Monday, September 26, 2011

ANOTHER Big Announcement?

Hey there everyone,
"Where have I been," right?  I have not blogged about preparing for National Office, at all. Shame on me.  And you know what....this blog post isn't about running for National Office at all.  So what is going on in my life?  I know you're just dying for me to tell you....

Yep, I'm engaged to Micah Fry.  We've been dating off and on for almost six years (so calm down when you start thinking this is super fast.  It is, but it's not.) The wedding is December 17th.  You're all invited to my reception in Alaska.

What happened?  This is crazy!  Two weeks ago I was at a training conference in Chicago and I thought, "man, I really have a shot!"  I was so excited to be a National Officer, but I was (and am) also in love.  And Micah and I started to feel like we should get married.  Problematic.

When I decided to run for Nationals again, I made it very clear that it was conditional on Micah's return and whether or not I felt like I needed to get married instead- so I knew my state would support me if I withdrew my candidacy.  That doesn't mean I wanted to, it was a really difficult and sad decision for me.  I'll say this- I have a testimony that God does answer prayers, and I got a clear answer: marriage is a covenant, marriage is a commandment, marriage is more important.  And I don't want to get mushy on you...but I love that boy, and I do want to marry him!  I'm learning a lot about sacrifice and unselfishness.  I had to give up National Office, but it was the right thing to do and I'm okay with that.

Some of you are probably going to read this and feel angry, or disappointed, or just think I'm stupid for giving everything up so close to Convention.  And that's okay, because I know I'm doing the right thing.  If you think about it, marrying your best friend is a pretty rad alternative, right?

To all my candidate friends: I will be watching RFDTV on Saturday with bated breath.  I love all of you and I want you to be elected SO BAD.  I'm glad that Nationals will have a group of officers that doesn't include me, because FFA members deserve to have leaders who can give the organization their WHOLE heart, not just a piece of it.  You are in my thoughts and my prayers these next few weeks.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me.  Thank you to my family and to Rayne and the Alaska state officers...thank you to the crew in Chicago who helped me train, thank you to everyone I've met in the past year that have uplifted me and made me the person I am today.  You are all awesome.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Here We Go Again: Coffee, Packing, and a Highly Publicized Plane Wreck

Hey there, blog world.

Lemme say first of all, that I have missed this blog, although I didn't realize that until this week.  I love writing here and I have a bajillion ideas of new things I'm going to do this time around on here.  You'll be introduced to one of them at the end of this post.  Awesome.

So, as far as studying goes, I'm not seriously doing any until I get back to Alaska, June 16.  What am I doing until then, you ask?  Well, I'm glad you did, 'cuz I'm dying to tell you. :)

I've thought about a study abroad program for a long time, but there's something you should know about me: I'm kind of a chicken.  But this spring I found myself living in Logan (instead of out of a suitcase, like I'd planned) and took the first step by going to a study abroad fair.  There I got a million different flyers and booklets on a million different study abroad programs- quite overwhelming.  I then painstakingly compiled them into a ginormous spreadsheet and narrowed my options.  Long story short, after being denied two awesome internships, I found myself looking at a few different programs...and considered just going home to Alaska like the scaredy-cat I am.  But I was listening to Harry Potter on tape at the time, and heard my fictional idol, Albus Dumbledore (who else?) give me some sound advice:
"Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."

Semester at Sea it is, then.  I'll be leaving on Wednesday: starting in the Bahamas, then embarking on this awesome ship, the MV Explorer, and traveling to Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and Trinidad.  While on the boat I'm taking Spanish and a class called "Food Safety and Security," which is really ag-based, so I'm psyched about that.  I'll also be taking a lecture course called "Engineering a New Tomorrow"...I'm just not quite sure what that involves.  I'm really excited, but also really nervous.  As a family friend pointed out to me recently, I don't know another soul going.  But this is a good thing.  It will really test my ability to be social and make friends.  It will also test my ability to be an example of my faith...since I will not be in Utah and will most likely be the only LDS student aboard.

So, for the next month I'll be doing that.  I have absolutely no idea whether or not I'll update this blog.  The only studying for National Office I'll really be doing is reading, as far as I know right now.  And the experience will be study enough, I'm sure.

