Happiness is….

“It may be the horses.”  The rheumatologist looked me and I realized he was serious. “My family had horses when I was growing up in the Emirates. I know horses.”  He was telling me that my extremely rare remission from Systemic Scleroderma could be due to my relationship with horses.  I didn’t know what to say  but perhaps he is right. 

Every year I go to the Scleroderma Clinic at Mt.  Sinai hospital and that is where I was today. I was diagnosed 22 years ago with this auto immune disease. For the first two years I was badly affected: all my joints were sore and swollen, my skin tightened up like thick plastic all over my body, my stomach was affected with telengiectasia ( tiny blood vessels rise to the surface of the stomach lining and often bleed). In the second year after my diagnosis my daughter started to ride horses. I had ridden when I was younger and only stopped when I was in university.  I decided to join my daughter and ride again despite the fact that I often had difficulty just  walking. I got on a horse and it was like I had never stopped riding. When I was riding I was a horse person and not a patient with Scleroderma.

Two years later I was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer. Radiation treatment was not possible due to the Scleroderma and the type of cancer I had did not trespond to chemotherapy. The only reatment was a major surgery and I was in hospital for ten days. Six weeks after the surgery I was back riding.

The symptoms of the scleroderma began to receed. After a year there were only some very minor sypmtoms that I still have today.  The medical professionals have no answer as to why I have had such a dramatic remission. I go every year to be checked and the specialists want me to keep coming as they hope that one day they  will have some way of testing  me to find out how to help others with this dreadful disease. It is crippling, disfiguring and life shortening. 

Was it the horses?  Perhaps….

This remission has given me more than 20 years of life without the disabling effects of this disease. It has allowed me to experience much happiness. 

My husband and I saw our children grow up and become independent adults. This past summer when my daughter got married, at our house, we were all together as a family which does not happen too often as our son lives in England. It was a wonderful day. 

Our daughter and her blended family of her son , two step daughters, and her husband. 
Our son and daughter on the wedding day.

A friend once told me you can only be as happy as your least happy child. So happiness is having my children happy.

If  horses are the medicine that has made me well then happiness is being able to ride and enjoy my relationship with these wonderful animals. 

This has been my response to the Lens-Artists Photo Challege #22 Happiness is….     I admit that have cheated because none of these photos were taken by me. The photo of me and my horse Biasini is by Susan Stickle and the wedding photos are by Alison Hadley.

Biasini and me.
Megan and Ti

But wait…here are some snaps taken on my Samsung phone out hacking on a cold and sunny day with a friend. 

For Biasini happiness is going hacking. 

58 Comments Add yours

  1. This article is beautiful and inspiring. I’m happy you got better and are in good health, a blessing for which we should be very thankful. You are strong, you’ve overcome your difficulties and thrived, and have inspired so much hope in me by sharing this moving story. Happiness is your amazing outlook on life, a great example to be followed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Matilde. I hope that my story can give hope and encouragement to others so I appreciate your comment very much.

      Like

  2. That’s amazing! Thanks for sharing your happiness and story!
    You have inspired hope in me and urged me to believe that it’s possible for some to surpass hurdles like these. There’s hope and joy that comes along. I can see that despite your issues, you have found some way of living with happiness 🙂

    I shared my joy of living in my blog post but reading your story I have much more conviction and trust in my words, thank you!

    Hope you have a great time during this holiday season and celebrate Christmas with your dear ones.

    https://chaosnconfessions.wordpress.com/2018/12/26/my-joie-de-vivre/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for taking the time to leave me this thoughtful comment. I wish you all the best of good health and happiness for 2019.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Avery says:

    ❤ ❤ ❤ love the smiles. You and I both know horses are magic in more way than one ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes. We do know that. Thanks Avery 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I agree with you on the fact about children….even I hadn’t seen my sister as happy as she has become after she has given birth.
    Keep shining!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes! Thank you for this comment

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Very moving to the soul and mind. Horses are poetic and free and your writing is very inspiring, ☮️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for this kind comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. https://keerthanagaganna.wordpress.com/2018/12/08/white-elephant-challenge/ kindly check the link for the white elephant challenge and accept it if you wish.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      I gladly accept this gift challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great pictures and the answer to the most important question is given 🙂 Love the post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Victoria Ray. I appreciate this very much.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Happiness is reading your post and knowing that you and Biasini are well. One of the highlights of my day. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Gayle. That is a joy for me to hear.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Tina Schell says:

    Your post made ME quite happy Anne. I have a good friend with scleroderma and she struggled every day. If Biasini is helping you then more power to you both! A beautiful story

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      I am sorry to learn of your friend. It is a hideous disease. I hope they will be able to find something to test me for that can help others. Thank you for commenting Tina.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. No matter . who took the photos. They were gorgeous.
    Sorry to read about the challenges with your health.
    I hope you are living a healthy and happy life now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      I am thank you and grateful for good health every day.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. You are amazing. I am not an experienced person to say anything about this post, I am having many things to take away from here.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Austen says:

