Destruction and the Messy Business of Healing

Destruction and the Messy Business of Healing

“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”

-Pablo Picasso    


We often speak about the breaking down of something old, and the rebuilding of something new. A process of transformation. Of repair. Of renewal. 

All of which are essential to healing and growth.  All of which sound quite lovely, and maybe even trite. . . unless you’ve experienced the breaking down of something old.  Literally or figuratively. 

You see, a very important part of our growth journey, as an organization, is the longing for space. A deep and growing desire for a place to call ours. A place to invite others from around the world for healing, learning, connection, guidance, reflection, and ultimately renewal. 

This place, which we’ve often constructed in our dreams, is finally being built. Yet in the process of actualizing the space that was gifted to us and that we, in turn, are gifting to others – we first faced destruction.  Demolition of that which no longer served us, the horses, or the land. 


NL Headquarters, Back Forty


The Demolition

In the physical sense, we first engaged in the demolition of over 100 horse stalls that represented an old relationship with horses, one that departs from the relationship principles that we hold dear. 

We tore down worn and tired buildings and fence to birth in their places more uplifting and inspiring spaces. While honoring wise and breathtaking trees, and the land that’s invited us here, we cleared dying brush and paved a road where hope could come, grow, and spread—departing back to its home.



The Destruction was Harder than I Expected

Call me naive, but I had this image of a huge wrecking ball knocking everything down, and WHAM!   Just like that, the old is leveled.  It wasn’t quite like that.  It was much more slow and methodical and painful. Imagine squeaky machinery removing parts of buildings bit by bit.   

There were moments of intensity, but taking down the old took much more time than I expected.  And there was fallout – unintentional damage was done throughout this process.  For example, water lines were busted and days were spent repairing this damage.  And the clean-up, so much clean-up. . . This took even longer.

Once buildings were removed, the mark on the land still remained.  The scar that shows what once was.  Some parts of our land are now ready for healing and growth and the process of creating something new!


NL Headquarters, Back Forty


The Repair and the Creation

Honoring the belief that the land’s ability to offer and support healing is in direct proportion to how much the land itself is healed, we have enacted a plan that involves continual pruning, healing, growth, and creation.

We, as people and living beings, heal in the same way the land heals.  Sometimes structures that no longer serve us must be identified, broken down, and removed.  And it takes the time it takes.  No quick fixes or wrecking balls.  

My clients are the most amazing and brave people I know.  I love it when they reach out to me because they’re ready to do the hard work of healing, and I often remind them that “hurry up and heal” isn’t really a thing.  You can’t rush your healing (a song I recently learned from one of our Rhythmic Riding participants).  

I have also recently experienced that there are consequences to rushing the destruction and the clean-up.  Destruction that is necessary to make way for creation.  

Through our collaboration with That’s the Dream Ranch the entire place is beginning to heal.


NL Headquarters, Hay Field


Land is resting and grass is growing.  New fences are being built.  A new well has been dug.  Ponds are being developed to manage erosion.  New septics, new windows, drywall, air conditioning units, and on and on. 

We are currently in the process of refurbishing the inn, where our guests can rest—and just like caterpillars—prepare for their own metamorphosis. That is, their own destruction and rebuilding. 

It is our humble hope that all who enter our gates will experience the safe breaking down of that which no longer serves them and the slow healing and deliberate creation that follows.

People searching for transformation—for themselves and for their clients. 

People like you. 

Communities like ours.

We look forward to both the demolition and the rebuilding that we will do together as a community.



The Impact of Rhythm in Trauma Informed Care

The Impact of Rhythm in Trauma Informed Care

By Kate Naylor and Bettina Shultz-Jobe


A heartbeat. Waves rolling in and out on a sandy beach. The rising and setting of the sun. 

The aroma of your favorite meal. A long walk to clear your head. That sense of joy that comes from swinging on a swing. 

Your partner walking in the door at 5 o’clock every day and offering that same greeting they always do. The connection that follows a relational repair. The sound of horses munching on grass. 

This is rhythm.

Our bodies and minds crave rhythm. It exists both figuratively and literally in our daily lives, and offers us repeated experiences of predictability in our environments, our relationships, and in our bodies. 

