The Dream Made Real

Daily Prompt: Do or Die

~*~

The Greeting

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When my horse entered my life nearly nine years ago I was at a low point. The mare I’d been part-boarding for two years had died of cancer three months before; I’d lost my job 12 months earlier and I was floundering. Fortunately, my astute partner (now husband) suggested it was, perhaps, time I had my own horse; that my long-held dream come true.

I was speechless. I’d ridden most of my life and always dreamed of having a horse to call my own. And now it was coming true?

Once I’d been assured it was, we started horse shopping ~ a crap shoot if ever there was one. Still, to narrow the search I wrote down a list of what constituted my dream horse. By candidate #4 I’d found my match.

It was one of those moments out of the blue. A complete stranger told me of a Hanoverian horse breeder she knew who had, according to the criteria I’d shared, the perfect horse for me.

“Don’t make a decision until you’ve looked at this boy,” she told me.

An appointment was made and days later we drove the two hours to meet him. He was everything I wanted: four years old, dark bay, over 16 hands, schooled in dressage, and had a great temperament. I rode him. We clicked. We checked back a week later. Still a good match. A pre-purchase exam was arranged. He passed with flying colours.

The dream made real, this horse was mine. I had stewardship over the one thing I’d ever wanted ~ a horse to call my own.

The confirmation he was the one for me? His registered name: “Shakespeare.” I’m a writer. He is my muse and equine therapist.

He stays where he is!

(299 words)

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

 

 

 

My Week in Music

Daily Prompt: Playlist of the Week

~ Five songs that represent this past week for me ~

~*~

Oh, a music prompt! I love these …

Having given a few moments thought to my week, these are the musical selections that come immediately to mind:

Selection #1 ~ Right here, right now (Jesus Jones) ~ this could easily be changed to Write here, write now as I have felt quite motivated to follow the daily prompt and write every day to get the ol’ creative juices flowing. Having said that, it’s a song that also reminds me to take each moment as it comes, non-judging and totally open to the road that lies ahead, wherever that may lead. Be here, now. Feel and process feelings as they happen and respond mindfully and accordingly. I’m reading a fascinating book ~ Mindsight by Dr. Dan Siegel ~ which is helping me to be even more cognizant of my life in the moment. I’ve made remapping my mind and breaking old patterns of negative behaviour one of my goals for this year, replacing these old ways of being with more positive and holistic ways that allow me to live my life more fully and completely. It’s all good.

Selection #2 ~ Boogie Nights (Heatwave) ~ part of managing adrenal fatigue for the past few years included drastically reducing the amount of exercise I was doing. Over-taxing the nervous system was a bad idea, so karate had to go and my focus had to become gentle (yin) exercises like dog walking, quiet rides on my horse and Pilates. Now that my nervous system appears to be on sounder footing I want to expand my exercise regimen, still, I need to be mindful about it. Since his retirement my husband has taken over dog walking, so what am I left with? I can dance! Boogie Nights, a great disco song from the 70s, starts my Fun mash-up (of more 70s disco and some rock) and I just move to the music. About 20 minutes stretches muscles and gets the heart rate pumping in a way I can manage. I try to do this two to three times per week. So far I’ve gone all disco once this week, but I think today will be a good day to add to that.

Selection #3 ~ Baby, It’s Cold Outside (pick an artist) ~ selected because it’s been &^#% cold outside this week (-16C yesterday with windchill). My horse has an injured suspensory ligament so I go every day to nurse his wound and keep him company, but the barn and arena are not heated so I am, essentially, in a frigid outdoor environment for two-three hours at a time. The art of dressing warm without overheating is lost on me, so I usually end up in a sweater with a down vest over it and my winter breeches, which is not really warm enough. My feet are always cold, no matter what boots I wear or how many layers of socks I don. So, by the time I get home I’m ready for a nice hot bath. I just don’t get warm until I’ve immersed the damp out of my bones.

