Sunday, February 24, 2019

Lady Gaga

A few weeks ago, around the start of the semester, I came back to my dorm room to find my roommate, Quentin, watching “A Star is Born” on our futon.

Illustrating the type of person
Quentin is, here he is in a ball
pit in our dorm room.
I came in, took off my backpack, and asked him how the movie was. Quentin looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and began explaining how Lady Gaga is one of the greatest gifts to mankind in recent memory. While he was going on about her acting and performing skills, I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. I let it out.

I told Quentin I didn’t enjoy Lady Gaga’s music.

Immediately he stopped talking, looked at me, and began to verbally question how we had been friends for two years without him ever knowing this important detail about me. We had had discussions about Lady Gaga, her vocal and performance methods, and comparisons between her and other performers before, but I had never told him I didn’t actually like her music.

He walked out of the room.

I waited a few minutes, questioning whether or not I had ruined a friendship over the fact that I had kept a secret of my true feelings. It didn’t take long, however, for Quentin to come back, and he did with a prescription. He explained I wasn’t in a good place to critique Lady Gaga because I hadn’t listened to enough of her music. As a solution, he gave me a list of songs and told me to listen to those, as well as to watch “A Star is Born.”

Since then, I’ve listened to the songs, watched “A Star is Born,” and I can say, while I still don’t love Lady Gaga as much as Quentin, my appreciation of her definitely grew because of Quentin’s prescription.

For half of a year, I didn’t want to start any conflict, especially over Lady Gaga. The disagreement between our opinions shouldn’t have kept me from telling him about my opinions, however. If I would have just been honest from the beginning, I could have learned to appreciate Lady Gaga so much earlier.

Next time you’re just nodding your head in agreement to keep from a disagreement, think about the growth you’re missing out on by not sharing your perspective.  

Stationed by the Plow, 
Kegan Zimmermann

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Snow Days

Since January 19th, my hometown has received 37 inches of snow. It seemed like every night we would see the closings roaming in. Students were barely going to school and getting plenty of time off. Often I would hear my friends from back home complaining about the weather their time inside on their day off.

This made me think of my times spent outside on snow days.
I remember when I was in middle school and used to jump up and down when we got a school free day. I would wake up at nine and throw on my snow pants and head outside.
that was clipped to our snow sled. We would whip each other around the snowdrifted yard. We took breaks to build jumps and ramps to block the trees and fences.
We spent the whole day out in the snow.
Now when I look online, I see a lot of my peers wishing it was summer and complaining about the upcoming forecasts. We have all been there, complaining to others about the snow storm because that is what Minnesotans do. We may even find ourselves closing our eyes in front of the fireplace pretending the heat is coming from the sun. We spend so much time worrying about things we cannot change. We spend so much time complaining about where we are at in our lives.

My brother would have already moved all the snow in our four-wheeler and all the snow we
were about to move would be strictly for entertainment. We tied a rope to the back of the
four-wheeler snow and often came in at night to get food before going back out again. Over the years, this became our snow day ritual often doing our online school work when the sun went down. We loved and cherished our snow days.

At the beginning of each FFA conference, we set these rules or expectations. One of them always stands out to me the most: Be Here and Now. We add action to remind us of this expectation by pointing to the ground and looking to where our feet are. We want to be in the moment with the people that are around us. We aspire to be off technology devices and set aside things that take our minds away from the things around us. This ultimately optimizes our experiences. We make memories and cherish our time together because of our be here and now mindset.

The snow will always go away and disappear sometime in the spring (and probably return a few times), so we need to optimize our time with what we have around us. Take each opportunity as a time to find joy for what is around us and too look at what is given to us whether that is family, friends, weird tasks or opportunities and seek purpose from them. We can choose to find joy in the simple things of life. If you have a snow day, choose to make the most of our time in this winter wonderland. Make do with what we have around us. Find joy in the things we cannot control. Love what the world has given us and take opportunities ahead of us. Chose to be here and now.

Stationed by the Flag,
Lauralee M. Eaton

Monday, February 11, 2019


As many of you know, the United States government was shut down for 35 days. There are multiple reasons why the shutdown occurred. Whether you’re an elected official, high school basketball player, or a member of a group for a school project, personal ego can lead to a shutdown.

The government shutdown meant that all non-essential personnel did not work. For TSA agents at airports, they worked in hopes of receiving back pay for working their standard hours. For other government workers, their building of work was locked and they weren't even allowed inside. Many of us didn't necessarily notice all of the services that were lacking because of the shutdown. For example food inspection, processing applications for Federal student loans or mortgages or approval of medical trials didn’t actually happen.

