciate the many dimensions of success, while learning to live life fully with intent.
When my professional life began, I envisioned a life living in the city working for someone else (ideally on the other side of the glass ceiling). I never envisioned a life living on a farm with horses. Nor did I envision having my own business or businesses. Neither reality is a bad thing. It’s just not what I expected. It is clearly where I am meant to be at this time. It is a life far richer than anything I could have pictured for myself so many years ago.
Just a few short years ago, I could not fathom that I would launch The Mane Intent, my own facilitated equine experiential learning program, offered up to connect people to possibility through horse power. It’s a venture that represents a culmination of many life experiences – personal and professional. It’s the next step in my walk with horses. Our intent is to help others discover ways to nurture and strengthen interpersonal connections, find connection and meaning in a busy life, unearth personal talents, gifts and creativity, and live life fully with an open heart. It’s the kind of work I am putting my own heart into. Anything is possible.
The book is called Healing With Horses – Growth and Transformation Through The Way of the Horse now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iTunes.
And…you too can benefit from the wisdom that our herd has to offer. Make it your intent today to come and meet our herd. They’re calling for you.