Not surprising then, rhythm is one of the three necessary components of trauma informed care as outlined by Dr. Bruce Perry and many other experts in the field of trauma and attachment.  Others like Bonnie Badenoch, Dan Siegel, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Pat Ogden, and Bessel van der Kolk emphasize the importance of rhythm in our lives. 

Without rhythm, we miss an integral part of the healing puzzle. In fact, we cannot offer Trauma Informed Care without it. 

We also experience plenty of moments that are filled with a lack of rhythm, a lack of predictability – times of sensory, environmental, or relational chaos. These moments have an impact on us too. 


The practice of creating rhythm in relationships

Recognizing literal and figurative rhythms allows us to use them to enhance our programs, our work with clients, and our own healing work. 

Join us for the Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship to:

  • Better understand how sensory rhythm is always affecting us, even in the very beginnings of life
  • Rhythmically connect with our bodies and the world around us to regulate the nervous system 
  • Experience how much the rhythm of our movements matter (especially around horses!)
  • Learn the components of rhythmic environments 
  • Feel how to BE in rhythmic relationships with humans, horses, and other animals 

… and how to creatively bring more intentional rhythm into your sessions for effective (and fun!) therapeutic work.


The benefits of rhythm

With more rhythm, you can expect a more regulated mind and body – setting you up for more client progress and less professional burnout. 

Pssst…in the Fundamentals, you will also come to understand the other two necessary components of effective trauma informed care!

Improve professional competency, enhance your work, and engage clients in lasting change – with the Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship.



Grab Hold of Miracles

Grab Hold of Miracles

So, I’m in Walmart, slowly picking up my pace among thousands of frenetic shoppers. I am already walking with a rather brisk stride, but as I eye those next to me I find my feet moving faster and faster the closer I get to the Christmas decorations.

Then I turn. At the end of an aisle of red and green and glittery things I see a huge mound of tree skirts, probably 10 feet tall, and hundreds of people digging through them. I am on a quest to find a beautiful skirt to go around the bottom of my Christmas tree. Evidently, many others are pursuing the same thing.

It must have red and green alternating sections, made of soft and silky velvet, with scalloped edges made of eyelet lace. It must be heavy and luxurious, just like the one my mother made for our family when I was a little girl. I remember wearing it while we decorated the tree and sang to the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas album. I think that the year my mother made this beautiful tree skirt she also made us all matching dresses out of the same material.

This is the tree skirt I seek.

As I approach this pile of beautiful tree skirts, people are throwing unwanted skirts behind them. Several land on top of me, blinding me and weighing me down, and more panic sets in. What if I can’t find the one I want – the one I picture. I start ripping through the pile of tree skirts, my palms sweaty, my heart racing, and a lump in my throat – I am terrified. The pile is dwindling so quickly.

Then I see it – the exact tree skirt from my childhood. EXACT. I dive for it, my entire body hitting the floor. The world slows and just as I am about to reach it, someone swoops in and snatches it right out from in front of me. I watch as it disappears into a sea of Christmas shoppers, and I scream out as I weep, pull up my aching body, pick up one of the picked over red and green skirts, and begin to walk back down the aisle from which I came.

The crowd brushing up against me, my body heavy, my broken heart sobbing in my ears. I begin to walk and find myself in an aisle that is dark, quiet, sad, and lonely – I’m not sure how I ended up there, but it feels right.

As I trudge down this aisle, my eyes spot something turquoise, gold, and silver. I blink the tears away so I can see more clearly – as I inch closer, I see the most beautiful tree skirt I have ever seen. Completely different than what I had come for.

And completely perfect. Absolutely, completely perfect. I hug it to my chest and know that this is it.


It was all a dream


I had this dream during a time when Tim and I were trying to figure out how to handle the fact that this thing was happening between us. We tried really hard not to fall in love – it’s a long story I guess. We also tried really hard not to start this business – that’s a long story too.