The government shutdown was due to a disagreement between different sides about how to handle the same issue: immigration. President Trump wanted a little over $5.7 billion for a border wall. The Democratic party leaders wanted to approach the same problem with $2.3 billion for border security (but not necessarily a wall). Even though both sides want to take action on the same issue, neither appears to be willing to take action on a solution that isn’t their own. Because no deal had been struck, the government of the United States was shut down.

Simply stated, the shutdown of the United States government was a giant game of chicken. In all honesty it still is. The current deal is that there is a three week opening of the government to try and solve the issue. So it begs the question, who will break first? Who will realize no one is winning? We live in a country in which many of our elected officials are more interested in being correct, not being proved wrong, and winning, than doing the right thing for the American citizens they were elected to serve. Just like our elected officials often get caught up in their ego, we all do sometimes. Some ego is healthy; it drives us to be more successful. Other times, it can control the actions we take, simply to be right, among several other reasons.

We have all found ourselves in arguments or disagreements before. Each time it happens, we have a choice. We can force our idea in an argument to prove ourselves right to the point of alienating the other person, or we can either work towards a compromise or simply agree to disagree.

The next time we find ourselves in a disagreement or argument, ask yourself “is ‘winning’ this argument worth the consequences?” By doing this, we check ourselves to make sure we are discussing for the right reasons; to learn more and to share ideas, not to prove the other wrong and show how right we are. Sharing our ideas, letting the other person know why we think the way we do is a great step. An even greater step is listening to the other person’s thinking about the matter, and why they think that way. Listening is just as important, if not more, than talking. Sometimes the justification for a solution isn’t obvious, so it takes some explaining.

We are not always going to agree with others. What we do after we disagree with someone shows more about who we are as people than the side we find ourselves on. Are we going to burn a bridge for the sake of winning? Or will we be civil, and work with others to work on a solution that suits everyone? As leaders, we have to learn to control our ego, before it controls us.

Stationed By The Door,
H. James Mathiowetz

Friday, February 1, 2019

A Wrinkle in Time

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time traveling. Traveling to Detroit, New York, Africa 
and beyond.  When waiting to catch a plane to South Africa for the International Seminar for State Officers I had some time to journal my thoughts and I would like to share some of those thoughts with you.

Spending time at the airport  makes me feel a certain type of way, almost like I am living in 
the space between what happened and what is about to happen. This thought then leads me to think of Christmas and the Season of Advent which some of us recently experienced. Advent is also seen as a period of waiting, or preparation.

This feeling doesn’t only come when I am in the Airport waiting for a flight, it also seems to 
appear the moment before the exam is passed out, while on the bus or at other times. I also 
think that this feeling represents a phase or time period we often experience in our lives.  Below
is a quote from my pastor that I found while scrolling through my facebook timeline.

“It was the waiting, the suspension in time, the pregnancy of the moment that caught me 
today and again brought me to my knees. A wrinkle in time. I was not so keen on waiting 
today, much as I love Advent. It did not resolve itself cleanly, or easily, or beautifully. The 
beauty of advent is that it doesn’t demand easy resolution. The hard, messy moment simply 
was, and is.”

This was the evidence I needed to confirm that others are aware of these periods of waiting, 
these times of uncertainty. Her mentioning that it felt like a wrinkle in time, reminded me of afavorite childhood book of mine. In the book there is talk of time travel. The idea behind 
traveling of any kind, is that the fastest way to get there is a straight line. A line from point a 
to point b.

We often see our journeys - paths to reach our goals, the progression of earning a degree - as astraight line. Point A - where we decide to do something and Point B where it happens. 
Straight line Right?

In reality the line tends to be not so straight.  Often it involves waiting. Waiting for the right moment, waiting for an email or waiting for your hard work to pay off.

I think the key to capturing the moment, to getting to point b, is to embrace the waiting. A 
Wrinkle in Time states: “I don't understand it any more than you do, but one thing I've learnedis that you don't have to understand things for them to be.”

What if we begin to allow things to just “be” ? The next big thing doesn’t have to happen 
tomorrow, just know that tomorrow is going to happen either way and you can either choose 
to make it a big day or you can choose to wait for the next big thing.

With the start of a New Year, we were all eager to make our resolutions and make this year 
the most successful in terms of progress towards ‘living our best lives’. What if we reframe 
our thinking? Instead of trying to race from point a to point b, we learn to trust the process?

What if we begin to see that change does not have to be in an instant, it doesn't have to be 
clean or easy or beautiful. Sometimes life happens in the waiting. 
Let’s choose to embrace that.

Stationed Beneath the Rising Sun,

Grace Taylor