Sunday, May 21, 2017

131 things that I wish someone would have told us before we went to college...Mary Frances this is for you!

As we approach graduation this Friday, I have done a lot of pondering over this school year. This blog has lots of our family history in it as well as a ton of art information. But, today...I blog about how we help mold this kid into the well rounded human being that we are so thankful to call our daughter. Why am I blogging on this? Well, she is "our" creation and for 18 years now we have helped guide her into the person that she has become.

The above photo is of Mary Frances first day of 1st grade and her last day in 12th grade. Yes, time flew by...if you are reading this. You need to stop and savor each moment...the good and the bad.

I was on Twitter not to long ago and ran across this letter that Rich Handler had written his kids. It really inspired me to do the same thing just in a modified version. Handler is the CEO of Jefferies/Leucadia where he has worked for the past 27 years. Jefferies is the largest independent full service global investment bank and Leucadia is a merchant bank employing over 30,000 people in its investee and affiliated companies that include Beef Processing, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas Exploration, Asset Management, and various other businesses.  You can find him on Twitter and Instagram. His letter can be found here: 

100 Things This Wall Street CEO Wanted His Kids To Know Before They Left For College 

Special thanks to this blog Good Stuff there. Check it out.

Dear Mary Frances,
131 things in no particular order that we wish someone told us before we went to college.  We are sure you already know each of them and more.  But just in case you ever need a reminder, we written them down for you:
  1. Get to know the President of the University, the Trustees, the senior staff, and your advisor(s).  Those relationships can enhance your experience and who knows, maybe they will become friends, mentors, or sources of letters of recommendation.  They run the place and they want to help students.  They are just people–and they were in your spot once.
  2. Get to know your professors personally. Now is the time to be assertive, open, and friendly….and establish real relationships. They are just teachers like your village in Tallahassee. Huge blessings to all of your advocates: Mailin - mayweenie, Renee pronounced Renaynay, Coach Monica, LA, Maples, Peebles, Durrance, Ruth and Ann Danford
  3. Sit in the front of the room. It may not be cool, but it is time for that mentality.
  4. Get off to a great start academically. The way the math works, it is really hard to come back from bad grades early on…sometimes impossible.
  5. Join clubs and get involved. Do it right from the start.  This is a clean slate and an opportunity to really step it up.  It doesn’t matter if you haven’t done this to your full ability thus far.  It is the perfect time to begin.
  6. It’s never too early to start working on summer jobs. Now is the time to build your resume and get experience.  Real summer jobs while you are in college create a huge advantage in getting a job you want upon graduation.
  7. When you wear your headphones and listen to music all the time, you are purposely shutting out people who you would otherwise be meeting. Understand that you are making a conscious decision not to meet people and it will be your loss.  There is always time in your dorm to listen to music when you are truly alone.
  8. Work out consistently. This is a no brainer. No excuse not to do this task.
  9. Never use cocaine, pills or narcotics whatsoever. Not even once.  If you fall down that slope, there may be little chance of return.  Sometimes it only takes once.
  10. You are 18 and will be tried out of state as an adult for any illegal behavior. There is nothing anyone can do to help you.  This is all on you now. Just be smart and make good choices.
  11. It is a great time to start taking classes that you are excited about. It doesn’t matter so much what you take, as long as you do your very best.  Be venturesome. Do some research on that Semester at Sea! Wow, what an opportunity.
  12. It is very cool to be smart and do well. Find friends that agree with this.  It is perfectly great to work hard and play hard, as long as you are smart and in control.
  13. Treat all with respect. Follow the Golden Rule. Treat other’s the way you want to be treated.
  14. Do not get pregnant or take a stupid chance and wind up with a lifelong disease. Make good choices. We trust you to do so.
  15. You really need an overall 3.5 and above grade point average to maximize your opportunities once you graduate. It should be higher in whatever you major in.  That is an A- average and it is hard to achieve.  Life will not end if you don’t attain it.  If you don’t go for it you will never know what could have been.
  16. It is not too early to get to know people at the Business School or other Graduate Schools. Go see them.  Talk with the Deans.  Get to know the people.  Tell them you may be attending one day (you never know) and enlist their advice on how to get yourself to where they are. Check in at St. Judes. Start making those contacts.
