Have you ever been in that time of your life when it seems everything is on track and then you find yourself flat on your face? Then you get back on track and wham! something hits again? It’s like a persistent wave of crap hitting you when you least expect it.
After closing my business of 15 years, I find myself a single mother, underemployed and at time when I don’t have any big goals or plans. I have always known my next move and had a surplus of ambition, so I find this time in my life unsettling, and yes, a little scary. I have to say, I feel a little beaten down and humbled by life.
One of the things I have found grounding and comforting in the past year has been volunteering at a local horse rescue, The Swan Center Outreach. It’s amazing how good you can feel after spending a morning outdoors working hard and in the presence of such majestic creatures. As is always the case, one of these majestic creatures had a lesson for me. Magic was my teacher for the day and I felt particularly drawn to her.
Marinating in my little pitty party for the summer, I hadn’t taken the chance to get out to the ranch to volunteer. So, I am glad I broke that cycle yesterday. One of my fellow volunteers was updating me on the dynamics of the herd and mentioned that we would need to attend to some of Magic’s wounds. She was being given extra special nurturing and nourishment by her human friends lately until she got her strength back.
Apparently, she had developed parasites and the herd was beating her up with bites and such because of her affliction. As a result, her ranking in the herd had also gone down. She had been acting a little depressed and docile as a result. Horses vie for their positions in the herd and the lead mare is always in charge. Although Magic isn’t the lead mare, her ranking had decreased about 50% in a herd of about 35 and she found herself close to the bottom of the ranking. At feeding time, this means she would have to be one of the last in line to be brought into the corral for her food.
As we brought in the horses, 3 by 3, I watched Magic in her dynamic that day. I was feeling a true compassion and empathy for her recent challenges. When we got about half way through the herd, I noticed that she was coming closer to the fence and nipping at certain horses that wanted to be next in line. She was asserting herself and increasing her rank that day. It was inspiring to watch because, although she had been set back for a bit, she still had it in her to “get back on her feet” so to speak.
The real lesson came when we began to wash her wounds. I was to hold her lead line while the other volunteer washed and checked her over. She was obviously a little uncomfortable during this process but she settled with my constant reassurance and petting.
As I petted and reassured her, however, I became distinctly aware that I was the one being reassured!
Horses are big, shiny mirrors. They have profound lessons to teach us about ourselves if we are willing and present to learn them. As I looked into her eyes, I could see that she was communicating to me that I, too, still had some “nip” in me and that although things may seem like a set back at the moment, I would be moving forward again with renewed vigor and vision. It was just time to nourish myself and be nurtured by others. This is not something that is innately part of my nature and is very difficult for me. Of course, I cried and am crying now, because her message was so profound – to nurture oneself and be nurtured by others. What a foreign concept to me!
It’s no secret that times are tough for so many right now. Our culture has programmed us to strive and achieve and do and go! Our consumptive nature puts us on a treadmill of obtaining and preserving what we have obtained. In the midst of treading on this treadmill, which has been increasing in speed, we have lost what it is like to be truly connected and present to ourselves and others. It’s a time when we need to pare down some of our to-do list, take a break and nurture ourselves and each other.
Take some time today to think about what is really essential and important to you. Cross off some of the non-essentials on your to-do list and take a break. Nurture yourself with a little time off and if you think you don’t have the time, then let someone else step in to help give you the extra time. We aren’t super heroes. We’re human!
Magic worked some magic on me yesterday and as you read this, I hope she is working some magic on you. You might be feeling a little beaten lately, but you are certainly not broken.