Frightening Freedom

white clouds above hill during golden hour

Photo by Brett Sayles on

I walked the two geldings off the trailer after their long journey from the backside shed row of Belmont’s racetrack in New York to the permanent over-sized pen in our loafing shed on the Colorado prairie.  They were wide eyed, trembling, heads as high as they could hold them staring at the expanse before them.  They would spend a few days together in the large pen before I would transition them to the round corral and then the pasture.  I’d learned the hard way that the “freedom” that stretched out before them would be overwhelming . . . at first.  By carefully introducing them to their new freedom, slowly moving them from one large space to a larger space and then opening the gate to the pasture, I would be giving them the opportunity to slowly let down, adjust to their new surroundings and experiment with the discovery of their new found freedom to just be.  No expectations, no demands, just the opportunity to be all God intended them to be in their off-the-track life.

At one point or another, we’ve all felt a bit like a fish out of water.  Looking around all wide eyed, gasping for air and trying to figure out how one minute we were swimming along, going about our business and the next minute we’ve been hooked, reeled in and tossed onto the deck of a boat heading who knows where!  The horses that come to me off the track aren’t much different.  One minute they are standing with their head hanging over the dutch door of a stall in a shed row on the backstretch of a racetrack and the next minute they are standing in the middle of 300 acres of wide open prairie as far as their eye can see!  People have this romantic notion that these horses see the wide open pasture spread before them and take off at a gleeful gallop kicking up their heels as the sun sets.  The reality is, the freedom and opportunity to be as close to a horse as they can be in our domesticated world, is terrifying at first!  It’s no different for people.

She looked at me blankly, borderline confused when I asked her, “What does freedom look like to you?  What does it feel like?  If you were to describe freedom to me, how would you describe it?  I want you to feel into your body and finish this for me, “Freedom for me is _________”  Tears began to well up in her eyes.  I watched as she struggled to finish the sentence, “Freedom to me is . . . “, her voice trailed off as the lump in her throat threatened to give way to the sobs trapped behind it.  “It’s okay.  Stay with this.  When you think about freedom and your throat tightens, where else in your body do you feel it?”, I encouraged her as she put her hand over her heart and around her throat.  “Okay.  Tell me more.  If you could give your heart a voice, what would it say?”

Freedom can be absolutely, overwhelmingly, terrifying to a person who has been manipulated, controlled and abused.  The longer they have suffered at the hands of, in this particular case, a covert narcissist, the more overwhelming the prospect of freedom is.  No different than the horses coming off the track who’ve known little to no freedom of their own, a person whose spent years walking on egg shells, saying the “right” things, doing the “right” things, and otherwise living their lives not for themselves rather for the abuser they are in a codependent relationship with, the idea of having the freedom to do what they want for themselves without having to ever answer for it later, is scary!

I pointed out across the pasture from the comfy outdoor chairs we were sitting on under the back porch roof,  “Out there is freedom.  It’s wide open space.  You can see for miles.  If I were to take you out to the very middle of the pasture and drop you off and tell you that you were free to choose which direction you wanted to go in.  What is your initial reaction?  What is the first thing that comes up for you?”  She looked into my eyes, wide eyed, “I’m scared!  I’m looking over my shoulder for him.  I’m waiting for him to pop up out of nowhere and grab me.”  People, in frustrated disbelief, struggle to wrap their minds around why, when a person breaks free from their abuser, does it not last, why do they go back?  I would argue that it’s familiar.  Given the choice, at first, the horses coming off the track would pick a stall on the backside of the racetrack over 300 acres of rolling prairie.  It’s familiar.  They know the routine, they know the people they interact with and they know the work.

“How did you stay away?”, she asked nervously, as if even asking was committing to action.  “Well, I sought out counseling immediately after I left.  I didn’t know much however I knew the pull to go back “home” was strong and it scared me.  He knew the right things to say, the way to say them and even when to pull the, ‘You are a failure’, shaming card and it took a lot of inner strength, prayer and the grace of God for me to hold my position.  His abuse is what I knew.”  As she contemplated what I said, I shared more, “I don’t believe complete freedom came all at once.  As a matter of fact, I would say that I’m not there yet.  I would say that freedom came slowly, like a flower budding and opening its petals.  My job was to step out in faith.  Faith that everything truly would be okay.  And then my job was to take another step, and another, and another as I moved from being a victim to being a victor.  I would say, at least once a day, especially through the unrelenting court battles, “Working hard at staying divorced!” “  She laughed through her tears.

Much like the horses that need to be slowly transitioned from track life to new careers, those who’ve experienced years of abuse need eased into freedom.  Much like sticking our big toe into the pool and then our foot (ankle deep) and then wading in up to our knees, allowing our bodies to adjust and acclimate, making any sort of major change in our lives requires baby steps.  It also requires faith.  Faith in the unknown.  Faith and belief that in taking that first step, we are taking back pieces of ourselves that we once thought were long gone.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤

Not For The Faint Of Heart


I stood beside him holding the 30 pound, roughout saddle.  I kept checking in with myself, making sure I wasn’t holding my breath or holding any tension in my body as I patiently waited.  He stood next to me, the saddle pad resting on his bay colored back, head slowly lowering, deep chocolate colored eyes getting sleepy looking, velvety muzzle twitching slightly.  As I had lifted the saddle to place it gently on his back, I had observed the tension rise up through his neck, his lips tightened and the life behind his eyes dimmed a bit, as if he were bracing and disassociating from what he expected to experience in that moment.  I immediately backed off, removing the pressure of the saddle moving towards his back and honored the threshold he’d shown.  And I stood waiting, holding space for him as he sorted things out, processing the work we were doing.  Slowly, I began to see life flicker behind his eyes again, as if he were checking back in, he turned his head my direction and began licking and chewing.  I smiled, “Let it all go big guy. . . release all that pent up junk.  You’re safe, you’re respected and you’re very much loved.  You dictate this time line.” As if on cue, he let out a huge sigh.

Untethering horse hearts is something I’ve been doing since I was a young child.  I worked with the horses no one else wanted to, you know, the ones that were labeled, in some way, negatively.  I didn’t realize then that what I was doing was untethering their hearts and shifting their perspective, their expectations of how interacting with humans was supposed to go.  What I was aware of was, the horse that once had a bad reputation, was soon the one people wanted to ride.  I’d lose my mount and begin all over again with the next horse that needed a shift in their perspective.  I don’t remember caring much which horse I was interacting with, I just wanted to be around horses no matter their breed, training or color!  I suppose that’s still fairly true today 🙂

I stood in the middle of the round corral repeating the same motion, gently swinging the saddle and acutely observing if there was any tension in his body.  He remained engaged with me and so I set the saddle on his back as if I were wrapping him in a big hug.  And I waited . . . . .  I joke about not knowing what it’s like to ride a finished, well broke horse and that’s half true.  I’ve ridden them, shown and competed on them however they’ve been very few and very far between.  The horses in my wheel house are the misfits, the outlaws and outcasts, you know, those horses that breathe fire, scorching people first and asking questions later.  If they are pissed at the world, they find their way to me.  If they are shut down, they find their way to me.  If they are broken, they  –  find  –  their  – way  –  to  –  me.

