Horse Therapy

Yesterday, I told of how we rode our horses in the parades this past weekend.  Since the horses did so well with the crowd of people, all of the noise, and the traffic on the roads, we thought we would take them to the beach for a nice ride this past Sunday.

Our horses have never been to the beach before, so this was going to be a new experience for them and for us, too.  While we have ridden horses on the beach before, we have never ridden our horses so it makes a difference!  We would always go horseback riding on vacation, and the first and only time we had ridden on the beach was two years ago when we went to Myrtle Beach.  It was a nice experience, and we had a really good time.  We took lots of pictures on the beach, but there is just something about taking your own horse to the beach!

The excitement was building as we made our way a little over two hours from our home to the beach.  In our area, you can ride on the beach from December 1st through February 1st.  You have to obtain a permit at the park, but you can go back as many times as you’d like during that time frame with that one permit.

My husband is a bit nervous when it comes to new experiences with our horses.  I had full faith and confidence in them, though.

We arrived at the beach and began tacking up our horses for the ride.  My horse, Sugar, has proven that she is the type of horse that will go any where and do any thing. She is a really calm and laid back type of horse.  She prefers to walk slowly, but she can get on it if you ask her to do so.  I prefer long, leisurely strolls, too, so we are a perfect fit together.  On occasion, though, I do like to feel the wind in my face with my hair flying behind me as we gallop and play.beach2

When we first stepped onto the beach, the horses started looking around like they really were not sure what this white stuff was (sand) or why the water was coming at their hooves.  They extended their long necks out even further and looked around.  The seagulls were flying overhead singing their little tune, and they would land by the water’s edge looking out at the water.

My husband had to walk his horse for a while to get her used to the beach, but I managed to stay on my horse the entire time from start to finish.  This little girl really likes the sense of adventure, too!

Beach1

We encountered several people along the beach yesterday, and they would stop to speak to us and ask to pet our horses.  The most memorable for me was the couple that approached me asking if their autistic son could pet my horse, Sugar.  I did not hesitant one bit as I said, “Absolutely!”

She called her son over and told him to pet the horse.  She told me that she felt he needed this because horses soothe him.

He walked slowly over to the horse and raised his hand at first as if he might swat at her.  I was a tad nervous at this point as I did not want him to hurt my horse, but I had positioned my hand on the reins so that if he did go to swat, I could turn her head away hopefully in time before he made contact.  Thankfully, though, that was not even an issue as he raised his hand but slowly allowed it to rest on Sugar’s nose.  He smiled and made a sound to let us know that he was filled with delight as he continued to pet Sugar with slow, steady movements of his hand.  I smiled as I watched the exchange between them.  It really was a sweet moment and one that will live on in my memory for all times.  The mother thanked me as she and her son turned to walk away.

I have heard of several places that offer horse therapy because it is good for children with disabilities to be able to be near and with the horses.  I never knew that beach trip would allow a form of healing to take place that day, but God knew.  Before we ever set out on our trip, God knew that these precious people would be walking that very same beach that day.  I believe he orchestrated this event knowing that this little boy needed some healing that Sugar may offer or some calm for his soul that she may be able to provide like no other could that day.  I believe that we were meant to come into contact with them that day for him to be soothed by my beloved horse.

The beach is always a soothing and calming place for me, but it was even more so yesterday when I was riding on the beach with my best friend and partner; my horse, Sugar.

Beach6

My husband did get to ride his horse, Debbie, after she got used to the sights and sounds of the beach.  She spooked one time and actually jumped at her own shadow on the ground.  It was funny watching her do that, but I’m sure it wasn’t funny for my husband as it was happening.   Sugar was a trooper the entire time and even allowed me to ride her closer to the water’s edge.

beach3

We encountered another couple at the end of our trip as we approached the lighthouse. They had their phones out and were taking pictures and snapped a few of us on our horses.  I took that opportunity to ask if they would take some pictures of us with our phones and camera, too.  All day we were snapping pictures of each other but never had an opportunity for a picture together, until now!  The couple was more than happy to do this for us, and they began snapping away.  We were so appreciative of them and made sure to thank them several times for this gift that they gave to us that day.  They even remarked that the pictures were so good that they were Christmas card worthy.

