Tag Archive for: love

Wow! What an incredible ride these past few days have been. One week post-conference and I’m still basking in the joy of being in community. I am overflowing with gratitude and excitement about what will come from all the connections made. Thanks to each and every one of you who made this event such a memorable experience. Together, we forged connections, shared wisdom, and created a warm and inclusive space that aligned with our values at The HERD Institute® of ensuring that everyone feels seen and heard.

One of the coolest things about this conference was the awesome blend of perspectives. We celebrated not just our different backgrounds, but also the diverse ideas and experiences we brought to the table. I am so grateful to all our speakers for sharing their love and passion for their work, and for stimulating such interesting conversations. And it wasn’t only that our speakers were rock stars, but it was YOU, the attendees, who really brought the house down. Your questions, insights, and stories were the secret sauce that made this conference sizzle. Every chat, every panel discussion, it was all powered by YOUR willingness to lean in with curiosity and openness. In planning this conference, our aim was to foster an environment where we could challenge the status quo and bring more diverse perspectives to the forefront of our field. From our Oasis space to conference facilities, we were all about making this event a place where everyone felt not just welcomed but embraced. And the feedback and buzz on social media has certainly been a testament to that.

I know that many of our community were unable to attend the conference. I know that it’s not possible to recreate the feel of the conference for you, but I’m hoping that you’ll be able to share in the love, nonetheless. We are currently working on the conference recordings of the key presentations so that we can share those with you. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of that. In the meantime, we’ll be inviting all attendees and HERD members to our next virtual HERD Gathering to debrief and share their experiences of the conference, ask questions about anything that was left over, and most importantly, continue our connections.

As part of the closing ceremony at the conference, we created a collaborative poem. In sharing our insights, experiences, and hopes from the conference, we were able to weave together our journey:

Sharing The Love of The HERD

The journey builds community. Start together.
Sharing wisdom through relationship –

Horse-centered relationships with common purpose

Belonging in this group and being felt

lets us destroy the colonialism we were dealt.
Stronger together with infinite potential
our minds expand as we contemplate the possibilities…

while shoveling shit

Leadership is knowing when to pivot

and when to stay steady

for the sake of your herd
Inspire heart-felt transformation and being embodied badass,
9 people came together and agreed why is collaboration hard,

it’s the vulnerability of generosity and authenticity.

Drop the mic.

Holding space for one another is validating.
Our connections revitalize our spirit and purpose

A sense of belonging is the heartbeat of The HERD!

My hope is that the connections we made will continue: collaborate on projects, stay in touch, and support each other’s ventures. Let’s carry the spirit of inclusivity, diversity, and belonging forward. With hearts full of thanks, we’re excited to see what amazing things will come from this shared adventure.

With love and gratitude,

Executive Director

What Carly the Cat Taught Me

February signals the month of love with Valentine’s Day. Whether you subscribe to this tradition or not, it’s hard to miss the flowers, chocolates, and heart shaped balloons on display everywhere you go. For this month’s missive, I’d intended to write about a rabbit hole I went down about the irony of Black History Month being in the same month as Valentine’s Day, and how one month, or one day, couldn’t possibly capture the full meaning behind what both these events are meant to symbolize, and more importantly, what it says about the society we live in that we have to have these dates. Does Black History disappear from our awareness at the end of the month? Is Love only celebrated on Valentine’s Day? I’d intended to dig deep into this and share my perspective of all this, but it seems that the universe wanted to lead me down a different path.

On February 17th last year, our beloved dog, Alfie, crossed the rainbow bridge. He was just shy of his 14th birthday and had been fighting an aggressive cancer. His death, and my grieving process, permeated my whole being. I feel his absence in every waking moment as a constant ache in my core. As his first anniversary loomed, I had wanted to give space to celebrate the love he brought into our lives and honor him in some way. Instead, we were presented with an extra dose of grief.

On February 17th, 2023, we found our beautiful barn cat, Carly, lying motionless in our car port. We think she’d been bitten by a snake and had just crossed the rainbow bridge when we found her, as I’d been where she was laying only a few minutes prior. Her body was still soft and warm when we picked her up to lay her in her final resting place. HERD members who have been to our in-person trainings both here in Florida, and previously in Ohio, will remember Carly’s constant presence as part of their training experiences. She was the friendliest cat I’ve ever met, and my clients dubbed her a “Cog” – part cat, part dog – due to the way she would run up to greet visitors, excited for attention and love. She would frequently insert herself into our circles during practice sessions, join in class discussions by taking up an empty seat in the barn, and occasionally cause havoc by bringing us her hunting gifts. The joy and comfort that she brought to our space was so much a part of our everyday lives, and the farm feels startlingly emptier without her.

What happens to love as we grieve? How do we open our hearts to new relationships when we are heartbroken? As animal lovers, we experience this circle of life all too often, and we tell ourselves that grief is the price we pay for the love we’ve received from our beloved companions. Alfie was our first dog. Carly was our first cat. I don’t know if these “firsts” have hit harder than subsequent losses yet to come. I do know that my grief is deep and any words that I type right now feel insubstantial, inadequate, and incomplete in my description of what I’m feeling. I’m grateful that both with Alfie last year, and with Carly this year, I am teaching in the immediate aftermath and am with people who understand this particular type of grief. Grieving as a community for the love we held with Alfie, Carly, and all our animal companions by sharing stories of their impact on our lives is a balm to my soul. I wanted to extend this support to those of you outside of our training space this week. If you have lost a beloved animal companion and want to share your story with us, we are here. Join us to honor those we have loved so that the love you feel stays alive. Feel free to email us at [email protected] and send us a photo of your friends across the rainbow bridge.

To our sweet Carly: Thank you for being a part of our lives for the past 7 years; for entertaining us, comforting us, loving us, and being with us so wholeheartedly. I will miss walking with you to open the gate every morning, and having you twirl around my legs as I do my chores. Thank you for making your way home to us so we didn’t have to wonder what happened. Rest well, Carly cat.

With gratitude,

Executive Director