This first full week back to school has had a topsy turvy kind of vibe to it. Trying to find a rhythm with this new schedule along with mandatory wake-up time (no snooze button for me - that is a hardship!) has me shuffling through my days annoyed by any and all requirements placed upon me. Dinner? You all want dinner? I mean, isn't it enough I packed you a lunch?
Given my mood, I don't know why I was surprised to find one of my favorite horses at the barn acting peevish of late. Usually she is very sweet with me. I am a horse-lover but I am not a horse person. I do not know all the ins and outs of their behavior so my assessments are pretty simplistic and I keep them to myself (my job is to know their poo, not their minds.) This horse I feel needs lots of reassurance and when I am around her, I try to give it to her. When we are alone, that is.
But lately there have been others around and I realized today that we both have felt rushed. In that space, feelings are often brushed aside and dismissed. The equivalent of being told "Get over it!" With this horse, I've found it has always worked best when I've acknowledged her responses. "Oh yes, that big tractor IS strange and scary, isn't it? But I am right here and we will walk by it together."
I know some of you get this (please tell me you do!) And I am recounting all of this because I recognize for the horse and for myself, being pushed on without time to acknowledge our feelings is a guarantee for upset, outbursts, nips, and all sorts of unhappy and unloving responses.
Today I had time to slow myself down and just hang out with her for a bit. Not expecting her to act a certain way nor trying to make her behave (according to human expectations) but holding space for her to be, well, her. And very quickly, the sweet horse I knew emerged.
This got me thinking.
Earlier in the week, a mother with a special needs child said to me "He is scaring me right now ... I don't know what to do for him." Not to diminish her situation, but it struck me that as a mother I know all too well the squeeze of wanting so much for my child and fearing myself not equal to the task. Perhaps too this is how the horse felt: the burden of expectations making her anxious, overwhelmed and acting out. I wanted to wrap my arms around this mother and let her know it was okay to feel scared. I wanted to tell her I see how much she loves her child and how she does so much for him. I wanted to make her feel better ... which is really a reaction to my discomfort with her pain. And in that moment, her pain was immense and beautiful. It spoke of the fullness of her love and it needed to be expressed.
Years ago, prominent yoga teacher shared with a group of teacher-trainees this advice: "You think you are here to teach your students yoga, but you are not. You are here to simply to love them."
Those are the words I would say to her now. Those are the words I need to remember myself. My job is simply to love. My child. The horses. My family. My friends. My life. This world.