Tag Archives: confidence

Ride On

I learned a lot about myself the other day.  My daughter and I had been dreaming of going horseback riding together for a long time. Impatiently, in February, she would beg me to go. I would call the riding stables and get the inevitable answer, “It’s too cold.”  She had almost given up hope. Not until this week did I finally make the call again, and found the right stable (Heartland Equestrian) to make our dream come true.

heather and nevada in stable

I had also “gotten off my horse” in other ways. After a successful run last year of Evolutionary Woman workshops, and a retreat, I was buzzing with how much I could do. But the inevitable creature of doubt proceeded to chip away at my confidence again, as Christmas turned into New Years and New Years into Spring.  Like the horse that I didn’t ride all winter, she was still waiting for me. Other things distracted me, some fun, and some responsibility.

krista on bella 2

But here I am again, facing that wide saddle, that devilish creature unknown to me. Will it buck me off, will it rub its face into my neck, will we be friends? Or will I run the other way screaming, “Help! Get me off this thing!”

Metaphors are funny, I know. They can turn the other way, and they don’t always work perfectly.  But the truth is, I did get back on.  And this creature was unknown to me, but I wasn’t.  That creature was me!

 

Here are some things I learned while riding my horse, Bella, English style (new to me):

  1.  I have to be the rider! No huffing and hawing, no more daydreaming or we’ll be off in the bushes.
  2. The instructor said “visualize a circle” and lead her around the cones. If you think it with your mind, your body and the horse will follow.
  3. Sometimes the steering is counter-intuitive. If I want to go left I push with my right leg, and vice versa. A new way of being.
  4. Talk to the horse so she knows what you’re doing, so you don’t startle her. Same with people.
  5. Care for the horse before and after, brushing, saddling and cleaning out the hooves – it builds trust, it’s a relationship.heather trotting with nevada
  6. Walk before you run (or trot). It’s harder than you think. The hardest lessons are the basics. Master them first.
  7. If you’re ready to trot, give a little kick (start), then hang on to the reigns (but not too tightly or you’ll stop!)
  8. The hardest part is to keep going without falling off.
  9. Afterwards you’re going to sleep like a rock. And you’re going to be sore for days. But you’ll feel great.
  10. Keep going back. Eventually you’ll be riding into the sunset.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a horsewoman, but I learned something about myself as a rider. My life can be a perfect circle, one of the hardest thing to master, if I just keep it simple, keep command of myself, and stay on the course in front of me.  Maybe I haven’t experienced freedom yet, the hair blowing in the breeze, the confidence and ease, because it’s all new to me.

But someday, I will be going through that open field with the world in front of me…

heather and minis

P.S. My daughter proudly pointed out that she was a better trotter than me. She could trot effortlessly. And she loved the “minis”.  As we left we smelled the air and enjoyed a perfect sunset. It was heaven. And yes, we’ll be going back again. 🙂

 

Haley Flies Through the Mountaintops

1400 miles. 6 days. Up the Pacific Coast and down the interior of Southern CA.  What does it matter where we stayed and what we did? This isn’t a travel blog. It’s a “course” in miracles.  What did I learn? Let me attempt to recreate.

Every time we got on the road I had an “anticipation”.  A deliberate expectation that formed in my mind unconsciously, but undeniably formed like  a phantom waiting for me at the next gate.  When we stopped to search, we inevitably found a new way. Our “radar” was on, our GPS loaded. We had a destination, after all. But the in between was unsettling at times.  I had to let go.

The long stretch of road, the flowering weeds, the smell of wheatgrass and mountain air. There was a wide openness out there. Something that couldn’t be seen or controlled. The road may wind one way, but our minds go another. We “think” we know where we’re going, but we never do.

Sometimes I would drowse. Sometimes I would take the wind in my hair. Sometimes I would eat and fidget in my chair, sometimes I would take the driver’s seat…

[slideshow]

Video of my mountaintop drive coming soon…

We were coming back to the coast after a long trip up and through San Fransisco. We had barely stopped for a rest. We found this little way back unexpectedly, not the highway, but the bi-way through the mountaintops. The  most scenic route on the map.  Steve asked if I wanted to drive. I hesitated.  Something in me knew. When I took the wheel, my lazy, numb-brained “along for the ride” self suddenly shifted into full awareness, out of the dream and into the bright landscape of trees, dust, and curves. I felt every bend, my eyes fully fixed on the road. My breathing controlled and smooth, my mind entranced with what I could do, elated at my sudden rush of power, confident in my handling at the wheel, amused by my “passenger” squirming a little in his seat, amazed at my ability and nerve.  This excited me further.

