Monday, December 21, 2009

Independence--An All Year Gift


What a semester it has been! This past weekend I had a chance to relax at home for a bit and witness the Sullivan Christmas decorating process for the 22nd year. Quite exciting, be watching for a reality show on it someday in the future. J

It would be appropriate for me to write a blog about the true meaning of Christmas, and the precious gifts we can give to one another at no expense. However, many of us already know these Christmas lessons, and lately there has been a re-occurring thought on my mind I would like to address: -->

What is the balance of being too dependent or too independent?

In the past few weeks I have had two dear friends come to be upset because of their tremendous dependence on another. So dependent on this other person that they can’t seem to function without them there by their side. Not one, but both of these friends used these exact words: “Becky, right now I am just not happy. I want to be happy again.”

Do you know anyone in this same situation? Or perhaps you can relate. Not being comfortable being alone, always wondering what that other person is doing, not thinking your capable to go grocery shopping or to get gas on your own. All of these are thoughts, feelings, and daily concerns of an individual who is dependent.

As college students we are vaulted into a world on our own. Some people handle it better than others. Everything from your personality type and the way you were nurtured by friends and family add up to equal you ability to be independent. Occasionally tragic events in our lives force us to be dependent on another verses independent.

There are many different definitions of independence. Here is one that I thought described it well:

“Emption from reliance on, or control by, others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one's own affairs without interference.” –

We may all interpret the above definition differently, however I view it as being able to make your own choices, and guide your own journey in life based on your passions.

Now is dependence an ok characteristic to have? Of course, there is nothing wrong with having someone close to you who you trust to confide in and seek advice. As a matter of fact, having those few people in your life to be your “rock” is much needed! There is such a thing as being TOO independent just as there is a person who is too dependent. If someone were to guess which of the two I am, it would be quite simple. If you know me I am quite an independent person.

Traveling alone, making decisions to spend a summer with strangers during a summer internship doesn’t frighten me a bit. I know what I am called to do in the short-run, and I confidently pursue that calling. However, there is most definitely room for me to grow as well in being vulnerable with others. I am used to being a rock, and I like it that way. However, some days I can understand the desire to not be the strong one, and just let your frustrations out.

So how do we find a balance? My two friends that came to me come from the exact opposite side of the spectrum as myself. Now I am NO expert, but here is the advice I gave them:

Dependent people wanting to be more independent:

1) 1) What is it you are truly passionate about? What drives you? Think about it, and write it down.

2) 2) What type of person do you want to be? Once you have that picture, make a list of how you WILL become that person. What goals will you set for yourself?

3) GET OUT THERE!!! If you sit at home, you will not be happy. Put yourself in the uncomfortable setting of meeting new people, and eventually you will become used to it—possibly even make some good new friends from the experience.

4) Do something by yourself, and enjoy! Go to a coffee shop and read a good book. Go grocery shopping or to get gas, on your own. If you really want a challenge, eat out with…you guessed it, just you! Enjoy some reflection time and doing something because you want to.

When it comes to someone like myself, perhaps too independent at times, here is some simple advice. Seek out a few good friends you trust, and let your guard down! It sounds easy, however I know how hard that can be. There is a handful of people who know what I struggle with—however they keep me going when the going gets tough.

During this Christmas season, take time to think about your independence. You have freedom, a priceless gift from God. Use it! Take life by the horns and go after your dreams, key word is your.

Have a blessed Christmas, and I look forward to hearing what you accomplish in the future

Monday, November 2, 2009


“Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom just so you know how it feels.”

We have all been there.

You find your life spinning down a path you weren’t expecting it to go. Whether that is making poor decision, giving into peer pressure, or just loosing that internal motivation that made you stay disciplined to reach your goals. No, doing the right thing is not always easy. Big accomplishments do not come from two days of being dedicated, the big rewards in life come from daily obligations that last an extended amount of time.

As always, once again I have found my life busy with meetings, travel, classes, making up missed classes, and trying to make time for people in between all of that. It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life and forget about the big picture.

This past weekend I participated in a retreat that I needed more than I could have ever known. Pathways is the name of the retreat that the Manhattan St. Isidores church puts on once a year, allowing no more than 30 retreatants to participate. My name was randomly drawn to be one of those 30 college students to go on the retreat….coincidence, not at all.

