Thursday, April 28, 2011

Facing a brave new world: Meagan Harrison

All that is Gold does not (necessarily) Glitter
by Meagan Harrison

Kelsey is probably expecting me to write something about how everyone should get the chance to go abroad, volunteer, and see the world as much as they can before they die, get old, or run out of money. And given the title of my own blog  “I’m giving you warning, baby: We’ve got a whole big fat world to see,” one would certainly be validated in expecting me to write something that makes you want to quit your job/drop out of school, sell all your possessions, and get on a plane to live in a third world country for a few years, or hey, maybe travel for the rest of your life. (Of course, I would whole-heartedly support this adventurous decision!) But instead, this entry gives a bit of insight into the way the other half of my brain is in no way a plea for complacency, but a challenge to find meaning and purpose wherever you are.

I’ll start with a quote from one of my favorite authors.

"And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can't go back to being normal; you can't go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time." -Donald Miller

I have done a lot of things and lived a lot of good stories that have made me “abnormal.” I have done a lot of traveling, a lot of volunteering, a lot of exploring. I have met and “helped” people in countries from North and Central America, to Europe, to Asia and the South Pacific. However, I often think about the connections I've made with individuals and entire communities, and the things that I have done while I was in each place and question: Was it enough?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I'm so excited!

I got the grant!!  More information to come.

On another note, the mare is really coming along well.  This morning I rode her for my vet to watch, and he liked her, although we of course noted that she has a ways to go.  She just needs mileage.  Around and around and around that ring.  This morning I jumped her over a crossrail for the first time too!  The video is here -

Monday, April 25, 2011

Photography in western Carolina

This weekend I photographed a horse show in Wilkesboro, a town near Boone two hours from Elon.  Meagan, my friend doing the photojournalism project about me, thought this would be the perfect time to photograph me photographing.  It was wonderful to have a friend there with me, and she even lent me her camera to use, in addition to my own.  Hers is a much upgraded version of mine, and really hammered home how necessary it is for me to upgrade this year.  Maybe when I sell Aston I will be able to afford it.  Or maybe I will be awarded the grant I applied for (fingers crossed!).  

This show was one of the most fun shows I have photographed in a long time. The riders were careful and safe, the horses were gorgeous, and the people were extremely nice.   I was particularly excited about the mist in the beginning of the day, and I love the results of those photos.  I'm looking forward to photographing the rest of their shows this year, and hopefully heading back out soon to do portraits!

On another note, Aston is still going really well.  We are still trying to figure out what is going on with the pony.  She's still not seeming quite right when traveling on a circle.  Hopefully Dr. Shuler can help figure out what is up with her.  This weekend Dr. Shuler's broodmare finally foaled too!  I went out to take photos, but I haven't yet been out when the light is nice, so the photos are still a bit harsh.  I'm still working all the time it seems, but I'm taking more hours on at the farm where I do stalls.  My boss asked me to start riding some of the babies in addition to the trainer she has coming in.  I'm excited about that, as they are really nice youngsters.  

"I have seen many wonderful soothsayers and prophets and magicians in my life days, but none before that could sit idle and see to the heart of things with never an incantation to help."- Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Friday, April 22, 2011

Facing a brave new world: Dante Fury

   "Career Doesn't Define Me"  
Dante Fury

       I am in the Navy. I am pursuing a career that I choose not to talk about not because I am not necessarily allowed to talk about it but because I don't believe that it defines me as a person.  I love my family and I feel that they are what give me the most motivation in my life.  I am very competitive and strive to be the best in absolutely everything I do, a trait that I find resonates in my sister.  I feel that though her and I do very dissimilar things it is our drive that makes us one and the same.  Her drive is astounding at times and makes me wonder where she gets her motivation.  When she describes all the things that she is doing to not only better herself but the world it leaves me almost senseless.  She is very caught up in helping and building others, this is what I would call a force multiplier to my motivation.  It gives me pride to be related to someone who is so driven towards good and the betterment of this world.
 Currently everything I do is centered around developing my body and mind to be better at my job.  I enjoy working out and staying in shape not only because it makes me feel better at the end of the day but also makes me better prepared for everyday that I spend at work.  I grew up playing sports but set my main focus on soccer and lacrosse, and as I grew older that focus shifted more towards lacrosse with each passing year.  I went to the Lawrenceville school and played both soccer and lacrosse there and would say that I had a successful career in both.  While I was there I met some outstanding people who most certainly contributed to my drive and motivation.  My best friends were constantly pushing me passively as well overtly.  I had the inner drive to impress them with everything I did, not unlike how I felt about my family as well as the competitiveness to outdo all of them on the field of play.  Most of my success came from competitiveness and the desire to be the best in anything I did.  I have had to work hard to achieve everything that I have earned, nothing has come easy but I would say that everything is more rewarding for the work I had to put in to achieve it.