Shortly after this dream, we officially started dating, and I became obsessed with finding the tree skirt in my dream. I drug Tim to every single store in Amarillo Texas and could not find anything even close. It was one year later that my younger sister, Jamie, and I found it at a trade show of sorts in Austin. A woman there took old upholstery fabric from used furniture and repurposed it.

My entire body filled with goose bumps when I saw it there. It was definitely out of the budget at that time, but I bought it anyway (my sister is often very good at convincing me to purchase things that will make me happy!)


Different and Perfect


It’s totally different than what I originally envisioned, and every year when I put it under the tree I do it with tears in my eyes because I love it so much.

As I place it under the tree I think about the long and lonely journey that led Tim to me. I think about our tree skirt’s journey. I think about our marriage. I think about our children. I think about this life we have built. I think about our business – a lot. I think about our very best of friends and the community we have found through our mission and our passion.

I think about the many people in our lives who have chosen a different tree skirt. We’re cycle breakers – in our families – with our horses – with our businesses. We do it scared. We often walk a lonely path, but we choose something different. . .really different.

And really beautiful.

This year, I put our perfect tree skirt under the tree in our new place in preparation for one of my favorite trainings, the Personal Immersion and it stayed under the tree throughout the season as we welcomed our trainers for the trainer’s retreat. It sits under our tree as a symbol of the resilience of people we would be welcoming into our home, and a symbol of our support of them as they do the hard work of healing and transforming. I thought about their grief and mine, and the things we let go of so we can grab hold of miracles.



Natural Lifemanship is a Contemplative Practice

Natural Lifemanship is a Contemplative Practice

What is Contemplation?

I think therefore I am…… 

Or is it, I am therefore I think? 

If I don’t think, AM I? 

Wait! What does thinking have to do with who I am? Or who you are?


Who AM I?

Who ARE you?

Who are WE?

Surely each of us has pondered these sorts of questions to some degree at some point in our lives. At the very least they may have given us pause (or made our heads spin) in a high school or college philosophy class.

Recently, a friend and colleague posted a wonderful graphic illustrating a tree of contemplative practices currently in use in academic and organizational settings.The tree depicts that there are two essential roots (sources) of contemplation, several limbs (categories of practices), and many, many branches (specific practices). This is such a helpful image because it’s not uncommon to have one notion stuck in our minds, limiting our engagement with a process that we all need more than ever. 


Image credit: CMind. (2021). The Tree of Contemplative Practices [Illustration]. The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. https://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree


For example, the word “contemplation” may bring to mind an image of a bald monk in a robe sitting on a meditation pillow. Some would then dismiss it as irrelevant to their lifestyles or their belief systems. Likewise, it may conjure up an image of a person deep in thought, leaving many to assume that contemplation is mainly for philosophers, scientists or artists, or for times when really big decisions require careful discernment.

A Different Way of Knowing


One of the dilemmas in talking about Contemplation (similar to talking about Love, or just about anything for that matter) is that “knowing” it through experience and “knowing about” it intellectually are two very different kinds of knowing. To talk about contemplation (objectively) is not a door into it, generally speaking.

We’ll come back to this, but first let’s start with understanding something about the words, contemplation and contemplate. When wanting to know about something, what better place to start than Google?

When I google “contemplation” or “contemplate”, what first pops up are dictionary definitions:

con-tem-pla-tion (noun)  

  • the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time
  • deep reflective thought
  • the state of being thought about or planned

If you click “view more definitions”, you also see that contemplation can refer to:

  • religious meditation
  • (in Christian spirituality) a form of prayer or meditation in which a person seeks to pass beyond mental images and concepts to a direct experience of the divine

con-tem-plate (verb)

  • look thoughtfully for a long time at 
  • think about
  • think profoundly and at length; meditate.

It would seem that according to common English usage, the terms contemplation and contemplate are tied to a way of thinking and/or to a spiritual sort of meditation. 

This seems like a reasonable objective, surface understanding. 

On an experiential level, anyone who has intentionally pursued contemplation might add, contemplation is cultivated through practice. 

Contemplation is Cultivated by Practice


If contemplation is cultivated through practice, then what are we cultivating?

