Ripleigh Go Bragh

Ripleigh Go Bragh
Connemara stallion Ripleigh Go Bragh

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Forever

I've decided to assume the following:

1.  My girlfriend is passionately in love with me.  She loves sharing my life with me, likes it when I share hers and together we have a lot of really fun and exciting projects.  She is not shy about telling me all the good stuff and she is sweet and understanding when she lets me know I've messed up.

2.  I make more than enough money doing all of the things I love to do. 

3.  I can fully relax and receive all the wealth, health, friends, fun and good food I want whenever I choose.

4.  Everything really is good (as compared to good in the "but, oh look how much it made me grow" kind of way) and so let's start from there.

5.  I am a luscious, yummy, inspiring, touchable, warm, joy to be around.

As far as I am concerned, my whole life experience feels as yummy as it feels when I am with my horses.

So says I!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


If dreams are a thread that lead us through the crap, what if there is crap on the other side of the needle as well?

Which is worse? The unknown or the known bad from the past?

Whenever I decided to move forward, I invariably manifest some "old crap", largely in the arena of relationship. After all, it is much easier to lay the blame on "her" (or "him) than to admit to doing something so obviously stupid as messing up my own life.

I have asked my manifesting self to do me a big favor.  The next time I start worrying about the unknown future... please make me recreate some past WONDERFUL moment rather than having to go through the same old crap one more time!

Now I just have to try to remember as vividly all the great things in my past as I do the horrible moments. 

Why is happiness so much less memorable than the yucky bits?  I understand the physiology of survival, but really- can't we be pulled forward by the surety of good times just as easily as we are pushed forward by the avoidance of the miserable times?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Faith in the Space

I recently had some weird heart issues- of the physiological kind. I have a right bundle blockage which means that the left and right ventricles are not in sync.  Combine it with a wicked chest cold and you get heart palpitations and shortness of breath of a scary sort.

My relationship, my writing career, my income, my farm, my exercise program, my horses' training- nothing's lining up with where I think I ought to be.

It makes me wonder which came first. My life being out of alignment or my heart beating whacky?

When I had my first heart palpitation this last week, it made me so weak I couldn't stand for long and it caused me to be out of breath for fifteen minutes. All I could do was think "oh please beat, don't stop, just keep beating."   It didn't hurt, but it was very, very real.

In that fifteen minutes I realized all I ever needed to know about faith. Faith is the space between heartbeats. We all assume the next beat will come and so we run through life chasing our beliefs with confidence in the eternal nature of our heart. It rarely lets us down!

When we get afraid, our hearts beat hard, almost as if it were cheering us on from the sidelines. "I'm still here!!" The beating of our hearts lets us know when we are in love and comforts us when we are sad. It is something you feel in the night when you hold your lover tight. It's all about the beat, man!

But when my heart seemed to stop, I realized that the beat is merely the reward for surviving the dark before the dawn. It's the prize for not quitting before the miracle. The real moment of truth, the absolute test of faith, lies in the space between beats. Take some time and feel when you heart isn't beating.

Quiet in there isn't it?

It's when there is no hope that faith carries us to the glory.

Times are tough. It looks bad, really bad. But here's my challenge:

What if this is just the space between heartbeats?

Focus on your faith, whatever form that takes. See your dreams like a thread that you are trying to poke through the eye of a tiny needle, in the dark, on a bumpy road, with screaming kids. Ignore it, focus on the thread and the eye of the needle.

Have faith, the miracle is waiting on the other side.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Finding Love Quietly

Most of us are really good at giving.  Some of us are really good at receiving.   We all secretly think we are really pretty simple to be with and that everyone else is a lot of work.   We’ve all heard the “you have to love yourself first” and the “give up and it will come” crap of the self-help gurus.  And even though we know better, I can guarantee that there isn’t a soul on the face of this Earth who doesn’t believe that the romance played out on the big screen is impossible.   We all want it.  We all want in on that mysterious thing called love.

