Saturday, July 15, 2017

Help! There's a giraffe at prom!

A few years ago, I made a bucket list.  It's not long, but it is rather unique, and it even includes riding a mechanical bull.  At the top of my list is being a contestant on Jeopardy! I figure since I can be a regular contestant or a participant in the Teacher's Tournament, I have a really upped my odds of getting on the show.  Plus, I already have one of my interesting anecdote's ready and waiting- I have been to the prom 16 times.  Amazing, right? I feel sure Alex Trebek is dying to chat with me about that little tidbit.

I love everything about the prom . . . the dresses, the decorations, the awesome DJs that play four solid hours of music that makes me want to shake my groove thing.

This year, I worked the ticket table.  That really was the best job because I got to see all the kids dressed up and even looking a little nervous, which was so cute.  The theme this year was Mardi Gras. Oddly enough, that was the theme back in 1995 when my love affair with prom began.

Mardi Gras was also the theme of Prom 2012.  Now, I know I said earlier I have been to 16 proms, but that's not exactly true. Technically, I have only been to 15 because I didn't quite make it to Prom 2012. Instead of going to prom, I spent the evening in the hospital snuggling my sweet new baby boy.

The Friday morning of prom, I woke up bright and early, knowing that Jackson had not listened to my explicit instructions not to arrive before Saturday night. The entire way to the hospital, I kept firing off texts to my co-sponsor Brea, detailing everything that needed to get done. Finally, Brea had had enough (It was 5 a.m. after all) and sent me a text that basically said, "I got this. Stop texting me and go have a baby." Well, okay then.

Deep down, I knew Brea had it under control. She loves prom (and Jeopardy!) as much as I do, and she had a wonderful team of teachers and students backing her up. Pictures from the night proved that it was, indeed, a magical masquerade. 

My problem that morning was I didn't want to have to ask for help. There I was in the middle of a contraction, too proud to admit I needed somebody else to take over. If I hadn't been about to have his baby, I think Alex would have tossed me out of the car for such nonsense.  

This wasn't the first time I had received a stern talking to about letting people help me. Picture it, Columbia, 2003.  It was a warm spring day and my mom and I had run into Earth Fare to grab a few things.  When we got back to the car, I searched my pocketbook for my keys, only to realize they were locked inside my super cool Geo Prism.  What in the world were we going to do?

Enter college crush.

This sweet guy offered all sorts of help, but I just rebuffed him, telling him thank you but we had already called AAA. As soon as he walked away, my mom turned on me and said, "Katherine, you're never going to get a date if you don't let guys help you."  I'm sorry, what?  I'm not some damsel in distress trapped in a tower waiting to be rescued.  I tried to tell her we didn't need help because a locksmith was on the way, but she just rolled her eyes, sighing at my hopelessness.

If you read my Mother's Day post, you know throughout my life I have been surrounded by a group of strong, independent women, women who seemed to be in charge of a lot without needing much outside help.  That's why my mom's directive took me by such surprise and confused the heck out of me. The idea of letting people help me was news to me.

Why are we so afraid to ask for help?  Is it that we don't want to appear weak? Is it that we are afraid of rejection when the person we're asking says no? Is it that we are afraid to release control- what if the person helping doesn't do it the same way we would have? What if she does it better?

I feel like this is a modern problem.  I mean, pioneers didn't have trouble asking each other for help when they needed a barn raised. No way, everybody pitched in and then celebrated with a picnic while Pa played the fiddle and Mary, Laura, and Carrie danced around the fire.

Life is much different these days. Being independent is valued as a strength, while needing help is seen as a weakness. Society praises the "self-made man." Charles Lindbergh will always be remembered for making the first SOLO flight across the Atlantic . . . an accomplishment that wouldn't have been possible without a crew on the ground checking his plane and calculating his coordinates.

