Thursday, October 11, 2012


Today in a meeting with my bishop, I was telling him literally everything that was going on in my life. After a certain piece of news he said, "I'm telling you, there are no coincidences." 


Then he said, "Life really doesn't move that fast. It moves slow enough that sometimes when we look back we can't see how far we have come. Keep that in mind if you ever feel like your best efforts aren't getting you anywhere." 

Of course, this sent me into a reflection period. I looked through old pictures, read the letters my FHE boys wrote me at the end of winter semester, watched our FHE video, and cried a little (a lot, okay?). 

I'm almost 20. What in the world have I done? 

The first thing that came to mind was winning the third grade spelling bee and beating the boy that would be our valedictorian my senior year and go on to MIT. I'd say I had a good start there. 

But really, WHAT HAVE I DONE. 

Just a few years later, I would meet a horse that would teach me that it IS possible to love something more than yourself. Her name is Winnie. 

She was a spunky, 21 year old mare that changed my life. I learned how to ride, how to love, and how to really and truly develop a passion for something greater than yourself. We showed and dominated the local show circuit. She was old and I was in elementary school. Take that rich girls. 

Winnie passed away this summer. I'm confident she lived an amazing life. RIP, love. 

After about four years of leasing Winnie, her age started to show. She had some health issues (that never made her less interesting and quirky), but it made it nearly impossible to ride regularly let alone show. That's when my parents were convinced that I took riding seriously enough to get me my own horse. We searched and I fell in love with a horse named Dreamer. A lot of the things I'm proud of in my life resulted because of her and I'm going to try to tell you about it. 

When I first bought Dreamer, she was 5 and wouldn't put her head any lower than this. This picture was probably within the first few weeks that I had her, and you might not be able to tell, but I was scared of her. My "quirky old mare" that I leased was NOTHING compared to a five year old off the track thoroughbred mare. Actually, the first time she threw me off I was pretty sure I'd never get on again. Good thing I did because if I hadn't, I would never know what kind of happiness loving a horse like Dreamer could bring me. 

Dreamer was a rough horse. She would jump, but only if she could gallop at it first. She was fast... really freaking fast. But eventually I started becoming the rider I wanted to be. My trainer helped. She had a really fearless type of style, the kind of style where it wasn't uncommon to hear "jump that or... (insert something 10 times more terrifying)." She would tell us that jump was 2'6 when it was really 3 feet. However, she definitely didn't lie to me when I cleared a 4'3 fence with Dreamer for the first time. If I could tell you how it feels to approach a 4 FOOT FENCE on the back of a horse, I would. Harder yet to explain, clearing it. Landing from that beast of a fence and having people cheer-- you don't forget that feeling. 

Most days, riding Dreamer was like this. I would say, "She gets excited when it's cold/warm/kind of windy/a little cloudy/snowy-ish" but that is dumb. She's a thoroughbred and she freaking loves jumping and being crazy. That's all there is to it, and even if it was frustrating and sometimes scary, I mostly remember laughing because the last word I would use to describe our relationship is "boring." 

However, we had a lot of problems with Dreamer. The vet told us before we bought her, "She could be a really great horse if you're willing to give her the chance." Good thing we did, but the months and months without riding were hard as I soaked her foot twice a day in Epsom salt to try and relieve the many abscess problems she had. I supported her weight as the vet drilled into my sedated horse's foot to finally relieve that abscess that was causing her so much pain. Even heavily sedated, she pulled on the lead rope with all her strength and it broke my heart, but knowing how much better she would be was enough for me. We've been abscess free for almost 5 years.

We went to shows and maybe never did particularly well, but honestly... I went so I could run the cross country course. My spastic, high-headed thoroughbred became a different horse when we stood in the start box. She would walk calmly and stand still as a statue as someone counted down from 10. In the instant they said, "... 1, have a good ride!" my horse would respond to a slight movement on her side. She would jump anything I pointed her at, jump into water, gallop like the pro-galloper I know she is, and maybe sometimes get us speeding tickets, but really. It was a good thing. 

I watched my horse go from nearly uncontrollable to a grown up horse that lead all the others during schooling, but we'll get to that a little later. 

