Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hannah Miller presents her retiring address, "Writing the Music in You"

Hannah Miller, State FFA Treasurer, from the Chapman FFA Chapter, presented her retiring address last night at the Opening Session of the 82nd Kansas FFA Convention.

Nothing gets me more motivated than a good song. Some Taylor Swift, Eli Young band or Miranda Lambert are some of my favorites to play on my handy guitar. Music is said to be a universal language that we can all understand, despite the language it may be in. Being a music lover, I tend to listen to the radio and my iPod more than what I should. How many of you have heard those catchy songs on the radio this week? Each one has our favorites and we like them for our own personal reasons. When a song is written, the writer had a similar experience or was put into a situation where their emotions needed to be put into a song. We hear songs about growing up in a small town, sometimes we hear about tragic break ups, or we here about just how happy we can be. Whatever the song maybe, it conveys a message that makes each one of the songs unique.

Despite my love for music, I have never thought of myself as a composer of music. I couldn’t imagine writing those catchy songs on the radio or being able to create symphonies like Beethoven, but I do know we can create and write our own music within ourselves. Each one us have the chance to write our own song. Writing the music in us helps us define each one of us is a unique individual and there is a song in our heart that wants to be listened to and heard. This music, which helps us create who we are and the impact we can make on others. This music isn’t normally sung on the radio or composed into a symphony. It is the music that you write with your life. It is your ability to learn from the challenges in your life, use the gifts you have been blessed with to make a difference and your love of life that writes the music within you.

It is never easy to start writing music, neither are the challenges in our lives, but it is overcoming these challenges that help us grow and change. When we overcome these challenges, we learn how strong we truly are. Four days before I was to make the transition to college, I way behind on moving into my college dorm room. I still had to wash all my clothes, buy new sheets for my new bed, pack up my extensive clothing and shoe collection, finish up thank you’s from late graduation gifts, figure out what time I’m supposed to move in, call Allison, buy books, new school supplies, and somewhere in there breathe. Little did I know, my life was going to make a major shift in a few shorts hours and it was not from me moving. A shake wakes me up at 7 in the morning. It is my mom telling me that they are taking my dad to the hospital because of shooting pains down his left arm. I jump from my bed as my mom then tells me to meet her at the hospital and to tell Drew where were going. Never would I have thought a heart attack.

A day passes and we soon find out that my dad needs to undergo open-heart surgery. Not knowing what was happening or what to think, I began to cry. Here I am trying to be strong for him, yet I have to make a complete lifestyle change within a few days. Only a few things are running through my mind. Will he make it out okay? What happens if something goes wrong? What about me moving in? I know he wanted to help me move in and see me off to college. Flustered, I realized I had to take one thing at a time. No matter where I turned, people were able to help me get everything I needed, help me pack and help me move. My dad made it through the surgery just fine and he was on a speedy road to recovery, but then I had to spend time away from my dad and move away from home. It was an emotional week for my whole family and a challenge we faced together.

Mother Teresa once said, “I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.” That week, a lot was handed to me and I learned from the challenges in front of me. We each have our own individual challenges that we face. Each time we’re faced with a challenge, it helps us grow and change as a person. When we overcome these obstacles, we can take on the world. We each have different obstacles and challenges that come for us head on. It may be not getting that FFA office you wanted, moving away from home this year, or losing a loved a one. What will you do when challenges like this come your way? Will you lie down and let it overtake you or will stand up and learn from the challenge? By learning from our own individual challenges, we can compose a masterpiece that people will want to listen to.

When you think about a musical artist at an awards show, they normally thank someone for encouraging them to us their gifts and talents. Not every song is same, neither are the gifts and talents that we have and that we should share with others which helps create the music in us. Each one of us has our own special talent. My grandma Conley has the amazing ability to sew. She made my mother’s wedding, which consisted of multiple strands of lace, beads and lots poufy material. When I was eight, I learned I could spend weekends with my grandma and learn this thing called “sewing.” Little did I know how much she would impact my life.

My first 4-H sewing project was a simple blue skirt with clouds on it. My grandma taught me how to sew a seam, put in the elastic and hem up the skirt. She taught me her gift so she could see me shine. As I got older, the projects became more difficult, and the hours spent hunched over the sewing machine expanded. Despite the long hours, my grandma was always there to coach me through it all and help grow into who I am today. For the past eleven years, my grandma has taught me how to sew and given me a gift that I will treasure for a lifetime.

We all have a gift that we can share with others and impact them. This gift can be virtually anything. It maybe your ability to make others smile, an upbeat attitude, a great listener, or your ability to connect with others. It is using this gift and sharing it with others that keeps writing the music in us. As individuals, we all have a gift that we can make a beautiful song out of. Without my grandma sharing her gift, I would have never learned to sew, but more importantly, I never would have created a bond with my grandma. Whatever your gift is, use it everyday and make the most of it. Help a younger FFA with a speech there giving, give back to the community, or help out at the nursing home. It’s using your gift to make a difference in others lives that can make the biggest difference. We interact with hundreds of people everyday. How will you use your gift to impact them and make a difference in their life?
Music itself is said to be a gift. Just like each day is a gift and we can cherish that gift by loving the life that we have. My friend Jordan seems like a normal girl. I personally think she is anything but normal. She plays volleyball for Southwestern College, she likes to hang out on the weekends, loves Sonic, taking pictures, loud music in the car, and she likes to make up funny and inspirational quotes. At the age six months, Jordan was diagnosed with the incurable disease of Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis or CF is an inherited disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract. It is one of the most common chronic lung diseases in children and young adults. Jordan’s daily routine consists of a vest treatment each morning and night, plus pills taken before meals to help her digest the food she eats. Her parents were told that she wouldn’t live past the age of six. Jordan’s life expectancy is much shorter than mine and she lives everyday to it’s fullest. Each day she lives it without regret, with a smile and with a will to love. Even in her senior year of high school when she was hospitalized twice, she never let her spirits sink. Jordan has always kept one thing in mind during her life and that is she must love life.

Today, we all woke up this morning, got out of bed and started our day. What did we think when we woke up? Did we think, today is going to a fantastic day! Or did we think it’s just another day? You never know what the day might bring. It may be the best day of your life and you feel like you could conquer the world. It could though end in tragedy too. We never know which day will be our last. Do you want to be remembered as the person who loved life and all its undertakings good and bad or the one who grumbled through it? Love the life you have been given. Wake up in the morning and be thankful that God gave you another day to live. He gave you another day to impact the people around you, another day to see the world and another day to embrace the world around you. Treat each day like a gift and love life for it is this type of music that defines who you are.

Music is a passion and love that burns deep within me. I have been playing the guitar now for a little over a year and there isn’t a better hobby I could have chosen. People ask me all the time if I ever wrote a song before and I will be honest it is harder than it looks. I give Taylor Swift props for her “creativity” because it’s not easy to put emotions on paper and turn it into something that people want to listen to. That is the beauty of being able to write the music in you. Your song doesn’t have to have a catchy chorus, notes, rhythm or even measures. It is a song that you have the power to write. A song that no one has control over but you. The music is all around you, and all you have to do is listen. You have some of the biggest hearts that I know of and with those hearts you can create a melody that can help you live your life to the fullest. Challenges will come your way, but push through them. Use your talents to make a difference in others and love the life you have been given, for you only get one. Kansas FFA members always write the music in you!

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