I think the rest of the animal kingdom has it figured out. If you know my boys, you know giraffes are a big deal in our house.  Over the years, I've learned a lot about these animals, along with all the other animals that roam the African grasslands (Fingers crossed African Animals will be a Jeopardy! category!). One thing sticks out about these animals- the majority of them live in herds, and the herds work together.  Take elephants, for example. While some members of the herd go out to find food, others stay behind to protect the young. Giraffes, especially, benefit from the herd. A giraffe is most vulnerable when it bends down to drink water, so while several giraffes drink, the other giraffes stay on the lookout for lions and other predators.

In both cases, the animals survive because they help each other.

We should try to be more like giraffes (Long legs? Yes, please!) And maybe we kinda are. What I have come to realize is that all those strong, independent women I knew growing up could be leaders at home, at work, and in the community because they helped each other.  They pitched in to drive carpools, deliver meals, and host overnight guests. Most importantly, they were there to listen and circle around each other in times of need.

It's taken almost 39 years, but I've finally figured out that-SHOCKER-I can't do it all by myself.  And thankfully, I don't have to. Now, instead of being too prideful/embarrassed/ashamed to ask for help, I count my blessings that I have family and friends to ask. How sad would it be if I didn't have a village of supporters willing to have my back when times get tough? 

It can be both scary and humbling to ask for help, but we can't go it alone. John Donne wrote, "No man is an island," and it's so true. We need each other to plan proms, to survive the hard times, and to live life to its fullest.



Jackson feeding the giraffes in 2013. This was the
beginning of his obsession.

Alex and Reeves helping a giraffe enjoy
a morning snack in  2015.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Motivation from a Drunk Octopus

One Friday night a few weeks ago, Jackson begged me to sleep in his bed.  So I did what every good mom would do . . . waited for him to fall asleep, snuck out of his room to get a good night's sleep in my own bed, and then set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. so I could climb back in his bed before he missed me. Look, I love my son, but in the words of my friend Tim, sleeping with him is like sleeping with a drunk octopus looking for its car keys.

And do you know what my sacrificial devotion to my son got me the next morning?  This comment: "Hey, Mommy, do you have a baby in your tummy? Ha, ha, no, you just don't exercise."

Anybody want a free five year old?

As much as that comment stung, when I stopped to think about it, I realized Jackson did kinda have a point.  I really had let my running shoes get a little dusty lately.

I think one of the biggest reasons for this is that taking time for the gym often comes with a side of guilt.  During the school year, if I go to the gym after school, I feel like I'm neglecting the boys for one more hour.  And if I take them with me, then I feel guilty that they're inside watching TV in the kids' room instead of doing something more educational and creative outside.

I know the antidote for my guilt is grace, but grace can be a slippery slope that gets me into some trouble.  Sometimes if I give myself the grace to take a day off, that day turns into a week, and then a month, and then before I know it, I'm getting roasted by a five year old.

Balance is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days.  Everybody is searching for that work-life balance or that home-school balance.  A balance between guilt and grace is what I've been striving for this summer, and I'll admit it's been a challenge, especially since I have a tendency to be an all-or-nothing kind of girl.

One thing that helps me find my balance is zeroing in on my why for doing something.  If my why for working out is only losing weight, I know I'm doomed because once that scale slows down or stops moving altogether, I want to quit and go home and eat Ruffles potato chips with Dean's sour cream and onion dip for dinner and watch TV all night long.

Over the past few weeks, I've been trying to find better whys for making time for exercise.  Here's what I've come up with so far:

My number one why is building relationships.  If going to the gym includes friends, it's easy to get there.  Walking on the treadmill beside a buddy while catching up on life at the same time is win-win. Having somebody beside me in a boot camp class to encourage me, challenge me, and sing '90s rap with me makes the time fly by.  I have to keep reminding myself that getting in shape doesn't happen over night, so having friends cheering me on keeps me motivated.

Another why is feeling like a bad ass (Can I even write that on here?).  But seriously, on a day when I run faster than I think I can or I push through more burpees than ever before, I leave the gym feeling like I can take on the world.  And now that I've seen Wonder Woman, I pretty much envision myself training with a bunch of Amazons every time I work out.  Who wouldn't want to feel that empowered?

