Sunday, May 27, 2018
[this post is dedicated to my parents. To my father who I inherited most of my adventurous spirit from and to my mother who in difficult times always reminded me to be who I am and never try to change myself to make other people more comfortable]
There was a massive convergence on this concept this weekend for me. It’s been building for me… over a lifetime but more intensely in the recent months and it seemed to erupt like a volcano that’s been building gradually and quietly under the earth for years.
I love looking at all the pieces that were orchestrated over about 2 days that pushed the realizations to the surface. One more piece of evidence for me that this isn’t random universal juju. I’m too scientific in my mind to accept those odds.
I’d once again turned down invitations to ride with friends on Friday to go solo and explore some new trails with Khaleesi. It’s something I’d been wanting to get to for months but needed a whole day’s time. Also it had to be alone. I wasn’t sure what I’d find, how long I’d be out, what the proposed trails would be like, and if things got ugly I prefer not to be responsible for bringing someone else into iffy conditions- I prefer to decide how to proceed with only myself and my horse in the equation as I know what we’re capable of.
The trails in question were a solid hour drive from my house and I was listening to Bob Goff as I drove. He asked the question
Who are you and what do you want?
He said if you can figure that out- and help other people see who they are, and even more importantly who they were becoming, then we’d all be a little better off.
The question – though I’d heard it before hit that tuning fork deep in my spirit.
The day was perfect- hot and humid, but no rain (which we’ve been overly blessed with this month), the sky was blue with floating white clouds and in the wooded trails were shaded. The mountain laurel was in bloom and the streams were flowing and serene.
I set out with my GPS and no plans until dinner at 8pm… I had the whole afternoon.
Khaleesi was in fine shape. She looked and felt fantastic. We were clicking along once again together in sync and right from the start she would ask to pick up a trot heading out with nice forward energy.
The trails were better than I’d expected.
Beautiful, clear, grassy and wooded, rolling hills, varied scenery… we trotted and cantered along finding new territory and marking tracks on my GPS to cobble together a more organized ride with friends once I found where they went and how they connected.
I kept going along a new trail for a few miles heading still generally away from the trailer. I’d marked some trails a couple years back that seemed likely to connect with and kept gambling as I rode on (loving what I was seeing) that the trail would turn or there would be an intersection taking me back.
At some point the time was running out and I had to decide. If I continued on much longer I was going to end up in the next town over… not the back at the trailer and home in time for dinner.
I could either go some miles back along the trails I’d already traveled… or cut into the woods and in only 1/2 mile hook up with a trail that appeared to connect to one I’d been on a couple years ago.
The day was wearing later than I was comfortable with… but once you get this far it’s hard to not find the information you waited a year to come for.
I decided to try for a cut through. I knew I’d gone farther than would get me back in time going the way I came.
The biggest gamble is on the terrain. If it’s not bad then I would be fine. If I hit rocks, cliffs or impeding brush growth I would lose the time off trail and still have to turn back all those trail miles anyway.
Khaleesi and I have developed a pretty advanced skill set for this type of adventure so I bet on us and my gps.
I looked for the closest spot to traverse and we left the trail.
Thankfully the woods in this area were open and and no rock veins as is more common closer to home. Bouldering with a horse is always a bad idea and one thing I’ve learned through experience to turn around from if at all possible.
The first section was easy to navigate and took us along a pretty ridge. Unfortunately where I needed to be was down in the hollow and it became more and more clear there was no good way to get down there.
I had considered the elevation lines on the gps before making the gamble and they did not appear to be this intense on the screen. The lines looked far enough apart to find a manageable path.
As the slope we were traveling got steeper I got off to walk. I risked putting K off balance and both of us sliding together down the side of the mini canyon. I also removed and carried her headstall- bit and was grateful for my rope trail halter and 10′ treeline lead.
Along the way I slipped and had to get up again numerous times but my faithful steed did not once stumble. I was slightly concerned especially at my ticking time clock, but not truly afraid. I did my best not to envision getting home well after dark after getting stuck in a detour or worse and only made the decision of where to go next. And then taking that step.
Finally at the end of the nose and still no good trail down I was looking into the ravine with the little stream and where my ‘trail’ should be. There was no turning back now. We were getting down there one way or other.
I started with some switchbacks hoping for something less steep. Soon it became apparent that we were both going to have to slide the last 20 feet down or so on our haunches. It was too steep for walking switchbacks and in the end falling sideways would be more hazardous than going straight. Thankfully there were few trees, no brush and no rocks which was best of possible conditions.
