Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Gratitude in Uncertain Times (A Blog Hop!)

Amid the fear and uncertainty of the current times, I've been encouraged to see all the people coming together as a community. From Facebook to zoom to our own blogosphere - social media is reaching through the social distance. When I saw Liz's post on her blog In Omnia Paratus, I knew I wanted to jump on the bandwagon. In her words:

" an effort to introduce a bit of positivity and happiness amidst uncertain times, I thought I would share some of my gratitude items here in the hopes that our lovely little community of bloggers will echo back with some of their own. It's been awhile since a blog hop has gone around, but perhaps our little group can come up with a suite of them in the coming weeks to ease us through these unknown times?"

Here is my list of thankfulness:

  • Community: I'm thankful for my family, for my friends, and for all my internet connections! I've been away from the people I normally spend my time with. My friends are sequestered in their own homes. Despite this, I have been able to connect with so many people through blogs, Facebook, and the internet as a whole. We are not alone, no matter how many feet separate us. 
  • My faith: This time off as given me hours of free time to spend in my Bible and in prayer. It has been hard to carve out time for my relationship with Jesus between school and work. Now I can spend unadulterated hours listening to what my soul needs to hear. 
  • My pets: I have an adorable dog and cat cuddling at my feet as I type. Time at home means more time spent with furry critters that I love. Depending on how the laws are handled, I might have more time to spend with Avalon as well!
  • Sleep: As a busy full-time college student working full-time I am always low on sleep this time of year. But not this March! I'm getting a beautiful eight hours of sleep every night. Nothing should change that since college classes are online for the rest of the year.
  • Hulu and Netflix: There is nothing like settling down to watch a show without the shadow of responsibilities and deadlines hanging over your head! It's basically a month of rainy days. 
  • Nature: When it isn't raining, I still have free rein (rain?) to walk through my town or nearby parks. Spring came early this year. The world is basically begging to be photographed and put on Instagram!
  • Crafts: I have a secret artistic side that hasn't seen the light of day in a long time. Now that I have free days without classroom hours, I can experiment with bullet journaling again!
  • Water: I absolutely love to drink water (and coffee which necessitates water). It's easy to take for granted. Life is strange and scary right now, but we still have access to water. Thank God!
I would love to hear from more fellow bloggers. What are you thankful for? If you don't have a blog, let me know in the comments! Lets spread some gratitude around. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020


Spring training has officially begun for miss Avalon. We started out slow, refreshing things she has already learned. I started playing with something new (accepting the bit), only to be interrupted by a herd of deer. One walked straight toward us. It might have gotten closer if Avalon hadn't tried to eat the entire bag of treats. The sound I made shooing her away scared the deer and off it ran. 

I snapped this photo as it turned tail and ran . . . but you can't see much unless you zoom in. They camouflage so perfectly this time of year. 
I'm sure I'm not the only one struggling with the whole social distancing thing. As an introvert, I love being able to avoid social gatherings that stress me out. As an introvert, I still feel lonely and sad when I don't interact with other humans. Online classes don't start for a week and a half. It can be overwhelming, claustrophobic, and lonely at the same time.

But I have not done all the self development work over the last year for nothing. I know that feelings of overwhelm do not come from my circumstances, they come from the thoughts I have about my circumstances. I am choosing to change my perspective. I have often felt tired and overwhelmed and stressed this time of year. It is the last semester of the school year. If everything wasn't closed I would be in class right now. I would hardly be getting any sleep or anything to eat. I would be drowning in homework and work, barely fitting everything in. Hopefully I would choose to look at it in a more constructive way this year, but that is how I have felt in the past. 

I love playing with perspective. This is the same tree as the last picture, but this perspective is so much more artistic in my opinion.
Instead, I am sleeping for eight or more hours every single day. I can practice yoga, do my schoolwork, journal, train my horse, read books, cook, spend time with my pets, and watch Hulu or Netflix without the pressure of a strict time frame. I can go on walks. I can take naps. I'm saving money because gas is cheap. I'm making coffee at home instead of buying from my favorite coffee shop. I can catch up on laundry, listen to music, enjoy a podcast - the options are limitless. I can sit in my bed and read my Bible all day long if I want to. 

A pic I took last weekend when a light, wet snow fell and melted within a few hours. I took advantage of the weather to make a snowman and have a short snowball fight. Crossed both of those off my bucket list for the year!
Here is a short list of things that I am doing while the state is under quarantine:
(This is all my own opinion. I'm not getting anything to recommend any activities or businesses.)

1) Reading my Bible

I understand that this isn't for everyone, but I find comfort in my Bible. Ecclesiastes reminds me that sadness and despair are part of the repetitious patterns of life - as common as spring, winter, fall, and summer. 2 Corinthians reminds me that God is the "God who comforts the depressed" who sends "godly sorrow" that doesn't lead to death. If you have a relationship with God (or are curious and put God on that "I'll check it out someday" shelf) now is the time to dig in. 

2) Practicing Yoga

I started following along with yoga videos on Youtube in December of this year. I absolutely love Yoga with Adrienne. The workouts are perfect for practicing from home. No need for yoga pants or a mat as long as you have shorts, a t-shirt, and a carpeted floor. They can be as difficult or easy as you desire. I can't decide whether I am more impressed with my improved flexibility, strength, or peace of mind. 

3) Reading

The above are just a few of the books I've been reading or planning to read. Hope Rising and Encountering Our Wild God are both by Kim Meeder, one of the founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. I've read Hope Rising before, but it has been a while. I just started reading Encountering Our Wild God for the first time yesterday. One chapter in and there are already tear stains on the pages. I absolutely recommend both of those books. 

Mindset by Carol Dweck is all about her research on the fixed mindset versus growth mindset. This book contains truly life-changing information.

Finding Truth is a book by Nancy Pearcey concerning the Christian worldview versus several other worldviews. The book is deeply philosophical and heavily inspired by her time at L'Abri with Francis Schaeffer. 

4) Listening to Podcasts

I have probably recommended these podcasts before, but I'm going to recommend them again. I love The Perfectionism Project by Sam Laura Brown. This podcast is all about the maladaptive perfectionist mindset and how to find a healthy growth mindset instead. Sam is heavily influenced by Brene Brown, Carol Dweck, and other resources she has sought out. 

I also recommend The Confident Rider with Jane Pike. This podcast combines mindset work with the equestrian world. I recommend it equally to equestrians and non-horsey people alike!

I am going to put in a caveat here: both of the above podcasts contain a good amount of swearing. I am not bothered by that at all, but if you are going to be offended or distracted, they may not be for you. 

My last recommendation is The Olivia Towers Podcast. The link will take you to her Youtube channel, which includes vlogs and podcast episodes. You can find the podcast on many other platforms as well. Some episodes are focused entirely on the world of equestrian competition mixed with mindset work. Other episodes are all about Olivia's personal faith in Jesus. Personally, I am drawn to Olivia because of her brutal authenticity. 

5) Explore the Outdoors

Go outside! I'm going to be going for walks, hikes, trail rides, and adventures. I love taking photos of nature, whether of mushrooms or the sky.  

There are other things I am doing with my time, but these are a few ways to spend time while social distancing. How are you spending your time? What hobbies do you finally have time for? Can you think of more "bright sides" or positive outcomes from this stressful period of history? Let me know in the comments! We can still socialize over the internet!