I had changed from nervous passenger glowering over mountaintops, to fully-alive, fiery Mountain Woman toppling the great unknown.
 
Slow cars pulled over.  I was riding with the Harleys.
 
Adventure was in.  Fear was out.  All hats were off!
 
The mountain which had previously threatened me now held me perfectly.

Haley was flying through the mountaintops*.

* See Haley Sings to the Mountaintops and Special Edition: Haley’s Comet Anniversary & Me .

How did I assimilate this experience into the rest of my trip? Every moment was a new moment to let go. Let go of expectations. Of what hotel to stay in. Or what tomorrow will bring. Let go of “I want it this way” or “I can’t do that”. Let go.  Every day is a day to take the driver’s seat. That doesn’t mean you boss the world around or know exactly what to do. But somehow, in the moment, as the road presents itself, and the general destination looms over the mountaintops, you know what to do.

Just drive.

P.S. The last morning as I was lying in bed thinking about what I still wanted to do, I roused my partner and ordered him to the car. “I want to swim in the ocean.” I said powerfully. He listened. We drove in our bathing suits and parked on Venice Beach, a few miles away from our quiet sanctuary in Marina Del Rey. The water was too quiet for me today. I needed the ocean to stir my appetite.  We bounded into the waves. It was cold. I didn’t care. It was 8:30AM and the only other person was a surfer in full body suit. Our skin was naked against the salty air.  I wasn’t satisfied until I soaked my hair. Crazy gangly sea-things washed up against my leg and I shivered and jumped.  I went farther, dipped down, then up and away! riding the last wave…

How can I push the envelope this minute? What can I do differently? What will scare me a little and make me wake up? That is how to stay ALIVE.

Thank you California, and Marina Del Rey. Highway 33, 105 and Tulare. Marilyn Monroe in Santa Maria, and the elephant seals in Morro Bay. There is so much more to say. Maybe I’ll get around to it, maybe someday.

In the meantime, I’ll drive my way.

 

P.S. Here’s the video of my mountaintop drive, for those of you who aren’t too squeamish!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvKxA7Ifo44. Enjoy!

 

Preamble to Day 30…

 
Where I am right now:
Undoctored.
Philosophy?
Never.
 
I’m right here, I am
Looking at you
Looking at me
No apology
That’s who I am
You see.
Let’s hit the road
 
I’m  not lying
I don’t need anything more than this,
This is perfect, right like this
That look of complaint is gone
Replaced by unclouded honesty
At home in itself.
Past landscapes,
Ever changed
The perfume of time
Richly deserving a rest
Lingers on my face and chest
Open to the sky…
 
 
Mmm… the fragrance of my body and mind
Who I am this time.

Day 29: “Just a Little Trim, Darling!”

I’ve heard that one before!  Do you remember sitting in the chair, your little five-year old legs dangling helplessly over the edge, barely able to see the mirror or defend yourself?  The scissors loom in the air, the snip-snip-snips proceed, the locks fall hopelessly lost, dangling in one last fight across your toes. Well, there it goes. All your plans and deliberations. What you thought was OK. Sliced, slithered, solemnified in a quick and careless change.

This preamble came from my husband’s suggestion that I write about cutting the lawn! Since he did it and not me, I figured that wasn’t fair. Though it looks nice enough. It reminded me of my room recently changed in an instant with new summer attire. Suddenly fresh and pretty as a rose, instead of the dark and heavy covers of winter.

I have grown used to change. Nothing really phases me – well, nothing yet.  I love it. I crave it. A new hair colour? Great! Red. A new pair of shoes? Let’s try a wedge. A change in direction, life path –  UUUURRKK!! as I put on the breaks. That is my haircut trauma of 5.  Short bangs I never asked for, and crooked no less.  All my long-lost wavy locks challenging me on the floor.  What do I do now?  Try to look cute with short hair.

This goes deeper than that, of course. But for some, their hair is as sacred as anything else. It’s just a symbol after all.

What would I like to trim now? Hmmmm…..

