Disclaimer: This blog was not intended to be an in-depth analysis or opinion of the circumstances happening in the United States today. I admit, the title is misleading and in this piece I offer a light opinion which may be interpreted that I don’t care or feel the need to address more pressing issues such as systemic racism or the future of the police in the United States. This is not the case; as I mention in this blog, I realize that I am not an expert in any of this, so I don’t feel that I should be inserting my specific opinions into the conversation. Perhaps that warrants the idea that I should not have put my opinion out there in the first place, but then again, I am receiving mixed messages regarding joining the conversation, etc.
I appreciate all of the feedback that I have received and I do not disagree with many of you — however, I will always be a believer in the power of a simple act of kindness. I know kindness will not solve our nation’s issues and is in many ways an over simplification, but I am a believer that there is always value in listening to others.
Additionally, I have heard feedback from multiple friends that this is a humanitarian issue and I wholeheartedly agree. However, I believe that our media has painted it in a political lens which is why I chose to frame this blog within that framework.
I am rarely vocal about my political beliefs on social media - mainly due to a fear of being attacked and not wanting to engage in and contribute to negativity - however, I want to share a perspective. Yet, before I share that perspective, I must first tell you a bit more about myself.
I am a moderate, meaning, I hold both conservative and liberal beliefs and values.
(Side note: I realize none of this is about me. And that is why I was hesitant to initially post this because I realize that fact. However, I also am a writer and have a voice, (which I realize is a privilege in itself) and that reason alone is why I am now choosing to share these thoughts.)
I studied at a Minnesota Liberal Arts college, spending a significant amount of my undergrad in departments that boldly claimed and taught liberal ideals. As an undergraduate at this same school, I spent a semester interning in Washington D.C. for a Republican senator, an experience that opened doors for me to interact with and learn from both the Republican and Democrat parties. And, since before I can even remember, I have been involved in the arts. As is the culture with the arts, this sphere of activity is often more liberal in nature; thus, many of my most formative experiences and conversations have been influenced by liberal perspectives and many of my closest and dearest friends lean left. As for the media, I receive headlines and contributions from CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times in my inbox each morning. I also follow both Candace Owens and Michelle Obama on social media. And, to paint an even larger picture, my immediate family is proudly conservative and I have a brother who is black and from Haiti. With all of this being said, I can’t go without saying that I am a white woman who has benefited from a place of privilege in society.
Yet, from all of these experiences and individuals, I have discovered with time that I hold moderate beliefs, and with this point of view I strive to be intentional with how I listen and learn from both sides.
And so, these past few weeks I have been listening, reading, observing, and learning.
What happened to George Floyd sparked a revolution across our nation, and as is the case with all social justice issues, it quickly becomes political and there seems to be a side to be picked.
I don’t claim to be any expert on race or have extensive knowledge of our nation’s current systems in place. I realize that racism is an issue that is deeply ingrained in the history of the United States and has been ongoing long before I came to be on this planet. And, because of my place of privilege in society, I will never truly grasp or understand what a black person living in America today has to deal with on a regular occurrence.
Yet, if anyone were to ask a young moderate white woman about her thoughts concerning the matter of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, they might hear thoughts similar to those that I have listed below. The following are my takeaways from these past few weeks, lessons and beliefs that I currently find to be true.
Friends, perhaps I am an idealist, but why is it so *damn difficult* for people to listen openly to another’s point of view? It often seems impossible for us to withhold judgement and instead immediately start defending our own point of view and casting our personal verdict.
I get it: we’re human, and being kind is not an easy task, especially when passion, power, and topics regarding privilege are at play.
I encourage you to strive to understand what you may fear and to be patient with what you may not understand. There is power in words and value in hearing various points of view. I urge you to listen and respond effectively and respect others. Watch this TedTalk if you want to be inspired with how to openly engage with opposing viewpoints and people who might think differently than you.
I do not wish to be attacked or debate with any of you. That is not my intent of posting this; yet, I realize that is probably unavoidable because I just posted a plethora of controversial opinions and ideas and as the nature of social media, it ignites and perpetuates debate. However, as I said, I do not wish to debate you. I am currently exhausted from arguing and instead I urge you to engage kindly with others. Do what you can do educate someone who might think differently than you and make your points so they can see your viewpoint as best as possible. Finally, understand that you won't be able to force them to change their beliefs, only they can do that for themselves.
