Along for the ride

“There is no Mr. Right because there is no Mr. Wrong. There is whoever is in front of us, and the perfect lessons to be learned from that person.” 

― Marianne Williamson, Return to Love

Oh the adventure this has become! When I began my journey with horses it was one of independence. Something I felt called toward, and needed to do for myself. To reconnect with a piece of myself that had gone missing over the years – to strive, to hope, to dream. To find my voice, and to challenge myself to grow beyond my limiting beliefs.

After my separation, I invested in a year of self-discovery. I enrolled in self development courses, got coaching and therapy, and took on the study of the metaphysical text A Course In Miracles. As I navigated through the book, and listened to podcasts and YouTube videos about how to truly call forward the life you are meant to live – I stumbled across a book by Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love which is considered the “cliff notes” version of ACM and dove in. I wasn’t sure what healthy love looked like. I know many people say that, and, I refuse to make this a one sided story – so I will speak only to my own experience of not knowing how to be truly loving, without losing myself or bringing the past hurts and old stories into the relationship, and this book provided the support I was looking for.

When I started to consider the parts of myself that were not fully healed, that were playing out in my relationships, I made a commitment to create a relationship with someone who was just as committed to taking responsibility for the relationship, and for doing their own work to clear the “stuff” they were carrying as I was. I met people, and I liked them, we “clicked” but one thing or another would become a concern, and old patterns would persist. I had visited a community renowned mystic in the fall of 2019, and she said something that really stayed with me: “you need an oak tree” a man who is stable and unwavering – and, she shared that I didn’t know what that would feel like.

Along the way, came Aaron. He and I met through a mutual volunteer experience; we were both committed to being in service of others. We both love learning, and would send one another quotes from books we were reading, and connected over a drive to be part of something bigger than our current selves, to make a difference in this world. Above all, what I noticed most about our relationship was that we were not afraid to say exactly what we needed to, in service of the other person. Was I wasting my time complaining? He would question where I wanted to be, and ask what actions I needed to take to get there. I would do the same for him. At the start, our mutual motivation to get active and improve our health (he and I had both had health scares that year) led us to report back and forth “I’ve run 3km today, how about you?” “What is your next goal?” “What do you need to get there?” and my favourite “Did you add a brick to the wall?” (code for did you do a work out or eat healthy today). What I liked most is that I didn’t have to pretend to be anything other than me, it was like there was acceptance of the place I was, and the future I was striving for.

After a friendship that had developed and grown closer over the years, I felt that what I truly wanted in a relationship with my future partner looked and felt like what I had with Aaron (plus romance of course!). So…that brought me to a realization, and, a risk: would Aaron be interested in a relationship with me that was more than friends? While there was a lot at stake – losing the friendship we had developed, I considered that losing our friendship as a result of us developing romantic relationships with other people, which would inevitably happen – was not less a risk. It was the friendship I wanted to maintain, and was curious about growing a relationship that could deepen from that place.

As we often did, we discussed the question at length. We reviewed the concerns, and identified and cleared A LOT of stories we made up about what all that would mean, for him, for me, for our children. And, after all that, we decided to take the risk and go for it, albeit very slowly. I can recall a lot of the conversation was about the potential of him moving away in the coming years, and how with two children of my own, it would likely be him moving on without me. I decided that what we have is right now, and that if it was just right now, it would still be a chance I wanted to take. I said “I will be with you until you step foot on the airplane” and so with that, we dove in.

As the years have passed, we have navigated many ups and downs along the way. Including moments where I thought things would end. Instead, we worked through them together, we re-committed, we stayed on the path, ever winding. In January of 2021, Aaron shared that his New Year’s resolution was to “get comfortable around horses” and with that, the opportunity came to support me in taking care of my mentor’s herd during a 6 week trip over the month of March-April, followed by every other weekend volunteering together on Sunday mornings. He was diligent, and started to learn the language I had through the Freedom Herd, and I was able to witness his growing confidence, and, his dedication and love for the herd.

Aaron having a silly moment with Dream of the Freedom Herd

By October of 2021 we chose to deepen our commitment to one another, by leasing a horse together (Winston). It was funny to think about, but for us, this felt bigger than anything we had done before in terms of commitment. Before we knew it, we were talking about buying him, finding property, more horses, and learned A LOT in the process. I learned that when Aaron commits to something, he is all in. That he is dedicated, that he keeps his word. He is my oak tree. The snow, sleet, -30 will not deter him from caring for our small herd, and I could not have asked for more. Does the talk of moving away still come up? Of course it does, only now we talk about where we want to live, together

Is life sunshine and rainbows? Of course not, we disagree from time to time, or need to remind each other of the true impact of our behaviour, (I’ll never forget the day he sat me down to talk about the impact of my chronic dehydration on my life!) the thing is, that we can talk straight about it. We are willing to make space for upset, and not allow our differences or our triggers to derail our commitment. It’s not always easy, in fact – introspection can be really uncomfortable – and taking responsibility can too, but it’s worth it.

One thing that we do that I strongly believe makes a positive impact on our lives is a monthly check in. We have spent the last two years with a scheduled “Life & Relationship Check In” on the 3rd of each month. We look at 4 areas of our lives: Health & Wellness, Business (as we each have our own small business now as a result of staying on track with these check ins!), Relationships & Home, and HORSES! We review goals and commitments from the previous month’s check in, and then talk about the next month, making adjustments or setting new goals as needed. It’s relaxed, we have coffee and chat, and it’s a time where we can lay out what we want, and get support & accountability where needed. Sometimes it’s discouraging, when what we said we would get done has been undone for months, but it helps us look at why that thing isn’t getting done. Sometimes it means the goal is too big and needs to be broken down, other times, it could be that it’s just not a priority. And…sometimes it’s laziness or avoidance of doing something that could make a difference, but takes more effort than we are willing to expend. Making room for the bumps in the road is an important and realistic part of this.

Where is this leading now? Well – after our trip to Alberta, in our August meeting, we spoke about the possibility of finding a farm to lease together as a next step. This is no easy feat where we live, as the housing market is incredibly high. However, we set our goal to begin searching in earnest in August with a goal of finding a place by the end of the year. In September, we had decided to start to look at the possibility of a shared property with my mum, to purchased in the Spring. By December that was tabled as a down the road option. That was a challenging moment for me. I felt like the detour we took looking at that option had now placed us in a position of not being able to meet our original goal when perhaps we could have if we had stayed on that road. I started to feel down about the entire thing.

Then, January 3rd came around, and we looked at the situation that unfolded with new eyes. Get back on the path. And with that, we decided to embark on a new journey of having 50 conversations with other people who might help us find a solution – we didn’t have to do it alone based only on ads we saw on the local classifieds, someone in our network must know someone who is looking to rent a farm. We got specific about what we were looking for, 30 minutes of less outside of our current city where the girls attend high school, enough space for our herd and space to use for workshops. And, 2 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms…because teenagers. We started the conversations, and just two weeks in, started looking at rentals. That part of the journey will continue in another post…that’s it for now!

So, when you aren’t sure how something will “turn out” ask yourself, what if it does? What if it turns out even better than you could have imagined based on your past experiences? Are you willing to risk NOT taking that chance?

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