The moment this picture was taken I tapped into something rawer, realer than in any other moment of the photo shoot. This was one of those moments where I feel “plugged in” to mother earth and to all that is true within me. Something takes hold and I recognize the difference. I get a clear message, “This is authenticity. This is your path”. Julie Ann Call, the photographer (or soul session magician as I like to think of her), exclaimed in a soft voice, “oh Cryshtal! Stay right there”. I breathed in deeply and held softly, setting a strong intention to enjoy the moment. I focused my energy into my solar plexus then on to the first two chakras to get grounded and sent light to Jesse and to Julie. I knew I was bathing in beautiful, loving, connected light; this powerful feminine triad in the garden. Standing barefoot, eye to eye with my greatest teacher… this sacred being; my partner, my horse.
I love the beauty of a sacred moment. A moment where the metaphors and the juicy lessons and reflections unfold like crystals falling before my eyes.
In this moment I knew she felt it. Eye to eye, we stood. Heart to heart, we both offered a clear understanding of and gratitude for all the years leading up to this powerful moment.
I saw through her eyes the year she came into my life. I was a 20 something full of ego and focused on myself. I didn’t know it, but I lived in fear and lacked personal authenticity. I was a caterpillar still wrapped in my cocoon. My personality reflected kindness and caring, but I was still so focused on myself that my experiences were skewed in a specific direction. I was manifesting more of what I was putting out. I wasn’t able to see I couldn’t genuinely love others until I loved myself. I didn’t get it.
The first couple of years I lived by what I’d heard in the horse world all my life; “make the horse…”, “show her who’s in charge…”. I also implemented the typical human chauvinistic, anthropomorphic perspective. I didn’t get it.
Through her eyes I traveled back to a particularly challenging workshop where Jesse was bucking and rearing with real gusto and making it clear she just wanted to get away from me and get me off her back when I had to look at this macho self-proclaimed “natural horseman” and tell the truth. “I don’t think I can do this anymore”. My ego screamed at me as I felt the tears began to roll down my cheeks. The unsolicited advice came. My worst fears were realized. They were judging me; they saw me as less than. I wasn’t good enough. My ego was churning. I had no awareness then that I was seeing a beautiful reflection of myself through the people there, that had the opportunity to give me personal insight. I didn’t get it.
The clinician had calmly looked at me and said, “If you can’t handle this, maybe you should send her down the road and consider another horse”.
That experience was my breakdown break through. I had faced my ego’s biggest fears and lived through it. I realized, on a soul level, that the only opinion that mattered was Jesse’s and I had failed her. I had broken her heart and mine. I realized after receiving all the suggestions to get rid of her that if she had a choice she’d sure as hell choose to send me down the road. I had to do better. I had to find a way.
So I did.
I began looking for teachers and mentors that I trusted. I identified a unique handful of individuals that were out there who lived and taught the art of horsemanship; seeing through the horse’s eyes. I sought them out with focused ferocity. I showed up with gratitude and try every day. I asked for and received an opportunity to ride with a Paniolo who was an incredible stockman and horseman and he became my teacher. He taught me to read the situation, read the herd, read the environment… just get quiet and feel it. He taught me that in every moment what was necessary might change. An ornery mama cow might t-bone your horse if you’re not looking as Jesse and I personally experienced, or you might get the chance to be alone in a herd during the birth of a calf in a sacred space, up on the mountain under the Keawe tree. Eventually, Jesse and I were running that herd of 150 head of cattle by ourselves. I can still feel the first time he sent us out on our own to move the whole herd and we led them, me singing the cattle song and them singing back. At the time, I was still too focused on my lack of self love to recognize that him putting me in charge of his beloved herd for more than 6 months was the biggest compliment he could have given me. He didn’t use flowery words; it wasn’t his way. He was tough on me, but he saw something in me that I wish I had thanked him profusely for and acknowledged what it meant to me before he passed on. I wish I had let him see the emotion it brings to feel that gratitude but my ego got in the way.
As I look at this picture all those beautiful blessons and moments come rushing in, reminding me that I have earned those lines and shadows I see in that beautiful, flawed, perfect, face. As I stood in the safe space Julie had created, feeling celebrated and in turn celebrating those two beauties near me sending them loving light, I saw all the years of focused study of the art of horsemanship. I saw all the horses who generously offered me opportunities to learn and grow. Jesse has stayed in it with me. She has tried for me and she has given me the finger when I was just not showing up for her or for me. During the photo shoot, she only had a halter on and Julie’s magical vision included getting on barefoot, using a small ladder, laying backwards on my horse, lying forward trying to get as close to her head as I could, and riding around when Jesse needed to move her feet. I realized there had been this magical purpose waiting all along. Julie had no way of knowing I do all these type of things on my horse regularly as part of the horsemanship path I am a student of… but she was so connected, so authentic and in the moment, such a master at what she does, that she intuitively knew we could. I felt so confident and knew Jesse was too. I was steeping in the recognition that the pictures would be beautiful, but they weren’t that important. This photoshoot was the culmination of years of digging deep to get honest with me. This photoshoot was a reflection of my life with this beautiful partner and all that we have accomplished together. This photoshoot showed me I finally really do expect to soar with eagles and have manifested a loving, powerful being like Julie to come into my life and capture these soulful moments by truly believing that I deserve to feel supported and be celebrated. My heart was dancing. I had stumbled into a SOUL FEST!
Toward the end of the photo shoot, there was a moment when Julie had me seated in front of a huge green plant and my arms up in the air. She intuitively coached me into the pose and said to me, “you look like you’re blossoming out of the plant”. My heart was bursting with joy. “I am blossoming”, I told her. This photoshoot came as a perfect coincidence, perfectly in time. I have been facing my biggest fears, letting go of many things in the past couple of years with the deeply rooted clarity that I must turn inward to find my true path, my true self.
I have begun to see my truth and let go of official titles and certifications. I have begun to accept myself as an empath and honor the innate calling to talk to the animals I have always felt but didn’t have the nerve to speak of. I have begun to step into the natural energy awareness and healing inclinations I have always had. I have begun to listen… to myself and speak my truth. I have begun to courageously speak the words my soul has spoken all my life; okay if the recipient doesn’t understand or thinks I’m off my rocker. The right people will resonate as I send the ripples into the Universe. I am finally brave enough to acknowledge and love my true self. The day of the photo shoot with Julie I felt it; self-love. I knew it was real.
As I look at this photo I fall more deeply in love with my perfectly imperfect self and with this sacred being; for, without her and all the beautiful challenges, I would likely never have even known there was another way. Here’s to your raw, real, messy, perfect, beautiful, honest self. Namaste.
“When I get still, she “shows up” and then I can see as she sees, through her eyes in that sacred space… and I tap into her deep wisdom for that moment.” – Cryshtal Avera
*For a magical photo shoot (soul session), contact Julie Ann Call Julie Ann Call facebook page