Grieving the loss of my relationship

I currently have my laptop on my right and The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, on my left. I also have my phone playing Tim Wheater’s flute music which the book suggests. I know two things for sure in this moment: number one, I feel called to write and number two, I’m stuck on what to write about. There are a few significant topics in my life right now and I’m scared to write about them. The biggest topic that keeps coming up and brings tears to my eyes in this moment, is my recent breakup.

It jolts me when I think too long and hard about it. The loss of a wonderful man in my life. The loss of our dreams together. The pain and ache in my heart that hits when I think about the memories we shared. The gut-wrenching feeling before I open my eyes in the morning, knowing he’s not there.

The grief is raw and the tears come in waves.

For the first time in my life, when someone says. “How are you doing?”, I don’t answer “Fine” or “Good.”  Instead, tears start to leak before words come out. My body won’t let me hide the truth.

I can’t deny how I feel and my vulnerability defenses are down.

My mantra fluctuates multiple times a day between “You’re going be ok” to “God, please help me.” I have wailed into Blue’s mane. I have screamed in my car. I have beaten and sobbed into pillows.

It feels messy and cleansing at the same time…allowing my heart to ache and express itself. I’m not shoving down the feelings I don’t want to face like I have in the past.

What I am learning is to let grief move through me. To not resist it or put an expiration date on sadness.

I’m not in the place of “getting over it”, nor is it time to move on. It is time to honor and mourn the heart-opening love I experienced. Grief is teaching me to listen to my heart and what it needs. I know “Strong Devon” and in recent years I’ve gotten to know “Soft Devon” but “Openly Sad and Hurting Devon” is a new one for me. Allowing my sadness to be heard, seen, and acknowledged is what my heart needs to heal.

By writing about it, I no longer feel stuck. I feel open and connected.

light through

“Grief is a matter of the heart and soul. Grieve your loss, allow it in, and spend time with it. Suffering is the optional part. Love never dies and spirit knows no loss. Keep in mind that a broken heart is an open heart.” – Lousie Hay

Allowing it in,

Devon

8 Reasons to Go on a Women’s Retreat

Women are choosing to attend women’s retreats more and more as a way to find inspiration, purpose and community, while engaging in fun activities and exploring new, beautiful locations.

According to Pamela Madsen, author of Shameless, “Women are on a mission to find something bigger in their own lives. And though retreats can be an investment, for many women, taking a retreat is not considered a luxury item. Instead, retreat taking has become a part of their ritual self-care; carefully scheduled into their yearly calendar.”

Here are our 8 of our top reasons to attend the Unbridled Retreat for Women:


1. Self-Care

Many women are so busy taking care of others (parents, children, partner, business, the dog and cat) that they don’t take the time to take care of themselves. Retreats are restorative — you are able to recharge and reset your internal compass to take better care of YOU, so you can be there for others without feeling drained. As Pamela Madsen suggests, planning a yearly women’s retreat is a great way to ensure you stay connected with you — mind, body and soul.

 

2. To Find Purpose

There are times in our lives that we feel unaligned or lost in our purpose. As life transitions take place, it is easy to lose sight of what our purpose is or how to meaningfully achieve a new purpose. You may have thought that you were fulfilling it for the past decade, but now you’re feeling an inner nudge that it’s time for a change. Equine Coaching is one of the powerful ways that Unbridled Retreats empowers women to gain clarity about purpose and provide the tools to design a positive future.

I have a hard time putting into words how profound and transformational my experience at Unbridled was. My friends describe it as Pre-Retreat Kristin and Post-Retreat Kristin. Even after almost two months, the positive shifts I experienced with Devon, the horses, and the women remain. Post-Retreat, I feel unstuck, unlocked in a way I never have. I have a new hope, courage, and vision for my life. — Kristin Cooper, Oregon

3. Time with Horses

Horses are gifted teachers and guides. These gentle beings are loving and intuitive animals who reflect back to you the truth about who you are and how you operate in the world. During each day at the retreat, you’ll bond with horses unmounted in both the private arena and in the saddle on the trails, surrounded by the beauty of wide open spaces.

