Gratitude Journal: Grateful for good people who “get” me. Life would be very lonely without them — my friends, colleagues, and confidantes. Grateful for the natural world, because I find peace and tranquility there. Grateful for horses and goats and guinea fowl and dogs and cats and deer; they bring me unconditional love and also teach me acceptance. Grateful for my husband, who loves me and teaches me patience, too. Grateful for water, to bathe, to wash, to swim, to float, to drink, to sit beside and absorb good vibes. Water is life. Grateful for the “travel taco” (burrito). Grateful for the ability to start learning about many cultures through partaking of their delicious food (watching David Chang lately). Grateful that I am not being bombed or displaced by war, and wish everyone in the world could say that. Grateful for my sadness, because it helps me honor and cherish what I have lost. Grateful for my anger, because it helps show me what needs to be changed and gives me the impetus to work toward changing it. Grateful for my fascinating and precious life.
Gratitude Journal 03.07.2022
Gratitude Journal: Grateful for some time to read the news and catch up on some paperwork today. Grateful for my relative privilege and the ability/desire to use it to give a hand up to others who are not so lucky. Grateful for a platform to talk/write/share about things that are important to me. Grateful for the beautiful weather yesterday (I got a lot of things done outside). Grateful for a roof over my head, no bombs going off around me, and no one shooting at me (but I wish it was like that for everyone). Grateful for my comparatively easy life.
Gratitude Journal: 02.19.22
***This is a practice that I have been doing almost daily for 6 years, and often encourage my clients to pick up a gratitude practice as well. We tend to focus on the negative (that’s just how humans are wired), and it can really shift your mood and perspective to intentionally shine a spotlight on what is good in your life. But you can’t just make a list; you have to also say WHY you are grateful. Get creative and try to come up with new and different things every day. I have been sharing mostly on Facebook, where they are appreciated by my friends, but I decided that I should encourage the gratitude practice of many others by sharing them here as time allows.***
Grateful that I’m snug and warm inside the house with the fireplace going on such a blustery day. Grateful that my husband took care of the barn and is now braving the wind and cold and clusters of Muggles to get us (and his mother) supplies, because I am still not up to snuff and do not want to be out there not feeling 100%. Grateful for a negative rapid test because I’m glad to know at this writing that I don’t have Covid. Grateful for the reminder of my vulnerability, because I was getting rather lax with my protections out in public spaces. Grateful for friends who remain my friends in spite of the fact that I am sometimes a bad friend in return and don’t keep in touch the way I should (I’m terrible with returning phone calls). Grateful for dreams and aspirations and things to look forward to, but also grateful for the ability to live in the moment and be present in my life. Life is lived not in the future or the past, but here and now. We forget that sometimes. Grateful for my furbabies, because they have taught me how to and remind me daily about being fully present in the moment. Grateful for my interesting life.
I woke up this morning remembering my father’s workshop in my childhood home in Minoa. I have no idea what dream may have prompted such memories, so even as the memory surfaced, I was thinking, “Why the heck am I thinking about this?”
It was a greasy, tool-filled corner of our basement with two workbenches meeting in the corner of the cellar wall, much different than the wood shop in my grandfather’s basement, which was clean and bright and smelled deliciously of wood shavings. But my father worked on cars and small engines from his, so it was a completely different kind of “shop.” He had acetylene torches parked there as well, that he used to haul up the stairs under the Bilco door to work outside.
Those memories drifted and shifted, as memories do, into memories of THE FIRE. I was very small, maybe 5; it was summer, a Saturday, and my dad was working on one of the ever-present extra cars that graced our driveway. Mostly, the cars belonged to other people and my father (an auto mechanic in his spare time) took in some extra money that way. Or sometimes he would buy them outright, fix them up on the weekends, and sell them for a small profit. I liked to hang out with him when he was working on them, asking him questions (about anything and everything) and discussing the world as I was discovering it. This morning, the car was just another one of Dad’s cars, and he was under it on the automotive creeper. I chattered away to him, trusting that he was listening even though I could only see his legs protruding out from under the side of the car he was working on. Eventually I left him to his work and went off to find a friend to play with. There were lots of kids in our small neighborhood and there was always someone with which to hang out.
I don’t remember where I was when someone said my house was on fire; maybe in my friend Patty’s back yard or the Murphy’s side yard. I only remember that I looked to see the car, the car right next to our back door, the car that my father had been underneath a few minutes ago, engulfed in flames! Flames as high as the peak of our Cape Cod-style roof. Flames..! I dropped everything I was doing and ran toward home, looking desperately for my father.
Quite a crowd was gathering on the small hill next door and across the street. The fire engine had arrived. (Later I learned that my 2 older sisters had run down to the corner and pulled the fire alarm on the pole at the end of the street.) I saw my mother in the crowd near our house and went to her, asking where Dad was. She didn’t know.
