Would you say you’ve experienced trauma in your life? Most people would say no.
If I were to ask those who said yes what those traumatic experiences were, they would most likely share things like a car accident, serious illness, near-death incident, war, losing a spouse or child, becoming an orphan, or being sexually or physically abused.
But what if trauma wasn't only these notable dramatic moments in time?
The more I learn about trauma, the more I’ve come to understand that experiencing trauma isn’t about a dramatic event but about how you feel about an event.
So what does this mean? If there have been moments in your life when you have ever felt abandoned, terrified, never heard, never valued, worthless, waste of time, then you have experienced trauma.
When we experience trauma, we go into fight, flight, or freeze/shut down. We aren’t safe to express ourselves, or worse, told not to. When our nervous system enters this sympathetic state without being able to complete the cycle - process emotionally and mentally what’s happening and it is met with empathy and validation from another human - then those emotions become trapped inside our nervous system.
For those of us who perhaps didn't realize what trauma included, we would most likely have thoughts like: “Oh jeez, my childhood was great! I really don’t have anything to complain about,” or “sure, I was bullied, but it wasn’t that bad, they were just kids and didn’t know what they were doing after all.” This denial is a safety mechanism to keep that trauma locked away deep inside us to protect us from the pain.
When we start learning what trauma is, we can begin to free ourselves from it. If, for your entire life, you were trying to tell yourself that what you went through wasn’t a big deal and to get over it, those painful emotions stay trapped. What you felt was real! What you felt was painful and traumatic.
Learning how to overcome my trauma has been the gateway to understanding myself. Trauma is the root of anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide, self-harm, and more. All of a sudden, I’m not “messed up.” I’m emotionally and mentally wounded, and I need to heal.
If you relate to this, I want to personally invite you into my Facebook community. Inside the guide section, I have a free 30-day transformation - Chomping at the Bit: Transition from Guilt to Freedom. This will help you get started on your healing journey. Click HERE to connect with others who want happiness, hope and freedom.
Learning to heal has transformed my life to find happiness, hope, and freedom! Becoming more whole has helped my anxiety and depression; it helps me be a better mom and prevent passing my trauma down; it’s immensely helping my marriage.
Let’s be honest! You love the fact that you have children; you love your children! But then, on the other hand, you're also missing who you were before your kids. You're missing what you used to be able to do. You're missing the amount of time you'd used to spend with your horses. You're missing freedom. You're missing almost everything about your life pre-kids, and you don't know how to navigate all of those big, ugly emotions, and then the guilt that follows them, right, because the guilt is going to follow. I know that because I went through all of this.Read more...
“It shouldn’t be like this”
“Why is it so hard”
“My horse should be doing -“
“Why am I still scared”
“No one supports me”
“This isn’t what I thought my life would be like”
When we get stuck in what we think life -should be- we totally miss what life really is.
This is commonly the root of our frustration, anxiety, depression, resentment, and suffering.
Life is what it IS.
Learning to accept and love what ‘is’ allows you space to then make a plan with action steps to move in the direction you want; my friend, that is true freedom.
Let go of what you think life should be.
Let go of where you think you should be.
Let go of what you think your horse should be able to do.
Let go of what you think your marriage should be.
Let go of how you think your kids should be.
Live in this moment. Love now. Embrace now.
If you’re looking for steps to help, check out the free 30-day challenge inside Horsewomen Who Rise Up & Ride in the guide section: “Chomping at the Bit.”
Until next time my friend 💜
Yesterday I hauled Ace and our new horse Greg to the arena. It was barrel practice night, and this was the first time going for all three of us.
Ace has been really learning to let go of his anxiety and fears during rope nights with my hubby's help, so I personally hadn’t ridden him the last few times he was hauled. On the drive, I mentally prepared myself to be a relaxed and confident leader for Ace while listening to a podcast. (The Journey On Podcast with Warwick Schiller interviewing Jane Pike)
This podcast really explained things in a way I had never thought of before, and it helped a lot! I want to share a few of those with you now summarized in my words.
