A speech for a season of celebration…

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We’re a week or so out of the ranch wedding weekend extravaganza and while the two newlyweds are off in Jamaica honeymooning, the rest of us are here, basking in the North Dakota’s official summer heat.

Last weekend was my hometown’s annual reunion celebration called “Homefest” and Husband and I spent last Friday on Main Street catching up with old friends and Saturday I got a chance to sing to the crowd of longtime residents, new residents and people visiting home again.

The party never stops around here in the summer when we try to cram 12 months of fun into the few summer weekends we get up here.

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And so it goes with those brides and grooms planning to get married. They generally want to do so in the summer so they don’t freeze to death on their way to the church or lose their guests in an unexpected blizzard.

So to honor the wedding and party season, I wanted to share with you the little speech I prepared for my little sister’s wedding. It’s about love and the time we share between the celebrations…

Cheers to love. Cheers to summer.

And cheers to finding the best ways to celebrate it all.

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Now, imagine me, my hormones and my emerging baby bump trying desperately not to lose it and burst into tears in front of our friends and family…
Today we celebrate love. That’s what weddings are about. The joining of two people because they met somewhere, and they clicked, so they went on a date to a movie or for drinks and they hit it off, so they went on another date and another one and then maybe she caught a cold and had to break plans and stay home and he showed up with orange juice, Champaign and chicken noodle soup—and no one had ever done anything like that for her before so she tried to find ways to keep him around, meet his parents, bring him to her family ranch, get him on a horse or two and convince him to start a new life in a wild place.

And maybe along the way there were disagreements, an old Ford Explorer might have blown up, plans might have been made and broken, wine spilled, …a cat might have been hit by a car…(and lived…don’t worry, it lived)…

But in between those weird and unexpected moments that life throws us, in the quiet times known only by the two of them, there were stolen kisses, reassurances when they were unsure, a hug stolen while she put the dishes in the sink, because at that moment he just loved her so much he had to touch her, inside jokes shared over yard work and eating lasagna on the couch together watching HGTV….

He might have bought her diamond earrings and surprised her by leaving a giant picture of a giraffe he painted in her apartment.

She might pick him up a new shirt she knows he’ll like on a shopping trip or drive a good 20 miles out of town to bring him leftovers or Taco Johns for lunch when he’s working weekends….and those are all nice things…

Really nice things.

The things you do when you have finished falling in love with each other and just are.

In. Love.

But it’s not just the love thing these exploding cars, giraffe paintings, unruly cats and stolen hugs equal out to.

No. When you get to this point, the “let’s get married” point, it is about more than just love.

I know this because a wise man once asked me to marry him by asking me to be his family.

I thought about that today as my little sister stood up in front of the people who love them and a man who brought her chicken noodle soup when he didn’t know her very well yet, but knew he wanted to take make her feel better…

With this ring, you two are family.

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But even better,

With this ring, we’re all family.

And what a wonderful thing that is! Two young and adorable people fall in love over drinks, a late night delivery of chicken noodle soup and a road trip gone ary and a few years later we find ourselves traveling from all corners of the country to gather in front of a barn that has stood for almost 100 years on a place that has existed in one family for an entire century…all because a 100 years ago two people fell in love and made plans to work together for as long as the future gave them…

The same wise man that gave me my ring once said “Love is living every day to make the other person happy.”

It’s a nice concept and not one that I can always say we remember to implement…but in love not every day is easy…and in love, not every day are we at our best.

But I bet our great grandparents and grandparents and parents will agree that love found them raising babies and careers and finding things to cook for supper together, but it’s not just love and only love that has kept them fighting and stealing kisses in the kitchen and eating lasagna on the couch watching HGTV together…

And so I’m so glad love made Alex my little sister…

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and now love has made Travis my brother…and love has made us all, under this big tent in the middle of nowhere and the middle of everything…

Family.

To the kids

It’s 11 pm on Tuesday and tomorrow I am traveling 65 miles to teach a class at an event for youth called  Marketplace for Kids held in a neighboring college town.

