If you’re not familiar with the term Waiting on the Drive it’s probably because you have never helped gather cattle in a very large, very rough pasture. It is a term I learned in my early teens. In just four words, it encompasses some of the best characteristics of a good cowboy or even just a good person.
There is so much of the unwritten, unspoken code of being a cowboy wrapped up in this term. It was never explained to me – only modeled by countless good cowboys (the word cowboy is certainly not gender specific) that I have had the good fortune to get to work with in the course of my life.
Let’s start with the literal meaning. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was running a very large cow ranch in New Mexico. One of the pastures on that ranch was around 8,000 acres. There was only me and two other men working on the ranch.
Many of the ranches in that area were large, with only a few men working each one. When it came time to gather and work the cattle, none of the ranches had enough men or women to do that on their own so all of the cowboys on the neighboring ranches would help each other. It was called “neighboring”.
Usually when we were gathering and working the 8,000 acre pasture there would be me and my two guys plus 10-15 neighbors. We would meet at the working pens and get our horses saddled and ready for the day. We would ride out before sunup to make the two mile ride to the start of the 8,000 acre pasture. Then we’d ride to the backside of that pasture to start gathering the cattle about the time the sun came up.
As we were heading to the back of the pasture I would drop cowboys off at strategically planned out places to make sure the entire pasture was covered. The cowboys that were dropped off first, and each one after that, did not start gathering cattle immediately. They had to wait until everyone was in position to start the “drive.”
In an 8,000 acre pasture with 15 cowboys there is no way to see what anyone else is doing because they are so far apart. So the first ones dropped off had to wait until they judged that everyone had time to get in position to start the drive. Usually if everything was timed right, the drive would start about the time it got light enough to see. The first ones dropped off would spend more time waiting on the drive than the ones dropped off further along in the pasture.
Good timing doesn’t happen by chance
The goal of the drive was to arrive at the gate out of the pasture with all of the cattle that were in that pasture and all of the cowboys accounted for. Timing was critical. If one cowboy got his cattle to the gate ahead of the herd it was almost impossible to just hold them there until the others arrived.
These were not gentle cattle that were regularly handled. On these large ranches they were only gathered twice a year, once in the spring to work the calves and once in the fall to wean the calves. They were usually pretty wild and not easily handled. They were easiest to handle when they could be in one big herd. So anyone that didn’t merge their cattle with the other cattle as they were moving in the direction of the gate would cause problems for everyone. Ideally all of the cattle would come together simultaneously in the vicinity of the gate. None of this happened by chance.
When you are waiting on the drive, you have several responsibilities that contribute to the success or failure of the drive. It is a time when you can relax a little and take in the wonder of a new day beginning and the world starting to wake up. This was always my favorite part of the work, alone with just my horse, watching the sun start its fight to drive away the darkness, completely devoid of any man-made sights or sounds.
But that feeling of peace didn’t exist in a vacuum. You had to be keenly aware of any sign that the drive had started. You didn’t want to be ahead of the drive but you also didn’t want to be behind it. That sign might be the first hint of a cow bawling for its calf, or a herd of deer moving out in front of the moving herd of cattle. It might be a slim wisp of dust circling above a distant hill. Sometimes it was just a gentle nudge coming from somewhere inside, saying “It’s time now”.
If you are not fully attuned to yourself and all that is around you it is easy to miss the sign. If you miss the sign it makes everything harder for you and for everyone in the drive. It makes things harder for your horse and for the cattle. It makes everyone have to work harder.
The time that you spend waiting on the drive can be the most rewarding part of the day, but it is also the most critical. Great, important things are about to happen but you have to be prepared and ready to do your part.
It’s nearly time
Our upcoming online conference, Sunrise Summit, reminds me of Waiting on the Drive in so many ways. It’s an opportunity to get in the right position and settle in for the magic that’s about to happen. It reminds me that being in the moment and enjoying what’s happening right now is just as important as anticipating what’s to come at Sacred Landscapes, our in-person conference that will be happening in November.
