Home.

IMG_0964.JPGHome: Four little letters that I’d like to think have no universal definition. As young people, home is constantly changing. From one’s childhood home, one’s first college dorm room, or one’s flat with four other people who one has absolutely no control over. At times home may be filled unknowns, comfort, good and bad. Yet home, it’s something we take for granted. Home; it’s a funny thing. When I begin to reflect and look at the great big sky at night, a full moon surrounded by glimmers of light, I can’t help but firmly believe that all the motions that take place in my life are meant to be. Being born and raised in North Dakota I have no doubt that I was honored with a phenomenal birth home. From the hospitable people, to the towns that I could navigate with my eyes closed, I know that I could build a genuine relationship with anyone that would step into my path. When I landed in the Auckland airport, something similar happened. I met a kind soul that would change my experience at the fine Uni. Although conversation wasn’t long, the courageous effort that was put into having conversation that would potentially benefit both of us was unreal. UNREAL. It was in that moment that I knew I was in for a doozy of a semester. As many of you know, people are my world. I appreciate every aspect of an individual. As soon as I met my first Kiwi as well as other international students, I began to admire minute things that I never would have thought about. As this experience progresses, I don’t think I will ever be able to explain the beauty that I see in each day.

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Yet one thing is more real than anything in this life of mine, and that is bliss. I wish upon each of you the bliss of your families, the bliss of your friends, the bliss of your passions, and most certainly the bliss of completely embracing yourself in every way.  When one does this, the physical surroundings and individuals that appear in your life come to have a greater meaning. However, it’s significant to note that building relationships of this type will never come from a half-ass effort, and for that I challenge you. I challenge you to become vulnerable, even if there is not a big life event going on in your world at this time. I wish I would’ve realized this aspect of the individual sooner, and I believe it can be the individual’s most precious challenge. So get on or miss something invaluable. It’s your choice, but surface level interactions will lead to minimal growth, and I know you’re capable of more, wherever home is in this moment.

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All is groovy here, and I can’t wait to share the wild adventures about to come.
Day six in a magical place called New Zealand//
-Cheers.

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“Grandparents are the Footsteps to the Future Generations.”

 I have a handful of days left of the North Dakota sunsets in this sweet place I’ve grown fond of to call my home. Tonight, I spent my time with my grandparents over a home cooked meal. Once again, something as simple as that may not seem like much to the ordinary person, but to me, hearing the voices of my loved ones gathered in one place was one of the best going away gifts I could ask for. I’ll admit, it was delightful because during this time of anxiety and stress it gave me comfort, but more importantly, I realized they were not only my foundation, but my future. I had convinced myself that I was not going to share any stories until I approached my new destination, but then my stubborn German grandfather inspired me to inspire you. So my first official story goes out to my Papa Ken. Although no miracles have happened in his life, I promise he’ll remind you to be grateful for what you have.

My Papa Ken is an astonishing individual. His roots sprouted on a family farm in the small town of Napoleon, North Dakota. He had four brothers and four sisters that he was blessed with, along with devoted Catholic parents who kept their heads on straight. Later on, in an unfortunate time, he lost his two eldest siblings to illness. (What’s absolutely ridiculous is that I hadn’t even known this until tonight. In todays society, we are all too caught up with what concerns ourselves that we forget to learn and love those around us. We forget how to communicate.) Time went on and all of the children of the family attended a small grade school. As my grandpa grew older his parents didn’t want him going to high school. They didn’t think it was necessary, they didn’t think the children had a future anywhere but on the farm. However, my grandpa had other plans for himself. He would sneak off and catch a ride with the neighbor kids to get a high school education, (one thing many of us are freely given yet disregard.) After graduation day, Ken stayed on the farm for four months until he packed up his things and started his career of welding.  During this time, he had worked in Edgeley, North Dakota and met the love of his life’s father. I had always wondered how my Grandpa met my saint of a grandmother, and it surprised me when he had told me that her father had brought him home for dinner. As he would say,” We ate family dinner, and the next day we were datin’.”
That started the next chapter of his life. After marrying my grandmother, they moved to Kansas where they started a family of their own. Three beautiful boys were brought into their lives but times were tough. My Papa worked his tail off 24/7 but struggled to make ends meet. “We were starving there, we were starving, worried, and had nothing but Jesus. I decided that if we were starving, we could be starving in the place we came from.” My grandpa packed up his family in the first car he had ever purchased, with his savings of $500 dollars in his pocket, and took a leap of faith. In Fargo, North Dakota he landed a job as a sales rep selling farm equipment. They brought two more beautiful beings into this world and he then dedicated himself to that company for forty years until he was sufficient enough to start a company of his own; A dream which he had for his family. He always told those who surrounded him that hard work, family, and faith will bring one through anything in this life. He even stuck to that when God took the life of an angel on Earth, my grandmother. She was taken by gallbladder cancer when I was just three years old, but even then, my papa had told me how she sparkled smiles on faces everywhere she went. To this day he sees beauty in everything, but especially in health. His circumstances may have not always been ideal, but there is an incredible amount of courage in persevering through the darkness, and giving thanks to God in the glory of the light.
A gentleman that started out with nothing didn’t know what his future would hold, but by believing that God would carry him in the past, present, and future, is now the happiest gentleman I know. I am proud to call that gentleman my hero. He’s taught me right and wrong, he’s taught me a hard work ethic, he’s taught me how to have faith even when it’s more than difficult, but most importantly, he’s taught me how to love. Not just fuzzy feeling love, but selfless love and sacrifice for those who need it. As we said our goodbye, he handed me a crucifix that was my grandmothers and said,” Girl, don’t ever forget your faith.” I am who I am today because he left me the footsteps to a good life.   

To my Family, Friends, and Beautiful People:

As these hot summer days shine on us all, I’m ready to shine in a new chapter of my life. This summer started out as a time of comfort with my parents, siblings, best friends, and boyfriend surrounding me at every chance I got. What I missed, was how significant that time was and what it meant. As this summer comes to an end, I realize I’m so busy growing up that I forget my parents are growing old. I realize my siblings have a life of their own with goals they strive to accomplish. I realize how bittersweet it is to watch my best friends leave one by one to grow successful in their own unique ways. Lastly, I realize how easy it is to take the special ones you love most in your life for granted. I realize now more than ever that I’m human. I laugh, I cry, I talk too loud, I say nothing at all, I make mistakes, I open my heart for forgiveness, I crave happiness and I seek for personal growth. Looking back on this summer, the events that have happened, and the events to come, made me realize that I have a story to tell. Those close to me may know it, those who have heard my name may have an idea, and those who are merely looking in, may never know. However, a special someone made me realize that the beauty others spread in our lives is nothing to look past. For me, I made the mistake of looking past it once, and lost something invaluable. Today, I decided from this day forward, I will vow to seek out and share the beauty of others. I start this blog on my journey to present to you real people I will encounter, and their stories. Eventually I have a non-profit goal in mind for this project, but until I release that, you will have to give me time, have faith, and enjoy this adventure with me.