Love is Love

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Today, I saw my chiropractor whom I haven’t seen in awhile. We had our usual, “what’s going on, how’s school, how is your ankle, and what’s going on with you back” talk, which led to the infamous, “so, do you have a boyfriend” question. I said no, I have a girlfriend though! Although surprised, he didn’t even second guess it. “That’s great! How long have you guys been together?” And the conversation went on. Where did you meet, are you happy, what happens after graduation, etc. He even apologized for not knowing that I liked girls because he felt bad for assuming I was straight (jaw drop). As I was leaving he hugged me and said, “the world is going to love you for who you are, because you are an amazing person”. Such kind words, it touched my heart.

Not only is it nice to have somebody tell you that you are an amazing person, but it was even better in this context. He wanted me to know that my sexual orientation did not determine what kind of person I am. Which it never should. Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, what have you, none of that determines the kind of person you are. I know gay people who are complete assholes. Guess what? I know straight people who are complete assholes as well. Just like I know black people who have been arrested, and I know what people who have been arrested. These stereotypes, whether race, gender, or sexual orientation, are truly outdated and ignorant.

He also told me something else. “Love is love.” This quote is in the description of my Instagram, so I was very excited to hear him say it. He said that he told his three sons the same thing, love is love, and he would love them no matter what. I told him what I always say when people say these things to me: “Thank you for feeling that way. I wish more people did.” You know what he told me? That he has seen people change as he has gotten older. People are less judgmental. People are more accepting. And it is only going to get better. What a beautifully optimistic viewpoint he has. I realized that sometimes I am pessimistic about it, but he is completely right. Although there is still room for improvements, things keep getting better for the LGBT community.

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Who would have thought that he would have opened my mind even more? Well, like I said, there is still room for improvement. Same rule applies to myself, and I will keep improving.

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The Beauty of the Beasts

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There is something so beautiful about interacting with horses. Trusting a1000 pound animal comes natural to equestrians, but it is more than that. From the moment you walk toward their pasture and their ears perk up to turning them back out and saying goodbye for the day, nothing in world can stop you. You are invincible.

Walking down the driveway to the barn, with a lead rope in hand, and looking behind you to see this animal following you is simply amazing. Regardless of where you are heading or what you are going to do, that horse is with you. They trust you too.

Something I find so peaceful is grooming a horse. I could literally spend hours every day with a brush in my hand, talking to a horse in the barn isle. It helps you bond with your horse in unbelievable ways and I think that time is so important.

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Then it is time to mount. The second I swing my leg over a horse’s back, everything in the world is invisible. I am on my thrown, exactly where I am supposed to be, and my mind is at peace. For non-equestrians, this is a difficult thing to understand sometimes, but moving with this 1000 pound animal and working together as one is the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

All good things come to an end though. It is never goodbye, just see you later. The horses know their humans will come back for them, and we always do.

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Screw Society’s Idea of Beauty

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For those of you who didn’t know, this week was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I have been thinking of what to write about for days because this is such a sensitive topic. Mainly, I wanted to find the right words rather than telling society to screw itself for making so many individuals believe that they have to harm their bodies to fit the unrealistic standard of beautiful.

Everybody has looked in the mirror at least once in their lives and saw something they didn’t like. That’s okay, we all have our off days, but more than half of the population has either suffered from an eating disorder or knows somebody who has. In America, the statistic is every 4 out of 10 people. This means that all of these men and woman hate their bodies so much, that harming themselves to “fix it” is what they resort to. These numbers are heartbreaking for so many reasons.

Eating disorders are defined by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s physical and mental health. Unfortunately, so many people are unaware of what an eating disorder is.  Here are some quick statistics I found about other illnesses that affect individuals’ lives. To my knowledge, these three things are talked about extensively more than eating disorders.

