Day 145 – Typing 101

Cadence asked me today if I would please print her out a few coloring pages, so I grabbed my laptop to look something up. She watched as I typed in my password and remarked,

“Wow, Mom. You type really fast!”

I told it was because I’ve had a lot of practice, and that I took some typing classes back when I was not much older than she was because they were just starting to use computers in classrooms.

Yep, I blew my 9-year-old’s mind today when I lived in a world before cellphones and tablets and home computers.

Then she asked how fast I can type, and I told her I wasn’t sure anymore. The last time I took a typing test, it was around 90 words a minute. So we took a detour from the coloring page and found a website where you can test yourself and practice typing. You can check it out here:

https://www.keyhero.com/free-typing-test/

And while I’m certainly not always this fast or accurate, I gotta say, I even impressed myself a little with this one:

You know you want to try it, too. 🙂

Day 134 – Reading

Day 131 – On learning and change

“Learning is change”

I love that statement. I love that it’s true. Learning changes everything. It changes your day, your perspective, your stance, your biases, your vision of the future. It erases the limits of your worldview.

Learning is change, and it’s what we’re here on this earth to do. What else could possibly be the point of all this?

Every situation, every connection, every moment that we live and breathe and exist on this earth is an opportunity for learning. Shit…just thinking about it makes my head spin. What an incredible gift! The unfortunate part is most people are too caught up in the daily drama to recognize the opportunities as they come along. We’re just too damn busy to see them.

We’ve got to give ourselves time to think. We’ve got to give ourselves room to breathe.

We’ve got to carve out the space we need to let ourselves sit with those moments and dig into the learning.

If life is smothering you, make a change. If you feel trapped, start looking for a way out. If you feel miserable at your job, look for another one. If you feel neglected or used by your friends, find a new group.

Humans are not meant to stand still. Our lives shouldn’t be stagnant. We shouldn’t be barely brushing up against the limits of our potential–we should be busting through the barriers every chance we get, constantly questioning what we know (what we think we know), actively seeking opportunities to learn and grow and evolve.

Humans have limitless potential. Look at all we’ve done. Look at how far we’ve come, the amazing things we can already do. This is only the beginning. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of our potential. If we could stop fighting with each other, even for a moment, we would be utterly astounded by the things we could do.

My God, there is so much more than this. If we could just get out of our own way.

So it has to start small. It starts with you–one day, one decision, one person, one learning moment, one change at a time.

Day 128 – Books

One of the things I appreciate the most about my parents is they never said no to a book. Mom started reading to Lindy and I way back when we were babies. And when I started reading on my own, my thirst for stories was insatiable. I was that kid who always had a book with me (and another book or two tucked in a pocket or a backpack, just in case I finished the first one and needed a spare).

When we lived in Bird City, my summers were split evenly between the library and the city swimming pool. And every time took a road trip to visit grandparents and made a pit stop at the Walmart in McCook along the way, I would tell Mom and Dad that they could find me by the books, and then I’d take off before they could think to say no. By the time they finished their shopping and came to collect me, I’d usually have at least a half-dozen books cradled in my arms and I’d ask if I could get them. Mom and Dad always agreed to let me have one, (sometimes more than one if I chose a few that weren’t too expensive), and I’d leave the store clutching my prize and itching to settle into the back seat of the car and lose myself in a new story.

If there is anything in this life that I’m irrationally attached to, it’s books. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

Cadence had a school assignment over Christmas break this year–count the number of books you have in your house. I apologized to her before giving her a pad of Post-It notes and a little advice–go room by room and shelf by shelf. When you finish one shelf, jot the number on a sticky note, stick the note to the shelf, and repeat.

Final count = 1,308.

I’m fairly certain there are a few more books squirreled away in boxes in the basement, but we weren’t going to make her take on that excavation. And in the four months since she finished the assignment, I’ve probably added at least fifteen or twenty more to the count.

If it was anything other than books, I might have to admit I have a problem.

But here’s the thing–books are magic. And I truly believe they are the only way we humans ever get a chance to see what goes on inside the mind of another human being. They’re the only way we ever get an opportunity to step outside of ourselves and our own private world and get a glimpse of another. Only words wield that sort of power.

So yes, I hold onto them and return to them, and I enjoy walking into my house and seeing them sitting there on the shelves waiting for me to dive back in. And I love passing them onto others, sometimes mid-conversation saying, “Oh, have you read _____?” and then plucking a copy off the shelf and pressing it into their hands telling them to take it and read it and enjoy it and pass it along to someone else when they’re done because I can buy another copy if I want to replace it. There’s no better gift than the gift of a story.

