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. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014


 During our senior year we were given the opportunity to choose practically anything we wanted for our senior project in English. I chose to make a cookbook because I love to bake.  However this wasn't just a cookbook with random recipes.  Instead I spent the time to talk to members of my community and get recipes they really love and that have a story attached to them. Therefore my cookbook turned into a storybook at the same time. I then decided to try (almost) all of the recipes so I could include pictures and give recommendations to people as to which recipes I really liked!

However no matter how excited I was to make all of these recipes, not all of them turned out very well. The cookies you see in the top left spread out and looked more like I was making a whole sheet of cookies!  Just below that is my wonderful attempt at these famous kolache's that everyone loves. As you can see I didn't even make it to the kolache stage as my dough turned out like a ten pound weight.   Although these recipes turned out wonderfully when they were made by the ladies who gave me the recipe, my first attempt for these recipes was a flop.

But I am oh so glad that I decided not to give up on making any more of the recipes because I would've missed out on the recipes that did turn out deliciously.  Arlene Kleinschmidt's crescent rolls beat Pillsbury out of the can crescent rolls any day and Arlene Carlson's cinnamon rolls have become a new family favorite recipe.

While I may have had some difficulties with a few of the recipes, there were many more than turned out wonderfully.  With practice I'm sure that the other recipes would have turned out just as great, even if they didn't the first time.  But all in all if I hadn't kept trying recipes after my attempt at kolaches or tea cookies, I would've missed out on making and eating a super moist frosted chocolate cake and a delicious peach cobbler.

My question to you is; How many times are we so afraid of failing that we don't even want to try the first time?  Is there something we really want to do, but maybe we've tried and haven't had success before?  Or maybe it's like when we're staring at our computer screen trying to think of what in the world to write our 5 page paper on because we want it to be perfect to we're too afraid to even start it because we crave perfection.

Whatever it is that you want to do, don't be intimidated or afraid to start a project because you want so badly for it to be perfect.  When we realize that we probably are going to have some things that turn out less than perfect, that's when we can really start trying new ideas!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Simple Joys

Spring break is fast approaching and whether we are excited for no homework, a vacation or the potential spring weather, I have a challenge for you.  

Often times I find myself in days like today where my to-do lists seems like it is a mile long and I have deadlines looming over my head.  Do any of you ever feel like you have the whole world to conquer in one night?  I certainly know that feeling.  Sometimes our brains may look a little like this.  
This was all of my mail to sort through while deciding on what college to go to; I chose K-State!

Our lives may be a little crazy to the point where we don't even feel like we ever have a break from the nonstop go-go-go.  One of the things I've learned is I often get so caught up in being the busy bee of life that I've forgotten to enjoy the little things while I am pushing so hard to meet deadlines.  I've let weeks go by without even talking to my sisters or nieces in all of my rush to conquer my to-do lists.

The lesson I've learned is to enjoy the little things in life.  This is a personal motto I've been working towards as I realized in high school that I was constantly on the go and sometime forgot to simply enjoy my life!

Here are some moments that I've captured through photos of simple joys that I am grateful I took the time to stop and enjoy.  

We burn pastures every year at my farm.  I am so glad I took the time to capture this "ordinary" day on the farm with a picture of my dad and me. 

On our safari in South Africa our main attention was of course on the animals.  However I happened to take my eyes away from the hunt for the animals in order to take this beautiful picture. 
After completing the Spartan sprint of 3.8 miles packed with 15 obstacles, our team took time to celebrate our accomplishment before we showered and put on proper clothes for the 40 degree weather.

You can always get more money, you can always be more accomplished, but one thing you can never get back is time.  My challenge for you this spring break is to take time to enjoy the little things and make the most of the 86,400 seconds you have everyday.  Because after all, you can never get more time.  

How will  you use your time to stop and appreciate the simple joys in everyday?