Christmas Card

The sun was starting to set, so we decided to make our way back to our horse trailer to load up and head back home.  We had a fabulous day together under the vast sky soaking in the beauty of the ocean before us, watching the seagulls playing on the beach, and enjoying being one with nature and God above.beach4

If you find yourself consumed with different things in life that might be weighing you down, find some time to slip away to a beach near you.  If you don’t have a beach within driving distance, a pond, lake or any body of water will work as it is soothing just being near the water.  If that isn’t your thing, then slip off to the quiet stillness of the woods.  There’s nothing better than strolling through nature sorting through your thoughts or just deciding not to think on anything that day but, instead, to thank God for all of His many blessings in life as you enjoy His creations.

Life is good.  It truly is!  And it’s even better on the back of a horse!

Beach

 

Horse Christmas Adventures

This past weekend was full of experiences for us as a family, as well as our horses.

We just became a horse family in March of 2014.  There has been this longing in our hearts for horses all of these years, but for some reason, we had this idea in our heads that it was way too expensive to own horses.  All of this time, we pushed our desire to be horse owners to the back of our minds and focused on other things.  That longing never went away, though.  Finally, this year we decided to look into it a bit more, and we are so glad that we did.  Not only did we find that horses truly aren’t that expensive, we have come to realize that no matter the expense, you would gladly do for these horses that bring so much joy and happiness into your lives.

We truly had no idea just how much horses heal.

Sure, we knew that we loved horses and enjoyed watching them as they moved in such a fascinating manner displaying grace and power at the same time.  Little did we know how these massive creatures would make their way deep into our hearts where they now reside.  They aren’t just an “expensive hobby” as I’ve heard some uneducated people refer to them.  These gentle giants are a form of therapy!

We embarked on two journeys that were definitely out of our comfort zone this past weekend.  One was having the horses lined up in the Christmas parades in different towns.  Our entire family was delighted when we received the invitation to ride in the parades.  It would have been easy to allow fear to hold us back.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of what “might” happen.  You know, that all familiar “what if” syndrome that we all suffer from on different occasions.  Still, we decided not to cave into our fears and not to allow our fears to control us.  Instead, we forged ahead and dedicated Saturday as our parade day.

The morning began with getting up bright and early to round the horses up and get ready for the 10 a.m. parade.  We had to get up at 6 a.m. to get everything packed, horses loaded, etc.  Then we were on our way to wait in the line up an hour before the parade was to start.  There were horses all over the place at the first parade, and I’ll admit to feeling a little intimidated at first due to the size of some of those horses.  Then there were horses that really shouldn’t have been out there as they certainly didn’t appear to be tame enough to behave in a parade setting.  Still, the owners must have had more confidence than we all did as they had them ready to line up, too.  Needless to say, we let them go ahead of us so we could bring up the rear in the parade.  We had no problem whatsoever in being last.  Hey, in our minds, they saved the best for last!  Can you tell that we are extremely proud of our horses?

Parade4

Just as we felt a twinge of intimidation at the other horses initially, it is easy for us humans to feel intimidated by others.  Our horses may feel a bit insecure as well next to other massive creatures, or they can fit right in.  It all depends on the personality of the horses, just as it does on the personalities of humans.  However, take a shy horse and a rider that once felt insecure themselves and pair them together, and watch what happens!  They bond together and make a great partnership.  They know that they depend on each other and their confidence also bounces off of each other.  When the shy horse appears unsure, the insecure rider has to push that insecurity aside and take charge, holding her head up high and shoulders back with such confidence, even if she is faking it until she makes it at first.  Pretty soon, both horse and rider begin to heal each other.  The horse is no longer shy and timid in situations but forges ahead with such grace and confidence in each stride with their partner on their back.  Horse and rider become one, and it is beauty in motion.

We ended up having the best time in the parade!  My ten year old daughter was on her pinto pony in front of me with my husband walking alongside her just in case anything were to happen.

Parade

My 17 year old daughter was walking beside me with a bag of candy that she was tossing out to children that lined the streets.  I was sitting proudly on my horse, Sugar.  My husband joked that it wasn’t a beauty pageant or anything, it was a parade.  While that is true, I was allowing my Sugar girl to strut her stuff as I sat perched on her proudly waving and saying, “Merry Christmas” to the little children.  Oh it did my heart so much good when their little faces would light up because someone acknowledged them.  More people should acknowledge the little children and make them feel special, because they are!