It was quite comical how nervous I was for the retreat, I knew very little of what was going to happen. Most of the time I know exactly what the retreat entails, that’s probably because most of the time I am the one putting it on. Pathways kept everything very mysterious, they didn’t even tell us what time they were going to wake us up in the morning! For a gal who has her planner attached to her hip most of the time this was a l little hard to swallow.

I would love to tell you all about the details of the retreat, however that would routine the experience. I can say that God placed me in the hands of those retreat staff this weekend for a very clear reason. The words they shared with me helped me realize that my busy life and tendency to say yes to any obligation presented to me is something I must change. There should always, always be time for the most important part of life—our faith.

Here are a few take-aways you may find helpful in evaluating your life:

“Have you found yourself busy, doing things all day long, and yet at the end of the day you still feel an empty spot in your heart?”

“Jesus Christ lives in all of us. Faith is centered around service. Why wouldn’t you want to serve others on earth? You are serving Jesus, God’s children, and your brothers and sisters when you help others.”

“God doesn’t make junk. You are a masterpiece. Yes, we all have flaws, but trust that he made you just the way you are for a reason.”

“Everything happens in God’s time. Be patient, and have trust that He will take care of you.”

One of the coolest take-away’s from the retreat was learning the meaning of Agape. Agape is a Greek word meaning God’s unconditional love. This past weekend, that old school house we stayed out was filled with much Agape, and hopefully all of us who participated will continue to share that Agape with everyone we meet.

Take a look at your life. Are you living in an artificial world full of pointless meetings, material goods, and selfish people? Or have you found the real world where God’s love fills your heart and you are able to share his light with those around you with more actions than words?

Thank you to those who helped make this weekend possible. Thank you to my family who loves me and has always supported me despite the times I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you to our Lord who knew where to put me at just the right time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mid-Life Crisis

A mid-life crisis—the time in a person’s life where they all of the sudden feel like they need to “find themselves again.” For some, that means buying the hot sports car they have always dreamed of owning. For others, it is taking on a new hobby such as yoga, origami, or model trains.


I, Becky Sullivan, am currently going through a mid-life crisis! Ok, yes I am only 21 going on 22, but perhaps some of us mature a little fast (yea, I’ll use my maturity as my excuse, ha ha). This summer has been for some reason a time where I have suddenly been forced to discover what is it I really enjoy.


They say us American’s work too hard, don’t know how to really enjoy the pleasures of life, and if we do, afterwards we have an overwhelming sense of guilt for doing so! Since working at Cargill, I have found that my days are spent working, then at 5 o’clock the night is mine. Usually I am tiered because all I have done is sit around—which in return does nothing for my energy level but make me want to sleep. However, I have noticed all of the sudden once my day is in my control; I don’t know what to do with myself. If I’m being good I will work-out for an hour, and then return home for dinner. Somedays I will treat myself to a little TV, such as the bachelorette (about the only show I follow, girlie, yes).


Last night I was sitting there, laptop in front of me on e-mail, watching my TV show, book of curriculum I need to memorize to my left on the couch, and then it hit me. I can’t just sit there and enjoy something.  


It is sad, but the truth. I am incapable of even sitting and watching a TV show without attempting to feel productive in the process. Good job Becky. You have identified a major problem you have. Now what?


Well isn’t that a good question! What to do now? The first thing that came to my mind is: Well Becky, you have three summer goals you set for yourself that you still haven’t accomplished. You should be working harder on those and stop sitting here on your computer!


Good thought…yet I still wasn’t pleased. Perhaps the reason I haven’t accomplished those goals yet is because they are seen in my subconscious as work, not fun. After working from 8am to 5pm every day, the last way I want to spend my nights is doing more! So no, this is not my solution—yet still something to keep in the back of my mind in the BIG picture of things.


Alright, well what is it you really enjoy doing? Dancing, photography, being outside, good start. Why aren’t you doing those?


Another good question! Why am I not doing those??? Is it because I don’t have people to go and do them with me? Yes, that is probably part of it. Why else? After laying in bed pondering the answer to this very question I think I have my answer. The root of my problem is that I have trained myself to be desensitized to what I truly gain pleasure from. Over the past few years, I have trained my mind to be set in work mode 100% of the time. Good if you are a piece of machinery in a manufacturing plant of some sort, BAD if you are human!


There is my crisis. At age 21 I am seeking to “find myself again.” The first step, turning the computer off and walking out the door. Sounds simple, but if only you knew how much time I spent on a computer, whether on e-mail, facebook,, looking up facts for a project, writing outlines for new projects, preparing for organization events I’m in charge of this fall, etc.