Pass it on.

Day 107 – The F word

You know, I’d like to have a nice, long (probably expletive-filled) conversation with the first person who ever decided that failure is a bad thing–something to be embarrassed about, something to try and avoid at all costs and never, ever admit to.

I mean seriously, what the hell?

How have we deluded ourselves into thinking only perfection is acceptable, that perfection exists at all? When did we decided to start ignoring the process, to discount all the valuable things we learn when we make mistakes and miss the mark?

I’ve got a newsflash for you folks–nobody ever does it exactly right the first time.

Nobody.

And the only way to ever get it right is to figure out how NOT to do it wrong.

It’s hard though, to admit that we’re not 100% in control of our lives, especially now, living in our social media bubble where we’re constantly bombarded with everyone’s best moments.

It’s hard to own our mistakes and share our struggles when all we see are highlight reels.

But it’s the struggles that give life flavor, that make us strong. It’s the challenges we face that create us and define us and shape us into the people we will eventually become.

We have the potential to do incredible things, to make the world an amazing place, if we can muster up enough courage to try knowing that we’re going to miss the mark a few (maybe a few hundred) times.

We’ve got to experiment and fail and learn and repeat. Every. Single. Day.

So get out there and own your life. Try new things. Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up and cheer you on and help you find the way.

You got this.

Day 60 – Be the person you needed

This week has been a time of deep reflection for me. It happens sometimes, when the universe aligns in a way that demands my attention. And while I tend to keep this blog separate from my work life, sometimes it’s just not possible because so many of the things that I’m passionate about overall–learning, connecting with people, serving and supporting others–are things that I actually get to do as part of my job.

I spend a lot of time wondering how I get to be so lucky.

I know part of the reason I’ve been feeling so nostalgic lately is because Stevie and I have been talking about planning a trip back to New York this summer. Yep, that always gets me, thinking about getting to go to the place that will always feel like home.

But there have been other things the past few weeks too:

  • attending a first-gen book reading where memories of my own early college days came flooding back, and receiving a long, lovely email from Dr. Nakhai as I was walking out of the building and back to my car
  • going to a meeting of the First Gen RSO (student club) I serve as an advisor for and having a great conversation with the attendees about why we all chose to go to college and the different ways our families supported our dreams
  • getting my memoir manuscript back from my friend Tammy with her thoughts and notations jotted all over the pages that smell like campfire smoke from all of the late nights spent reading–the story of my adoption and reunion and the years I spent in college trying to figure out exactly who I was and who I wanted to be

I fell in love with the idea of college in my high school guidance counselor’s office. There were bookshelves filled with college catalogs, and on really slow days when there weren’t a lot of notes to deliver during the period I worked there in the middle of the day, I spent my time thumbing through the books and trying to imagine myself in the pictures taken on beautiful campuses, sitting in the classes that, from the descriptions, sounded a helluva lot more interesting than any classes I’d ever had the chance to take in high school.

I fell in love with college the minute I stepped on campus and walked into my first class. And it wasn’t just because of the class content or the independence of being away from home or the beautiful campus from the bustle and excitement of New York City…it was the people.

I saw a quote floating around that said, “Be who you needed when you were younger.” And it struck me that one of the reasons I love my job so much (working with college students and helping them transition from high school to college, from adolescence to adulthood) is because of the incredible people that I met during this exact time in my own life–the leaders, the mentors, the friends, the people who taught me some of the most difficult lessons in my life, the people who answered my questions and helped me get back up when I stumbled, the people who cared about me and believed in me and pushed me so much farther than I ever thought I could go.

Be who you needed when you were younger.

I was fortunate enough to find all of the people I needed, to still have them in my life today. And one of the reasons that I eventually made my way back to work in higher ed was because I know, without a doubt, I am supposed to take all the love and support I was given and pay it forward. And I feel so incredibly blessed that I get an opportunity to do that every single day.

And I hope you’ll forgive the indulgence because I just have to share…UNL does a really great thing where parents can write in and nominate a faculty or staff member on campus who has made an impact on the lives of their students. I have so many amazing colleagues all across campus who are helping students and changing lives in the way mine was changed and wow, that is such a cool thing! And I was so incredibly humbled to be nominated again this year and to read the comments submitted from the parents.

I can only hope these families know how honored I am to have an opportunity to work with their children and to be the person I needed (and found!) when I was once there too. ❤