I witnessed amazing transformations and awe-inspiring equine interactions. If you doubt a horse’s intuition and their ability to heal, you will come away with a new appreciation for these gentle giants. — Laura Rubin, Colorado

 

4. Spiritual Renewal

By deepening and exploring your relationship to yourself, horses, and your chosen spiritual source, you’ll experience much-needed inner peace. Time in nature is a powerful catalyst to reconnect with your true nature, and unplug from the distractions and stresses of daily life. As Albert Einstein once said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

 

5. Healing

Attending a retreat can support you in beginning to heal from a difficult personal experience like a death or divorce. and provide you with the opportunity to process your emotions in a safe, non-judgmental environment. The Unbridled Retreat offers a beautiful and supportive space to work through pain from the past with the healing power of horses.

As I shared my story with the women and horse surrounding me, I was offered comfort with nuzzles on my neck as I sobbed and was able to release some deep pain. The horses are so intuitive and so strong. They stand in their power and have open hearts if you open yours to them. I would recommend this experience to any woman! It truly is a beautiful, loving, safe space to unpack past hurts and begin to grow into your most authentic and brave self. — Sara Wood, Colorado

6. Female Camaraderie

Even if you regularly connect with your girlfriends, women’s retreats offer a unique opportunity to meet other growth-minded women, specifically women who are drawn to horses. For many participating in these retreats, the activities are outside the norm, which encourages faster bonding and deeper conversations. Many retreat attendees keep in touch with their “Unbridled sisters” long after the retreat ends and become lifelong friends!

The most powerful and life-changing retreat for women! It came at the perfect time in my life. To connect with other like-minded women while spending beautiful days outdoors with horses was epic. I am forever grateful to all of the women who attended this retreat. Life-long friends were made, and I’m beyond excited to attend another retreat in the future. — Courtney Blackburn, California

7. To Experience Something New

The retreat gives you the opportunity to try something different, to step outside your comfort zone and experience yourself in a new way. It’s not only a change of scenery — it’s the perfect backdrop for transformation. From yoga by the creek to cattle roundups, Unbridled Retreats are more than just equine coaching — they include workshops to dive into your heart’s desires, and happy hours with your newfound sisterhood.

8. To Connect with What You Love

Spend time in nature, expand your mindset in new and refreshing ways, and reconnect to what brings you joy. Attending a retreat can help you recommit to focusing on your own happiness and remember how to have fun!

I returned home from the Unbridled Retreat with a buoyant heart and a sense of self-respect that I hadn’t felt in years. I’d left my fear in the dust and had a ton of fun in the process! — Deborah Donohue, California

 


A Women’s Retreat can be the “life reset” you’ve been looking for to give you a positive boost. Sound like what you need? Join us for an upcoming Unbridled Retreat!

Book Now

Is your relationship with your body based on CONTROL?

My relationships have changed drastically in the past sixteen years.

First, is my relationship with horses. Second, is my relationship with my body.

Both of these relationships are now based on a two-way street of communication, mutual respect, trust and compassion.

I grew up in the ego-dominated world of showing horses competitively where it was strictly a one-way street of communication. The horse had to do what I demanded in order to “look good” and receive external validation from the show judges so we could beat the competition.

Even though my body was in the saddle, I was mostly “riding and living in my head”. When my horse would act up, giving me feedback that he was confused or frightened, I would grit my teeth and do what I was taught, which was to tighten the reins and get my horse under control immediately.

As the rider, I was programmed to be in control at all times and make my horse do what I wanted.

The thing is, this was the exact relationship I had with my body for many years. I controlled my body by “holding onto the reins” as tightly as I could. I accomplished this through extreme restriction and desperately trying to look perfect to receive the external validation that my ego craved.

Always in a matter of time, my body would revolt and act up out of hunger and exhausted, I’d “drop of the reins” momentarily. This allowed me to buck and kick and run wild, eating everything in sight. Then I would capture my body and beat it back into submission through purging and then depriving it of any basic needs or nourishment.

Whew, I think back on the amount of energy it took me to keep my horse AND my body under control and it was a constant struggle which turned me into a shell of a person.

Through my personal journey of healing from an eating disorder, I discovered the profound impact of listening to my body. This gift was uncovered in my treatment process, through partnering with horses in an experiential way, with no agenda.

By connecting with horses and with the help of Marla Kuhn, my equine therapist, I learned to ground myself, experience emotional clearing and healing and stay present which allowed me to tune into my body. This was not about horsemanship at all, but about listening…to what the horse was communicating and to what my body was communicating.

Today, I no longer “tighten the reins” when I get scared and desperate to control things. I tune into what my body is communicating to me through awareness and quieting my mind. Then I can decipher what it is I need in that moment; many times it has nothing to do with food!

Horses have taught me the profound impact of a two-way street in a relationship. This is the juncture in which healing occurs, in all of our relationships.

