Please click and drag the white arrows to see my underwater transformation.
My name is Tara Coyote, I’m 51 years old. I was born and grew up in Saratoga, CA. I now live in Kauai, Hawaii. I teach Equine Facilitated Learning (horses healing humans).
I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in September 2016. It spread to be stage 4 two years ago and I came very close to dying as it spread to multiple places in my body. After heavy treatment and my hip breaking from bone metastasis, I am now grateful to be in remission.
What (or who) inspired you and why did you want to be involved in this project?
I saw Brittney Beadle’s photos about her time with Erena and it inspired me to want to try it! I have always loved the water and it seemed like a fun way to celebrate all the challenges I have been through.
What were your plans for the photo shoot? What are you expecting from it?
I did not really have plans as I didn’t know what to expect. I was very excited to try it. I told Erena I had not been in the water very much in the last year, but the thought of being in a warm, salt water pool was very appealing. I was drawn to Erena from seeing her photos, website and watching some of her videos and saw what a beautiful, inspired person she is. It seemed like a perfect way to celebrate my life and overcome adversity!
How was the experience with an underwater portrait session?
It was lovely. Some of it was more challenging then I had expected like holding my breath and figuring out poses underwater. I had the most fun wearing the mermaid tale, that was a lot of fun and felt natural and easy for me!
How was your mood after you finished?
That is hard to describe. I felt elevated and excited after being in the water. I also felt a bit shook up. (I think the shook-up part is because I have been holding so much stress around a very stressful circumstance in my life. I realized when I was in the water how much stress I have been carrying.) This was a good thing for me to realize! I think my experience of being with you was a powerful way to release tension and come to a place of self-realization and healing.
I was super proud of myself for facing a bit of fear of using my mermaid tale actually! I had been hesitant to try it and was excited to see after doing it that it was quite easy for me!
Being the water with the fabric was difficult for me as I felt the fabric quite heavy in the water. (The white material).
It would have been nice to have more time to connect with Erena afterwards but I knew we had to go as a class was happening. I was grateful for the experience and for her loving open heart. 😉
What does WATER mean to you? Do you think this experience could help overcoming your trauma? Would you go back to the water again?
Yes for sure! I would do it again after practicing a bit more to get comfortable with the sensation of being under the water. I felt a bit of shyness being photographed as being deep in the water is such a private experience for me. In the past I would dive down in the water, swim underwater like a dolphin and feel very much at home. Knowing a camera was pointed at me was a whole other experience..
Water is a very easy and effortless element for me. I feel at home in the water. Yes this experience did help me overcome my trauma, it helped me embrace all that my body has been through..
How did you sleep the night of the photo shoot? Compared to the usual days?
Hmmmmmm I slept very deeply. Just realized that!!! 😉 I had a deep restful sleep.
How was Erena working with you?
She is/was wonderful! She helped me feel safe in a new challenging situation. She helped me put my tail on… 😉 I was nervous to try that. She was very encouraging and loving throughout the process. I felt a bit like a dimwit in certain moments with my dress and the fabric as I didn’t know if I was doing it ‘right’. (Oh the attachment to perfection!!). Then when I put the tail on a vast sense of fun and playfulness came forth. That was wonderful!! That is when I relaxed and had fun with the experience…
It was thanks to her that I tried that. I almost got frustrated with putting the tail on and stopped. Thanks to her help I got it on!! So thank you!!
Would you recommend underwater transformation to other survivors or anyone?
Yes for sure! I will definitely recommend it to my friends and thriver friends… I think it is a brilliant way to reclaim your body, play and enjoy the blessings of being in a human body. It’s a wonderful way to face fear. You are such a great holder of space.
Thank you, Tara for working with me! I have one more question. How did you get into the horse healing business and what is your relationship with the horses?
I was a horse crazy little girl who constantly begged her parents for a horse. Despite my desperate pleas, I never got my dream horse. (This was actually a shame as I would have been less of a trouble making teenager if I had a horse!) When puberty hit I forgot all about horses, until I read the bestselling book by Linda Kohanov, ’The Tao of Equus’. Linda’s book helped me remember that I had loved horses as a youth. A few years later a very traumatic incident occurred in my picture perfect, Pilates studio owner life in Marin County, CA which threw my world utterly upside down. This event left me devastated.
To pull myself out of the shadows, I was called to spend time with the horses again. Through each horse encounter I slowly began to thread my life back together again. The experience of being with the horses affected me so deeply that I was inspired to sell my successful Pilates studio and eventually buy a horse ranch. I can honestly say that the horses saved my life.
Over a few years’ time I became trained through Linda Kohanov’s organization Eponaquest as an Equine Facilitated Learning teacher. I created a horse retreat center (Wind Horse Sanctuary) in Nevada City, CA (Northern Ca.) In my five years of running the retreat center hundreds of people attended one- and three-day workshops, ‘Grief Rituals with Horses’ and stayed at the tranquil sanctuary with my gorgeous herd of four horses.
I now live happily on my ancestral land in Kaua’i, Hawaii in a off the grid yurt on 3.5 acres where my two horses roam freely on the property. I am soon to publish my book ‘Grace, Grit and Gratitude’ about how horses have been a powerful healing force throughout the last eight years of my life.
I am blessed to know horses so deeply.
Please connect with her to share your experience and potential meet up in the future!