You only get one summer of 2009. Just one. How will you spend it? I must admit, mine has been excellent in the career aspect! I’ve learned so much working for Cargill, had the opportunity to travel with work, and even do some networking with dinners and lunches. Yet, on the personal, “that was a AWESOME summer” side, not so much.


Here is what I am going to do. I’m making a list of all the things I love to do, and WILL do this week. Thus far my list reads this: 1) long walk at a park, 2) dancing, 3) talking to friends on the phone for hours, 4) taking pictures, and 5) read my new book in a cool coffee shop. My goal will be to accomplish this list of five by the end of this week. Spend one night taking pictures around town. Spend some time having a “private dance party” in our sweet duplex. I can already check off the walk in the park, did that this morning at 5:15am (not sure if I can pull that one off ever morning). Each day I will be sure to check one of these pleasures off my list—and enjoy them!


The summer is not over yet! You still have most of July and August! Take what time you have left and make sure you do what you truly enjoy during the summer of 2009—you only get one!



Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Vehicle to Success

I could write a few sentences of fluff about the secret to success and achieving your goals…however I will just give it to you. The vehicle used to succeed in reaching your goals is discipline.

Yep, a word we have most likely all heard again and again. We can see discipline at its best when looking at athletes and their dedication to their training and working their body till it hurts. We see discipline in our boss who stays late at work to finish the project that is so crucial to the organization. Discipline is an acquired skill that will make the world’s difference in whether you achieve success or not.

During my time as an intern in Cargill’s Wichita corporate office, it has been difficult for me to remain balanced in all areas of my life…I am lacking the discipline. If there is one thing I have really noticed in the office, it is that those people who advance within the company contain extreme amounts of discipline.

When I traveled to Arkansas with my boss a few weeks ago, she talked about how she usually gets up at 5:30am each day to run three miles and lift weights before going into work. Then she makes sure she goes to bed at 9PM so she can do the same the next day. Another lady I sit next too had a large coffee in her hand this morning and exclaimed how she needed the caffeine—that working out at 5AM each morning is really getting to her.

As I hear these business women speak of their normal routines that keep them healthy and happy, I couldn’t help but realize how lazy I have been! I wake up at 6 or 6:30AM depending on the day to watch the news, eat breakfast and get ready for work. I try to force myself to the gym each night to do my normal 3 miles and weights—yet I don’t always accomplish that goal. Then, I usually don’t actually go to bed till 11Pm, and that is good for me! At work I have to constantly redirect my attention to remain alert and able to perform well (not sure if this is because of my lifestyle, or the characteristics found in our generation).

Through some new insights my co-workers have given me, I have decided to make this summer more than just an intern experience. No, this summer will be a true test to my discipline.

The funniest part of this entire situation is that I currently have more free time than the last three years! I should be able to make time for those crucial health disciplines which we require to be our best. However, like a few of my friends, I find that the more free time I have the lazier I get. When I am busy I am forced to make time to exercise or read a book. However, now that I have so much free time the TV and couch somehow have sucked me in! I am sure that some of you suffer from the same problem as me—having to keep yourself busy to really get all your priorities accomplished.

“Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them, day after day. What you promise today must be renewed and re-decided tomorrow and each day after that stretches out before you.” —Arthur Gordon

Discipline. It is a daily choice. What we must do is really commit to what it is we want our lives to look like. There is the easy way out, but is that the way that leads to the future you you desire?

Imagine this: you decide you want to really focus on the relationships in your life. You commit yourself to writing a note of encouragement to someone every day during your lunch break (this could be a card, e-mail, facebook message, text, call, etc). After a month, that is about 30 people you have touched and made feel special. After the summer, that is just about 100 people. Someone who may have had a bad day could come home to find that special message that turned their entire week around. That could be you.

One note, each day at lunch, and think of the difference you could make.

Apply discipline to your life and the cumulative results will be more than you originally imagined.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't Forget Your Dreams!

The hypocrite: a person who says one thing but does another. “You shouldn’t gossip; little people make little talk,” and “Stop wasting time in front of that TV! You should be enjoying the outdoors.”


Both good pieces of advice, however, when you turn the corner what are those folks doing? Talking about Susie who just broke up with her boyfriend because he cheated with her best friend Jill, or they are sitting there watching the last four seasons of Lost when it is 80 degrees and beautiful outside.