Selection #4 ~ Ein Deutches Requiem (Brahms) ~ This is what I’m listening to right now, as a matter of fact. As well as being a writer, artist and equestrian I am a singer. Singing was another one of those things I had to let fall by the wayside because of adrenal fatigue. It’s an activity that requires an extraordinary amount of energy to do well and because of the adrenalin involved can tax a compromised nervous system to the point of extreme debilitation. (Just before I quit singing I was working with a coach and attending workshops but had to stop because doing so literally made me sick for days after.) Now that I’m feeling stronger I’d like to (try to) incorporate a structured singing program into my life again. I’ve been spoiled though. I sang in one of the world’s premier large choral ensembles, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (TMC), for 12 seasons, and having been raised by an opera singer I’m picky about the quality of singing I lend my voice to. Does that sound awful? Shouldn’t it just be enough to sing? Perhaps, but if I’m going to expend my now precious energy doing something I love than I have to love it. So, in my internet search for a local choral society at 7 a.m. yesterday, I found a local chamber choir that sounds about right. I sent an inquiry expressing my interest and giving some of my background, and received a response telling me I was welcome to try out in March when they would start rehearsing Ein Deutches Requiem. This just happens to be one of my favourite choral works and one I’ve performed many times with the TMC. Is this a sign? I will make my final decision about trying out for the chamber choir once I’ve heard them perform at their next concert on March 1. I’m hopeful. Of course, if I try out they may suppose I’m not right for them. It’s always a risk, but I won’t know until I try.

Bear SmiingSelection 5# ~ Jump (Pointer Sisters) ~ Yes, from the sublime to the totally ridiculous. Yesterday the vibe at the barn was a bit unsettled and Bear, my injured horse who’s on 120-day stall rest (we’re at day 25) and daily rounds of hand walking in the arena, and who’s been quite sensible about it, had a jelly bean moment. That is, after a roll in the arena footing to get the kinks out (which I didn’t mind because I knew he hadn’t had a chance to roll in a while) he launched to his feet and leapt/jumped/bucked in the air like a Lippizaner stallion. I thought I was going to have heart failure. “You’re not allowed to do that!” I yelled at him from across the arena. “You’re injured, remember?” He just looked at me with an element of surprise and stood there noncommittal. Within moments I finally regained my composure and he walked over to me looking sheepish. He knew he’d abused my trust. We had a good talk during the ensuing walkabout, during which I reiterated how inappropriate it was for him to jump about at this time. If he was allowed to do that I would be allowed to ride him, and I’m not, so he needs to stick with the recovery program and stop acting like a four-year-old. He smiled … he really did … and I couldn’t stay mad at him anymore. Look at that face (yes, a nice summer image). Could you?

So, there you have it. My week in music …

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

In Hindsight …

Weekly Writing Challenge: Hindsight is 20/20

To me the word “hindsight” smacks of regret, and worry, and wasted energy, but for this exercise I’ll lay aside my misgivings and share a brief examination of some things I wish I’d done, in hindsight, in 2014.

This year has been a time of tremendous growth and recovery on so many levels. In particular, after three years of adrenal fatigue malaise I’m finally feeling more robust and vital.

Perhaps I have a trip to Italy in early June to thank for that.

(Hindsight: how much sooner would my energy have improved had I gone to Italy for two weeks in June each of the previous three years? Hmmmm … )

For two glorious weeks we indulged in la dolce vita. We delighted in the exquisite flavours of non-GMO foods; basked under the unrelenting Tuscan sun; devoured daily doses of delectable gelato and, of course, took in all the marvellous sights and sounds that define this ancient nation.

We landed in beautiful Florence for a few days; spent a tranquil week at a magnificent villa in Tuscany, and revelled in the unique experience that is Venice. It was the vacation of a life time and, I believe, an important milestone on my healing path.

(Hindsight: more gelato would have been good … )

The Villa
Villa in Tuscany

Then, in late June, I began a six-month course in Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning. By the end of it I was certified as a practitioner in this profound healing modality. A happy side effect was my own healing in ways I had not previously imagined.