  • a quality of the action of looking (described as looking thoughtfully at something for a long time)
  • a quality of thought (described as deep, reflective thought – which means thought that sees itself, or that is aware of itself)
  • a state of being (described as being thought about or planned; but I prefer ‘a state of knowing and being known’ or, ‘a state of being connected’)


So, to define contemplation from the perspective of one who engages in contemplative practice:

Contemplation is a way of seeing, thinking, and being 

in relationship to ourselves and to others,

and to the immediacy of each moment –

receiving what is offered

and offering our authentic selves

to each moment and each relationship.

It is about how we move in the dance of Life


THIS present moment

and THIS relationship



and re-choosing



Contemplation is the state of knowing and being known, of seeing and being seen. 

Contemplation is CONNECTION. 


Contemplative practice is the practice of cultivating our capacity for connection. 

The anonymous author of the medieval classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, states, “God cannot be thought. God can only be loved.” The contemplative Christian tradition recognizes that the purpose of prayer is relationship. Prayer is a practice of connection. Centering Prayer, which is one type of contemplative practice, begins with my intention to consent to God’s presence and action within me. It is a willingness to remain open to the received experience of one’s connection with God. Buddhists may describe this as a receptivity to fully engage in the experience of the present moment. This is a kind of relationship with reality itself and the universal rhythms that find expression in each phenomenon at each particular moment. 

Whether one practices contemplative Christianity or Buddhism, or one of the many other contemplative paths, the practice of contemplation is that of consent. Because our minds will wander, the practice is to continually return to one’s intention to assume the stance of least resistance to the relationship. The intention is to say yes to connection, again and again. This stance requires a different quality of awareness than that of our ordinary consciousness. Maintaining this internal quality of connected awareness has been described as a quivering bead of mercury – collected, but fragile. It easily scatters with too much or too little pressure. In other words, we cannot force ourselves (or others) into this connected quality of being. We must allow ourselves and others to experience this quality of being. It’s not about acquiring; it’s about letting go… consenting, cooperating.  

Natural Lifemanship is a Contemplative Practice.


Natural Lifemanship is a practice of cultivating connection in relationships. The process is guided by principles such as:

  • The principle of choice (Healthy connection is always a choice; if it’s forced or coerced, it’s not the kind of connection that heals and transforms.)
  • The principle of pressure (In the process of cultivating connection, it is my responsibility to be aware of and to manage the pressure that I communicate with my body, my energy, my thoughts, intentions and behavior; this requires A LOT of self awareness and self work. Just like with the quivering bead of mercury, pressure supports connection – but not too much or too little.)
  • The principle of attachment and detachment (True connection requires a sense of security in both attachment, which is being with, and detachment, which is being apart. We experience both attachment and detachment in our relationships all the time, including in our relationship with the divine or with universal truth. Contemplative practice avails us to both experiences of connection, simultaneously. We are never more connected with the reality of the present moment than when we let go, neither clinging to nor resisting that which comes into our awareness.)


Natural Lifemanship is a healing, relational process that transforms those who practice it. It is a contemplative practice that builds our awareness of and attunement to ourselves and others. It is a practice by which we learn to let go of our own resistance to connection, even as we help THIS person or THIS horse do the same. We continually ask of ourselves and the other, am I (are you) ignoring the invitation to connect? Am I/are you resisting it? Where does this resistance reside in my body, or in my horse’s body, and when I notice it, can I let it go, or invite them to let it go? Can I be attuned enough to my equine partner to notice tension in his or her body before it even shows up as resistant behavior, and can I meet her with just the right amount of energy at that moment? When she experiences that her resistance isn’t going to push me away, nor is it going to make me resort to power, domination or control, she will find that letting go, even a little, feels amazing.  Likewise, I may find that staying present in the discomfort of resistance, or of being ignored, invites me to let go of the well worn patterns that have governed my relationships with others, with myself, and within my spirituality for a very long time.


NL is a relational practice. We help each other assume the stance of least resistance to the deep, rewarding connections that are available to us if only we would consent to them. We get to be that rewarding connection for others and we get to allow others to be it for us.

