That's Vic, a thoroughbred show horse who has the best horse breath I've ever encountered, thanks to his addiction to peppermints. I got to spend two hours grooming, riding, grooming, and poop-scooping with that big boy, and I'm pretty sure that's the happiest/gummiest I've been since the Wicked as They Come book launch party.
If you've been reading this blog for a long time, or if you search it for "horse", you'll quickly learn that horses are one of my favorite things on earth. When I was a kid, I was horse-crazy, but I never really got to live my dream until we were in South Carolina, when I bought my own rangy little mare, made horse friends, and pretty much blissed out on horseback whenever possible. Then we moved back to Georgia, where boarding a horse = a monthly car payment, and I sold my mare. Ever since then, it's like a little piece of my heart has been missing, like just thinking about horses makes me feel depressed.
This past week, horses came up in discussion with my husband, and I made my usual sad sigh and said something pathetic, like, "I'm so happy, and I have everything I've ever wanted in life... except horses."
And his eyebrows drew down. "So have them," he said with his usual bluntness.
"I can't. It's not the right time."
And he stared at me and said, "If not now, when?"
At first, I was defensive. I don't know when! Later! When there's more money! When I sell a million books! It costs too much! I have to take care of the kids! I need to spend my extra time writing!
His eyebrows drew down further.
"If you really want it, you'll make it happen."
I just stared at him for a moment. And then it really sunk in.
He was right. I was making excuses.
And I needed to stop whining about why I couldn't ride horses and figure out how to make it happen.
I bet there are plenty of people out there who say they want to write a book but never do because they don't have time, or they're too tired, or they have to work, or whatever reason. Or maybe they want to go to the gym, or take a pottery class, or go back to school, or learn a new language. Our brains are wily and self-defensive, and, yes, lazy. We can convince ourselves of anything, give ourselves reasons not to pursue the things we say we want.
Yes, horseback riding in my area is extremely expensive, and I don't have aspirations of showing or going to the Olympics. But I took a look at my budget and decided that there were things I could sacrifice, if I wanted it badly enough. That maybe looking forward to riding every couple of weeks would be more important to me than costuming or My Little Ponies or pretty shoes or another cupcake.
And it's kind of ridiculous, but as I pulled up to the barn gate, I had to wonder-- was I making a mistake? Was it a waste of money? Was I too old to do something that so clearly had no ultimate goal? Was I wasting my family's resources and time?
The second I was on Vic's back, I knew. Anything that makes me feel that fulfilled and happy, inside and out, is worth it. The way I feel after riding-- it's better than yoga, better than massage, better than the gym, better than a day at the spa. It's pure bliss, and the effects reach into the rest of my life, making me into a more positive person and making me feel more connected to myself and my family.
So, still on my horsey high and already starting to ache a little, I want to urge everybody to look hard at that thing you're always denying yourself, the thing that makes you sigh. That thing you've always wanted to do, whether it's travel or education or an indulgence. And ask yourself these two questions.
How much do you want it?
If not now, when?
I wish everyone in the world could feel as happy as I feel right now.