Tag Archives: life lessons

The Privilege of Diversity…

DSC03744Six weeks before matriculating at Dartmouth College I was mugged at gunpoint. A seemingly normal weekend night turned into a nightmare as a friend and I were assaulted a mere two miles from my house in Florida. My life changed that night as a stranger threw me on the concrete and placed a gun to my head. My guardian angel sat firmly on my shoulder that evening as the assailant and his accomplice stole my purse, but not my life.

I tell my girls to “always take God with you”. While the lesson wrapped up in those words holds many meanings, one of them dates back to that August evening in 1993.

My years at Dartmouth were a time of both healing and personal growth. Rural New Hampshire slowly brought back a sense of physical safety and ultimately l conquered the fear of walking across campus in the dark. I remained cautious, but the culture on campus helped me to find a healthy perspective and renewed my confidence.

Surrounded by intelligent and motivated students who held a great diversity of opinions, I was able to determine just “who Anne was”.   This concurrently sharpened my intellect as well as broadened my perspective. I started my time at Dartmouth a “jock with emotional baggage”, but I ended it as a confident intellectual who held a strong sense of purpose.

This is the beauty of a liberal arts education on a well-structured college campus.

  • A place where diversity is embraced allowing for the creation of mature thinkers with compassionate natures.
  • A place where a blanket of respect protects each student’s Freedom of Speech and personal rights in the midst of intellectually stimulating debates.
  • A place where students learn to recognize that life’s challenges do not define the individual, rather they are stepping stones for personal growth. This growth will, at times, bring discomfort but it also teaches perseverance.

Sometime during my tenure in Hanover, NH I figured out that I did not want to live my life as a victim — focusing on the past and allowing my heart to fill with discontent. Rather, I wanted to live my life as a humanitarian – seeking out the good in others and looking to the future with the desire to play a positive role on the ever important journey that we call life.

My alma mater found itself in the midst of controversy last week as a passionate student protest escalated to threaten the boundaries of respectful debate. My heart was saddened for a variety of reasons but perhaps the greatest was the apparent lack of inter-student respect on campus. Basic decency becomes lost when hatred toward a single ideology overtakes the value of compassion among individual classmates. Sadly, the second is sacrificed in the name of the first.

  • I dream of a world where people are valued for what they hold in their hearts rather than the image that they see in the mirror.
  • I dream of a world where people are lauded for the humanitarian work that their hearts empower their bodies to accomplish.
  • I dream of a world where diversity of thought is celebrated — Where our young people relish eclectic virtues and use them to make the world a better place.

Life is both a privilege and a responsibility. We must always move forward mixing our passions with compassion so that what I dream of today will be a reality tomorrow. Unfortunately, there will always be unexplained acts of violence like that which occurred to me so many years ago. However, we can lessen the impact of those acts by recognizing one act of hatred does not rationalize another.


Filed under Family, General

In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle…

A college friend introduced me to the book, In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle, by Madeleine Blais more than twenty years ago. Based on an Amherst Lady Hurricanes high school basketball team in the mid-1990’s, the book is a tribute to hope, respect, and dedication to team. My friend was a member of that team, and her story influenced me greatly as I began my adult life.

Prior to this fall, I had not thought about the book in many years, but the 2015 Lady Haymaker Cross Country team brought those memories back full circle. A small team, led by an awesome coaching staff, defied the polls and walked away with numerous titles. Their accomplishments included bringing home the Nebraska Class C State Runner-up trophy last Friday.


In Nebraska, Cross Country teams run 6 and score 4. Due to injuries, the Lady Haymakers ran 5 and scored 4. Demonstrating an impressive display of “pack running”, the top four girls finished the 5k race within 15 seconds of each other. Despite the fact that none of the girls received individual medals, their accomplishments garnered them the Runner-Up team trophy.

While there are many things about the state race that I will forever take with me, it is the look of determination on each girl’s face that warmed my heart the most. They had a goal. They believed. They trained. They built the muscle of hope just as they built physical fitness.


