Take A Chance Tuesday

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When I was considering accepting my current position as field editor of an agricultural newspaper, I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do. I’m from a rural area in northern Indiana and am familiar with agriculture, but I have never been a farm kid.

Although corn and beans fields surrounded the house I grew up in, my family didn’t farm. I even considered joining 4-H when I was in school but when it came down to only having the time to do athletics or 4-H, I chose athletics. I also considered joining FFA but at the time the organization mostly consisted of farm kids and I didn’t feel like I would fit in.

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I wondered if I would be able to keep up writing about something that I wasn’t overly familiar with. I thought there is no way I’m going to be able to talk with farmers, political leaders as well as business professionals and educators who live and breathe agriculture.

After a few days trying to decide what to do, I decided I would take a leap of faith and accept the position. I realized that, yes, I was scared about asking a stupid question about the industry or writing in a way that showed I was learning, but more than that, I was scared of moving for a job and finding out I didn’t like it. And I didn’t want that to stop me.

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Fast forward five months and I can tell you everything has worked out. I am incredibly happy in my position and have been pleasantly surprised at how kind everyone in the industry is. I can ask questions and those farmers and political leaders I was nervous to talk to and they will not only answer them but they’ll go above and beyond to give me the background of the subject.

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Along with, the overwhelming kindness I have received from coworkers, interviewees and everyone in between, I am happy that I took a chance.

By taking the position I have been given opportunities that I never would have had if I said no. I’ve been able to travel around the state and meet different kinds of people including a Colts football player, a Nascar driver and a Nascar team owner. I’ve experienced a historic barn tour as well as a boat tour of the Ohio River. I’ve also attended a wine festival and a restaurant opening where I got to sample different food dishes and then write about them. These are just a few of the experiences I never would have had without taking this opportunity.

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I never would have been paid to do these things without saying yes to the position and I am beyond thankful I did. I hope that others considering taking a chance on something will do so!

Have you had a similar situation? If so, tell me about it!

To travel, or not to travel, that is NOT the question

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Our twenties are full of questions, challenges and tough decisions to be made. The entire decade is full of never-ending transitions that have no road map.

One thing that should never be on the list of questions, challenges or tough decisions is whether or not to travel, which does have a road map. If given the option to travel, the answer should always be yes.

Take vacations

I know vacation time at work can be sacred. Use the vacation time. You earned time off and deserve to spend it doing something you enjoy.

Travel to as many places as you can

Whether it’s a two-hour road-trip, a weekend trip in a big city, a beach vacation, a mountain getaway or a 15-hour flight to a different country, it is worth it.

Don’t let money stop you 

It’s okay to say yes. I know all about tight budgets. I know that it’s hard to spend money you worked hard for. I also know there are realistic travel options for twenty-somethings on a budget and then there are unrealistic travel options. Sure you may want to travel to New Zealand, but the several thousand dollar flight is going to potentially stop you from doing that. I get that. But, you CAN afford to take some kind of trip. There are plenty of affordable options to help make it happen.

Never stop wondering

Learn from other people when you travel. Learn from different cultures. Learn from different food. Learn everything you can about everything.

Never stop wandering

Visit family, travel with friends or take a solo vacation. Dream. Explore. Go somewhere new. Try something new.

Say yes to traveling

I double dog dare you.

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Somewhere in Ohio: wedding season

While traveling to my cousin, Sam’s wedding, in New Jersey I realized there  are five things that will make any trip smoother. (Keep in mind I have been taking the road trip in a minivan with my family and we are in Ohio for the night after several hours on the road.)

1.) Have a sweatshirt available

There is nothing worse than being too hot and then too cold in a vehicle. Having a sweater will allow you to be comfortable while the air condition is on.

2.) Have snacks

Having candy, mints or food in the car will keep the need to stop for food to a minimum.

3.) Have music and headphones

Sometimes you need to tune out others and enjoy some of your favorite music.

4.) Bring something to do

I brought a book with me and purposefully left my laptop so I wouldn’t check my work email while on vacation.

5.) First look up directions and then follow them

This will stop most arguments before they begin.

Close alternate: remember to enjoy yourself and have safe travels.

Soul revived

I have been MIA for several days, but I have a good excuse – promise. I spent the past week soaking up the sun while laying on the beach, wandering around Tampa Bay, Fla. and snapping photographs with my cousin.

We celebrated her 26th birthday by visiting Anna Maria Island, Treasure Island, a fun winery featuring several different types of fruit-based wine, Kate Spade outlet (I found love in a purse), participated in a pub crawl and how could I forget the food. I had some of the best food I’ve ever had through Datz, Dough, Bella’s, Holy Hog and Colonnade while overlooking Bayshore Drive.

Not to mention this was my first paid vacation from work. I knew I was going to have a great time visiting with family but the experience was relaxing, fun and quite literally soul-reviving.

Here’s a look at some of the photographs. I hope to add more as I continue to travel in 2013.

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A conversation with CTM

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Have you ever wanted to take off work, travel and do something really fun but work, daily obligations got in the way? Well now you can; sort of.