  17. This is your chance to start fresh. It could mean anything you may want to change and improve.  You rarely get this clean slate in life so take maximum advantage.  Don’t fall back into bad habits.  Start the change now.
  18. Get into a regular routine as quickly as possible. Study, workout, friends, and fun activities.  There is time for all, if you are organized. You cannot have a room that is a pig pen.  You need to be organized right from the start and stay that way.
  19. You will not be able to cram at the last second like you did in high school and do well. If you keep up regularly, it will be easy to get good grades given how smart you really are.  You are not smart enough to coast in college and do well–few are. We believe in you. You got this.
  20. See the professors immediately if you are having any issues. If you don’t take advantage of office hours, you are making a huge mistake.  Do NOT wait until it is too late.
  21. Come home as often as you want. We will always pay for it.
  22. Learn how to manage your money. We will give you parameters on what you have, but it will be up to you to live within those parameters. Try to think like Uncle Bob and his finance degree. Be frugal but live a little too and make some memories.
  23. Plan your vacations with your friends ahead. You will get cheap flights and if you plan it, you will actually do something as opposed to having it all fall apart at the last minute.  You are always welcome to come with us on every vacation.  You need to give us enough notice that you want to come so we can plan accordingly.  If you say you are coming with us, you can’t bag us at the last minute.
  24. There is no excuse not to reply to text messages from your parents (or other relatives) promptly. We are going to miss you an awful lot and want to be included in what is going on.
  25. Call us often. When you are alone walking in between classes is usually a good time.  There is never a bad time.
  26. Don’t spend all of your time with your roommate or any one person. Circulate and meet lots of people.
  27. Be as outgoing as you can stand. You know Hudson doesn’t meet a stranger. Be like Hudson. Speak to other’s first and always look them in the eyes.
  28. I said it before, it is COOL to be smart.
  29. Be careful, aware and respectful of the locals when you are out. Almost all of them are fine people, but campus is a protected world and the real world is not. Rhodes is in a bubble. Just take note of your surroundings. Use something that you and Madison learned from watching all of those Criminal Minds and NCIS episodes. We trust you, it is the other fools and crazy folks that make us worry.
  30. Participate in class. You are a teacher’s kid. We love to have students be engaging in classroom activities.
  31. Stay organized.
  32. Eat well and balanced. I know you are a Foodie at heart. If you need help, contact Aunt Dawn for the latest food trends.
  33. Never get yourself in a party situation where something is getting out of control. Stop the problem or leave if you can’t.  Always be that person who calls for help when it is needed.  You know better.   Who needs it? Think about 13 Reasons Why. Be street smart.
  34. Never drink and drive or get in the car with someone else who has. Students are wonderful targets for law enforcement and you will deserve what you get. You could also really hurt someone or yourself. Think about Will Smith in 7 Pounds…it will haunt you for the rest of your life.
  35. Remember, in college there is an honor code one slip up and you are gone.  They don’t give second chances.
  36. Volunteer helping someone. This will make your heart swell with joy.
  37.  Don’t fall behind with credits. Don’t take too many or two few.  If in doubt, coordinate with your advisor so there are no “surprises”. Take advantage of Coach Harris’ knowledge. She can help lead you to the person to help you solve your issue. Remember that there is no problem that is so great that it cannot be solved. Look to your volleyball family for advice on class load and professors.
  38. Try to start figuring out what you want to major in day one. Yeah, we know Math. You don’t have to decide for quite a while, but just start thinking about it.  Apply yourself in each class like it may be your major…it might be.
  39. Always think before you act. Think about Peebles – “What I said come back!”
  40. Study groups are really good….if done well.
  41. Don’t get labeled as a partier or a cool kid. Those are not compliments and it won’t help you. Think about those kids from high school…just saying.
  42. Dress reasonably. It matters.  Groom yourself.  You know what that means without me spelling it out.
  43. Get enough sleep. ZzZzZzzzzz
  44. Read the papers (online is fine) every day and keep up with what is happening in the real world. Don’t live in a bubble. *Follow the Skimm, it hits the highlights in a nutshell.
  45. Attend the presentations of speakers who come to campus as often as you can. You will always learn something and it might be your future career speaking to you. Go up after they speak.  Make contacts.  Follow up.
  46. After each class at the end of each semester, follow up with your professors. Email them. Make contact. You will be glad you did.
  47. It’s OK to miss us. (And the Daniel Zoo…Roy, Picatso, Frida and Georgia) Because we know we sure as heck miss you.
  48. Stay in contact with your cousins – stay attached.
