Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's More Than Just A Season

            “I’ll see you all next year!” I can’t tell you how many times I've heard that same corny joke from one of my teachers just before I leave their room for Christmas break. All I can think about is how I’m going to have so much fun over the break. Hanging out with friends, spending Christmas with my family, and not having to worry about school for a while. I always get excited about the great times that I am going to have during the holiday season, however there are many people that aren't as fortunate as me. For some the holidays are a very tough time. Whether it be mourning the loss of a loved one or being tight on money there are many things that can bring down people’s spirits. For this reason it is important to remember the real purpose for the holidays, to spread joy and happiness to others.

            Someone that can attest to the power of the holiday spirit is Amy Scharman of Mapleton, Utah. She remembers very distinctly the first Christmas after her parents had divorced. It was a hard time of the year, her mom was raising Amy and her siblings alone without any child support. None of them were expecting much to happen Christmas day until they heard a knock on the door late Christmas Eve. When they went to the door no one was there but there were bags of presents left on the doorstep. “It was such an overwhelming feeling to see such generosity from some I don’t even know.”

While this act of kindness was above and beyond what most people expect that doesn't mean we can’t adopt the mindset of doing what you can to help others. Something that I’m doing this winter to help spread the spirit of joy is being a Secret Santa Rematch. I participate in the largest Secret Santa Exchange in the world. It’s done online and is a lot of fun. However there are people that don’t follow through with delivering their gifts so I sign up to send more than one gift. This isn’t something big and I don’t go too far out of my way but it makes a big difference to the other person.

            “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” Calvin Coolidge truly captures what the holiday spirit is all about. We need to embrace the holiday spirit and take the time to think of others. Do what we can so this is a time of year everyone can enjoy. Make sure to enjoy your time with friends and family and relax because it is well deserved, but also make sure to remember why we are fortunate to have this break and to pass on the goodwill of Christmas.

Stationed by the Rising Sun,
Jack Roessler

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Dog

            Earlier today I saw a person in my dorm room run through being half pulled by his puppy.  It made me think about the life of that dog.  However, the life of the dog that I saw is unknown to me, but I know my dog’s life very well.  Ever since I got my dog, I have treated him like he was my baby.  Every night that I am home, I will sleep in my bed with him curled up next to me.  I have bought him toys and treats more often than I should and, of course, I have thought of him as a family member.  My dog, Riley, means the world to me, and many dogs mean the world to their owner.  However, no matter how good their lives look from our side, we can’t help but think there is a lot of uncertainty in their lives.  When I leave to go to work or school, I know that I am coming back, but how does Riley?  He sees me walk out the door and never knows the length it will take for me to come back.  Sometimes I am back within twenty minutes, but sometimes it’s days on end.  Even though he doesn’t know I will return, when I do, he is elated and loves to see me.  That uncertainty doesn’t matter to Riley because he has complete faith in me and knows that I care about him very much.

            But my life doesn't relate to Riley, right?  When people leave for something, I talk to them about where they are going and when they will come back.  I have communicated with them and know what is going on, and I trust them to come back.  Just like Riley, I trust they will return.  Life is just as unpredictable to us as it is to Riley, but both of us have confidence someone will return.  In life, there are many things that are uncertain to us, like the weather or what will happen the next day.  However, one thing that we can count on is the people around us.  Riley counts on me every time I leave to come back and care for him.  Every time someone leaves me, I know I can trust them to come back.  There is a reason we have trust in people, whether it be shaking their hand or looking them in the eye and feeling they are telling the truth.  There is trust in people because of the good they will show to everyone they meet.  Riley trusts me to return every time I leave.  Are you being the person your pet trusts to return every time you leave?

Stationed by the Door,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Now what?"

The other night I was on the phone with one of my friends. She was confused with the direction life was taking her because it seemed as if everything she tried out for or applied for, she was declined. “Now what?” she asked me over the phone after listing off opportunities that did not fall in her favor. I struggled to put words together to make her feel comforted. I have seen this lady succeed in many things and this point had never existed before. The words lingered in my mind during the duration of the conversation, “Now what?”