Adam Hoffmeister and Madelyn Hille, two awesome twenty somethings, are quitting their jobs, and taking a 70+ day trip to canoe the entire Mississippi. Along the way, Madelyn will be documenting the trip by taking photographs, which will end up being published in a photographic journal depicting life along the Mississippi River. The photo book, titled Capturing the Mississippi (CTM) will allow others to see and experience the trip every step of the way.

On June 8, Hoffmeister and Hille will begin the 2,300-mile journey in their 18-foot Nova Craft Canoe. They will begin paddling in South Clearwater, Minn., at Lake Itasca and travel all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico in New Orleans, La.

Hille will choose a photograph at the end of each day that best sums up each day. It might be a group shot of people they meet along the way or a glimpse of a gorgeous sunset. The photographs will tell the complete story, quite literally, capturing the Mississippi.

“A year ago, I was going through a time when I was deciding what I wanted to do the rest of my life,” Hille said. “I’ve always loved photography, and Adam and I have both wanted to canoe the Mississippi. It’s an awesome opportunity.”

For Hoffmeister, the timing was right. Hoffmeister said they began talking about canoeing the Mississippi two years ago, but took a mission trip to Zimbabwe in 2011 instead.

“Mostly the timing is right and we’ve had this in the works for years,” Hoffmeister said. “Our lease is up in June, we don’t have plans for the summer, Madelyn just finished school and we both have jobs that are expendable. It’s all about the timing.”

Both Hille and Hoffmeister, who are in their 20s, are quitting their jobs to canoe the Mississippi. After the trip, they will be moving to Miami, Fla.

Hille said the 20-something concept is one of the reasons they decided to go through with the trip. She said she is obsessed with her generation because they are different.

“I’ve always been a little bit ashamed of our generation because we’ve been told we’re spoiled and our grandparents, parents worked harder than us,” Hille said. “But people our age are trying to go outside the conventional mold we used to fit into and try to do something unique, different to make ourselves happy.”

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What began as an idea to canoe the entire Mississippi became a decision to create the daily photo book and while they’re on the river, they will also be raising money for the Flat Rock River YMCA Camp, a summer camp in St Paul, Ind., which teaches outdoor education among other things.

“We would have gone on the trip regardless but now we’re able to raise money for a good cause,” Hoffmeister said.

On May 2, they began a Kickstarter, an online pledge system for funding creative projects. They have until June 2 to reach their goal of $3,000 and if they don’t reach the goal, they don’t receive any of the money.

They will take the trip whether or not they reach their goal. The funding raised will go toward producing the photo book and excess be used for food, toiletry costs and travel expenses.

People who want to donate can visit Kickstarter.com and type “Capturing the Mississippi” in the search bar. They can then click on the project, watch the video to learn more and donate. As people donate, they can receive really cool prizes based on money donated. Some of those prizes are post cards with a personal message, copies of photographs or a hardback copy of the photo book.

“Everyone has been amazingly generous,” Hille said. “Our canoe, paddles and life jackets were donated to us.”

Besides those items, they will be taking basic necessities like light-weight clothes, camping equipment and food, Hille said.

Both Hille and Hoffmeister have planned for risks they might face, such as weather. If there is a large rainstorm, they plan to seek shelter for those days then resume paddling.

“The main thing through this entire project is it is fun,” Hille said. “Adam and I are taking the opportunity we have now and trying to make our lives fun and adventurous. By producing the book and documenting the experience, we are bringing along others with us.”

Learn more and donate:
Facebook
Blog
Kickstarter

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Read other conversations from the series here.

Five things I thought would happen when I graduated college

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1.) I would know what I wanted to do

I spent four years and thousands of dollars shaping my education in to a specified major, minor and you know what? I still don’t know exactly what it is I want to do. I’m tweaking it as I go.

2.) I would be more decisive

This pretty much goes hand-in-hand with the first one. I would probably be more decisive if I knew what it was I wanted to do and where I wanted to live, etc.

3.) I would have more money

I thought I would have more money. More specifically I thought I would have more money and be buying grown up dishes, décor and food. Guess what? I ate boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner on a plastic plate.

4.) I would travel

And I have a little bit. I’ve been to New York several times since Sept. and am leaving for Fla. next week, but I thought I would do the whole eat, pray, love thing where I backpack my way across a different county. Alas, the whole money thing limits my travels for the time being. Don’t worry I’m saving up for a trip as we speak.

5.) I would like martinis, Manhattans or gin and tonics

Yes, I’ve updated from the freshman year Natty Ice, Kamchatka and PBR, but I still can’t get down on these “sophisticated” drinks. They’ll put hair on your chest.

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A conversation with a fly-fisherman

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This week I had the pleasure of talking to Eric, a 26-year-old guy who wants to open up his own fly-fishing guide service in Jackson, Wyoming or New Orleans.

