Free Rein – How a horse helped heal my anxiety

I didn’t expect to actually get coached by the horse.

How a horse helped heal my grief and lift a layer of anxiety that was weighing on me.

Heartbreak and anxiety

Heartbreakingly, I have very recently given away a very beautiful 9mth old Labrador puppy due to a rapid increase in my anxiety levels. She and I just weren’t compatible. She wanted to be close to me ALL THE TIME, so close in fact that she required a part of my body or my clothing in her mouth most of the time. My hands had begun to ache and my clothes were looking shabby. I wanted a dog that would sit calmly by me and look adoringly into my eyes.

Reality meant I was spending large parts of my day replacing various parts of my body with chew toys or stressing about what she would destroy next. Amazingly she was only ever like this around me, other members of my family just didn’t have the same experience of her at all, as I said we were just not good together. Proving once again you can love someone with all your heart and still not be suitable life partners.

Psychologically I had been battling with anxiety and stress and I was quickly losing my ability to think on my feet, focus on important business and I was quickly forgetting how to actually relax. I was feeling the decline in my health and wellbeing at a rapid rate. The choice had to be made; it was me or the dog.

Owning my feelings and emotions

I now have such mixed emotions, guilt combined with an incredible relief that I don’t have to be on guard constantly. Embarrassment and failure in the eyes of my family, friends, colleagues and my entire social network with whom I have continuiously shared her growth and crazy antics.

I’m still jumping unnecessarily though, half expecting her to be there next to me. I’m still awaiting the destruction or the attention seeking behaviour of this insecure pup.

As I stand and listen to Cindy, founder of Free Rein Australia at an International Coaching Week event hosted by International Coach Federation Australasia’s – Victorian Branch, my gut is tight and I am quietly thinking to myself that I just don’t know how I am going to cope interacting with a big animal like a horse. That perhaps I won’t be able to be comfortable in the presence of such a powerful animal. More than anything I fear that I might crack in front of my peers. I have spent weeks feeling guilty about pushing the puppy away and here I am about to let a 300 kg animal stand over me, I am so jumpy and edgy I can barely stand still.

Cindy is telling the group that the horses aren’t interested in anything inauthentic, that their body language will reflect what they see in us, they will move away or disengage if they sense that we are not physically and emotionally aligned. That is, they will know, if our thoughts are not matching our body language. They will likely be unsettled by negative energy and our fears will have them on edge and not wanting to connect with us. Cindy may be saying a heap of positive stuff, but this is all I am present to right now. How am I going to get a horse to like me? I am after all extremely uncomfortable and … I reject animals.

Thoughts and increasing anxiety

I’m thinking that I might get caught out trying to be all positive, when I am really just putting on a brave mask trying to cover up all that residual anxiety I’m still holding onto. I do a little scan of my body, noting the tight shoulders that are pretending to be earrings, (another interesting fashion choice) and the clenched fists rammed into my pockets. I know I am gritting my teeth I’ve been doing that for weeks, the pain referring down my neck and arm and the right side of my body, effecting my sciatic nerve and hip function. I know I’m tense, there is going to be no fooling these horses and there is nowhere to hide.

As the gates open and our group files into the arena one horse is making a bee line straight for me, it’s barely acknowledging my peers as it passes, walking straight to me, blocking my entry to the arena and coming up nose to nose. It eye balls me and doesn’t move. Neither can I.

I’m not sure what emotion to feel but I know that it has to be authentic whatever it is. So I search inside myself frantically, my head is a jumbled mess of thoughts my tummy a churning mess and my heart beating a million miles an hour. Anxiety! Overwhelm! Grief? Fear of embarrassment! Fear!

I feel like I can’t breath properly, there is a lump in my throat and my chest is tight, my feet feel like they want to hightail it back to the bus.

The horse just keeps staring into my eyes, it is so disconcerting and I feel under pressure to own my sh!t.

And then it hits me, this animal is very deliberately invading my space but not actually doing anything other than just being with me. There is no aggression, no actual demands, no tugging at my clothes, no actual touching, just pure honest ‘being with’. I have done this exercise with humans several times in the past. It is a wonderful space in which to come to the understanding that there is ‘nowhere to get to’ and ‘nothing to be’ in that moment but ‘be with’ the other person.

