Before 1972, women were not allowed to compete in U.S. Polo Assn. games. Sue Sally Hale didn’t go for that.

She played fearlessly and brilliantly for twenty years—disguised as a man. Sue Sally died in 2003 at age 65. Her obituary in the L.A. Times told how she “passed as a boy…”

… by tucking her ash-colored hair under a helmet, flattening her breasts with tape and wearing loose-fitting men’s shirts. She also wore a mustache, concocted with the help of makeup artists who were friends of her stepfather. She entered under the name A. Jones.

In her later years, Sue Sally taught riding and dressage at her Carmel Valley Polo Club in Northern California. 

Sue Sally sitting chilly

Sue Sally instructed her jumping students, particularly when they found themselves in such scary moments as hurtling toward a six-foot fence at the full gallop:

“Sit chilly.”

The “sit” part was particularly important (I pass this on from my friend Daphne Raitt who trained for years with Sue Sally) because the horse reads everything from the rider’s “seat.” If the man or woman in the saddle is scared, the horse knows it just from the feel of the rider on its back. The animal may balk at the jump if it feels fear from its rider.

“Chilly” speaks for itself.

Sue Sally’s axiom applies to you and me as writers or artists or athletes or entrepreneurs.

Resistance, remember, is experienced by us as fear. We’re afraid to start, afraid to keep going, afraid to finish, afraid to excel, afraid to expose ourselves to judgment.

Even in our practice, we’re afraid.

So, Sue Sally would tell us, “Sit” … meaning don’t let the horse beneath us, i.e. ourselves, feel our fear. 

And “sit chilly,” that is, remain cool and composed, despite our fear.

And don’t forget to tuck our hair up under our helmet.

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1

THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

noboybookcover

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

38 Comments

  1. Pete Miller on April 10, 2024 at 1:51 am

    Brilliant self-perpetuating advice Steven.
    By ignoring the fear, we become actors by default.
    “Nope. Nothing to see here”.

  2. Jeff on April 10, 2024 at 2:00 am

    wow…Thankyou.
    Great life application.

    • Paul Park on April 10, 2024 at 6:49 am

      Good advice for riders and writers. Thanks

  3. Malaika on April 10, 2024 at 2:01 am

    I love this, Steven! Writing Wednesdays are always such a highlight! 🙂

    • Julie M. on April 10, 2024 at 4:29 am

      Agreed! 👏🏽👏🏽🥰

      • Rhaea on April 11, 2024 at 2:16 pm

        Hi Steven,
        Your article surprised me. I was one of Sue Sally’s students.
        She was always teaching us to face our fears. One time she was teaching me to jump a ditch-jump. My horse did not like ditches. I wasn’t all that fond of them myself. A big yawning hole, what was there to like? Naturally, because of my not committing, my horse refused. Quess where I ended up? Yes, the ditch, with a frog or two.
        Sue Sally must have worked hard not to laugh at me. Instead, she encouraged me to try again. I did. We made it over. Sue Sally was one of my best teachers and a dear friend.
        Thanks for honoring her. Rhaea

        • Joe on April 12, 2024 at 8:02 am

          Lovely. Thanks for adding this, Rhaea.

    • Jenn on April 10, 2024 at 4:38 am

      “Sit chilly.” Perfect reinforcement today, Steven. My mind is the ass to my body.

  4. Peter J Edwards on April 10, 2024 at 2:21 am

    Love this. To sit and not stir. To be still. To be present and patient. To not act is an act…. It’s often what we do not react to that allows us to keep going.
    Thanks for this reminder and great story. – Pete

  5. Tolis on April 10, 2024 at 2:44 am

    Thank you very much dear Steve!

    Respect and awe in the presence of the symbol of the lady who dressed in real life as a man to chase a dream or a goal.

    On the other hand, no respect for the symbols of people who use other’s ideas to their fame. I even consider antagonism as a great flaw of humanity.

    I was in Athens last week and as I was walking through the center, heading for a beautiful museum (of ancient greek technology) where I admired the armors of Agamemnon and Achilles and Hector, from which even a Total War game is inspired and used one or more specific ones for an aspect of their games, I saw on the window of a book shop one of your books’ titles in big letters, could see it from meters away, in stacks. But when I closed up, to my disappointment it was a book by another writer’s name. I thought it was yours but it wasn’t. Of course that may not mean anything, it just reminded me of the other side.