This is another reason, I believe, the adrenal fatigue has become less chronic.

Free Spirit

(Hindsight: if only I’d known about it sooner, I probably would have signed myself up ages ago … (sigh) … )

But this is my point about hindsight … to me life unfolds as it should. The best we can hope is to be, and make the most of, every moment.

I do my best not to hold grudges; not to make comebacks. Most people can’t help who they are ~ not that this gives them an excuse to be belligerent or rude or ignorant or insensitive ~ but to engage in their negative energy is, for me at least, a waste of my own valuable resources. As well, if I were to beat myself up for every little thing I wish I’d done but hadn’t had the presence of mind to do, there wouldn’t be much of me left. Quite frankly, I’ve spent far too much of my life doing that anyway.

If the adrenal fatigue has taught me anything it’s to release the need to stress unnecessarily and to save my energy for the things that make me feel good about myself and my contribution to the world.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that my life really started to change for the positive at the beginning of the year when I moved my horse, Shakespeare (Bear), to a new barn and began to work with a new coach. Notwithstanding the fact that I wear the badge of a woman-of-a-certain-age I feel like I’ve been given a second chance to learn and grow in my equestrian sport of choice ~ dressage.

There’s a long road ahead, but at least now I know that Bear and I are on a good one.

Bear
Shakespeare

And so now, I thrive!

(Hindsight: it would have been a good idea to move my horse earlier, but I’ve already beaten myself up enough about that one. Where we are now is where we’re meant to be and the timing of December 31, 2013 was right. Prior to that I was too debilitated with adrenal fatigue symptoms to make such a decision or move. So, it’s all good … )

Now, foresight … it’s going to be a great 2015!

Season’s Greetings and Merry Christmas …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

 

A Poet Out Standing In His Field

Bear relaxesToday I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing one Shakespeare “The Equine,” a poet out standing in his field and, reportedly, a legend in his own mind.

The Daily Haymaker: Good day, Mr. Shakespeare.

Poet: Hay! And please, call me Mr. Bear.

The Daily Haymaker: Right then, Mr. Bear. Lovely of you to join us from Poet’s Paddock today. How are things in pastures green?

Poet: Well, Mr. Haymaker, we’re pretty laid back out there these days. The cruel winter is behind us, but we’re still waiting for the grass to be greener on our side of the fence. Everything is very late.

The Daily Haymaker: Are you the only poet in your paddock?

Poet: Yes, yes I am.

The Daily Haymaker: Would you please tell our readers at The Daily Haymaker

Poet: Great name, by the way …

The Daily Haymaker: Well, thank you …. Now if you could explain to our readers just when you came upon your poetic prowess.

Poet: Well, it all started with the Scribe, of course.

The Daily Haymaker: Scribe?

Poet: Yes. As you might imagine, having hooves puts me at quite a disadvantage when it comes to recording my musings.

The Daily Haymaker: Indeed!

Poet: So, naturally when I was looking for a sucker, I mean horse mom to call my own I scanned the radar for someone who could write reasonably intelligibly.

The Daily Haymaker: And you believe you found him? Her?

Poet: Her, actually. Yes, I did, though I let said Scribe and horse mom believe that she found me. It’s easier that way.

The Daily Haymaker: Of course. So, how long did it take for you to plant the idea in your horse mom’s head that you had creative notions you wanted to get off your mind?

Poet: Not long, actually. She’s a sensitive soul and I could tell she was looking for an outlet. You know these artistic types, and if they’ve been in any kind of creative drought well, as you might imagine, they’re an easy target.

The Daily Haymaker: So, how does the creative process work for both of you?

Poet: Actually, Mr. Haymaker, I stand out in my field and eat, and she shows up at the barn one day and tells me we’ve written a poem.

The Daily Haymaker: Really, it’s that simple?

Poet: Absolutely!

