Try a Little Kindness (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 29)

Driving along a rural highway in northern Minnesota shortly after the sun rose, I noticed a beautiful dog standing on the shoulder, looking somewhat confused. He did not seem in distress, but he was nowhere near a driveway or somewhere that one would consider his home.

Helping a lost guy find his way home

Despite a scheduled meeting, I could not just drive by. I promised myself, as I slowed down and pulled on to the shoulder of the 2-lane highway, that if the dog ran or appeared scared when I got out of the car, I would not risk having him run into traffic and would get back in the car and continue on my way. But, as I stopped the car, the dog looked hopeful and his ears perked up. I exited the car and stood on the side closest to the ditch, about 20 feet away from the dog, and softly spoke to him: “Are you lost, boy? Do you want some help?” He started trotting toward me and I slowly opened the passenger door.

I was grateful that he required no significant encouragement to hop on in, where the seat cover was already in place for the four-legged companions I often travel with! I recalled a diner in the small town about a half-mile back, and drove there, as the husky quietly settled into the back seat.

I showed his photo to the waitress and table of guests at the diner. They did not recognize him, but the waitress (or perhaps owner, as well) was kind and generous, and did not skip a beat when I asked if there was any way the dog could possibly stay at the diner while I continued on to my meeting.  She called her son who lived nearby, and he found a tie-out for the dog, to secure him behind the diner. I posted a “found dog” message with the photo to a Facebook page for missing pets in the region, one of many such sites that are tireless in reuniting lost pets with their families.

I arrived a little late for my lunch meeting, after a morning of driving, and periodically checked the Facebook page for updates. Mid-afternoon, as I was ready to hit the road again, I saw the news I was hoping to see — “HOME SAFE!!”  Mutual friends saw the photo and let his owner know — they had been searching for him after his battery died on his electric fence collar, and he safely made it home again!

Gratitude for strangers who help others in need. The world would be a much better place if we all took a moment to be kind to each other, and to extend that reach of kindness to all living creatures who cross our paths.

~ Kat

Good Health (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 27)

Good health and the ability to move forward. It is easy to take these things for granted.

Don’t.

Be grateful for the simple gifts of life.

~ Kat

Neighborhood Connections (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 25)

In a world where personal relationships often are interrupted by fences and computer screens, finding a neighborhood connection is especially meaningful.  Catsby was one of those connectors.

Catsby was a neighborhood fixture — and when he was hit by a car, the neighborhood mourned. [You can read about his story here.] The neighborhood also connected. We were reminded of all the places where our lives intersect … where our kids cross paths … where we all have that same spot in our hearts for kindness and compassion.

~ Kat

Thanksgiving Reflection (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 23)

Thanksgiving — a classic day to reflect and be grateful.

May your day be full of good friends and family, or perhaps a quiet day with a good book and solitude – however you spend it, find a moment to consider your blessings. And if this day finds you struggling, know there is always someone out there willing to listen and wanting to help. We are all in this together.

~ 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