Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Our Wish

We became Uncle and Aunt to a beautiful little girl in South Dakota very late last night. 
Congratulations to Dustin & Jeana: Our hearts in Indiana are exploding with the anticipation of meeting Bayler Maree one sunrise very soon. 

Our wish is that she understands this

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
 - Marianne Williamson 

Welcome to this big world, Bayler Maree. You surely lucked out on parents. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Strengthening Your Core

This will be brief....
You're welcome. 

I'm in class this week, so my mind is focused on blurry numbers, rather than words I appreciate. 

We're studying the Core of a business. 
Things that serve as the foundation, strength and root of something sound. 

When I visualize (because that's how I operate) Core, I think of the strongest part of the of subject. 
Which is fair. 
Core of a pineapple. 
My core, below:

#1 way to recognize that this isn't me: 
No chipped nail polish. The rest is identical. 
If you believe that, you don't read this blog regularly. 
Shame on ya. 

Consider this:

Every business has a Core: The thing that builds their success and their story. 

But what happens when the business strays from what they're best at and tries to be all things to too many?

What happens to the Core when other demands saturate it's purpose?
What happens to the things that matter?
Gen. von Clausewitz once said, "There is no higher or simpler law for strategy then keeping one's forces concentrated."

You must first be great at the small things that matter
before you can be good at anything big.  

Just as every company has core objectives, individuals should, too. 
What do you stand for?
What will you stand up to?
What do you believe in?
What matters?
What Is Your Core? 
The 2 - 3 things that comprise who you are.
Once you can determine your Core, the rest falls into place. 

Faith. Family. Farm?
Career. Pleasure. Friends?
Philanthropy. Career. Passion?
Fitness. Career. Family?
Pleasure. Career. Passion?
Career. Fitness. Friends?

Remember that the strongest businesses are the ones which recognize their Core, and build every venture off of that. 
Once individuals figure out what their core is, the direction of other things in life may much much easier to navigate
Strengthen your core. 
Build from it. 

And trust me, this blog has nothing to do with planks, jackknife sit-ups or barbell squats. 

(Fact: I just had to google 
"Core workouts" to even list the 
three exercise moves listed above.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Four Years, Four Lessons

It was four years ago Monday, July 14, that I posted my very first blog entry. I believe it was read a total of three times:
Twice by me and once by Momma, who drove to my house to use the internet to view the story. 
Strangely, I'm too embarrassed now to go back and read it. I know it was about a pet cemetery. 
I don't even like cats. 
You have to begin somewhere, right? 

At the end of my "Freshman Year" of blogging, the photos easily told the story of my newfound passion for photography. 
I ran with it. 
And still do, I suppose. 

And while I'd rather celebrate Jean's Boots 4th birthday with a trip to The Dairy for a dipped ice-cream cone, I realize I'll be happier with myself tomorrow if I simply sit down and write. 

There are a lot of things I've learned while opening my life to complete strangers and best friends by committing to this blog
once a week
for four years. 
I've made myself vulnerable, to be laughed at and criticized. 
I've also found a piece of myself I'd forgotten, met strangers who laugh with me and learned to combat criticism with confidence
I've learned a lot. 

1. Appreciated Familiarity Can Be Found In Routine

Once I whole-heartedly found a reason why I'd post at a certain time on a specific day, it was easy to maintain.

When I moved to Washington, DC, I made a commitment to write a letter (the kind delivered in an envelope that gives you a paper cut on your tongue with a real stamp that will one day be collected) to my Grandma and Granddad every Wednesday at 7:00 a.m. 
And I stuck with it, every single Wednesday. 
I always looked forward to those quiet Wednesday mornings when I could sit down and express myself with ink and paper; it was then that I could thank Grandma and Granddad for instilling such deep agricultural roots in me. Those traditional hand-written mornings made Wednesday, without a doubt, my favorite day of the week. 
Though Granddad is gone and I’m out of the big city, you now know why I post this blog every Wednesday morning at 7:00. And because I can still share my life stories with all of you, Wednesdays are still my favorite. 

