2010 National Honor Society Speech

Person at Podium I discovered a draft of my speech for Centura’s National Honor Society Speech in 2010. I, also, had this photo from that night. As I read over the speech I could imagian me writing this same speech today, of course I would be older. I would have more failures and more successes to share…  Anyway, I thought the message was worth sharing. Enjoy a small trip back in time to when I was 38…

Centura National Honor Society Speech

Good evening… I am honored to speak at such an important event in your lives.  I stand before you at the halfway point in my life, I am 38 years old.  In those 38 years, I have failed many times.  I lost my last high school football game in 3 overtimes, and then would quit playing football after my freshman year in college.  I let my first true love leave me and never got her back.  I technically do not have a mom or a dad to help me through life.  In high school, I dated a girl my best friend liked.  We did not speak to each other for 6 months.  I have yelled at my children only because I was having a bad day. I have had personal dreams die. To be honest, after 38 years my heart sometimes feels taped together.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Uhmm Mr. Boelhower this is suppose to be a happy occasion…”  Hold on, give me a moment.

I stand before you at the halfway point of my life, I am 38 years old. In those 38 years, I have succeeded many times.  I was selected to play in the Wyoming Shrine Bowl, one of the few players to be selected from a losing team.  I would compete in track and field at Hastings College and continue as an assistant coach.  I am married to a wonderful woman and have five beautiful children. And yes, it was true love at first sight, at least for me.  My best friend was my best man at my wedding, and I was his best man.  Just last night at the dinner table, we laughed as we made-up the shortest “Once upon a time” stories.  I have succeeded at dreams I never knew I had. To be honest, after 38 years my heart sometimes feels so much love it could exploded.

Now, why do I share this with you, because you will someday stand at the halfway mark and find that life has been nothing like you thought, and that is the beauty of it, both the pain and the joy.  But to get to that point, to be able to embrace the complexity of life you need a strong foundation, which brings us to this moment.  Why we are here.  Tonight is a moment that symbolizes the foundations you build your life on, Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character.

Each of these foundations is important to life.  Let us take a minute to redefine these foundations with real world definitions.

Scholarship:  It is not just about the grades.  Scholarship is discovering and sharing the truth.  The truth of what works in this world and what works in your own life. It is learning from your mistakes and your victories.

Service: Is not just volunteering.  Service is Love in action.  Love of family and friends, of your fellow humans, of a better tomorrow.  Service is the opening of your heart to see others succeed.  The cool part is when you do this; you start to see your true self.

Leadership: is not just being the head person in charge.  Leadership is the courage to serve and to learn.  We are all leaders at some point in our lives, as a mom or dad.  A coach, a friend.  Many people “talk” about what should be done, few do it.  It takes courage to get things done; it takes courage to do what is right.  It takes courage to open your heart, to love those around you.

Character: is not just principles of morality and ethics.  It is your everyday life, lived.  It is the choices you make, mixed with the things you say, combined with the attitude you express.  It is you, everyday.

These foundations are strong; these foundations allow you, us, to handle the darkest hours.  They give us something to land on when we are knocked down.  And they provide the support to pick yourself up, to not shy away from the pain, but build and learn from those moments.

These foundations are good.  They allow us to bask in the sunshine, to truly experience love, joy, and life.  They lift us up.  They connect us to others, friends, family, and community.  These foundations give depth to our lives and fuel us to pursue the dreams we choose.

Life is complex, and that is the beauty of it.  Be confident in your foundations.  Stand tall, even when you feel down.  Love when your heart is broken.  Live everyday by what you know is true.  And live a life of greatness, everyday…

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Follow the Directions

15 years.

52 Sundays in a year.

That is 780 Sunday mornings.

Let’s round that down to 750 (we have missed a few Sundays over the years).

12 muffins a box. (I won’t worry about any times I made more.)

9,000 muffins I have made as a dad!

And I still read the instructions on the box…(I do use milk instead of water, though.)

Instructions for blueberry muffins

Why?

Good question, and one I found myself answering Sunday morning as I measured out the milk, then oil, and then crack two eggs.

Why read the directions after 9,000 muffins? Because it matters. As many of you know, blueberry muffins are a tradition for my family. And I want to make sure the muffins are done right. So, I read and follow the directions, every time.

But isn’t that the key to success? Be it relationships, business, or sports? Doing the important things, sometimes the smallest things, right – every time.

