Monthly Archives: March 2013

Horses Make Great Counselors!

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A few years ago I took a personal retreat for the weekend to rest and write. I spent it in a cabin near a lake where horses were grazing.

I sat on the porch one afternoon to sing. I got carried away and closed my eyes for a while. When I opened them, several horses were gathered in a semicircle around me in rapt attention. I was completely caught off guard. I felt we’d somehow traversed an unspoken animal-human barrier and that, if they had begun asking me intelligible questions at that moment, it would not have been as shocking then as it may have been in a different setting.

Feeling strangely self-conscious, I thanked them for coming and politely excused myself, shuffling back inside the cabin. From a window I watched as the horses slowly returned to grazing as if nothing had happened. The magic faded.

Linda Kohanov, an equine trainer, rider, lecturer and writer, believes that horses have complex abilities to sense and mirror emotion and help assist humans in better understanding their own.

Recently, I joined a group of local therapists at Rock Bluff Stables atop Lookout Mountain to participate in an equine therapy session. Led by Georgianna Pollock and Erin Rayburn, this form of equine therapy is used all over the world for emotional growth and learning. Both these women are passionate about horses and have worked with them since childhood. They believe horses are amazing creatures.

“They are incredibly intuitive and aware of their surroundings,” Rayburn states. “Often they mirror the dynamic of a group of humans or an individual. You can’t lie to a horse. They meet you exactly where you are in that moment.”

According to Rayburn, equine therapy “is an experiential process … participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with horses. [Afterward] they discuss their thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and patterns. It’s effective because of the dynamic interplay between horses and humans that requires developing life skills such as nonverbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem-solving, leadership, responsibility, teamwork and attitude. This often then leads individuals, families, and groups to more confidence in the ability to apply these life skills to their lives and relationships.”

Our group first spent time meeting the horses in the field. We were then invited into the barn to try to move a horse around the corral without touching it. In our discussion that followed, I wondered if I was bothering the horses during this exercise.

The short exercise shed unexpected light on one of my tendencies that sometimes makes me feel a little uncertain in my social interactions with people. The awareness that animals can help us grow as humans is a concept that has many benefits. Perhaps the next time I find myself surrounded by curious four-hoofed creatures, I’ll stick around a little longer.

(From a recent column I wrote in the Times Free-Press. Band of Horses Photo is by NPS.)

(To experience this for yourselves, contact Erin Rayburn today at Rock Bluff Stables. You will love it!)

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My Life Coaching Session

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I have wanted to write books for years. After graduate school I moved to Atlanta to start my professional life. After a harrowing job as a DCS investigator in one of the most dangerous areas of ATL, I was bedraggled and ready to make a drastic change. My brother suggested I head home to find work. My co-workers sent me off with lunch and a pearl white pen that I still have. They knew I wanted to write books, so this was their way of celebrating my dream.

I came back to Chattanooga and found it to have gone through an amazing transformation since my high school days. I settled in,got a job, bought a condo, and began writing a column. Twelve years later, I still have lots of book ideas, but the problem is they haven’t been birthed yet. A friend suggested I have coaching session  with a successful writer to help me get on track.

This Friday I met with well-known author and speaker Jan Silvious. As I sat in her posh, tastefully decorated office listening to her give wisdom in her straightforward yet witty way, I thought, No more stalling, its time to get on with it!  She challenged me to decide what I really wanted in most areas of my life, then to remove the clutter that is preventing me from moving toward the realization of my dreams and goals.

We chatted about everything from my love life to book ideas to whether or not I make my bed in the mornings.

When I grow up, I want to be a lot like her!slide-1Thanks Jan!

A Fabulous Weekend…

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Where have my physical and metaphorical feet traveled this week?

Friday’s Friends

Last Friday I wrote my first entry for this blog while sitting in a health food store with my web designer, Debra, who opened the page and said, “Write something…now.” I was reluctant, but I did, on the spot. I remember that I was in a rubby, huggy mood that day. It comes upon me suddenly, when I just feel such affection for people around me. I kept rubbing Debra’s back during our meeting, apologizing and laughing.

After that, I met with a couple other friends from work over tacos, and hosted another girl gathering at my house later that night. I went to bed tired and smiling.

Saturday’s Socials

On Saturday I visited a festival on Glass St, a dilapidated thoroughfare that was being rehabilitated. I felt alive and happy, ate fried Oreos with a friend, enjoyed the artscaping, friendly smiles, and new businesses. I had my hands scrubbed with Ylang ylang scented salts and talked to a preacher who was yelling out, “I need white people without dogs to come to my church!” Some white bystanders with  large dogs laughed their appreciation of his humor.

Later that night I attended a dinner at a friend’s home with 21 other people. Believe it or not, we all sat down. My friend is of the Baha’i faith, and apparently it was a holiday of sorts. The house was gorgeous, with high ceilings, an open floor plan with a two-way fireplace in the middle, and interesting décor. A man sang and played a guitar and told us a little about his spiritual journey. I enjoyed it.

Sunday’s Reflections

I was pleasantly surprised by church on Sunday. Sometimes I get sidetracked by things said or done that I don’t quite agree with. Last Sunday was deeply satisfying, however, like a good meal. From the worship, to the sermon, to the after church fundraisder meal with great conversation and fellowship, to the women’s meeting that closed out the evening—the whole day was a special treat. I learned for the first time what “manifold” meant (multi-colored, multi-dimensional.) The reflection of God’s wisdom being described in this way opened up all sorts of possibilities in my mind.

Ahhh…what happy feet…