Red

writingred

 

It’s story time! My best friend challenged me to blog about red lipstick. I was hoping to satisfy that by just slipping it in somewhere as a quick and silly metaphor, but now I’m thinking that might be going against the whole point. It’s funny how much weight a simple little act of Taylor Swifting your lips can carry.

For years now I’ve wanted to be able to rock bright red lips. What girl doesn’t go through this phase or at least of judging those who do? It seems like a fairly petty mind battle! It’s not really about the color. Sure, it can be fun and sexy if it’s done right, but it’s really about telling myself that I’m not the girl for whom that product was put in this world – being daring and loud and experimental is not something I am supposed to do. I’m the horse girl. I’m the get down and dirty, sweat and blood kind of a human being. So that means I need to play by those “rules” of that predetermined, assumed persona all the time, right? Wrong! What’s with the boxes??

Someone once asked me if I didn’t like getting really dressed up or if I didn’t like to often. I responded around about, “It’s not that I don’t like it, but I just don’t like looking like I’m trying too hard… or something.” (If it’s guaranteed that people around me will be all dolled up too, then great!) But really, I think I’m just afraid to stand out and of any attention that may bring. I’m incredibly afraid of someone assigning me to a box that’s the wrong shape for my heart.

I’m going to go a little bit deep here for a minute. Another dearly dearly beloved friend of mine sent this text to me the other night. “I think realizing that you need no one’s permission is the key to grace… and that includes permission from yourself. Permission giving is still being in control… grace is about recognizing that you can’t be in control.” Boy that summed up so many of the thoughts swirling in my brain with clarity I had not quite put my finger on. How did I get so lucky to have such brilliant friends? Read one of my favorite blog posts of hers here.

So instead of waiting for permission, why don’t we just accept that if we keep waiting, if we keep trying to have control, if we never let go of our insecurities, or let down our guard and peer out of our safety box, we never let grace in… and without grace, let’s face it, we’re toast. So why not drop all this talk of permission and boundaries and boxes? I don’t want to be the one to tell grace that she is not invited into my home. So what if she forces me to reveal and accept who I am or what I don’t understand about myself. She’s probably going to help me to teach my head not to always overrule my feel.

When I was a very little girl, I was completely obsessed with the “Pony Pals” book series. I was in a club that would send me two new books every month or so. I couldn’t wait until that day when a package addressed to me would come in the mailbox. I would spend the whole day buried in the little adventures of three horse-obsessed friends: Carol, Stevie, and Lisa. One part has stuck with me through all these years – I think it was Stevie who on once noticed a girl in the barn or at a show wearing fingernail polish. She saw it and thought to herself something judgmental along the lines of not wanting paint to be on HER fingers. I think it was YEARS after I read that before I let polish touch my fingernails again. Stevie was a fictional character, but she was my kind of girl. I wanted her to like me. I wanted her to be my friend.

The red lips (and fingers!) lesson is conveniently relevant to those spinning wheels of mine that are afraid to make mistakes when I ride. I distinctively remember one of my lessons with Lendon during one of the Robert Dover Horse Mastership EDAP weeks. I think things were basically going ok during my ride, but apparently I was too locked inside of my head… too zoned in… trapped in Tangoland. (Tango was the name of my trusty steed) During my lesson some of the other riders and auditors were sitting in the gazebo at C. Lendon gave them the job of holding up any given number of fingers for me to count and call out every time I passed by them. If I didn’t stop staring at the arena or my horse’s ears long enough to do so, I got yelled at. 🙂

There are lots of should and should not do’s, but sometimes I think I need to give myself the rule not to spend so much energy worrying about all the rules and lessons learned. Nothing changes if we’re always thinking of what we shouldn’t do or wish we hadn’t done.

Rules make me feel safe, like as long as I don’t do THAT I’ll be doing ok. Or if I just stick with what has worked for me in the past, I won’t fall off the deep end. But being stagnant is smelly and no fun at all, and being totally lost in my brain, checking off the do’s and don’ts before I make every move just sort of makes me miss life… Miss the experimenting that leads to figuring out what is even better than what I already know. Plus it seems kinda snobby to always be in lock-down processing mode.

