In my last post, I talked about setting intentions to achieve goals.  However, it’s not as easy as twitching my nose and it’s done.  There is something in between - commitment. This week showed me what commitment is all about, from Breakfast with Billie, to living the literary life, to being a mom.  

On Thursday, Horse World and Writer’s World collided on my commitment calendar. I had Billie’s hoof trim early morning in another town and a friend, who was speaking about her thriller novel, Shrouded: A Crispin Leads Mystery by Meredith Lee, at The University of Texas at Austin late morning, which I desperately wanted to hear. At first I thought, how am I going to make this work? I thought about not going to Sue Cleveland and Dixie Evatt’s presentation because I didn’t want any anxiety of rushing around to transfer to Billie, hence, a bad trim experience.  But, I really, really wanted to hear them speak about the novel and the process of writing it. So, I did the only thing that I could do - I took a deep breath and told myself, “I can make this work.” On Wednesday, I sent a text to see if Billie could be trimmed first. The answers came back “yes”. I checked that off the list. Then, I got everything lined up that night so in the morning I could just grab, change and go from one thing to the next.

When I arrived at SunCrest Farm, I reminded myself of my intention - to stay present for Billie’s trim and enjoy loving on her for the short period of time. She saw me approaching her pen and as I opened the gate, she peeked around her stall chewing her breakfast like, “Hey, Mom”.  I knew then, everything would go smoothly. It’s like she knew my intention to stay committed to her and appreciated it. She walked to me and sniffed my tea, just in case it was something for her. Then, we walked back to her hay bag together. The trim was relaxed as Billie ate hay out of my hand. It went very quickly.  Even our beloved trimmer, Holly Heideman, who is very much a horse whisperer, commented on how well she is doing compared to just a few months ago. I truly have to contribute it to me shifting from a hurried, anxious mind to a conscious, intention mind and committing to Billie (the being) versus the ride (an action).  

In the past, I would rush out, saddle up and ride.  I was focused, and anxious, about getting in the arena, warm up and start jumping. With my head up, I looked through the jump and committed us to it. No bonding. No enjoyment. And some times, “hello ground” because we were not jumping as a unit. We weren't partners.

Canter fast forward several months and a different mindset; I am committed to Billie the horse, the being. I am committed to strengthening our bond. I am committed to doing more ground work with Billie. No, this does not mean I’m ending up on my back or arse on the ground. It means, I’m feet on the ground with Billie doing drills. I know that in the long run, the simple ground work we do will strengthen our bond and will reflect in our performance jumping as a unit in the arena, or even on an obstacle course. Already, I sense our bond is stronger. I’m enjoying our time together even more. And, I think that she is enjoying her time with me more, too. This might seem like a step backwards, and it kind of is, but for Billie and I, it’s what we need to become committed and entrusted partners to each other.

When I started out on this writing journey, I got wrapped up in the hurried, anxiety of getting published. I attended classes and meetings looking through them. I would rush words out onto paper, only to end up with a lot of revisions at the end of the day. In hindsight, no connection, no enjoyment. I wasn't in a conscious, intention, committed writer mind (the being) but in the anxious, writer's block, resistance mind of hurrying to publishing (action). In addition, life threw some bad and good stuff my way which rocked my world. I even took sabbatical from the words. There were times I thought I would never get back to writing. But, the words, poems and stories continued to haunt me. In addition, I have an inner circle of amazing people who would not give up on me.

Fast tab forward to today and new mindset, I am setting daily intentions, which makes me more committed to doing the work and refining my craft. I am committed to the Writer being and taking care of her. Some days, I feel like I have taken several huge steps backwards. But, I haven’t. I’m actually several steps ahead from where I was last year when I wasn’t writing at all. I’m committed to doing writing prompts (ground work) to reconnect myself with the force that makes my mind and fingers move to write the stories that need to be told. I’m committed to my writing time that I set aside daily, which includes researching, reading, creating other art and writing. I feel like I have a stronger bond to my writing process and work required to live a literary life. I am enjoying playing with the words more than ever on the page. Lastly, I'm committed to my memberships of organizations and to my Write. Submit. Support and critique groups. These authors and writers are integral in my development as a writer.  

My new process of setting daily writing intentions and committing to the work has slowed me down quite a bit. But now, I'm enjoying and connecting with my writing, which in turn will manifest into publication.

Above all else, commit to yourself.

As far as making it to the presentation, I was 30 minutes early. I found a corner to sit, read the daily Storystorm writing prompt and wrote - write where I sat.  It was a great day.

