Most thankful for ‘Minnesota Nice’

By Diane Kortus

One of the more pleasurable aspects of mid life is recognizing that the things I am most thankful for today are markedly different than those in my 30s and 40s. Gone are the thanks for materialistic achievements and welcome are the simplest joys.
Mid life is all about downsizing and simplifying. It’s not until you hit your 50s that you can appreciate the joys you were too busy to see when you were in the throes of raising kids and establishing your career.
It is these simplest pleasures that I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving week, joys that include…
— My hairdresser at J.Joseph Salon who knows when it’s time to “jazz me up” by adding red highlights to my color.
— Discovering that our community editor, B.C. Manion, shares my zeal for Garrison Keilor and Prairie Home Companion. B.C. and I had center front seats recently at Keilor’s performance at Mahaffey Theater in St. Pete. If we ever questioned whether Lake Wobegon really existed, we don’t any longer. Garrison made his fictional world as real as our own.
— The hour it takes to clean my 1,400 square foot house, versus the Saturday of chores that came with the 4-bedroom, 3-bath house I left behind.
— Twenty-two years of parenting that enabled me to keep my mouth shut when my beautiful, longhaired daughter came home from college last month with a Mohawk haircut. Two decades of motherhood has taught me that ranting would only prolong my daughter’s “shock and awe” experiment. Instead, I called the cut “edgy and artistic” and was silently thankful there were no piercings to go with the Mohawk.
— At long last to have time to start a book and actually finish it within a week. This week I read “Women Food and God” by Geneen Roth and recommend it to those who want to be free from the power food holds over us.
— The ability of Becca, my personal trainer at Pure Health Studios, to get me to laugh at myself as my body does the opposite of what she asks. Becca’s unfailing encouragement keeps me coming back for more pain three days a week.
— Zeke, our 11-year-old Yellow Lab, who shows few signs of aging and keeps up with the pace set by my energetic and much younger Airedale on our daily walks.
— My 81-year-old father in Minnesota who, like Zeke, also shows few signs of aging and continues to be the center of the universe for his children and grandchildren.
— My pond and its trickling waterfall that my son dug last fall and the “Narnia” light post he installed as my Christmas present that illuminates the pond and front porch.  There is no sweeter delight than sitting on my front porch with a cup of coffee and frothy milk on a cool Sunday morning reading the morning papers with the sounds of the pond behind me.
— The ease of illuminating my porch with Christmas lights by simply plugging them into the outlet because I no longer bother to take the lights down after the holiday season.
— My colleagues here at the paper who are more friends than employees. I treasure how we genuinely care for each other and how well we work together to produce good community newspapers every week.
— For the abundance of “niceness” that surrounds me. I am continually amazed at the grace that blesses this world and envelops me with kindness.
Some call this karma, others good will.  Those of us from my home state call it “Minnesota Nice.” But it is not particular to Minnesotans. I come across it every day, usually many times a day, and hope that it finds you this Thanksgiving holiday.

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