Horses make wonderful coaches too

After months of having my personal space invaded and feeling under siege in my own house, I was given this amazing gift of comfort and reassurance from a great big 300kg horse who was helping me to reclaim my space and relax within it. All this in the first 3 minutes of our 5 hour “Discover the power of coaching with Horses” experience.

Making choices about our lives can mean some really tough decisions, best made with head, heart and gut in alignment. Something horses know a lot about and also available at www.lifedesignlab.com.au

Davia McMillan – “I’m passionate about Coaching and LIVING A LIFE I LOVE, I help people re-design their lives and I would love to show you how you can LIVE A LIFE YOU LOVE” Contact me 

Flavour – Taste of mBIT

Discover mBRAINING and mBIT

(multiple Brain Integration Techniques)

My colleague Helen Storr and myself are serving up a quick TASTE of mBIT – multiple Brain Integration Techniques that get head, heart and gut talking the same language. If for example you are suffering from stressful monkey mind overload, emotional rollercoasters or gut related issues this is the perfect place to be. Discover a whole new way of talking and listening to yourself.

Join Helen and Davia at mBIT CONNECT for a Taste of mBIT Monday 4th April 3-

 

Follow up on a Fools game.

 

Why reflecting on what’s happening while it’s still happening is hard to do and why Blogging about your “journey” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I quite naively thought that blogging about my journey would be easy. ‘Fifteen weeks to Fabulous’ is a challenge I embarked on over 6 months ago (way, way longer than fifteen weeks). I really thought that each day I could authentically just jot down where I was at, and it would just flow onto the page like the liquid gold.

The harsh reality is that when you are in the middle of life, it is incredibly hard to be reflective about it. You are in the thick of it and it is all about you and you are so full of emotion and drama and ‘OMG!!!’ moments.

I had a dream – and it wasn’t to be.

My business is growing and more and more people are asking me “Who are you and what do you do?” I have wanted my blog to openly and honestly reflect my values, the sort of things I am passionate about and the sort of person I am.

I had declared that I would embark on a short journey ‘Fifteen weeks to Fabulous’ to discover what it would take to consider my life and possibly even myself as Fabulous. Little did I know what I was in for.

The journey was indeed wonderful and an amazing growth experience for me, BUT…

Here’s what I came up against.

Self doubt

As I sat at my computer week after week wanting to tell the story, I was constantly wracked with self-doubt. Questioning the whole point of sharing and totally convincing myself that no one would want to read it. Everything I wrote had me either laughing or crying as I struggled not to sound just a tad crazy. The possibility of writing about any of it got further and further away.

As a personal coach I really should know better than to let an obstacle like self doubt stand in my way. But the hardest person to coach is your-self. That’s why even coaches need coaches.

Mental Blocks

Sometimes things stand in our way and prevent us from moving forward.  One of those things that stands in my way quite often are the things I TOLD MYSELF I would do. This is called a Mental Blockage. I told myself I would blog about my experience and then when the time came I couldn’t, it just didn’t work for me. I found it impossible to do it, be it and blog it at the same time. After the fact, was even worse. I just wanted to get away from the past a.s.a.p. so the last thing I wanted to do was reflect about it publicly. I have made myself very, very wrong in my own eyes for failing to do what I TOLD MYSELF (not even anyone else) I would do.

So, there it is the post that had to be written… that needed to be written in order for me to move forward. This is me clearing the decks, moving on and now with time and distance I can share. I think…

What kind of BLOCKAGES do you suffer from I wonder?

Fifteen Weeks to Fabulous

What is the Difference that makes the Difference?

Exactly Two years ago to the day I QUIT SMOKING and today I TOOK UP EXERCISE! Both of these things are MASSIVE events in my life.

I have resisted exercise for years and if the truth be known it was probably because I feared not being able to breath in public and that I would look like a fool, playing in an arena where I just didn’t belong.

Today marks what I hope will be the beginning of many trips to my local gym. I have finally decided to close The GAP between the image of my ideal self that I have been attached to for years, and the self that I am actually committed to being. The best me that I can be that is.

