He Sent Me Home to Paint

 

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[This post was published briefly months ago so may be familiar to my followers. It has been rewritten and edited]

There was sweetness in the sorrow I felt when my memory took me back to the day my first horse, Apolinaire, died. At the end of his recent visitation through Dollar,l my emotional balloon was stretched to full capacity. Knowing I needed  to release my tears, I was driven to walk the pasture paths that the horses have created through the wooded areas, revisiting the different places where Apolinaire and I had been together during the last four days of his life. Retracing our story together, I lingered at the very spot where many months ago he lay in exhaustion.

He had sent me home that day to paint.

To leave him in such a condition was difficult but I had been through this drill many times before with the other horses who were having acute or chronic physical issues, with miraculous results. Each time I had been guided to write, sketch, paint, to simply stand nearby and tune into nature, or to “please leave and let me work this out myself.” The malady magically disappeared time and time again.

Knowing his directive was not one to ignore, I left.

Once home, I painted with a restless spirit but with spiritual awareness, sensing that Apolinaire and I were most likely walking his death journey as companions. It was premature he told me that night and reminded me of the day years ago when he’d shared the way he was to die.

At that time, he had wandered away from the herd which was unlike him. He stepped over to another pasture and stood alone silently calling to me. I responded and stayed at a distance giving him space and dignity. Since it was late afternoon, the coastal fog had found its way inland and dimmed the light of day, creating an appropriate mood for what he was sharing. When he finished, I had thought his death was imminent, that he would likely disappear during the night. There was no distress. Sadness, yes, but most of all I felt a deeper closeness to him. He had trusted me with something intimate and sacred. But, the time for manifestation had not come.

Now, years later, I understood that it still was not time for Apolinaire to go, but an ominous feeling was pressing in. He was giving me continuous instructions as to my role in the partnership and in the process.

I was to hold space for him while he did his intercessory work which was very serious and challenging would make the difference in whether he was to live or die. For the most part, the magnitude of his cosmic work was not revealed.

I was to hold the belief he would recover as the other horses had done many times before. This time, however, my growth was in the believing. It was important even if there was never a manifestation of that belief. That one was tough for me. It didn’t make sense to me nor can I make sense of it now. All I know is that deep down there was a powerful freedom in it and there still is. I gave up attachment to results, and was free to hold space for his recovery and allow the Divine to flow. There was no more resistance to “believing” because it might not manifest since that was no longer a part of my formula. This is new to me and there is much more for me to discover about that practice.

Back home after putting away my paints and returning to the pasture, I quickly found my way to the spot where I had left him lying on the ground. My breath caught with new hope when I saw he was no longer there. There were indicators that reminded me of the “yellow brick road” that helped me find him tucked in the thicket, well away from where he had been lying. His eyes were brighter, there was new energy in him. I was encouraged.

As time went by, I continued to work on my painting and holding space for Apolinaire. Each time I returned, he showed improvement. My hopes were running high. Things seemed to be progressing.

On day 3, an acquaintance stopped by the pasture. I was not able to tell her that I was in an important process with Apolinaire. In fact I tried to hide it from her not wanting to talk about it. I surrendered to her arrival thinking maybe it was meant to be and might bring the ultimate healing. I completely forgot about my deal with Apolinaire. My only hope was that he would stay hidden.

Forgetting I was on a sacred mission with my horse, I lost my connection with Apolinaire that day as I followed my distraction. It can happen to me so easily. I suspect I am not alone in that tendency.

I had not spoken up which was a disservice to my guest, to Apolinaire in particular, and to myself. I lost the day with him. I lost my sense of confidence and holding space. I didn’t paint. Didn’t even think of it. From that day, he went downhill extremely fast and I forgot everything I’d been learning and went into crisis mode.

The next morning, he waited for me to arrive. When he turned and looked at me, I knew he was dying. My heart sank, and I gave up. In less than an hour, he was gone.

I had known it was a challenging task. I do not feel guilty nor that it was my fault as one might expect. We were on a treacherous journey together. I had known that.

My painting had brought continuous improvement for Apolinaire as it had done for the horses over the years. This time there was a bigger challenge. I became distracted and stopped painting. He went downhill. He died. It is sometimes a tough journey.

When he sent me home to paint, he sent me home to that other worldly place where the soul sighs with relief. There I find my joy and the peaceful pool of healing. There I am out of the way; the Divine is free to flow and the extraordinary follows.