 Learn More

If you are interested in a retreat style experience that explores how contemplative practices can transform your way of being in relationships join us for Natural Lifemanship for Spiritual Connection, October 6-8th, 2022 at the Natural Lifemanship Headquarters in Brenham, TX.

Check out our related blogs:

Spiritual Intimacy Grows with Connection through Detachment

The Gift of Being Our Truest Selves


Uvalde, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and the Power of Connection

Uvalde, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and the Power of Connection

How can something like this happen?


If you are anything like me, you have been wrestling with this question lately – and honestly have been wrestling with it for years, as news reports plague us with stories of violence across the country, and across the world.  

I am writing to you, our NL community, and beyond, to those of us who have not been directly affected but are wrestling with ‘what to do’ – this is a time for us to dig into what it means to be a community.  What it means to be trauma informed.


What it means to truly connect 


The families involved in this latest tragedy and all the violent tragedies that have come before are suffering profoundly – I don’t expect them to do anything but grieve.  But as observers, as helpers and healers, it is time for us to hold, and practice, a truth.  

Connection is hard, painful even, and it is so so necessary.

It has been one week since the devastating event in Uvalde where over 20 individuals, mostly children, were killed by an armed shooter. While I struggle with my own grief and fear, I see countless others in my community doing the same.  Debates have broken out about how to prevent something like this in the future – what actually would work to keep us from having to live this again and again? To keep families like those in Uvalde, Sandy Hook, and frankly, hundreds of other communities, from experiencing the worst losses imaginable?


There are no simple answers  


I suspect the solutions are much more nuanced and complex than we all want to admit. When we are afraid, we want clarity, we want to do something.  It is normal to feel strongly, to want to take action, to think of ourselves and our safety.  Bettina and I wrote about this in our first blog after the shooting.

Unfortunately, nothing is as clear cut and simple as we would like it to be.  

But there are, and will be, things we can do – individually and as a community.  As a bit of an outsider to Uvalde, I find myself wanting to understand the situation more deeply – it feels like a responsibility to those who are within the community, suffering so acutely.  A deeper understanding offers me clarity of purpose when I think about “what can I do?”.  

While the logistics of what occurred on May 24th are important of course, I see what happened through a trauma lens.

I believe, without a doubt, that a ripple of trauma is at play when these episodes of devastating violence occur. It breaks my heart, and yet, it also gives me hope.  I am broken hearted because understanding how trauma works means that I know, for a fact, that the young man who committed this horrible crime (and the others who have come before him) was in terrible pain – and without any other way of managing his pain, he gave it back to his community.


“The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.” 

-African Proverb


Stories about the Uvalde shooter are emerging, and they are sad ones.  

I sympathize that compassion for this young man may be hard to come by – some of us may be feeling a revulsion, or downright hatred, for a person who could commit such an act. Admittedly I recognize it is very soon after the event to ask you to consider anything else. I do not mean to side-step the overwhelming horrors the children in that elementary school faced, or what the families and community members who survived are now dealing with.  

I wonder, though, if we can bear to hold both – the bottomless suffering of those who have lost so much AND the deep suffering of a young man, a child still really, who felt so alone he was motivated to act the way he did.


Can we hold both?  


It is a lot to ask. I understand if you are not ready. If this is where you are, it is ok, it is human to feel this way – and I hope you will continue to consider the rest of my letter.

Consider that hating this boy only brings more pain and isolation. More trauma. It does not contain our solution. Consider that connection is what we are made for, it is who we are, and when an individual resorts to violence it is because they felt so little connection that violence seemed the only way forward for them.

“Love me when I least deserve it because that is when I need it the most” (this anonymous quote hangs in Bettina’s office).

The young man in Uvalde was raised partially by his grandparents, as his mother battled heavily with drug addiction. A father or father figure was not mentioned in accounts of his life, though it seems a neighbor tried his best to be a role model. This young man was bullied horribly in school for being different – for having a speech impediment. He was often in fights. He was teased for wearing old, worn clothes. He committed acts of self-harm and threatened aggression toward animals and other humans. He lived through domestic violence, with police making a frequent appearance outside his home he shared with his mother.

