As the metaphorical page of December turns over to a brand new chapter of January, many people find themselves setting New Year’s resolutions, planning for the year ahead, and reflecting on the one just left behind. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions- I find the declaration to overhaul my behavior and sustain the momentum throughout an entire 365-day stretch far too daunting. I’ve also never been much of a planner, much to the chagrin of several of my organized friends and family members (Hey, I attribute this fact to being a highly creative-brained person). Thus, I’ve settled my column topic on reflecting on the past year. And not only the past year of my life, but I’ll make it two. Oct. 2020, just over two years ago, is when I found myself moving to a place I had never heard of before. The village of Beemer, in Nebraska. All I really knew of this state at the time revolved around my admiration for my film and TV hero Bob Odenkirk and that he has (at least really seems like to me) an insatiable love for Nebraska.

When I moved to the West Point community, it was for a job opportunity. In the midst of the pandemic, I had lost work like so many other Americans. We were all faced with so much uncertainty and wondered, ‘What is the next step?’ Had my best friend also not moved to Beemer, I don’t know that I would have taken the leap. But I figured, a good friend and job security and a big adventure ahead is good enough reason to make a rather drastic life change. And I’m so glad I did. Looking back on the past two years, I have grown in so many ways. At first, it was learning to do without the everyday conveniences I was used to– namely frequenting multiple Target stores and Starbucks within a 20-mile radius whenever I felt like it. Those “needs” faded away. I also found I regularly had to get out of my comfort zone to meet city officials, pastors, business owners, school principals and staff, coaches, teachers, hospital employees, farmers and ranchers and many others in my job. While being “the new kid” in town is hard, and feeling like you don’t know anything– learning the geography of the area and surrounding communities was challenging– it was also all wonderful and people were so open and kind while I was navigating my job, which I feel very blessed to have. I’ve been amazed learning about the talented, hard working, innovative, imaginative, striving- for- the- betterment of the community people around me. I’ve learned about cattle, observed corn and soybean prices, heard prayers said over the radio, learned what a cream can supper is, and learned that people around here “scoop,” not “shovel” in the winter. I can’t mention enough the many wonderful experiences I’ve had too: Countless games of pool with friends, kayaking down Pebble Creek, dances, Friday nights at the West Point bowling alley, attending county fair concerts, exploring small town Nebraska bars and having my first ever whiskey-pickle. The West Point News office has become my second home (just ask my coworkers they’ll say my desk looks quite lived in). I find myself appreciating my incredible work family, looking forward to the inspiring weekly quote our managing editor Curt Hineline provides us in our editorial meetings that my English class loving brain gets to analyze–and pretending I’m back in college with my classmates. I am very certain my coworkers love it as much as I do. All I can say is that I’m thankful to be loving what I do every day and growing and evolving in the role of telling the stories of the people in my community. I’m very thankful to have been welcomed and embraced so kindly by this fellow midwestern state. So as this new page turns, I can readily admit I have no idea what the year ahead holds, but that’s ok and I’m up for whatever it brings. I only know Bob Odenkirk loves Nebraska. Now I can say, so do I.