Day 78 – Character

If you only pay attention to the screaming headlines–you know, the ones that claim our world is overrun with scandal and lies and cheating and horror and greed–you probably walk around with a pretty grim view of this planet and the people walking around on it. I’m not denying that stuff exists. Of course it does. We humans are perfectly imperfect, and we don’t always care about each other the way we should or make the best choices.

But if you take a moment to avert your eyes from the sensational click-bait headlines and turn down the noise, you just might get a glimpse of the big beautiful world we’re all living in just trying to do our best and grab onto a little happiness along the way.

Call me naive, but I’m of the opinion that people are generally good. Deep down, I think we all just want to feel safe and loved. I think we all just want to find our purpose. But I also think we sometimes get lost along the way. We focus too much on ourselves, on climbing some social or professional ladder, on establishing ourselves at the top of the food chain, even if it means clawing someone else out of our way.

I’ve been posting a lot about the floods taking place here in Nebraska the past few days, and if you haven’t taken the time to read any of the stories, I hope you’ll take a moment to do so now. The devastation will tear your heart right out of your chest–the suffering, the pain, the loss. But the stories of people coming together, of communities rallying, of quiet heroes stepping in to lift up their neighbors and their fellow humans–those stories will make you whole again.

Character is the choices you make when nobody’s looking. Character is reaching out to help someone who needs it and expecting nothing in return. Character is loving and respecting other humans because they’re human, and not thinking twice about their race or religion or socioeconomic status or whether they voted red or blue.

Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you.

Humans are capable of horrible things. It’s true. I’ve seen it up close with my own eyes. Hell, I’ve been on the receiving end of it. But humans are capable of extraordinary things too. And if you look around and pay attention, I think you’ll probably notice that there’s a whole lot more of the good stuff happening. And the best thing about that is, you can choose what you want to pay forward.

Get out there and spread some love and light.

Day 77 – Stickergate 2018

So, tomorrow is Spring picture day at school. Stevie and I don’t get it. Growing up, we only remember being tortured with school photos once a year, usually in the Fall, and then it was over until the next year. But for some reason, our kids have school photos both in the Fall and Spring.

We’re usually okay when it comes to the Fall pics. It’s the start of a fresh school year, and even if we’re busy with a gajillion other things, we somehow manage to get the kids to school semi-prepared to take a decent yearly photo.

Notice I said “decent.”

Look, I’m gonna be honest. We’re not going to win any glamour awards here. We’ve got two very stubborn children who have a very…uh…unique sense of style. And, quite frankly, when you’ve got a Mom who hates being in photos as much I do, and who has questionable fashion sense herself, you’re going to get a helluva lot more leeway than most of the other kids whose Mom’s spend hours picking out a perfecting matched outfit and cementing their hair in place.

I mean, come one, it’s just a photo. And I’d honestly much rather it actually captures my kids’ goofy personalities than to look like some perfectly-arranged museum piece.

Here are the last couple years of Fall photos so you get an idea of what we’re dealing with…

And then, the Spring photos. Ah, this is where all hell breaks loose (and honestly Stevie and I are at the point we’re sort of embracing it and seeing just how crazy it gets). We affectionately named last year’s Spring photo extravaganza “Stickergate 2018” because somehow, Cadence managed to not only plaster herself and her brother with stickers in the car on the way to school, she somehow managed to get her photo taken WITH A STICKER STILL ATTACHED TO HER FACE!

It’s like the school photographers aren’t even trying anymore. I mean, we thought it was pretty hilarious when we got the packet of photos back and saw Cadence with the giant grin on her face and sticker clearly planted on her cheek.

She looks pretty satisfied with herself, doesn’t she?

And then we opened Henry’s picture packet and nearly fell to the floor laughing because not only is he rocking his old favorite (and damn near too small) U R2 Cool Valentine’s Day shirt with stickers, he also sort of looks like he’s drunk and just stumbled out of bed in time to run to class and get in a fistfight on the way (notice the busted bottom lip from falling off a tricycle at recess the day before). He was also about a month overdue for a haircut and his cowlick had broken free from the smoothing Stevie attempted on the way to school.

Look up the definition of “hot mess” in the dictionary and that just might be the photo you find.

Gotta say, I’m kind of excited to see what sort of Spring photo craziness tomorrow brings.

Stay tuned.

Day 76 – #NebraskaFlood2019

I’m totally borrowing and recycling information tonight, but it’s honestly the best thing I can think to do on this blog right now. A lot of people in my home state need a lot of help. We’re pretty dry here in Lincoln right now, but the massive flooding all around us is damaging the city’s wellfield and threatening our water supply. As of about an hour ago, we’re officially on mandatory water restrictions.

And still, we’re the really lucky ones. The town of Peru has approximately 170,000 gallons of water (about 3 days worth) left in the tower.

Other towns have lost all water and been completely evacuated. And some have been swallowed up completely.

There are a lot of people hurting, and a lot of rebuilding that will need to be done once the floodwaters finally recede. So much has been lost, will continue to be lost in the days and weeks to come. But there is so much good happening here too. People coming together, helping each other, loving each other. This…this is what being human is all about. We will get through this together.

We are #NebraskaStrong.

Day 75 – #NebraskaStrong

You know we hear all the time about how the world is more connected now than ever, how social media and internet access and smart phones give us instant access to things happening all over the world, allowing us the experience news as it breaks. But that’s only half true, isn’t it? Because we’re really only as connected as our newsfeeds and our limited worldview allow us to be. The reality is that we can believe we’re informed and think we’re so “woke” but the only way we can ever really know for sure is to disconnect from our usual channels and push outside our comfort zones and look past the noise and the bullshit being fed to us.

Forgive me if I’m a little irritable right now, but I’m sitting here in a state that is literally drowning. Two-thirds of Nebraska is under water tonight. Entire towns, farms, ranches. Animals are freezing, starving, drowning. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, lost everything. Bridges and roads have been washed away. I’m seeing photos of the devastation in my newsfeed, posted by friends and family. Yet somehow this is all a blip on the national radar, barely a story any of the major news stations are really covering.

Hell, Nebraska got way more coverage when our new state slogan was unveiled a few months ago…”Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.” Yeah, that hit the late night circuit. Live with Kelly and Ryan sure had a great time poking fun at it.

Tonight, all of the major news outlets are running the same old stories about who the President is tweeting at today, followed by hard-hitting headlines about April the giraffe giving birth again, the potential for Russell Wilson to sign the biggest NFL contract in history, Lori Loughlin losing out on deals with Netflix and the Hallmark Channel, and Chris Hemsworth snapping selfies with wildlife in Australia.

You know, all the really important things.

But even if we’re laughably called a “flyover state” by a whole lot of people who have never even bothered to get a real glimpse of what Nebraska has to offer, there is absolutely no other place I’d rather be at a time like this. Because if there is one thing we Nebraskans are really great at, it’s facing adversity head-on and taking care of each other.

So yeah, we’re getting bitch-slapped by Mother Nature right now and most of the world isn’t even aware, but we’re standing up and pulling together and I have absolutely no doubt that we’re going to emerge from this stronger than ever. It’s just who we are. It’s just what we do.

We’ll stay #NebraskaStrong

Day 74 – I can’t even

Stevie is convinced that he’s got Henry’s next Halloween costume all picked out…

What do you think?

No shit folks, this is just his hair! Now, I will say, it wasn’t quite this crazy when he went to school this morning. Just the usual patch standing straight up near his cowlick. But by the time the day was over, this happened…

I can’t even. Where do I start?

Day 73 – #Goals

My life goals, in a nutshell.