Category Archives: Interesting Characters

Do Intuitives Bite? Part 1

In March of 2009 a local feed and tack store held a grand reopening and to create buzz and a festive atmosphere they

Rainbow Dolphin Stars

Villomina's online resume seemed a ton more solid than the fare I usually stumble upon.

invited purveyors of equine related goods and services to set up tables with information in the back store room. Christine and I went because we’re always up for a look-see at horsie crap and to test our resolve to not add another layer onto our already bulging bridle, blanket and saddle holders.

Christine is my tightly strung, deeply pedigreed Morab-style, horse-addicted neighbor. Her Type A ways often grip her upper body becoming a nagging pain in the neck. Maybe this could be attributed to being under the influence of my proximity if I could get her away from her dog kennel business as often as I’d like. But I don’t so you’re not pinning this one on me, see?

Hey,  here’s a fun fact – the noise of barking dogs stresses her out. Guess what concrete block kennel walls specialize in acoustically highlighting? You got it. So she was making her way around the perimeter of the event in her outgoing-ly talky talk way. Lo and behold who should she run up against but a bona fide European trained, energy-focused Intuitive Healer!

Villomina Schiff (not her real name, by the way) took one gander at Christine directed her to “platz” (sit) and started kneading the kinks and knots out of her neck and shoulders all the while admonishing her in that firm tone of, say, a sky instructor in the Swiss Alps about her apparent tendencies to hang onto to too much junk. She nailed it! Plus I liked her directness and I admired her almost instant ability to help Christine.

She handed us each her card and mentioned that not only could she help heal humans her specialty was with human-animal partnerships. Well this rang a bell in my noggin as Mumu and I had been having some difficulties what with the foot problems, and weird hump in his back and all. Was it all just health junk or was I somehow playing into the underlying causes. See? These are the sort of doubts the gullible, guilt-ridden horse-owning person like me lets herself get sucked into.

The positive effects of Villomina’s treatment on Christine lingered long enough to goad us to look up her website. It was just ugly enough to somehow give that scholarly quasi scientific feel without any  of the ol’ airy-fairy New Agey dancing dolphins, rainbows and stars, lots of stars.

Villomina Schiff - not her real name

Villomina Schiff - not her real name

She had recommendations from what looked like serious upper level dressage professionals and trainers. Her qualifications and training had come to her in Europe, home of homeopathy and closer than us to the home of reiki too, but me being American —  and I hate to admit this — I figured this could all probably be even better than whatever brands of this stuff they were peddling out in Taos or Berkeley. And I’m not saying this turned out to be 100% incorrect on a certain level.

So I made contact and soon she was out doing her thing to Mumu and me. Villomina thought she had made some sort of breakthrough contact with the mu-ster but how could she know he acts outgoing and kittenish with everyone and I just didn’t have it in me to burst her bubble on that one. After all, what does it matter I thought. Any help is good help when it comes to my nutty horse.

So then it was into the house, onto the message table thing and on with the reiki energy healing with me. This older-than-her-years kinda dowdy (but not paying too much attention to how you look is a healthy thing, right? Shows a level of self-acceptance we all strive for, right?) soothsayer stroked my arms and in so doing seemed to have called out some deeply rooted old issues  that had long been forgotten and without any coaching from me she seemed able to offer enlightenment as to their provenance. Huh. Kinda interesting and when she was done and we had laughed about it all I felt refreshed, reflective and decided she was cool.

And at that moment, I dare say, she was.

Turns out though, Villomina carries some stuff around with her too, as heavy and dark as the rest of ours. (See Do Intuitives Bite? Part 2)


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Do Intuitives Bite? Part 2

So Villomina was able to intuit some deeply stored old memories through her very own peculiar blend of energy work. I was impressed. We really seemed to hit it off too on that level where people used to accessing their inner resources find so delightful when we discover this ease with the esoteric in another.

workshop P D F

The workshop PDF

She shared that she was interested in finding a place where she could conduct workshops using her methods.  I mentioned how I had been looking at doing something like that right there at DogTrot Hill (www.QuantumSparks) With my art coaching experiences and her intuitive insight and guidance we figured we could offer a really zingy thing.

I readied the barn and the house. Villomina came over to discuss the day’s logistics. Interestingly she regaled me with tales that each ended by her revealing the private personal flaws of each of her past event partners in shocking detail.


I was speechless when she pulled the teeth from her mouth

In the middle of this she frowned mightily, reached into her mouth and yanked her teeth (uppers and lowers) right out and plopped them right into the open maw of her granny bag! “My oral surgeon vants me to stop bothering him about these teeth but they do not fit in my mouth the right way.” she explained.

She then went into great detail about the incompetence of this person, his receptionist and the social program that was paying the tab, as I worked on looking anywhere but at her flapping gums. I took it as one of those opportunities to look past appearance and embrace the inner beauty. No, I’m not kidding.


1. Why did I ignore her disturbingly unprofessional conduct?
2. Why had every partnership and personal relationship she described to me end with the other being some sort of perfect trainwreck of a human being in her opinion?

In hindsight all I have to say for myself is “Uhhhhh…..!”. While it was playing out in front of me though I blithely went forward as though a cantankerous collaborator spewing somewhat random criticism is The Perfect Partner for a day of introspective exploration. As far as I can figure, her spot-on intuition during our session made such a deeply positive impression on me I became blind to the obvious and focused rather on winning her continued approval as her equal. Sigh. Where’s the horse sense when I need it, eh?

The day came. The participants were a delightful array of engaging personalities. The workshop got underway.

