Horses are Life

The amount of momentum I have gained in my personal life since starting this blog is impressive. At the end of 2020, I hadn’t seriously ridden my horse in 4 years. I was overweight and out of shape. I hadn’t written a short story or poem in a decade. I had never learned to play the guitar.

Since I’ve channeled my New Years’ commitment into a no zero year, I’ve consistently made strides in all of those areas with a blog for added accountability. Max and I ride 3-5 days a week. I’ve lost over 15lbs, three pant sizes, my stamina, strength, and biochemistry are all vastly improved. I’ve written several stories and poems that I am very proud of and am getting to the point where I actually believe I can start and finish a novel. I learned to play the guitar a little bit, got a piano, learned to play that a little bit, and feel like I’ve given music a good try.

With spring all around me, I’m feeling the urge to revisit and edit my goals going forward.

Horseback riding is what fuels me, and I’m going to rebrand my goals and my blog to reflect that passion. I’ll be setting music aside for the time being.

So far this year, I’ve checked off most of my no zero days by horseback riding. I’m getting to the point where I need to exercise daily outside of just riding my horse to become a better rider.

As a writer, I’ve dabbled in random prompts enough this year that I feel primed and ready to focus on purposeful writing. I’m looking forward to concentrating on horse fiction. I’ve always dreamed of writing novels, and I know I have a herd of horse novels in my brain, tossing their heads to be let out.

This blog has inspired me to explore my true passions of riding and writing. I’m excited to move forward on a more focused path. Keep tuned for my upcoming refresh — soon, there will be a new name, new look, and new content!

I did everything today!

Even though I felt sick today, I hit all my goals:

  • I had my horse riding lesson in the morning, and I wrote about it afterwards.
  • I practiced on the piano, and I wrote about that as well.
  • I practiced Ki-bon
Good job, me.

What’s to come!

I’ve been spending all of my time on No Zero pursuits. As a result, my list of blog posts that I need to write is piling up! Here’s a look ahead at what’s to come:

Equestrianism

Max and I have been making progress as a team.

Arena patterns have helped us so much. I need to write about a few of my favorites.

We’ve also been spending more time outside of the arena. There are many hills at our stable, and we’ve been climbing and descending them to practice for trails. I’ve also taken him on a mounted tour of his pasture, which is a trail ride itself!

Back in the arena, I’ve been remembering to focus on keeping him between my hands and legs and constantly check my balance/position. Of course, that’s something that every good rider just does automatically, but I’m still working on becoming a good rider.

I’ve been dreaming about cantering him at least three nights a week. That’s probably going to happen (finally!!!) this summer. I can’t wait to post a video!

Exercise

As if horseback riding wasn’t enough…

Spring is starting in East Tennessee, and that means spending time outside, preferably in the mountains! I’ve been throwing my family in the car and hitting up the many trails that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer. Each trail is worth its own blog post. The ever-changing beauty along the way has us constantly stopping to take pictures.

When we aren’t hiking, we’re pedaling along our town’s miles of connected greenbelts and parks. I’ve had the same mountain bike that I bought with one of my first paychecks at the age of 15, and I’ve upgraded it over the years. Now it’s an electric bike with an attachment to hook a dog to, which was sorely needed for my German Shepherd!

Following a strict healthy diet has given us so much more energy to get out and enjoy exercising for fun. I’m not sure if I’ll write about healthy eating, but it deserves a shout out.

Since we aren’t going out to eat, which has been the go-to activity for our family for years, I will be exploring other ways to have fun! There are a ton of places to go and spend money around here, and I look forward to trying them all out and telling you about what a great time we had!

Music

I’ve been playing around on my digital piano. It’s incredibly daunting to learn how to play. There are so many resources to choose from. The big thing I need to work on with music is setting aside time to be consistent and practice. I’m so hyped to go out and enjoy the sunshine that I just don’t find myself sitting around and thinking about playing the piano. It’s still early in the year, specifically my first No Zero Year, and adjusting to a disciplined life proves to be a learning curve.

Writing Prompts

Seeing as most of my follower bursts happen right after a writing prompt, it’s only fair that I keep up with demand. I also want to start my novel idea as a serial novel online. It’s going to be such a vast world, and I could use the ongoing critiques and fresh eyes from the internet to help me along the way.

Looking Back…

The sunshine has flipped my focus from music and writing to horseback riding and exercising, but I don’t want to give up the momentum in the former or the latter. I’m enjoying making each day not just a No Zero Day but also a little bit of everything day! As I strive to find balance and discipline, I’m made more aware that I need to study the art of discipline just as much as my individual pursuits.

Expect to see a little of everything I mentioned in a blog post soon!

A day in the wagon

There’s something compelling about writing at least one entry a day in my blog. Blogs should have topics, and topics should be fleshed out before being blogged. I really wanted to write an entry this morning, but I hadn’t had a chance to do anything worth writing the internet about. The suspense of being one accomplishment away from a post fueled my day.

