Family, Life, Parenting, Soul Homework

Asking For What You Want

*I changed the names of the horses for sake of the barn’s privacy and my daughter’s privacy.

As a part of my soul homework, I was reading Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening the other morning. “I have discovered, again and again, that I usually know what I need to do but just deny it, and it’s this small hesitation, this small resistance to enter what is real, that makes life feel neutral or out of reach,” he says in it.

He’s essentially stating that we know what to do inherently, but we deny ourselves this throughout our lives.

Since the third grade, my youngest daughter has been riding horses. Her favorite horse is *Chief, an American Paint and Quarter Horse mix.

She has never had much of a say in the horse she rides; the instructor selects the horse for her each week. She’s aware of my daughter’s skill level and wants to ensure her safety and the safety of the horse.

My daughter did not start riding Chief right away.

But Chief is the one she’s done most of her riding on.

My daughter learned to ride a horse from Chief.

When she’d had a bad week at school, he was her soft place to land. When she went to horse camp for the first time in fourth grade, he was her home away from home.

Chief was her first love.

When I first started writing on this blog, I witnessed other bloggers achieve levels of success considerably larger than what I was achieving. Some were gaining many followers, receiving book deals, and getting invited to speak at conferences. I expected that all of those goals should be my next move, and when they weren’t, I felt like I was failing.

Was I looking for all of that for myself? Not at all. I was having a good time with my blog where it was. I was getting my fair share of paid opportunities, and I had a good relationship with my readers. But despite all of that, I felt like I was a failure because I was comparing my version of success to someone else’s version of success.

I kept denying myself happiness because of those comparisons.

My daughter felt the pressure as well. The next step from cantering was jumping, but Chief wasn’t a jumping horse. She would have to leave him behind in order to jump. She saw her peers progress and didn’t want to be left behind.

So she advanced.

Initially, she enjoyed the adrenaline rush of jumping. She could even pay Chief a visit at the barn occasionally, but it wasn’t the same. He wasn’t the same anymore.

Then the pandemic hit, and she couldn’t ride a horse for a long time.

There were many twists and turns between the pandemic and present day, much too many to tell without you losing interest.

A few months ago, my daughter said to me, “I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I’d like to go back to cantering. I don’t want to be in a jumping class. I want to be on Chief again.”

We asked whether this was possible, and it was.

But Chief wasn’t himself. He’d been acting up for another girl who was riding him. The handlers at the barn were having difficulty with him. They were bringing in veterinarians to figure out what was wrong with Chief. It was out of character for him to act this way.

On a walk with my daughter one day, I said to her that maybe she could understood what it was like. She too, had been going through some difficulties. That we all go through difficult times, and she needs to keep that in mind when riding the horses who are “difficult.”

So Ellie inquired if she may ride Chief in the following lesson. She knew the other girl from her old school and could empathize with her. She understood how difficult it was to love a horse while not understanding why he wasn’t cooperating. She offered to let Ellie the opportunity to ride Chief in the next lesson.

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It took my breath away to see my daughter on Chief again.

While she was riding, I observed her talking to him. I knew she was telling him things only they know as she murmured into his ear.

She was afraid at first since he is a horse, and even the finest horse riders are in awe of the horses who are beneath them. But it was beautiful again within the first 20 minutes. I feel like my daughter and Chief knew each other in another lifetime because when they are in the room together, everyone can feel the electricity.

For so long I was preoccupied in how much I was teaching in home school, how many extra-curricular activities she was participating in,and whether she is learning enough.

Then she asked to be held back for a cantering lesson so she could get the chance to ride a horse whom she felt a connection, and I knew in that moment that she would be alright.

Maybe she struggles with division. Maybe she doesn’t know everything about photosynthesis.

But she is able to ask for what she truly desires, even if it appears to others to be a step backwards.

However, it is far from a step backward.

She is light years ahead of the rest of us.

31 thoughts on “Asking For What You Want”

  1. Yes! I love so much about this post but the ending?? That is so spot on with homeschooling. It can be so hard not to fret and worry and compare our kids and their learning strengths and weaknesses against others but that confidence and knowing of self is just beyond priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kari I’ve missed you! 🙂 Life got crazy & suddenly I had no quiet moments to sit n read n think n compose thoughtful blog comments. It has been *horrible*. I’ve missed your insightful posts and kind comments. And now you post about *horses*! So I’m sneaking off to post a quick THANK YOU to you, your daughter and of course Chief.

    I love this perfect post. You’ve captured what horses can teach and also a lovely moment when your child realized and spoke up for what matters to her. I’m so proud of all of you (I know that sounds ridiculous lol)!

