Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Build a House

Image result for procrastinationI am NOT a procrastinator. I will never understand how people can thrive from the thrill of doing a homework assignment at the last minute. I often hear of people writing papers at 11pm that are due at midnight (It makes me shake just thinking of the stress!). Instead, I could potentially have my work complete DAYS in advance to the deadline. Writing blogs is no exception to this proactive mentality.
Often times, I will write my blog a week before it is to be posted, looking for edits and having it ready at least 24 hours before releasing it. Writing is something I’ve always loved doing, but I’ve found that when it comes to blogs I HAVE to commit to a topic and roll with it no matter what. Once I have started on a message and story, I cannot give up on all the progress that came with the rough draft of writing the blog.
IMG_2721 3.JPGI was recently talking to my teammate, Kylee, about this phenomenon, that I can’t give up on something I started. She told me how often with her blogs, she will restart many times, and find ways to fit the pieces together along the way that she wanted to incorporate. Then, she challenged me to try the same exact thing. I was very hesitant, and denied the request at first, until a few nights ago.
I had written my blog earlier than usual, due to the fact that it was to be posted during one of the craziest, busiest, and best weeks of the year -- National FFA Convention. However, I was finding it flow the writing together and realized that it was a few messages put into one. I contemplated what my next move would be and was at a loss. For the first time in awhile, I procrastinated and stressed about going back to that blog and changing it, because there was so much work to be done. I feared not being able to write a good enough message or finish it in time.
A few days after creating my message and receiving edits, I was telling Kylee about my stress in editing the blog to perfection. She flashed a mischievous smile to me as if to say ‘remember what I said’, saying:
“Don’t be afraid to change it and move forward.”
Isn’t it crazy how sometimes, people know exactly what you need to hear, and you just need to open your heart to listen? In that moment, I knew that it was time to alter my way of thinking. I decided to completely restart and write this blog here and now. My stress melted away as I began to just write, an activity that has always helped give me perspective. I found myself again loving to write and create something I was proud of.
Can you think of a time in your life where you felt trapped to stay committed to something because you had so much work invested into it? That time might be right now. Fear of failure, judgement, and loss strike us until we decide to move on or work at the problem.
My choice to rewrite my blog immediately relieved the stress I was experiencing as National FFA Convention approached. I realized that becoming stuck on one single idea was not benefitting me, and that I could grow so much more from looking at different perspectives.
Image result for If God closes a door AND a window, consider the fact that it might be time to build a new house.There’s an excellent quote from Mandy Hale that states:
“If God closes a door AND a window, consider the fact that it might be time to build a new house.”

Sometimes we just need to take the advice of my teammate and be willing to start anew. What will you do this week to build a new house where it seems like you are trapped in your position? How can you start a new story to share with others?

Stationed by the Door,

Maddie Weninger

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Weave of Life

For the girl who dreaded going to school each day, monsoon tears flowing down both cheeks as her mom pried her from her leg to get her on the bus, Lois made the days a little brighter. With short, curly black hair, glasses perched on her nose, and a bright smile on her face, bus driver Lois welcomed each of her passengers each morning with warm kindness and a jolly greeting.

Eventually the girl who simply could not fathom the idea of missing all the goings-on at home on the farm while at school slowly discovered the social aspect of school and how much fun learning could be. Soon the quiet, tear spilling girl turned into a social butterfly and bus driver Lois became one of her favorite people and best friends. As soon as she stepped on the bus, plopped her backpack down in the seat behind the driver, she would half stand/half sit, and Lois’s ear would not find rest for the remainder of the route. Lois’s love for coffee was soon discovered by this sweet girl, and before long the early morning conversations were partnered with strong coffee and even stronger stories. From lambing updates on the farm, to the latest and greatest thing her little brother did, Lois heard it all. And she didn’t turn a blind eye (or ear) to the girl who needed it most.

Soon that girl grew up. She made new friends on the bus and started to move further back in the seats on the bus. Of course, Lois was always ready to engage in conversation if prompted, but those early morning consultations soon faded away. One first day of school, the girl stepped onto the bus ready to be greeted by Lois’s warm, bright smile, but was instead ignored by a middle aged man fumbling with papers trying to figure out where he was off to next on the route.


