Friday, June 30, 2017

Which Window?

After finishing up chores one night last week, my brother Michael and I headed on our ride home from the farm where we keep our goats.  We passed corn fields, houses, and rolling hills on our way home with the windows open.  When we took a bend in County Road 9, we came across an especially scenic part of our route.  

Michael glanced over at me, breathed out, "Emily, look at that view," and stared through the windshield of the Lumina.  I checked the rear view mirror, glanced out the open window, and put my eyes back on the road.  

"Michael," I asked, "Isn't it prettier when you look out the open window?"  The windshield of my beloved car had spots of squished bugs and residue from the wipers, and the rear view mirror made this beautiful view tiny, but when we looked straight out to the place we were in that moment, there wasn't anything obstructing the view.

After comparing them, Michael chose to stare out the open window, where he could experience the view of County Road 9 in brighter color without unclear spots.  

When we think about the routes we take in our lives, where are we choosing to look? Do we look towards the future, at a beautiful view that may not be quite clear for us, either because we aren't there yet or because like my poor Lumina, we really need a car wash.  That front view is important to keep us on track, but it's a little smeary.

What about that rear view mirror? It may be beautiful to ride away from the setting sun, but all we really see is a tiny fragment.  The little picture in our mirrors might contain some amazing memories, but if we focus on looking back, we won't see the beauty of where we are now until it fades into a tiny memory too.

When we look straight out our open windows and focus on the here and now, all of a sudden those obstacles disappear.  Whether we're spending our summer moments working, training livestock to show at the fair, attending leadership conferences, or connecting with our friends, we need to be present.   

Last week, my teammates and I headed down to Iowa for the National Leadership Conference for State Officers.  I knew from the start we'd be heading straight from this conference up to our State Leadership Conference for Chapter Leaders.  Now, I'd been excited for SLCCL and reconnecting with amazing leaders from all over the state for a long time, but I wasn't sure what NLCSO would look like.  On the ride down, I kept my thoughts on SLCCL.  Who would be there? How would my cabin interact? What really cool people was I going to meet?  I walked into Iowa's FFA center with the acronym SLCCL still on the tip of my tongue, until I remembered words one of my mentors had told me a week before.  

Be where your feet are.  

My feet were on a tile floor in Ankeny, Iowa, and the rest of my body was too, but I realized my mind wasn't.  Starting then, I chose to be present and go all in as we spent five days growing.  When I did make that choice, I was able to keep the exciting next step at the back of my mind so I could be a better officer when I got there.  That focus out the open window, on the here and now, allowed me to dig deep with my teammates and advance our ability to facilitate information to Minnesota's chapter leaders.  I had an amazing experience because my focus wasn't on where I was going next anymore.
Instead of looking back on our favorite memories or towards the agonizing wait until our next big events, let's keep our minds where our feet are.  When we keep our thoughts on the people around us and the tasks at hand, we give ourselves the opportunity to create moments worth celebrating.  Wherever we are, let's be all there.

This week, my feet are in Hackensack, Minnesota, at SLCCL.  And you know what?  My mind is here too.

Where are you?

Stationed by the plow,

Emily Pliscott
State Vice President

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Just Jump In

After nine months of school and a seemingly endless winter, I am so glad summer has finally arrived! I love to get outside with friends and enjoy the great Minnesota lakes and woods. One of my favorite summer adventures happened last year as school ended. Along with a group of friends, I embarked on a journey to Lake Superior so we could spend a few days together before we would head our separate ways as our summers became filled with work, camps, and activities.

The six of us began our trip by hiking at Gooseberry Falls and rolling up our pants to wade in the icy river. We continued on our road trip until we reached our destination for the week: Honeyrock, a unique cabin set right on the rocky Superior shore. We spent the next few days exploring boulders on the beaches, hiking on the cliffs looking out hundreds of feet above the lake, singing every song we knew together, and watching the shooting stars at night. I was content with how our week was going, but my friend Noah wasn't quite satisfied. He was looking for more thrills and more daring adventures. Noah decided we should take the plunge and jump into the frigid waters of Lake Superior. Because we were fearless explorers, we agreed hesitantly to his request. 

After much persuasion, we stood in our swimsuits huddled on the rocks as the icy waves rolled into the bay. I was less than thrilled about the idea of jumping into the arctic waters, but after lots of encouragement, I stood out on the edge of the boulders in the chilly wind. I didn't know what to expect jumping in. How cold would it really be? Would I be able to get out again before I turned into a popsicle? As I paused at the edge of the rock seriously considering heading back to the shore, a chorus of “Go!” “Just jump” and “Do it for the adventure!” rang out from my friends on shore. So I just jumped in. The water was colder than I thought water could be without freezing, and I raced out of the lake to the shore. Though it wasn't necessarily a comfortable experience, I smiled and laughed with my friends after it was over. We were glad we had tried something new and hadn't settled for the usual adventures.

In the same way, we often forget that we have new, incredible opportunities around us all the time. As summer starts and we go on to our own adventures, whether it be showing animals at the fair, going to camp, or hanging out with friends, we need to remember to seek out new things and to really plunge into new opportunities. Sometimes we need to leave our comfort zones, and sometimes the water will be cold, but in the end we only have one life to live. So just jump in and try something new this summer. Find something that you have always wanted to do and give it a whirl! When is the last time you did something for the first time?

Stationed by the rising sun,