Society enjoys defining success as being congruent with money or status. However, I define it as how much peace someone has in their life. Owning a sanctuary isn’t exactly going to get me in Forbes magazine for being wealthy, but at the very least, it might get our message of compassion into the hearts of some. To me, the process of helping is the most fulfilling form of success. But, it was a long journey for me to get there.
I have mentioned parts of my personal journey via Instagram and my previous post, Worthy of Friendship, but I want everyone to understand the power of animals and the heart of where HNH is. September 2nd, 2016 is so far, the worst day of my life. My grandfather, whom had lymphoma suddenly passed away in the middle of the night; I arrived as they called his time of death. Everything moved in slow motion. Then everything went numb. And as much as I can share every little detail of the hours and days following, I won’t. What you all need to know is where I was at mentally. Back then, I was happy-go-lucky type of a person, independent, riding horses, and consumed with blogging. The second I arrived at his house that night, something in my heart snapped. Emotions aren’t exactly the friendliest of topics in my family. We aren’t immune to them, we just are prideful in being strong in tough situations. We constantly joke that we have a dark cloud that hangs over us and plagues the family with random, serious problems. But, this was something different. For once, I was different and I knew I wasn’t okay. Nothing was going to be the same. My grandpa was my best friend. I went to him for everything, knowing I would get the honest truth and a secret agent to aid me in things that were good for me. He was tough on you if he loved you and had a raw sense of humor that could rub you like sand paper. He would share with me the most insane cowboy stories of sweet mountain air and brave adventures that still linger in my brain today. I was hysterical alone or with Ryan, my long term boyfriend, I silently refused to leave my house, was petrified of being alone in public, and my phone was glued to me just in case another gut wrenching phone call came through. Truth be told, I actually slept with it under my pillow for almost a year. Something had switched in my brain. Nearly a year and a half, while still dealing with severe social anxiety, I learned that I was suffering through depression, anxiety, and PTSD from more than one incident. But, there was one thing that had gotten me to that point where anxiety was my main issue. And that was Autumn.
In October of 2016, I told my parents that I was buying an eight month old colt from Canada. After expressing to my parents that I needed a horse, something I wish I could have done with my grandfather still here, they were confused. They didn’t know what I was feeling because I had been strong in front of the family, yet crumbling behind closed doors. And they didn’t totally understand why I needed anything, I always figured they assumed it was a way to keep my grandpa close. Eventually, they said that if I could figure out the money, I could do it. However, before I staked my claim, a friend of a friend told us about this sad, neglected little filly about an hour away. When I met her in the middle of the night, hiding in a round pen, I saw myself in her. Terrified, unsure, and just little bit crazy. She came home right away. Less than a month after, she feel ill with pneumonia. And I didn’t know it at the time, but upon meeting her, both my vet and farrier thought she was going to die. Between the slight emaciation and worms creating chaos in her belly, they thought even if she made it through, she wouldn’t grow to be anything rideable. But, I was blissfully unaware. All I knew was that we needed each other; even when she dragged me across the floor, nearly flipped over on herself, and tried to kill me time and time again. Autumn became stronger and more trusting every day; just like I did. I spent every waking moment I could with her. I got another job to give her the best quality of life. I blogged to provide her with fancy things that I otherwise would not have been able to get. Most importantly, she made me responsible for something other than myself.
Amongst the chaos of owning Autumn, blossomed the most beautiful distraction and healing that I have ever experienced. Pack/herd animals have a way of making us as humans feel needed. Someone had to pick her feet and let her run around. Someone had to put her blanket on and ensure she got her daily bucket. No one else could because I couldn’t afford it. And when I started rescuing, Lila and Norman did the same things Autumn did. They needed me and I needed them to teach me something new. The three of them enhanced my patience, challenged my understanding, made me more empathetic, more willing within the first few months of us all living under one roof. Horses strengthened and gave me a life’s worth of valuable lessons every time I stepped into their world. They are the reason I get out of bed, even on my worst days of depression. They force me to communicate with people to tell their stories, no matter how scared I am. They encourage a better natured, more secure version of myself in order to be the best for them. They lift me up, especially when I fail myself. And at the end of the day, they are the reason I go to sleep feeling empowered to start again tomorrow. They are apart of my family. They are apart of me.
HNH is intertwined with our stories of growth and the success of rescue. As broken as I was, helping to heal their brokenness, healed me. The goal of HNH is to take the most disparaging and marginalized animals society has and to assist their recovery in order to improve their lives and share their stories. To lift them up and honor their lives by sharing their journies with people of all backgrounds, we can bridge the gap between human and animal as well as break down barriers between humans. The hope is to encourage, not only animal lovers, but also those unaware of any animal’s value, to try and learn from animals and the lessons they teach. The sanctuary itself will one day be a safe place for families to visit and learn about rescues as well as a healing center for those dealing with mental illness, grief, and those seeking peace. Through the HNH rescues, we can make society more empathetic to social differences and willing to be more sensitive to ecological issues. All while loving on animals whom need our affection and care the most. One day, I will be successful, not because of the amount of money I have, but because of the amount of peace I can facilitate in the world.