I Am Superwoman. (So get ready little filly)

Years ago – hell, even a few months ago – I didn’t appreciate my body. I thought it was too much of this or too little of that. I saw my flaws and nothing else.

When I was hit by an SUV almost four months ago, I saw my body for what it truly was: a freakin’ machine. My body is absolutely amazing, seriously. My body nourishes me, guides me, strengthens me, heals me; and it won’t quit. Who cares if it isn’t perfect? It saved my life, it gives me life, it is my life.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of the Parelli “Stick To Me” game with my filly. To explain it as best as I can, it’s a game where you move your horse with your energy so that your horse becomes one with you. For example, when I lift my energy as though I’m going to begin walking, my horse reads that and begins walking without being told in an obvious manner. Then I walk along with her. When I turn, she follows without the pull of the rope; when I slow my energy, she slows hers; when I pull my energy back such as leaning backwards and not moving my feet at all, she backs up, etc. She’s “sticking to me.” It’s very similar to how a mare moves with her foal and how a horse is raised instinctively.

We are currently doing this at the trot now and I’m having a hard time keeping up. Honestly, I am out of breath from just one lap around the ring… How can I work with my filly to the best of our abilities and be a leader for her if I can’t even keep up?

So today I ran. I brought a gym bag to work with me and I went to the RECC running track at lunch. I ran 5km. It might have taken me 30 minutes to do so but I don’t care. I ran. I ran for the first time in about a year and a half, and for the first time since my pelvis was broken. I ran to be better for my filly. I ran to have better health. I ran for me and I loved it.

The best part was that after I was done I was doing a final lap of walking to cool down and Alicia Key’s “I am Superwoman” started playing on my iPod. Hell yeah I am superwoman. Hit me with an SUV and throw whatever curve balls you want at me, but my body is a machine and will always be a machine because I say so.

So heads up little filly, this girl is upping her game.

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You Will Forever Be Missed

I believe in the universe, fate, hidden meanings and signs. Although I constantly question the universe, I believe that in the end, everything has a meaning.

In regards to my own life, I tend to question why some of my experiences, choices and fates have happened.

Life is funny, but I guess that’s what makes life “life.” The unknown. The adventure.

Maybe one day life will make a bit more sense. But maybe it never will. Maybe that’s the point of life; we can’t have everything that we want and sometimes we can’t change the hand we’ve been dealt. Sometimes things just don’t make sense and things aren’t fair.

But other times, days like today, I wonder if there really is meaning to everything.

A wonderful lady whom was very close to many people’s hearts passed away today. She was a caring, kind and compassionate family member and friend, and she was an amazing, strong woman whom I have been lucky enough to know. Why was she taken away?

She was a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, and many other things to many people. Why was she taken away? Why was this soul, this kind, loving soul taken away?

Marilee and her son Nick looking happy together as always.

Marilee and her son Nick looking happy together as always.

Sometimes the universe doesn’t make sense to me. Sometimes I get mad at the universe for the things it does to people.

You’re safe now. You’re comfortable. You have a family that misses you so much and will always miss you. You made a very big impact on the lives of many people. You were an amazing mother to a strong, caring son. You will forever be missed.

Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self

“A horse doesn’t care how much you know until it knows how much you care.” Or something like that.

I find so often in the horse industry there is a tendency to partake in dick measuring contests. And I will be the first to admit there has been many times I’ve whipped out a ruler.

My filly helps to put my ego in check. Quite often actually. She reminds me that I don’t know everything, and in fact, I know nothing when it comes to her groundwork and being a leader.

Today I learned that in order for my horse and I to continue our positive development I need to prove to her that I am a leader. I need to prove to her that she can trust me and that I am confident enough for her to want to follow my guidance.

Basically, I need to grow some balls and be the leader/partner/one-day rider that my horse needs. I need to stop being such a perfectionist and stop getting so discouraged because I’m out of my comfort zone.

