Minnesota Nice: a snapshot of upper-Midwestern life 

Encountering this dog waiting very politely for her owner, patrons entering the establishment say (audibly!), “Excuse me,” as they gently open the door to access their morning joe. 

There are hipsters here (especially around the universities), but they don’t have the typical ‘tude that seems ubiquitous of handlebar mustaches and ironic flannel; they can’t help but smile and joke along with customers and fellow patrons. 

Babies abound at the corner coffeeshop, lashed to parents, dashing across floors, hanging on doorknobs. Tweens braid each other’s (naturally) platinum tresses. 

People live longer up here than other places and do I think it has something to do with the strong and unassuming sense of comunal life? You betcha. 

Happiness List

Another Friday, another Happiness List!  (the first, second, third...) Keeping our focus and continually remembering good things cultivates gratitude and helps our minds get used to seeing goodness and beauty around us–I’m using these weekly lists to train my mind and heart to see light.

1. Seeing Grandma & Grandpa

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(1a. being in the Twin Cities, 1b. St. Paul having a heat advisory at 78 degrees)

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2. After a long week, a bit of encouragement in Jeremiah 1:7:

“But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.”

Not least evidenced in my post this week on the Covenant Blog…

3. a trip to Lush while in the Cities…

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Since there isn’t a location of my favorite cosmetics store at home in South Carolina, I tried out lots of new products and loaded up…

I fell in love with their solid shampoo when I bought some in Canterbury this summer; so I tried Seanik.  I also grabbed Jungle, a solid conditioner, to try (I’m flying, so I couldn’t get lots of liquids).  Angels on Bare Skin is one of their most popular cleansers, its scent and exfoliating ground almonds were amazing, but I wanted to try something with a little more power, so I got Dark Angels.  It’s intense!  But I haven’t experienced the tightness and itchiness that usually accompanies cleansers that are too powerful (like salicylic acid cleansers–for me at least).

I was unexpectedly taken in by a jasmine scent and decided to try some solid perfume, “Lust“!  In my defense, I thought I wanted “Karma,” because I so love the smell of the Karma Koba, but when I tested the other few solid perfumes, the flowery-yet-grounded jasmine scent did me in.

Who is my family?

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(Cathedral of St. Mary, St. Cloud, Minnesota)

All of my genes come from one county in central Minnesota.  Spending time there as a girl with my father’s family, seeing my paternal family name on gravestones in churchyards, hearing my grandmother’s stories about where the first pioneer of our family settled on “that very hill!”  My mother’s family, from the same area, was the quiet, present, forbidden topic.  I don’t remember a time that my biological parents were together, and rarely visited the area with my mother, so my experience of this county is fragmented, though my relatives may very well have sat next to each other in church.

Last week, I went back there, to St. Cloud, for my great-grandmother’s funeral.  I saw the county and its people through my mother’s eyes again–the dozens of people who came to the wake lived on the same roads I’d traversed numerous times with my father’s family, but hadn’t stopped to introduce myself or say hello.

I remember always being so curious about my mother’s family and her own time in St. Cloud where exactly she practiced throwing pots, where her grandparents had lived and worked, the places that meant something to her and to that ancestral half of me.

Running the St. Cloud State campus the morning of the funeral, I realized that my mother’s family was something like God’s family should be for each of us: my father’s family (while visiting the county) was present, obvious–they sat next to me at the dinner table and drove me around; my mother’s family was there too–in the grocery store, perhaps, or walking along the same street toward a movie–I just didn’t know they were next to me, too.  God’s family is not always easy to identify–we don’t know who is part of our family in God–but we know as surely as they are part of our blood that they surround us and we belong to each other.