My Rescue Horse: Freedom

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

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 Allwein

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Essay: Friendship

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. I don’t know about your human friends but your furry friends will happily give you a big sloppy kiss of thanks – the best Christmas gift of all!...

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Essay: Having Fun

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 dead sleep if given the opportunity. I think that’s an awesome characteristic to never miss a nanosecond of a chance to have fun! Imagine if we could get every human being in the world to stop what they’re doing and have 10 minutes of fun. No matter the gravity of their problems, if they could just be allowed 10 free minutes of joy. This could possibly change the world by showing us that essentially we are all the same but we unintentionally deprive ourselves of one of the best gifts given to us by our Creator which is to experience joy in our hearts. Sometimes I wonder when I look at the strife in our world, especially the man-made strife of an evil terrorist, how that person got that way. How did their heart get consumed with so much evil? Were they deprived of life’s gifts and the depravity led them to feel animosity and hate? I know it’s idealistic but wouldn’t it be cool if these people could have 10 minutes of fun, feel the joy of it and decide they would rather spread joy than hate? Clearly not going to happen but it is an interesting thought to imagine that taking time for fun could bring world peace. This holiday season, if even for a moment, do something you think is fun even...

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Caribbean Travel

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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