Beltane is celebrated on May 1st indicating the half way point of the spring equinox and summer solstice. The season of union between Goddess and God, of deep found love and the coming together of perfect love and trust. This appeared to have happened between lovely Bee Helygen, Priestess of Cerridwen and Danny from Paintedhorse on the magical land of Avalon. The ladies training to be priestess’ of Cerrdiwen with Bee, including our very own Livvy Adams took part in Beltane celebrations calling in the Goddess on the land, singing, connecting and spinning tales of magic and mystery. The horses made their presence felt at the calling in and later rolled consecutively at the end of the session. When Livvy completes her Priestess training she will offer a listening ear to people from either her therapy room or outside with the horses. She also helps animals at their time of crossing over and owners to come to terms with this process. We will keep you posted as to when this service becomes available to the general public.
When I first heard Carrie Bradshaw say these lines I recall they resonated with me as that’s what I have been looking for. My whole life. Until recently this ideal had never been challenged. I don’t mean people had never suggested to me that my expectations were too great or I had a ‘fairy tale complex’, I mean I myself had never challenged this belief. What was my belief exactly? Well, boy meets girl, they fall in love, they live happily ever after. Like my own Gran and Grandpa who were married 50 years until physically separated by death. And where did this belief come from? Childhood I guess. I remember reading a lot of ‘Happily Ever After’ books and dreaming about my moment of riding off into the sunset.
I had a few reality checks along they way. Parents divorce. Estranged father. First boyfriend cheating on me. Second boyfriend cheating on me. Husband cheating on me. You may have noticed a pattern? I remember the first year of marriage being a huge shock to the system because of my expectations of what it would be like. I often thought, ‘why on Earth did my mother not warn me about this?’ Why was my marriage so hard? We are supposed to be on ‘happily ever after’ now. My sister wisely reflected, that after a wedding such as I had had (rural Scotland, old castle, hilarious ceilidh) that anything after that was going to be decidedly less exciting. One of the last days I spent in my marital home before we separated, I recall looking at the beautiful, solid, Mexican pine furniture he had insisted on getting as ‘it would last’. He was right, it did. Longer than our marriage.
I insisted afterwards, that I would meet ‘the one’, he was still out there. I would just have to be wiser or an even better idea – I would just listen to my friends opinions on who I picked next, as they seemed to know my ex-husband wasn’t right for me long before I did. I basically gave away my power as I didn’t trust myself at all. I had a brief relationship a year later, only when it ended I realised it was the infamous ‘rebound’ one. Whilst we were together I remember an uncle asking me ‘do you think you can keep this one this time?’ I replied, ‘the real question is whether he can keep me’. Good retort, but his words did hurt me. They hurt because they resonated with another script, that it was my responsibility for keeping a relationship together. Even when it was clear ‘this-one-this-time’ was using all my money up.
Fast forward to a decade later, I finally got my fairy tale boy-meets-girl which reinforced by script, my belief. My niece had come to live with me and as the new girl at school, she was assigned another girl to look after her. They both became good friends, best friends. One day we all walked past a bookshop it sparked a conversation about my nieces friends dad. I realised I knew who he was. I had known him 5 years ago when I worked at the same place. As chance would have it without this discovery, I would have ended up meeting him the following day anyway as my niece and his daughter were doing an activity together. Destiny! If this was fiction, this would definitely be a ‘cute meet’. Within no time at all he became a real love – ridiculous – consuming – inconvenient. It seemed eighties romantic rock music played wherever we went. We were going to move into together and be a family unit. That idea was a short lived as storm clouds gathered around us and we did not move in together. We instead lived separately, but stayed together despite how dark it got around us. I was determined that if we separated it would only be because we chose it ourselves not because of other people and their agendas. Our relationship lasted four years when we decided to end things, not to sound Avril Lavigne about it but ‘so much for my happy ending‘ I thought sadly.
On my counselling journey over the last year, I have had a lot of beliefs challenged, discovered scripts I didn’t realise I had and re-written a lot of them. Society had given me a belief of what ‘real love’ looks like, my belief. Mine didn’t look like that, so mine must be wrong. I have to try harder. Its a bit like the ‘ideal Christmas’ – what it ‘should’ look like, anything else and I have failed. But love is supposed to conquer all, and it didn’t, how can that be? It has taken me a while to realise love starts from within, my internal feminine and masculine embracing. Then I am not on a mission to feel complete from an external source. My ‘cute meet’ is undoubtedly one of my soul mates, my mirror – and I have tried my best to deal with all that he has reflected to me, particularly my mistrust in men. I acknowledged the script from the inner child who believed she wasn’t lovable enough for her father to stay, so why would any other man. And contrary another belief, a soul mate does not necessarily mean for life, it could just be for a season or a reason but it doesn’t mean they are any less important to your evolution. It has been a wonderful but crazy journey with him and one I now wouldn’t change. I can accept it for what it was and let go of my expectations. Love has many amazing and different forms. It is not limited to a set of beliefs and ideals. It can guide us all sorts of different ways through life. Love doesn’t always involve staying together, it can mean letting each other go, but with love and light. Maybe that’s what is meant by unconditional love. In changing my perception and understanding of love, it now feels that I can keep hold of one of my beliefs that love conquers all, but I can let go of the Hollywood adaptation of it.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” – Rumi
Where better to spend Valentines Day but in a field full of ponies?