Waiting on the Drive isn’t passive. It’s not something that happens to you – it’s a condition you create by attuning to the present moment and focusing on what’s to come while connecting with other cowboys who are preparing for the journey, too.
Mary carried a bag with a mixture of corn meal and tobacco leaves that each of us sprinkled along the entire perimeter of the property. Cooper played the drum and recited scripture that was meaningful to him. Mabel sang songs. I carried essential oils and anointed every door and every entrance as we said, “May all who enter here be blessed.” We were sweaty and at peace – covered in oil, cornmeal, and tobacco. We felt a sense of interconnectedness deep in our bones, as the mystery of a property blessing unfolded step by step.
Several months ago we decided that it was time to perform an intimate ceremony to help us to connect with our new place in the world. We did it for the land, for ourselves, for our family, and for every single living being who will ever find themselves on the land we inhabit.
She spent time in meditation and prayer and allowed her intuition, life experiences, cultural history, spirituality, and creativity to guide our experience. She encouraged us to do the same, to be spontaneous, trust our intuition, and do what felt right. Mary has ancestors who are Shawnee, Cherokee, and Powhatan, and she is a member of the Southeast Kentucky Shawnee. This heritage is very important to her.
Most of my ancestors come from Germany, and my Christian Faith and my relationship with my Creator is what feeds my soul and nurtures my intuition. All that we collectively hold sacred came together in a ceremony to set aside this land, that was gifted to us, as sacred land – a space dedicated to healing, growth, love, and peace for the people, the critters, the trees and plants, the water, and even the rocks that support our foundation.
It is my hope that when people come through the gates of our property, they feel something right away. They feel the veil lifted between the mundane day-to-day and the Divine. When people step foot on our property I pray that a healing energy penetrates their feet, spirals up their legs and pulses through their body – an energy that prepares. An energy that pierces the soul and prompts the heart to say, “I am safe here. I am protected. I am ready – to heal and to transform.” It is my desire that this place prepares the way – for profound growth that begins when people arrive and even extends to those whose feet never tread this land. It is my deepest prayer that the land itself carries a healing legacy.
So, with all of this in our hearts we created a ceremony that was ours.
What is Ceremony?
I love ceremony and I love the rhythm that ritual brings. We can do the ceremonies and rituals created by those who have come before us, connecting us through movement and similar practice, but anyone can create their own ceremony. What I love most about ceremony is that it often has a sensory component that allows us to do something physical and concrete to represent something more abstract or difficult to quantify. For example, in many wedding ceremonies the couple exchanges rings to represent their commitment to one another.
Ceremonies engage the body in matters of the soul. In our case, the ceremony we created represented our commitment to gratitude, reverence, and the setting aside of our place to make this world a better place – recognizing the new NL Headquarters as sacred land.
How did we create our ceremony?
We created a ceremony that was supported by our personal experiences and by those who have come before us.
Corn and tobacco were two of the most important crops where Mary grew up in Kentucky. Corn was important to feed the family and could be eaten year round. Hominy, corn relish, cornbread in various forms. . . my mouth is watering now. Corn was the main source of food for settlers and the First People. When Mary was a teacher they learned a native song called “Follow Mother Corn who Brings Life,” so when her spirit guides showed her cornmeal for our ceremony, it made sense.
For us and many of our ancestors, corn represented life – we used corn in our ceremony to represent new life for the land.
As a child, Mary’s family raised tobacco. She remembers getting a wasp sting and her granddaddy rubbing a tobacco leaf on it to pull out the pain. They hung tobacco in the barn where she played. If she had an ear ache, they would blow smoke in her ear to stop the pain. The First People honored tobacco as a medicine plant, so when she received the guidance to use the tobacco, it was a symbol for bringing back healing to the land.
We mixed cornmeal and tobacco leaves together and sprinkled them along the perimeter of the property to create a boundary – that all the land within the boundary begin to heal and find new life so it can support the healing and growth of others. Just like us, the land can only take others on a journey it is traveling.
