Jordan Coffman

Jordan Coffman is a hunter, outdoors-man, adventurer, dreamer, and goofball who is always up for a beer mixed with good conversation. I’ve known him for about 4 years now and throughout that time he has been a voice of reason in my life and many others around him… Not to mention he has one of the most genuine senses of humor out there.

If there is one place you could live for one year with your family and closest friends, where would you live and why?

I would love to live in Iceland. It’s one of the last places I believe that still has a lot of natural landscape. The hot springs, coastline, and quite a bit of practically untouched earth culminate into a perfect place to adventure. The simplicity of life there as well would allow me to kick it with friends/family and reflect on life, not to mention live a more minimalist lifestyle.

What movie has stuck out to you the most and why has it stuck out?

Hands down Into the Wild. I think that what Chris McCandless did, if done in the right way, can be a means to re-center and ground you. It is a very sad movie, but I understand the yearning to get out there and be free, you know, not worry about trivial things that bog us down. I don’t agree with what he did to his family and loved ones, but I understand the need to get away from all these amenities and comforts we take for granted in our lives.

If pay was not an issue, what would your dream job be?

Being a Park Ranger at any park in Colorado, like in Pike National Forest, would be my dream job. I love nature and to be able to preserve what is around us for my kids and grand-kids sounds worthwhile, and you get to be in a beautiful place like the mountains while you’re at it.

What verse, quote, saying, or phrase means the most to you and why?

There’s a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. that says, “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” This is simple and to the point, but it means a lot to me because if a person goes through their entire life without a drive, love, or purpose, they are just a blip on the radar, and will leave no impact or legacy in this world. Martin Luther King was both a Christian and an activist, both of which he pursued wholeheartedly. I respect that a lot.

Dr. Sara Rathburn

Sara is an associate professor of geosciences at Colorado State University, specifically focusing on fluvial geomorphology (not sure what that is? Check out Sara’s short biography.)

Her upbeat attitude and dedication to research has influenced the way people around her value the earth.  Many students who have been taught by or been given a chance to meet Sara have found a deeper sense of gratitude towards geology. In her free time she enjoys hiking, back country skiing, spending time with family and friends, gardening, and cooking (she makes incredible nature bars).

What method or methods do you use for coping with stress?

The main method I use is exercise. I have been trying to commit to working out at least two mornings a week with my husband (Jim). We also do our best to enjoy the outdoors during weekends. Most recently, that has meant cooking, or packing the skis and heading into the mountains for a back-country trek.

I also try to relax at night before bed and read enjoyable books; something that takes my mind off of the day’s business. I can tend to carry a lot of what I do throughout day to bed, which results in a bad night of sleep, so reading is essentially a meditative and rejuvenating thing for me.

Lastly, my husband is great at keeping me in check. If he sees that I’m stressed, he will suggest something to help me get over it. Having people around you who are able to do this for you is very important.

Generally, I’ve paid more attention to the things that build stress in my life and tried to cut those things out or keep them to a minimum.

What is one lesson you’ve learned through a hard experience?

I’ve learned you have to be your own best advocate. You have to be able to ask for what you need, because no one can read your mind and understand you like you can.

When I transitioned from more of a teaching position to a tenure track, I didn’t advocate for lab space or startup money. Instead, I was so happy where I was at that I missed getting some essential things for starting tenure, and had to build that path from scratch.

Also it is OK to be able to show that you have mountains in your life. To say no to things that you don’t have the time or bandwidth for is a really good thing to do. Otherwise it can be easy to get taken advantage of.

If you could have unlimited resources for two weeks what would you do?

I would take these resources and help finance homes for young people that are trying to buy houses in Fort Collins (Colorado).  I would love to help build a great community of diverse people in the place where we live, rather than a gentrified community full of well off upper class people. I’ve heard so many stories of young people not being able to buy houses because they are just too expensive, and it’s hard to hear that.

When Jim and I moved in to this neighborhood we had two young kids. The house was quirky and there was a lot of fixing up that needed to be done, but we stuck with it and have made a lot of improvements. Now we love where we live.

What verse, quote, phrase, or saying means the most to you and why?

The quote that means the most to me is from Maya Angelou. She says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This means a lot to me because I try to go with how I can make people feel during interactions with students and colleagues, rather than using specific words to influence or affirm them. We want an open learning environment where we are. This brings out the best in people.

Paul Merrill

Preface: Welcome to! I’m happy you’re here. In short, the goal of this blog is to share with you random stories from people who have had an impact on my life in some way (wander over to the “about” tab, above). Sit back, take a sip of that mocha or tea, and enjoy the read.

Many moons ago, my dad offered to help me launch a blog about Kenya. An hour into the first post, it dawned on me that blogging takes work. It’s not a “snap your fingers and poof” type of deal. Needless to say, I quit blogging after about a month, but not without learning something. My dad’s own blogging pursuits had gained my respect, and, honestly, his endeavors have continued to be pivotal in the creation of this blog (his site is, definitely give it a read).

To debut with Paul seems only fitting. Without further ado, I give you random perspectives from Paul Merrill, designer, father, and one of the best darn blog writers out there.

What is one thing in your life you wish you could go back and change? 

A couple years back I was on an airplane from Hong Kong to San Francisco and found myself hemmed in between two people in the middle of the giant cabin. I was barely able to move for the entirety of the flight and threw out my neck so badly that I had to go see a physical therapist more than 4 times. After learning a multitude of exercises, I was finally healthy enough to lead a normal life again.

I wish I would have just got up as much as I needed to, even done laps around the airplane, rather than being timid and concerned about bothering people around me.

What one story do you have in which music has changed you?

No question about this one. On September 11, 2002, I went to a concert in Denver with my wife to see a group called Sleater Kinney (an American indie rock band).

We were standing at eye level with the band, one tier up from the floor, and noticed another middle aged man enjoying the concert next to us. Being the age I was (early 40s), I already considered myself an anomaly at the concert like this, but two of us? That was just odd.

Between the first and second band, we struck up a conversation. Turns out this guy was my age within 6 months, had three kids like me, was Christian, and, like me, enjoyed talking about the latest tech. Since then, he has become one of my closest friends (we have gone to over 100 shows together since that time).

When in your life have you felt the most encouraged? 

Around the time I turned 50, I realized I was in an employment slump. Work felt stagnant, and my personal business wasn’t drumming up any clients, so, I decided to pursue a master’s degree. I finally found a communication management program at the University of Southern California (USC) that fit just right. There was one caveat to this program. USC is very expensive.

As we were looking into how to pay for this degree, we were incredibly blessed by an old buddy of mine, who helped out financially in a significant way.

That degree was essentially a sharpening stone for my mind, and I learned how to think in a way that equipped me for the job I am doing today.

Generosity goes a long way.

What saying, phrase, verse, or quote means the most to you and why?

The most important words in the world to me come from Ephesians 2:8-9, “8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” 

This verse is so encouraging to me, in that a dependence on God has helped me get through all of the crazy things that life has thrown at me. Ultimately the buck stops at God.





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