When I woke up this morning, I completed my usual routine, walk the dog, pull some cards, reflect and journal. It was my first day back to work in-person since before Winter Break, and I was starting to have some feelings of the heaviness of it all, carrying the weight of Head of School during yet another surge of the pandemic. As I prepared for work, I caught a glimpse of a photo of my Nonna and I on the fridge, playing at the park when I was a toddler. Emotions came in, gosh I miss her on days like today. She had a way, for me, of bringing joy and laughter, of lightening the mood. It wasn’t just who she was with me, it was who I was with her too. The way we were with each other was never heavy and significant, it was light, and gave strength.
She would always remind me “you have to be strong” when I would share something challenging happening. You wouldn’t see her cry. She missed her sisters and brothers who lived and died in other countries, she missed my Nonno terribly since his passing 6 year before hers. But she had this grace about her that would carry her through, she would gently speak to him, his photo hanging on the wall. She would tell him stories. I remember her telling me sometimes she would hear him talking to her in her dreams, like he was really in the house. I spoke to her photo, I said I missed her, and I would be strong too.
Today was one of those typical mercury retrograde type days. Right from the morning, the timing was off. I had a 9am call booked that I had to bump to 9:30, then at 9:25, realizing it just wasn’t going to work, I got someone else to cover it.
The kids were late for school, not just 5 minutes, really late. I was, as a result, really late for work—and thankful that I don’t have the kind of job where that would mean being fired.
Things seems to be not working well in the office, my computer was acting up, my email wasn’t working. And things were just happening one after the other. Particularly around all the new rules, regulations, and parents on both sides “wanting more/wanting less” etc. and everyone getting used to more new habits.
I am in week three of taking care of the Freedom Herd, and being back at work, rather than working from home, and having two teens has made this week more challenging. Thankfully, my partner who volunteers with me at the farm every other Sunday, was keen to help make the chores take half the time.
I planned to head to the farm after dropping my daughter off at home, since my son had planned to stay late after school. As I pulled in the driveway to drop off Mia, Alex texted to say that he was ready to be picked up. I now wouldn’t be heading to the barn for chores until I headed back into the city to pick him up. I called and called trying to confirm that I would be there in 30 minutes since it takes that long from our house. No answer. I must have called 100+ times. Full on mom-crazy here. I finally arrived at the school to pick him up, and he wasn’t actually ready. He finally emerged from the school 15 minutes later and was in a horrible mood because none of the important things he was working on that day were working either.
I needed to stop and pick up an ingredient for dinner, Mia was making dinner, since now I was a full hour and a half behind heading to the barn. I stopped to grab some marmalade, and there was none on the usual shelf. Off I went deep into the store to try and find some marmalade for the recipe. On my way back, I passed the floral section, and decided that I wanted to buy myself a bouquet—shift from anger and frustration to beauty and joy. I chose a bouquet that had pink carnations, Nonna’s favourite flower. When I dropped Alex off I ran in to put them in water. I decided to place them on display by the sink, above which I have some momentos and a photo of Nonna. I said a Hail Mary, her favourite prayer, and let her know they were also for her.
I finally headed off to the barn, Aaron had gone out ahead of me to get started on the chores, and turns out I was so late he completed them without me. I decided I wanted to check on the herd myself anyway, and spend some time with them even though the temperatures were now dropping even further as night was falling. He left and I headed down to the paddock.
What struck me when I arrived were that Dream and Anya, the lead team, were nibbling at an old, almost empty hay net in the field, while Mia (the horse) was munching on the newest one, Liberty on one under the awning of the barn, and the other three, Haven, Apollo and Shaman, were in the cave nibbling on some hay intended to draw them all in to have shelter on this frigid night.
I stood under the awning of the barn, looking out into the field. Dream and Anya has stopped eating, and were standing side by side at the top of the little hill overlooking the farm. I thought to myself that this behaviour seemed irregular. That they would be sitting back letting everyone else eat the good hay. I wondered what message they were trying to give to me, what was this about? That I should let others have the good stuff and be content with the leftovers? Hmm…that I don’t have to worry about there not being enough? There was plenty to share? Perhaps. Then it occurred to me. It’s them. It’s Nonna and Nonno. They were watching over their family as they enjoyed a good meal, taking care of them just as Nonna and Nonno had taken care of us, both in life, and after death, with the generosity of their estate.
After coming to this realization, Anya came walking towards me, and I went along to join her. I said “Nonna?“ and she lowered her head, softened her eyes, and started licking and chewing, a sign of acknowledgement. Next, she started nuzzling my hands. I was wearing mittens, so I took one off, and she gave me little horse kisses, which isn’t a typical behaviour for her, and was very endearing. I stood there as she gracefully held space, and cried. Tears streamed down my face, I took some heavy, deep breaths. We just stood there her and I. I could feel the spirit of Nonna there with me.
In this small ye profound experience, I remembered my “why.” This, moments like these, the gifts that horses bring to us to release what we are pretending, and shift into a space of emotional alignment. This experience is the reason I was drawn to Equine Facilitated experiences. This is the gift I want to bring to this world, in partnership with horses.
Thank you Nonna and Nonno, Anya & Dream, for reminding me.