In many ancient cultures, including our family’s Christian culture, oil signified prosperity, blessings, and stability. Oil was poured on people and inanimate objects to set them aside as blessed by the Divine – a sacred object or living being anointed to do healing work. Various cultures have poured oil over people, animals and objects as part of the healing process.
In our ceremony we set aside every doorway and every entrance as portals to fullness, purpose, and joy – “May all who enter here be blessed.” Also, as we have built a herd in our new place and as I have come to know each horse, I have, when it felt right, anointed them with oil. Simply an acknowledgment of their sacred and holy purpose in our family, as part of our business, and in our community. A physical representation of a sense of purpose and gratitude I hold in my heart.
We truly are preparing a place for you.
The next ceremony is for all of us
This first ceremony was mostly about us and the land. This move was hard. Our children have struggled. Our horses and other animals have struggled. Prior to our arrival, the land and facilities were neglected and abused. It’s always a long story, but so much loss and grief in the last year.
The second ceremony will be mostly about you and our little community. At our coming Sacred Landscapes conference, we will perform a ceremony similar to the first, but completely different – because each of you will bring something unique.
We are in the process of asking people from various cultures to contribute to and guide our time. We will honor those who loved and cared for the land before us. We have reached out to the Tonkawa Tribe, who inhabited this land. There are many immigrants who came before us here – such rich history. Many cultures will guide our community experience, but we will ask each of you to trust your intuition, honor your beliefs, and do what feels right as we engage in a multi-cultural property blessing.
Together, we will set aside this land for our larger community and for your larger communities. You will learn how to create ceremony in your communities and on your land as well. We invite you to (literally) walk with us as we reconnect with the land and all living creatures, and find a renewed sense of awe and wonder in our world. The property blessing, a family dinner, and live music with The Darling Daughters (one of our own!), is open to all Roots Pass Holders.
What a fantastic and eclectic group of presenters, not to mention thoughtfully curated material and experiences!! This is a lineup not to be missed.
Something really stood out to me as I was exploring the different presentations we have on the schedule – our theme of Sacred Landscapes has really drawn out presentations that use a wider lens to understand healing work.
It makes sense. The idea of landscape encompasses SO much.
It is the scenery that surrounds us, the view we see no matter where we are, the terrain we travel from one place to the next.
Even the definition of the word landscape – “The expanse that can be seen” – taps into a felt sense of what we are trying to offer. I love that word – EXPANSE. Can you feel your lungs fill with air when you read it? EXPANSE. To expand. To grow and stretch and ultimately, to CONNECT.
When we expand, we come into contact with all of life
What is so exciting about our Sacred Landscapes conference is that our lineup of presenters heard “landscape” and immediately understood the assignment.We are talking about Space. Views. Presence. Experience. And we are hopefully expanding your view of what it means to do relational healing work.
Because of course, above all, connection and interconnectedness makes all the difference.
So what, exactly, do I mean when I say we are taking a landscape perspective when it comes to continuing education with Natural Lifemanship?
Spaces & Places
Of course, it means land, literally…the relationship we have with spaces and places where we do this work. Like my keynote, Healing Relationships with Space and Place: Engaging with the environment to foster transformation; and Jane Faulkner’s Exploring a Relationship to Self, Country, and Other. As well as Nature Connected Play Therapy: The Implementation of Play while Honoring the Power of a Natural Setting with Animal Connections by Emily Schmidt.
But also we will have presentations that explore inner landscapes – who you are and how you show up. Like this presentation by Jenn Pagone, Expanding our Internal Landscapes through Relational Consciousness with IFS Equine Engaged Psychotherapy, and this one by NL trainers Kathleen Choe and Laura McFarland, Exploring the Inner Landscape with Embodied Practices: Discernment and the Enneagram.
And then, we will explore how our bodies are a part of our internal landscape, like our keynote from Mark Taylor, Moving Through Space: What Can We Learn from Observing Movement in Session? and this presentation by Kathy Taylor (no relation!), Moving in Three Dimensions: A simple framework for using your body to establish, maintain and nurture connection while working with clients and horses. As well as this delicious presentation, Connected Nutrition:The Gut is our “Second Brain” with NL Trainer Gabby Remole.