I watched the beautiful bay gelding as he began to relax, his head lowering again, eyes getting that dreamy look, leg cocked, rich ebony colored tail slowly twitching at the fly trying to land on his side and then he blew out a long, deep breath.  I reached up and lifted the saddle and saddle pad from his back.  He licked and chewed turning toward me as I watched a yawn begin to work it’s way from the tippy top of his cute little ears all the way down until he could no longer mask it and his mouth opened wide.  “Huge releases there handsome.  Thank you.” I said quietly as he continued in succession to yawn repeatedly.  I smiled at him, “Thank you for working with me on this.”

Restarting isn’t for the faint of heart.  I love starting young horses.  I get the opportunity to be part of a long list of their firsts – first saddling, first rides, first adventures away from home, etc.  I get to set the stage for them, committed to ensuring that all of those first time experiences are good ones, the kind that build the horse’s confidence, sense of safety and security.  I am the one to lay a strong, solid foundation for them to use the rest of their days and that’s not something I take lightly.  Restarting a horse, on the other hand, can be a very grueling, exhausting process.  It involves taking a horse all the way back in their training to that place where they were first introduced to things like saddling, and resetting their expectations and responses to that stimuli.  I am pretty slow to throw the, ‘That horse has been abused’, card.  It’s not abuse.  It’s a lack of awareness and therefore a lack of properly assessing where the horse is at throughout the training process, i.e. rushing them.  No, it’s not abuse rather is rushed, hurried along and something people do to horses, not with them.

The process of restarting, can be, to the untrained eye, a lot like watching paint dry on a humid day!  I’m watching the horse for the subtlest of feedback that tells me if there is tension, worry, concern or any other form of resistance in their past experience.  When I pick up on that resistance, I retreat.  That resistance is a threshold, a place where, for the horse, and for people, if we go blowing through it (usually because we’re unaware it’s present), we add to the friction and tension that exits.  When we gain awareness that there is a threshold and honor it by backing off, taking the pressure that’s being applied and retreating a bit, we’re showing respect for where that horse or human is at.

I can’t help but think about how similar restarting horses is to coaching humans.  Humans show up with defenses and strategies that, up to the point of our meeting, are in place for good reason.  There are thresholds that come up along the way and as long as I am respectful of those thresholds, honoring that they are there, moving closer and staying longer, holding space as the client processes through the work, their perspective shifts toward more positive outcomes and interactions.

As I set the saddle down on the red, hard plastic mounting block, I felt his breath on the back of my neck, tangling my hair a bit.  “Hi.” I softly said as I slowly turned toward him.  He inspected the saddle and pad.  I stroked his sleek, muscular neck.  “You did well sweet boy.  I promise this will continue to look very different for you.”  I slipped the halter back on his head, snapped a line to it and we ambled across the round corral through the beachy sand toward the gate.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤

I See You …


I considered ignoring you’re continued harassment for the sake of turning the other cheek and taking the higher road.  When I received your “comment”, I was admittedly taken aback that someone would attack in such a vile, disrespectful and unrelated way after I had written about the heart breaking loss of such a unique, powerful and special teacher, as was “Cricket”.  Then, I considered that you have no boundaries.  I considered that those that are hurting, try to hurt others in equal measure.  You sit behind a screen and “arm chair quarterback” from where it’s “safe”.  Those who choose to attack, harass and bully from behind a hidden identity are usually the ones that have the most personal work to do.  Even as you read what I’ve just written, you are denying vehemently that you have any personal work or growth that needs addressed.  As I sat with your words, spewed like bile from an empty stomach after getting gut punched, I considered that the higher road is, in actuality, hitting head on, that which you are so threatened by, ME!

In staying true to my “God (you should capitalize His name, f.y.i.) fearing, Bible (again, should be capitalized) worshiping saint” – persona, my job as a believer is to love you.  I am called to love my enemies, to love those that are hurting & less fortunate in any way shape or form and to share the Good News that Jesus died for me and He died for YOU.  The higher road isn’t in ignoring those that are hurting rather it’s in looking them in the eye, even if in this case it’s through words on a screen, and saying, “I see you.”  It’s in saying, “I hear the pain that is behind your attacks and I … see … you.”  I can only imagine how your blood must be boiling right now!  Lol!  Is this offensive to you?  I would ask you to take a deep breath and feel into that anger, that rage, where is it rooted?  When you feel into your body, where do you feel it?  If you could give it a voice, what would it say?

I’ll tell ya, I don’t “horse whisper” and I’ve never met anyone that did.  Those that claim to “horse whisper” are usually full of shit!  I have met those and worked with those that are masterful at supporting horses in learning new things, quickly.  The horses that come to me are generally, like you, pissed off, jaded and willing to play pretty dirty to get their point and opinion across to whomever it is that is working with them.  I thrive in this setting!  You see I don’t do what they expect.  Horses know what happens before what happens, happens.  Much like hurting people who attack first before they can be hurt in any way, horses will one up ya if they think they know what’s coming.  I don’t play by the traditional rule book.  Horses are willing to offer more when I am respectful of their opinions and instead of blowing through their thresholds I simply show them, what I can verbalize to you, which is, “I see you.”  We have a nickname for what is I do, however it’s not appropriate to say here.  Suffice to say, I shift horses perspectives and I shift humans perspectives.  Call it what you will however “horse whispering” is pretty stupid (people know you have no idea what you’re talking about when you use that “terminology”).

Speaking of pretty stupid, the word “Trollop” is a new one!  Lol!  Call a whore, a whore, or a hooker, a hooker, or a slut, a slut, “trollop”?  I mean really!?!  Lol!  That’s just dumb!  For starters having “many casual sexual encounters and/or relationships” calls for far more time and energy than I have to expend.  I cannot imagine trying to juggle “many casual sexual encounters and/or relationships” with two kids, all their activities, my work down in New Mexico along with what I have going on here in Colorado not to mention, I’m pretty sure I would need to be “social” in some way to even meet people that would be willing to be part of a trollop’s reality.  I don’t even have time for casual friendships!  Lol!  I appreciate the good laugh for sure and a new word for my vocabulary that has already been used in inside jokes repeatedly since your message.

My husband and my kids are, in my book, off limits.  That further shows your lack of boundaries, and in case you were unaware, I have a horse for that!  1200 pounds has a way of teaching what boundaries are and how to maintain them like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I can only pray that at some point in your life, you are in some way, in relationship with someone as genuine, loving, give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back and his bank account number to make sure you and your family are fed, kind of person as my husband is.  I can’t imagine he’d ever be okay with sitting still and not working hard, even if he had a sugar mama to provide for his every whim!  He’s just that kind of guy.  I adore him not for his work ethic or paycheck rather for the heart that beats in his big ol’ chest!  You see, he saw me, when I was broken into a million pieces and he loves me even with all my pieces put back together differently.