When I was working in Alberta a few years ago and I was learning Parelli, I had no motivation because I was working with horses that weren’t my own, and horses that were up for sale. I wasn’t concerned about having a bond, but had I of known better, I should have been concerned about having their respect. I got discouraged because Parelli was something so far from what I knew, and if I practiced Parelli it meant that everything I had known and done for the past 11 years (give or take a few) had been wrong. That was too much for my 20-year old brain to handle at that time so I didn’t try to learn – I closed off my brain and I focused on riding.

Fast forward to a few months later when I had moved back to NS and bought my 4-year-old gelding that needed to be started. I admit that I tried: I purchased a monthly subscription to the Parelli site, made a profile and watched videos. I bought a rope halter (no carrot stick though, I was still immature enough that I was scared of what others would think), and I attempted to play with my horse.

With no guidance, no support and repeated strange looks and questions of “why aren’t you just lunging him?” “why aren’t you just getting on?” I gave up and went back into my old ways.

I wanted this time to be different. I saw the ways that horse and human connections were created through natural horsemanship, and I saw the amazing things that could be accomplished. I wanted that too.

Learning a lot at the Don Halladay clinic at Five Fires Equestrian Center.

Learning a lot at the Don Halladay clinic at Five Fires Equestrian Center.

There have been some days that I thought/think that my filly and I are a bad match. But I truly don’t believe we are. My filly teaches me so much and has taught me an immense amount already. She reminds me that I need a lot of help, and that we have the potential to be awesome together if I take the time to learn and be the leader she needs me to be. My filly pushes me to be not only a better horseman but a better person. She reminds me to not be so closed-minded and to deflate my ego. She reminds me that I need to stop my thoughts and take the time to look at my surroundings – you can learn a lot from reading people/animal’s body language and silent conversations.

I was never a trainer. I was a rider. I put rides on green horses to bring them further along, and the ones that needed starting, I tacked up and got on. I didn’t train; I was a passenger with a good seat and a fearless attitude.

I love my filly. I love Parelli. I love the lessons that I’m continuously learning – no matter how tough they may seem at the time.

Now, I truly believe in pushing through when the going gets tough because the end results are/will be awesome.

Green on Green

There is a saying in the horse industry that “green on green makes black and blue” and I totally agree. But I chose to fight the system anyways.

When I purchased my filly as a 7-month old, I wanted a new challenge. I’ve had the chance to own/ride relatively well-trained horses that I’m proud to have brought along to become “relatively more” well-trained. I’ve worked as a trainer for green horses – both for horses that had no prior under-saddle training and needed to be fully started, and some that were already started and needed to be brought further along. I’ve also started my own gelding and was very proud of his development and the relationship we built by doing all of the training together.

I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to continuously take things further and challenge myself, so I decided to do the obvious next step: get a baby. I’ve never worked with a horse that young, and I’ve never really focused on ground work – at all, to be completely honest.

I started learning Parelli when I was working out west and wanted to further my skills, so I contacted my current trainer, Kaila Watters, purchased my filly, brought her to Kaila’s, and began my new adventure.

Has it been easy? Hell-to-the-No. There have been times (many times, actually) that I’ve questioned my decision. “Why the hell did I get a baby? What was I thinking? Parelli? Man, this so isn’t my thing. It’s out of my comfort zone and I’d rather just tack up and get on.”

It probably didn’t help that my filly is pretty much the most stubborn horse I’ve ever met (well… there was this quarter horse mare in Alberta… *shudder*) and that she likes to give me the horse equivalent of a middle finger on a daily basis and continuously test me. Women.

However, at the end of the day, when I look back on the vast amount of things I’ve learned these past months, the amount of confidence I’ve slowly but surely gained, and the way that I’ve learned to check my ego at the door, I can only be thankful of the opportunity that I’ve presented myself with. I will be a better horseman because of this, and my filly and I will have a stronger bond because we’re going through it together.

