Episode 164- Untangling thoughts with help



I love that I sound like a bit of a mess in this episode.
This year I’m setting a goal that is hard to measure and even a bit of a challenge to put into words. I do a lot of journaling but this subject had me a bit stuck which is my clue that I need a little help from a friend.
In this episode you’ll hear Suzi help me talk through ‘untangling my brain.’ And joy of all joys…I actually make a connection at the end of the podcast that will echo through the rest of 2022!


Episode 164- Untangling thoughts with help.mp3
Announcer: [00:00:03] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill, this is the Stacy Westfall podcast, Stacy’s goal is simple to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.

Stacy Westfall: [00:00:23] Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall, and I help riders become confident, communicate clearly, and get better results with their horses. This is part two of a two-part series that I recorded with a good friend of mine, and I love that I sound like a bit of a mess in this episode. This year, I’m setting a goal that is hard to measure, and it’s been a bit of a challenge for me to put into words. I do a lot of journaling on my own, but this subject had me a bit stuck and I took that as a clue that I needed a little help from a friend. In this episode, you’ll hear my friend Suzi talking me through what I call untangling my brain and joy of all joys. I actually make a connection at the end of the podcast that’s going to echo through the rest of 2020, too. Let’s jump into the conversation. Well, I hope that if you’re listening to this, this is kind of almost a part two. They’re not required that you listen to both, but I think they’re going to fit together really well. So in the last episode, my good friend Suzi Vlietstra joined me and we talked about– kind of how to do a year-end review and recapping my 2021 as kind of an example way to think about things. And this is–this is where the–the untangling the brain part might get even more interesting because at the top of my notes, Suzi, I have a magical year and then I have like kind of notes that I really need to tell you like what the heck that means. So basically, let me jump in for a second and say when I was reviewing my 2021 year, I always like to think is there–was there like one big thing that stands out? Are there five things listed? Like what stands out? It’s rare for me to get more than three. I’m not trying to block it, but usually there’s like one, two, maybe three like moments that just–I kind of want to pack along with me for the rest of my life. And one of those–there was really only one. It just kept coming, top of mind. And the interesting thing is, it has nothing to do with horses. And it was the moment that I mentioned on an earlier podcast, I don’t remember which one, so I’ll just kind of recap it here, but you know, I was probably I was a few months into 2021 when a friend challenged me to run my first 10k. And I accepted the challenge just like, what the heck? I need some kind of a physical activity goal anyway, and I’ve been running and that’s why I called her. And the moment I’m discussing was like–I’d been training with my trusty Garmin watch and, you know, my little training plan on like, what to run. But the first time I ran a 10k was out in the woods. My little phone went off. It told me I run some kind of an award. And I was in the middle of the woods and I had a moment of crisis because I was like–literally, I thought, Does that count? And that’s the moment I will carry with me now forever, because it was this actual moment of like having clearly accomplished something in the woods where if no one else is watching, did it really happen? The watch said it did. I knew it did. But I was still doubting whether or not I was going to give myself credit for it. And that was a really interesting thing to explore, and it stuck with me so strongly that combined with reflecting on 2021, but also like I went back and like looked at 2019, 2020, just kind of like like a series of things. And when I–when I keep reflecting this idea of a magical year I keep thinking, oh my gosh, like my goal setting for this year, I want to be like something close to like, don’t set a goal. Like it’s not quite–it’s almost that extreme like–and I was digging back through journals when I was getting ready for this, and it was kind of interesting because I had written–I kept this–this idea of like this magical–and actually, if you go back just a few, if you go back a few episodes in the podcast, you can hear me using like “magical” and how–it wasn’t clear, but it was like–it’s bubbling this–this word is like bubbling up in my–my being and I go back through and I was looking at my 2021 journaling and I was flipping through looking for anything that–that was kind of interesting. And I wrote as one of my like, You know, I’m writing a bunch, a bunch of stuff, and I ended up writing this. And it’s about the horses and kind of like exactly like we’ve been talking about, like setting goals with them, and it says, I’ve done this long enough to know the path I create won’t unfold the way I expect it to or want it to. Having said that, I know how to keep going and how to allow the magic to happen. I also know that with all of this knowledge, I still feel shaky at times. I’m tempted to push harder and even though I realize that rarely works, I like to imagine it will. So this idea–this was back in, this was back in June 24th that I wrote this, which was months before I’m running in the woods and run my first 10k and go, Does that count? Like, did it? Like–and all of this is kind of this–this idea of magical and I’m like sitting here thinking, what I want, what I really desire is to recreate that moment where I decide if it counts. I want to do that all year.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:06:10] Then, I love what you just said, and it resonates so strongly with me. I would propose that you allow every year, Stacy, to be a magical year. And you’re looking backwards and you found magic in every year. As you look forwards, as we go forward in our lives, every year is magical. And if we are fortunate enough to–to find a magical moment in each year, we are blessed. We are fortunate. We are optimistic. We are hopeful. We are joy-filled. Let every year be a magical year. And I will share with you, since you did, because I was listening carefully as you said that, what was the magic in my year of 2021? And there were a bunch of things. Bunch of highlights, many of them totally unplanned and unexpected. I had lots of fun with my horses. Despite COVID things went pretty well. My family was happy and healthy. My son is doing great. Most of my boarders here at the ranch and their horses got a lot done last year and I loved their success, which is defined very differently than mine, sometimes, lots of good things. The world got a little bit better last year. But what was my magical moment last year? And I realized it when you were–when you were speaking. We went to a big horse show with the halflingers and we actually showed Western Dressage and Working Equitation at the same horse show, which was wacky. That was very ambitious of us. But we got it done and my trainer friend Mikey was there and several of our friends were there. And some people that I hadn’t seen in a long time came to visit and we were having a fabulous time. And I made a new friend in 2021, my friend Jill, who is a very accomplished rider but hasn’t had the opportunity to show a lot. And at that particular show, we worked it out that she could show Wisely, also known as Wise Let’s Go Lee because he has lots of energy and fun to go do things. I said, Why don’t you show Wisely in the Western Dressage? And she had never really shown in that type of class at all before, and I watched her show my 14 hands of Fuzzy Fury Pony. This is not an impressive horse when you look at him, but he has a heart the size of Cleveland and I adore him, and she loves riding him and playing with him. And she showed him in a Western Dressage class. And when she came out of the ring, he was walking on and I had read for her class and I walked towards her a little bit. She’s coming out of the–out of the–off the dressage court and he’s just walking along, practically whistling because that’s the kind of fella he is. A nice long rein, in this 14 hand stubby pony is taking these nice, long steps. And I see her reaching up and kind of kind of blotting by her eyes. And I thought, and it was a hot day, and I thought, I hope she didn’t get–get something in her eye or something. And when I got close, I realized she was weeping. And it makes me do it now, just thinking of it. She was weeping with joy for what she was able to experience with this ordinary little horse. And it brings me great delight that I was able to help her do it and that this simple thing of showing this funny little pony in a dressage class affected her so profoundly that it had that effect on the rest of us, too, and it was a magical moment in a magical year. And I’m really glad that you talked about it because it reminded me of that. It distilled it for me because I might not have known that magical moment until now. So maybe we can all keep–keep hoping to have, expecting to have a magical year and set goals within it. But expect, dang it, a magical year. And at the end of the year, we’ll look back. And what is that magic moment going to be? We might not have any idea, but it will happen if we–if we open our hearts to it.