My ‘wasband’ didn’t kick me to the curb.  That’s another part of your story that you’ve recorded inaccurately.  I bolted out of that marriage!  I ran for my life!  He may have filed for divorce directly after my exit however I was the one that left.  I wouldn’t be on this planet for you to harass had I not found the courage to get out of that abusive relationship.  And should my husband “tire of me and my bull crap (whatever that is – hard to be a bullshitter and a straight shooter – my upfront, straightforwardness is what people expect and appreciate about me)” then I suppose that would be between him and I.  The difference in our relationship and that of so many others is, we don’t need each other, we want each other.  I want him in my life, he wants me in his life.  I don’t have to have him in my life (need) nor does he have to have (need) me in his life.  It’s that part of our relationship that is so beautiful, that part where there are no fences confining our souls, there are no rules and expectations that bind and tether our hearts, there is wide open, wild and free space to roam together, even when we’re apart.

I encourage you to begin looking within.  I encourage you to begin digging around and excavating.  What is it about me that intimidates and causes you to become defensive, lashing out and attacking?  This isn’t about me or what you believe to be true about me.  This is about you and what it is that you are struggling to come to terms with in your own heart.  I have a horse for that and I will go so far as to offer you a coaching session on me.  If you decide that you are ready to look at the unfinished business in your background and begin to heal it, my gate is open to you.  My horses and I are available to support you in peering into the deep, dark recesses of your life, exposing them to light, applying healing salve to the those wounds and shifting the trajectory of your life toward more positive interactions and outcomes.  You know where to find me.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤

Highway Heartbreak

Forward Cricket (2)

I rolled north up the interstate, my mind 500 miles away.  Clouds were slowly lowering over the Sandia mountains to my east like a heavy, thick, billowy, blue-gray stage curtain.  In my heart I felt like the curtain was slowly lowering and closing on the troubled life of my precious partner and teacher, though I clung to the hope that my phone would ring and my husband’s gentle voice would tell me he’d turned the corner for the better.  I pressed on through Albuquerque and across the reservation where I searched the landscape for a glimpse of the band of wild horses that roam there.  I began my climb towards Santa Fe when the phone finally rang,  “Jess, I don’t think it’s good.  What do you want me to do?  He’s just not himself.”  I listened as the man that I adore described what he was observing in real time.

“Cricket” was one of those horses that just couldn’t catch a break in life.  He was orphaned at 2 days old.  He was in and out of the vet hospital with various, potentially life threatening injuries, any one of which should have taken his life, for most of his younger years.  He flunked out of hunter/jumper school and struggled to find his groove in life.  His shitty attitude toward people and life in general was right up my alley when he found me.  I like the ones that flip me the bird, pin their ears, set their feet and challenge me.  When I agreed to work with him, I can remember quietly whispering into his jack rabbit ears, “I can help you change your mind about people and life.”  He doubled down, “Hold my beer!”  Lol!  Here’s a link to “Cricket’s” story and how we met:

We always kid ourselves into thinking we’re the ones helping them, slow to recognize that really, we’re helping each other and if we’re real with ourselves, the horses are the ones helping us.

“I’d call Dr. Robinson back out.  He sounds like he’s in worse shape.  It’s not like him to not be interested in eating, especially after he’s been restricted from hay and pasture for 24 hours now.  Kiss him on his head for me please.  If it comes down to it, promise me you won’t leave him.  Stay with him until he’s taken his last breath and his heart has stopped beating.  He doesn’t deserve to die alone with a stranger.”

I turned up my windshield wiper speed, the rain I’d driven into, increasing in intensity.  My mind kept drifting and the tears kept welling up in my eyes, further blurring the view in front of me.  This wasn’t the way this was supposed to go.  He was supposed to die an old, crusty, graying faced guy!  He wasn’t supposed to exit this life on the very day he’d entered this world!  “17 years young today!” I cried out as I gripped the steering wheel tighter.  “Crickey, we still have unfinished adventure and life to live together . . . we’re only just getting started . . . it’s just starting to get good . . . You’re my go-to guy . . .”  I could feel my arms wrapped around his big neck, the warmth of his coat on my cheek, his head turning, eyes closed as he melted into our connection.  I took a few deep breaths as the clouds began to break up, Las Vegas in my sites.  There was still a tiny ember of hope.  That part of me that continued to say, “Slow down the grieving sister.  He’s not gone yet.  These tears could all be for not.”

I checked my mirrors, merging into the hammer lane to make room for potential motorists getting on the interstate.  I considered what this trip might look like without my big ol’ moose of a Thoroughbred in his stall over my axles in the trailer behind me.  The adventures we’d shared, the miles we’d hauled, the special bond we’d formed over the years.  I smiled to myself thinking about the stark contrast of his life before me as a show horse and his life with me as an everything horse living out on the prairie with cattle, antelope and coyotes!  He’d taught me about compromise, an unspoken sort of middle ground agreement between the two of us that stated I wouldn’t over face him and he would, at the least, attempt to put a little faith in my guidance.  Lol!  He’d taught me what it meant to make a request with the intention of truly requesting, not demanding or ordering.  He’d taught me what forgiveness with reservation looked like and what it was to try to put traumas of our past behind us.  He gave me permission to just be as I held the same space for him to . . .  just . . . be.  I could feel his big head pressed up against my back, his eyes closed, leg cocked.  It was something he did frequently when we stood together whether at a horse show, hunt, camping or out in the pasture.

The phone rang.  My heart shot into my throat.  “Babe, it’s not good.  The intestine that was caught over his kidney on the left side yesterday is back where it’s supposed to be however now there is intestine over the kidney on the right side and we won’t be able to bounce it back into place lunging him like we could with the left side yesterday.”  My voice was shaking as I swallowed hard.  “Okay.”, I mustered.  “And,” he said, “babe, he’s toxic.  Surgery is the only option to correct the intestinal issue.  His heart rate is more elevated than it was yesterday even with all the thrashing around and lunging.”  I worked hard to maintain my composure.  Checking my mirrors, I got back over into the hammer lane passing slower, less urgent traffic.  The concern that had been raised at 6:30 a.m. the morning before, the concern I’d kept pushing off for over 24 hours now was viable and I knew what I had to do.  “Let him go.” I half whispered.  “Euthanize him.  Let him go.  I will not have him in pain any longer.  I’m so sorry I’m not there.  I’m so sorry you are having to do this . . .  it’s my responsibility and I’m not there . . .” My voice broke, no longer able to swallow the emotion.  I knew my super hero’s heart was breaking for me as he said, “Okay.”, his own voice cracking.