The Daily Haymaker: How many poems have you written together? Any chance of a recitation? A couple of lines, perhaps?

Poet: Well, we have self-published three short chapbooks so far, and we’re working on a collection of sonnets. As for a recitation ~ from my Sonnet XIV, second stanza:

While beauty lies within the eyes that see

And no two eyes shall ever see the same

Believe, I must, her eyes were meant for me,

While others’ eyes their own beauty proclaim.

For handsome though I be to all who care

It matters most to she who calls me Bear.

The Daily Haymaker: Yes, a sonnet ~ like your namesake William Shakespeare?

Poet: Who?

The Daily Haymaker: William Shakespeare? The Elizabethan poet? You must have heard of him.

Poet: Neigh. The only other Shakespeare of which I am aware is my father, Shakespeare in Love.

The Daily Haymaker: Really?

Poet: Yes. And, just as a side, his father was Sherlock Holmes.

The Daily Haymaker: Indeed! An illustrious background to be sure. Where were you born?

Poet: Well, Germany. I’m Hanoverian. Some call me the Happy Hanoverian because I’m so, well, happy. Still, I don’t suffer fools.

The Daily Haymaker: And your relationship with your father?

Poet: I’ve never met him, but the Scribe has shown me a photograph. A handsome stud, to be sure. But then …

The Daily Haymaker: Of course, I can tell as you yourself are quite debonair.

Poet: Well, thank you, thank you very much. My mother, as I recall, was quite beautiful also. I have her even temperament.

The Daily Haymaker: And what do you do for exercise ~ you know, to keep the creative juices flowing?

Poet: Well, I’m trained in classical dressage, actually. One of my present challenges is to get back into shape since the Scribe has been unwell and I’ve had to back off my training. Things are picking up again, however, and this pleases me.

The Daily Haymaker: Any chance you’ll show?

Poet: I can’t answer that. It’s up to the Scribe. I’d be happy to but then, she must be comfortable.

The Daily Haymaker: That’s awfully generous of you.

Poet: Naturlïch.

The Daily Haymaker: And now, Mr. Shakespeare, I mean Mr. Bear, where might one read your poetic renderings? Actually first of all, please explain your nickname.

Poet: Actually, it’s not a nickname, it’s a barn name. It’s something the horse moms do to make life easier for themselves. Some equines, like myself, have rather sophisticated names noted in the breed registry which are quite cumbersome to use on a daily basis. Creating a barn name makes sense. In fact, I don’t mind the name Bear. I’m told it was given to me because I’m like a big, cuddly teddy bear, whatever that is. I try to maintain my dignity by not thinking about it too much. Still, I get the sense it suits me.

The Daily Haymaker: I’m sure it does. Do you get called “Bear the Bard?”

Poet: No.

The Daily Haymaker: Now, where can one find your poetry?

Poet: I have my own website, Poet’s Paddock. It’s currently being redesigned, but I believe it’s still up for grazing.

The Daily Haymaker: Marvellous! Well, thank you so much for stopping by The Daily Haymaker today. It’s been a pleasure to speak with you.

Poet: Pleasure’s all mine. Say, do you have some spare hay for a starving artist?

~*~

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nMy response to Free Write Friday with Kellie Elmore.

Here is the prompt:

per·son·i·fi·ca·tion
pərˌsänəfiˈkāSHən/
noun
1.
the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.
Select something nonhuman and write about it as though it were human. It is up to you whether or not you reveal what it is, but I have found it a lot of fun to leave it a mystery and allow others to guess at what you were writing about.

~*~

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

What If?

Prompted by Kellie Elmore’s #Free Write Friday

fwf

What If?

What if? What if? What if?

Looking back from here to there

It is a redundant question.

Looking forward from there to here

A different one altogether.

The past cannot be changed.

I am my past,

The good and bad of it

In a bundle of sorrow

And joy. I cannot

Change what was; but I can

Change how I look at it;

How it effects me.

As for the future?