Here’s the secret- no it isn’t out there in the Universe waiting for you to learn how to ask for the cookie correctly (see my Barnyard Philosophy page for more on that):

If you really want to be loved, all you have to do is shut up about it. 

Seriously… stop yapping.  Quit the agonistic poetry.  Turn off the TV.  Put down the book.  Leave your poor lover alone.  Stop reciting affirmations.  No crying allowed.

Do this for a few days.

We'll talk about it then.

Monday, November 7, 2011


What is passion?

Bag that, what does passion feel like to you?

Most of my life, passion felt like yearning, desire, want, need, must have.  It was a craving in need of satisfaction, recognition, action, reception.  HUNGER.

This morning as I was happily working on one of the five novels I am writing, I realized that I've really got it all wrong.  Passion isn't about pursuing some holy grail (girl).  It has nothing to do with the feelings of falling in love.  Passion is about having what you really, really want RIGHT NOW so that you can roll in it at will.  To be passionate means that you come from a place of completeness not of emptiness. It is enough in search of more. 

Passion isn't about lack fulfilled.  Passion is only available in abundance.

Love what you have.  And then love it some more.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Doubting Tics

Doubt has a tendency to surprise us. 

You could have had a great weekend with your partner and by Monday morning you think, "has he always taken up this much space in the bed?"  or "why does she have to talk so damn much!"  By the end of the day you wonder what the hell you are doing with them.

Perhaps you have just spent a great half hour snuggling and grooming your horse only to discover in your lesson that no matter what you do, the bugger just won't pick up the left lead.  What was once a match made in heaven has become one of the most irritating aspects of your day.  What happened?

Not a single thing.

In fact. there were little signals along the way letting you know that perfection was on its way out the door.  It was there in the little niggling voice in the back of your mind or the slight irritation that made you clench your jaw.  Maybe something they did that made you tuck your chin or furrow your eyebrows.  Generally there is a feeling of hurt or anger followed by a tendency to think the other is being insensitive to you.  

Before you know it, you are in a fight, depressed or feeling like nothing is ever going to go right again.  . And without a doubt in your mind, you know that the jerk is a real asshole.  Things feel out of control and you are going to do whatever it takes to get it back under YOUR control.

What would happen if you took notice of all those little physical clues that pull you out of your fantasies? 

I find that I become more present when I pay attention to the clues that let me know I am in doubt.  I find that I am in a position to choose or self-direct rather than react. And more importantly, I am more willing to reach an understanding with my partner because I see an "error" in the moment instead of a "fault" in the other.  

It's like catching a dropped stitch.  You can deal with it as you go along or end up with a crappy sweater.

The best way I can describe it is that something inside me is saying "Um. Wait a minute, that was funky. We had better stop and check it out."

Usually there is a boundary issue being crossed or an assumption has been made.  Once I am clear on what is bothering me about the situation, I can immediately clear up the misunderstanding and ask for what I need in a non-emotional way.  If I wait until I am pissed or hurt, I am sure to cause a ruckus and destroy trust.

How does your body let you know when something is "funky"?

What can you do differently in that moment to keep things great for both you and your partner/horse?

I am hoping you will find that you fight a lot less and that it is easier to get what you want out of life. 

And as an added bonus you will suddenly be LISTENING with your whole being instead of just with your mind. 

Stay tuned for more on "listening"...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Calling it Quits

Sometimes enough is enough.  It is time to accept the facts, put on your walking boots and head on out the door.

After several months of struggling with myself and arguing with everyone about the value of staying with Denise, I have come to a final decision.

I'm staying.

Here's why:  because ending it and the fallout of ending it makes me feel like I am quitting on my Soul.  It would mean that everything I have believed in, worked for, suffered for and fought for was wrong.  I had a "feeling" about her, the farm, horses, writing, life etc. for as long as I can remember.  The feeling was "being right" and breaking up felt like "being wrong".

So why am I calling it Quits?

I have decided to QUIT doubting my Soul.

