Monday, October 24, 2011

The Fulfillment Project: What Brings You Joy

It turns out the easiest part of following Gretchen's happiness recipe was figuring out what I didn't like.  My friends and I had a great time discussing what gave us the Internal Shudders or, as one friend named it, our Guilty Unpleasures.  But then they went home and I had to get back to the meat and potatoes of this project.  What makes me happy and leaves me feeling fulfilled?

I was stuck.  Again, I turned to my Happiness Bible (aka The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin) but it didn't help.  She talks about the process of putting together books filled with pictures and ideas.  This was her happy space.  To me, that sounded perilously close to scrapbooking.  Since scrapbooking is basically Arts & Crafts for grown-ups I was certain notebooking wouldn't work for me. 

But what would?

The first thing that came to mind was horseback riding.  I grew up on a farm that was adjacent to public timber land, so I spent a large portion of my childhood riding bareback and unchaperoned through the mountains.  I'm a good rider, someone who has the kind of skill that can only be gained from hours of riding bareback (and sometimes barefoot).  When we lived in New York City I'd started to ride again, but then my fancy black velvet riding helmet had to be shoved to the back of the closet to make way for maternity clothes. 

What would it mean to (literally) get back into the saddle?

My first reaction was a groan because I know exactly what it would mean.  It would mean time.  Not weekend time but school day time.  School day time is my most precious commodity.  It's my writing time.  Would horseback riding really let me tap into my inner joy if it meant I had to give up writing time?

The second obstacle was practicality.  Did it make sense?  I was going to have to drive at least twenty-five minutes to get to the closest horse farm.  Even when I got there, I was fairly certain I wouldn't be given a horse and free reign...which is kind of what I wanted.  It would be a lesson or a trail ride.  It might not live up to my expectations.

These thoughts had all been enough to dissuade me in the past, but in keeping iwth The Fulfillment Project, I decided to rethink my objections. 

What did I have to lose? 

At the most, one day would cost me 2000 words on my work in progress.  It wouldn't be the end of the world.  The second objection was trickier, but I finally hit on something I always tell my kids.  My kids are good swimmers and so they hate it when I suggest swim lessons intended to hone their skills.  Every time they object I tell them, "just because you're good at something, doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement." 

The same holds true for me.  I could take a lesson.  I was a good rider twenty years ago.  Skills get old and rusty.  On top of that, I never learned how to post properly.  Maybe I should carve out the time, suck up the objections and take one little lesson.  If nothing else it would be the chance to dig my riding helmet out of retirement.  Next up, back to the Happiness Bible and a different kind of joy.
Turns out I'm a sucker for accessories.


Christine Murray said...

I'd love to learn to ride. It may just make my new year resolution list :)

Sarah Tokeley said...

I love the way that you're thinking through all your options, and solving challenges instead of falling at the first hurdle, (no pun intended!).

The Bookworm said...

Good for you Johanna, it does sound like you loved horseback riding. If you do chose to start riding again, good luck! Enjoy it.

I'm such a chicken with horses. I was on one for the first time in Lake George this summer, and I almost
My horse KNEW I was a rookie, he was being naughty on the trail.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If that is your joy, do it! What do you really have to lose?

Jo Schaffer said...

Follow your joy! That's great! I try to do that as much as I can. (=

Johanna Garth said...

Christine, I'd teach you if I lived closer!

Sarah, thanks, we'll see if actually make this first hurdle;)

Naida, I did love it and I'm so excited (and a little nervous) to do it again.

Alex, you're so right.

Jo, that doesn't surprise me at all!