      No matter what I achieve or where I am I never have a real sense of fulfillment.  I feel like there is always more that I can do or more that I can achieve.  I always try to continue to strive to do better and improve.  I value hard work and excellence and work to achieve excellence everyday, but each day it seems to get a little farther from reach.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A new blog feature!

When I was a freshman at Lawrenceville, sitting in those comfortable red chairs, nervous about being a new II form student, a professor I had never seen before stood up on stage to talk to us.  I'm sure it was a welcome to our new home, but most vividly I remember sitting there as he quoted John F. Kennedy saying, "To those whom much is given, much is expected."  I can remember the feeling I had at that age, and getting the chills as a nervous energy ran through me.  I thought who am I to be sitting here with this incredible opportunity in front of me?  Who am I to be so lucky?  At that time I had barely seen the world, hadn't yet spent any time volunteering, and had dedicated myself wholeheartedly to my soccer and riding careers.  Later though, looking back, I can see that moment as a turning point, both because the Lawrenceville lifestyle required us to live those values, but because I always found myself wanting more.  More for myself and more for others.  And I know I'm not the only one out there who gets that feeling.

There are a lot people in my life that I'm proud to know.  I talk about some of those people very often, as they have had an important impact on my life.  Over the years I have met some incredible people through school, service and riding horses.  Somehow the people I continue to keep around me are some of the most driven and motivated people I know.  As a tribute to them from now on, once a week, I'm going to share their stories, as told by them.  There is no formula for what you may hear because I haven't asked them to share anything specific, I simply ask them to share who they are, and what makes them so special. Some may write with pen names, while some may share photographs of themselves and photos that they have taken.  The important thing isn't knowing their name, but rather who they are at their very core.  I want to share what makes them so special, and from their own perspective, why they do the incredible things they do.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Can we change the system?

Tonight, for extra credit for my Forensic Studies class, Sarah and I attended a lecture given by defense attorneys and a man exonerated after 19 years in prison.  He was convicted for a crime he didn't commit, and despite the lack of evidence, he was black, she was white, and the D.A. needed a conviction.  Despite all of this, this man still promotes the equal, just, fair treatment of everyone without sharing any trace of hate for the bigots (and KKK members) who put him behind bars.

Often people ask me why I'm so drawn to Honduras and they seem to wonder if its just for the glam of working internationally.  Maybe that contributes, maybe not.  I think that the majority of those who live in the United States have an idealist view of what happens and how great the States are.  Newsflash: we aren't that great.  Our country of freedom is really a country of racists, discriminating social policy and law that prohibits the majority from being able to achieve the "American Dream" by picking themselves up from their bootstraps and making a life for themselves.  

Argue with me if you'd like, and yes, I know there are countries out there that are worse, but we fail to notice that there are a whole lot of countries out there that are better too.  Why are we are the only first world country that  DOESN'T offer public health care?  Our education system is broken.  Our legal system is corrupt.  We still allow policies that prevent equal rights to all.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Aston says hello!

My wonderful friend Meagan, who is the one that will be accompanying me to Honduras in the fall to complete our Human Service Studies internship at ProNiño, is doing a photojournalism story about me for one of her classes.  She has been kind enough to share some of the photos with me, and I absolutely adore them!  Meagan Harrison, you are one AWESOME photographer!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ambition knows no obstacles

While in Honduras I ended up becoming friends with Kevin, the volunteer coordinator, and because of that I had access to a few extra and exciting opportunities not widely accessible to groups who come in.  One of those opportunities was going into San Pedro Sula (the city, second largest in Honduras) with him to look for one of the boys that ran away.  If I haven't already mentioned, Proniño is a program from boys 8-18 that have been living on the streets, been sexually abused, and been doing drugs (usually glue and crack cocaine).  

That day when he took me into the city with him I met a high 8 year old for the first time and it absolutely blew my mind.  As we pursued the runaway boy, we asked every street kid we could find if they had seen Wilmer, the boy we were looking for.  Most hadn't, but we met some kids who used to be in ProNiño that Kevin said have been lost.  That is a nicer but depressing way of saying they made a decision to return to the streets, and because they are older there is nothing we can do to help them.  Most of them will continue to do drugs and live on the street for the rest of their lives.  

Many are in gangs, most were probably sexually abused (so now they are likely the abusers), and they are generally just pathetic people barely living any kind of life.  We met many people while wandering the streets, I spoke with gang members and children, and even an older homeless man with a teardrop tattoo under his eye (a symbol awarded to gang members who have murdered someone).  In Honduras only those in gangs have tattoos, although there is starting to be a cultural shift where no one really gets tattoos.