Most of us have heard that famous cliché’: “The grass is always green on the other side of the fence.” Maybe because I’m a horse person, this particular phrase seems to regularly surface in my life.
It might be when I watched one of my horses grazing in his paddock, with his head nudging the bottom board of the fence, edging way too close to a dangerous predicament as he searched for some elusive, tender blade. Or, it could be as I pondered what it is I should be doing with my life, and why the science degree I worked so hard to attain is still gathering that proverbial dust while my career takes me in an altogether different direction.
It’s the latter that’s been on my mind lately, especially over the past several years as photography has edged closer to horses as the No. 1 passion in my life. I’ve wondered if I should jump that paddock fence and explore some other fields of opportunity, to check out those other rolling hills in the distance. Is it time to take my citizen scientist/volunteer work with the Smithsonian to the next level? What about my dream of working in the field of conservation or environmental science?
So, it’s now been three weeks since my epilepsy returned on my trip home from Yellowstone National Park, and as I’ve worked with the doctors and new medications, I’ve taken a step back from my usual pace to recover. With this break from the routine comes the opportunity to pause, reflect and consider the future, which is actually a bonus!
As the Capital Challenge Horse Show was just 12 days after my hospitalization, I wondered if I’d be well enough to attend and cover the event over on the Maryland side of the Washington D.C. Beltway. I also had the November issue of USHJA In Stride magazine to produce during that same time period, and I felt a little overwhelmed by it all as I struggled with short-term memory loss and fatigue as well as various other side effects of the medication.
Thankfully, everything worked out smoothly, and with the help and support of some amazing friends and colleagues, we were able to accomplish it all and send the magazine off to the printer yesterday.
What really hit home with me during the past three weeks is that those greener pastures I’ve observed out there on the horizon just might be more like a beautiful backdrop. You’ll look up and enjoy the view once in a while, but the true nourishment and contentment in your life are right at your feet, in the pasture that contains and supports you.
Even though it was extremely difficult to put down my camera for most of the show to focus on the interviewing and writing, it was a wise decision to conserve my strength. I sat in the stands and spent more time with friends, trainers and the judges, catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones with great stories and a shared love of horses. I saw some lovely show hunters perform and spent a wonderful evening watching the WCHR Professional Finals with one of my judging mentors.
The Capital Challenge celebrated its 22nd year in 2015, and I’ve competed and/or worked there since its inception. Returning to the media table to sit beside my friend and partner Michelle, whom I’ve worked with there for two decades, was a highlight. We’ve spent many a late night in the trenches of the Show Place Arena, transcribing interviews, writing stories and cajoling temperamental printers so each Daily Update would be ready the following morning.
This year, Michelle also generously offered to be my chauffeur, and even though her truck battery went dead on Sunday morning on our way to the show, we weren’t upset or stressed. Waiting for AAA simply allowed us to spend some quality time together and catch up on more of those cherished details of life that we usually don’t have time to share.
While I’m not thrilled to be dealing with my epilepsy again after more than a decade seizure-free, there’s been a silver lining to it this time. I realized I’m right where I belong and that my passion for horses and writing and photography has led me to the place I was meant to be.
I know I’ll continue to explore different aspects of photography, expand my knowledge and, hopefully, make some new friends along the way. In fact, two of the most talented and passionate photographers I know—Karen Hutton and Laurie Rubin—inspired me to finally finish this draft and push the publish button through their encouragement and the open dialogue they foster in following their own dreams.
But what I’ve really embraced from this experience is that the greenest pasture is the one I’m grazing in now, with an amazing group of people who are always there for me and who showed me yet again how fortunate I am, as Laurie said, “to love what I do and do what I love!”