  49. Stay in touch with your Grandparents. They are the only grandparents you have and they worship and love you.  We will all miss them one day and it will be too late.  College is not an excuse to lose touch.
  50. Don’t just wait for Grandparents to contact you. You initiate (email / text is easy and often—a phone call will mean more on occasion).
  51. Never lie. End of discussion. You were raised better than that.
  52. If you ever need quiet time, just turn on Netflix and watch a good ole’ Disney movie
  53. Always be polite there is no reason not to.
  54. Be proud. You are at a great school and you deserve to be there.
  55. Understand that college is really tough for some people. Be empathetic and help those in need.
  56. Wear clean clothes. Make MaC proud.
  57. Get your room organized and fully set up immediately. Papa would like this very much.
  58. Don’t lose your books and if you do, get a new one immediately.
  59. Get your work done so you can travel guilt free. This can be day excursions or weekend adventures just plan accordingly.
  60. Always do your best.
  61. First impressions count.
  62. You will only get out of college what you put into it.
  63. Doing OK is not OK unless that is truly your very best.
  64. You can always call your parents for advice at any time on anything.
  65. You can always call your parents and tell them what you are thinking of doing and not ask for any advice.
  66. When you come home, you still have to respect us and abide by our rules of the house.
  67. Every grade you get will ultimately affect your chances of a top graduate school or job. Don’t forget this.  It doesn’t mean you need to get all A’s.  It just means you need to respect each professor and class.
  68. Even when professors suck, it isn’t an excuse to do cruddy in the class. Figure out how to connect with them.
  69. Take some small classes. There will be a lot of reading and work, but you will get a lot out of it.
  70. Make sure you take at least one religion, psychology, sociology, and philosophy class. They will change you as a human being if you apply yourself.
  71. Take at least a few economics classes. Can’t hurt.
  72. Don’t drink too much. It is a slippery slope.
  73. Don’t blow off orientation events because you were there already. You will meet new people.  Don’t be “too cool for school”.
  74. Choose your friends really carefully and be a great friend to them.
  75. Don’t be intimidated by anyone. Ever! You found your grit with couple of less than stellar coaches over the years – use what you learned and dig deep!
  76. Don’t be arrogant or overconfident. Just don’t.
  77. Integrity, honesty, and directness. Those qualities win every time.
  78. Don’t blame bad grades on anyone but yourself. No finger pointing.
  79. Extra effort does make a difference and people notice. This applies in the classroom or on the volleyball court.
  80. Come home for Thanksgiving and other holidays. We want to be with you.  It will be a nice break. We will all be due some well-deserved family time.
  81. You will always be Daddy’s little girl, but don’t forget that we raised you to have spunk you are an “America’s Sweetheart” Elle King has some good points in her song…Be you don’t change.
‘Kick out the jams, kick up the soul
Pour another glass of that rock and roll
Turn up the band, fire in the hole…’
  1. This will be a fantastic period in your life. Don’t take it for granted and enjoy every moment.
  2. When you are sick, go directly to the health services center and get better right away.
  3. Stay in touch with your old high school friends but don’t be too shocked when you realize you are growing apart. If they are really good friends, you will eventually reconnect – even if you drift away for a while.
  4. Ask questions. Uncle Billy would be proud. Cover your basis like a good lawyer. Just pretend you are in AP Calculus again.
  5. Don’t be shy.
  6. On a long bus ride and looking for some quick entertainment play the SONG game. Come on. You know that made you grin!
  7. Be politely assertive. (Think like a Daniel)
  8. Be yourself. Be humble and kind.
  9. Enjoy your social media but remember that every future employer and graduate school will also enjoy it.
  10. Never forget who you are or where you came from. #rootsandwings
  11. Be kind always. Should be easy for you. (Channel you inner “Dad” or “GA”)
  12. Stand up for the underdog always.
  13. Never allow anyone to be bullied. (Think like a Cochran)
  14. Realize how smart, fast, charismatic, and sensitive you are. You are a natural leader. It is awesome, but there is a responsibility that comes with being the leader we all know you can be.
  15. Realize the power of your words and always choose them wisely. *Words hurt and you can’t take them back.
  16. Go out of your way to make friends with people who are really different than you. You will be amazed at what you will learn about them and about yourself.
  17. Plan ahead always. Stay organized.
  18. Live for the moment as well. *We all have inherited that Chevy Chase gene, so just embrace it =) Bobo has a great philosophy on life. Take note from him.
  19. Smile every day knowing that you are at a great school with an amazing campus and you are going to have a ton of fun.
  20. Appreciate that you are there for academics first.
