Things Worthwhile

Top of the Stairs


It’s that time again. That time where the sweet season of Summer lingers as we try to grasp on to the little hold of freedom from the increased responsibility of the school semester. As tradition holds, I always feel the need to refocus before diving into a new pool of classes, work and committees. There is no better way to find that center than biking in the fresh cool of the twilight and ending up in the heart of the city that served as my playground for the past three months. 

I got to the gleaming, golden Capitol with Dave Matthews ringing in my iPod and my hair windblown. (If you ever need to think at all - ponder an idea, brainstorm a solution or debate a decision, go to the top of the Capitol stairs. First run up them like a Rocky movie and then let the lights capture your imagination.) In a bought of serendipitous ocurance, there’s a man sitting there. Silent. Alone. 

Being the awkward/extroverted person that I am, I apologized for infringing on his solitude and then preceded to ask him what he was thinking about. His name was Jacob, he was back from the army overseas and he didn’t quite know what to think about life at this point. (Ironically he was sitting under a cannon.) He graduated from a school in Virginia, was unsure where he was moving next and had a passion for mentoring others. He wanted to know that things were going to be ok.

It was one of the unique moments where you completely connect with a stranger- with a completely different background and future- and realize that we all wonder. We all ask the what ifs and the shoulda woulda couldas.

We shook hands, never exchanged last names and didn’t look back as I ran down the stairs. It was a moment of clarity and just what I needed to start this semester with the right gaze forward.

Thanks Jacob. I hope that you find your thinking spot wherever in the world you end up. 

1:05 am, by bonjourkensie
tagged: Des Moines, Capitol, stairs, talk,

One Day for Storytime

What if we could float into space and cusp Earth in our palm? It would be small, tiny, miniscule- and without being caught up in everything- seemingly insignificant. Which when you look at each of us- 1 out of 6,827,976,975 (as of 12:35 a.m. June 18th), we’re each a minor players on a much larger stage. But each of us, every single number that adds to that grandiose total has a story. What if we could capture that story? That image of humanity- at its best and its worst in one moment, one day- a picture of life. I stumbled and fell in love with the concept of “One Day on Earth.”


The project is like a photo album (or a Facebook album) of a very diverse family- with no barriers- everyone can submit their story- a take on the existential question, “What is our purpose on Earth?” It’s the cumulation of 192 nations, 7 continents and thousands of eyes capturing the same world under different lenses.

The project is using social media, with a Ning network, Twitter, Facebook and website On 10/10/2010, the project to show an image of life as we know it will climax with a documentary released.

"Perspective: We are creating a time capsule for the whole world to better understand itself.”

It’s encouragement to try and understand ourselves.  Our stories are exceptionally different- with plot lines ranging from tragic horror to exuberant joy and everything in between. It makes you wonder how your own life would look on camera. Not going to lie, mine would be fairly dull. Would anyone care? Should anyone care?

In the words of a very wise Drake University administrator, “Despite our differences, at the end of the day, my blood and your blood are both red. My sweat and your sweat is clear. My tears and your tears are all clear.” And with that maybe the point of these stories is to try, in some context, attempt to understand each other- despite age, race, history, nation, size, shape. All of it. 

"One Day on Earth" is a reminder, at least personally, to try and find something meaningful out of the rush of it all. Maybe it’s cliche and overly optimistic, but write your story with passion. It’s important, and to someone, somewhere, it matters. 

1:20 am, by bonjourkensie
tagged: Earth, people,

People are meant to find where they’re going in the end.

Bathroom graffiti @ Java Joes Coffee, Downtown DSM

End of the road

6:10 pm, by bonjourkensie

Finding more in Lesshouse

There’s a couch (an ugly one at that) on the front porch. 

It was the first thought that ran through my mind, when place-shopping for the summer. But, there’s some places you just fit. They compliment your character and you’re relieved to walk in the door after work each night. Its the kind of place that brings people together and welcomes them upon first impression. The “Lesshouse” (the President’s house has a name-why not mine?) is that place. 

Since the semester ended the number of stickies on my desktop of lists of things to do has decreased considerably. It’s time for a love list. 

I have an odd adoration for-

1. The way the wood floors feel smooth under summertime bare feet. 

2. Classic “collegeness” of the dark, musty basement- complete with an extra-long table, whiteboard and dart board- to which we keep the door locked. 

3. The overgrown garden waiting to be rejuvinated.

4. The creaky stairs-  no one could creep up without waking up to hear.

5. The five couches (of varying comfort) on the main level that expand friend-hosting capabilities.

6. The way the kitchen holds onto the smell of whatever was cooked on the gas burner stove (including the things I usually burn).

7. The attic room with its slanted ceilings and windows. 

8. The pale purple walls with the paint splattered down the stairs on the way up to the attic.

9. The closet halfway up the stairs, with stairs inside, giving the impression that you could keep walking up. 

10. The big fireplace with a certain fraternity’s composite hanging above it. 

11 (Because no good list should stop at ten). The bedroom wallpapered completely in ugly floral print.

Only thing missing? A dog to play fetch with in the front yard.