My body and mind are amazing. It created defence mechanisms to protect myself during stressful/scary/traumatizing situations when I literally couldn’t process it. I am thankful my body has this ability -- but I am now aware it's time to release these defence methods as they are no longer serving me.
When I feel anxiety, stress or fear, it's like internal energy becoming bigger than my body that I cannot hold it in anymore. I am learning to tune into what my body is telling me and respond before my emotions become bigger than my body, creating a fight/flight/freeze. This is my body trying to protect myself from danger - which again is a beautiful thing! Accepting that nothing is wrong with me is extremely important.
When I start to feel anxious, an easy method to help refocus my brain is to move my body: wiggle my toes in my boots, tap my thumb against each fingertip. Yesterday I also became aware of how I wanted my body to feel to Ace while riding. I envisioned my body being connected to him through my seat and thighs, like in Avatar minus the ponytail hehe. I wanted to feel soft, relaxed, gentle and curious about his own movements. This helped me ride so much softer I was shocked!
Everything I learned about myself is exactly the same as my horse. When Ace reacts anxiously or fearfully, this is his natural response to keep him safe and protected. I don’t want this to disappear, or if a bear ever came for a visit, then he would be in trouble! I want to show him he can trust me and that I’ll keep him safe.
His anxiety can feel so big it's pouring out of his body, putting him into fight/flight/freeze; it is up to me to recognize when his cup of anxiety is getting too high and help him empty it before it overwhelms him.
Asking him for simple body movements can help him come back inside his body, getting his mind off his stress, but it's important to keep things very simple and basic, so it doesn’t become an additional stress source.
There is nothing wrong with feeling fear or anxiety or stress, for either you or your horse! This is an instinct meant to keep us safe from harm. Learning to accept this is the first step to understanding and moving past our fears. Invite your fear to sit at a table beside yourself; what would you say to it? Invite your horse's fear to sit at your table; what would you tell it? Loving ourselves through these feelings is so important.
Thank you, Jane, for the amazing reminder.
2. While your core is engaged in doing the above exercise, bend side to side to touch your heels
3. Hip thrusts while laying on the back with knees bent. The next step is when your core is raised, add in a bent leg lift
4. Plank - start with short times, and work your way up
5. Pushups - start with wall/ then hands-on bench knees floor, then standard "girl" pushups, then full pushups.
6. Squats - use a chair under your bum to assist you.
7. Step-ups onto a stable surface are also amazing and mimic getting on a horse a bit too. If using a chair, lean it against a wall and make sure it's not tippy!! Falling off hurts, trust me.
8. Bonus - Exercise ball sit: Engage your core and gently sway your hips side to side and front to back. Add in circles both ways. Perfect for watching your favourite TV show or working at a desk.
Disclaimer! I am not a doctor or physical therapist...take this advice as just that,.... advice from a momma of two who struggled to ride/get on my horse after having babies.
Like what you heard? Be sure to join Horsewomen Who Rise Up & Ride
How come talking about the loneliness, guilt, resentment, anger and shame that comes with motherhood isn’t a thing?
How come when we try and reach out for help, we are told, “Yes, being a mom is hard, isn’t it,” or, “It’s just your hormones dear, it will all level out soon enough,” or my ultimate favourite, “don’t worry about that stuff, your babies are only babies once, sit back and soak it all in and just cheer up.” How isolating is that? We have just confessed we feel like we are drowning, and we are told to swim better.
Once, I was a fierce, independent, strong-willed, stubborn horse-crazy woman.
Then I had kids. I felt like my world shifted so much I wasn’t recognizable.
I was so proud to be a mom; I dearly and deeply love my daughters, but I also felt resentment, confusion, frustration, and anger within my life. As a result, I felt painful shame. The kind that made me too scared to reach out to anyone. What would they think of me? I felt like I was isolated and alone with these feelings; there was something wrong with me. No one else thinks like this!