The quiet, mournful whimpering of a heart cracking in two is part of the human experience.  It’s painful and gut wrenching.  We know we’ve loved deeply when we grieve deeply.  I believe “Cricket” was on loan to me, teaching me things that only He could teach me through “Cricket”.  I’m a better horseman and person for my time with him.  He’d stepped up to the plate when I needed his help the most and for that I will forever be indebted to him.

Though I knew he’d be gone and buried before I’d be roaring across our county line, I pressed on with the same sense of urgency.  I wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear for a while.  I thought about the emptiness I knew was waiting for me when I went out to feed that night.  His tack hung in the trailer, waiting for the next time we’d work together, swinging and swaying along as I consumed the asphalt ribbon that stretched out in front of me like a ravenous Pac Man, Raton Pass in the distance.  His blankets would still be hanging in the loafing shed and his grain bag waiting in the grain bin.

“Cricket”, he was a lot of horse in so many ways.  To say he will be missed seems cliche.  He will be more than missed.  I caught myself listening for his BANG – BANG – BANG on the gate this morning, demanding to be turned out onto the big pasture.  As I put fly sheets on the herd I realized I was waiting for him to come around the corner with that walk of his, like a line backer walking onto the field.  I stared at his fly sheet hanging in the loafing shed . . . “Damn it Crickey.  What am I going to do without you?  I think I did right by you.  I pray your life was better for partnering with me, I know for sure mine was better for having you in it.” 

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤

Taking a Deep Seat

crashing waves

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on

The only words of instruction that he offered were, “A lot of people fall off that one.  Most people.  Actually, I’m not sure anyone that’s sat on him can say they haven’t come off of him.”  I laughed out loud thinking to myself, “Great … just what I want to ride.”  The small, solid bay colored, unassuming gelding stood in the isle dozing as I walked toward him to finish tacking him up.  “Hey, what’s his name?” I asked as I lead him toward the mounting block.  “Bullet.” The ranch manager said with a slight smirk.  I shook my head as I quietly threw a leg over him and pointed my mount toward the road that lead to the north side where we would trot the perimeter of 800 acres.  “Of course that’s his name.”  I mumbled to myself.

I quickly determined, as we made our way through the hay pastures, wooded mountainside and scrub oak dense trails, that this horse was as close as I’d get to what it must be like to ride a cat!  He could go sideways, backwards, shoot forward and spin around all on a dime!  I learned quickly that I’d best stay over the center of him at all times and take a deep seat for the entire ride or I would be a tally mark next to all the riders he’d ever goosed out from under!  “Bullet”, was aptly named and I later learned that the doctor who owned him was said to have an electric ass!  As in, every time he sat down in the saddle it was as if he was shocking, “Bullet”, with an electric current!

As the women gathered in the arena, I could feel the anticipation, tension, uncertainty, and guardedness in the air!  I took a deep breath and a deep seat over the center of this three day “ride”, recognizing that these girls were going to be much like “Bullet”, capable of moving any direction within the training with catlike athleticism, sideways, bolting forwards, scooching backwards, stopping on a dime, spinning 180 degrees the opposite direction, dropping out from under the saddle and at times, all at once.  If I wasn’t fully aware, fully present in each moment and committed to staying over the center of my saddle, I would find myself in the dirt, banged up, bruised and gasping for air!

These women, much like many other strong, intelligent, beautiful women I’ve interacted with, seemed to be holding each other at arms length, as if there was some sort of underlying and unspoken competition amongst them.  On the surface they appeared amicable, friendly enough, even “open” with one another however, underneath, there were rivers raging.  Strong currents running with the force of spring runoff that, when met with other strong currents, clashed and crashed like rivers forcibly merging downstream.

Each of these women share a commonality in that the work they do is for the betterment of the kids they interact with each day.  They may be the first female that has cared, listened and taken notice of the most minute details.  They may be the first ones to look a kid dead in the eye and say, “You’re right, you were dealt a crappy hand!  I see you.  Are you willing to move forward with me?”  They may be the first to step alongside a kid and support them as they press into the challenge and pain of changing their lives for the betterment of their future.  Why were these powerful souls at odds with each other?

As we progressed through the different exercises and pieces of work, things felt off to me.  In my mind, I imagined myself stepping hard in my off stirrup feeling like my saddle had shifted.  I wanted to be sure I was still where I needed to be, over the center of this ride.  In this work and honestly, every day, my prayer is a simple one.  I ask for His help!  Before my feet hit the floor, I pray, “HELP!”  Lol!  I recognize that without Him, I can do nothing.  The lack of courage and vulnerability within this group of women was stifling what I knew in my heart could be so beautifully powerful for them.  I was aware that one woman in particular was setting the tone and for the others, it required they remain protective of their hearts, much like “Bullet”, recognizing that his owner was “electric” when he sat in the saddle.

As my co-facilitator and I stepped back for a portion of the training to shift, I watched as He artfully worked in and through the CEO to bring down the “bully” in the group.  We had been lacking the vulnerability that we needed to accomplish the shifts we’d hoped for, due to the energy and protective defenses of a deeply wounded soul.  That process in and of itself is it’s own blog.  Suffice to say, that once the unruly filly, who’d had the others intimidated and shut down, found herself snubbed up (called out), I could feel the rest of the herd breath a sigh of relief and ever so slowly, walls began to come down.  It was quick, fierce, passionate, humbling and over in a flash!  I was so grateful to find I was still deeply seated in the center of my saddle as the dust settled.

I watched as the women began to get very candid with one another and test the waters of vulnerability, feeling into the safety of the “new” dynamic of the group.  In my mind, I was back in the saddle, “Bullet’s” blood bay colored neck in front of me, black mane and cute little teddy bear ears focused on our direction of travel.  He let out the breath he’d been holding for most of our ride.  His head dropped, his neck softened and his body relaxed.  As we walked back in toward the barn, across the highway and down the little hill by the old dilapidated house, I knew he didn’t fully trust my leadership however he was willing to step into that space where there was soft contemplation and consideration.  As if, much like this group of women, he was willing to feel into the new “dynamic” of partnering with a person in a very different and unexpected way.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”  ❤





Hearts Held Hostage

download (1)

“If your butterflies had a voice, what would they say?”  I asked her.  She looked at me long and hard.  After what felt like an hour, she said, “I don’t know…”, her voice trailing off.  “Okay, love.  Can you breathe into the butterflies?  Take in a deep breath of air all the way to where the butterflies start and then as you breathe out, allow any tension and nervousness to go out with the breath.”  I watched as she took in deep breaths and exhaled deeply.  I checked the time, “I’m so sorry beauty, we’re going to be late if we don’t leave now.”  I could feel the lump in my throat growing though I was praying it wasn’t audible as I spoke.  I could hear the pitch of the motor of the running pick up outside, warmed up and ready to roll.

