Day 26 – Thoughts on asking

I hate asking people for things. Seriously. I hate asking for help. I hate asking for more time. I hate asking, period. Really.

Why is it that I’m made that way? Why can’t I find it easier to reach out? I have some ideas, but it would probably take months of psychotherapy, and I ain’t got time for that. Hello, my name is Val, and I have a problem with asking.

But I needed to, so I did.

You see, I have a little project going on. I’m collecting names of people in need, and names of people that wish to help out, matching them up and letting the cheer of Christmas take over from there. It’s the third year that I’ve arranged this type of exchange, but this year I had a new problem: I had helpers, but no one in need.

I knew better, so I waited, and waited, and received more helpers and more helpers. So finally, I broke down and asked. And the response was OVERWHELMING!

I have so many great ideas, and I would love to implement every single one of them…and I might.

What is it about children and gifts? It just makes your heart warm up!

What is it about children and gifts? It just makes your heart warm up!

But asking is the only way I would have had the chance to put this all together. And now I have five days to get it all together, but I’m up to the challenge. And I have an extra spring in my step, and a purpose for shopping. I seriously don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I am stoked.

Perhaps I should have asked a little sooner?

Day 25 – Thoughts on shopping

It’s just a few days before Thanksgiving, and the controversial pseudo-holiday, “Black Friday,” which actually is Black Thursday night through Sunday, leading into Cyber Monday, leading into over-purchasing the rest of 2013.

Wait a minute…I got off track a moment.

I’ve been reading a lot of people complaining about some retail chains deciding to be open Thanksgiving evening, taking people away from their families and commercializing such a noble holiday. You know, the one where we celebrate with food and football? Overindulging, giving thanks for all that we’ve been blessed with, for just one day? Are you catching what I’m throwing yet? 😉

My blessings are many, including having a place such as this to raise my boys. And the work that comes with it.

My blessings are many, including having a place such as this to raise my boys. And the work that comes with it.

And here’s an even more shocking point of view: not every family celebrates Thanksgiving, and some celebrate it on different days, and some end up harvesting or working right on through it, and no one has boycotted our farm or family yet. Well, not that I know of anyway.

Does it bother me that stores are opening Thanksgiving eve? Not really. But then again, Thanksgiving was never a real big holiday for the house I was raised in. Since it was the end of hunting season, many times the week of Thanksgiving was spent butchering deer and pigs, making our own sausage, smoking it, stuffing it, wrapping it.

No, Thanksgiving has never been high on my list of must-celebrate holidays. But I also tend to think that I spend more than one day of the year being thankful for all I’ve been given. I don’t really need one whole day to catch up with the Big Guy Upstairs, making sure He understands how much I appreciate the gifts I’ve received. But that’s just me.

Will I be shopping Thursday night? Probably. I’m on a one-woman mission to bring this country out of the economic slump it’s facing. (Sarcasm folks, sarcasm.) And I may just save a total of $1.27 while doing it.

Actually, it’s the people-watching that gets me every time. Want to see the best and worst of human kind? Go Black Friday shopping.

I dare you.

Day 23 – Thoughts on Waldo

I am sitting in a delegate session while I am writing this, and have been struck by the most curious of thoughts: Where is Waldo?

No, really.

I am a member of North Dakota Farm Bureau. I enjoy sitting through the delegate session, watching public policy take shape. But it reminds me a lot of those books I used to look through when I was younger.

I sit and listen and watch, trying to find the voices of reason, the voices of passion, the use of common sense. It’s an amazing process to witness, and an exciting process to participate in. Yet you look around the room, and you see all the characters that it takes to make good policy…which is where Waldo comes into play.

A room of brilliant minds, passionate voices and forward-thinking people.

A room of brilliant minds, passionate voices and forward-thinking people.

After being actively involved in this organization for more than a decade, I know most of the characters that drive policy. And looking around the room, it’s like looking at a page in a “Where’s Waldo” book. Find the man with the purple tie and a knack for making the room groan when he stands up. Find the woman that sits as an alternate, yet speaks on issues that touch her heart, like school lunch. Find the guys that may have stayed out a little late last night.

Yes, it’s an amazing cast of characters. And as I sit here, in the back of the room, I know how lucky I am to be able to be part of this process. Maybe it’s the political-science geek in me, but this is the stuff that dreams are made of…and our public policy as a state and national organization.

So Where is Waldo? He’s right in front of me.

Day 21 – Thoughts on distance

I’m sitting in a hotel room, half-way across the state from my farm, and tonight I’m thinking about the meaning of distance.

According to the dictionary, distance is the “amount of space between two things or people.” And distance is a relative thing.

