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December 11, 2010

Just Let it Snow

When I was younger, snow was almost equal to Christmas presents in terms of awesomeness. It held so many playtime possibilities, from snowmen, to snow angels, to playing fox and goose with my family. You could sneak up behind someone and give them a nice snowball in the back of the head, or grab a sled (or box if you couldn’t find one) and go skidding down the nearest hill.

The adults in my life, however, disliked the snow, and only grumbled about the endless shoveling and cold weather it brought. I couldn’t understand their complaints. After all, the number of games and amount of fun that could be had in snow far outweighed the small portion of the driveway I was supposed to shovel. And the cold simply meant that I couldn’t stay outside too long, or my nose would turn blue and fall off, a little joke my dad didn’t think I would actually believe for several years.

Since those days of snow angels and fox and goose, my love has snow has dwindled, and I am hard pressed to find another college student who disagrees with me. Snow has simply become a hassle. Now, snow is just something to shovel when you’re home for Christmas break and trudge through while you fight the wind on your way to class.

This morning, I woke to the first coat of freshly fallen snow. My own sigh was met with a chorus of bemoaning throughout campus complaining of this hue less tragedy. Carefully trekking to the library in my newly necessary boots, I wondered why and where did my love of snow melt away.

The answer is quite simple. As children grow older, they play less in the snow, and instead must shovel it away or walk through it. By the time you’re an adult (before you have kids) snowmen are just objects you see on Christmas cards and snowball fights are simply memories of your childhood.

So I have a challenge for you: While outside shoveling this winter and wondering why the heck you don’t live in Florida, put down the shovel. Grab some snow in your hand, make a snowball, and whoop the nearest relative or friend on the back. Or grab a carrot and make a snowman. Take those sleds out of the top shelf in the garage and go yelling down a hill like there’s no tomorrow. And if you really want to embrace the snow like an old friend, drop down on your back, looking up at the winter sky, and make a snow angel. I did.

September 30, 2010

End of the Teenage Dream

It’s been seven years since I was a young preteen, yearning to be a true teenager. I looked forward to being classified as one of those “teenagers,” the loud, rambunctious, driving maniacs who live one day at time and don’t care what the world thinks.

Now, as I officially end my time as a teenager and take that one last step into the world of being a twenty-something, I stop to think of the past seven years and the lessons I’ve learned.

Mother IS always right.

Yep, it’s true, I admit it. No matter what teenagers say, mothers have an incredible brain packed with knowledge that could truly be beneficial to us youngsters if we just stopped being know-it-alls.

I finally realized this during my teen years after having a potential near-miss with frostbite. I had been arguing with mom about what else- fashion vs. practicality. I loved wearing my little ballet flats to school, because of course they were cuter (although colder) than my tennis shoes. Mom insisted I start wearing warmer shoes to school, especially on days I took the city bus home. One morning, after first putting on my ballet flats and getting “the look” from mom, I changed into tennis shoes before school. After school, I buttoned up my winter coat and braved my way through the single digit weather to the bus stop.

I waited…and waited… and waited. After shivering for 45 minutes at the bus stop, I learned that the bus had been in an accident and it would be awhile before I could get home. I finally arrived home, after waiting outside for an hour in the winter wind and weather. If I had had those paper thin ballet flats on, my toes might not have lived to tell this tale. Thanks mom.

You never know when your life will be changed.

I used to believe I was going to become a teacher, until everything changed. At the end of my freshman year, I went to a girls’ science and technology workshop, where I found my future career of engineering. A woman named Teresa Kincaid talked to us for twenty minutes about her job, and since that day, I have wanted to be a civil engineer.

Unfortunately, I never got to tell Teresa what a difference she made in my life because she passed away from cancer. But she has continued to be present in my life. Telling the Rotary Scholarship interview panel about her being the most important person in my life may have helped me receive the scholarship, and having that scholarship on my record was a big part of landing a job at the Army Corps of Engineers this summer.

Meeting Teresa Kincaid’s parents at the Army Corps picnic and finding her signature on a paper while cleaning out a new retiree’s office made me realize this is the path my life is supposed to be on. All of that from just twenty minutes.

In 5 years, it probably won’t matter.

When you’re a teenage drama queen, the simplest mistake or misfortune can seem disastrous. A stolen bike (I eventually got it back) or missing the bus because it took you ten tries to get your 6th floor locker open seem like catastrophes, and the end of a relationship seems like the end of the world. But whether it takes a movie and snack food at a friend’s or a couple months of self-rehabilitation, life goes on.

Nothing in life stays the same.

No matter how content I was as a shy quiet girl at St. Paul the Apostle school, I had to move on. I had to face that huge six floor high school, complete with 1,200 students from every walk of life. I had to get over my fear and talk to people to make new friends and join clubs to be part of something important. I had to see my potential and become a leader of my class and the clubs at school. But, no matter how happy I was as an involved and busy high school student at Central, I had to move on. I had to leave home and try out something completely new and unknown to me. I had to get used to being on my own and making my own decisions. And in less than three years, I will have to move on again, into the world of careers.

You will probably want that nail polish someday.

