Defining (hard) Moments

So, spring break is next week. And after the week I’ve been having, I’m going to need it.

Although I promote motivation and keeping a positive attitude, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always practice what I preach.

These last few days have hit me hard – emotionally, mentally and physically. I’ve been stressed, disappointed, upset and frustrated. It seemed like this week was DRAGGING on and that warm, Florida light at the end of the tunnel was lightyears away.

This mindset is not healthy. Often times, I’ll see my friends stressing out and tell them to stop, take a step back, and look at the bigger picture. In the moment, everything seems so big. Maybe even unrelenting. But by taking a step back to look at the entire situation, how small the actual problem is compared to the grand scheme of things, it calms me down.

By taking a step back, I can see how these stressful situations make me tougher.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” right?

Sometimes, I don’t take the high road. Sometimes, I let the situation consume me until I’m sitting in my friend’s car, sobbing with the music blaring so no one can hear me.

It’s okay to have breakdowns. But what matters is how you get back up.

And that’s the moment that will define you.

That’s the moment you’ll look back at and say, “right then. That’s when I got tough.”

The reality is, sometimes, it’s hard to grit your teeth and deal with it. It’s not healthy to keep those emotions hidden from the outside world. Scream. Cry. Talk about your frustrations.

But then, wipe your tears and get back on your horse.

I speak from experience on this one.

Getting back into the saddle (literally and figuratively), might be the hardest thing you do, but it will be the moment you remember. It will be your defining moment.

So, I tell you this as I remind myself, YOU CAN DO THIS. Even if your spring break doesn’t start this next week, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Each day only lasts 24 hours. Each week only lasts 7 days.

Get back on your horse. Let the hard moments define you.

A Defining Trip

When I tell people I’m going to Florida for spring break, I know most of them assume I’m going to the same place every other college student goes over spring break – Daytona Beach.

But when I tell them I’m going to Jacksonville, Florida, on a mission trip with the Indianola Light Company, their eyes get big.

Why would a college student want to “waste” her spring break on a mission trip?

Personally, I don’t see this mission trip as a waste at all. I see it as an opportunity to connect with others – both from Simpson and from the Jacksonville community.

A year ago, I, along with 15 other college students, loaded up the vans and drove a total of 24 hours to Jacksonville.

Although we’re in Florida and we’re obviously excited to enjoy the warmer weather, that’s not all we intend to do. In the mornings, we get split into groups that go to area schools and help out wherever we’re needed.

After our mornings in the schools, we spend our afternoons in “community beautification.” This requires work gloves, trash bags, weed-eaters, rakes, and (most importantly) a positive attitude. We spread out and scour the community, looking for ways we can make their homes look the best they can be, all while keeping a servant’s attitude.

My favorite part of the day comes after we complete our beautification for the day. We walk back to the church we ate lunch at and play with the kids during the last hour that they’re with the mission for the after-school program. We might be tired, dirty, and in desperate need of showers, but playing with those kids has a way of energizing each of us. They’re the real highlight of our day.

After our work, it’s really dependent upon whatever the leaders have planned for us that night. Sometimes we go get popsicles, sometimes we have a Bible study, or sometimes we’re left to ourselves to rest or explore our area (with a friend, of course. Don’t be worried, Mom).

We keep this routine for the first four days we’re in Jacksonville. The last day, Friday, we load up the van and head to the beach for a day of relaxation before driving 24 hours back home. We venture into the ocean, lay on the beach, and we even got a sand volleyball tournament going last year (S/O to my team who were the CHAMPS).

All-in-all, this trip to Jacksonville is one that was jam-packed with defining moments. There were many situations where I could have had a negative attitude, which is infectious on trips like this. One bad apple can really spoil the bunch. But, after a few days, it’s easy to keep a positive mindset. The people on the trip become like family. You grow and learn so many things together, the only choice is to become a little “Fam.” ­čśë

So, that being said, on Friday, March 2nd at midnight, 12 of us college students will be heading down to Jacksonville once again. Having been on this trip before, I have an idea of what to expect, but I am excited to see what defining moments we’ll encounter. Stay tuned – I might just have a few interesting stories to tell once I get back.


A Defining Position

Pi Beta Phi. 

An organization with a mission to “promote friendship, develop women of intellect and integrity, cultivate leadership and potential, and enrich lives through community service.”

To do this, each chapter must elect their choice of executive leaders, starting with the president.

At Simpson College, Jess Tometich is the president of the Iowa Beta chapter of Pi Beta Phi.

2018 is her year to lead Iowa Beta to success.

This title of President is not one to be taken lightly, and Jess knows that.

“When I found out that I was slated for the position, I was full of excitement. But it was also scary at the same time. I knew I had some big shoes to fill. Those who have come before me did amazing jobs and left amazing legacies.”

Jess also recognized in this defining moment, that she was now the leader of a large executive team.

“I knew I had an amazing exec team to work with and we were all really excited to serve the chapter.”

One of the biggest missions of Pi Beta Phi is to promote servant leadership. Jess knew this was the position for her based on the reason she decided to run for president in the first place.