Strength, Beauty and Grace~

Billie and Carolyn


We finally thawed out and I was able to see my Billie Girl. I knew I had limited time and was forward thinking about how to spend the time with her.  As I was pondering this and other things that were going on this weekend, I felt my muscles tighten up. I could tell I was starting to get into the part of my brain for flight but stopped myself. I took a deep breath and asked myself, "What is my intention with her today?" The answer came to me to just connect and enjoy her. Bond. No workout necessary.  So I sat my intention and drove to SunCrest Farm.



When I arrived, the parking lot was full.  Trail rides and lessons were going on. I thought how is this going to work with me staying focused. But again, I reminded myself of MY intention for the day. When I got to Billie, I found myself taking several deep breaths with her and in my head said my intention for us for the few hours. Not only did I find myself relaxing but I sensed Billie relaxing too.  Our walk to the tack shed was uneventful and smooth.  We were connected. As I started to clean her up, I caught myself going fast and thinking about other things, which disconnected me from her and what I was doing.  I stopped, took some deep breaths and reengaged with her.  I watched her reactions as I brushed her.  If she reacted sorely to a spot, I made note of it.  If I hit the right spot, I made sure to stay there a bit longer. All my focus was on her. Once I started to breathe and pay attention to her and her needs, the world around us melted away.  At one point, I snapped out of whatever trance I was in and thought "what time is it?" It felt like a long time that we were connected and doing our thing but, in reality, it wasn't. It truly felt like I had just come out of a meditative state.

Horse power is very powerful.

We did have our interruptions of people walking by and other boarders making conversation, but when I went back to Billie, I took several deep breaths and reconnected. Billie and I did get to the arena and actually had a small workout. The workout was relaxed and connected. We enjoyed our time together today.

I am no expert on setting intentions. I have read and heard it is a good practice to do to get through the day.  It is actually a practice that I find very hard to stay committed to (next week's post). However, today was an experiment for me.  I intentionally sat the intention and worked to stay committed to it. What I discovered is: 1) it's takes committed work, 2) there will be distractions, 3) to reengaged - stop and take some deep breaths to center yourself, 4) by setting the intention, I did more than I thought I could in the "limited" time, and 5) I stayed relaxed and in the correct frame of my brain.

Setting daily intentions and then intentions within the daily intentions to the rest of my life will be work in itself. However, I did prove to myself today that it does work. I also believe that like a diet or workout regimen, if you start, commit and get over that hump of the first few weeks, it will become a habit (research has shown that it takes 66 days to create a habit and 21 days to break a bad one). So, depending on my perspective, it'll take either 66 or 21 days to have a habit of intentionally reaching my goals. By saying I'm setting an intention for something, I feel more of a cerebral commitment rather than saying "my goal for today is...". For me, a goal feels external and I need to reach for that goal. The intentions for that specific goal are the steps to completion. 

In regards to setting intentions for my writing, I belong to a Write. Submit. Support. group and we have a goal setting worksheet that we use. We check in with each other periodically to see how we are doing with our goals.  Goal setting definitely helps break down the job of working towards publication day. However, it will be the daily intention of Stop, Breathe, Engage for a specific goal that will keep me in the correct brain frame of creativity and not leap over to the flight, resist, writer's block part of the brain. Also, I need to ask myself what the intentions are for my character(s) that I am working on that day, just like I did for Billie. Of course, there will be interruptions. Of course, I will get tired and need a break. But, I will remember my Billie Trance from today and stop, take some deep breaths, and reengage with my words. I'll be in my writer's trance. 

And to end, I now have Robert Plant's Angel Dance song in my head but it's "Little Billie's Trance".

Strength, Beauty and Grace~

Billie and Carolyn

The Four Letter Word

As the morning wind blows the tall grass in the adjacent field to the riding arena, it stirs the wild mustang spirit within Billie. The slithering, hissing sound from the slender blades of grass and narrow shadows moving like a pit of snakes makes her freeze in her spot. As I try to control her nerves, and mine, I hear myself tell her, "We do not run away from fear. We approach it head on. We are a team. I would not put you in a harmful situation.  I will protect you. You need to protect me. We are partners." I feel her relax as long as she hears my calm, reassuring voice. I continue to coax her to the fence line so she can investigate and know there is nothing harmful out there. 

I often have to take a step back and think about Billie, and not just the ride. Horses are a prey animal. In Billie's case, she is a wild mustang from Nevada.  She is very in tune with her instincts. Her flight response is very much in play, which some times makes riding her an adventure on windy days. She is always aware of her surroundings. She is aware if anything has been moved, been added or out of place.  When Billie froze, she took a moment to figure out if she needed to follow her survival instincts and flee (forget ten years of domestication and the person on her back) OR, listen to the voice of reason that is encouraging her to move forward.

