Duluth, Beauty, Gratitude, and the Meaning of Home – by Rachel Weyenberg. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia ]
This summer I’ve had time to think about the definition of home and what it has meant to me. I have also thought about the ways growing up in Duluth has impacted my life. “If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.” I love this quote from Malala Yousafzai because I have found it to be so true over the years. I think it is incredibly fascinating that we each have a home – not necessarily a place, but rather a feeling that lives in us; a feeling where we feel the most safe.
Although Duluth has recorded temperatures lower than the North Pole, and there’s only either snow or construction cones filling the streets, I will always be happy to call Duluth my home. Born and raised, I’ve realized that Duluth has many attractions that I’ve been taking for granted. Duluth is home to many places such as Enger Tower, The Aerial Lift Bridge, The Superior Hiking Trail, Canal Park, Bayfront Festival Park, Bentleyville USA, Glensheen Mansion, and Grandma’s Marathon. Duluth was also rated as “The Best Outdoor City in America” during the year of 2014.
One of the things I love about Duluth is Lake Superior. It is the largest of the Great Lakes of North America. I know for certain that I have taken this for granted. Being able to just drink clean water straight from the faucet is a rare and beautiful thing that not many people get the chance to do. I’ve seen some of my friends that go to school in the cities, or other places away from Duluth, carry back big gallons and water bottles full of water, just so they can fix their Lake Superior water cravings.
Another thing I have noticed while living in Duluth are the tourists, as well as new students, that come to Duluth absolutely amazed by attractions like Canal Park, Enger Tower, or the hiking trails. It wasn’t until recently, I learned that on a clear day at Enger Tower, it’s estimated that it’s possible to see for over twenty miles.
I also witnessed the population of Duluth triple this summer when the Tall Ships and the World’s Largest Rubber Duck came to canal. However, even when the Tall Ships are not in Duluth, people remain mesmerized by the huge ships coming through the canal from all different parts of the world.
It didn’t really hit me how cool of a city Duluth was until I was down in Canal Park with my older brother, who now lives in St. Paul, MN. He moved away about three years ago, and always wants to go down to the lake when he comes to visit. When playing tourist with him, I realized I’d seen the process of the ships coming through the canal so many times that it had lost some of its value to me. Millions of people travel to Duluth from all over the world, and yet all of these attractions have always been right in my backyard.
After writing this article, Duluth has become more than just a beautiful city to grow up in. It has become a place where I feel safe and happy, whether in the apartments at Scholastica or at my house by the lake. I think it’s awesome to travel the country and the world, but after thinking about the definition of home, I believe we also need to spend more time appreciating right where we are, and also how special the everyday things in our lives are.
Rachel Weyenberg is a nursing student at the College of St. Scholastica
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38 responses to “Duluth, Beauty, Gratitude, and the Meaning of Home – by Rachel Weyenberg. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports”
I really enjoyed reading your article because I felt like I can relate. Although I am not from here I have learned how to love the city I am from, mountains are one thing I really took advantage of. When I am home on all my days off I want to go to the mountains and hike up to see the beautiful view. I love the quote you used because although I love here in Duluth, Calgary will always be my home no matter what. It took moving here for college for me to realize all the things I also took for granted at home. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have long wondered what it would be like to grow up in Duluth and stay here for college. Since my sophomore year, I have called Duluth home. I find it easy to get frustrated in the summer when tourists come. The traffic seems to get worse, people seem less kind, and I have more and more instances of driving-while-irritated. I get frustrated, because I feel like tourists don’t really ‘get’ Duluth. They’re just here for the sites and some other surface-level stuff. The reason I have long pondered what it would be like to be raised and go to college here is out of curiosity over how locals feel about the constant barrage of new people coming here. If its the summer, the city is taken over by tourists. If it’s not, the city is taken over by college students. Then I realized both of these things are just a part of being in Duluth. The city would not be itself without the tourists and students. It’s not really a take-over at all. I am wondering if you ever felt this same annoyance about tourists and students coming in and acting like they own the place, and I am wondering when you think it is reasonable for a person to take ownership of the fact that they reside in Duluth? How long does it take to truly become a Duluthian?
