The journey to manifest our own land for the Singing Horse Herd starts waaay back. Although to be honest, we started trying to find/buy land 6 years before I even got Zorra. I’ve been tracking this journey – otherwise there’s no way I’d remember the details! – here on the blog and just saving them in my Drafts folder as the years have ticked by. I think it’s time to bring you into this journey with us, so you can track alongside as it unfolds. Because, if I leave it any longer, I won’t have a series of blog posts, I’ll have a book!
Back in 2014, my Andalusian mare, Zorra, founded our herd of 11 amazing beings. She kind of sits at the apex, directing things – visioning, guiding. Six people now – including my own mother – have told me that Zorra is just like me, in horse form. My mother exclaimed (in her British accent): “But how is it that a horse can look like you? And do you remember, when I first saw Zorra, I said I just knew/felt that you both had come from the same place!”
A year later, Zorra’s suggestion that we get another horse led to 4 more horses (Aude, Montaro, Jax and then Aude birthed Juno) being added to the 5 acre property I was leasing. And then our landlords, being smitten with my herd, acquired 2 horses of their own – which meant we could no longer all fit on that property. Especially since my herd rejected the newcomers. This is where my desire for our own land – where we couldn’t be kicked off, or subject to a landlord’s whims – cranked up a wee notch or two.
The universe brought our next leased property to us as I was shopping in Home Sense. My neighbour’s sister-in-law came up to me and asked if I knew anyone who wanted to board their horses on the 27 acres of land where she was renting the house? It was a massive undertaking of fencing, clearing barns filled with junk, putting in gates, feeders, dry gravelled areas, etc. But where else was I going to be able to keep my 5 horses together on a beautiful piece of land with pasture, creek and forest?
Not only did I have to invest a lot of money into someone else’s land, the person who owned the land lived in Beijing and had never even seen it. He was holding it as an investment property to either sell to a developer, or develop it himself once it was approved for townhome or condo zoning. So right from the start, I knew we were in a temporary, precarious position. As I poured tens of thousands of dollars into this land that I would never get back – and no one else would even benefit from, because it was all going to be bulldozed – my frustration with the universe grew and grew.
I live near Vancouver, where land is the most expensive in all of Canada – five acres with an old house costs over $2 million. We could not afford it. But as business owners, why couldn’t the universe make our business take off? Or why couldn’t family contribute? Perhaps an inheritance or benefactor could materialize? Perhaps an investor would like to partner up with me? Nope. Nada. Every pathway I tried lead to a dead end.
By our second year (it’s now 2017) on the could-be-kicked-off-at-any-moment land, I notice Zorra is behaving strangely. I spend 3 weeks pondering her odd behaviour…
Every time I arrive, I see that Zo is on her own; apart from the herd. If they are in the barn, she is alone in the field. If they are in the woods, she is in the pasture at the edge of the woods. If they are in the field, she is alone in the barn. She is not far away; but one step removed, or adjacent, to wherever they are.
When I tune into her and observe her body language… she is not unhappy, or worried, or tense. She is content and calm and seems quite happy, or at least settled. A few times, she hasn’t even come in for her supplements – which include ground flax and carrots! For a horse that is known to be food-oriented, this is strange indeed.
I ponder the needs or messages of Zorra’s horse-self and I also ponder the messages of her spirit-self.
Horse as mirror
Zo came to me with a history of being bullied from an early age by her sister. She was your classic lowest on the totem pole horse and along with that she was not very confident. She wouldn’t go off on her own too much (unless she was with me), or lead the herd anywhere. So as I observed this new behaviour, I wondered if she was developing her sense of self – as complete, as sufficient on her own. Rather than fearful, or always dependent on the others. At the same time I worried that she was the odd one out – as the other four horses are all blood-related family.
MIRROR: I often feel alone in my family – Ohmegosh there are 5 of us too! My husband and 3 kids all have similar likes: noise, loud music, high activity, go-go schedules, super social and they love the city. None of them want to live on land and they all want to stay in the city. This makes me feel sad. I perceive at a new level how aligned my family are, with me standing apart in many aspects.
I wonder if Zo is simply mirroring my situation at home? Or if she is showing me that, Hey, it’s okay to be apart from the herd. Maybe she is encouraging me to own that space; rather than feeling sad, or wishing things were different…
I spend the rest of that week exploring, experimenting with the feeling of recognizing and fully accepting that I am apart from my family in certain aspects – and maybe there’s a way for that to be okay.