F-E-A-R - it's a four letter word. However, for some of us, it's a matter of survival. For others, it's a matter of motivation (fight) or resistance (flight). Fear can be a good thing like motivating one to run from poisonous snakes!  Other times, it's a big negative like writer's block or procrastination. Either way, there is that moment in time to freeze and choose. 

I often ask myself, why do I allow fear to govern my writing? To freeze me in my tracks? It's not like I have to fight off a mountain lion or a pit of snakes to survive, unless it's part of a manuscript.  But it is there.  Forget for a moment the external influences of agents, publishers and critics. The internal inhibitors are sometimes more overwhelming.  The self-doubt of not being good enough, the struggle to revise over and over again, and the fear of not coming up with something new to write about in a clever way.  It's enough to make me want to flee.  A flight anywhere - California, Hawaii or the laundry room and household chores that will be there at the end of the day, every single day. 

So why? Why? Why?! The answer? It's personal.  Yes, it's personal. I am putting myself into the words I put to paper for the world to see. This is my work, from my heart and from my life experiences. My work is judged and critiqued, which in turn, my heart and life experiences are judged and critiqued. The fear is there. The fear is real. However, I also have a calm, internal voice coaxing me, encouraging me, to move forward to continue to investigate and overcome the obstacles on this amazing writing journey. I am learning to shed my thinner skin for thicker. In so doing, I am becoming more aware like Billie in those frozen, WHOA! moments. I am more conscientious of what I am choosing whether to flee or to fight against the fear factors. Fight against the procrastination, revising woes, as well as the writing and submitting blocks. Fight against the thought that I have nothing to contribute.  A big part of what I have overcome is due to my writing partners, too. Like Billie and my partnership, I have an amazing group of writers, pre-published and published, whose external voices cheer me on. Their critiques encourage me to continue to tell my stories. I have a mentor who never falters in her guidance to make a better story as well as renewing my faith in my own storytelling instincts and truths. We are all a team. We protect each other and our stories so that we can share them to the world and overcome our fears.

After our ride, I allowed Billie to graze on the splendor of some lush, sweet grass. It's ironic that an hour prior, she was afraid of the one thing that she now devours eagerly, that nourishes her.

The snakes are out there. It's how we handle them that makes us a charmer or not.

Strength, Beauty and Grace~

Billie and Carolyn


HAPPY 2018!

Let's do a bit of horsing around in the New Year!


I am kicking off the New 2018 Year with a new weekly series called - Breakfast with Billie.  I have found when I am out riding and working with my horse, Billie, so many profound things come to me in regards to my writing and life in general. 

So saddle up and enjoy the ride.

As a child and now an adult, horses are a symbol of strength, beauty and grace for me.  They move with effortless power of certainty as their flowing mane and tail follow in the wake of air.  But there is much much more to them than the muscular lines of their physique.  If you look deep into the globe of a horse's eye, you will see a universe. A universe of tranquility. A universe of instinctual knowing. A universe of resilience and gentleness.  It's hypnotic. Given this, they have an unsaid therapy about them.

When I was a child, I would run to our horses when I was in trouble, when I was heart broken, or when I didn't understand the unfairness of the world and cried many tears in the necks of Suzy, Dusty and Duchess. Now, as an adult, I have cried with my Beautiful Billie.  They are adult tears but still of a broken heart, the unfairness of the world and some times just needing a good cry.  I have tamed down, a bit, and not getting into too much trouble these days. 

The horses instinctively knew when I was upset and would stand statuesque while I wrapped my arms around their necks, entwined my fingers into their mane and bury my face in their neck. Their only movement would be to sniff, give a little nose nudge of assurance that they were there. But on the other hand, they could have been nudging me and thinking 'Ok girl, you had your cry. It's time to pull your boot straps up, get back in the saddle and ride!' In either case, the world and all the problems melt away. Their non-judging, welcoming silence is all it takes to calm me. I felt, and still feel, grounded. I go away lighter and with new perspective. My heart feeling full, lifted and at peace.

In taking the horse strength, beauty and grace into my writing for 2018, I will have the strength to stand up to the Naaay-sayers, accept the rejection letters and move on with certainty. The strength to break through the writer's blocks and resistance. I will surround myself with the beauty, love and light of my fellow writing friends as well as nature to inspire the words that need to be put to paper. Most of all, I will show myself and others - grace.

Strength, Beauty and Grace to All in 2018!

Billie and Carolyn