I initially tried to fill a post with a writing prompt. The prompt I chose resonated so perfectly with my tastes in literature that it caught fire and exploded into an unstoppable inferno of creativity. I couldn’t stop fleshing out the universe for my story. It just kept expanding. One train of thought turned into the plot for a book series. On the bright side, I know this will be my first published work. It will be a long while before it’s transcribed from my head to a document, but it’s going to get there.

Before I lay the topic of writing prompts to rest, I have to express my astonishment at the traffic my last prompt has brought to my blog. There really seems to be a market for short prompt responses.

I ended my day in the wagon with a horseback ride. I’ve been putting the stable off because of the miserably freezing and wet weather. Max let me know that I had been gone too long. It took him a long time in the cross ties before he stopped trying to nip me while disapprovingly pinning his ears. I enjoyed actually being able to brush all the mud off of his lower legs.

As is my constant luck with timing, I had Max tacked up just as everyone in the arena dismounted. It’s intimidating to be the only rider in the arena when I haven’t ridden properly in a couple weeks. Fortunately, I have an intelligent horse who understands that he stands still while I heft myself into the saddle. Even so, I still am gripped with unease in that moment of vulnerability where I’ve got one foot in the stirrup and am pushed into the air with the other. It’s up to my partner to stay steady while I get my balance. When I ride every day — or at least every other day — like I should, I become acclimated to and comfortable with mounting.

Max was great. He gave me his honest truth. We were both on edge and raw, but we spent a fair amount of time just walking and feeling each others’ rhythm. We were able to settle into a light trot without much tension. That’s been the accomplishment of our every ride for years. It’s something that I keep coming close to, and then taking time off from riding. Thankfully this last hiatus was just a couple weeks.

Tomorrow’s riding goal is to calm my flipping hands. I have this weird habit of extending one or both arms out to the side, like I’m trying to shake up a container of pasta so it settles evenly. I don’t know how I got into that rut, but I need to climb out of it and run far away. My restless arms and hands need to stay in the box. When I can make myself stay in one position, Max will stay in one position.

I’m so happy to have spent a day in the wagon. I’m bedding down for the night. I’m going to wake up tomorrow in the wagon and see where it takes me.

Falling off the Wagon

I fell off the wagon a few weeks ago, and I’ve been trying to climb back on ever since.

It’s been a cycle of excuses. “It’s too cold outside, I’m trying to do XYZ to be more healthy instead, I’m expending my energy to get XYZ, so I have better tools, so-and-so needs my help, so I’ll just take today off from my goals and devote it to them.”

All of those things that I’ve done, obtained, or accomplished have been positive. Unfortunately, me letting them hinder my No Zero Year has been cripplingly negative. My mental and physical expression is so backed up that it feels constipated.

There’s also been a growing mood of shame that has kept me away from my blog. It’s hard to blog about failure when the topic is self-help/motivation. Writing about my inaction cements it into the record. It doesn’t just fade from memory any longer.

I’ve always been one of those “everything happens exactly the way it should” kinds of people. It messes with my worldview to start questioning that basic mindset. Maybe it’s time to mess with my worldview. Most positivity doesn’t just happen. People have to get off their butts and get uncomfortable. Positivity takes effort. It comes from going against the grain of inaction and negativity with stubborn persistence until the tides change.

Striving towards my No Zero Year is always possible, no matter how much energy the rest of my day consumes. It’s not just possible; it’s necessary.

Part of the No Zero process is self-forgiveness. Jennifer Lim once said, “Mistakes mean you are trying.” Well, here I am, still trying. I officially forgive myself. I’ve done an awkward self-handshake, and I’m ready to recommit to spend this year in pursuit of my goals.

A bunch of stuff and No Zero, Too

Thursdays are volunteer days; I went back to the food bank. My team was a machine! We bagged enough cereal to feed 480 people. I love volunteering at the food bank. When I glance at the clock, all I’m concerned about is how much more I can help accomplish with the time that’s left. Volunteering isn’t on my no zero list for the year, but it’s something that I’ve come to value. As I enjoy the rewards of spending my time with purpose, it becomes more of a habit.

I planned on taking a nap once I got home to have the energy to ride Max later in the afternoon, but the universe had other plans for me. My Facebook marketplace sewing machine ad had a buyer message, which turned into me driving down the street to make the sale. I’m loving the Facebook marketplace. I’ve been finding new homes for so much stuff. The energy in my house is becoming more open and serene. My sewing machine went to a sweet lady who had been sewing blankets for her grandbabies with her grandmother’s sewing machine when the old machine finally died. It’s a great feeling to know that my sewing machine isn’t stuck on my closet’s top shelf anymore; it’s now bringing a family joy. My old dressage saddle is also free of the closet and being used at a pony rescue.