Ok, so not everyone says one thing and does another. However, there are those certain folks who have the “hypocrite syndrome.” Those people who often preach one thing all the time, yet do the opposite. Are these bad people? ABSOLUTELY NOT! On the contrary, these are caring people. They are the ones who are concerned that you don’t make the same mistakes they have.


About a year ago, during a road trip, one of my dear friends named Tyler made the comment that most people’s life message is about that thing or area that they struggle with the most. For example, if your life advice to someone was to be comfortable just being themselves and no one else. Most likely, that would mean that your greatest struggle has been reaching that peace with being who you are and disregarding the assumptions you make regarding what others think of you.


The reason people do this is because they care about you. They have struggled, or currently are struggling, with the same problem they see you may be facing. Often, our immediate reaction to their advice is “Well, they don’t even do that. Why should I listen to them?” Where as in truth, or advice response should be “Good feedback. They care enough to be honest with me. They seem to have a similar problem—how can I see it has impacted their life?”


The human brain is a brain of habit, this is for sure. Our habit is to be offended when someone tells us something we can improve on. Of course, everyone would rather have a compliment, pat on the back, or “you’re so wonderful!” Yes, there is a place for these encouraging words in a person’s life—however, do these really challenge you to be a better person?


This past weekend From Thursday through Sunday, I attended the Alumni Leadership Camp in Montana north of Great Falls. There were close to 100 amazing high school students there, all of which were full of energy and ready to learn about personal growth. The six camp counselors (Sam, Brook, Jessica, Chase, Andrew, and John) did a wonderful job presenting workshops on communication, self-motivation, risk taking, relationships, and more. I was invited to present a workshop to the group on goal setting Friday and one on FFA Opportunities on Saturday. That evening at the Saturday night banquet I also gave a keynote address.


In those four days I really go to know some of the students on a personal level. They shared with me their dreams of becoming an architect, going to Med school, becoming a state or national officer in the FFA, becoming a famous country singer, and becoming a national high school rodeo champion. As each student shared with me their ambitious goals, their faces would light up and you could see a surge or energy go through their body. During some reflections by a fireplace one night I shared with those members to dream bit. Shoot for the moon—if you don’t hit it you will still land among the stars.


Well, the conference couldn’t have gone better in my eyes. The students learned a plethora of new leadership and personal development knowledge, and I myself walked away inspired and energized as I always do when around FFA members.


Later that evening as I was flying home I found myself in a state of self-evaluation. Looking out the airplane window, I thought about all those dreams the members shared with me. Then I thought about what dreams I have. It was at that point that I realized, I too suffer from hypocrite syndrome. I have always dreamed of things such as becoming a motivational speaker, writing leadership books, traveling the world and educating people on agriculture and making it fun! All of these would exist in my dream life. Yet, do I really pursue them?


As a national officer I got to experience all of the above dreams minus the book writing. However, since then I have been thrown into a “tough world reality.” First, we have people constantly talking about how the economy is bad, jobs are hard to find, leadership and organizational development are the first positions that will go. Then, I have the second reality check when I see other speakers and presenters. There are so many people pursuing this career—and what is there to say that I am any better or equal to their abilities? I haven’t survived a plane crashed or overcome a serious disease. No, my life struggles have been on the inside—but are those good enough to make a motivating point to others?


Here is the skinny. I believe in dreaming big and going for what it is you want in life. DREAM BIG. Even if your end outcome isn’t what you originally had in mind, you will most likely find yourself in another position even better you didn’t know exist. I will forever preach and share this message with all those I meet.


On a personal level, I too will start doing the same. I will stop thinking of all the reasons I am not good enough, and start thinking more optimistically about my dreams. Every now and then we all need to take a little self-evaluation to check up on whether we are suffering from hypocrite syndrome ourselves. If we are, then what can we do to change that?   

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You as a Trend Setter

Trends; they are everywhere. There is the classy “ugg book chick” seen on campuses all across the states. Then there are the Vera Bradley bags and purses sweeping ladies of all ages. Oh, and we can never forget, the new boat shoes that have done a big come back for guys and gals alike.


Trends will always be a part of this world. One person can take something like a boat shoe that was popular in the 70’s, decide to sport the old school look one day, and then BAM! Everyone is obsessed with the Sperry boat shoes! I remember I was in high school and all of us girls just HAD to have the toe socks…I never really thought they were comfortable, but I did it anyway.