There is absolutely no way I could have done this without the continuous help of Kaila. I have put Miley in a month’s training with Kaila now twice, we also do weekly lessons and the results I continue to see are tremendous. Without Kaila’s help, Miley would probably be in a different home by now. So Kaila, if you’re reading this, thank you.

Kaila working with Miley while I was gimped up with a broken pelvis.

Kaila working with Miley while I was gimped up with a broken pelvis.

Today I was at a Parelli clinic and will continue to attend for the next three days. I respect Parelli training so much and I love that I’m learning it. I admit that it can be scary doing something so far from what you’re used to, but when I see the results that others achieve with their practice, and when I see the difference in Miley, and the difference in my confidence (slowly gaining) on the ground, I am so happy to be a Parelli student. I can’t wait to continue developing myself and my horse with natural horsemanship training.

I believe there are four steps in the learning process:

1) You don’t know that you don’t know
2) You know that you don’t know
3) You don’t know that you know
4) You know

I think I’m at step 2. I know that I don’t know. I know that I need help but I also know that I will learn. When Miley is of age for me to being working with her under saddle (1-1 1/2 years?) I will feel that comfort. But I’m so glad that I’m experiencing all that I’m experiencing now. With that being said, I also know that I’m not perfect (definitely not!) when it comes to riding and will need continuous guidance and training. (Kaila: consider this your warning.)

Sometimes I wonder if a newbie Parelli student, whom isn’t confident on the ground to begin with, should have bought a green (make that very green) horse. Some would say I shouldn’t have. But you know what? I don’t care. Things are going great with my stubborn, frustrating filly and I can’t wait for us to build our relationship even further and learn together.

F*** the system.

Lady Boss

I consider myself a modern-day feminist. By that I mean that I shave the places that society deems should be hairless on women, I wear a bra – and sometimes it’s a push-up, I like to look and feel pretty which I accomplish by applying makeup, and I work out – partially for my health, but partially because I want to stay thin because I “should” be. Catch my drift? However, I also believe in women’s rights and that we should be treated as equals. I idolize strong females and I look up to successful, self-sufficient women.

A few months ago I read Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” which is basically a book about how we need more strong women in the workforce. I believe in Sheryl’s cause and I am proud to consider myself “part of the change” by being a young female that is in a considerably high position within a growing corporation. With that being said, I took a step back yesterday and realized that maybe I’m not as much a part of the change as I thought.

One of the media offices I work within is hiring a new person for a role in the customer service department and yesterday they were conducting interviews. As young girl after young girl came in and made their way to the interview room, the women within the office grew more and more uneasy. There was constant whispering about their age, their appearance, and the way they dressed. “Did you see the Carrie Underwood?” was a comment I heard. “You hire them and then they go and get pregnant” was another.

I am ashamed to admit I found myself partaking in their gossip.

“But I’m supposed to be the young one!” I joked. (News flash sweetheart, you’ll never stay the young one forever.) I found myself pre-judging these girls and thinking “God, they barely look like they’re out of high school. The office need someone who’s looking for a career, someone who will take their role seriously.”

Really Danielle? Honestly?

I mean, who am I to judge? A young girl myself, I am proud to say that I started just above entry-level and I am now supervising two provinces. I don’t have a “prestigious” education, and I don’t have years of industry experience – I have raw talent, a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed. What makes me any different from these potential new hires? Maybe they have hopes and dreams surrounding this industry too. Maybe not, but who am I to judge?

What sickened me most is that I am such an advocate of strong females and I want to one day be someone who young girls look up to. But how can I when I am just as bad as the rest of society? When I immediately look down on girls that are trying to make a career for themselves. Nice work Danielle.

I hope one of those young girls gets hired and gets a chance to prove herself. And if that happens, I hope she works hard and changes the minds of all of those that doubted her, myself included. I hope she doesn’t keep the stigma alive surrounding women, specifically young women, in the workplace. And if she doesn’t get hired, I hope that she finds a workplace that doesn’t judge her based on her age, gender, level of attractiveness, clothing style, and all the other things that women get judged for.

