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? 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Unbelievably Blessed

I am unbelievably blessed-and so are you.  I learned many life lessons during my time in South Africa the past few weeks.  One of them was just how blessed I am.

For agriculture, especially here in Kansas we are blessed with fertile soil for which to grow our crops.   Where I live, we are able to produce crops very profitably without irrigation.   We also have the security that our crops will not be set on fire, nor our office broken into, or fences taken for steel to the point where we need armed security.  A farmer we met in South Africa has high powered electric fences (like we would see surrounding our prisons) and employs six armed workers just to patrol and safeguard his land.

American agriculturists are blessed.

I have a heated home with electricity, running water and a bed to sleep on.  However while in South Africa we walked through a shantytown where electricity was minimal, running water was hauled from local spouts, every house was surrounded by razor wire, community porta-potties were their toilets and 10-12 people slept in a space smaller than my room.

We that have a warm home, hot showers and a bed are blessed.

I have parents who have loved me unconditionally since I was born, sisters who are my greatest supports and a close extended family. While visiting Mrs. Sabina Khoza Fair Deal Training and Education Center, we learned that she has is now the adoptive mother to three orphans because HIV/AIDS claimed their parents' lives.  Eighteen percent of South Africa's population is HIV/AIDS positive.

I am blessed by the love of my family.

Mrs. Khoza shared this saying with us on the Sunday morning that we spent with her:

"When God blesses you, he blesses you abundantly."

My challenge for you: The next time you catch yourself complaining, look all around you, look at your life and thank God......thank him for how he has blessed you abundantly. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Season of Waiting

We spend four hours furiously wracking our brains to do our top notch work on our ACT to hopefully get us the scholarship money we want for our dream college. Then we wonder for weeks what we received until finally we receive that email.

We spend everyday since Thanksgiving waiting in anticipating for Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us with a child's innocence, or in our cases now what is under the tree from our parents.

We spend months preparing for a CDE or even years for a proficiency area. Yet, we never know what the outcome is immediately.

But sometimes we wait after we do something that nags at our conscience, and we wait to see if anyone will find out.  

Waiting...waiting...waiting.  Waiting is against our nature and patience is something we all lose sometimes.  But let's think for a moment, if there was nothing leading up to Christmas, no break from school except for that day, would it be as special?  Think of all the cooking, decorating, parties and gatherings in anticipation of the day.

But the result at the end of waiting is called delayed gratification.  Christmas wouldn't be near as special without the anticipation.  Our experiences within FFA wouldn't be near as rewarding if they didn't take time, effort and some time spent waiting.  That Grand Champion ribbon you won with your steer at the county fair is so much sweeter because of the months put into feeding and working with him.

What about those time when we mess up, wouldn't it be easier to just find out immediately if we were going to get caught cheating or lying?  Of course!  But let's think about that feeling of guilt and having your stomach in knots waiting to see if you are caught in the middle your lie.  If it weren't for the time we spend sweating about those times we mess up, we probably wouldn't have learned our lesson near as well.  The end result of the prolonged guilt is to hopefully teach us a lesson about what we did and that the feeling of guilt is enough to make us think twice before making that same mistake again.

My challenge for you: The next time you find yourself waiting, think about the lesson you're learning or the sweet reward of delayed gratification you'll received at the end of your wait.