Sunday, June 20, 2010

WLC Week 2: Frustration and Belief

Last week a student asked me if working all summer doing the same conference would get boring. My response, which I now believe even more is, “No, each week is extremely different because each week the students are so unique compared to the week before.” This has proven to be very true with our second week of WLC already gone and passed.

This week we had students from WI, MD, MO, KS, IA, TX, UT, OH, OR, and CA. The dynamic of this week was very thoughtful, reflective, and eventually goofy! The Freemasons this week started off as a quite, shy, and introverted group, however after the first day everyone began to come out of their shells and REALLY let their light shine.

If I were to pick two words that would describe this week in my eyes they would be:

1) Frustrated, and 2) Belief

Frustrated: this week I was infused with the emotion of frustration, especially the final day. You might be on the edge of your seat right now wondering why Becky, why so frustrated? It’s simple, because student like these are one of a kind. Because it is so wonderful to be surrounded by young adults inspired and enthused about serving the needs of our world, and not just settling for selfish desires to give them temporary happiness. These students KNOW what it really means to be’s appreciating the act of helping others that gives you true-life satisfaction.

During a coffee talk with a mentor of mine yesterday, she said “Becky, how will you ensure these students leave WLC and transfer what they have learned and their passion for service PAST their summers? How do you make sure that is a focus of their life that is never forgotten?” With this question I began to ponder the power of keeping close relationships with those we meet at WLC. The power of an encouraging word or a extended hand to help if possible. The depth of the relationships we create this summer is one of the largest factors that contributes to whether these students really live a life of service and authenticity.

As I thought about this question presented to me yesterday, it also made me think of my personal life. It is so easy to live what we preach as we are surrounded by like-minded people, however the ability to stay on that path when we return home is so difficult. While thinking about this, I couldn’t help but be frustrated that there have been times when I personally have fallen into the rut of forgetting the “bigger picture.” We all do it, however the challenge for students, parents, teachers, friends, and ourselves is to find a way to ensure we live the lives we want, and not be influenced to society’s selfish habits. We must serve, because we can. Making a difference in the lives of others is what it is all about.

Belief: We must start by believing that making a difference is possible. Student after student this week said “I never thought I had the potential to make a difference, however I now believe that it is possible. I can make a difference.” This couldn’t be more untrue. Often times we are our greatest limitations. We hold ourselves back from doing great things because we have already told ourselves that we are not capable. Each and EVERY student that I have come in contact with this summer has SOO much hidden potential just waiting to be cultivated for the betterment of the world.

One of the sessions we facilitate at WLC is about discovering our strengths, abilities, and passions. It is here that we vocalize and see just how uniquely equipped each of us are to serve the world. God made us all differently for a reason, because there are so many needs to be fulfilled, and not one person can do it all.

One of our Freemasons this week said “I used to want to change all the problems in the world, and I would always get overwhelmed. However this week has taught me that I can make a difference, but I must focus on starting in one area.” She nailed it. The more time we spend on one or two goals, the better job we do.

Week two of WLC flew by, and has left me feeling empowered by the students I have seen. Yes, it can be frustrating that there are not more people in our hometowns that share the same heart of service, however believe that our passion for helping others can and WILL be transferred to those we touch.

This world needs each of us. What can we do? Do what we can.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week One of Washington Leadership Conference, One for Many

E Pluribus Unum

One for many, that is what this phrase found on the back of a quarter means. When we read this phrase we all have many different interpretations, and as our experiences broaden our thought process continues to adapt.

This week E Pluribus Unum took on a new form in my world. This summer I am in Washington D.C. facilitating with a team of four other college students a leadership conference called “Washington Leadership Conference,” or WLC. Our phrase “one for many” appeared in the faces of high school students from OK, MO, WI, VA, WA, TX, and CA this past week.

You see, WLC is unlike any other leadership conference. Yes, we tour the sights of Washington D.C. and discuss the outstanding leaders of our past, but there is so much more. WLC hits on what it truly means to be an authentic leader, and even more specifically the importance to serve.

I was blessed to get to know 132 students this past week, and REALLY get to know 26 students in an even deeper level (seeing how there were in my smaller group, the Freemasons community group). The Freemasons that joined our secret society this week are without a doubt some of the most incredible, big-hearted, and hard working individuals I have met. Yesterday as we all said our goodbyes’, it was extremely difficult for me to articulate just what this group of students has taught me. After a night of reflection here is my attempt to put into words something too powerful to truly understand unless you have experienced it:

5) The “BIG” picture: Freemasons, you all helped to remind me of what truly matters. It is easy for all of us to get caught up in the trends of society, whether that is materialism or selfishness. Thank you for emphasizing for me again the importance of being selfless, even in the simple parts of our lives such as opening doors and looking out for a friend.