Some days, my why is all about taking time for myself.  On these days, I'm less Amazonian warrior and more Forrest Gump, just running and running, turning off the questions and demands of the world to clear my head so I come back to my family with more energy and a better attitude.  Over the years, I have solved a lot of problems, said a lot of prayers, and written a lot of  blog posts while clocking up mile after mile.  

My final why is setting a good example for my family.  On Father's Day weekend, I took Jackson with me to a class at Burn Boot Camp Columbia.  It was awesome to have him there cheering me on and giving me high fives.  His energy was contagious, and I was reminded that when I find the right kind of exercise with the right people, it truly can be a lot of fun, something I actually look forward to.  I want Jackson and Reeves to know that feeling too, and I hope they can find their own whys for making exercise a part of their lives.

Even with my new list of whys, finding balance doesn't always come naturally to me.  Last Saturday, Alex and I went out to dinner, and we decided to split the banana pudding for dessert.  Normally, I would have felt guilty for having dessert after an already indulgent meal, but last Saturday was different.  I gave myself the grace to enjoy the treat, knowing I had gone to the gym earlier in the day.  And you know, once I accepted that grace and stopped beating myself up over the kind of dinner that happens once a month, it was much easier to regain my balance on Sunday.

Eating right all the time and exercising every day isn't easy, and a lot of times, it's not even realistic.  I have to remind myself  that getting back in shape and taking care of myself isn't an all-or-nothing process.  It's a daily give and take, making good decisions when I can, and forgiving myself when I don't.  It's focusing on what I gain from healthy living rather than what I lose.

Above all, it's learning to find balance, one day at a time.

My favorite workout buddy!








Saturday, June 17, 2017

I've Got a Secret

Here's a true confession . . . I'm a hoarder.

Now, before you get worried and stage an intervention, you should know I only hoard one thing, and that one thing takes up very little room in my house.  That's because what I hoard is . . . music.

Now, back in the day, my hoarding was more of a problem, since I had cassette tapes and CDs stacked and hidden everywhere, but now, thanks to my handy dandy iTunes account, all I need to store my collection is my phone.

I have always listened to a wide variety of musical genres.  My CD case used to contain everything from the soundtrack to Les Miserables to Bob Marley to Reba's greatest hits.  And yep, I'll go ahead and own it, my guilty pleasure was old school gangsta rap.  But there was one genre I just couldn't get behind: Christian Rock.

I just thought Christian rock, praise music, worship songs, or whatever else you want to call it was weird.  I think I equated it with those televangelists who told me to touch the screen and feel the power.  I also felt like the singers just repeated the same lines over and over again, second verse, same as the first.

Not only did I think Christian rock was strange, but I thought the people who listened to it were a little strange too.  I mean, they were always closing their eyes and putting their hands in the air.  Kinda funny I labeled them strange for that, seeing as how I'm usually the first one to wave my hands in the air, and I keep wavin' 'em like I just don't care.

Then last year a friend challenged me to listen to nothing but Christian music for two weeks and see what happened.  I decided to start out slowly with Alan Jackson's album of traditional hymns, Precious Memories.  As a long-time country music fan, I felt safe with him singing songs I had heard my entire life.  As the two weeks progressed, I branched out little by little to more contemporary artists, and what do you know, I found some that I really liked.  And the more I listened, the more words I knew, and the more comfortable I felt belting out the lyrics in the car, in the shower, and around the house.

Turns out, I had been wrong- modern Christian music and those who listen to it aren't weird at all.  Don't get me wrong, on Sunday mornings, I still want my traditional hymns and my organ.  And when I go to the gym, I still bring my friends Pink, Pitbull, and Flo Rida.  But I realized that maybe I was a little too quick to totally discount a whole genre of music simply because I didn't know every word to every song. And I will say, listening to a song like Hillary Scott's Still or NEEDTOBREATHE's Washed By the Water on my ride to school is a much more uplifting way to start the day than by listening to something like ACDC's Highway to Hell or Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train.