I was depressed, anxious, lost, alone, exhausted, with the endless knawing in my gut making me feel nauseous continuously. I was so angry with myself I literally pulled out some of my hair. It’s postpartum depression, I was told, but that was just part of it.
Then, one chilly spring day our greenbroke colt Ace eventually had enough of my overwhelming negative emotions and chaotic energy and tried to escape by rearing straight up and then bolting, dragging me through the arena sand. After my temper finally cooled down, all I felt was guilt and shame that he felt he had to escape me that badly.
I decided I needed help knowing what to do to fix my horse. I soon found Warwick Schiller, and much to my surprise, I found I didn’t have a horse problem; I had a “me problem”. I learned that I had to heal myself first to be the leader my horse needed me to be.
For the first time, I saw a glimpse of peace. It was down this road of self-discovery if I was brave enough to take the journey. I was. I learned how to understand and navigate all the anger, resentment, anxiety, frustrations that I was drowning in. I started to feel lighter. To see the opportunity for hope; hope that I could be a wonderful mother and horsewoman. Hope that I could feel happy and fulfilled. Hope that I could be close with my husband. Hope that I would finally know who I was meant to be.
If this resonated with you, please know you’re not alone. My experiences brought me here. This is why I am doing what I do, because I know what all that feels like. I want to show you how I made it through. If you’re interested, please join me and other like-minded souls here.
Finding freedom feels impossible; independence? What’s that! This child needs me 24/7. Flexibility vanishes and is replaced by structure, nap times, play dates, sports, school and more. It’s exhausting to simply not go crazy and manage everything the family needs. You feel endless guilty for wanting a bit of the “old you” back when the decision to ride or not was entirely up to you, and it didn’t require endless planning and rescheduling to make happen.Read more...
My second daughter was born almost two years to the day apart from her older sister. Talk about another colossal shock getting used to being the mom of two. I again struggled with postpartum depression; I was short-tempered, easily frustrated, and felt like I was getting lost in motherhood.
Come springtime, my daughters would occasionally nap simultaneously; this is when I would try and ride. We are very blessed to have an outdoor arena a hundred feet from our home, and wifi monitors gave me the ability to take advantage when the opportunity arose. Yet again, I felt pressured to start riding our youngster, Ace. I started doing some groundwork with him, and it felt like nothing much had changed in the past year; we still didn’t get along. I was getting increasingly frustrated with him, and I hate to admit I lost my temper numerous times. My fear of getting hurt only fuelled the fire. I had two little kids; I couldn’t afford to get hurt! But I was also stubborn and tried my best to push my fear aside.
It didn’t take long to realize I just didn’t have the skill required to work with Ace. I was a scared ticking time-bomb, and funny enough, so was he. Combining us was a recipe for disaster. My husband and I decided to send him to a friend who also trained horses. He came unglued with her a time or two; hearing her replay his bucking escapade made me even more apprehensive at the thought of riding him when he got home turning my tummy into a ball of painful knots.
I knew something had to change for Ace and me to find any resemblance of a partnership. While Ace was at the trainer, I started to look all over the internet for some insight on training methods that would work for him. What I ended up finding, however, was the farthest thing I was looking for.
I started to see hints that I wasn’t listening to my horse. I would become defensive at this way of thinking; how am I supposed to be the leader if I’m not telling my horse what to do? He will walk all over me if I let him tell me what he wants; it didn’t make sense to me, and honestly, at the start, I thought it was ridiculous. I started to learn about stress indicators from Warwick Schiller, and while I thought it seemed a little crazy to let my horse have such an opinion on things, I was very intrigued with the idea of what he was doing. I kept watching his videos, and pretty soon, my skepticism started to dwindle.
The more videos I watched, the more articles I read, every bit of evidence started to point to one main problem within our partnership. Me. My attitude, outlook on life, and buried trauma were negatively tainting everything I was touching. Talk about a kick to the ego. For so long, I thought the horse was the one with the problem, and I just had to learn how to train him. The reality was, however, I was the one that needed the training and the healing.