4) Hard Work: Austin and D.J. (also known as D. Jizzle), mentioned multiple times after our service project how far hard work can make a difference in anything you do in life. Building fence out at the Oxon Hill Farm as our service project was difficult, especially in 90 degree humid weather. However, we had FUN doing it, and came together like we didn’t know was possible.

3) Commitment: With our living to serve plans (LTSP) we created, it is clear that each student made a commitment. A commitment to do everything they can to make their LTS plan a reality. And if by chance our specific plan doesn’t work as we mapped out, it’s ok because each of us committed to living a heart of service. To service others in any capacity is the real key…the needs are endless.

2) Community: This was our first week of WLC this summer, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students to show me what it really means to be a community. We came together as 26 complete strangers, and in five days we were all comfortable opening our hearts in front of the entire group. Thank you for showing me just how close people can become in such a short amount of time.

11) Believe: Such a strong word, and sometimes an extremely tough action to make. This past week, each and every student at WLC showed my teammates and I what it really means to believe. Believe that we are capable of great things, believe that we can change this world, and believe that one person can make a difference. One for many. One empowering action can create that ripple effect to create the change we wish to see in the world.

E Pluribus Unum
…one for many. Thank you to all our WLC students for demonstrating what it means to be one group dedicated and enthused to serve many. Our world is a big place with many needs…and we CAN make a difference.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's been happening in 2010!

Here is a quick top 5 point update of what Becky's been up to:

5) Brittany Spears, Lady Gaga, and Justin Timberlake better watch out. The roomies and me have been taking hip-hop classes and I have got to say, (insert brushing of shoulder off),
we have got some hot moves!

4) Lesson learned Sunday: When the Hyvee floral lady asks
"Would you like a box to put your vase in so the flowers don't spill in your car?"
Note: there is no fine print, but if there were it would say -
"Caution. Box not guaranteed to hold floral arrangement up.
May end up leaving the back seat of your car wet with purple tinted water."
Yes, you have probably guessed it. Oh my poor Camry, at least it is festive.

3) Blue Key Senior Honorary Retreat: not only a great place to build relationships, but also a wonderful place to share new, innovative ideas. For example, burning of hand sanitizer. Can be used as warmth. Warning: although there may appear to be no flame while lights are on, it is important to realize the flame is still there, just so hot that it is blue and hard to see. Keep hands far away.

2) K-State Proud Campaign: who knew that our campus wide student philanthropy could be related to a bouquet of flowers? Yes, it really does make sense if you hear the whole story (if your interested ask me sometime and I'll share). Congrats to all those who have chosen to step up and serve this great cause. Thanks for having such big hearts full of the desire to give. Together we will make a positive impact.

1) School coming to an end: as school comes to an end, my excitement for Washington Leadership Conference this summer gets bigger, and BIGGER!
Students, get ready for an experience unlike anything else you have ever experienced.
I'll see you in D.C. :-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Life Should be FUN!

We are all guilty of it...worrying.

Yes, whether it is about money, school, work, organizations, or our imperfections we see every time we look in the mirror, we are often guilty of focusing too much precious energy on what we cannot control.

It seems lately I have spent a lot of time worrying and little having fun. As many of you may be experiencing, it is that time of year where school is almost over and you have to apply and decide what roles you will take on for the next year (officer roles, clubs you will or will not be participating in, etc.). Going home for Easter was a wonderful retreat from the hectic world full of choices that seems to always weigh heavy in the back of my mind.

It was during my time at home that a special someone reminded me of a VERY important rule when it comes to life…we MUST have FUN!

My amazing little brother, Ronnie, allowed me to be taken back to my high school memories of playing tennis, hanging out in the park, and cruising around in the truck with the music blaring and windows rolled down. He and I had an AWESOME time doing all three of these this past Friday and Saturday! For the first time in a long time my mind was clear and at peace.

Why should be have fun in life when there is so much work to do??

We can spend all of our life worrying about all the work to be done, and yet at the end of the day, there will still be work. Our purpose is never ending, meaning we will continually be striving to achieve higher and higher standards. In order to not BURN ourselves out, FUN must be built in!

Have you ever heard the story about the two lumber jacks? They each race to see who can cut down the most trees. After about 100 trees, one of the lumber jacks stops to sharpen his saw. The other one scoffs at him for stopping, and he continues on with his blade as is. Once the other lumber jack joined back in with his sharpened saw he cut trees twice as fast, winning the competition easily. Moral of the story is, FUN and PLAY is our way of sharpening our saw and continue on working efficiently towards our end goal.

Fun is important, so go ahead, play. J

How can we ensure that we take the time out to have fun?

There is a different secret for each of us to ensure we are reminded to have FUN. Personally, people is the key for me. When I allow myself to be constantly surrounded by work-a-holics (much like me), then I am become stressed out and only able to focus on ALL that there is to be completed. However, when I choose to balance my time with my working peers and encouraging, light-hearted friends I am then introduced to a more refreshing lifestyle. Three of the greatest people at encouraging me to have fun in Manhattan are my roommates: Michelle, Sara, and Emily. All there have unique ways of relaxing. Michelle and I go out to the barn and play with our horses, Sara loves her TV shows, and Emily loves cooking and doing random adventures in town.

