Sunday, October 11, 2015

Are we there yet?

“Are we there yet?” That was one of my favorite questions when my family was driving anywhere as a kid. I remember one road trip that was particularly long. We were going to Plains, Kansas to visit family. In case you were wondering, Plains is a tiny little town that is the definition of Western Kansas. Did you know Plains has the widest Main Street in the United States? Well now you do! Anyway, as you can imagine, the ride to Plains is a long one and 6-year-old Bailey was not very patient. Every couple of minutes I would ask, “Are we there yet?” Since we were obviously still moving and in the middle of nowhere, the answer was always, “No and don’t ask again”. But I would ask again and again and again. Finally, my dad said, “You know Bailey, half the fun is getting there. If you wait until we get there to have fun you’ve already wasted half the time.” As a six year old I didn’t understand this, but looking back he may have a point.
Main Street in Buhler
on a Saturday evening. 
I grew up in the small town of Buhler, Kansas. Population 1335, Buhler is a quaint town. I love my hometown, but as with any little towns there wasn’t a lot to do. Growing up we had to make our own fun. From adventuring outside to going to the library or even swimming at the pool, which even on the hottest days was freezing, we always found something to do. But when we got to high school it was different. If I had a quarter for every time I heard someone say “I can’t wait to get out here” I would be able to pay my college tuition in quarters!  We were in such a hurry to grow up and move on. Well since that time I have graduated and moved out of my beloved hometown and I realize I was a little too excited to leave. I was focused so much on the next step that I forgot to savor the little things.
A couple of weekends ago I got to go home for Buhler Frolic, our annual town celebration. For years I was a part of the parade, from being on the grade school float, to band, to the FFA float. For the first time I can remember, I got to stand and watch the parade go by.  It was so fun to see this celebration of Buhler in a new light! My heart was filled with so much Buhler pride. Later that evening I was given the amazing opportunity to speak at the banquet celebrating my high school’s 100th year. While at the banquet I got to hear so many stories about the journey Buhler High has taken from its start in 1915. It was incredible to see all of the history and memories made in my own high school! Being back home and enjoying a fun day was just what I needed to remind me to cherish the little moments and remember that child like wonder that we seem to lose as we grow up.

So many people celebrating Buhler High School!

 It’s easy to get focused on the next event or goal and forget to stop and smell the roses. The same thing can happen during our time in FFA. Make the most of everyday, every class period, every moment because life isn’t just about the big moments, it’s about all the little ones put together too. Whether a freshman, senior, graduate, alumna, or a supporter of FFA there will come a time when we have to hang up our blue jacket. When we finally reach our destination, I hope we can all say that we enjoyed the journey.  Instead of asking, “Are we there yet?”, ask how will I enjoy the ride? Because after all half the fun is getting there. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tennis Shoes in a Sea of Boots

As school commences, I reflect back on my freshman year of high school. Entering high school was a big step that came with major changes. When each new chapter of our lives begins, we are faced with many possible changes; it’s our choice what we make of them. The first change I faced as an incoming freshman was that of a new school with unfamiliar faces- a lot of them. Being a bit shorter than most, it made everything seem so much bigger than it really was. The second challenge I was faced was the actual school part. I had no idea what to expect with many of my classes. Among those classes was Intro to Ag Science. I had no idea what I was getting into taking that class. I wasn’t raised on a farm, knew very little about agriculture, and I was terrified to get out of my comfort zone. With a little nudging from a friend, I took the leap and joined FFA. Joining was the easy part; from there, I was faced with many other chances to either get involved, or remain in my beloved comfort zone. Not long after the year was underway, there was an invitational livestock judging event. I decided that if I was going, I was going to do well.  I practiced and prepared a little bit every night prior to the contest. When I finally got there after a very long bus ride, I was a bundle of nerves. I promptly decided that this was no place for a city girl wearing tennis shoes as I wandered through the sea of boots.  Regardless of how I felt, it was too late to give up, so I had to go through with it. I didn’t think I was going to do very well because I was so far outside of my comfort zone. Once the day was over the bus ride stretched on for what seemed like eternity; I was ready to be back at school and back in my comfort zone where I promised myself I would stay. About 15 minutes before we were back at the school, my advisor got the fateful email with the results enclosed. He glanced at the screen and began reading off the results. I only half listened because I didn’t expect to hear my name. Then I heard my name, and it caught my attention. Mr. Seuser repeated; “In 2nd place, Bailey Peterson.” My promise of staying in my comfort zone was completely forgotten. I was hooked on FFA.

This award reminds me what
stepping out of our comfort
zone can do for us. 
            Our comfort zones are where we reside for the greater part of our lives. If we never step out of our comfort zone, we are missing so many opportunities. If I hadn’t taken a risk and joined FFA, who knows where I would be right now? Or, if I hadn’t taken a risk and tried something new and strange to me, I never would have found my passion for FFA.  So many times we are presented with an opportunity, yet we chose to stay in the comforts of familiarity. Think of all of the things we could do when we leave our comfort zone behind. Sometimes it won’t work out perfectly, but you never know, sometimes it will. As we journey through this year, take those chances. Maybe try a new CDE, take a chance and grow our SAE, or talk to someone new at a Conference. Let’s step out of our comfort zone, embrace every opportunity, and see what we can accomplish as we dream outside the box.
            Here’s a little bit more about me:
1.     I love animals! I love cats, while at heart I’m a dog person. I have trained and competed with my dogs for close to 10 years now.
This is one of my dogs, Logan. 