Hey, if I talk about "all is good" then maybe I ought to practice it a little bit more thoroughly.  If all is really good, then Denise must be too.

Personally I suspect my Soul is a little nuts, but then what do I know about souls? It was right about my horses and this land, maybe it is right about everything else.

My Soul whispers to me that if I spend time with my horses I will make money; if I spend my time writing and reading- not business building- then I will get clients; if I accept Denise with all her faults I will get the loving I crave.  It tells me to do the opposite of what makes sense, of what is practical and is contrary to all I know.

And guess what, suddenly my girlfriend is starting to look suspiciously like a girlfriend I've always wanted.

Here's my challenge for the week:  Quit.  Give it up.  Let it go.  Move on.  Drop it.  Let it Be.

What if everything in your life really were exactly as it should be?  What then would you have to worry about? And if you have nothing to worry about.... what will you do with all that time and energy?

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Enough about me.  Let’s talk about you.

You have the glory of the beginning and the sorrow of the end.

What’s the filling in your relationship?


Why is it so much easier to write about relationships when they are starting or ending?  Is there no in between?

Fifteen years.  That’s a lot of time to experience a whole lot of good and bad with another person.  It is the whole life of the average dog or cat or cow.  It’s three years longer than the amount of time FDR was president.  It’s one year shy of the amount of time you have spent going from first grade to your junior year in college.  It is one third of my life.

What is in between starting and ending?

I think we ignore the bulk of this time unless we are fighting. During a fight we can bring up all the minute incidences when our partners really screwed up.  And of course the good stuff helps us stick through the bad times.  But then there is the really boring shit.  Laundry, brushing teeth while discussing the next day’s schedule, sitting on opposite sides of the house staring into a computer screen, and all that other roommate-type stuff that fills the bulk of our time together.  Nothing romantic there.  In fact it is pretty nice to be able to do that with someone and in many ways this can keep a relationship “alive” for much longer than it should.

How does one know when it is a roommate thing vs. a love thing?

For me it boils down to touch. 

I don’t mean sex because one can have sex with someone and still be roommates.  I mean all those little extra brushes of fingers, kisses on the neck, holding of hands, looking into each others eyes, bringing a gift because you were thinking about them and wishing they were with you.  These are the “little” things that we forget when we fight.  These are the little things that mean that we are more than "just friends" when we are getting together.  These are the little things that slowly disappear and let you know when it is really over.

Touch matters.

Funny, I never noticed the word "ouch" in there.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Praise of Co-Dependency

This post is for everyone who has ever been told that they are "co-dependent".

There is something about the way people use the word "co-dependent" that I find damaging in its innuendos.  It is as if they are saying, "yes, it is a shame but really she shouldn't have been walking in that neighborhood at that time of night" to someone who is having a hard time in a relationship. 

It has been applied to me recently as I struggle to come to terms with what are the side-effects of a rather difficult transition in my relationship. Things are changing and while we both feel it would be a waste to toss out what is so obviously a perfectly wonderful match, we seem to find it difficult to agree on what a relationship is or should be.  She feels like she needs more freedom and space, I feel I need more intimacy and commitment. My heart is still very into her, and her heart is in need of the self-love that comes with not having to be in relationship with anyone (it's called single). 

But, hell. We both really like each other and we just got ownership of the house and 100 acres.  We are finally in a position to build a life together and ironically, we aren't sure that we are the one's we ought to be building it with.  But we shall try, oh my, how we shall try!  We've agreed to go three weeks at a time and then see.

Anyhow, Co-dependency...

I've always felt that the term has come to be a way to demean and dis-empower people who are givers, feelers, and expressors.   I'd call it "woman style loving" only there are plenty of both genders who struggle with living in a world that honors takers, with-holders, and the numb and dumb.

