Happy, Healthy & Horsey: The Challenge, Part 3

Are you participating in Esther’s 30-day challenge?

Photo: Esther Roberts

In the Happy, Healthy, & Horsey Facebook group we recently began a thirty-day challenge. The purpose of this challenge is to offer some tips and tricks for everything from weight loss to time management, so we can get one (or even two!) steps closer to being — you guessed it — happy, healthy and more horsey.

The Challenge Part One and Part Two bring us to Part Three, days 15 through 21!

Day 15: Halfway Half-halts. Halfway through our 30-day challenge, it’s time to stop and reflect on the past two weeks. What has gone well? What can you do better? A gentle review, like a soft half-halt, can help us stay focused on our long-term goals, even when “long-term” is only 30 days.

Day 16: Why? This little one-word question has kept humans awake or distracted or distraught or angry or insert-your-negative-emo forever. Why me? Why did I miss that distance and drop a rail? Why did I not ask for more inside bend? Why did I eat all those cookies? Why did I not exercise for even five minutes today? Why? Why? Why? Instead of focusing on those negative whys, how about targeting your positive whys? WHY do I want to be healthier? Focus on THAT, and you have provided a self-motivator that can’t be beat!

Day 17: Why Not? Why not you? You look around and see all the ads for cute, stylish equestrian fashions modeled by cute, skinny professional models. We are athletes. We need muscles. “Skinny” does not necessarily mean “strong,” friends. So instead of constantly comparing your own fine self to everyone else – or anyone else – look yourself in the mirror with as much tenderness as you would your bestie and ask, with every ounce of sincerity you can muster, “Why not YOU?” Why not you to be happier? Why not you to be healthier? And why not you to be whatever the freakishly awesome YOU that you want to be!

Day 18: One Thing After Another. If your life is anything like mine, it sometimes seems that some twisted gnome is in charge of my entire schedule and the little shrew delights in tossing one chaotic thing after another in my path like some maniacal eventing course designer who wants to watch me crash at every. single. jump. Bleah. But life is life and we can’t bail mid-stride, so what does one do? Focus on the jump in front of you, not the one a half-mile away. THIS thing. DO. THIS. THING.

And then refocus on the next thing. Do that thing. Do it to the absolute best of your ability. Complete that thing. Then ignore it all and refocus on the next thing. This is how we navigate riding, whether our discipline of choice is dressage or jumping or whatever. Horses are brilliant teachers of living “in the now” because that is precisely how they think and live. Focused on the thing in front of them, with nary a care for whatever was behind and whatever lies ahead. Be your horse. One thing. One.

Day 19: Tacky Tacky Tacky. The word “tacky” is one of the most useful Southernisms ever invented. Southern females, in particular, use this term like we put butter on biscuits. A term of derision, “tacky” denotes a blatant lack of style or decorum. Remember all those images of late-night Wal-Mart shoppers that go around the internet on a regular basis, like the guy in the knit dress, or the gal wearing skin-tone tights? There ya go: tacky. But! For this challenge, we are talking about channeling our inner Pony Clubber (even if, like me, you’d never heard of Pony Club until you were much too old to participate in such fun!) and cleaning our tack. Why? Because one component of being happier and healthier and, yes, horsier, too, is the joy of walking into your tack room and seeing gleaming hardware, glowing leather, and blindingly white saddle pads. So, challengers, turn up the radio, grab your favorite cleaning supplies, and give your tack a great cleaning! (Bonus: You may even work up a sweat!)

Day 20: B.E.E.R. Yes, of course, if you’re old enough and like the stuff, by all means enjoy a libation of your choice. But today’s lesson is the acronym B.E.E.R.: Break Every Exasperating Rule. Some weight-loss gurus advise us to never skip breakfast. But some folks have great success with weight loss when they do not eat anything until noon. Some gurus advise “only weigh once a week.” But some folks prefer to weigh every day. The key here is: find what works for y-o-u. If you’re like me, that may take some time, and some trial-and-error. But the time is going to pass anyways, so isn’t it better to invest that time striving to find your own individual winning formula, instead of spinning your wheels to the point of frustration and giving up, trying to “do what the experts say” with little or no results? You do you.

Day 21: Shoot Your Nags. “You should really get up thirty minutes earlier, you know.” (This despite the fact that many nights I get less than six hours of sleep.) “You can’t go to a theme park by yourself; you’ll look like such a loser!” “You always eat the cookies. ALWAYS. You have no discipline whatsoever. LOSER!” And on gallops the herd of inner nags. I’m guessing you have some, too.

Well, friends, it’s time to shoot your nags. All of them. Without mercy. How, you ask? By facing each nag and facing it down. Sometimes out loud, even. When my inner nag tells me I should get up even earlier than I already do, because, you know, some humans do get up at 5 a.m., or even 4:30 a.m., I have finally learned to tell myself, “whoever rises first does not win.” Seriously, there is no Olympic event titled, “The Noblest Earliest Riser Of The World.” Life is not a competition, especially in areas like who gets up first! I love mornings, but my own body rhythms tend to follow the sunrise. So, while 5:30 a.m. during Daylight Savings Time is just fine for me, once the time changes to Standard Time, I get up at 6:00 a.m.

For other personal nags, like the whole, “now that you’re divorced (LOSER!), you can’t ever do anything fun if you don’t have a wingwoman to go with you,” my cocktail for euthanizing that particular nag is to do the thing. Recently, I wanted to see the autumn displays at Dollywood. Yes, I could have called my sister or rounded up friends to go with me, but it was a Tuesday evening and, on a whim, I just decided to climb in my truck and go.

And, yes, I did experience some really strong emotions as I strolled through what used to be a favorite spot for me and the ex-hubs. In the past, those emotions would have sent me running to the Dollywood bakery and snarfing down a couple of baseball-mitt-sized cinnamon rolls. This time, however, I simply paused in the onsite chapel and – gasp – felt the feelings. Strong feelings. Happy memories. Sadness for the relationship loss. Feeling alone. Truly alone. And then realizing I am but a microscopic spec in the cosmos of the wonderfulness of life, and if I allow myself to go with the flow, I can be a part of that entire joy-filled life experience, all by myself. Solo. #MindBlown #NagDown And then, smiling, I left the chapel, and went and rode a dragon.

By myself.

#SheWhoRidesDragons. Photo by Esther Roberts


Go Riding!

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