From Stressful 2021 Comes Growth, Joy, Happiness

Editor’s Note: Julie Kenney is an avid horsewoman, former Best Horse Practices Summit board member, and runs Blackberry Farm in Harpswell, Maine. She shares this reflection on moving forward, resisting trending calls around the New Year.

Julie writes:

New Year’s resolutions abound.  Social media postings talk about throwing away the past year and moving forward:

Do away with your old self and old year and usher in a new and better you.

You will have a better year if you just forget about 2021.

I wouldn’t skip or forget all I learned and experienced this past year.  It’s all well and good to put the past behind you, but if you learned nothing or don’t hold on to moments from the last year, you are sadly missing out on some wonderful opportunities growth.

This past summer, especially, was THE MOST stressful we’ve ever endured with our landscaping business.  We were short-staffed with a work load that had previously been handled by more employees.  No one was looking for work or could be enticed to join our small team.  We had a very muggy, hot summer with weekly rain that was not normal for the Maine coast in summertime.

By early September, I was immensely drained and experiencing long-term mental exhaustion that had me downright cranky at times, so much so that I didn’t often recognize myself. But despite, and maybe because, all of that, I experienced a renewed love of writing, a restored sense of where I was going with my horse training, and a reaffirmed love for my husband and family.

Julie takes a breath during a strenuous summer

Because I was exhausted and most likely depressed, I felt frustrated at the lack of riding and working with my horses.  I have three horses on the farm – Hank, Eli, and Joey – who all need some form of rehab.  Trying to ride all three several times a week was just not going to happen.  So I started taking out one at a time to do in-hand work.  Then I would do two each day.  Next I realized that I could take three out each day, back to back, to work over ground poles or to go for a walk in the woods.  I committed to at least daily 10-minute sessions for each horse that often expanded into 30 minutes or more each day.

Finally my sanity was returning.

So with this new year (which is really just a date on the calendar), I look forward to continued creative writing, helping the horses to find better posture so they can be more balanced, experiencing joyful activities, witnessing moments of beauty, and sharing life with my most beloved humans.

If life and work become overly stressful, I hope I’ve learned something from 2021 that will help me actively cope well with this coming year.

We should all be living our lives to be the best human we can be.  We should be gentle with ourselves and others, to show the love of Christ through our actions, to learn from our past, and to find personal growth in our future.

Our joy should not be dependent upon what year it is, what others do or say, what political party is running our government, or how many times the moon is in conjunction with Saturn.  Look to what you can control in your life to find joy, peace, and gentleness. True happiness, then, is a by-product of all that.

Experience communal time with your horses; help them achieve peace in your presence.  Hang out with your people – those you can laugh with and share your love and grief with – and find some rest together.

Posted in Horsemen & Women, Reflections.

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