And they persevered with greatness…

My oldest daughter led the team as each member competed with character, love for one another, and a deep respect for the sport. While the trophy that brought tears as well as smiles will now live in a cabinet in the Cozad High School, the joy that comes from building the team will travel in all of their hearts for the rest of their lives.

Haymaker Cross Country personifies a culture of excellence. The positive mental development of the athletes provides the true beauty of the program. Somewhere in the thousands of training miles under the leadership of head Coach Dustin Favinger, a bond is forged among the runners that transcends the physical.

It is truly a joy to witness…


Throughout the season, I watched the girls “fill in” for each other during the races. They packed up tightly, running together and feeding of off the muscle of hope that beat deeply in their hearts. The girls tenaciously battled challenges, always determined to accomplish the prized end goal: a state team trophy.

As a parent, I cherish the life lessons that Ashley Grace learns pounding the running trail in search of excellence. Comraderie, self-discipline, and confidence all tie together creating the realization that true success occurs when selfless individual efforts forge together to create a team.


I will never forget the smile on her face as she proudly held the trophy. It is the smile that results when hard work, determination, and hope provide the promise of victory.

That is the recipe for excellence – That is Haymaker Cross Country.


Filed under Family, General, Rural Communities

18 Years of Life At a Feed Yard — 4 Years of Blogging…


Matt and I, on stage for the Trailblazer Award, last week in San Antonio at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention.


As a result of the 2014 Trailblazer Award, Beef Magazine asked that I write an article reflecting on important issues for cattle farmers.  This was a great opportunity for me to share thoughts relative to 18 years of working in a feed yard and 4 years of blogging.  The target audience was cattle farmers, but I wanted to share the piece here as well.

In the article, I share lessons personally learned from both my cattle and my beef customers.  You can view it by clicking here.

**On the home front, we are celebrating being free of the flu as well as the crutches that plagued our house for a couple of weeks.

  • My favorite teenager’s 9th and 10th basketball team finished their season with an 8-1 record, and a final game Friday night will end her Junior Varsity season as well.  She is gearing up for the high school musical performance that is a few weeks away, and looking forward to the start of track.  Last but certainly not least, she brought home the 3rd place award for the Nebraska Voice of Democracy Oral Essay contest last week in Lincoln.
  • My favorite blonde cowgirl will have her first competitive gymnastics performance of the year this weekend in Lincoln.  Having mostly healed from her first career pole vaulting accident, she is also gearing up for the start of track.  I am very glad to have her back as a contributing member of the chore brigade and once again helpful on the farm!
  • My favorite 10 year old is rocking the volleyball court with a second place tournament finish last weekend.  I never thought that I would have a child play middle blocker on the volleyball court, but she stands several inches taller than any other teammate so seems well placed!


 I hope that your week is full of joy!


Filed under Family, Feed Yard Foodie "In The News", General

5 Lessons That I Want My Children To Learn Before They Go To College…

Thoughtful Thursday

While the love story that brought me to agriculture was steeped in romanticism, the secret to my success as a cattle caregiver and the “boss lady” at our feed yard is buried deeply in the five lessons listed below.


I learned to “run” a scoop shovel when I went to work on our farm in 1997. I still run one every Sunday morning because it plays a role in my search for excellence…

5 Lessons that I want my children to learn before they go to college…

  1. The only thing that you are entitled to is work.  Do not expect for the world to hand you what you want — Know that you will have to work for it.
  2. Realize that attitude is everything and will shape your perspective — Look favorably upon your responsibilities, then they will also become your joys.
  3. The most important thing that you take with you is your integrity.  Respect it enough to always be loyal to the truth.
  4. Work Ethic + Attitude + Integrity = A Leader.  Be one — The world will be a better place if you share of yourself.
  5. The Road To Excellence Is Rarely Comfortable.  Excellence is not about comfort — It is about reaching above and beyond your capabilities in order accomplish far more than your dreams.


Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

The Future…

Thoughtful Thursday


The University of Texas’s school slogan is:

“What starts here changes the world.”

