To be Wealthy

What makes you feel like a million bucks? I am so interested in the way people answer this question. It is important to note that ‘a million bucks,’ is not the same thing as ‘beautiful’.

I believe that it is a moment we all search for. A moment when we are the rulers of our world, and in total control. It is a moment that inspires us, carries us, and reminds us of what we are living for. In this moment, we see everything that we can be in this life, and suddenly, we can’t imagine being anything less.

"Dreams are always crushing when they don't come true. But it's the simple dreams that are often the most painful because they seem so personal, so reasonable, so attainable. You're always close enough to touch, but never quite close enough to hold and it's enough to break your heart."

“Dreams are always crushing when they don’t come true. But it’s the simple dreams that are often the most painful because they seem so personal, so reasonable, so attainable. You’re always close enough to touch, but never quite close enough to hold and it’s enough to break your heart.”

Every great love starts with a great story. One of my greatest loves in life, was my horse Frosty. He came into my life at a pivotal time, and our adventures cover the highest of peaks and the lowest of valleys. His registered name, the name we competed under, was ‘A Dynamic Minute,’ which so perfectly sums up our memories together: a fleeting yet divine moment in time.

Losing Frosty was one of the most painful moments in my life. Painful is probably an understatement, and conversely, one that very few will ever comprehend. Even in every happy moment or good day, something would spark that undercurrent of pain, and the crack in my heart would spread all over again. In time (only recently, 7 years later), the hurt began to lessen, and it was easier to just let go.

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Or at least, I thought it was easier. But in every ride I took over the years, I found myself searching for him. I’d seek the lifting float of his trot, or the rocking gait of his canter. I looked for his clownish personality in the barn, mirrored by his stone cold focus in the show ring. I craved the pride from our successes in the spotlight, and the quiet loyalty of our private moments behind the scenes. I missed him so. I missed hearing his name called along with mine, that sweet sound of success that made all of the sacrifices worthwhile. Even the times when our names weren’t called first… yes, I missed those too. Because, at the end of the day, I knew that I still had his giant heart to depend on. Mostly, I just missed my friend, my partner, my champion. I was looking for him everywhere, and when the feelings got too strong, I’d take a step back from the world that reminded me endlessly of him. I couldn’t continue to drive towards my dreams, for fear of what I needed to face, and what I might ultimately find. I didn’t want to recognize my own inadequacies without him. I wanted to remember us like we were those fleeting years, those exquisite summers. Independent of the world, yet fiercely dependant upon one another. Strong and brave, focused and calm. Grey horse and slight girl, gallant steed and timid princess: a fairytale, a living poem. Undeniable champions, and yet we were eventually torn apart by the very thing that drew us to great heights… ambition, though ultimately not our own.

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Our last moments together…

What I am only now realizing, as I write this, is that Frosty, in himself, was my dream. That’s it. Aside from the glory and success and points. All of that would have meant nothing without him. Every little girl’s fantasy of the beautiful horse with the rocking canter, who galloped into their dreams to carry them away from reality. That’s the gift he gave me. The glaring absence of the light that he once brought into my life, sometimes makes every other beautiful thing so much dimmer by comparison. In his dappled gray glory, Frosty was the silver lining to the clouds in my life, and so sometimes it’s hard to see much more than stormy weather. I don’t know how to conclude this to do justice to this magnificent creature. All I can say is that, in all of his glory and imperfections, Frosty was the best thing that has ever happened to me. And, he truly is ‘A Dynamic Minute’ that will last a lifetime in my heart.

"Wherever I go in life, I take a piece of you with me everywhere."

“Wherever I go in life, I take a piece of you with me everywhere.”

While I have finally come to terms with the fact that he will never again be mine, I still work to uncover the reasons why the pain of our separation was so deep and sharp. Perhaps the reason it hurts so much to have lost him is because our souls are connected. Maybe they always have been and always will be. That gets me through.

It hurts that my dreams seem to be so intertwined with him. To face the ascent to my greatest aspirations, I must also face my life without him. I still want the dream I have put down on paper so many times. The dream that has existed in my heart for years. I preach to others that not a single one of us should feel that our dream, our freedom, or our choice is elusive. It should be ours to attain. And yet, my fear of loss, of failure, of betrayal, cripples me. A paralyzing fear that is only self-fulfilling… my fear of not achieving my dreams, prevents me from actively seeking them, which in turn renders them unachievable.

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For me, riding has always been about passion. What does that mean, you might ask? I believe it is a primal, instinctively vibrant part of ourselves that doesn’t come from social status, a fancy car, or a corner office. Expressing this part of yourself radiates a confidence and glow unattainable through beauty treatments and material possessions. Passion comes from our core; from the deepest part of who we are…that place we pull our last bit of strength from, where our deepest love lives.

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Find your passion. Seize it, and make it your life’s work. You will come alive. Most importantly, no matter how much it sometimes hurts, never give up.

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“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.”

– Ayn Rand (Russian-born American author)

 

Do Big Things

I had someone share with me recently that while my blog was a ‘nice enough idea,’ it couldn’t possibly apply to enough people to ever really catch on.