If your lover has fallen out of love with you and has been behaving poorly (however you want to define it) then it is probable that you are hurt, upset, desperately trying to figure out what to do to change the situation, angry, confused, insecure and maybe a little WHACKED OUT!  They on the other hand are cool, calm and mostly irritated that you just can't get over it and let them move on. I mean really! They are fine, they just want you to be happy, they aren't worried about their future... what the hell is wrong with you? Maybe you are co-dependent!

And everyone will agree with them. There must be something wrong with you, and if that is so- then what the other person is doing is somehow forgiven.  It is your fault, after all, that you can't deal with life.


Here's the truth.  Co-dependency is a sign that you are in the presence of someone who is in denial or who is in an active state of addiction, crappy behavior, poor morals, shitty boundaries or who is a pain in the ass that is trying to get you to take the load off their back so they can carry one being the asshole with equanimity.
In other words, if you are behaving in a co-dependent (whacked out, obsessive, anxious, fearful, angry and crazy) then it is probably because you have been triggered into it.

Now here's the tough love part:  you are 100% responsible for dealing with your own co-dependent behaviors. 

You might have to leave the relationship, pitch a fit, toss the bottles in the garbage, be a damn bitch, or whatever it takes to get you away from the source of your co-dependent trigger.

You will have to rebuild your sanity, find the love within yourself, and most of all- GO BACK TO LIVING YOUR LIFE AS IF IT WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD.

It is crazy hard. It is painful hard. It requires a monumental effort of the will and the utmost devotion to your soul.

You need help.  I need help.  So, after years of being a snotty brat about 12 step (even though I use all of their principles in my coaching) I went to a meeting with an wonderful teacher named Julie.  I chose the Debtors Anonymous chapter because I like the idea of becoming solvent on all levels. I love that they have vision meetings and pressure relief groups and action steps. Oh it is just so coachy cool!

So the next time you hear the term co-dependent and someone is pointing at you I want you to say this to them:

"Yes you are right I am in a co-dependent reaction. Because no one knows a messed up person better than the co-dependent they need to take care of them.  And if you think I am co-dependent on you, then that must make you the messed up person I need to get the hell away from!"

And then I want you to run to the person in your life who will let you know the following:
1. Yes, you are crazy, but it is because you were in a crazy situation.
2. Crazy situations are out of control and there is nothing you can do to change it.
3. Repeat after me:
     "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
      Courage to change the things I can,
      And the wisdom to know the difference.
4.  Remember, you don't write the script. You only act in the play.  All you can do is go one second at a time.
5. What can you do to get back into your "I"?

You are worth it. You are beautiful. You are perfect. And the way that you love is glorious.

Be loved my friends... you are not alone.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Unconditional Love addendum

Well, I've had one comment already so I figure why not?   Here's my spleen...

I think unconditional love is what people who are takers ask to receive from people who are givers.  

I feel like it is a personal challenge but not a healthy lifestyle.  I love Hitler for having so horrified the world that people actually changed their worldview to prevent the holocaust from happening again.  But if you put him in front of me on a bad day, I can guarantee you that he wouldn't leave the room on his own two feet. 

Your love for another isn't a personal construct- it isn't you loving you in another. It is you having the courage to love more than yourself.  It is you being willing to be vulnerable.  But loving doesn't mean you have to be stupid or a doormat because the only person you should love unconditionally is yourself. Everyone else has to meet your standards before they get the Halloween candy bag of treats!

Unconditional Love

These words irritate me.  

I’m not going to go into depth on why because I can’t think of a way to do that without dragging all that I am working on in my relationship into this blog.   I’d rather get into a hot tub with a candle lit and just soak into oblivion tonight.

All I have to say about unconditional love is that it is something that you GIVE not something that you demand to receive.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Love = The Rest of Your Life

Last month I asked "how do you know when you are loved?"

I thought I knew the answer to this question.  But after six weeks of relationship struggles that threatened not only 15 years of partnership but also my capacity to farm my land and keep my horses, I discovered that I had no clue.

