The sum of life’s parts, how seemingly separate pieces come together to create the mosaic that is life.
At 9 years old, I fell in love. He was kind of short and stocky, loved eating carrots and spending time with him was the most fun and exhilarating feeling I had experienced in my young nine years. His name was Keebler, and he was an appaloosa horse with white and purplish red markings. I adored him. From him, I learned what would become one of the greatest loves of my life – the discipline of hunter/jumper horse back riding. He was my companion and teacher as I learned how to care for horses. He stood by stoically while I learned a language that involved no words but instead was full of body language so that we could communicate both while I was riding and when I was on the ground. I groomed him, gave him baths, fed him. He was my team mate and friend. He was the horse that brought me into the show ring for the first time competing in a division, and was my partner the first time I was given the title of “champion” and handed a big beautiful tri-color ribbon. He was my introduction to a sport that would become one of the greatest loves of my life, and that would teach me more than I could have imagined, even to this day.
When you learn to ride, you immediately become incredibly aware of one very obvious truth: it is MUCH harder than is looks. Riding horses was one of my very first lessons in multi-tasking, while simultaneously teaching me the immense value in being able to clear my head and focus on my task in that moment. Sound like a contradiction? You are right, because it totally is. Let me see if I can explain – When riding, I am required to have excellent hand/eye coordination. I utilize muscles in places like my core and lower back and inner thigh that I typically never engage in any other activities. My legs and lower body have to move independently from my upper body and my arms. I have to have eyes all around my head so I can see what, if anything, my horse might spook at or find alarming. There is no room for anger. Period. And you can never have enough patience. Humility is the name of the game, because one day you are the winner and on top of the world, and the next day you can lose. Time in the saddle, perfecting and fine tuning strength and skills are non negotiable. And all of that is before you step into a ring to compete. In the two to three minutes (yeah, two to three minutes after ALL of that preparation) that you are in that arena jumping those jumps, if you cannot problem solve at the drop of a hat you can find yourself in trouble. Mental clarity, toughness and confidence are a must, plain and simple.
See what I mean? Your brain has to be able to focus on the ride, while managing several tasks in a fluid, constant way that keep all of the pieces in the equation moving that ultimately creates that rhythm and consistency that all equestrians seek on a daily basis with their equine partners.
Perfecting the art of multi tasking, photo by Collin Pierson Photography.
As a female human being trying to find my way in the world of wedding planning, this ability to see all things but focus on one became invaluable. Having patience? A lifeline. Communicating calmly and never being angry are required, plain and simple. These experiences with my beloved horses have granted me the opportunity many times throughout my career to be in a moment with a client, knowing how important that moment is, and never losing focus on the other things that are happening at the same time. I have stood next to many a bride as she takes that deep breath before walking down the aisle to meet her groom and I am in that moment with them, I feel it resonate in my bones – yet, I can still remember what needs to be happening at the same time to ensure that all of the key elements of the reception are manifesting in a timely, organized manner in symphony with the timeline that my team and I created for the day. It also gives me the ability to stand at either of my family’s restaurants or our venue (shameless plug: The Estate is gorgeous, you should check it out!) and remain calm in front of guests while making sure that entrees are coming out beautifully prepared and piping hot.
And let’s not forget, that fire that burns in your soul when you are a true competitor seeking to leave your best effort our there in that ring? It is the same fuel that also fires my insatiable pursuit to be the very best wedding planner that I can be. It is all connected.
Why is this important, and why am I blogging about it on my company website? Well, because the longer that I ride (I am now 38, and riding has been a part of my life for almost 30 years), the more I realize how many of the lessons I learn while riding are incredibly applicable in every other area of my life (as I just gave evidence to above)
The joys of time with my horses. Pictured here is Mo, photo by Collin Pierson Photography.
I am also sharing it because I am never just one thing, and why would I not share the knowledge and insight I have the extreme good fortune of garnering on a daily basis with anyone who stops by my blog? I could never be described as ONLY “ a wedding planner” or “an equestrian” or “an entrepreneur” or “a fiancé.” Instead, I am more along the lines of “a 38 year old female of Italian descent who is an entrepreneur. I am adopted, an equestrian, a partner, a friend, daughter, a small business owner, an advocate for my horses and loved ones, a wedding planner, managing partner of my family’s business, a spokesperson for my brand, an amateur equestrian, and a soon to be bride…” and that is just off the top of my head. My hope is if I can share some of what fuels my life, I can inspire someone somewhere who may be asking “can I actually do this thing I long to try doing?” – the answer is right here in this little blog – and it is a profound YES. Because if I can do it, anyone can.
The joy of connecting with my wonderful clients, photo by Collin Pierson Photography
Here is something that has made me laugh for the last 5 days as a dream of mine came to life – competing as an amateur in the equestrian world takes commitment (which is one of eleven million reasons why I am so fortunate to have the incredibly capable team at MDE who work with many of our incredibly awesome clients). That includes traveling to competitions ranging from Palm Beach Florida to Washington, D.C., and from the middle of beautiful Iowa to Lexington, Kentucky to Michigan and everywhere in between that you could imagine. With that kind of travel comes all kinds of hotels. And constantly eating in restaurants. Which can be GREAT inspiration for our restaurants and the venue and my wedding clients, but it can also become very tiring. So, my fiancé and I made the decision to purchase a camper so we can have a “home away from home” while we are on the road with the horses.
A peek into the joys of camper life!
It gives both of us a base of operations for work while we are traveling, and provides some serious creature comforts like our own sheets and a fridge stocked full of our favorite foods. Last week, I enjoyed the hell out of staying at the Kentucky State Horse Park campgrounds, grilling dinner and making s’mores. I was in riding pants every day, no makeup and up to my eyebrows in horses. It was heaven, and I was still able to work a few hours hours a day (I check my email every day no matter where I am in the world. This does not work for everyone, but I enjoy staying on top of everything and communicating with the teams that make all of our businesses work) in the comfort of my own surroundings. Such a luxury!
What is funny about this? Hold on, I am getting there….
This was the exact same month that Modern Luxury’s Chicago Social Magazine chose me as one of their 2017 “women in style” and I was able to participate in this incredibly fun and very glamorous photo shoot with my hair and makeup professionally done and Gucci shoes and designer everything.
Seeing my “women of style” feature in Chicago Social for the first time!
All things that I love as much as I do camper life (my shoe collection is also a great love of my life, :-)) They hosted us on a gorgeous new rooftop property celebrating the release of the issue and it was such fun. I was able to be included in a feature that highlighted women in Chicago who exude confidence, have worked hard contributing to the world around them, are warm, caring individuals and who have great style. To say it was an honor and privilege would be a massive understatement. It was also a huge dream of mine to be featured in this for basically the last seven years (yes, SEVEN years! Lol). And this is my point – where in life is it written that because you are one thing, you cannot be another? Or because you are pursuing a dream in one area of your life that other dreams cannot also become a reality? I am living proof that there is no such writing that exists. A woman of style in Chicago can consider a camper to be home. A wedding planner can gather professional insight from riding horses. A woman who as a young girl had to set three alarm clocks to make it to class on time now revels in being the first one awake in her house. Things that seem crazy or impossible or impossibly crazy are none of the above and all of the above, and that is the best part of life for me. The magic and energy that manifests while pursuing dreams and goals is incredible. I think one of the only things I enjoy more than that is the opportunity to take all of these various facets in my life and connect them together into one incredibly layered, complex, sometimes exhausting mosaic that can be many things are any one time but always remains beautiful.
Special thanks to my very talented fiancé Collin for many of the photos featured in the post. See more of his work here.