People have this funny way of coming into our lives when we need them most - at the right time, in the right place, for just the right reason. As a 5 year-old, Lois was my perfect person. All throughout elementary school, while teachers and classmates changed each year, one thing remained constant in my life - my bus driver. And I loved that woman. She was kind of like another grandma honestly. But as I grew up and time went on, our conversations diminished, our relationship grew a bit weaker, and then one day she was just...not there.

This is my very first note from Lois. 

While I was sad Lois was no longer my bus driver, I knew I no longer needed her the same way the 5 year-old me did. My mama would tell you Lois was a saint; Lois was the only reason I went to school and the bus rides were my favorite parts of my day. Mama was incredibly grateful for Lois, her friendship, and confidence I was going to be okay. She would send me handwritten notes with cute drawings or sometimes even call to update Mama. Lois would go out of her way to ensure I was comfortable in an uncomfortable space.  It made my mama’s inability to let go a bit easier knowing I had Lois. How do you go out of your way to make a positive difference in someone else’s life?

Throughout life, individuals are weaved in and out of our lives as we need them.

My relationship with Lois wasn’t the only one where I have encountered this realization. Whether it be a friendship with someone much older or younger than you, or a more serious relationship with a significant other, learning how to re-adapt to life can sometimes be challenging.

Specific people can teach us a lot about ourselves in a short amount of time. They can set us back on our feet when we seemed to have lost our footing. They can make us realize how great we really are and the potential we each possess. Sometimes individuals can be weaved back into our lives too - and you never know when that might happen. And sometimes it is okay to step back and see the bigger picture.

Who has weaved their way in or out of your life? How did they impact you? What did you learn from them? Who do we need most? Who needs us? Why?

Life is crazy. Relationships make it better. Surrounding ourselves with others who are going to make us better people is such an important thing to remember. Jim Rohn once said,
“You’re the average of
the five people you spend
most of your time with.” 
Those you surround yourself with are likely influencing your success and could impact your life down the road. Sometimes we have to realize not everyone is good for us either; they taught us our lesson, and now it is time for us to be the bigger person, learn to let go, and move on.  We all need five influential people in our lives. Who are your five? Who considers you part of their five?

We all deserve to be happy. The weave of people in our lives is so, so important. We have the opportunity to embrace it - and control it (sometimes). Once we have determined who and what makes us happiest, we simply get to dance through this weave of life with smiles on our faces (and a few tears sometimes) and enjoy the dance.
Stationed by the ear of corn,

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

No, Seriously We Have a Spreadsheet...

It was all because of a mouse. A simple drawing that came to life on a screen that allowed Walt Disney to pursue his dream. We often associate Walt DIsney with dream,because Disney was a man with big plans and even bigger dreams. For me it always seemed like a mystery how one man could accomplish so many of these dreams in his lifetime. I was really good at picking a dream, and well, dreaming that dream for a long time, but I never got closer to that dream. Why? It was simply because I never really had a plan to get there in the first place, and more importantly, I didn't have people to help me get there. But good old Disney was a wonderful man and leader, because he had qualities I lacked; where I had only a dream, Disney had a dream, a plan, and a team. Making his dreams happen, and more importantly, making the others around him dream just as big as him. Disney had the ability to unite people over a common goal.

So, if you haven't noticed already, I LOVE Disney and it just so happens that most of my friends also love Disney. So naturally we came up with a little dream to get together and watch as many Disney movies as we could. So, as often as we could, we would gather at one house and watch as many movies in one night as possible. Now, if the thought “cute” crossed your mind, imaging a bunch of high school seniors crowding onto one couch watching Finding Nemo and Hercules, let me explain a little more. We took this endeavor very seriously. We have a spreadsheet. Let that sink in,
because, no, seriously we have a SPREADSHEET. This spreadsheet not only marks attendance and what movies we watched, but it is also color coded. We also had a very strategic voting system for choosing movies that involved paper ballots and goldfish. Well, if you are not laughing too hard yet, because I know it sounds silly, it was actually quite enjoyable. And now that we have all graduated and left home, I miss Disney nights so much. I don't even miss watching the movies, but I miss the girls and the time we spent together: laughing, eating Patty Jo`s amazing food (thanks Momma Erickson!), and telling our favorite stories. And even though it is only in a simple (and some might think silly) way, these girls and I gathered under one thing we loved, Disney movies. We united as friends and fellow Disney lovers to accomplish a goal. Because we were able to do this, we ended up watching lot of Disney movies and accomplishing our dream of enjoying being a kid a little bit longer.  

