The Path That Chose Me

Lauren Billys and Jitter Bug. Photo by Jenni Autry. Lauren Billys and Jitter Bug. Photo by Jenni Autry.

It’s hard for me to know if I chose this path or if it chose me. No matter the answer, my response is unchanged: I will march down the path ahead of me because it’s exactly where I have been led.

This past year has been an unrecognizable combination of victory, heartache, loss, beginnings and “yet-to-be understood” lessons. The most impacting part of the year happened on Sept. 13, the night of a fundraiser to spread awareness of my Olympic plight to people within my community.

During set up for the event, I learned about the tragic loss of a friend of mine who died while serving our country and fearlessly living out his path in life. This moment in time has changed me, moving parts in me that felt and feel like motivation, emptiness and confusion.

I say the same thing to the best of my friends when the going gets tough: “All you can do is what is in front of you, one day at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be where you were meant to be.” Those exact words have been repeated to me by my closest friends throughout the past few months.

Recognizing my path and my passion, and then understanding the steps necessary to be successful, has led me to making decisions about my future. So now I find myself doing one of the hardest things I have had to do yet because it’s what is in front of me.

In January, I am moving away from my home in Fresno, full of some of the most supportive people I know: my blood family, my horse family, my business, my best friends and my comforts. However, I will not be lacking of love in my new home of Carmel Valley, where I will seek the guidance and consistent coaching of the people I trust most.

I have had to ask myself a few questions before telling people (who have believed in me since I was 18) this news. Primarily, what do I consider to be success? Because if my answer is having a successful business and being in a place of comfort, then staying in Fresno would be an unquestionable destination for me.

But when my answer comes from my heart, I realize it is taking this one shot I have at life and living it to the fullest of its potential, regardless of discomfort (in all of its forms). It is with this that I have to hold on to the next couple years and look for my footing on an unlit path reaching for the opportunities that will present themselves.

This starts with doing exactly what is in front of me: moving to a place that will create me into the best of myself as a horseman.

Words can’t describe what my community has done for me. If making it possible for me to attend the Pan Am Games isn’t enough, it can be summed up within the text messages I received before my first Advanced, hugs after victory and defeat, people that have helped blanket horses when I was sick or the individuals who served me a Corona after a long day at the barn.

The list, as we all know, can go on, but hopefully when I look back in two years at what has come of this journey, it will start and end with these people. I will take them with me into the start box of each event; we will march this path together.

The loss of my friend twisted an unfamiliar part of my heart, the yearning to live out exactly what I was intended to do, win or lose, to its fullest, fearlessly.

I can’t thank all of my Central Valley family enough. I will be back for clinics and will, of course, represent my community throughout all of this with the best of my ability.

The move is going to be a costly one. If you would like to support me in this journey to hopefully be the first three-day eventer in history to represent Puerto Rico at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, I invite you to take a look at my sponsorship page or contact me.

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