Went with my two grown daughters to a spa in Arizona. It was a spa that was once a “no alcohol, no carbs, no wine” spa. No fun.

We had fun though. And carbs. And caffeine. And wine. And walks and wildlife viewing and fun classes.

My favorite thing though was having the daughters with me for the weekend to see what issues and topics “bubble” up to the surface.

I thought I knew my daughters extremely well, but I learned things about them that I hadn’t known (and they learned things about me that I’ve kept from them–not huge things, but still.) that may have been the best takeaway from the trip. We were in a place of reflection and meditation.

My lesson learned; stand up for myself more–and for my children.

Looking back at the “spa experience,” I realized the “horse painting” experience was the one that sticks with me. On the way there, I had usual (for me) thoughts of “why are we doing this?” and “this is going to be weird or boring.” Four of us climbed into a van with a young cowboy who took us up a road “a piece” to his ranch stable where four horses awaited painting.

I sized up the horses when we climbed out of the van. Of the four, I thought I’d take any except the big Clydesdale horse with huge feet. When we stepped into the corral, the Clydesdale (named Bonnie) bounded up to me. The cowboy stated that, “sometimes the horse chooses the person.” I guess I was Bonnie’s person.

Older daughter chose a white and black paint (and she did the best paint-job). Younger daughter chose a buckskin that looked like a good “canvas.”

The forth “painter” tried to choose her horse, who kept running away from her. The cowboy (who obviously is also an amateur therapist), asked her how that made her feel. She answered that it was fine. He asked again if she felt rejected. Again, no, she was fine. She helped me paint my giant Clydesdale.

Then came the time to explain what we’d painted. Older daughter, who had a great design of adult and baby hand-prints representing our family, along with other designs, painted in the center of the horse, which “cowboy” said usually represents being centered.

Younger daughter said she painted what she thought the horse wanted. That’s enlightening. She’s a people-pleaser. Yes, that makes sense.

The shocker came when the fourth painter broke down when explaining that she was grieving her aunt’s death. She cried almost uncontrollably and the cowboy helped her along in her grief. She also said that her mother didn’t want to talk about it. Then, the horse that had run from her came up to her. It was an amazing animal-person moment, and cowboy said that horse was his most empathetic and now that she had let go her grief, the horse was ready to visit her.

I read somewhere that horses leave others in the herd alone in their grief; they don’t try to comfort one another.

Other things I learned is: I need to be much more open and much less secretive to them and others.

So, my goal for the rest of my life (as short or long as it may be) is to take down my walls of insecurity and long-time fear of scrutiny and rejection. Take down the wall is my new mantra. No shame. No blame. No fear.

Or, and I learned that I need to stretch much more (or at all). And, that I probably cannot hike for five miles. And, I’ll never give up sugar, caffeine, carbs or Wine.