Distance no longer means what it used to, it’s much more relative now.

For example, you can be in the same room with someone, and still be light years away, or you can be half-way across the country, yet feel like you’re in the same room. And social media has closed that gap even further. I was talking to my friend on FaceTime the other night, while she was in her hotel room in Hershey, PA, showing me the pictures on the walls, her hotel key (with a chocolate bar on it, of course), and other cool décor in her room. I wasn’t there with her, but for a few moments, it was like we were in the same room, just having a chat.

It’s truly amazing what technology has done for our world, good and bad.

I can now say that I have friends that live entirely too far from me, when you figure it in miles, yet are right here with me, when you consider true distance. It’s amazing, and mind-boggling, all at the same time.

Now, if we could just get that teleportation stuff figured out…then we’d be getting somewhere! 😉

Day 18 and 19 – Thoughts on blogging

I apologize for my blogging habits this week, it’s going to be a crazy week. And so, whether or not you hear from me will be up to the time-organization gods…and we’ve already been down that road this 30-days. 😉

So today, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on blogging. What I’m doing right now.

Let me start off to say that I never meant to blog for any other reason than to have a written record for my boys when they were older. I intend to print my blog as a book to them, something tangible that they can have, to remind them of me when I’m gone, whenever that may be.

This pretty well sums up our days. And it captures each boy's personalities almost perfectly.

This pretty well sums up our days. And it captures each boy’s personalities almost perfectly.

It was a simple idea at the time, and I thought if a few people wanted to come along for the ride, that’d be great.

And then a few more joined, and a few more, and now I have all of you. 🙂 Thank you.

For me, blogging is therapeutic. I can get thoughts off my mind, blow off some steam, and work through problems. It’s kind of like having a cup of coffee with an old friend. And I hope that’s somewhat the way it comes off.

I type just as I would talk, as if I’m speaking directly to you…and the truth is, I am.

And that’s the beauty of a blog. It doesn’t have to set out to change the world. You don’t have to come out with fire and brimstone or the most touching of tributes, just be real.

I do have to admit, sometimes I reign in my writing. I can be a bit over the top if I let myself go, but sometimes you need that power, just to get your point across.

So, as I head to bed tonight, I want you all to know that I am flattered that you took the time to read these thoughts from somewhere in rural North Dakota. I’m amazed at the number of people that come back every day.'s where you look for it.

Beauty…it’s where you look for it.

I’m just a farm girl, in the middle of rural America, raising the next generation, and doing my best to ensure that their future is secure. Sometimes the tools that we are given are not just our hands and brawn, but our fingertips and our brains as well. It’s amazing what we can learn when we take a moment and read the signs.

So as another chapter is getting ready to begin, I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to share. And I truly encourage you to do the same.

Days 16 and 17 – Thoughts on exercise

I have to confess, I’m a little sore today. Not as bad as I should be, but a little nonetheless. I ran a 5K yesterday.

Well, actually “ran” is a strong term. Let’s just leave it at: I finished a 5K yesterday. 😉

I thought I had been working out at a fairly reasonable interval. I thought that my knee injury from this summer wouldn’t be a problem. I thought that the weather would be great.

I thought wrong.

After finishing the race, my friend Joey and I made a pact, it goes like this: No more running races in North Dakota that take place prior to mid-May or after September 15. It’s a good pact to have. Yesterday morning was cold, and windy, and did I mention the rain?

But the reward was worth it. We have an Ugly Sweater beanie and we were given an Angry Orchard Hard Cider to drink. All for the low fee of about $40. (And they did have a toy drive to Toys for Tots, so it is a charitable event.)

Can someone explain that to me? I paid some organization cash so that I could run (not on pavement, but mostly crappy lawn-like terrain), get a hat that I will never wear again and a glass of cider. Now, mind you, the cider was great, but that was the most expensive cider I’ve ever had. Not only that, but I wouldn’t even consider running three miles to a grocery store to get one beer, let alone on a cold, windy, nasty day.

But it’s not about the run, it’s not about the reward, it’s about the moment. As I have been learning from those around me, life isn’t just about what you get out of it, it’s about the journey you take to get there. And yesterday was indeed a journey.

Today I’m a little sore, tomorrow I’m most certain I’ll be even a little more sore. And yet, the pain will go away, the muscles will relax, my knee will forgive me and all will be right with the world…and I’ll have one more day that will forever live on in my memory.

And that’s the stuff that life is made of.

It wasn't just a 5K, it was a day with a great friend, complete with some pretty amazing memories! Thanks, Joey!

It wasn’t just a 5K, it was a day with a great friend, complete with some pretty amazing memories! Thanks, Joey!