  21. Be observant.
  22. Stay connected with the rest of your family here…aunts, uncles, cousins, etc….at the end of the day, all we have is family. Mom is going to miss you more than anyone on the planet.  Dad is going to miss his side kick! Keep us included in your life <3 span="">
  23. Pray. God has your back!
  24. Laugh – look for the humor in most of your situations. If all else fails, call Madison Lane that sister friend has always been there for you and always will be. I mean you know…we have survived cargo shorts and bangs. You 2 can figure anything out.
  25. Dance it out!!! (Meredith Grey) Make Aunt Karen proud. You know she loves to dance. I think this is a Cochran trait…get your boogie shoes on…
  26. Take an art class it is good for the soul. This will make our Fine Arts Team happy. (Whitney, Kyle, Cathy and Kaitlyn)
  27. Document with photos. They tell your story. One day you will be glad you did. Need advice in this department, just ask Row. He will guide you. He knows a lot and will be willing to help you out. Just ask…trust us.
  28. Realize that you are a young adult woman now and understand everything that comes with it.
  29. Get on an email list to receive a daily Devotional – this will help with your perspective. “GA” would be happy about this.
  30. Before you judge…think about Elvis – “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”
  31. Demonstrate Empathy when no one else does. This will make your Mama pleased.
  32. Remember the power of a handwritten note.
  33. Embrace your Gypsy / Boho Soul, Heart of a Hippie and Spirit of a Fairy; because you are a unique individual of God. He made you just the way he thought you should be.
  34. Enjoy your Progressive GROWTH MINDSET: The path to greatness is not just a physical journey. It is a spiritual journey. It is not about success. It is about your character and growth. Volleyball has given you a kind heart, a fierce mind and a brave spirit.
  35. Embrace the “Suck” per Coach Erica. You got this and you have the tools to work through it.
  36. Remember Brit Lit at Maclay, the Poem Invictus…we have attached it below. It is you “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul!”
  37. Go to a concert. Heck, plan one with Callie. You know she loves that kind of thing.
  38. Take time to listen to live music. Share that experience with Rob. Make arrangements to hang out together.
  39. Keep your phone charged and at least a ½ a tank of gas. You never know what escapade you may end up on.
  40. Train hard…think about your Tallahassee Juniors Coaches (Coach Angie, Annemarie, Latoya and Anthony) As Coach Angie says, “EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE”
  41. Keep that SPARKLE! Always wear you invisible crown.
  43. Relax and accept The CRAZY! YJCMTSU
  44. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  45. Be an “includer” not a mean girl and for goodness sake don’t wear pink on Wednesdays.
  46. Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. You will need to step back and take a breath. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back and do nothing. This will help you regroup and focus.
  47. Learn Something – The Blind Side
  48. Just like PK-12 Steer Clear of DRAMA. Instead of resorting to gossiping, address issues with your friends face-to-face. After all, this isn’t middle school, and there are few problems that a mature conversation can’t fix. Remember that “user” type friend. Yeah, you know the one. They only like you when you have something to offer them. Just be nice and know that Karma will come around full circle. Yes, you have the right to just “CUT OUT THE CRAZY”
  49. Be Grateful.
  50. Know that we could not love you more. We will miss you dearly.  We could not be prouder of you.  We feel like we really spent a lot of good time together this past year and it is going to torture us not to have you at home. You are going to have an amazing experience and you deserve it.  All we ask is that you take these 131 items out at least once each semester and remind yourself of what we are saying.  You will make mistakes and nothing is ever perfect, but a good road map never hurt anyone who had an important destination to get to.  You have an important destination, and while we are no longer with you on the daily journey, our love, spirit and whatever wisdom we can offer will always be here for you.  Congratulations and enjoy!
From the school days of PK as we would part in the courtyard for our school day. I would send you to Mrs. Houston’s (MISS HOUSTY) Classroom and I would head to my art room. This was our mantra for years to come -  “Love ya Love ya, Hug ya Hug ya, Miss ya Miss ya, Kiss ya Kiss ya” – Mom
 Enjoy the holidays! This time is important for all of your family.
 Make time for family fun.
I have always loved that you left drawing on my desk. This one is priceless. My other favorite is located here on this blog post.
“I could not get a better daughter than you are to me.” ”Some super heroes don’t have capes...They are called daughters” I love that you always want to watch Marvel Movies with me. - Dad
Yes, I did. I took your photo with this teddy bear every month until you started PK4. I am so glad that I took Barry Bennett's advice on this one. This is one of my favorite photo albums that we have!

