This final semester of college has been the hardest one yet.It’s ironic because I tried so hard to choose my classes in such a way that the last semester would be the “easiest.”But life has a way of doing just the opposite of what you want or try to plan for.Everything has been hard, from dropping one class and adding another at the last minute to having a class start a week late because an instructor resigned to having trouble getting the right textbooks.
And then classes actually began.There has been one class in particular that has gotten under my skin from the very first week.And guess what?It’s the class that I swapped with the other class that freaked me out after reading the syllabus.Now I find myself wishing I would have trusted my first choice.(Side note:if you ever find yourself in the same situation…do NOT switch classes.Always go with your first instinct.Like a multiple-choice test question, your first choice is usually the right one.I have a feeling this could apply to various life choices as well.)
The lesson I am finally beginning to take out of all of this?LET GO.Maybe all of these challenges and all of this stress is God’s way of telling me, not so subtly, to let go of my perfectionist tendencies.So, I’m trying.I’m trying really hard to adopt a more laissez-faire attitude towards the next couple of months and to instead focus on the bigger picture.Because in a few months, Russian, Central, and East European Politics will no longer matter to me.(In an academic setting, at least.I am fully aware that if I’m plugged into the news I am likely to hear about Russia.But at least then I can stick my head in the sand and choose to be blissfully ignorant if I so wish.)Because whether or not I get an A in this class, I will pass.And then I will graduate.And then I can move on to whatever adventures and challenges that are up next.
I’ll let you know how it all works out in approximately 48 days, 6 hours, 56 minutes, and 33 seconds.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am a woman (hear me roar).
I. AM. ENOUGH.
Our own words have power not only over others, but over ourselves as well. I think we often forget that second part. I’m often conscious of how my words will be interpreted by others or how they will effect them, but I usually don’t consider the effect my words have on me. So I’m trying to be kinder to myself. Because if we constantly tell ourselves something, we will eventually believe it, right? Much better to build ourselves up than to break ourselves down…so treat YOURSELF as you would want to be treated. I’m trying.
(Okay, so this is a few days late. I meant to post something on President’s Day itself, but life got in the way. Also, it’s still within the same week, so better late than never, right?) So, without further ado, a thank you letter to my favorite Bush:
Thank you, George W. Bush, for your service to our country. I know that some people (maybe a lot of people) thought that you weren’t the brightest bulb in the box. Or that they didn’t agree with your policies. Or that they blamed every single bad thing that happened during your two terms solely on you. I don’t care about any of that. And you know why? Because you always made me feel safe. I never once doubted that you cared deeply for the people of this country – every single one of us. And you made me laugh (in a good way).
I was in eighth grade when the Twin Towers were struck. And even though my personal life was not affected (I didn’t lose anybody in the attacks) those acts of terror left a deep impression on me, as it did the entire nation. Your quiet strength and resolve when addressing the country for the first time after the attacks, and in the days that followed, had a deep impact on me. It helped me to feel safe, even in the face of such uncertainty. You brought the country together in a time in which we greatly needed it, and I am so thankful that it was you who was serving during those difficult days. I truly believe you were the right person for the job at the exact right time.
As far as for making me laugh, you were just a genuinely funny guy without even trying to be. I think so much of what made you so personable was your ability to be able to laugh at yourself. From having a shoe thrown at you, to taking all the political jokes in stride, to the phrases that only you could utter, you were just a regular guy who didn’t take himself too seriously; you were humble and self-deprecating – more qualities that we could use today. You still have that same ability, as was evidenced in your epic poncho battle on election day. On what was one of the darkest political days for me, your struggle with that poncho and your good-naturedness about it, brought unexpected joy to my heart.
Finally, yours was the first presidential election that I was old enough to follow and that I have concrete memories of. Though I was still years away from being able to vote, you helped instill in me a love for our government and the electoral processes. A love that endures today, even through very difficult political times.
So again, I just want to say thank you for being you. For having a positive impact on my life. For having a positive, lasting impact on this country.
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa
“You were made from love to be loved, to spread love. Love is always loud.” – Kid President
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Love and kindness begin with us, as individuals. We all have the power to choose to love over hate, kindness over hostility, compassion over judgement. Be kind today, everyday. Show love to those around you. Tell someone you love them (but only if you really mean it). Say thank you. Hold the door open for the person behind you. However you choose to express it, spread love.
February 3rd is the 58th anniversary of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper. They were in the midst of The Winter Dance Party, a tour winding through the Midwest, and had just played what would be their last concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Unfortunately, the bus that they had been traveling on was a miserable heap of metal…the heater had been broken for some time and they were cold and tired, some even dealing with sickness. In order to avoid having to travel on that bus even one more mile, Buddy chartered a small plane to fly them to their next stop, Moorhead, Minnesota. They boarded the plane at the nearby airport located in Mason City shortly after midnight, never to reach their intended destination. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, in a corn field not far outside of Clear Lake. The plane was not discovered until much later that morning. It was determined that all three musicians, along with the pilot, died instantly. The crash was blamed on a combination of bad weather conditions and a young pilot who flew in conditions and with instrumentation that he was not properly certified for. 3 bright stars were suddenly gone, far too soon.