It’s going to be terribly hard to leave at the end of the summer, but for now, at this beautiful beginning of a season, I’m just going to enjoy coming home. image

7:29 pm, by bonjourkensie

And they all lived happily ever after…

Letters and writing outside of Juliet's Verona homeA great night out with girlfriends necesitated that we go to a chick flick, so Letters to Juliet it was. Terribly awkard acting/plot - I would not suggest spending $9 theater prices on - but the beneath the surface themes of the film, it left me with this unfulfilled question about endings. Happily ever afters. Perfect endings. The Ends in cursive swirled font. Are the real or do movies with picturesque Italian backdrops and catchy soundtracks (think Taylor Swift) tell us that they are. Not just for love, but for life in general, is it possible to achieve that happy ending? Where at the end of that last day you can look back and smile at everything, the good and the bad, ups and downs, and have no doubt that you did all you could.

I have a feeling that many times those happy endings are there because we write it that way. It’s as if we’re a failure at our own story if we can’t smile at each and every person that reads into that story. (Sorry for the constant book metaphors- but deep down many of may wish to be fairy tale princesses.) So, the person holding your hand fills that void- even if it’s not completely authentic.

Unlike the movie, I don’t want to wait 50 years to finally find that person- or that passion - that completes the life puzzle. I think happy endings should be the climax of a lot of happy middles and beginnings. So when you bump into that happy-making that one person (Romeo or Juliet- to continue with the book references) clutch on tight. Write a conclusion that leaves YOU smiling with the final word- not everyone else. And that happy ending? It might be the best one ever written.

2:04 am, by bonjourkensie

If you feel like you just have to be in something to be in something, it’s not worth it. It’s a task and that’s not what life, that’s not what love, is about.

Overheard from the boy talking loudly on his cell phone, while trying to study for finals. Wise words random stranger, wise words. image 
10:36 pm, by bonjourkensie
tagged: love,

This I believe…

I should be doing just about everything else at the moment, but felt the need to do some free writing rather than straight news, or forced political prose- simply a pouring of thoughts- my thoughts on a page. 

It’s finals week and therefore the last week of the first year of college. In my last writing and reporting class, one of my favorite professors- a wise, weathered, veteran journalist had us listen to a series on NPR- “This I Believe.”

The four year series is host to a diverse collection of beliefs from a variety of people, the first being acclaimed radio host, Edward Murrow. There’s a boxer, writer, dancer, 1st grader- all people, all with intrinsic ideals of what’s important in this period of time we call life. 

After the classic list of do’s and dont’s (referencing the all powerful AP style guide) the professor left the class with a wish, that as students, journalists and more importantly, as global citizens- that we determine what we believe in and follow it. He issued that there’s no way to know truth- it’s an obscure, intangible concept, but we have to proceed as if we can find it. 

So, for that professor, but more importantly, for myself, this I believe.

I believe…

In the power I hold within myself.

That tomorrow can always be better than today.

Hope is never lost.

True friendship is a rare commodity, so when you find it, hold on to it. 

People, deep down, are good. 

I will never stop learning about people, places and me. 

We are all inextricably intertwined and each of our actions have a ripple effect.

Every person deserves respect. 

Dancing can bring people together. 

That love - true, deep, binding love - is unconditional.

I can and will make a beautiful life. 


12:27 am, by bonjourkensie

PostSecret- Kensie Edition


If I’m by myself, I will continually check Twitter on my way home from the library at late-night closing time, so I don’t feel completely alone. The fact that there is someone, even someone random I have never met and never will meet, out there typing is enough for a little bit of assurance that we are never in complete solitude. 

1:59 am, by bonjourkensie

Just run and smile

Started off the week with a lovely early morning run around the lake with a friend. I have a theory that there is no better feeling in the world than morning runs on days frosted by a bit of morning dew as the anticipatory sunshine glints off the horizon. And during these slightly chilly bouts of exercise, every other person you see has that same feeling.That inkling of inspiration and motivation that, if captured correctly, can put you on a hello-world-I-can-do-anything high for the rest of the day. When you pass these strangers there’s that moment where you glance at each other (cause it’s slightly awkward to stare at them the whole time it takes you to reach that passing point) and you can do nothing but smile and nod. It’s a simple affirmation, but one that can help you through that next mile.You may never see them again (unless they lap you), but in that single passing moment it doesn’t matter skin color, age, gender, body shape, past secrets, job title, residence, or even the future. It’s a captured time, like a shared life experience snapshot of only the presentimage

So wake up early and just smile and nod. It can do the body, the heart and the rest of the day some good :) 

1:28 am, by bonjourkensie

Positive life flow

It’s slightly cheesy in the most realistic sort of the sense- but do you ever feel like you’re life is just in flow? Everything works itself out - no huge stressors, no task you can’t tackle, and even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, you trust in yourself to end up where you’re meant to be.

Sitting on the campus Agora, discussing journalistic ethics with a favorite professor, witht he sun shining, happy-go-lucky collegiates frolicking across the campus and realizing that I could be completely in that moment- completely content in that moment- and not worry about papers, managing my staff writers or summer internships.  

It’s a part of this great concept- positive psychology- if you haven’t heard of it, pour your glass half full and check it out! It’s psych for us slightly annoying eternal optimists.

It started off this week with an amazing (cross your fingers) opportunity, mixed with sunshine and ended with laughing with a best friend over coffee and jazz music. Keep looking up. 


7:51 pm, by bonjourkensie