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We moved from Mankato to Wadena about six years ago. We have many friends from around the state and nation and I always enjoy answering the common question, “So, how’s life in Wadena?”

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Life in Wadena is pretty good; and on many days, it’s really good. What I cherish about this place is how simply one can live. We own a house near downtown; by foot we go to school, church, college, library, bank, post office, hospital, rent or see a movie, eat great food, buy a gallon of milk and any number of fun items, and best of all, visit a variety of playgrounds. If the simple convenience of small town living isn’t enough to put me in a good mood, then the people I run into along the way certainly do. I have come to know many by face and a large handful by name, which makes it easy to pose question, “how are you today?” and make time to hear an honest response. For me, spending time like this totally trumps the 30 to 45 minute commute of most of my out-of-town friends.

When I do leave Wadena for an extended period of time, I usually experience two things. First of all, I feel gratitude because we have amazing and unique opportunities for families with young children. I have met a number of good people and learned relevant parenting tips from our Early Childhood Family Education program and developed faith-centered friendships at our interdenominational “Moms Together” group which gathers twice a month. “Story time at the Library” is another starting point for feeling connected to others within the community. Again, all by foot, and mostly free-of-charge! This is not to be taken for granted because many people elsewhere either lack these programs or have costs or requirements involved before becoming eligible for such services. 

Secondly, and on a less positive note, sometimes other towns are shockingly prettier than Wadena. For example, I recently became visually refreshed by a visit to the city of Mankato. There were oodles of flowers that had been planted along the high-traffic areas. Many homes, mostly old homes, had fresh paint, mowed lawns, and creative yet clean landscaping. The pedestrian-centered downtown area had a fine balance between older buildings with locally owned businesses, coffeehouses, taverns, and diners speckled with some newer franchises. Finally, and the most creative idea I had seen, the electrical boxes one commonly finds on or along sidewalks had been transformed into art pieces by (obviously) professional artists; The art related directly to the businesses or events located nearest the boxes. Honestly, I was brought to tears. I became painfully aware of how much Wadena needs to bring its hidden beauty (that of its people, opportunities, and vibrant simplicity) to the surface. This could be accomplished by interviewing some of the city councils from places like Mankato and find out how they went about the process. On a more individual level, each of us can simply begin to take note of beauty when and where we see it, highlight it, foster, and maintain it. For example, my trip to Mankato inspired me to hang flowers on my porch come summer.

 

Now that we’ve had this heart to heart, have we met before? In warmer weather I push a huge yellow stroller containing a darling little girl, and trailing beside, behind, or in front of me two young boys who look like twins. At St. Ann’s Catholic Church (our second home) my husband and I often lead songs at Mass. After registering for a class at M-State with my husband and his stellar student services team you might take one of my Humanities classes. Lastly, I teach two yoga classes a week from 6:15 to 7:15 a.m. in the STOMP MMA room next door to Greiman’s.

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