And, how do we impact the landscape of healing work, particularly through our horses? Here is a great one by NL Trainers Rebecca Hubbard and Reccia Jobe, The Human-Equine Relational Landscape: How practitioner treatment and interactions with equines impact the healing landscape, and another by Tim and Tanner Jobe, called Getting Along: Facilitating Healthy Relationships Within Your (Horse) Herd!
What I’ve mentioned here are just a few of the many, many speakers and topics we are so thrilled to share with you. Can you tell I am excited?
Sacred Landscapes aims to be a nourishing, grounding, collective experience that will shift you on both a higher and deeper level. We’re growing roots and spreading our branches.
This conference is not about task. It is about our internal and external connections – and we cannot wait to share it with you!
You may have heard of the Natural Lifemanship Connection Kits and you may be wondering what, exactly, they are, what purpose they serve, and for whom.
We created the Connection Kits to fill a need in our community of equine-assisted practitioners – a need that emerged again and again during the course of consultations. As is often the case with useful tools, our Connection Kits have been discovered by many folks outside of the EAS community as well, including school counselors, therapists who work in a more traditional setting, and even clients!
Built with a purpose
Our co-founder, Bettina Shultz-Jobe, found herself describing the ways she incorporates rhythm to build regulation and relationship within and between humans and horses during sessions. She would refer to various tools she would use for that purpose as well as concrete activities, and she would always explain the science that supports the activities and, in fact, everything we do in NL.
She came to realize that one of the biggest ways that we could support our community is by packaging these tools and resources into ready-made kits accompanied by instructional courses that explain how and why we use the tools to promote regulation, healing, growth, and connection for our clients and our horses, whether we are working inside or outdoors.
So, we created the kits! We incorporated our knowledge of science, healthy brain development, and the power of the horse-human relationship with easy-to-use tools that help organize, integrate, and regulate the brain and body and build deeper connections. We call these tools, the Natural Lifemanship Connection Kits – Tools Designed to Enhance Your Equine-Assisted Practice.
These kits provide you with the same tools our expert professionals use at Natural Lifemanship, and hours of guided education including video demonstrations with our beloved horses, to ensure the tools are used safely and effectively. Most tools can be used in a traditional office setting, outside in nature, and with or without horses.
Who uses the Connection Kits? How do I know if they are for me?
If you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then the Connection Kits are for you!
A professional who provides equine-assisted services?
A parent of school-aged children?
A mental health professional?
A helping professional who works with people who have experienced trauma?
Someone who works with youth?
Someone who works with seniors?
Interested in learning how to regulate your own nervous system and how to help others regulate theirs?
Interested in understanding the science behind the techniques?
Appreciate having tools and concrete activities ready and available to use when working with others?
Appreciate the convenience of video instruction so you can learn on your own schedule?
Value the ability to earn CE credits (from NBCC)?
Know somebody who fits any of the descriptions listed here and want to give them an absolutely amazing, one-of-a-kind holiday gift – the kind of gift that keeps on giving?
Really, each kit has something unique to offer. It may be helpful to hear a little about how some of our customers have used the kits and for what purposes.
Essential Connection Kit
The Essential Connection Kits are the most inclusive, containing many different tools and activities to regulate each region of the brain and to promote connection. This kit comes with 16 hours of instructional videos delivered in a course that offers 11.5 CE Credits.
The Essential Connection Kit is transportable, too! It comes neatly organized and packaged in a tote that you can take with you and use in an office, a school, and even outside.
This kit has been most popular with the equine-assisted practitioners (both therapists and coaches) who use our model. It has also been very popular with school counselors. We’ve had several districts buy one for each of their counselors to use with their students. Some counselors have also shared their kits and their knowledge of how to use them with the teachers at their schools. One school counselor reported that she has used the kit for her therapy groups at school, teaching regulation skills throughout the year.
The Essential Connection Kit activities can fit very easily into a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program if teachers and counselors choose to use it this way, as it promotes knowledge and skills related to how the brain works and bottom-up regulation.