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Wow, Rachel, this piece really brought back good feelings! I absolutely agree that being “home” is such an incredible feeling that it even beats paradise. This piece reminded me of a saying: It’s not where you travel, it’s who you travel with. I’ve fortunately been to some really awesome places around the world with some cool groups. However, some of my favorite trips I have as vacation is just spending time with my family at a cabin. Having that fire smoke smell on your clothes all weekend, sand in your toes, and the mosquitoes really suck. But all of those concerns aren’t even comparable to the love one can feel with family at home. It’s truly an incredible phenomenon that speaks to your hearts, and asks us what really is important in our lives? Is fame, money and a big house really our goal in life? If college has taught me anything, it has taught me to make a life for myself that makes me happy. If you achieve happiness, money won’t even me on your mind.
I really liked the way you pointed out all of the great things Duluth has to offer. My first two years of college I was at a place that I felt distant from and could not really connect with the city or others. I was looking for a place that I could call “home” if you will. My family has visited Duluth countless times over the years and we have loved all of the aspects to it. I decided to take a look up here and eventually transfer. I was nervous at first, but after almost five weeks here I have found many great friends and love the city. I think the transfer was the best possible thing for me because I think I have found that feeling of a “home” community.
I loved this wonderful article about home and what it means to live in Duluth–I was also born and raised in Duluth and chose to stay here for school. Activities such as watching the ships come in, swimming in Lake Superior, or going to Bentleyville are things I have been able to do for years and have sometimes forgotten how special those things are. I have had to “play tourist” with my friends and family to realize that I live in a really beautiful city and am so lucky to call this place my home! Someday I hope to move away for a while, but I know that Duluth will always be home to me in some way. Thanks for sharing!
I really like how you talk about since you live in Duluth the things that draw people here have less meaning to you. I am from St. Paul and i do the same thing for down there. When ever friends want to come and hang out and i always say there is nothing to do. Even with it being the Capital, and there is a ton of things just within 15-20 minutes of my house. But i do feel the same way about Duluth now, because this is now my third year living here, and i do feel like i have seen and been around the city enough to call ti home. Even when i go to the cities i miss Duluth a ton.
I really enjoyed your article about Duluth and the feelings accompanied with home. First, the quote by Malala was beautiful and so true that no matter where you go there are things about home that are like no other place in the world. The thought of home makes me think of my mom and family especially around Christmas time because it is one of the few times many family members are all together at my home. Also, I have lived in Duluth for almost 4 years now and the sense of the ships coming in is more normal to me and it also has lost some of the value to me. Like you though Canal is a common place for me to bring my friends when they visit because the ships and lift bridge are what they think of most when they think of Duluth. Lastly, Duluth is such a beautiful city with so much to do that it really is a blessing to live here and will be tough to decide to leave after I graduate.
I thought you put that absolutely beautifully. I have only been in Duluth for about a year now and I have still never been to half of the places you have described. Duluth is a beautiful and homey city but because of where I come from, I haven’t really thought about Duluth passed the cold aspect! After reading this I definitely want to explore Duluth and appreciate yet another amazing area filled with interesting histories.
I loved what you said about what home is, it being a feeling not an actual place, and I think that is very true. I have stayed in the Duluth area a lot, since I have family here, so I was very excited to come here for school and finally be able to go see all the sites. I definently consider Duluth home, but I think it is very possible to have more than one place that feels like home. When I travel to Guatemala, as soon as we arrive where we are staying, I immediatly feel at home. In both Duluth and Guatemala, there is a sense of belonging and calmness that kind of settles over me, and honestly, that is one of the best feelings ever.
What a lovely article! Duluth truly is a special place. I did not grow up here, but it has definitely become my home as well. I remember being star struck by all of the attractions (coming from a very small rural town), but then becoming insensitive to them as they became commonplace, like you said. It’s fun to “play tourist” and look at the city from an outside perspective every now and then and allow yourself to be captivated by its beauty.
Thank you for sharing!
