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After I had my first hit of Equine-Facilitated Learning (EFL) at Brené Brown’s Courage Camp in 2017, I was hooked. So much so that I was willing to drive five hours away in 2018 to attend a Texas gathering of Certified Daring Way™ Facilitators that was going to include more EFL.
When I learned that only one or two of us would actually be going in with a horse, I felt my anxiety and scarcity rise. I didn’t want to take away from someone else, but I didn’t want to miss out on something if it was meant for me. I found myself blurting out my fears, and the facilitator calmly asked me to be curious about my discernment struggle. I pretty much hated that.
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The truth is I’ve lived a lot of my life as an observer and not really in the arena. It was always safer to let others be vulnerable, and I would wait on the sidelines until I’d gathered enough trust in the space and courage to be seen. And while I’d been practicing being braver and bolder, it was still hard to trust myself and my instincts. My worried head often got in the way of my wholeheartedness.
When my phone rang with a client emergency as I was observing the first arena participant, it was a little helpful nod from the universe as to why I was not in there. I walked away from the group and towards the parking lot to handle the call, and after being a calm witness for someone else, I was inspired to take a moment to offer myself the same gift. I acknowledged that I had been expecting things to go differently, and that I was feeling doubt, disappointment, and frustration. I also praised myself for taking the risk to come, and for vulnerably sharing what I was thinking and feeling with the group. And when I turned around to head back, I saw this face greeting me at the main gate:
Tears that had already been close to the surface were immediately freed to flow onto my face.
There I was feeling like I had driven miles to just miss out, and this sweet soul saw me and let me know that I mattered and that I hadn’t been forgotten. This is the gift of the herd - we are all connected and everyone belongs. And it didn’t really matter what else happened, that moment of being seen and loved was enough. The fact that it came only after I had really connected with myself made it even more meaningful.
At the end of the day (which to my happy surprise had gone on to include plenty of other equine interaction time for all) we were invited to add a take-away message onto the barn wall. I took up a lot of space and planted a thick tree with the words, “Take Your Time,” because I was in the process of uprooting my life and would later that year would be planting myself in the country.
I’m so grateful for all the wise beings I got to share that magical day with. And I’m so glad I had that image and those words to hold onto because I sure needed them to build Braving Star Farms. It’s been a messy-wonderful-terrifying-journey, and to my happy surprise, 5 years later, I now am certified in Equine-Facilitated Learning and hold my own EFL retreats and events, along with writing retreats and more!
If you are looking for connection, whether to yourself, nature, or others, I hope you will be brave and come visit soon!
Upcoming Events at Braving Star Farms: https://www.daringdiscoveries.com/events.html
“Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
-Brené Brown, Atlas of the Heart
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