I’m writing this post out of frustration. The state I call home has been tainted by BuzzFeed-ish bullshit – articles full of Runza, cows, Dorothy Lynch, Husker football, and Warren Buffett.

I love Runza just as much as the next Nebraskan, but seriously? That’s the reputation of our state?

It’s all wrong.

Nebraska is a great place to claim. But it’s not because of unique fast food joints and billionaires. Nor is it because of a sold out stadium making headlines every week.

My feelings for the corn state run deeper. And my Nebraska-boy attitude stems from something unmentioned by the articles eating up my news feed.

Out here, the way of life is what makes this place special. It’s simple. People understand there’s more to living than national news or 140 characters on a screen. Nebraska natives find joy in the simple stuff. Like the one finger wave (no, not the naughty finger) from behind the steering wheel. Like the sun striking your face through colored leaves on a fall morning. Or a casual, evening drive to quietly admire life.

Out here, people aren’t afraid of feeling small. The “I’m really important and don’t have a second to waste not being on my iPhone” ego is swept aside by an appreciation of the bigger picture. A picture painted by massive skies touching the flat land. There’s enough room for imagination to breathe deeply. And enough space for creative exploring to let her hair down.

Out here, people work hard. Being wrong isn’t a problem. Not trying is. People don’t expect doors to open by merely asking. Doors are kicked down by tattered boots. We take pride in what we accomplish without beating our chests. Better yet, we take pride in what our neighbors accomplish.

So, sure. This state is full of cows, cornfields, Husker fanatics, and the occasional billionaire. But it’s also full of moments. Welcomed to be discovered by the next person who dares to reach a little higher. And think a little further. Nebraska raised me to never forget to slow down every now and then. To stop the crazy train of life and stress. To simplify. And let all the imperfections of living become things to smile about down the road. Knowing you don’t have to be in the business of changing the world to make a difference.

Out here, it’s the good life. It’s nice.

I may leave Nebraska. But the way of the good life, that will never leave me.



Filed under Storytelling

179 responses to “NEBRASKA

  1. Mary Lou Gdowski

    Other states are nice to visit, but Nebraska is truly a wonderful place to . at home.

    • Veronica Chaney

      I live in SD now which is also nice, but my roots are in NE. I want to move back, but as a retired person the taxes would kill me. I really want to figure out a way to live back in Nebraska even if only 5 months of the year.

  2. Susan Heppard

    Absolutely agree and Yes I am a fellow Cornhusker.

  3. Wholehearted agreement here! I love my state and I love the way of life it it leads me to live! Kudos to you, sir, for an excellent commentary on Nebraska!

  4. Terry

    Enjoyed the article. Live in Denver since retiring from teaching 38 years in Nebraska. It will always be my home. Came here for the grandkids!

  5. Ken Lytle

    I have traveled all 50 states and several countries and find beauty in each of them. However, my favorite spot on earth is the Nebraska Sandhills. They provide raw beauty and the most peaceful area I have had the oppurtunity of enjoying many times. I love my home state of Nebraska!

  6. susan sheppard

    I’m leaving Nebraska for be near children and grandchildren, but I will never leave the good life in my heart!!

    • Shari

      I’ve lived in Texas half my life now. How I miss the Good Life. If you’re coming to San Antonio, welcome!

      • Melinda

        I also moved to San Antonio tx from Nebraska as well Last June and I love the winters here I have learned. But I do miss Nebraska.

  7. Amanda

    I like the added “It’s nice.” Nebraska isn’t nice – a new pair of boots are nice, a fresh haircut is nice, hell a nap is nice…but Nebraska, that’s where one lives “the good life”. Another thing the true Nebraskans and old-timers agree on – no need to change what isn’t broken…which saved them a lot of money (compared to people nowadays) – now that, that’s nice.

    • Teresa

      Totally agree Amanda… why mess with the perfection of “The Good Life”?

