Lately, I feel like the whole world is on fast forward. I jet from meeting to meeting, hurry to get one last grant submitted, and find myself making the longest “to do” lists of my life. What’s up with that? It feels like the more I do, the more there is to do…and that list never gets any smaller. What does that mean?
Our world is consistently in hurry up mode. We hurry to work and hurry home, we hurry to get homework done, hurry to get dishes finished, hurry to a game or a concert, hurry to finish that last paper, hurry to finish just one more task, make one last phone call, type up one last report. I think we need to make a habit to brake for roses, at least metaphorically.
I live in Aroostook County. I am surrounded by beauty at almost every turn, and yet often I’m unaware of that beauty. I’m in a hurry to get to one place or another, I’m talking on my phone, making lists in my head, or contemplating how to raise more money. Most of Aroostook is covered in some kind of nature: trees, grass, beautiful bushes, flowers, hay, potatoes, mustard seed, and just recently hopps. We are all about hurry up, and yet we live in this incredible place. We talk about outward migration so much. We ask ourselves: why are our young people leaving and what can we do to encourage them to stay? I wonder if a piece of the puzzle is to make sure they appreciate Aroostook County, to appreciate what The County has to offer right now, and what it could offer in the future. Are we so busy teaching our kids to hurry up, that they forget to slow down? Are we so afraid of missing something, that we miss everything? Aroostook students are not often reminded to appreciate this County. They learn a little history, and maybe some geography, but are they aware of what Aroostook gives? I forget that not everyone has the awesome chance each night to see a sky filled with stars, to hear robins greet spring, and to hear wind chimes softly sing with a cool spring breeze.
My grandmother used to tell me to count my blessings before I complained. It was good advice. My world is in hurry up mode lately. I have grants that are due and programs to plan, money to raise and students to meet.
The Gauvin Scholars from last year are visiting me this week. I’ll catch up with them, hear about their year, and be utterly amazed with how much they’ve changed. We’ll post pictures on Facebook, so make sure you’ve liked our page! It’s funny, I talk with the Scholars all of the time, and yet, I’ll notice changes more this week as we chat. I’ve known all of these kids for a year now… yet I can’t remember not knowing them.
And…in just three weeks I’ll begin the process of welcoming a whole new class of Gauvin Scholars. A group of Aroostook young people who are choosing Aroostook. In our hurry up mode, we need to make time for those roses, and we need to make sure our children understand why it’s so important to appreciate the natural wonder around us.
Choosing Aroostook is a powerful thing. Some of us are born here, and can’t imagine leaving. Others who were born here experience life in another place before they choose Aroostook as their forever home. Then, there are those who come “from away” and choose Aroostook. Choosing Aroostook is one thing we all need to encourage. AAI looks for young people who want to choose Aroostook. Our Scholars want to live and work here, they want to raise families here. Our Gauvin Scholars are the future of Aroostook. As they grow in numbers, we all win. Help us, help them. We know the need is great in Aroostook, but think about what we can do to reduce that need. We can encourage education. We can encourage skill training. We can encourage students to set goals and achieve them. We can make Aroostook strong, together.
Visit our website and learn about what we do and why we do it: www.gauvinfund.org/donate. A donation of just $10 a month could allow AAI to help dozens of kids a year–DOZENS. How incredible is that?
My challenge to you this week: stop and smell the roses. Ok, I don’t mean literally, I mean take a moment, every day, and look at the world around you. Count the wonderful things in your life, think about how you can help make this world, our little part of it, a better place. Look at a tree, a field, a moose or deer, listen to the robins greet spring, or look up at the starry nights we have, and breathe deep; encourage your children to do the same.
Let’s all take a moment to remember why we choose Aroostook.