1 in 4 Americans 18 and older suffer from a mental illness

1 in 35 American suffer from mental retardation

1 in 88 American (children) are diagnosed with autism

Compare these three statistics to the one about eating disorders: “over half the population has either suffered from an eating disorder or knows somebody who has”. Does this match up? Don’t get me wrong, I think research, awareness, and help for all of the above illnesses is necessary, but I do not understand why the same research, awareness, and help isn’t giving to eating disorders. According to these unofficial statistics, eating disorders affect twice as many people as mental illnesses do, twenty-five times as many people as mental retardation, and fifty times as many people as autism. This is unbelievable! Especially when the mortality rate for eating disorders is constantly increasing. Here are some rough statistics:

4% from anorexia nervosa

3.9% from bulimia nervosa

5.2% from eating disorder not otherwise specified 

Combined, the mortality rate for eating disorders is approximately 13% of the affected population. This is unacceptable. So, what is the purpose of me spitting out all of these random statistics that I read about on the internet over the past couple of days in my “free time”? I am acknowledging the seriousness of eating disorders and I am sharing my research. If more people did this, maybe those statistics wouldn’t be so high. Maybe that 16 year-old girl would think she is beautiful even if she doesn’t look like a model in Seventeen. Maybe the model wouldn’t think that she has to stop eating for a few days before her photoshoot. Maybe society would finally understand that everyone is beautiful in their own way.

So what can we do? There are three simple steps that I think can jumpstart change (in many situations, not only eating disorders). These are some of the things I try to think about in my daily routine, which may be insignificant, but here they are. The first step is talking about it. Eating disorders go unnoticed and undiagnosed way too often. Even after diagnosis, there are many people who do not believe it is a serious concern and will refuse to support loved ones in their recovery process. Second, spread positivity. I know this sounds cliché, but it is so important. Smile at a stranger, compliment somebody’s make-up, applaud a classmate on a good grade, or comment on a guy’s outfit. Whatever it is, it will make somebody happy. Third, and most important, change society’s idea of beauty. We are society. We define it. We can change it.

 

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” –Kathryn Stockett, The Help

My New Found Princess

Every equestrian has their preference of horses including breeds, colors, markings, size, and gender. Personally, I have always been a big, chestnut, thoroughbred gelding kind of person. The key word in that last sentence is gelding. Mares and I have never gotten along well. Mainly because I was never a fan of the whole bouncy, feisty, mare-ish attitudes.

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Her name is Tango. She is a bay, mustang pony. I first rode her about a year ago in the spring semester of my sophomore year, and we did not get along in the least bit. She was fast and feisty and we did not communicate at all. In my opinion, communication is the most important aspect of riding horses. Contrary to popular belief, it is a team effort, between the horse and the rider. Without communication, the team will inevitably fail.

Approximately six months ago, in the fall semester of my junior year, I started riding Tango again. Obviously I was hesitant at first since I was not really a fan of hers. One day, after riding her quite often, we clicked and I fell in love. Now we work extremely well together and I look forward to every minute I get to spend with her.

Unfortunately the origin of the word “tango” has been lost in history. Although the origin is unknown, “The Tango” is very well known. The tango is a partner dance, meaning it involves teamwork and communication. I love Tango’s name for this reason and also because it describes our relationship.  Our relationship was horrible at first because we did not tango together. After working at it, from both ends, we work much better as a team.

So why am I randomly writing about this random pony at my college’s barn? I have been missing Tango recently (…yes I am that person). I was finally able to ride her today for the first time in too long. She was so feisty the whole lesson and I realized something. I love when she is feisty! I smile constantly when she is that mood because it is just so damn cute. In the past, I would have hated that mood! So the real lesson I received today is that I have truly grown as a rider, but also as a person.

After our spunky lesson together, I spent almost two hours brushing Tango’s beautiful, thick tail and cuddling her up. Today I tweeted, “If you have never kissed a horse on the nose, you haven’t lived” and I will stand by that statement no matter what. Being in the presence of a horse that is special to you, kissing their nose and talking to them, is all you need to make you glow.

It was a perfect day with my new found princess.