As for myself? I will make it my mission to change my instincts and to avoid following along with what society has made the norm – that women are allowed to be catty to other women. After all, how are we to come together and fight for our ongoing battle of anti-sexism if we won’t even support one another?

“I’ve often thought it unfair that women are expected to stay at home when there’s a fight to be won. If a woman has the strength to bear a child, she can swing a sword as well as any man.” ― Karen Hawkins, How to Abduct a Highland Lord

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When I Get Where I’m Going…

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

Two of my very best friends are leaving to embark on life adventures this week. To say I’m proud of them is an understatement. I will miss the hell out of them but I am more excited on their behalf than sad for my own.

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There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing people follow their dreams, and I hope they find exactly what they’re looking for. Here are some special words from me to them: 

To Megan, my little Aussie au pair:

You are about to begin an adventure of a lifetime. You are a smart, capable, beautiful woman and I am so ridiculously excited for you. You are doing something most will only dream ever of and I wish you all the luck in the world on your year abroad. Remember to put yourself out there, meet as many people as possible and get yourself in as many interesting situations as possible. I am expecting a bevy of stories when you return. And they better include plenty of sexy Australian outback men. Be safe, be adventurous, be kind, and be wild. And don’t forget to smuggle me a koala.

To Ashley, my soon-to-be PR maven:

Get ready to pull up your socks and be successful, because you will be. You are a star m’lady. You have no idea how proud I am of you for going after what you want. You are beautiful, strong and intelligent, and a PR agency – or anywhere you find your calling – will be lucky to have you. And your man is too 😉 Don’t forget where you came from, but don’t be afraid to get off the porch and run with the big dogs. Stay determined, stay strong and stay true to yourself. Play safe in the big city, and make sure that man keeps treating you like the queen you are because you deserve nothing less. 

Now ladies, make me proud. xx

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

This summer has been an interesting one for me, to say the least. In the past three months I have gotten promoted, left a serious relationship with a really special person, and broke my pelvis by getting hit by an SUV while walking.

Yes, you read that right.

Hurtin'

Hurtin’

One of the things I’ve realized since my accident is that life is frigging short and that I want to die satisfied. (Side note: no, I have not become some “live every day to the fullest” bible-thumping chick since I was mowed over. You can breathe easy.) Because of this realization, I am continuously questioning the things in my life now and am attempting to only (mostly) do things that make me feel happy and passionate and full. Has it consistently gone smoothly so far? Hell no. But I guess I can never really expect it to, it is life after all. You learn a lot about yourself as you sit on your ass all day, believe me.

I have been yearning to write again for awhile now. I was going to write a post right after my accident, but I decided against it due to potential legal shizz. I was also going to post random thoughts while my groin mended and I was stuck inside like an indoor cat, but I could only foresee the following being written:

“Sat today. Sat Yesterday. Will sit again tomorrow.”

Last night I went through some of my old posts on here, and I miss the way I used to write so freely. Now it feels forced. I realized though that a lot of my really good posts were inspired by emotional pain I was feeling at that moment. (Example: Goodbye My Love.) Maybe I should be sad more often? No, I don’t think so either. I need to get back to writing all the time, whether I feel like it or not, so that I can re-learn how to trust my hands to simply make sentences, instead of this “outline”-process I seem to do now. Patience you must have my young padawan.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”  – Louis Lamour

I’ve also been playing around with some novel writing. I’d give you details about my book-in-process, but then I’d have to kill you. I actually really like it though. It’s challenging for me to write something completely fictional and put myself into a story, but getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing, right?

One thing is for sure though: I’m gonna write. Disbelievers can suck it. One day I will say “Hi, I’m Danielle Crowe. I’m a writer.” To quote a photo of mug I saw on Instagram: You have the same hours in a day as Beyonce.

So pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er. 

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway