MichelleMantor.com

In the digital world, it’s easy to share, collaborate, learn and even grow with people you have never met before. I love that idea…that I can connect with someone around the corner or across the globe. I’ve always been fascinated by people, their culture, what makes a person unique and with something as simple as an internet connection, you have the whole world to explore.

Welcome to my world. Feel free to leave a comment or share something of yourself. More isn’t always better but when it comes to ideas and expanding your mind, it often is.

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Stian’s High School Graduation

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 in Blog, Event Photos | 0 comments

Stian’s High School Graduation

It’s a tough, bitter-sweet day for a mom when your first born graduates from High School. After 18 years of loving, guiding, protecting, influencing, strengthening, teaching…it’s time to let go a little and just pray that your love and dedication to this soul will serve them well and they will find happiness in life. Pictured here with his loyal gang in life (Mom, Nana, Aunt Kim, sister Kaia and Dad). I love this boy dearly and I’m so proud of him…he’s heading off on a new journey – saying goodbye to Stratford HS and hello to Texas A&M – and now he gets to be the man I know he’s meant to be. Gig’em Stian! Stian’s HS...

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Fun Animals Encounters When Traveling

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in Travel Photos | 0 comments

Fun Animals Encounters When Traveling

Going to new places in the world is so energizing – I guess because it’s exciting and a little scary at the same time. We get used to our own little world and when we leave it, we leave behind a feeling of security. But we also leave behind a sense that our life is a bit stale and we just might be missing a lot by not exploring. For me, the tug to explore typically wins out and I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some beautiful places like St. Croix, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Maine, Newport RI, Belize, Costa Rica, etc…and each of these naturally lovely places has indigenous animals that add to the flavor of the location. And of course, being an animal enthusiast, I’m always up for animal encounters. Enjoy some of my photos where I’ve found a local animal experience that made me smile!...

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Sunsets in Destin, Fla.

Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Projects Photos | 0 comments

Sunsets in Destin, Fla.

Sunsets in...

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My Rescue Horse: Freedom

Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Favorite Things | 0 comments

My Rescue Horse: Freedom

Most of my friends and family would say I was trying to do the right thing but made a wrong decision when my heart decided “we” should save an abused and neglected horse seized by Houston Humane Society in mid 2016. I named him Freedom because that’s what he deserves after years of neglect. Time will tell if my friends and family are right. Some days I think they are but most other days I believe in this blind journey that Freedom and I are traveling together. Given my background of zero horse knowledge and a bit of a fear of horses, it really is kind of crazy but from the moment I saw his photo, I was all in. It’s true that I don’t have enough time for him in my current life situation and the financial part of this equation is daunting but so far, one year later, we are still together, moving forward…learning to trust one another and probably falling in love LOL! He’s not an easy horse but I’m not an easy person so we will hopefully come to understand one another. I know he’s teaching me lessons I need in this life and for that, I am thankful. In this journey over the last year, he has been relocated a number of times but I believe in my heart that each time he knows I am his steward and I’m taking care of him…teaching him to trust me and the other humans that are helping him. Just a few weeks ago, he went to train with Jack Leiser, a well respected natural horsemanship trainer in Chapel Hill who has broken him to ride and is working with him for 2 months. As I write this on July 19, I’m anticipating tomorrow with both joy and fear…I will get on his back for the first time. It’s his turn to teach me to trust. I must learn to communicate with him in his language, cultivate a mutual respect and be patient even when this hectic world is rushing us through. Yes, our journey is to be continued but tomorrow we reach a milestone…the beginning of us being one, being a team, being a little herd of...

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Michelle Featured in Absolutely Memorial Magazine July 2017

Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Media Mentions | 0 comments

Michelle Featured in Absolutely Memorial Magazine July 2017

A little mention about me in Absolutely Memorial Magazine, just before their name change to SWOON – Photo by Prudence...

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Essay: Vulnerability

Posted by on Dec 31, 2016 in Editorial Works | 0 comments

Essay:  Vulnerability

Michelle Mantor with Jeda as published in December 2016 Issue of Houston PetTalk Magazine. Photos by Evin Thayer. We live in a world that values strength, power, and toughness. Whether it’s a movie with a powerful main character or a parent teaching their young boy to “be tough” with his emotions or the images of muscled bodies in magazine ads, there’s no denying that our culture rewards the idea of strength. Which, in turn, is why it’s so hard for us to be vulnerable. Opening ourselves up to needing something or someone is a scary prospect. If we think about the many lessons we are taught in life, quite a few of them are centered around the theme of self-reliance. Think back to the values that your parents and other teachers have worked hard to ingrain in you – be your own person and don’t be influenced negatively by others, find a way to make enough money so that you don’t have to rely on others for your basic needs, stand up for what you believe even if it’s not the most popular stance, and so on. These are all positions of strength and they are important lessons because they help us make good decisions, encourage us to be self-reliant and basically help us survive in this world. However, as in most things in life, a delicate balance is needed in order for the best possible outcome. In the case of vulnerability, the scales often tip too far to the side of needing to project strength, which isn’t surprising given that the stakes for being weak are quite high in humanity. The unfortunate result of this imbalance is that vulnerability, because it’s viewed as negative, is an emotion or state of being that many people avoid, thus stripping them of some of the most basic connections a human can experience. Vulnerability is that place where we allow ourselves to feel unsure. It’s the place of no guarantees and possibly even pain or rejection. Being vulnerable is asking someone on a date while knowing they might say no. Being vulnerable is telling someone you love them first, not knowing if they will reciprocate. Being vulnerable is trying out for a team or a position knowing you might not get it. Being vulnerable is being a human or pet parent that loves your child or pet so immensely, all the while knowing God could call them away from you at any time. We are so afraid to feel this level of insecurity that we find a myriad of strategies to avoid the feelings. We overindulge in food, we drink alcohol, take pills, shop incessantly and cram our schedules full so that we don’t have time to come face to face with the scary monster called vulnerability. But what do we give up for the attempt at not being vulnerable? We give up the deepest feelings of attachment because we are too afraid of what we will feel like if the attachment breaks. We falsely believe that it’s better not to be “All In” and preserve our heart than to let go of fear and connect as our authentic self to those important beings in our life. To that point, we can take a lesson from our pets about how to love...

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Essay: Friendship

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Editorial Works | 0 comments

Essay: Friendship

Michelle Mantor with Jeda as published in December 2015 Issue of Houston PetTalk Magazine. Photos by Evin Thayer. Meet my new friend, Jeda. As many of you know, I lost my Briard and long-time friend of 15 years, Remy, in 2011. I still miss her and think of her often. Life’s journey offers us hilltops with great highs and valleys with great lows and Remy was steadfastly there for the ride. But once she was gone, daily life just wasn’t as rich. Enter Jeda. Also a Briard, Jeda is quite a character and has carved out her own little piece of my heart. I’m happy to say that we’ve built trust between us and have become friends. That’s what friends do – they make our lives more fulfilled. Can you imagine your life without friends? I’m not referring to acquaintances or relationships that might be characterized as “friends” but are not enduring, meaning with just a small change, the communication ends. Those relationships certainly serve a purpose in our lives working as a secondary support system but I am referring to those friendships that have substance, strength and longevity. I am blessed to have many of these lasting friendships and the cool part is that I keep making more. Life never runs out of people for us to give our love to! The secret to building strong friendships is to be a reliable friend yourself. That means helping a friend in need even if it’s not convenient, listening for hours to their woes, being honest when they ask for advice, being respectful of commitments you make to them, showing them they matter and the most important one in my opinion – don’t forget to be silly and have some fun together! Laughter, before or after the tears, is an essential element of the friendship bond. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out who is a true friend and who is not. I believe there are a few fundamentals to true friendship versus “being friendly”: One is the test of time and the other is sacrifice. In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends. Of all the different types of friends in my life, there is one I never have to question what their commitment is to me – my furry friends. Our pets are in a different category all to themselves. Of course they are not as dynamic in their interaction with us as a human but what giving souls they are! Can you name a time when your pet wasn’t happy to see you? They need our care in order to survive and they realize we are their strongest ally in life. For being their caretaker, we are given devotion and I can’t think of anything I would rather have. Many a word has been written about the human-animal bond as well as why dogs are called Man’s Best Friend. Yes, they are loyal, love us no matter who we are, they have our backs, they have no hate, greed or jealousy, only pure hearts and they love to be part of the pack and socialize. I for one am happy God gave us these authentic little creatures. This holiday, celebrate your friendships, both human and animal. Give your friends your attention and your love....

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Essay: Having Fun

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Editorial Works, Uncategorized Posts | 0 comments

Essay: Having Fun

Michelle Mantor with Neema and Miles at the Houston Zoo as published in the December 2014 issue of Houston PetTalk Magazine. Photos by Evin Thayer. One gorgeous Houston day, I was out playing my favorite sport of tennis with some other ladies. I was having a great time and suddenly I realized I was skipping back to my place to return serve. Skipping! Then I had the thought, “What are you doing? You are way too old to be skipping. That’s for children!” But in reflection. I started wondering why, as adults, are we not supposed to show such frivolousness? Why do we have to behave with such decorum? Somewhere along life’s journey, society teaches us that the silly, fun, spontaneous actions of a child is not appropriate for an adult. If we were to see someone in the middle of a shopping mall turning circles and looking to the sky and then jumping around and sticking their hand in the water fountain, we would deem that person mentally disturbed. But isn’t that a sad thing to think that we must drop our outward sense of childlike fun to show that we are a sane, responsible grown-up? Each of us has a different idea of what we think is fun but that’s what makes people interesting –  the fact that we are different. I, for example, liked to play Barbies with my daughter when she was younger. Unfortunately, she has “outgrown” Barbies and I have to wonder is that because she really doesn’t like to play any longer or because she feels she is too old? Can you just imagine how crazy my friends would think I am if I invited them over to play Barbies? It’s unthinkable! (By the way, that’s one of the little known secrets about being a mom. It gives us a chance to play our old childhood favorites without looking like we are nuts!) Having fun means “to have an amusing or enjoyable experience.” It is good food for our soul to sometimes set aside our more serious concerns, problems and worries to amuse ourselves and give our hearts a reason to smile. For me, going to the zoo and observing animals is fun. I loved feeding the giraffes during my photoshoot. They were not shy about nudging me for more lettuce which of course made me giggle. You can see by the outtakes that I was having a great time! For pet lovers, the free-spirited nature of animals may be one of the reasons that we find their companionship so fulfilling. If you watch your dog or cat (or most animals), you can see them at play essentially having fun. We may wonder why it appears so amusing to go get a ball and bring it back and go get a ball and bring it back and so on but for whatever reason they find it enjoyable. They don’t seem to really care if we think it’s crazy or not. They are just following their instincts, not rules imposed upon them by the judgments of others. And, what I really find fascinating about animals is that they are willing to play most anytime. Short of not feeling well, any of my pets will hop right up and start playing instantly out of a...

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Caribbean Travel

Posted by on Aug 3, 2015 in Favorite Things | 0 comments

Caribbean Travel

The turquoise waters have been a fascination of mine since I was old enough to look at a magazine. When I was in elementary school, I had a bulletin board in my room with my “dreams” thumbtacked to the board – the photos were of Tahiti’s blue waters and overwater bungalows, the Pyramids of Egypt and Navajo jewelry. The only thing I have gotten to experience so far is the jewelry LOL! But, I’m not finished yet! I just returned from a trip with  my kids snorkeling and scuba diving in the waters of St. Croix. The marine life is so fascinating. Coolest sighting so far is a giant sea turtle. The Cruzians, as they are called, are very friendly and the island is beautiful with both rainforest and nice beaches with a mountainous coast. Here are a few photos of our trip – it’s a cool thing when your children reach the age that you can do more imaginative things together and they are independent enough to try new...

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A Force For Good

Posted by on Aug 3, 2015 in Editorial Works | 0 comments

A Force For Good

…The Ultimate Global Citizen By: Michelle Mantor Photography By Evin Thayer  Sometimes the tumble cycle of life knocks us around a bit. We may become ragged and thread bare from the constant motion and effort to keep up with “the process”. Speaking for myself, I definitely experience life-fatigue now and then. I need to recharge my batteries AND recharge my spirit, that part of me that not only keeps me going but also motivates me to reach higher, burn brighter and spread hope to others. Recently, that inspiration came from meeting John Paul DeJoria, the perpetual entrepreneur that co-founded the mega hair care corporation, Paul Mitchell Systems. From the seriously challenged “tumble-cycle” of his youth to his incredible story of financial and philanthropic success, DeJoria’s journey is a beacon of hope that serves to remind us that we can achieve great things even when obstacles loom large. Like so many events in our lives, meeting John Paul, or “JP” as he is known to friends and colleagues, was not something I sought out but rather it came about through a friend connecting us. Naturally I was thrilled at the prospect of meeting the man whose face I had seen in magazines ads and photos attending star-studded Hollywood events but it wasn’t until I did my research that I discovered the inspirational story behind the man; it wasn’t until I spent a few hours with him at his home in Austin that I realized the profound effect his efforts are having on our world; and it wasn’t until a few days after the interview when I couldn’t stop reflecting on his journey that I realized he had inspired me. My spirit was ready to keep reaching higher, burning brighter and motivating others. I want to share his story with you. Born and raised in what could certainly be called humble beginnings, DeJoria was faced with life’s challenges at an early age growing up in Los Angeles. Destiny’s way of ensuring that he had plenty of entrepreneurial experience, DeJoria started out selling greeting cards at age 9 and delivering newspapers to help out his single mother. After a stint in the U.S. Navy, he would go on to sell insurance, encyclopedias, dictating machines, work as a janitor and pump gasoline. It’s hard to imagine this uber-successful guy being homeless but John Paul found himself briefly without a place to live not once, but twice. He slept in his car and collected bottles to subsist. Not to be defeated and not to be given handouts, he eventually landed a job in the hair care industry where he quickly received a promotion to National Manager of Schools and Chain Salons. After building his expertise in the marketing of hair care products and services in National and VP level positions with several companies, John Paul combined his marketing prowess with the hairdressing talents of Paul Mitchell to launch their now-iconic business, John Paul Mitchell Systems. As with all companies that reach noteworthy status, a clear vision guided the dream – the pair shared a vision to create a company for hairdressers that would provide tools of success for hair care professionals, their salons and the entire beauty industry. Founding the company on just $700 the pair had scraped together, DeJoria and Mitchell put their...

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