Golden Book: Believe in Love at First Sight

Good enough for now is never that for very long. Change is the only constant for humanity. You’re both growing. The only question is whether you grow together or apart. In school and in work, perfectionism can be a terrible trap which holds you back from your true potential when a good enough job will do. But when it comes to people; friends, family, romantic interests, don’t ever settle for good enough for now. Be a perfectionist. Believe in unicorns and fairytales and the existence of true love. 

More than that, live in such a way that you can look in the mirror everyday and find yourself capable of both giving and receiving that kind of love. It’s not easy. Convincing yourself that you deserve to be deeply and truly loved is one of the most difficult things you may ever do and even if you succeed, you might find yourself doing it all over again the next day. Every person on the planet has wondered this at some point but it’s a battle worth fighting. If you can hold out for the right people and take the initiative when they do come along, you’ll have a life of few regrets. 


Golden Book: Be open to making new friends… even if you’re very, very shy

Relocating halfway across the country right out of college for a job is terrifying but absolutely worthwhile. I highly recommend it to any young professionals stepping out into the adult world for the first time even if you do turn homeward in a couple of years. You will learn so much more about what you’re capable of by going out on your own than you ever did in school. 

As a shy, awkward college graduate with a metallurgical degree and no family within 1,000 miles I was determined to make friends when I began my career in the steel industry. I realized very early on that life is only as fantastic as you make it. If you move to a new place with the mentality that it will be temporary then it will be. If you start a new job purely for the sake of paying the bills, thinking that it will be a constant tedious uphill slog, then that’s exactly what you’re signing up for.  

However, if you approach these major life changes with open eyes, you might discover there are some interesting people in your office who are more than happy to join you for drinks after work or for a Saturday game night. I know first hand how petrifying meeting new people can be especially when you’re the new kid on the block. But showing up really is half the battle. People want to help and make you feel at home. So the next time one of your coworker invites you to a backyard BBQ don’t scramble to fill your calendar with something else. Just say yes.

Golden Book: Use Your Imagination

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these but I recently picked my favorite Little Golden Book and fell in love with its brilliant words of wisdom all over again. It felt like a good time to dive back in. After all, Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book (Diane Muldrow).

When you get home it’s so easy to plop on the sofa, TV remote in hand, or to settle in front of your computer for some mindless scrolling. I challenge you to resist the temptation to go completely brain dead after a long hard day at the office. While all of those activities are gratifyingly mind numbing, partaking in them does nothing to recharge your mental, emotional or social batteries. You’re simply killing time. 

Instead, dare to raise your expectations for yourself by exercising a little self control and by pursuing a passion totally unrelated to your job, even if you like your job. In my experience, the happiest people tend to be well rounded with a multitude of passions and outlets for all that pent up stress. Don’t shut down the minute you get home from work. Wake up. Energize yourself with something completely different and creative and 100 percent for you.

Be creative. Read a fantasy novel. Make something with your hands. Paint a picture. Sing a song. Try a new cocktail recipe. It could be anything. Just do something! Take up a hobby. Maybe join a writer’s club or take a woodworking class. It’s never too late to have fun while learning something new but make sure to use your imagination. 

Golden Book: Make music a part of your life

It’s official. I have joined the Valparaiso Community/ University Concert Band. My initiation was complete when I played my first concert with the group at the Porter County Fair. Often people’s ears seem to perk up when I tell them I’m in a band. The ensuing confusion at hearing that I play the flute in that band is equally amusing. It’s true that I’m no hip new singer and I can’t lay down an amazing guitar riff. However, when it comes to more traditional, classical ensemble performances, my passion for music is still very much alive. 

I started taking piano lessons around kindergarten and I’ve enjoyed playing ever since. I grew up used to the cycle of recitals broken up by weekly lessons. When I reached middle school I decided to pick up the flute and join the band and I count that as one of the best choices I ever made. Despite a ridiculous course load all through college, I always saved a slot in my schedule for band and it never felt like a wasted hour. Band was always a place where I could go to recharge and turn off the daily stresses of everything else. It’s incredibly therapeutic to watch your own growth and improvement. In this area, success was never defined by grades but by my ability to play a passage that I’d been struggling with for two weeks or by the first time I nailed a 32nd note run or by the time I figured out how to play vibrato. I knew I was getting better because I could hear it. 

One of my biggest fears moving into adulthood was that music might go by the wayside in all the hustle and bustle of everyday life so when I came to Valpo, one of my first steps was to seek out a community ensemble. I’m so happy to have found VCUCB. In this group, people from all walks of life come together to share their passion, make friends and have fun. All the hard work and Tuesday night rehearsals paid off on July 24th in the Porter County Fair Veteran’s Day Recognition Program that would have given my mom goosebumps. This performance, in all its star spangled glory reminded me of all the reasons that I love to play music and I look forward to many more concerts with this group.