When I was younger I was an avid horse back rider.
At least once a week I was at the barn grooming, tacking, and riding, and I loooooved it.
After a year or two of lessons, my best friend Perri and I (we met when we were not yet six, and we are still best friends nearly 20 years later) began to show in horse shows.
My mom french braided our hair, we ate snacks from the back of her parents wood paneled jeep, we ran around and passed the time with excitement, our instructor gave us pep talks and last minute changes, our parents cheered us on, we won ribbons.
It went on in much the same way for four years.
All told, these shows are a huge part of our childhood memories.
We got better, rode more, jumped higher, and grew taller.
Then Perri was thrown off her horse during one of our lessons and had to get stitches in her chin. Quite a few, if I remember correctly.
So then it was just me.
And when I was twelve I decided I didn't want to ride every weekend, all weekend.
I didn't want things to get more serious, and move towards being a source of income for my stable.
I didn't want to get sponsors and points and compete seriously.
I wanted to sleep late and play with my friends and drool over boys.
So I decided to quit.
Just like that.
And in the thirteen years since I stopped, I have regretted quitting more times than I could ever count.
I loved it. And in a petulant, impatient, childish moment, I let it all go.
Sometimes I can't watch someone riding a horse without feeling a little twinge in my heart.
I hadn't been to a horse show since I was the one riding in them, so many years ago, but recently a friend of mine asked me if I would come along and help her shoot a horse show.
I decided it would be exciting to be in that setting again.
The day came and it was long, hot, and buggy. After ten hours (or more realistically after two), horse shows are boooooring, if you are not the one riding.
All day all I could think was that I don't care if I'm taking photos, I don't want to be here if I'm not on a horse.
It was harder than I thought it would be. The regrets made me sad and tired.
I felt apart from.
But then I wandered off back to where the horses were in their stalls.
And the sun was setting, and it was cooling off, and I knew we were about to head back home, where I would see some friends that love me, and go to a place that centers me.
And for that moment it was just me, and the light, and the horses.
And I stopped being sad that I didn't follow through with a life that may or may not have made me happy.
Instead I was grateful for a life full of old friends and new friends, a great family, two coasts that feel like home, and a life full of experiences I probably wouldn't have had if I was solely focused on horses.
I can still appreciate them, without them being my world.
So I looked up at the gorgeous animal I hold so much love for, and I clicked the shutter I hold so much love for....
And then I nuzzled this nuzzle.
Please note: If you have never touched a horse's nose, please go find one. It is the softest thing you will ever touch.
I choose not to regret.
I choose, instead, to be curious about the next journey my choices will take me on.
And this is just another part of my story.