Stepping Out of the Mess

The two human angels [In the Midst of the Mess] came back with apples, carrots, and a grater, and a pan to hold the treats for the horses. It was well thought out. On the trunk of the aging Mercedes, they went to work shredding the food for the aging herd. Most of the horses were gone to another part of the pasture. Only one was nearby. I always pay attention to which one. It is usually and probably always significant. Today it was Dollar. I call him the “money man” because of his name and the dollar sign imprinted above his left front leg. He was rewarded with the whole treat without any competition from the others. I think it surprised him. There was no flack and he was the center of attention. I could feel him retreat inwardly as he did this thing alone. Maybe a little shy about it. All reflections of my own shyness about receiving and having all of the good stuff focused on me.

The two angels had their fun, washed up the utensils, and found some mustard leaves in their stash. By then, the herd had returned, and Mariah came to the fence. Mariah is my symbol of the mystical. She seems to dwell in that world. Her interaction with a human is a mix of the playful, humorous, and the mystical. She has a handle on the earth being God’s playground for us. After eating the mustard leaves, she found her way to a very large feeding bin. It was empty. She began pawing at it until she tipped it over on its side. She has a dry sense of humor doing her stunts as if she is oblivious, our very own comedienne.  The two angels got a good laugh.  Mariah’s way of saying thank you (and probably that she wouldn’t turn down another handful of mustard!)

As the angels were preparing to leave, our conversation took an unexpected turn. In the State of California, I hold a teaching credential. It appears there may be financial opportunity as a credentialed educator, to provide “job” training for developmentally disabled as they help by preparing feed, delivering hay, grooming, etc.

Did Dollar have something to do with that?

 

 

In the Midst of the Mess

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(This one is for you, Patricia, patriciajgrace.wordpress.com, whose comments on my last post inspired me to venture out and write about myself in the midst of my mess, instead of waiting until it is all cleaned up. And also thanks to In Other’s Words, inotherswords.com, Paper Dolls who speaks of the smiling facade some of us carry when we are dying inside. I’m trying it out. Exposing it, I mean. We’ll see.)

I am overdrawn at the bank. I have 5 cents in my pocket and a partly buried penny on the ground near where my car is parked. My gas tank has a whisper of fuel left, my muddy pasture clothes need to be washed at the laundramat or by hand. I just gathered some food from a local charity. When my social security check is deposited soon, my hungry bank account will gobble it right up. Gone. I have 5 horses, one big dog, and myself to provide for.

So how has it come to this? I’m a middle class, college educated, multi-talented and supposedly wise older woman. How could this be happening to me when I have been so diligent on my spiritual journey with the horses? There are those that know me that will smugly smile that I have failed, at least in their way of thinking, and in so doing I have proven them right. “I told ya so!” are those voices that taunt and haunt.  “Get rid of the horses.” has been their mantra. There are others who have issues with me that will feel a sense of pride or pleasure at my demise. I cringe, but I toss my head and keep on going.

I live in Northern California where we’ve been having a drought that has recently mutated into continuous rain. “Enough!” I scream, “Eeee nufff! “We need it,” those around me say. “We don’t need it all it once,” I snarl. It turns into run off and causes mudslides in the next county already tormented by a catastrophic fire where they lost many homes. “Balance! Moderation!” But the earth is groaning and the sky above is weeping, and I’m going ballastic

Closer to home, my horses’ pasture is a lake with bits of mud surfacing like bullfrog heads but without the humor. Not good for their hooves. And there is no shelter except trees which they don’t seem to use. They do their horsey thing…stand together, turn their butts to the storm, and drop their heads all looking very woeful. It wrenches my heart. When I come they greet me like hungry children and eat like crazy when the dry food arrives. They always have plenty of hay (I free feed 24/7), but the wet and mud waste it. The compost pile in their gut helps keep them warm a vet once told me.

When the sun occasionally bolts its way through the clouds, they lie down and catch up on rest.

IMG_7187                                                        Mariah’s Nap in the Sun

Perhaps it is a metaphor for my life…being in the midst of an endless storm, or maybe the metaphor is prophetic and that my financial drought will turn into an “abundance” storm! Wouldn’t that be nice!  In the meantime, I’ve been angry. Quite angry but it seems not to help. I am allowing it for the time being. Almost exactly a year ago to the day, I lost a lucrative job that I loved and that had easily come my way along with a place to live.  For some reason I have not been able to recover financially, nor find a proper place for myself and the horses. I am baffled.