Parade1

One particular thing that stood out in my mind from that first parade is the fact that among those lining the street were children with Down Syndrome.  They all gathered with the sweetest little faces, smiling as big as could be as they looked at us as we started to make our way by them.  My 17 year old daughter walked over and handed them a bunch of candy, and my heart melted right there seeing her being so sweet, kind, loving, and gentle to these children.  She told me later that while she was instructed to toss the candy at the people lining the streets, she could not bring herself to toss candy at the children with Down Syndrome.  I told her she did the right thing by taking it to them and placing it in their hands, looking them in the eyes and smiling softly to them.  I know that she made a difference in their lives that day, even in that brief moment in time.  She touched their hearts, and she touched mine in watching this exchange between them.

The horses that we once feared wouldn’t do that great in the parade actually surprised us all.  They were amazing as we made our way back through the crowded streets, this time unescorted by the police.  Not only were we unescorted, but the police did not even help us across the streets with our horses.  We were on our own at this point.  I’ll admit that I did feel a little anxiety rising up in my chest at the thought of crossing that busy intersection on horseback, but we had to get back to our trailer so this was the only way.  My 17 year old daughter decided she wanted to ride back so I got off of Sugar and let her get on while I walked alongside her this time.  I lead the way through the busy streets, doing hand signals when we were ready to turn, and then the moment came when we were approaching the busiest intersection of all.  Fear could have consumed me and crippled me at that point, but what good would that have done?  We would have been stuck in that congested area with frightened horses, then, as they feel exactly what we are feeling.  Instead, I held my head up high and took up my lane as if I owned it.  I stood right in the middle of the lane right next to other cars that were turning when we were wishing to go straight as soon as the light turned green.  And we walked across that busy intersection “like a boss,” as my daughter would say!  The traffic did not even phase the horses one little bit.  You know why?  Because the rider and handler were calm and undisturbed by the chaos, traffic, and congestion of that busy intersection.  Because we were confident, our horses were, too, and they did wonderfully that morning!

We went on to our second parade where we lined up an hour before the 3 p.m. parade was to start.  This was my favorite of the two that day.  We were positioned behind Santa once again, which was fine as we were bringing up the rear in this parade, too.  The ROTC and the marching bands were in front of Santa, and we got to hear the beautiful music being played.  When once nervous about this, our horses were outstanding once again as the music from the band never spooked them.  They remained calm, just as we were, and I think they enjoyed the parade as much as we did!

Parade5

There were children lining the streets for this parade, too.  Sugar wore a Santa hat in this parade, though, with me wearing a cowboy hat to match my husband and daughter.  The Santa hat on Sugar was a big hit with the children.  I smiled all the way down to my toes when I would see their little hands cover their mouths as they pointed, giggled and talked about Santa Horse.  People were snapping pictures as we waved and said, “Merry Christmas.”

parade2

All in all, it was a wonderful experience venturing out on these horse Christmas adventures with my family this past weekend!  There’s nothing better to get you in the Christmas spirit!

The Often Forgotten

There they are in wheelchairs lined in the hallways slumped over looking down at their hands.  Occasionally, they will lift their head to smile at whomever walks past, hoping to catch their eye and have them stop to chat for a moment.

People rush by in a hurry hardly acknowledging their existence, fearing to make eye contact with these individuals that were once vital people in the community.  Now they are the often forgotten ones in nursing homes around the nation.  Whether they served our country by fighting in a war, or they served meals to their family day in and day out, they were the hands and feet going, doing, and giving at some point in their life.  Now they spend the rest of their days in this nursing home either bedridden or confined to their wheelchairs, looking at the same four walls day in and day out hoping someone, anyone would take up some time with them.

Through the years, I have visited with the residences of different nursing homes.  As a small child, I remember walking the halls with my grandmother as she would take us to see my great grandmother on certain Sundays of the month.  I hated seeing the people like that.  I would get so sad as we walked down the hall passing the rooms with the doors cracked where you could see right in at the once vital souls now alone in their rooms.  And then we would walk into my great grandma’s room where she would lay due to recovering from a broken hip from a fall.  She looked so small in that hospital bed that looked like it was about to swallow her whole.  We would walk slowly toward her to stand by her bedside, and within a few minutes she would sense that we were there and turn to give us the biggest, widest, most sincere smile as she tried to speak.

Her speech was broken now, and although she tried with all of her might to get the words out, half of it was audible.  Oh how it tugged at my heart to see her in this shape.  Yet, we would visit and bring a little bit of sunshine with us each time into my great grandmother’s life.