The Juniper herd requested an Essential Oils Therapy session today and thankfully I carry at least peppermint oil in my pocket when visiting so we had to make do with one oil – they didn’t seem to mind as they are all ‘peppermint ponies’. Peppermint is a firm favourite of equines as those of you who have ever had polos in your pocket may have noticed.
As a lot of you know, Jac has been with me for 3 years now so inevitably he is good at communicating when he wants an oil session. If he needs to inhale the oil, lick the oil from my hand or have it rubbed on his coat. As a trained practitioner I sometimes work undiluted with some oils and Jac will take breaks to have some water to do his own dilution (which you can see some of in the video). Of all the Flehman responses I have seen over the years to oils or other interesting scents, I have never seen Jac show one yet – which highlights even when observing responses behaviourally we are all different. Jac does yawn to release things, licks and chews, and lowers his head before snorting some of which are seen in the video. As captured on film Jac will also walk off when he is done. I have known Storm and Lily for a few months now, they are both still keen on peppermint. Storm used to lick the oil but now only needs to inhale, whereas Lily still likes to lick the oil which is possibly supporting her knees which are a little stiff as she is an equine gal in her twenties.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Essential Oil is fairly inexpensive, has a long shelf life, and has well documented therapeutic properties such as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, circulation stimulant, muscular-skeletal support (aches, sprains – good for box rest and long trailer journeys), and supports the respiratory system, regulates the nervous system and aid digestion system (my oil of choice in a colic situation awaiting the vet). It also supports some skin conditions such as itchiness and sun burn, however as peppermint can be a slight dermal irritant it is best diluted. If you are interested in learning more we are running our next Essential Oils workshop in Glastonbury at Paintedhorse on the 4th March 2017.
Oh and its not all about horses. Dog owner? There’s a workshop for you on the 5th March.
Cat owner? We have something lined up for you a little later in the year.
During an equine therapy session, there was a strong feeling to run, whether it came from the spirit of the human or the spirit of the horse or perhaps both collided in the need to feel free. This is what can happen when we act on those spontaneous impulses. Hello ‘inner child‘ I missed you!
I was invited to join a team of EFL/P practitioners and equine specialists this month to deliver the Equine Therapy part of charity Key4Life‘s pre-release programme for young offenders at HMP/YOI Portland. Livvy Adams from Paintedhorse headed the Equine Team and organised a 2 day programme suitable for the young men at the prison and we headed in with 4 amazing horses from Portland. Amazing because they never failed to get their messages across to the young men, whether they acted out behaviourally to mirror the energies presented or gently stood close to the men, some of whom had not seen a horse up close and personal and calmed their anxiety levels.
Equine behaviour can of course be explained based on what we know, having a degree in Animal Science, the behaviour unit was fascinating and hooked me into the world of animal behaviour and welfare. In recent years, I have had this knowledge challenged by something far more connected, on a deeper level altogether, and its this new knowledge that always leaves me a little open mouthed and shaking my head in slight disbelief as I realise how our animal kingdom has remained connected whilst we humans have isolated and disconnected ourselves. Horses tap into the very energy we carry with us, they let us know what it is if we don’t know; they respond to us with immediacy, they are incredible Gestalt therapists and can detect incongruence a mile off.
Some of the heart felt comments made by these young men have sat with the equine team and brought tears to eyes when recalling them. You see it can be easy for us horsey people to forget what it is to experience a horse for the first time, that we receive unconditional positive regard from one of our long standing animal allies on a daily basis. We know already that horses don’t care about what has been done in the past, they only respond to who has turned up today. Imagine experiencing that for the first time?
After the programme the young men wrote messages about hopes for the future on ribbons which were tied into the manes of the horse that connected to them the most. The horses then carried them out of prison and they are now hung in a special tree in the orchard at Glastonbury.
