Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Imperfect Perfection

“Perfection is found in accepting your imperfections.” - Bridgett Devoue


Throughout life we learn countless lessons. We learn how to walk, talk, engage, and how to grow. But, one lesson that I’ve found to be the hardest to learn focuses around the idea of perfection. 


You see, perfection is this goal that continually finds its way into my head. I tell myself almost everyday that I have to be the perfect friend, perfect sister, perfect teammate. If I’m going to be honest, I’m not. There are days where I am the furthest from perfect. Even now, as I’m sitting here attempting to write this post, I’ve found myself continually thinking that it has to be perfect, there has to be a lesson. But, thankfully, I have teammates to give me a reality check. 


Mere seconds ago, Nicholas did just that. He looked at me, and said, “Not everything has to have a meaning. Not everything has to be perfect.” So, instead of attempting to instill a lesson, here is a post filled with quotes that remind me it’s okay to embrace that imperfect perfection.





These quotes might not help you now, or in the next two weeks, but when you need a little pick me up- they'll still be here for you. At the end of the day, it's your imperfections that truly make you perfect.


Slightly less of an overthinker,

Kourtney Otte



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Give Thanks to the Small Things

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I thought it important to reflect and pay homage to the things that we are most thankful for. Traditionally, people recognize and appreciate the big things in their lives. The things that occupy our days and thoughts: family, friends, (and for many) FFA. For me, this holds true too. It is my nieces and nephews. For I firmly believe that they are the cutest individuals in the entire world. It is uncontrolled  laughter shared with friends. For that laughter makes you grasp your stomach and convince yourself that abs are forming under your t-shirt. It is my team. For those five individuals have a unique ability to both annoy me and shower me with love at the same time (like when they talk when I’m trying to watch TV). Don’t be mistaken. I truly do appreciate the big things in my life, and I am thankful for every single person that has pushed me to become the person I am today. But I feel that appreciating the big things is not enough. While these big things are important in their own respects, it is vital to recognize and appreciate the small things in life. 



In a single day, there are countless small things that make a person’s day. We must be thankful for those small moments. For me, it is poorly taken polaroid pictures and the memories they capture. Polaroids remind us of the laughter and friendship that we have created. It is the random origami penguins that show up on my desk from time to time. Jordyn makes these for me when I’m having a difficult day <3. It is snapchat memories that let us reminisce on the past. For memories let us relive the moments of pure happiness. It is pizza roll shaped fidget toys that staff gives the state officers to keep us preoccupied. It is hour long facetime calls with friends far away. It is the team bonding over Vampire Diaries. It is little pumpkins, state office requests, Rushville FFA Owls hidden around the house, and …. The list goes on and on. Because there is an infinite amount of small, little things that I appreciate every single day.  


There are so many small things in our lives that seem inconsequential. Because of this, they are often ignored and forgotten. While the big things may dictate our lives, it is the small things that truly bring us happiness. So I pose three questions to you: 1) What are you thankful for? 2) Are you thankful for the small moments and memories that make life worth living? 3) Are you focusing so much on the large things in life that the small things are being forgotten? I would challenge you to take the time to recognize these small things. Write them down and put them on your bathroom mirror. Every morning, you will be reminded of the small things that bring you joy and satisfaction. Because it is those small things that cultivate happiness. This Thanksgiving, appreciate the small things in your life.


Forever Thankful,


Nicholas Neuman


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

If Only the FFA Center Could Talk

The other day I was talking to some people, reminiscing about different memories from the Indiana FFA center and it got me thinking about everything that's happened there. History has been made as well as life long friendships and other memories. I think it would be interesting if the FFA center’s lake could talk because I wonder what stories it would tell. 

