Monday, October 13, 2014

work // on this space

I grew up riding horses. Instead of getting in to trouble with boys or drinking or what have you in my high school years, every day after school and early on Saturday mornings I was heading to the barn. College changed this a little—I didn’t have my horse with me for the first few years, and so it made way for some other interests, but my senior year, I found a barn and trailered my horse over the mountains to Furman.

The barn owner had some need for help around the farm, and I was ready not to be so reliant on my parents, so I took on some of the work there. During the week, I’d head there around 7 each morning to feed, and depending on the schedule and time of year, either bring in or turn out around 30 horses. Then muck the stalls, fill water buckets, throw out hay, clean the barn halls, and whatever other odds and ends. I’d go to class and then head back in the afternoons to ride and then do more barn work. I remember specifically one semester that I had a fairly early class, which more often than not, I’d run late to and show up smelling like a horse. Or worse. :)

It was so, so great at first. I loved being around the barn and outside and getting the workout and reclaiming that part of my identity. But after not too terribly long of having to that up-early/barn/class/barn/study routine, the fun started to wear off. What I had always loved, where I had always felt more at peace and free to be myself, started feeling like…well, work. Going to the barn, for the first time in my life, felt like a chore. That was sad to me. My riding suffered, as I often didn't have the time or energy for it. I completely burned out after a year or so. 

The lesson I took from it all was that it can be tricky—super tricky—to mix hobbies with work. And this isn’t to say that there’s not room for work and discipline in a hobby or passion—that’s not it at all! But perhaps if I'd made less of a commitment I would have lasted longer or been able to keep the joy about it. Once I dove in and felt like my barn time wasn't a matter of choice anymore, that it wasn't my time anymore, it completely lost its luster.

I've been thinking about this in the context of my 31 day writing challenge. After writing and posting for 9 days straight, I quickly came to the point of needing a break. It's been a good reminder of the lesson I learned back in that dusty South Carolina barn hall.

I'm continuing on in the challenge, but now with a little more strategy for the long-haul and a little less pressure for the every day. Be it writing a lot or a little, or jotting a few notes in a draft, or skipping a day or two (or three!) but consciously thinking about writing, it doesn't really matter to me. What matters is the balance, and the freedom to try and fail—and then try again—to find it.


  1. I love this post! It's so important to give yourself grace and to learn to recognize when you need it. I find it's helpful to work ahead of myself when I'm doing a challenge of some kind- to have my stuff prepared a week or so ahead of time if possible so I can take a break when I need to. And you eventually will need the break!

    1. Yes, for sure! The older I get, the better I become at being kind to myself. But one of these days, I'll master (or at least improve upon) the art of writing ahead. :)