Why I Ride

Why I Ride

"You lend me the wings I lack."
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When you ask most people what they do for hobbies or sports, they answer, "I play (insert popular team sport here). I, on the other hand, ride horses. Jumping up on a 1500 pound animal and controlling it only using your hands and legs is far easier said than done. During the never-ending icebreakers that always seem to come with meeting new people, most would say sports that they played or what they did in their free time but I always seemed to be the odd one out when I said I didn't play a team sport or run for track and field or play an organized sport for my school. Even though I was always an anomaly, I wouldn't trade the bond that I have with these animals for anything.

When I took my first lesson I was only 6 years old. I was always obsessed with ponies and horses so my parents just figured it was a passing phase and decided to take me to a few lessons so I could do it once or twice and get my fix. What they didn't realize that this wasn't just a passing fad for me, this would become the biggest part of my life. I began taking lessons every week from then on. There's only been a few times when I would take breaks during the winter when there was no outdoor arena or it was too cold. I have done everything under the sun, from jumping 3 foot verticals to doing rundowns in the pen with reining horses. Every horse I have ever encountered had something different to teach me. Whether it be that I needed to be more firm or that I was being too lenient. I carry each lesson every horse I have ever been on with me. I can never repay them for what they have given to me.

Horses are quite obviously the biggest part of my life, hands down. I now have three of them and they are like children to me. They each have their own personality just like kids. No matter what, they are always there for me, they will keep all of my secrets and always listen when I have something to say. No matter what life throws at me I know I can go out to the barn, grab one of them and just forget everything going on in my life at that moment. They have the power to take me away from anything that's going wrong or when life is just too busy at that moment. No amount of money could ever make up for that. No person could ever give that to me.

There's a special bond between these animals and me. Whenever I look into my horse's eyes it's as if he's staring back into my soul. It's like no other feeling that I've ever experienced. That is why I am more than okay being referred to as the crazy horse girl. These are more than just animals. They are my life.

Cover Image Credit: Kelli Crockett

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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8 Lessons I Learned From My Three-Legged Cat

Having a cat with three legs can teach you a lot about life

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Back in February, I was going through a spiral. I had no motivation to do anything, my candle was burning out if you will. My girlfriend and I had discussed getting a kitten so that our other cat, Athena, could have a little playmate. We got to the shelter, only to find that they had to quarantine a good number of their cats due to an FIV or leukemia contamination. Luckily, there were other cats that had been cleared and were ready to go out to a cat cafe. I got to hold a few, but the one that won was a little black kitten that had her leg amputated. I knew she was the one by the way she purred when I held her.

Over the last few months, this little cat, Posey, has taught me so much. Such as:

Anything is possible

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Posey has made incredible adjustments to having just three legs. She chases her sister, jumps up onto cabinets, you name it. Jumping down from ledges isn't quite her favorite, but she's been amazing about it. If she can adjust to that kind of life, so can I. Even if my job hunting isn't going great, nothing is going to stop me.

It takes some work to get where you want to be

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Of course, learning how to do things with three legs takes a lot of work. I don't know how she adjusted when she was in the shelter, but I do know that by the time we got her she was a little champ. She had to have put in effort post surgery to get where she is. Now I need to put in the work to get my life together.

Don't be afraid to speak up

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I'm going to say it right now: she is a little crybaby. I could be sitting two feet away, and she will start crying if I don't give her attention. She let it be known when she wants loving. Letting anyone, even my girlfriend, in on what's going through my head is something that I need to work on.

Someone will love you for you

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Cats like Posey usually have a harder time getting adopted, mostly because of color and "defect". That being said, if she was older, she might have been in the shelter even longer.

There's more than one way to contribute to the house

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When either of them start protesting about being held, my girlfriend and I just say "Oh I know, life is hard when you don't have to pay rent". In all seriousness, these two contribute in ways to help us deal with emotions. The more I think about what they do, the more I realize that I don't have to just work and put in a paycheck for the house.

It does not take much to be self sufficient

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I always worry about her when we go to Atlanta to take care of stuff for our move. But I know that they will be fine for a weekend as long as they have food, clean water, and a clean litter box. As long as I have basic needs met, I'll be okay.

Or to be happy

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She just wants to play and to cuddle. As long as she gets that, it does not take her much to purr like a motorboat. And just like having the needs met, as long as have the simple things, like something to do or someone to do that something with, I am happy.

There's always time for a nap (or just do nothing at all)

Giphy

She loves to sleep and gets fussy when anyone wakes her up. It's gotta be so tough to be as cute as she is. But more to the point, she takes time to take care of herself. And while I may not take a nap, I've realized that I don't have to be go-go-go all the time, and that slowing down and doing absolutely nothing actually helps. Now if I could actually do it, I'd be in business.

So, Posey, I thank you for bringing me so much and teaching me so much more.

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