Hillforest Mansion-The Gaff family home

My parents now live in a an extremely small town with very few things to keep one busy. When I come home from college I spend more time saying “I’m bored” than doing anything else. It was a treat to visit a well-known architectural site, an Aurora, Ind., historic home, Hillforest Mansion.


My sister and I at the front entrance. The home was beautifully decorated for the holidays, just as it would have been in the 1800’s.

Hillforest Mansion was home to the Gaff family, built in 1855 after just two short years of construction. The home went through a number of owners, some who did not take as much pride in the history of the home as others.


The home’s magnificent front view.

In 1992 the home was listed as a historic site and refurbished.
The home has been restored to the era, with input from the Gaff children and pictures that have been found and given to the Hillforest Historic Foundation.

The home was designed with a steamboat in mind. The home is symmetrical on all sides with the exception of the third story addition. There is a floating staircase in the entrance, as in a ship. In its prime, the family was advised to only have one member on the staircase at a time. Now the staircase is reinforced and the weight limit is not given much of a thought. The staircase is one of the favorite features of the home, stunning in its glory; often the back drop of wedding photos.
The land on which the home sits is just as grand as the house. The land is terraced and cisterns installed for proper water drainage. The terraced land also provides addition entertainment space, as the second level is also at “ground level,” with a porch outside a back entrance. The ten acres the home sits on were originally used for farming, but have more recently been neglected.

After the many years of the home’s life and the multiple owners, the home now stands as one of the town’s greatest achievements. The home offers tours, afternoon teas, and summer camps for young girls to experience the Victorian lifestyle.
The home is just as grand today as it was in 1855.



This past weekend I traveled from Lubbock, Texas to the Cincinnati, Ohio area with an old college roommate. As we were passing another unknown mile marker in one of the six states on our two day trek, I got to thinking about how insignificant this trip seemed.
The planning for the trip took place in a matter of minutes, simply what time we were leaving, what hotel we were stopping at, and where we would be meeting my parents. As we drove the some 1,000 miles, I thought about how easy it was to travel, as young college students with two dogs.
As humans we really are flexible. We can go from different time zones and situations without much effort. It amazes me how quickly and easily we are able to adjust in unfamiliar situations.
The ability to adjust to the unknown is such an invaluable characteristic, to me. Life throws the unknown at us often, and the ability to not only be ok with the unknown but to adjust and make the most of it, really proves our control and maturity.
In the upcoming year, I hope to keep this control and maturity in mind, to help me face even the most difficult of situations and circumstances.

Helping those in need

By now, news of the Connecticut elementary school shooting has gone national, possibly even international. The devastating event, occurring so close to Christmas, has united our country in prayer and love for the victims and their families.
It is so comforting to see strangers reach out and lend a helping hand to those involved, as we are in the middle of the holiday season, but it is also sad that it takes a national disaster to unite us.
No matter the number involved, whether one or 100, everyone deserves prayer and hope in times of trouble.  There may not be a national disaster happening in your community, but I assure you that there are people in need.
When you feel the itch to help others, search within your community for outreach programs that help those in need. Nonprofit organizations that help the less fortunate are almost always in need of volunteers. A death is not the only cry for help. Homelessness, spousal violence, and so many other tragedies are just as worthy of help as shootings and natural disasters.
While we would all love to reach out and comfort the families involved in the shooting, helping anyone in need is a selfless and giving act. Look in your community, to see if you can make a difference in the lives of those around you.

Courage is always rewarded

On the last day of my reporting class this semester, my professor left us with a few words of wisdom: “Courage is always rewarded.”
I rushed to write it down, as if it was something we were going to be tested over. I thought it was such a great, inspirational quotation.
When I think about this quotation, I think of the upcoming new year. What do you want to change next year? What do you want to accomplish, or tackle? Whatever it is, it is going to take courage.
Oftentimes we make new year resolutions about things we have wanted to accomplish for quite some time, but for one reason or another we get distracted or discouraged and give up before accomplishing the resolution.
It takes a lot of courage to accomplish our goals.
I think the key to success is to take on your resolution slowly and to document each successful step. Don’t expect to accomplish your goal in a few weeks; spend the whole year really working and cultivating it. You may be surprised by the results. You may accomplish your goal, or you may realize a different goal of more importance.
Whatever the newfound insight may be, you surely will be rewarded.
This year, I encourage you to build up the courage to follow through and accomplish a new year resolution, allowing whatever may come of it, happen.

“If you could hear me, I would say that our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we’ve touched”

Almost a year ago to the day, I started a new blog with a post on reflection.  As we are in the middle of the holiday season now, I am reminded of that post and of what the season truly means.  During the holiday season we often get so wrapped up in gifts and giving, that we forget about all the things we already have, that cannot be bought.
Today a young girl at Texas Tech lost her life, due to a car accident two days ago.  Although I did not know this young lady, so many others did.  It is so easy to say that this tragedy is worsened by the holiday season, but the truth is, a death is a tragedy no matter the time.  In just 19 short years, this girl had made an image for herself and touched the lives of so many, as she was probably touched by just as many.
“If you could hear me, I would say that our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we’ve touched.” – Remember Me (2010)
This season is not about getting the newest technology gadget, nor is it about getting the newest gadget for someone you love.  It is about spending quality time with someone you love.  Share your dreams and passions with this special someone, and allow them to share theirs with you.
Whether you are aware of it or not, you touch the lives of everyone you meet.  Why not try to positively touch every life you encounter?