So there is a whole lot of debate over this Nature vs. Nurture business, and the arguments for both sides are pretty evenly divided. Do genetics determine everything from our eye color to our addiction to Husker football and chocolate coconut doughnuts? Or are we shaped into who we are as a result of our immediate environment?

Sure, we obviously inherit our physical features from the genetic pool we emerge from, but the answer is not so cut and dry when we start talking about things like personality, sense of humor, emotional health, etc. So, what is the true magic formula that manages to connect us with our families and make us unique?

Before reuniting with my birthfamily in 2002, I’m not even sure what my stance would have been on the subject. In all honesty, I probably believed that the environment a child was raised in was a much bigger factor in all areas except physical traits. But, after meeting my birthparents and my large extended family, I began to realize that an individual’s personality development is actually a very complex mixture of both inherited genetic traits and outside environmental influences.

Meeting Momma Dawn for the first time, it was immediately obvious where I got my looks. I stood in the lobby of the Lincoln airport, thinking that it must be some sort of optical illusion as I stared at a woman who could have been my blonde-haired twin. Even stranger was how we walked the same, talked the same, shared many of the same mannerisms, and even mispronounced words like “measure” exactly the same way. Yeah, we both say “MAY-shure”. I can’t help it. I blame my mother.

Meeting Papa Shawn was even more of a shock, as I quickly realized that I had inherited his easygoing, practical joker, yet somehow still introverted personality. We’re both extremely laidback. We laugh easily and often. We love to read and can sit down and finish an entire book (and sometimes more than one) in a day. And we both tend to say as far from the spotlight as we can. We fell in sync with each other immediately, and I marveled at the way he folded me as comfortably into his life as he folded me into into his arms.

Yet, for as much as I have apparently inherited from my my biological family, it is my adopted family that molded and shaped me into the woman I am today. Papa Shawn passed along some natural skill and talent for sports, while Duane spent countless hours playing catch in the backyard and shooting hoops in the driveway. I inherited Momma Dawn’s love of horses and artistic eye, and it was who Jayne taught me to saddle a horse and ride and barrel race, and encouraged my pursuit of music and photography and writing. I’m amazed every day when I think about how it all came together.

I’m even more amazed as I see it in my daughter.

The moment Cadence was born, it was obvious that she got her Momma’s looks. Line up Cadence’s baby photos, my baby photos, my brother Beau’s baby photos, and Momma Dawn’s baby photos all in a row, and you’d be hardpressed to tell any of them apart. Yet, as much as my baby girl looks like me, her expressions and her personality are emerging to be all Daddy’s, even now at just 19 1/2 months. She’s sweet, full of energy, a little joker, and a total ham. Add all of her aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and great-grandparents into the mix, and I can’t wait to see how my little girl turns out.

If nothing else, she’s sure got her Momma’s sense of style.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all the amazing men and women who have made me into who I am today.


  1. Those boots have been around a long time. Do you suppose they will last long enough for Cadence to actually wear them? I wouldn’t be surprised!!!

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