Drum Connection Kit
The Drum Connection Kit comes with a Remo Bahia Buffalo Drum and nearly 5 hours of video instruction (and 4.5 CE credits) demonstrating ways to incorporate drumming to regulate the brain.
If all you want is the drum, we encourage you to head on over to Remo to purchase it. However, if you want the drum AND the online course with CE credits, you’ll want to buy it from us. Lots of folks have purchased this kit, including equine professionals and coaches. If you want to incorporate drumming into your work, the NL Drum Connection Kit makes it super simple.
When therapists and other practitioners use the Rhythm Bells in sessions, clients fall in love with them because they are such a great regulation tool. They also really help people come into connection. For this reason, we’ve used them a lot in mounted work and have created multiple ways that these handcrafted bells can attach to the client’s clothing and the horse’s mane or saddle.
Another surprising fact is how many of our therapists like to use the bells in an office setting. We even have one client who wears these while walking during telehealth sessions. The Rhythm Bell course offers 2.5 CE credits.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Connection Kit
Finally, the Do-It-Yourself Connection Kit is also a great option, especially if you already have a collection of tools similar to the ones we package. The DIY Connection Kit gives you ALL of the downloadable instructions and resources you need to build your own Essential Kit. It includes the course and all the videos. It also includes the Drum Connection Kit course. It does not include any of the physical items that are demonstrated, but it gives you the information you need to purchase your own.
Because it includes both the Essential and the Drum Kit courses, the DIY Kit offers a total of 16 CE credits. It also is available to NL Members at a very steep discount.
How much do our customers love these kits? We’ll let them tell you in their own words.
The drum kit absolutely drives home the concept of bottom up regulation. After this course, I feel like I can confidently take these activities into my work with clients. Thank you!
– Ashley M Stavig
I love using the drum and bell kits with clients who have trauma. These are fundamental tools that give clients a ‘language’ (sound, movement) that makes sense of their world. These tools help me see, without the pressure of words, the client’s trauma. Essential for trauma work!!
– Jan Stump, MSW PEACE Ranch
I was able to understand the science behind the tools in each box [of the Essential Connection Kit]. I was able to see how to practically use the tools in a therapeutic setting.
– Christi Lundby, LPC-S, LCDC
Practicing walking with the bell and riding with the bell on me and my horse gave me an understanding of how my body is responding that is beyond anything I have ever felt before. It is not the regulation that was most important; it is the integration. Amazing.
– Marilee Donovan Dual Certified in NL
The Drum Connection Kit Course was both educational and fun. It was not only full of pertinent information, but it was easy to follow with demonstrations that I can use right away in my program. I loved learning how the progression of activities using the drum achieved full brain engagement. It was easy to follow and fun to watch.
– Claudia Alesi, Certified Equine Assisted Coach
It [essential connection kits] was all valuable. I appreciated the raccoon circle because I have a family that is struggling and I believe this will help show how important it is to connect and work together.
– Anonymous Customer
I have been a therapist for over ten years. Natural Lifemanship is the best therapeutic model that I have integrated into my practice. NL has provided me with the science and practical instruction to immediately improve my skills as a therapist with an equine partner or without. A sound principle is a sound principle resonates with me in all client/therapist relationships.
– Christi Lundby, LPC-S, LCDC
I do not generally respond to music and drumming is sometimes annoying, so I was not prepared to be amazed by the benefits of the bells. I wear a bell each morning when I go to turn the horses out and often I wear a bell when cleaning the barn and feeding. It is a mindfulness practice above all others. I had to work initially to have a rhythm but once found it is comforting and rewarding. Riding my horse with the bells generates another level of connection and we have a great connection already. Now when the horses hear me coming with the bell on they often come up and touch the bell on my clothing to say good morning. I would recommend this to any NL professional to deepen their own understanding of their body and of connection and integration.
– Marilee Donovan, Dual Certified in NL
I loved everything about the [Essential Connection Kit] course, very helpful and that it’s not just for psychologists but for teachers, parents, foster parents, equine professionals, etc.