Here’s my wish list for my future self, a reflection in the mirror of change that I will to be in advance:

She is powerful, that is for sure. Willful at times, with a brilliant smile. White suit. Standing strong.  Helping others, speaking from her heart. Spotlight hovers. Short wavy hair. Sparkling eyes.  A song in her step. Graceful wiles.  She hands me a business card. It reads:

The Miracle is You

Do I recognize her after this life-lift? Yes, I do. That’s me, tried and true.

So when I look a-mess, and the lawn isn’t cut, or the bed is in disarray, I walk across the mirror and see her standing there, that woman in the mirror. She is gleaming still. She knows something better. There is nothing to be afraid of. Nowhere else to go. Just step in, step out, and be there.

A little change ‘ll do ya!

All the change in the world will lead me right back to YOU.

Day 26: Confidence

Confidence. Where does that come from? How does one situation bring out the “worst” in us, and another the “best”?  How does something which seemed impossible and forever “Far Away” suddenly seem close, doable and “no-problemo”?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a bad audition. Remember that? And how I felt “Intimidated”. I did my best. I prepared. I did everything I should. Everything! But nothing would make me feel comfortable. Something was off. And, I discovered, it wasn’t just me.

But that’s not the point. it’s not about blame. It’s not about saying “well that’s just the way it is” or “it’s this person’s fault”. Dumb people!  There is no question that some circumstances seem blessed, and others bound to fail. Maybe it’s luck, and maybe it’s something not so obvious.

In the last week and a half I’ve had 3 auditions that were very different. Do you know what changed?

Me.

I got tired of trying to please. Trying to be “on” all the time. Trying to be the “actor”.  I thought:

“What the hell do I have to lose? Why not just do it the way I want?Not try too hard – relax, go to bed early, get up, get ready and go do it.  “No big deal”.

And it wasn’t a big deal – why give it more energy than it’s worth? Why make a big fuss like I usually do (and make everyone miserable in the process)?

And it worked!  Somehow the magic spell was cast of : “No big deal”  Whether I got the part or not, I don’t know. But something in me changed.

It’s not that I didn’t care. But I cared less. I was “carefree”.

I was more concerned with myself, my own happiness, than whether I was doing it “right”, or they liked me or not.

Funny thing is, I think they did! I got some good vibes.  I didn’t get as nervous. I still did my best (but how much more can you do, really?). There was no more to do.

Where does confidence come from? Maybe it’s me. Or maybe it’s Grace. Maybe it’s picking your numbers right like Russian Roulette. I don’t think so.

It isn’t chance that got me this way. It’s that moment of Grace to give in and finally say – “I’m not concerned”.  “I was born this way”.  “I’m OK. I’ve got what it takes. That’s enough!  If they don’t like it – tough!”

That’s not defensive. That’s sane, right and confident.  Sometimes you have to be that way. Sometimes you have to take care of yourself. Sometimes you have to say, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

Oh, I was nice. Don’t get me wrong. But not caring too much is half the charm.

roadtrip to "Confidence"

P.S. One more thing may have helped – those fancy new shoes I wore on the last day. I purchased them on a road trip to PA with my girlfriend.  Riding in a convertible with the top down,  wind in my hair, strappy sandal heels over newly painted toes  – fuschia.Something good about life, there. Something good about life, period.

There is nothing more to do tonight. Except a little glass of wine to celebrate, and relax. For another day, another surprise, another circumstance, another rainbow. Or a great big rain!. A glorious lightning show (remember, that?).

Ah, Life is Good. Let me just leave it at that.

Day 14: I Belong!

This morning I went to a yoga class I hadn’t been to in a while. That’s me, slipping in and out of things – alarming! Seriously, I ask myself, why do I get into things and then back away? I was even tempted to start all over – find another, better class; another, better teacher. But somehow, it all comes back to me. What am I so afraid of? That they won’t like me? That I won’t like them?

Are there really any better “anybodies” out there?…

I took a course last summer that changed my life – the Feminine Power series, with Katherine Woodward Thomas and Claire Zammit. I learned we women need to belong; we need to feel we are an integral part of something and that our contribution matters.  And our way of stopping that is to over-do and try to please others, while “sabotagingly” (yes, I invent words) neglecting our own needs, wishes, desires. Our own Power.  There are many ways this shows up:  perfectionism, fear of failure, wanting to be loved but pushing other people away ( “reject them first”), working too hard or hiding behind work (“maybe I’ll get promoted and then they’ll like me”); hiding behind other people who know more than we do; pretending to like things we don’t just to fit in; and sacrificing ourselves as a whole.  It doesn’t matter what it is; I saw “me” looking back at myself – backing away from things, from people, from life.  A lot of it, disturbingly, spoke to me.