    • Betty Mapes

      I agree! Nebraska isn’t “nice” It is “marvelous”. To look up at the stars and the moon in the skies at night make one speechless, to get up to the sun rising in a sky that is blue horizon to horizon is the best. To quote Psalms 121 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,from whence cometh my help” As you can probably tell, I live in the sandhills of Nebraska.

  8. Kyle

    Well said. If I ever leave Nebraska, it’ll always be home.

  9. Sally in NE

    I agree with just about everything you’ve said. But please, please, please erase the word “flat” from this piece!! Nebraska is not flat unless you are traveling along I-80. A short jaunt off the interstate in either direction akes you into beautiful rolling vistas or into the unparalleled Sandhills. Please stop perpetuating the myth that the place I chose to be my home is somewhere to be rushed through.

    • Nolan

      Exactly! That was the only exception I took to this article. In southwest Nebraska we’ve got gigantic deep cut canyons that run for miles. I’ve seen them wear out many a hunter on foot. They’re not the grand canyon by any means but they’re far from flat. I just laugh when someone tells me that my home state is flat.

      • Noah White

        I would agree with you completely! I used to live in a valley and amongst the best of the Sandhills. We have our miniature mountains. There really is no place like Nebraska!

    • JaeAnn

      And don’t forget the Pine Ridge area of the the Northwest Panhandle! That is where I was born and raised. Definitely not flat there.

  10. Elizabeth Rockefeller

    I truly decided to go to UNL because I didn’t want to leave Nebraska, or even Lincoln.. I was born here and have mostly grown up here so its really the only place I know. I live lived in several different places In Lincoln and a few in Southeast Nebraska, but when I see the capitol building, I feel at home.

  11. Eve

    I’m a 35-year transplant from another state where I grew up. Nebraska has so many beautiful places and things to do. I loved this article. Thanks for reminding us that even though they’re a part of Nebraska, we’re more than a football team, we’re more than Runza and have so much more to be proud of!

  12. Karen Weinrich

    Wonderfully stated.

  13. Lori

    Nice article, but those of us who grew up in NE know and understand it’s just not about Runzas and Cornhuskers. Those of you who didn’t grow up in NE just think that. Also, if you were a “true” Nebraskan, none of this would bother you. It would make you PROUD you live in such a wonderful state.

  14. Well said, Lanny. I like your writing style!

  15. Henning

    I don’t even have to be a “real” Nebraskan to get your point. Just one year as an exchange student some miles south of North Platte is enough to understand, what you’re talking about. Nebraska will always be a part of me after just those few months. And every single day I wish I could come back every now and then.

    • Kristen

      You came to Maywood, right? I remember you, especially that you were a great hurdler. I was in lower elementary. Thank you for being a good role model then and for taking the time to remember our great state now. Our slice of Nebraska remembers you too.

  16. Joan Dawson

    Nebraska is also the home to the National holiday of Arbor Day. The first “green city” before it was the thing to be green. Nebraska common sense played a part there. There are so many “historic sites” and museums here, it would take more than one day to see them all and that is where the National Convention Center Lied Lodge comes in when you want to stay more than a day.The 72 room mansion of the originator of Arbor Day in 1872 has been given to the state and is an excellent place to start your tour of Nebraska City.

  17. Barb Fritz-Farnes

    My roots will always express the proud Nebraska life!

  18. Kate

    Wonderful sum of Nebraska. I did move, and the best parts of who I am were grown and gently encouraged when I was small, in Nebraska. My Dad was supported by many people from a small town when my Mom died. Our home had never had so much food, or so many thank you notes to write. When I visit my dad, I wear no makeup, am very excited to see classmates and people I grew up with, and thank God for the gift of being raised in Holt County, NE.

  19. unknown please

    Nebraska is where my parents grew up and I hardly ever go and when I do go it’s ok

  20. Brett G

    I’m currently in the Navy, stationed in Norfolk, VA and I miss my home every single day. I miss everything from my family and friends, the electric feeling throughout the state on game day, to driving down the highway while the sun sets on another glorious Nebraska day. I may be a U.S. sailor now, but I’ll always be a Nebraskan.

