Holding On and Letting Go

Last night I dreamed all night long about my two trips to Costa Rica where I worked with wonderful horses. I woke up remembering an extreme trail ride full of rocky, steep hills that I had ridden with Cosmo.


At the time I was having on-and-off horrendous back pain due to a kidney stone, but I felt good the morning of the ride, so I decided to go. On the ride, however, I kept falling into worry, anxiety, and worst-case-scenario thinking. Each time the what-if-I-have-extreme-pain-in-the-middle-of-nowhere fears came up, Cosmo would tell me to keep connecting with him, trust him, and feel the joy of the ride. I kept doing what he told me, fully enjoying the gorgeous scenery and my partnership with him.

At one point in the ride we approached the bottom of a practically vertical hill. The horses in front of us took the worn dirt trails at either side of the hill, but Cosmo stepped to a grassy pit right in the center of the steep incline, avoiding the trails. I looked straight up at the guide who was at the top of the hill, my face saying, what do we do now?? The guide looked down at me and said, “Just hold on.”

I hunkered down on Cosmo and held on tight, scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen but comforted that I could feel our bodies and hearts connected—we were in it together. Cosmo then took two giant jumps up the vertical hill and to my extreme delight, we landed at the top safely. I’d never been on a horse while he jumped before, much less on a crazy-steep incline. Reaching the top was the most exuberant feeling I’d ever experienced. After that, I felt like I could do anything.

When we face an unknown outcome, there really is a balance between holding on and letting go. Holding onto faith, trust, and what you know is true, while letting go of scenarios we can easily create in our heads...feeling safe and grounded while surrendering to the universe and allowing it to support you.

A few weeks after that trail ride, I had surgery to remove the kidney stone and the recovery was painful and rough. The facilitator from the Costa Rican workshop had given me a key chain made of some of Cosmo’s tail hair, and I held onto that for the duration of my recovery. Holding onto it reminded me of being present, clear, and connected. That no matter what happens, the sun will still rise, the lessons will still come, and we’ll work our way through. In the end, we’ll look down that steep hill and realize that despite all the challenges, we keep moving forward. ✨

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