    Horses definitely make life complete. The little time after college I spent away from them made me sad and lost. I can see myself getting sick easily if I’d continued on that way. Now with my horses in my life, I have goals and responsibilities. My life is invigorated and joyful when I am around them. They make everything better. Even though we only met briefly, you are an inspiration to me! Seeing how hard you work has made me want to take care of my own health and injuries so I can continue riding and working with my favorite animals in my favorite sport as long as I can. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Austen for sharing your love of horses here. And thank you for your supportive comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. doar nicole says:

    Happy photos, no matter who took them, such a post… no words to describe and do justice to it, thank you very much for sharing. And the “Biasini and me” photo is so nice, wishing you both a happy weekend! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Nicole and happy weekend to you too.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. A beautiful post Anne, I truly believe animals can be a great catalyst on a healing journey, especially horses. I will never forget the young disabled boy who so much wanted to give a carrot to the horse he’d been riding he walked his first ever steps 🙂💖🐎 xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Ah! That is a wonderful story. Horses are magical animals. They are not natural partners with humans as they are prey and we are predators. Yet they trust us and work so hard for us. And they know us and can see right through all our pretenses. Thank you for this comment Xenia and for sharing this lovely story about the boy.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Alli Farkas says:

    I find it impossible to think about anything else when I’m on a horse. The rest of the world recedes into very low-level background noise. Even when a lesson seems particularly difficult it’s a different kind of stress, more like creative thinking to solve a puzzle.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes exactly Alli. It is a sort of rigorous moving meditation. Thanks for this comment 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Irene says:

    Love your story. Thinking I need a horse in my life. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Ah ha! Well they are amazing creatures.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. geekkat says:

    Somehow I don’t doubt that is part of it. They have proven having animals in our lives make our lives better and healthier. I have no doubt in my mind you riding has something to do with it. I hope you continue to stay in remission and continue to enjoy your companionship with Biasini.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for this kind comment and your good wishes.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Emma Cownie says:

    Happiness is animals! It’s wonderful that riding has helped you so much. It’s probably 50% horse-therapy and 50% exercise!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. O.D. says:

    You write with such magical precision Anne, and to be honest I am happy to know someone who inspires me to continue trying to be the best I could be. You are very strong my friend; your outlook on life is truly special.

    Lovely pictures with Biasini by the way 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you O.D. as you know I admire your writing so I am chuffed 😀 getting such a nice compliment from you.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Frank Prem says:

    Thanks for this tale, Anne. Life is a journey and the special relationships we make with the world around us can be the difference within the journey.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Indeed they can Frank. Thank you for this comment

      Liked by 2 people

  21. Wonderful story! I too believe horses have a profound effect on our well being! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Laura 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  22. MrsWayfarer says:

    You write beautifully and your story is very inspiring.Happiness does great wonders. Despite all the challenges that life throws at us, we are blessed. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      You are most welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read and leave a comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  23. cagedunn says:

    This was beautiful, inspirational.
    Happiness, to me, is a life shared – with all creatures, but in particular, the ones who are also happy to share their lives with us.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes happiness is indeed a life shared. I could not agree more. Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  24. Wishing you continued health and happiness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you very much for your good wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. dprastka says:

    My goodness, you have beaten the odds and I think you are correct the power of our love of horses and the healing affects of our mind and body can be remarkable and something we may never understand. I’m so happy that you are very Happy with your beautiful horse and your beautiful beloved family! Such a Wonder we all are! 💖

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Diana. You are right there is so much wonder in our lives and horses are certainly a big part of that.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. What a marvellous story, or is it a parable? Your life must have been very, very hard at times and yet what joy. I can think of several ways in which your doctor might be right, because there are so many radical discoveries in medicine and neuroscience and physiology over the last few years. Your microbiome, for example, may have been altered by horses. Thank you for your story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      You are most welcome Rachel. It was hard but oddly enough I never despaired. I certainly think the living in the moment that comes with being around horses helped with that.

      Liked by 3 people

  27. Leya says:

    Thank you for a fantastic and moving story, Anne. You certainly have overcome and conquered difficult times – and happiness is with you and your family. Nature and animals – horses, dogs, cats – all animals are good for health and recovery, for making you a better human being. But this magical change in your health is really magical. I had a very good friend with this terrible disease, who unfortunately did not get well. You are a lucky woman – and maybe it is the horses…
    “A friend once told me you can only be as happy as your least happy child.” Something I agree with to the full. When they are happy – I am, when they are not – I am not happy either. And you never stop worrying even if they are grown-up.

    Thank you once again – you have put the most important dimension to what happiness is. Give my love to Biasini as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for this wonderful comment Leya. When I saw the challenge and I knew I had my annual visit to the Scleroderma clinic today I knew that I had to write about what happiness is to me. I will give your love to Biasini as well. He will be happy to receive it.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. I love this post Anne… Beautifully written.. Our horses bring us so much joy it can only be good for our souls & of course our health.
    Wishing you good health & much happiness!
    (and hacking makes Miss G very happy too!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate it and I know you share my feelings about our relationship with our horses.

      Liked by 2 people

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