Gratitude, growing pains, and giant steps.
As the New Year approaches, it’s a great time to look back and reflect on 2017 and acknowledge all the growth achieved and goals attained, while also looking forward to setting new goals and anticipating more growth.
First and foremost, I want to express my deepest gratitude for you, the Horse Nation readers. There are 86,400 seconds in every day; many of you choose to spend some of those seconds every Friday reading this column, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Some of you are also members of the Fat to Fit to First Level Group and invest time reading the Daily Tip I post there. You’ve encouraged and supported me – and each other – and we’re all more fit and flexible and fun as a result.
I also want to say a ginormous “Thank You!” to my editor, Kristen Kovatch-Bentley. She’s a brilliant writer in her own right, and a thoughtful and generous editor, as well.
By nature, I am not a “bold” person. I’m an introvert, and a highly sensitive one, thus fear has inhibited me for much of my life. Fear of ridicule. Fear of being abandoned. Fear of failure. Fear of success. It’s crazy that an independent, successful, highly-functioning woman can have so much negative gunk buried deep in her head that is always shouting some variation on the same overarching message: “You are not good enough.”
I’m grateful that my very first horse, Sam, was such a sweet, loving animal I was always “good enough” to ride him, even though I was clueless about classical riding principles. I’m grateful my second horse, Lady Grace, is such a finely tuned mare that she demanded I learn to ride so my skill could match her talent.
And I’m grateful that my fundamental love of the quintessential “paint pony” was strong enough in 2014 to make me scan the Bureau of Land Management American Mustang adoption pages and stumble upon a picture of the quiet eye and old soul of my current riding partner, Kaliwohi.
One year ago, on Christmas Day 2016, I stepped on the scales and saw 207 pounds. I have never felt so ashamed or hopeless in my life. No longer “young” and no longer “trim,” I felt like I had let myself down in the worst possible way, and that my life was, practically speaking, over.
But Kaliwohi was turning five in 2017 and that meant he was ready for backing and training, and I had adopted him with every intention of giving him an excellent education and a long and happy life. So, while my own self-worth may not have been enough to inspire me to take better care of myself, my love for my horse was deep enough and strong enough to be a lifeline towards health, happiness, and wholeness.
And thus this journey began in earnest.
In 2017, I lost over twenty pounds. I’ve kept those pounds off. My goal for 2018 is to finish getting all the excess pounds gone and to get as fit as possible. I am an athlete and my horse deserves my best. As Dr. Rick Rigsby says, “Good enough isn’t good enough if it can be better. And better isn’t good enough if it can be best.”
I am better than I was one year ago. But that is not good enough, because I can be better still. I can be fitter, I can eat healthier, I can lose more pounds. I have not yet achieved my “best” but I have the vision, the determination, and the resolve to get there.
In 2017, I backed a horse that once roamed wild and free in Wyoming. He is neither afraid of me nor intimidated by me, because I followed the old-school masters and gained Kaliwohi’s trust first. I value that trust like a priceless and irreplaceable heirloom.
In 2017, I took Kaliwohi to his first activity away from home after a mere 30 days under saddle. I focused on only one thing: make sure Kiwi’s first off-property experience – a clinic with JJ Tate – was a positive one. Thanks to the support and kindness of the hostess, fellow riders, auditors, and JJ herself, Kiwi and I had a fantastic time.
As 2017 draws to a close, I look back at the year behind me and realize just how far I’ve come from where I was on January 1, 2017. My journey is inward, to find my authentic self, by digging down through all the years and fears and tears of “shoulds” and “maybes” and “what ifs” and “you’ll never be good enoughs” in order to set my own unique spirit free to express herself as she truly is. As I shed those burdens, my body gets lighter, more agile, and more energetic. The journey is inward, but the results show clearly. I ride better. I write better. I live better.
And I am regaining my happiness, one stride at a time.