Category: College is Buck Wild

Open Letter to a College Freshman

Dear New College Student,

You are about to embark on one of the craziest adventures of your life.  College will be a blast and it will change things.  You will change and transform.  You’ll probably change your major once, or 3x like me.  You might fall in love.  Or out of it.  The question is who will you be after these 4+ years?  What will happen to your inner person?  What about your character?  Here are my TOP TEN things you need to know.  In no particular order:

  1. You matter. Your life matters. What you do for the next 4 years matters.  Your decisions have consequences.  You are shaping who you will be for the rest of your life.
  2. You were meant to change the world.  You aren’t totally sure about this but let me confirm what you’ve already been feeling—you were meant to make a difference.  You were meant to have an impact.
  3. Use these next 4, 5, 6, or 7 years to find out who you are.
    1. Invest some time in your spiritual growth.  Does God exist?  If so, what is God like?  “Who is God?” might be the most important question you answer in life.
    2. Find your “yoda” or even a couple mentors that are a little older and a couple steps ahead of you.  Learn everything you can from them.
    3. Find out what matters to you and what you are excited about.  Try all kinds of stuff, not drugs or anything weird but different interests, organizations, clubs, etc.
    4. You have certain innate talents that make you feel alive.  Explore and develop these. Find out your strengths, weaknesses, passions, blind spots, liabilities.
  4. Learn how to study
    1. Only cram on stuff you don’t want to retain.  Then ask yourself the question why am I taking this class in the first place?
    2. Go to class.  Sit near the front (this will help you stay awake and pay attention).  If it’s terrible, study during class or do other work.
    3. Talk to professors and meet w/them.  Go to office hours and ask how to study and how to do well in their class. Know your class policies/how grades are determined inside & out.
    4. Go to review sessions.  Sometimes little “secrets” are given away.
  5. Learn time management – you only get one shot at life, only one time through.  Don’t you want to get the most out of life?
    1. Choose people over program and sometimes over being responsible.  Hey, you’re in college!
  6. Figure out a way to serve.  How can you give back?  It really is in giving that we receive.  That’s not just a cheesy line, it’s a profound truth.
  7. Sex is really, really good.  Actually fantastic.  But it is not to be trifled with.  It is not just physical and there is no casual sex.  It’s meant for 2 people who are committed to each other for life.  Recent research (see the book Hooked) has shown that the people who are the happiest are those who wait until marriage to have sex. Try and wait.  It will be worth it.  I promise.
  8. Meet everyone you can early.  Knock awkwardly on the doors of your hallmates.  Plan hangouts.  Take advantage of living in such close proximity to great people.  And don’t be afraid to make friends out of your dorm. Most of you will not live in a situation like this again. Everyone is waiting for someone to take the initiative.
  9. Don’t get a credit card. Don’t buy anything you can’t pay cash for.  Use your debit card for all purchases.
    1. Start saving and investing.
    2. But also don’t let $ hold you back from something you want to do.
  10. Be aware of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  Exercise.  Do intramural sports.  Go easy on the all-you-can-eat part of dhall.  Eating 3 meals at all-you-can-eat is a recipe for disaster.  Also, maybe don’t have dessert with every meal.  Sleep more than you think.

11. OK I lied.  I have 11.  Write down what you want to accomplish.  It can be dumb stuff but also some serious hopes & dreams.  Written goals are HUGE.  There is power in written goals. Who do you want to become?  What do you want to do?  Get some clarity on what you want to make of these next 4+ years.

GO FOR IT!  DREAM BIG!  TAKE RISKS!  And have a blast.  You were made for such a time as this.

–Pete Hardesty, former college student.




Can you fall in love with the wrong person?

Bachelor olivia gif crazy mouth open

Can you fall in love with the wrong person?  With someone you’re not meant to be with?