Marketplace for Kids is something I may or may not have attended in my youth as an ambitious 8 or 9 or 10 year old– an educational program offered to students from around the state to help encourage young entrepreneurs and give them a chance to present and explain their projects–which are no doubt brilliant and creative and inspiring.

I will be a part of their opening ceremony. I will be singing a song. I will be teaching five, twenty-five minute classes about how I got from ranch kid, to singer/songwriter, to college student, to career woman and, then back to the ranch–this time as a grown woman.

I will be up all night.

Yes, I have known about this gig since January, but three months later and nine hours until the event itself, I still have no idea why they want me there. I spent all day today going over my class notes, trying to find the best way to explain myself.  Trying to figure out how to communicate my goals and ambitions and minor successes to a room full of 7 or 8 0r 9 or 10 year olds.

Trying to figure out really, how I got here.

I don’t know if I’m the right woman for the job…I just don’t know if I have what it takes. The thing that gives me hope is my one redeeming quality: I can still remember, vaguely, what it was like to be their age–so full of creativity and life and love for the things around me.

I can still remember, vaguely…

And you know, since I have been doing all this thinking, here’s what I think–I think that’s what has saved me and got me here today, doing something I love in a place I love the most in the world.

So now it’s 11:10 pm and having been at this quest, this journey about what to say to a crowd of children who are no doubt smarter than I am, unofficially since I was asked to do the gig in January and officially since 8 am this morning. And I think I might have finally got it.

I’m still nervous. But I think I got it. Or something that resembles it.

I guess I’ll find out tomorrow…

To the kids

Hello! I was so excited to talk to you all today. I’ve been thinking about what to say to you for months. I worry about things like this.  It’s such a fun opportunity to talk to you about what I’ve learned in my 27 short years….I didn’t want to mess it up!

I wanted to tell you a little about myself, about how I have been playing guitar and writing poetry and music about the ranch I grew up on since I was 12 years old and how I recorded a couple CDs and how I traveled the country for years singing songs, like the one I just sang for you today.


I wanted to tell you about how, after all of the miles I traveled and all of the songs I sang along the way, I have moved back to the ranch and am now working on opening it up to guests so they can come and visit, take photos, hike and bike and ride horses and learn about ranching and cattle.

I wanted to tell you all about how I got to where I am and how, with enough drive and ambition, you can grow up to be anything you want to be…


But the thing is, as I look out at you I remember myself at your age. And I remember that you already know that. Someone has already told you this a time or two haven’t they?

Because when I was your age I knew it. I knew what I loved—horses and music and wildflowers and lizards and my friends and family and pet dogs—I knew I loved all of the space around me and the adventure and freedom of growing up and living in the country.  I knew who I was.

Jessie Veeder. Brown Hair. Brown Eyes. Tomboy. Nature Lover. Animal Lover. Singer. Cowgirl.


And I look at you out here and I see blond hair and black hair and boys and girls, big sisters, little brothers, inventors and authors and movie stars and firefighters and business owners. You all have your interests and your hobbies and your talents. They are being developed right in front of my eyes. I can see it happening as I speak.

So instead of telling you that you can be anything you want to be, what I really want to tell you is to just, please…

Be You.


Do the things you love. Explore and make friends and travel and learn about what makes you happy and what you do best. And go out and do it. Every day.

And as you grow up you will find it will be hard sometimes, and sometimes you will be pulled in unexpected directions, sometimes you will be lonely and sometimes you will fail…


But when that happens, remember yourself here, at 7 or 10 or 13 years old. It will be easy to do if you stay true to yourself, the one who is sitting in these chairs with all of your plans and talents and goals and spirit.…

Remember you.

Be You. The very best version.

And I promise you will succeed.

Well, it should go something like this, depending on my level of panic or the fact that I realize when I get to the event that this isn’t what they had in mind when they called me at all.

I’ll let you know how it goes…and if they Slushie me Glee Style.