2.     I enjoy Netflix watching, some of my favorite shows are Psych, The Office, and Parks and Recreation.
3.     I volunteered at my local zoo and rehab facility. I have some really awesome stories from my time at the zoo, so if you ever want to hear one just ask!
This is a baby bobcat I got to socialize at the zoo.

4.     I love the game Rumikub, which is basically numbers and puzzles put together. I’ll play anyone, several times. But I also love board games in general.

5.     I  love FFA! I couldn't get enough of it, so I have decided to become an ag. teacher and advisor in the future.

 Some of my favorite memories have been made while wearing the Blue Jacket.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stop and Smell the (Sage)

"...What the results are showing is that your worst allergies are to hickory trees, cats, and sage. You said you were going to California next week? They have sage everywhere out there"

Thank you, Doctor. I really appreciate you pointing that out.

Yep, I went and had an allergen test last week (I'll spare you the details because they aren't too pretty). I've always known that trees and cats really set my allergies off (sorry, Taylor, I can't join your Cat Club) but finding out I'm allergic to sage was something new. And as my doctor was eager to point out, I would get an actual field test in California over spring break.

Not only was my doctor right about my allergies, but he was spot on about the sage in California as well. There are parks called "sage hill," streets named after the plant, and according to this lovely sign, the foliage of the area is basically nothing but sage:

Long story short, I might as well be surrounded by hundreds of cats. This realization made me start to dread the trip and, once we got here, pretty miserable with anticipation of the allergy attacks to follow. In the middle of worrying about myself, though, I almost missed out on an opportunity to enjoy the company of my family and this kind of view:

I know my issue with sage is just a small, menial problem, but how often do we let something like this happen in our every day lives? Do we get caught up in everything that is going wrong instead of enjoying the blessings we're surrounded by? 

Here's my challenge to you for this spring break: Take five minutes and focus on nothing but what you're thankful for (writing in a journal or creating a list could help!) Forget about whatever is the sage in your life right now and really let yourself enjoy wherever you are, whatever you're doing, and whoever you're doing it with! Stop and smell the sage!*

*Do not actually smell sage. Trust me, the allergic reaction will not be worth it. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Get Loud


If you're a resident of Kansas, or a surrounding state, you most likely read that in the voice of Mitch Holthus, longtime announcer of the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, I've been a Chiefs fan for a long time thanks to my dad who has had season tickets for longer than he's had me. In fact, my dad and I have a long-standing tradition of going to one game together every year. This tradition has been a highlight for me growing up; we get KC BBQ, dress in red from head-to-toe, and cheer our hearts out. There's just one little issue: in the past 12 years of attending games, I had never seen the Chiefs win in person, that was, until this Sunday.

Dad and I attended our 12th annual Chiefs game this Sunday and, possibly due to a miracle, THEY WON! It's safe to say that I won't get my voice back fully for at least another week. 

When you're walking into a stadium for the 12th times with a personal record of 0-11 of games attended, your excitement level isn't at its highest. This changed quickly though, due to the atmosphere of Arrowhead Stadium-the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL! See, when Chiefs fans get excited, they definitely don't fail to show it. The noise level rises quickly and plays a huge role in pumping the Chiefs up while disorienting the other team. Noise is a key factor in any Chiefs victory at home.

This isn't just true for football, though. We all have the capacity to get loud and make noise for things we care about. Maybe that something is our faith, a social injustice like hunger or poverty, or a positive message that we think everyone needs to hear. Oftentimes, though, we hold back out of fear of being judged or from a lack of confidence. When this happens, our voice isn't heard and it definitely isn't making a difference like it could be. One of my favorite quotes comes from someone who has never held her voice back, despite the danger that came with speaking out:

"I raise up my voice - not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard"
-Malala Yousefzi

Malala is the world's youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize thanks to her efforts in standing up against the Taliban in support of education for women and girls. She knows that raising awareness is a more effective means to reach change than through the Taliban's tactics of violence and fear. I strongly recommend checking out a clip of her interview with Jon Stewart here:

So what will you use your noise factor for? What message do you believe needs to be heard and how will you spread it? We live in a world where a message can go viral within minutes and our voices can do so much more than cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs to victory, so let's define our messages, lose our fears, and get loud!

*Disclaimer: Despite my love of Chiefs football, I'm still pretty illiterate when it comes to the game and the terms and phrases of the sport. If you're a sports genius, hit me up because together we can be unstoppable playing trivia. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Days are Long

"Bethany, you have to remember that the days are long..."

Earlier this week, I sat down for a life chat that made me really dig deep and think hard about where I am and what I'm doing with all of my time and energy--something that I think we all need every now and then. I mean, when you really think about it we all have the same number of hours in the days, even though some seem longer than others, so how do we make sure we're taking advantage of these hours and not just letting time pass by? 

