And, it's cold enough that the snow is not just crunching, but actually squeaking when I walk on it! For some reason, it just delights me when this happens - it's one of the joys of really cold weather (there actually are some)!
Many people have been posting New Year's resolutions, or New Year's goals and plans, many of which are really thoughtful. My New Year's items are more in the nature of attitudes, or ways to be, than things to do or accomplish. They're not specifically about horses, but they are, too, since I don't separate my life from horses from the rest of my life. It's also hard to break them down into separate items, because, as you'll see, they're related in lots of ways.
1. Live life thoughtfully, but don't try to control everything. I don't want to be mindless about how I live my live, including how I work with my horses, what I eat or what I buy - just doing what others do without thinking about it or because someone (a trainer, authority or a marketer) tells me I should. Choices matter, sometimes a lot. But I can't control the choices others make, although perhaps sometimes I can have an influence on others through my actions.
2. Engage, but let go when needed, and remember than no one else determines my reactions or emotions. I need to connect, to engage, to be with the people and animals in my life, but I always need to remember that how I react to the behavior of others is within my power, not theirs. That said, to do this will require me to let go of any clinging to anger or resentment about the behavior of others or "bad stories" I may tell myself about certain people and my history with them. I find these "stories" can often be impediments to seeing situations as they are and making necessary changes. This isn't an excuse for me to allow others to take advantage of or mistreat me - it's also important to make choices about who to associate with and what behaviors in others are acceptable and it is OK to speak up.
3. Spend more time listening and less time talking or reacting, and remember that others' stories are their own. I need to remember to listen, really listen, without interrupting or prejudging - this requires that I actually pay close attention. This one certainly applies to horses, too! This listening needs to be done without thinking ahead to what my response might be, either in words or emotions, I just need to listen. And while I'm listening, I need to be open to finding out where the other person (or horse) is coming from - what motivates them, where are they coming from and what are they trying to achieve - what is their story? This doesn't mean that I can't ultimately disagree with someone, or have a different opinion, but I should make an effort to understand their perspective first.
4. Take joy and comfort in routine and familiar things, but don't get into a rut and be sure to have an adventure now and then. I need to work on achieving a balance between the joy of the familiar and being able to risk new things - both in terms of activities, people and places. I'm pretty risk-adverse by disposition, and sometimes I need to push myself to try new things or spend time with different people.
5. Keep learning. This one is sometimes easy for me - I love learning new things - but sometimes hard, particularly if learning the new things involves laying aside my own ways of thinking to listen to ideas others may have. In a mysterious way, sometimes people or horses are in my life at a particular time for a reason - even if they are difficult or disagreeable, there may very well be something important I can learn from dealing with them (and dealing with my own reactions to them).
6. Take time - don't be in a hurry. I need to understand in the deepest way that hurrying, or feeling pressured, never results in things getting done more quickly - often just the opposite. If I have too much to do, or a short time to do something, it's much better to be calm and focussed than rushed and stressed. And I need to think about whether things need to be hurried at all - perhaps some things just don't need to get done, at least right now, and perhaps others just need to be done more calmly. And, always, I need to remember that horses don't wear watches (except at feeding time)!
7. Be here, now. I need to beware activities that result in numbing my awareness, or that are a way of avoiding being fully present - sometimes diversions can be too diverting. And whatever I'm doing, however mundane - sweeping the floor, cleaning stalls, making dinner, doing the laundry - and whomever I'm with, human or equine, I need to be fully here, now, focussed on this moment and not thinking about the past moment or anticipating the next one. Whenever I'm able to do this, I find that even ordinary activities can become a source of pleasure and delight, and time to get things done expands in the most delightful way. I need to develop the cast of mind that will allow me to do this more consistently. And I need to remember to notice the splendor around me - yes, there's ugliness and bad things happening as well - but there is an incredible amount of beauty and delight to be found in the world if only I pay attention, from moment to moment.
Please enjoy your Saturday, and may it include horses!