Saturday, May 10, 2014

Curtain Call



It’s that time of the year, commonly known as the time of “lasts”. For those of us still in school, we become well accustomed to these lasts, and we welcome them. The last homework assignments, the last tests, and the last days of school before the sweet, sweet beginning of summer break. For some, these “lasts” may also carry a different meaning - the last time that we will step foot into our school as students, the last time we will hang out with our friends before going separate ways, and it may very well be the last time that some of us don the blue corduroy jacket as FFA members. What are some important “lasts” for you? What do they mean for your future?

I can think of a “last” happening very soon for myself. My final exams are next week, marking the last days of my freshman year of college. On the bright side, these final days count down to the time when I get to see some of the best dressed people in the State of Kansas wearing their blue corduroy as we kick off the 86th Kansas FFA Convention. There we will celebrate the last days of our year as Kansas FFA members, and my teammates and I will retire, as well as install the 2014-2015 State Officers.

As I think about stepping onto McCain auditorium’s stage to welcome Kansas FFA members in a few weeks, I think about the stage we all step onto when we take on a new task, or experience something new. Whether it’s going through high school, taking on a new job, or being a part of the FFA, we all have a part to play on that stage, and it’s beyond important that we perform to the best of our ability, for ourselves as well as the people watching.

No one knows exactly how long each scene will last on stage, but we all know that eventually the curtain must fall. The curtain signifies the end of a scene or act, and that the parts of the people on stage are done for a time. Now this may sound really philosophical at this point, but just like a play, we will all see the curtain fall at some point in our lives. For many around this time of the year, the curtain looks like the last day of school. And while I may not be able to see my curtain, I’ll know it when I hear the sound of the final gavel tap at convention.

If it’s anything that I’ve learned from my friends who have participated in plays and musicals, the curtain falling is nothing major. It happens so that the performance can move on, new scenes can develop, and new characters can be introduced. What are major, however, are our performances before the curtain falls. It is through our actions that we have an impact on those around us, and those that stand out and put forth the most effort and passion are the ones that are remembered. How will you be remembered? For your hard work? For putting in extra time to help out those around you? How can we all make sure that the impact that we make is remembered in a positive way?

At the end of the performance, an event called the “curtain call” occurs. A curtain call is when individuals return to the stage to be recognized by the audience for their performance. Think of it like a chapter banquet, or a graduation ceremony. This is the time that lets you be remembered for your passion, and the action that you took to achieve your goals. But who says that a curtain call is a short, temporary event? You might not be recognized for every single thing, but create an impact, and leave a legacy, that will set a standard for those behind you, letting your impact live on for years to come.

Kansas FFA, I’d like to give each and every one of you a curtain call. Being a part of this organization, I know that the fire that it can fuel resides in each of you, and the things that we all can accomplish together are immeasurable. But as you are recognized for what you accomplish, you are also challenged. I challenge all of you to not stop with what you’ve already done, and keep pushing ahead. I challenge you to never quit trying, and always seek improvement in yourself as well as in others. Play your part on the stage, and never quit performing, even if the curtain falls. The curtain always rises again, and lets everyone have their curtain call.

Kansas FFA, I am proud (and slightly sad) to say for the final time as your State Secretary, we out!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Take It and Make It

For those of you that read the title and automatically assumed I'm talking about Papa Murphy's, you will be sadly disappointed. For the readers who don't really know what I'm talking about, don't worry! Either way, thank you for taking time out of your day to read. So many times we get caught up in the hustle and bustle in the world, and our to-do list gets so long, and we feel like we are being pulled every which way, that we forget to do something that we enjoy; something for ourselves, or something for those that we care about.

This is definitely the time of the year when I wish there were four or five of me. One could do homework, one could be practicing a speech, another could be back home with my family, while another could be hanging out with my friends. Sadly, there is only one of me (I'm pretty sure), which means only one time schedule, with lots to do. As finals close in, I find myself more frequently in my room, with a textbook open, making sure I get all of my work completed and that I actually understand it. Even when I think I have free time, there's that little voice in the back of my head telling me that there's probably something that I should be doing.

All in all, I have definitely felt the burden of deadlines on my shoulders. But I have found this miracle solution that is shown to increase happiness, as well as strengthen friendships. You've probably heard it before, and done it before as well - I take time. In fact, I take time...to make time!

What I mean is that I take what time I do have when I'm not involved in something and use it to my advantage. I could be getting ahead in my work, or I could use it to spend time with my friends. This has made me more spontaneous in a way, because I've learned to make the most out of the time that I'm given.

It's really a nice habit that I've picked up from my parents. At home, my family is well aware that the Hunley to-do list is constantly growing. But given a beautiful weekend in the spring or summer and you'll probably find us at a pond with our lines in the water. My family recognizes that a little break time (and some fresh air) is a good reliever. It's the little things that can mean so much, bring happiness, and help make things less serious. Maybe it's a random road trip, or a group of friends going to see a movie. What do you make time for?

A reliever for me came in one of the best ways last week in the form of the 2014 Nebraska FFA State Convention in Lincoln. There I got to interact with members from across the Cornhusker State, watch my friends (the Nebraska FFA State Officer team) deliver their retiring addresses, and see seven dedicated individuals be chosen to serve as the 2014-2015 Nebraska State Officers. Being at the convention reminded me of what a great organization that we are a part of. The FFA has definitely allowed me to make the most of the time that I'm given, and use it to build relationships that will last for years to come.

