Receiving Grace

          A man whose hands are full of parcels can’t receive a gift –C.S. Lewis

Once upon a time, I took a trip with six other women to a place an hour north of where I live, called Aravaipa, Arizona. We went with the plan to do nothing. Or I should say nothing that we didn’t absolutely WANT to do. If we wanted to work, we could, or we could do personal projects, read, paint, make medicine bundles, sing, talk, sit and drink adult beverages, hike, pray. Whatever. We. Wanted.

It was one of the best weeks that I’ve ever had. I was in gorgeous nature with some beautiful women – inside and out – and more relaxed than I had been in a long time.

However amazing the week was, it turned out to be a week full of unexpected blessings and learning.

I have thought for a while now that I had an issue around being seen. That to be safe I needed to blend in and not make waves. I grew up in a household where that felt imperative. It’s part of the reason why I have no tattoos. Because then people would want to look at them – at me. And yet, there is a part of me that likes being on stage and occasionally, the center of attention. So I’ve had a difficult time trying to make sense of this.

While on this trip to Aravaipa something crazy happened. Several of us ladies, some with coffee cups in hand, took a morning walk to welcome the day. None of us really knew where we were going – we just kept going. And going. What ended up happening was that we hiked over the top of a mountain – totally off-road with no maps or really any provisions. Thankfully, I didn’t have a coffee cup and had brought a bottle of water that was shoved into the back of my pants and I was wearing proper enough shoes.

The bizarre part of the morning walk-turned-off-road-climb-over-the-top-of-a-mountain-and-down-the-other-side was the magnetism that I had with Teddy Bear Cholla. They are super cute little cacti that “drop” their arms in order to propagate. Throughout our entire walk the babies were attaching themselves to me. The two ladies hiking behind me kept telling me, “Laurie, there’s another one on your jeans.” Some of them only stuck to the jeans, but some of the barbs went through and into my leg.

As we climbed up the mountain, I thought I was being super careful, but I put my left hand right down onto one of the babies. I said some sort of expletive quite loud and whipped my hand around to see what had hurt. I actually thought I might have been bitten by a snake. Then I saw it was a cholla baby.

The intriguing thing about these guys are that they have barbed needles, which makes it impossible to just grab it to pull it out because then it’ll be stuck on the other hand…So one of the ladies, Pixie, came over and managed to get the thing off of me by using two rocks, but I continued the hike over the mountain back to our place with a ton of the barbs still in it. I’ve linked to a youtube video so that you can see what it looks like and how hard it is to get them off of you. If you have a weak stomach, you might want to skip it. {Also, he curses some in the video, so you may want to turn the volume down if you don’t like that sort of thing.}

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmhkl27I4pw

When we got back to the lodge, we found that the ladies that had stayed behind were quite worried, because they had thought we were just going for a walk – lol. One lady, Amy, had hurt her knee on the “walk” and then there was me with all of these prickly needles in my hand. We were a wreck. Exhausted. Hurt. Thirsty. Hot and tired.

Because I was ROASTING, I took off all of my clothes down to my bra and sat down at the kitchen table. One of the ladies made me an epsom salt bath to soak my hand in. Pixie gave me some tweezers and she and Jennette pulled the stickers out. Jen went down to the creek and got some mud and made me a cooling mud bath. But not only that, she ladled the mud over my hand so gently so as not to hurt me further. Barb made me a drink – a really good Bloody Mary and Maya came over to me and sat down on the bench next to me and put her arm around me and held me while I cried. It was the sweetest, most tender and loving way in which I’ve ever been cared for in my life. The most tender way In which I’ve been offered Grace.

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Jen spooning mud on my hand. It was so cooling and soothing.

Part of my crying was about the pain, because it hurt something FIERCE, but another part of it really had to do with how mortifying it was to have had this happen to me and another part was about how beautiful it was and how grateful I was. All of it. To have people helping me all day, letting me know that the cacti were on me and helping me to get them off with their walking sticks and then to have all of the sweet and tender care once we got back, was nothing short of incredible.

The cactus situation was all about being in a position to have to be seen to have to be needy. And to have to accept the Grace that was so freely and lovingly being offered to me.

Not once on that several hour hike did any of those ladies make me feel bad for having these things attach themselves to me. Not once did they shame me or make me feel wrong for putting my hand on one. I have some friends whose voices I could hear in my head saying, “This would only happen to you, Laur…only you” or something like that.

None of them did that. In fact, Pixie kept saying that she was amazed that I didn’t curl up in a ball and cry right there on the mountain. That I was tough. She praised me. She didn’t put me down. And every one of those ladies offered me so much Grace. So much love. And kindness. And tender mercy.

That my friends, is Grace.

Receiving Grace can be extremely difficult. And it’s a very big part of what my retreats are about. Receiving. If you feel like this is an area in which you might be ready to grow in, this might be the time for you to come!!!  Registration closes August 15 and there’s just one spot left! Is it yours???

This is also a story that I share in my class on Brave Girl University called Everyday Grace. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s AWESOME!!! Over a hundred classes that you can take at your own pace, taught by amazing teachers, all with huge hearts and so much love to share. It’s $24.95 a month, but if you sign up here, you’ll get the first month free. You can cancel any time.


This is the eighth of 31 {or more} posts that I am writing on the topic of Grace. Please leave a comment any time about what Grace means to you or if you have any questions for me about Grace.

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Hostess With The Mostess

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In today’s Note From The Herd I want to share a situation that happened A couple of years ago with this amazing horse, Cisco.

I was in the corral with the horses and I was having an awesome moment with Cicso. We were talking and I was petting him. There may have been nuzzling. After a few minutes of it, Lorraine, who was observing with the horses and Sherry that day, came out of the house and was entering the corral. I turned around and began to ask her if she needed help and then, when her interest in working with horses had begun.

She and I started chatting and the next thing I knew, Cicso had walked away, basically as far away from me as he could get and turned his rump toward me. Not good.

I knew in an instant what had happened. I knew that because I had gone from being in my body and super present, to completely in my head and playing “hostess” that I was out of integrity and therefore, the horse wanted nothing to do with me.

The horses are so awesome that way. Such great teachers that show us our glaring issues. Mine was that I felt like I had to be “on.” And I know this stems from growing up with a father who was a politician. I always had to smile and make people feel welcome, even when it was the last thing I wanted to do. It wasn’t authentic. Honestly, I didn’t know Lorraine, I was never going to be friends with Lorraine and there was no reason in that moment to be trying to make Lorraine feel comfortable. It wasn’t my job and more importantly IT WASN’T NECESSARY!  She was fine and did not need me ensuring her comfort.

Lessons for a Lifetime

More than anything, this is the point that I want to make about working with horses in this manner. That even these one-minute encounters shine a light, a very bright light, on who we are and the ways in which we might want to change how we move through the world. I don’t need to be the world’s hostess, nor do I want to be!!! And I am much more aware now of when I’m putting on my “political hostess” hat and taking off my Laurie hat. And the Laurie hat is the one I want tot be wearing. I want to be someone genuine and real. I want to extend a hand in help if you need it, but not because I think that is what will win me some imaginary contest that doesn’t even exist! I want to get to know people, but when the circumstances are appropriate for it. Not during my counseling session!

Last Couple of Weeks

This is the last post that I’m going to write about the horses. I have shared a lot of personal stories and enough I think to help elucidate the many and varied benefits of working with them.

I’m going to close registration for my next Everyday Grace Retreat on August 15. There is one spot left and if you feel it calling to you, I urge you to snap it up!  I can promise you this retreat and the workshop with the horses will absolutely change your life.

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