Oh what a blessing you are to us!
Take time to wet a hook.
 Enjoy more football games with your Dad.
 Always be Dad's Co-pilot.
 Enjoy the sunrise.
 Know your roots and wings. Stay grounded and level headed. Your nickname is 
"Mama Maf" for a reason.
 Hey Batter Batter....swing - give it your best shot!
 Spread your wings and fly.
 Climb high.
 Take time to watch the sunset.
 Keep that Bohemian Spirit...
 Play like a girl.
 Give freely and Believe fully.
 Do your thing and don't care if they like it.
Tina Fey, Bossypants
Love much and Laugh often.
 Stay focused - you can handle whatever life throws at you.
 Be strong and courageous do not be afraid or troubled the Lord your 
God is with you 
wherever you go. 
Joshua 1:9
 Speak gently but be an outstanding leader.
 Dream Big.
 Enjoy the adventure wherever it may take you.
 Follow your passion. #13  is our lucky number.
 Remember where you came from... and where you want to go!
Volleyball Senior Night Blog Post:
Rhodes Signing Blog Post:
 Your next chapter is going to be fabulous. You, our sweet girl, are ready to fly...

Love Always,
Daddy and Mama

You know how we all love songs. Well, I couldn't just put one song in this here goes!
No matter what we are always here for you if you ever need to talk!

Think about Bobo and Papa and what they taught you over the years!

Yep, this song..It's about growing up and taking that step into independence from your parents. You are ready for your wide open spaces!
I think this song basically speaks about wanting to reach our hopes & dreams in life. Although we may face obstacles in life, it's all about how we learn from our experiences & the good life skills we can take from them. In conclusion, as long as we never give up faith, we will reach our goals.
Love this song as it is about being an individual, about not letting trends or crowds dictate your life

The song projects the cycles of life and how they tend to repeat themselves, based off our perceptions and experiences. It sends the message that we can choose to identify life essentially as good or bad and that mindset might be the only control we have. The rest is predetermined and at that end of our journey, we'll understand why. More specifically, how life can teach us if we allow it to and are paying attention and to try not to figure everything out. It's good to have a self awareness and understanding of our surroundings but it can paralyze us if we delve to deep and not take things as they come.
And, just like that we blinked - Had to end on this song. 
We so love you to the moon and back -
1969 and Mr. Left Brain (Dad)


  1. Wow, one hell of a blog post!! Not sure anyone can live up to a list that big though!! Congrats to you and your daughter on her graduation and heading to college! Savor every moment you have with her, because it's definitely all a blink of an eye! My goodness I've used a lot of exclamation points!!!! Seiuosly, congrats to you all. My son graduated from college 6 years ago, outdoors, in driving icy rain, and it couldn't have been better even if the sun had shined. Steps toward adulthood come and go so quickly.. enjoy every second!

    1. Phyl, we love you! When I grow up I want to be you ;) Appreciate you stopping by to check out the post. You, my new friend, are a huge inspiration to me and my sister! xoxo Kim