“No tree it is said can grow to heaven, unless its roots reach down to hell” – C.G. Jung
The last day of the year tends to always find me reflective and perhaps a bit melancholy – this year is certainly no different. To me this picture captures it all without words. It was taken by a friend who I met a couple of years ago at work, she returned home to New Zealand after life changed unexpectedly and dramatically. Luckily for me she came back to England this year, on New Years Day, and ended up staying most of this year in one way or another with me. As a result she was there to witness my life change dramatically and gave me the support network I realised I never had. Consequently that knowledge created more change, that was perhaps inevitable but painful nonetheless.
The last time my life changed as dramatically was when I found out my marriage was over. Immediately I lost my husband, my best friend, and instead he became someone I never knew. Within a month our house had sold, my notice was in at work and I left the area for the south west in my little old car with what could fit in it and the rest didn’t matter anymore. Although I was supported by random acts of kinds all around, I felt alone. I listened to and over identified with Greenday’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams. I promised myself nothing would ever floor me like that in life again. I was going to study a degree and see what happened, a beautiful beginning from a sad sad ending. This year I was presented with the end of my fostering placement. Similarly to my marriage ending, it was not my choice so it was hard to accept as giving up on someone I love was not something I did. I was 37 when I fostered my sister’s daughter and am now nearly 42, I know it cost me my last chance of having a child of my own. But even now, knowing how it played out, I would do it all again. I have been deeply hurt by events this year and felt the sting of betrayal by people who supported them, some of whom I let into my life properly without any caution. All part of life I guess.
That moment caught unaware of me walking Jac back to his field was the last day I had with my friend before New Zealand called her home. It was also one of the last days before I moved Jac to a new home out of the area, away from our past as it now was. Like me, he was mostly on his own when he went home and was no doubt hurting. Unlike me, he was able to shake off our past as soon as he entered his new home by rolling and shaking his body a couple of times. It is taking me a bit longer to shake it off and as daft as the rolling around on the floor sounds, its actually one way of moving blocked emotions in the body. Wherever my body is feeling tension or pain, that’s where I put movement and it seems to release the blocked energy. I did keep my promise to myself that nothing would ever floor me like my marriage ending. People come and people go, even family. And I guess once you have let possessions go, its easier to do it again as the attachment just isn’t there. So here I am with some belongings on borrowed time in someone else’s living space, attempting to finish my counselling training and earn enough to live on around that. It is not as secure as I found university, with friendly student accommodation, a student loan and a three year plan. But I feel a lot stronger in myself this time around, even though I am perhaps more vulnerable security wise. I am once again surrounded by random acts of kindness which always give me faith and hope. Again, all part of life.
I have appreciated all the beginnings gifted to me alongside the endings. Opportunities that fill me with excitement. And those harder lessons in life made me stronger, less afraid and gave me the motivation to chase my dreams. I am grateful for those people that have reached out to me this year with kindness, love and light freely given. All those that sent Christmas cards or gifts and invited me to come stay with them or pop in for a mince pie – I thank you once again but hope you understand I really just wanted to keep this Christmas low key, and spent it with Jac and his new herd.
“Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone” – Green Day
Thanks also to Jac who did find me and now walks beside me making the road less lonely.
This month has mainly consisted of a lot of self care, healing and discovery. One exercise that got me thinking was drawing a time line from birth to 2016 and writing down significant things that happened – good or bad. That wasn’t really the part that got me thinking as I have done this before, although it was good for dusting off the ole memory and also interesting that different memories pop up when redoing this exercise. The real thinking started when I was asked to write down what advice I would give myself during that time. Being a kid of the 80s in the UK I have inevitably seen ‘Back to the Future’ so I know its dangerous to know too much about the future.
Even though my life isn’t ‘perfect’, I have never really wanted to change anything from the past to make my future different. Even the bad home perm hair at 15. There have been some mistakes and detours I could have avoided with a heads up from my older self. There are people it may have been wiser to avoid, and others to cherish more as their time with me was short. But if my journey in this life is like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. Would I advise myself to click my heels together so I could get back home?
If I did, it would save a lot of heartache, trauma and drama to be sure. But in doing that I would have missed the point of coming to Oz. I came to grow and develop and that means going through all that I have. Redoing some lessons as I didn’t get them the first time around. In not travelling down the brick road, I would have missed all the breathtaking scenery out there – in colour not black and white! I would have missed the eclectic selection of friends who are my mirrors and my medicine, as I am for them.
When I was younger it annoyed me that Glenda (the Good Witch of the North) knew about the heel clicking all along. Why didn’t she share her knowledge to save all that hurt and trouble? Why go through all that suffering? Now a fair bit older, I can see that she helped Dorothy more by allowing her to walk the path she had chosen before coming to Oz, and she made sure those ruby slippers were on her feet. In that way she was always there, guiding every step of the way. We all have our guides. I for one am pleased not all chose to wear the pink taffeta dress though!