Eric isn’t a stranger to twenty something life-altering changes. He packed up his blazer and moved 1800 miles away from home when he was  21 years old. He hasn’t let anything stop him from following his dreams and he plans to continue working to make them come true.

Eric, an Ind. native, who has lived in Jackson, Tucson, Ariz., and  Baton Rouge, La., is taking classes to complete a business degree so he can learn everything he needs to open his business.

He said accounting has been the most helpful and he plans to focus on small-business classes before wrapping up his degree.

He first got in to fly-fishing when he was 17 years old.

“I saw ‘A River Runs Through It’ and liked it,” he said. “I decided to try it before a big fishing trip to Michigan and have been ever since.”

He said his favorite part of having the business would be being able to be outside all day.

When asked what the hardest thing about fly-fishing was, he said ‘All of it. The patience is the hardest, but it’s probably the best thing about it too.’

He admits he sticks with it because it’s addicting.

The best advice he ever received was from a coworker, Dan Sowers, who helped show him all the spots to fish and how to read the water in Jackson.

The worst piece of advice he received was when he was in a drift boat in a river in Jackson and even though it looked like there was a complete log jam across the river he was told there was a wide enough gap to get through. He dropped everyone out on the bank and went through it by himself, without a life jacket, and said the drift boat was ‘like a pin ball machine going through the gap and I screamed like a girl,’ he said.

Eric said the scariest thing he has ever done is move to Jackson alone when he was 21. He said moving west is also his proudest accomplishment.

In Jackson he worked as a fly-fish guide, camp jack at hunting camp, snow mobile guide in Yellowstone during the winter and participated in activities at a ranch as well.

“What I remember the most is the campfires, hanging out with people and fishing with my friends Myles, Dan, Todd and Zach,” he said.

He said he fished every day in the summer and every once in awhile in the winter.

August or September is his favorite time to fish because it’s hopper (grass hopper) season.

“You use big flies and big fish go dumb for big hoppers,” he said.

Since moving west, he has developed more of an environmental viewpoint.

“I like stories about helping the environment, dam removal and more,” he said.

Although he said  fisherman don’t share their favorite fishing spots, he said he has fly-fished in Jackson, Louisiana, New Zealand, Michigan, Idaho and Indiana.

“The spots I fish rarely are fished, so I usually have the river to myself,” he said. “I don’t want to give my spots away.”

Advice he has for other twenty-somethings is to do what they have a passion for.

“Stick with it and don’t be afraid to go against what other people think is normal,” he said.

A look at some of the questions: 
Favorite fish you’ve caught?
A Red fish in Louisiana. it took us five days to catch it because the conditions were so bad
Biggest fish?
Also a red fish. It was probably 12 pounds.  
Do you have a favorite fish?
Cutthroat trout
What is something you had while fishing in Jackson? 
I always carried bear spray. I never had to use it, but I tested it to see what it would do one time and it was an orange plume that shot 30 feet out.
What is your dream job?
CEO of Patagonia
When did you first know you wanted to be able to fly-fish daily?
My first day in Jackson in 2007
Where do you get your inspiration ?
I really like Yvon Chouinard’s story (he founded Patagonia)
What is something scary that happened while fishing? 
I was walking along the edge once and didn’t realize the ground was brittle. I slid 30 feet down the side of a hill and landed in the water. 

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Modern magic

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There is something electrifying about New York City. No, it’s not the never ending lights of Times Square.

It’s not perfect; not even close. There are hoards of people everywhere, all the time. It can be a struggle to complete a mundane task such as purchasing groceries or traveling from point a to point b. It’s more than twice as expensive as my home in Ind. and while getting dinner it might be an hour wait to be seated.

Everything about the city screams the need for patience and few people have it. The taxi drivers honking horns and the lady yelling at people for getting in her way. With large amounts of people, traffic patience is needed.

People in New York can be rude, but then again people everywhere can be rude. With so many things suggesting the city is a hassle I was trying to figure out what it was I loved about it and I realized it’s the drive, work and motivation of those who live or move there.

People have a dream and need to live their life the way they want to and are willing to struggle to make it happen.

I met a singer/songwriter this weekend who moved from Ohio to New York and told me he was waiting tables at a restaurant while he pursued his dream of music. He was literally running himself ragged to be able to spend a few spare hours writing and singing music.

My cousin, who lives in Manhattan, took a chance and moved to the city with only a nannying job. Five years later she is still happily living in the city and has worked at A&E and is now employed by the Game Show Network.

The city allows opportunity, hope and the pursuit of happiness. It is a place where people are going through similar struggles to make sure they succeed and if they don’t? They work even harder to make sure their dreams are attained. That is modern magic.

St pattys day in midtown

We walked outside on St Pattys Day to see this:

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So we purchased beer

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and went to a party in the east village and were welcomed by Justin Bieber.

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Then we had green cocktails in the same apartment building as actor Justin Long

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and took a cab to our friends stand-up comedy show (she won first place).

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We ate this

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and went to Bourbon Street

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and Le Cheile

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and joined New York City in celebrating the holiday.

New York City Holds Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade

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