At the beginning of Covid, in April 2020, I wrote a blog entry entitled Who Do I Want to Be During Covid 19? I used an illustration of the Fear Zone, the Learning Zone and the Growth Zone, and talked about the coaching course that I had just completed and the new one I was starting – a course that I would never have taken in the spring of the year, had it not been for the Covid lockdown. I planned to use the time of self isolation as a time to study and learn, so that I could more equipped to guide people in their sessions with my horses. What I could not have possibly known is that this time of lockdown, isolation and quarantine would last for two years!! Looking back over these two years, how have I done during Covid, who have I been, who have I begun to be?
My quest for learning led me to explore the power of the breath to create change in the body and I became a HeartMath Trauma-Sensitive Practitioner. Being able to focus on the breath and direct it to certain parts of the body, to become more aware, to open up areas that are ‘stuck’, to create vibrancy and energy, has been an important part of my own healing journey.
Because of a profound facilitation that my horse Ella did with a client prior to Covid, I knew that I needed to learn more about two therapies used in trauma recovery – Internal Family Systems and Somatic Experiencing. I spent the first Covid winter and following spring taking both theoretical and practical training in Internal Family Systems or IFS. IFS has been called the ‘emerging paradigm’ in psychotherapy, and training is open to both psychotherapists and other practitioners such as coaches, teachers, and business leaders. Based on the premise that our personality is composed of many ‘parts’ (such as when we say “a part of me wants to do this, but a part of me would rather do that’), it explores the way the parts of our personality take on roles based on our life experiences. IFS has already been very useful in facilitations with clients, as I can help the client begin to recognize their ‘parts’ and how they operate in their own system.
My latest and perhaps most rigorous training is to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. I am completing my first year of a three-year program to become an SEP, through the Somatic Experiencing International Trauma Institute. SE is a body-oriented therapeutic model that helps heal trauma and other stress disorders. In my training cohort, I am the only equine facilitated learning instructor, but there are people from a wide variety of backgrounds – such as therapists, social workers, occupational therapists, teachers, and body workers. I am already able to integrate principles of SE in the facilitations that I do with clients and my horses and I am so excited to continue learning. SE fits in very well with the equine learning model, and I have met some therapists and practitioners who have melded SE with their equine practices. These people have become valuable resources for me, both thru the required consult credits I must earn, and also as models of how SE and Equine Facilitated Learning work together. SE and IFS promise to be powerful tools in my facilitator toolbox!
So, I have been busy during Covid. There is no doubt that I have spent a large chunk of my time in the Learning Zone. But what about the Growth Zone? Well, all that learning has not insulated me from struggling with my own insecurities, fears and doubts. Because one of my sons is immunocompromised, Covid has been a big fear. If he gets Covid, he may very well die, even with three vaccinations and now eligible for a fourth. And, at a time when we all need the support of those whom we love, we have been isolated from him both by lockdowns and our mutual desire not to potentially expose him to this virus. Feeling isolated has made it easy to get depressed. And yet, I have had to go to work and run a company through the toughest time we have ever experienced as a business. It has been hard to stay positive and have faith that we will get through this. I have learned a lot about resilience these past two years – both through the Creating Resilience workshop that I created and through my own personal struggles. I have heard resilience described as a muscle that gets stronger the more it is used, and some days I feel that my resilience muscle is running a marathon!
I have also struggled with the differing attitudes towards dealing with Covid. While I have not had much trouble curtailing my freedoms to protect others, I have not been able to support those who want to exercise their freedoms at the expense of others. I have realized that the balance is very delicate between personal freedom and the common good.
In the Growth Zone, I have stumbled, I have crumbled, and I have been humbled. I have come face to face with my fears, insecurities and mood swings. There have been days that I am ready to give up, when another lockdown has been announced, or another variant identified. But some how I have found the strength to carry on. I have also been humbled by the actions of those who have carried the majority of us through these terrible times. Our healthcare workers, grocery store clerks and others who have had no choice but to face the virus every day. The acts of kindness by some selfless souls in my community to the people who are homeless - providing food, shelter, clothing, firewood to those incredibly vulnerable individuals. I must admit that I have watched all these efforts from a distance, not having the energy to get involved in such important humanitarian work.
Now we begin the next phase, when we learn to live with Covid as a ‘normal’ part of our lives. I look forward to it being easier to have people out to work with my horses, without so many Covid protocols. To be able to offer people the chance spend time in nature and with my animals, whether that is in personal or professional exploration or in the search of healing. I have spent the past two years learning, growing and re-connecting to myself, to those ‘parts’ of me that I had not previously been aware of. Now I am ready to connect to others in a real way. I can’t wait to be able to hug people again.