What do - or can - you do 
on a regular basis that allows for 
familiarity in your days, weeks or months?

2. Don't Downplay Or Forget Your Personal Talents

I was married to Cody for nearly a year before I complimented his mother on a large oil on canvas hanging in she and my father-in-law's bedroom. 
"Oh thank you. It is one of my favorites," she remarked, watching me admire it. "Do you know who painted that?"
I walked to the wall and took a closer look: C. Sankey
My husband. 

Throughout my June solo-stay with the in-laws, they continued to show me several things that Cody had created over the years that adorned their walls or home. Drawings, paintings and even vases and perfect platters that now (thankfully) rest in our home. 

When I asked Cody about the artistic talent he'd buried over the years with ruminant nutritional studies and black-hided pedigree passions, he simply responded:

"I was young and had the time, I guess."

Being the good wife that I try to be, I won't show him some of my works of art that Momma still has at BSG:

No need to compete with your husband, I remind myself. 
(Mine is a cute blue-eyed mouse holding flowers, in case you can't visualize it)

Learning of Cody's young art ability reminded me of the release felt when I began writing again, by way of Jean's Boots. Forgotten was the comfort found in applying a talent. Even if it was discovered when younger. 

What have you forgotten - or pushed aside - because of age, time or the demands of life? 
Growing something?
Political discussions?
Motivating others?
H.O.R.S.E. on the court?

Revisit that. 
You don't have to share it with the world. 
Do what makes you happy. 

3. Never Over-Commit And Under-Deliver. 

This is so simple. 
Only you can determine your priorities.
You know the demands on your life's schedule. 
You know your boundaries, your limits and your heart.  
You know what matters in your own life. 
You know what you're comfortable with.
Do not commit to others what you may not be able to do, well
Because, frankly, (ear muffs Momma!) life is too short to do half-assed.

4. Be Unique, Not Self-Centered

When I developed my theme for the blog (not a mommy blog,  not a fashion blog (unless Mom Jeans are coming back around, right Rachel?) and not a recipe blog), I told an established blogger that I was going to simply tell stories of growing up with very conservative parents on a cattle operation and all of the funny things that life throws my way. 
The gal politely shot me down.

But I thought my life was funny and relatable?
I mean, hadn't everyone been given 8-year-old aspirin as a child, and survived it?

"Out of curiosity, I checked the label: EXP 3/1980. No wonder it burned; using it in 1991 was like applying kerosene to an open wound using a lit match."

The experienced blogger was right. 
The longer I blog, subjecting my - our - life to anyone's opinion, the more I learn that readers need to gain something by reading Jean's Boots every Wednesday morning. 
A lesson. 
A laugh. 
An idea. 
The same can be applied to life. 

Do those you interact with leave as better people for knowing you?
Are you pleasant?
Do they leave with a new idea or insight?
Or are they exhausted hearing about you?
Do they leave feeling good about themselves?
No? Then click here. 

  • Appreciated Familiarity Can Be Found In Routine
  • Don't Downplay Or Forget Your Personal Talents
  • Never Over-Commit And Under-Deliver 
  • Be Unique, Not Self-Centered
Four Years, Four Lessons. 
Thank goodness I rediscovered how much I enjoy writing. 
Because if I hadn't, I have a real concern that I may still be trying to perfect the eye color on ceramic bunnies. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Turning Thirty: Utilizing The Chinese Fire Drill

The thought of turning thirty next month continues to show up in my mind from time to time. 
Mostly just when I wake up or fall asleep. Sometimes in my dreams. 

I consider the age of thirty and everything I thought it would encompass when I was younger - in my teens and early twenties. At that naive, marshmallowy point in my life I figured by thirty I would be married to a guy I met in college and raising three kids on a farm with sweet corn in the garden. 

I was way off. 