  21. Allen Hall

    Has anyone ever visited a friend from Nebraska that moved somewhere else? They still refer to Nebraska as Home. And there will always be something from Nebraska in the house. I think that kind of says it all.

  22. Lisa

    I have lived in Texas and Georgia over the last 12 years and there is no place like Nebraska. All of the wonderful things I love about Nebraska have never left me. I actually would love to return!!

  23. Rich

    I have lived in Nebraska all my life, from the North Platte region to Columbus and now to Omaha. My job was traveling throughout the state and doing such I was always on the look for a new route and new sights to see on my way to my next assignment. My job also took me to other states for period of times where I was able to see their states and how others lived. I love Nebraska and feel there is still a lot that I have not seen or done here. People from the east or west coast may not understand but there is something very comforting in the people in Nebraska. We reach out to help when people have fallen, lending them a hand up rather than a hand out. We talk to our neighbors, we know who they are and their families and they even have a key to our house if they ever need a couple of eggs or milk and we are not home. Its a trust that is eroding in the newer metro areas which I feel is from people out of state moving here. I just hope that they eventually see the good in Nebraska people and seek out all the sights, sounds and smells (yes, a cattle ranch does not smell good but in your mind you have a landmark of were that was) that most Nebraskans are familiar with.

  24. therain

    Very nice. Nebraska is the best place to live.

  25. Randa

    I was born and raised and still live in Colorado but Nebraska will always be home. That’s where my family is. Although the only time I have ever not cheered for the Huskers is when they would play the Buffs lol. I’m ornery. some people take pride in their national heritage I take pride in my stately heritage if you will. I AM A NEBRASKAN!!!!!

  26. Being in Chicago and Chicagoland for the last four years of school has only solidified my identity at a Nebraskan. If I had a dime for every time I got a remark about “What’s even in Nebraska? What do you do there?” or something questioning the value of my home state Warren Buffet would be telling people that he was from the state I grew up in. It was easy to go to the Buzz-feed related options to answer the doubters, but I think you really captured the heart of the matter. As I’m filling out job applications and considering which ones deserve my time there is a clear longing to escape the impersonal rush of city life for something much less complicated. Thanks for articulating this.

  27. Pingback: Nebraska… the good life | Faith Family and Beef

  28. This article seems a bit contrived.. It’s almost like he’s going for the same sense of faux-nostalgia and wisdom that Buzzfeed does. We all love the beauty of nature, it’s nice to remind us of it every once in a while. But simply liking Nebraska’s landscape really isn’t a defining characteristic… at all. Every where on earth is beautiful, not JUST Nebraska. And it’s not JUST people from Nebraska who have the “sagacity” or “nobility” (or whatever trait you’re trying to sell us) to admire and appreciate beauty. This was silly. Pretty boring read. I’d rather be out eating Runza than ever read this again.

  29. Pingback: How to be successful. | Lanny Fuller - A Boy With A Pen

  30. Born in Germany (1949), moved to Nebraska at age 6 and lived there until I was in my 30’s (after serving as a medic during the Vietnam War), attended University of Nebraska at Lincoln during Devany era and then Medical Center in Omaha as one of the early Physician Assistants and now have lived 10 years in northern Thailand (once again on sort of a farm). First five years of our two children’s lives were spent in Nebraska. The simple, slow, each person really counts, finger waving, smiling, small town life helped to make me a better person, husband, father, 30 year PA-C, grandfather, and born-again Christian. Nebraska and its country roads, pastures, corn and wheat fields are in my blood and memories.

  31. Jay Kucera

    It’s not that Nebraskans are “afraid of being small”. Nebraskans know they are part of something larger than themselves as participants and observers. That something is not Husker football. That something for me was lying in the prairie grass, staring up a clear blue sky, falling asleep, only to be awakened by the whine of a loyal German Shepherd anxious to return home. That something was staring up at the Milky Way until the Earth’s rotation permeates your soul. That something is simply Nebraska. Oh, how I miss her so.

