Saturday, August 28, 2010

Small Town Living

Since Thursday evening, I have been in DuQuoin, Illinois, population 6,600, and home to the DuQuoin State Fair, the Association's newest Roll of Victory Show. DuQuoin has a neat charm about it, especially since the fairgrounds here are AWESOME, but more importantly it isn't located in a major metropolitan area like a lot of the state fairs I have traveled to (Boise, Springfield, Milwaukee) or will travel to (Minneapolis, Nashville, Raleigh). It is, in my mind a small town.

Being creatures of habit, Jerry and I took recommendations from the locals and ventured downtown, which is very quaint, on Thursday evening to Alongi's for some dinner. It is a family-owned Italian restaurant that has been around since 1933! And, it is DELISH! So, after we ate, we walked about 4 blocks to the ice cream shoppe (can't recall its name) for 1 scoop. And we walked around the town taking in the beautiful fall evening air.

Fast forward to Friday. Checked in Angus cattle at the fair, and had about 3 Angus exhibitors recommend Alongi's. So we went back, tried the thin crust pizza, walked down to the ice cream shoppe, sampled some home made fudge, made by the scooper/owner's daughter; and each tried a different kind of ice cream. Oh, and I bought a half pound of peanut butter fudge. YUM

Fast forward to Saturday. Junior Show at DuQuoin; more Angus breeders suggested we try Alongi's, "best place in town", so we did; walked down to the ice cream shoppe, tried a different kind of fudge, and had more ice cream. The scooper/owner comments that he's glad to have "regulars" coming in, as he now noticed we've been there 3 consecutive nights. We tell him we're only there for the fair. He says to stop in on Sunday after 6. He isn't open during the day Sunday of the fair so he can spend time with his wife, who is dying of cancer. This makes me sad, and as we leave, we know we'll be stopping for fudge and ice cream on our way out of town on Sunday. I knew there had to be a reason our show didn't start until 2.

On our third nightly walk, around the town, eating ice cream and talking, I say to Jerry, "We're acting like old people," and he replies, "Maybe we are." Or maybe we're just slowing down. Taking time to enjoy life's simple pleasures--a scoop of ice cream and small town living on a Saturday night.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A time to move on

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1, NLT

Well, friends and family, it's been nearly a month since I've taken time to blog. But I've done a lot of reflecting, and during that month, I feel like I've experienced a lot of personal change and growth. Earlier this week, I observed the first anniversary of my activities and events director position at the AAA, and I'd say overall, the past year and especially the past month, I've learned more about myself and changed more than I have the 36 years previous.

Yes, for everything there is a season. There is a time. And there is a reason. I firmly believe these statements. Let me explain a little about some of the changes I'm experiencing.

For everything there is a season. I feel like I'm maturing. I don't know if that is the right term. I'm either maturing or hibernating. I'm just not the fun-loving social person I used to be. It's not that I don't want to go out and have fun. It's just that I don't want to go to the work of dressing up and re-doing my hair and makeup. At the end of the work day at a show, I am exhausted. I want to eat, take a shower and get sleep so I can get up early, get ice for the coolers and make sure everyone is taken care of the next day. Take for example the NJAS. Last year, I was out every night in Perry. I had fun, fun, fun. This year, in Denver for the same event, I went out one night, had one adult beverage, and was back to the hotel room before 11. This is totally not the same old me. I don't feel bad about my decisions. I just feel awkward. As my good friend, Matt Caldwell, who is actually younger than me says, "It sure is fun watching you kids grow up."

For everything there is a time. This time of year is traditionally one of my favorites for two reasons--it's time for LEAD, our annual youth leadership conference, and it's state fair season. Well, this is the first time in 11 years I won't be attending LEAD. Yes, it is hard. But, I'm no longer in the PR department, and I'm no longer an advisor, so I'm not really needed. I always loved LEAD because it was the one junior Angus event where kids got to be kids--they didn't have cattle to take care of or contests to prep for. They got to interact with one another and learn some really cool life lessons and experience a new region of the country. Most juniors will travel to LEAD today or tomorrow, and it is really heavy on me that I'm not going.

But, there is a reason for everything too. One of my good friends, and a former NJAA director, who I got to advise is getting married this weekend in Manhattan, so I do get to attend that wedding and help Jeana and Dustin celebrate their new life together--an opportunity I'd have to miss if I was at LEAD. See, everything happens for a reason. State fair season--that's a whole other blog!

You know the third chapter of Ecclesiastes talks about times for so many different things to happen. I have really embraced that the past few weeks, and while I haven't been writing for you all, I've been reading and re-reading that scripture. It, along with Beth Moore's book, "So Long Insecurity, You've been a bad Friend to Us" has made me realized these changes are part of life. It is ok to change. There is a time to grow up. There is a time to not worry about popularity. There is a time to stand up for what you believe is right.