“I really just wanted to be able to serve the chapter in serving through another leadership position that gave me a little more responsibility.”

And with responsibility comes many lessons. Some hard, some easy, but all worthwhile.

“I’ve learned that being a leader can be hard. You never know when a situation is going to arise that you have to act on. You also learn how to deal with stressful situations, as well as manage your own stress, along with learning how to prioritize.”

Jess also mentioned the things she’s learned about herself.

“It’s taught me that I care a lot about everyone. I always want to make everyone happy and sometimes it’s hard, but it’s taught me that sometimes I put everyone else in front of myself. Sometimes I need to take a step back and take care of myself.”

The new executive positions were slated at the end of the 2017 Fall semester, allowing the new team a full year of leadership opportunities. Looking forward to the remainder of 2018, Jess is excited at what’s to come.

“We’re all still trying to get our feet underneath us in these new positions, but I see a lot of really good things coming. We have a lot of great ideas, but also a lot of improvements to make. I’m really excited to see what we do with the chapter and with the other houses on campus. I think it’ll be a really great year.”

Not only has Jess taken on the responsibilities that come with being Pi Phi President, she’s also managed to make the Dean’s List (again), she’s taking her Senior Capstone class as a junior, and working two jobs, all while making time for me, her Little.

Jess inspires me to be the best I can be for those around me.

To make time to listen to the people closest to me.

But she also inspires me to work hard for what I want. To never settle for second best.

I’m so excited to see what she does as the President of our Iowa Beta chapter. And, as a Little, I couldn’t be more proud of her.


Defining Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Cold, nasty days like today make me anxious for summer.

The warm sun, the late summer nights and the smell of gunpowder.

That’s right, gunpowder. During the summer, my family devotes a good chunk of our time to an uncommon sport.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting.

This is a sport in which riders shoot two six-cylinder pistols filled with .45-caliber black powder bullets at ten balloon targets while racing their horses as fast as they can go. The five white balloons first, then the five red. Participants are required to wear western shirts, jeans, boots, chinks, holsters and cowboy hats.


During each competition, four out of 60+ patterns are chosen. Each rider has four chances to shoot at their best, knowing that missing one balloon (adding five seconds to their time) could be the difference between first and second place.

To make things even more interesting, sometimes riders pick up level-action rifles or double-barrel shot guns along with one of their pistols. First are the five white balloons shot with the pistol. Then, riders line their horses up with the five red balloons in the “run down,” drop the reins, and pick up the rifle or shotgun to shoot at their last five targets.

Six years ago, my Grandpa and brother started this sport what would eventually entice most of my family members. Now, more than 20 of our family and closest friends caravan all across the nation to mounted shooting competitions. 19 kids, 12 adults and more horses than we can count have been to Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and many arenas in Iowa.

It’s safe to say our family is addicted, but it’s not just the sport that we can’t get enough of.

It’s the atmosphere.

It’s the family aspect – not just with my large Travis family, but with the friends we make along the way. While obviously focused on his own success, each competitor also strives to make sure everyone does their best. It’s not uncommon for one contestant to come out of the arena after their run and suggest the most effective way to run the pattern to the competitor who’s up next.


This is why we’re addicted.

Not just because of the inevitable adrenaline rush or the shiny first place buckles.

Six years ago, my family got into a sport that would soon impact our lives. Yes, summer weekends are always spent in arenas filled with gunpowder. Yes, it has taken up most of our summer nights (the wives in our family like to joke that it’s become our family vacations). But I, for one, love it.

I love the time spent with my cousins.

I love the bonding that happens with my uncles over a clean pattern.

I love the lessons learned by a frustrating misfire or a operator mistake (even though some of those lessons can be hard to learn).

I love learning from my Dad, brothers, or Grandpa what the most efficient pattern looks like.

I love the time spent with my family.

It’s so much more than a sport. It’s the family aspect. It’s the life lessons of responsibility, dedication and losing gracefully.

It’s our “thing.” And THAT is why I can’t wait til summer.


Defining Tomorrow

There’s one word that my friend, Mary-Grace Wachal, and I don’t say.

It starts with a G, ends with an “raduation.”

Mary-Grace is a senior at Simpson College and will be graduating at the end of April. We met during my freshman year of college and quickly became good friends. The thought of her graduating is not one I enjoy thinking about.

But it’s not because I’m worried about her. No, Mary-Grace will be fine in the real world. She has an end-goal, but she also has a plan to achieve that end-goal.

“I plan to hopefully attend grad school one day for occupational therapy.”

Occupational Therapy is a form of rehabilitation that specializes in a specific area – from hands, to feet, to a certain age group.

“I would like to specialize in pediatrics, but I wouldn’t be opposed to broadening my horizons and seeing what else there is, because occupational therapy is a very broad field.”

The field of occupational therapy is extremely popular and growing immensely. This is good for the field as a whole, but it makes things difficult for aspiring OT’s.

Before grad school, applicants must complete a certain list of course work. Mary-Grace will graduate with her exercise science major, but will need a few more classes before considering grad school.