While I was driving up and down the street, the blood donation bus kept catching my eye. I have always wanted to donate blood but have been ineligible because of my anxiety medication. I’ve been off the meds for almost a year now. I stopped at the blood bus and learned that 1) You should make an appointment before stopping at the blood bus, and 2) You should eat a “good” meal before stopping at the blood bus. I went home and ate a “good” meal and came back. For all their talk of “you should make an appointment!” they did a stellar job working me into the schedule. The most painful part was a finger prick. The actual needle they stuck into my arm, while HUGE AND TERRIFYING, didn’t hurt at all. I don’t know how that worked out. I’m still mystified. 10/10 would recommend, and I will be back!

Though full of altruism, my day hadn’t yet met any of the no-zero requirements. I fit in a guitar practice while I was watching TV with my hubby. I found this excellent Moonlight Sonata tab.

The whole nbnguitar.com website looks fantastic. My classical guitar is still at Guitar Center. I’m looking forward to getting it back.

I couldn’t ride Maximas because the tech at the blood bus told me to avoid anything that got my heart rate up for the rest of the day, but I’ll be back at the stable tomorrow. I’m planning on slowing us down a lot over the next week. We’ve been rushing to make progress, and now I feel like we are at a point where we can revisit that progress and flesh it out. I want to play around with transitions and bending to get us both more relaxed and in tune with each other. It’s worth a shot, at least.

What I needed to do

I should know by now that, even though add title is at the top of the screen, one always adds the title last. Just like I should know by now that “i’ll do this tomorrow” always means I’ll most certainly not do it tomorrow.

I wanted to ride today so bad that it hurt. At least, I hurt. I don’t know if it’s PMS or just a random bug, but I’ve been fighting a losing battle over the past few days to keep moving. I even tried to compromise by just heading to the barn to lunge Maximas, but getting dressed was enough to make me dizzy. I laid down in bed and woke up an hour later to my grocery pickup alarm.

I fought back by listing a bunch of my unwanted crap on the FB marketplace.

Writing was the one thing I could do from a sickly state. I found the perfect writing prompt to wrap up a day of closet emptying and classified posting. “I Don’t Want This Anymore”

I didn’t do what I wanted to do today, but I did accomplish what I needed to do.

Three weeks = Worked Down Horse!

Maximas is finally worked down. I got on him today, walked him around a few times, and braced for the zoomy trot — but I got a lesson horse trot, instead! He settled into one speed, exactly as fast as I made him go, and went where I told him to go! I was amazed. I was able to check his shoulder and make sure I was on the right diagonal. I could let him go around on a loose rein. I don’t know what caused it to click for us, but I hope it stays that way.

I saw a Reddit comment a few days ago that has been helping me a lot. They advised me to put my weight along the outside of my foot. It’s really helped me drape down and around, as well as find my balance easier. While I was playing around with that, I found a nice groove to fit my legs into, and the combination makes me feel like I’m finally balanced and snug. I can go right up into two-point. I’m still working on maintaining two-point, but that’s a given. It’s easier to practice with a horse that’s not trying to win the Kentucky Derby.

I could have worked us for hours today. What if I don’t have another good day for weeks?

I was able to look up, which I’m always getting in trouble for not doing in class. I could feel Maximas’ shoulders, and I started getting the feel for giving little half halts and leg nudging when he lost balance. I also worked on lowering my post. That one did a number on my abs. I’ll take a number on my abs over jackhammering Maximas’ back.

Tomorrow, I plan on laying out some cones and poles and trotting us around/over them. My trainer spent our last lesson trying to get us over poles. We threw ourselves at it with the gusto and anxiety of a Grand Prix jumping course. I’m looking forward to redeeming ourselves in our next lesson.

After our ride, I popped my helmet on the kid and led Maximas around as he gave her a pony ride. She’s going to start lessons this summer. I wonder where she will end up in the horse world. English or western? Trails or competitions? I wonder if Maximas will be her partner, too. If I keep riding him five days a week, probably not!

When It All Comes Together

I’ve been manically consuming anything to do with horses for the past week. I finally had the ride today that I needed. I was able to get Maximas to stick to the speed I wanted, instead of just running around and making us both look like ninnies.

I also wrote a poem from a writing prompt on one of my facebook groups. Horses were able to check off three of my goal boxes for today. Riding, writing, and exercising.

Guitar center is supposed to call me at the end of the week when they can get started on tuning up my classical guitar. I’ve been playing scales on the acoustic until I get the classical one back. Maybe I’ll do that in a little bit so I can have a four checkmark day.

There’s a lot of busy human energy around me. Everyone either wants to win the giant lottery jackpot or is convinced that the presidential inauguration will be the end of the world as we know it.

I took this picture as I was leaving the stable. The sky was so pretty and calm. I want to be like that sky.

Love Poem for Maximas

A happy cloud saw a sad little girl.

He grew hooves and a mane,

And lifted her

To heaven.