Uncertainty has never been a friend of mine and she’s lurking all around these days. With work, horse shows, and even riding in general up in the air, I often feel like things are not in my control and it seriously stresses me out.
The control freak in me very much needs to feel productive, like I’m working on things even when I can’t be running from the office to the barn. Here’s a few ways I’ve been combating the stress of uncertainty and staying productive.
Sell some stuff.
I have had a bunch of old tack from horses I’ve sold sitting in my spare room for quite literally years. Finding out that my hours at work might be cut was just the kick in the pants I needed to get all that tack cleaned, photographed, and listed for sale online. I was skeptical about whether or not people would still be buying tack right now, but so far I’ve sold a sheet and a breast plate. I’ve also had a couple folks ask about trading for items, so if you’re looking for a particular piece of tack but money is tight, a trade might be possible. You could do this with anything you have a lot of – tack, show clothes, shoes, books, whatever. If you have it, there’s probably a Facebook group or website to sell it on.
Do something you haven’t done in years.
Fun fact: I almost went to fine arts school. Not many people know this, but when I was younger, I was a prolific painter. I painted many watercolor and mixed medium pieces and loved every minute of it. As work and then-college demands got more and more intense, painting was moved to late nights and weekends. Then only weekends. Then some weekends, and eventually not at all. I couldn’t tell you the last time I picked up a paintbrush. But this week I dug out my old painting supplies and sketched out a portrait of my horse to paint. The process felt immensely productive, grounding, and also a little nostalgic. I was just myself painting my favorite subject again in my room. Sometimes it’s good to do things by ourselves and revisit things we once loved. Maybe we still love them and now is our opportunity to do them again, even if it’s just for a little while.
Like everyone else, I love the idea of self improvement but it’s always last on my list of must-do priorities. The glorious thing about everyone having to stay apart is there are more opportunities than ever to learn almost anything right from the comfort of your own home.
Want to learn to braid? Grab a Barbie or some yarn and start practicing. Want to learn how to count strides better? Start watching rounds from previously recorded horse shows. There’s also many professionals offering video tutorials or online classes. I’ve set aside time to read or watch at least one new thing every day. It takes about 30 minutes on average, but it gives me something to share when I talk to my friends and family (and unsuspecting co-workers – I’m sure they always wanted to know how a Myler works. That’ll teach them to call me after hours.) and expands my knowledge base. I’m a firm believer that the pursuit of knowledge is never a waste, so now is my time to absorb everything I can.
It’s very easy to feel isolated or stuck right now. The beauty of so many of us being in the same situation all at once is that people everywhere want to connect virtually. There are all sorts of virtual meetups happening for all different types of people. Want more horsey friends? There’s a meet up for that. For all its evils, social media can connect people in a positive way. Connect with friends, influencers, brands, and businesses that you like by commenting on their posts. The world wants to hear from you. If you’re looking for a new gig, start reaching out to new employers. If you’re looking for a new barn, start contacting potential new places. Even if you can’t do anything for a couple weeks, you can at least get the ball rolling. It may feel as though the world has come to a screeching halt, but I promise it has not.
If there is one thing my control freak self has learned from this forced life reorganization, it’s been to capitalize on whatever big or small opportunities are given to me. I could very easily lose myself to the frustration of change, but instead I’ve chosen to look at things with a glass half full mentality. Every minute of free time and new interaction (even if it is unconventional) is an opportunity and a gift. It’s up to me to decide how I’m going to use and grow from it.