It seemed like the whole town was there, watching the fire. I had never seen so many people together on our street. I walked around on the outskirts of the crowd unnoticed, searching with increasing anxiety for my father, and once in a while, if I saw someone I knew, I shyly asked if they had seen him. No one had seen him.
I was afraid he was still under the car, you see. I was afraid my father was dead, even though I did not voice that fear.
I watched helplessly with the crowd as the firemen trained their hoses on the flaming car, which was really just a huge ball of fire, completely engulfed and white-hot. There was activity on the other side of the front yard, too, that I could not see because the flames were too high and the smoke was very black. I was still searching the faces in the crowd for that one familiar face I did not see, quietly fearing the worst. The flames were beginning to extinguish, and we were looking at a charred and blackened car, still smoking in my driveway, but at least my house was safe (we were very lucky the gas tank hadn’t exploded).
And then, suddenly, my very heavy young heart lifted, because I saw him through the smoke, dirty and sweaty but safe and very much alive, standing in the crowd across the street from our house. My Dad. My Hero. I ran to him and hugged him around the waist, and he just put his arm around my shoulders and kept talking to whomever he was talking to, in that absent way that parents sometimes do with their children. At that moment he probably had no idea how frightened I had been (and I’m sure he had his own excitement to deal with, too), but just that casual embrace was reassuring, and I was able to return quickly to my happy, regulated self.
Later, in a quiet moment, I told him I had been afraid he was dead, and he said that it was indeed a very close call. It seems he was working with the torches and his attention was diverted for a second by something. He turned to glance and inadvertently ignited with the torch flame some oil that had seeped into the stones of the driveway under the car. He said when he realized what had happened, when he saw the stones burning, he knew that he had only seconds to get out of there before the car went up in flames.
It was an exciting day, a scary day, a traumatic day, one that lives vividly in my memory still (and in the memories of my sisters, too). I can still see the fire when I close my eyes; I can still feel the terror of that little girl as she grappled with the awareness that her father could be dead. I believe I first became aware at this tender young age that life is finite, and that the people I love could die. In catastrophic fashion, I was shown that in a heartbeat, in the blink of an eye, my father could be taken away and my life could be altered irrevocably. And so, at this moment, the naivety of childhood began to erode slowly, irreversibly, like an imperceptible crack that gradually widens and eventually becomes noticeable.
I had a soul retrieval yesterday (yes, the healer sometimes needs her own healing), so I am not surprised that some traumatic childhood memories are surfacing today. It happens in the days following and is often part of the soul retrieval healing. One soul part came back bringing the gifts of “rainbows and sweetness” that Spirit said I had lost at an early age. I suspect this may be the place where I set this soul part aside, to remain safely enfolded and hidden away as the rest of me went on to stoically face the difficult and inevitable lessons of the future.
But I have to say, I love me some rainbows! And I’m ready for you, sweetness! Welcome home, and thank you.
© – 2022, C.L. McGinley
Toby Steps Up
“Nobody is choosing to work with Toby,” I said to Shawne with a little concern one day last summer. “I don’t know if it’s because his size is intimidating to people or what.”
We were weeks into our seasonal program, and every other horse in the barn had been chosen by clients for their equine-assisted psychotherapy sessions, but Toby had yet to be chosen. Toby is a big black Percheron gelding who towers over most people. What they don’t realize about him is that he’s really a gentle giant. As a therapist, I felt that many clients could get a lot of good out of developing a relationship with him, but no one was choosing him.
It was also true that Toby was not paying much attention to the people that came into the barn, only connecting initially with me or Shawne. He seemed content to hang back and munch hay or grass, while the other horses put their faces out in the aisle over their doors curiously or approached clients in the paddock outside. Toby had some ingrained trust issues and was not as outgoing as the rest. He was not putting himself out there.
Then Henry got sick with EPM in the fall, and his balance was so compromised that he could not safely work with his people anymore. Without Henry in the line-up, another horse would have to be chosen for several clients.
What is interesting about this is that I noticed Toby suddenly becoming sociable. He started greeting people as they came into the barn, with his head over his stall door as if to say, “Hey! Look at me!” One client even remarked that Toby was looking at her when she came in the barn and she felt a connection, so she decided to work with him.
The horse who once tried to not be noticed seemed to realize that he was needed and stepped up, quite obviously making himself available.
I watched in fascination as everyone who formerly worked on Relationship Logic® with Henry now chose Toby to connect with, and they all did some great healing work together.
After a lifetime of being with horses, they still never cease to amaze me.
The teachings we can take in from observing horse behaviors or developing a relationship with them each individually are worth sharing, so I’ve decided to do that here in this blog on a semi-regular basis. I hope you look forward to reading about them.