When Ace returned, I was happy with his progress with my friend and trainer Breann Heatherington. I was still nervous, thinking my skills wouldn’t be adequate to prevent a blow-up or perhaps inadvertently cause one to happen. When we got home, I tried to do a lot of listening. I think Ace was a little shocked at how differently I was approaching our time together. Pretty soon, he started to communicate with me his concerns, worries, and even physical pain, as long as I was paying enough attention to see them. We were creating a deep bond doing everything in baby steps. I wasn’t in a rush anymore.
A quote of unknown origins that completely changed my perspective was how we all, horses and humans alike, want to feel that we are "being seen, being heard, feeling felt, and getting gotten." When I stopped drowning in my own emotions, negative energies and trauma, I could finally open my eyes to see, hear, feel and get what Ace needed.
Healing myself has been the most significant step to releasing anxiety, fear, worry and doubt. Without healing, moving forward would have been impossible. I encourage you to do the same.
Like what you've read? Check out this video where I talk more about this.
I was that girl who would ride any horse, anywhere. I didn't care if I knew I was likely to get bucked off; I was determined, brave, and thrived on the challenges of a difficult horse. Then, everything started to change...
I can remember it like yesterday. I felt the excitement of pregnancy, all the ideas, visions, and promises I made to myself before I had my first child. I’m not going to stop being me; I’m not going to let my baby needy, so I can’t go anywhere alone. I’m still going to ride a lot, not as much as now, but a few times a week will be easy. Our baby will go everywhere with us so that we don’t have to be isolated, restaurants, play days, coffee dates, travelling to see my parents or for holidays. There’s no way in hell my girl will sleep in our bed, this is my bed, and she will learn to sleep alone right away. We will be a family who still rides and rodeos! I never imagined it would be my last summer to rodeo.
I can’t help but laugh at my naivety. The second my first daughter was born, every preconceived notion I had, every plan, evaporated like the morning mist. Perhaps you can relate? We have this idea in our heads for how life will be like once we become a mother; I can guarantee we were all in for the shock of our lives.Read more...
How often do you hear that little voice inside your head natter on and on about how you have no business training your horse. You aren’t good enough; strong enough; knowledgeable enough; big enough, small enough, skilled enough. Hearing this voice, I like to call her Negative Nelly, sucks you down to the endless pit of disbelief, self-doubt, no confidence, anxiety, and even fear.
In this blog, I want to address what I believe to be the biggest problem we all face that will sabotage your relationship with your horse. Your mind.Read more...
Have you ever heard something that gave you a bit of a revelation? One of those ah-ha moments where you went, “wow, I wish I figured this years ago!” I had that experience a few days ago. What he shared wasn’t a new thought, but the way he explained it caught my attention. I was driving, so I couldn’t write it down word for word or the gentleman’s name who said it, but here is my version of what he said.
Our mind doesn’t care about time. All the thoughts and emotions throughout our lives are forever stored in our minds within an eternal filing cabinet. What becomes the challenge is how easily we can access a specific file. Some are filed so long ago and pushed right to the back that we cannot access the memory easily at all. Others are at the forefront, and we can quickly go back to that moment. Some are stored in the pleasant and happy files; others are put in the traumatic and terrible feeling files.
This idea was a perfect explanation for ingrained, knee-jerk reactions I have. Some responses are pleasant, like rushing to see a loved one for a hug. Others are bad, like jumping to the defence and lashing back verbally if I feel vulnerable or attacked. These are reactions based on specific files created by particular memories and feelings. I might not understand why I am reacting that way because I cannot access that file. I buried it so deep in hopes of losing it, but in reality, that event in time changed me. That file I pushed to the back, hoping it would get lost only becomes ingrained in me; the emotions and feelings associated with it altered my DNA.