    To the point: you said it best, that beginning that noone can forget “He sits on that chair. He does his work.”

    The chilly part I don’t know, I’m not sure about it. But I can dream myself sitting chilly and composed, that would be like heavens. Maybe in another life 😀

    Finally, I got a glimpse of another aspect of Resistance a couple of days ago. Resistance as a thief of memory. Hmm.

  6. Ben on April 10, 2024 at 3:12 am

    I’m convinced that much of life and our relationships are a matter of selling, meaning we’re often trying to sell something to someone. This just as often isn’t directly monetary, but rather trying to persuade someone to see our point of view, or to support our idea, like to convince our kids that it makes sense to save money, avoid debt, and better prepare themselves for the future.

    That all being said, in sales training the good programs teach about confidence. If you’re not comfortable and confident, you give off a “scent” with “tells” that transmit your insecurities to your prospects, customers or clients. Once they sense it, which can be within the first 10-15 seconds, your insecurities are a big turn-off and then you’re just about doomed. Most salespeople over estimate their abilities, minimize their faults, and under estimate their clients’ perceptions. Bad combination. Interesting to see this about horses and “sitting” – I’ve heard this concept before not just with horses, but in dog training when it comes to confidence…and you can easily overlay this to human relationships.

    Thanks, Steve. Appreciate the content.

  7. wordle unlimited on April 10, 2024 at 3:56 am

    Thank you for spending your precious time sharing this rewarding information! We really need the same information! I hope you can share more.

  8. Rob Ozborne on April 10, 2024 at 4:09 am

    Thank you for this.

    Recently heard Tom Green (not Green Tom) discussing the importance of expressing confidence to his mule. When riding, he found that if he set his mind right, unafraid of rough terrain and what-have-you, the mule would ride along. But indulge the nervousness, water his inner timidity, and the mule would react in kind.

    “Sit chilly.” Brilliant.

  9. Joe on April 10, 2024 at 5:26 am

  10. Lucy on April 10, 2024 at 5:28 am

    I’ve been so scared recently after stopping drinking (we – my man and I – have committed to forty days and forty nights of abstinence from alcohol after, in my case, a life time of dependency and abuse) for ten days now and having all kinds of health problems. Don’t let the buggers tell you that this is suddenly all roses and sunshine! But I’ve noticed that my fear can be really overwhelming (I have had all kinds of high blood pressure spikes, and I’m not sure what organ damage is going on, because I can’t get to the doctor’s – no appointments and anyhow … I’m scared …) but it’s a good rollercoaster! (Oh, and before you tell me I’m a fool, I am already on BP tablets and I’m monitoring BP and will go in next week if it keeps spiking). I love this advice. I’ve been sitting with my fears, fear of death, fear of stroke, fear of loss, fear of change, and turning it into words. That strange alchemy. And breathing long and slow. And emerging from the morasse (can’t spell that) of chaos, and feeling my courage like a new bud, growing towards the light… Thank you, Steve!

    • Joe on April 10, 2024 at 7:59 am

      Keep with it, Lucy. The bumper sticker says “one day at a time.”

      And funny though… right before coming in here to read, I saw this video clip. Author Henry Miller talking about “you shouldn’t be five steps ahead. Only the very next one. And you can keep to that. You’re always all right.”

      It’s a Zen thing.

      https://youtu.be/PYL3mB3rAfU?si=oprIuNWBwgtG5Pfu&t=10

    • Richard Ritenbaugh on April 10, 2024 at 8:11 am

      More power to you! Keep going! A “chilly” mindset is what you need right now.

      I have a nephew who needs to do what you are doing. Kudos to you!

    • Jackie on April 10, 2024 at 1:41 pm

      Stick to it Lucy. Sending good vibes your way. The link is written by someone who has been there. You might want to check it out. Best to you.
      https://thedailyaddictcom.wordpress.com/2024/04/10/am-i-safe-4-10/#like-12492

  11. Hubert Grealish on April 10, 2024 at 5:40 am

    What a hero she was!