“In reality, there is more to forever than simply finding someone who you feel extremely connected to. We have to stop allowing this surge of feeling to act like a compass towards healthy relationships…when life throws us some less than perfect situations we need more than more than an emotional upwelling of exhilaration.”   –Bianca Sparacino

OK I may have watched the majority of the Bachelorette premiere on Monday.  Don’t judge me.  I’m a big fan of Jo Jo.  Did the producers force her to give a rose to a couple of those jackwagons?  They had to.  Also, did she know she gave a rose to a Erectile Dysfunction therapist?  I loved the part where Jo Jo had never heard of the viral vine “Damn…Daniel.”  And that guy tried to explain it to her.  He sounded crazy when he asked exasperatedly (like that word?) “Have you been on the internet in the last 2 months?”  But really how has Jo Jo never heard of it?!  Isn’t she up on pop culture?!  She’s the freakin’ Bachelorette!

Can you fall in love with the wrong person?  I think we all want to answer “no” but we know better.  Yes.  A resounding YES.  Most of us have “been in love” with someone who was the wrong person.  Sometimes we know at the beginning they were just plain wrong for us but the chemistry or attraction is so strong we stay.  We say we will just “see where it goes” and before you know it, you love someone who is terrible for you.  I often disorder my loves and loves things in the wrong order.  In the same way I can misorder the criteria by which I am making my decision.  One of my mentors Jim Cunningham sent me some thoughts on this a while back.  I mustache you to read them.  Don’t shave them for later.  (Bachelorette and Cunningham jokes)

Jim cunningham in dress

This is one of my wise mentors Jim. In his favorite outfit

“Our culture tells us that falling in love is the acid test of relationships.  And if you love someone a LOT you should obviously marry them.  Love is NOT the most important factor.  You can love pizza, college basketball, and your aunt Hilda (the one with the mole who always tries to kiss you on the lips).  And just because you love someone a LOT, that does not mean that they make you a better person, or that they will partner with you in your life’s calling, that they will be faithful to you, or that they don’t have tendencies or traits that will cause the relationship to be a disaster.  No, there are a lot of reasons to marry someone, and although I’d recommend that you love the person you are going to marry, it is simply NOT the #1 factor.  And here’s the thing… once you decide that you love someone, you’re going to have a very tough time being talked out of marrying them.  You won’t listen to your friends, your family or folks who speak into your life.  You’ll feel that either they, “Just don’t understand,” or “Our love can conquer all.”  When you think the relationship is going the direction of marriage, you simply MUST have folks in your life who can speak their mind about it, regardless of how tough that conversation may be—parents, mentors and very close friends MUST be allowed to weigh in.  They are not in love with your “perfect mate” and they will see clearly enough to tell you that this is a disaster waiting to happen.  They won’t have the massive blind spot that falling in love creates in your life.  Marriages fail for many reasons but some of them are at a huge disadvantage from the start because they were based on a syrupy view that “all you need is love.”  That could not be further from the truth. There are a dozen reasons to marry or not marry someone that count far more heavily than infatuation.  I have decided that I simply will not officiate a wedding if the best answer the couple can give me to the question “why do you want to get married” is “because we love each other.”

One quick story in response to Jim’s insightful thoughts.  I had a close friend who got engaged to a girl that his parents, siblings, 2 best friends and I didn’t think was the right person.  But he was smitten.  Somehow I was voted as the person to talk to him about this.  The danger:  he marries her anyway and remembers for the rest of his life that you tried to talk him out of it—that you “didn’t like her.”  This friend came to his senses and didn’t go through with it.  He is now happily married to someone who is the “right” person.

I will be taking June off from posting due to my work schedule.  Have a great month!



Can you love 2 people at once? Bachelorette Style.

Bachelor lauren and jojo

It’s baaaaaa-aaaaack!  The Bachelorette premiers this Monday night and with it the hopes and dreams of many people to find that special someone.  And I’m sure some weird occupations will rear their ugly head but will they beat Dog Lover, Donated tissue Specialist (carrying a cooler), Chicken Enthusiast, or Pantsapreneur?  Check out some funny lists over the years:  HERE, HERE, AND HERE.  There might not be a Bachelorette that has the vast and widespread support that JoJo does.  I think she found a special spot in America’s heart after being so horribly duped.  (How is Ben still America’s sweetheart?  He did a dastardly deed telling 2 women he loved them).

You know how the old proverb goes:

Hell hath no fury like a woman told on live TV in front of millions of people “I love someone more than you.” 

