Me again. Nebraska through an outsider’s lens

Article by Alexandrea Donohue

I have never been a writer, mainly because I see no purpose in spewing my opinions if they do not have monumental impact in this great big world.

This complex of mine has been developed, I believe, by book stores. I feel like my words are so insignificant standing beside walls of books by brilliant authors. Rarely have I picked up a book and not found some profound truths or extreme amusement. I marvel at the wisdom and cleverness of authors, yet when I reach the end of my life, there will be many books left unread. There will always be some author with nuggets of truth I have not had the privilege to taste. New books are published every day, and so many brilliant writers, bloggers, and freelance writers go unknown, with their pure brilliance bottled up and left a martyr to life.

This is why I reluctantly write and why you will likely never see a book with my name on it. So why am I, not even a native of your state, taking the liberty to be heard on a site intended to showcase the beauty, simplicity, and novelty of this vast land? Because I believe some of our brightest Nebraskans are so caught up in life that they have lost the significance of sharing their unique stories and experiences. This is a tragedy. What an opportunity we have, through Nebraska Rural Living, to be timeless.

Let us all write

old books

Why not take some time to dig up or polish your priceless tales and talents. Let them shine! You have something to say, stories to tell, talents to share, and before you is the doorway to your own stage. Perhaps future generations will come upon our words and find novelty and admiration in them like we do the journals of the original pioneers. We have an obligation to write our chapter in history.

I came to Nebraska having heard little to none about the state, as though everyone enjoying the good life wants to keep it to themselves. It’s time to be heard and known, Nebraska. We have treasures within our borders that no other state has, and it’s time they knew.

So allow me to lead by example. I write because I see this land with fresh eyes, full of amusement at the cultural pace and traditions, in awe of the simple way of life, and, yes, with a desire to shake things up a little. I invite you to look at this great state through a different lens so we can laugh at the quirks of our quaint and rural societies.

But let’s go further and analyze the pros and cons of these habits so perhaps we can even change for the better. Because, after all, what’s the point of writing if we aren’t out to change the world?
I promise not to offer any criticisms without viable solutions if you promise to see the humor and truth in the things I present as uniquely Nebraskan. And may my observations be the inspiration for others, who know this land far better than I, to rise up and write about it.

Perfect priorities

old work gloves

At the top of my list of things I have come to love about Nebraskans is their priorities: hard work and family. Nebraska truly is a world in its own, a separate culture hidden in the dead center of the United States. When we made the move from the bustling and distracted East Coast, I was amazed at the work ethic I saw coupled with the devotion and connectedness of families in the Midwest. The two are interdependent. Nebraskans work to support their families and those families motivate them to work hard so time can be spent with their families. It’s a pristine glimpse of the true American Dream, making a better life for your family and also taking the time to enjoy it.

Somewhere along the way, many parts of America have lost these values. Some deep lie has made the impression that there is never enough income or success to relax and enjoy life. We see this truth play out across the nation in what people invest their money in. During a recent trip to Boulder, Colo., we were told that houses with little to no property maintenance are a big draw because the tenants want to spend every minute away from work exploring the outdoors. Comparatively, on our Northeastern Seaboard, developments full of $300,000 houses are springing up everywhere. It is as though life is a race to have the most extravagant home or experiences, even if that means working three jobs just to stay abreast of the bills. The Midwest’s values lie comfortably in the center of these two extremes.

Healthy balance of perceived success and true success

What the Midwest has captured is a healthy balance of perceived success and true success. With classically small town quaint houses and manicured lawns tread down by family gatherings, we balance our two great loves: a good life earned by hard work and having family near. My granddad always used to say, “I am a successful man not because of my title or career accomplishments but because of my children and all the joy they fill my life with.”

What’s the point of having the biggest house on the block if your children never learn from you or get an ounce of your precious time? Good parenting, after all, is not about how well you provide but the quality of time and teaching you invest in children. Some of our greatest leaders came from dirt poor upbringings but were nurtured by loving parents.

Our culture, in general, is lacking the concept of a parent’s responsibility to actually parent. But here in Nebraska, we are privileged to have a regional legacy of hard work and family commitment. Generations of farming families have passed down not only their hard-worked land but also the understanding that no amount of personal or career success can overcome failure in the home. The gift of well-established priorities has been preserved in our small towns. What a wonderful distinction to have.

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Nebraska Rural Living

Nebraska Rural Living’s mission is to market the very real benefits of a rural lifestyle. We highlight the amenities of rural communities and spotlight successful entrepreneurs, who make good livings, free of the stress of urban environments.

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