I know that life can get crazy, distracting us from the small important things we need to do. Even our goals can draw us away from focusing on the foundational steps we should be working on to achieve that same goal. If you are feeling like life has gotten out of hand, or that you’re taking steps backwards from your goals, I suggest getting back to reading the instructions. Focusing on doing things right – every time. Soon you will look back and be amazed at how much you have accomplished. Even if it is just having breakfast every Sunday morning with your family.  9,000 muffins and counting.

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Peace Be With You

Sunday morning. The sun brightens the stain glass windows, painting the floor in an array of colors. Everyone is standing as the priest talks through The Liturgy of the Eucharist.

“And the Lord’s peace be with you.”

“And also with you,” the congregation replies.

“Let us offer each other the sign of peace,” says the priest.

The church fills with the rumble of members turning to shake hands and say ‘peace be with you’ with their family and then with those around them. Now I am not Catholic, my wife and children are. This post isn’t about religion or beliefs. It is about the importance of being open as a person, even for a few seconds.

Again, I am not Catholic, and to be honest this moment in the service use to make me feel uncomfortable. I would shake hands with people with my eyes down and mumble something to them.

But as my family started to grow, and even to this day, my children have taught me the importance of this moment. When my oldest was about two years old and even now with my youngest daughter, who is three, started to shake hands with the people around me, I saw the beauty in the moment. But also noticed a sad truth.

My children can’t wait to shake hands with the people around us. Their little hands sticking out, waiting for the chance to make a connection. Over the years I have noticed how their eagerness and joy would affect the adults they shook hands with. The adults would smile and even lean down to say ‘peace be with you.’

But when they would shake hands with me, you could see the wall go up. There would be a hesitation in the moment and their eyes would go down. Now, I was the same way. I felt the same wall, would keep my eyes down. As if the person in front of me could hurt me in that 10 seconds of interaction. But I believed they could. And I think many adults feel something like that, too.

Why?

It is too simple of an answer, but I think the reason is because we have been hurt, we are afraid, and as adults it is simply easier to have a wall in place. And today? No doubt. Our society right now is in turmoil. We are disconnected from each other. Again, this is not a political post, but a chance for me to share with you a sign of peace.

My children have taught me that sharing a handshake is awesome. Society is trying to teach me different. This last Sunday I followed my children’s lesson. I made sure I looked at the person in the eye, smiled, and clearly said,

peace-be-with-you

 

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#oneword2017

Designed by second son.

Designed by second son.

This is the third year my family has participated in choosing One Word to focus on for the upcoming year. This year we decorated a box with our words and wrote why we chose that word on a tag that was then placed inside the box. The plan is to share events that highlighted our words during Sunday dinner. We will write out the event and place them in the box.

My word this year is BE. I’ve blogged about the idea behind my word in the post, Greatness. My goal this year is to BE the person I am instead of trying to be that person. It’s a small difference in thinking, but instead of trying to be a good husband, I will be a good husband. That means I do what it takes. If I just try, I give myself a built-in excuse to fail.

Not this year. This is my year to BE.

Share your One Word stories with me in the comment section or on Twitter. Here is to a great 2017.

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My Holiday Wish

wish

With only a few days until Christmas and a week before New Years, my thoughts fluctuate between what I could have done better last year and what I want the next year to be like. In a time where it seems our society is divided, where hate is easy to express, I wish you strength of spirit. I hope your life shines with joy even in the face of hardships.

I look forward to sharing this next year with you, to making it the best year yet.

 

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Student Assignment

One of the reasons I love teaching is when a student connects the class work to their life. When an assignment becomes more than just a grade. For my English Composition course the students end the year with a research based persuasive essay. I have all kinds of assignments built around helping the students produce that final essay. One of those assignments is to write a letter to an authority connected to their topic. Throughout the last 18 years those “letters” have actually been used by students to make a difference in their schools or communities. This year one student tackled a serious issue, binge drinking.

Now, Anthony is a non-traditional student. He is a father and is working a career change. And his letter to an authority was an honest letter. After you read it, you’ll understand why I wanted to share his work.

18 November 2016 

Dear Parent,  

 This may go without saying, but I’m asking you to stay very involved in your child’s life as they go through college and into life beyond. Please make sure they are not falling prey to an issue many young people face today. There is a problem that is not only prevalent in this area, but all across the nation. This problem is binge drinking in our student body. As I write this, college students across the nation are gearing up for a fun Friday night. Going to the liquor store for the first eighteen pack of the weekend, maybe a bottle or two of fireball. There is a game tomorrow, so surely the booze will be flowing at tailgate parties. That’s tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night to drink as much alcohol as one can.  

