Serene Sunsets (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 17)

Minnesota’s 10,000+ lakes create a special space … one where peace and serenity reign as the loon’s haunting call floats across the water. When the sun dips below the horizon, the sky may take on a golden hue, or brilliant pinks and oranges and reds … or sometimes it just quietly shifts to soothing blues and purples, fading seamlessly into the dark of night.

Serene Sunset on one of Minnesota's 10,000 Lakes

~ Kat

Magical Night Sky (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 15)

Even when it’s only a glow along the horizon, the northern lights still dazzle and leave us in awe.

Northern lights in the Northern Minnesota sky

Standing at the end of the forest, with eyes toward the Northern Minnesota sky, the rest of the world simultaneously falls away and seems to grow limitless. Every viewing is just as magical as if one were seeing them for the first time.

~ Kat

Giving Back (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 16)

Today in Minnesota, it is “Give to the Max Day” — give early, give often, and encourage others to do the same!! Millions of dollars are raised in a 24-hour period to support non-profit organizations across the state.

We wait for today to make our annual donation for some organizations and give a little extra for others, and always scatter our donations throughout the day to help each one get a chance at the bonus donation giveaways that occur as part of this event.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

~ Winston Churchill (attributed to)

'Be kind .... always. Thank you, Penzeys Spices, I shall wear it proudly and carry on! #kindnessmatters #whyimarch #womensmarch #shepersisted #bekind'

While there are countless worthy organizations out there, here are some we support annually on this date (with embedded links to their websites):

“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”

~ Thomas Merton

The "catio" at Animal Allies Human Society in Duluth, MN

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

Heading to the dock after the race at the Duluth International Regatta

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

Running the Trails at Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, MN

“Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.”

John D. Rockefeller Jr.

If you want to learn more about GiveMN and how to “Give to the Max”, check out the article: “5 Things to know about how Give to the Max Day 2017 works.”

~ Kat

Music and the Arts (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 14)

What are your career plans? Have you secured an internship? What’s the pay scale for graduates in that major? All important questions, but just as important are things like music, the arts, thinking critically, and expanding your horizons by studying subjects unrelated to your chosen vocation.

I was reminded of these broader concerns when I recently attended a concert of the Symphonic Winds at the University of Minnesota-Morris — a hidden public education gem in the middle of the Minnesota prairie. The ensemble is full of college students pursuing various courses of studies — science, social science, education, and, of course, music. Our world is increasingly interdisciplinary in its issues, and the liberal arts are critical to creating the problem-solvers of tomorrow.

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”

~ Albert Einstein

University of Minnesota-Morris Symphonic Winds

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”

~ Plato

Take a moment to appreciate and support music and the arts, and the richness it adds to your life.

~ Kat


Book Club (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 13)

Another evening of stimulating conversation, laughter, and an interesting read for our bi-monthly book club.

This time, a play — Sweat by Lynn Nottage. Timely in reflecting many of the themes we see playing out in society today.  The club selection two months earlier was Al Franken’s latest book, Giant of the Senate, a sobering yet humorous writing by our Senator.

We have periodically been fortunate enough to share our discussion with the author, as we were after enjoying the delightful book, Locally Laid by Lucie Amundsen.

Scott Carpenter was another author connection for our book club, as we read both his novel Theory of Remainders and his short story collection, This Jealous Earth.  The complexity of human relationships is showcased in many of his stories and remarkably analyzed in such a limited space.

We periodically take advantage of local community “One Book” programs, which often include a talk by the author or activities related to the subject of the book.  One of the first books we read as a newly formed book club was our community’s “One Book”: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Sometimes we return to a classic, as we did when we read Jane Eyre earlier this year, and are reminded why it remains a favorite all these years later.

And book club is not complete without a potpourri of wines to accompany dinner, reflecting the variety of topics that are floated around the table as we eat, and talk, and even dive into our reactions to the book itself!

The evening draws to a close with a feeling of warmth and gratitude for the women who share their diverse and interesting experiences at each gathering.

~ Kat