It's easy for us to be skeptical about things we don't know.  Unfortunately, sometimes I judge people and places without even meaning to.  Thoughts invade my head, and I deem something strange, wrong, or weird without even thinking about it, much less giving it a real chance.

The point of this post isn't to convince you to like praise music.  As a musical genre, it may not be your jam.  I'm just suggesting we should all step out of our comfort zones once in awhile.  We need to be open to trying new things so we don't end up missing out on something we may really like.  Take sushi, for example- who would guess raw fish wrapped in seaweed would be so delicious?

And let's face it- we're all a little weird, with our own idiosyncrasies.  I mean, I don't like for my food to touch, I choke every single time I eat powdered sugar, and I laugh at funerals (for more on that, click here). Thankfully, I found someone who found those quirks to be rather endearing. Sometimes the things we worry others may find odd about us end up being exactly what they love the most.

So, go ahead and try the strange food.  Listen to the weird music. Talk to the girl with the bizarre hair.  Make a habit of looking for the beauty in the different.  Like me, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.





Friday, June 2, 2017

But What If We Fly?

The most popular question I've been asked over the past three months, other than if my Christmas tree still up, is what motivated me to start this blog.  I had dreamed of starting a blog for awhile, largely because I fantasized I could turn blogging into a career that could be carried out from a beach chair on Pawley's Island. However, it wasn't until two friends gently nudged me that I took the idea of starting a blog seriously.

Back in December, my friend Anna, who works for Palmetto Health Foundation, asked me to write a short piece on why Alex and I joined The Cavalry, a group of young leaders charging to meet the high-priority needs of Palmetto Health Cancer Centers.  Here's what I wrote:

When Anna Saunders asked me to write about why Alex and I joined The Cavalry, I kept putting it off.  Honestly, I felt a little guilty.  We don’t have truly personal cancer stories like some of our members.  Yes, we have known people who have bravely fought the disease, but we have never seen it up close and personal on a daily basis, so we didn’t want to take away from the stories of those who have.

I also kept putting off writing our story because I am a procrastinator.  It took about three tries for me to actually fill out the application to join The Calvary in the first place.  I had a wide variety of reasons as to why we should wait, and filling out the application and making the financial commitment kept moving to the bottom of my “To Do” list.

But here’s the thing, cancer doesn’t procrastinate.  It doesn’t wait until it’s convenient, and it surely doesn’t care about what is on my “To Do” list.  It requires immediate attention.  Once I realized that, I knew we had to take action.

One word has continually popped into my head: NOW.  Now is the time to do what we can to fight cancer.  If we wait until we have a personal connection to support the cause, it’s too late.  That is why Alex and I joined The Cavalry.  We want to take a proactive approach.  We want to help Palmetto Health Cancer Centers fight cancer in the Midlands.  We want to do what we can today to make sure we are prepared for tomorrow. 

As we enter this New Year, let’s all resolve to live NOW, to love NOW, and to give NOW.

When Anna thanked me for sharing my story, she casually suggested that I should start a blog.  While I was flattered, I didn't really think I had enough thoughts that were really blog-worthy. Oddly enough, a few weeks later, during a conversation at lunch, the topic came up again.  My friend Sherry and I often like to discuss what we are going to be when we grow up, and I happened to mention I had always wanted to write a blog.  Sherry looked at me with her no-nonsense stare and said, "Well, why don't you?" 

It took me about five seconds to realize Sherry was right.  Why didn't I write a blog?  It's not like I was giving up my day job.  Starting a blog is totally free, and there's really nothing to lose, except maybe a little pride.  So, without spending a lot of time thinking about it and giving myself time to change my mind, I marched across the hall and started writing the crazy story of my Christmas tree that was still up two months after Christmas.