Then I started to think about it like retraining a horse after a traumatic event. The event could be something huge like being in a significant accident or something that we view as minor; however, they perceived a very real scary threat. After a while, the horse might not remember how or why something awful happened. They only remember that when they did something (got in the trailer, got close to that shed, went through that door), that something terrible happened as a result. I think humans have the habit of assuming time should take care of these traumatic/scary events. Feeling that after a set amount of time, the horse should just “be over it by now.” Have you felt this way? In reality, we have to help them retrain their brain to release that bad memory.
This thought process is no different when it applies to us. We react, think, feel, function and are-who-we-are because of every single thought and emotion stored within us since the beginning of our existence. I find this incredibly empowering! Knowing that I am shaped because of stored memories and emotions means I can change my perception. I’m not at the mercy of it’s-just-who-I-am mindset anymore. I have immense power to heal and evolve my deepest self.
As much as I wish I knew this years ago, I also recognize we all learn things when we are ready for them. We find people within our lives, hear their stories, see their examples, and we can choose to be curious. We can decide to be vulnerable and open ourselves up just a tiny bit to try a new perspective. Or, we can let our inner child who is scared of change keep us exactly where we are.
I encourage you to start taking action and empower yourself by acknowledging you can release and heal from the past. Comment “I RECLAIM MY POWER!”
I was unhappy. I was dealing with postpartum depression, which resonated as anger. I felt lost and confused as an individual, as a mom, and most definitely as a wife. I knew life would be different after having one baby, but being a mom of two was a whole other story. I was exhausted, with uncontrollable hormones, confused, and angry. I knew I had to get ahead of things, or I would sabotage everything near and dear to me. I knew there are adjustments in becoming a mom in my head, but living through them is a whole other story.
My first decision I actively made in trying to feel more, dare I say it, “normal,” was wanting to work with Ace. Big eyes, a wide blaze, beautiful sorrel coat, and he was going to turn my world upside down. Ace was still very green and young. He was a five year old with minimal riding. Between my hard-headed, large ego, stubborn, my-way-or-the-highway attitude and his extreme sensitivity, confusion, and an excellent pinch of spirit, we butted heads. Badly! I knew my skill set was not enough to get him going under saddle again, so while he was away at the trainer’s, I set to work to learn all that I could online.
It’s funny now, looking back at it; that it took a horse for me to start looking at myself, and I mean really look. Not just give excuses for my temper or my training methods or my stubbornness. I began to see how wounded I actually was. My past was still haunting me, even though previously, I was sure I had “moved on.” But healing from abuse is never that simple. I started to find methods bringing to light areas in my past that made me see the world and myself through stained lenses. I started using essential oils to help with my moods, and I was amazed by how well they helped. Then I learned that certain oils could help release anger easier or help me forgive. I could help bring forward those feelings of being a little child again, worry-free. From then on, I was hooked!
I started researching where to apply the oils to my body. Anger is stored in my liver? Really? Fascinating. The effectiveness was only increasing. Then I experienced my first Aroma Freedom Technique. WOW! I was able to figure out, on my own, without talking to strangers, that some old buried memory of mine from decades ago was the reason I was scared to pursue this career choice. And when I was able to see this memory and pour love into it, the most amazing thing happened. The power of those feelings I had been carrying for decades inside my body -- they lifted like an early morning fog. My mind was clear! I understood that past moment for what it was, and I understood the present. Talk about liberating!
Shortly after my introduction to Aroma Freedom Technique, I heard about this Conscious Language thing. To me, it sounded like affirmations. In a sense, it is, but that is like your pinky finger in relation to your entire body. Learning about shining my light, using my gifts, and sharing with the world was very empowering. Then it went to the next level, realizing and believing that I am living my life as God intended, serving others in this way. That when I am serving and shining my true light as planned, I have immense power in my words and thoughts!
All of this because of one horse. Because of Ace. Healing myself was what I needed to do for Ace. He needed a leader, not a boss. Once I was able to be that leader, our relationship completely transformed.