High school was okay. I won't pretend I loved it... but I never look back with regrets. It was a good experience. I joined lots of clubs and everything, but something I'm most proud of in high school is... believe it or not... marching band. 

Yeah, that's me. Third from the left. I don't mean to brag, but... our band was really, really good. We won everything, but it was HARD. 13 hour days for 5 days in the dead of summer. Memorizing things like 5.5 L30 - 2 BFH for who knows how many different sets, but when it came to performing... it was so worth it. 

Plus the helmets were cool and I loved blinding people with the mirrors, and doing the handshake. And basically everything. 

After my sophomore year, I made the decision to leave the marching band for my horse. Bad decision? Maybe, but... the more I think about it, the less I regret it. Especially right now, in this moment, I'll never regret deciding to spend more time with my horse. 

Here's the big one, the summer before my junior year, one of my best friends in marching band invited me to do something with him on Sunday. It was church. Long story, short. I went, I loved it, I got baptized. 

I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on December 26, 2009. I had amazing missionaries, an amazing church family, and amazing friends that supported me 100% of the way. 

I've since learned how to understand the syntax in the Book of Mormon, but I'm inadequate when it comes to primary songs. Actually, I was directing my freshman ward choir in a surprise performance of Book of Mormon stories and they had to teach ME the lyrics and hand motions. It was a cute moment, I'm sure. 

Then I graduated! Oh my goodness. I was in NHS and did awesome, I'm sure. But after four years at Beavercreek High School, I was pretty ready to leave. Oh, and that Asian on the left is our valedictorian that I beat in the spelling bee. I know you're thinking that it makes sense, because it does. :) I'm pretty sure he's doing amazingly at MIT. 

At this point I knew I was accepted into BYU and that I had four short months left to be in Ohio. I took my horse to a show in Indiana and it was probably the best weekend of my life. The summer disappeared so quickly... and before I knew it, I was driving away from Dreamer for the last time with a flight to Utah only six hours later. But I packed, said goodbye, and got on that airplane to Utah. My freshman year at BYU, more than ever, proved to me that there is no such thing as coincidences. 

That group of people changed my life more than I could have imagined. How did I manage to pick the apartment that would put me with 11 of the people that I would end up loving for eternity? These people are my best friends. I've never felt closer with anyone. When you're in college, you need a group like this. NEED. 

All these boys are on missions now and I couldn't be more proud of them, but I miss them terribly. I'm keeping the postal system running because I use a book of stamps every couple of weeks now. I thrive from letters coming from Australia, Ghana, Taiwan... these boys. They're keepers. I don't care what anyone else says, we were the best "FHE group" in our ward. Not even, FHE group doesn't work anymore because these people are literally my family. Family is someone you want to see every day, tell everything to, and give everything to-- and that's what these people are to me. 

This is my choir. Choir director was my first calling and boy did I own that calling. My pianist was my best friend and our choir seriously rocked. I had the opportunity to combine my choir with three other choirs and direct them all at my stake's conference in the fall. AMAZING (and horribly stressful) experience that I would trade for nothing. My Bishop told me they've never had a better director and I loved spending hours preparing music for rehearsals and having rehearsal and picking on people. The moment I was released from my calling, I felt sick. I realized that I've had the most incredible freshman experience and it was over. But I'll never forget these beautiful and talented people. 

This summer was hard because everyone left. I was drifting and feeling lonely and terrified. My boys were all leaving and work was hard. I hated being at work because it felt pointless to me, and after spending a week with my horse in April, I missed her more than almost anything I've ever missed. That's when I decided-- I'm shipping my horse to Utah if it's the last thing I do. 

I picked up 8 more shifts and worked harder than I've ever worked in my entire life for something. Double shifts, every day of every week. But the moment I made the $600 deposit, I realized that I could do this. The last couple of weeks were the hardest as I worked for the second half of the payment. Then my mom called and told me my horse was safely on a truck and headed to Utah. Longest. Week. Of. My. Life. 

But at this moment, at 4:45 in the morning, everything was worth it. I compare this feeling to watching your child get married or your youngest waving goodbye as they get on an airplane to leave for college. Something like that. MY HORSE AND I ARE REUNITED AT LAST. I had an identity again. I paid freaking $1500 and every single penny was worth it. 