It might seem like Disney made his dream a reality fairly simply and with ease, but he had to work just as hard as the rest of us. On one occasion, Disney wanted to design a place where dreams could come true. A place of Disney's own creation; a world to be precise. One of Disney’s famous quotes shares how he made his dream a reality; “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” So he assembled a team to make it happen, and then they created a plan. However, to make his dream a reality he needed one more person on his team, that man was Admiral Joe Fowler. A master at designer and construction of naval ships, and he could help Disney make his dream come true. So naturally Disney was going to stop at nothing to get Admiral Fowler to help him. After pursuing him once only to get rejected, Disney did not give up on his dream so easily. He kept pursuing Fowler, until he believed in Disney's dream as much as Disney himself. It is because of this skill of uniting a group of people under one common goal that made Walt Disney's career so incredible.

As FFA members, we know how important community is and how even more important it is to actively help improve our communities. We are given a place to dream of bettering our communities and ourselves. So dream big!  We can all strive to think a little more like Walt Disney; find a dream, make a plan, and unite a team under one common goal. What is your dream for your community or chapter? Once you have a dream, take the steps to make that dream a reality. Come up with a plan, and then take that plan to your chapter members. Advocate to take on this project and inspire them to dream big too. It will take hard work and dedication, and at times it might seem impossible, but as Walt Disney said himself, “It's kind of fun to do the impossible...” 

Stationed by the Emblem of Washington, 

Spencer Flood

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

When It Rains, It Pours

This week was hands down the worst weather I have seen in Crookston since I moved here. Every day for a week straight, I woke up to the shrill holler of my alarm clock, looking outside only to see the grumpy grey skies swallowing up any sunlight. The walk outside was even worse. Before doing so, I had to prepare myself mentally and physically to combat the gloom. After sliding my grey softshell over my shoulders, placing a headphone each ear, and throwing my hood over my head, I used all my body weight to push open the residence door and step out into the drizzling rain.
One day in particular last week, it was especially dreary. You could tell everyone else felt it too by the lack of smiles and motivation. After sitting through a lecture, I headed down the hall making my way outside back to my dorm. I was so focused on myself I almost didn’t notice the girl kneeling on the ground right in front of the door until I almost hit her as I was going out. As I kept walking, I looked back to see what she was doing. When I looked closer, I could see a wing poking out of her grasp and a beak at the top of her knuckle. She carefully carried the creature to a small grassy area outside the doorway surrounded by smaller trees, placed it near some brush and rose to her full height. I was pretty blown away at this point. Still standing in the misting rain, I walked back to my dorm and thought more about what I just saw. This girl who probably was just as busy as I, if not busier, took time out of her day to make someone’s life just a little bit better.
I thought back to the last time I was inspired by an act of kindness. A friend I met at SLCCL this year takes time out of her day to post encouraging words for those around her to see. Today it was, “You are loved. You are precious. You are important. You are special. You are smart. You are gifted.” I guarantee quite a few people needed to hear these words today. I know I did.
Almost all of us have heard the quote, “ When it rains, it pours.” Now that I think about it, why can’t this be the case as far as kindness is concerned? One small act of kindness, whether it be holding a door for a stranger, saying thank you at the drive through window, or even picking up a can that just barely missed the garbage can spiral into an uncontrollable series of kind acts until kindness is literally pouring all around us. When we complete small acts of kindness, we inspire others to be kind as well. Sometimes, it seems like our day is just full of rain. Maybe we fought with our best friend, didn’t do as well as we thought we would on a test, or maybe spilled coffee on our homework, but despite these things, we can still throw a little kindness into the world, because when we do so, kindness starts to pour around us.
As FFA members, we have so many opportunities to touch other people’s lives with kindness. We simply inspire those in our chapter, school, and community by our small acts of kindness like coaching a young CDE team, helping fill out a state degree or proficiency, or even taking time out of hanging with our friends to talk to a new member during a meeting. All these small acts turn into inspiration for other individuals to grow as leaders. This is the point when we definitely learn how to dance in the rain instead of moping in it.
How will you show kindness to others?

How will you inspire others to be kind?

Stationed by the flag,