How can you ensure you are reminded to have fun? You can do what I do and surround yourself with “Fun Encouragers.” If that is not your style, perhaps try writing a note to yourself and hanging it on your mirror. Or, schedule into your planner time to “relax, refresh, and enjoy,” after a long day.

Whatever it takes, it’s important we make sure we build playtime into our lives. We only have one life to live, so why not enjoy it?

Quick thanks:

Thank you to my roommates for being my “fun” encouragers, and a BIG thank you to my little brother Ronnie who helped me reflect on how I was spending my time.

Hope you all have a fun day.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What's Going On Till Easter

They say telling others what your goals are is the best way to be held accountable. I couldn’t agree more.

Today, I’m putting out on the big worldwide web a few self-improvement goals for myself for the next 38 days until Easter. Every year my family practices the tradition of lent. The 40 days before Easter we each choose a “change” to make in order to improve our personal lives to become more Christ like. The greatest sacrifice made in this world was Jesus dying for our sins on the cross. For 40 days what can you change to become closer to Christ? What sacrifices will you make in his name?

Starting this past Wednesday I have developed my own “Becky Lent Plan.” Along my journey I’ll be giving updates as to how following my newly self-improvement goals is going. Below are the “changes” I have chosen to make in order to become more of the person I want to be:

Life Focus Area 1: Health

What I’ll be giving up:

à Pop (sorry diet coke, my addiction will be challenged here)

à All sweets and junk food

What I’ll be adding:

à Running at least 3 times a week—10K April 18th

à Continue dance classes and challenging body physically, as well as focusing on healthy living

Life Focus Area 2: Materialistic

What I will give up in his name:

à No buying of clothes, jewelry, movies, or other non-essential items

What I’ll be doing in his name:

à Only buying disposable items that are essentials: hygiene items, food, class materials, etc.

à Will allow to eat out if with people (focusing on relationships is important to me, and in college eating out or grabbing coffee is a common relationship building time)

Life Focus Area 3: Prayer Time

What I will be adding:

à Get back into habit of journaling every day

àContinue book study with church group in Manhattan

à Morning prayer, make it a habit every time I walk through our doorway in the morning to thank God for another promising day

Jesus gave up his life for us. What will you change in 40 days that will improve you as a person in his name?

Challenge yourself ;-)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A New Semester, and New Lessons

ABOVE: Christmas at the Sullivan house. Yes, you're way jealous, a red one'sie. Only the cool kids have those!

HAPPY 2010! With the new year of course comes a new semester, and with a semester comes experiences. Obviously we are going to learn new lessons. Here are a few that I've learned in the first two weeks of school:

10) Choosing to start working out again, good life decision. Choosing to run outside in the winter, bad life decision. Although precipitation may appear melted and gone during the day, mornings = frozen conditions which = ouch!

9) Taking a dance class in college. Never before has Becky gotten her groove on outside a school, FFA, 4-H, or other group dance. Becky + experienced dancers in college = class clown. Your welcome.

8) Deciding that taking women studies would be a fun and easy class. Lesson: yes it is fun, no in the easy department. Ten reading reports on different women studies articles due in one day--HELLO library!

7) A clean atmosphere = a better attitude...SO TRUE! The bedroom got a complete makeover this Christmas break, and doing school and other work in the bedroom is now much more productive.

6) Dogs aren't always cute. When you are sleeping, ever so peacefully, and little Toby the lab/pointer, sticks his face in your face, it means only one thing. An EXTREME heart pumping alarm clock that causes you to jump out of bed wondering "Who let the dogs out!?" (Who, who, who? Sorry, couldn't help myself).

5) Some strangers aren't strangers at all. Have you ever walked the same path everyday, seeing the exact same person over and over again. Eventually when you see them you start to wonder if you actually know them from somewhere, or if you just see them around all the time. Lesson: introduce yourself awkwardly anyway and make a new friend. :-)

4) Avoid being late to class by always checking the bathroom to make sure their is toilet paper in it...don't ask.

3) When a teacher says no texting, the average student hears "OMG! I'll have 2 limit my txt 2 40 a class. LOL." Lesson: buy a wrist watch and put the phone away!

2) Buying a leotard, tights and dance shoes for jazz class, $80. Buying books for classes, $250. Buying a diet pepsi at the vending machines in the library, $1.25. Watching the person in the library sleeping with their mouth wide open and a string of drawl from their chin to their chest...priceless. Enjoy the little things each day. :-)

1) Wearing the newly bought leotard and tights under your clothes to maximize your time getting ready between classes, smart. Trying to use the restroom with your dance gear on underneath your regular clothes, a new experience.

Hope this cheers up your day! Keep looking for those humorous moments in 2010 and enjoy your new experiences!