Please. Be kind, listen, and learn. Those steps are crucial if we want to see progress.
I remember feeling paralyzed with fear the first time I was called into the top five at Miss North Dakota.
I remember thinking, “But what if I actually win???” and being terrified by that thought. I mean, yes, I wanted it. But I never felt that I was “perfect” enough — that I didn’t have all my sh** together so I obviously wasn’t ready or qualified for the job. Who was I to win? I compared myself to girls who seemingly knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives — who had a specific game plan that they were following. And me? Hah! I’ve never felt that I have had a set trajectory for my life. Yes, I’ve known that I wanted to go to college and eventually grad school and find a job that I loved... but beyond that, whew. The details for a long time eluded me and are still making themselves known, which is a fact that bothered me in the past because I desperately WANTED that strategic, efficient, and set in stone game plan.
It’s only been during the past year that I’ve finally accepted that it’s okay to not know specifically where I’m headed in life, and that’s the beauty and excitement right there: to not know. But instead, to find meaning and value in the everyday moments. That my purpose shouldn’t be found in where I’m headed, but where I am right now: the people and experiences that are right in front of me. I’ve made it a habit in telling myself that I must trust the process — that if I work hard and treat people with kindness along the way... that things will have a way of working out.
So, if you don’t know what you’re doing with your life or where you’re headed... that’s okay. Most of us don’t. Many of us feel as if we’re in limbo (especially right now) and that this “in between phase” feels like a waste of time. I’ve realized that living in limbo is especially frustrating for me because I feel like I don’t see as much progress and direction as I typically do, and I’m bothered by the idea of being stagnant with my goals and subsequent actions. But the fact is, I’m not. And you’re not either. Being stagnant is an illusion. There’s growth and change happening even when things might seem slow or appear to be at a standstill.
Keep trusting yourself and the process, be kind, and give yourself some grace if you feel like you don’t have everything “figured out.” None of us really do.
There’s your daily dose of motivation, friends — here’s to the start of another week of quarantine!
Why you should keep going at it
The first time I stood on the Miss North Dakota stage was 5 years ago.
It was 2015, I was a teenager and had recently finished my freshman year at Concordia College, and Donald Trump was not yet on anyone’s radar of someday becoming President of the United States.
My first time competing at Miss North Dakota I arrived by train from Montana where I had been in staff training at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp to become a camp counselor. I remember hopping off the train wearing my chacos and gym shorts and driving to the Williston State dorm where all the candidates were staying. I recall unpacking my multiple suitcases filled to the brim with six inch heels, makeup products, and sparkly dresses and hurrying off to meet the other candidates that first evening of Miss North Dakota Week.
Boy, what a full six days that followed.
Somehow, I made it to finals night without breaking an ankle — and was announced as a top ten finalist, and eventually top five. By the time I was called into the top five, my hands were shaking and my armpits were dripping with sweat. I remember barely hearing a word of my final onstage question. What I do recall, is blanking, pausing for what seemed like an eternity, and then recovering with the words: “Wow, that was a brain fart. World peace!” (The video still exists on my personal Instagram account).
Obviously, I did not win that night — which is why I’m still here and competing one more time (woo!). I share this as a reminder that sometimes you’re not going to get it the first time. Or the second, or even the third. Or maybe even the fourth. But along the way you’re going to learn a LOT. And you’re going to meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that are going to be stories that you will tell for the rest of your life. So keep at it! Timing doesn’t always play out the way we originally want it to and sometimes (OK, oftentimes) things don’t go the way we would like, but ultimately things have a way of playing out the way they’re supposed to. Whether you’re a believer or not, I believe that God’s hand is in everything and that his timing is perfect. Trust that fact.
That’s my Ted Talk for today, folks — that you should keep going at it. And I’ll be right there with ya — going at it, too.
Love is worth the risk
I didn’t fall for Collin the first time I met him. No... for some of us — many of us — love happens when we’re not looking for it. We stumble upon it when we’re least expecting it... or, as was the case for us.