I also relate to Malala Yousafzai’s quote that you will always miss home, no matter where you go. Thought I chose to leave my home in the cities to come up North, I still miss my childhood neighborhood. I miss the diversity. I miss my favorite Barns and Noble store that was replaced by a Target in the Highland Village. This is a universal thing that happens to everyone who migrates, no matter the length of time. In Human Rights this semester, we have discussed that in all migration there is always a push and a pull that draws people to their new home and makes them leave their old home, and in your article, you explain this. It is important to remember this when we meet migrants coming to our country, to Duluth. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Rachel! It was cool to read this article because I too am a Duluthian, born and raised. I think about having access to clean water more often now and I’m so glad that I get to drink water that is locally sourced and moderately inexpensive. I’ve been to places where the tap water tastes like chlorine, and I’ve been to places where they don’t drink the tap water at all and having to drink bottled water is definitely not the best (for your wallet, your taste palate, or the environment). And although I agree that there is a part of home that is always within us, I also think that home can be over-emphasized (because sometimes home is not the right place for us). However in regards to enjoying the home that we have here in Duluth, I think it is good to be reminded of the things we take for granted, like the water aforementioned, and the more touristy things as well. Going to Enger Park and looking out at Duluth can really bring a warmth and pride for belonging here: it’s probably one of the things here that I’m most sentimental about. Nothing can make you love home as much as being away from it though; “distance makes the heart grow fonder” as they say. Sometimes separation from home is for the best whether it be short term or long term, and no matter the reason for leaving (I’m thinking of migration because of Global Human Rights) there is some piece of home that you will miss when you’re not there.
This article was really fun to read about how amazing Duluth is and how it’s a great place to grow up. I have been coming up to Duluth since I was little and the view of of the endless blue of Lake superior has always amazed me. The scene of clear sparkling water with it sparkling in the sun and a beautiful city along it’s shoreline is just phenomenal. Going down to Canal park is my favorite thing to do in Duluth where you wall along the lake and eat some delicious food. Coming up to Duluth for college has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and has changed me forever. Now, I call Duluth home where I have made new friends and created joyful memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Thank you for writing this article! I loved reading this about Duluth because after living here for three years I too take it for granted. As a freshmen I would go to the lake almost everyday but now I am so used to seeing it. I went home this summer and I missed seeing the water! It is fascinating that we all have a home and we are so blessed to call Duluth our home!
Hi Rachel! Your article is something I have thought of before too. Sometimes I think we always want to leave home to go somewhere new, taking our home for granted. It is true that you miss it and the familiarity. Duluth is something I too took for granted but it actually is so beautiful. The lake is probably my favorite part of this city too and canal at night will never not be beautiful.
Hello Rachel, thank you for sharing your perspective on what it is like going to College in Duluth when you are from the city! I was attracted to go to school in Duluth because of the beautiful outdoor recreation opportunities and great academic programming at CSS. As a skier, runner, and biker, there is no better place to get outside then right here in Duluth. We are truly blessed to live in an area that is quite pristine and that was voted one of the best outdoor cities a few years back. I enjoy the cold winters and the truck loads of snow that we get every year. I also think it is interesting how many high school students from Duluth stay in Duluth for College. I think there is a great connection between the admissions offices of the local colleges and high schools. I hope this continues to be an opportunity for local students to stay in the area and contribute to the work force after graduating college.
What an interesting perspective to share. As someone who is not from Duluth but has now been around for three school years, I have started to feel a sense of longing for the city when I have been gone for a period of time. Duluth has an interesting draw to it, and I fully believe it’s due to the presence of nature being so intertwined in the landscape. There aren’t many places I have been where water is so integral in the city and where nature is so praised by the population. I adore Duluth, and when I am home in the flat plains of Southern Minnesota I miss the hills and water of Duluth. That being said, the magic of Duluth is not felt by everyone I know. I know a lot of people who feel alienated by people who are from Duluth originally. There is an inherent sense of belonging, but it is not for everyone. I feel at home in Duluth fairly easily because I am a white, upper-middle class person. People who do not fit this criteria have trouble fitting in. The magic of Duluth often clouds its many problems, such as systemic racism and human trafficking. Thank you for your perspective!
Loving your home is something that very few people are able to truly do. As you said when you are surrounded by something for so long you begin to take it for granted. I am glad for this overall cold temperate area that we live, where the mosquitos die in a frozen wave and stay that way for over half the year. I find that I value my home more now that I have seen somewhere that I really didn’t like, Miami Florida. I was actually losing weight in the heat and sun during the early spring my family spent there and even on vacation I found myself wanting a frozen breeze. Everyone born here loves to complain about the cold temperatures, but not many who do can handle the heat and insects the south has to offer. Thank you for sharing your pride in this beautiful city and powerful lake.