“I was originally looking at physical therapy, but I decided, after going through two rehab cycles of my own due to hip and knee surgeries, that’s not what I wanted to do.┬áSo, because I switched to focus on occupational therapy, there’s a few more classes I need to take before I can apply to grad school.”

In that gap year, Mary-Grace plans to work as an athletic trainer or coach at a local school.

If you were to talk to my friend about life after graduation, you would be surprised at her demeanor. She’s not stressed. She’s not worried.

“I think I’d be more stressed if I were looking for grad schools right now for this fall. But, everything will fall into place. It’s really dependent upon stuff that’s out of my control at this point.”

That takes guts. To trust that something completely out of control is going to work out in the end? See, this is why I’m not worried about my friend.

But she brings up a good point. It doesn’t make much sense to be worried about things that are out of our control. I recently had this conversation with another friend about a current situation I’m going through. I don’t like not being in control. I don’t enjoy the unknown. But there can be a certain peace in the unknown. It’s out of my control, so worrying about it is not going to help.

My goal is to be like my friend.

She knows God’s got this under control. She trusts in His plan. She knows He has her best interest in mind. I know this because she constantly is telling me to do the same.

Why worry about tomorrow? Live in the moment without worrying about what comes next.

“She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.” -Proverbs 31:25




Defining… GALentine’s Day?

February 13th has recently become one of the greatest days of the year.

The Parks and Recreation TV show character, Leslie Knope, deemed February 13th an unofficial official holiday in an episode that aired in 2010.

In the words of Leslie Knope,

“Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies.”

This phenomenon has blown up since 2010. And, if I can speak for all the ladies my age, I think we love Galentine’s Day more than we love Valentine’s Day. Sitting in IHOP, chowing down on pancakes, bacon and biscuits and gravy sounds like the greatest holiday in the world.

I do this with a few of my friends at college, but you don’t have to sit down with a stack of pancakes to observe Galentine’s Day.

Today is a day to celebrate your girls. I don’t know about you, but my girlfriends keep my world turning.┬áThere’s so many I can count on for anything. How lucky am I to say that?

I love this holiday because it makes me realize how many great girls I have in my life. From my new college friends, to my old high school friends (FAM FOREVER), to my cousins and aunts, my people are the greatest.

I encourage each of you ladies to celebrate the girls in your life today. Give them a shout-out on social media. Shoot them a text. Or, every girl’s favorite, go old school with a chocolate heart.

Everyone needs a little love around Valentine’s Day. And today’s the perfect day to start.


EXCITING Defining Moments

Everyone has those moments.

Moments you know are going to change the current direction of your life.

Like I said in a previous blog, we each encounter little moments every day that can change things ever-so slightly.

But, every now and again, those moments are big decisions that take a lot of thought and multiple opinions.

I’m dealing with one of those moments right now in my own life. And let me tell you, it’s a little terrifying.

But what’s even more terrifying is being unhappy in a major you’ve only been pursuing for a year. Then you begin to wonder, “If I don’t like this now, how am I supposed to work in this field for the rest of my life?”

I asked myself that question about two weeks ago when my roommate was going through the process of changing her major. When she began to describe just how unfulfilled she was feeling, I realized I could identify with a lot of the same feelings.

And that’s when I began to freak out. But for a good reason! I began to evaluate where I was and the direction I was taking my life.

That’s when everything began to fall into place. That’s when God started showing me the little things He had been doing all along.

For example, I had made a last-minute decision to add a coaching minor last semester to begin taking those classes this spring. After sitting through a few of my functional anatomy classes, I realized how much I loved learning about the body and how it works.

Then, I decided to specialize in health and wellness for my ONE journalism class I’m taking this semester. I began to follow health and wellness accounts on Instagram and Twitter. This helped me realize how much I enjoy living a healthy lifestyle.

So, I scheduled meetings with my anatomy professor. He mentioned the option of potentially working in the physical therapy field. What’s ironic about that? I job-shadowed a physical therapist during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. I actually committed to Simpson wanting to go into physical therapy, but plans change.

After that meeting, I scheduled another meeting with Career Development to nail out the details. The Career Development office at Simpson is top-notch. My meeting was a full 45 minutes of explaining my concerns, excitements and frustrations. Sometimes, you just need to talk it out to find clarity.

That’s exactly what I did. I may have walked away a little overwhelmed looking at the unknowns of the future, but I knew what I needed to do.

But first, I had to talk to my parents.

My parents are so great. No matter how crazy my ideas are, they’re always behind me (even if they don’t understand). They’re my own personal cheerleaders. I was a little nervous to tell them, but after I did, they were both so supportive – just wanting me to do whatever I enjoy.

I enjoy and am excited about exercise science.

I love rehab – seeing a patient go from limited mobility to walking in a few short months. I love working with people and helping them be the best they can be.

So, I have decided to change my major. From multimedia journalism to exercise science.

It’s scary and I still have no idea what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be after college, but I know I’m in the right spot.

I had to decide whether I wanted to stay where I was (which is definitely the easier route), or put in the work to do something I enjoy.

This is a defining moment. An EXCITING defining moment.