Stephanie with Cisco, at Trout Stalker Ranch, NM. Photo: Virginie Pointeau

By guest author Stephanie Holdenried

I was recently interviewed about entrepreneurship and my equine facilitation practice by a writer at Eventbrite for their company blog. Among other questions, one he asked was, “When was the moment that you took the leap and went all in?”

I laughed and replied, “Every single morning, upon opening my eyes, I re-commit to being all in.”

Commitment. It’s a word or concept I’ve been thinking about a lot this month. Webster defines commitment as:

  1.  An agreement or pledge to do something in the future
  2.  Something pledged 
  3.  The state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

I renew my commitment to myself, my life and my dreams every single day when I wake up, swing my legs out of bed and my feet hit the floor. It’s actually commitment that gets me out of bed. Some days it is an emotionally impelled leap out the door, and for others, it’s simply holding that obligation in my head and heart and taking the next step, not knowing where it will take me. It’s about abiding by that pledge I’ve made to myself to simply keep going.

I grew up as the sixth generation on a multi-generational family ranch in Northern California. The commitment I learned there focused around getting crops harvested, animals fed, payrolls met, and land taken care of. Then there was the commitment to the broader community in which we lived. How is our family contributing? What is our legacy in this place, in this time? Where do I fit into these responsibilities? Big stuff. Important stuff. And sometimes more than a bit overwhelming when considered together.

As I’ve moved on in life, what has become true for me is that simple is better; when I get caught up in big ideas and big actions (with great enthusiasm, I might add), I find I’m most effective when operating from my core self.

This is where commitment comes in.

What is the commitment we can make to ourselves that makes all the big ones in the outside world fall into line? What is the vision we can hold for ourselves in the greater scheme?

In the newly-formed Circle 5 of Women in Ranching, which met in September at Trout Stalker Ranch in New Mexico, we distilled this into an “I am” statement that we said out loud before taking a walk with a horse partner.

Maybe you’re wanting to write a book—your “I am” statement could be: “I am an author.”  Or perhaps you are wanting to step out more within your family, community or organization. Your statement could be: “I am a leader.” 

It is not “I want to be a _____” or “I’m going to try to be  _____”. This is about stepping into and committing to what we want for ourselves, unapologetically and deservedly. We’re not waiting to be invited to dance; we’re going to just start dancing.

As we speak it, we not only hear it in our heads, but we feel it in our bodies.  We are tapping into our body’s wisdom as well as our intellect.

We’re not bogging ourselves down with the how, but committing to simply being. Trust that, when we make that pledge and revisit it, the opportunities for the how will appear. Tell others you’ve made this commitment. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and will support you in it.

A couple of notes:

  • This is not about what you think you should be doing. (As a dear friend of mine says, “Don’t should all over yourself.”)
  • Our commitments should feed us, not deplete us. They might scare us a little bit, and that’s a good thing. Growing outside our comfort zones requires getting a little uncomfortable—so get comfortable with it.
  • If waking up every morning and being an author is keeping you in bed and not propelling you out of it, then let it go. Life is short and should be sweet.

Years ago, when I was making a career change and scared to death even though I was following my heart, my commitment statement to myself was, “I am worthy.” I am worthy of success, of being seen, of being heard. I had a powerful walk on a blue sky day with a 37-year-old, flea-bitten gray mare named Tizzy. She had my back and propelled me into my new life as an equine facilitator.

Our Circle 5 participants’ walk with the horses was a walk into a new paradigm. Staking a claim for and committing to what they each wanted for themselves and the witnessing for each other was a powerful and beautiful day.

Each day brings a new challenge, a success, a failure, a learning, an opportunity, a blessing. There are the days I’m flying high, and others when the only action I can muster in line with my commitment is to get to the barn and clean water troughs. In that moment, it is the next right step.

My commitment to being an equine facilitator, to sharing my life with horses, and even to being worthy is one I make every single day.

What is your commitment?

About the author

Stephanie Holdenried is an equine facilitator based in Marin County, California. She creates and facilitates life skills and leadership experiences and programs for women and business leaders with horses. She is an avid horsewoman who graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and the sixth-generation of a ranching family in Northern California. Connect with her at:

About Women in Ranching

Learn more about Women in Ranching here. If you are: not yet part of a Circle but want to be; own or manage a ranch, and able to host 20+ women for 3 days; or interested in becoming a corporate sponsor or learning more about different ways of supporting Women in Ranching, contact Amber Smith:

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