I only knew what I believed I needed to feel loved, cherished, desired, etc.   When those symbols of being loved were absent, I felt unloved.  But does a lack of specific contact, actions, words or gestures mean that I am not loved- or worse, that I am unlovable?

And yet, my partner feels she loves me even though I can feel and see evidence that her love for me is less or different from what I expect and demand from her in order to feel loved.

 Do you remember your first love?  What about the first book or movie that let you know that the feelings you were feeling about another was love?  What else was going on in your life at that time?

I ask these questions because my first love didn't go so well.  In fact, it went so badly that I seem to have committed myself to repeating it over and over in the twisted hope of getting it right.  The interesting thing about the timing of my first love is that I had just discovered a passion for writing, riding and playing sports. Not only did I ride to a Grand Championship at a series of horse shows in Oregon and Washington, but I had the joy of reading Jane Austen for the first time.  I was finally playing team sports (field hockey) and had had an amazing English teacher who encouraged my love for words.  I was 15, I was in love and Jane Austen was showing me how to get "real love" instead of the inconstant and shady kind I was seeing in my peers and with my divorced parents.

I'll save you the angst and simply summarize:  I went away to ride to glory on the circuit, wrote Austen-esque letters, and tasted the potential for a life worth living.  When I came home, the girl was with someone else.

I have a theory that there are key moments in our young lives at which we make rules or decisions about which we arrange our lives.

For example, my 15 year old self (and what 15 year old doesn't know everything?) took this situation and came up with the following rule:  I lost my first love because I went away and rode my horse and because my letters obviously didn't convey my feelings well enough.  Therefore I must never leave my love's side, riding horses led to this pain, and I really have to work harder at communicating.

Thirty years later, I find myself obsessing over my relationship to the detriment of my riding and writing career.  My life has been one long pursuit of studying human behavior, philosophy, spirituality, psychology, coaching, etc. because somewhere in all those fields I believed I would find the answer or a way to have done it differently.  Never mind that what I really wanted to do was to be a wildlife biologist/C.S. Lewis-type writer.   No, I had decided I was willing to do anything and give up everything so as to not feel that pain ever again.  I was going to find, get and keep my soul mate forever- or die trying. 

I actually believed that I lost the girl because I was doing what I loved.  And worse, I believed that doing what I loved would always lead to disappointment and pain.  Ever hear of self-fulfilling prophecies? If you haven't then you will find my picture next to the definition on Wikipedia.

I would like to rephrase my earlier question:

What do you expect being loved to feel and look like?

While you work on that, I am going to go out and do everything that I love.  If I am lucky, and I think I will be, my true love will be there by my side while I do it... or shall I say, because I am doing what I love.

Jane Austen still got it right- it's the girl who stands by her heart's truth that gets the right one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Holding Hands

Stop a moment and look down at those things attached to the end of your arms and to which your fingers are joined.  Notice how much more attention you give to the pads on your fingers than you do to the palm of your hand.

Now go to something you love and put your whole hand on it.  Better yet, go grab the hand of someone you care about.

Don't talk, don't think... just feel what it feels like to hold hands.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Me and You

Me + You = Us

So simple and elegant an equation as this ought to make everything in relationships as equally elegant and simple.  But nope, what usually happens is something more like this:

F(us)  = Me > < You

As in, Us is a function of more me and less you, or vice versa.

These equations work for all species interactions as well as with our own psychologies (as in all those voices in your head that say "you should ..."  or "I am..." You know- the ones you argue with while driving or eating that cookie instead of working out?)

My life has been largely focused on the Us and the You in my relationships.  I've just assumed that the Me in the equation was a constant given.  There are people who focus on the Me and assume that this means Us because the You is not their concern.   This has caused a lot of problems because really the quality of Us will always be affected by the amount of Me and of You in the relationship.

I have come to the conclusion that my perfect relationship would be something like this:

50Me + 50You = 100Us

Naturally this is not possible at all times, but I figure that this is a reasonable goal.

What would you get if you were take these equations and apply them to whatever is important in your life?

