Reflections: CHERIISH Counseling and the Blustery Day

The other day, we had a knock-your-socks-off, hold-onto-the-car-door, stake-everything-down kind of blustery day at our horse facility. The wind was whipping the trees, you could hear it pushing against the barn, fingers were frozen in moments, and horse tails were flying everywhere! It was frigid and intense – to say the least. I’ve included a short video below and while the visual doesn’t really do it justice, you can hear the wind’s strength!

Something you may not know is that the daily care of our therapy horse herd is provided by CHERIISH’s two founding therapists – Bethaney and I (Alycia), so we are out there tending to their needs in all weather (neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night keeps us from this responsibility – like the postal service … but with horses! haha). This is generally a delightful task, but on blustery days such as the one mentioned above, it is…. less desirable.

Honestly though, this less than desirable weather prompted some important reflection. As is the equine-assisted therapy way, I spent my chilled morning at the barn reflecting on how the current weather mirrored other parts of my life and considering what wisdom I could carry forward. Let me explain!

In many ways, 2020 has felt like one loooooooooooooong windstorm.

It has pushed and chilled and challenged many parts of daily life. It has fluctuated in its intensity; generally consistent in its presence, but with some definite larger gusts. It has made many of us yearn for a break or at least some shelter.

Shelter. That’s what caught my attention.

On this blustery day, I was relieved and grateful every time I came back into the barn and out of the weather. And I started to consider what my metaphorical 2020 shelter consisted of.

Grab some paper and a pencil (or art supplies!) and explore alongside me as I share some of the questions I was asking myself:

  • If I were to describe my 2020 shelter, what words would I use? Durable? Flimsy? Insulated? Quirky? Towering? Drab? (Apparently people make lists of words you can use to describe buildings — the internet is a vast place! If you’re feeling stuck on adjectives, check out this list here).
  • If I were to imagine it, what would it look like? Does it have windows? What is it made out of? What size is it? How well was it maintained through the year? Do any colors stand out? What is the entrance like? What spaces are inside?
  • What setting is my shelter situated in? The city? Suburbs? A more rural area? The mountains or a coastal town? Somewhere tropical or somewhere frigid?
  • How sturdy is my shelter? What are its foundational cornerstones? What materials gave it strength? What kept it standing this year? Who kept it standing this year???
  • Which gusts of the year hit my shelter the hardest? Was there any damage created by those gusts?
  • Did I have to make any repairs over the last 12 months? How did I know how to do that? Did anyone help me? What had I learned about my shelter through the repair process? What did I know about my shelter that I didn’t know before it was damaged?
  • Do I have any drafts or instability that I wanted to strengthen in the coming months? What resources will I need to do that? Who could support me in this task?

As I considered these questions for myself, a building began to take shape in my mind. I felt grateful for myself and the support of my community, and I also felt renewed self-compassion. I won’t share all the details of my shelter, but here are a few of the pieces I envisioned:

This is often the way our equine-assisted therapy sessions progress: We notice what’s happening in the space and work to find the patterns and connections to your daily life. Together, we explore how the horses and their environment offer us wisdom to carry forward.

I hope this reflection activity offered you an opportunity to pause. To honor yourself for the way you persevered through this year. To find what pieces of your structure kept you safest; to cultivate gratitude for those structural elements. To notice what repairs are needed; to make a plan for how you can strengthen your shelter.

If part of your strengthening plan includes exploring and building mental wellness, please reach out to our therapist team today. We are available to help you explore whether therapy is the next step, or whether another resource might be a better fit.

To our community: We are grateful for you. We see you. We cheriish you. Thank you for being with us through this blustery year.