This is an old story. It is not just about the young man in Uvalde. It is about all the people across our country, in our very own communities, who suffer from lack of support, lack of connection, lack of love. There is no single person, no single village to blame for it, because disconnect is passed down from generation to generation, and ripples far and wide. Our culture suffers from a profound problem with connection or the soul-crushing lack thereof.


What Can We Learn?


We are a community of trauma professionals, and understanding the humanity inherent in each and every one of us is a significant aspect of calling ourselves “trauma informed”.  The science of neurobiology tells us that we are all a blend of nature and nurture, and that our nature is in fact highly influenced by the nurture that occurred in previous generations.

We are the outcome of our relationships, our environments, and our support systems over the generations and most acutely, during our own developmental years.  To arrive at age 18 being a violent “loner” with an unstable home life and an aggressive thirst for vengeance is not a fluke, but a result of layers and layers of wounding.  This is not just in Uvalde, this is everywhere.

No one is immune from pain so deep we lash out.  It feels like a heavy responsibility, but a necessary one, to remember that each and every one of us could become cruel under the right circumstances.  

We are human.  

This young man was human.  

To cast him out into any other category does us all a disservice. There is no “us” and the cruel/evil/murderous “them”. There is only “we”.  

When we reject someone in pain, when we hate him, we exacerbate the very problem that created him.


How Can Adverse Childhood Experiences Help Us Connect?


I understand if you are not ready  to hear what I am trying to say. It is a hard truth. It asks us to feel deeply, and rise above our survival instincts. Again, listen to your body––allow yourself to grieve and feel it all – anger, rage, sadness––when you are ready, maybe you can revisit this conversation with me. If your body tells you that you are ready for this discussion I ask that you allow me to offer a little more, to help us sink a little more into understanding.  

Let’s take a look at a simple measure, that of the Adverse Childhood Experiences survey. This measure looks exclusively at home life, and has 10 measures. For each adverse childhood experience, an individual receives a score of one. The closer to 10 adverse childhood experiences a person is, the more dire their adulthood experience can be – including significant physical and mental health issues.

​​The 10 ACEs are defined as the following childhood experiences:

– Physical, sexual or verbal abuse

– Physical or emotional neglect

– Separation or divorce

– A family member with mental illness

– A family member addicted to drugs or alcohol

– A family member who is in prison

– Witnessing a parent being abused

Based on the accounts of the Uvalde shooter’s life leading up to the shooting, and looking at the quiz questions to measure the number of ACEs possible in his home life, it is safe to estimate that this young man experienced at least 7 of 10 ACEs. (For reference, a score of 6 or higher is said to take at least 20 years off your life, not to mention cause marked difficulties in daily living).

For the possible childhood experiences considered “adverse” and damaging, he experienced at least 70% of them. 

It is also important to note that the ACEs cover a range of adverse experiences within one’s own home, but do not include community based experiences a youth can experience like bullying at school, the general stress and risks of poverty, lack of a support system/friendships outside the home, lack of support within the school system (the young man in Uvalde skipped frequently and was not on track to graduate with his peers), and the myriad unsupervised online encounters that are possible. 

ACEs also do not cover the wider struggles our country is facing culturally and politically. Our country is divided, angry, and wanting to place blame somewhere. It has also become common practice to shame others for not living up to certain expectations. There is a far-reaching disconnect between us on a grand scale.


Trauma Isn’t Always Obvious


There are multiple facets of trauma that we could consider, the ACEs being one of them that is easiest to wrap our brains around, perhaps.  But when we consider the subtler neurological development and attachment development aspects of trauma (which we discuss at length in our trainings, especially the Fundamentals of NL), there are likely many other ways this young man’s brain and body were traumatized.  

We can only speculate at this point, so I won’t go beyond a general wondering – but based on the little history we have now, we might hypothesize that the intrauterine experience and early childhood experiences of this young man may have contained significant amounts of stress, or at least numerous deviations from the optimal. His brain and body may very likely have been primed for survival, with muscled up and disorganized lower regions of the brain. Survival is inherently selfish, and sees threat at every turn.


This can happen to any of us


With the amount of conflict he experienced in his home life, later followed by the amount of distress he experienced in his peer groups – I truly wonder if connection, and relationships in general, mostly set off alarm bells throughout his system, feeling like threats rather than safety.