Fast forward many years later, I joined a gospel group where we would go around to the different nursing homes to sing.  Oh, I never forgot the way it felt when I’d go see my great grandma, and I remembered her each and every time I’d walk down the halls.  I can still see her smiling face today even though she’s been gone for years.

A few years ago, I went to work at a nursing home.  I would pass these precious people in the hallway every morning on my way to clock in and would once again feel the tug on my heart for these individuals.  Some would not have any visitors, while others had a multitude in and out throughout the week.  I would speak, and the all familiar smile would spread across their faces to know that someone took the time to acknowledge them.  They felt in that moment that they mattered again … because they did, and they still do.

As you’re gathering around with your friends and family this holiday season, would you consider going to visit those at the nursing home?  Maybe there’s someone in your family that you need to visit, or perhaps it’s someone that used to go to your church that would like a visit now.  Even strangers need to feel loved, and what better time to show that love and care than at Christmas?

Oh I know what you’re thinking.  You just can’t handle going in there and seeing them in this shape.  While it is not often pleasant, it can be the biggest blessing that your heart will receive if you just take the time with the often forgotten souls that now line the halls of the nursing home.

I’ll never forget when I sang with the gospel group and how this one little lady blessed my heart and soul so much.  When we started singing the old hymns that she grew up on, this little lady, sitting in her wheelchair so eloquently dressed with her jewelry, scarf, and wrapped up nicely in her Sunday best, started singing so sweetly and as loudly as her little voice would allow.  I watched this little lady come alive.  When she once sat quietly in the corner, she blossomed when the beautiful piano music floated through the air and tickled her ears.  When we began to sing those old familiar tunes, a wide smile formed across her lips and she perked right up, eyebrows raised, as she lifted her voice in song with us. I even took the microphone over to her at one point to give her a moment in the spotlight.  She was a blessing to me that day for sure, and each time we’d go back, I looked for this sweet little lady.

If you’re not sure how to go about scheduling a visit, call your local nursing home to speak to the activities director.  They will schedule a time and allow you to bring in instruments or even gifts for the residence, if that is your wish.

You can make a difference in someone’s life.

Give The Gift of Time

Christmas will be here in a few short days.  If you’ve been searching high and low for the perfect present, we hope you’ll realize that it just cannot be found in the store.  You cannot purchase it, but it is a gift that will be treasured long after the decorations have been boxed back up and stored away until next year.

What is this I speak of?  It is the gift of time.

Everyone is so busy in the world today.  They are pulled this way and that way, and everything crowds in around them.  Is it any wonder that people feel so stressed in general, but especially around the holidays?

What if we all just slowed down?

What is the harm in that?

Why do you have to go more, do more, or be more?  Why can’t you just be still?

The bible tells us to be still and know that He is God.  Do we need anyone else’s approval or permission to just be still?  It’s right there in God’s word.

If we’re troubled, just be still and know that He is God.

If we’re stressed, just be still and know that He is God.

If we feel like there is no end in sight and no way to overcome the pain in our lives, just be still and know that HE is God!

And, what better time to be still with the ones that you love than at Christmas?

Slow things down a little this holiday season and give the gift of time!

Why rush through your days trying to get everything done when you’re already stressed to the max?  Guess what?  You don’t have to!

No one is putting pressure on you to be perfect or get it “just” right or even to have your house perfectly decorated like pictures in the Better Homes & Garden Magazine.  No one is pressuring you to cook like Betty Crocker or Paula Dean.  Just do the best that you can.

Don’t let this holiday season pass with you always being in a tizzy and falling into bed exhausted at night just to do it all over again in the morning.  Slow down and allow yourself to enjoy this very special season with your family.

That’s what it’s all about!  Family time!!

Stop long enough to play with your children.  The added decorations don’t matter.  No more lights need to be strung around your house.  No more decorations need to be added inside either.  Take time now to snuggle with your family in front of the fireplace.  Turn the lights down, put on a few scented candles, and enjoy the lights on the tree as you have hot chocolate and read Christmas stories or watch them on television.  OR better yet, gather around to sing Christmas songs!

The month of December is flying by, and Christmas will come and go so fast it will make you wonder where all the time you thought you had has gone.  Before you know it, you’ll be tearing down that Christmas tree and packing everything away only to sigh heavily and wonder what happened to YOUR happy holiday.