I shall not should myself

To death, nor shall I

Immerse myself in the

Torment of hoping

For what can

Never be.

But, I shall state

At life’s crossroads

“I won’t look back and

Ask ‘What if?’.”

As long as I follow my

Heart these two

Little words need

Never from

My lips

Trip.

~*~

Recently I made a major decision to move my horse to another barn.

The process of deliberation did include “What if?” but it was more in terms of “I don’t want to be looking back 10 years from now and asking ‘What if?'”

This actually made the decision a lot easier. Who wants to live with regret at an opportunity lost? Certainly not I. I know what that’s like and it’s taken some time for me to let go of that negative way of being.

At this stage of my life making mindful decisions is more important than ever.

Being mindful of my horse’s needs as well as my own was an important part of the decision process. His physical and emotional care are paramount. He’s been well cared for where he is and I have no dispute with it.

Me and BearBut, after nearly eight years for him and 13 years for me of being in the same place, it’s time for a change. Time to see life differently. Time for new perspectives and input and friends.

I am really happy with my choice to move Bear to this new farm. He will be well cared for and I will be one step closer to my dressage dreams. Our world will expand in wonderful ways and I’m really looking forward to it.

I am certain that 10 years from now I will not be looking back and asking “What if?”

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_n

#FWF: Spirit Bear

A girl after my own heart!

Source: We Heart It
Source: We Heart It

(This image is so full of meaning for me I hardly know where to begin.)

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There are no coincidences. This is something in which I have firmly believed for some time. For good, or ill, life gives us what we need to learn and develop as spiritual beings in a mortal experience. It also makes available the tools we need to negotiate each challenge. It is up to us to be open of mind and heart so we can recognize them when they appear.

Here’s an example from my own life.

As all who follow this blog will know I have a horse whose registered name is “Shakespeare.” This is a beautiful and meaningful name in its own way, however it’s a bit cumbersome as an every day name at the barn.

So, while I was waiting for him to come home for the first time nearly eight years ago, I spent a bit of time noodling over what name I could give him that would evoke his larger than life personality, cuddly nature and solid physical form.

The name “Bear” came to mind fairly quickly. My home is populated with several collectible bears, and “Bear” includes a letter formulation of “ShakespEARe.” On the surface it made perfect sense, so I soon decided this was going to be his barn name.

Still, I had no idea of the deeper meaning to be held here.

During my trauma-filled childhood I comforted myself with stuffed bears. I’ve always had them around me. I guess they are, and always have been, a totem of some kind.

A couple of months after Bear came home and while I was studying natural horsemanship, I was introduced to the idea of the bear’s spiritual meaning. When I considered the trajectory of my life and the healing that was already in progress, things began to make sense.

According to www.spiritanimal.info the bear can be described spiritually as follows:

Bear Meaning

The bear has several meanings that will inspire those who have this animal as totem: 

  1. The primary meaning of the bear spirit animal is strength and confidence
  2. Standing against adversity; taking action and leadership
  3. The spirit of the the bear indicates it’s time for healing or using healing abilities to help self or others
  4. The bear medicine emphasizes the importance of solitude, quiet time, rest
  5. The spirit of the bear provides strong grounding forces

~*~

Let’s look at the list again and how it relates to my experience.

The advent of my horse, Bear, acknowledged a significant time of healing in my life (no. 3). A time where I’ve had to go to ground (no. 5) and practice solitude and get rest (no. 4). Doing this has brought a greater sense of self-awareness and helped me to reclaim my life. Mr. Bear, as he is often called, has helped me to find the strength I need (no. 1) to smile in the face of adversity (no. 2) as I take action to manage, and heal from, the traumas released by therapy. And he’s helped me to find the confidence (no. 1) I need to move into a new and exciting phase of personal growth.

Bear is an incredible catalyst for positive change. I throw my arms around his neck and thank him every day for the beautiful healing role he plays in my life.

