This is one of the pieces I wrote at the Gateless Writing Retreat in Vermont this summer - after we had our coaching sessions with the horses. I never felt as safe in exploring my inner demons than on this day with Nicole Birkholzer and her beautiful horses Shana and Cutter - and, of course, Sammy the goat - as my guides. I love you all to pieces.

Orange Is the New Green

Phew, yet another woman was picked by Shana. I got away again. Maybe we will run out of time so I can offer to “just do this another time”. Because although I did not know what I would work on with the horses, I knew that it would not be pleasant. Neither for me to experience, nor for the audience to watch.

You know those women who look so adorable when they cry? Big tears rolling slowly out of shimmering eyes over firm pink tinted cheeks? Well, that’s not me.

But the time didn’t run out. My face told it all when I got up, put my scarf on the chair and headed to the barn – going unarmed to the battle, because no man-made weapons could me help me in this fight.
I don't want to do this – but I know I must. Not because somebody forced me, or because I would be a spoil-sport when I didn’t. You cannot force horse work, and you cannot spoil a sport that is none. No, there was this feeling of inevitability. Like watching two cars on collision course, knowing what’s going to happen, but being unable to prevent it.

Still I didn’t know that it would be about. Some of the same old issues I am so tiered of, I supposed. Am I loveable, am I beautiful, how can I get my coaching practice working or what should I do with my life. I fell deeply asleep just thinking of them.

 Except it wasn’t one of these issues. Or at least not in the way they presented themselves before. It was hope that greeted me in the barn. And for the first time I understood why the only thing Pandora left us with after she closed her box again was the worst of all evils. Because hope is uncontrollable. It’s incurable. It stretches from now to eternity. It takes up residence in our hearts and refuses all notes of eviction, even when the rats get as big as cats and the water leaks through the roof.
She gripped me so hard there between the horses, shook me this way and that. Turned my inside out and left me lying on the floor like an old rag.

Then something happened. Love came in. And such a rare form of love at that. For me, she is the Hope-diamond of love. And isn’t that the only love that could have helped here? She is called Self-Love. With the big sizzling S at the beginning that scares away even the most persistent ghost of inadequacy. Followed by the beautiful, airy “elf”, the fairy that does not only grant you three wishes, but who’s only desire is to support you in living your best life. And both, the S and the elf, encompassed in the only feeling that is always there, always available, always at your service.


All of a sudden the gloomy hope of before started to shimmer in the orange light of a new morning. And I realized, just as humans, hope is someone who cannot survive on her own. She needs a herd, a friend, a witness.

In my case this will be love.