Letter #684: Europe Lessons

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Dear Europe,

Four weeks is a long time. A person can learn quite a bit in that span. Being in foreign countries adds even more layers to the lessons.

Being months removed has made me even more thankful for my time visiting you. I honestly don’t know if a day goes by where I don’t look back fondly on my trip, think about a site I visited, laugh at a hilarious moment or reflect on something I learned. I am the greatest advocate for people to save up and go see the world. There are things you will learn that you just can’t by staying here in America. Here’s a quick list in no particular order:

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This is not a green screen, I promise! Go to the Swiss Alps…it will instantly be your favorite spot in the world!
  • Nobody speaks English, what are you going to do?! Trust me, you figure it out. You have to.
  • You have no option to pull out your phone in lull times (unless you want to pay astronomical fees, and we already know I ain’t about that life!). I learned to do other things in moments of waiting. I grew to become more purposeful, but I’m already fighting falling back into this trap on the reg.
  • If something goes wrong, you are completely responsible. There’s no blame-shifting, calling home or getting out of it; you have to own it and figure it out. Decisions must be made in confidence and awareness of your safety at all times is vital. An intangible layer of responsibility is gained here. In other words, you just grow up.
  • Follow the local transportation rules precisely. You’ll pay for it (literally) if you don’t. I left a 50 euro donation fine in Paris! In all seriousness, it’s easier to take a train from Italy to Switzerland than for me to drive from Missouri to Oklahoma.
  • I think I learned the healthiness of a sabbatical at an early age! Time off and getting away is a win. We should enjoy life along the journey. But if we’re honest, it’s hard for us to truly ever shut off completely. A week off, and it takes 3 days to unwind and by day 5 your mind is preparing to get back again. A week of vacation is valuable, but I tasted something I had never experienced before. I was truly able to step away from work. I couldn’t pick up the phone and make a call. I only had Wi-Fi access occasionally. I tasted rest like most Americans never will, and I will do ‘vacation’ in a different way from now on because of it.
  • Clear vision casting to the right people can make dreams come true! This trip started as a pipe dream, but a little over a year ago I crafted an email that captured people’s attention and created buy in in a way that I’m now looking back at photos and telling stories from the trip of a lifetime.
  • Never let fear dictate your decisions. There are a million reasons I shouldn’t have gone. Safety, money, work, responsibility, the unknown. I could have believed them, but if I had I would have missed out on one of the greatest experiences of my life. Fear wants to win. Let’s not let it. Life’s way better when I don’t live in fear. I have pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower and in the Swiss Alps to prove it!
  • Stop waiting to live your life. If I’m honest, I waited for years before I made this trip happen. I’ve wanted to go since I was in college, but in the back of my head I knew it would probably be cheaper and for sure safer to do Europe with my spouse…it’s just easier to travel with a male, you assume a different level of risk. I never verbalized this but it was in my subconscious. Well guess what, I’m not married and it’s not on the horizon. So why in the world was I waiting? Not sure, but I’m done waiting to live my life.
Such a fun day! If you go, take a Fat Tire Bike Tour while you’re there! Pretty surreal to see this area on tv now, but may we not live in fear.

Europe, you were good for so many reasons, but these simple and practical lessons were for sure eight of them. I will live life differently because of my choice to visit and travel you. Thanks for a great adventure, the trip of a lifetime. Thanks for all you taught me that I just wouldn’t have learned in America. And in the same way I refuse to operate in fear, I beg you not to either in the aftermath of Paris and the refugee situation. May fear never paralyze us, but rather may fear remind us to face them, to make the right decisions rather than the safe ones and to rely on the One who brings hope despite circumstance.

Until next time Europe,

Lindsay

Letter #683: Six Months of Adventure

Last 6 Months

Dear six months,

Half a year…182ish days. At times you can seem daunting or really long ago; other times you fly by faster than Blue Bell’s flying off Texas shelves right now.

I’ve lived 57 sets of you but when I think of my last set of six, in many ways it feels like a dream. I’m not sure I will ever be able to fully put into words what’s happened in my last six months. You have been hard, fast, exciting, exhausting, life giving and unexpected while being filled with firsts, adventure, fear, opportunity and life lessons I’ll never forget.

