How Dylan Taught Me to Stop and Smell the Roses

Athletux rider Tamie Smith kindly allowed us to share her blog on how her dear friend Dylan Morris' battle with cancer has reminded her to take time to stop and smell the roses. The EN team extends our love and well wishes to Dylan; you can follow updates on his battle with cancer at this link.

Family — not by blood — but by love and friendship. Family — not by blood — but by love and friendship.

It’s well into February and we are already coming into the second event of the season. We have been to a HITS Thermal jumper show as well as Fresno County Horse Park and had a phenomenal couple of shows.

As I take a look at the calendar, I get a bit overwhelmed, but I am very happy to have the opportunity that has been afforded to me.

Each year I look at my business and the horses I’m competing, and I feel so fortunate and a bit of relief that after all of the hard work, countless hours and sleepless long nights driving, it feels very rewarding.

I don’t know what is in store for me as my career progresses, but I do know that I enjoy the process every day.

You hear people say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, and until you stop focusing on the destination and focus on the daily process, you don’t quite understand what that really means.

In September 2013, my best friend’s brother, Dylan, was diagnosed with stomach cancer. This was the same week we were competing together at the American Eventing Championships and the same week Heather lost Rebel Express, her horse who showed her the ropes and taught her how to produce a young horse all the way to Rolex Kentucky CCI4*.

It was the same week we found out another dear friend of ours, Nancy Andriotti, lost her life to brain cancer.

This month changed my life more than any other event in life. More than giving birth, getting married, college, high school, living on my own, my first horse, my first heartbreak, more than any event in my life — this month was life changing.

My brother — not by blood — but by love and friendship was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. I thought it would all be fine. They would do surgery and cut it out, he would have chemotherapy or radiation, and he would pull through — because that is just what’s going to happen!

But that’s not entirely what happened. They couldn’t cut out the cancer. It had spread and matastized all over his stomach, heart and pelvic area. It was devastating to even imagine that a strong, heathy, good man of 33 years old would somehow be diagnosed with such a horrible disease.

It put a lot of things in my life that seemed so urgent and important in a different category.

I’m grateful that he is still fighting his fight and doing quite well. He has always been the guy with that smile, funny joke and positive outlook.

It makes you stop and realize what the important things in life are all about: friendship, family and meaningful times with the important people who surround us and make our life complete.

It might sound corny to say, but I feel that too often people get so wrapped up in their careers that they never stop and smell the roses, and before you know it, the roses have bloomed, died and you can’t even remember what they looked like.

As my career grows, as I grow as a human, rider, competitor, business owner, mother, wife, sister, friend and mentor, I have learned through Dylan to stop and smell the roses — to take a bit of time each day and appreciate this wonderful life we have all been given.

Life is very much what you make of it, and I am a very good example of that. As much as I want to be the best rider and competitor in my sport, I also want to live my life with my glass half full.

I want to win gold medals and gallop across every CCI4* in existence, but not to the point of losing what is most important — and that is the people who have supported me all of these years to get a little closer to having something great. Those people are my village. They make it all possible, and each person has made it possible for me to get where I am today.

I live each day happier, more grateful and with more meaning than I ever did before, and I have Dylan to thank for that gift.

So appreciate your life. Big or small — enjoy the process of living. Take each opportunity and make it better. Each person with ambition and drive can achieve a level they never knew was possible.

Thank you to my village. I wouldn’t be here without YOU!