The above is a picture of the 41 young athletes that attended our kickoff season swim team retreat over Memorial Day.

When I look at them, I see the future.

When I coach them, I teach them to work hard and to believe in excellence.

With each swim practice they become stronger: physically and mentally;

and I smile knowing that

what they learn will help them to one day change the world…



Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Winning the Day With Team Work and Faith…

Monday night our family trekked 60 miles north to watch the Cozad Haymaker Boy’s High School Basketball Team win the C1 District finals.  Their success earns them a chance at the Nebraska State C1 Basketball title next week.  My favorite farmer and I have been fans of our Haymaker basketball teams since moving back to Cozad in 1997, and this year the group of young men that represent our town have warmed my heart with an impressive search for excellence.

Faith, Perseverance, and teamwork propels them to achieve greatness...

Faith, Perseverance, and Teamwork propels them to achieve greatness…

Like many small town basketball teams, the Haymaker squad is made up of a cross section of athletes that call many different sports their own.  Each week during the long winter season, they don their Haymaker jerseys and take the court as their community cheers with passion.

The heart of our team is their ability to work together to achieve a common goal.  The unselfish mental and physical support that they offer to one another is truly remarkable.  They may not realize it, but this life skill is one that will bring them success for the rest of their lives.

Unity for the common goal and love for each other brings them success...

Unity for the common goal and love for each other brings them victory…

On the morning of the big game, one of the mothers of the players posted these words on her Facebook page:

There is an “F” word that is often easily said, but can seem so impossible to express: Faith. At times it can be buried so deeply, we wonder if we will ever be able to unearth it again. Faith can be difficult to find when faced with disappointments, worries, and sadness. However, those same times can be replaced with encouragement, joy, and a feeling of being content. And it’s all because of that “F” word: Faith.

Tomorrow night, two towns will come together to cheer their basketball teams on, one more time, during the 2013-2014 season. For one team, their season will end. For the other, it will be extended to the state tournament next weekend. I’m certain the phrase, “Have faith,” has been spoken, but has it really been expressed?

To our Cozad players: I have faith in your God-given talents and abilities, and know you will let them shine tomorrow night. I have faith in your peers, and know they will be with you, either in the stands or back home listening to the radio broadcast. I have faith in your teachers, who even though may not verbally wish you good luck, will be anxiously awaiting the outcome. I have faith in our coaching staff, who may have frustrated you at times, but did so with the intention of getting out of you what was needed. I have faith in your families, who have been with you on this journey, and will continue to be, regardless of the final score. Finally, I have faith in your biggest supporter….Jacob….who will encourage you, cheer for you, and be so proud to be sitting beside you on the Cozad bench.

The mother’s son, Jacob, transitioned from a star player to a fledgling coach when he sustained a life changing knee injury on the football field last fall.  While each one of our Haymaker athletes have given something special to our town this year, Jacob is my unspoken hero.

There was likely not a mother in attendance whose eyes weren't damp as Jacob cut the net...

There was likely not a mother in attendance whose eyes weren’t damp as Jacob cut the net…

  • It is his quiet presence that inspires bravery and unselfishness.
  • It is his mature guidance that creates strength of character and resilience.
  • It is his unwavering faith that guides his team to greatness.

    A gym full of small town community members that traveled the extra mile to cheer on their team...

    A gym full of small town community members that traveled the extra mile to cheer on their team…

Today I salute a special young man, a special team, and a special community.  I count my blessings to be able to call Cozad home.  It is in the heart of Rural America, and has a heart filled with people with tremendous faith.

Go Haymakers!

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Filed under General, Rural Communities

A Legacy of Strength…

Fourteen years ago today, I entered the world of motherhood.  After a battle of wills that lasted about 16 hours, Ashley Grace entered the world three weeks early weighing 6 pounds and 3 ounces.  I have wondered many times over the past 14 years which one of us is more tenaciously obstinate—I believe that the jury is still out

We make quite a pair...