Stacy Westfall: [00:10:09] Mm hmm. Thank you for sharing that.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:10:11] That was pretty broad goal setting, but you know.

Stacy Westfall: [00:10:16] I know. So the goal in this podcast is to–Yeah, my brain, you know, it’s interesting because I think you’re right, I think that looking back maybe I’ve trained myself looking backwards to find the magic. This year, it’s kind of interesting because–And I think you–you mentioned it, I think, at the beginning of the last podcast a little bit that–I know for sure in the last podcast, you were talking about the ladder and climbing the ladder in this, this, this, this climbing the ladder thing. And– and maybe what it is is that I don’t want to climb any ladders. I kind of want to build my own. I kind of want to make up my own rules and play my own game. And as I say it like, it makes sense to me in one way. But in another way, like I’m also super aware of having–I’m super aware of the danger of not having goals. Let me talk just for a second, like the idea of like–the–it’s like I love goal setting because that super tangible goal like makes me be able to break down all the steps to go up to it. And so I had the magical moment in the woods because I was following a training program of, this is what you do on Tuesday, this is what you do on Thursday, this is what you do on Sunday. And–and so I kind of went up through there. But at the same time, like I also know that some of–like it’s interesting because when I reflect back on it, it’s like, I’m not a beginner in this either, like in this horse industry. And like when I think back to creating the bridleless riding or some of the different things like there was more room than–there was room, there was more–there were less…tangible goals.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:12:06] Could be less expectation? Less rigidity, maybe?

