My husband and I are perfecting the art of the weekend getaway – we pick a spot on the map and explore, finding the best spots to eat and drink, wandering through charming neighborhoods, schmoozing with locals, lounging in cushy hotel rooms. But our latest weekend escape deserves a category of its own.
The plan was to spend the weekend at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, a quick little jump from San Francisco, and a welcome retreat from the increasingly intolerable noise and chilly gloom of home. The property is a modern-day oasis: bright pink and white blooming trees stand against endless stretches of stunning desert and snow-capped mountains. It is peaceful and quiet with a stillness that can only be described as sacred. The service is impeccable (of course, it’s the Four Seasons), and we had our very own casita — spacious and luxurious, replete with a big soaking tub and our own fireplace in which my husband would build a mesmerizing fire, and we would sit and watch the flames and listen to the crackle — without a tv on, without phones out, without sirens and neighbors screaming outside, without an agenda or a place to go; simply our hands wrapped around warm mugs of tea and our eyes fixed on each other’s.
On Saturday morning we were booked to have an Equus experience — one of the most special offerings of this particular property, and the real reason I had booked this trip for us in the first place. I had no idea what to expect but I had read an Oprah magazine article years ago about equine therapy and its incredible healing powers so when I heard it was being offered I jumped at the chance to give it a go.
As we walked towards the Equus property with Scott, a life coach who looked more like a cowboy, and whose title doesn’t do justice to the level of depth, meaning, spirituality, and connectedness he brought to our time together – I knew something special was in store, but I didn’t realize just what a profound transformation awaited me.
I had come to the weekend feeling frustrated and afraid and more indecisive than ever. Small decisions began to torment me, and the conversations in my head were running tropes of fear and worry. I knew I was out of alignment and confused, but I didn’t quite understand the root of my problem or how to deal with it. As a dating and relationship coach myself, I let endless days pass by guiding people through their own growth journeys with a thrumming knowing that I was stuck in my own.
To capture the Equus experience in mere words is a disservice to the process but I can say that in my three-hour session, I got my power back. For real.
Scott guided us through exercises with the horses that not only refined my clarity about my challenges but actually gave me an opportunity to stare those challenges in the face and work through them — something I hadn’t been able to do on the couch of a therapist’s office or over tea with good friends.
There in that quiet arena with those wise and intuitive animals, in the loving presence of my husband, and thanks to my gentle and brilliant guide, Scott, I rediscovered my trust in myself. Once again I could stand in my own strength, knowing that I have what it takes to step into the next chapter of my life.
I have read a million self-help books and completed countless personal growth programs, but I had yet to undergo such a powerful transformational experience as I had on that ranch in Santa Fe.
Now that I’m back in San Francisco I can still feel it inside me — that power center that’s always been there but that I had forgotten about, the one whose compass will always lead me in the right direction, the one who is assured and clear and capable and strong. The one who is courageous and resilient and ready.
There are certain moments that change you – moments in which you drop to your knees and come home to yourself. I am forever grateful to Scott and those horses for bringing me home.
Turns out you can get a lot more from a weekend getaway than I thought.
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