I used to think that I knew everything there was to know about training horses and that I was well on my way to becoming "the" trainer that people would rave about and want to bring their horses to for training.
Little did I know at the time (I am using this phrase both metaphorically and very literally!) that my very narrow and limited thinking of myself was the very thing that would present me with one of my greatest challenges and lead me to surrendering to the fact that the more I learn, the more there is to learn...and that by sharing what I have learned along the way is of greater service to others than trying to be the one who knows it all :)
My willingness to listen, to be open, to be vulnerable, to be willing to receive had all essentially shut down within me because I had something to prove! Heralded into my experience at the time came loss after loss of those things that meant the most to me in life - my connection with my horses and the life of a number of my horses. These were given to me in ways that I could not avoid the experience of; from having foals born who were unable to stand or to nurse because of deformities, from losing horses to colic, accidents, and dying during the birthing process, to having those who were alive simply chose to turn and walk the other direction when I came out to them.
The loss of my connection to my horses was essentially a loss of my connection to who I was as a soul. I had become who I thought people wanted, I had become someone who I no longer liked. At all. And it took the devastating loss of my horses to crack open my heart to help remind me who I was at the core of my being. That I didn't need to have all the answers. That I really didn't need to have any of the answers. I just needed to listen. To feel. To actually experience the loss because there was something even greater than my sense of loss... my connection that returned me to my own soul and spirit through connecting to the spirit of those I had lost.
And what I have gained as part of that re-connection is that we are always in transition, we are always learning and always able to share a part of our journey or a piece of wisdom we have gained through living it, that helps or inspires someone else.
By being willing to be vulnerable and admit that we don't know everything, we are actually gifted the opportunity to continue learning through every interaction and relationship we engage in. The only way we can truly learn is if we are feeling safe enough to grow, trusting ourselves and our environment to expand out into. By showing me who I wasn't, my horses also gave me the space to feel safe enough to figure out and remember who I was. It was my own mistrust of being vulnerable that had me thinking I needed to prove to the world that I knew what to do.
Last weekend my oldest daughter sold her 4-H lamb project and I have to admit, it broke my heart. That feeling of heartbreak helped me connect to my knowledge that our soul is eternal and that in the feeling of loss was another level of learning as the student. A student of the animals. I am starting to finally understand that each time I am moved back into the student phase, there is another layer that wants to be shared. Another teaching that wants to be revealed. But, for me, the only way to teach it is to learn it by living the experience in order to share it not just as a message, but as a meaning.