We pulled out of the driveway, the heaviness in the air weighing down the souped up dually.  We made small talk and I silently prayed, asking God for comfort, peace and to somehow ease the ache in our hearts, that ache that seems to grab hold every time the kids leave.  Each time we arrive at the destination, their norm is to go into the residence, drop off the things that have been packed for the weekend and then return for hugs (She packs a phone charger, he packs the kitchen sink!  Lol!).  “Don’t leave, be right back for a hug.”, they say every time.  I watched as they slowly made their way up the front walk, as if they were holding the hugs hostage.  And I waited … each and every time, I wait, relishing those hugs.  This time, as she approached, I could see she was fighting desperately to hold back her tears.  “I don’t know what it is mama.  The butterflies won’t subside and all I want to do is cry, and cry, and cry.  It’s as if the butterflies think something bad is going to happen.”  I took a deep breath as I held her tight.  “Well beauty, let those tears roll.  Don’t ever deny that small still voice inside of you.  Don’t ignore those butterflies.  Sometimes it’s not about what they are saying to us so much as it’s about acknowledging that they are there and we hear them.”

I kid myself, as I’m sure, many others in similar situations do too, into thinking that this is part of our routine, our normal, you know, it’s the way things are and it’s the way things have been … for years now.  I lie to myself, telling myself that this doesn’t effect me, that it’s settled in my heart, I’ve come to terms with it all, that the kids are fine and they’ll be back in a few days.  I’ve gone so far as to tell myself that this is preparing me prematurely for what it will be when the kids are grown and gone, you know, empty nesting.  “Geeze, Jess, really!?!”, says that part of me that deep down,  knows it’s not okay.  It hurts as much now as it did when it all started and it’s NOT normal.  I can and have cried raging rivers worth of tears over exchanges.  Mothers shouldn’t have to send their kids places they know their kids are NOT wholly, completely and unconditionally cared for and loved.  I understand that each kid is on their own path, traveling their own journey where their own sum total of their experiences in life will constitute who they are.  They are and will continue to be the sum total of their experiences just as I am, you are, your neighbor is, etc.  None of that makes any of this okay.  Kids aren’t supposed to leave every Friday night, returning each Monday evening throughout the school year.  Moms aren’t supposed to be forced to choose life at the expense of losing time with their kids.  Moms aren’t supposed to be put in a position where they are ordered to send their kids to the very abuser who wreaked havoc on their hearts, souls and physical bodies, abusing them through psychological, emotional, sexual, spiritual and physical means over going to jail.  Deep breath …. yep … sit with that for a while …..  I do.  It’s my reality.

The abuser would say to you, “Hey, this was her doing.  She chose this.  She left.  I wasn’t anything but good to her.  She had everything when she was with me.  She threw it all away.  I was everything she could ever ask for…..”  Sure thing.  You keep telling yourself that.  Makes perfect sense … to an abuser.

I pulled out of the driveway, conflicted, angry and heartbroken. So very tired of my heart feeling so raw, wounded and oozing.  As I eased out onto the county road, tears rolling, I dropped the reins like a reiner giving her horse the cue to run like hell down the long side of the arena, allowing the horses under the hood to dig in and throw dirt.  “You, you son-of-a-bitch, you have taken a lot from me!  You know what you will never take!?!  You’ll NEVER take the essence of who makes me, me.  You will NEVER win because I have what you never will, GRIT & GOD’S GRACE!!!!!  You know what else I have you pathetic, sorry, loser?  I have what matters more than life itself, kids who love and respect me!  Kids who are becoming the coolest, most amazing and incredible young adults.  Despite you and likely, in spite and to spite you!  I’ve done the heavy lifting with the support of some incredible saints and I have everything in this life that you never will.  Tell me, what’s it like to lose sight of the very thing you tried to contain, confine, control and destroy in the dust and dirt of my road to health, healing and success?  You know what I have that you cannot even fathom?  I have the ability to turn what was intended to destroy me and use it to heal not only myself, I have the humbling privilege of healing others.  Turning evil intent into positive shifts for more positive futures.” 

I sat at the corner of the “Y” in the road everything in me screaming to turn around and retrieve what is so deeply and profoundly rooted in my heart, knowing that I couldn’t.  “Jess, this Corony Crap (what COVID-19 is known as in our house) has been such a blessing.  Your babes are home each and every day with you right now.  This is time you never would have banked on getting.  School work in the morning and horses, blue sky and time … precious, sweet, beautiful and fleeting time, each afternoon.  While others are losing their minds wishing their kids were in school, you, sister, are praising God for each and every minute those kids are home with you.”  I turned onto our road, allowing the horses under the hood a few more strides to gallop and get a little sideways, blow out and stretch their legs before putting on the Jake brake and reining them in.  My phone whistled at me, it was the beautiful little brunette that looks like me, talks like me and will be far smarter than me!  “Thank you for riding with me today mama.”  I parked the pick up, “Oh, baby girl.  Thank you.  Someday far too soon, you won’t have time for me and these moments, like riding with you today, will be what I keep close to my heart.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“I saw you standing in the middle of the thunder and lightning

I know you were feeling like you just can’t win, but you’re trying

It’s hard to keep on keepin’ on, when you’re being pushed around

….. Every storm runs out of rain

Just like every dark night turns into day

Every heartache will fade away

Just like every storm runs, runs out of rain …..”

Gary Allen – Every Storm

This too shall pass and the storm is about to run out of rain ….. – where both horse and human hearts are untethered, finding the freedom to once again express themselves, stretch their wings and soar …..


“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤ 

Follow Your Arrow

accuracy action active activity

Photo by Pixabay on

I spend a lot of time up in my head.  As in a scary amount of time!  Lol!  Lately I’ve been  thinking about what I might write to my kids.  The words have been jumbled up in my head for a while and each time I try to straighten them out I wind up knotting them together even more.  A friend has said to me on more than one occasion, “Your husband has really screwed things up for your daughter.  There aren’t many men in this world like him!”  I usually laugh in agreement and then consider just how true his statement is.  Then I consider my son and there aren’t many women out there like the daughters my friend has raised.  I ponder, is it so much the people they may or may not meet in their life or is it more about who I would encourage them to be that will attract the most perfectly appointed people to be in their inner circle?  I believe it’s the latter and in some form or another, I’ve shared with them, much of what I would write to them.  In reality, this is what I would share with not only my kids, but with all those I come into contact with 🙂

Aaron Watson sings a song called, “The Arrow” and some of the lyrics go like this:

I’ve been heart broke and broke down, hard up and hard fought

Misunderstood, misguided, and I’ve missed by a long shot

I understand first hand, I’ve been where you’ve been

Don’t you forget every sunset will become a sunrise soon again

So be bold and be brave and beware of those schemes,

Stay razor sharp, find your mark as you go chase your dreams

Watch out for those dangers always dancing in the dark,

When the shadows of the night shoot out the lights, I know you’ll be the spark

So promise me before you go follow your arrow,

You will pray to never stray from straight and narrow,

Be steadfast and steady, always be ready,

Aim for the stars in the sky, take heart, pull it back and let it fly 

What I want most for my kids, for you, is to follow the purpose that God laid upon your precious hearts before the dawn of time.  To feel sure enough in who you are to be bold, brave and steadfast even when the earth beneath your feet is quaking.  Happiness comes from fulfilling our purpose and loving one another.  It is not in big paychecks, fancy houses, fast cars and huge diamond rings.

