Dancing with Chloe

Eli, me and Chloe
Eli, me and Chloe

It’s like a dance, Eli told me.

I like to dance.  As long as I can do what ever I want.  I’m not  good at dancing when I have to follow what someone else is doing or telling me to do.  I even have a hard time with the Hokey Pokey.  All that left and right stuff.  I still have to think about which hand or foot is my right or left.

I  do have a trick though. I sucked my thumb until I was about 10 years old.  I know I sucked my right thumb.  When someone says to me “go right” I think of the thumb I used to suck and know which way is right and that the other is left.  But those extra moments it takes to figure that out, slows everything down.  I might actually miss the turn or go the wrong way because of it.  Or, god forbid, put my left foot in, instead of my right.

It made sense to me when Eli said that riding a horse is like a dance.  In my mind, but in my body even more. Yesterday was the first time I rode Chloe, but it didn’t feel like the first time.  Some of the things Eli was asking me to do felt like the first time, awkward  and a little uncomfortable.  I felt like my feet were flailing around.  Press with your right leg into her side,  she said at one point,  but don’t keep the pressure on.  Press then let go, press then let go.  Sounds easy right?  But for some reason it wasn’t .  It’s just not a movement my legs are used to making especially while sitting on a pony.

But I love the idea that our slightest movements are connected.  When I was leaning in my saddle, thinking it would make Chloe go in that direction, she did just the opposite.  She wasn’t being contrary, but thinking I was falling off the saddle, she was compensating.  And it seems like magic to me that just by turning my shoulders in the direction I want to go, Chloe will go there.  (turn from waist, not your whole body, Eli said, like a Barbie doll).  And when Chloe wanted to walk around the other side of the cone, because it was mud and not snow, I was glad she was as small as she is, as I tried to make her go where I wanted her to go instead of where she wanted to go.

Shoulders down, elbows at waist, just the right amount of pressure on the reins, settled in my seat, shoulders leading the way, legs putting the right amount of pressure or not, small toe aligned with the edge of the stirrup and I’m sure some other things I’m forgetting.  It’s a lot to remember and do at the same time. And someday, I’ll actually be able to do all these things.  It seemed almost impossible yesterday, but I know from experience that it will just take practice.  Doing it again and again.

I get all soft inside, thinking of what it will feel like to be aware of the different parts of my body each doing their own thing.   Clear and subtle shifts in my fingers and legs and shoulders that tell Chloe where I want to go and how fast, and her responding.  A place where the words “left’ and “right” have no meaning between us.   My legs moving with the rhythm of her legs.  Walking as one.

Eli said in the beginning I have to be the leader then, after time, we’ll become partners.  This is not just about Chloe learning that I’m the leader, it’s about me learning that I’m the leader.  Something I’ve always been reluctant to be.  But I guess it time to face up to that fear of mine.  I’m going to have to if I want this to work.  And I do want it to work.  I want to revisit that ancient dance between human and horse.  A dance that will bring me closer to nature and to myself.



Stuff from my past has been coming up.  I think it’s partly because of the up coming holidays (the holidays always throw me off balance) and partly because of the Yoga Nidra classes I’ve been taking for the past three weeks.  Yoga Nidra is a meditation practice that puts you into that place between waking and sleeping.  It’s purpose (as described in the class I’m taking) is to help find that peaceful and intuitive place inside of us that we can always go to no matter what is happening in the world around us.  It’s our safe place.  I was originally interested in Yoga Nidra as a creative tool.  I know that is  also can put me in a state of mind were  visions and words occur seeming apart from me.  That’s the creative part I was looking for.

But  I think what’s happened in my last three classes is that old issues in my life are coming up.  It’s kind of like dredging. So last week was a difficult one for me.  I was hyper-sensitive and feeling really vulnerable and paranoid.  (It was no fun for Jon either, as you might imagine).   But through talking about it and understanding what is going on, I’ve been coming out of it and to a better place.  So today, when I was going for a massage, Mandy suggested she just do energy work instead of massage. (usually she does a little of each).

What a good decision that was.  During the healing, I had many visions come to me, (including my dead father walking up the stairs to the office then floating off into nothingness).  At times I could feel my body vibrate, other times parts of me were really  heavy and dense feeling.  Towards the end, I saw a piece of dark plaid fabric over my stomach.  I cut it with a shears and it vanished,  replaced by a black bowl filled with nuts and grain.  Finally Mandy laid her hand just below my neck by my clavicle and everything turned gold then that space in me and just below it, where my heart is, filled with a glowing white crystal-like shine.

Feeling so much lighter and grounded, I’ve still been in a bit of a fog all day.  In my studio, I came up with a poem (which describes some of the visions I had)  and this piece I call Gone.  It’s made out of hankies and linens, marker and thread.  It’s as close as I can come to what I’ve been feeling today.


A trail of dead leaves
footsteps to myself

A black bowl of nuts and grain

Fingers that hold a
glint of the sun

A donkey on the
Path to Glory

I held the scissors
and cut the cloth
Meaning sliding out in
front of me

Why is not the question

I closed the doors behind me
gone with each one.

Detail from "Gone"
Detail from “Gone”
Full Moon Fiber Art