the new year

Ah, the new year. When so many of us are compelled to create lists of resolutions, goals, and specific ways we are going to improve our lives this year. Get fit. Eat better. Write more letters. Make the bed every day. Spend less. Tangible things that can be easily added to a daily check-list, and checked off for self validation; even though we never seem to elaborate on *how* to get those things accomplished. We all know it can be challenging to stay motivated, and those specific items don't always get completed because it is easy to say, I'll just do that later. Before you know it, Christmas is here again, and we are having the same conversation.

Lately, I've become immersed in the blog, Just My Type. Its like an extra espresso shot in my morning coffee, infused with career, relationships, media, social issues. And rather than rot my brain with celeb gossip or consumerism, Amy's articles make me laugh and somehow always seem timely. She is honest, but not uncomfortably so; and she leaves you room to agree or disagree gracefully, without prejudice. 

Some of my favorites:
- How to Harness the Power of "No"
- 13 Things I Learned About Relationships
- What Do You Stand For?
- Power of Influence

Recently, she posted this entry here. Its worth reading, maybe even a few times. 

And so, in the spirit of the New Year, on the eve of 2014 {the year of the horse!}, I am going to do my best to follow Amy's example and make a contract with myself to just be a better human this year, both in my personal life and my professional one. 

In 2014, I aim to:
• Give more than I take;
• Spend less time worrying, more time creating;
• Honor my intuition;
• Make time to write and call my family and friends, more often;
• Do something each week to show appreciation for someone else;
• Carve out time everyday to feed a passion;
• Adjust my reaction when feeling impatient, angry or unsatisfied;
• Acknowledge what I am grateful for;
• Remember that the person in front of me is more important than my phone;
• Remember that empathy always wins, when feeling judgmental;
• Learn to "Harness the Power of 'No'";
• Give myself "me" time; and
• Dedicate time each month to learning something new.

And because my OCD won't allow me to create a list without having at least *one* measurable, cross-off-able item on that list:
• Learn how to fold a &*%$#-ing fitted sheet. {Anyone, aside from YouTube, want to teach me?}

To quote Amy and JMT one final time,

"…don’t be so hard on yourself. You will slip. There will be times where you’ll be lazy and lack the discipline to follow the points of this contract. Don’t self loathe when you do. Remember to be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to be soft, to not know all the answers, to be vulnerable, and most importantly, to be human…"

What is everyone else focusing on in this new year?

photography: junior vet camp

"Lots of people talk to animals.... Not very many listen, though.... That's the problem."  
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


From the first time I touched a horse, I was hooked. And now over twenty-something years later, horses are a part of my daily life, literally. As beautiful and wonderful as horses are, they are a lot of work. They need to eat multiple times each day, regardless of the weather. They have very sensitive digestive systems. They weigh (on average) 1200-1500lbs. They have an innate "flight" mechanism that is triggered by noises, shapes, movements or my favorite, "the imaginary monster by the arena." They can be "hard keepers" or "easy keepers," but regardless we "keep" them all. We all "get into horses" because they can teach us things; they challenge us athletically, they provide us partnership like no other, and they can help others heal from trauma in their lives. But man, they are a lot of work.

A big part of owning a horse, or being around horses (or dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, cows, birds, pigs, etc....) is healthcare. When to take them to a vet. When to treat it yourself. How to look for warning signs. And more importantly, how to prevent issues in the first place. It is peace of mind knowing that you have a vet you can trust; and also peace of mind knowing that you have educated yourself as an animal owner to do all that you can. And that education should start early; after all, most of us had/have pets as children who were a big part of our lives.

Each summer, our "in house" large animal vet, Robbie, hosts a Junior Vet Camp at Triple Play Farm in Davidson -- teaching and inspiring young minds and hearts who have all said at some point, "I want to be a vet when I grow up." And let me tell you, this camp is no joke. It's a serious, anatomy-quizzing, leg-wrapping, pulse-checking, teeth-floating, getting-your-hands-dirty three days. With some crazy games in between topics, a graduation at the end of it all, and loads of cool swag to take home. Campers leave smarter than they arrived, and its safe to say that the supervising adults (and photographer) tend to learn a bunch, too.


For those who might have been wondering, this is how you bandage a horse's leg with a cat on your lap. 


Junior Vet Camp is one of my favorite events I have the opportunity to document. I get to spend three "working" days at a farm that I love, surrounded by people and horses that I love. And I am reminded why I am so grateful to have a vet like Robbie in our lives -- always willing to share knowledge, compassion and patience -- so that we all may take better care of our animals. And because these big creatures always seem to be getting hurt (!!), you want a vet like him at your side when things go wrong.

If even just ONE of his inspired campers makes the career move to attend vet school, the animal world will be a better place.

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."