Monday, February 17, 2014

There's No Place Like the Barn


During the past few weeks as I’ve worked through a bout of depression, I’ve been learning ways to manage and uplift my mood. I’ve discovered that I wake up feeling fairly cheerful, but crash around 2 p.m., so it helps to have something fun planned or someplace happy to go around then. And while I have several “happy places,” for me there’s almost no place happier than the barn where I keep my horse. It’s a few minutes from my house, but it might as well be 100 miles away from all my cares.

Why do I love it so much? Aside from the obvious (my dream horse Tank lives there), it’s quiet and peaceful. There are lots of animals, both domestic and wild, and I have good friends there. The barn also holds great memories of accomplishment and fun times. When I first started lessons there, I knew nothing about the care of horses or how to ride. Little by little, I’ve learned everything from how to properly groom a horse, to how to jump small jumps.

When I’m at the barn, I’m not surrounded by competing things I “should” be doing. I don’t need to choose between working on an essay and making dinner, reading a book or folding laundry. I’m doing both what needs to be done and what I want to do. While I stand in a cloud of dust and hair as I brush Tank, I’m also looking for cuts, swellings, abrasions, bug bites or the start of any skin or hoof issues. I “need” to groom him—and I love doing it (while not for everyone, grooming a horse is one of my favorite simple pleasures). He loves it too, especially since he gets pieces of carrot as I work my way around his body. 

Once I walk through the gate, I don’t hear the voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough—I hear turkeys gobbling, the snort, squeal or blow of a horse, chickens clucking. I don’t smell the trash that needs to be emptied—I smell fresh air, hay and the warm scent of horse. I don’t see all the chores I have left to do, I see pricked ears, a gleaming coat, and the eager expression of an animal waiting for me.


When I’m ready to leave, I’m filthy, often sweaty and fatigued, but my mind is still. If I’ve been mulling over a problem, I often know the next step to take. If I felt a little icky physically, I’ve probably forgotten all about it. Things have settled and shifted, and I’m at peace and, at least for now, happy.

What about you? Where is your “happy place”?

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9 comments:

Debbie Nolan said...

Dear Kathy - there is something so wonderful about being with animals...Tank looks beautiful. I know that I find so much joy in spending time with my pets too. They have a way of putting things in perspective. Hope you have a wonderful week.

Sketchbook Wandering said...

I can understand how the life with horses & the barn & your favorite beloved horse would be uplifting...For me: a variety places from home to out in nature to cities...But I can be sad in those same places as well...thank you for your sharing.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Debbie: Animals are one of the joys of my life, and I'm lucky to have terrific pets. Thanks for your good wishes--hope you have a great week, too.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Rita: I have several more happy places, and you're right--anyplace you feel comfortable, you can be both happy and sad in.

Claire M said...

Gosh ... reading your reflection almost made me wish I had a horse!! So glad you have such a special place to retreat to.
For me, it is probably the dining room table with some art supplies -- but unfortunately I'm still in the midst of distractions -- sounds in the house and the 'sight' of things needing to be done. I need a private little corner!

Cheryl Gebhart said...

It's wonderful that you know where your happy place is and that you can get to it fairly easily. My happy place is my sewing studio. It always has been, but even more so now that I've taken over a larger space that I'm able to keep fairly picked up.

I hope you go to the barn often enough to ward off most, if not all, of your depression. Sounds like a wonderful place.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Claire--Yes, you do need a private corner to get away from distractions! I imagine that when you're playing with your art supplies, you are in your own little happy place, though.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Cheryl--Having a place that's just for you and your hobby is wonderful, don't you think? Do you close the door behind you and leave the world behind when you go into your studio?

Cheryl Gebhart said...

Unfortunately, I can't close my door. I would like to sometimes, but my studio is what used to be our master bedroom, and we still keep the cat's litter box in that bathroom, so if I shut my door, it would keep the cat away from his litter box.