  • Beginning of March-Beginning of May: served as a Chick-fil-A team member as Branson’s first store opened; balanced two jobs and while I didn’t mind the extra money I was really doing it to learn more about how CFA trains their employees as they continue to set the industry standard in customer experience.
  • May-August 8th: summer 10 at Kanakuk K-West; hardest of my 10 summers in that place but so fun at the same time as I was able to laugh a ton and learn a lot as I got to sit front seat as the Lord showed up how only He can.
  • August 11th-September 6th: four weeks on the trip of a lifetime; the timeliness of my European Adventure couldn’t have been more perfect. My prayer was for it to be restful, reflective and purposeful…all three and more occurred.

In the span of time a viable baby can be formed, I fit all the above in and more. There will be few seasons in my life filled with more diversity and adventure, and as I look back I can’t help but laugh. Did all of that really happen?! If I were in any other life stage, I couldn’t or at least wouldn’t have done it all.

And I wouldn’t trade my experiences for a different life stage. I need to remind myself of this as it’s so easy to compare and dwell on what I don’t have. Even in just the past few months I have been able to do incredible things. Rather than wishing for things to be part of my life, I want to genuinely celebrate all I already have and am getting to do. I just did things people dream of doing their whole lives. I saw pieces of creation most will only see in photos. My scope is broadened, eyes opened and life changed because of it.

My last six months have been so fun, so adventurous. I may never have six that rival you in a row again, but I am incredibly thankful for the journey and always want to live willing to take risks.

Cheers to the beginning of travel season at work and the start of set 58 of you!

Lindsay

Letter #682: Life Nuggets

BdayDear life,

Last week, I turned 28. I don’t understand how time goes so quickly, but with each passing year I feel like you get more fun and I gain more perspective. I was reflecting on you in the last week, and I found it fitting to celebrate another year by sharing a few things I’ve learned along the way. Somehow at Kamp ‘throwing nuggets’ has become one of my things. My staff mocks me for it, but it’s become a simple way to share life lessons, tips of advice and biblical wisdom. So in reflection of my 28th year, here are some ‘Rother Nuggets’ in written form in no particular order:

  1. Age ain’t nothin’ but a thing. If you think and say you’re old, then you are. If you simply live life and don’t worry about your age, you’ll never be old.
  2. Life’s way more fun and much easier when you live open-handed with it rather than fists clenched tight.
  3. Enjoy the metabolism of youth! Something changes inside of you between 21 and 26.
  4. Be someone who tries new things. Life’s an adventure; don’t live like it’s boring.
  5. You’re capable of far more than you think. Believe in yourself.
  6. Pick up the phone and call. Better yet, get in your car and go. Texts are fine, but there’s nothing that can replace real conversation and authentic relationships.
  7. I’m 28, living in Branson (the Mecca of the Elderly), single and working a second job at Chick-fil-A. What is my life?! Never in a million years would I have guessed this is where I’d be and what I’d be doing. It’s far better.
  8. Live purposefully. Every day. Every moment.
  9. Refuse to waste your life. There’s nothing more freeing than this. Nothing.
  10. Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. I’ve been more humbled through my hot yoga/barre classes and having 20-year-olds giving me direction at Chick-fil-A this year than maybe ever. It’s a really healthy place to live.
  11. You don’t need as much sleep as you think. But remember, being disciplined in the morning starts by being disciplined at night.
  12. You have the ability to make people’s day every time you interact with someone. Choose joy. Choose to encourage. Smile. It’s always worth it.
  13. Bust your rear now to instill financial disciplines. Get out of debt. Live below your means. Don’t buy stupid stuff. Save so you can go on adventures. Give…none of it’s yours anyway.
  14. Whether they have something to offer you or not, people matter. Look every one in the eye, show them dignity and be kind.
  15. Living life with 1000s of people in your life stage isn’t real life. Enjoy college while it lasts, but be ready to fight for community. And know it’s worth fighting for. We weren’t built to go at it alone.
  16. Friends come in all types. Surround yourself with people different than yourself. People who make you better. Forget stereotypes and just do life well with the people God puts in your path. Married, single, younger, older. It doesn’t matter. Don’t let life stage dictate friendship.