Who are these trend setters? How do they create a movement that can be seen at a local, state, country, or worldwide scope?


I will tell you a little secret…anyone can be a trend setter if you try. Ok now, it is important to realize there are different levels of trend setters—you have the celebrity trend setters who can wear the ugliest big shirt with tights and knee high boots and make it popular. Then you have the more common trend setters, the local setters. 

These individuals are the ones in their communities setting trends such as attending the Monday night volleyball tournaments at the church gym, or motivating their peers to hang out at the local coffee shop and start a study group. Trends don’t have to be clothes or materialistic, but they can be so much more.


The reason trends have been on my mind lately has been the influence of my summer internship. It is amazing how the atmosphere of a corporate environment is so much like high school and college in the sense of trend setters. My boss is one of the most intelligent looking ladies I know. She has this pair of black rimmed glasses that make her look like she has the IQ of 180. I will admit, I was at the mall the other day and found at Claire’s “sassy glasses.” They are glasses that look like real glasses, yet really are just plain glass—no prescription. Seeing how I have impeccable vision, I have never gotten to wear glasses and have that persona of being extremely intelligent. Yes, I bought a pair and enjoyed sporting them at Barnes and Noble later that week.


Trends…they are all over. Sometimes we become victim of materialistic trends. For example, I bought glasses so I could “look” smart, despite the fact that my vision is perfectly fine. However, we can also become involved in good trends that improve our mind, body, or spirit.


Last night my uncle here in Wichita invited me to attend a volleyball tournament group at a local church that plays every Monday night. NOTE: I have not played volleyball on a competitive team since freshman year in high school. Seeing this as an opportunity to get some physical exercise and meet some new people, I said yes. This was last night…this morning I have bruised up arms and knees. Apparently the Wichita State University volleyball players attend these Monday nights sometimes to practice. Great, wish I would have taken my knee pads!


So let’s go back to those two questions posed earlier. We already answered the first one—who are these trend setters? The answer we determined is anyone. It could be a celebrity, your boss, or a family member. We all have the capability to set trends. That brings us to our second point: how do trend setters create these movements?

1)    Make it look cool/fun

2)    Be confident

That is it; two simple tactics that are both crucial to use when creating a trend.


First, is making it look cool/fun. Cool and fun are both interchangeable—it depends on which one motivates your audience more. Some audiences have the primary goal of fitting in with the “in crowd.” Clearly, these individuals will be motivated to follow a trend through the coolness factor of the trend. Then you have the individuals who are more interested in how much fun they can have. Those individuals would follow any trend if they would be guaranteed to have a good time doing it! To be a trend setter, you must analyze your targeted group and focus on whichever one of these words motivates them the most.


Second, we have being confident.  This is pretty self-explanatory. You have to make whatever trend you are trying to set believable. If you are having fun, show it! If your trend is an activity that helps improve you in some way, articulate that in a confident manner. People will believe someone who knows and can sternly support what they are talking about. Be confident, and people will believe you.


Trends are everywhere. Sometimes people can set trends without ever intending to.


What trends will you set in your lifetime?


Will you be able to proudly state trends you started that helped make someone a better person? Can you say you have created trends that nurture service, health, and relationships? If you can’t say you have thus far, no worries, you have time. J

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Leadership Without Words

Ah yes, summer. Some of my friends are relaxing at home, rejuvenating from a busy semester. Others are studying abroad. Then, there is the hand-full that stay in town to take summer classes. All of these are common ways to spend your summer, however there is also what I would consider the most common summer option for college students…working!


This summer on June 1, I started my summer internship with Cargill Meat Solutions in Wichita KS.


What have I been up to in my internship? Well, they haven’t had me making copies or filing information yet, so I would say I am pretty fortunate thus far (that, or they just realized early on I am not good with printers, copiers, or many other forms of technology).


Actually, I am a Human Resources intern specializing in the Learning and Development side of HR. Another term you could call this position is a corporate trainer. Here in Wichita, there unfortunately are no other corporate trainers. Due to the economy they had to downsize, so as of right now, I’m the only one out of the thousands of employees in the Wichita offices working on training curriculum for the next year.


Some people in my situation may be nervous and timid to really run with the opportunity of being able to do all the curriculum development on their own. Well, some people may feel that way, but as you have probably already guessed, that isn’t at all how I feel! I am LOVING having the freedom to really be creative and use my past experiences and knowledge to develop curriculum that can be taught by others at plants for their new hires and supervisors.