I think the lake would start by remembering all the speeches that it has heard. For state staff, state officers, and many other individuals the lake is a judgment free area where they can go to practice their speeches. The flag deck which overlooks the lake has heard the retiring addresses from countless past state officers. How they develop from a simple idea into the impactful stories that we hear at state convention in the summer. Beyond just Indiana retiring addresses the lake and flag deck have heard the retiring addresses of numerous national FFA officers as well. The national officers come to the center the week before the National FFA Convention. A lot of times they can be found practicing their retiring addresses somewhere on the property. The lake has had the opportunity to witness National officers prepare for speaking in front of tens of thousands of FFA members. But retiring addresses are not the only speeches the lake has heard. Just this past year the lake was the home of Mr. Rob Hay’s memorial service. The lake’s helped to remember the ones who have left their impact on Indiana FFA.

 Since the beginning of the center the lake has been around to watch friendship groups. The shore of the lake is home to multiple campfire pits. The places where members are able to gather for lots of fun and where people get to truly know each other. One such fire pit is at the state officer house. I think the lake would remember the numerous teams who have begun their year of service with a simple campfire. Those campfires are the basis to their friendships and are the first glimpses into who they are working with the rest of the year. The lake is home to the beach as well. The laughter and joy that's come from that beach is outstanding. It is genuinely an embodiment of summer and what it means to so many people. 

I think this is the first stuff that the lake would think of. Then it would start to remember all of the other fun memories people have made with it. The evening canoe trips, the monthly swims the current and past state officer teams have made ( even in the winter), and all the other ways that the lake has helped to bond people. The lake, if it could talk, could tell stories for days and never run out. And what is even more amazing is that the lake is only one part of the center. For all the fun and memories it has, the rest of the center has a thousand times more. From the groups that have met in the fellowship center to the members who have walked the lodge, the center is home to many of people’s best memories. 

One of my favorite stories that I’ve heard from Mr. Martin is the story of why he ran for state office. If you’ve ever attended a conference then you may have heard it right before reflections. It’s about how he saw the big dipper at the FFA center and knew that he was home and wanted to run for state office. I think this is true for a lot of people. All it takes is one time to come to the center for it to feel like home. The center and all it’s wonderful attractions have a way of doing that to people. I wonder what other buildings and locations at the center would tell stories about if they could talk? I’m sure they would be full of joy and fellowship just like the lake. Because the FFA center is a home for everyone and is a place for the best stories to be made.


Joyfully,


Tyler Kilmer

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Life's Greatest Advice

As I sat down to write my blog for this week, I’ll be honest, I had no inspiration. I had no message I wanted to share and no story to tell. That’s when one of my teammates, Kourtney, pulled a book off the shelf titled “The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book”. This book is filled with a ton of little tidbits of advice about how to live your life – some as surface level as “call a radio station with an opinion” and some as deep as “remember that life’s most treasured moments often come unannounced”. 


However, it wasn’t either of these that stood out to me. Rather, it was the following that caught my attention: “Ask an older person you respect to tell you his or her proudest moment and greatest regret”. As I texted some of my greatest mentors in life to ask for their answers to these questions, I soon realized that it is these people who hold some of the best advice. Let’s see what they had to say!



Marty Matlock:


Greatest moment: “The birth of our children, all 3, and watching them succeed is my greatest moment.”


Greatest regret: “My biggest regret is not always stepping outside my comfort zone when I know I should have.”



My grandfather:


Greatest Moment: “I have had a blessed life and as I look back at all those blessings, they tie back to God and Christ’s love for us. My greatest moment is realizing that through Christ all things are possible”


Greatest Regret: “Not living to my potential. I could have done more. Of course, everyone can always do more, but I chose not to even try lots of times. I was too prideful. If there’s a chance of failure, I wouldn’t even try.”



My momma:


Greatest Moment: “I don’t believe I’ve had my greatest moment yet. As I age, I find that life just keeps getting better. But, if I’m pushed to choose, it’s becoming a mom.”


Greatest Regret: “Once again, I’m not sure I have one because all parts of life are determined by God. But, maybe missing your performance in Wizard of Oz.”





My padre:


Greatest Moment: “Day of marriage & the 3 days my children were born.”


Greatest Regret: “Not going to work the wheat harvest in Australia.”