But underneath all of this, there is a steady and determined drum beat just like the pounding of the rain. Step by step I am finding my way to my calling with the horses which I started 5 or 6 years ago when my landlady forced my horses and me to leave her land because she didn’t want me to do a business there…and she thought I was. I wandered in the wilderness for awhile in search of the promised land.  When I step back and look at my life today I’m watching a movie reminiscent of a Star Wars battle. I’m at the climax where the movie gets good if you are only a viewer and it is not your life. The suspense and the tension is immense. The adrenaline rushes, knuckles turn white, breathing quickens or stops altogether. I will either sink or swim, crash, or avert it at the last minute.

I have been taking huge leaps with practical and productive help from very talented people. They are guiding me in what I don’t do well.  They are teaching me how to market myself and what the horses and I can offer those that want to find respite from the chaos and pain of the world, or to do some deeper work finding purpose and uncovering gifts, healing abuse or addictions, or awakening to the mystical path led by the horses.

However, yesterday I awakened in despair. Even though I am engaged in very tangible and bold movements toward my goal of offering the healing the horses bring, in my fear and financial lack I decided that it was too late to bridge the gap through the transition. I needed to re-home my 5 horses immediately. All of them are horses I’ve rescued, and horses I’ve been traveling with and growing with for years. I cried all the way to the pasture and feared that I, a very determined survivor, was about to have a break down as I did years ago when tears seemed to flow like a leaky faucet because of a worn out washer. This time though, it is just when my life has been getting on track with a facebook page, business cards, and brochures all heading me toward my heart’s desire; and now it was coming to an abrupt halt. My mind was made up. I’ve had a year of hell, and that is enough. I drove the 3 miles to the pasture with no embarrassment that tears were streaming down my cheeks.

Nearing my destination, I started blinking my eyes to clear away the tears as I turned my car onto the lane heading toward the horse pasture. Ahead, I saw a vehicle parked in my driveway to the pasture. Unusual. I didn’t recognize the older and pale yellow Mercedes with seashells glued as a circular emblem on the driver’s side door. As I pulled up, two women happily greeted me showing no shame or guilt for being in the driveway. Not that I thought they should feel that but often people do. It was refreshing that they didn’t. Instead they were absorbed in excitement to have found the horses and were having such childlike delight in feeding them apples and carrots. One was a physically challenged young woman with a brace on one leg, and the other was her companion caregiver. Their radiance encircled and captured me bringing me into their joy. My tears changed to sweet honey from deep within me. I was being touched by magic…as were they. For me, they were God-given angels who had come to remind me of who the horses are and what my calling is with them. This was one of those mystical moments that is difficult to describe. A remembrance, a gentle humbling, a knowing, a transformational moment. I won’t be the same. I cannot be the same.

I knew then what I must do. Without question the horses are not to go, but we are to move forward. Together. Where the money will come from during my transition, I have no idea, but the horses and I are not to separate again.

My financial circumstances have not changed, but the rest of my life has. I seem to be split equally into two parts as the metamorphosis is taking place, the new and the old at the same time, the hope and the fear, the joy and the despair, the confident and the victim. I seem to be dwelling in both. Right now anyway, I’m like a ship changing its coarse in the dark waters. A new direction. I’m rooting for the new, the hope, the joy, the confidence. I want to dance and freely flutter like the butterfly freed from it’s cocoon!

 

Weakening Bullies

ink drawing by erick moreau
ink drawing by erick moreau

As a  bully’s power weakens, it comes in a group to prop itself up…a last ditch effort to survive. According to script, three human bullies arrived at the barnyard gate soon after I pulled in with hay. I was amazed at their fearful inability to stand alone though their facade was stern and scolding. It was at first intimidating until I realized it took three of them to confront me. I was intrigued at how petty their issue was that had all the appearances of harassment.

I stood trembling in body and voice from the surprise of it all, but strong in spirit and purpose. Having nothing to hide, I said what was true, not eloquently, but I spoke it. The bullies rolled their eyes at each other and laughed mockingly in that junior high way. No matter whether or not they received it, I stood firm in my own internal power of truth, and in my new uncharacteristic boldness in taking actions on behalf of the welfare of the animals in my care even if it meant risking retaliation from a bully.

As I later drove away. I laughed at the silliness of human drama. I ran experimental tapes in my mind of the many things I could have said that would have smartly put them down and stopped them in their tracks, but such is not my style. There was nothing wrong with non-embellished truth. I had taken another step toward liberation of my soul as I walked into the healing offered a few weeks before while soaking in the moonlight with my amazing horses.