The solution is obvious but alarmingly overlooked: there is nowhere else and nobody else to go but within my own self, to talk to that troubled girl and help her find her balance again. Her strength. We learned to make power statements that spoke to this deepest part, to stand in the strength of our best internal instincts – our fierce protection of what matters, just as we would protect a child. The part that cries “No!” or “Yes!” without any hesitation at all.  Or my way of saying it:

The Lioness in Us Will Never Lay Down

I Belong. I am an integral part of Life. I have a right to be here. My contribution matters. I matter. I am a unique, perfect and absolutely irreplaceable part of the Universe. I cannot be annihilated or forgotten. I Belong! Damnit!

So, today, as I walked back into that class, I hesitated at the door and said these simple words to myself first: “I Belong.” I breathed in and imaged all the pleasant faces I would encounter, and the energy I would have.  This is what I heard and saw upon entering:  my previous teacher sitting pleasantly with some others in a colourful room brightly lit, cheerful music playing, sunny smiles abounding, and her eyes happily lit:

“KRISTA!!!…. Oooh, Where have you been?!!…..”  (Her hands sweetly hugging her chest)… “We MISSED YOU!!!….”

I will never, never do that again. Assume I don’t belong. Or that they don’t want me.  I was wrong. Beyond wrong – because I missed out on their life, and they missed out on mine. I realized through their eyes, their smiles, how dynamic I was, how much I brought to them.

Whether you know it or not, whether people tell you or not, you are needed in this universe of things. I no longer seek another, better universe to belong to.  I Belong now. I’ll take this one, and – whether it pats me on the back or not – this one is more than happy to take me.

chorus of song

Remember Mr. Percival Singing?  I Belong!!

YES!!

Day 10: Anxiety and The Chorus of Dreams (Sing!)

I’m not sure what to call it:  this inexplicable feeling of unease, at times wafting through me unawares. I am going about my business, preparing for my daughter’s Brownie graduation, actually sewing (yes, me!) the final badges she’s received onto the veritable Brownie sash on the very last possible night – to be seen for all of 15 minutes in the briefest of ceremonies. (But the kids had fun.)

So what is this wafting sense of alarm as I am riding in the car? Or walking down the street? The birds are singing their usual chorus, I am walking to the beat, while the dog is running straight ahead.  Maybe it’s something like a bad dream that wakes you up in the middle of the most perfect summer night… There is no explaining it. We can try.

But it all comes down to this:  Does it really matter what fear is for? Does it really matter why we are afraid? Why we wake up in alarm, when there is no clear or present danger?  Maybe it is a signal from above, or from below. Maybe it is the carrier of change in the breeze.  The train coming at us, or for us, or the one we are riding on – it is all the same.  Some danger can be avoided; most is just our resistance to what lies ahead. Is it a cliff?  A drop-off point?  Or, the point of no return? Isn’t that…  a good thing?

Sometimes I am grateful for the sound of an alarm bell going off, when I really have to go.  And sometimes, it is best to bang the damn thing off and go back to sleep, lulling in the morning air and that faint and tasty dream; dispelling all rumours of noise and forgotten slings and arrows. It’s time to put our swords down – our impulse to protect and defend everything.  It’s time to Sing.

I find myself singing all the time lately…  Not professionally, though that was extraordinarily fun to sing in front of a live audience (and get paid!).  No, it is just as much fun, beyond fun – downright Joyous ! – to sing out loud in the midst of a chaotic front the world puts on.  All its soldiers lined up, coffee cups stained with resistant defense against the dawn.  No, this is the time to move on.  Move on, my friends, move on.  Join the choir of song that is sounding out loud in the  morning, even if you are still luxuriating in your treetop bed of surprises.  As I lay there, I think of what I am grateful for, even if I still feel a bit of distrust.

To join the day, unaware of what lies ahead, to join Life, not knowing what it or I shall bring, breeds excitement, not danger; is reason for celebration, not anxiety (or a host of other unsightly things). And maybe the pulse that beats in my heart (and in my eardrums) is not one of anxiety, but of Life itself calling me to Sing!

chorus of song

Mr. Percival and Babe sing! by John Frederick White

Sing! my friends, sing!  Though there be clear and present danger all about, Sing! Because the world needs You, Your voice, Your calling, Your sound!

The sound only You can make.