Whether you’ve just begun your career or you’ve been at it a few decades, you know the feeling of just needing to relax. For many women (and men!), having a hobby helps them do just that. Today, we’ll introduce you to Elaine Morriss, pictured below with her horse, Indigo Jazz. And yes, you guessed it. Elaine’s hobby is horseback riding.
Elaine took a seat on a plane next to Diane on a recent flight to Oregon, and a friendship was born. Elaine is a Value Engineer working in a male-dominated industry at InSitu, a manufacturer of surveillance aircraft. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and commutes to Oregon with her work.
4word: Tell us about your work in the aerospace industry.
Elaine: When the aerospace industry couldn’t hire enough engineers, I was recruited by Lockheed Martin based on my aptitude and background. My work has been with proposals, helping establish requirements and true life cycle cost for aircraft programs. I’ve worked on the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and Presidential Helicopter proposals with Bell Helicopter. I’ve consulted with Corsair Engineering since 2007.
4word: Diane tells us you’ve had a lifelong passion for riding horses? When did you learn to ride?
Elaine: I started riding at three, and got my first pony when my sister’s pony had a foal – Rowdy. Then, in second grade, my parents bought two horses for my sister and me. Growing up, I rode western; I changed to English after college. I loved the challenge of eventing, which is an Olympic sport also called a Three Day Event. You have to excel at all three disciplines: dressage, which is like equestrian ballet, cross country, an endurance challenge over stationary fences, and show jumping.
4word: How did you cultivate this hobby?
Elaine: It’s a serious time commitment, because you build your experience over many hours of lessons and practice. The sport requires athletic ability in both horse and rider, plus the intelligence and memory to recall the skills and routines for three events.
4word: It seems counter-intuitive that a time-intensive hobby could help with work-life balance. How has riding affected how you balance your priorities?
Elaine: It brings me great joy to spend time with my horses, so it’s both a mental and physical outlet. I get to be physically active out in nature, enjoying the bond, relationship, trust I have with my horse.
4word: How do you maintain that balance?
Elaine: After hours of mental exertion at work, a physical outlet to de-compress is SO needed. Because my horses always want to work and accomplish, there are times I feel I make a lot more progress training my horse than accomplishing objectives at work!
4word: What area of life are you juggling the most in right now?
Elaine: Though I still ride, my travel schedule for work prevents me from competing, which I miss. The camaraderie at the shows is so special. There is usually no prize money involved, so competitors are closer. We all want the others to do well and complete the competition safely. Also, my parents are beginning to have health issues, so I’m glad to spend time doing what I can for them in this life season.
4word: What is it about riding that you love so much?
Elaine: I love the relationship with the horse, which is a perfect analogy to our relationship with our heavenly Father. Because horses are so strong and large, they have to desire to please you, or you can’t succeed. They must make a choice to be obedient, to accept you as their leader. We have the same ability to choose to obey and be in harmony with God’s will.
Also, the horse doesn’t get to see the course before the competition. He has to trust his rider, just as we have to trust our Father even when we’re unsure where He’s taking us. He will keep us safe and navigate us through dangerous circumstances, just as a rider carefully guides a horse safely through the course.
What’s your hobby? Does it help you to relax? If not, what other techniques do you use to unwind from a long day at work or during particularly stressful times in your life?