The Lessons of Time

Time Stand Still

Weekly Photo Challenge: Time

Just over a year ago my dressage horse, Bear, sustained a career-ending injury in a hind leg while out in an icy paddock. When I heard the devastating diagnosis, time seemed to stand still, as if it was holding space for me while I absorbed the disorienting and overwhelming new reality.

Helping Bear through months of rehab taught me the many lessons of time ~ being in the moment and having patience chief among them. His healing was going to take as long as it was going to take. I had to release all agendas and be what he needed me to be ~ a patient and attentive care giver ~ while he hobbled along the path to wellness.

Interestingly, Bear taught me about patience. He took his four-month confinement in stride. He seemed to know he needed the down time, which gave me permission to release all notions of a timeline for when he had to be better. This was his time to find balance again, and I needed to respect that and be the support he needed.

Daily 10-minute walks in the arena in the bitter cold gave us time to stretch our legs. Appreciating every wobbly step he took and the trust this horse had put in me for his welfare took my connection with him deeper, and gave me a greater appreciation of my role in his recovery. Teaching Bear to smile for a carrot, and other happy distractions, kept his mind engaged and gave me a deeper appreciation for the intelligent clown he really is. Changing his bandages every day helped deepen my empathy for his condition. Watching him heal gradually, over time, gave me the satisfaction of understanding the part I was playing in his healing journey.

Bear’s boo boo forced me to stop and reconsider my relationship with time. Time is a construct we’ve developed to help organize our lives, but instead we’ve allowed it to enslave us. As devastating as the initial report of Bear’s injury was it helped me grasp the value of letting go and letting be. It doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but when I feel myself becoming entrapped by time I remember happy moments spent in the company of a horse finding his way to wellness.

Boundary Dance

Today Bear is 100 per cent recovered and cavorting in a paddock with a new girlfriend. In the spring we’ll saddle him up and he’ll learn to be a husband’s hack horse. And when the time is right he’ll take his place as the lead horse in my therapy herd.

Had I forced an agenda and not learned the lessons of time, his story might have ended quite differently, and not necessarily so happily.

Nurture what you love …



©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2016

Bear’s Healing Journey



Monochrome Madness Week 32

This image of my equine companion, Bear, was captured about three weeks ago when he was feeling rather under the weather with a lameness issue.

Like me he’s been experiencing a transitional year.

New barn; new coach; new training regimen and work ethic; new friends have been positive stressors requiring adjustment and alignment on both our parts.

Releasing old behaviour patterns that no longer suit and embracing a new, more authentic way of being in the world requires big change at all levels and can be an exhausting process. If we aren’t paying attention and listening to our bodies, serious damage can ensue.

Adrenal fatigue has been my teacher here.

I’m pleased to say that now, after much considered care by his amazing vet, chiropractor, the barn owner, the farrier and with heaping doses of extra love from me and now two paddock buddies to pass the time with outside, Bear is feeling much better. In fact, it seems to me he’s moving more freely than I’ve ever experienced. Indeed, his frame of mind in his work appears to reflect this ~ probably because he is feeling more comfortable.

Like people, horses can get caught up in a negative way of being. It’s what they get used to so it becomes “normal.”

But then one day the ball drops.

The wake up call Bear gave me when he first appeared lame told me he was ready for change; told me he needed to rest before stepping even further into the new, more life-embracing way of being I’d chosen for us both earlier this year.

I’m glad I listened and had the support around me to move him gently into his next stage of development.

Today he gets a massage to complete this cycle of care.

Lucky horse. 😉

Thanks for visiting …



I notice we’ve passed the 1,000 marker for followers. Thank you so much to one and all for showing such interest in my photography. I plan a retrospective of my favourite images for a future blog post when things settle down a bit around here. Stay tuned!

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

The Healer






Monochrome Madness: Week 31


“Horses make a landscape look beautiful.”

Alice Walker


Contendor is a therapy horse. His gift: “to help people learn about their nonverbal cues, unconscious behaviour patterns and the emotional import and intent of their words and actions.”*

His work is based in fact and proven by science ~ it’s all about heart connection.

He is one of many such horses at the facility where I am learning to be a facilitator of equine experiential learning.

Of course, as I learn how to facilitate, I experience the process ~ the incredible power of the horse to reflect back to us who we are in our truth. Their ability to move us through a stuck state and give us the proverbial wings to fly.

As I learn I experience a positive shift in myself. My own view of Self becomes clearer. I am empowered to heal my inner life through the wisdom of the horse.

So, I would say to you that yes, horses make that landscape out there look more beautiful, and thank goodness for that or it might make for one boring drive in the country.

Still, I can’t help but believe that the changes horses can effect on our inner landscapes given the chance, are equally, if not more, beautiful … and magnificently life affirming.