Bachelor Ben hugging lauren and jojo

Is this possible?  Can you love 2 people at once?  I wondered this when the trainwreck happened last season.  It was actually before the last episode.  The seeds of travesty were planted when Ben told 2 women he loved them.  Even if this were possible, it is the worst idea ever.  Worse ideas than the Blackberry, New Coke, Subprime mortgages and Blu-blockers put together!  So can you be in love with 2 people at once?

We need to define our terms.  What does the term people mean?  Just kidding, what does the term “love” really mean?

Is love a feeling, an action, a commitment, an ethereal romantic notion, or a farce?

Love is a choice.  It is not without feelings but it is bigger, deeper, and more profound.  It is a commitment.  And when we are talking about loving our spouse, it is reserved for one person.  Can you be “in love” with 2 people at once?  Yeah sure.  You can have strong feelings of attraction, chemistry, and desire with 2 people at the same time.  This is difficult to accomplish in real life because it is difficult to build up to these feelings with 2 people at the same time.  The Bachelor doesn’t just give it space, it encourages it.  The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that each contestant needs to employ to make the reality show work allows the heart to focus on whoever is in front of it at that moment.  But this does not mean you can “love” (the verb) 2 people at once.

99% of arranged marriages do not end in divorce.  Over 50% of “free-will” marriages end in divorce.  How is this?  I would think it would be the opposite.  Of course a big factor is the culture that the marriage happens in, but even where divorce is permitted and the spouses feel like they have an alternative, the stay-together rate of arranged marriages smashes free-will by a long shot.  Proposal:  Let’s have arranged marriages in the U.S.  But who would get to arrange it?  Parents?  Most parents don’t like their kids’ spouse anyways.  No, in our hyper-individualistic society, this would never work.  I’m only mostly kidding.  One thing this shows is that you can choose to love someone.

Bachelor olivia come at me bro

So to recap:

Can you be “in love” with 2 people at once?  Yes.  Difficult but yes.

Can you “love” 2 people at once?  No.

Here’s why:

You can have feelings of love towards more than one person romantically.  If you’re talking about real love, then no.  Because love is an action.  You can say anything you want but love will be determined by your actions.  And you can’t love 2 people like that.  Because it is putting them first.  Before yourself.  Before anyone else (BAE).  That’s the very definition of love—having someone who is your highest priority.  How can you have 2 romantic interests both being your highest priority?  One will always be the one that you “love” as a verb.  If you try and love 2 people like that, it doesn’t work.  Reality has rules against it.  It implodes.  Your heart is torn in two.  (see last season of The Bachelor)  There is confusion, pain, brokenness, and devastation.

NEXT WEEK:   Can you fall in love with the wrong person?


Don’t watch movies like a baby

I sometimes watch movies like a baby, just taking everything in and not thinking about it one bit.  I love movies but am not very discerning.  I don’t mind bad ones.  I’m easy to please.  I’m not talking about questionable content, I’m talking about ones with a predictable plot, no compelling story, and no character development.  Last week one of my best friends Dave and I watched Point Break.  Not the original cult favorite but the remake. We felt like we owed it to Johnny Utah and Bodhi.  I mean, who spells Bodi with an “h”?  except Patrick Swayze.  This one was terrible.  More like Point Bust.  Or Point Broken. It had some breathtaking scenery and adventure cinematography but it wasn’t a movie.  Confusing plot.  No characters.  No logical progression.  Extra bonus trivia for those of you over the age of 35 (most who loved the original): “Bodhi,” in Sanskrit, is short for “being of wisdom.”  It can also mean “enlightenment” or “awakening” pertaining to the Buddhist faith.  In Hawaii, “Keanu” means “cool mountain breeze.”

How did we decide on that movie?  Well, we didn’t trust our usual guide:  (RT) Maybe we should have.  RT has 2 scores for each movie—a critic score and an audience score.  It also has an app partner for iPhone called Flixster.  This is a good app that has solid movie info, ratings, and trailers.  Here are a couple things to watch out for on RT as you use it: When a movie has a

HIGH CRITIC/LOW AUDIENCE rating.  Beware!  This means that it appealed to those movie critics but not to the average joe like you and me.  Usual busts.

