Sunday, July 12, 2009

Life Lessons from a Video Shoot


I just returned from Massachusetts where I was working with a very good old friend of mine to make a video for a great organization called Red Tomato. They help family farms get their produce to market, but that is really only a surface explanation of what they do. I believe it is the way that they do it that make them so unique and valuable. Spending time with them gave me new incentive to live my life in the spirit that they embody, and naturally, some of what I felt can be related to my horses.

First, I was reminded that respect is essential in any successful, meaningful relationship. I saw genuine respect for everyone, from the farmer to the Jamaican tomato pickers to the camera crew to the people working in the office behind the scenes. It made everyone feel like they were doing something important together. Everything counts and each individual feels important and proud of what they are doing. This morning, in my barn, I was thinking about how easy it is to confuse respect with just doing something in order to get what we need out of someone, two or four legged. It comes down to putting yourself in the other person’s shoes (or horse’s hooves as it were) and sincerely considering what they need to make things better for them. It doesn’t have anything to do with manipulating what will happen to our advantage or trying to make someone like you so your ego will feel good.

I thought about all my years with Silk. We began with me trying to do things to get her to do what I wanted and to get her to bond with me. It was only when I forgot about all that and just considered what I would want if I were her and helped her feel as good as she could that she began to trust me. It starts with the small, daily gestures of respect and grows over the years. Even now, a friend called me and wanted to know if I was going to ride this weekend. I know that Silk’s belly is still pretty itchy, so the girth will rub on the bug bites and make them feel worse. I said no, since I wouldn’t want to have to endure that and be uncomfortable if I were Silk.

The other positive attitude that the people at Red Tomato have is to not get upset when they make mistakes. They look at what goes wrong as an opportunity to make things better and try different approaches. They don’t blame or look back and regret and paralyze themselves with feelings of failure. They just move on and figure out what to do next. Mark Rashid talks about that approach with working with horses, and I am trying so hard to reach the point where I can truly be that way without having any little nagging doubts and inner voices trying to sabotage me.

The third thing that I saw and heard from both the farmers and the people at Red Tomato is that they wake up every morning happy to go to work. They don’t lie there in bed, wishing they didn’t have to do what they are going to do today. I told them that they are really lucky. Today, as I was having a cup of coffee with my horses while they ate their breakfast, I realized that this peace of mind comes with acceptance. Like Silk and Siete do instinctively, I am trying to just live with what is, not wish for something to be better or different or easier or more secure or less scary or more fun. My husband pointed out to me that this sense of meaning and personal satisfaction comes from following your dream. For some of us, with the economic challenges that we face right now, it’s not hard to get off track and lose sight of the dream. This trip to Massachusetts was a way for me to pull out the compass and get my bearings again.

8 comments:

Bill Evertson said...

Once again a great horse post that isn't really about horses but quality of life. Thanks Victoria :)

Trée said...

Wonderful post Victoria. Thanks for sharing.

detroit dog said...

Hi Victoria. This is a great post, and really has me thinking. I'm in Madrid house-sitting for 5 weeks (been here 2 weeks already). It is a great opportunity, and I am enjoying it, but it is also giving me perspective on "my dreams"--which (who) it turns out are awaiting me back home. :-)

Adamantine1 said...

Nice post. I am a family farmer as well as caretaker for four rescued equines. I thought about what our four would need to be comfortable and happy, just as you've said...it's been a year since two of them arrived and I've yet to attempt riding anyone. It just seemed to me that friendship (and respect)comes before all else, especially since these four have known so much hardship.

I haven't read any Rashid, but seems likely that he and I are on the same wavelength.

billie said...

I have so many plans and ideas about upgrading our farm, my routine, etc. And I do enjoy having them, and bringing some of them to fruition.

But you're so right - on a daily basis I walk around and remind myself that whatever else I might accomplish, what IS, in that moment, is quite wonderful already and so deserving of my awe and gratitude.

LJB said...

Lovely lessons from the Tomato experiences...

deejbrown said...

It's all balance, isn't it? Which seems ever more difficult to negotiate. Having the self confidence is a big part of that, both for our animals and ourselves (speaking for myself, that is....)

John and Regina Zdravich said...

All very true -- the trying to learn from what goes wrong instead of blaming and being negative is especially valuable. These are all things we need to remind ourselves of periodically to keep from going off-track.