How Can You Argue With Infinity?
I needed to rebrand. I have mixed feelings about rebranding, but it started to become clear to me that my equestrian endeavor was, although similar to, different than my art endeavor. I began calling myself "Left Of Center Art/Images" in 2008, when I began showing my work in Yosemite National Park. The name is primarily a homage to the fact that our hearts are slightly off center, and I try to lead a life where I remember to use my heart in harmony with my head. Secondarily, the name was a shout out to the grand batholith, Toutakanoula, or more commonly known as El Capitan. Upon first arriving to Yosemite in 2007, I was shown that there was a heart formation on El Cap, and later in 2009 I even got to climb up hang out on the heart ledges (Salathe route).
Heavily inspired by the Granite Captain's vulneralble showing of heart chakra, I went on to purchase a horse (Aurora) for a dollar in 2009. Don't think, just buy her. When you can't afford her, you will know. That's what my head told me. My heart was doing backflips and high fiving my childhood dream. My dream came true. I had a horse. And not just any horse. My "horses ridden" tally (yes, I used to keep a log) has outliers but technically began in 1990 when I began taking lessons. I think I'm near 300 horses ridden. I lost count. But I could tell Aurora was special. She even came with a tattoo to prove it. An infinity symbol on her left shoulder, as my friend and mentor Eve Sheldon ran her farm as "Infinity Farm" in Sierraville, California, where Aurora spent the majority of her life. Aurora and I left Yosemite in December of 2014 to pursue a more "horsey" path in life, as I felt I had reached a ceiling as an outdoor educator. I wanted more, and though my path had/still has many question marks, I felt pulled back into the equestrian world.
In the year before leaving Yosemite, I began a yoga teacher certification program with the Balanced Rock Foundation. I acquired my RYT 200 and in the process of doing so, was in awe of what yoga had done for my horseback riding. I needed to share this! And though, after researching farther, I know I am not the first, I am proud to be among the ranks of equestrians bringing yoga into their lives, arenas, lessons, and practices.
To boot, all puns intended, I checked out my resume upon moving back home. Riding Instruction, Science Teacher/Outdoor Educator, Literature Degree, Black Belt, NOLS graduate, Backpacking Instructor, Team Building, Art, Logistics, Safety/Risk Management, Conflict Resolution, teaching at Conferences, (the list goes on) all of these amazing skills seemed to jump off the page and say "use me!" Ok, but how?
When in doubt I counsel my mare. She seems to think I should just use it all and see what happens. I had been running under the name "Left of Center Equestrian" to harken to my art business and the lessons I learned in Yosemite. Including lessons learned in my yoga teacher certification. One of my fabulous teachers, Heather Sullivan, said, "Balance is a Verb." It resonated. We're always just a little off, but by moving between "perfect" balance and the imbalances we are born with/given, we can achieve balance. Especially when riding. I am body aware enough now to know that when going left I have to compensate for my left side imbalances and that they feel very different from my right side imbalances. That, and Aurora can tell when my heart isn't leading my motion. In physicality and with my mental game (for instance when jumping, or before a canter depart).
Yet, when I started taking bigger steps towards my goal of offering equestrian yoga clinics, the name seemed off balance. A few people asked if Left of Center was a political message. A few pointed out it means imbalance (exactly! was my point), and it's rather wordy. I love it, but it didn't fully embrace the message and mission I seek to bring to not only the equestrian community, but to the global community as well.
So back to Aurora, I was grooming her, pondering all of this, and I get to her left shoulder and start laughing. There it is. Right in front of me, exactly what I had asked for but not known I needed. A more universal perspective. Something all inclusive. A reminder that we are all connected. A look into the formless. A shout out to the yogic concept of ishvara. Something that might appeal to the yogic as well as the equestrian community. A reminder that we have never stepped out of connection with the natural world and each other, we just forget about our connection sometimes. Connection. Balance. Harmony. Really, the possibilities are...infinite.