I desperately want to live on my own land, preferably off-grid and self-sustaining. But I also want to live with my family. I’ve felt trapped in an either/or scenario where either one alone would make me unhappy. All the happiness of my dream ranch wouldn’t erase the unhappiness of not cuddling, reading stories, and tucking my 11-year-old son into bed each night. You see what I mean? I need both, but I can’t have both.
At the same time all this is going on, I have also been trying to heal Patulous Eustachian Tube (PET) in my left ear, after a flight home from Mexico in January. PET is where the eustachian tube remains open; so you hear yourself breathing, your own voice is louder, you get tinnitus and/or your ear feels clogged. As a holistic health writer, I was using supplements, getting more sleep and also looking closely at the energetic/spiritual message of this affliction: My ear is speaking to me; what is it saying?
So I was looking at all aspects of listening/hearing – because that’s what the ear does – asking myself, ‘Who, or what, am I not hearing?’ or ‘Am I listening to other voices, when I should just be listening to my own?’ and so on. And then Jess Campmans, intuitive channel, sent me this message from her horse Annie:
“Annie shares the wisdom of seeing through the eye of the beholder, and that the inner sight is often more palpable when witnessed… super interesting! She showed me an image of her head and neck and then drew me into the depth of her eye. But she has gone back to showing me the image of her head and neck again. Just wondering if that area resonates with you right now, at all?”
Um, yes! I told Jess about my ear trouble and she responded:
“I get the image of her putting her ear to the ground, and the feeling/idea of “draining”, but on much more than an ear level. And as I type this, I am getting the sense of a great deal of energy “build up” in behind my eyes/third eye area. And as I type that, I am now yawning, so there is definitely something to this message for you! And more… that this pressure, or pressing of energy, almost feels like an idea or project that you have taken on and is trying to be processed through in a way that is not in alignment with what your body is wanting for you. Let me know if any of this makes sense.”
To which I replied:
“Hmmm… that is so very interesting. I am faced with two projects right now that feel overwhelming for my body – the first is this new mare Kaliah; I feel a pressure to take the other pregnant mare (that came with her from the same herd) – which would make FOUR new horses as both are in foal. I don’t have the facilities, or even the desire, for that many new horses!
The second is that two elephants made spiritual/energetic contact with me at the Healing With Horse Symposium in Sonoita, AZ last year – kept me up all night until I wrote down their names and drew their picture and they told me, “You don’t need to do anything, we will find you.” Then last week, they came to me again in a dream and the female told me her name and in the dream I said, “Oh, you’re my elephants” recognizing the name from the Sonoita connection. This too TOTALLY freaks my body out – the load/challenge/stress of caretaking for elephants is WAY out of my comfort zone. And just where would the land be – and how much land would we need for the horses and the elephants? My M.O. is to trust the universe, no matter what. But elephants?!? That just pushes me right over the edge.
Lastly, on the work front, my lead horse Montaro told me a few days ago that I need to do less work as I am putting way too much pressure on myself. Wait–what?? EUREKA!! So the eustachian tube staying open is not about listening, it is about my body’s attempt to open a release valve to DRAIN PRESSURE!
So… if I figure out a better, long-term way to drain the pressure, then my body can release. Thank you!”
Isn’t that totally cool?! The Australian aboriginals believe the higher self (or spiritual self) uses our physical body to deliver messages to us. Each of us has our own crystal ball, or internal guidance system; because the body is the densest part of the soul. So when things go wrong with my physical body, I immediately say to myself, “My body is speaking… what is it saying?” I have had countless experiences where, as soon as I ‘get’ the message, the symptom disappears.
Okay, so hold that piece, I’ve had my revelation about the need to drain and take the pressure off myself, and now let’s go back to the storyline with Zorra…
After spending a week sitting with the idea of it being okay for me to be apart from my family energetically; in my desires, my goals, etc. And that separation doesn’t need to affect our love, closeness or bond. And reminding myself (once again) that the divine/universe doesn’t need me to figure out the HOW, I only need to define WHAT I desire and leave the rest up to Source. And after receiving this profound message about draining pressure from Jess and Annie… I pull up to the barn and Zorra is in there together with the herd!
I watch closely to see whether this is just a one-off fluke, or if Zo really is back in with the herd. She is indeed back with the clan, but what unfolds next is a series of tag-team teaching from the herd as they communicate some pretty complex concepts in a way that gives me a visceral-level of awareness – not just head-learning, but full-body experiential learning. They need to teach me the next piece about removing pressure; and how this relates to my body and to my ability to manifest the ranch of our dreams…
The energy of pressure
The first thing that happens is Zo comes up to me in the big barn and pushes me abruptly with her nose into my abdomen – jab, jab. This is her way of asking me to scratch her ears. And I don’t like it! I’ve been trying to teach her to ask softly. I say to her, “Zo! I am not a moron, I watch closely and I am very capable of understanding what you want without you pushing into me. I’m not going to respond when you ask like that, because it feels yucky to me – it’s rude and aggressive.” I walk away and scoop some manure into the wheelbarrow.