The thing about an ideal self is that it is rarely based in reality. It is most often a concoction of images that have developed and merged over the years. Images that we have collected from the T.V. magazines and movies and subconsciously filed away as something we SHOULD be aiming for. Quite possibly if you placed all your required attributes together you would come up with one very strange alien like being.

Closing the GAP means a change in thinking about what is possible for me to achieve. It is based on what I am actually committed to, rather than what I might be capable of, if I work really really really REALLY HARD at it, and if I sacrifice many of the things I enjoy…like food! This change of thinking is a breath of fresh air, I feel alive with the possibility of creating something that will be sustainable, fun and rewarding

In Last weeks post I mentioned the success that my husband has had in the weight loss and fitness department. I mentioned that he had two things I just didn’t have (a realistic and sustainable vision of what was possible and a commitment to living rather than being thin.) But it turns out there was something else, something I just wasn’t quite ready to see just yet. Not ready, because that would mean I actually had to do something, to take some serious action, which is not the easiest thing to do when you are hell bent on resisting taking any actions at all (picture a chocolate eating couch potato here).

The Difference that makes the Difference

However all good things take time and we all have to work through stuff like this to discover our blind spots at our own speed. It took me a couple of days to work out that the third thing he had going for him, the thing that would make a real difference, was A PLAN. A plan which included stepping outside his comfort zone but with the kind of  support and structure that made a difference to it’s longevity and success. A plan which was based in real time and is measurable. His plan has seen him work with a personal trainer for over two years and when he shares his initial goal from the start of that time, it was to still be doing it in six months time, now that is a plan that is both simple and measurable! Since then his goals have shifted and become way more specific, but sustainability remains an objective and that is a goal I am willing to commit myself to also.

Where Magic Happens

The Difference that makes the Difference is A PLAN with a step outside your Comfort Zone

So …you might be curious to know … how did that first day at the gym go?

TOUGH! And GREAT! Andi (my trainer) made me sweat and hurt and I swore a fair bit. But I felt great and I pushed through some pain that I didn’t think I could, and I feel better for it. I am stronger than I think and I was pleasantly surprised by my core strength. I know I am going to feel it in the morning and probably for a day or two or three, but that’s great because feeling it will mean I am still alive…And so my “Fifteen weeks to Fabulous” begins in earnest  and I’ll let you know all about the searing pain and trauma associated with my post workout body somewhere down the track when I have recovered…

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You don’t have to be Famished to be Fabulous

Stop doing what doesn’t work!


My objection to the word EXERCISE has been noted several times this week, always linked to my complaint about how FAT I am, and how I can never be the weight that I want to be,… blah, blah, blah, boo hoo, woe is me etc.

I know I am not alone in this way of thinking, I have had several clients of late express their fear of the coming summer days. ‘What will I wear?’ ‘Oh no it’s Chub Rub time again.’ ‘And the sweat and chaffing…’

So, what is it that stops me from doing the things that I know would make a difference to my figure and therefore my level of satisfaction with regard to my body? You know, like… eat less, exercise more, rah rah rah!

The No. 1 thing that stops me getting what I want, strangely, is the thing that you might think would help drive me forward the most,… my vision of what’s possible. Normally a clear vision of what you want is inspiring…right? But the thing that actually gets in the way most is being totally attached to my goal weight and an ideal image, because they require more work than I am actually prepared to do. This leaves me miserable, riddled with guilt and feelings of failure.

I am not committed to my goals at all. And I am not alone. And right now is the time of year when we have to wear less clothes, which in my mind means EXPOSURE! I really do appreciate the layers of winter to cover the layers of me. It’s the time of year we start making resolutions and setting goals for the coming year (sometimes secretly) to lose the weight.

When we want to change something such as our weight we often apply the New Year’s resolution approach: We set a goal, we use willpower to move ourselves towards the goal. How effective is this approach in the long-run? In a 2007 study in the U.S. 3000 people were tracked while attempting to achieve a range of resolutions including losing weight, visiting the gym, quitting smoking, and drinking less. At the start of the study, 52% of participants were confident of success. One year later, only 12% actually achieved their goal.

Mind the GAP

There is a GAP between my attachment to the way I want to look and my commitment to taking the actions to get it. And that GAP is full of GUILT and SHAME, because what I say I want, and what I do about it, are not congruent.