I would encourage them, you, to find the beauty in the most simple of treasures.  The water colored sunsets and sunrises that set the sky afire.  The iridescent color of a Rocky Mountain Blue Bird in the spring.  The sweet smell of the earth after an afternoon thunderstorm.  The beauty in the stillness of a quiet winter snowfall, flakes falling straight from the sky and the whole scene like a snow globe that’s been gently turned, rotated and stirred.  God’s handiwork is all around us if only we would pause long enough to take the time and soak it all in.

I would tell them, I would tell you, that the seemingly impossible, that thing that makes your palms sweat and your heart skip a beat, go after that!  Don’t ever settle for the comfortable or the safe, sure thing.  Our greatest moments of growth and exhilaration are found not in what we know rather in what is uncertain.  Only when we are comfortable and we think we know all there is to know, that space in time when some place their curiosity on a shelf, and choose to stop learning new things, that is when death is certain.

I would tell them, you, to stay wild and stay free.  Those who love you, will love you wild, untamed and free spirited.  Those that find it necessary to change you, contain and tame you, do not truly love you.  Love is something we feel, it’s an emotion and it’s so very much more than that.  Love is in actions and behaviors and those that truly love us are those so secure in themselves and our love for them that they aren’t the least bit threatened when we spread our wings to fly knowing that the heart knows its way back home.

And I would tell them, you, that God loves you more than any man or woman can.  He loves you in spite of the mistakes you make.  As a matter of fact, He chose you before the foundation of the world!!!  He knew the mistakes you would make, the weaknesses in your character, the things you would struggle with in life and the faults you would condemn yourself for.  God didn’t choose you and then find Himself disappointed in you due to all your inabilities.  He purposefully chose you knowing all that you lack and in all the ways you fall short!  He picked you out on purpose to be His very own!  Let that love wash over you like the water of a warm, tropical waterfall, pouring out over you.  Soak in it, receive it and then, allow that love to pour out into other people’s lives.  Be a channel that love flows in and through, not a reservoir, damming it up and becoming stagnant.

You are so very much more than what you see in the mirror.  Allow the light within to shine.  Be the spark that the ignites the darkness!  I know that in the midst of life’s storms, sometimes we forget how to dance in the rain.  The waves come hard and fast and we’re sure that the spark within us has been doused and snuffed out.  It’s there, I promise you, it’s there.  Are you ready to blow life into that spark?  The horses and I are here, ready and waiting to encourage you, support you and stand alongside you as you rediscover the beautiful person God created you to be.  Are you ready to see yourself in and through His eyes?

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”  ❤

Barbed Beliefs

shallow focus photo of barbed wire

Photo by Linz Franciz on

“I feel like I’m a burden to them.  Like they don’t want me around.  I don’t want to be a burden.  I don’t want to be someone they don’t want to be around or that they just tolerate because they are too nice not to…”  Her voice trailed off as the tears quietly fell from her young eyes.  My heart ached as I stood in the Colorado sun on the opposite side of the round pen.  Quietly I asked her, “Is it fair to say that no child, teen, young adult, person, should ever feel like a burden to those who care for them?”  She searched my eyes for a long time before she shrugged her shoulders.  She’d felt like a burden for so long that it was foreign to even consider that what I was asking might be possible.  “I do not experience you as a burden.  Are you able to hear me as I make that statement to you?  Are you able to receive that as I share it with you?”  The anguished tears she’d been fighting back stole the opportunity to escape.  As she stared long and hard at me, I watched as the copper penny colored gelding walked in toward her.  “What did you just feel?  The thought that you just had, where did you feel it?”  I asked.  The gelding now standing next to her, his heart aligned with her heart.  She smiled through her tears and said, “I liked what you said.  That you don’t experience me as a burden.”  I smiled back at her through my own tears, “Sit with that girl.  Soak up that feeling.” 

He stood stoically in the round pen, eyes hidden behind his black aviator sunglasses, looking at the word, “Burden“, he’d written out on a sticky note and stuck to the mirror.  As the internal wrestling match raged between his head and his heart, I watched as the sweet, chocolate colored gelding stood quietly, holding space for him.  The gelding, completely tuned in to the long standing pain we were tapping into, offered his steady presence as a source of comfort for the man.  Over and over throughout his life he’d been told he was a burden and over and over throughout his life he’d received and accepted it as his truth.  He identified with it, it had become a part of who he saw himself to be.  “I don’t think I’ve ever said any of this out loud before.”  He said, breaking the connected silence between us.  “I’ve only said these things to myself …”  His voice fading as the emotion that came up threatened to overwhelm him.  The sweet gelding turned his head, looking intently at the man with ears pricked forward and deep amber eyes searching his soul.

I felt a tinge in my heart as the urge to hug him tight washed over me.  It wasn’t the man that needed the tight hug so much as it was the little boy in him who was told he was a burden over and over again, repeatedly reinforced by the one person that was supposed to love him unconditionally.  I took a deep breath, allowing my training to take over.  “Jess, you are trained to sit with pain.  Trust the process.  Don’t interrupt it.”, I reminded myself without a word being uttered.  I was the one to break the silence this time as I said to him, “I know this is uncomfortable.  If you are able to, allow yourself to sit with the emotion that is coming up.  There is no shame in tears that are asking to be shed.”  He nodded his head and the gelding turned to face him, fully engaged.

Like the sting from a cut smartly placed by the barb of a barbed wire fence, feeling like we’re burdening those we love is painful and the knowledge that we have been and/or that we are a burden can become part of a deafening tape that plays in our head leaving a person feeling like a failure, unworthy, worthless, and otherwise in some way, unlovable.  Joyce Meyer says, “Some people are hurting so bad that they can’t hear you when you say Jesus loves you, you have to show it to them.”  So many people are hurting so badly and have been hurt so deeply that the idea that they can be loved, valued and needed makes little to no sense.  The tape that plays on repeat in their head drowns out the love that we try to pour into them.

“I don’t believe it’s always fair to pull out these deeply rooted introjects, these things that someone has spoken over us and we’ve taken hold of as if they were ours to own, in an abrupt manner.  There are times that these things, these words spoken, are such a part of who we think we are that yanking them out by the root can be slightly terrifying.  So let’s gently work at the roots of this.  Are you game for that?”  He nodded his head and as he did, the gelding took a step toward him.