I would love to tell you in detail everything I have created thus far; however, I would have to kill you. Ok, maybe not that drastic of a result if I tell, however my brain and thoughts completely belong to Cargill this summer…so it kind of is top secret. J


One of the coolest experiences I have had thus far was this past week which I spent in Springdale Arkansas touring their plant. Springdale has 1,300 Cargill employees—kind of like a small city as the HR folks there described it. During the week I spent there I got to tour all the Ag Live Operations (the hatchery, growers, and feed mill). My proudest moment was walking into a barn of 6,000 mature tom turkeys weighing around 45 lbs. each! If I said I wasn’t scared then I would be lying BIG time! No worries, I made it out with all ten fingers and only managed to lose three toes.


  Another part of the week I spent touring the processing plant. IT WAS HUGE! The HR Manager of the operation, Carlos, gave me my tour. As we went through the many different rooms we passed countless employees. Carlos would wave, say hello to them, joke around, and ask about their family or weekends.

Now remember, there are some 1,300 employees there! These workers represent 13 different countries and there are 9 different languages spoken. Carlos had been working at this plant for almost 3 years. I was BLOWN AWAY by how connected Carlos and his employees are. Carlos is in upper management, yet he strongly believes in spending quality time on the floor with his employees. While we sat in his office to discuss some future training programs, workers would walk by the window and wave with a really big smile!

 Carlos is bi-lingual, yet his connection with his employees has no limiting lines. The people working at the Springdale plant in Arkansas are a perfect example of what it means for a company to truly value and appreciate their employees.


One of Cargill’s goals is to value differences. The most powerful part of my visit in Springdale was learning about the many different cultures and how they all can come together to produce their end product harmoniously. There are positions in the plant call “frontline supervisors.” These supervisors are in charge of different lines of the plant. For example, the line that packages the ground turkey is a line. Many of the lines are made up of some 6-14 employees. As you can image, not all of these employees speak the same language. Not all of the supervisors speak the same language as the people they are leading. However, these supervisors have found ways to lead their people using a language different than words.


Walking through the plant Carlos pointed out a middle aged man who is now in charge of the shipping and receiving department. “That is Steve. He started out as a line supervisor,” said Carlos. “He has been one of my best. He only speaks English, and yet his people loved him. He just knows how to make employees feel valued without saying it in words, but showing it in actions and a constant smile.”


Steve was goofing around with some of the employees as we were walking by. It was clear that they all absolutely adored him, and yet none of them spoke English. Amazing! Leading people is hard enough as it is, but perhaps we make it harder than it should be. People like Steve don’t need any fancy words to impress their constituents. No, rather they choose to capitalize on the simpler things like smiling, sharing their lunch, playing innocent tricks on each other, and making yourself an equal rather than a superior. All of these are the non-verbal ways a leader succeeds.


My Springdale trip taught me many different lessons: 1) keep your toes covered when in barns full of adult tom turkeys, 2) People don’t have to come from the same place to work together to create a superior product, and 3) leaders can be successful using more than words.


There are no language barriers when you are wearing a smile.”—Allen Klein


I look forward to the many more new lessons this summer’s internship teaches  me. Whatever you have chosen to do this summer, remember that our greatest learning’s can be in the most unexpected places! 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

There are only so many places you can see all the different type of tears: tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of uncontrollable laughter, tears of excitement, and tears of relief.


If there is one place that is guaranteed to shed this variety of tears, it is the Kansas FFA State convention. There is a special spot in my heart for this celebration that brings together roughly 1,300 students from across the state. It was the first time I truly understood the magnitude of the benefits FFA has to offer.


This year was my first year at the convention in a new role. Instead of being a member wearing the jacket, competing, or facilitating workshops, this year I was a behind the scenes gal. Not to brag, but someone must really like me because I got what I would consider one of the best jobs available for convention volunteers. My job was to be the assistant to the nominating committee that selects the new year’s six state officers, as well as be in charge of taking care of the 14 candidates throughout the week. Basically, I would consider my role as the “mom” to the state officer candidates!


I had a blast getting to know those 14 phenomenal individuals. From playing games in the holding room, to one-on-one conversations that really let me see what a great person each individual is.


Congratulations to each of you, the candidates, on your leadership and drive to serve others. Whether you were successful in gaining the title of state office or not, you make the choice in how big of an impact you will make in the future. Yes, if you have the title of a state officer you are handed a circle of influence (the KS FFA members), and without the title you must create your own circle of who it is you will target to serve and help grow this next year.