  32. Living in western Nebraska all my life, and 14 miles from the Wyoming border, I can truly say I would not want to live anywhere else. We are a long way from Lincoln and Omaha. Our beautiful hills and countryside is something that defines western Nebraska, from the east. But like someone posted earlier, there are still lots of places in Nebraska I would like to see. The big city is not for me to live, but I love to visit Lincoln or Omaha. Though, it is much easier for us to go to Cheyenne, 90 miles or Denver 185 miles. I believe Nebraska is unique. The Good Life slogan, was not an accident, it is a fact. ❤ loved the story, thank you!

  33. Allen Hall

    I know a lot of people who graduated high school saying they couldn’t wait to leave…almost all have come back to raise their families.

    And have you ever noticed that for a State with less than 3 million people…there are proud Nebraskans everywhere.

  34. Emmanuel Ayobami

    I love Nebraska, will be there someday

  35. yvetta

    I love the state of Nebraska. Born and raised on a farm in Spencer. Now live in Sidney. Love the feeling of small town USA! 50 years young and have no plans of ever leaving.

  36. It used to be that way. It’s on it’s way down into it’s own Politically Correct Shit Hole, run by elitist hypocrites now. I’m seriously thinking about leaving the state I grew up in for good. most likely this spring, for Maine, where it really is the good life and not just a slogan!

  37. Tom T

    I’ve lived in Vegas for 10 years, after leaving Nebraska after ~45 years. NE will always be home. Why should we be embarrassed to admit that Runza is better than any other fast food place? Out here, the ex-Californians HAVE to go to In ‘N Out when they get here, and that place basically sucks! So why shouldn’t we be proud of the best fast food in the country?? There are lots of former Nebraskans here that still call NE home, and no matter how long I’m here, that will always be the case for me. As for Warrant Buffett–why should we be embarrassed to be from the same place as him? He’s shown himself to be the most ethical and giving billionaire in the world—what’s the problem with that? Because he has NE/Midwestern values? I’m willing to apologize for that!
    Just because the majority of the country doesn’t appreciate NE doesn’t mean we should be embarrassed or apologize—F ‘em! I’d much rather be there than anywhere else. Enjoy your state!

  38. Bastion

    What a load of crap.

    Nebraska is small minds, doing small things, keeping their small ideas and wishing everyone would just keep things “Nebraska nice”, which usually means the opposite of progress or reason.

    You keep your college football and your distaste of the arts and your inexplicable hatred of “newfangled” things like roundabouts and bike lanes and renovation of *blighted* downtown buildings that your father’s father’s father used to get his hair cut in. This joint is in constant self-conflict between its youth, its visionaries, and its geriatric fuss-budgets. It pats itself on the back for tolerating local music even though everyone just ignores everything between home games.

    These articles are disingenuous at best, blatant lies at worst, and everyone damn well knows it.

  39. sheila

    You are just jealous because you aren’t really a Nebraskan. Born in Ogallala, moved to Denver when I was a teenager and then moved to Texas. People in Texas are nice but My Nebraska roots keep ripping through. I never thought about Nebraska being flat. Too many hills and canyons. Simple, good life.

  40. Donetta

    Born and raised in Nebraska and after 40+ years there moved to Alaska. Love the vastness of Alaska, but never will kick the sand out of my boots.

  41. Thank you! Finally someone who captured who we are. Faith restored!

  42. Lynne Costin

    It’s a great article! But may I make a suggestion? Find another facial expression for your next pic. I almost didn’t read your article because you looked like you’d be whining about something. And the first line, the one that shows on the newsfeed, seemed to reinforce that assumption. I’m glad I read it though. You made great points and I finished reading the article wishing more people could experience the “turn off your phone and live like you mean it” life you describe. Well done. I look forward to your next article.

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