    Wiebe birthday
    Birthday celebration with the Wiebe clan…beyond thankful for this crew!
  17. There are few things more attractive than a strong work ethic. Work hard. Do your best.
  18. Feelings change often. Don’t rely on them solely. Anchor yourself in truth.
  19. Opportunity is everywhere. Open your eyes and stop sulking. Make the most of what’s in front of you.
  20. Don’t run from questions. Ask yourself hard ones. Surround yourself with people who push you to wrestle by asking them. Who am I? What am I good at? What are my weaknesses? What do I believe and why? Is what I’m spending my time on worth it?
  21. Show up. Being present matters. Have integrity and be a person of your word.
  22. Laugh. A lot. With others and at yourself.

As I was writing these, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I longed for these not to just be bullet points on a page, but pillars my life is built around. Honestly, praying that my heart would be centered in Jesus and that the overflow of how I live would reflect that. It’s been a good 27 years…looking forward to the 28th and all I will learn!

28 going on…….,

Rother the nugget thrower (hypothetically and now literally!)

Letter #681: My Pleasure

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Dear Chick-fil-A,

For years I have been a raving fan. Your food is good, but it’s the above and beyond service you provide that truly sets you apart. I took you for granted though. You were part of my hometown, college town and nearly every city I’ve ever visited. Then I moved to Branson where your nearest location was 45 minutes north.

You became a must stop restaurant, almost daily, as I traveled the country recruiting college students to work at Kanakuk. State after state, location after location, I began to realize there was something different about you. You weren’t just excellent in the few Oklahoma locations I frequented. After visiting 100+ locations in nearly 13 different states, I have yet to find a poor experience.

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Eat Mor Chikin. Dedication dinner at the Keeter Center days before it opened. Chick-fil-A does a great job valuing it’s team members.

I was fascinated and impressed and desired to know more. As I declared stories of excellence in conversations, statements like this began to surface…”If Branson ever gets a Chick-fil-A, I’m going to work there.”

Rumor after rumor was squelched about your arrival…until fall of 2014, confirmed arrival!!! #Bransongamechanger

I remembered my statement…would I really be interested in getting a job?! After some thought, I said, “What do I have to lose, I’ll just call and see what happens!”

You see, I’m drawn to things that are different, things set apart by work ethic and integrity. I was fascinated by you. How did you manage to get thousands of employees to believe in valuing and serving people…it’s fast food for crying out loud?!

I was fascinated enough I didn’t want to just hear about your training program, I wanted to go through it.

So I called, chatted with the operator, explained my heart, told him why I was a terrible hire for him because I already had a full time job that relocated me in the summers and ended with why I thought he should hire me anyway. What did I have to lose remember?!

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The paparazzi came STRONG on opening night!!! Snaps, texts and comments were flying around like crazy!!!

A week later we met and I was offered a job as a team member of your newest store: good ole’ Branson, MO!

March 5th, 2015, the newest chapter of my adventure more frequently called life began. And an adventure it has been! Balancing two jobs and maintaining excellence in both is going to be tricky, but figuring this out has already been worth the things I’m getting to learn.

Maybe I’ll post more of my takeaways later, but for now I’ll leave with this. I always knew you were different, but I had no idea you were this different. I’m not sure what I expected walking into the employment piece of you, but my thoughts of how you operate were pretty high. My expectations have been exceeded. Immensely. On every level I’ve been blown away…in the best of ways.

This will hands down be one of the craziest seasons of my life, but I am excited for the adventure and the lessons I am already learning.

Come to Branson, it’d be my pleasure to serve you,

Lindsay

Letter #680: Work Despite Greatness

Christin

Dear moments,

We live for you. The Super Bowl, World Series and NBA Finals. Graduation, wedding day, childbirth. The next date party, conference or vacation. We love to live our lives highlighting and longing for you.

What I’m learning is that life’s a lot less about you and much more about everything else.

Life seems to be much more about daily alarm clocks, laundry, the 8-5, fighting for community and paying bills. The normal, every day occurrences.

This might seem boring, but I would argue that the way the average tasks are approached matters. That these are what makes or breaks an individual and ultimately the moments.