In my opinion the most important character was the Wicked Witch of the West, feared or even hated, she probably taught Dorothy more about herself than anyone or anything else. Therefore she was a fundamental part of the journey. Maybe Dorothy is actually grateful for Elphaba coming into her life and is not sat there wishing she had avoided her or done things differently. Maybe she is being kind to herself and accepting she did what she did what all the knowledge and skills she knew at the time. Anyone who has watched Wicked knows Elphaba had her own path too. Maybe its as a friend once described to me, that when our contracts are up in this lifetime we will have a laugh about the characters played in this one and whether we managed to learn what we needed from the experience or not. I will have some laughing to do then.
So what would I tell my younger self when going through a significant event? The common thread that seems to run through is about love, hope and trust. About learning. Healing. Self care. All given (hopefully) without unravelling the very fabric of space-time continuum.
Ever wondered what you would tell your younger self?
We were asked to explore Beginnings, Middles and Endings in counselling recently. Beginnings can be a little bit nerve wracking as we establish a new relationship, the Middles all about developing the relationship and the Endings are often a little sad as we say Goodbye to a relationship. It got me thinking about Endings in general. How do we feel at the end of a great book? At the end of a good movie? A bad movie? How about when we are expecting one more sweet in the packet and realise we already had the last one? Does it help to know an ending is coming?
I think back to my childhood where I said goodbye to people every two years, always to be the new girl somewhere else. I knew the ending was coming as most of our things would be packed up in MFO boxes for weeks before the event. I tried to lessen the blow by having a lot of pen pals (way before mobile phones and social media if I have any younger generation reading this, it was harder to stay in touch). One day my dad left, without a goodbye. Boxing day. I was 10 years old. I recall that experience left me with a lot of questions, trying to make sense of things for years and coming up with my own conclusion, or ending. Whilst on duty as a Special Constable patrolling the hospital grounds I had a feeling that I needed to pop into the ward to say a goodbye to my grandpa. He had gone in for a hip operation but suffered a stroke. I said a goodbye that night, and he had died the following day. I am glad I listened to that feeling. I think mostly it helps to know an ending is coming. Maybe its more the deterioration that hurts and the ending is a relief?
I can’t help thinking change is constant, endings are inevitable and every story has a happy ending – depending on where you stop the story. ‘Happily ever after’ is a nice way to stop the story in the middle but avoids the real end. I guess that’s why its in every fairy tale going and we feel happy about the ending. Apart from the Grimms brothers tales, I recall being quite disturbed by some of their endings. In real life we know that even princesses don’t have happily ever afters, and endings can be abrupt and shocking. I recall the end of my marriage, I knew we were having issues but I did not know we couldn’t overcome them. Until I did know, and it was over. I think that ending was an ending to prepare me for all other endings, nothing has ever floored me like that again. Within a month our house had sold, I packed the car with just the things I came with, handed in my notice at work and headed to another part of the country to start over. It took me a while to accept that things had changed that dramatically. That’s when I figured out what endings were about, embracing change. It was a hard ending, but there were so many positive beginnings that came from it. I guess we are all here to evolve not to stand still.
In those wonderful moments of finding love its hard not to want the world not to stand still when you know about endings. It can be hard to stay in the moment of the beginning and the middle and not get worried, fearful or upset about the end. When a relationship ends, the change can be very painful and as John Seeley says it can bring up a lot of self worth issues; especially if they have started another beginning before you were done with your ending. My mother always used to say it would have been easier for her to deal with if my father had died, not left. Her memories wouldn’t have been tainted. But then sometimes on a death bed you may receive confessions that do just that. It’s my sisters birthday today. I lost my sister to psychosis, she’s somewhere in the world both literally and spiritually, but I don’t know where, both literally and spiritually. So maybe the common thread with endings is change and a way of coping with change?
In life as we all know, noone gets out alive, so can we stay in the present moment and enjoy it? There have been enough signs in my life so far to accept that death isn’t really the end, it’s a change. Once I was receiving Reiki healing when I was told that a maternal figure from the other side was here to help, the healer corrected herself and told me the spirit had said “I’m not dead yet you know” and said she was between worlds. I knew that would be my gran. She had Alzheimers. Even science tells us we can’t create or destroy energy, it can only change form. The energy inside us (a spirit, a soul) therefore changes form, whilst our biological body breaks down, becomes part of the carbon cycle and we are recycled in the world too. Dr Brian Weiss explains in his book of the same title that only love is real. It transcends lifetimes, so we can take love with us. This may be a belief of mine that softens the blow of endings – like writing pen pal letters to people I will never meet again. I guess one day we will all find out. For those out there who are going through a difficult ending right now, remember there will be a beginning that follows, that love is always with you even if it doesn’t feel like it and that…