Panic...PANIC! Stop the presses...sirens going off...hands in the air PANIC! Ever so often I fall into one of those deep holes of " I just don't think I can do this!". Self doubt overwhelms my horizon and I shut down. Actually, I get really, really busy. Closets get cleaned out. Floors get polished. Even the silver gets polished, what little I have! If I keep my feet moving then I don't have to face the mountain I've built up in front of myself to keep me from moving forward. It's an old story, isn't it?
I'm not learning if I'm not outside my comfort zone. Being outside my comfort zone equals danger. Danger means monsters in the closet and under the bed so DON'T GO THERE! I know, intellectually, that when I build up all of my defenses, my "what if?"s and "but I can't..."s, it's just my brain saying "I don't trust you to keep me alive, so I'm taking over by sabotaging you emotionally." And it works too! I "get busy doing stuff" , totally unimportant stuff (yeah, it nice to have a clean closet, but that kind of thing can wait ) to keep myself from making my good better and my better best.
And pretty soon I've talked myself into thinking that not only am I not improving, not learning, but that I don't deserve to! By spending so much of my time becoming a better horse-woman, I'm being lazy. Backwards, isn't it? I've never worked so hard, physically, in my life to be better for this crew of mine. Most of the time I'm very happily obsessed! In fact, I usually have to make myself slow down because I have a tendency to be a direct line thinker. There isn't anything more "not horse" than being direct line.
My excuse this time around is the weather. It's been over 100 every single day for more than a month here. The land is fried. Crops are failing. The grass is brown and the hay crop was less than half of what it was last year. When it's up to 105, 108 or 111 (like it was yesterday!) it's hard to find a way to Play Games with my horses. We're all doing well to just slog through the day. It really is like being hit with a hot griddle every time I walk out the door.
I have a tendency to get angry at the things I can't change...like the weather. And that's just another way to "Stop the presses! Hold the stage! Cheese it!". Sooner or later I end up like I was this morning, crying out in the barn while I did my morning chores, convinced that I was a failure and I might as well quit!
Pretty effective as a form of self sabotage, isn't it?
It may have been the hammer I knocked off of the shelf, landing on my toe. Or it may have been the wasp that stung me when I jumped, trying to keep from getting hit by the hammer. And those buggers never sting just once! But something made me "hit the wall" and wake up. I came up to the surface, took a deep breath of air and said " Wait a minute. What's going on here? " (along with a few, more than blue, words uttered because now I had two stings on my neck and a swollen toe!) How interesting that, just at the height of my self doubt epiphany, I manage to bruise myself and get myself stung. Sort of a "HEY, NANCY! YOU THERE?" shout out.
While I was inside, putting cold packs on the toe and vinegar on the stings, I started laughing at how funny I must have looked. Laughter always makes me breath deeply, relax. The right brain freeze attack ends and I switch to the other side, the left side, and begin to think again. I broke my own pattern!
So, I've been very effectively putting myself into the box, into the 'safe zone', keeping myself from walking towards my goal. If I were one of my students, what would I say to myself to get the engines started and the whole shebang rolling again? It was time for the inner game of Approach and Retreat! I'd Broken the Pattern with a hammer and a wasp. Step two is break it down into smaller pieces, just like I do with the horses when we've blown through a threshold, and Retreat to build confidence.
I have no idea where my threshold is that I pushed myself through. I'm still a bit blind in that area when it comes to myself. I'm guessing it's because I am so goal oriented that I push harder than I should. When it comes to becoming a better horse-woman, to building my own confidence as well as theirs, to becoming that much sought after 51% / 49% partnership that Pat Parelli talks about I NEED TO SLOW DOWN. I need to follow the tenants of my favorite quote, "Take the time that it takes so it takes less time.", to move further down my path.
So, this morning we played. I mean we really played. I got out the water hose and we ran through the hose! I scratched all of the best itchy places. I stood around and just watched the haze on the horizon, standing next to Apache and letting everything go. I didn't scoop poop. We did grain later in the morning, like closer to noon! Shocking!
We walked out into the East pasture, the one that gave us only half the hay it did last year, crunching along on top of the dormant grasses. Ever so often we'd stop to graze (Noooooooo...I didn't eat the grass.). I'd match their energy, stand with the same leg cocked that one or the other had, and just hung out...no expectations, no itinerary. In short, I did nothing more than just try to "be" with them.
And then it happened. Apache, my Left Brain Extrovert, asked me a question. He flicked his ears at me, softened his eyes and said " Wanna play?" I was in the zone by then with my swollen toe, sore stings, wet shoes and muddy shirt. I smiled and said " Well, yeah!" and off we went. I don't know how long we played. I didn't have a watch on. Besides, time was irrelevant. This was horse play at it's best!
We walked and trotted together, played Circle game around each other, danced Sideways (a first at Liberty for us!) and walked in a backwards circle just for fun! I should put that part in caps...JUST FOR FUN! Getting it done wasn't the objective here. Having fun while we experimented was!
When I ran my hand down his back, knocking the flies off for him, he turned and nuzzled/groomed me between my shoulders (withers) while I rubbed his withers. And then we were done. He walked off, out into his lovely, long pasture to be with Lucky and Willow. And I turned and limped off towards the house, dogs in tow, with a smile on my face.