We make quite a pair…

Motherhood has proven to be both my greatest joy and my greatest challenge.  Balancing discipline and guidance as my girls journey their way through childhood and adolescence provides an ongoing personal search for me.  While I love my girls unconditionally, I know that it is my duty to raise them to be strong, hard-working, and compassionate young women.

They also make quite a pair...

They also make quite a pair…

Ashley Grace is a wonderful enigma and, every once in a while, I find the need to step back and marvel at this child that is such a part of both Matt and I.  The take-charge personality that is so much like me, combined with the intellectual mind that is so much like Matt.  Add in the quirks and sarcastic humor that make her uniquely Ashley Grace, and the result is a fascinating package.

Worn with pride as she realized success through hard work and dedication...

Worn with pride as she realizes success through hard work and perseverance…

Whether she is running her heart out on the cross country course and the basketball court, or dazzling me with facts and philosophical ideas that her sponge-like mind seems to absorb at an astounding rate; I thank God each day for the ability to share my life with her.

A good brain and a love of learning earned her national honors in the Duke University TIP program...

A good brain and a love of learning earned her national honors in the Duke University TIP program last spring…

Three days from now, my favorite teenager will climb the steps to the pulpit at Bethesda By the Sea Episcopal Church and to read at her Granddaddy’s Memorial Service.  She will do this with both grace and composure despite the fact that she will look out amongst hundreds of family members and friends as she shares from the book of Revelations.

Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal Church: Palm Beach, Florida

Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal Church: Palm Beach, Florida

Her innate sense of compassion and self-confidence will lend her strength as she takes an active role in the celebration of the tenacious man who will always hold a special place in our hearts.  This act of selflessness will be performed out of love and respect for her grandparents—both the one that we say goodbye to, and the strong woman who will now persevere through life without her husband of 45 years.

I know that as I watch Ashley Grace give this gift, my heart will warm as my dad smiles down with pride.

Handing down his passion and skill for fly fishing...

Handing down his passion and skill for fly fishing in his beloved Absaroka Mountains…

It will be a beautiful continuation of the legacy of strength that was born with the life of her Granddaddy…


Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., Family, General

Go Annabelle…

Dad always called me Annabelle. 


Three decades ago…

Although I am unsure of exactly when he coined the term, he was loyal in its use.  Whether it was spoken quietly near a favorite fishing hole, or hollered loudly from the crowd when I prepared to burst out of the starting blocks:  there was both comfort and love intertwined with the name.

Anne Starting Block Swimming

Go Annabelle!

It became a bit of a joke amongst my teammates because Dad’s booming voice yelling Go Annabelle on the swimming deck was well known.  There were likely a few times during my early high school years when it brought on a touch of embarrassment; however, those words are a mantra that I still carry with me today.

Finding my way...

Finding my way…

The path that I chose for my professional adult life has not been an easy one.  When I entered the world of cattle feeding as a 22 year old, there were very few young women following the same path.  Additionally, I was an outsider coming into a new culture with a different life perspective.  It seemed, at times, that I was truly speaking a different language than my fellow cattlemen.

Add in the physical and mental challenges of learning to care for large food animals, and the combination became a bit daunting.  There were days when my dad’s magic words kept me going as I whispered Go Annabelle under my breath.  As I said it, I would think of my dad and the stubborn tenacity that marked his personality.

While I still have a long way to go in my journey, I believe that I have begun to make my mark...

While I still have a long way to go in my journey, I believe that I have begun to make my mark…

My dad was an inherent believer.  The words quitting or failure never entered his radar screen.  His life was marked by conscientiously moving forward with quiet confidence.  In many ways, he was a purest with a steadfast commitment to striving for what he believed was right.


To him, life was not a popularity contest—rather the chance to work for positive change.

Although my dad’s time on earth is through, the words Go Annabelle will endure.  They live on in my heart and will continue to inspire me as I make my own journey through life.

Grilling and serving what I work hard to grow...

Grilling and serving what I grew for him…

I look forward to continuing to feel the warmth of that signature smile that always lit up his face when I made him proud.


Filed under Family, General