Thanks for your post. Since coming to Duluth my freshmen year I have always longed for home. Although I like Duluth for the most part, Duluth makes me really miss my home. My hometown doesn’t have the attraction that Duluth does like Lake Superior or anything like that, but I think that is the reason why I miss it. I miss my home mostly because of the memories it brings me whenever I go back. It makes me think of my family and friends that I have spent so much time with during my years back home. I think Duluth is beautiful, but much like yourself my home is what feels safe and familiar to me. I think I also sometimes take Duluth for granted though as well. Whenever my family or friends come up to visit me they always want to go to Canal, where I’m at the point where Canal just doesn’t do anything for me anymore, which makes me realize how lucky I am. I’m glad you don’t take your home for granted, you made me realize how much I take Duluth for granted. Thanks again for your post!
Thank for such a fine article about your hometown!
Being new here in town as of this semester makes it interesting to hear what you locals appreciate most about Duluth. Having been here about a month a half, I can clearly see why this town is one that is it is easy to take a liking to. I have yet to cross off many of the attractions that you list, but I’ve already come to appreciate the ever-present lake. I never lived at the sea, and even though Lake Superior isn’t the real deal, it surely feels like when looking out over it from Hawk’s Ridge or any other lookout. I’m glad to hear that Duluth has such a special place in your heart, and I’m keen on discovering what the city has to offer!
Your realization of how you came to take the wonders of your hometown of Duluth for granted made me pause to reflect. I am from a very small town about an hour and ten minutes south of Duluth. Going to Duluth was an exciting vacation growing up because of all the fun things to do that we didn’t have in my hometown. When I moved to Duluth in the fall of 2016, it became my second home, my new home, that I have not left since move-in day. This summer, my second in Duluth, I noticed how annoyed I was getting at the tourists enjoying the sights. I started avoiding popular spots, like Canal, Enger, and Park Point because of the tourists that were always there. Looking back after reading your article made me realize that even though I have not lived here long, I stopped seeing the attractions of Duluth with the excitement I had as a kid or even a freshmen. We live in a great city to call home and we must appreciate it accordingly. Thank you for the great article!
This article captures the feelings of nostalgia that you can get when you look back on your fond memories of your hometown. Moving to Duluth was a culture shock to me after living in a small town my whole life. Duluth is not necessarily a big city but has most of the attractions a larger city might have. My favorite part of Duluth is the immense variety of outdoor activities that I can access in such a small area. I can see multiple waterfalls, one of the largest lakes in the world and beautiful trails, all within walking distance of where I live. When I watch the ships go in and out of the canal I still get a sense of awe and I could do it all day! But sometimes it becomes natural for me to be able to see huge waterfalls and beautiful trails and then when I am home I have none of that. Duluth really feels like a second home to me and I will definitely miss all of the things you described when I leave. Great article Rachel!
I love how you exquisitely captured the essence of home is such a short article. Interestingly the topic of a home has come about in one of my class. Simply going off to what you write, we have all established an idea of a home despite how we can all define that. In addition, once a person moves it is more than likely that one will alternate that space to make it feel more like home. In addition, by moving away some always look back longing for that space. With that said, I have to admit nature-wise Duluth has been one of the mesmerizing places to be in, especially during this time of the year. Thank you for your thoughts.
Thank you for sharing your feelings about Duluth and “home.” It is very interesting to hear the perspective of someone who has lived in and grown up in a town. I have had the opportunity to live in many different places throughout the country, and it seems that two things are true no matter where I am living. Number one, everyone thinks that they have the worst drivers in the country (trust me, Duluth has much better drivers than some other cities). And number two, it is fairly common for the local people to “forget” or overlook all of the amazing things that their town has to offer. I am very glad that writing this piece helped you to remember all the wonderful things that Duluth has going for it. Not being from Duluth, I am excited for the chance to get to check out some of the attractions and play tourist for a few days. In addition, I thought that your feelings about home are a great reminder for us all. Finding a space that we feel safe and secure, that truly makes us feel at home, is a luxury that not everyone gets to share in. All of us who have found that are quite lucky.