Is it a coincidence my beautiful dream-come-true should attract a name that represents healing on so many levels? I think not.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, our passion ~ whether it’s golf, sailing, horses, knitting, music or whatever ~ is our teacher. At a deeper level it speaks a language that touches our hearts and can heal us. All we need to do is choose to listen and respond in ways that lift us up, not tear us, or our passion, down.

My teacher, my catalyst for positive change is my horse ~ my Spirit Bear.

I am blessed.

Bear and me
Bear and me

~*~

This is my response to this week’s free writing challenge with Kellie Elmore. Slightly off the beaten track, but I don’t question these things in a free writing format. 😉

Thank you for stopping by,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

#FWF Reprise: Childhood Gift … The Arab Tent by Henry Landseer

Free writing is a great exercise and a little more challenging when the memory is involved.

free-write-friday-kellie-elmoreAs mentioned in my last Free Write Friday post on the Childhood Gift, my childhood is very much a blur. During last week’s free writing exercise I couldn’t think of anything to share besides the bear story. Which is fine ~ it’s a nice story. Somehow, though, it left me feeling empty.

The fact is, my mother had given something of great meaning to me when I was a child (besides a roof over our heads, food at the table and a youth steeped in culture), but what it was I just could not recall through the fog of memory while trying to free write on the topic.

That was until a memory jogging discussion with my therapist on Tuesday reminded me of a special gift I still have and that means the world to me.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t think of it as it’s within eyeshot every day.

I don’t recall the exact age I received this thoughtful gift. Maybe nine years old. And I don’t even remember how it was given to me. Perhaps for my birthday.

When my mother toured with the opera company she would frequent antique shops in the various British cities she visited. She would often return home, after a few days away, with easily transportable items she hadn’t been able to resist, like old picture frames and glassware.

I didn’t pay this much mind until one day she presented me with a gold-leaf antique frame bearing a print of “The Arab Tent” by Edwin (Henry) Landseer (1802-1873). The beautiful print she purchased at the gift shop of the The Wallace Collection in London, where the original is on display.

The Arab Tent

This beautiful print of a grey Arabian mare and her bay colt sheltered in an Arab tent took pride of place on my bedroom wall throughout my formative years. Now, despite more life-altering physical moves than I care to remember during which I lost or misplaced many possessions, it somehow graces a wall in our family room.

I guess this print and I were  meant to be together for a lifetime. 🙂

The Arab Tent has become even more meaningful in recent years …

Before Bear arrived in my life I was part-boarding a beautiful grey thoroughbred mare called Murphy. For two years she felt like she was my horse and her owner was happy for me to treat her as such.

MurphyIn the spring of the second year, Murphy became quite ill. We didn’t know what was wrong with her and for several months she was on-again/off-again with work. By autumn she was dropping weight rapidly and a trip to the equine hospital was in order.

She arrived on a Thursday. Within a day and after several tests she was diagnosed with cancer of the peritoneum (lining of the heart). She was dropping weight by the minute. By Saturday she was dead; euthanized. There was no staying the tide of that terrible disease.

Her loss was devastating to me.

I took two weeks off from riding and then, determined to get back in the saddle, started riding school horses again.

Then, about a month later, my future husband suggested it was time to turn my life-long dream of having a horse into reality.

Three months later Bear entered our lives.

Going back to The Arab Tent for a moment, what amazes me is how prophetic this beautiful piece of art seems ~ like a mysterious foreshadowing of what was going to be.

My experience with the grey mare (Murphy) gave birth to the brown colt (Bear).

A kissI get goosebumps just thinking of it.

Now every time I gaze upon The Arab Tent in my family room, I am reminded  of these two beautiful horses that have graced and brought important meaning to my life, and how their coming was, seemingly, pre-destined.

All that remains is for me to view the original of The Arab Tent at The Wallace Collection. I hope that day comes soon.

God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. I’ve experienced enough of life so far to believe this with my whole heart.

You just never know the profound significance of a simple gift.

I’m so glad I remembered this piece of my life and my mother’s role in it.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013