There are things that others have put on us as children, teens, young adults or mature adults that we’ve received as cold hard fact about ourselves without any facts or real time data to back it up.  Maybe you work 80 hours a week, go home and clean, cook, do yard work and yet believe you are lazy because someone has told you that at some point in your life.  Maybe you have multiple degrees, and can figure out complex issues and yet you believe you are stupid because somewhere along the line, someone told you that you were stupid.  Maybe, you have spent your life pushing yourself to win awards and accolades, accumulating wealth and material possessions in an attempt to prove your worth to the world after being told that you are worthless and would never amount to anything.  The list of things we believe about ourselves that are actually contradictory to who we really are is inexhaustible!  What if I told you that there is a way to root out those beliefs that you’ve carried with you, possibly your entire life, that are not yours to own and shed them once and for always?  I have a horse for that 😉

Learn more at:

“YOU are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”  ❤





Lying, Cheating & Being a …..

woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

My commentator is baaaack!  It’s been a while.  The latest “comment” or rather, rant, was with regards to the letter I wrote to a once close friend though I’m not sure what the comment had to do with what I’d written.  In that particular blog a couple weeks ago, I was talking about how taking offense happens and how the decision to forgive isn’t an easy one.  Apparently, I hit a chord in the commentator and this person couldn’t help but set up yet another bogus email address so they could spout off about those things with which there is no basis.  The comment, “Jackie Young” at left said, “Always the victim.  The common denominator in all your issues is you (ummmm … well, I am writing from my own first person experiences, so yes, I would be the common denominator within those particular issues I choose to write about.).  But you will never admit this because you are too wrapped up in making everything someone else’s fault and never accepting you might be the one responsible.  There is a reason you do not have friends (So, actually, I do, though I’m very, very, particular and dare I say, cautious, about who is in my tribe … a group of salty cowgirl types that share my language!).  People can only handle someone who is a liar, and a cheater and, well, a bitch, for so long (Agreed, though you must be mistaking me for someone else you “know”?).”

I have PG responses and then there are the R rated responses.  That fighting side of me laughs an evil laugh that says, “You poor, fool!  You have no idea the fire you are playing with.”

The other side of me says, “You poor, soul … so tangled up in your own unfinished business that your defenses and pre-programmed way of operating is clouding your vision as you overlay your own “stuff” onto me.” 

We all have two sides to us.  The side we want everyone else to see (think social media – puke) and the “dark side”, our underbelly, that we don’t want anyone to see!  I shared the letter I’d written, not to play the victim or to blame someone else for anything.  I shared that letter as a way of helping myself get more clear around something I’ve had little to no closure around.  You see, every time I see that person out “checking” their cattle on our property, what rises up in me is ugly!  It feels like an invasion of my space when the person willing to write me off feels that it is in some way, shape or form, appropriate to be on our property!  There is no lease agreement (that I know of), no payment for grazing fees (that I am aware of), nothing that gives them any sort of right to be here other than, their cattle have yet to be moved off our land, period.  As a high Introvert, I have tendencies toward being territorial and the idea that another person who’s chosen to hurt my heart, is brazen enough to rub my nose in that, is something that gets my blood boiling!  I don’t like feeling that way and as a believer, I am called to so very much more which includes, forgiveness.

So, as I asked that taunting side of my underbelly to go take a nap, I laughed to myself knowing that once again, the commentator is desperately attempting to hurt me the way they hurt.  I considered my options.  What’s so amazing about the work I do with the horses and clients is the borrowed benefit.  I learn so much about myself as clients sort through their own personal work!  This is what makes group work really powerful!  The borrowed benefit for everyone can be life changing.  I am a student of the Bible and I know that there is a lesson in this that God is sharing with me so long as I have ears to hear.  And so, I thought about what I wanted to do with “The Comment” and how was I going to choose to handle it.

To call someone names whom you don’t know personally and intimately is childish at best.  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not a liar.  As a matter of fact, I can’t lie to save myself.  Tried it on a time or two as a kid, there were, shall we say, “repercussions” and bottom line, I HATE being in trouble!  Not all of us have the same talents, right!?!  Lol!  I also know, I am not a cheater.  I have had ample opportunity over the years to cheat in numerous areas of life and for me, cheating requires lying which I’ve already shared, I’m terrible at, so cheating has never fit.  Now, am I a bitch?  I suppose that depends upon your definition of what that is to you.  We all define things differently and so though there are generalized ideas around what it means to be this type of person, the root of how the commentator defines this may be different from how I define it.

Here’s what I can say, I hold hard and fast to the boundaries I have set and for the most part, I am unwavering when it comes to this.  Some might say that makes me a bitch.  Once I’ve had my heart bruised up and broken over and over and over again by an individual, I write them off.  As in, I’m done, period.  That may make me a bitch to some.  I will speak directly and in a direct manner.  I have no use for beating around the bush or sugar coating things and so in my daily dealings, I will interact with others in the same way I appreciate them interacting with me.  People in general, tend to prefer someone who communicates their truths gingerly, cautiously and sugary. After all, we don’t want to upset anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings.  In my world, speaking the truth is showing love.  Being honest and sharing what’s coming up for me is a way of showing love and respect for others.  If I speak intending on hurting someone, then I need to get myself in check, however if speaking what’s true for me unintentionally hurts someone else, that is their responsibility for how they are feeling, not mine.  And yes, that may make me a bitch in people’s eyes.  Life is short and I choose to move through it with deep gratitude, joy and peace and I make no bones about where I stand.

Until a person begins to look at their own, personal unfinished business (those things from their past that come up and taint the way they see and experience the world) they will overlay that “stuff” onto others in their dealings and interactions.  We are the sum total of our experiences in our lives and how we react to current experiences can be shaped and clouded by things in our past that have required some sort of defense and strategy to step in to “protect” us.  Until this is brought into our awareness, we continue running amuck attacking others and spewing our venom all over the place, often times wondering why we’ve acted a certain way, again.  I encourage you, I encourage the commentator, to get quiet with yourself, feel into those emotions that come up for you regularly and ask yourself, “Where is this rooted?  Where do I feel this in my body?”  The answer may surprise you.  And, if your curiosity so inclines you to do more investigating, head over to my website to learn a bit more about what the horses and I do.

“YOU are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤

Offense & Bruised Hearts


Offense and forgiveness seem to go hand in hand.  I’ve never been one to take offense very easily.  I tend to be pretty thick skinned and if for nothing else, I see the good in others almost to a fault (at least in the world’s eyes).  There’s this naive side of me that chooses to believe the best, to forgive and forget each time the opportunity to take offense arises.  I would venture to guess it’s one set of characteristics that allowed me to stay in an abusive relationship for sooooo many years.