In loving partnership,
Devon

How to Meditate in 7 Simple Steps



“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

Horses live in the present moment. They aren’t worried about the fight they had with their spouse yesterday, or what the weather will be tomorrow. Because they live in the moment, their natural state is peace and serenity.

Horses are great meditation teachers.

Science shows that meditation lowers stress, increases mental clarity, and improves sleep. My favorite benefit of meditation is it quiets the monkey chatter in our mind so we can listen to our intuition.

When we are NOT present, we miss out on the richness of life; the smell of our dog’s fur as we hug him, the way the sun feels on our skin, a smile from a loved one, the flavor of dark chocolate as we savor every bite.

By training our mind to live more in the present moment, we stop seeking peace and serenity, and realize it’s right here, right now.

Below is a guide for getting started…

How to Meditate in 7 Simple Steps

 

1. Sit upright comfortably.
If you’re like me and you try to meditate while lying down, you’ll fall asleep. Instead, sit in a comfortable chair with an upright back, get a meditation cushion, or fold a pillow and sit cross-legged on it, which will help support your back.

2. Breathe Deeply.
Ah, the breath, the wonderful breath. It’s our ANCHOR to the present moment and a tool available at all times. Start by taking 10 deeps breaths and counting to 5 during each exhale and inhale. Allow your lungs to fill up as you inhale (it feels good to take a deep inhale) and then slowly exhale through your nose, allowing your shoulders to drop. Repeat.

3. Gently close your eyes.
If you’re not doing so already, I suggest closing your eyes to help you focus. It’s easy to give your mind an excuse to wander when you are staring at laundry that needs to be done.

4. Slowly scan your body, and notice any sensations.
I love this step because it’s checking in with our body. How many times a day do we ask others, “How are you?” A lot. How many times a day do we ask our body, “How are you?” Hardly ever. It’s an opportunity to check in with your body which is an effective way to bring you into the present moment. Start by focusing on your feet and moving up to the top of your head. Notice if there is tension anywhere, and if there is, consciously send your breath in the direction of that body part.

5. Be aware of any thoughts you are having.
Do you ever get stuck in overthinking? Here’s a chance to notice your thoughts WITHOUT getting roped in by them. Imagine each thought is like a cloud in the sky and you’re the observer. Notice what thoughts are present, “I need to call my mom, I have to go to the grocery store”. Allow each thought to come up, and pass by, without any judgment or attachment.

6. When your mind wanders, focus on your breath.
When your mind wanders, which it will, come home to your breath. Your breath is the the number one tool to help you stay grounded, connected, and focused in the moment. When you focus on your breathing, your heart rate slows down, your mind begins to quiet, and your body can relax.

7. Gently open your eyes when you are ready.
I suggest practicing meditation for 5-10 minutes in the beginning. The best time of day to do it is in the morning, BEFORE having coffee, if you’re a caffine consumer. Connecting to your breath will set the tone for your day. It’s a positive and empowering tool to practice beyond the pillow, and throughout the day. Even if you don’t have an opportunity to close your eyes, you can practice conscious breathing during a meeting, in a traffic jam, or in a conversation.

For a printable checklist of How to Meditate in 7 Simple Steps, CLICK HERE.

You can post the printable checklist in your bedroom, or by your desk, as a reminder to meditate.

For guided meditations, check out HeadSpace which is an easy-to-use app that walks you through a series of 10 minute meditations.

I’d love to hear from you….have you ever tried meditation? What’s been your experience? Share in the comments below.

Inhale…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…Exhale…1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

Devon

A Reminder to Breathe


None of us are raised to think about our breathing. We assume breathing just comes naturally. Some cultures, and religions, and scientific studies, however, show us the significant benefits of bringing awareness to your breath.

When we take short breaths, we tend to be disconnected from our physical sensations and stuck in our head—overthinking, uptight, and stressed. This physical and mental tightness wreaks havoc on our bodies and our lives, making us sick, unhappy, and anxious.

Getting out of your head and into your body allows you to become more present. Equine Gestalt Coaching shows us how to be present in our breath through horses. Horses live completely in the present. They’re not depressed about what happened in the past or anxious about what could happen in the next five minutes. They are fully present in all of the sensations and solidity of now. When we emulate them and become present through focus on our breathing, we bring our awareness to the moment. We let go of worries and anxiety. We become present.

Being present is particularly important when you’re working with a 1,200-pound animal. When my clients are connecting one-on-one with horses, I remind them to breathe into their emotions.

