Petra's Parelli World - Follow my Journey as a Parelli Professional Instructor

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My dad was diagnosed with Cancer today

For the record, I wrote this blog post a few months ago, in June:

My mom seems to find it easier not to use the C word, but it’s a tumor, it’s in his lung and it is cancer. After hanging up the phone at 6:20am this morning, I decided I didn’t have the luxury and time to sit down and cry, so I finished breakfast, snapped at Dennis because I couldn’t find my boot cut jeans (I was sure it was all his fault, poor guy...) and somehow still managed to be 10 minutes late for the two week course meeting with Kathy Baar (Faculty Member), Pete (If you’ve been at the ranch you know Dancing Pete, don’t you?), Jarno from Belgium and Steffi from Lenggries, Germany, just half an hour away from where my parents live in Munich.

I remember having to ask things twice and when the meeting was over, I did participate in our morning Remuda with Pete and Steffi. After that I was running between the office and lodge like a chicken with its head cut off, forgetting what I wanted to do there in the first place. The tears I had swallowed in the morning refused to remain silent and I finally conceded that I would not be a valuable team member today.

I explained Kathy what was going on and left. My computer is still sitting somewhere in the corner of the staff office and my jacket is laying out on the bench at the fire pit. Of course, I noticed once I was home. Now I’m sitting here under the umbrella in the yard, eating Rock Ford ice cream, listening to the wind chimes and trying to figure out what to do next.

I am so glad I couldn’t talk to my dad today. Me crying my eyes out, him not being able to understand me on the phone… It would have been very unproductive. By tomorrow I will be back to my logical self, with a plan and being supportive. Life it too short to be unhappy. The fact that my dad smoked for 50 years, (he quit 10 years ago) and that I spent my childhood trying to get him to quit, cannot be changed. Somehow, in the end, we all live with the consequences we create for ourselves.

Several years back during my divorce, I could not deal any longer with my emotions and I started to go to counseling. I was asked to share my feelings about being mad, sad, glad and scared. I found out that my biggest problem was not being able to admit that I was MAD. Just the word caused my stomach to twist. I firmly believe that we create our own destiny, that emotions that we are holding back (like I tried to do this morning following an old habit) make us sick and that our thoughts become words, words become habits and habits form our character.

So, try this exercise with me…. What are you mad, sad, glad and scared about?
I am MAD, because my dad smoked for 50 years, afflicting his, my mom’s and my health. I am SAD because I love my dad and I don’t want him and my mom to suffer. I am GLAD because my parents love each other and my mom is my dad’s rock right now. I am SCARED because my mom said that my dad was devastated when he heard the diagnosis and in my whole life of 44 years I have only seen my dad devastated once. He is usually the one that says, “Oh, it will work out alright.”

So what does all of this have to do with Parelli? Parelli taught me to become emotionally fit, first for my horse, then for myself, my family and friends. Parelli Natural Horse Man Ship has also helped me to accept my feelings, to be ok with them, to turn frustration into fascination and to turn despair into action. Only if I take control of the situation can I be a leader, for my horse, myself, my family and friends.

My belief is whatever obstacles I face, I am choosing the road I walk on. Do you agree? I would love to hear, oh I guess “read” your thoughts…..

And this is what happened since then: My dad decided on chemotherapy. He had his 4th treatment this month, 2 treatments were postponed for low blood count and - shortly after the first treatment he came down with pneumonia and ended up in the hospital for a week. I was able to send my son Jani to Germany for 6 weeks, and he ended up being a wonderful supporter for my mom and dad. After the 3rd treatment the doctor said all the tumors are shrinking, including the tumor on the liver that they had missed earlier. My mom is holding on, but tells me during every phone conversation that she doesn't want to live if my dad won't make it. She is also working overtime due to the financial fallout (which I'm sure is still smaller than what it would be here in the US thanks to our health care system). My dad is in good spirits and we are all hoping and praying for the best outcome.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

How to Learn to Set Boundaries

So, you read my last blog "Gaining Confidence with Setting Boundaries" and you could relate to my troubles and are eager to find out HOW to set boundaries? Great!

If you read this blog, you probably have a big advantage: You are "into" horses! Let them be your teacher and they will teach you well... Your horses will show you whether you are able to set boundaries (you might not even know like I did) and what to do about it if you're not.

So, next time you go out with your horse, make a plan and set a goal. Then observe yourself and your horse, remember and compare...

  • Is your horse entering your personal space uninvited and you are happily accomodating him?

  • Is your horse not responding to your requests and you have a hard time to follow through with a loooong phase 1 and an effective and quick phases 2-3-4?

  • How many times did you ask your horse to do something but you didn't follow through in the end? For example: Did you ask your horse to move his front end but he only moved his hind end and you didn't follow up by asking again?

If you say "yes" to any of those points, read on ... Here are the great news: Once we are conscious about something, that's when we have a choice to change it! So, for your next play session set yourself one achievable goal, for example: "from today on my horse will not enter my personal space uninvited". Now it's up to you to follow through. If you feel good about doing this with a knowledgable friend or family member, it might help if somebody watches and points out to you when you step backwards instead of asking your horse to move etc.

Remember that this is a learning process. It will take time and it will not happen overnight. Just know that you are not alone in this. Pat yourself on the shoulder when you feel successful. Everything else: take it as a learning experience and check it off and store it as such! Do not fall into a pattern of "Oh, why did I do this" and "I could have done better". This is negative self talk and wasted energy. You gain NOTHING from it! Immediately stop yourself .Take it as a "learning experience", move your thoughts to a new game plan. This will help you maintain your energy for better, more worthwhile things!

Once you become a better leader for your horse, it is time to take your newly learned knowledge into the real world! How I went about his and what I learned, I will share in my next blog. Please share your comments, so we all can learn from each other!

You are always most welcome to email me privately at as well!

Yours Naturally....