I’ve learned that there is something about not being heard, truly listened to and heard, that over time begins to accumulate.  It begins to build up and resentment threatens to take over.  In that space, anger and unforgiveness also threaten to step in.  I am in a space of learning to forgive souls that I once held precious in my life, who cut me deep.  Individuals that I pray for each day.

The following is a letter I wrote to one of them this past August, in hopes of sharing my truth, from my heart and being heard:

My Once Close Friend,

I don’t believe that we’ll sit down and have a heart to heart any time soon.  Maybe it’s better this way so you can read my words a few times instead of, if you’re like me, trying to replay a conversation in your head.  It’s hard for me to express myself clearly, verbally. Words get all jumbled up or worse yet, I simply cannot find the right words to what I’m thinking and feeling.  Maybe that’s part of why I stay quiet and to myself. I am far better versed on paper. I process through writing, I think as I write and I’m better able to express myself wholly and completely on paper.

I felt utterly blindsided when, after texting you to find out why you switched drivers in our driveway without so much as a wave hello, you told me you’d been upset with me for over a year!  A year … let that sink in. A whole year! You said that I’d given you the cold shoulder when we all went out for supper together one evening and you were pissed about it. I explained that I couldn’t remember us all going to supper much less any of the interactions of that particular evening.  I apologized to you and then replayed every interaction we’d had between the alleged incident and the present moment. Every ride we’d shared together, every puppy play date, events like the Parade of Lights and The American, you name it, I was replaying them all backwards, forwards, sideways and every direction imaginable for several days after our initial contact.  I wanted to figure out how it was possible that someone such as myself that tends to be so sensitive to the energy around me could have missed something like this. I felt like an ass knowing that I’d been going along as if nothing was wrong when in reality everyone around me knew something was wrong … except me! How was it possible that I’d said or done something to upset you enough that you held onto it for over a year!?!

Feeling as though I’d exhausted my memory, I stood in the doorway in tears days later as I realized that no matter how much I abused my brain and tried to remember something I was totally unaware had happened, I couldn’t and even if I could remember the incident, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to change it all this time later.  I went to bed that night feeling as defeated and shitty as a person can and I can’t help but ponder if that isn’t exactly where you wanted me …

The next day as I went about my morning routine, the phone rang.  My person was upset that I’d spent several days beating the shit out of myself and wanted to share what he recalled.  As I listened, I began to remember most everything. That nudge, that little jog in my memory brought things back clearly or as clearly as is possible after this much time has lapsed.  One of the last things you texted me was, “Don’t quit on this friendship.” The thing is, I already had … the day I quit was the day you claim I gave you the cold shoulder. You see, you’d repeatedly rejected me and hurt my heart and though I don’t remember the evening well, what I do remember is that I’d tapped out.  After calling you out many times and telling myself, “I’m out. I quit. I’ve had enough.” I finally meant it. This particular time, instead of calling you out, I decided I would save face and keep the peace. Not my way of going about things however I didn’t want to cause a rift between my person and yours. I’d learned that honesty isn’t taken at face value rather it’s spun up into blow ups and fighting as was the case when I was honest with our neighbor.  What I learned in that instance was that within this group, talking shit behind everyone’s backs was perfectly acceptable. Being honest, forthright and speaking my truth wasn’t. You see, I said everything everyone else whispered behind her back however when the rubber met the road, I was the roadkill. Note to self, keep your trap shut and so I did just that. To keep the peace that evening at supper, I was cordial, I was polite, I wasn’t rude, nasty and I sure as hell didn’t call you out like I could have.  I wasn’t overly friendly either and if that was interpreted as giving you the cold shoulder then yes, that is exactly what I did.

When you came over to the house, you said you wanted everything to go back to the way it was.  How exactly was that? Me regularly being shut down, rejected and used? I’m out. That’s not even remotely my definition of friendship.  It takes two for a relationship to be successful and I simply won’t do all the heavy lifting anymore. It’s exhausting.

What I thought you knew about me, though maybe you don’t, is that when I bolted out of my marriage, that split second decision completely changed the trajectory of my life.  I lost the family unit I’d fought so hard to keep pieced together, I lost the home I’d made, I lost all of my material possessions, I lost just about everything including my friends.  My friends, including my best friend and confidant of 15+ years scattered in the prairie breeze as that bomb detonated. People that I believed knew me, were the very people on his witness list, taking the stand and blatantly spewing well rehearsed lies under oath.  I quickly buttoned myself up tight. I became leery of everyone I came into contact with and trusted no one. When I needed my friends the most, there were none. 

When I met you and your now sister-in-law, I allowed my guard to come down a little.  My person knew you and considered you more friend than foe and I trusted his judgement.  I tried to be what I thought a good friend was. I’d check in on you when I hadn’t heard from you, I’d invite you to go ride, go camping, meet me for lunch or drinks, I offered feedback when the ex-partner of your partner was too much to deal with, held your drunk head while you sobbed, dropped everything to rush to your side when your sweet four legged companion died, I even ran a small gift over to your house when your baby was leaving for college, knowing how hard that must have been for you hoping that the small gesture would soothe your aching heart.  I thought what I was offering was what friendship is supposed to be. Slowly though I began to realize that it was quite possible, I had been trying over the years to be friends with someone who didn’t want my friendship. Why else would you say one thing and do another, repeatedly?

And so, I tapped out.  I figured you’d reach out if I was wrong.  You didn’t and so I buttoned myself back up.  I sat on the edge of the picnic table outside the reception hall at your wedding during the ceremony, meat thermometer in one hand, greasy paper towel in the other feeling as lonely as I have in a really, really long time.  Checking chicken, putting the done pieces in a pan, I imagined what a spectacle I must be, pretty white paisley dress, heels and hair all done up standing in the billowing smoke of the Traeger instead of where I had once assumed I’d be, standing alongside you as you said your vows.    

As badly as I would love to have friends here, I’m damn good at doing my own thing and being alone.  I entertain myself for the most part and keep busy doing the things that need done around here. I’d take that over regular rejection and heartache any day.  I don’t know where things go from here. My person encouraged me to send this in hopes that if nothing else, it eases the hurt in my heart. He’s a smart, intuitive man and so I’m following his advice.  If I don’t talk to you again, I wish you the best of luck in your new adventures.   


Forgiveness is a work in progress for me.  I don’t want to forgive so much because I feel I should, as I want to be free of the offense, the hurt feelings, that I have been carrying for well over 6 months now.  I want to quench the anger and resentment I feel each time I see or hear about those I once counted as close friends.  And so, I will continue to pray for my enemies, not in hopes that friendships will ever be reconciled, rather because believing for blessings in someone’s life who’s bruised up your heart, takes far more strength and courage and results in far greater personal growth, than holding onto the hurt and pain.

What hurt and pain are you holding onto?  We are all works in progress and the horses and I are here to support you as you navigate your own personal path, forgiving others and healing.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave”  ❤