I see her almost every day. I clean her stall, clean her tack, do her laundry, love her, and spoil her to death. 

But for those of you who are still here reading, this might be a surprise. Because everything is changing, and I don't have a choice. It's just happening. 

Times are hard. Really hard. With paying for school, rent, food, a HORSE, and everything in between, money gets tight. It happens... and with so much heartbreak, sorrow, and wide-eyed depression, I have made the decision to sell my horse. 

She has become my dream horse. She has taught me more about love, endurance, patience, and kindness than any person could ever begin to teach me. I've hit my head a lot because of her, but that's acceptable. 

She was my best friend throughout high school when I felt like I had nobody. I've had my biggest adrenaline rushes on her back as we run a course. I've cried over frustration as I could not get her to respond how she should. 

I'm a better person because of this horse and looking at the ad I posted for her this last Monday, it feels unreal that this era in my life is ending. Who am I without a horse? I've spent 11 years becoming the person who walks through stores in tall boots covered in dust without a care in the world. 

But I know this needs to happen. Just because it is the right thing to do doesn't make it easy... and doesn't make me any less proud of how Dreamer and I have grown together. She's become the horse that used to spook at nothing to the horse that stands still and unnerved while the other horses are in panic mode. She's become the horse that trusts me with anything because after 7 years, she knows I would never do anything to hurt her. She's become the horse that every girl dreams of. I just hope at this point I can find someone to love her as much as I did, because she deserves nothing less. 

And now, I've made the decision to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My, how fast life changes. 

But looking back at this, I realize how much my life has changed for the better. How the perfect people have walked into my life at just the right moment. Our Heavenly Father really is aware of us in every way. There are no coincidences and I'm really proud of what I have done. I have no idea where life is taking me or who I will become (probably a teary-eyed ex-horse owner), but I have faith. And I can't wait. 

So if you feel like nothing you do is working out for you, or you're sad, or lonely, just remember that you've probably done more than you think. Reflect and be happy because life isn't meant to be endured. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

BYU Round 2

It's official: I'm no longer a freshman. I didn't have to go find my classes before the first day and I could even go on auto-pilot walking across campus with complete faith that I'd end up in the right building on time. Let me tell you, it's a good feeling.

But with that feeling comes those "real life" feelings. My horse is here now and I'm the sole person responsible for her. No more of asking my parents or best friend a favor to pick up some wormer or call the vet if I can't. I work a lot and for a little while I've been holding up payments on my own. Of course I'm going from 40 down to 12 hours a week since summer is over, but still. My car has been a little messed up lately and instead of having my dad walk down to the garage to look at it, I actually have to take it in and PAY to find out what's wrong. What's up with that?

Honestly, though... things have never been better. I'm living with my best friend with a seemingly never ending supply of popsicles and Orange Crush, I see my horse every day and she's making HUGE improvements, I've got a nice boy in my life, and I am absolutely in love with my classes. All of them.

This semester, more than the last two I've had, has put a huge spiritual emphasis on everything. It's making me ever grateful for my BYU education and it's also blowing my mind. For example: In psychology, we talked about altruism... and our teacher said, "Wouldn't you worship Christ differently if he didn't have altruistic purposes?" Yeah. I think we would. And in the very next class, linguistics, we talked about how we probably speak a fallen language and someday we will speak a perfect language again. In the Book of Mormon, when Christ was praying, it was recorded that the people could not record what He was saying. Cool to think that someday we can comprehend that (and all things), right?

This first week of classes has made me SO thankful for this opportunity to study at BYU. There aren't many schools that will start class with an opening prayer and tie in Gospel principles to our everyday learning. In our evaluations at the end of the semester, there is always a question that asks how our professors tied in Gospel principles and if the class has somehow strengthened our testimony. Obviously in Book of Mormon, yes, my testimony improved, but in some other classes it was hard to decide which level of "not really" to choose. I'm amazed at how, already, the 5 classes I'm in have managed to open my eyes up to how the Gospel really does tie into everything. Let's just say I think this is going to be the best semester yet.

