Tuesday, 25 February 2014

'This woman is completely bonkers, I need your help Kid!' - coaching with Kid and Velvet

I've just returned from another fabulous coaching/counselling session with Pam Billinge (Equest Ltd) and a stay at my Wiltshire Retreat, Suddene Park Farm. Here's how I got on.

The sunshine matched my positive mood as I drove to Wiltshire on Monday morning. Following the sad demise of Ian's horse Moose in January, 'Moosie power' had clearly kicked in and I was keen to update Pam about the ideas and opportunities I had experienced since we last spoke. Pam picked up on my 'tiggeriness'. She suggested that we interacted with Kid and Velvet, who are integral members of the Equest counselling team, in the schooling arena. Pam set me a task - to design a maximum of 4 'obstacles' in the sand school, using the props available to me, that described, conceptually, what I had learned from our chat beforehand. In particular about opportunities, challenges, and self-censorship, something I'm guilty of when writing creatively or in life generally. Self-censorship is the act of censoring your own expression, be it through writing or other forms of communication, due to fear (perhaps of other people's opinions) or lack of confidence or through taking life too seriously.

Kid and Velvet
At first, my 'lizard brain' kicked in - you know the one - the negative voice that insists on telling you you're no good, you're going to fail - another prime suspect in self-censorship. I gave myself a moment to quieten Lionel Lizard down, then let my gut instinct take charge.Three different obstacles were created by my own fair hands:
1. Opportunity funnel: two poles placed in a funnel shape. Moving from the narrow to wider opening represented how lots of opportunities and ideas can arise from a small beginning, while moving the other way represented something that Henry says to me - that as you get closer to a challenge, it may not be as big as it first appeared. Good, eh?!
2. Stumbling blocks: two parallel poles, with alternative ends raised on blocks, resembled the 'stumbling blocks' we may face in life so stepping over them reminded me that a) they can be overcome and b) we can learn from them. Now stay with me on this....
3. Weave cones: traffic cones placed at intervals in a straight line which we had to weave through like in dog agility courses, but not that fast! This exercise represented 'having fun' and not worrying so much about other people's thoughts and reactions.

Weave cones representing 'fun'
Velvet was more amenable to being brought in from the field so I led her around each obstacle. But as we moved further away from Kid, who remained in the field, she became less willing to follow me. Her expression said it all: 'This woman is completely bonkers, I need your help Kid!' Although Kid was still reluctant to be caught, she was clearly intrigued by our antics, so she joined us without the constraint of a headcollar. Velvet and I negotiated the obstacles once more, with Kid following closely behind. That is, until we reached the 'weave cones'. Then Kid decided that the other end of the school was far more interesting but she kept a close eye on proceedings!

Pam encouraged me to think outside the box for how I could encourage Kid to join in. I reduced the number of cones to make the exercise simpler and took Velvet through them again. Kid came up for a closer inspection  but it wasn't until I stopped trying so hard to get her to join in that - guess what -  Kid decided to walk in and out the cones herself - in her own style. She's clearly a woman who knows her own mind! It never ceases to amaze me how sensitive horses are to our subconscious thoughts and body language. By inadvertently taking the pressure of Kid, I enabled her to participate but how telling that it was the obstacle representing fun and letting go that caused the most 'issues'. So, what are my learnings from this session? Don't take life too seriously, write from the heart, don't worry what other people may think and lighten up - have fun! Thank you Pam, Kid and the ever-patient Velvet for your ongoing coaching.

Opportunity funnel and stumbling blocks!