Make sure to take that extra time for yourself, or for others. Use it to your advantage. Get ready for the next Career Development Event. Put in that extra hour in your SAE. Go out of your way to make a new friend. You'll be glad you did. So what are you waiting for? Time won't wait for you, and you can't grab it once it's gone. It's sitting right in front of you, so reach out, take it, and make it!


Kansas FFA, we out!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Happy



So those of you who listen to the radio, have seen Despicable Me 2 (highly recommended), or just know a song that will almost always put you in a good mood, you’ve probably heard “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. For those that haven’t, don’t despair, there’s a link at the bottom.

 With the title pretty much giving away the premise, Williams sings about that one emotion that the world doesn’t feel as often as it should. The upbeat tempo is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face, not to mention getting the urge to dance.

My favorite part of the song has to be the hook, which goes a little something like this (sing along if you’d like):

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

One thing I have noticed whenever this song comes on is that a lot of people know the lyrics, but few seem to know the meaning to them, so let’s break it down:

“If you feel like a room without a roof” – Williams says that this is a metaphor for one’s space without limits. Too often we can become unhappy because we are boxed in by limitations, whether that’s something like being told that we can’t do something, or other emotions. There are times where we can feel “roofed in” when our plans don’t go accordingly, or we fall a little short of our goals, but that shouldn’t keep us from feeling happy. Take it from the room – not having a roof and having access to the infinite possibilities that await is a great feeling. How can you stop feeling “roofed in”?

“If you feel like happiness is the truth” – Of course it is! There’s no need to argue with it, or try to contradict it. Being happy, and especially true to yourself, is the best feeling. Don’t settle for being someone else, because their happiness might not be yours. Branch out and try something new, because you might find something that you love, all while being true to yourself!

“If you know what happiness is to you” – What does happiness mean to you? Does it mean hanging out with friends, or curling up with a good book? Maybe it means getting to spend time with your livestock, or getting ready for that next public speaking event. Like I said before, don’t take someone's definition of happiness. Find what you like to do, and make it your own.

“If you feel like that’s what you wanna do” – By this point, you should be clapping. If you feel happy, and want to stay happy, surround yourself with individuals who also stay happy. Find things in common, and always make sure to show your happiness. A smile is contagious, you know.

At the end of the day, we all have an opportunity to be happy, and make sure those around us are happy as well. We each have our own passions, and by supporting the passions of others, and finding ways to ignite our own, we can all clap along, because we’ll feel happy.

Here’s a link to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”:
http://youtu.be/y6Sxv-sUYtM

Kansas FFA, we out!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Fortune Favors the Bold



Time and time again, even from when we probably didn’t have a clue as to what they were, we all looked forward to the true reward of eating at a Chinese restaurant: the fortune cookie. These golden treasure chests were just waiting to be cracked open, to show us what we can look forward to in our future. Most of us probably didn’t care for the actual cookie (I didn’t until a couple of years ago), but were much more concerned of what was inside.

It’s funny how a little strip of paper stuffed into a cookie causes us to think so much. Maybe it fills someone with anticipation, or gives someone else a good laugh. Whatever the purpose is, something clicks inside of our brains that whenever something peculiar happens afterwards, we think “that must be what the fortune cookie meant!” As always, a fortune is always subject to interpretation. “You will have a pleasant surprise” might actually mean a penny you find around the corner. “Good things take time” might just be the cookies sitting in the oven. No one really knows what power these things have, but fortunes find their way into our lives one way or another.

There’s one fortune cookie in particular that I cracked open a few days ago. Inside, it read: “Happiness is around the corner, wealth down the street.” My mind instantly started racing. Was I going to see a long lost friend? Was I going to find a $100 bill lying on the ground? Unfortunately, neither of those things happened, but I decided to take my own interpretation of it. I found happiness around the corner as when I left lunch, it had actually warmed up about five or six degrees. Those five or six degrees were the dividing line between me being comfortable in a coat and hoping my nose didn't fall off. As for the wealth that I found down the street? I found it after a walk back to my dorm, where I was surrounded by my friends, welcoming me back. It might not be the conventional wealth, but friendships are priceless. Truly, these strips of paper only have the power of our imagination and attitude. Depending on how we look at things, there are limitless possibilities. How do you look at situations? There’s probably a time or two where putting a positive spin on things can make a world of difference.

Now let’s jump back to the whole fortune cookie. They all share the same outside characteristics as one another, but what’s inside could be totally different. Does that remind you of anything? If you’re thinking of the FFA, then we’re on the same wavelength. Whether you meet someone at a CDE, or make a new friend at Convention, we all have common ground. We’re all linked by the blue corduroy, but at the same time, we’re all individuals. We all possess different outlooks and perspectives, and can impact others with our actions.

When we get to know someone, we have the chance to see what’s inside; what makes them special. What you learn might get you thinking, and want to know more. The bonds we make through FFA are strong and true, and through them, we can make a difference. How can you use your message to make an impact? How can you take that first step towards a more positive outlook? And as you meet new people, remember to be bold, because fortune favors those who are.

Kansas FFA, we out!