Don’t let this happen to you and your family.  Make time for them.  They are all that truly matters any way.  It’s not about presents under the tree.  It’s about the presence of God in your life and the presence of your family within arm’s reach to give them a snuggle, a hug, or a jab in the rib as you tickle them playfully or let them ride on your back like a horsey.

Take time.

You’re making memories and leaving a legacy.

 

Judgments and Opinions

Another observation of late is that any time I have opened up and poured out the content of my heart and soul, it leaves me wide open for harsh judgments and opinions.  There are certainly a lot of opinionated and judgmental remarks from people that claim to know how to run my life, family, etc. better than I.  But, I could do without those.

For me, when someone comes to me to share what is on their hearts, I try really hard to listen with an open mind and to speak from my heart offering words of love.  Generally, I am not a judgmental person and try hard to reserve my opinion and advice unless they are requested.

There are also “holier than thou” people out there that look down their noses at me.  Why?  I’m doing the best that I can.  Life hasn’t always been easy, but I have made the best of some very bad situations that I’ve been forced to deal with and live through.  I’m still here.  I’m alive, although some times I feel beaten and battered.  God still has a purpose for me and for my life, and that is why He woke me up this morning to a brand new day.

This is where I love to add that when I once looked for outside approval, none is needed now.  NONE.  You know why?  Because I am already approved by God above, and that my friends is worth more to me than all the gold and silver in the world.

I don’t need to compete with anyone.  I hope we all win and succeed in life!

Instead of bragging about what all you have and your accomplishments as if you think you’re better than others, why not try to be a better person with more compassion in your heart?  It isn’t about how many degrees you have or how many initials you have behind your name.  It isn’t how far you’ve climbed up the corporate ladder (or who you stepped on along the way to get there), and it certainly isn’t about the square footage of your house or the material possessions you own.   Does any of this make you a better person?  Do you go above and beyond to help your fellow man?  And what if you lost your job, your house, and all of your worldly possessions?   What then?  Your wealth comes from the love you have in your heart, which you freely give away to those in need.  That is the true measure of a man or woman.  Just how much do you reach out to others to help?  Do you ever reach out your hand to pick someone up that has fallen down on their road in life?

I don’t need to be torn apart by people’s judgmental remarks or cutting comments.  Yet, people love to launch hurtful words at you.

People with failing marriages or divorced people will be the first to pick your marriage apart.  They wait until you say one thing to indicate that there might be a problem, and they jump all over your spouse, beating them to death over one little mistake as if THEY never made any in their lifetime.  For me, though, I try to be encouraging.  If there is a small glimmer of hope in the words that they speak, I will, instead, focus on that and draw more attention to the good in the situation no matter how bad they may be feeling at that point in time.  Yes, everyone has their moments when things get to them, and they have every right to speak their mind to get it off of their chests.  Just be there to listen.  Do NOT add fuel to their already blazing inferno.  It only makes them feel worse.  Why do that to people?

Ask yourself if people are better after they leave you than before they came to you.  Honestly, search yourself and be truthful when you answer.  If someone comes to you heavy burdened and suffering tremendously, just feeling so beat up by things that have happened in their lives, do you offer any words of encouragement, or do you jump on the bandwagon beating them over the head with past mistakes?  If they confide in you something that happened with their spouse that may be troubling you, do you try to console them or just listen and offer a hug?  Or do you rip that spouse to shreds with your words, tossing daggers into this person’s already beat up, bruised, and bleeding heart?

Your words are very powerful.  They can lift someone out of the pits of despair, or they can be the last heaping of dirt that is shoveled onto their grave.

Choose wisely the words that come out of your mouth in all situations.  Once spoken, they cannot be taken back.  Those words that you speak will linger and will haunt for days, weeks, even years after they’ve long been forgotten by you.  The person on the receiving end will not be so quick to dismiss what happened as you’ve been.

Guard your tongue and speak life into people.  Be the light in the darkness that they are feeling.  Lift them up by your words of encouragement instead of tearing at them when they already feel battered.

Crush the judgmental remarks and snide comments.  Keep your harsh opinions to yourself.

Be a light in this dark world.

One More Day

Today is my sister’s birthday.  She should be here for us to gather around with birthday cake and balloons in hand as we burst into song singing, “Happy Birthday To You …”

But alas, she is celebrating with Jesus again this year, just as she has for the past 13 years.

