Perhaps you’ve heard the question, “What’s in your wallet?” Today, I want to ask, “What’s in your stocking?” A fun, informational, and connecting moment you can be had at a get together with people you have just met, have known for quite some time, or even your entire life. Select a stocking and put five different items inside. When it’s your turn, you take an item and say something about what you are holding in your hand. You can tell a story, make up a story, or share its significance to you. Others will get to know your sentimental side, your hilarious side, or any other kind of side that you care to share. This is one simple exercise that holds a space for a story keeper of the family to pass along to listening ears, or a little history that someone might find helpful, even encouraging; not to mention, interesting. It’s an exercise that helps people get to know each other better. You know, its one thing to know something; it’s entirely different, bordering on wonderful, to be known by others. There is ONE rule! When the person with the stocking reaches in to bring out an item, EVERYONE (including the extroverts that have something to say about everything,) must do ONE thing: LISTEN. No interruptions, no, “Yeah, I have three of those at home,” remarks. LISTEN. No talking. Stay present. Stay in the moment. Bring your attention, and focus on the person with the Christmas stocking. I’d like to mention here, the number of items in the stocking is totally up to you based on the size of your group, timeline of the event, or other factors. One item is significant; in fact, there might be more consideration of which ONE item to select. I created different exercises such as this when I developed a horse program. The ratio was one instructor to four handlers, so we were in small groups. The beauty was learning how to honor each other, how to tune in, how to focus, how to respect, how to submit, and how to genuinely care. Each discovered meaningful connections to enhance relationships with one another, and even discovered some beauty about them. Horses have stockings too! In zoology, a stocking is a differently colored part of the lower leg of an animal (horse). There are five patterns identified: coronet, half pastern, pastern, sock, and stocking. A stocking is a sock that wraps around the leg from the top of the coronet extending up almost to the knee or hock. These colorful legs carry you up and down hills, through rugged ravines, lakes and ponds, over jumps, on beautiful trails at different speeds. What a classroom! Such beautiful and challenging moments! Balance, focus, communication, leadership, presence, awareness, relaxation, trouble-shooting, mastery from level to level be the DNA material of horsemanship. What an amazing ride. What an amazing journey. So, when the day comes and you look inside your Christmas stocking and you find a “horsey” gift card or item, it’s a Merry Christmas, indeed! Know that something came out of the wallet so something could come into the stocking. I hope you get the saddle you’ve been wanting for some time now, the horse trailer that went on sale or came up for sale just this Christmas, OR the horse/pony you have been dreaming of. I know, there are actually people who dream of a “White Christmas” and you’ve been dreaming of a white horse. I totally get you. God’s smile upon you, and have yourself a very MERRY CHRISTMAS time….. away in the stall.

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