Sweat. Sunburn. Grit.

For the past four weeks I have stretched muscles I didn’t know existed while wielding pitchforks, lifting wheelbarrows and scrubbing buckets as wild chickens and peacocks carefully tread around me, stealing pecks of grain and hay where they can. I haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a while, and I haven’t needed to.

Riding horses is my flow – that activity during which you are completely immersed in the moment and is said to improve well-being. I started riding at age eight but stopped in college. It’s an expensive sport! (And yes, it’s a sport. The Olympics says so.)

Not the kind of thing a recent college grad can easily work into their budget. So, I’ve worked out a deal at a horse farm to let me work for my lessons. Luckily the short-staffed farm also needs help exercising and warming  up the horses for lessons, giving me more free riding time.

Although this likely won’t make its way onto my resume, working at the barn has given me a new perspective on my values.

I didn’t think my first job out of college would consist of mucking stalls and hosing down muddy horses. But I actually love being outside, getting my boots wet in the early morning dew. Hearing the horses’ welcoming neighs float across the crisp morning air as I arrive just after the sun has risen.

Although the work of caring for animals can be as routine as changing the diapers and burping the belly of an infant, there is never a dull day. Today I got to hunt for the dead rat stinking up the feed room!

I’m at the stage in life where the imperative to “Do what you love (or else you will live with regret and sorrow the rest of your life),” is lovingly repeated at every turn.  And I have loved being out with the animals, soaking up the sun and fresh air and working my body physically. So after applying for one desk job after another, I’ve had to stop and ask myself…

Does anyone really love spending 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, if not more, in an expensive ergonomically designed, yet still lower-back-pain-inducing office chair, staring at a computer screen that will increase your prescription strength at a steady annual rate?

Does anyone really love losing that critical time in the sun, depleting their Vitamin D to  levels that cause disease? Or, what about losing time with loved ones working overtime or bringing work home? Not to mention the average years people spend commuting.

The workplace I have been raised and educated to work in is not as appealing when I think about it like this, although the work and the mission may be.

In an age that is making productivity easier and more irresistible than ever through incredible strides in technology, maybe we can put our heads together to work on making the workplace healthier and more enjoyable.

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