I’ve been to the Surf Ballroom, which still hosts concerts and also serves as a museum of sorts dedicated to these three musicians and that fateful night. Standing in that place, where they once stood, face-to-face with the phone that some of them used to make their final phone calls, I longed to go back in time and change history…to prevent them from getting on that plane in some way. I’ve stood at the cold, lonely crash site, in the midst of nothing but farmland. Standing in that place, on that hallowed ground, I wondered what could have been if only they had never gotten on that plane. What kind of impacts would they have had on music? On the world? With the 1960s right around the corner, music could have looked very different had these three artists lived. Even today, I grieve for the loss of young life, for the loss of music that we will never hear, for the families who lost their loved ones in the worst way and then had to find out about it from television and radio reports.
Buddy Holly was 22 years old. He had been an innovator already in the world of music, playing a combination of country and rock that had never been heard before. He left behind a young, pregnant wife.
Ritchie Valens was only 17. He had just begun his career, but already had produced hits such as “La Bamba” and “Donna.” His was a story of rags to riches and he had so much promise ahead of him. His is the death that has haunted me the most.
The Big Bopper, JP Richardson, at 28 years old, was a former radio DJ turned singer/songwriter. His biggest hit was “Chantilly Lace.” He left behind a wife, unborn son, and young daughter.
Did you know…
That Ritchie Valens had a fear of flying?
That Waylon Jennings was originally supposed to be on that flight? He was part of Buddy Holly’s band and gave up his seat to JP Richardson, who had the flu.
That Ritchie wasn’t supposed to be on that flight either? He won the seat in a coin toss, ultimately saving the life of Tommy Allsup, a member of Buddy Holly’s band.
That although it was a number-one hit, Buddy Holly hate the song “That’ll Be the Day”?
That the pilot never received weather warnings of an incoming blizzard?
That Buddy Holly’s music and style would influence future singers such as Roy Orbison, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and so many more?
That it was this tragedy that led authorities to develop the policy of not releasing victims’ names until families had first been notified?
I highly encourage you to listen to some of their music today. You can look them up on just about any music app, I’m sure. Growing up with a Dad who loved “oldies,” this has been the music of my childhood, so I know a lot of their songs by heart already. I’ve known this history for a long time as well, which is why I wanted to share it with you, so that their lives and their music won’t be forgotten. Some of my favorites include “La Bamba,” “Come On, Let’s Go,” “Oh Boy,” “Everyday,” and “Not Fade Away,” just to name a few. But there are so many more. Maybe you will even find a new favorite…I sure hope you will.
What have you done to step outside of your comfort zone lately? I stepped out of mine TWICE today. Once in a blue moon is rare for me, but twice in one day?!
What did she do, you might be wondering? Well, first, I called my senators to tell them about an issue that was very important to me. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, except to say that if something is truly important to you, don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t rely on others to speak up and effect the change, because nobody may end up speaking at all. As Thomas Paine once said, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” I believe we, right here and now, are facing trying times; it’s no time to keep quiet . Moral of the story, our government representatives work for us, so don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel.
The next big thing – I cooked dinner tonight. Like, actually cooked. I cut, diced, mixed – the whole nine yards. That in itself is a small miracle, as I do not particularly enjoy cooking. But a couple of weeks ago, I got a hair-brained idea to try Blue Apron, and my first delivery came today. I decided to try the hamburgers with red cabbage slaw and sweet potato fries first. I was pretty leery of this, the slaw and the sweet potato fries especially, but I have to admit that it was really good. The red cabbage slaw on the burger was delicious – it was a really nice contrast. And the fries were tolerable, but not anything I would chose to eat on a regular basis. (Still, I am somewhat amazed that I, of all people, actually made sweet potato fries from scratch!) All in all, it was a success: I didn’t burn the house down or cut off any fingers, and I didn’t leave the kitchen in shambles. (There may be hope for me yet…but I’d still prefer to find a man who will cook for me.)
After getting up way too early this morning, working out, going in to work early, working out again, cooking dinner, and getting in some homework, I have to say that I am BEAT. (Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.) So I’m off to bed so that I can do it all over again (minus the cooking part – hooray for leftovers!) tomorrow.
“To the Stars through Difficulties.” The motto of my home state, Kansas. Or, as I’ve often referred to it since moving away, “The Motherland.” It’s where I’m from. It has shaped my history and influenced my life in every possible way. Admittedly, I am more fond of the place since being away from it, but the distance has allowed me to truly appreciate the fact that I was raised in such a grounded place, surrounded by salt-of-the-earth people. So, in honor of Kansas Day, the state’s 156th birthday, I give you some fun facts about one of my favorite places.