Hi Rachel! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. Like many, I only moved to Duluth when I started attending college here. Growing up, we took numerous trips to Duluth and when it was time for me to find someplace new to go to college Duluth was an easy choice. There’s just something about the mix of industry and outdoors, two fields that always seem to be at odds with each other have managed to find a good balance in Duluth. It’s taken a while, but Duluth has become home for me, and for many others! Great post, I hope I get to read more from you!
I really enjoyed your article. “a feeling where we feel the most safe” I think is a beautiful way to describe home, it is something I believe everyone could relate to. I am also a Duluth native, and I agree that people tend to take what we have for granted. I think Duluth is a wonderful city, but many people think there needs to be more nightlife to spice it up. The water to, I love it, and it really sucks to leave the area because 8/10 times the water will suck wherever you go. It is definitely something special to be thankful for here in Duluth. Rachel, you did a wonderful job with your article. I also enjoyed how you ended by stating believe that need to spend more time appreciating right where we are, this is important and many people don’t.
You story resonates quite a lot with my experiences, especially in relation to the lake. I’m from Cloquet, so I suppose I can’t exactly consider myself a Duluth “native”, but I come from a long line of sailors, and spent an enormous amount of my childhood down by the water. The lake is the most significant natural wonder in my immediate environment. Even when I spent a year in the upper peninsula of Michigan, the same lake that I have always known was right there. Marquette had its own Duluth-like feel to it, largely because of the streets and the people, but I would argue that it is predominately because of the lake.
This story truly hits home for me. I have grown up between Duluth and Two Harbors all my life, and frankly the one thing you would hear from me almost daily was how much I wanted to leave and see the world. I have gone on several motorcycle trips across the country with my father, so I have seen a little bit, but I always wanted to see more. Although, these trips did show me that there is beauty no matter where you go, it is just of a different kind. Since I decided to move the the cities for college, my dad has been trying his hardest to get me to stay home. I was adamant at first, but I have since opened my mind and truly began to appreciate what I have. I am still moving away for time being, but I have started to slow down and appreciate the little things like driving into Duluth at night to see the lights light up the hill and the shoreline and the large, industrial ships coming into port. It took the realization I was moving away for the first time to open my eyes to the beautiful area I live in.
Thank you for sharing your story. I sadly did not have the chance to grow up in Duluth, but my family would take a lot of trips up here when I was going up. I finally got a chance to live here when I moved to college and I love it. There are a lot more activities to do then in my small town such as hiking, visiting touristy sites, several exciting places to eat, bowling, movie theaters, etc. Everything is a lot closer than the drives I would have to take from my town just to do things like watch a movie in the theater. I really enjoy living in this beautiful city.
I agree one hundred percent with the statement that home is a feeling rather than a set place. I myself have many places in which I feel at home, whether it is at my parents house near the cities, or my grandparents home, or even my on campus apartment the safe, homey feeling is still there. Growing up in Minnesota we would often come to Duluth for trips and soccer tournaments, and I always felt like a tourist coming here, walking down Canal, waiting for the lift bridge to go up. Now approaching year 2 of having lived in Duluth, this tourist feeling has left me and a sense of home has taken its place. I cannot wait to see what other places in the world will become ‘Home’ for me.
Thank you for the read I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Thanks for sharing! I have also lived in Duluth all my life. I agree with you on how the shipping industry of Duluth has lost its value just from being around it so much. For me, I found this happening with a lot of things before I travelled abroad; such as the weather and the size of the city. It wasn’t till I was abroad in large, highly populated cities that I began to appreciate Duluth more. Over time though, and throughout my time travelling I noticed I felt at home in places that resembled Duluth. In places where there is freshwater, trees, and lots of outdoor activities. Thanks again for sharing! It was really interesting to see the similarities between our experiences!
I couldn’t agree with you more about Duluth. I was not born and raised here like you, but I’ve loved Duluth ever since I arrived here on March 3rd, 2007. It’s the place I call “home.” When I travel back to Duluth from down south and as soon as I see the amazing view of Duluth, something in my mood changes, I feel more safe, happy, and content to be home.
