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."
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.