So I started first and stopped myself half way to encourage K to follow (slightly to the side so she wasn’t coming down on top of me). After asking her a couple times and her asking if I was sure, she began to come down. She fared better than I did. When she was almost to me I slid the last half (I only have 10′ of lead line) and she continued on down to pop onto the bottom of the ravine at the little stream.
I gave her a moment there to relax and drink. It had been a difficult 1/3 mile and she’d handled it like a mountain goat. I was grateful and proud. She is the perfect horse for me and I am blessed to have been able to build such a partnership together.
Not only that but her boots had stayed on the entire time and not caused her any slipping or tripping. Once again Scoot Boots get a win!
Now just to get back on my horse and hit the trail home…
I zig zagged around where the trail appeared on my gps and was disconcerted that I didn’t find a trail. This was not good news and my heart sank.
I’d gotten this far only to not find a trail and the woods were getting thicker.
Now my gamble was looking like a bad bet. The cell phone service is bad as well so my life began flashing before my eyes as a husband wouldn’t simply be annoyed at me for making us late to meet our friends (one of his pet peeves and thing he hates about me the most… how I cut things too close. Take chances…) but if I was late enough (and now I had no idea what was going to happen if I couldn’t find trail) and couldn’t get word to him… he was also going to be seriously worried about me which would make him more mad when I turned up unharmed.
Unsure if it was good news or bad I eventually found the trail so overgrown with trees and low branches it was almost impassable.
I crossed my fingers and lay down on the side of K’s neck and kept my eyes just ahead on the ground as I could and she began to willingly bulldoze through the mess of young limbs and pines. At one point getting a hind leg stuck in a grapevine that I was able to cut with my pruning shears from the saddle. I was grateful for my helmet and branches swept around me and my trusted steed took each step with definitive purpose.
Thankfully it wasn’t long until she busted out onto another trail that was clear enough for a 4 wheeler and I sang praises aloud as we began to pick up speed. I also had just enough service to get out a text message to my husband that I was running late due to a detour but all was fine. I still had hope to get back in time for dinner.
I was an hour off my intended schedule by the time we made it back to the trailer. I got home and was showered and dressed in 10 minutes to make us just a few minutes late to meet our friends. I apologized and took full responsibility but thankfully it hadn’t been a big deal anyway as we were all catching up with other friends that had also decided to meet up that night. We didn’t even get around to a table for 45 minutes after that.
As we chatted with different people a woman new to the area told me and a friend her story of a life where their family never stayed more than 2 years anywhere. She was looking for the ‘right place’ for her family and never seemed satisfied. Then they moved here and she wanted out of this strange little community as fast as possible. However she began to connect with a few key people and it changed her mind.
She said she came to the realization that this was the place she had been looking for and meeting me (weeklyas a teacher for her son) was one of the things that changed her mind.
They bought a house and have made the decision to finally put down roots so as her older children now almost ready to leave the home… now felt they might have a home to return to.
I’d had no idea I’d impacted her this way.
The next morning I sat in reflection.
Over time I’ve noticed that some people (friends… mentors… even my husband) seem to want to help me conform more to their ideal person of who I should be. I think it’s always done out of a sense of them helping me, but in the end it actually helps them be more comfortable with me.
I am sure I’ve done the same.
But something in me asked again
Who are you?
I looked back at the day before as my horse and I took on the ravine and the possibility of not finding a trail and having to make our way one step at a time through the unknown. Alone.
And there was such a definite answer that welled up from my spirit it was like I was being told…
You are fearless. You are bold. You love adventure. You are willing to take a risk. You are fully committed. Quick to ask forgiveness and quick to forgive. You are generous and brave. You love big. You are uncontainable and are growing to be even more.
A good friend used to describe me when he’d introduce me to people as a force.
A force can be good or… not so good. And without realizing it I’d spent a fair amount of time in recent years trying to just be less. Less of a force, less bold so I had less impact and could do less damage. It never felt very good. I don’t think I was successful either.
I’ve learned now the answer for me isn’t to be less but to be more: Love.
I was created to be this way. And to impact the world around me for the better. I have a purpose that I’m working on finding and then walking in each day and I can only be effective if I’m living fully in who I’m created to be.
Who am I and who am I becoming?
As Bob Goff writes… I hope I’m becoming love. Because if I’m big and bold and fully committed- I had better be all of that in love!
This realization also makes me more interested in helping others become who they are supposed to be. All unique. Not more like me. More like whoever they are created to be.
I hope you will consider this- if you already haven’t… and in a world where many want to help you look more like them- instead become more of the unique you that you were created to be too!
Who are you?
And now when I hear the advice some give- because they think they are helping. They want the best for me… to be more careful when I jump into things… or to be a little less bold… I’ll love them and give them a hug.
And I’ll slide down into the ravine and see if I can’t make a trail!