This time of year is hard for so many, my family included, because while we should be happy and full of cheer, there is a very important member of our family that is missing.

Growing up, my sister and I were NOT the best of friends.  We fought like all siblings do, and we were at odds with each other more times than I care to remember.  It was even worse in the teenage years for some reason.  But, something miraculous happened when we grew into adults.  A friendship formed between us unlike any I’ve ever known before … or since.

We would have lunch together almost every work day.  She would call me up and ask, “Little or big?” and instantly I knew she was referring to whether we wanted to have a little lunch which would consist of fast food or a big sit down type of a lunch.

When we weren’t having lunch during the work week, we were at each other’s houses on the weekends hanging out together.  Or, we went shopping!

She teased me unmercifully in our childhood, and while we had become the best of friends as adults, the teasing continued.  The only difference now is that this time it was playful kidding instead of children just being mean to each other as they tend to do.  She often teased me about my “hooker red lipstick.”  She wasn’t a makeup type person at all.  She preferred to go all natural.  Me, on the other hand, I have liked makeup from a very early age.  And so, she teased me every time she would see me smear it on or show up for lunch with it freshly applied.  Yep, me and my hooker red lipstick!

I miss her teasing me.  I miss her calling me names and sticking her foot just inside my door to aggravate me in my childhood.  I would yell, “Get out of my room!” and she would stick her toe just outside the door into the hallway with the biggest grin on her face as she announced, “I’m not IN your room.”  Then she would proceed to take her toe and put it just inside my room and then quickly remove it while chanting, “I’m in … I’m out … I’m in … I’m out …” tormenting me to no end!

Yes.  I miss that.

I miss her not letting me play with her favorite Barbie doll.  I even miss her not letting me borrow her camera even though she was not using it, and it sat idle.

Why do I miss these things?

Because … they are childhood memories connected to my sister, and I don’t want to lose a single one of those memories.

I miss her and wish that I could have just one more day with her.

I’ll leave you with the words of a Diamond Rio song that is close to my heart.  Once you read through or listen to it with the lyrics on Youtube, you’ll understand why.

Last night I had a crazy dream
A wish was granted just for me, it could be for any thing
I didn’t ask for money or a mansion in Malibu
I simply wished for one more day with you

One more day, one more time
One more sunset, maybe I’d be satisfied
But then again, I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still for one more day with you

First thing I’d do is pray for time to crawl
I’d unplug the telephone and keep the TV off
I’d hold you every second, say a million I love you’s
That’s what I’d do with one more day with you

One more day, one more time
One more sunset maybe I’d be satisfied
But then again I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still for one more day with you

One more day, one more time
One more sunset maybe I’d be satisfied
But then again I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still for one more day
With you.

Happy birthday in Heaven, Pamela.  I love you.  Always & Forever.

 

 

Loved? As In Past Tense?

Here’s a little pet peeve of mine:  When someone says “I loved him/her” after someone has passed away.  Loved?  As in past tense?

But … why?

I understand that the individual they are speaking of is not here on this earth any longer, but to phrase it in such a way right after the person’s passing just seems cold to me.

For me, there is no “loved.”  When I love a person, it is forever.  Whether they are here on this earth or gone to be with our Heavenly Father above.  I refuse to refer to it in the past tense because my love did not stop for this individual the day they passed away.  When I love, it is for all eternity.

I have just been sitting here thinking about this again.  It has bothered me in the past, but even more so now.  One of my dear friends passed away in November.  I still love her very much and always will.  My sister passed away 13 years ago.  I still love her, too, ’til the stars fall into the sea!  My love is for all eternity.

While the person may pass away, love will live on in our hearts.  There is no end to love that is true and real.  It lives on.

That’s my two cents.

 

An Open Book? Not So Fast!

Once upon a time I was an open book.  My friends and family didn’t have to ask about the details of my life because I would freely share with them.  I had no secrets so why not share and share alike, right?  Wrong.  It often became one sided with me sharing and them not giving any details at all about their lives.

I don’t like one sided relationships … at all.

When there isn’t anything coming from the other party, I have nothing to talk about where they are concerned.  The only thing I know to talk about is my stuff.

That gets old … fast.

So, an open book now?  Not so fast!  Not any more!

