A couple of weeks ago, the girls and I were on a car ride headed to Eastern Oregon. I had my hands on the wheel, Bel was in the passenger seat, while Katie and Jonwyn were passed out in the back. I remember wearing a new pair of sunglasses that I had picked up to take to DC with me, which was just around the corner. We all know I love fashion, but these particular sunglasses were different. Aside from their adorable appearance, when you put them on, the lens turns everything slightly amber. 

The landscape turned from Juniper trees to wheat fields, the muted gold of wheat that we are used to became the most beautiful copper color you can imagine. It was like a picture that no camera could capture. I pulled down my glasses to see if I was dreaming or this was real. When my glasses sat back on the bridge of my nose, I was in complete awe. Something that was just a regular stretch of wheat fields, became one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen – so much so that I had to show Bel! “Bel, you have to see this! Put on these glasses and look out the window”. “Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed “It’s so pretty!!”

Fast forward to 12 days later. I found myself logged into my laptop waiting for a zoom call to start from my hotel room in Crystal City. You may be wondering what in the world I was doing on a zoom call in Washington DC, so I’ll explain. This year, the in-person State Officer Summit was limited to the President & Vice Presidents from across the country, while the rest of us zoomed in. I have a confession to make… After the first session was over and talking to Bel and Justin, I felt sad. I had a feeling that I let control my thoughts. I felt like we didn’t get the same opportunity that they did. I felt like we were missing out on meeting the National Officers, being in a live workshop with people just like us, dancing, singing, and making new friendships that could last a lifetime. In that moment, I was reminded of something; we were one of only four associations that had the ability to travel to our Nation’s Capital that year, and for that I should be grateful. We may have had to zoom into the sessions, but we had so much more time to explore and see all of the sights that DC has to offer. As soon as I put on my lenses of gratitude, I immediately swallowed my pride and took a deep breath.

None of us are perfect, sometimes we take things for granted and allow those lenses to slip. Melody Beattie once said, “gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” When the universe reminds us of an important lesson, it begins to show up multiple times – almost as if it is making sure that we take it to heart. 

On July 24th, a girl who I went to high school with passed away in an ATV accident. She carried a wild heart, a contagious smile, and an endless love for her horses. Her creative outlet was making western stamped metal jewelry, and I happened to buy one of her bracelets. It may just be a bracelet to some, but with a reminder to be grateful for life, it is so much more. 

On July 29th, I was knocked over by a goat and tore my meniscus. But at a concert on August 14th, we had the opportunity to stand behind a gentleman who was rocking out to Ian Munsick in a wheelchair. 

Like I said, the university apparently wants me to remember this. I’ll never look at these sunglasses the same. WIth them I am grateful for every opportunity, no matter how big or small. I am grateful for friendships. I am grateful for my bracelet. I am grateful for a healthy body. 

I am grateful. & I hope that you are too!

Kylie Baldwin