Get Better
One of the best ways to spend our time is by striving to make ourselves better. We would all agree that personal development and improvement is something we want, so what can we do to actually get there? (Brace yourself, the answer is going to come as a shock...) By setting goals! It's cheesy, I know, but bear with me. I know we're driven to set goals (especially SMART ones) on a pretty regular basis during different class activities, professional development events, or leadership-based workshops, but, for the most part, we aren't really using them effectively. It's easy to jot down a few small actions when we're sitting in a workshop and prompted to write down "three goals for the coming semester" but if we can shift our perspective just a little bit, we can set some goals that will really help us to get to where we want to be. Start by jotting down the answers to these questions:
  1. What kind of person do I imagine as the best version of myself? (Get descriptive with this one! Do you want to be a strong leader? Noticeably kind and caring? More knowledgeable and well-read?)
  2. What skill set(s) would be a part of this? (Great presentation skills? Empathy and listening skills? An understanding of current events or issues?)
  3. What goals do I need to set to develop these skills? (This is where the rubber meets the road. These goals can be as big or small as you want, just think how they can build on each other to get you where you want to be. Maybe this means setting a goal of giving a speech to a coach or mentor to receive feedback at least twice a month, writing a heartfelt card to someone who needs it once a week, or reading the top five news stories everyday.

"...the days are long, but the years are short"

The end of this piece of advice may be the most important. Yes, it's hard to pack more into our already busy schedules, especially something that doesn't have any real deadline like the goals we just made. But here's the deal: time is flying by. Confession time...I still write the date as 2012 on my papers everyday, because seriously, what happened to the time? If we become so caught up in what we're doing that we forget to make the time to make ourselves better, we will never become the person we imagine ourselves being or have the skills that we value most. 

So, set goals. Smash them. Be stronger. Be better. Show people who you are. Never apologize for being awesome. And when you need a little motivation to keep going, come back here and either reevaluate the goals you've set or just take a look at this incredibly inspiring cat poster:

Seriously, who isn't ready to go out and conquer the world after seeing this?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Let's be Awesome

"Oh my gosh, that's awesome!"
-My answer to pretty much everything when I'm excited (so all the time)

Awesome. It's a great word, isn't it? You can use it to describe how you're feeling, what your day was like, T-Swift's latest song (no shame), or, most often in my case, to describe a recent meal. But just the other day, a good friend pointed out to me that I might use the word "awesome" just a little too much. I mean, yah, I really enjoyed my lunch today at Chick-Fil-A, but was it really awesome? If you're a word nerd like me, you might appreciate knowing that, according to, the definition for awesome is as follows:

Awesome-inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence,admiration, or fear; causing or inducing awe

So yes, Chick-Fil-A is indeed delicious, but it probably doesn't result in an overwhelming feeling of awe. Overusing the word "awesome" could actually cause it to lose some of its value. If we describe everything as being awesome, how can we designate when something actually is? 

Being more careful with our use of the word doesn't have to mean using it less, though. What if we were to strive to actually be more awesome? For those who have been living under a rock, or just don't know how to work a computer (like me) and haven't checked out the Kid President YouTube videos yet, take some time to do so, I promise it'll be worth it.

So, what if we all become a little more conscious about our use of the word "awesome"? Not by cutting it out and using it less, but by giving ourselves more reasons to use it? How will we strive to really be more awesome?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Don't Turn Back

There's no doubt about it, I am my father's daughter. We're both stubborn, known for our signature walks, and, above all else, we can't sit still. My wonderful mother tries to counter this need for constant movement through what she calls "intentional relaxation" aka "forced relaxation." Dad and I can only take so much of this carefully orchestrated quiet time before we set out in search of our latest adventure, which is exactly what happened on our most recent family vacation.

After a weekend on the lake, Dad and I decided we should satisfy our need for excitement through a hike in the Ozarks. A quick Google search brought up a nearby trail and we set out with nothing but our favorite ball caps and two bottles of water. Now, neither of us have any real experience hiking, but how hard can it be? I mean, it's just walking around in nature, right? Wrong. Completely wrong.

Turns out that hiking is pretty hard work. I know, I was surprised too. But halfway through our hike, I found myself tired, out of breath, and just ready for a mid-afternoon nap. I had set out full of enthusiasm, but lost that excitement as soon as I started to wear down. At this point, though, there was no turning back because we were as far from our starting point as the end of the trail. 

How often do we do have something similar happen in our lives? We set out with a new goal in mind and then get busy, distracted, or just plain worn out. But let's take a minute and ask ourselves these questions:

What would it look like if we followed through on all of our projects and goals?

What could we accomplish?

How would those accomplishments feel after the hard work we put into them?

As most of us are getting ready to head back to school and the responsibilities that come with it, let's be intentional about following through and continuing to pursue our goals, even when we get bogged down with day-to-day life. If we can do so, there's no doubt that we'll be more successful than my attempt at hiking! No matter how tired we are or how uncomfortable it may be with the work we have to put in, let's strive to push ourselves, refuse to settle, and, most importantly, don't turn back.