In preparation for our recent retreat, I pulled from a large stack of journals. The entry I found happened to be from 2012, a reflection from my 50th year.  I opened to a page about one of the most memorable times I could recall during my fifty years of living. Eleven through sixteen years of age. I wrote that during this time I felt a deep connection to nature and a horse. The combination of the two allowed me to feel genuine happiness and freedom. Life as how it is supposed to feel. I was fiercely in love with my shetland welsh pony Budy, and to ride through the flint hills of Kansas brought forth these feelings. Reflecting back I took these care-free days for granted. Only decades later I understand how beautiful they were.


065b2172-340e-4d73-bb82-2a617ba84ba5We met unexpectedly. I saw her waiting for us at Travassa’s stables, her soft white blonde mane lay beautifully on her neck. A shetland welsh pony mix is an odd combination. To see Sweetie show up, brought a strong validation that we were all in the right place and time, doing what we were suppose to be doing.

It was as if this precious memory of my adolescence was transformed into this moment and she was standing in front of me, a beautiful little lady pony, named Sweetie. What are the chances of the same odd-breed pony returning 50 years later? I hold the strong belief that when we are doing what we are suppose to be doing– it feels like magic.

My turn came to take Sweetie into the arena. Cowboy Jodie explained she hadn’t been in the arena before as she had just arrived and she was new to the stables. He told me that it would take lots of my focused energy to handle her. I knew she and I were a match made in heaven. She swiftly galloped around the arena, my only command being intention and core energy to move her. I came to a stop and so did she. Then with quiet and assertive thought I beckoned her to come to me. She came straight away and I embraced this sweet little pony with hugs and heart-felt emotion.

All fifteen of us on the Soul Space Retreat created a “word” from our equine experience. My word being MAGIC, a word used before on retreat as I feel each time like-minded women show up together with the intention of reflecting, learning and creating positive change– magic happens.

 This is how we do it

64731934-1814-4969-b25b-557ca2fb719bAfter an early morning devotional yoga class led by Allie, we headed to the stables to begin our equine experience. The ladies and horses were introduced to each other by stroking and brushing, tuning into each other’s energy. One at a time (with your new 1,000 lb friend) you entered the arena. Just you and your horse as the gate shut behind you. Horse whisperer Jodie lead with encouraging words from his perch on the observation deck. He taught you how to observe what your horse was reflecting back to you. Words of wisdom that came from our sessions:

be assertive not aggressive

feel confident in your leadership

we don’t always do it right, but discern what works and keep doing that

give her enough room to see your energy

be aware of your energy and where you are directing it

respect, trust and connection

don’t hold a grudge and never judge

allow time to process, patience is key.

All of these powerful words apply to our every day relationships, horse or human.

After lunch we continued to “process’ the wisdom of our powerful horse therapists. We created intention for positive change. Within the quiet still space of a guided relaxation we planted our affirmations, Fertile soil to take seed and grow.

The next day began again with Allie’s yoga. She has a knack for grounding yet simultaneously connecting you to your higher self; you leave relaxed and full of energy. We finished the morning with a mandala coloring meditation.  At a leisurely lunch on the patio over-looking the hill country, we shared one of our favorite poems (inspired from our horse’s wisdom) by Canadian Henri Nouwen,

Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not waiting passively until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient, we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.

Feeling these words, just as I knew Sweetie arrived to guide our way, we are ready to re-enter our lives with tools to bring authentic health and happiness long after the retreat is over.

p.s. my daughters Sarah and Allie co-facilitate our retreats with me. A dream to have your kids in harmony with you, and working together is a manifestation of our “inner” soul work. We love what we do and we love being able to share it with others– nothing short of magic.