What do I mean by the words COMMITTED and ATTACHED and how are they different?

Attachment looks something like this:
“Truth is, I am really attached to having a size 10 (Australian sizes) waist, hips and bum, then I will be sexy and attractive, only then I can feel good about myself.”

I have been there before, as a young woman, but not in the last 10 years. The last time I was that slim it took months of depriving myself of food on a strict Weight Watchers program, I lost 13 kgs back then and I put more than double that back on after my 3rd child over a period of about 10 years.

Whilst I know that I could actually get back to that weight and size again, I also know that it is quite impossible for me to be committed to taking this kind of extreme action. I don’t like depriving myself everyday and I don’t like the feelings of guilt every time I break the rules of my diet. It is like perpetual deprivation and punishment loop. It is not sustainable.

I recently tried the Fast Diet also known as the 5-2 diet with some great results, but it too felt like deprivation (I had massive headaches and couldn’t concentrate on my work) and after a couple of months everything plateaued and I lost focus and stagnated. My husband however has had brilliant results on the same program and it prompted me to investigate what was different for him. It turns out he had two things I just didn’t have. A realistic and sustainable vision of what was possible and a commitment to living rather than being thin.

Committed looks like:
“I am mindful of the choices I make with regard to food intake and movements. I choose sustainable options for my life, and I enjoy my food and exercise”

I know that many of my clients are dealing with the GAP in their lives in one form or another. And as a coach I think it is important to be able to stand by the things you say and believe. I believe that we can create LIVES WE LOVE. And so it is time, ‘to walk the talk’ as they say. And here I am armed with my new vision of a healthy, happy me, that is free of dieting for ever more. I am embarking on a journey with some short term goals which are aimed at building myself a sustainable lifestyle, loving my body and enjoying my food all the way through the silly season. I am calling this journey Fifteen Weeks to Fabulous and am going to share the juicy bits with you. This week I join a gym and get P.T. It totally goes against the grain, but I have decided I am no longer committed to being uncomfortable in this body. I am COMMITTED to being fit and energised. And the GAP between where I am now and what I’m committed to, doesn’t seem as huge as the one between where I’m at now and the vision I was attached to before, which when we really look at it, looked a lot like taller, blonder, thinner, younger and an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PERSON.

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Discovering The GAP – This is a journalling exercise that I did as part of working out what the gap was. I wanted the thin and slim quickly, attached to a vision of perfection. What I needed to consider was what I was prepared to put into loving myself thoughout a sustainable journey. (I created this on a 1965 copy of NEW IDEA)

It’s either FIXED or it’s F@&KED

 Why you can’t create ART or your LIFE on a blank piece of paper.

Many people tell me how lucky I am to be able to draw and be creative. Most of them believe that they are not at all creative and that being so really takes something that they just don’t possess. I feel the same about sport and being athletic, I’m not! However I can lug a 20kg bag of cement on my shoulders without breaking a sweat and I can steer a barrow load of wet concrete up a flight of stairs via a narrow plank and then over a bridge without spilling a drop (not an easy task) and if these things don’t take some mighty physical skills I don’t know what does.  The point is that sometimes we think we aren’t one thing such as being a good painter or drawer and we miss the thing that we ARE good at such as sculpting, singing, sewing, cooking, parenting or creative play with children and all manner of things that are actually quite creative but that we give no credit to.

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Participants of DUST LIVE

What age were you when you decided that you either were or weren’t good at drawing?

Is there an event or specific time in your life where you can remember this happening?

The DUST LIVE workshop which was held in the DUST exhibition space was a huge success because were able to put aside the limiting beliefs that we have held for such a long time, beliefs about just how good we are at being creative. We focussed on having fun with the materials at hand. One outstanding feature of this workshop was the fact that we began with an imperfect canvas, NEWSPAPER. Why? Because, when a page is already contaminated, by a smear of dirt, a splash of paint, finger prints or even writing and photo’s, there is nothing to destroy, it’s already been useful it’s now rubbish, it was heading to the bin anyway. So you can’t wreck it, it’s either FIXED or it’s F@&ed. o you might as well have some fun!

            Blank Pages can be really intimidating!

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Life is Messy!