Binge drinking is defined as more than five drinks in a two-hour period for men. For women, it’s more than four drinks in the same period of time. According to the C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), almost 90% of alcohol consumed by binge drinkers in the U.S. today is by people under 21 years old. Those who admitted to binge drinking are fourteen times more likely to get behind the wheel and drive while impaired.  

As a student myself attending college I have seen this first hand. Not only in the student body but in myself. I have been in the shoes of the hung over youth. The boy who wakes up not knowing where he is or how he got there. Trying to make sense of the night or day before. Only guessing at whether I hurt anyone or just what happened. All of these situations seem to be the social norm. Usually talk during the week consists of how much was drank or just how drunk they got. Blacking out seems to be the goal. This is activity is very dangerous.  

Drinking and college go together like a hand and glove. It has been a cultural rite of passage for American youth for generations. It may be impossible to completely stop drinking for a good time or to relieve stress, but discouraging underage drinking and binge drinking could lead to better grades, increased overall health, and decreased chances of alcoholism. All while diminishing accidents or fatalities associated with alcohol.   

I’m asking you to let your children know that you care. Your influence may mean more to them than you think. Just talk to them about the dangers of overindulging. Education, love, understanding and communication are the best tools to reach them. Misery is not required for one to be happy. 

Sincerely,  

Anthony

 

Thank you, Anthony, for letting share such an honest and powerful letter.

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The Gift

the-gift

What do you think is inside? Socks, a gift card, a new Bluetooth speaker, or maybe a half empty jar of mayonnaise? How would you react to each of those possibilities?

At the beginning of the month I attended a conference in Portland, Oregon. The final keynote was a local improv group, Brainwave Improv Company. The conference attendees were separated into five teams. At the end of the keynote each team would actually play an improv game and be awarded points. Think Whose Line is it Anyway.

While working in our groups the members of Brainwaves taught us a few different improv games (one of which would be the one we were judged on). Through those games the actors discussed aspects of improv that correlated to dealing with people at work and life. The same principles that made for a great improv session can be used to build strong relationships at work and home. One of my team’s games was “Gift Giving”.

The idea is simple. Two people exchange gifts. The person giving the gift could not say what it was, but through their actions give a hint to what it might be. A person might seem to be lifting a huge box to give to the other person, or act like the box was moving. The person receiving the gift had to take the gift, “open” it, and share what the gift actually was. Of course the whole game is to be funny, but the lesson the actors shared was powerful.

Brainwaves first shared the idea that in improv everything is a gift; a line, a situation, a moment of silence, anything can be used by the actors to make the game / scene funny. As actors they had to be open to whatever the “gift” might be and adapt, even if they had an idea ready to use. To make a scene flow they had to embrace the gift of the situation.  They then moved the idea to work and life by teaching us how to play the game, “Gift Giving”. See, the real responsibility for the game is on the person receiving the gift. The whole game centers on how that person reacts to the gift, even when it is something crazy or unwanted.

If the person receiving the gift responds in a negative way the whole scene falls apart… You see where this is going don’t you? We have all been on both sides of this situation. We have received a gift that we didn’t like. We have given a gift only to seen the rejection in their face when they opened it. The scene falls apart.

To play the game we had to love what was in the gift. We had to carry the game with our reaction. But the actors took the idea a step deeper. Remember that in improv anything is a gift to the other actors. Brainwaves pushed that idea to dealing with everyday life. How did we act when presented with situations at work? How did we responded when we have to work with someone we don’t like? How do we respond to a child spilling milk? Yes, it is the attitude cliche. We have all heard, in some way, that your attitude is the key to handling life. But what got me about how Brainwaves addressed the issue was the metaphor of a gift.

In my house a gift is a way someone shows that they care about you. (Yes, it is one of my dadisms for my kids.) Now, I’m not naive. I know that tragic things happen to us. We get our hearts broken. Life can blindside us and drop us to our knees. Yet, how many success stories come from those tragedies? How many people took the situation as a gift and ran with it? Not to mention just using the idea to handle our everyday mishaps. What gift have you been given today? Did the scene fall apart? Or did you run with it?

 

 

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