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Michelle's column: Finding comfort in community

I know this may sound weird, but I’m going to say it anyway: there’s something comforting about coming to work. Specifically, coming to Farmington.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly love my job and my co-workers are awesome people who are likewise dedicated to the Farmington and Rosemount communities.

But there’s just something nice about being able to come to Farmington every day.

I thought about this last week, as I was turning onto Oak Street. While I was stopped at the stop sign on Fourth, another car was passing me. I recognized the driver, she recognized me. We waved through the windows and went our opposite directions.

Then as I got out of my car, I waited for an SUV to pass before I could cross the street to go into my office. Again, I knew the driver. He tapped his horn, I waved. I went into work.

Folks around town might just say, “Hey, that’s Friendly Farmington. It’s how we roll.” They might not think about it too much. But me? After spending nearly three years in the big city and only really knowing my neighbors, I have a whole different appreciation for being part of a community.

It’s nice to be able to go into the hardware store or the grocery store and see a familiar face. It’s a pleasant surprise to run into a friend on the street or at the bank. To be able to stop and chat for a few minutes, to give a quick hug or even a hand squeeze. To get, and give, a great big smile.

Yeah, I like that part. A lot.

Over the weekend, I was out and about and taking lots of pictures of Farmington’s goings-on for Arbor Day and Earth Day. And I have to say, sometimes I have a pretty cool job, because it’s really great to get paid to be outside on nice, sunny days.

I found an area of Farmington that was new to me on Friday, when I went to Meadowview Park to take pictures of Farmington Elementary School kids planting trees. On Saturday, I bounced around among a few of Farmington’s parks, found my way down to city hall for the “shredfest” and wound up at Rambling River Center for the Earth and Arbor Day celebration.

At all of these locations and festivities, I happened across folks I know, and really enjoy, from the community. I thought about this, too, when I left Saturday afternoon. I have to admit, I caught myself smiling.

On the advice of a college friend, I’ve been making an effort to recognize the many good things, the everyday blessings, I have in my life. It took me a while to understand what good that would do. It took me even longer to start consciously appreciating my life’s gifts.

Now that I’ve gotten into that habit, one answers the other. Appreciating the many everyday miracles of my life, I find simple happiness and joy. It’s gotten me through some pretty otherwise rough days these last few months, so I’m kind of inclined to believe it’s doing some good.

Although, I’ll admit, there are times when this “appreciate the little things” philosophy doesn’t work so well. For instance, I tried to take the attitude that this week’s crummy, rainy weather is going to bring us greener grass and buds on the trees. That attitude worked for about two days. Now I’m just cold and tired of the rain, like everybody else.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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