Our cute first day of school picture. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Spring in Provo

It's officially been over a month since winter semester ended and everyone went their separate ways. We were as far away as California to Ohio and that's a scary difference when you're used to being about a 2 minute walk from each other. Emily and I have a new ward and new people, which isn't bad, but it's a big change to make. 

In April, I got to go back to Ohio for Rolex and just visit for a while. Riding Dreamer for a week? Happiest week of my life. She's just as great as I remember and now... I'd do just about anything to get her to Utah. That's why I'm working double shifts at the MTC to save up and ship her here. YEP. 

The best place to be.

Since we've been pretty lonely around here in Provo, we've done a lot of traveling. We actually went to Boise and got to visit a friend and go to a mission farewell! It was great seeing them, especially because Emily and I are probably tired of seeing each other ALL the time. :) But after a while of being in Utah and being stuck in constant Provo traffic, it was nice to run away to Idaho for a while. 

Alex's farewell! 
The time finally came, though... and a bunch of my friends reported to the MTC. I work there and I get to see them LITERALLY every day, but it still makes me miss them. We don't get to be crazy BYU sophomores together. But I get to send lots of letters to crazy places and that in itself will be way fun! I'm pretty sure that by the time all my friends get into the MTC/on their missions I will single-handedly be keeping the postal system from going under. Yeah. But I miss them all terribly. 

Family video chats are the BEST.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Love Shack

That's just what we're calling out apartment since, well, it's February. You have to have fun with it, right? Right. Let's see. I guess it's still winter... but it's almost 60 degrees. The perfect temperature for riding... and I'm dying. I NEED to ride a horse really soon or I might just throw a little kid fit until someone goes out of their way to find me a horse. Yeah. It's that bad.

After Christmas, Joanna and I made our three-day road trip from Ohio to Provo. While long, it was bearable and even enjoyable sometimes. Until we listened to every album and musical I had on my iPod and THEN had to drive through Nebraska... getting to Colorado and spending New Years with Emily there was way fun! I was ready to see the Y on the mountain again, though. Coming through the last break in the mountains was an ecstatic moment for me. I can't even describe my joy upon seeing the temple and knowing that, finally, we made it.

A few weekends later, our FHE group had the chance to go up to Boise and spend a weekend with Seth and his family. So fun! Basically, we played the whole time and then cried when he gave his talk. Saying goodbye is hard, but it was an incredible weekend. Plus, we saw a picture of him in Africa and he looks SO happy there. =]

Watching the sunset at Table Rock. Our last weekend with Seth. 
Classes have been busy, but we've all been pretty motivated lately. Midterms are killer, but we're making it through, and hey... at least we still have legs. The OTHER way exciting thing is that all the boys are getting mission calls! There are announcements left and right. Let's see...

Firstly, Seth is already in Ghana. We love him. 
Derrick: Melbourne, Australia - Mandarin speaking 
Derek: Cuiabá, Brazil - Portuguese speaking 
Colin: Cali, Columbia - Spanish speaking 
Klayton: Taichung, Taiwan - Mandarin speaking 
Dallin: Manaus, Brazil - Portuguese speaking 

I can't wait to hear about the rest! 

Our FHE group is currently playing a game called assassin. Basically, we all draw names (girls of boys, and vice versa) and they are your "target." Of course, you are also somebody's target. The way to kill is to get a clothespin on them. Fun? Definitely. But the fear and paranoia are real. Maybe that's just because I'm very competitive, but still. Walking around campus, people probably think I just robbed a store. 

Some intimidation pictures that Andrea and I took for the boys. Striking fear into the hearts of many.

We actually just finished up the first round. I'd say that Andrea and I are the master assassins! Dallas and Klay went first, then Jared, Derrick, Dallin... then Colin. I'd say the girls won this round, but we're starting another one soon and the boys are coming back with a vengeance. It should be exhilarating.

The other night we put together the BEST FHE ever. It was Survivor! Brea, Andrea and I planned some crazy games and it was so fun! Seriously. We went all out with decorating the apartment and putting together activities. It was the most fun I've had in such a long time. Love it! 

Yellow team!
Red team!