Don’t Worry.

Today at church a woman spoke about worrying. I’ve been doing a lot of this lately–I worry about my nephews, worry about my siblings, worry about my parents, and if I’m still awake, I start to worry about my own mortality. Garrison Keillor said this about mortality in last week’s “News from Lake Wobegon,” after explaining that we tolerate people complaining about the cold because we can’t talk about the things that really trouble us:

“What really troubles you is you are middle-aged, and you can see the end from here, and mortality is what bothers you, and death is out there waiting somewhere…”

So I’ve been worrying lately, is what I’m saying.

As this woman spoke about worry, and its futility, and shared some strategies for how to at least minimize worry, she shared a story of being in a class where someone asked “How many of us here are worriers?” Only she heard “How many of us here are warriors?”

Such a small vowel affect that makes a huge difference, and I wonder if I am capable of shifting my own worry paradigm to a warrior paradigm. I can still be concerned about my nephews and siblings and parents and even my own mortality, but if I approach them all as a warrior, as someone who will fight for them (including myself), maybe the worrying will take care of itself.

It’s worth a try.

If I Won…

As I drove to church choir practice tonight, I passed a giant billboard for the Powerball.

$999 million, it said.

And even though I’ve never bought a ticket, my mind couldn’t help but start thinking about what I’d spend that $999 million on.

First, I’d hire a lawyer. I figure I’d lose half of it to taxes. So I started playing with $500 million.

I’d take $50 million and set up trusts–$5 million for each niece and nephew.

Then I’d take whatever it would cost to replace all the equipment in my journalism department and do that. I’d set a cap at $5 million–putting whatever is leftover into a trust or endowment to replace the equipment at least two more times.

I’d pay off my parents and both sisters’ houses, and then I’d buy all of them, and my brother, and myself, brand new custom-built houses. I figure I could do all of that for $20 million or so.

I’d donate $10 million to the Lydia House, a charity in Omaha that helps battered women.

Of course I’d pay off all my debts, a drop in the bucket when playing around with $500 million.

I think that takes me to under $100 million.

What would I do with the rest?

I’d go back to that lawyer and say, “Help me build a school. An arts school.”

I’d hire my friend A.J. to run the vocal department, my other friend A.J. to run the instrumental. I’d ask my friend Dave if he’d like to start a dance studio, and I’d hire a former student, Aaron, to run a photography program.

I’d convince my friend Marya to run a theatre program, Stueve to run a creative writing program, and I would take journalism.

I’d hire my friend Angie to teach math, Nikki and Amy to tackle English. And we would invite more of our friends to cover the subjects we need. School would start at 9 a.m., with an hour lunch, and end at 3 p.m.

The school would be application-based, and we would have a pretty hard line for when we expelled students who were falling short of expectations.

Oh, the expectations? Love learning. Be humble. Be teachable. Create art.

My dream school is what I’d do with the remaining $400 million.

All these things occupied my mind for the 15 minutes it took to drive to choir practice, and I have to say…

I kinda want to buy a Powerball ticket.

A Favorite Person I Was Forced to Miss.

Prompt: What’s the most time you’ve ever spent apart from your favorite person?

To answer this is to surely make enemies, as I have to identify who my favorite person is. I have lots of favorite people. How do I pick just one to write about? So if you are reading this and you fancy yourself one of my favorite people, just know that you probably are, and I’m only writing about ONE experience of ONE period of time I spent apart from ONE of my favorite people.

My sister Deanne.

When she moved to Japan, I thought I would die. For years, we talked nearly every day. Even if for only five minutes on my way home from school, we checked in every day. That would be impossible while she lived in Japan, with more than half a day’s time difference between us.

Sometimes we talked as I drove to school at 6:30 a.m. (while she was putting kids to bed). Sometimes I stayed up past my bedtime and talked to her until 11 or 11:30 p.m. (while she had a few moments before picking up kids from school). But one thing’s for sure: communication was sporadic and it sucked.

Now she lives in the Eastern Time Zone and I got so used to not talking to her that I forget I can call her pretty much anytime without her being dead asleep (unless she’s napping) (which has happened).

Yes, it was tough to be apart from Deanne, even though we haven’t lived in the same state since 1996. But the time apart did teach me to be a little more self-reliant when I would be fretting over some problem, and it reminded me to be grateful for time spent with her.

Even when that time is both of us one the phone, not saying much of anything, just sitting there knowing someone is on the other end of the line.

There Is No Place Like Nebraska…

Three or four years ago, BYU and the University of Nebraska announced the Cougars would be traveling to Lincoln to play a game of football. Not long after the announcement, my friend Grant issued an edict: he and I would attend the game together.

No zoom. This was my view if I turned ever so slightly to the right.

Fast forward to yesterday: Grant now lives in Colorado; that didn’t matter. His family has had season tickets for decades, and he laid claim to the best seats for the home opener against BYU.

Grant has tons of family and friends who tailgate at Nebraska games, and I had never really grasped the concept of what tailgating meant until yesterday. I saw Ford trucks with satellite dishes and big screen TVs set up to watch the early games. I heard party music played in the backs of Suburbans. (I also heard generators. Lots and lots of generators.) Every parking space I passed was stuffed with food and drink. The tailgating continued post-game as well, to wait for traffic to clear out.

And the people were so nice.

I can’t get over how nice the people were.

A couple of friends at school have been trolling me for weeks over this game. Every time a player was hurt or suspended, I’d get screenshots of the breaking news sent via text message. I endured jokes about how old BYU players are. Jokes about the honor code. And there was the #ThugMormon incident. By Thursday, I was so weary of defending my Cougs that I almost didn’t want to go to the game. How would 90,000 strangers react to my “Go Cougs” game day shirt amidst their sea of red?

Turns out, Husker fans really are so incredibly kind. Several strangers decked out in Husker gear welcomed me to Lincoln and extended wishes for a good game. Every tailgate Grant and I stopped at, strangers offered me water and food.

When the Huskers scored the first touchdown, I was surrounded by happy fans slapping high fives. The man in front of me turned to me for a high five and I showed him my shirt, smiled and shrugged, he said, “Aw man!”

And that was it.

Me and Grant, post-game. He's so kind to insist I attend the game with him.
Me and Grant, post-game. He’s so kind to insist I attended the game with him.

Every time I screamed “Get him Bronson!” or “You got this Tanner!” (and boy, did he ever)  or “Run, Algie!” not a single person turned to me, glared at me, or told me to get out of their section.

I’ve spent most of my time in Nebraska actively rooting against the Huskers. It’s a long, irrelevant story as to why. But after yesterday, I’ve completely changed my mind. I’m not converted to the Gospel of Nebraska football, but I can no longer in good conscience wish them failure.

Those fans deserve all the success in the world.

New Digs.

For two years, I’ve been wanting to move my blog over to WordPress, and I just always found other things to get in the way. But with the imminent release of my book and wanting to spruce up my digital footprint, I shirked all kinds of other duties tonight and spent close to three hours making the switch.

It’s still not complete, and there’s much work left to do, but I kinda like the new home.

The old blog will still be around, and I’ll have a link up to it later this week. (I tried to just import everything over, and none of the paragraph breaks transferred. I didn’t think coding in paragraph breaks on 1244 blog posts was a good use of my time.)

But one major change is that I will no longer maintain a personal blog and a professional blog. It will all be right here in one place.

So please be patient as I work out all the kinks, and please let me know what works and what doesn’t as I add different elements.

Oh, and be sure to click on the little folder–it has some pretty cool features there. Enjoy!