If a person truly wants to carry on a conversation with me, they will share about their life, their dreams, their goals, even their work day and their family.  I wouldn’t care if they talked endlessly about their dog or cat, as I’ve been known to go on and on about my horses.  Just so long as they were engaged in the conversation.

Even if they feel like they don’t have anything of worth or value to add, maybe I would feel differently … and I do!

I believe I read this in one of Dr. Gary Chapman’s books or articles, but it was suggested that at the end of the day a couple should reconnect and share at least three things that happened during the course of their day when they’ve been apart.  Each person needed to share three things … not just one person.  Again, there’s that one sided conversation and relationship again which I now avoid!

This doesn’t just apply for couples in a relationship but could be for friends, too.

I can understand that some people want to hold certain things back, and that is fine.  I am in total agreement, but when the conversation is mainly me talking, me sharing, and me asking questions to get things going … it just becomes too draining for me.

I  feel as if the person truly doesn’t want to talk or share or anything … because they don’t!

When once uncomfortable silence made me nervous, I just allow silence to fill the air.  Whether we’re in person, on the phone, or even in emails or private messages.  While I appreciate someone sending me a “Hi, how are you …”  … “hope you’re having a good day …” message, where is the meat in the conversation?

Small talk makes me uncomfortable.  There, I said it.

I’m not one that mingles well at parties either.  I just don’t do small talk well at all.  I guess I would be more of a wallflower because I would tend to stay to myself.  BUT, put me in a situation where there is deep conversation, and I will talk and listen for hours on end … and have.  (My husband and I once talked for ten hours straight when we were dating, no kidding!)

So, to my friends:  If I am more quieter than usual, now you know why.  If you want to have a conversation, it is going to take two participants, not just me.

I will reserve parts of my life and not be so much of an open book any longer.  I have nothing to hide, but if people want details, they will have to share theirs as well and not just idle conversation.

That’s where I am today.

 

Is Anger Ruining Your Ride?

Here is something that most people shy away from and find difficult to talk about:  ANGER.

To say you haven’t ever let anger get the best of you is a lie. I know for me I have certainly had my fair share of getting angry. Growing up, I remember Bruce Banner as The Incredible Hulk saying, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”  Maybe, just maybe, I watched it a little too much.

One thing we have learned from having five horses is the fact that they can sense and feel your emotions and will respond according to how you are feeling.  When you get angry, your physiological energy negatively changes which can resonate and communicate to your horse and can also parallel in your human relationships.

Anger is a very normal, God given human emotion.  Everyone gets angry.  Even Jesus got angry in the bible.  However, the bible says not to sin in your anger.  The way you express your anger determines whether or not it becomes  a sin.

Psalm 4:4 “In your anger do not sin.”

I personally experienced this recently while trying to unload and load our registered paint horse, Arizona.  She is a very beautiful, strong, smart and stout horse.Arizona

 

Trouble began several months ago after we rode and headed home with the horses in our trailer with Arizona and my wife’s horse, Sugar.  Just as we got near our home, a thunderstorm blew over our house.  I reluctantly made the wrong decision to unload the horses in pouring down rain while lightning was popping around us.

Did I mention this was a dumb idea?!

Upon backing Arizona out of the trailer, she bolted backwards pulling the lead rope out of my hand as she became very upset and scared.  I did the best that I could with gritted teeth to get her in the pasture only after letting her know how upset I was by cursing and fuming at her.  We both had a very bad experience.  Ever since then we have had trouble loading her onto our trailer.  If we were lucky enough to convince her to step into the trailer, seconds later she would throw it in reverse and back out as fast as she possibly could.   We could not figure out why she was doing this at first.  Then we realized it was all stemming from the earlier incident with the storm as well as my behavior toward her and the emotions I was feeling that transferred to her.

Considering that we were getting no where with her and my emotions were getting the best of me at times, we had to ask our farrier for assistance when he visited.  Not only does he trim the horse’s hooves, but he is also a good horseman with a lot of experience handling horses.  He helped me as well as Arizona by his calm nature in leading her onto the trailer and working with her with such patience.  This helped build a level of trust, and he was able to help her calmly move backwards one step at a time, instead of taking off, just by his calm demeanor.

As I learned the hard way, strong emotions can cause a negative effect on our equine relationships as they do with human relationships as well.  We, as humans, all have the ability to control or regulate our emotions.  Is it hard at times?  Absolutely!   Humans and horses are both driven by the fight or flight defense.  Not being in control can intensify and set off your horse’s response.  They can become anxious and afraid because they can pick up on your energy.

