A few days ago, I blogged about the importance of authenticity in assuring a happy and fulfilling life, and also noted that Neil Pasricha, the author of “the Book of Awesome,” and the 1000 Awesome Things blog, calls authenticity one of the three parts of awesome.

I additionally offered an authenticity challenge to my readers: be authentic at least once in the coming weeks.

However, I also put myself to the same challenge and related that I would work with my horse, Celine, in an equine therapy session to help clarify for me just how I was feeling.

So here are the results of that session:

Entering the enclosed round pen, I reached up to unbuckle the worn leather halter that had been handed down from multiple horses before Celine. The halter hadn’t been mine, but instead had arrived with a horse that my friend, who’d sold me Celine, had taken in. And just then, I wondered what stories it might have to tell.

Celine’s soft nuzzle broke my daze and she tucked her head in toward me as she often did now. In the beginning, she’d been very shy, and reticent to approach me, or really anything for that matter. It was as if the entire world seemed completely overwhelming and the puffing sound of her snort accompanied her everywhere she went. At the time, I had searched for places that didn’t seem to terrify her, and yet, even with me close, she was preoccupied with fear.

But today I was asking Celine to answer the questions. I wanted to know just what was underneath the uneasy feeling that had settled over me like a layer of dust.

So I turned and walked away. I wanted to let her tell me just how she wanted to approach me. She followed me closely, her soft eye not wavering from my shoulder. As I walked on, toward the edge of the wooden panel that encompassed the round pen, I wondered if something about me made Celine feel as if I needed to be watched.

Just then, my powerful bay mare stepped around and in front of me, effectively cutting me off. As I paused, she circled around me, and I stood still, waiting. She continued around me several times, her bright copper red coat shining in front of me as she passed each time.

Celine must have circled five or more times before finally coming to a stop next to my right shoulder again. But each time I attempted to walk on again, she stopped me, circling again. She was, in fact, making me stay still.

But this circling behavior is also seen frequently in herd animals, often displayed by an older herd member protecting a younger, weaker one. ‘So just why was Celine protecting me?’ I wondered.

And then it hit me. Two weekends ago, while running with my younger brother, he’d confided that a childhood friend of ours had recently taken his life. At the time, I wouldn’t have guessed that such news would have affected me in such a way, but now, what I realized was that hearing this reminded me of the many times my brother had almost taken his own life, due to a powerful drug addiction.

Considering this, I also realized that it had been some time since I’d asked my brother (now almost three years sober) how he felt he was doing. And I also knew exactly what I needed to say to him — that I was still afraid for him.

So now, the next step is to of course: speak these words. Stay tuned to hear how this goes, the results of which will be in the next blog.

Horse in a corral photo available from Shutterstock.