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Vanessa

I was born and raised in Wellesley Hills, Ma, a suburb of Boston. I graduated from Boston College in 1973 and Babson College in 1974 with an M.B.A. I worked for Arthur Andersen consulting for several years, and then became a Financial Vice President of a Massachusetts manufacturing firm. I met my husband and his two step children and retired to raise them (and never looked back) coaching soccer and even football!

After the birth of my daughter, I returned to study Landscape Architecture at Harvard. Later I taught finance at a graduate business school in the Boston area. I currently live in Boston and Wellington, FL. My life is filled with my children (now 5) who live in Boston, and NYC, and my 7 grandchildren (I have 4 new grandsons born this July!) My youngest daughter is finishing up Harvard Business School this year. Horses are my passion, and I compete in shows (jumpers) around the United States. My farm is in Wellington FL, 15 miles west of Palm Beach. At last count, I have 9 horses and 2 dogs. My hobbies are sports, reading, music, photography, techie stuff, travel and, of course, the RED SOX and NE PATRIOTS!

At 55, 2 ˝ years ago, just before Christmas, my husband dropped dead in my arms. Just the night prior, we had walked up from our newly built barn, with his arm around me, and had said “Vanessa, life just doesn’t get any better than this” and he was gone the next day.

The devastation was indescribable. Not only had I lost my husband, but the entire way of life yet to come had gone as well. After the funeral, I spent nearly a month in a grief retreat with wonderful spiritual advisors. Growing up a Catholic, I found relief returning to the spiritual ways of my church, and the guidance of a gifted eastern rights monsignor. But also for the last 15 years I had been meditating and studying and following Buddhism and now half my soul rested there. The combination of them both carried me through. I could count on my incredible family and loving friends only so much. It was time for me to explore, find and begin to live alone, with myself, satisfied with my own company for the first time in my life-- learning the difference between loneliness and being alone. The gifts I received required nothing on my part except to believe I deserved them and accept them wholly and fearlessly.

Enough. I am 58. I don’t smoke or drink and am a vegetarian. I am basically a jock. I played tennis competitively, I was nationally ranked in squash, I was on my college ski team, and I’ve run marathons and triathlons (never again— I run a little faster than a rock!) I even took a competition race car three-day course at Skip Barber’s (he taught Paul Newman and Mario Andretti Jr.) Twelve men and me--more women should do it! We are better drivers than men, without that rush of testosterone! Driving small formula one cars around a twisty-five mile course at speeds well over 110 was as we say in Boston “wicked awesome” I ride one or two horse (lessoning over jumps) every day. Riding and horses are my life now.

But beyond competition, horses are my solace. They are a metaphor for the rest of my life. They mirror how I am feeling, and they sense it and respond. If I am anxious, I cannot hide it from them. And they are a great form of moving meditation. One must be absolutely present to ride. That wonderful emptying of the mind allows the best ride. And I am often so busy, that it brings me right back down to the earth. Horses are, above all, the greatest gift to my emerging new self. All the complexities of life today (and I am certainly a member of the geek club) vanish when in contact with a horse. I experience peacefulness, tranquility and a great reconnection to simplicity. Unimportant things become blurred, and my focus is on greater things. They teach me about doing nothing, and the grace of not worrying about wasted time, or what I should be doing. It is about finding time for me as a serene being, slowing down my normal pace. I become more instinctual and less analytical. Since all forms of communication with horses are basically non verbal, I have become a better communicator having slowed down and listened more. They empowered me to go beyond my fears and finally, they allowed the wild spirit within to express itself with a gallop across a field.

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