{eye roll}

Regardless of their skepticism, it did make me take pause. What with our recent announcement of keeping Miss Gia, some of you may be wondering what this means as far as our blog, and our involvement in rescue. Of course, I have already taken on a more active role within LCPO, on their Leadership Team. I only hope to become more present within their organization (even though I’m at a distance) with time. However, I also don’t want to rule out the possibility of fostering in the future. While we can’t continue to be a permanent foster home at this specific point in our lives, there is no reason to think that we wouldn’t be able to do so someday, when our circumstances change (moving, etc.) I also plan to use this space to continue highlighting adoptable dogs, as well as showcasing all of the wonderful things pit bulls are doing in our communities! Finally, I hope to be a resource for pet owners who are facing challenges with their dogs, of any breed. I have a few other exciting prospects that are in the works, so I don’t anticipate that this space will be terribly boring any time soon!

I don’t know specifically what the future holds for me, and that can be a scary realization for someone who is a Type A planner by nature! I am a person that has always pictured my life with a visible end-point and goal in sight. At the age of 8, I surprised my mother by dragging her into my room, to show her the list of my goals for that year, which I had written and taped up beside my mirror! At any stage in life, if you had asked me what I felt to be my greatest strengths, I would have told you that it was my drive and passion. In the past few years, my life has thrown me some pretty swift curve balls, both good and bad, that have caused my plans and goals to veer drastically off course. Those deviations made it impossible for me to stay on track with my aspirations, which thereby led to feelings of immense inadequacy. If I wasn’t driving toward my passions, then who was I, and what was my purpose?

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It finally seems as though the course is leveling, the seas have calmed, and the storms are at bay. I am able to take a deep breath, and really focus on where I am and what I am meant to do. With all that has happened in my young life, it can be hard for even me to remember that I only just turned 23! (It feels good to say only.) In such a fast-paced world, full of successes and fame, it can be easy to feel like I am already behind in the race. However, I am learning to take the good with the bad, because without the heartbreak of defeat, wouldn’t come the sweetest victory of success. I am realizing what my heart’s passions and strengths are, and also that they have changed in the past few years… and that this is okay!

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I know that this space serves as a place to come and read about dogs, but the reality of it is that it is also a cathartic release for me… a place where the world gets quiet, and I can get my thoughts and feelings out on paper the screen in a way that is (to me, anyway) clear, orderly, and logical. For the first time in my life, I don’t know exactly how to get ‘there’, or even where ‘there’ is… but what is also a first, is that I’m learning to sit back and enjoy the (horseback) ride. Literally.

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I know I’m coming across a little bit scatter-brained today, and I apologize for that. What I am really wanting to get to, is that it is important to do big things. The things that inspire you, but also the things that scare you. What is interesting, is that these things almost always also happen to be good for the people in the world around you. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do with your life, you probably have an idea of what makes you smile. I know you are sitting there reading, with this big cRaZy dream in your head, and you’re saying, “But Stephanie, I am so busy, and so stressed, and so tired, and so overwhelmed… there is no way that I have room in my life to do more things. Especially BIG things.”

I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong! Do you think that fostering Georgia was always easy? What about living away from my family at the age of 16, and graduating both high school and college a year early? Nope, not easy. I’ve also maintained a job of some sort since I was 10, while simultaneously competing with horses around the nation. So guess what? I didn’t ever do it perfectly, and I didn’t ever always do it gracefully. But it taught me a heck of a lot more than going through life the old-fashioned way.

My point here is not at all to brag… I want to inspire you to do the things that seem scary and hard. Because in the end, isn’t happiness our ultimate goal? An adult couple I know, spends all of their free hours (when not working at their full-time, corporate jobs) volunteering in soup kitchens and prisons. They love to help others, and they love to share their passion for the power of prayer. My brother, who is a sophomore at UVA, and is a pre-med major, is following his life-long passion by not playing on his school’s team, but volunteering as a children’s soccer coach. Did I mention that he is a stellar student, and also has a job? Soccer has been his constant driving force throughout life, and he wants to share that devotion with kids. I have a friend who believes in combining her love of animals, with children who have come across hard times, and messages from the Bible. So, she is pursuing ways to make this vision into a therapeutic riding facility, with a Christian background. A busy mama that I know, is not only a PHENOMENAL mother, but also works, writes, draws, cooks, and dreams… and she will be doing big things one day. A girl I know who just graduated from college, is an aspiring musician, but also spends tons of time with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

I know at least a few of you are (hopefully still) sitting there, reading these words, with one specific thought lingering in your mind. Maybe you have pushed it away for years, into that dark little corner full of cob webs and dust bunnies. What is the worst that could happen? So what if we end up a little bit bruised, with less money in our pockets, and less ‘fans’ than when we began… you only have a short time here to achieve your dreams, friends. And if you are happy, what more could you really ask for? I’m not talking about content-happy. I mean ‘life-is-a-grand-adventure, and-I’m-thankful-for-it-every-day’ kind of happy. The kind of happy that comes from dancing in the sunshine, picking flowers, and cuddling puppies.

What I’m trying to say, is don’t just talk about how much you love animals… get up off your butt and volunteer! Maybe children are your passion; do some research, and find a local organization that helps disadvantaged youth. It could be music or sports or cooking or writing… it doesn’t matter where you choose to concentrate your efforts, or even the amount of time you can devote to it right now, but what does matter is that you do it. Just think of what a different place the world would be, if we all put into action, the thoughts and dreams that were in our hearts. Don’t you think that there is a reason you have these inspirations sitting inside of you? Share them with the world, instead of bottling them up inside. I can promise that you will have at least one fan rooting for you. 😉

One of my favorite pictures in the whole, wide, world.

One of my favorite pictures in the whole, wide, world.

“What would you dare to do, if you knew that you could not fail?”

-Robert H. Schuller