• vslachman

Showing Up

Dorian has just been cleared by Dr. Olivia to resume his normal routine after getting kicked in the stifle that was so injured last winter and again going through rehab. This was pretty short-lived I'm grateful to say, just a few weeks rather than 4 1/2 months.

Still, the swelling was impressive, right at first . . . :(

And I've been dealing with a lot on my own, as we all are enduring this pandemic and the political turmoil our country seems loathe to let go of, or remedy. The overload has sometimes seemed too much to handle.

I've been practicing tuning into what I really desire, something I truly want for myself--creating a life I love. How many of us have ever taken the time to ask what we genuinely desire, or what a life we love might look like? I know it's been a revelatory experience for me!

“To find yourself, think for yourself.” Socrates

It demands we "show up" as our authentic selves. You can't find out what you really want if you're not inhabiting your genuine identity.

Dorian always "Shows up."

"Show up." I've been hearing that phrase a lot: "How are you showing up?" . . . It presupposes you can also "not show up," which I take to mean not be authentically present. I get that. We all have moments where we choose not to be our true selves in a situation, and sometimes that's wise. "Code switching" is functional. We fit in. W'e're listened to. But not showing up because we think we "can't" is something I've lately become aware of--and am joyfully letting go of!

What about our horses? They always "show up." Horses never lie, or hide, or pretend to be someone they're not.

Case in point . . . the chiropractor noticed that Dorian holds trauma and difficult experiences along his back in the muscles--an area about 5" long on either side of his spine. I've worked on those with him, probing them with my fingers. His muscles tense and ripples ride down his spine a short way. I breathe deeply, sending him positive, happy images, murmuring to him that he can let go of the memory. He then sighs, licks and chews and the muscles relax.

When I fetched him from the paddock, Dorian and a very dressed Simon were sleeping in the sun. REALLY relaxed!

We worked through the weird experiences I've spoken about elsewhere, but periodically his muscles there are still painful and tense. I began picking up very old memories, images from the racetrack. Today I worked on those with him.

At one point I began talking to him about letting go, about trust, and just allowing all those old memories to float away. They're behind him, after all . . . I moved to his eye, and he looked deeply at me, still holding the tension until I realized I couldn't just ask him to do this--I had to let go, too. I had to trust, release, allow, be open . . . . be present.

There's a thread that runs through these blog posts--the idea of vulnerability. Brene Brown speaks about it as a salient characteristic of courage. Angel Kyodo Williams, a Zen priest and Buddhist teacher, also speaks of it in relationship to our society being willing to confront the challenges we face, and embrace the humanity in each one of us.

I've been struggling with this for a few months now. I'm mustering the courage to take some new steps, set some new ambitious and truly-desired goals and guess what happens? Resistance comes up. For Dorian, he holds that along his spine. For me, there's a lot of body stuff, too, but also messages-- "You can't do this." "Don't be ridiculous." "It's rather late in the game to think that could happen, isn't it?" The list goes on, nearly endlessly. And I know we all have our own "lists" and unwanted mental messages.

So what's my "go to" when I have a goal? What did I start out doing? I do what I always do . . . I work hard. I work hard ALL the time. And it leaves me exhausted and depleted.

"When we relax, too, we will see a reflection of our psyches in the horses’ behavior. . ." .Patricia Elliott Rothchild

A friend recently said to me "It's no wonder you have an ex-racehorse--both of you are used to doing your job. Work, work, work . . . you both are devoted to work."

But this time, there's a larger lesson for me, because working . . . is not working.

And so I'm making myself be open to a new way. In the same way I'm asking Dorian to be open, to allow, to let go . . . I'm committing to that, too. What we call "feminine" action, after all, is still action. Being open, allowing, trusting . . . being vulnerable . . . being willing to receive. That last one, how many of us truly allow ourselves to receive the gifts all around us?

Gifts . . . Dorian, alfalfa for next winter, a greening world under a blue sky.

So today, once I said "Yes" to that deep question in Dorian's eye, and to my own need to let go, I found myself inhaling a deep, long, filling-myself-up breath and then just letting it all go. Allowing myself to step forward into a new universe where nothing but possibilities exist. "Showing up" as a very reluctant (in some ways) yet very willing, vulnerable human.

And guess who else "Showed up" and let go? Dorian, my sweet guide in so much of this, sighed and slowly lowered his head and nuzzled me.

Dorian--who was never affectionate--has become such a nuzzler. :)

It's a journey. I don't pretend Dorian and I got there completely today. But we both took a step forward, and we took it together.

And then we went out for a calm, serene ride in the cool and brightening early fall day.

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