LOW CRITIC/HIGH AUDIENCE rating.  Yes!  These are usually fun flicks that don’t take themselves too seriously.

HIGH CRITIC/HIGH AUDIENCE rating.  Of course these are the sure fire winners.  Zootopia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Jungle Book, Star Wars Episode 7, Revenant, Spotlight, The Big Short, just to name a few of the most current ones.

The movie nominees for best picture and best actor/actress are often incredible movies and worth a look.  Two other places for movie ratings and info are Imdb and metacritic but I don’t use them very often at all.

Copyright: damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo


2 most important questions in processing and discussing a movie (to keep you from watching it like a baby):

  1. What did it say?
  2. Is it true?


Here is a list of some more questions to help process and experience media.  Two people who are experts in this arena are Drew Trotter and Walt Mueller.  I am indebted to them for much of this material.

OTHER QUESTIONS TO EVALUATE MEDIA (music, movies, ads, TV, etc.)

-What is the music’s main topic and theme?

-Does the music offer suggestions on how to think, talk, act, or live?

-What does the music say about the way the world is? Does it say anything about the way the world ought to be?

-What is your gut reaction to it?

-Is there right and wrong? What is right and what is wrong as taught in the music?

-How is God portrayed? What does it say about God?

-Is there something suggested (self, sex, money, power, etc.) to bring value to your life?  Maybe even in place of God?

-What does it say about how to treat others?

-What does it say is the source of happiness and satisfaction in life?

-Who or what is glorified in the music?

-What does this video tell its watchers to find their identity in?

-What does it say about where peace and hope are found?

-Is the music hopeful or hopeless?

-What should we do with it?

-What was your favorite scene/part/song?  Why?  What do you think was the writer’s, producer’s, composer’s, author’s, etc. favorite part?  Why?

-What was this movie’s message/summary in one sentence or less?  (what was it trying to communicate?) Why do you think it said this?  Do you agree with it?  Is it true?

-What part/character do you most identify with?  Why?


What questions would you add?  How do you process/experience movies and media?


7 More Reasons You Watch The Bachelor

Bachelor gif Jojo what

Wow.  Last week was painful.  I can’t believe Ben is the champion of all Bachelors.  He told 2 women he loved them.  He didn’t need to.  He chose to.  Instead of one person being crushed after they got out of the helicopter (business as usual), it became utterly devastating.  Ben gave Jojo the most amount of false hope one can give—telling her he loves her.  This was unnecessary.  It was something he “felt” like doing.  It was wrong.  But somehow he was celebrated for it.  “I came into this not knowing if I would find love…but with you it WAS real…always.  I found love with you.  But I found it with somebody else more.”  Does anyone else have problems with this?  Maybe it’s in the definition of love.  Can you “find love” with 2 people at the same time?  That’s for a future post.  But for this week, onward.

7 more reasons you watch The Bachelor:

  1. You like to cringe. It is CRA-ZEE.  We want to see people do unbelievable things to win attention or win someone’s heart.  But secretly we wonder if we would do the same things.  (especially after copious amounts of wine and having an open bar 24-7).
  2. You are a hopeless romantic. We want to see this work.  It makes love seem so simple.  We love to see crazy dates that almost no one else will ever get to go on.  We want to see 2 people fall in love amid crazy circumstances and weird challenges.
  3. You are a voyeur. (and so am I)  We love to peek into people’s dates, intimate moments, conflict, make-out sessions, brokenness, and love life.
  4. You like to escape. It’s easier to talk about other people’s love lives than our own.
  5. You like to watch with other people. It is one of the few shows that people still watch live to be in the loop.  It is community-building and just plain fun.  It is as addictive as Chewy Spree, but much better for your teeth.  (one friend said she started out watching it reluctantly to make friends but got hooked).  It is the best water cooler talk and fodder for exciting conversation.
  6. It has a continuous storyline, even between seasons. It is so smart and savvy to use use people from the season before, because viewers are already invested in their “journey.”
  7. You get to judge and feel just a little bit morally superior with no repercussions. If we are honest, the show makes us feel a little better about ourselves.

Next week:  THE FIRST GUEST POST!!  Who will it be?  Drake?  Beyonce?  The Rock? Someone even better.  Stay tuned.