When things get challenging at work, my tendency is to put in more hours. That strategy worked okay when I had one job and paid time-off to do things for fun. And it worked okay when I was younger and working all night didn’t leave me compromised for the rest of the week. And it worked okay before I discovered something I’m so passionate about that there are never enough hours in the day regardless of how many I work. Now, I’ve discovered, putting in more hours is not a great strategy.
An accident in the kitchen from trying to multi-task to get more done has left me injured and realizing my old habits are not serving me. I began to ponder what needed to change. How beautiful that a pony should provide the answer.
I’ve been working for the past few months getting a pony going in harness. Because I work alone and our environment here has lots of uncontrollable stimulation, I am constantly gauging how the pony reacts to things, whether things I introduce or unplanned disturbances like a moose walking out of the woods or sled dogs suddenly howling in the distance or a piece of machinery driving by. While every pony has their unique way of reacting to something of concern, how they use their feet is of particular interest to me. Some ponies are inclined to get busy feet and, in the extreme, to try to leave the situation. Others don’t necessarily move their feet but will stop, usually suddenly, and stare. For the type of work I do in harness, the second sort of pony is a better partner from a safety standpoint than the first.
The particular pony that I am working now I have known since birth, so I’ve had lots of opportunities to gauge how she reacts to things that concern her. She has always been more of the second type, stopping and staring, rather than getting busy feet. The other day, though, she showed me an interesting alternative that I’ve experienced with other Fell Ponies. She didn’t just stop; she stopped and pushed all four feet into the ground, seeming to sink her body into her hooves briefly. I haven’t ever experienced a pony running off from being planted firmly in place; instead they seem to use the posture to more fully consider the situation.
When I saw my pony react this way, (and I still don’t know what she saw that concerned her), I was standing on the other end of the lines. For some reason, my ponderings about how to create habits that better serve me immediately came to mind. My pony had provided an interesting perspective. The answer isn’t to get busy feet, to move more quickly or do more things. And the answer isn’t to just stop and stare and take no action, to cease doing things, either. The answer is to get more grounded, to more firmly plant myself in place so I can think more clearly and make better decisions.
Just as every pony reacts uniquely to things of concern, every person will have their own approach to getting more grounded. I am very fortunate to be at a point in my life where I know exactly what planting myself more firmly in place looks like. I am thankful to my pony for helping me understand that it is an answer I was looking for.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2015