– Anonymous Customer
Natural Lifemanship never ceases to amaze me with their dedication to incorporating both the art and science of connection, and the way this leads to healing and growth!
– Melissa McMullen, LSW, Equine Therapist at One Heart Stables with the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio
I am just beginning to learn about Natural Lifemanship, so everything [in the Essential Connection Kit] was valuable to me. It was very educational. I really love the demonstrations. They are easy to follow and I can’t wait to use them in my program.
– Claudia Alesi, Certified Equine Assisted Coach
We LOVE our Connection Kits and are so delighted that our community loves them, too. We love hearing about the creative ways people are putting these kits to use, and of course how they are working out.
If you already own a Connection Kit, please join our Connection Kit forum in our community so you can share ideas and resources with other Connection Kit owners.
Have questions about the Connection Kits? Leave them below and our team will get back with you.
“We believe in the important work of Natural Lifemanship and have been coming together in prayer about how we can help you expand. Could we help you get a place for your headquarters?”
A gift of place. . .
This was the beginning of a conversation Tim and I had with Dawn and Ron Robson, with That’s the Dream Farm, over a year ago. This was the beginning of the promise of land––of a place to shape and form and transform us––all of us.Here a powerful partnership and kinship began.
These words put into motion a sacred promise for, and to, our growing community, because place builds people.Place builds tribes.The longing for and love of place is profoundly human, and akin to our most basic need for belonging.
We Had No Specific Place
For years people have told us that they wanted to come to a training at “The Natural Lifemanship place.”
The problem? We have never had just one place.
Through the years over 50 different people/organizations have hosted our trainings.They have cared for us, contributed to the accessibility and furthering of this powerful work, and rich relationships have been built.Indeed, many of my closest friends were met through these partnerships.
However, in 2020 much of our training was moved online as we pivoted during the Pandemic.This allowed for a depth and breadth of learning not possible before.
The shift to online learning was great. . . mostly.
As more and more connections and communications were made virtually, I felt untethered at times.We found ourselves longing for an NL home like never before.In our increasingly virtual world, we learned that place matters now more than ever.
More than ever.
Not just any kind of place but one we can call home—and one we can build with you in mind.
(By the way, regional trainings at our amazing partner sites will certainly continue.)
Intuitively, we know that place matters, that the actual land on which we stand shapes us and that we shape it.Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss, says that “Where we are affects who we are.” He has spent many years researching how our actual location affects our creativity, our spirituality, and our happiness.
We find that at certain places time is expansive and connection is all that matters.These places change us and gift us the inspiration needed to create; a work of art, a new relationship, a new life.We are inspired to heal and guide others as they do the same.
The wide open spaces in the Panhandle of Texas, the Grand Canyon, Hanging Lakes in Colorado, the waters of Juniper Run, the castles of Germany, and the mountains of Austria are some of these places for me––sacred ground that has the power to transcend our relationship with time, with ourselves, and with the Divine.
I believe sometimes the very ground calls out “come here and be transformed.” These are the places that tether us to each other, to this life, to those who came before us, and those who will follow.
We need places like this.
Place Deepens Connection
Tim often tells the story of when his oldest daughter moved to Utah and he had not yet seen where she was living.His mind was not at peace until he visited her and saw the places in which she moved on a daily basis.He needed to see and feel her home.He felt uneasy until he could place her when he thought of her.
I too have felt this with our children. Sending our kids to school during the pandemic was just gut-wrenching, partially because we could not see where they would be spending their day.
Both of our children have done better with separation when they have seen where we are working.Our little girl once said with tears in her eyes, “but I don’t know where you’ll be!,” as I left for work.Our internal sense of connection and safety is stronger when we can place others.
Eric Weiner cites research done in Finland that found that 82% of phone conversations contain some version of the question “Where are you?”If I’m on a zoom call in a new environment, people almost always ask me “Where are you?”
Why do people ask this?Why does it matter?
Why do people ask to train at “The Natural Lifemanship place?”
