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Michelle's column: Slowing down long enough to be thankful

I realized something over the weekend. Sunday, it seems, was my last day of any unscheduled activity or meeting — essentially, my last day of “me time” — until Sept. 13.

It’s that time of the year again, when I’m working on setting up my volunteer schedule for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum. That keeps me plenty busy during August, but now, I’m even busier thanks to my role as American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota Third District president.

I’ve got a rally and training session this weekend, the following weekend I’ll have an executive committee meeting on Saturday and then spend Sunday at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds getting the museum ready for opening day on Aug. 21. And then I leave Aug. 22, to go to Charlotte, N.C., for the ALA national convention for a week. When I get back, I fill out my weekend at the fair, and come back to work on Sept. 2.

But then I have a Depart-ment of Minnesota rally at Legionville on Sept. 6, so that means I have another overnight trip. Come back, go back to work for the week. And that got me to Sept. 13.

My head spins a little when I think about it too much. But here’s the really great thing I’ve experienced lately — by chance, I’ve had the opportunity to step back first, so to speak.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to catch up with some friends from high school. They knew me back when I was a geeky kid (now I’m simply a geeky adult) but to be honest, we don’t spend a lot of time together anymore.

Two weeks ago, some friends organized an outdoor concert at the country home of my friend Dawn. I hadn’t seen her, I think, since before she went into the Army 20-some years ago. Now, a few of the guys in the band are long-time friends, too. I grew up listening to them jam in another friend’s basement after school and on the weekend, and so I got to see them for a while, as well.

I was with my friend, Heidi. She and I just reconnected last year, after life happened to both of us and we fell out of touch for a dozen years or so. Our friend Karen, who organized the concert came over to visit for a while, and we chatted about another friend who lives in Washington, D.C., and wondered where all of our other friends from “back then” have wound up.

This past weekend, I went out to another friend’s house outside of Hastings, for what she affectionately called “a redneck bonfire.” It seems Donna and her husband have made an annual event of offering their yard to friends for free camping for the weekend. There were kids climbing trees and jolly men singing karaoke. And I sat and giggled through most of it.

Way back when my family first moved to Hastings, I didn’t have any good friends for almost a year, and that was the hardest time of my life. Now I’m back in Hastings, and I have more friends and acquaintances than I can keep track of — not that I’m arguing.

But this past couple of weeks of reconnecting has really meant a lot to me. I marvel at how blessed I have been to have so many wonderful people in my life.

I’m constantly on the go, but these past couple weekends have given me a little bit of perspective. And peace. It’s like I needed to spend a little bit of time remembering where I came from, before I got too far ahead of myself in where I’m going. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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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