It's easy to talk ourselves out of doing things.  I know I've used all sorts of excuses: I'll do it when the kids are older.  I'll do it when I lose weight.  I'll do it when I have more money, a bigger house, a different job.

But these excuses aren't really what hold me back.  What holds me back the most is fear-fear of what other people will think, fear of what will happen if I fail.  What I've come to realize is this: what I should be most afraid of is never taking the leap.

When I think back over my life, I've been scared, nervous, fearful about doing a lot of things.  Even in just the past 10 years, I wonder how different my life would be if I had let my fear of getting rejected stop me from stalking Alex on Facebook.  What if I had let my fear of having kids stop me from starting a family?  Some of the things that have scared me the most have led to the best things in my life.

What is it you've been putting off--Supporting that cause? Starting that business?  Having that talk?  Applying for that job?  Righting that wrong? Life is full of risks, some that work out and others that don't.  Sometimes, the only thing we can do is step out on faith and give it a shot.

Don't get me wrong, I still get scared of trying new things, and I definitely still procrastinate- yes, the tree is still up!  But I'm working to make sure my fears don't stop me from missing out on all life has to offer.

For more of Erin Hanson's poetry, visit
thepoeticundergound.com






  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Summer Reading 2017


I will go ahead and admit I was that nerdy kid who loved summer reading, and I still do.  I thought I'd share a few suggestions of books I've read lately in case you're one of those cool kids too.

Ryan's Hand by Leila Meacham

A romance on a cattle ranch . . . don't mind if I do.  I thought this was a new release, but it is actually Meacham's first novel, one she wrote when she was an English teacher back in the '80s.  She gives me hope that I'll be able to retire on the sales of my best seller one day.

If you've read any of her other books- Roses, Somerset, Tumbleweeds, or, Titans- all highly recommended themselves- it's not quite the same sweeping Texas saga you may be used to.  However, it's still an enjoyable read, perfect for your beach bag, especially if you like Mary Kay Andrews, Dorothea Benton Frank, or Elin Hilderbrand.  While it is a little predictable, if you're like me and listened to Toby Keith's "Should've Been a Cowboy" one too many times, it will satisfy your desire for wild stallions, chuck wagons, and love on the range.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

Never has a book made me as hungry as this one did!  It is a lighthearted and touching story of a chef set on reaching her dreams and trying to find love along the way.  Oddly enough, this book also made me want to take a trip to Milwaukee, a city I've never even considered visiting.  But after reading about the art museum, the baseball tailgates, the cultural festivals, the craft brews, and all of the fried cheese, I'm ready to pack up and head out.  Sadly, I may have to settle for a Fireflies game and a trip to Flying Saucer.

I loved the characters in this book and the idea that our friends, both old and young, help bring out the best in us.

Overall, the story reminded me of the movie Burn, which is really good if you haven't seen it.  It stars Bradley Cooper- need I say more?

How to Raise and Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims

I like to throw in a little non-fiction every now and then, and this one was recommended by a friend and fellow teacher, so I thought I would give it a try.  This is an interesting read for parents and teachers.  Really, it would be a good read for anyone who works with young people.

The book starts by explaining how our culture created the "helicopter parent" phenomenon and then goes on to explain how we can combat the situation.  It also tries to answer the question What can we do to counterbalance the prevalence of participation trophies to help kids develop grit?  If you are a fan of John Rosemond, Lythcott-Haims' advice reminds me a lot of his work.

For me, the book made me think about how I define satisfaction and how I can help both my children and my students think on their own and learn from failure.  While I do want my kids to succeed, I also want them to stay grounded.  Lythcott-Haims presents practical advice, along with well-researched commentary, to help parents find the right balance.

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

This is an intriguing mystery about a high school social studies teacher and coach who isn't quite what he seems.  Seeing that I share a classroom with a high school social studies teacher and coach, by page 10, I was freaking out that Matt might actually be some kind of psycho killer.  When Jackson asked me what the book is about, I told him hidden identities  He looked really confused, so I explained it's like PJ Masks.  You know, going undercover into the night to save the day.  I'm sure Scottoline would be thrilled to know I just compared her thriller to a children's cartoon.