 

The parallel between LIFE and ART is that Life is also very messy. There is always stuff to deal with, history and current obstacles are constantly in our way. So when it comes to creating a LIFE WE LOVE we are faced with all the things that tell us this is IMPOSSIBLE! However when we have creativity as a tool and we know ourselves as creative individuals we are better placed to work with the materials we have.

Our life pages always have lists, of things we must BE, DO and HAVE and sub headings that define us such as Mother, Daughter, Son, Carer, Partner etc. We are never free of an existing story about who and what we are. Our pages are marked already

Understanding this makes several things available to us.

  • We can accept the story as is, and keep heading in the direction we are currently heading. As they say if nothing changes, things tend to stay the same, which is fantastic if your life is all lit up and you bound out of bed in the morning ready to embrace the day, everyday. Your world must be rocking. Don’t change a thing!!!
  • We can choose another path entirely. Easier said than done!?! Yeah right… I’ve got 3 kids and a mortgage. LOL
  • We can work with what we have, using our creative selves and create a life that inspires us, enriches us and challenges us to grow and to nourish ourselves like we truly deserve.
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Here is a photo taken whilst setting up for the Grand Opening

My own negative self talk and beliefs about my abilities as an artist and creative person, had me delay actually having a solo exhibition for over 10 years. I just couldn’t believe that anyone would be interested in what I had to show and say. I hung out in group shows and was somewhat reluctantly happy (is that a thing?) to hide behind more successful people. It finally took the death of someone very close to me (it often does take something epic or catastrophic to shift us doesn’t it?) to get me asking myself what it actually was that I was waiting for. I was waiting to be perfect and to actually know what I was doing, to be accomplished and acknowledged already, for the planets to align, to have my ducks in a row and the wind in my favour etc. etc.

In short, it was never going to happen. Now, you here people say crazy things like  “Just trust…,  Jump and the net will appear.” Well, that’s all well and good, but I was standing on the edge of a cliff with choices in every direction. What if I jumped in the WRONG bloody direction? It’s scary, right? Yes, but I got myself some assistance. I got a coach! And she helped me to be brave and nut out what was most important to me, she guided me through the muck to unearth a sheet of paper that I could create a new picture of my life on. I am happy to say it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I am now bursting with enthusiasm to share it with anyone who is up for something more in their lives.

Because, when a page is already contaminated, by a smear of dirt, a splash of paint, finger prints or even your story about who you are and what you do, there is nothing to destroy, it’s already been useful, it’s now rubbish, it was heading to the bin anyway. So you can’t wreck it, it’s either FIXED or it’s F@&ed. So you might as well have some fun!

If you would like to find out what’s possible for you book yourself in for a complimentary half hour consultation. Get in touch here

 

FIND YOURSELF at DUST LIVE

GET YOURSELF DUSTY

Be part of an amazing event in which we explore and unleash our creativity, it involves a life model and lots of colourful chalks and dust mixed with fun and laughter.

6 OCT 7pm

Inside the DUST exhibition

Absolutely perfect for the person who says they can’t draw, wishes they could be more creative or who is suffering a creative block. And of course those who just want to have some fun with some great people.

Send us an email via our contact page if you would like to attend or have any questions.

Want to know more?

As part of my DUST exhibition I am offering a select few (this can be you) a chance to learn how to get dusty and and unleash their creativity like never before. Within the cosy exhibition space at the Joel Gallery we will be life drawing with a difference, trialling some techniques and tools which are designed to drop the barriers we have to getting creative and which have us trapped in a world of “Getting it RIGHT & PERFECT”. This is not the night to produce “the best life drawing”, there is no competition here, but I can promise, you will leave feeling totally self expressed and probably with chalk and charcoal somewhere on your person (most likely your forehead or nose) AND some very interesting marks on some paper too.

FUN

FUN is Davia McMillans’ exhibition DUST Come check it out.

Dust
Joel Gallery
Exhibition dates 3 Oct – 11 Oct 2014
Opening Night Sat 4 Oct 5.30 -7.30pm

Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre
5 Sargood Street Altona 3018

Fire

Fire in the belly makes a huge difference.

First

The First Word.

This is the very first blog post of my new blog, on my super fancy new site.

Welcome one and all. Let’s get creative about LIFE  together.

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