I've got a few books left over from last year that I either never read or never finished.  I started one of them tonight, because I got really sick and tired of organizing and packing up all my stuff (moving really sucks).  The book is called "Brown Like Coffee," Morgan Parker recommended it to me last year.  It definitely isn't a leadership book, but it's interesting.  It's especially interesting for me, because it's all about living a Christ-centered life and discipleship.  Not that I don't believe in that- it's just a different vocabulary and way of looking at things.  So far I enjoy it...not sure how helpful it will be, but it makes me think, so that's good.  (And it has already quoted Albus Dumbledore in the first chapter.)  And I enjoy highlighting and writing in books once again. :)

Next up to read: Good to Great and Resonate, both suggested by a new friend, Samuel Cornthwaite...and a few other cheap ones I picked up at DI just for fun.  I can't think of their names right now and am too lazy to go find them.

Alright, this is getting long, so I'll wrap up.  As the last part of this entry, I'll introduce one of the new things I want to do in my posts, and that's blogging about people that inspire me...whether or not I've ever met them.

This first person is one of those in the "people who inspire me who are also complete strangers" categories.  Her name is Stephanie Nielson.  She is a popular LDS "mommy-blogger," but she also has an incredible life story which includes getting in a near-fatal plane crash, surviving, and going back to a new life as a changed person.  I am an avid follower of her blog, The Nie Nie Dialogues, and you can read her story there.  I watched a 20/20 special on it tonight, and even though I was already familiar with the story, I was impressed once again.  I just kept seeing pictures of her (before her body was burned) and thinking about how gorgeous she was.  And- how gorgeous she is.  She really exudes self-confidence in a way that impresses the heck out of me.  I wish that I could be as secure with myself and my abilities as she is.  And I've caught myself thinking that of course she is so strong, she's older than me. (Probably because she has four kids.)  But she's only 29.  So, not a good excuse, Rachel.  I'm so glad for people, even stranger bloggers, who inspire me.

Who inspires you?

Preview for whenever my next blog post is: watch out for incredible international experiences, a thank you shout out to all my supporters (already!), a post about the role religion plays in my adventure, and a post about a favorite friend who bears the name of a Peanuts know who you are. :)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Round 2

Well, I guess that wasn't my last post after all.  I have an announcement to make:

I've been thinking about running for National Office again for a long, since last National Convention, really.  But in the last few weeks, I've thought about it non-stop. And even though I hadn't made up my mind about it yet, I couldn't pack away my jacket or any of my study materials.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I really, really wanted another shot at it.

But in the front of my mind was fear, and a lot of it.  I was naive last time around about how it would feel to not be selected, and now that I know exactly how it feels, I'm terrified to feel it again.  It was harder than I thought it would be to pick myself up off the ground and deal with that tremendous disappointment.  So I would tell everyone I was still thinking about running, without making any commitment.

Two weeks ago, I decided it was time to figure out what I should do and I took the matter to the Lord.  I studied my scriptures searching for answers, I fasted, I prayed...and I felt like I wasn't getting an answer at all, at least not one that I liked.  My question was, "Should I run for National Office again?" and the answer I got was, "Do whatever you think you should do."  And then I got scared again.  I called my mom and told her how scared I was of the future and of failure...and of my biggest insecurity: that if I am not selected once again, I will not be able to handle it.  She, wisely, said that was stupid, that I would be fine and probably be more equipped now to deal with it than last year.

That night I studied my scriptures again, but I wasn't expecting to find an answer.  And I didn't- not to the question I thought I was asking at least.  I did get an answer to my deepest fear though, in Phillippians 4:13
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." 
I realized then that if I wanted to run again, I would have the strength to do so.  And I decided to think on it some more.

Yesterday, I spoke with Rayne for a long time about all my insecurities, I said that I probably would run...that I knew that I would decide to run, eventually,  but just hadn't realized it yet (if that makes any sense.)  When I got off the phone though, I couldn't stop myself from thinking about my plans for this summer and how I would study for National Office...and I felt happy, and satisfied, and excited.  And I realized that I had just decided.

In the book "Improv," Mick Napier introduces a concept called "forsaking your fear."  (That's edited- he actually uses an inappropriate word...but you get the idea.)  I kept thinking about that last night and how if you don't forsake your fear, you don't get anywhere in improv.  How true that is for me in my life right now: if I don't just let go of everything I'm afraid of, I'll never run for National Office again and I'll always regret it.

I was still a little nervous about my sudden decision, and told myself that in the morning, if I could write my decision out for the world to see, on flip charts, then I would have truly made up my mind.