I also agree that we need to appreciate Duluth more but advantage of what our city has to offer and explore more! We are so fortunate to have such a beautiful city with beautiful people, amazing outdoor activities, and of course, our Lake Superior. We can pretty much do anything from snowboarding in the winter and curling on the lake, to surfing in the summer without having to worry about sharks! I think that’s the most I’m thankful for when I swim in Lake Superior.
Overall, thank you for sharing your amazing port about Duluth. It is an amazing city and I’m so thankful that my family chose to migrate here
Great post you have here. I personally am not from Duluth but in the three years i have lived here, i have learnt to love it. Sure it doesn’t have the ocean or the mountains that I am used to back home. But it has a lot of its own unique qualities. The biggest thing I have learnt since moving here is that I took back home for granted not everyone has lived around mountains and that is what I miss the most. As Tignor talks a lot about different cultures. Moving to America as shown me a bit of a different culture as i see many differences between here and Canada. Duluth is a very beautiful city and before I leave here I hope to explore all that is has to offer. Thank you for sharing.
I honestly felt your article to be extremely touching. After reading your article, I can confidently say that I have been taking Duluth and its beauties for granted. I have even heard people say that Duluth is boring and there is nothing to do, when in reality, we have more to do than most people. It always amazed me at how many people come to Duluth for the tourist attractions. Traveling is very rewarding but home will always feel like home to me as well. Thank you for opening my eyes!
Thank you for writing your this article. As someone who has also grown up near Duluth, right outside of Superior, I can relate when you say you’ve never realized the beauty until recently. I also like how you brought up that sometimes we take things for granted, such as clean drinking water. When I traveled to Guatemala recently, it was so hard to not be able to drink the water out of the faucet. It is habit to grab our tooth brushes in the morning and turn the faucet on and use the sink water to start brushing our teeth with, however in other places around the world clean drinking water does not come directly out of the faucet. Much like when the Chavin people settled in the Andes Mountains, as stated in “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” written by Robert Tignor, and “literally organized their societies vertically.”, our ancestors in Duluth did the same and today we benefit from the beauty that layout gives us (Tignor, p. 186). It allows us to see out near and far across the Lake and the beautiful land.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
I really enjoyed reading your article because I relate so much with my love for my hometown, but also my new love for Duluth. My hometown is a small rural town with a large Czech population. Even though I am not Czech I feel very strongly with the culture of the town and the community we have. However, now that I am living in Duluth I have grown a fierce love for this city as well. Before attending CSS, I had only been to Duluth a couple of times, but now I have fallen in love with the town and it feels like a second home. I feel very fortunate to be able to call two towns home and to have a strong connection with both. I really appreciate your viewpoint on the idea of home and having the foundation in your life, so thank you for sharing!
What a great and relatable article to generate conversation with your readers. You really summarized your article with your marvelous quote of mention: “if you go anywhere, even paradise, you will always miss your home.” I found this idea really interesting because home is something that touches us all in different ways, resulting in varying definitions of what home means to each individual. The concept of home is captivating, especially in regards to the idea that the concept in itself is one that is taught over time. It is a socialized concept that can vary depending on things like class, religion, or even political affiliation; that variation also strings along a varying in gratitude for what we call ‘home’.
I grew up rooted in an interesting home environment, which ultimately allowed me to grow and change as a person and root my ‘home’ not where my house is located or where I am living now, but wherever my family is. It is strange to say that because my family has made their home all across the country. The idea of moving away and beginning my own journey on the ‘path less traveled’ as Robert Frost would say, has led me to experience various different challenges, but also to develop and embrace the person that I am becoming.
Duluth is a magnificent place, filled with many sites that seemingly steal your breath and leave you mesmerized for a period of time. In reflection to your article, the idea of losing gratitude over time does indeed quietly begin to inhabit the minds of those that have made Duluth their home. That being said, it is so unbelievably important to hold onto those little things that once stole your breath and cherish the beauty that can be found wherever one decides to make home. Your final statement really resonated with this idea and will keep me thinking for days to come; we need to “spend more time appreciating right where we are, and also how special the everyday things in our lives are.”
Thank you Rachel, your work was a blessing to read and reflect on.