We celebrate the moments of greatness. The playoff games, the speaking engagements in front of thousands, the promotions. But rarely do we celebrate the daily sacrifices it takes to get to the moment. The weight room, the 5am wake ups, the quiet of study and prayer nobody will ever see. We tend to long for the spotlight without wanting to pay our dues backstage.

Last month I had the chance to go to Catalyst Conference in Dallas (great conference, highly recommend!). While at the conference, this idea hit me afresh. It’s not rocket science, but it’s also not a concept I naturally want to accept.

My takeaway wasn’t one of the speaker’s topics, but as I sat in a sea of people the moment was sucking me in. It’s so easy to see the speakers who’ve sold thousands of books and get paid to travel and speak and be consumed by their success. Envy. Jealousy. Appreciation. Reverence. The way we view ‘celebrities’ varies, but more often than not our view is similar. Incorrect.

We long for what they have or maybe we quiver even thinking about the responsibility that comes with it, but either way we rarely stop and think about what sacrifices had to happen before their moment of greatness. And even when we do realize it, we rarely want to work on our own.

But even when we are willing to work, when we do wake up early, fight against complacency and press into eternity, we have to be ok with the fact that we still may never achieve greatness. At least in the world’s eyes. We may spend our entire lives going unnoticed by the masses, but this doesn’t mean we are in the wrong or that we aren’t serving faithfully.

Work hard. Invest well. See people. Live purposefully. Not because you’re waiting for your moment of fame or greatness to come, but because there’s no other way worth living. Work despite greatness.

While at Catalyst, I was reminded not to live idolizing the success of others. Celebrate their highlights, but live my own moments…no matter the size. Serve. Work. Love. Live well in the dailies because they are filled with some of the most important moments we’ll ever have.

On the daily grind,

Lindsay

Letter #679: The Power of Influence

Dear influence,

You fascinate me.

Louie Zamperini. Katniss Everdeen. Meghan Trainor. Amal Alamuddin.

Names most of us had never heard of a year ago. Now, names that have changed culture.

A World War II veteran whose story was brought to life on the big screen by Angelina Jolie.

A literary hero bringing hope to a nation as the Mockingjay in Hunger Games and fame to Jennifer Lawrence.

The girl who left everyone wondering how does one become “All About that Base.”

A name you’re still unsure of, but let’s cut to the chase…she’s Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of 2014 and mostly famous because she married George Clooney.

All four have fallen into the public eye in America, maybe even the world, for different reasons. But the thing they have in common: you.

2014 looked different because of the impact those individuals had on it. Sure, they’ve had books written about them, TV segments centered on them and have made millions of dollars. Yes, they’re famous and their voices and impact seem to have great reach.

But when I really step back and think about you, these aren’t the people who’ve directly impacted my life the most. Hair styles, musical choices and box offices might look different because of them, but direct life change seems to actually come from every day you and me types.

And this is what fascinates me. You can happen on giant scales or individual. You can be vast or small. Expensive or free. But you always hold power.

The power of influence is real. We all have it, some more than others but we’re all influencing and being influenced in some capacity. The question is what kind? For the good or the bad?

What if we allowed you to be used for something greater, something bigger than fame, power, money or success? What if we built into and encouraged people? What if people started believing in themselves because we believed in them first?

Influence, you are fascinating, impactful and have the ability to change the trajectory of entire lives. Celebrity status is great and all, but we each must choose in the moments and measure you with one word: How?

Striving for more positive than negative influence even without being on Barbara’s list,

Influencer of the average, normal and daily…and so are you

Letter #678: New Year, Same Life.

Top of the Rock

Dear new year,

New number, same life.

I wouldn’t say I’m a cynic, but I am definitely a realist. You’re the holiday of high expectations yet readily under-deliver. We make our resolutions and quickly revert back to our old ways only to do it all over again the next year. Amount of Blue Bell purchased decreases. Gym attendance rises. Read more. Be a jerk less.

It’s crazy to me how many eggs our culture puts into your basket.

True confession: you’re my least favorite holiday.