Stacy Westfall: [00:12:11] I think it’s sort of like when you’re writing your own book. You’re–it’s not a paint by number game anymore. And so when you were talking about the climbing the ladder piece that’s where it’s for me, it’s–like I kind of–so here’s what I’ve been tossing around. I’ve been tossing around like if I want to be super creative and I want to make up my own rules and I want to make up my own path and I want to make up my own thing. How can we still make that a SMART goal? Specific, measurable, actionable, like, how can we make it all–how can–how can those two things exist? Let me pitch the closest thing I can to you and see what we can pitch back because I am a wee bit lost at this point on. We are now flying off the notes.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:12:58] Ok.

Stacy Westfall: [00:12:58] Because here’s how it goes. I think about when I’ve done things like this before and a couple things come to mind like, you know, literally creating the bridleless riding stuff because it was like a dropped rein that was a fail that just turned into like playing at home and being like, Oh, what if I played more? What if I played this way? And so it was very, very just–open-ended creativity. Another time that comes to mind is like when I–and it’s almost like, there’s sometimes I kind of have a feeling. And this is where I think especially the last podcast and this one kind of tie together. Sometimes I have a feeling and sometimes those come from like I remember when Roxy’s last foal, Jac, walked into my barn. I had been trying to do this Stacy’s Video Diary, like this idea of starting a colt and tracking it. I’d tried it. I’d started it a couple of times before, and it never–it just wasn’t right. Like I would–I’d record like five minutes or one day and be like, It’s just not the right one. And he walked in and it was like, the clouds parted and the sun shined down and it was like, Oh, here he is, it’s the one. And it created that video diary. And I still get emails every week from people who are still watching that video diary and like still going back and using it as a training manual and all kinds of things. And so it wasn’t–it was–was it a goal? Was it clear? Was it whatever–would it have fit the SMART goal structure?

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:14:23] But, dream! Don’t–don’t–don’t think you have to use such a–such an industrial term as “goal” here. I mean, we’re kind of getting pretty woo-woo here. So, you know, I mean, if we’re talking about magic–sometimes spelled with a K, I don’t know what that’s about, but sometimes I think it’s spelled with a K. If we’re talking about magic, I think we can talk about goals as well as dreams. You had a dream, you had a vision, you had a thought, you had a little–a little germ, a little seed of an idea that came through with–with Jac when you saw him. And I think that is part of a goal-setting–goal setting is trying to make our dreams manifest. And–and our dreams may morph and change shape and be–and be sort of drift-y for a while. And when we are on a rigid set of goals like climbing a ladder, we’ll talk about dressage as an example. You know, what’s after first level? Well, we go to second level, you know? That’s–that’s pretty rigid and it’s fine and it works–it works fine for most of us most of the time. But maybe your real goal is more of a dream, and maybe it is a perfect ride. And maybe it transcends a training ladder and a ladder of accomplishment and the training triangle and all of that. Maybe your goal is this harmony with your horse, this feeling of being a centaur with your horse and riding your horse and having such a brain and heart and mind connection there that you and your horse work together without even thinking about it. So I would just say, because I think–I think you’re moving a little bit beyond very accomplishment–a show–competitive goals into some broader areas here, a little bit more woo-woo. I think goals come from dreams. So don’t discount the dream aspect. Don’t–don’t discount the dreams of a little horse girl and don’t discount the, you fell in love at first sight with this–with this horse, Jac for a project you had in your heart from a long time ago.