From my research, I would say I’ve found the three pieces of advice I, and hopefully you, needed to hear: 


  1. Find a source of inspiration and strength that fuels you to keep going – no matter what. For my grandfather, and my family, that’s our faith. For Marty, my mom, and my dad, it was their kids and getting the opportunity to raise them. For you, it may be different. Nevertheless, find the catalyst that keeps you motivated.

  2. Life is full of great, exciting events. At times, you may feel as though you have hit the peak moment of your life (getting married, your DREAM job, having kids, etc.). Yet, there is always the potential for even more. As my mom said “I find that life just keeps getting better”. Don’t stay stagnant when you feel you have “peaked”. Rather, allow yourself to keep living, keep growing, and keep pursuing new opportunities that can become some of life’s greatest moments. 

  3. This brings me to my 3rd lesson: don’t avoid pursuing new experiences. My grandfather often avoided “doing more” simply because he was afraid of failure. My dad avoided a trip to the other side of the globe because he wanted to help my grandpa with harvest; while that was important, he avoided the opportunity to travel and explore new opportunities because he felt he had an obligation. Life is full of infinite opportunities to learn and take on new adventures – don’t hold back because of failure or “obligation”.


As I set out to write this blog, I had no idea where it would take me, but I’m glad it started that way. It pushed me to reach out, gain new advice, and learn more than I could’ve ever imagined. While I hope the lessons my mentors shared helped you, I also encourage you to reach out to the mentors in your life.  They are truly full of some of life’s greatest advice. 


Always learning, 

Abby


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Choose People who Choose You

I. Love. Humans. 

  • Humans have so much power in the world, and can bring light and positivity to so many other humans. 

  • Humans have the ability to make people cry. 

  • Humans have the opportunity to make others laugh. 

  • Humans have the power to make others feel loved. 

Let me tell you something - my friend Carissa knows how to do almost all these points pretty well. 


During my weekend home, I had the chance to go to my brother’s football game on Friday night. A couple weeks before that drive home, I got a random text from carissa saying “ma’am let me know when you're in town! I want to see you so bad, I miss you. Maybe we could go to the football game at the school together!”

Perfect timing! I quickly texted her back saying I would be in town in a couple weeks, and we should grab something to eat beforehand. Humans have the power to make others feel loved. 


Friday night came along, and I was beyond ecstatic to see my long distance high school best friend, and meet at my ALL TIME favorite small town restaurant, The Gas Grill. We quickly parked next to each other, gave each other the biggest hug, and made our way in to get some grub before cheering loud for the Eastern Hancock Royals. We sat down, and immediately started talking about what we were up to, how our lives were going, etc. However, Carrisa made it a point to hear what I had been up to with undivided attention and words of encouragement. 

Towards the end of our conversation and a bussin’ meal, Carrisa handed me a letter. In this letter, she talked about how much she missed me and appreciated me as a person, reminding me I have always been someone she has admired and telling me all about how I am the “sweetest, kindest, brightest, and prettiest lady” she has ever met. After reading this letter that night, I started crying tears of joy because of the amount of love I felt… because of this person who has chosen me as a best friend.


In life, we want to be loved. We want to be heard. We are able to feel these feelings by choosing people who choose you. I will forever be grateful for each and every individual I have surrounded myself with in life who continually puts in effort to choose me.


Choose those who choose you. Your life will forever be transformed if you find those who will appreciate, accept, and value you as the authentic you. 



Living a good life,

Jordyn Wickard


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Stepping Outside of the Comfort Zone

For the past three weekends, our team has met so many members through our SOAR conference. Personally, it helped me to connect and form relationships with many of those people. I know one of my favorite parts was being able to get members to try a line dance or speak in front of the audience to answer a question. These things may have seemed small to others but they were big challenges for some.

We all are very aware of the words “comfort zone”. This idea is that anything that we would feel comfortable doing is inside of the zone. However, watching all of these members reach outside their comfort zone made me want to share my stories to encourage more people to challenge themselves. 

