While many of you can’t join us in person right now as we uphold COVID-19 travel restrictions and guidelines, join Kelly in saying hello to the EQUUS herd in Santa Fe, NM. Let us bring the herd to you!
On a hot, humid afternoon, a small dog-like creature nibbles on fruit suspended above a lush fern-covered ground. The thick jungle forest is bursting with sound, as this is a time when mammal life explodes with innovative evolutionary options. Nearby our earliest ancestor (also small) moves past, vying for the same sweet delicacy. For a moment the two lock eyes.
Recently a friend asked me how I was doing. “I’m angry,” was my simple reply. At once they rushed in to comfort me with advice on how to deal with my anger as if anger were some kind of a parasite, disease, or unwanted house guest. I stopped them, “No…I’m really grateful for it. Anger is very useful for me.”
How do we become the people we want to be? How do we create a more just society? These are the questions Kelly Wendorf has spent her life exploring and finding innovative approaches for. Neuroscience says we are wired for love and connection and to understand that we are one – which means we have the blueprint for happiness and fulfilled potential within us. So what ignites the blueprint?
What would you do if you suddenly realized you were a racist? In the midst of the peaceful Black Lives Matter worldwide protests I took it upon myself to dive into as much antiracist material as I could get my hands on. My Kindle running hot, I read in a weekend White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and listened to Brené Brown’s recent interview with Ibram X. Kendi author of the New York Times bestseller How to Be an Antiracist. I read papers and articles. I had difficult conversations with loved ones.
If you’ve ever been to a circus or traveled somewhere exotic, you may have encountered elephants either doing tricks or taking tourists on rides through the forest. How are such enormous creatures trained? All around the world a tragic process is still being implemented by elephant handlers. They start by training the elephant when he is a baby and weighs only 200 pounds. At that stage, they shackle his legs to a twelve-foot length of chain and stake the chain into the ground. During this process many other unspeakable events happen to the baby elephant.
Society points the finger at the individual—to raise a good kid, to be healthy, to recycle, to reduce carbon emissions, to succeed financially—but it’s a deflection to keep us engaged in our own personal choices rather than hold the society at large—our leaders, our institutions our policies—responsible for creating a culture that supports us to thrive.
Aedín is a small black six-year-old quarter horse mare who was saved from the kill pens last year. When she arrived three months ago to live at our ranch she had not been trained or ridden. In horsemanship terms, you would say she hadn’t been ‘broken’. Broken––such an incisively appropriate term for what we do to horses (and people I would add). In order to feel safe on the back of one thousand pounds of wild horse muscle, trainers notoriously intimidate, bully and manipulate their four-legged companions into submission, rendering them emotionally numb and spiritually bereft. Cowboys call these horses proudly ‘yes ma’am-ers’. I call them a tragedy.
“People talk about getting back to normal,” said a colleague the other day, a senior executive who has been working from home for a large health care organization since the lockdown. “Well, I don’t want to go back to normal! Normal was insane!”
She’s right. Normal American life was insane.
In this MoxieCast we are joined by Kelly Wendorf and Lead Mare Artemis. Kelly Wendorf is a coach, mother, spiritual mentor and founding partner of Equus, an 11-acre experiential learning & discovery campus in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Horses are co-facilitators in their work at the ranch, and much of Kelly’s wisdom on leadership has emerged from her life-long observations of the horse herd, a 56-million-year-old system.