World, you've seen the flip charts now.  I've decided.  I'm doing it, again.  

And I'm totally stoked. :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Final Essay

Here's a version of what I wrote yesterday...more polished and essay-like.  l promise this is my last post here.  Enjoy!

What I’ve Learned
A few days ago one of my cousins shared a Dashboard Confessional song with me.  The song, ridiculously titled “Carve Your Heart Out Yourself,” was as depressing as its title and I hated it, but for some reason one of the lines got stuck in my head for the next few days:
“Man, it takes a silly girl to lie about the dreams she had…man, it takes a lonely girl to wish that she had never dreamed at all.”
Every time that line went through my head, I couldn’t help but think about how it applied to my life. 
In the twelve months and over 450 hours I spent preparing to run for National Office, I learned so much.  I systematically went through my entire life and philosophy, discovering who I am and what I stand for.  I can now say that there is probably no job-interview-type question that I can’t answer with confidence.
I improved my public speaking skills, both prepared and extemporaneous, and I worked hard to become more effective in teaching students through facilitation.  I read countless books on leadership and made weekly and monthly goals for self-improvement. 
Finally, I learned everything there is to know about FFA, the agricultural education system, and current agricultural issues.  When the process for running for Nationals was over, I thought this knowledge was pretty useless...but even if I don’t ever apply this knowledge again in my life, it sure has helped me in the Orientation to Agricultural Education class!
I thought that all the learning I would experience would be in preparation to run for National Office, but I was wrong.  The most important thing I learned from the process- perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned thus far in my life- came after the convention.
Failing to become a National FFA Officer was the biggest disappointment I’ve ever experienced.  And experiencing disappointment is not something I’m used to.  I’ve always been of the opinion that hard work leads to results, and my hypothesis has never been proven incorrect until now. 
Now…I’ve learned how life can be unfair.  I’ve learned that I can work as hard as a possibly can, and perform as well as I possibly can, and still not get what I want.  And that’s a hard thing to deal with.
For a while after National Convention, I never wanted to talk about the results.  That might have been my silly way of lying about my dreams.  I was too disappointed to talk about the good that came out of National Convention, and I was afraid that the people I loved would be disappointed in me.
Disappointment has taught me perspective.  Although I am not happy with the results of Convention, there are people in this world who are in much worse situations than I am.   It has also taught me how to be adaptable.  I am naturally a very organized person who plans out her life a year in advance.  My plans for 2011 included serving as a National FFA Officer, but now, I have an entire year with nothing on my calendar.  I am excited to fill that calendar with new adventures and learn to be more spontaneous.
Before, during and after the National Convention, I discovered what a fantastic support system I have.  I am so grateful for the friends and family that supported me in my most difficult hours.
While I was preparing for the convention, I constantly reminded myself of why I was sacrificing so much for my dreams by reading this quote by Arnold Bennett: “The real tragedy is the tragedy of the man who never in his life braves himself for his one supreme effort- he never stretches to his full capacity, never stands up to his full stature.”  I am glad that I had the opportunity to run for National Office.  It was something I was scared to do, and something that I wasn’t sure I could do-but I’m glad that I stretched myself to reach for dreams, even though those dreams weren’t fully realized.
What I learned from my experience was more than just facts and figures about agriculture and FFA.  I learned true leadership in being gracious in defeat and working to support those who are have been selected.  I learned empathy for people who have and will fail in life.  I learned perspective.  I learned the value of hard work, and I am learning how to overcome challenges.  I can't say I've learned that yet, because here I am, wondering what's next and trying not to feel like life as I knew it is now over.  I know that someday soon I'll look back on this period of life and think about how hard it was, and be grateful for the opportunity I had to learn all of this.  I'm not at that point yet, but I'm getting there slowly and surely.
I used to think that it would have been better to avoid this pain and wish that I had never applied for National Office.  But now, I am glad for the opportunity to learn.  And do I wish that I had never dreamed at all?  Definitely not. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The End...or Perhaps Just the Beginning

This post is long overdue.  National Convention over a month ago, but as this is my last post on this blog, I wanted to make sure I did it right.  I wanted to make sure I wrote it in the right mindset and that I did the whole process, from start to finish, justice.  So here goes:

Actually, I didn't want to write this post at all.  I wanted to end this blog with a link to the press release that announced me as a new National Officer, with plenty of exclamation marks.  And I don't know that I am in the right "mindset," whatever that is.  I'm certainly not over my vast disappointment yet...and I'm not sure when I will be.  That's another reason why I hadn't written this post for so long: because I just didn't want to.  I didn't want to have to acknowledge my disappointment and let everyone down.  It was easier to leave up my last post, full of optimism, to leave everyone with a sense of hope for the future that I no longer have.