My definition of success is not based on the title stitched on your jacket, but rather in your genuine heart to serve and take action on the needs of those around you. Making a positive difference, even if in the life of just one other individual…that is what I consider true success. 

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:


“Every calling is great when greatly pursued.” –Oliver Holmes Jr.


“Caring about others, running the risk of feeling and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.” –Joe Menchin


“To succeed we must first believe we can.” –Michael Korda


“I feel the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” –Jonas Salk


In life, our plans are guaranteed to not always go as we originally thought. At first, we may be upset, frustrated, and sad, thinking there is nothing else great planned for our future. We have all been there at some point in our life. We are put in these situations to truly test how motivated and committed we are. In these moments of our lives we can take two approaches:


1)    Give up and accept a “go with the flow” lifestyle

2)    OR, we can choose to pave our own route


The exciting part of option #2 is…you get to take that much more ownership in whatever it is you choose to pursue. Work hard and I promise that the rewards in the end will be worth it.


We are all faced with challenges, and it is then that our character and perseverance has the best ability to grow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Infatuation with Pleasing

Four wordsthank goodness it's summer!

Yes, I LOVE Kansas State, more than anything, yet sometimes you just need a break. Adults take vacations…us students-well we take the entire summer! Of course for many of us summer isn’t just laying around on a beach with a coconut drink in our hand.  As a matter of fact, I would say that the majority of students spend their summer making money working hard, or gaining valuable career experiences through internships. 

The summer is overall a great catalyst to remind ourselves of who it is we should really be pleasing.

You may be thinking, “What are you talking about? I please number one, myself and that is it!” Well, for most of us this is not true.

It is human nature to desire to please others and receive positive affirmation I return. That may mean striving to please your parents, teachers, boss,  or friends. However, does it ever get to the point where your infatuation with pleasing others takes over your life?


A few weeks ago I was sitting in a work meeting when my boss asked who would be available to work a Saturday for a special banquet. While the other employees waited to respond (I’m sure because they were thinking about their previous plans), I eagerly volunteered—thus cancelling out any other plans I had for the day.


It wasn’t until Friday this past when my boss asked me how the semester ended up for me? Somehow, that question spurred into a conversation about me spending time in areas I really deemed important verses always trying to please other first.


It was at this moment that I realized my infatuation with pleasing others.


Whether it is being the team leader in a group project or volunteering to work for others on my days off, I love serving others! This is good to an extent, yet too much of anything is bad.


During my recent reading in the book A Purpose Driven Life, I have come to really reflect on whom I am trying to please. It is important to be our best for everyone—yet it is also important to please the one that really matters. It feels great to have others praise your hard work, yet if your hard work is not serving something larger than yourself, larger than us, then is that really how you want to spend your energy?


As the summer begins, it is a perfect time to re-evaluate who we are trying to please. Forget about those expectations of your family, forget about those few percentages that make up your grade for six months of your entire life, and think about how you will please that relationship that it truly important to you?


What are my summer plans? Well, as of right now I am sticking around Manhattan for two more weeks to assist with the KS State FFA Convention, and then on May 31st leaving town to serve in an internship with Cargill in Wichita KS doing corporate training. During my term in Wichita with Cargill I hope to gain a new insight into a career I may be interested in, but more importantly I hope to take the extra time working on personal improvement. My goal is to work on improving my personal discipline in mind, body, and spirit (no, I have not become a hippie, just some one interested in being the best me I can be).


This summer, choose to say no to your infatuation with pleasing everyone around you, and ask yourself how will you improve who you are as a person? How will you serve those who really matter to you? Don’t just let this summer be a break from classes, but really use it. How will you be a better person when you return to school? Who do you really want to be and how can you get there?


I'll be working on it….will you take part in this journey? The choice is yours. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here is to you!

Finals week is here! No only are many of us students wishing we had doodled less in class and listened more, but we are also realizing that the summer is nearing! Exciting...but also a bit sad. This Saturday is KSU Graduation, a time where friends celebrate their hard work and relationships they have built the past years. 

Although I am not graduating, some of my dear friends are. To those of you who will be leaving us here at KSU to join the "real-world workforce," thank you. You will always be with me in my heart-I couldn't ask for better friends. 
For those of you staying around...can't wait to create more KSU memories together and enjoy living in the purple city just a little bit longer!