Thank you for visiting …



©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2014

*Source: For more information on the healing journey with horses, visit Horse Spirit Connections

Weekly Photo Challenge: 2012 … A Year of Healing

Here’s a baker’s dozen images highlighting my 2012 for this week’s photo challenge.

This past year for me has been about healing and adopting a new way of experiencing life by living simply and simply being.

It isn’t possible to unravel a life time of PTSD-related symptoms overnight. It takes time. My embattled adrenal glands need more relaxation and less stimulation if they’re going to recover. So, I’m letting go of old ways and learning to put the focus on “being” instead of “doing.” Fortunately I have a loving partner who is supportive and encouraging as I make this transition.

Herewith a few words and images highlighting moments from my healing journey in 2012.

... Puppies bring joy ...

In early December 2011, our beautiful Abbey had a litter of eight healthy puppies. By mid January they were delighting us all with their playful antics and cuteness. Is it possible to be around puppies and not feel a sense of wonder and joy?  Simply being with these puppies helped to buoy my spirits.


February found us in Barcelona for a week. Unsure of how the travel stress would effect me I was a bit reticent about going initially, but after consulting with the doctor my mind was put at ease and off I went. We kept it simple and walked enough for me to fall in love with Barcelona’s ancient charm and culture. The journey home took its toll. Still, I wouldn’t have missed this trip for the world.

... Grey ...

March and April are grey months here in Southern Ontario, and I felt pretty grey with it. Migraines, nausea, vomiting were regular and unwelcome companions. (Once I ended up in the emergency room at the local hospital. Kate Middleton’s symptoms without the pregnancy …) I managed to come through that okay and, with the prescribed anti-nausea meds, seem to be able to keep these unpleasant spells, all stress induced, a little more under control. These unpredictable moments are a stern reminder that I must keep my life simple and rest often if I want my adrenal function to recover.

Spring Tulip

Tulips are my favourite spring flower. With my camera I spent many happy moments experimenting with light.

Ring around the sun

Late May gave me pause. A member of the family attempted suicide and by some miracle survived. Before I arrived at the hospital I noticed this halo around the sun, a sign of hope if ever I saw one. Fortunately my loved on has no lingering effects from his act of desperation. Most important is the fact he is getting the help he needs for a full recovery. While it was not a pleasant experience this episode tested my ability to self-manage during a crisis that in the past would have sent me reeling. It was a milestone showing me how far I’d progressed along my healing path.


Two weeks later, two little miracles — seven-week-old kittens who’d been abandoned in a card board box on the side of a busy country road not far from where I live. They’d been rescued by a local barn owner and were awaiting adoption. My aged cat had died the month before and I was feeling lonely for kitty companionship so I dropped by the barn to take a look. These two beautiful boys, Indy and JJ, captured my heart so I brought them home. Another simple reason to smile.

Baby Robin

We enjoyed lovely weather this summer, so I was often able to relax with a good book beside our newly installed bubble rock. Quite unexpectedly this water feature attracted a number of feathered visitors, especially when the weather turned oppressive. This baby robin came by occasionally to enjoy a wonderful play in the cool, burbling water. I found the simple joy of observing nature in this manner quite healing.

Rusty Two

Mid summer I returned to Alberta to visit my recovering loved one. He introduced me to a new member of the family … Rusty … who is playing an important role in his healing process. Interesting to me is how the simple presence of a small (or large) animal can make such a positive difference in a person’s outlook on life.

Horse Therapy

Speaking of large animals, my horse, Shakespeare (aka Bear), is wonderful therapy. He’s such a good-natured boy — the comic Shakespeare — giving me all kinds of reasons to be happy. Simply being in his presence shifts my focus from my cares and puts me squarely where I need to be … in the moment. It’s such a blessing.

collies at play

Yet more animal therapy, this time the girlies — Sass (mother) and Abbey (daughter) — are a great source of comfort and companionship. Their loyalty and playfulness make up for all the hair. 😉 Simply watching them romp during our long walks on a friend’s farm brings joy to my heart.


In October more travels, this time to Australia via Hawaii. We planned this four-day stop to help manage the travel stress. The almost 20-hour trip to Hawaii (including waiting in airports), however, was still too much and I was quite ill for the first several hours upon arrival. Two days later the stress was compounded by a tsunami warning which didn’t materialize into anything but still took a toll on my adrenals. A traditional Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage the next morning helped to purge the tension from mind, body and spirit. The next day we left for …

Family Gathering at America Bay

… Australia, where we attended a family wedding at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. People ask what we did during our first trip to Aus  and my answer: “Absolutely nothing.” It was not a trip about doing, it was about being with people we love and experiencing the moment. It was about keeping the experience simple. The wedding took place within days of our arrival. After that we drifted and rested and relaxed. No plans, just peace. It was a wonderful way to be.