And right now, I probably wouldn't even be writing this, except that I kind of have to, due to an awesome thing called 4 credits of Independent Study "Special Projects in Agriculture" and my final assignment: a report on what I learned from running for National Office.  So I'm using this blog as a rough draft, to get all my good, bad and ugly feelings out there so that tomorrow I can sort them out into a profound little final paper.  Here goes:

A "Dashboard Confessional" song that I listened to recently features this line: "Man, it takes a silly girl to lie about the dreams she has.  Man, it takes a lonely girl to wish that she had never dreamed at all."  For some reason that line got stuck in my head and I couldn't help but think, "Am I that girl?"

I don't know that I lie about my dreams...but I certainly don't run about campus telling everyone I see "Hey guess what? It's been my dream to be a National Officer for three years and I tried and I totally failed!"  Nope.  I don't mention it.  And if someone brings it up I quickly sweep it under the rug, and say I'm fine, and say I "learned a lot" and all that stuff that people expect me to say.  I don't say I'm still disappointed....that I wake up almost every morning and remember that I'm probably never going to run up on the National stage after they've called my name and put on that jacket with nothing written on the back.  That's the stuff I don't talk about.  But that's the most important thing that I'm learning.

I feel like I'm living some kind of "scenes unseen" life, because no one ever tells you about this part of life.  All the stories are about overcoming challenges and being successful.  But no one ever tells you about what happens when you spend a year of your life dedicated to a goal, then you do the absolute best you can...then fail.  No one ever tells you about what happens when you plan out the next year of your life, only to have everything change.Well if you're interested, I can tell you.

I've learned exactly what "disappointment"  means, because I feel it all the time.  But I'm learning to use perspective.  Definitely a buzz word in my life right now...I could have it worse, much worse.  And, there are about thirty other people who probably feel just about as terrible as I do.  Like my mom said, I do't like this feeling, but would I wish it on anyone else?  Definitely not.

Enough of the whining.  Let's get to the learning!  I'm learning to be a lot more adaptable- it comes along with the whole "having all your plans for the next year frustrated" thing.  Unlike last year at this time, I don't have the next two years of my life planned out- I'm pretty clueless.  It's scary, but it's also kind of exhilarating.  And although one very big, really cool door has closed, a lot of other doors have opened up.  Like working at the Division again this summer.  And travelling the world.  And continuing my college education.  Whatever I want, really.  I'm committed to flying by the seat of my pants for all of next year and learning more in the process.

I've also been privileged to discover what a wonderful support system I have.  All during the week of finals, my phone was barraged with text messages wishing me luck, telling me to breathe, and reminding me that they believe in me.  My email inbox was constantly full and I know that the airwaves to above were filled with prayers.  And I know that even after the fact, none of those wonderful people in my life were ever disappointed in me.  I'm so grateful for that.

I also have thirty-five brand new friends- people who understand better than anyone what it takes to run for National Office and what it feels like to not make it.  I'm so grateful for that.

What I learned from my experience was more than just facts and figures about agriculture and FFA.  I learned true leadership in being gracious in defeat and working to support those who are have been selected.  I learned empathy for people who have and will fail in life.  I learned perspective.  I learned the value of hard work, and I am learning how to overcome challenges.  I can't say I've learned that yet, because here I am, wondering what's next and trying not to feel like life as I knew it is now over.  I know that someday soon I'll look back on this period of life and think about how hard it was, and be grateful for the opportunity I had to learn all of this.  I'm not at that point yet, but I'm getting there slowly and surely.

So do I wish I had never dreamed at all?  Definitely not.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Up, Up, and Away

I am sitting in the Salt Lake City Airport, getting ready to board a plane that will take me to an all new experience.

I am: frightened, nervous, excited, humbled, thrilled, bewildered, and wondering, where has the time gone?  I seriously cannot fathom that it is convention time already.  The whole last year has been replaying in my mind, and I'm trying to capture every minute: the semi-finals of Job Interview, Christmas in Alaska, the Denver Stock Show, going to Boston, making a video for State Convention, going home, Brittney's death, my job at the Division, leaving the Division, arriving in Logan, going to Minnesota, and now here.