Stacy Westfall: [00:16:32] I love that you said that because like I, I weave–weave them together and I actually love that you said woo-woo because it was so funny. I just got an email the other day because a lot of times I’ll say there’s like I call it, my Disney moments. I have my little girl Disney moments in my dreams, and then I have like the nuts and bolts of like, this is how a lead change is created. So I’m always balancing out like, like kind of the nuts and bolts side and the woo-woo side. And it was funny because in the same day I got an email from somebody who was like, I’m having trouble following some of the stuff you’re talking about because I’m more of a nuts and bolts thinker. And I was like, I love that they’re saying it, and I love that we have a term to even label it that we’re–that we’re all on the same page. And then the same day I got an email from somebody else who was like, I love the direction of all of this, of this, you know, theory. And so it just proves that we’re all kind of on our own path and I’m putting it all out there. There’s like–there’s all kinds of back and forth on the podcast. And you know, I go–because I notice I go through seasons, I notice I go through these looping seasons, and I think that’s what–I’m coming into one of these–it feels like when Jac walked into the barn. It feels like these– particularly these two horses. It feels like they have something to teach me right now that I need to like, stop the direct–and it doesn’t mean I won’t show. It just means that I want to almost say–I do know I want to play with the bridleless riding. I do know I want to play with like super creativeness. And I’m tempted to just make my goal to, like, make a video document of that. You know, like once a month, make a video document to myself and to whoever wants to watch it, but like to the world. Like, I love going back and watching the Jac videos and seeing–seeing–it’s just like listening to the podcast. Like I can go back and listen to what I was thinking January of 2021 and see where I was at and where I am now, and I can learn from it. And I’m tempted to–to head down this like, I’m going to go with your woo-woo path, like this more magical woo-woo kind of like, how can I make this–not because I have to force it into–I love that you brought up the dream–not because I have to force it into the goal thing, but almost because when I get to the end of the year–Like with the Jac Project, it was fun to be able to have a visual documentation of it. It’s like–it’s like making a photo album of your children when they’re growing up. It’s like making, you know, a photo video documentary of your vacation. It’s like there’s something tangible about it that helps me a lot of times, like, reflect on it in a different way. And I do that through journaling and I do it through different ways. Do you think I can wrangle this desire to basically just express my creativity and explore, remembering this, by the way, that my ultimate goal is still that one where I just want to learn all I can from my horses and like I want to explore that connection between, like all the disciplines. And for me bridleless riding fits into that, because that’s kind of a piece of me and I kind of want to explore all of that. Do you think I can set that as a goal if it’s like I want to spend the whole year exploring that concept, and I make one video a month to like document? Is that goal-y enough?

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:20:02] Yeah.

Stacy Westfall: [00:20:02] Notice–notice how I’m not–notice how I am not allowing myself to stand in the middle of the woods and answer this question. This is how–this is how we know I still have some work to do. But Suzi, help.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:20:13] Yes, I think–I think that–I think–you’re describing a dream and then you’re going to get your nuts and bolts. And as you were, as you were just giving that, that really kind of profound expression of what–of what you’re emotionally trying to achieve, I was thinking of something that I experienced in my own family, and I’m going to give you this as a little assignment for you to check out because you’ll dig it. I think you’ll really like it. My son was fortunate enough to go to a charter school, and one of the tenets in that charter school, the way they taught the kids was a thing called the theory of multiple intelligences, which was put together by a fellow called Howard Gardner. And basically, we’re all sort of familiar with some of this. And that is, some people are visual learners, some people are tactile learners, some people are physical learners. And we’re all some combination of that. And I think we’re all some combination of setting goals and basing them on dreams. And so, yes, I think that you can explore this. And I think that if you journaled it for us and shared it with a lot of people that are interested in what you’re doing and chronicle it for us I think it would be really helpful. And you have something unique in sharing this with other people and exploring it yourself, which is you have, I think, probably what’s one of the most recognizable and magical experiences that almost any horse person alive now who’s ever seen it has experienced as pure magic, which is your ride on Roxy. You’ve already been there, and I don’t think that you planned it to change millions of people’s lives.

Stacy Westfall: [00:21:50] Hmm.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:21:50] I don’t think you set out to bring us to our knees. But you did. And I think you were you were a conduit or a vessel for that in a way. I think it was almost–almost peripheral to you as an individual, but what a profound effect it’s had on your life. And maybe something for you to kind of use as a bit of a framework is, Why was that magic? That–that thing that you invented, which was this bridleless exhibition closeness with your horse that you were able to demonstrate in front of thousands of screaming people. That’s not normal, Stacy. You know, it’s not ordinary, but it translated to millions of people watching it as a profound experience. You tasted heaven and you showed it to a lot of us. And I think you inspired millions of people and at least hundreds and thousands of horse people to seek a moment like that. And if that didn’t go set for all of us, I don’t know what is. Maybe it’s time to revisit what happened and has happened in some of these things that you have created, stumbled upon, been a conduit for, and maybe be a little bit more deliberate about it this time and say, I’m–I’m–I’m looking for these sublime moments with my horse, where the horse is in deep conversation with me and we are as one creature, as one being. I’m looking for those connections, just like all of your listeners are. And you’re able to talk at a much higher level with your horses than most of us ever will. But if you–if you seek that, if you encourage that, if you nourish that, if you explore that again and share with us what you are learning along the way, I think it’d be a fascinating thing that would really encourage a lot of us to–to persist in our efforts to be more spiritually connected to our horses because I think we all very much want that. And you made it manifest in a five-minute exhibition years ago.