I will stop there, as I do not wish to speculate further about the story of a young man I didn’t really know – who was in so much pain, who was so alone, he turned to inflict devastating pain on others. Now his trauma has been passed on to the families of Uvalde – so many more ACEs to add to the list. Parents, teachers, families, neighbors, will never be the same, perhaps for generations to come.  

As hard as it can be to find, being trauma informed means I can catch enough of a glimpse of this man’s world, and the lens through which he saw this world, that I will not call him evil. I will not call him “other”. I will grieve him as I do the children and the ones whom he killed. I will grieve the isolation, the fear, the pain, that everyone in that community, and countless communities across the country, are feeling.


Finding Hope


And, I also have hope – because I know there are thousands of us out there working tirelessly to prevent and heal trauma Every. Single. Day.  

I know this community in particular, of Natural LIfemanship professionals, understands that trauma is a beast, but one that can be prevented and healed. So, we grieve. And then we roll up our sleeves and go back out into the world to do what we can, here and now. This will likely mean policy change, holding leaders accountable, and a dedication and perseverance to penetrate the helplessness and apathy that occur on a grand scale.  

And, we do what we can in the small choices we make every day.

We connect with those who need connection. We reach out when we need connection. We don’t look away. We don’t pretend the answers are simple. We don’t let fear drive us. We take a deep breath. We let fear and grief move through our bodies. And then we remember that healing takes place in the context of a healthy relationship…and we know how to do that. 

The hard truth, the utterly simple and yet excruciatingly difficult truth is that we prevent things like mass shootings, suicides, and violence by being the village that loves the child.

To honestly call ourselves trauma-informed, we must find our way to embodying this truth.

I only wish this particular child had been surrounded by the amazing hearts and minds that I know belong to this astounding Natural Lifemanship community. Maybe then he would have felt the warmth of his community that he truly needed, rather than pass on the pain, like so many others.

I feel hope because I know you all are out there. I feel renewed passion in our mission here at Natural Lifemanship. Pain may be inevitable in life, but the lasting effects of trauma can be tempered. Connection prevents and heals pain over and over again. It is not always easy – in fact, loving through fear, grief, and anger may be the most difficult thing we do. But we can do it.  

This is something we can control.

Sitting with you in grief, and holding onto hope. 

In connection,


If you feel called to learn more about how to help people heal from the effects of toxic stress and trauma,  join our amazing community of helpers and healers.

Natural Lifemanship is composed of people just like you, who want to make this world a better place —a world where connection and the value of healthy relationships is seen and felt in everything we do!



Just Released: Nourished by Meg Kirby

Just Released: Nourished by Meg Kirby

We are so pleased to announce that our Natural Lifemanship team has been published again! 

A lovely new resource is now available for a variety of practitioners – Nourished: Horses, Animals & Nature in Counselling, Psychotherapy & Mental Health, edited by Meg Kirby, is out now!



Not only do we share our lives with nature and animals, they are an integral and influential part of our well-being. Within the pages of Nourished is wisdom collected from respected professionals across the globe (of whom we are honored to be a part!) on how we can intentionally incorporate the natural and animal world into mental health, wellness, and personal growth.


Working With Horses to Develop Secure Attachment


Natural Lifemanship’s CEO and co-founder Bettina Shultz-Jobe and  I are thrilled to have contributed a chapter in Nourished titled “Working With Horses to Develop Secure Attachment”. In this chapter we offer theory as well as a case study discussing how attachment wounds can be brought into awareness, gently explored, and healed through authentic engagement with equines.  

We ventured not only into the cognitive aspects of attachment, but the embodied ones as well – for much of our relational patterns are held in the body. As this NL community knows, being in relationship with horses is a unique opportunity to transform ways of being, even when deeply held in the unconscious body.

If you are a practitioner in the field of equine assisted services, this is a chapter, and a book, not to be missed!


Psst…when you order the book through the links in this article, we earn a small affiliate commission. This transparency is important to us, but since we contributed to the book, you know we recommend it whole-heartedly!