Because of my horse, I released even more trauma, pain, and negative energy to start repairing and rewiring my brain to be a better wife. Because of past sexual abuse, I had walls around my heart so high and wide; they were causing issues in my marriage. I was quick to anger, easily defensive, and would default to distancing myself when I was upset. I wasn’t an equal partner; I held back part of me stuck in the notion I had to keep protecting myself from being hurt. My ego was so scared of completely removing those walls that I only gave small parts of my heart. I then learned that my anger resulted from losing my power, not in the present, but from my past traumas. It was when I learned to send love towards my anger that things started to change.
It’s amazing what happens when you respond with love. Envision a playground bully, they can either be met with fear, distaste, hate, avoidance, and that bully will stay a bully. However, if someone responded to the bully with love, they will pause, think, and most likely change for the better. (This is not a perfect example, but I hope it has you nodding your head with, “ah, I get it.”) I had to learn to love my inner bully; she was, after all, acting out as her way of protecting ourselves from pain, even if she was wrong.
I can’t help but shake my head with half a smile on my face even as I write this. All of this, everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve experienced, the changes in my life, all thanks to my horse, Ace.
My experience is why I am so passionate about teaching others about these life-changing tools. Am I all “fixed” now? Do I have everything all figured out? Is my marriage perfect? Am I the constant happy-go-lucky mom? The answer is no. What is extremely empowering is having the tools and skills to work through triggers and moments of not-so-good. No one is perfect. I still struggle, and that’s ok. I get up, and I recommit. And every time I stumble, it becomes easier and easier to get up, dust myself off and go again. The healing process becomes faster and faster, sometimes, mere seconds. For these tools, I will forever be grateful.
Would you like to learn more about what helped me? I would love to show you more.
It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada, and one of the most popular traditions is expressing our thanks, or gratitude, for things in life. I think this is a beautiful practice and something that should be done daily.
This year, however, I am feeling a lot different towards this holiday. While I am genuinely grateful for all of my blessings, I can’t help but focus on the latter half of the word ‘giving.’ Previously, I’ve always heard the phrase, “You know, thanksgiving, it’s about giving thanks!” But what if instead, we just focused on giving. Instead of focusing on our blessings (again, not saying this is wrong or bad), we focus on how we can help others. What can we give to others? How can we bless others? How can we improve someone else’s day, week, or life?
I honestly believe that giving is one of the purest forms of gratitude. It’s paying it forward. As much as appreciation can change your life, it will most definitely if its something you don’t often implement, giving, I feel, will completely flip your life on its head! In the right way, of course.
I think that’s why I feel so blessed doing what I do. I give a lot of myself to help others, and it feels incredible! Not only am I helping change other people’s lives, but I’m also drastically improving my own as a result. I am excited to pour my heart and soul into my business every single day because I have seen the effects of helping others. It has been the biggest blessing, embracing the calling to serve.
I feel the same way regarding how I interact with Ace. Our best rides, the purest moments, have all occurred after giving him something that touches his own heart. For Ace, it is merely taking time with him just to be, or giving him a perfect belly scratch. Meditating with him, being present, focused, in tune, it connects us. I’m wholeheartedly giving him a piece of my heart when I do any of these things, sincerely hoping to improve his day. And like all things, when I give, he gives! I don’t sit back and wait for him to provide me with all his effort only to reciprocate afterwards. As humans, if we want to have a pure, deeply connected partnership, I think we should all be more focused on how we can make our equine partner’s life better. I’m not talking about spoiling them but helping them learn how to handle their own emotions. Teach them how to regulate their nervous system. Pay attention to their worry cup, and empty it continuously. Work on your emotions and mental state to be healthy, strong, and a viable leader for your horse. When you start giving, I promise you that your life will indeed flip upside down in an epic way.
Thanksgiving. Thankfully Giving. What are you going to give today?
Drop a comment below, I'd love to hear!