    I started riding when I was about 6. Many things changed in my life as time moved on, but “horses” were the one place where I was always welcomed, part of a team, tasked with listening and also given the gift of being listened to…. because that’s what horses do.

    And thank god all the adults around me stood back and just let me (and my horse) do our thing. As an adult now, I can appreciate how hard that must have been for the adults.

    I will spend the day (ok, prob the whole month) thinking about all my horse teachers. Thank you (and your daughter and Chief) for sparking a trillion wonderful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you commented on this post because you of all people KNOW what horses mean to people. The bond they have. When I look into his eyes, as Ella’s mom, he just tells me that he has my child. It’s so beautiful. I’m so in love with him too.

      Ellie is so special in so many ways but she is truly an animal whisperer for all animals. I love her connections to those who have no “voice”. 🙂


  3. Such a great story. I love this. Very insightful. Those photos are beautiful. How great that she knew that cantering was a better fit for her. Advancement be damned.

    I took riding lessons as an 8 year old. I think I wasn’t old enough to do the lessons, so the people at the barn agreed to let me participate if I rode the same horse every time. He was old. Fat. Tired. Predictable. And slow. His name was Stubby. No joke. I just told my kids this story the other day. When it was time for the show, we drew names from a hat for our horse and my older sister Ann picked Stubby. Bah ha! I got some fabulous horse.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The Subby name cracks me up too, and it occurred to me just today that his name was Stubby even when he was young – I would think, anyway. Someone had some foresight there.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this so much. She has the guts and tenacity to ask for what she wants even when it might not be the popular choice. SMART COOKIE!
    What a smile-you can tell she’s happy. You are such a good mama. XO

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Kari, you are teaching her quite well. That is a girl that knows what she wants and what works for her and has no problem asking for it and doesn’t care what others think. We could all learn from her.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a really lovely piece of writing, Kari. I mean, I love all the things you’ve said, but what I’m really marveling at is the way you’ve said it. Your English teacher would be proud.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By the way, your comments sometimes come in twos. I know you’ve had trouble commenting lately. I’m going to address it in the podcast Wednesday because I don’t feel necessarily comfortable talking about it on the blog. Long story. But I love when two of your comments sneak in. It feels like a gift so I always publish both. 😘


  7. OMG, this is the most beautiful story. There is so much I can relate to…someone else’s “success” (and I use that term lightly as there is no true definition of success) might not equal ours. Even at my age, I still sometimes feel like a failure when I compare myself to others who look like they have it all because they are making a lot of money or they have a huge, fancy house, or they are a Big Blogger. But I have to remember, maybe those persons aren’t content or happy with what they have. (And if they are – that’s wonderful.) My path is different and that’s OK.

    And the connection with horses…I’m an animal lover in general, but there’s something about horses that has always made me have to catch my breath. I had a horse when I was a teenager and I still miss her. A couple of years ago, I went to a Feed Your Soul women’s group at Soulful Prairies in Woodstock ( Linda, the facilitator, had one of her horses quietly join our group as we were sitting in a circle. He kept walking around us, coming up to some us (including myself) and and nudging. That sweaty, leathery horse smell I once loved and the immediate connection I felt to him was incredible. I’m tearing up even now just thinking about it. He knew it, because he came over to me and nudged my arm. And when Linda picked one woman out of the group at the end to have a one-on-one sort of counseling session at the end with the horse, it was amazing to watch. This horse followed the woman around, always staying close to her as she was talking about her breast cancer journey and even went to her several times to nudge her heart. Horses are so incredibly intuitive. (I am hoping to go to this group again at the end of May.)

    The gift of connection that Ellie and Chief have with each other is real. Raw and real. And they both know it.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. For many years I was tied up with all of the blogging events and things I thought I needed to do in order to be a “good blogger.” But I didn’t really want that for myself. It was what I thought I should be doing. The funny thing is that most of the bloggers who were doing those things aren’t even blogging anymore. I mean, they probably don’t have to because they’re writing books, etc. LMAO. But I began blogging to blog. I created this space to document my life for my kids to someday look back on our life. That was the goal, which is why I named it A Grace Full Life. 🙂

      I remember when you went to Soulful Prairies! I am definitely going to one of her events and taking my mom. I know she would love it and it would be a great way to clear away 2020. Horses are just so amazingly special.


  8. This is so beautiful! I’ve seen a different side of Ellie recently, through our mutual TikTok obsession and it’s been amazing to see a side of her outside of what you’ve written about her. She is so creative, and funny, and interesting. It is a testament to how well you are doing with her ‘self’ which really is the most important thing. I still struggle with this every day, and I’m three times her age.

    Liked by 1 person

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