Later, we went to Stillpoint Farm and watched some of the trainers there ride. At one point Robert was schooling an FEI horse while coaching another rider. Thinking and yammering away while making his horse do fancy things…? There was a group of us there, and Lendon specifically called out to me, “Koryn, could YOU do that?”… “Uh, Noooo.” Ha. Must focus. Must control. Must think. Must. Not. Make. Mistake. Hmmm.

I’m definitely not getting at, “Rules are made to be broken.” No, rules are important, and lessons are learned for a reason, but not everything has to be black and white. Why not let in some Red? So if you see me around somewhere sporting red lips, or say, blue strips in my hair… please don’t laugh. I’m either already very aware that I look ridiculous or finally proud of myself for lightening up and living outside of my box!

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Whoa, Give. Letting Go.

A simple but important lesson that has stuck out to me lately is, “Whoa, give.” I like to think that I’m not one to sit in the saddle and just hang on to the reins, but often I hold on just a little too long. With a light connection it could be that I just have hands that are lifeless or too vague in communicating my aids. Sometimes I try to just hold on to the correction I’m trying to make – whether it’s actively holding or just unchanging, I wait a few strides too long, one stride too long, even a half of a stride too long. I don’t relent the control.

It may have started simple, but as usual my brain spins and tries to take things deeper – bear with me. My train of thought goes something like: Whoa, give. –  Short whoa, clear give. – Whoa, let go. – Whoa, trust. – Reminder of good balance, let go and see what comes of it.

There’s a reason that so much is written on letting go. Come on, you know that you hear Passenger cooing about it on every other radio station. It sells because it’s hard, and everyone seems to struggle with it in some way, shape, or form. We can relate. It could be control, fear, a relationship, an idea or plan, bitterness, resentment and baggage that’s so old you can’t even remember why it still weighs so heavily, or whatever…  Isn’t it all the same with training? Horses and riding lessons tend to teach me at least as much about myself as remembering to put my heels down and figuring out the timing of my whoa, gives.

I tend to want to hold on a little too long. I want to make my own vision happen all on my own. I want to sit down, close my legs, and hold on to that rein until I create the push, until I make the butt sit, and so that I don’t let those shoulders get away. But if I never give my partner the chance to react, if I don’t trust him to stay when I let go, if I don’t let him show off how he can dance and live and shine, well then he just won’t. I put a glass over the flame. I try to make that fire burn by keeping it close, by holding it tight, but I suffocate it.

Holding on slows progress. Holding on feels natural, instinctive, easy. Letting go seems more like a decision. But oh the world is lighter and fancier when it’s gone! Holding on, whoaing longer and tighter does not make you anymore in control. Without the give, without the instant willingness to let go, there IS nothing to trust. You can’t control the result you want without giving it the chance to exist. 

Letting go leaves a space for bigger mistakes to happen. If something goes wrong, you can’t give yourself credit for trying to avoid it or not letting it happen. Holding on gives that security. Holding on keeps the fear at bay. Letting go makes room for progress. Letting go allows the magic that we can’t see or grip a chance to come in and shine.

There’s a large element of trust and willingness to trust; however, if the horse doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain and continues to run around like a freight train, then of course after my clear give I must give a bigger correction saying, “Hey, that little something I just did, yea that meant something! Specifically… whoa boy!” Courtney said something like, trust that he knows what it means. Yes, correct him if nothing happens, but give him that chance to understand my quick little whoa, give or else he never will.  It makes such a big difference in the lateral work, transitions, mediums… everything really. That clear give, moment of trust, just allows him to step up to the plate and bring the spark. I can feel the energy from behind go over his back and up to his poll. I can feel his feet dancing a little lighter off the ground – a feeling that I can’t quite create, a feeling that only he could show me was even a possibility.