To distract my mind from obsessing, I turned on the radio. The words of the song that was playing, “This will never happen again, this will never happen again.” I was drawn into dialogue with the singer coming through the airwaves. “What won’t happen again?” I yelled over and over as I giggled, and the song answered over and over,  “This will never happen again.”

The next day, I had another powerful synchronicity which launched me forward in my life. It slyly shunted me away in a fancy limousine of the imagination. With foot to the pedal I left the bullies in the dust far behind and out of mind.

Physical Healing Above the Clouds

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               …yes, there is truly a heart on his rear end  (other rear ends)
We stood in quiet stillness, our foreheads pressed together, life pulsating between us. I felt his warmth and smelled his horsey breath. My heart tasted the sweetness of love for my equine guru, Shaman Tal, and it outgrew my chest.

Springtime is yawning and stretching. The freshness of nature awakens but I’ve been feeling jittery and jumpy. Haunting memories of green grasses and inflamed hooves crowd out my peace. Memories of nothing working,—nothing conventional, nothing alternative. Helpless and frustrated, only the spirit remained.

For three seasons of spring, the Shaman has reflected my own inflamed hooves—my procrastination, hesitation, fear, ingrained patterns of bracing for the worst, and the lifetime patterns of abuse that until this year held me hostage by some internal gestapo. But there have been three seasons of schooling by this master teacher.

One day of the first year, I finally followed the Shaman’s prompting that I’d been putting off. I sat down in my cozy cabin warmed by soft light and I started to write after a 2 year stall. Simultaneously, the Shaman who was also bound in a stall with sore hooves and little improvement, walked out of his dark cell into the sunshine on his own and continued to improve from that day on. The second year, I was the one who walked, saying “no” to a toxic partnership, and rediscovering my divine self after numerous daily reminders by the Shaman. He had been stalled again with no improvement nor worsening. The very same day that I came back to my home with the horses, the Shaman danced away into healing hooves.

Year 3. “Come to me in joy,” he whispered. I came in fear. His feet were sore and miserable. “Come to me in joy, he whispered again this time with raspy voice. I came to him in joy. He shone like the sun. The next time, I again came to him in fear. He drooped. Having finally understood, I came in joy having done what he had taught me to do to find it. Again and again as I found my joy, he glided painlessly across the grasses, light and free as the raven soaring overhead.

This year was the fourth season of green grasses. When I drove up to the gate one afternoon, there stood Shaman Tal, away from the rest of the herd.  “Isolating,” I noted on my mental notepad filled to the brim with a clouded history. This was sometimes a symptom of the Shaman’s discomfort. There was an initial hint of fearful clutching in my chest, an old familiar pattern grinning and winking at me to return, but a gentle wave washed over me and swirled and lifted my heart up and away. The words “expect the best,” flowed through my lips from the secret places inside.

Through the years of equine schooling, blinders and binders have been dropping off onto the rutted pathways of traditional thought and habits that I’ve been abandoning for the unfamiliar but liberating trails ahead. I had been learning to ride that wave that came from somewhere in the unseen world that scooped me up like a mother lifting her child from danger, above those temptations to brace for the worst, and tenderly moved me to expect the best. Shaman Tal sometimes within minutes of that choice would do something playful or unusual, or otherwise reassuring that let me know he was doing well. And joy would waltz through my heart.

Today, my drill kicked in, tapping everything I’d learned over the past three years. Feeling like I was taking a serious university exam, I grabbed my tools—a sketch pad, charcoals and a stubby stool to sit on. I’d learned that shifts take place in both human and animal as I sketched.

I went to the Shaman and sat down to draw his large body…he’s a white and black paint. He welcomed me with a gleam in his eye, walked over and stopped with his large chiseled head towering over me. I looked up at him from underneath. A challenging position to draw, and from which to draw. He stood close and gently kissed me on my hair. I happily sketched.

When he moved away, I went to the tack room and gathered brushes to give him a good grooming. With the fluffy white sheddings from his coat piled around his hooves, he looked as though he were walking on clouds. Instantly I joined him. I looked back through the years at the numerous times his “symptoms” dramatically improved with a shift in my own perspective, or a simple inspired action that transported us to realms beyond the ordinary. We walked lightly on top of the clouds that had once hovered and suppressed.