Maybe it’s because you’re more fun if you’re dating someone or married. Maybe it’s because I really am more cynical than I like to admit. Maybe I’m just doing you all wrong, but I’d choose any holiday of the year before you.

However, in the midst of being the holiday of unmet expectation, you also do have a certain allure to you I just can’t deny.

It’s as if rolling one number at the end of the year gives us a sense of power and belief. You allow us to really believe we can accomplish, overcome and start new.

It’s all a mental game. A choice. The same decisions and life changes can be made in August, but there’s just something about you that makes it different.

You bring us the holiday of anticipation, excitement and renewed hope. While you aren’t my favorite holiday, I do love how you bring renewed energy and hope to people.

I haven’t made a bunch of goals or resolutions for this year. Instead, I’ve chosen two words I will fight to keep central to my year. Purpose and discipline. So much is entailed in these two words. So many things I believe will make me more than any resolution ever could.

New number and year, same life. My life. The one I only get once. The one I pray I will choose to live with more purpose and more discipline than ever that will then overflow into every area of my life from physical health to sleeping habits to simply how my time is spent.

More content, kind, loving, patient, forgiving, joyful, passionate, faithful, eternally focused.

Less self-centered, discontent, envious, materialistic, controlling, temporary-minded.

New year, same life.

Here we go 2015,

Realist with a side of cynic

Letter #677: Emerson’s “Shake It Off”

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Dear Emerson,

Hey buddy, it’s me Lindsay, your aunt. You won’t understand this now, but I’m writing this because I know one day you will.

About 32 months ago, I received the news I’d be an aunt again. I’m not sure there’s a more exciting role in life that requires as little responsibility! I get to love on you and laugh with you any time I want, but at the end of the day when you’re dirty, tired, sick and cranky, you’re not mine to handle. I get to share in most of the highlights of your world, but I miss most of the hard work. Not a bad gig if you ask me!

As you were growing in your mom’s belly, I prayed for you often. For your health and development, but probably even more for your salvation. About 5 months in, you mom’s belly was really starting to turn into a basketball. I received a call at camp in the middle of the summer telling me you had Down’s Syndrome.

Not the call I was expecting about you. If anything I thought the fam was going to tell me you were the girl they still don’t have. Instead, this news ensued doubt, fear, questioning and more. We all know people who birth “abnormal’ babies, but nobody expects it to be them. We didn’t expect it to be you.

Born 6 weeks early. 4 months in the NICU. Open-heart surgery. Near death. Miraculous recovery. Growing strength and ability daily. A smile that takes over a room and is rarely absent. Reaching for and befriending all you come in contact with because you don’t know a stranger. Love pats on faces and heads. Two and a half years later, the boy who is changing the lives of those near and far.

I don’t understand all the whys of life. It’d be easy to question why you aren’t “normal.’ But what is normal? Normal is easy. Normal is boring. Instead, in your extra chromosome, your ‘abnormalities’, you bring perspective to life like “normal’ never could. Instead, you are making each of us better, more compassionate, less concerned with the status quo. Instead, you are teaching those around you that God truly does have the ability to work all things together for good.

Thanks for teaching us in a unique way to “Shake It Off” and not allow culture’s view of normal to define us. Whether it’s a physical limitation, acceptance of wrong as right or pressures to look a certain way, your joy reminds me that my reaction to things dictate their affect on me. If I choose joy like I see in you, those things can’t define me.

Thanks for softening me. Thanks for bringing us more laughs than you know and for your latest obsession with Taylor Swift. I’m sorry your parents torment you during your naps, but your dance moves are just so cute! I won’t be shocked if the “Shake It Off” lyrics are your first words!

{Seriously, you have to go watch these videos of Emerson and Shake It Off! He’s on EllenTube and YouTube! Feel free to share these and bring joy to others!}

Buddy, know you are loved and still being prayed for.

Love,

Aunt Lindsay

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Here are other posts for the rest of the story:

Letter #676: Don’t Miss Your Nows.

Dear purpose,

Most say they want to live a life centered on you, but few ever actually put feet to it. Intentions start right, then busyness, laziness and life happen. Most start the race; very few finish. The beginning is exciting and easy, but I want to be someone who fights through the hard of the middle. One who chooses daily so the sum of my life might be purposeful.

