Wednesday, October 29, 2014

“A Thing”

As a mom, I find a lot of things I want for my kids, many of them are the same things they want for themselves.  Hey, we all like candy and want spelling tests to be easy.  Some of the things, I want for them are a little more… existential.  Recently, I decided my eight year old son needs “a thing.”

Let me explain.  He thinks he has “a thing” – X-Box.  X-Box is not a thing.  It is a time-sucker, which we disagree over. I think he has been on there long enough and he disagrees.  Luckily, as mom, I win and off he goes to find something else to do.
And that brings us back to his needing “a thing.”  You see, he is a happy-go-lucky kid.  He doesn’t like competition and he truly could play electronics all day long.  His siblings have things, for instance, his sister thrives on drama, the theater kind.  I want him to have “a thing”, not just to keep the TV off, but to give him something greater than himself to care about. “A thing” would focus his energy and attention.  It would bring other caring adults into his life, building a circle of accountability around him.  Finding “a thing” is the beginning of being able to find “things” his whole life.  He needs a “thing”.

“A thing” is the something you care about.  But more than that, it is what you are excited and passionate about.  It is what drives you and makes you get out of bed and put forth 100% again, even when you’re tired.  I want for my child, what many grown-ups still need to find: purpose, passion, a why?

The other day I met a beautiful woman at a charity event. She was kind and funny and seemed like she knew what she was doing and why.  I was pretty sure she had the grown-up version of “a-thing.”  Two minutes into our conversation, I knew she didn’t. She had no idea why she was there or why it mattered to her, it was just an obligation she had to do.  But more than that, her life didn’t have “a thing.” Even life itself was more of an obligation, than a destination.  She wanted to have “a thing.”  Our conversation took shape around how to find a passion and have it shape your life.

As we talked, I was able to share my “thing,” my why.  I do what I do, because of my kids.  The things I choose to spend my time on are filtered through my passion for them.  Even being at this particular event, while it was keeping me away from them for the morning, was planned in relation to a larger goal.  Now, I am not always this pulled together, but I do know what I want and where I am going.  I have “a thing.”  My thing does for me the same things I want “a thing” to do for my son. It focuses my energy and attention on something greater than myself.  It brings other caring people into my life, and it builds a circle of accountability around me.

The “thing” my son needs and the “thing” this dear woman needs are not the same.  None of our “things,” will be the same, nor should they be.  They are only ours, if they truly reflect who we are.  We know we have found the right “thing” when because of it, we are better.  The trouble with “things” is, they are elusive and they can change over our lifetimes.  In fact, most certainly they will and that is good.  A forty-something woman and eight year old boy should probably not have the same thing, but they both need “a thing”.  We all need “a thing”.

So here’s to us… to each of us finding our “thing.”  Together we are on a grand adventure and I’ll be sure to keep you informed!
Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Little by little, one travels far...

When the fall weather started to set in, I was immediately reminded of where I was at this point last year preparing for the Miss North Dakota International pageant. I still can feel all of my excitement and anxiety! When I think of my goals one year ago and my goals now, they are completely different types of goals, but they are still true goals! I've always been a very hard-working, determined, and disciplined person and so my goals now are focused more towards freeing myself of some of my own rigid rules I tend to give myself. While I am still working on defending my Master's thesis by December, training for a 1/2 marathon in May, promoting speech and debate programs where ever I go, and earning my black belt, my more immediate goals are to learn to let myself relax. To round out my year, these are some personal goals of mine that I plan to accomplish before the date of the Miss North Dakota International pageant.
1) I want to do the crow pose at hot yoga class. Whenever the instructor challenges us, I stay in the safe frog pose, but I know better then to back down! And so far I can get one leg up when I practice at home. Any advice? 

2) I want to learn to enjoy a glass of wine. Any suggestions to a rookie wine drinker are appreciated! I would like to be able to enjoy a glass of wine without making a scrunchy face and frowning.
3) I want to see the movie Frozen. Sigh. I will admit it, I haven't seen it. I know ALL of the songs and I have read the book to my niece a few thousand times, but I haven't actually seen the movie. I know it's a sister movie and I am very very close to my sister, so I know I will cry, but I need to do it.
My journey sure has evolved quite a bit in a year
​, and ​
I hope yours has as well!

​Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD ​
Miss North Dakota International 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

‘Fraidy Cat

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline”
2 Timothy 1:7

October.  It’s the month of all things dark and scary.  It is the time of year when it is ok to send our small children, ok, and ourselves out in the dark toting guns and knives covered in blood, all in the name of fun.  Really, it is a very strange season.  One I don’t always understand and that I certainly don’t love.  You see I am a fearful person.  I prefer to call myself a worry-wart.  It sounds less crazy.  I create enough to worry about, without celebrating the things that go bump-in-the-night.

My biggest fears always revolve around the “what if’s”.  You know, pick a problem and add the phrase “what if it happens to me, my house, my family, my parents, my children.”   My solution to my fear has always been found in myself.  To calm my fears, I have become a planner.  You see, if I have a plan in place, I worry less.  I somehow manage to convince myself I have the situation in control.  Or at least I would, if said scenario where to take place.

Now, sometimes in my life this tendency has been to my advantage.  My purse, while weighing approximately 20 pounds, does keep me well prepared.  Anyone need a spoon?  And the mornings go smoother because I’ve laid out the needs of the day, the whole day, the night before.  Other times this is not so true.  Worry doesn’t do much for my stomach, or my complexion, or my sleep, or my……
Currently, I have found a new thing to worry about and it is coming at me from my very own radio.  You see, I am a big talk radio fan.  On it goes, in the morning and off it goes at bed time.  I even have the live streaming aps for my favorite shows on my phone.  I wouldn’t want to be without my programs.  The problem:   the news scares me.  I can’t listen any more.   Today I had to reach up and make myself turn it off.  I have listened to too much bad news: war, illness, bombings, shootings.  It goes on and on.   I am no longer informing myself.  I have just moved into crazyland. Every new story makes me more and more afraid. I knew today was the last day of scaring myself when I started planning how I would survive the coming Ebola outbreak.  While preparedness is good, living in a state of fear is not.  I had crossed a line. 

The Bible has 365 verses in it that talk about fear.  One for every day.  Instead of turning to my radio and the “wisdom” of the news pundits, I need to turn to the wisdom of the Creator God.  He is the one who holds all the things I have fear about in His hands. 

God did not give me a spirit of fear, I have nurtured that all on my own.  From Him I have received power, love and self-discipline.  I need to use that self-discipline to set aside my fear of what-may-come and replace it with faith-in-the-One-Who-is-Already-Here.  I know, I won’t transform overnight.  I have been nurturing my fearfulness for a long time, but I have a year’s worth of verses to get me on track.

So there you have it…I’m a ‘fraidy cat.  Even though October is a month of screams, I am going to save mine for my calling dibs on the best of my children’s Halloween candy.

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Music Soothes the Soul and me

I ran into my childhood piano teacher the other day.  I was excited to show her who I had become.  Instead she reminded me of who I was.  She said in “40 years of teaching piano, I was her worst student ever!”  I know I only made it through to the first half of Book Two in six years, but worst ever?!  Uff Dah! That’s steep.

My musical career may have stopped before it ever started, but music plays an important part of my life.  There is always a tune stuck in my head; a song in my heart you could say.  I apparently sing so much, that I was introduced to a new co-worker with the caveat, “She is always singing without even knowing it. So just tell her if she needs to be quite.” Hmmmm!  I am sensing my talent is under appreciated.

No matter how my colleagues feel about my music, as I go through different periods of life I have adopted different anthems.  Music keeps my spirit grounded in the different times of life.  Let me share a few of these musical moments with you.

When we had two houses, the two mortgages to go with them, and zero buyers on the horizon.  My heart sang “Praise You in the Storm” by Casting Crowns.  “I Refuse,” by Josh Wilson became God’s confirmation for me to follow through with His call to adopt.  When I hit times in my life when I feel like God’s call for me to care for the fatherless is too much, I revive my spirit with “Kings & Queens,” by Audio Adrenaline.  The song “Overcomer,” by Mandisa, was our opening number song for the pageant.  It makes me stand a little taller and walk a little prouder.  With that sound in my head I can take on the world.  The most recent song to capture my imagination is “He Knows My Name,” by Francesca Battistelli.  It is great to be reminded of who I am.  I am not a piano student failure, ok maybe that was me.  But God has given me a new name.  I am His.  I am His queen.

So there you have it… now you know what is really going on in my head.  I am always looking for a new signing partner.  Together we will sound great!

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014