YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU CAN MEET AN ANGEL…

A good teacher is someone who guides you towards being able to fearlessly put your full heart into something that you love.  They help you find and excavate your dreams and help you top believe in yourself. Ultimately, I think dreams come true because we want them to come true.  They don’t fall into your lap or suddenly appear unbeknownst to you. Dreams that are beneficial not only to you but to the world around you in some way, that are good for other people or the environment  are always assisted by the Universe through coincidence and synchronicity.

As we get older we begin to edit our dreams.  I notice I dream smaller now…more cautiously. But when I was young my entire focus was on getting a horse and living on a farm. At 46 I find that is exactly where I am.  It was a determined dream.  I always ended my wish for those things in my life with a very heartfelt addendum to God: If you give me my farm, I PROMISE I will do something good with it.  This was our deal, and I have kept it to the best of my ability. Today my farm runs as a refuge and retraining center. We do equine retreats to help people reconnect to nature and spend a great deal of time imparting the importance of communication and relationship with the animals we use as our sporting partners and workmates.  I am happy with our deal, but this year I fully intend to take out all the stops and step it up.  I have big dreams that have come true…and I am just realizing it!

If you think back to when you were young, maybe ten years old, can you remember what it is you always wanted to be? What was it that you wished for on your birthday cake?  These wishes represent the authentic you, before the world edited what you thought about yourself.

Like many young horse-crazy girls, I wanted a horse my entire life. I’m certain that I was emitted from the womb wanting a life with horses.  They are in my blood. I was even born in September 1966 which is the year of the fire horse. I made the same wish every on birthday cake until I was 20 and sold everything to buy Harmony, my first horse.

“I want a horse”.

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Josee and Master

I would pray that when I woke up the morning of my birthday somehow miraculously there would be a perfect pony standing under the maple tree at our house in suburbia.  I would hop on his perfect horse and go visit all of my friends.  This recurrent day-dream was the subject of my fantasies every year from the first memories I recall. One year I remember getting my helmet and boots.  It was about as close as I could get to a horse in my suburban hometown.  My sympathetic parents sent me to riding camp every year when I was young and from when I was 19 and got my first car, those boots stayed parked in my trunk in the hopes that I would randomly meet someone with a horse who would invite me to go ride with them.  Funny enough, that actually happened.  I met a friend, and we began to ride together.  Eventually she convinced me to buy Harmony although I was as inexperienced a horse person as anyone could be.  Riding camp does not make you a cowgirl 🙂   I had a basic knowledge of riding and care from the affluent camps I had been fortunate enough attend, but the best knowledge I got was from an old polish Calvary captain who really won my heart one night when he caught me sneaking a cigarette at 12 years old out behind his barn. In a thick Polish accent he reprimanded me, told me to put out my cigarette and meet him henceforth in his study.  This was terrifying.  My father had sent me to the Captain Wiazowski riding school, and I felt like I had entered purgatory.  His rules were strict, his demands vocal and I was in a teenage time of turmoil where I just wanted to be left alone to melt into the wallpaper.The Captain would have none of it and I soon found myself standing in his office stoic and quiet in front of his dark wood enormous work desk, my head bent and staring at his big bronze polish horse statues and shelves and shelves of books. A green and brass lamp on the desk was all the light we had. It was eerie and terrifying. Surely he was going to tell me he was sending me home, for the rule I had broken was all but cardinal. Instead he told me to sit down and have a cigarette.  At first I thought he was joking, and so I just stood silently waiting for his next words of admonishment.  Instead he repeated to me loudly as though I may be a little deaf,

“Seet down and smoke”. He would say in a thick polish accent.

“What?” I asked again.

He looked at me with a raised eyebrow as if he felt I was defying him.  The fog lifted and I sat down.

“But I don’t want to smoke”, I said to him.

“I won’t do it again”, I promised, dreading with every fiber of my being the phone call he would inevitably make to my father resulting in causing him further disappointment in me. I was not exactly the easiest teenager to live with.

“SMOKE”, he snapped at me in his most  Captain authority voice.

I fumbled in my damp barn jacket for my cigarettes and matches I had stolen from the kitchen.  He saw this and raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

Fine, I’ll just do it – I decided defiantly.

“Don’t go back there to smoke ever again.” he said finally after a few uncomfortable moments of considered glaring silence.

“ok”, I bowed my head praying for it to be over.

“Every night, after supper, you come smoke in here. After you clean the kitchen with Terry and rake the ring”.

“Rake the ring every night? We never do the ring every night!” I complained as if there should be some rule of fairness applied to the levity of the punishment.  But he knew exactly what he was doing. The Captain had commanded large mounted Calvary troops in Poland and held back the Nazi’s when they came across to Poland on their tanks he faced them on his horse. When Poland fell he travelled with his horses and men on boats and across the sea to go and fight them in France.  The had won 3 medals of honour and valour from three different countries, and had been teaching children since he landed in Canada in 1954.  This was a rare man I was not going to scare or manipulate very easily.

From then on, every night, after enduring my duties I would stand uncomfortably while the Captain would wait for me to go into his office.  The first night was horrible.  I lit my cigarette and had no clue what to talk about to this old crotchety man; the silence was truly deafening.  Then he started to ask me questions. The smoking issue was never again discussed.  So began a dialogue with someone in a way I had never experienced before. he asked me questions, and seemed truly interested in what I had to say about things.  he believed that children had a take on how the world was doing, and he would value what i said.  It evolved in a way that i became curious and started asking him questions too.  The Captain changed also in my perception from  “crotchety old man” to trusted teacher.

My riding changed then too.  I trusted him implicitly even when he would tell me to do something on my horse which I felt completely incapable of doing; if he believed I could, and then I just would.  Learning to follow in this way made a tremendous contribution to the way  teach riding.   My father always said “you have to learn to follow before you can lead”.

I won the entire horse show that year.  I always thought that Anne was a much better rider than I was. She had flair and seemed unafraid and daring in ways I could never imagine.  But ultimately I won because of my joy in the moment of riding.  I don’t remember the class, but I do remember how my horse felt, his gliding trot along the long side of the arena.  It was the first time I had really relaxed and let my horse move forward with no inhibition.  It was a glorious feeling.

The Captain taught me that a good teacher is someone who helps you find a way to let the animals guide your learning, like the captain did for me.  He helped me define a vision for my life just because he was someone whom I respected and he respected me back in a way I understood and that contributed to my understanding of my life.

This new year, I am here still on my beautiful farm and I can’t help but acknowledge that it is the small moments in life that create the bridges to the bigger dreams.

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