“Gratitude is one of my favorite things.”
Thursday of this week was “Thanksgiving” holiday for most folks in the United States. The holiday is based upon the tradition that the native peoples on this continent helped European settlers survive their first years here by teaching them about crops and hunting; during harvest season, the two cultures enjoyed peaceable bounty together.
Cultural respect is a good thing. Peace is a good thing. Bounty is a good thing. Gratitude is one of my favorite things, so Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays.
It’s become my family’s tradition for everyone to gather here and “bring a dish.” I make the traditional turkey and dressing and a few other things, and we have enough food for dozens of folks, even though there are only about ten people present each year. Ah, the joys of leftovers, right?
This year, however, is different for me. I’m still cooking the main course and all that bit, but, when I reflect on “me” now versus “me” in years past, I realize I am no longer eagerly awaiting the third slice of mama’s homemade pumpkin pie.
My appetites have changed. I’m sure I’ll enjoy one small piece of pumpkin pie, but the idea of gorging until I am miserably uncomfortable is just not appealing to me any more.
I’m not yet “fit” – as in “fit” like the models of Athleta and Title Nine — but I’m also no longer anywhere near as heavy and out of shape as I was this time last year. And reflecting back on my journey to fitness thus far gives me the best gift I could ever ask for: CONFIDENCE. My hopes over the past year have combined with successes to build my confidence in how to handle situations where excess, tasty food will be openly available to me.
I know, even before all the family arrives and the food is cooked and the table set, I will be successful with food this holiday. That’s not arrogance. It is confidence.
It’s the same type of confidence we as riders know, when we have schooled our horses thoughtfully and carefully until they consistently perform a certain movement or skill, now they’ve “got it.” They understand and will consistently perform as expected.
These days, I can consistently rely on Kaliwohi to halt when I ask him to halt, walk when I ask for walk, trot when I ask for trot, and canter when I ask for canter. It is the same with me and food: I understand myself well enough at this point to know I can handle a day of bountiful food and not overindulge to gross excess.
This past year I have experienced great moments of progress in my mustang’s journey, and in my own. I am deeply grateful for every successful ride on my mustang to date. And I am deeply grateful for achieving sufficient self-growth and self-awareness to the point where I feel like I can handle holiday eating like a “normal” person and not like a dreadfully insecure obese person.
Together, Kaliwohi and I are growing in mutual trust and confidence and experience and reliability.
Just a few days ago, Kaliwohi proved himself on his very first trail ride. In some ways, such an outing for him can be considered parallel to all the food choices for me that will be on the Thanksgiving table. A trail ride is new territory filled with abundant stimuli and a mustang (or any horse) can choose to process and respond, or choose to panic and react.
As herd animals, I believe the single most influential factor for a horse when it comes to making those choices is this: how much do I trust my rider (or driver, for harness fans)? A horse that has grown to trust his rider will typically process and respond, instead of panic and react.
We build trust by repeated acts of reliability. Trust reliably placed builds more trust. My mustang is learning to trust me in new environments and endeavors because we’ve put in the time and effort to slowly and carefully build up a mutual trust that continues to grow.
I trust myself regarding the abundant food that will be available on Thanksgiving because, over the course of the past few months, I have been slowly and carefully building my own self-trust regarding food, social situations, and family situations; I’ve been learning to make consistent, balanced, sane choices regarding food while processing any stress or stimuli in much more healthy ways. (Yoga, anyone?)
For your post-Thanksgiving enjoyment, I’m sharing a few photographs of Kaliwohi’s first trail ride. It was blissfully relaxing and fun for both of us. I am so grateful to have such a kind and willing riding partner.