One of the most prominent times I remember being tested to do some uncomfortable task would be public speaking. I know, it sounds crazy that a state officer would be afraid of talking to a large group of people. But, the truth is that it terrified me. I felt like everyone was judging every single word I said. The first time I was faced with this was initially running for state office. Being able to speak in front of mentors or other prep resources made me so nervous. It took a lot of stretching my comfort zone to even begin to stand in front of them. Then, to be honest, I was not very good at first. 

Now, after being elected we have our first week of office which is considered base camp. I was relieved at the thought that I would not have to speak in front of people for quite some time (or so I thought). It was the last day of base camp when our facilitator asked for us to give some practice reflections. It honestly made me sick that now I had to be vulnerable and talk in front of some of the best people in the state (my teammates). Yes, I had done some speaking in rounds, but it was not done right with my teammates sitting a couple of feet away from me. My thoughts were spinning about whether they would wonder why I even got on the team or if the words that came out of my mouth would even make sense. My comfort zone had almost shrunk back down again.

To be really honest, I cried in front of my team that day. It was not because my story was really sad but I was scared of being a disappointment. There was no time to wait though so the timer started on my reflection and I began. Yes, I made it all the way through the speech. No, it was not perfect. But the point was that I made it through a speech in front of my teammates after also receiving critiques. None of those critiques were that I did an awful job or needed a ton of work. I was overthinking and was scared to step out of my comfort zone. 

However, when I did step out of that zone, I realized that my teammates were here for me to be successful. That the other people around me in my life wanted me to do well also. This was one more scary thing that I accomplished. Now, I speak at conferences, chapter visits, and all other sorts of events.

The question is… What is making you a bit nervous, uncomfortable, or scared that you are doing? Go ahead and take the challenge head-on. There are people rooting for you to be successful. This is your challenge to step out of your comfort zone. I cannot wait to see you grow.


Stepping out of her comfort zone,

                                      Madisen


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Self Deception

There are some mornings I wake up with a pit in my stomach. My heart starts racing. Somedays it feels like my skin is on fire. Thoughts start to creep in soon after. They start to flood my head almost as fast as the nauseousness. You see, these days come like waves. Sometimes they’re one right after the other, sometimes they arrive quickly.


With these feelings, came worries. Thoughts that I shouldn’t be here, that I will never be able to be the type of state officer that I needed to be. I don’t understand why I’m here. Now, that caused a completely different problem. You see, this created self deception that not only started to destroy me, but others. 


Every morning when I’d wake up, finally pushing those feelings and thoughts aside, I’d try to be the best friend, officer, teammate that I could be. I’d focus so much on trying to get to what I thought everyone wanted me to be that I lost sight of who I actually was. I became indecisive, wanting to make sure everyone else was able to get what they wanted. I became burnout, just the idea of work sending a pit into my stomach because I couldn’t imagine doing anything less than perfect. I became bland, I was so focused on showing up as this shining individual that I actually lost what made me shine. 


I felt like I was hiding behind fogged glass. It’s just foggy enough to blur the edges on who I am, but yet one wrong action could completely shatter whatever I had tried to create. 


This whole realization happened after a conversation with my mom. She mentioned that the person who I was when I walked across the stage at graduation was not the same person that sat before her. She said that I was so focused on making everyone else happy, filling the thoughts and ideas that they seemingly put in my head. 


Click


That’s when it all made sense. I had created this false reality of who I needed to be. I had deceived myself into thinking that I had to be this, do this, think this, wear this, all so I could be someone.


This self deception won’t go away immediately, it's going to take time. In fact, for the first time since June, I woke up without a pit in my stomach. While that was a huge step in ridding myself of that deception, those thoughts were still there. It’s going to take time.


I don’t know what your self deception is. Maybe you think that you’re less than you are, you think that you only cause problems, maybe you even think that you shouldn’t be where you are. But, while I don’t know you, I do know that you can overcome this obstacle, because that’s what it is. They’re just thoughts, they’re just feelings. But, they aren’t reality.



Still improving,

Kourtney Otte