Stacy Westfall: [00:23:56] Wow, you just connected the two for me. You just connected the two. You just connected be alone in the woods moment to the horses. Because it’s exactly the same feeling. It’s exactly the same feeling that–that moment in the woods of am I…Does this count? The feeling that I’m not even going to try to label, because even if I pull up my little feeling, wheel here and I try to label it like that feeling of just like, knowing. This feeling of like just that–Am I going to allow myself that? That was exactly what led to the bridleless. And I just answered, yes. I’m going to go where this takes me.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:24:46] Yes.

Stacy Westfall: [00:24:46] I don’t know where that is.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:24:48] You know, and if you’re willing to share it with people that are interested in what you’re doing and have been inspired by you, I think that’d be really generous of you. And we don’t know where this is going to go. We don’t know if it’s–is this going backwards and looking for magic and trying to produce magic? Or will magic happen again? I don’t know. You don’t know. But what a what an honorable pursuit and what a brave pursuit. And what a courageous pursuit. To kind of touch the past, but with a little more knowledge this time around. And to be very honest, as you’re doing it with a lot of people that are–that are really fascinated by the things that you have done and encouraged us to do. Now, I don’t know how you distill that all down into some specific goals, but I like the idea of–of you doing all the hard work. I like that part, OK? And I really like the idea of you checking in with us from time to time in whatever form you come up with. Communicating with us from time to time. Us being people that are interested in what you’re doing and encouraged by what you’re doing and share with us. How is it going? You may end up on a tangent doing something completely different. But, but I think that you’ve had some unique experiences and maybe they’re–maybe they’re gathering again for a little bit of a–not a review, but maybe some of your experiences are gathering again for a–a weaving together into something slightly different. But based on these unique experiences that you’ve had, it could be really a powerful thing, and it could be a very rewarding thing for you. And this is not based on another prize at a horse show, although that is certainly likely to be a component of it. But it seems like this is–this is your pursuit, which I–I believe you were born to do. You’re born to teach, clearly, and I also think that you were born to seek this connection with the horses. And you’ve gotten way further in it that most of us have or ever will. Keep going and share it with us.

Stacy Westfall: [00:27:02] That is so helpful. That is so helpful because I really think these–I think there’s times with certain horses, like with Presto right now, he’s in a stage where I’m doing most of the teaching. But Gabby and Willow keep whispering that they have some stuff that they really want to teach me.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:27:23] Mm hmm.

Stacy Westfall: [00:27:25] And there always–Yeah, it’s always back and forth. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always back and forth, but there are moments when certain horses get to a certain level where I can feel it. There’s some interesting conversations that can be had that other horses aren’t, they’re just not ready for. So that’s really interesting. And–and I actually know that a good part of my work will actually be–I think it’s interesting that if –when I was in the part of my life where I was really resistant to goal setting the idea of having like a magical, unplanned year would have been like, obviously, that sounds like an amazing choice, which almost pointed me towards needing the more goal setting. Now I’m in the opposite end where I’m a little bit more like, Oh, I really want to create that clear structure. Which I think I needed like, for example, in the running. Like, I’m not an expert there and I really needed to follow a track. I needed to follow a plan. Now I’m kind of with the horses. I’m at this different level where it’s not–I’m a mastery level in a lot of areas where I can then go be creative and create and be free. But it’s funny because my brain almost wants like–there’s that–the person that wrote to me about nuts and bolts, I feel you. Because it’s like, I want–I want to like, label it and have the pretty presentation. I want to know the path. Like, like even what I what I–what I read earlier about the idea that like, you know, it rarely works the way I imagine. Like that’s it feels shaky, like those aren’t–those–those aren’t like, Ooh, I get to feel that today. I’m so excited. About feeling–

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:29:01] You’re–you’re–you’re continuing to grow and to learn and to reinvent yourself as all of us do. Your medium for doing this is your relationship with horses, as–as many of us hope that it will be. And back to that theory of multiple intelligences. None of us learn in one particular style, but we all learn in a variety of styles. And I think part of our life’s work and our life’s meaning is to find those styles which may change throughout our lives also, but to find those styles and indulge ourselves and nourish ourselves and teach ourselves and–and keep learning to keep ourselves curious and vibrant and interested. And–and I will say I can–I can define my overarching goal with my horses at this point, which you’ve helped me realize in this conversation. By the way, it goes back to funny, little, funny little Wise Lee. And I joke about this but this is true. I was encouraging you to think about the–the ride with Roxy the bridleless, tackless, nothing between you and the horse, just a pure communication that you shared with all of us. That’s something maybe you want to look at again. And can that be recreated? Should it? What aspects of that can be drawn out and used in different ways? My big, audacious, hairy goal like that has already been realized with my little Wisely horse. And that is every time I climb on that horse, I feel 11 years old again.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:30:31] Hmm.