I think it’s because we can better connect when we can place the person with whom we are seeking connection.For example, I find it harder to connect with a person who has a fake or blurred out background on zoom.By contrast, at our virtual Grief and Love conference we wanted a very intimate, community experience so I met with attendees in our living room.
We are not just individual beings wandering the world, but connected creatures existing in a specific context.Our context matters.Where we are, how we connect with the environment around us, the places that we belong to—all influence who we are, how we feel, and how we connect with each other.
Connection is predicated on finding our place and allowing ourselves to be placed.It is our hope that moving forward, as an organization, you can always place us.
So, a Place Was Purchased
After a ton of searching, That’s the Dream Ranch, LLC closed on 73 acres just outside of Brenham, Texas in November of 2021.The most magical creek you have ever seen splits and borders the property.The main meeting place, with antique furniture and a wrap-around porch, overlooks a lovely pond and a hay pasture.The covered arena is straight up dreamy and is overlooked by a conference room, full of windows and too many chandeliers.A quaint 12 bedroom Inn is nestled up against the creek, and all I can say is that I am in love.All kinds of intelligent and majestic trees create little spaces all over the property that call us to come, and sit, and be.
However, there is plenty of work to be done, and so construction has been initiated to create a place for you–– a sacred and fertile place for healing, growth, change, and transcendence.This place will be all about experience and all about home––the kind of home you carry in your heart, that connects you to your core self–– a self that is part of the landscape you occupy, part of a larger body committed to making the world a better place.
Natural Lifemanship is a community with roots, and now we get to build a home.A place where you can find us, be with us. A place where we belong together.
The Healing of Place
Place has the power to do all kinds of amazing things, but with power comes great responsibility.
As clinicians, our personal healing is the foundation for doing healing work with others––the same is true of the land.Place has the power to be the beginning of new life if our love of place is fierce, so fierce that we will do the hard work of restoration.The hard work of healing.
With the help of That’s the Dream Ranch and in partnership with Leopold Land Management and the National Resources Conservation Service (a USDA agency) a major transformation is underway––demolition or repurposing of the things that no longer serve us, pruning, planting, and lots and lots of nurture.We are committed to the messiness and the absolute beauty of healing.We are committed to you.
At Natural Lifemanship, it has always been about a way of being in the world. About principles and values.
Therefore, we are building a place, a home, with the same intentions.Our place—guided by our values where connection is seen and felt in everything we do.
And in our place, we are preparing a place for you.
Save the Date!
The Natural Lifemanship Conference “Sacred Landscapes: Honoring the Places Within Us and Around Us” will take place April 12th – 15th in 2023. Registration opens soon and we hope you can join us.
Rarely do we experience collective grief that moves beyond ourselves, our families, our communities, and across oceans.
This past year was an exception.
While each individual visit from grief varied in depth and time, the shared experience of having met under similar circumstances gifted us with opportunities for connecting on a much deeper level.
In pulling apart the pieces that make the experience of grief complex, I have found that love and grief are indeed connected—either one not fully existing without the other.
As author, theologian, activist, and storyteller Stephen Jenkinson puts it,
“love is a way of grieving that which has not yet slipped away.”
We needn’t look far behind us to see that the things we grieve, were the things we loved first. That without having loved, we would not grieve at all.About this most of us agree, but Stephen Jenkinson argues that love is also grief.As a woman married to an older man and as a mother of young children, I am all too aware of the impermanence of love every time I hug my husband and snuggle my little ones to sleep.I know this too will pass.Yes, love is also grief – about this, I am sure.For me, the Pandemic heightened this awareness.It was a hard year.At times, love and wonder had to be stolen, in seconds, minutes. . . Before moving forward on the path that follows the recent pandemic, let us glance over our shoulder at the ways in which the past year revealed our interdependence, our similarities, and our shared journey.
Reflecting on 2020
At the start of 2020, the Natural Lifemanship Institute was thriving—or so we thought. We were leading the way in the field of Equine Assisted Services, and were training practitioners in-person in Trauma-Focused EAP and Trauma-Informed EAL.Our passion and practice was fulfilling a purpose – we were living the dream.Truly!
