I Love Nebraska

I feel like the Grinch right now. No, I am not feeling grumpy. I def don’t have any beef with the Holidays or the Whos either. Nah, I imagine most have seen the movie and remember that part where the Grinch is just so pumped that his heart grows… This. I am feeling like that right now. I’ve also considered the possibility I am having a minor  jammer from the enormous Nebraskan ribeye I had for dinner. But it ain’t that. I am feeling the love tonight!

6am came painfully soon Tuesday morning after the Dropkick Murphy’s extravaganza the night before. I had a big day ahead of me too: 2.5hr drive south to SeaTac airport near Seattle, Washington, 2.5hour flight southeast to Denver, Colorado; 1hr flight east to Omaha, Nebraska then a 2.5hr drive west to Grand Island, Nebraska. Ya it was a doozy. Twelve hours of travel in total.

It was pouring rain when I landed in Omaha and for about the first quarter of my drive to Grand Island too. Like raining so hard people were pulling over and putting their car hazard lights on raining. But since I hail from the rainforests of the pacific northwest (Vancouver, BC, Canada) I have some experience driving in torrential downpours. Drive slow. No cruise control. Don’t over-correct if vehicle hydroplanes etc…

Now, what I was not used to on my virgin landing in Nebraska was the electric theatre Mother Nature lights the skies up with. Wowza! What a dazzling display of rage and beauty. A fitting backdrop to the punk rock and metal music pumping from the speakers of my rental car. Aggressive music ironically best heard through the “Country” setting on my rental Chevy Impala’ stock radio equalizer… hmmm?

I was up early again this morning… well 5:45am… which considering the 2hr time change was really 3:45am on my internal clock. Somehow I had some spring underneath me as I launched out of bed, showered and got dressed for my day at Grand Island Senior High (GISH). I was hoping for a great day! I got much, much more than that.

I met Mrs Mintken as I was just exiting my vehicle in the parking lot of GISH. We became fast friends. We’re now BFFs!! Mrs. Mintken has to be the coolest VP I have ever met. We chatted as I unloaded my equipment in GISH’s newly renovated school auditorium. Definitely one of the nicest auditoriums I have ever had the pleasure of presenting in. I even got to break in their new massive projection screen. Rad! Michelle Schultz arrive next. Michelle played an integral part in getting me to the Cornhusker State and GISH. Another beauty.  Another new friend.  I was in good hands for sure!

My first presentation was for grade 9 and 10s. It started a bit late, but I got the green light to give’r on time. So of course I did. Let me tell you the freshmen and sophomores at GISH definitely set the bar high for Nebraskan audience awesomeness this morning. They were a perfect audience, and I couldn’t have been more appreciative.  Thank You!

One for One!

My second presentation at GISH ran right after my first one finished. I had grade 11s and 12s for this one. An older audience who were as equally amazing as their fellow younger Islanders. This crew gave me three ovations. The final of which was of the standing variety. I was stoked! STOKED STOKED STOKED!!!  Thank You!!

Two for Two!!

But even better than the formal presentation portion of my visit was the resulting tour of the school of which Mrs. Mintken, Michelle and I would embark on. For hours we toured the hallways, classrooms, and a variety of other areas of the school just chatting with students. Some classes were full of enthusiastic students with thoughtful questions. Others were filled with students who just wanted to chill and chat and take pics. The hallway was paparazzi central. I joked more than once today that Mrs. M probably got carpal tunnel from all the pics she snapped. Man did we take a lot of pictures!! It was such an lovely way to spend my afternoon. All of it.  I wouldn’t change a minute. I really got to see firsthand the impact and connection made today with GISH students. Nothing but love. Nothing but love.  THANKS

I left the school just before 2pm to avoid the end of day rush. I planned to go back to my room and have a little downtime and maybe take a nap...  BUT I was flying so high from the magic of the day that when I got back to my room there was surely no sleeping going down. So instead I ventured onto social media sites Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and HOLY WOW talk about LIGHTING UP!!

I have been speaking in schools for 12 years. I have had social media since My Space. Yeah I am old school. Well I can say without a doubt that today was the busiest day on social media I have ever had! I couldn’t keep up with the adds, messages, likes, comments etc… and it RULED!! I could not put my mobile down. I was so hyped and so pleased by it all. Ah man! Just straight up rad!!! Social media occupied another couple hours of my day. Hours very well spent.

I finally tore myself from my Samsung and my room because I had dinner plans with Mrs M and Michelle. Being that I am in Nebraska the consensus for grub local steakhouse. I met my new pals at a joint called Texas T-Bone, and dinner I did do. Massive ribeye steak, fried shrimp, potato salad, grilled veggies. My belt was near bursting as we left and headed back for the school.

Now I normally do not eat such a heavy dinner before a presentation. In fact, I usually eat like a vegan chipmunk pre-presentation, but I wanted to take in the local fare tonight. The resulting meat sweats / mild beef coma did not make for the easiest start to my evening presentation for parents, students and anyone else who wanted to attend. But I did my best to overcome. I don’t even think it was a conscious move, but for the first 15minutes or so of my third and final talk of the day I paced the stage like a fenced up wild cat. Had to burn calories somehow. I found my stride eventually and settled spastic stage presence.  The end result was yet another touching hour or so with in my opinion the toughest audience of all – parents. But much like their offspring today, the parents were a stellar bunch.  Everyone I met today was stellar. And just a thought here… I heard that Grand Island is no longer physically an island.  Well I formally suggest changing the name to Grand Humans because you people really are magnificent.

Three for Three!!!

So to sum the last 24hours of my life up I will say they were among the best and the most uplifting, heartwarming and memorable that I have had in recent memory. This was my first ever visit to Nebraska, and I can only hope it isn’t my last. I really hope I am back again. Sooner than later would be preferred. I met roughly 2200 people today. Twenty-two hundred people who were strangers yesterday. Twenty-two hundred people who are friends today! To all the fine folks from GISH, you left a beautiful tattoo on my heart today.  I can only hope I left a similar mark on all of yours.

The verdict is in…  and I LOVE NEBRASKA!

Thanks for making today a keeper.

JWYT and thanks for reading.