Stacy Westfall: [00:30:32] And that’s lots more than being a little girl enjoying a horse. That is feeling safe and feeling competent and confident and joyous and carefree and in my element, like a fish in water. And whoever thought at 60 years old that I would buy a horse off Facebook that would take me back to pure comfort and joy and in love with the world because the horse takes me back to feeling 11.

Stacy Westfall: [00:31:08] Mm hmm, I love that you just said that because that’s almost like–I was trying to put it–And I was like, It’s a feeling, it’s a feeling, it’s a feeling. I want to prioritize the feeling.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:31:19] Mm hmm.

Stacy Westfall: [00:31:19] I want to prioritize exactly what you just described. I want to prioritize my–my–some of my favorite words are creative. Yeah, creative is probably my favorite word, but like, but like, I just I want to–I want to be creative and I want to–I really just want to go out there and, yeah, everything you just said. I want to feel the magical moments that were there, as–as a little girl and that–I just want to go, and I’m like–I’m like, I’ve got the nuts and bolts side of me and the magical woo-woo side of me, and I’m like, Oh, this is going to be an interesting year because I’m going to lean towards the woo and see how much I can write it down so it makes sense to the nuts and bolts. And I don’t even know how. I had to call you just so I could try to record the podcast. So I hope you’re going to be on speed dial for the rest of the year because, you know, it’s like, for me, the thing that I do so well with horses when I–is I can feel. And so getting that feeling out of my body into a microphone or like verbalized onto, you know, pen to paper or whatever. That’s not so easy.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:32:28] It’s not so easy, but think of the tools in your toolbox to do it and the tools that you help teach all of us to use in our own toolbox and we all create our own toolbox. And you know, it’s interesting when you’re mentioning that it’s thinking of, my dad wrote a book. He was a–he was a–he taught psychology and sociology, and he wrote a book. And in his book, he talked about peak experiences. And I think all of us in life have some peak experiences, and I think we don’t try and recreate those peak experiences, Stacy. But we want to experience more of them. We want to–we want to capture more of them.

Stacy Westfall: [00:33:03] Yes, yes, yes.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:33:04] A peak experience for you was clearly bridleless, you know, being one with the horse in that manner. And a peak experience for you was stopping in the woods and realizing that you had, without even realizing it, accomplished a pretty amazing goal. And peak experiences around our children and peak experiences around different things. But you can’t choose your peak experiences. They choose you.

Stacy Westfall: [00:33:30] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. See, this is much better. See, I’m definitely not trying to recreate Roxy because I think that does a shame to Willow. It puts a block on her because it’s not–it’s not fair to expect like–it’s–I love them all for their uniqueness of who they are. But she has something unique that when I–when–when I’m doing some of the things I’m doing with her right now, I don’t think her true brilliance is showing because I’m in the middle of going after kind of a more standardized thing, and it doesn’t happen to be her standardized thing. She’s just like willing and game, but it’s not giving–I can feel there’s things in her that could shine and be unique. I don’t know what they are. I would tell you if I could, but I can feel them. I feel that they’re there and I–and I don’t need to know.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:34:20] Your job is to develop them together. She will develop those things in you. And we have these–when we have these wonderful relationships, be they with humans or dogs or horses we develop wonderful extra, extraordinary experiences and extraordinary knowledge and extraordinary awareness in each other. That’s the magic of it. And I think–I truly think that’s love.

Stacy Westfall: [00:34:47] Wow. I think you’re right. This is going to be like a magical and slightly like.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:34:58] A bit of a wacky year, but you know, you and I have these–these conversations that just go all over the place and I hope the people are listening, maybe get some little encouragement in some way from this in that–in that, allow yourself to be curious and allow yourself to be creative in your goals and in your aspirations. And of course you can–you can make a spreadsheet and you can do checkmarks and so forth and so on, but it is about the journey and appreciate what’s going on at the moment and realize, as you said earlier, Stacy, you may be going someplace that you had no idea you were going, but it’s where you’re supposed to end up.

Stacy Westfall: [00:35:41] Yeah.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:35:43] Let the path take you.

