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Gratitude Weekly: Thankful For Being A Nebraskan And The Big Ten Conference

I’m trying to stay positive.

Wheat Field Jon Johnston

During our recent podcast interview, psychiatrist Dr. Steven Wengel recommended doing a gratitude journal to keep your self mentally well during these trying times. The purpose of a gratitude journal is to change the way your brain thinks, to turn your negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

This is more important now that many of us are stuck at home and rely more on social media to keep in touch with others. Social media can be so acidic – I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know – that it’s easy to become filled with negative thoughts and angry over the smallest of things.

I started journaling about two years ago. It was a way of coming up with writing ideas, and to keep track of health issues, particularly the severity of my daily headaches. I don’t hand write a journal. My hand writing looks like it was done by a 90-year old meth addict dementia patient. That’s not an exaggeration. Instead, I take a voice recorder on my walks, and wear a headset. I later download my monologues to my computer and transcribe them with software. It hasn’t helped me figure out how to alleviate my headaches, but it has helped me let some troubling things go.

I thought I’d start a weekly gratitude journal here on CN. I haven’t written very much lately. I have a whole army of people who are doing an excellent job and the personality mix is very good. I hope you enjoy the content we’re putting out. A gratitude weekly column would not only give me the excuse to write, but it would help me stay more positive and perhaps I could drag some you along with me. Each week I’ll come up with a list of three things I’m grateful for. If I do a good job of tracking - there will be no repeats.

A gratitude journal sounds kind of corny, but that goes with the web site name, right?

So what am I grateful for?


The easiest and the first thing is my family. I have a beautiful wife and I three pretty cool kids. They’re all healthy and they all seem to be on a track of goodness in their lives with maybe the exception of the rotten son’s affinity for the Minnesota Golden gophers.

BTW, this week he comes downstairs while I’m playing Call of Duty and I know he wants to talk to me. I ask him, “What? What is going on?” He stands there for a minute, and since I don’t notice, he says, “I got new clothes”. I look, and he is wearing a Notre Dame hoodie. What the fuck is this? “What the fuck are you doing with that on in my house?”

He continues to wear it. Could the kid get any rottener?

Honestly, if that’s all I have to complain about, life is pretty good.

Being A Nebraskan

This next one is pretty close to pandering.

I’m grateful that I’m a Nebraskan.

Nebraska – we don’t get a lot of attention from the rest of the country. The state sits smack dab in the middle of the US. It’s not much interesting anyone else outside of Nebraska, but Nebraskans are a special breed of people. We’re bluntly honest and, overall, a hellluva lot tougher than the rest.

Those traits are built into our state. They come from the land. They come from how difficult it was to settle. The Homestead Act gave away land for free across a large portion of the United States A big chunk of Nebraska, mostly the Sandhills, was so difficult to settle they gave entire sections away for free with the Kinkaid Act in 1904. The difficult of settling the land inspired generations of Nebraska to portray the same level of honesty and toughness, all the way down to the very public insistence our beloved Huskers wanted to play football despite this pandemic.

Nebraskans are spread all over the world. Encountering a Nebraskan anywhere in the world is like happening upon a long lost cousin; there is immediate familiarity. I don’t think that’s true of any other state.

The Big Ten Conference

The third thankful item is the Big Ten. My complaints about the Big Ten canceling football was their lack of communication and their unwillingness to try. Last week they took care of both of those complaints.

I’m still not sold on Kevin Warren on remaining conference commissioner as I believe he has destroyed his credibility, but we’ll see where the rest of this year takes us.

I realize there are a lot of fans who wish we were back in the Big 12. Maybe wishful thinking has you pining away for the Big Eight. I am guessing your attitude would be completely different were we winning more in football. Look at the volleyball team. They play in the toughest conference by far, and when they win, we can hold that up against other conferences and fans.

I enjoy the hate of the Big Ten. There’s way more hate in this conference than anything we’ve encountered previously and it can be a joyous thing.

If you’re wondering, “Hey, Jon, isn’t hate a negative when you said this gratitude journal idea was supposed to be all about changing your attitude and being positive?”

Well, it depends on perspective. I’m pretty positive I hate them damned Iowegians more than I ever hated Texas, and when you add up the rest of these Big Ten bastards - Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan (Weasels), and those snobby fucks from Northwestern - it overloads the hate I ever felt for all of the Big 12.

I am very positive other Nebraska fans feel the same way I do. That makes us all a big huge, loving family of togetherness in our disgust of those people we play sports against.

What’s more positive than being part of a big loving family? I DO NOT KNOW. I’m gettin’ all goosebumpy just writing this.

This week I did a podcast interview with a Jessica Huckabay, a young woman who works with people who have brain injuries. This is the first interview I’ve done where I talk about what happened to me at length. I plan to do more.

I hope to self-publish a memoir - Been Dead Never Been To Europe - about my heart attack and brain injury next month. If you would like to be notified as to when that is available or more news about me, Jon Johnston, your fearless leader, please sign up for my newsletter.