As I navigate how to dream, pray and believe big while remaining faithful in the little, I keep coming back to the overarching banner to simply live purposefully.

If I can achieve this, everything else falls into place. The little. The big. The significant. The insignificant. The easy. And the hard. If I can’t live purposefully with what’s right in front of me, I’ll never be able to with the things that come in the future.

But there’s great tension that comes with this. You can’t just show up daily and never think and dream about what’s coming next. I guess you could, and maybe we’d all be more healthy and engaged if we did, but I would argue that rather than it being either or, it has to be both and.

Show up daily and be fully present but also position self in a way to prepare for future as well.

I refuse to miss my nows because I’m so caught up and consumed by my nexts. However, I’m also not going to foolishly miss my nexts because I don’t forward think and dream. And there’s the tension.

So here’s the way I’ve been able to articulate this tension of living in the present without missing the future. “Live with purpose today so you can live with vision tomorrow.”

When I live my nows purposefully, it allows me to have clarity in my nexts. If I live with you in the daily, it leads me to living my life with vision.

May we not miss what’s right in front of us because we’re consumed with the future, but may we not miss our futures because we never pray and ask God to guide and direct us.

As busyness and the tyranny of the urgent continue to take over lives, I’m fighting against it. It seems as if life just happens while people settle living purposelessly because they don’t know how to regain control of the crazy.

Life isn’t going to just happen to me. No I can’t control things, but I can choose to live with great purpose. I can choose to make the most of the moments right in front of me. I can choose to dream, pray and believe for great vision concerning my future.

I’m not settling to let life just happen to me. Instead, I’m going to “live with purpose today so I can live with vision tomorrow.” My race has started and I fail often, but I’m choosing to press into the hard of the middle. I long for the sum of my life to be purposeful, thus I must choose every single day. In the little and the big. It’s not easy, but I’m learning it’s worth it.

Press on and choose daily,

Lindsay

Letter #675: The Little

Dream Big

Dear being grounded,

Growing up, you were a negative. Two words I probably knew a little too well. Now that I’m an adult, you’re something I actually long to always remain.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a season of life quite like I’m in now. I feel like the lessons I’m learning are more frequent than ever. Purposeful living is something I can’t shake. There’s nothing I want more than to live a life filled with purpose. This has caused me to wake up each morning with more fervor than ever. Every day matters. Moments count. I’m choosing to live with purpose more than ever and it’s SO worth it.

I believe in a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all I could ever ask or imagine, and I’m committed to living my life believing this. If you’ve spent any time with me in the last 10 months, then you’ve heard me talk about one of the lessons I’m learning”…Dream big. Pray big. Believe big. I’m dreaming, praying and believing big. Not necessarily big in the world’s eyes, but big concerning things that matter, eternal things.

But in the midst of praying through the layers God is stirring in me, you’re the one thing I can’t get away from. Oh I’m dreaming big, but over and over two words continue to come to mind. ‘The little.’ These are probably the last words I would’ve expected to think of. I’m praying and dreaming outside the box. I’m willing and open to anything. Safe is secondary.

Yet you are where my mind goes”…to the epitome of safe!

But is it?

The little is hard. The little is quiet and unnoticed. The little is everything.

In the midst of believing big for my life, I must be quick to remember the importance of the little. If I can’t be faithful in the little, the big will never happen. If I’m not faithfully executing the little, my life will unravel.

In a society fascinated by big, I’m reminded of the little. Living my life with integrity in the smallest areas is just as significant as starting a non-profit. Valuing a person who gives me zero personal gain the same way I would a celebrity or rich person matters. Sharing the hope of the Gospel to one person is just as important, maybe more so, as being on a microphone in front of thousands.

I am praying and dreaming big, but the little matters. The little is hard. Living with purpose is a daily choice and commitment, one I’m learning is worth it.

I long to be grounded and to live purposefully. I long for my days to echo this: “Live with purpose today so you can live with vision tomorrow.” I believe this starts by boldly and intentionally living the little.

I think I’m more grounded than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m convinced it’s because I’m learning more each day that the little matters.

Fighting to remain grounded,

Lindsay