Then Audelina walks up to me, stands a couple of feet away, and with her soft gaze and the quality of her energy, let’s me know that she’d like to be scratched. I turn to Zorra and say, “Did you see that? Do you feel the difference between how she’s asking and how you asked? And look, I understand perfectly what she wants and I’m going to give it to her.”
As I scratch Aude’s ears, Zorra looks on, and I say to her, “You don’t need to push and push on me. I am attentive, I read energy, and the way Aude asked, made me happy to give her what she wants. You see?” I move to scratch Audelina’s fetlocks, “This is how you need to learn to be. To just ask respectfully and wait until I can give it to you. I understand what you want, and sometimes there are other things I need to do first – things that you don’t understand, but I do. So you just gotta trust me okay?” I’m now scratching Aude’s favorite place – her udder, “If you can ask like this, Zo – where you are not pushing into me, or pressuring me to do what you want right now – then this is also pleasurable for both of us. Rather than being a chore, it’s something I enjoy doing, because we’re sharing love, we’re both relaxed. See how much nicer this is?”
MIRROR: As I’m saying all this – in between my two big mamas – I realize that they have shown me the message I needed to hear. As Zo and I continue in the mirror dynamic, she has just shown me how I have been behaving towards the universe, as I push and pressure the Divine to give me what I want! And how my impatience translates energetically into more pressure.
And what is the message from my ear? Take the pressure off. Drain, release the pressure!
Right after Zorra’s behaviour held up a mirror to the energetic space I was inhabiting; the yucky, impatient, frustrated, pressured way I was asking the universe to meet my need, to give me the land and lifestyle I want, Audelina came and showed me the better way to ask for what I want:
To keep my energy soft, standing in total trust that I am heard, that I am understood, and the divine wants to share love with me in this way. And if it takes a while, that is because there are important, even crucial, things that need to be done first, that I may not understand. And I just need to wait respectfully, with total trust in our relationship, keeping my energy soft and open. I don’t need to keep asking. I have been heard. And understood.
When I receive a message from my horses, I always verbalize my realizations out loud. I speak it out. This helps me lock in the knowledge, or awareness. And then I say thank-you, Namaste, to each of them. I continued clearing manure from the barn as I pondered the profound wisdom I’d just received.
Calm, quiet strength
At the same time, I watched a herd dynamic I’d seen played out over a hundred times. Zorra has come a long way from when she first arrived as the very insecure, easily bullied horse. And the herd has done a great job of teaching her how to speak Horse again, but, compared to them, her communication is still OTT (over the top). They whisper, she yells. They’re Japanese, she’s Italian.
I’ve noticed that the two top leaders of the herd – Montaro and Audelina – are also the most respectful with me. They move off quickly when I ask, they wait patiently for their feed dish, they don’t try to grab hay out of the wheelbarrow when I’m packing the slow feeders, and so on. Montaro (top dog) is also the best at sharing with every member of the herd. As long as their energy is calm and respectful, he will peacefully share his hay with anyone.
As I fork up manure, I watch Zorra get driven off a feeder by Aude. And then I watch how she asks to come back in the barn – I perceive the pushy quality of her energy as she’s asking. And I watch Aude say no. Eventually Zorra goes round to a feeder at the other side of the barn. And then a bit later I watch how Jax walks up to Zorra’s feeder and Zo immediately juts out her head, threatening to bite him. He swerves his head away and moves closer to the hay. She shuffles back a bit, while lunging her neck forward as she bites his neck. Now he’s had enough – he pushes his energy out and juts his head towards her and she wheels off.
I have seen this over and over again. Zorra either misinterprets the ask to share food, or, she doesn’t want to share. If you were new to the barn, you might feel sorry for her and perceive her as the victim, as you watch her driven off by the others. Or waiting and waiting to be let in to share with them. But if you watched carefully, repeatedly over time, you would realize that she creates the drama. That the others only make her wait when her energy is pushy. As soon as she relaxes and takes the pressure off, they let her in. She also chooses to stand there and wait, rather than going to another feeder!
I wonder why Zorra can’t stand strong in herself IN the herd? Why she can’t see that they will respect and welcome her more if she can – with calm strength – be her strong, magnificent self. The pseudo-strength they reject is when her movements, responses, or ‘asks’ are all over the top – way too strong, bossy, or frantic/panicked when there is no need to be. She just needs to chill the frick out and stand in quiet strength, carry out her actions with calm energy. Like Juno and Montaro model for her.