As word spread of a virus potentially impacting our communities, we believed like many others that the threat would soon disappear, as similar threats had in the past. Yet as quickly as the name Covid-19 overtook the airways, the devastating virus rocked our business, our livelihood, and the world.
The loss was sudden, the effects longstanding, and the impact, in my opinion, lifelong. As practitioners in the field of mental health, we recognized the trauma in ourselves, and in those around us—and we responded.
We knew the need for teachers and professionals in our field would increase as more people around the world experienced the grief of losing that which they loved—family members, friends, businesses, jobs, homes, community, celebrations, affection, and more.
The grief was growing as quickly as the impact of Covid-19, and we evolved in response.During lock-down, with young children at home, no childcare, and no school, our trainings intensified to meet the needs of practitioners and clients, and our courses moved online to increase accessibility and convenience, as each experience required unique accommodations.We had to quickly let go of how we taught and connected with our students for almost 10 years and embrace the unknown.You can read between the lines as you recall your experience during this time, but uncertainty, unrest, fear, and grief touched us all —it was surreal.
But today Natural Lifemanship provides virtual trainings that meet the requirements for NL certification, and hosts intimate, in-person trainings throughout the country to help ease the burden of traveling in this new world.
Lessons on grief, loss, connection and community
The global pandemic helped to support the belief that grief and love are truly connected.
In fact, grief permeates nearly every aspect of our lives as we move through seasons of love and loss. How do we find joy in the lingering shadow of grief that follows everything and everyone we love? In one another, and the shared experiences we have as human beings.
While Covid-19 brought with it destruction and devastation, it also provided us with a rare opportunity to experience a collective loss, and initiate a shared grieving process. For far too long, in Western culture, grief has been an isolated experience usually impacting one person, family, or community.
In 2020, however, the same fears and feelings of loneliness, vulnerability, and loss were shared throughout the world. Whether we realized it or not, grief connected us, and in that there was a bigger effort to empathize, connect, and lend a hand.
For a moment, we were one people facing the same challenge, and reassuring one another as we walked an unknown path together.Just maybe, 2020 brought us back to experiencing grief the way it was intended —in community, among others, and in the context of connected relationships.
A Natural Life: Love & Grief Are Connected
As we continued to evolve our practice and support other practitioners in their own healing journeys, we chose to host a special kind of conference this year—one that acts as an experience for all who attend.Via a path we walk together.
A Natural Life: Love & Grief Are Connectedis where we make a collective date with grief from where we are on our journey. Designed for everyone, regardless of experience and background, this 2.5 day event will bring together a community of helpers and healers from all over the world, to guide us in the art of grieving.
We will partake in healing practices and other experiential activities together, and hear from speakers whose expertise on the topics of grief and healing will inspire us, help us heal, and increase our impact on our clients, and in the world.
Whether we recognize it or not, we are always in a season of both love and grief.
On July 23rd, 24th, and 25th we will simply come together to connect our grief, our love, and expand upon our abilities to support our own healing, and that of our clients or loved ones.
A collective grief and healing process
Just as we found comfort in the shared experience of a global pandemic, we can also find it in the healing process that follows.
As we turn our gaze forward, and walk in our grief towards that which looks unfamiliar, our hope is that we recognize those walking beside us. That we acknowledge them on their journey, feel less alone, and support one another in accessing the endless love that exists within.
We are all new to this path—let’s walk it together.
Learn more about the Natural Lifemanship way…
#1Take some of our courses.We offer many low cost, single purchase courses and videos for those just wanting to get an idea of what’s out there.Many of our courses offer CE credits through NBCC and NAADAC.Many courses are also part of NL Membership or can be purchased by members at steep discounts.Check out our courses here.
#2 Follow along for FREE!We offer an array of free content online through webinars, blogs, and videos – you can do any or all of the following to stay connected and up to date on NL happenings!
Follow our YouTube Channel for free video content! This is a great place to begin understanding how the relationship between horse and person progresses, organically and over time, utilizing NL principles.Watch this video first and then follow the progress made with Annie and Abilene.