I didn't meet The One in college, 
we have no children but plenty of cows and 
this spring we reseeded what was the garden back into grass. And though it seems I'm not living what I believed to have wanted 10+ years ago, I'm quite happy. I'm happy that together we're laying the ground work for a remarkable life, when not busy working cattle or selling the other's belongings in garage sales.

It is interesting the life map we mentally design for ourselves. The routes we plan to take and the anticipated stops along the way. And as we check off the things we get done, the places we see or the people we meet, it can be easy to forget that the simple days lived only to meet the next obligation or destination is actually life

I've always enjoyed studying maps and finding the best way to get somewhere, though not necessarily the quickest. As of late, I've realized that perhaps life without the map brings as much joy - or more - to a person. While I've focused on checking all the boxes, it's my hope I remember a bit of the view. Even when I'm (gasp!) SEVENTY.

Really, who are we to assume we get to pick the route? The school, the job, the house, the spouse - sure, all of these things become our choice and determine our direction. And since we're the ones determining the direction in which we move confidently 

that also makes us the driver. Keeping the foot on the gas and a close watch in the rear view mirror

The closer I creep towards thirty-years-old, the more clearly I realize the importance of a Chinese fire drill. Letting someone else take the wheel. Because beyond the map and the plan, I now understand that I simply can't do all of the driving. 

No matter how much I intend to use a map to route my life and the stops I anticipate, God is the ultimate navigator. He knows our end point, and the route we must take to get there. 
The pit stops
flat tires
amazing sunsets
blinding sunrises
dirty windshields 
speeding tickets and 
uncomfortable hours 
are all part of the trip planned for me.

And you. 

Don't be afraid to take a back road every once in a while, tossing the map in the back seat. Sometimes flat tires and other obstacles turn out to be blessings. Construction only means that better things are on the way. It is ok if you take a bit longer to get to the destination.

Be confident enough to allow a 
Chinese fire drill 
in your life. 

Chinese fire drills give you the opportunity to enjoy the view and put the navigation in Someone Else's hands. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Slow Down

I used to play deaf to the sound of time rushing by me like the wind. 
Selective hearing I inherited from my Granddad, I suppose. 

It seems as though I boarded the Red Line for another day at work and when I emerged from the tunnel 
I was older, 
cleaning an Indiana farmhouse shower the way my mother taught me, 
with an alarm clock sounding in my head saying it's 5:30 AM: time to pull CIDRs and give shots with my husband. 

I thought it was just another metro ride to work. 
Where does time go?

The minutes turn to days, 
and the days become years. 

Somewhere between learning to ride a bike and learning to complain about the price of gas, our days have come to fade away into some memory bank we only remember in snapshots. 
Slow Down. 

I have learned: 
We don't fully recall travels, 
rather the moments that comprise the trip.

And if we move too quickly, 
it's darn easy to miss the scenery. 

So why do we count down the days until Friday?
Why do we hope we can only get through one more day until vacation?
Why do folks hit the snooze button? (<- me, every day)
Do you see that glimpse of light peaking through your blinds? 
That's life. 
And it's waiting. 
Life is waiting. 

And then our feet hit the floor...

When do you think we'll stop glorifying "busy"?
Busy is dreadful. 

Slow down. Happiness is trying to catch you. 
Between the kindergarten registration you stressed over and the high school graduation you cried over: How many of those moments were you present for?
No phone. 
No camera. 
Just emotion and memory. 
That's life. 
Slow down. 

(Seriously: you're not important enough to miss the big stuff)

If we're always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one we're in?
Slow down; come home from work and not worry about sweeping up the tracks across the kitchen floor to the pitcher; he was thirsty. 
Slow down; don't use the back of the church bulletin to make your grocery list; there is a time and place.  
Slow down; don't look out the window and fret about the spots; enjoy the amazing view. 
Slow down; look in the mirror and not notice the circles; thank God for another day to do things right. 
Slow down. 
Enjoy it. 
Life happens fast.