Whether you’re dealing with horses or humans, one way to maintain self control is to recognize or detect when you start to feel the tension in your body.  Does your heart race?  Does your breathing quicken?

Try counting to ten, or better yet, use this time to pray.  Imagine or visualize yourself in your happy place.  For my wife and myself, this is often on the backs of our horses trail riding together.

After you become aware of your emotions and how your anger is elevating, think of what is happening to your body and to those around you.  Be proactive in asking yourself what your expectations are, what are your fears, and if you fear that you are losing control or are afraid of being hurt.  Find the root cause of your anger and deal with that within yourself instead of lashing out at those around you.  Whether it’s your equine friend, a family member, your spouse, or a random person on the street.

Something happened a few months back when I allowed my anger to get the best of me.  I wish I could go back and change the outcome of the situation.  Since I cannot, I have decided to learn from this experience.  It taught me a valuable lesson.  I lost control of my anger at one point and hurt quite a few people in the process.  I gave my power away that night the instant that I let my anger control me and my actions.  I regret that this happened and am certainly not proud of myself at all; however, instead of living in condemnation, I have chosen to take control of my emotions and not let them control me any longer.  Is this always easy?  NO way!  Is it worth it?  You better believe it!

I would like to ask you to take a good long look at yourself as I have had to do.  Is anger ruining your ride?  There’s no way for me to have a good ride with Arizona right now if we plan on trail riding other than at our house.  Until we rectify the situation with her loading and unloading properly, my ride with her off site has been ruined because of the events of that day.  Even if you are not a horse person, anger can still ruin your life in other ways.  Will you be honest with yourself and look back on situations as I have had to do to use them as growing experiences?  What are some ways that you can say no to anger and maintain your self control, especially when something or someone sets you off?  How can you not give away your power and instead work on improving all of your relationships?

Join us weekly for real talk from a man’s perspective on hard topics that need to be addressed. Men Struggling But Recovering.

Enjoy The Ride

Pondering Christmas

I have been pondering Christmas for a number of reasons.  I guess as I’ve grown older, Christmas does not mean what it once did.  When there was so much fuss over presents and what material items were on our “wish lists,” we have grown to realize that no amount of money spent could come close to comparing to quality time with our loved ones.  It’s not about the material possession that we stand to gain as we gather around the tree anticipating what’s in the boxes underneath the red and green wrapping paper complete with bright shiny bows.  It’s what is inside of our hearts and in our arms that matter most.  If we have unconditional love tucked inside our hearts and the ones that mean the most to us held within our arms, what more could we possibly want or need?

Do we purposely stop to consider what Christmas is all about any way?  We should.  It isn’t about the presents under the tree at all, or at least it shouldn’t be!  The focus should be on Jesus who came into this world as a little tiny baby.  This little one came to save the world!  If we only believe in Him and ask Him into our hearts … why does that seem so hard for so many people when it really is quite simple?

Christmas morning

 

At this time of year everyone seems so much nicer.  They have a smile on their faces and seem more cheerful than they have all year long.  It seems to be the magic in the air around Christmastime, and all of this has gotten me to thinking …

What if it were Christmas all year?

Why can’t it be?

I don’t wish to take away from this special time of year at all.  However, if you think about how everyone is showing more concern, care, and compassion for their fellow man at this time of year, I can’t help but ask:  Why can’t we move that into every day of the year?  Why do we save it for just a month out of the entire year?  When there is so much love inside of your heart, why not share it more often?

If you stop to be kind and considerate to strangers during the month of December because you’re in the spirit of the holidays, why not carry that over to the other 11 months of the year?

If you put priority on helping to feed the homeless and the less fortunate during the last month of the year, are you not concerned about those same individuals as the calendar flips to a new year?

If you strive to help places such as the Women’s Shelter provide clothing for the abused and neglected women and children that now call this place their “home,”  do you not think of them at any other time of the year?  Why now?  Why not more often?  Their struggles are real 365 days a year, not just for one that marks the 25th day of December.

Am I the only one that feels this way?  Or do you feel it, too?  You … there … the one reading this.  Is it resonating with you as well?  What can we as the human race do to help more people, to reach more souls in need on just more than one calendar day a year?

Oh how I wish it could be Christmas all year.