MIRROR: I wonder if this is a lesson for me in how I need to hold my space within my human family. Perhaps this is the way I need to proceed with my desire to live on land. Rather than creating drama around the fact that I am the only one who wants to live on a ranch, but yet I don’t want to be apart from my family, and how will that ever work?? How about I just relax about it all? What if I just hold my desire/intention for my heart’s desire, with calm, quiet strength, and trust that it will all work out?
I then think about my husband Ian saying, “I won’t be living here in the winters in 3 years time. My body needs the sun and I’m going to give it what it needs.” He doesn’t talk to the kids about it, he’s not asking me for permission. When I ask him how that’s going to work with the kids’ schooling, or sports, etc., he says, “I don’t know. It will work out. Even if I just get a place in San Diego and go down for a week every month, that’s fine. I have no idea what everyone else is going to be doing, I’m just telling you what I’m doing.”
Hunh. I think to myself, ‘Why don’t I say that??’ Why can’t I just quietly stand strong in myself, IN my family? Leave all the logistics to the universe, and just calmly state my desire and intention. That would take the pressure off my family members, it would be respectful to their desires and their life path. It’s not pushy, or frantic, or bossy. Nor is it rejecting anyone – because I am at peace not knowing how it’s going to work out. I know that the universe hears and understands each person’s desires and, somehow, it will all work out.
Wow. That’s a whole lotta learning in one afternoon and I know I’ll be pondering these concepts a lot over the next few weeks. Searching, visioning, planning, designing my dream ranch is something that’s been at the forefront of my mind for years. And judging by the stories in the comments section on my previous blog post about the search for land, many others are walking the same process.
Every business and life coach talks about the importance of setting goals, of striving to make it happen, of being focused and relentless, and never taking ‘no’ for an answer. And here the horses just gave me the complete opposite instructions.
Oh you can dwell in that place of pressure if you want to (Zorra), but see how much better this way feels? And how it accomplishes the same thing in an easy, enjoyable way? (Aude). My mind was whirling, but my body had just received a felt experience of what each way feels like – the energy that goes out to the universe as a result of each position. That is a lot to take in!
Bring it home
If you’re currently going through a similar process, or thwarted desire, or inability to shift a situation, pull out your journal and do this simple, yet powerful exercise from Bill Burnett at the Stanford Design School & School of Engineering:
Designing your life: Brainstorm your possible futures and make three Odyssey Plans
“I like to do a thought experiment with my students. I say, “physicists have demonstrated that this multiverse-thing might be real; there are multiple parallel universes that are one right next to each other. Let’s say you could live in all the multiverses simultaneously. Not only that, but you’d know about your life in each one of these instances. You could be a ballerina and a scientist and a CPA or whatever else you ever wanted to be. You could have all these lives in parallel, so how many lives would you want?”
I get answers from 3 to 10,000, but on average, most people think they have about 7 ½ really good lives that they could live.
Then I say, “Great! There are more lives than one in you. So let’s go on an Odyssey and ideate those other lives. We’re going to ideate your future – and you can’t ideate just one — you have to ideate three.”
There’s some research from the Stanford School of Education that says if you start with three ideas and you brainstorm from there, you get a much richer and a wider range of ideas. The ideas are more generative and lead to better solutions than if you’d just started with one idea and brainstormed from there. I also think there’s something magical about threes. When we help people imagine three completely different lives, we’ve found that it can be transformational.
To guide them, we give them this rubric.
Life #1 is the life and job that you’re currently living — just make it better. Put in all the bucket list stuff you want to do. Maybe you want to go to the Galapagos or write a book or bicycle across the country. It’s your life and your job as you’re living it now, but your job goes great and your life includes all the extra interesting things that you’ve thought about doing.
For Life #2, let’s pretend that your job just doesn’t exist anymore. The AI and robots have come, and your job has disappeared. What are you going to do instead? What will you do if Life #1 goes away?
And for Life #3, this is your wild card plan. What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money? If you had enough money — not so much that you’re fabulously wealthy but enough and to live on — what would you do? And what would you do if you knew no one would laugh at you? Maybe you’d go to study butterflies for a living or be a bartender in Belize. Whatever, it’s your wildcard!
What happens when people do these Odyssey Plans is that they realize that these three parallel lives are all pretty interesting. And doable. They also realize there are things, life ideas, that got left behind in the business of life and bring them back into their plans. Sometimes, because of this exercise, folks decide to pivot to an entirely different life plan. Mostly they use this as a method to ideate all the possible wonderful ways that they could live.”
Click here for PART 2…