Anyway, this is a suspenseful page turner with a few twists, turns, and murders along the way.  I can definitely see it being turned into a movie, hopefully starring a cute Chris- Pratt, Hemsworth, Pine, or Evans, I'm not picky.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Best.Book.Ever. No, really, I'm kinda worried that now that I've read this, I'll never find another book as good.  I laughed, I cried, and sometimes I did both at the same time . . . which may or may not have caused me to snort.

This book tells the story of Ove, a rather ornery gentleman, and his neighbors, who all live in what seems like a cool collection of row houses in Sweden.  All of Ove's quirks made me feel like I was getting a glimpse of what Sheldon Cooper's life will be like when he's 60.  I'll admit, the book was a little hard to get into, and I didn't even like Ove at first, but by the end of the book, I wanted my very own Ove to live next door.

I loved the way this story intertwined the lives of all of the neighbors, reminding me that we never know the impact we can have on people or how our paths will cross.  I read this book on my iPad, but now I want to buy a hard copy just so I can easily reread the best parts.  My friend Jonelle recommended this and Coconut Cake, and I sure am glad she did.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

So, three of my best friends live in Texas: Melanie Shankle, Jen Hatmaker, and Joanna Gaines, or as I like to call them when we go out for girls' night, Mel, Jen, and JoJo.  Now, while that statement may be a tad fabricated, the truth is I recommend all of their books, but since I read The Magnolia Story most recently, I'm going to write about it.

I fell in love with Chip and Jo when I was on maternity leave with Reeves.  (I also fell in love with the Property Brothers during this time, so much so that one day I referred to my boys as Jonathan and Drew instead of Jackson and Reeves!)  Since then, Alex and I have watched their show every Tuesday night, and we have contemplated moving to Waco more than once.

This book will make you feel like you are having a personal conversation with Chip and Jo.  They share stories about how they met and fell in love and how their faith helped them build their business.  They also offer up a few hilarious examples of Chip's questionable parenting moments.  I think even if you've never seen Fixer Upper, you will still enjoy their story.


Well, that's it, just a few of my favorites from this year.  If you have any suggestions for my summer reading list, just drop them in the comments below.  I believe in the power of a good recommendation.  Happy reading!

Friday, May 12, 2017

It Takes a Village

A guy typically dreads asking his girlfriend's dad for her hand in marriage.  In the South, this process can often include a shotgun, a background check, and a lot of intense questioning.

Alex, on the other hand, really dodged a bullet when he decided to propose to me.  Since I grew up with just my mom, he only had to ask for her blessing, and she would have said yes to any guy with a college degree, a job, and a good head of hair just to get me off her payroll.

Very quickly, though, Alex realized something unique about my situation.  After one of our wedding parties in Rock Hill, he looked at me and said,

"You have a lot of moms."

"Yep, I do."

"It kinda scares me."

"Yep, it should."

And Alex was right to be a little nervous.  See, I have been blessed throughout my life to be surrounded by a pack of protective moms.  These weren't your ordinary moms.  These women ran restaurants, held political offices, led government programs, chaired church and civic boards, and loved me like one of their own.

They taught me how to ride a bike without training wheels, how to get my ducks in a row, and how to pop the heads off of shrimp like a champ.

I continue to be amazed and inspired by the women around me

Over the years, I have watched women bravely fight cancer with courage and grace.  I have watched women lose their husbands and their children too soon, yet somehow maintain their faith through it all.  I have watched women fight for the families they have and fight for the children they long for with determination and fearlessness.

Over the years, I have watched friends lose moms before they could celebrate milestones together and have then watched these same friends honor their moms every day by the way they live, the causes they champion, and the way they raise their own children.

Biological or not, all of these women have molded me into the woman I am today.