I'm not so great at being calm- but I am working on it.  I feel confident that I have done as much as I possibly could have to prepare for the selection process.

I'm so grateful for all the texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, and emails that have come to me in the last few days.  They mean so much to me and have left me with wet eyes on many occasions.  I'm turning into such a sap.

Thank you all for everything. I am leaning on the Lord and I know He will provide.  I will have accomplished my goal if I perform the best that I can, and I just hope that it's enough.

I'm not sure if I will be blogging this week, but if I don't- I'll see you on the other side!
All my love,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Day of My Judgement is Near!

Seriously guys.  Sunday starts a week of judgement.  Me, my life, and my every move will be noticed, jotted down, and given a score from 1-5.  Kind of intimidating.

But here's what I've learned from several long phone conversations with my awesome mother.
(1)  My Heavenly Father wants what's best for me.  I knew that, but Mom reminded me.  And going to the temple reminded me.  And I am trying to remind myself that this confidence, this awesome, elated, sure-I'm-going-to-do-well feeling is my Heavenly Father telling me that what I am doing is good and right.  It doesn't mean I'll be selected as a National Officer.  What it means is that either way, I win.  Which brings me to...

(2)  Whether or not I'm selected as a National Officer, I leave convention a winner.  If I am selected, the winning's pretty obvious. (It involves running on stage, smiling, and explosions of confetti and the like.)  But if I'm not selected, I win a year of uninterrupted, un-postponed, college education.  I win a year I can spend actually being a college student!  I win a spot on a professional improv troupe and the opportunity to perform several more times in the coming year.  I win the chance to be home when nine months from now, Micah comes back home.  I win a year of being able to go to church and partake of the sacrament and go to the temple.  And either way, I win what's best for me.

(3)  My Heavenly Father doesn't much care who is elected to National Office.  But He cares a lot about me!  And He cares about my happiness, and He will work out my life for the best.  I trust Him.

(4)  I'm going to have the time of my life next week, and a true "adventure in agriculture."  It may be the last time I ever wear my blue jacket, and I'm going to make it a good one.  I'm going to make friends I may keep for the rest of my life, and  I'm going to be thrilled when those friends are elected, whether or not I am elected as well.

(5)  Man do I have a support group behind me!  It makes my heart fill with love when I just think about my family and my friends and the kind messages and outpourings of love and encouragement.  That's awesome!

Oh by the way, I went to Spanish Fork today to do some workshops of Agricultural Communications for an ag teacher conference there.  It was such a blessing to have one more chance to do a workshop.  I feel that I facilitated pretty well (despite my scratchy voice half-way through) and that I was able to portray my personality and myself within a professional context.  But then again, I never got any scores from 1-5, so that's just my impression. :)

In order to get to Spanish Fork, I had to get up at 5 AM...who does that?  It's gross.  I'm tired.  After I got home I was too exhausted to prove a worthy opponent in the battle of wits called Mock Round Robin Conversations, so instead I went to the mall to get adequate business casual dress for the convention.

The plan for tomorrow includes:
  1. A morning run/walk- to think. I do a lot of that these days.  (Sometimes I talk to myself, like yesterday...but only in the car.)
  2. A conference with Rayne that will include my last mock Stand and Deliver
  3. More mock Round Robin conversations
  4. Some work on Facilitation and Team Work questions
  5. The final preparations for my End of All Things notebook (or whatever I decided I was going to call it...)
  6. A facial, a color gloss, and a manicure (yay!)
  7. Deciding what business casual clothes to bring (with the help of my fashionista sisters)
  8. Packing
  9. Studying for the written test, specifically the education section.
  10. Attending the improv's kinda what I do on Friday at 10:30.  Won't  you join me?
And now- let's take a break from emotional trials and anxiety that go along with National Convention being so near.  Let's step away from the laundry list of to-dos.  And check out some recent pictures!

Looking good in official dress, my first day in Minnesota

(Most of) The Minnesota Crew, L to R: Mr. Sawatzke, Chelsea, Jessie, Jessica, Wyatt, Lavyne, Me, Lucas, Katie, and Luke

I need to shine up my boots.  I really need to shine up my boots.

Check out the blue paint...where did that even come from?
I would like new boots.  But I do not need them!

That's enough for tonight.  Tomorrow will be here soon enough.
Love to all,