Phew. I am getting a little long winded! I didn’t expect for this to end up being so long, but here we go.
After Tyler passed away, I was lost. The future was a void and unimaginable for me. One of the first things I learned was you better have good people in your life. Luckily, Tyler and I were VERY blessed to have amazing friends and belong to a community of people that go above and beyond in everything they do. This was one of the essential keys to being able to keep going and eventually rebuild my life. The next key was paying that forward and helping others. I realized that I had something to offer from all I have experienced too. It became a new passion of mine.
Another lesson I would learn as I started to take steps toward realizing who I was now is that not everyone is going to be okay with that. I accepted my widow identity eventually, but that would only dictate my life until I established my new identity. Then it would no longer become who I was but become PART of who I am. It would become part of my story, just as Tyler will always be a part of my life. That was a really difficult transition because of the guilt I punished myself with and because I didn’t accept that not everyone from my first chapter would come with me into the next. Some because they didn’t want to and some I would have to let go. But really this was only a few people. I would be moved to tears by the support I would receive from 99% of the people in my life.
I went back to Regent after a few months. It was a struggle because I had a terrible schedule. I would stay up all night and couldn’t sleep. I wouldn’t take anything because I was terrified of having bad dreams. But school would give me somewhat of a schedule, I did some dog stuff on the side, and I would get my homework done when I stayed up all night. So it worked out. I had one Professor who really inspired me and I will always appreciate her encouragement. She gave me a lot of confidence as I started to establish my new life. She was extremely accomplished with multiple degrees and working on another one while researching and writing a book. She was much like Tyler, someone I looked up to and admired for their drive and ability to accomplish so much. They proved that if you work hard and are dedicated you can achieve anything! I was starting to get it.
Then everything would be turned upside down when I would meet the catalyst to where I am today. That would be Ryan. The man I am now engaged to. I graduated college while we dated long distance. I decided to move out West for a year to get a change of environment and see how I would fare somewhere that no one knew me or my story. I struggled with that decision, but I was afraid. Afraid of things not going well, afraid of what people would think, and afraid to trust myself. Again, I was lucky to have close friends that encouraged me that is was okay to take risks and not live by what other people were ready for me to do.
Moving to Nevada turned out to be the right decision. I didn’t last long before I got a horse. I joked about it before I moved but I really did not think I would ever get one. Before Tyler died we were waiting to close on a great house, big enough for a family and with a few acres. I was hoping to get a horse eventually when we moved there. I still had that pull towards horses. It stayed with me through everything.
YOUR CALLING is a lot bigger than just your job. God asks us to give our entire lives over to God’s call to us. You get a hunch, a feeling, a nudge. You sense that you are supposed to use your gifts and talents in a certain way.
Finding Gigi changed everything. She was the next catalyst. I was in heaven. Much like when I was working as a K9 Handler. Though, this is what I REALLY always wanted. First, I was just incredibly grateful to be riding and own my own horse. When it came to actually attending a jackpot barrel race, my heart was about to beat out of my chest. Less than 20 seconds later, it was over. Just like that. But, it felt amazing. It has been a journey since then. Gigi was out for a while and had to be rehabbed. I attended Equissage’s Equine Sports Massage Therapy course which turned out to be a HUGE asset to both Gigi and I. Then we started again late in the season this year when Gigi was ready. We won our first buckle and though we started out slow and messy, but we ended this season in the 2D! (For non-horse people, we got a lot faster).
I also started to share my story with some online contests and things started to go from there. Now here I am today. I feel confident that this is where I am meant to be. I have more dreams and accomplishments that I am working towards. I KNOW I can make them happen if I work hard enough. I also know that you have to help others along the way. You truly get what you give. And if you don’t get anything, at least you know you have helped someone. That is reward enough. Actually, it is really amazing.
Figuring out who you are, having confidence and truly living as your authentic self is incredibly freeing…..and challenging. It is worth every difficulty though.
I have learned to enjoy every step, every risk, every accomplishment knowing that it can all be gone at any time. That is why waiting to do live the life you really want doesn’t make any sense. You have to make it happen, not wait for the day that it will just magically appear. We are not guaranteed any amount of time or certain number of chances. Mistakes and failures happen when we take risks, but they can’t become a road block and stop us from continuing on. Just learn and keep moving. Taking risks also can take us places we haven’t even dreamed of it yet. I never could have imagined in those first six months after losing Tyler that I would be here one day.
Another huge lesson I learned was we may THINK we know what we are supposed to be doing, we may INSIST that we have to follow a certain path when we are obviously being pointed in a different direction. We may also think we have to have it ALL right NOW. The truth is, you might have some things to learn first. Life has a funny way of redirecting us to where we need to be. Like the saying goes, “Want to make God Laugh? Tell Him your plans”. I know my story is still unfolding, I know I am supposed to be sharing my journey and I know I am supposed to working with horses. I know what I am working towards, but I know God will point in me in the direction I am supposed to go.
You get a hunch, a feeling, a nudge. You sense that you are supposed to use your gifts and talents in a certain way.
I encourage you to seek out your true calling. Be aware of that feeling, that nudge pushing you. Set out to help others as a priority. Explore your faith and don’t let fear dominate your decision making. Pray about it. Take some time to get to know yourself. Learn to be secure on your own and be alone.
And no matter what, never, ever, give up.