Returning home we stopped in beautiful Maui for three days and then a day in San Francisco. The short overnight flight was, perhaps, the most stressful passage of the trip simply because we got no sleep. It took most of our one day in San Fran to recover. Still, in the evening we enjoyed a lovely fine dining experience in a fabulous Italian restaurant near Union Square. Just being in this beautiful city was amazing.


It’s a challenge to encapsulate a year in 12 (13) images and a little copy, but suffice to say for me 2012 has been an important year of growth, self-awareness and healing.

In 2013 I look forward to further healing and getting stronger so my life can expand.

My blogs have been an important part of the journey during the past 12 months and I appreciate all the visits, likes and comments I’ve received from my blogging friends at WordPress and beyond. As I heal my voice grows stronger and more confident. You are an important part of that healing.

Stay tuned as I reconfigure my blog experience somewhat, including the introduction of a new one dedicated to the life altering magic of travel.

Thank you for visiting, and all the best to you and yours for 2013 …

Be well,

Dorothy 🙂


Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012

… Love walked in …

Rusty Two

Life has its ups and downs. We all experience them. Lord knows as we approach the end of 2012 and I review my own challenges of the past 12 months I am moved to be grateful for the strength, patience and support I’ve experienced to meet them head on.

I’m also moved to consider the blessings that have arisen from the tough moments I’ve faced. I’m a firm believer in silver linings — the alternative is too depressing — so even as I felt, at times, like the world was collapsing around me I’ve done my best to hold my head up and look for the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

One such moment came earlier in the year when someone near and dear to me attempted to take his own life. By some force of miracle he survived, sound of body and taking the measures necessary to re-affirm soundness of mind.

To his credit he looks on his drastic measure and the fact that he survived it as a wake-up call — an opportunity to reassess his life, make some changes and embrace what is.

Shortly after his desperate act love walked in in the form of a Sh’borkie (Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, Yorkie) puppy whom he would name Rusty, perhaps for obvious reasons.

Image: Dorothy McDonall ... All Rights Reserved 2012

This little dog, who weighs no more than 15 lbs, has been a godsend. A little bundle of joy helping to put his master’s troubles into healthy perspective by giving him someone to love. And of course, as we all know, what we give comes back to us in spades. This little dog has lit up my loved one’s life as only a pup can.

I visited shortly after Rusty joined the family. Cute doesn’t begin to describe this cheeky little boy. He is everything in a little furry bundle one might expect — affectionate, playful, fun, crazy-making, attention-seeking, cuddly and yes, cute, cute, cute!!! Everywhere we went with Rusty he was the focus of attention, with people stopping to marvel at his cuteness and chat with his master.

At the time the Calgary Stampede was in full swing, so we bought the little guy a cowboy hat which, as you can see, fit him perfectly. It was a moment of silliness during a silly week — just what the doctor ordered for taking minds off troubles and healing broken hearts.

Rusty Four

Love is what gets us through the rough spots of life. When it arrives in the shape of an animal companion it is unconditional and healing when combined with trust, respect and patience.

Rusty is the consummate snuggle bunny and provides a suitable distraction from worldly cares as my loved one sorts through those aspects of his life that drove him to his desperate act.

It’s my sincere hope that each of us will invite love, in its purest form and whatever that means to us individually, to walk in and bring us the comfort and healing we need.

Rusty Five

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy 🙂


Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012

A Sunday Thing …

It’s Sunday. To some a holy day; to others just another day to do stuff.

I was raised to hold Sunday somewhat sacred and separate from the rest of the week. It was, and still is in my heart, a day to give thanks, rest, recuperate … basically take a time out from the manic pace of every day life and just be for a while.

Not that my life this year has been, in any way, manically paced. My ongoing recovery from adrenal fatigue has forced me to downsize my activities and embrace a whole new, more self-aware, more reverent way of being. And I mean reverent in the sense that I honour what my body is telling me it needs, i.e. more rest, better nutrition, more focus, less stress, etc. and take care of myself accordingly. Doing this benefits me not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

Sunday is a day that helps me to focus this intention, and I do my best to be true to this. Reading positive books, listening to uplifting music (sure, I generally reserve Sunday for soothing classical music), writing, spending quiet time with my horse and nature, sometimes visiting family, all help me to keep my life on the healing path I have chosen. Sometimes, however, this intention can get away from me, for whatever reason, and on ensuing days I’ll pay for it, drowning in debilitating fatigue and  its other miserable physical discomforts.

Today, happily, I’m on the right track.

My five-month-old kittens, of course, have no trouble chilling any time of the week.

But today it’s a Sunday thing …

Have a restful day …

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂


Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012