Stacy Westfall: [00:35:43] Totally. And I was thinking when I was getting ready to record this, I was like, it’s–it’s fun to be calling you to record it because if I wasn’t going to post it live, you know–there are so many people that follow me that don’t have show goals.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:35:57] Yes.

Stacy Westfall: [00:35:57] And I–and I think so often we like–I’ve never fully explored and tried to express like, Hey, this is how I’m going to set a goal when it’s not a clearly defined ladder to climb, this written over here in this rule book. And so I think the process of doing that and verbalizing it and going through it and–and doing, I think it could be a really cool process for a lot of people to follow. I know it’s going to be personally challenging. And when I was thinking about it, I was thinking, Well, I could make a video because I’ve done that before with something like the Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac. But I was also thinking about you because I was like, if somebody’s listening and they want to do this and they want it, all it is is basically an accountability partner.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:36:36] Mm-hmm.

Stacy Westfall: [00:36:36] You know, and that can be like a journal. It can literally like, that’s why I’m looking back here like, you know, June 24th and I know because this is my own accountability partner in a different way is my journal. And it can be a video that you can make on January 1st and then you can do again the beginning of each month. Then you can just track your own progress. I just–like to me, the part–the part of the goals that I don’t want to give up is the record-keeping part because I’m my worst critic and my worst enemy. And if I don’t track it, I won’t see the progress in that measurable way as I’m going up through. I know this from past history. Maybe I’m–maybe I’ve changed. Maybe I haven’t. But I love the fact that I can look back over the records. So I’d kind of–even if I’m gone beyond that and maybe I’m not criticizing myself, I can’t celebrate as easily as I can by picking this journal up and reading, who wrote this on June 24th and being like, Wow, she was doing some work back then in June.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:37:38] Well, I think if we can all, if we can all, first of all, practice a lot of grace and forgiveness of ourselves, and everybody kind of needs to set up their own structure that will help encourage them forward. And ultimately, your accountability partner is yourself, of course. But if you can, if you can invent a structure that fits you and that structure that may change over time, but where you can in some way review and–and basically invent some way to encourage yourself in some way to reward yourself for wherever you’re going. And I like what you were talking about in the earlier session that we did about, you know, you have little red X’s and little green checkmarks on something on your computer spreadsheet. Don’t think that there’s any one accountability system that works completely, either. You’re going to have bits and pieces of them and you’re going to–you’re going to start something, abandon them, and you’re going to shift and change them over time. This reminds me of back in the day and remind everybody that I’m pretty old. We used to buy–at the beginning of the year you’d buy a day timer, right? And you were going to have the ultimate day timer. And it had, like all these little books and lines and calendars and–and little goals and checking, and there were a million of them and you’d buy one about this time every year. Maybe get one for Christmas. And by gosh, the next year you were going to, you were going to nail that thing. You were just going to, you were going to journal it. You were going to, no page empty! And most of us abandoned them partway through the year. But that doesn’t mean we failed. We learned part of it, and we used part of it. And part of it, you know, you can look back to a day of that if you’re–if you diary or journal or whatever you do. And a really good day is a really good day, even if it wasn’t 365 of them in a row. So don’t be so harsh on yourself, you know. Invent your system, try and figure out some–some overarching things. And my overarching thing is to feel like 11 when I get on a horse and–and you’re overarching thing is maybe to revisit this closeness, closeness with horses. I don’t know how you’re going to detail that, but whatever your–your words are. But we do need some structure and we do need some parameters to keep us motivated and to encourage ourselves. And I just encourage people not to feel guilty and give up when they fall apart with it. And something that I’ve been involved with just lately this year that’s been really fun along these lines is during a real pandemic lockdown in 2020 at the end of the year, a couple of friends and I got together and we invented kind of out of our foreheads, a halflinger fun club for our halflinger horses, it’s called the American Halflinger Alliance, and we’ve built in a bunch of things to encourage each other. And one of the things that we do is we do monthly challenges, and this is all online. We’ve created this online community. We do charming challenges. So if you complete the challenge, you get a charm and you end up building a charm bracelet for your horse and experiences you had, which is really kind of cool and it’s fun and the charming challenges are–they’re different things like sometimes it’s like cleaning things, you know, and cleaning your horse trailer cleaning, cleaning 4 things that need cleaning in a month or riding a certain riding or driving or groundwork. Whatever it is that you do with your horse doing a certain number of sessions in–in a month just to encourage yourself. So we’ve built some structure in there and some accountability and a reward, which is charms. And if people can invent something like that for themselves or adapt one that they find, they’re going to make more progress for you as we’re trying to be a little more tangible on goal setting. You’re going to–you’re going to think about where you want to get with the horses and there’s going to be some ladder-like steps in there to help you get there. But what is that feeling? Stacy’s seeking a feeling. What is that feeling you’re trying to not recapture, not recreate, but explore more, be more curious about again, be more creative about again? So I think that’s kind of your–your goal becomes, move towards that magnetically interesting thing.

