Happy, Healthy, & Horsey: 2019, Here We Come!

Resolutions, by a resolute Esther.

Like most epic stories, 2018 was filled with tragedies and triumphs.  I took a “dream” job and left the “nightmare” position 28 days later. I got divorced. I bought the piano of a lifetime. I rode Kaliwohi. We had a couple of wrecks and I was sidelined – for months. Just before Christmas, I climbed back aboard and Kiwi and I had an awesome ride. I had a book published and it enjoyed rapid sales over the holidays, and continues to gain popularity and excellent reviews. #BlessedBeyondMeasure

Cover of my latest book, My Friend Sam. Photo by Esther Roberts.

And, oh my kittens, I won two Readers’ Choice Awards. Thank you and bless you for sharing this journey with me. I am humbled and so grateful to each person who reads this column.

As 2018 wound down, I took some time off to reflect on the up-and-down year and decide on my goals for the next twelve months. Here’s a summary of my list, in no particular order, with an explanation of each.

In 2019, I want to:

1. invest a few minutes each day reading Scripture and strengthening my relationship with my Creator.

Why? Because I find myself more grounded and more inspired when I start the morning in communication with my Divine Parent. Lemon water, deep breathing, inspired teachings, and meditative prayer all add up to a much happier, healthier Esther.

2. invest a few minutes five days/week playing the piano and drumming.

Why? Because I am a musician and a creative soul, and making music on an almost-daily basis provides the creative and vibrational outlet my spirit needs to feel happier and healthier.

3. walk outside every day at least 30 minutes; one day at least 60 minutes (read: GO FOR A HIKE)

Why? Because I realize I have wasted far too many hours, over the past decade of my legal career, sitting indoors, in a chair, staring at a back-lit screen. Forest bathing is a thing, y’all, and a great thing for every human being.

4. invest at least three days each week in writing – for Horse Nation, for my personal blog, and for the new books in my head.

Why? Because it is high time I begin to make the transition from “full-time attorney; part-time writer” to “full-time writer; part-time attorney” and 2019 is The Year.

5. reach my goal size and weight by December 31, 2019.

Why? Because I grow weary of this weight and the decades it has encumbered my body and burdened my spirit. I have approximately 360 days left in this year; every day – every moment – offers me a choice, and I hope to choose “healthy” the vast majority of the time, with regards to food, exercise, rest, and relaxation.

6. cash-only spending.

Why? Because stress causes one’s body to retain weight. I feel stress when I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe when I don’t have cash on hand. So as elementary as it may seem, I am using the envelope system – with cash in an envelope in my truck for fuel, cash in another envelope for groceries, cash in yet another envelope for the occasional meal out with friends, etc. It is very empowering to pay for things with cash. It is also very eye-opening as to what things actually cost, such as fuel and food.

7. tithe to some charity, both with respect to money and with respect to time.

Why? Because I have been abundantly blessed, relative to so many, many others, and I need to express my gratitude for that abundance in tangible ways. Time-wise, my service to the Knoxville Police Department as a volunteer chaplain fits this goal perfectly. Money-wise, I’ll donate to church and other charities dear to my heart.

8. pay off credit card debt.

Why? Because stress causes one’s body to retain weight. I feel stress when I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe when I have credit card balances that I can’t pay off every month. 2018 saw some major upheavals in my budget and cash-flow, so I was grateful to have the credit available when I needed it. Now, it’s time to buckle down and get it paid off. #LessIsMore

9. save at least $5.00/day (this will add up to $1825.00 over a year’s time!).

Why? Because it’s good discipline to save money – at least a tiny bit – each and every day. Last year, my “saving” goal was to save at least $2.00/day. I exceeded that, so this year I upped that goal and will add my 2019 savings to my 2018 (and prior years’) savings. Success is the result of consistent small actions, not sporadic large ones.  This is true for saving money, for losing weight, and for just about every aspect of life, so it bears repeating: Success is the result of consistent small actions, not sporadic large ones.

10. care for my inner child.

Why? Because I have a tendency to be waaaaay too serious and intense most of the time. I need to play more. I need to step off my “adulting” high-horse, which is always full of stress and never-ending to-do lists, and give myself permission to play. I also need to discipline my inner child, so that when I’m feeling a negative emotion, I don’t turn to sugar to quell the negative emotion but instead, I allow myself to feel that emotion and process it appropriately.

11. give away one thing I already own every day (this will add up to 365 items gone from my home over a year’s time!)

Why? Because, despite last year’s endless rounds of purging and donating “stuff” I still have way more “stuff” than I need. Movies I never watch, necklaces I no longer wear, etc., etc., ad nauseum. So, rather than feel overwhelmed about having to sort through my “stuff” yet again, I’ve decided this year, I will set out a box, and at least one thing goes in the box each and every day, and then off to charity the box goes on a monthly basis.

12. ride when I feel like it.

Why? Because – raw honesty – I did ride Kaliwohi in December, and it was a successful ride, but the next day (and each day following until now, sadly), my injured leg and hip have given me a good bit of trouble. I do not yet know if it is because the nerves need additional healing time, or if the act of sitting astride a horse even for 20 minutes is too much stress for the joint.

I began this journey two years ago with three goals: 1) get thinner, 2) get Kaliwohi to a “5” on the Henneke scale, and 3) get Kaliwohi trained through First Level.

Goal one I have made progress on, but still have a ways to go.

Goal two I achieved the first year of this journey, and Kiwi has remained a consistent “5” ever since. #EpicWin

Goal three has been modified to my current goal #12 of “ride when I feel like it.” I am very fortunate that I can walk and hike and drive and all those things. Some riders, including professionals much more talented than I could ever hope to be, have riding wrecks that impact their health for the rest of their life. I am so blessed, and so grateful, to have healed and healed so well. If my riding career has been impacted, so be it.

I’ve always written this column with utmost honesty, including about the things that scare me, and the “unknowns” in my personal world. Riding, sadly, has become one of those “unknowns.” I don’t know if I can ride on a regular basis. I don’t know. And I am uncomfortable with the “not knowing” because I – like most equestrians – am an “A” personality type who much prefers to be in charge (read:  Control Freak). But life has a way of humbling each of us in our turn, and so all I can say is: I love horses and I want to have them in my life in any capacity that is appropriate for me at whatever stage of life I am in at the time.

There was a time when I was a young girl who knew zero about “how to ride” and I learned on a saint of a paint – my first horse, Sam. There was a time when I felt driven to excel in dressage and my retired show diva, Lady Grace, gave me ribbons and scores I am still proud of. There was a time, in 2014, when I wanted to rescue a wild mustang from the BLM, and Kaliwohi is a joy in every respect, whether I ride him regularly or not.

My “saint of a paint” first horse, Sam. Photo by Esther Roberts.

And Kaliwohi, my beloved wild child. Photo by Tess McHone, Everyday Beauty Photography.

Riding “when I feel like it” was not my original riding goal. This is not what I had planned when I rescued Kiwi in 2014, when I trained him at liberty in a round pen in 2016, nor when I first rode him in 2017. Not at all. But it is my present reality.

Perhaps I need a more “A-framed” horse to feel comfortable in the saddle again and have no residual pain afterwards. Perhaps more strengthening exercises will make everything better. I cannot say, as only time and some more trial-and-error will tell.

I only know this: I am as committed now as I was at the beginning of my journey to my primary life goals of living a happier, healthier, horse-centric life.

I invite you to join me for the journey in 2019.


Go Riding!

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