I tossed the brushes back in the pail where they clunked as they fell against the metal sides, then headed back to the barn. When I returned minutes later, Shaman Tal stood head to head with Dollar as they screeched at each other in preparation for play. At that moment, a deep knowing that the Shaman was feeling good flowed through the cracks of any residual braces of concern for the Shaman’s wellbeing. My muscles released their tension. But, in his gracious ways with me, he had more reassurance to offer. A half an hour later in a serendipitous moment, I noticed that he and Dollar were munching hay together from the same flake of hay. These two horse who usually engage in a butt to butt kicking match over food!  I had my answer. In his soigne’ style, he had taken me more than once today to walk with him above the clouds. I knew that Shaman Tal would be okay. We were making him that way.

Links to more stories of physical healing:
Physical Healing  22 stories by Bev (at the bottom of last story on the page, click the obscure “previous entries” to continue)
Surrogate Messenger, Parts 1-5

The True Horse Whisperers

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When we hear of a horse whisperer, we often think of a human who is magically able to tame or otherwise change the behavior of a horse. The ultimate goal is to get the horse to do what the human wants.

I propose that the true whisperers are the very horses themselves. If we humans will listen, they are the ones who change our behavior if we allow, not for our purposes or theirs, but for mutual purpose, flowing in harmony and synchronicity.

It is time to stop dominating these beautiful beings, and to listen to the messages they bring to our soul. It is time to stop thinking that we are their saviors, but rather they are ours.  See About: An Introduction

And Who’s Being Pathetic? (on procrastination)

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I came around the corner of the barn, and there was Amoura with her tail up, pooping in the middle of her food pile. I gasped! She’d been caught in the act! I’d been noticing and complaining lately about finding poop on or near the horses’ hay. I’d thought it was Mariah who struts her stuff and makes her statements loud and clear. I always take it as a personal affront but with my herd it usually means that someone is “pooping” on me, or I, on myself. I just wasn’t figuring it out and was starting to become angry at the unnecessary clean up. And besides it was nighttime and very cold. My surplus of patience had been overdrawn.

I cleaned up after Amoura, then put out fresh piles of hay for the night. All the horses found their hay except Amoura and Kaheka who seemed to be waiting helplessly for me to do something like placing a pile at their feet. It seemed they were following me around and then standing pathetically. I was annoyed.

They were missing the opportunity to eat before the other horses beat them to it. There was an abundance of food on the other side of the fence just through the gate I kept telling them. An echo came back with a personal message to me, “There is an abundance for you on the other side of the fence just through the gate.” Interesting, I thought in a momentary flash, but because I didn’t know how to “get through the gate”, nor for that matter, did I know where to find “the gate”, I went back to my muttering and spewing.

In my frustration and anger, I said to these two renegades, and I’m not proud of this and I can’t believe I’m telling you, but I said, “You two are pathetic!” Immediately, without their batting an eye, I heard back, “Who’s being pathetic?…Helpless? Ignoring the abundance on the other side of the fence…within reach?!” The arrow hit right in the gap where I was undefended. That must have been Amoura. She doesn’t mince words.

I remembered that Amoura is one of two mares that continues to call me to the mystical. Over a year ago, she had stood beside me on a moonlit night much like tonight, and had given me a clear understanding of the spiritual significance of a new friendship in my life. In Amoura’s succinct, no nonsense manner, she had revealed the powerful spirit of this friend. I’d since lost contact. Amoura had come to me numerous times through the past year to remind me. Lately I’d been nudged to initiate but assumed it was just a fancy of mine and ignored it…until the “shit” starting hitting the horses’ dinner plates. I started scrambling to figure out why. This was the night for the revelation.

On my journey out of patterns of abuse, including self-inflicted abuse, I saw for the first time numerous areas where I had procrastinated because I didn’t trust my inner promptings. With a shift in perspective, I could see how procrastination interferes with flow in my life. I knew it was time to take the next step and initiate with this friend. There were also other inactions that were lined up at my doorstep that needed attention. I had been “pooping” on myself as the horses were mirroring to me, with my lack of trust and inaction on the inner guidance I had been faithfully given. Spontaneously with this awareness, my two beautiful horses who had kindly shown me that I was the one being pathetic, turned together on cue and walked away to their hay piles. They’d done their job and I was left to do mine!

On my way home, I was reminded of my recent inspired mantra, “expect the best.” When I drove in the driveway at home, there were 3 rabbits on the hillside playfully chasing each other. My heart leapt with the confirmation that I was back in the flow.

Since that night, and since taking care of the backlog of things on which I’d procrastinated, my life has been moving ahead with a flow of synchronicities. I’ve finally walked through the gate to find the abundance on the other side of the fence!