Make Your Passion Come Alive

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that finding your passion truly has to come from within. This was a struggle that I faced for quite a few years and it wasn’t until someone I truly admire and look up to took 30 minutes out of his day to visit with me and said, “Eileen, what is your passion? What drives you and excites you every single day?” Here I was face to face with a guy who has known me since I was a small child, has known my family for decades and currently the President of a major fortune 100 company asking me what my passion was. Wow. That’s a great question and it allowed me to do a little bit of soul searching from there on out. And today, I couldn’t be more thankful for Jeff looking at me and whether he knew it at the time or not, he changed my life. He emphasized the need to find my passion and follow it.passion

Not everyone is fortunate to have a “Jeff”, and I understand that, but what you do have is the internal drive to make your passion come alive and make your dreams come true. You have the ability to change your own life, to change the lives of others around you and live life like there’s no tomorrow. For those that are closest to me learn pretty quickly that I’m a “glass is half full” kind of person and it’s because of this that some people ignore me (and that’s okay) but it’s because of this that I’ve surrounded myself by positive minded people, friends that have a passion and friends that love what they do.

As an avid “ag-vocate” for an industry that I was born into and truly love, I’m often reminded that not every day is good, but there is something good in every day.  For the past 48 hours I’ve had the privilege of spending time with friends that have become my family over the years.  It’s these moments that I would love to freeze in time because it’s weekends like this that help remind me of what I do and more importantly why I do it. It’s weekends like this that remind me that farming isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not for the weak minded and it’s certainly not for those who don’t care about others. It’s an industry that is filled with passionate people. It’s a dream that every farm kid has but not everyone gets to make that a reality. These friends I visited this weekend are making their passion come alive despite the challenges they face every day in an industry that is oftentimes against them. Cows are unruly. Equipment breaks. Neighbors aren’t always neighborly. Milk price is terrible. Beef price is at an all-time low. Mother Nature doesn’t listen. The risks are heavy. The anxiety is sky high and the pressure to do well is unlike any other.

So why do it? What keeps these guys going? What drives them? These are questions I ask myself of them and ask myself internally every day. It’s passion. Just like Jeff told me 9 years ago, “Find your passion.” These guys have found it. They may not see it. They may not realize it. But the passion is there. It’s an internal feeling and it’s an internal drive that keeps you going day after day. Soon after meeting with Jeff, I changed my outlook, my path and my driving force that helped me appreciate life every day and today, it’s these friends. These friends that continue to stand by my side, allow me to ride in the tractor whenever I show up, answer my ignorant questions (that might seem endless), allow me to take pictures and capture moments, memories and stories. It’s these friends that literally open their doors for me. It’s these friends that help my passion come alive.

Celebrate Love, Everyday

I was recently sorting through some old pictures and came across this gem. And while it may not be their favorite, it is one of my favorites. It came before marriage, kids and before we all learned that reality isn’t perfect. As the world celebrated their loved ones yesterday, I can’t help but celebrate these two today. It’s not their anniversary and it’s not their birthday. But it is another day that they continue to show love for each other, their family, their friends and most importantly, The One who made all of it possible. I don’t think we spend enough time in our lives thanking those around us. We tend to focus so much on ourselves and the love we have for one significant other that we tend to forget about those that taught us how to love ourselves, each other and the world around us. These two are the epitome of what true love is. Their life isn’t perfect and they will be the first to admit it but despite the imperfections and the pitfalls in the rollercoaster ride of life, love and faith win every time. So on this random Wednesday, here’s to you, Derrick and Nicole. May true love, compassion and kindness appear in your life today, tomorrow and always. xoxo

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No Resolutions, Only Goals

It’s almost a month into the New Year. Did you make resolutions this year that you’ve kept so far or have you given up already? Or are you like me, where you don’t really believe in the word “resolution” because it seems intimidating or kind of expected that you make them?

For the first few days of the New Year, you see so many messages of hope, prosperity and excitement of adventure that the New Year is hopefully going to bring. Messages such as “New Year. New Me.” Or “365 days ahead of me to make a difference.” My response to that is, why wait? Why do you wait until the beginning of the year, the start of a month or Monday to start over and find a “new beginning?” Why wait until tomorrow? In my opinion, you don’t have 365 days ahead of you, you have today and today only. You’re never guaranteed tomorrow and you’re not even guaranteed the next 2 hours. The only moment you have is this moment. Right now. This second. What are you going to do with it?capture

A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not do something” while a goal is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort.” To me, that means a resolution simply means you’re either going to do something or you’re not. When you set goals and have dreams you’ve already made the decision to strive towards success and making them come true. A resolution is simply a poor excuse to give up quickly.

According to statistics, less than 60% of resolutions are kept past one month of time whereas goals and dreams last every single day throughout the year because they are endless. As you reflect on this first month of 2017, I ask you to do one thing, change your resolutions to specific goals. Once you’ve established your goals keep this in mind: be patient and measure your progress. Share those goals with your friends and family and remember that when you slip up, it’s simply an obstacle that makes obtaining that goal even more worth it.
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And finally, stop thinking that January is a fresh start and a new beginning. Every single morning you wake up is a new beginning, a new day and a new opportunity to make your goals come true. So now I challenge you to establish your goals. What do you want to accomplish this year and why are you waiting for tomorrow?

2017 Goals

  1. Become more confident in my own skin.
  2. Increase my savings account.
  3. Drive a tractor.
  4. Stay credit card debt free.
  5. Stand up for myself a little bit more.
  6. Become stronger physically and mentally.
  7. Tell someone exactly how I feel.
  8. Go on an epic road trip.
  9. Spend a little more time determining friends vs. acquaintances and focus on what and who is most important
  10. Continue to challenge my comfort zone.
  11. Write a personal blog post at least once a month
  12. Connect with and thank a few people from my past that challenged me to get to where I am today personally and professionally.

Farm Life – It Never Gets Old

Have you ever loved something so much but didn’t know it until you lost it or didn’t have it quite so much in your life anymore? That’s the way I feel about farm life. You see, to most people I’ve always been a farm kid, born and raised on the farm and it’s been part of my life and in my blood since I was born. But what most people don’t know is that when I initially went to college, I wanted nothing to do with farming, agriculture or the people that were in that industry. Needless to say, it only took 2 weeks of being away from it to know that I missed it and needed that part of my life back.

In life, we typically remember birthdays, anniversaries and holidays but in our family, one date that is forever etched in stone is November 23, 1997 – the date we sold our cows and began the process of moving off from the farm. So while the farm hasn’t been part of my daily routine for the past 19 years, I’m forever grateful that I have still been able to be part of the ever-changing agriculture industry. This industry has taken me around the world, across the country and introduced me to people within my own state and community that truly love the industry as well.

Oftentimes I, and I assume others too at times, get consumed by the everyday mundane tasks of life. Facebook, cell phones, reality TV, celebrity gossip, materialistic this and that can sometimes take over the daily routine but it’s the times when I step away from my reality and back into the daily routine of a farm family when I am at my happiest. When I’m surrounded by hard-working people that love their cows, calves, cats, dogs and every animal on their farm as if they were their children – it’s at those moments when I feel most at home.image

Now I may spend my day behind my phone, email or computer (like I’m doing right now) but nothing makes me happier than seeing my favorite farmer light up when a new calf starts to walk for the first time. It’s the moment when you see the light in his eyes when he talks about a show animal from back in the day or the moment he takes an old cow and gives her a little extra TLC because she deserves it. It’s hopping into the tractor just to spend a little more time together and it’s just relaxing at the end of the day. It’s these moments that help you realize what really matters in life and it’s these moments that make all the others worth it.

It’s funny that I tried so hard to get away from farming and agriculture and now looking at my life, the greatest memories and times I have are the ones spent in Carhartts and boots with farmer friends all around as we’re surrounded by cows and corn fields. It’s those times that I cherish and those people who choose to share those times with me that mean the most. It may not be an easy life or profession but it certainly is a memorable one that is chosen because farm life requires a passion that never gets old.

Look Forward, Not Backwards.

It is truly inevitable that as one year comes to an end, another year begins. For some, the next few days are focused on thinking “2016 was the worst year ever” or “I can’t wait until next year.” It seems the majority of thoughts are on the bad things that have happened, downloadthe heartache that we experienced and the loss we’ve faced. But for me, I’m a “glass is always full” kind of person. Why focus on the bad when it was a year of greats, and not just for me, but for those I’ve surrounded myself with.

2016 was a year of change, just as every year is in some way. I took a leap of faith, quit my job, moved my life across the country (again), and continued to live the life I’ve dreamt of for oh so long. When you seek out opportunities to pursue the dreams that you’ve had for yourself, you tend to shift your focus onto the greats in life rather than the pitfalls of your year. You must find the strength to focus on the excitement in your life, the memories you’ve made and the traditions that keep you going.

One of my favorite traditions has been a tradition for the past 10 years. I have welcomed in the New Year with two of my best friends by my side. Not only have they been my support system through the multiple years of challenges and changes, but they have been my family. Not only do we celebrate over a dinner together and family around the table, but we laugh, we smile and sometimes even shed a tear or two all through the year. The best thing about these two friends is that none of us dwell on the past. Instead we focus on the future, the dreams and adventures that await and the challenges we can all overcome. These two friends have been part of my year end and year beginning traditions for more than a decade and I simply can’t imagine a tradition more worthwhile.

All too often as we see one thing, one event, one holiday or one year coming to an end, the tendency is to focus on the loss or the ending. Today, I challenge you to two things. 1. Think of everything GREAT that happened this year. It might be 10 things, 25 things or even 50 things. Start with yourself, extend those thoughts to your family, your friends, your support system and even beyond.

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Everyday, write down one great thing that happens. Open them up on New Years Eve and you’ll realize it was a year of “greats” and not just loss and heartache.

And 2. Start 2017 off on a positive note.  Two years ago when I knew I needed to shift my mindset, I started off the year by writing down a positive thought every single day. Today, I challenge you to do the same. Literally write down, every single day, something great that happened. You must truly believe that although every day may not be good, there is something good in every day so stop looking backwards and start looking forward.

15 GREAT things that happened in 2016

  1. I quit a job that wasn’t fulfilling my life’s’ dream.
  2. I paid off my credit card debt.
  3. I accepted a position that has challenged me personally and professionally.
  4. I have the opportunity to work alongside an amazing leader in NYS agriculture every single day.
  5. I made a difference and taught other people about the industry I live and love.
  6. I have been given the chance to catch up with old college friends.
  7. I was able to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays alongside my greatest friends that have become family.
  8. I’ve seen my friends kids grow up way too fast!
  9. Numerous friends have told me they are expecting little ones in the 2017!
  10. One of my closest friends I made in St. Louis asked the one he loves a life-changing question.
  11. I’ve dreamed big….with no limits.
  12. I’ve experienced heartache which means I care.
  13. I’ve witnessed friends making their dreams come true.
  14. I started writing more often – personally, not just for work.
  15. I took a vacation to my 2nd home of St. Louis to spend time with some lifelong friends.images

Is the sky really the limit?

One day when visiting my best friend, I asked him, “What’s the ultimate dream? Your ultimate dream. The sky is the limit.” After a short pause, he replied, “I have no sky.” I was speechless. What a perspective. When you work day and night to make a dream come true, I firmly believe that you have a different perspective on life, on making your dreams come true and making your future brighter than all of your yesterdays (and this friend and his amazing wife are doing just that!)25377a22e4671661f8c9c015a325a941

When you were younger, what was your first dream? Why did this dream appeal to you? Did you dream of being a doctor, teacher or lawyer? Did you dream of changing the world, being a superhero or MVP of the World Series after hitting the winning homerun in the bottom of the 9th inning? It doesn’t matter what your dream was or what your passion is today, what matters is that you continue to follow your heart every single day to make your current dreams come true.

I am 31 years old and I have my dream job. Now don’t get me wrong, my dreams have certainly changed and taken different shapes over the years and I haven’t accomplished them all yet but for the past 12 years I’ve had a dream of loving what I do and doing what I love – helping others understand and appreciate the agriculture industry. And today, I work for an organization whose mission is exactly that. I won’t lie by saying it was easy to sit back and simply wait for the job of my dreams to fall into my lap, but in fact it was harder than anything I ever imagined.

When I was in 6th grade, my teacher gave our class an assignment to write an autobiography. Little did I knew that I had a lot to say about myself at that point (it’s a lot harder to do now a days when life seems a lot more complicated). So off to the races I went and I started typing away and telling my life story about growing up on a farm and talking all about my family and then came the page (or 5) where I talked about my dreams and goals in life. I was in 6th grade and I was going to go to law school, mainly because my dad told me that as soon as I passed the Bar exam he would buy me one of those fancy corner desks. (I’m still waiting) But my dreams didn’t stop there. After being a lawyer I wanted to become the local judge in my hometown and then go onto become a Supreme Court Justice and then obviously, the President of the United States. Oh and I also dreamt of being a meteorologist. Not bad for being a teenager but then I got to high school and reality hit. Penn State University was the dream and I was going to become a famous sports journalist and work for ESPN and make it big in corporate America. How could you go wrong with living the big life in the big city? Well, I tried the big city life, loved the city lights, the night life, sports galore and so much to do – never a dull or boring moment, ever. Until you realize that this isn’t the life for you and you find yourself dreaming, again. You see, dreaming never ends. And it never should. The moment you stop dreaming is the moment you stop living.  87224725a26288676b7e3c72c41fb2d1

Needless to say I’m not a lawyer, meteorologist or will ever be President of the United States and I’m not a famous ESPN journalist. But, I am still a dreamer and making those dreams come true doesn’t come without hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of passion. Now I don’t want you to think that making your dreams come true is easy. I’ve literally hit rock bottom before (more on that at a later time) but the lessons I learned, the people that helped me and the foundation for which I built my life back up are priceless.

So no matter when you started dreaming, whether it was because a teacher made you write
a paper or a friend gave you a different perspective, never stop. It doesn’t matter whether your dreams are to be a cattle rancher, the CEO of a company, president of the United States or simply someone who makes a difference in the world – don’t limit yourself.

I have new dreams each and every day. I like to think that I’m a day dreamer and a night thinker (hence the reason these posts are posted in the early morning hours of the day) but one thing will always remain true in my life – I’ll never stop dreaming and I’ll never stop having the passion for making those dreams come true. Find your support system that helps you think differently and you’ll be amazed at how much more determined you are to make your dreams come alive because you’ll be living with no sky.

So thank you to that 6th grade teacher who made me start dreaming and writing and to my two best friends who dream with no limits and continue to work hard every single day to make them come true. You’re an inspiration!15379407a07872e4dc8b1747b6e9b8c2

What Are You Thankful For Today?

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The month of November can mean something different to each person you meet. Halloween is finally over (I never understood that holiday anyways). Christmas shopping season is now more acceptable than it was in October. Fall colors are disappearing as cold air has arrived and crisp winds have taken place. Messages of thanks are appearing from people that might not have shown thankfulness all year long. Darkness appears earlier in the day and the snowflakes become a more common occurrence in the daily forecast. Most people call Christmas their “favorite time of year” but for me, my favorite “holiday” is November 1st through January 2nd. What can I say, I dare to be different.

This time period is my favorite “holiday” because it encompasses all that is great into 2 short months. The gatherings are endless, the food is delicious (hopefully) and the reasons to be thankful are plentiful. It’s a two month period that is filled with family drama, get away trips to my best friends house, phone calls with friends I’ve been determined to catch up with this year and so much more. It’s the time of year you can truly slow down and enjoy the moments that life provides you. It’s a period of time that ends with the old and welcomes the new. It’s a season of traditions and one that I have enjoyed for 10 years is ringing in the New Year with my two best friends by my side. On December 31st, I typically sit down and think of at least 50 things that have happened to me (both good and bad) throughout the past year.what-if-you-woke-up-today-with-only-the-1

But this season begins now….with the opportunity to reflect on thankfulness. When was the last time you truly sat down and thought about what you were thankful for? Think beyond the material possessions that you bought at the mall last weekend or the items that fill your closest but instead focus on the feelings of the season, the reason we are here and the mere fact that you’ve got things to be thankful for. Think about it….what if you woke up tomorrow morning with only the things that you were thankful for today? What would you have?

November 1 – the ability to speak freely, knowing that true friends respect you for your opinions and will continue to love you.

November 2 – it’s simple –the love of baseball. Not just my beloved Redbirds, but I’m thankful for the game, the legends, the heroes and the ones who come to the diamond day in and day out because nothing beats a night at the ballpark. Nothing beats the love of the game.

November 3 – the flexibility that each day brings me.

November 4 – time to reminisce about the past and be part of a team that has always included me as one of their own.

November 5 – napping on a Saturday afternoon

November 6 – despite not seeing each other everyday like we used to, the ability to pick up right where we left off with old friends is something that I will always treasure.

November 7 – time with my Dad in the great outdoors.

November 8 – the right to have an opinion, share that opinion and live in a country that is free because of the democracy we have and the selfless acts of so many.

November 9 – the ability to find common ground with people, even if it is over a simple picture on the wall of a happy place that we share – Busch Stadium!

November 10 – for the ability to connect with people and share my story especially to the people who have influenced me since the beginning.

November 11 – all of the true heroes in life; everyone that has served our country and is currently serving our country for the freedom we all enjoy and sometimes take for granted each and everyday.

November 12 – simply having friends who have never left your side, despite distance and time – nothing has changed.

November 13 – laughter.

November 14 – the teachers throughout my life that always made me write. They made me write journal entries, stories, autobiographies and so much more. It didn’t matter what it was, thank you for making me simply….write.

November 15 – honesty from life long friends.

November 16 – anxiety because it means I care, right?

November 17 – sleeping pills for the restless nights.

November 18 – not caring about being alone at the movie theater.

November 19 – comfy pants and cold medicine.

November 20 – an amazing team mate that provides endless encouragement and motivation and always pushes me and challenges me to think differently and continue to improve.

November 21 – SNOW!

November 22 – a family that works together and friends who help out in the time of need.

November 23 – friends who continuously open their door (and their couch) for me with a moments notice.

November 24 – waking up to some of my favorite kiddos wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. Oh and for turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes!

November 25 – friendships that are truly priceless and the ability to never stop laughing, never stop giving and always having a lending ear and hand when I need it and giving it when it’s needed.

November 26 – leftovers!

November 27 – time with my mom, Christmas shopping!

November 28 – Open, honest dialogue with those that I work with and for farmers who “get it!”

November 29 – a queen sized bed all to myself!

November 30 – simply catching up with friends I haven’t talked to in a long time and looking forward to the next 31 days filled with so many friends and many more memories being made!