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A Magical Summer

by Cassidy Gillard

This summer at the ranch was kind of magical. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always some aspect of magic involved in making camp happen, but this year seemed especially remarkable. The staff meshed so well that when things needed to happen, they just did. Campers were excited, and there were so many of them that- for the first time ever- we had wait lists for registrations in all areas of camp, rather than only the typical line to join Horse Focus. There was no time to wonder whether or not it was just a strong start that would possibly become a disaster, because as soon as it started it seemed it was time to say goodbye.

I’ve mentioned before what it feels like when camp ends, where you’re homesick in your own home, and you feel lonely, even while you’re surrounded by people. For me this year, the end of summer was much smoother than it has been in the past. I got an apartment right away, and had two jobs lined up and ready to start as soon as the school year started. Everything felt so good, and was just busy enough to keep my mind off of missing camp.

And then I stepped out the front door of my friend’s house, missed all four stairs, and broke my foot.

This, of course, led to a week on the couch, and many more weeks of “taking it easy.” I was unable to work, unable to drive, and unable to be active. Those are literally the most important things in my life, and in one instant they were taken away from me. Almost immediately, the end of camp blues came rushing in.

For that first week, all I could do was lay on the couch, marathon Netflix shows, and scroll aimlessly through social media. One night I was hobbling around my apartment on crutches, trying to get ready for bed. As soon as I crawled under the covers I realized that I had left my water bottle in the bathroom.

I immediately lost it, and started crying. Obviously it wasn’t the water bottle that I was so upset about, it just happened to be the last straw. After a short five minutes of crying and feeling sorry for myself, I realized that, yes, I am out of commission in a lot of aspects, but I wasn’t even trying to make the most out of this terribly unfortunate event. I sat up, pulled myself together, and was about to hobble back to retrieve my water bottle, when I realized that I did bring it back with me, I had just set it on the floor rather than on the table. It was almost as if my decision to compose myself and actually do something about my situation had manifested my water bottle to my bedside.

In that ultimate moment of “weakness,” (I now realize it was a very healthy moment for me) I decided to turn my attitude around a lot. I took advantage of the much needed rest, I caught up on some Netflix shows that I’d been “deprived of” over the summer, and then I started making changes. Granted, I couldn’t really do a whole lot, on account of the broken foot, but I could do some things that I wouldn’t have made time for had I been on my feet and busy with work. I started reading a book that I got in April, which is the first book I’ve even attempted to read in well over a year. I started making serious, attainable goals for myself. I started writing, which is something I enjoy a lot, and don’t necessarily do enough. I started doing a little bit of yoga, which, honestly has never really been something I’m into, but is a way to be active without needing to use my foot (my right leg is now about a million times stronger than my left…).

Almost everything I’ve done since that mini-meltdown moment has been intentional. I’ve started to assign purpose to even the smallest, seemingly insignificant things that I do. Since doing this, I’ve felt happier, I’ve felt more successful, and a positive trend has begun in my everyday life.

If there is something I’m considering doing, or buying, or eating, or whatever, I take just a second to consider my intentions behind it. Do I actually need to buy the fancy cheese from Vermont, which, let’s be honest (perhaps biased is the right word here), there’s not better cheese in the world, or can I sacrifice that little bit of nostalgia and buy three times as much store-brand cheese for the same price? Maybe I do need that fond hometown taste in the moment, and that is fine, I’ll buy the fancy cheese, but if I decide that I don’t actually need it, then I’ll get the cheap stuff. Do I really need to watch another episode of the series that I’ve seen fifteen times, or would I benefit from reading a book or writing, or attempting to play the guitar? Of course the benefits of those things are obvious, however sometimes shutting my brain off and staring like a zombie at the tv for a while is actually what I feel I need. However, the amount of times that I’ve chosen to save money, or eat a vegetable instead of a cookie, or read a chapter of a book have drastically increased, simply because of a one second pause to consider my intention. I have even been able to get through the sadness that comes with missing camp by being mindful and present.

I can’t say that this new theory is foolproof, and I can’t say that it definitely would have prevented my broken foot, however I am choosing to believe that it is worth sharing with you. I challenge you, CMR friends, family, and fans, to be intentional. Think, even if only for a brief moment, about what you want or need from each decision that you are presented with, and then choose to get exactly that out of it. Take misfortune, or disappointment, or whatever vibes- positive or negative- you might be experiencing, and choose to grow and make improvements for yourself. As it turns out, you are the only person who can do that for you!

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