Happy, Healthy & Horsey: Winnowing, Part 2

Cutting out the burdens in your life can allow you the space to be happy. Esther explores just that this month.

Hello from Tennessee, where the autumns are lovely, if somewhat short! We tend to go from highs in the 90s to highs in the 60s seemingly overnight. East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains can be spectacularly beautiful in the autumn and I feel very blessed to live in this part of the country, sweltering summers and all.

In my ongoing “winnowing” process, I’m gaining more and more clarity about what I like and what I don’t like. I’m striving to add more of whatever adds joy and subtract more of whatever adds stress.

I’ve subtracted a great deal of online time, forcing myself to limit social media to two – 10 minute intervals, no more than three times in a 24-hour period. Caveat — insomnia is an old friend, so scrolling between midnight – 4 am does not count, right? Right?

I’ve added more real-life time with friends. I strive to have at least one coffee shop or lunch meetup each week with local friends. This change, from online solitude to real-life community, has lifted my spirit tremendously, and helped me feel more like I’m living life, instead of simply existing through each day. Bonus — I’m getting to know more folks and make new friends and this expanding circle of friends is fun, diverse and delightfully interesting.

Kaliwohi and my friend, fellow-beekeeper, and esteemed Knoxville Police Officer, Dona.

I’ve subtracted some financial stress and emotional stress by adding a new job! Along with my private law practice, I’m now working as a “judicial law clerk” for some local judges, which is a fancy title for “Girl Friday,” “Jill of All Trades” or all-around handywoman.

Believe it or not, my lifetime with horses has proven invaluable in my new position. Anyone who has been to a new barn, full of unfamiliar horses, understands how vital it is to quickly discern each new animal’s temperament, likes/dislikes and preferred communication style. Plus, we horsefolks know how to do everything from treat thrush to mend a sequin show shirt.

Law clerking is sorta the same — one minute, you’re doing in-depth legal research; the next, you’re fixing the A/V system in a courtroom so a DUI body-cam vid can be played into evidence. Or moving furniture. Or making a bazillion copies of a form. Or completely redesigning a data storage system.

I have awesome bosses/judges, the work is interesting and enjoyable and I’ve learned Esther — like many horses — is happiest when she has a bit of routine and social interaction in each day, as opposed to living alone, working alone and generally spending waaaaay too much time in my own headspace.

Despite being an introvert, I’ve come to realize part of the reason for my mental and emotional doldrums over the past too-many months was due to the fact that I did not see other humans on a regular basis. These days, I’m up at 4:30 am to get all the chores done and be to work by 8 am. It’s a grueling morning, and yet I walk into work with a light stride and a bright smile, simply because I’m genuinely happy to be there. #AddJoy

My private clients are benefitting, as well, as I’m learning to become even more efficient with my evenings and weekends, so I can continue to accomplish all their work timely.

My new office, complete with a portrait of Lady Grace hanging over my computers. I took this office pic — the portrait of Lady Grace was taken by the uber-talented Tess McHone of Everyday Beauty Photography.

Back when I had my first horse, Sam, there were two points in my life where I had to put Sam in a friend’s pasture and focus on the life-chaos at hand. Law school was one of those times; sometimes I would not see Sam, let alone ride him, for weeks at a time! These days, I’m giving myself the same grace and hiatus with Kaliwohi.

I ride when I want to, and if weeks go by between rides, I don’t burden myself with guilt about that. He’s happily out-of-shape, and I’m enjoying hiking with a brand new friend — BEATRICE!

Beatrice! Adopted on September 11, 2019 from the Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society in North Carolina.

Beatrice is a rescue puppy; I saw her online and immediately fell head-over-heels in love. She looks like a Plott Hound, she’s sweet as candy and cute as a button and she LOVES to travel! Woo hoo! So, instead of loading up a horse trailer and hauling out to trail ride, Beatrice and I hop in my truck and head out on grand adventures!

Sometimes we hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. Sometimes, we head to dog-friendly downtown Knoxville and enjoy a great chai tea with friends. My elder dog, Audra, loves Beatrice, and Beatrice has given Audra renewed energy; they are grand playmates! Audra was two when I adopted her from an Alabama rescue, so Beatrice is my first foray into single-puppy-motherhood, and I’m loving every minute of it!

Beatrice riding shotgun in my truck!

So how’s my weight and fitness coming along? Slowly, but it IS coming along! With each new day, I feel less stressed and less sad. Note that “less sad” is very different from “more happy.” My happiness is growing by leaps and bounds as I give myself grace to evolve into who I want to be and forget about trying to conform to anyone’s preconceived notion of who I “should” be or what I “should” be doing at this point in my life.

As I give myself permission to actually feel happy, the “duty” of feeling sad just evaporates. All those twisted, old mental “tapes” that said “you don’t deserve happiness” or “it’s too late for you to be happy” or “you’ve screwed up too many times to be happy now” or “you have to ride every single day of your life or feel guilty about it” — they’re all unwinding, forever.

I hope those of you with me on this journey will give yourselves the grace of self-forgiveness and the option to be happy — however you define happiness for you.

Winnow out what burdens you and add more of whatever you truly love. The resulting lightness in your spirit will be reflected in your body — and in your riding, as well.

Til next time!