Since we were little kids, we did silly tasks or chores for rewards. The feeling of victory or an extra $2.00 in our pocket, we enjoyed the reward. But once we succeeded to get that reward, we went to the next project or duty, asking ourselves, “Now what?” We craved the feeling of accomplishment. You see, I am blessed to have a tight relationship with my two sisters but we are definitely at different stages in our lives. My sister Sara recently got engaged. Planning her wedding is the next step in addition to working her job at AgStar. Jill, or Jilly, is a recent graduate student at University of Missouri (Go Mizzou!) studying nutrition. And as for myself, I am a student who has fun with FFA members. Among us Larson sisters, we all achieve different rewards. Our “Now what?” seems to be at different stages in our lives. What stage are you in?

We all make some sort of progression in our life. We complete one goal or finish attending a class or trip and we ask ourselves, "now what?" Christmas is coming up soon and once December 26th hits, many people will throw their trees on the curbside thinking, "now what?" We are a progressive society that always keeps our minds on the next BIG thing! We thirst for the next opportunity to focus on, but sometimes that is difficult to do. Not everything goes as planned and we again ask ourselves, "now what?" 

Let's look at it at a different angle. It’s all too easy to compare our beginning to someone else’s middle. Being the livestock showing freak that I am, I find this photo worthy to share. ------------->
Take 7 seconds and think of someone you look up to. Someone who is confident in his or her shoes. Someone who is skillful and knowledgeable. Have that person in mind? Do you think that their pathway to get to where they are was fun, easy, and painless? Please tell me you answered no. Think of how many times that person questioned their motives and direction. Think of how many times they asked themselves, “Now what?” after standing up after a failure or hardship. Maybe that’s a reason why you look up to that person, because they stood their ground no matter what tried to break them down. What does it take to be like that person you admire so much? What does it take to know that the “Now what?” question you might ask yourself might lead to some pretty extraordinary things. What’s your answer going to be after you ask yourself “Now what?”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Black Friday Lessons

For me this Thanksgiving season was the first time that I ever went shopping during that crazy late night. It was very spur of the moment since we were just driving by a Target on Thanksgiving night. I saw the cars filling the parking lot, so we decided to stop by and experience the chaos simply to say we had. We had no agenda, goals, or shopping list. As I walked through the store, I was amazed by all the people that came to shop at the small Target in a town of only 11,500 people. I had two initial observations while at Target: 1) we can never let shopping take over the true meaning of Thanksgiving and 2) if I ever want to be a successful black Friday shopper, I need to do my homework.

Each year I can’t help but notice that the black “Friday” sales are coming out earlier and earlier. I put Friday in quotations, because it seems that the sales have spilled over into Thanksgiving Day with stores opening up around 6pm at night and having huge door buster sales. It always makes me think, “Are we losing the true meaning of Thanksgiving?” I am not saying that if you shop on Thanksgiving or black Friday, you are wrong and you shouldn’t shop. However, we can never forget
the true meaning behind Thanksgiving. When our founding fathers formed Thanksgiving Day, it was meant to think about all we have and give thanks. Some years I find myself thinking there isn’t much to be thankful for or nothing has changed from the year previous. However, that thought always brings me back to my Grandpa’s quote, “From the day you were born until you ride in a hearse, it’s never so bad that it couldn’t be worse.” It always reminds me that no matter what state I am in my life, there is always so much to be thankful for. In my life I am thankful for good health, my great friends, my cows, a roof over my head, my family and so much more.

My second observation from going shopping during black Friday is a life lesson. I walked in to the store spur of the moment with no idea what to expect, and if I were to rank the successfulness of shopping on a scale of the best deals, I was completely unsuccessful; I got nothing. The majority of the people in Target that night had some sort of plan or shopping list; they had an end goal. These people where the ones who were successful. They had done their homework and searched through all the flyers to find the best deal. They had created their list of what they needed to buy so they
could squeeze through all the people and get to exactly what they needed. This shows us a valuable lesson in life, look at the difference between the successful shoppers and the unsuccessful shopper, me. The successful shoppers did their work and set goals, they had a clear cut plan that was probably written out, but I had nothing. In life to be successful it helps so much if we have a game plan and an end goal. With a goal we know exactly what we are working towards so we don’t get sidetracked on other things, and we know when we have succeeded. Without my goal, I wandered around and tried browsing through the store, something I found was impossible on black Friday. Set goals and write them down; that is how we get things accomplished.

Stationed by the Emblem of Washington,

Brady Wulf