Things unfolded in an organic and mostly smooth way. One guy became a bit long winded and I wondered why Villomina didn’t head him off at the pass – but I decided with her experience she was trusting the process rather than caving in to temptation to redirect the action.

horses in barn

He finally paused for a breath and the group took the opportunity to move on. I admired Villomina for putting up with it because all my senses had told me “Dive! Dive! Dive!”.

Her intuition must have told her others in group were benefiting from his self-focused soliloquy. I was looking forward to asking about that later.

On to the equine assisted activity!

(See Do Intuitives Bite Part 3 – below!)


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Do Intuitives Bite? Part 3

human and horse activity

The spiral labyrinth

Our Equine Assisted Activity was a walk along a spiral labyrinth. Each person chose a horse to accompany them on this symbolic journey. Horses always know how to be in these situations and each one fulfilled his role as the perfect accompaniment for his human’s personal purpose for the exercise. Notably, Villomina chose the mini Io to represent a past lover. He balked and bit his way into and out of their spiral. To her credit she laughed about it. To my credit I’m not posting photos I took of her experience here.

As everyone debriefed marveling at the pure appropriateness of each horse’s gentle guidance I zoomed into the house to finish lunch prep. Villomina gave a spiel about her idea of the perfect diet (note: never mind her pallor, her heft and that total lack of rooted teeth) which sounded a lot like what you might get at any Bavarian eatery or Parisian cafe but would  be largely unavailable to most every Asian, Central and South American on the planet. Her point about a general need to drink more water was a good one though. Can’t go wrong with water.

Back in the tranquility of the seats circled in the barn careful explorations into residual points people were willing to share with the group were shared and discussed.

circle of seats

Back to the circle of seats in the barn

Then it was time to turn up the music and gather round the art table where I had assembled a pile of colorful, shiny, fun objects for participants to create their own “Staff of Dreams” using repurposed tobacco sticks, ribbons, beads, bits of paper and applied positive intentions. A party atmosphere took over and we ended with a round robin expression of each person’s hopes and that, as they say, was that.

I was spent, exhausted and ecstatic! I thought I had never co-conducted a better experience. After everyone had left, the messes cleaned up and the horses turned out I emailed Villomina marveling at our synergy and the success of our creation. I was in a celebratory mood.

Not everyone was.


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Do Intuitives Bite? Part 4 w/Aftermath

porch seatingVillomina didn’t offer much of a response to my effusive email but you know the Swiss, so reserved. We scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to go over the highlights and settle the cash.

Her car barreled up the drive. The kitchen door banged shut and with her teeth firmly hidden behind a white-lipped smile she joined me at the table. Her eyes narrowed and tilting forward slightly she proceeded to ‘rip me a new one’ with three and a half days’ build-up of her own blackened emotional spew.

Turns out, not only had I “talked too much” I had also “not talked enough“. I “hadn’t supported her”. I, me and me alone, Marti McGinnis, the creative coach, facility provider, lunch chef, animal activity and art coordinator had been solely responsible for letting the talkative fellow ruin everyone’s morning.

The discussions had been Villomina’s only responsibility. It never occurred to me to step on her toes during the facilitation of any of the structured dialogues. I had wanted to cut that dude off immediately (Dive! Dive! Dive!) but figured Villomina was intuiting something valuable in his hijacking the conversation for the benefit of the group. Rather than make an attempt to take charge of her portion of the workshop she had been waiting for me to step in. Funny, right? Because that’s what I was waiting for her to do!

In her mind, I had “created such a fiasco” she was going to have to hold a special session with the attendees and most definitely NOT me to “repair the damage” I had done! She had more:  “Everyone who’d been present,” (except a personal friend of mine)  “had communicated their disappointment in me” to her. Weirdly, and I’ll never forget this, the more she went on, the bigger her smile became. She was enjoying herself!

As I let her words flow over and through me — because until a nanosecond ago I had held her in high esteem, a venerable resource, a powerhouse of truthiness — it was hard to integrate the meaning of her venomous diatribe. I went into that auto-polite mode of the well-trained apologist and slid the neatly stacked $1000 worth of booty at her – refusing to take my 50%. “Please give back my share to each participant at your fix-it event and tell them I’m so sorry.” I bleated. She offered to let me keep $100. But that felt like an insult. So she left with it all.

hands on horseAftermath

In the end I felt used and violated. My house felt sullied and my barn made impure. This was emotional rape! How had I let this happen? I Tibetan belled, sage smoked and swept the physical spaces, brushed and bathed the horses and deconstructed the art I had created during the workshop. The ol’  scrub, purge and burn! Though these exercises helped alleviate some of the pain I kept wondering why I had let this happen?

In the year since I’ve come to some conclusions, accepted my responsibilities and discovered the gifts in all of this.

In his book, “The Four Agreements”, Don Miguel Ruiz suggests the following:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

potted pansyFor me 1 and 4 are easy but in this situation I had completely ignored numbers 2 and 3. I had made a whole crazy series of assumptions about Villomina and had taken everything she said to me deeply personally, from the compliments all the way through to the accusations. You have to. If you accept the apparent positive you are then duty bound to to accept the negative. And you know what they say about assuming stuff.

This entire uncomfortable situation revealed to me in illuminated detail just what I need to work on!   It was an experiential learning opportunity for me to make a deep connection with a better way of assessing my role in this and all future situations. So that’s the gift. It’s huge and wonderful and hard won.

And here are the take away stocking stuffers also gleaned:

  • Just because you ask someone to refund money on your behalf doesn’t mean they’re going to.
  • Home is haven, barn is sanctuary, their occupants all worthy — steward them well.
  • Gossipy malcontent isn’t the typical descriptor you should look for in a workshop collaborator.
  • Beware of people who remove their teeth during polite conversation- they may throw them at you!
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Posted by on April 27, 2010 in Interesting Characters, off balance


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