Thursday, December 17, 2015

Everyday Objects

Have you ever had a feeling that something is missing? That has happened to me many times. Realizing the bottle of Sweet Baby Rays was empty, not being able to find the perfect song for the car ride, or finding an empty roll of stamps are all scenarios which cause me to have that empty feeling. No matter how often I get that feeling, I can never imagine my life without three things: barbeque sauce, music, and stamps.
My obsession with barbeque sauce has been around as long as I can remember. Growing up, you could find me asking for it over ketchup. I would apply it to everything from scrambled eggs, to potato chips. I would always have a mild heart attack when I realized that I would have to go one meal without barbeque sauce. No matter how much prep work I did, we always seemed to run out. Without barbeque sauce, I would have to actually taste the food.
Likewise, with music, I have loved attempting to belt out a note, or two, since I was a little kid. I grew up watching American Idol and I was even a “fan girl” of Pitch Perfect. As I got older, I found myself constantly having headphones in or the radio on; as a result, I started to appreciate the sound of music.. Music helped me through many difficult situations: finding the answer to that unsolvable homework problem, enduring through a long drive, or getting a perfect night of sleep. I had to find the perfect song just to make it through.
I have lived in three zip codes in the past two years: 47246, 46906, and 46181. My zip code changed frequently, but mail was always constant. While currently living at the Leadership Center, I have come to appreciate mail even more. Although there three giant cell phone towers just down the road, our cell reception is not the best. At the beginning of the year, I decided I would try something a bit different than a typical phone call, or text. I started writing. I would write thank you cards, letters, and even send gifts back and forth to FFA chapters, members, and my family.
When I first started writing, I was a bit skeptical. But after hearing how much a card, or letter, can mean to someone, it blew all doubts out of my mind. Now anytime I have a meaningful conversation with someone, or go on a chapter visit, I make sure to use a stamp and send them a note. The best part about this obsession is that sometimes I get letters back. Call me old fashioned, but sometimes I guard the stamps as best I can to prevent a stamp shortage.
Today, I know why I feel like I am missing something when I do not have barbeque sauce, music, or stamps. Growing up obsessed with barbeque sauce helped me find my love to cook, so I would not have to cover the taste up with sauce. My constant need to be listening to music inspired me to one day join an acapella group, so I could always belt out a note. Guarding the stamps ensures that we never run out, so that I can always send a letter instead of a text message. Although it is kind of crazy to feel sad when you cannot get your hands on some barbeque sauce, ears tuned into some beats, or runout of stamps for those envelopes, I now know what can inspire passion.
Passion does not have to be inspired by some big show, or banquet. Maybe it is not the will to win or the need to have your name on the wall. What inspired passion for me was the small objects that I used every day growing up. I will never be able to get enough barbeque sauce, music, or stamps. What can you never get enough of? It may end up inspiring you to be passionate about something.

Be the Change,

Joshua Calhoun
2015-2016 Indiana FFA State Sentinel

Monday, December 7, 2015


Gratitude—one word, with only nine letters, containing a huge meaning. Expressing gratitude is sometimes an act we all fall short of perfection on while performing. We don’t show our appreciation for those who have given us so much—parents, siblings, teachers, friends, grandparents, and other mentors. We forget to say thank you, return the favor, or even simply acknowledge that a sacrifice, however small it may be, has been made for us.
Recently, I have noticed this as one of my own shortcomings. It became very clear to me the night after the closing session of the first FIRE. One of the duties assigned to the officer in charge of the opening and closing session is reading all the thank you notes written by the FFA members and then sending them out. These thank you notes were written to sponsors like Farm World and MacAllister, Indiana FFA State Staff, Leadership Center Staff, and guest speakers. During my closing session, I hadn’t really given the FFA members much direction on what to put in the actual thank you notes. Everything written in them was genuinely from their own thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t have been happier with the results. As I read them, tears came to my eyes. The amount of sincerity and thankfulness that radiated from those simple thank you notes blew me away.
           The definition of gratitude is, “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” I have never seen that definition more clearly expressed, than in those thank you notes. It was a wake-up call for me. None of my successes, big or small, would have been possible without help from one of my many mentors. I wondered to myself, “Do I always show gratitude to those people?” If I’m being honest, the answer is no.
            So I’m taking a second right now to say thank you, to offer some much deserved gratitude to those individuals who have given me so much help. Thank you to my family for always believing in me and being honest with me no matter what. To my friends, thank you for loving me even though I don’t always text back. For my teachers, thank you for pushing me to reach higher and be better. Everyone who helped me become the speaker that I am today, please know that I am so grateful. All the people who molded me into the person I see in the mirror everyday—thank you.
            Who do you need to thank? You can’t get anywhere in life alone. Think about those people in your life who have really impacted you. Take a moment tonight, today, or tomorrow and show them how much you appreciate them. Give them the gratitude they deserve. We don’t know the moment or the hour we will be taken from this Earth. We do not have an eternity to express our gratitude to those we love and appreciate.
            Gratitude— one word, with only nine letters, containing a huge meaning. It’s something so simple we can give to those who mean the most to us. Don’t withhold that gift. Give the gift of gratitude generously.

From the State Officer House with Love,

Annalee Witte
2015-2016 Indiana FFA State Secretary