On The Other Side Of Loss…

It’s been two years.

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Two years since I sold my farm, gave away my beloved horses, and felt the lights go out inside of me.

Horses are my first love – and they speak to my soul in a way that nothing else can or does. I began riding at six years old, and spent my life both working in the horse world, and pursuing my love for and understanding of these amazing beings.
My oldest, deepest dream was to have my own farm… my own horses… to follow on the path they were beckoning me, towards a destination that I couldn’t begin to imagine.

And beyond reckoning, I was given that dream. It was a God gift in my life, and I KNEW down in my bones that it was from Him.
For eleven years, I lived immersed in that sweet spot – learning, growing, waking up inside, as the horses called me into a deeper, truer expression of myself.
I had the opportunity to learn and develop my natural horsemanship, a ‘horse whisperer’ way of being with my herd. I taught this to others, and the thrill of opening up this world, and helping others come home inside themselves via a relationship with horses, brought me a joy I’d never imagined.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “We teach most that which we need to learn.” That is certainly true of me.
As I taught others this way of being, God used my horses to bring me back to life. He reached me through them, accessing that deep passion place that has always been open with them, and breathing life back into me.
Over those eleven years, I grew. I healed. I grew some more.
I healed out of an unhealthy twenty five year marriage.
I healed out of playing ‘nice’, and being what others wanted or needed me to be.
I healed into my calling and purpose, stepping into my life coaching practice, and developing my work in equine facilitated coaching.
I healed into a deep awareness of who I am.
I healed into joy… into self expression… into delight.

I had a vision of where I wanted to go with this, of how this would unfold in my life, of what I could offer with my farm and horses.

And then I had to let it all go.
The farm.
The horses.
The feeling that this was exactly where I was called to live… what I was called to do… that this was the authentic expression of who God made me to be… and that I was to share this with others.

Just as it was all coming together, I had to release it.
That loss was stepping off a cliff into a spinning, careening free fall.

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Those of you who know me, know I didn’t do this gracefully.
Part of my growth is to be honest with myself about what’s going on. So I grieved. I cried. I ranted and raved.
I was angry as hell.
Angry at God.
Angry at everyone involved.
Angry at myself. Mostly angry at myself.

If this was happening… it must be because I failed.
This was what God had for me, and somehow I blew it. I wasn’t good enough to be able to keep it.
I didn’t warrant it.
And the deepest, darkest fear… “I was only fooling myself, and turns out it wasn’t okay for me to ‘BE’.”
Because that’s what I had been experiencing there on my farm. For the first time in my adult life, I was beginning to get that it was okay for me to BE – exactly who I am.
God used my farm and my horses, to show me that.
And when I had to let it all go, the unspoken caveat was that God wasn’t to be trusted.
During the nightmare of packing up the farm, giving away my horses who were my partners, dear friends, and part of my family, and moving into and renovating our new little home, my focus narrowed to the ground immediately before my feet. I couldn’t handle more. I was literally living one day at a time.

The loss was so acute that it was hard to breathe.

Now, I had my boys, who I adore, and my fiancé, Jeff, who is my partner, my love, and my dearest friend, and loving, supportive parents and friends… but it felt like going through a hurricane alone.

It was so much more than loosing the externals.
It was loosing my sense of who I was.
It was loosing my sense of belonging.
It was loosing my sense of purpose.
It was loosing my safe place.
It was loosing the place I deeply connected with God, and with my own soul.

I’d like to say that I could understand why this was happening, or what it all meant, but I didn’t.
I felt so lost.
So empty.
Scared to hope again.
Scared to trust God.
Scared to desire anything again, for fear I would loose it.

I felt myself age… felt the spark inside me bank in a bed of cold ash.

And with this all, I began putting together some semblance of a life.
I had Jeff and my boys.
I had my life coaching, which comes from the center of who I am.
I started there.

These were my lifelines, and for the better part of that first year, I continued to exist, one footstep at a time.

I felt like a sailboat in the doldrums. Out of site of land, with no breeze for as far as the eye can see. I picked up my oars and rowed. Slow, tedious work, more about choosing to live than about where it would get me.
I learned not to poke the longing for my farm, reopening the wound each time. And bit by bit that visceral joy it gave me slowly moved into memory.

Through this time, I had those friends closest to me continue to hold onto the dream I had let go.
Jeff refused to believe that horses were simply gone from my life. My two closest friends also said multiple times that they would hold this dream for me, even if I couldn’t.

And almost a year ago, through a series of unlikely events, one of those friends, Dee Dee, asked me to come out and help her with a horse out at Hope Reins of Raleigh – a ministry that pairs rescued horses with hurting children. She had been volunteering there as a horse trainer for years, and I knew of it, but it was 45 minutes away. I had never considered it an option to go out there.

I remember stepping out of my truck at their property, and taking a full breath for the first time since I’d left my own farm.
That feeling of ‘coming home inside’ that I lived with at my farm, with my horses, came back.
I didn’t know it was possible for me to feel that anywhere else.

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I’ve been a part of more farms than I can count – fancy, simple, public, private, competitive, backyard… but most horse places have an energy of performance, striving, competition, ego, that I don’t enjoy, and I hadn’t known this peace anywhere else but on my own farm.

It felt so, so good.
And a little scary.
Though I could feel God’s hand in this, I wasn’t keen on trusting Him with my love for horses. I was still mad. And hurt.
So I held it loosely, let it sit on my palm, and just watched.

Over that summer, I watched it grow – a slow, organic development, one visit at a time.
One conversation at a time.
One training session at a time.

I fell in love with the horses first.
That’s the easiest part. It always is.
And then I fell in love with the people there.
Each woman, each story, each point of Life opening up within them…

For me it wasn’t the kids… it was the women (and the few guys) who were on the front lines of this ministry – training the horses, giving sessions to hurting children, listening to the parents of these families in pain – I could feel God asking to let Him love them through me.

And as I did, He began to heal me on another level.

I continued to watch this grow.
Something else different had changed inside me after loosing my farm.
I no longer had the push to ‘make something happen’, when I felt God’s hand.
Now I figured that if He was going to do this, then He could be the one to do it.

For me that was growth.
I’ve always had a lot of ‘driver’ in me.
On the other side of the loss, that driver had begun to die.

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I loved going out there… training horses, teaching people how to be with the horses… and how to allow them to bring them back to life as well. Holding space for others to experience ‘Being’, as I had learned to do…
I was sharing the very thing I know I’m here to share.
But I didn’t have to push anything.
It was one day, one week, one month at a time.

As my heart opened back up, that spark that was banked in cold ash, and began to warm and grow.

There’s now a fire burning inside me again.

I don’t know at what point I stopped holding back in my heart. It just happened.
It wasn’t even about trusting, or not trusting.
It was about allowing myself to love, to be, and to share what I’m here to share.

I never imagined that Life would come in this package. It’s not convenient, not a replacement for what I lost… but it’s also more. I don’t carry the weight like I did at my farm, and it’s no longer about me. It’s not an isolating factor… I get to be part of a beautiful community, to share what I have to offer, and to receive from others as well.

This is well outside what I could have imagined.

I look at God now, and have to smile.
I’m so glad He’s big enough to handle my anger.
That He doesn’t hold it against me when I blame Him for the hurt in my life.
That He gives me the space and time to heal, to grow, and to open into more and more of who I am.
And that He isn’t limited to what I can see.

On the other side of loss…
I’m more peaceful…
Quieter deep inside…
I both trust on a different level, and have let go of more of my own plan.
I don’t know where my life will ultimately go, but I have more hope than ever that it will be good.

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In the words of CS Lewis:
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe