A person is created through their experiences, accidents, mistakes, joys, and memories. Each person has a different story to tell and new memories and ideas to share. My life is full of memories, stories, and a lot of mistakes, but there are five moments that have lead me to this moment in time…they are the five that I rolled.
The first moment in my life was my birth…not that this was a particularly clear memory in my life, but rather the birth to my parents. My mom (Carol) and my dad (Dan) are the most influential people in my life. My life started with them, and I have yet to find a moment in which I have not leaned on them for support. My parents hold me up, but they do not carry me; I must find my way knowing that they are there to lean on. My parents taught me how to learn, but also when to set education aside and realize that without real-world experiences your education has no place. Common sense holds a higher purpose than education when you are left with nothing.
The second moment in my life which has taught me more than anything how to be a good person was the arrival of my little sister. When Kaci came into my life, I had not prepared myself for all the lessons she would teach me. You would think that I was the one to share the most experience and knowledge with her, but the truth is that she has guided me, built me, and humbled me making me the best that I could be. Kaci taught me that one must put themselves aside to save others. She is younger than me and therefore required my protection and guidance. I could no longer be afraid of life, but rather take it all in and show her that the only fear in life is the fear of never being enough for someone you love. Kaci has taught me more than 400+ words can hold, but the biggest lesson she has taught me is how to be free. Be yourself and let others fall behind you. We cannot all win the race, we cannot all receive a perfect grade, but we all have something to offer this world.
The third roll of the dice landed me in a sport in which no one wishes to join. In sixth grade, I joined the cross country team in hopes of staying in shape for basketball season. But little did I know it would carry me through seven years of pure joy, disappointment, and then joy again, and satisfaction. All leading up to winning the team state title my senior year. Cross Country taught me a lot about myself, but the most important lesson I learned was how to be a leader. I was never the first runner on the team…or the second…or the third. I would never be the best. While this was discouraging, I loved the sport and the team too much to quit and therefore found a new purpose for my place on the team. We had an ineffective coach for about four of the seven years I was on the team. No one could relate to him, and many disliked him. I had to take my place as a leader before the team completely fell apart. I was never named the team captain until my senior year, but everyone looked up to me in that way. I learned a valuable lesson from each and every one of my teammates. The most important lesson was how to fail. I learned that being first only lasts a day and that being last only hurts for a moment. It is what you take from that experience that builds you as a person. After receiving the painful eleventh place team finish in 2013, I lead my team to an unexpected, dark horse first place finish in 2014. A failure is only as painful as the sorrow you bring to yourself.
In 2015 I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I have always been passionate about the poor and needy in the world and my life goal was to travel to Honduras to fulfill my dreams of changing lives. When the call came to be a part of a medical team traveling to Honduras in January, I had my bags packed before we got off of the phone. I expected to change many lives on this trip and to bring happiness and health to those in most need, but the people of Honduras brought me more happiness than I could have ever imagined, and changed my life for the better. I supplied them with supplements, prenatal vitamins, and dental care, but they gave more back than they even noticed. I met a little boy named Axel on my third day. He was very special and bright. The one issue was that we could not communicate due to my lack of Spanish speaking skills. But what I learned from Axel was that communication does not build a relationship, connection is the fuel. Axel and I had a connection from the very moment that we met. And the day that we had to return to America, Axel found me, ran to me, and began to cry in my arms. I could not tell him that I would never see him again, but he knew. He taught me how to love without using words, how to give when you have nothing, and how to feel pain for the pain inflicted.
The fifth moment of my learning life was re-building a home with my friend. She bought it in terrible condition and I came in to help only really knowing how to change a lightbulb. There was a lot for me to learn in such a small amount of time. But I was ready to open my mind to something more than just school. Throughout the experience, I learned how to put in new windows, doors, door handles, and trim. I also watched as we had the entire house re-wired and plumbed. One of the biggest lessons was standing on the roof in the freezing cold trying to lay felt before the wind turned up and the snow came down. Four hours up on a roof will teach a city girl a few lessons. The biggest lesson that I learned while building this home was to have an open mind. I do not need a man in my life to fix all of my problems. I can teach myself, and learn whatever I need in order to get through life.