Note from the North: Think postitive 2.0

Greetings from Canada! Kat O’Riley offers some suggestions for winter pick-me-ups.

From Kat:

Along with many others, I’m finding the whole Polar Vortex experience is wearing a bit thin. Sure, the first time you fling a cup of water in the air and it freezes is a [bone] chillin’ thrill, but a couple weeks of waddling around in enough layers to qualify you as your very own planet, makes a person cranky. The fact that we in the northern hemisphere are still in the grip of the December 21st solstice (wallowing in winter’s cruel trough of supershort days, when you forget what the sun looks like), makes applying to the reality TV show Extreme Hibernation 2015 seem like a great idea.

But before you yield to The Land of the Afternoon Moon, summon strength to ignore the siren call of your gloomily beguiling bednest… and consider the following inspiring joke/anecdote: “Two children awaken Christmas morning, and dash down to the tree thinking of the exciting presents they’ll find. To their surprise, instead of the beautiful gift girdled tree, they find a HUGE pile of manure. One child bursts out crying and wails, “That’s just a big pile of poop!” But the other child grabs a toy shovel and starts digging away joyfully, exclaiming, “With all that manure, THERE MUST BE A PONY!”

Y’all may have heard this pony tale of opposing philosophies, but it’s a life lesson worth repeating; although there are doubtless some people who wake at dawn singing like larks and happily anticipating a big lottery win, we human beings have a tendency to fret about awful things that may happen. A few years ago, I faced some especially tough issues that challenged my usual moderately jolly disposition; one day I sat down and defiantly printed THERE MUST BE A PONY! (TMBAP!) on a piece of paper, which I then stuck to the fridge door.

At times it was daunting, but I pluckily fought negative thoughts with the TMBAP! outlook. And while things didn’t become magically fantastic overnight, committing myself to a consciously positive path did make life for me-and everyone around me!-much more bearable. We may not be able to flip a convenient switch, and zip from sorrow to giddy grins (life is after all, a complicated process), but if we gamely chant the TMBAP! Mantra when possible, who knows just what we might find under that colossal mound of manure?!

For a quick winter pick-me-up, try one of the following (at home, or in public/with a friend, or by yourself!)…

GO ‘KIDDIE ANIMAL’ RIDING! Generally found in malls, these ‘kiddie rides’ are great value for a buck. You may not be able to find a horse (I rode with the Cat-in-the-Hat), but who cares! Doing something this silly is guaranteed to banish the blues, and the folks who stop to gawk end up smiling, too. Win-win!


THINK OUTSIDE THE [ACCESSORY] BOX! Ordinary purses/bags are bo-ring. Jazz up your tote with a miniature Christmas tree; keep those holiday-ish spirits alive with your beyond chic and sure-to-startle fashion accent as you casually stroll around.


EQUINE THEMED GAME NIGHT! When I had a public stable my boarders initiated a ‘Forget Chores!’ night, which involved playing horse-y board games in my kitchen, although chowing down on pizza was really the point. (If the oven happens to sprout flames as you’re reheating leftovers, be forewarned–baking soda is a really bad pizza topping.)

THE PORT-A-SUN! When the feeble winter sun becomes as dim as your memory of it, don’t sit around and whimper! Create your own personal solar soother by carrying around a small LED light wherever you go. Bright=might… no sunscreen necessary!

PONY SCARF-A-THON! For a fashionably fun experience you can share with your steed, bring a selection of scarves to the barn, and go wild! Discover what colours and patterns truly flatter your bay/chestnut/grey/paint et al. If you’re ambitious, try mixing and matching scarves AND blankets; the possibilities are as unlimited as, um, your pony’s patience!


THE CHEAPSKATE SPA! If your days are a blur of shavings and hay, you may be surprised by the mood boost a simple change in surroundings can produce. A mere 10 bucks will buy you a day pass to many fitness facilities, where you’re not expected to sweep up! Try out a variety of amusing exercise machines for five minutes max (the key is not to break a sweat), swim, poach in the sauna, and rehydrate at the juice bar. It’s the tiny perfect escape!


COCOA [HORSE MUG] PAR-TAY! Cocoa is the foundation of chocolate, so you can’t go wrong. For an equine twist, bring out ALL your horse mugs, and fill ‘em up. Don’t forget to invite a few of your housebroke pony buddies! (‘Kahlua’ and ‘Bailey’s are easily confused with hot chocolate/cocoa, so don’t plan to drive afterward.)


FREE TACKSHOP SPREE! You owe your soul (and part of every paycheck for the next 30 years) to Tack Nirvana. Fear not, here is a guilt-free way to shop: browse your fave tack websites, and write down every item you want need. Once you’ve filled up a notebook, instead of ‘proceeding to checkout,’ add up the total cost of your items. Think of the $927,000 you’ve just saved! Well done! You’ve earned yourself a more modest treat, yes?!

HAPPY FACE STICKERAMA! They may be corny–but who can stay glum and grim while sticking happy  faces everywhere? Apparently, even the act of smiling makes you feel better. Seriously!


With any luck, one of the above Dr. Ponybutler, Phd (Pony humour-er deluxe) anti-bleah! remedies will turn that seasonal frown upside down! Remember, as equicentrics, we should take heart in the knowledge that we have a head start on the TMBAP! way of thinking…what with all our prior pony experience. If a shy person can become a more outgoing ‘learned introvert,’ then it follows that one prone to a bit of melancholy/anxiety can become a more hopeful ‘learned optimist’. Race you to the nearest manure pile!!

About Kat: I’ve heard that fortunate people have one great passion in life; aside from dark chocolate and my husband–not necessarily in that order!–mine has been “everything equine.” Beginning with lessons as a kid, I’ve been lucky enough to break a variety of bones riding a wide selection of breeds, in a number of disciplines–from TB racehorse (clavicle) to eventing Appaloosa (tibia) to endurance Arabian (ribs). It’s also been my privilege to play Ponybutler to my own hooved beasties on a succession of scarily rustic farms, over the past 20 [very] odd years. The dream continues!


Kat and her ex-hunter pony partner of 14 years (Provincial Velvet a/k/a the Amazing Velveeta a/k/a “Velvet, NO!!”).


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