Although I had always kept my eye on Collin (we met in the sixth grade), I never intended to actually date him (even though at the tender age of twelve I had developed a minor crush.) And despite the fact that we barely uttered a word to one another in middle school, I had this feeling that we one day would become good friends. Nothing more, nothing less: good friends.
Funny stuff, ehh?
Fast forward twelve years (yes, literally a lifetime later — we’ve known each other half of our lives!) and over six years since we made it Facebook official (that was a big day) I continue to fall more in love with this man with every passing cycle around the sun.
Boy... have we both changed through the years — an obscene amount of growth and experiences. And yet, parallel with that growth in life experiences and character... my love for him has grown, too.
It’s the little things that make me feel the most loved by this man. He gives me the last bite of his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He scratches my back when I don’t ask. He helps jump start my car when it fails to start in the dead of a North Dakota winter (it’s rough, ya’ll.) This guy tells me that I’m beautiful when I’m wearing sweatpants without an ounce of makeup on my face. He calls me smart and texts me every single night before bed, “I love you!” for no particular reason other than the fact of saying it just because he means it.
You may call it sappy, but I call it intentional. One thing that I’ve learned these past few years is that love must be intentional, or else, it’s forgotten. As quickly as people fall in love, I’ve also seen the same happen the other way — we hate to see it, but people fall out of love all too easily.
I don’t believe there’s any timeline, deadline, or primetime for falling in love and keeping that love. It happens when you least expect it, and once you have it... well, you must intentionally invest in it. But I promise, if you believe in this love, it will wholeheartedly be worth it. It might sound cliché, but be the type of person who you want to be with — be kind, listen, communicate, understand each other’s communication styles, be creative, have fun and play! Celebrate one another every day while always being each other’s #1 fan, be wholeheartedly present when you’re with one another, have empathy, forgive, and be patient. If you think this person might just be worth it, continue chasing him/her well beyond that finish line. Love is a risk, but it’s a risk worth taking — I promise.
That’s my very early valentine’s day wisdom for ya’ll.
Oh, and Collin? I love ya.
falling autumn thoughts
For myself, fall is a time of internal reflection. The wild and jam-packed days of serendipitous summer are over and — I believe that for many of us — we find ourselves longing to be still... to remember and reflect on past times while looking ahead to our futures.
While reflecting and thinking, I find myself creating lots of lists — lists that have a tendency to all too quickly bury themselves deep into my phone. So, instead of allowing these ideas to die... I'm sharing them with you.
The following is a list of things I’ve been reminding myself as of late:
Enjoy this waning season of fall and all of the thinking that this specific time of year often brings.
This is my dad
This is my dad.
For the past four years he has led a medical team to Pignon, Haiti to provide eye care for thousands (yes, thousands) of individuals who are unable to receive the kind of quality care that is readily available and accessible in the states. Mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas, children… they all come.
By word of mouth, the arrival date of the "American eye doctors" swiftly spreads throughout the region and anyone in need of eye care flocks to the small hospital in Pignon, many of them traveling long miles, in order to receive treatment that will restore their vision.
This has been happening for years, even before my dad began spearheading the trip (which he “inherited” from a team in Iowa.)
It takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and money to make this mission happen year after year. Months of preparation and a passionate community of individuals willing to give their time and talents - and who believe in the mission of providing quality eye care - are what make this annual trip not only possible, but impactful and successful.
This year, (this week!) a team of 29 is currently in Pignon working tirelessly from 8 am until 8 pm every day, making sure these people’s needs are met. Screening, scheduling, distributing hundreds of eye glasses, surgeries, serving in any capacity… it all happens.
The entire team inspires me, but especially my dad. Since going with him the first time 5 years ago, I witnessed as he wore his heart on his sleeve for those people.
Dad — you are a blazing bolt of light, an energizer bunny who never stops until the job is done. I realize that many people are likely telling you thank you this week, but today I especially wanted to thank you for:
Thanks for inspiring, Dad. You’re my hero.
I love you. ♥️
is currently living life one day at a time in Moorhead, MN where she works on the Marketing Team at Concordia College.