Like many girls, I went through that “too cool to be girly” phase in middle school. I stopped wearing dresses and skirts, despised the color pink, and purged my closet of “girly” things like my massive box of nail polish. I swore I wasn’t a girly girl and would never enjoy pink or putting on some cute shoes and a dress again... Well, standing in front of my dorm room closet now, I can easily pick out six dresses and seven pink shirts. To match with those shirts I have pink sheets on my bed, a pink rug in the common space, and a giant pink pillow behind my back. And man do I wish I still had that nail polish.

Wherever you are, be there.

Even though I have learned and now try to live by this, even I don’t always follow the advice. Some days I long for the next week, month, or even year. Some days I can’t stop myself from looking back on past events and wishing I could repeat some of those fun nights (or high school in general). But we are where we are, and we need to be there. This summer while working at the Corps, I sometimes envied people who were working there because they were settled in their lives and making a solid income, only to realize they were insanely jealous of me because I was still in college. So enjoy where you are when you’re there so you don’t someday look back and wish you had been more in the moment.

Just one more day as a teenager. It was a crazy wild ride, but here I am, ready to be two decades old. As the leaves fall around me and the trees go from green to red to brown, the wind blows my hair, promising new and exciting things to come.

August 29, 2010

Together is the Place to Be

Recently, someone asked me what I like to do in my free time. I opened my mouth without thinking; ready to spill the dozens of activities I enjoy doing. But before anything could come out, I realized I had not done most of these activities in months, some years.

For a minute, I was at a loss as to what to say. I had not scrapbooked since the beginning of high school, not been running frequently for almost two years, and read less than ten books since starting college (excluding text books of course, which would double this number).

As I was trying to figure out where all my free time had been going, one word popped into my head: people. As I looked back on my memorable free times during the past year, people were present in almost all of them. Whether it was watching and playing with my younger cousins Noah and Colin, boating with Austin, or talking and laughing with Fabian and my parents at the dinner table, these were the moments that captured my time and my memory.

However, I do not believe I have lost my hobbies; they are still there. Rather, I have put one activity in front of all others. I have always valued my time with friends and family, and although I have always considered myself an introvert, my need to spend time with people has gone from “never” to “a lot.”

Now, as I sit here looking at pictures of all the people I value so much, I am reminded of the saying, “Together is the best place to be.” Truly, it is. If we do not have time to be with each other, all the free time in the world for running and scrapbooking would not be enough.

August 16, 2010

The Three Hour Worth-While Wait

Yesterday my parents became empty-nesters and I became a sister with a grown-up brother after we moved my brother into his dorm room. We set out for Ames in high spirits, two cars loaded with boxes and bags of everything an 18 year-old male would need for his freshman year at college.

But at mile 181, just 40 miles from Des Moines, our journey came to a complete standstill. Traffic was backed up, and completely stopped. A fire truck came racing by, and just a minute later, a cop car squeezed by the stopped traffic. After a few minutes it became apparent we weren’t going to moving very soon. Mom and dad were in the car right in front of us, so my brother ran out and handed a couple granola bars to my mom through their window.

Fifteen minutes later, my brother got out and started dribbling the soccer ball. Some girls in the van next to us from South Dakota got out and trekked up the hill along the road for a bathroom break. A woman in the car behind us got out to walk her dog. There was nothing we could do but wait.

Twenty-five minutes in and it was looking bad. I called my grandparents and talked to them until my cell battery died on me 47 minutes later. My mom and brother took a walk up to next rest stop, just a mile up the road.

My patience was really being tested, and by the time mom and my brother came back, I was hot, sweaty, tired, bored, and pissed off. But when I learned why we were stuck waiting, it made the wait much more tolerable. Mom had talked to the sheriff at the scene, a mile up the road. She learned that just past the rest stop, an RV had crossed the median and came into oncoming traffic, hitting an SUV. Three people had to be air lifted to the hospital, and after being cut out of the vehicle, someone else had been taken by ambulance.

Hearing this startling news, I realized that we had only been minutes away from that being us. My family could have been the ones being air-lifted to the hospital. By the time my mom and brother came back, the police had gotten the people out of the vehicles, but were taking pictures and measuring everything- because they were pretty sure someone was going to die. And it could have been my family.

On my walk to the rest stop with my mom a few minutes later, I got to see how other people were coping with the wait. One couple had pulled out some chairs and were sitting reading the newspaper. Another elderly couple was using newspaper to block the sun streaming through their window. One man lay sprawled in the front seat. One woman sat in the shadow of her car, peacefully reading a book. Two boys threw a Frisbee back and forth, and many trucks, cars, and vans alike, got sick of waiting and drove across the precarious median to go back the other way.

Finally, three hours after being stopped, we were on our way again. Driving by the debris made me realize how bad of an accident it must have been. It looked as if someone had come and ripped apart an RV. A couch and bed lay on the side of the road, and the walls were propped up against unrecognizable pieces of furniture.

I pray that the victims of the accident make it through this accident, and I thank God it wasn’t my brother’s belongings strewn across the highway.

July 24, 2010

New Blog

Welcome to my new blog! I renovated this website from the previous one, which happened to be a little outdated for my no-longer 16 year old self. (I mean really, a title called “Becca the Brilliant Blonde?)

I decided to call it “Footprints” because I have a belief in the power of footprints, and also, because of my traveling passion which will hopefully take my feet to Spain next summer.