What makes you happy?

This week was a mix of fun, disappointment, pain, and relaxation. That’s a lot of emotions all in the last 7 days.

Let me explain.

I have battled clinical depression ever since my mother passed away in 2005, which was devastating to me. My depression continued after my grandmother got sick and passed away in 2008. Another devastating blow for me.

horses

However, thanks to my horses, equine therapy, a few good books, and a very good doctor it has all but disappeared now. Unfortunately, it is still something that is easy to slip back into if I’m not careful. For some reason people who have been clinically depressed have a harder time staying happy and upbeat than other people who have not experienced this.

So, being quarantined due to the stay of home orders has been challenging for me. Besides all the rain, the cold weather, the mud, and the high winds it has also been hard to get out to see the horses as much as I would like.

It’s a well-known fact that people go through a type of depression, seasonal affective disorder, during the winter months because there are shorter days and less sunlight. Another issue is that winter can be a time when you feel stuck in the house and there is also usually less physical activity.

Well, being stuck in the house with the stay at home orders, lots of bad weather and less sunlight, I feel like this is happening to me. I’m slipping back into depression. So, in order to pull myself out of it I decided to get physically active in spite of the situation. I couldn’t change the stay at home orders and I couldn’t change the weather, but I could change what I was doing.

I thought… “What makes me happy?”

I love ponds, waterfalls, babbling brooks, beautiful flowers, fish swimming, and water fountains. These things have always made me feel relaxed and happy. So, I decided to put all these things together and I started building myself a fish pond!

We had one day that was 60 degrees and sunny and I couldn’t wait to get outside and start working on a pond. I went out, figured out what size I wanted, what shape I wanted and where it was going to be. And I started digging.

I then went online, since I couldn’t go to any stores due to social distancing and store closures, and I ordered a pond liner, filters, pumps, water features, flowers, and even live fish. I was so excited to be doing something fun and getting some physical activity in the process.

Teddie's pond

But it only lasted one day. The next day I was so sore from digging I could hardly move. My arms hurt, my hands hurt, and even my legs hurt. I was so excited to be outside and active that I was digging for about 8 hours straight! The pond was now 10’x13’, 12” deep in the shallow end and 3’ deep in the deep end.

It wasn’t just a hole. I had built in levels and ledges so the fish would have a shallow end to swim and a deep end to hide in and to hibernate in the winter. I had built areas in the shallow end that were different heights so there would be areas to put water lilies and other water plants. I built two areas that had graded levels for the turtles and frogs to enjoy, part in water and part dry. I even built an area where there would be a waterfall. This was a major design, I was thinking of every animal that would also be enjoying the pond.

I wanted to make it safe and enjoyable for me and all the animals around. I even decided to put it under a tree in the backyard so the birds could also enjoy it. I also built in a shallower area where the birds could sit and use it as a bird bath. And I can’t wait to see the beautiful dragonflies this will attract.

I was so gung-ho on seeing this pond built that I forgot to pace myself.

Day 1 – lots of work, manual labor and designing.

Day 2– lots of pain. I stayed inside all day the second day because I had over done it. But I still couldn’t wait to get better and get back to it.

Day 3 – I received some of the items I ordered, but not the most important item…the pond liner. I couldn’t continue because the next step in building the pond was putting the liner. So, day three was me doing nothing but waiting.

The rains came

Day 4 – Rain! Oh no, I had done all this work digging and now it was raining and there was no liner in the pond. Yes, it did fill up with water and became a really big mud puddle. All I could think about was, “all that work gone”. I was picturing all that mud just melting the ledges and filling up the levels I had built. Then all I could think about was, “how am I going to get that water out and a liner in?”

Major disappointment and frustration set in. It rained for 2 days! And it wasn’t just a light rain, oh no…it was a torrential downpour for 2 whole days and nights. Just my luck, I thought.

The good news was that all the supplies arrived during those 2 days of rain, including the liner. But there was still so much water.

Day 6 – I put on shorts and a t-shirt, even though it was 55 degrees out, and I got a bucket and went to work. I got into the deep mud puddle with bare feet and started bailing the water out of the pond. It took me a while, but I got almost all of the water out of the pond. To my surprise, most of the levels, ledges, and pockets I had created were still intact. I just needed to touch up a few areas and then it was time for the liner. This time I paced myself.

Day 7 – After the liner went in the day before, everything else just fell into place. The filters, pumps, water fountain, waterfall, frog spitter, plants, and rocks practically placed themselves. One day and everything was finally in place. I was so happy and excited that it was finally finished.

But wait…what was missing?

Oh yeah, the water! Luckily the weather was calling for thunderstorms again that night. So, I had everything in place and just waited for the rains. And sure enough, they came and the next morning was like Christmas. It was full and everything worked like a charm. Then I put the fish and the plants in and sat back with a big smile on my face, nice and relaxed!

This made me very happy. Not only because of the new sacred space I had created and the feelings it gave me, but also because I had accomplished my goal. I had pulled myself out of the depression that I was slipping into.

Once I was smiling and seeing the world in a better light, I realized that I had allowed my depression to stop me from seeing and being with my horses. The one major thing that had helped me combat my clinical depression so many years ago.

I let myself believe that – “I can’t go see my horses today because…”

  • It’s too muddy, too windy, too cold, too rainy
  • They don’t want to be around me when I’m depressed
  • I don’t want to put these feelings of sadness or disappointment on my horses
  • We can’t do anything anyway since it raining

I didn’t even realize I had gotten that low and that I was pulling away from my horses. The day after I finished the pond and realized what I was missing, I went immediately down to the barn and hung out with my horses.

They were happy to see me and I was reminded that they don’t care if I’m sad, depressed, frustrated, or disappointed. I don’t have to be happy to be with them. They don’t care if I’m dressed to ride or dressed in sweats. They don’t care if I did my hair or any of that. They only care if I show up.

It’s called unconditional love!

They truly are the best at that and sometimes they teach us lessons without even being there. So, if you are going through a tough time right now, are sad or depressed, it is OK. Don’t forget to show up. Your horses are not going to judge you, I am not going to judge you. You have my permission and my support as another human being who cares about you to go see your horses.

Be who you are, all the good and all the bad. And if you can’t go for a ride, then go hang out with your horse. Your horse loves you for who you are inside – all the good and all the bad, unconditionally. You are a family and family supports one another in good times and in bad times.

As Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Teddie's pond

If you turn the sound on with this video, you can hear the relaxing sound of my new fish pond.

You are part of my herd as well and I’m here for you too. I appreciate you and your support and I want to support you as well. If you want to chat about horses and need some support, please call me. There is a link below where you can set up a time to talk to me, free of charge. Or if you just want to email me and chat, I would love to hear from you.

If today’s post resonated with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below

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