Stacy Westfall: [00:41:45] Mm hmm. Yeah, I love that. I love the charm bracelet idea. I love the that you’re going to channel being 11 every time you get on a horse and this is–OK, I’m feeling much better about being like, here’s my magical year!

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:42:02] And let’s–let’s hope. Let’s not even hope. Let’s accept that every year will be magical, and we may not realize why until after the fact. But at the end of the year, each year before New Year’s, between Christmas and New Year’s, when we’re doing, you know, when we’re kind of jostled out of our normal routine–a lot of us anyways, aren’t we lucky if we can look back and realize I just had another magical year and here is why? Wouldn’t that be a set of notes to keep for. Your life? This year was magical because this year was magical because. For me, another thing that I do is I realized that I–I only learn one thing every year. And, you know, I’m not a super-fast learner, but every year I learn one thing. And two years ago, what I learned was everything is easy when you know how. And what I figured out, what I have learned for 2021 is everybody just wants to matter. So that’s retrospective magic for me, too. Every year is magic. Let it be magic.

Stacy Westfall: [00:43:10] Thanks again for joining me. This has been super helpful to me and I know that people who are listening are going to have gotten a lot out of it because we covered a lot of topics kind of going up and down. And–I might have to have you on a year from now. We can discuss how this all panned out. Because we know it’s going to be magical.

Suzi Vlietstra: [00:43:29] Great fun. Yeah, that would be–that would be great fun to look back and say what was magical and–and a little bit of a–little bit of a review there. But thank you for thank you for having me along and letting me kind of, you know, range widely. And I just–it’s such a pleasure to always chat with you and we stray far from horses, and yet we remain grounded by horses. And what a delight that is. Thank you.

Stacy Westfall: [00:43:59] Excellent verbal volleyball match. Thanks.

Stacy Westfall: [00:44:07] I hope you found that episode both educational and entertaining. I know that it was super helpful for me. If you could use a little help untangling your thoughts around goal setting I’m offering a free webinar on January 15th. Click the link in the show notes to register for the webinar or visit my website at stacywestfall.com. Thanks for listening, and I’ll talk to you again next week.

Announcer: [00:44:42] If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit stacywestfall.com for articles, videos and tips to help you and your horse succeed.

Links mentioned in podcast:

The webinar has ended but I created a Goal Setting Starter Kit that includes a replay of the webinar. Check it out and download your free workbook and PDF today!


  1. April Ibarra on January 5, 2022 at 10:05 am

    Stacy, in the middle of this podcast, I was thinking your whole life is magical, at least to me it is. And it makes me want to be like you as I find myself wanting to find my own magic. Sometimes I have moments of magic when I’m just “being” with my horse(s) and it brings a tear of joyful bliss how much they touch me and how blessed I feel to be their person. And then I was thinking how magical your ride with Roxy was, and BAM! Suzi said exactly what I was thinking! It was a totally magical experience for me when I saw your ride and it’s like that for me every time I watch it. I get teary-eyed every time and I think it’s because I get transported to another dimension in my dreams and hopes and desires of me as a little girl just being free, riding free, just me and my horse, so connected that we are one, because the only being that understands me the most is my horse. That is the magic I feel. It was a heavenly moment; everything about it was, especially because of the intention behind it and in the spirit of knowing your dad was there with you. And I imagine myself in your place on my horse with my grandpa watching over me and …yeah it’s super magical. I heard somewhere that goals are our dreams coming true. You’re always talking about having both relationship and results, why not have goals AND magic? Or goals AND dreams. You can have it all! You DO have it all and I think that’s what you are starting to realize and maybe why you’re wondering if you even need to set any goals. You’re already making your own ladder to climb and perhaps you’re feeling like you’re already there, but not really recognizing it yet. It’s your moment in the woods. WE can have it all. Wait, I am having a magical moment right now as I make the connection that it means I can have it all. Whew! And that’s where the riders mind comes into play…it’s a pretty scary feeling to think that I can have it all.

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