    ‘Sit chilly’ caught my email eye and I thought this could be good – didn’t expect such a great tale. She was amazing!

    Thank you for sharing her inspiration. Thankfully too we’ve come a long way, maybe too for but not far enough as some might not say.

    Thanks!
    HG

  12. Kathy on April 10, 2024 at 5:54 am

    Thank you 🍃🌸🍃

  13. Jesse on April 10, 2024 at 6:00 am

    I wonder if the writer of Black Stallion, had Sue Sally Hale in mind when they wrote that exact line into a scene where Muckey Rooney is teaching the young boy how to ride his horse. Except it was the “iceman” in the movie he was referring to. What’s so iconic about the scene is the young boy playing Alex showed up to audition his horse. Which was hired. But what really caught the producers eye was its young owner. A charming young freckle faced lad who unfortunately had a severe stutter. So the dialogue was pared down to absolutely bare minimum studs so the young horseman could play the lead. So as the legendary actor Rooney is delivers this line, he too is “sitting chilly” as he gently waits for Alex to deliver his line without stammering. A study in true acting craftsmanship and a story within a story for you movie buffs. By the way, in case anyone cares, I rate this movie a 10 out of 10. A masterpiece if ever there was one.

  14. Anne McDermott on April 10, 2024 at 6:06 am

    I love this so much! It’s playful and powerful. Sue Sally is now my idol!

    Thank you, Steven!

  15. Suzanne D on April 10, 2024 at 6:33 am

    Wonderful, as always.

  16. Cathy Ryan on April 10, 2024 at 6:52 am

    ‘Sit chilly.’ I love this. Thank you, Steve

  17. Amy Martinsen on April 10, 2024 at 7:22 am

    I love this! Thank you so much.

  18. Jeffrey Earl Warren on April 10, 2024 at 8:36 am

    Stretch, i grew up with a horse named Lady. She was just a mixed breed—hardly a polo pony—great for trail riding and herding cattle. When i was on her, or another adult, she would toss her head and “high step” raring to go at any second. Put a child on her and she was as docile as a puppy. She would walk for hours in a circle without even being led. Sue Sally was right on and “good on ya’ mate” for passing it along..

  19. Telma Setti on April 10, 2024 at 11:12 am

    As usual, GREAT! I am a painter and I will have my first Solo Show in 3 weeks. You have no idea how much you have been helping me with all your books, specially The War of Art and Turning Pro. This article came out at the Perfect time for me. Thanks a lot Steven. I really appreciate it.

  20. Jackie on April 10, 2024 at 1:37 pm

    Another gem for thought, thanks Steve. “Sit chilly”, I recalled the times I did this, though I had no name for it. Thanks for the memories. I’m ready to take on tomorrow.

  21. Doug Setter on April 10, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    Keep your cool.
    I remember doing or trying to do this while military parachuting, kickboxing and asking a woman on a date. Oh yeah, and writing as well. Keep the calm.

    Thanks for the post.

  22. Renita Wellman on April 10, 2024 at 8:01 pm

    🙏 Steve and All.
    There are four tenets in Buddhism. One of these is “dispassion” and another is “discernment”.
    Dispassion means sitting chilly.
    Discernment has to do with being aware of what is changing and what is eternal or unchanging. . Only the one who is sitting chilly can observe the changing scene.
    That’s my present understanding.
    Renita.
    P. S. Sorry my website is down at the moment. Please comment if you think it’s worth having one.

  23. murielle on April 11, 2024 at 12:06 am

    I love this story !
    It gives me so much inspiration as an entrepreneur and horse-rider. You made my day again.
    Wednesday is becoming my favorit day 😉

  24. Craig Lueck on April 12, 2024 at 12:24 pm

    Beautifully done.
    Writing brain – GiddyUP!
    Thanks, Steven

  25. Julie on April 12, 2024 at 3:27 pm

    I love it!!

  26. Steve F. Escoto on April 14, 2024 at 2:04 pm

    Sit Chilly, great advice under most circumstances…
    Thank you

  27. greg on April 26, 2024 at 4:49 am

    nice

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