One of my favorite movies is War Room.  If you haven't seen it, stop finish reading this blog right now and see if you can find it on Netflix.  In the movie, Miss Clara has been a mentor for Elizabeth, guiding her through a rough time in her marriage.  At the end of the movie, Elizabeth asks if they can still meet, and Miss Clara provides her with a challenge, saying, "You need to find a young woman to invest in, and I'll do the same.  We all need help now and then."

I am lucky to have so many strong women as role models.  My hope is that I will take all of their love and support and pay it forward, just like Miss Clara encourages Elizabeth to do.  Navigating relationships, building careers, raising kids . . . it's hard work.  The key is to remember we're all in this together.  Some days, the struggle is real, but we can strive to make the journey a little easier for one another.  We all make an impact on other people, whether we mean to or not.  Personally, I want my impact to be positive, building others up the way my moms did for me.

I hope one day my boys will look back and think I was a good mom, but I won't be able to take all of the credit.  If I'm a good mom, it's only because I learned from some of the best.

These are just a few of my Rock Hill moms.



Saturday, May 6, 2017

Lessons from Draft Day

Two big things happened in my life last week: I finished my M.Ed. in Elementary Literacy and Deshaun Watson got drafted by the Houston Texans.  Now, I know you're probably thinking there's no way those two events can possibly be related, but let's take a closer look, shall we?

First, my Masters . . .

I had always toyed with the idea of a M.Ed. in Literacy, so last March, I decided to make it happen.  I really felt like it was what I was supposed to do.  As I got started, I was so excited that this would lead to new opportunities.  This March, however, all of these new doors I thought would open kept closing in my face, and I began to wonder why I had taken so much time away from my family, my students, and even myself to get a degree that seemed to serve no real purpose.

Ultimately, I started to feel like I was doing all this work just to end up with a very expensive piece of paper I was never going to use.  I was beyond frustrated.

And then Draft Day came . . .

For the past few years, I have been a Texans fan, largely because they have J.J. Watt, whose defensive prowess is unsurpassed. He's been the Defensive Player of the Year three times, led the league in sacks twice, been to the Pro Bowl four times . . . Oh please, who am I kidding, I like J.J. Watt because he's the cutest guy in the NFL!  They also have one of my favorite receivers, DeAndre "Nuk" Hopkins.  I like the Texans so much, I chose them as my fantasy football team defense last season, and they did not disappoint.

As a Clemson fan, I was pumped to watch the NFL Draft because I just knew, without a doubt, Deshaun Watson was going to be the first pick.  Evidently, there's a reason I don't work for ESPN.  Not only was he not the first pick, he wasn't even the first quarterback drafted.  In fact, he wasn't even the second quarterback taken.  Picks came and went, and Watson was still on the board, so by around pick 10, I was done and ready for bed.  That's when Alex pointed out the Texans were coming up, and they needed a quarterback.

Wait, what?

Are you telling me Deshaun, Nuk, J.J., and even Jadeveon Clowney, could all end up on the same team?  That would be better than I could ever imagine.

Well, the Texans did pick Watson, and the disappointment I felt with the first pick was completely replaced with excitement and relief.  Watson is going to an established team that has a history of making it to the playoffs, instead of to a team where, apologies to Browns fans everywhere, quarterbacks often go to die. On Friday, it was funny to be able to look back at the night and see that instead of getting all worked up (and possibly throwing things at my TV), I should have just relaxed and trusted that Watson would go where he was meant to go.

And that's what I've come to realize about my life too.  Sometimes, the first pick isn't always the best pick.  Sometimes what we think we want isn't always the right thing for us.  Sometimes, it takes 11 tries before we hit the jackpot on the twelfth.  The key is to have faith, to do what we can, and then to trust that it will work out, often better than we could ever imagine.  I may not put what I learned in my Masters program to work right away, but I have to believe there is a purpose for getting it, even though I may not be able to see that purpose right now.

When you really think about it, Guns N' Roses said it best years ago: All we need is just a little patience.

And Go Texans!