A message to our graduates

I spent quite a bit of time this past weekend looking for inspiration to write a message to this year’s graduating class.

First I turned to my country music favorites and found my top picks — Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink,” Leanne Womak’s “I Hope You Dance” and Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish.”

The country music group croons:

“My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,

Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,

You never need to carry more than you can hold,

And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,

I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,

Yeah, this, is my wish.”

Thank goodness for music that says what I want to say!

Well graduates, the time has come. In just a few days you will be walking across the stage, accepting your diploma and getting sent out in the world to make your mark.

What will life bring? Only you hold the key. You are the driver on the road map of life.

Your teachers, families, mentors and peers have helped to bring you this far. They have hopefully given you a strong foundation — the thirst for knowledge, the confidence to accomplish much, the importance of compassion and just enough strife to be able to deal with whatever comes your way.

You have probably all heard Forrest Gump say that life is like a box of chocolates — you just never know what you’re going to get.

You have also likely heard before that life is what you make it. Indeed, that is so.

But as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

That seems to be my mantra.

Whether you are going on to college, entering the workforce or planning to raise a family of your own, don’t forget to slow down once in a while and take it all in.

Everything happens so fast.

Your parents are probably thinking that very thing this week. I know I am, and I’m just an aunt to one of the Class of 2010 graduates.

How can it be that 18 years have passed since you were brought home in the loving arms of your family?

I couldn’t wait until my nephew was crawling, walking and then graduating out of diapers. Finally, he was old enough to go fishing. Then there came our trips to Valleyfair, standing in line for hours at the Twins Autograph parties and sitting in the stands to watch him play basketball.

I eagerly anticipated Matt getting his driver’s license so I didn’t always have to be the shuttle, but I failed to imagine that when he reached his 16th birthday his car would take the path to his friends’ homes instead of to my door.

I’ve known enough parents to realize this happens to them too.

That driver’s license allows our kids to take that first big step toward independence.This weekend, graduates, you will take an even bigger step — perhaps a leap.

Whatever path you choose to take in life, my wish for you is that you learn to appreciate the speed bumps, handle the S-curves, have the energy to climb the mountain and, most of all, enjoy the scenery along the way.

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