For example, when you ride your horse- do you want it to be 1%Horse + 99%You = 100%Us?  This would make for a horse that fits you perfectly but leaves little room for the horse to express itself.  A good robot ride that is mostly dependent upon you.  Do you want that kind of responsibility (aka control)? Can you be that on and perfect all of the time?

Reverse the equation and you have a runaway horse with an out of control passenger.

I prefer to have a horse that is capable of thinking about itself and me at the same time.  I want to work with one that makes decisions that benefit us both and one which trusts me to take it into consideration as often as possible.

This means that I have to allow my horse to be an independent being with whom I work in equal partnership that works for both our benefits.

Sometimes the equation will skew in favor of one or the other.

For example, when it comes to galloping across country- I expect my horse to carry the bulk of the burden because it is his feet that are on the ground, but at the same time it is my brain that is doing the directing:  75Horse + 25Me = 100 US

But in a parking lot full of other horses and cars, I would want my horse to be mostly about me while at the same time I expect it to keep an eye on the environment (after all they have better hearing, eye sight, intuition etc.): 75Me + 25Horse = 100Us.

The important thing about thinking this way is that it reminds one to think about oneself AND the other person.  It is a great way to check in with oneself to see what needs to change or stay the same in order to get to where you want to go.

The catch is though- that until all parties in the equation are in agreement as to what constitutes 100Us, it will always end up in a squabble of F(us)  = Me > < You.

 Where are you in your life today?

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Life

Times have been hard for everyone. 

Sometimes when we are struggling with a personal conflict we forget that life isn’t just about ourselves.  Remembering that the world is much bigger can help pull one out of a big black funk.   
At the same time, giving yourself permission to work through these times of intense personal difficulties is very important. 

Over the last month or so I finally broke down and let myself fall apart.  I decided to stop being the strong willed, clear-sighted, optimistic, brave and patient Renee.  No this month I wanted to finally pop open all the flood gates and just say what needed to be said.

Things needed to change and for once the thing that was NOT going to change was me.

Things have changed.

And of course, so have I.

Denise and I have found a new way of working together- more separate and more at choice, my mom has moved to her new digs, and I have created what I call the 2-3-2.

Three days a week Denise and I focus on our relationship and on the farm.  She gets two days to be totally at choice, I get two days to be totally at choice.   For the first time in 15 years I know when Denise will be present and into us, she knows she will have time to herself, and most importantly I get 2 days off a week.   

It’s been 13 years since we started farming.  Over those years I was in charge of the farm and Denise was in charge of making money off farm to support it.   Somehow I ended up always holding down the farm no matter what.  Generally I would get maybe a few days off here and there, once every 2 or 3 years I’d get a few days off in a row but for the most part I was on all the time.  I never knew when I would get a break let alone spend time playing with Denise.   You know the story about prisoners of war not leaving their cells when they were finally released because they were too afraid that their freedom would be taken away from them as soon as they stepped out the gate?  That’s been me.

So the idea of having 2 days to build a life while Denise holds down the fort…. Oh manna from heaven!!

All because I decided to be Irene and let it all out. 

The moral of this post is that sometimes you can change your world and the people in it. Sometimes it means being a screaming maniac; sometimes it means being brutally honest; sometimes it means saying “either you change or you leave.”  More often than not it is a combination of all these things working in synchronicity with externals.

So if you are having a personal meltdown and your well-meaning friends or therapist say to you “you can’t make people change”, I want you to think about Hurricane Irene, or Katrina or those amazing thousands in Egypt and Libya.  

Stand your ground, speak your truth, take the risk, dig deep and INSIST!

And then, when you have recovered yourself, get creative. 

Because while it is true you can’t “make” anyone change, you can certainly provide them with the motivation to change.  Personally, I find discomfort much more motivating that any other source of inspiration.  Stick a tack in one shoe and a cushion in the other… which one gets your attention?

Where in your life do you need to take a stand?

And if you want someone to support you or help you come up with some options, give me a call.