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Happy, Healthy & Horsey: The Challenge Continues

Days 8-14 of Esther’s challenge!

Last week, you got days 1-7 of the current 30-day challenge!  This week, here is a recap of what we covered in our 30-day challenge for days 8-14.

8. Happiness. Want to feel happier? Take responsibility for your time and realize you choose how to invest every minute of every day. Instead of whining, “I don’t have time for X (“X” could be riding, reading, basketweaving – fill in the blank with whatever makes you happy!)” realize that what you’re really saying is, “X is not a priority for me.” Note there’s no judgment included in that statement, so don’t let the demons of self-condemnation start shouting, “you’re a horrible person for not making X a priority!” Just understand that your choices directly affect your happiness, and that includes choice of time investments.

9. Money Madness. Debt => burden => fear => overeating => obesity. That is not to say that every overweight person has too much debt. It is to say, however, that self-medicating by spending more than one has on hand can lead to the sense of guilt and burden, ugh! Who wants to deal with guilt and burden? Nobody. Why? Because negative feelings can make us anxious and fearful. Feeling fearful? One quick way to soothe that fear is by overeating, especially junk foods full of sugar and fat. Which leads us to feeling terrible about ourselves, but we don’t want to eat more, soooo… online shopping here we come, and the debt cycle continues its vicious spin. You would never “overspend” your horse’s energy reserves, right? So treat your AmEx with the same respect!

10. Silly Sloths. Horse people rarely have “spare” time. As a general rule, we don’t sit on social media for hours, whining about being bored. Most of us wish we had more hours in the day, or less chores and responsibilities, or some combination of both. But whether you ascribe to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up or The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, (both are great reads, I might add, although I’ve neither talked to, nor sworn at, my socks…) the truth is, we humans – like our horses – function best in an environment that is orderly, clean, and without excess chaos. Not only does it help us stay healthy and well, it greatly lessens the chances of tripping over things in the middle of the night when that foaling alarm goes off! So take 10 minutes each day and tidy up something – start with your sock drawer, or something simple like that. Winter is coming, and all the YWCAs and shelters across America can certainly use your gently used clothing. Clean up, keep only what you love, and donate the rest! Win! Win!Win!

11. Short Circuits. “Rewiring” our brain from decades of negative self-talk and self-image can be challenging. But it is oh-so-necessary if we want to achieve happiness and health. So each time a negative statement comes screaming through the “front door” of your consciousness, usher it quickly out the back door, like you’d shoo a fox out of your hen house! In other words, negate that negative thought and replace it with a positive one. Here’s an example. “Esther, you are SUCH a failure!  You’ve been working for months and months and have yet to reach your weight-loss goal! Big fatty! You’ll never succeed! Failure! Nyah!  Nyah!”

Bleah, right? Here’s the remedy: “Okay, kiddo, so you have not reached your weight-loss goal by the prescribed timeframe you originally had hoped. And you know what? That’s JUST FINE! First, you’ve maintained a consistent regimen of nutritious food and regular exercise despite a divorce and a major wreck off your horse this year! YAY, YOU! You have not gained weight. YAY, YOU! And you still have your entire being focused on getting healthy, losing more weight, and learning to be happy with yourself – who you are, as opposed to who you perceive others think you should be. You’re learning and growing, just like your horse, and you would never berate Kaliwohi with such negative language, so do not do so to your own fine self. Rest. Revive. Refocus. And go forward!”

12. Playful Ponies. Autumn brings crisp air and frisky equine friends. That’s all well and good, but we have to teach our horses sufficient discipline so we are safe when interacting with them. Similarly, when the cool temps and short days entice us to go into partial hibernation mode, we need to discipline ourselves to still be active. “Movement is life” say most yoga masters, and we understand that from our own horse’s well-being. Same applies to us. So play with your horses and keep moving, even through the winter months!

Working with Kaliwohi on yielding to pressure to move backwards. Photo by Greg Bell.

13. Walk in the Woods. Naturalist John Muir has some wise thoughts about walking in the woods. Whether you enjoy a brisk hike or a relaxing saunter, there is something very uplifting about being surrounded by trees. So as often as possible, take 10-30 minutes out of your day and go “take a hike.” You’ll be glad you did. You’ll also be happier and healthier!

Taking Kaliwohi for a walk in the woods. Photo by Greg Bell.

14. Twist and Shout! Most – ahem – “mature” adults rarely ever play. We may take riding lessons, or tennis lessons, or golf lessons, or what have you, but we turn those recreational activities into competitions and demand ourselves to get better with each ride or hour on the links. Our overachieving souls can make even the most fun activity seem like work, and the pressure we place on ourselves to do every single thing perfectly can take its toll on our happiness. The solution? Dance. Move your body in rhythm – any rhythm. Just move your body. Even the most advanced horse still needs some turnout time at liberty, to move and buck and play and enjoy moving his/her own body. You deserve the same! So dance! Give yourself permission to have fun and refuse to worry about “what you look like” or “what will everyone else think.” Turn off the brain for 10 minutes and just dance!

My mustang is my best friend, even when I’m grounded for a while. Photo by Greg Bell.

Next week: The Challenge, Part Three

#GrowBOLDnotOld

Go Riding.

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