Did you know…
The word Kansas comes from a Sioux word that means “people of the south wind.”
State symbols include the sunflower, the Western Meadowlark, the Buffalo, and the Cottonwood tree.
Famous Kansans include: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart, Walter Chrysler, Carrie Nation, William Allen White, Gordon Parks, Bob Dole, etc.
The land that would later form the state of Kansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803
The very first Pizza Hut was opened in Wichita
Kansas was the first state to ratify the 15th Amendment
The inventors of the dial telephone and the helicopter were from Kansas
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not include a list of some of my favorite Kansas things. In no particular order…
Because we won’t be hearing any today, I present you with a selection of eloquent words that continue to stand the test of time.
“So let us begin anew–remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.”–John F. Kennedy
“How can we love your country and not love our countrymen; and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they’re sick, and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?”–Ronald Reagan
“The time is always right to do what is right.”–Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”–John F. Kennedy
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”–Thomas Jefferson
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”–Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”–Helen Keller
With the inauguration looming on the horizon, my heart is heavy. I do not look forward to this new administration and I was not overly fond of the one on the way out. But even as I dread this new leadership, I respect the peaceful transition of power that is the hallmark of American politics. I am grateful for it and pray that we, as a nation, never take it for granted. Because as bad as it may seem, it could be far worse.
Yet, even as I respect the peaceful transition of power, and as I also respect the office of the President of the United States, I cannot and do not respect the man about to step into that office. Respect is earned, not given, and he has done nothing to earn my respect. I did not agree with many things that 44 did during his eight years (that may be an understatement), but it cannot be denied that he was an educated, charismatic speaker who carried himself with dignity and treated people with respect. I’m afraid the same cannot be said about 45. I look toward the next four years with great trepidation because frankly, we could have done so much better. It truly hurts my heart that people would choose such hatred and bigotry over hope and love (and no, I’m not talking about Hillary, I’m going ALL the way back to the primaries).
However, even as I believe the election of this man is a colossal mistake, I know that God uses every situation for His glory, no matter how bleak it may seem to us. This presidency and the next four years will surely be no different. For nothing is out of God’s reach. So I will pray for His will to be done. If I were a better person, I would pray for 45, but alas, I’m not, so I won’t.
I leave with you with a song sung by my favorite artist that I feel is, in part, especially relevant. And because Josh Groban’s voice makes everything a little bit better.
So much excitement is going on today! First, I ordered my first ever grown-up luggage. And by grown-up, I mean expensive and pretty (Samsonite). They had a 40% sale going on…thanks MLK (for the sale, but for more important things, too). Now I will no longer have to borrow my dad’s giant suitcase whenever I fly; I’ll now have my own giant suitcase to stuff to the brim. AND it can wheel upright, 360 degrees. Since I took care of my checked luggage needs, I couldn’t leave my carryon luggage needs unattended to. Sadly, my favorite little carryon duffle is tearing and I don’t know how many more trips it can survive intact. So, I found a pretty little boarding bag that will fit under the seat (which is exactly where I like to store my carryon…no overhead bins for me, thank you very much) to go along with my giant, shiny, spinny suitcase that I will check at the counter. Houston/Florida…get ready, cause here I come (with my giant, shiny, spinny suitcase and pretty little boarding bag) in about 59 days, 1 hour, 54 minutes, and 41 seconds.
Next, my textbooks came in! As an avid book-lover, I am always so excited to get new textbooks at the beginning of the semester. The excitement usually lasts about a week, or until I have to start actually using those textbooks. So far, I have… one textbook for my Public Policy course: Analyzing Policy. I just opened the box and found only the one book (this development is now less exciting, as I only had one book to peek at). However, there are more to come, which translates into more excitement for another day. Side note: This book looks particularly intimidating. It’s probably the class I’m least looking forward to this semester…but oftentimes those have turned out to be the classes I’ve ended up loving the most, so we’ll see.
Perhaps the MOST exciting event of today…I ordered my new phone! I was due for an upgrade in a couple weeks, but I got it early. And I got it accomplished all over the phone with the help of a very nice and capable customer service tech. It should be coming in the mail in a couple of days. And I got a pretty good discount. Plus, I found a case that has a built-in kickstand (it’s about time I got one of those!) and a car mount so I can get directions hand-free! I will be all set for new adventures pretty soon, so look out world!
As an exciting end to the day, I will be attending the county Republican meeting. The first of the year. There are many things happening within the party recently that I do not agree with, but fundamentally, I am a Republican. (When I say I am a Republican, please think Rubio, not Trump.) And the only way I can hope to affect any sort of change is to stay involved and fight for what I believe is right. So, I will attend the meeting and see what’s happening at the county level. And after the meeting is over, I will go across the street and eat some delicious pizza.
Here’s to many exciting days for all of you!
P.S. It’s been exactly one week and I’m still going strong on those goals I told you about a few days ago!