Being sick for several weeks was hard, and not just because I felt crummy. I am a goal-oriented, check off the boxes kind of girl. Not being able to check things off a list or reach even tiny goals was really starting to sap my motivation. I teach my students about inertia when we study the solar system. Inertia can be defined as a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. Both Galileo and Newton knew that once moving, a body doesn’t stop moving unless acted upon by a force such as friction. COVID was my friction.
I love routine, order, and movement. I rarely lay around doing nothing. The busier I keep myself, the happier I tend to be. In my early 20s, I struggled with feeling overwhelmed by all of the adult chores that I faced each day. In an effort to make life manageable, I determined that before I could sit down for the day, I had to accomplish three tasks at home. At first, those tasks were simple: check the mail, take out the trash, clean up the morning newspaper. Before I knew it, those three tasks became habits, and I began doing three more tasks. Eventually, inertia took over, and my body in motion stayed in motion.
Having spent two weeks laying around trying to recover from COVID, I started to worry that I would never get back my motivation to ride. Even the thought of driving out to the ranch left me feeling exhausted. The first day I did go, all I had the energy to do was put Speedy’s new pills in their place. I didn’t even go over and look at my boys. I was just too overwhelmed with guilt and fatigue. Instead, I sat on the rail for a few minutes and watched as the ranch owner and neighbor had a lesson. I wouldn’t have even done that except that the sun was out, and I felt like a wilted sunflower looking for strength.
That was Thursday. By Saturday, I reminded myself that a body at rest will continue at rest unless something gets it moving again. I gave myself a huge push and determined to do at least one thing out at the ranch. My husband threatened me with all sorts of bodily harm if I overdid it, so I promised to keep things short. All I did was mix buckets and give each each horse a quick groom. I didn’t even take them out of their paddocks. I groomed where they stood. And before I knew it a body in motion …
The next day, I saddled up. I was definitely feeling a bit like I had wet noodles for legs, but I reasoned that the only way to build back my strength was to start working my body. I rode for 16 minutes and only at the walk and trot. The day after that, I rode for 36 minutes with a fair amount of cantering. Since then, I’ve been picking up my routine; cleaning and filling water troughs, mixing feed, sweeping, grooming, and riding.
Yesterday, I shared some advice from Laura Goodenkauf, head trainer/owner at Laura Goodenkauf Dressage. What she said about habits really resonated with me. Pondering how to restore my equestrian habits while worrying that I will lose my motivation as I recover from being sick has been giving me a certain amount of anxiety. In her article, Laura quoted James Clear, “The bad days are more important than the good days. If you write or exercise or meditate or cook when you don’t feel like it, then you maintain the habit. And if you maintain the habit, then all you need is time.” I certainly haven’t felt like it, but I am doing it which means all I need is time. I can make that work.