Every Winter I complain about the cold and I talk about moving away. But in reality I have moved away several times and I always end up back in Kansas. Why? Not because of the weather. I end up back in Kansas because of the people.
Kansas is called the Heartland for a reason. People here care. There is a basic code of courtesy and kindness followed by most. Of course there are still those who have a bad day or had a rough life and come off rude or arrogant, but it has been my experience that the overwhelming majority of the population here is kind.
I lived in Washington state for about two years, I loved all there was to do between hiking the rainforest, climbing and skiing Rainier, and going to the ocean. I had a friendly neighbor that helped me a time or two with especially large spiders and I returned the favor with plates of cookies.
Every day I walked my dog at the park at least once if not twice. And every day I said "hello" and "good afternoon" to every person I passed. Mostly I was met with stares as they walked right on passed and on occasion I was actually given scowls or the cold shoulder. I didn't understand the reaction and yet I still couldn't help myself, every person I passed I said hello even when it became clear it wouldn't be reciprocated. After nearly two years there was a day I was walking my dog at the park. A woman was walking toward me and I said "hello" as always, but I nearly fell over when she said hello back! I got so excited and I said, "you're not from here, are you?" She said, "no, I just moved here from Missoura why?" I told her thank you so much because she had just reminded me it was time to go home. It took several months but I made my way back to Kansas.
One night, here in Kansas, I was driving home after a late dinner out with friends. I was at a point in my life where I didn't drink but I must have eaten something bad because on my way home I got the worst nausea. I ended up having to pull over and sitting on the curb in the cold and dark while I threw up repeatedly. I lived on the outskirts of town and the road I was on was dark and secluded. A woman pulled over, despite us women always being advised that isn't safe. She grabbed the only thing she could find, a towel to put over my shoulders to help keep me warm and offered to take me home. I declined with gratitude and so she sat with me until I was well enough to get back in my car and be on my way.
I'm not saying Kansas is the only place there are kind people. I have had beautiful experiences all over the States and even in other countries of kind, generous people offering help. But Kansas, in my experiences, seems to have a higher percentage of the people practicing kindness. And the Heartland will always be home to me.
I'm grateful for all the places I have lived that all helped shape me and teach me. I'm grateful for all the beautiful people I have met that have been kind and generous. I'm grateful to live in a friendly place where if a neighbor is out on the deck, they wave us over. I'm grateful to wave to every car who passes my home and say hello to every person I walk passed at the park. I'm grateful to have those gestures returned. I'm grateful for the "front porch" mentality and to see friends everywhere I look. I'm grateful to extend help and support when I see a need and I'm grateful for those who have offered it to me in the past. I'm grateful for Kansas, yes even in the Winter.
What makes where you live "home"? What is your favorite thing about the area you live in or the lifestyle it provides? Have you lived anywhere else and had similar experiences?
May today remind us how precious it is to have a place to call home. May we find gratitude right where we are and may we be a part of the beauty of where we choose to live. Have a beautiful day!