When we deny our emotions, we create physical symptoms in our body. Emotions are energy and that energy has to go somewhere. If we suppress our emotions, that withheld emotional energy will manifest and can disrupt our well-being throughout our lives.

I learned this through firsthand experience. In the past when I would have a feeling of anger, upset or unhappiness, grief, or sadness, (any emotion that wasn’t happy or upbeat), I would suppress and deny these “negative” emotions. I did not breathe into them. I didn’t acknowledge them. I didn’t give them air. I didn’t release them. I didn’t know how. All of those emotions were trapped and manifested in my body as an eating disorder which allowed me to maintain the illusion of control. I was able to hide my emotions in a very unhealthy way for a period of years. My suppressed emotions did explode later on, and my mental health was deeply affected.

When I learned to breathe allowing new energy in with each inhale, and pushing old energy out with each exhale, my body started to release and soften, and I was finally able to process my emotions and let them go. This is the action and the outcome I share with my clients to anchor them in the moment. When you breathe into and out of your sadness, your sorrow, your fear, your disappointment, your joy, or your happiness, new energy cycles through your body and old energy is released.

Breathing is especially important when you’re with a horse. As a prey animal, a horse can immediately sense if you’re not breathing normally. If you’re feeling fear, you get tense, and your body tightens; the horse feels your energy. When you get tense and tighten up, the horse mirrors your energy and gets tight and tense—the horse is directly responding to your energy field.

One of my favorite sayings to clients is “breathe and smile!” The moment I speak those words, their bodies start to relax, a smile crosses their face, and they lighten up. When that change occurs, the horses visibly relax. It’s a chain reaction, a cause and effect. When you’re breathing and you’re in the moment, you are calm, inviting, and open to people and the horses you interact with. 

Where in your life can you practice taking deeper breaths?

I’d love to hear….share in the comments below!

Breathe with me. Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, exhale, 1, 2 ,3 ,4, 5, and relish this present moment of your life.

Devon 

Top 5 tips for Well-Being

Are you going through a rough time, feeling out of whack, or just want some tools to feel better in general?

Check out my TOP 5 TIPS FOR WELL-BEING…

BE IN NATURE

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

Being in nature is an efficient healing source and a quick way to shift your mood. Go barefoot in your backyard and feel the grass under your feet. Walk in your local park and look up at the trees. Visit a garden and literally smell the roses. Notice the colors, aromas, and diversity of nature.

On my daily walks, I’m reminded of the abundance of the universe, and it lifts my spirits and clears my mind.

SHARE HOW YOU FEEL

“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”- Brene Brown

This can be a hard one for many people who try to appear to “have it together all the time”. I’m going to let you in on a secret….NOBODY DOES! I used to be a master of hiding how I felt and it was working with horses that taught me to share my authentic self.

Keeping your true feelings buried causes you to feel alone which can lead to depression. Call a friend, family member (my sister is my go-to), or visit an Equine Gestalt Coach or therapist. When you share how you feel with a trusted confidante (person or animal), you instantly feel lighter, more connected, and not so alone.

JOURNAL

“What a comfort is this journal. I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved.” – Anne Lister

Writing down your thoughts and feelings is a healthy outlet for them to be released. It can give you a new perspective, and it’s a powerful way to reflect on what is and isn’t working in your life.

My favorite journaling practice is Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” exercise of writing three pages each morning. I love stream-of-consicousness journaling of downloading all my thoughts and feelings through the pen.

MOVE YOUR BODY

“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” – Carol Welch

Crank the music and dance in your kitchen, or go to the gym and sweat it out. Nothing gets you out of your head, and into your body faster than raising your heart rate.

Even when I don’t feel like it, I make it a priority to exercise at least 15 minutes 4 to 5 times a week and I ALWAYS feel better and more energetic afterward.

MEDITATE

“Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection.” – Amit Ray

Take 5 to 15 minutes each day to sit, close your eyes, and observe your breath. It helps relieve anxiety, and connects you to your inner guidance. By meditating regularly, you develop the ability of observing your thoughts instead of your thoughts controlling you.

I love guided meditations because they help keep my mind from wandering all over the place. I highly recommend the Headspace Meditation app for simple 10 minute guided meditations.

 

We ALL feel out of whack at times and by integrating these tools, you can experience more balance and increased well-being.

I’d love to hear from you….what practice or tools do you use to stay balanced and feel better? Share in the comments below.

To your well-being,

Devon