I can’t believe the last two weeks have already flown by. Let’s do a quick recap:
Snow in May–yes it really did snow in Aroostook County on May 23rd. Yes, that was late even for Aroostook. Did it bother me? No…it really didn’t. Mostly because I’ve lived here my whole life, and Aroostook’s weather sometimes does that, it does this quick little, “How committed are you,” test…and then bam-a beautiful sunny day as a reward.
22 Gauvin Scholars awarded–yes, you heard right…22. It was in-sane: amazingly, wonderfully, crazily, insane. I can’t believe we’ve pulled in 22 more Aroostook kids…and they are so AWESOME! I am so excited to work with them…to watch their futures unfold, and to watch how their lives will impact Aroostook County.
Look at those beautiful faces. Do you remember that day? When you thought you could do anything…be anything? The coolest thing? They really COULD do anything, and they really CAN be anything, yet they all choose to do and be HERE in Aroostook County. All of these faces, all of these lives are beginning right here in Aroostook…and there are dozens and dozens more Aroostook students who choose Aroostook today, and who chose Aroostook yesterday, and who will choose Aroostook tomorrow. That is worth noting…they CHOOSE Aroostook County.
I want to clarify something…I really, honestly, CHOOSE to live here. And I’m not the only one who does. Recently, I asked AAI’s executive board to answer some questions about Aroostook Aspirations and Aroostook County. One of the directors spoke about his choice to live in Aroostook County, that this place is our choice, not one that was made for us. “Our over-arching theme is that we can all be proud to call Aroostook County our lifetime home, and not see it as a place that we get “stuck”, because there are no better alternatives or pathways to success and prosperity (not just financial prosperity, but lifestyle richness). Aroostook County is a very special place, filled with very special people. We can all be proud of that and never feel ashamed or less worthy because we choose to live here.” I couldn’t say it any better.
See—I CHOOSE to live in this place. I know there are winter days coming, I know that we sometimes see very little sun, for days at a time. I know that summer is brief, and so is fall, I know that money is tight, and that our businesses struggle. I know all of that…and yet, I also know a whole lot more.
I know that when push comes to shove, Aroostook will stand behind each other. We will support each other, defend each other, and come to the rescue when needed. I know that my parents live up the road, my siblings lives mere minutes away, and that my grandchildren (though far away right now) will get to grow up in an incredible, safe place. I know there is no place else I would rather live.
I think it’s all about perspective; some people see a ton of weeds with me in the picture above…I see only beauty, purpose, and potential. I’ve always loved dandelions. They are among my very favorite flowers…and my first breath deep sign of spring. I know not everyone sees them this way, and that’s okay. It doesn’t take away from all of the joy I get when I look at a field full of them.
What do you see when you look at this picture? A ton of purple balloons? A lot of people gathered?
Any guesses now? It’s just another example of perspective. This was a town in northern Aroostook honoring the life of a young woman who was taken from this earth too soon. She left a legacy…her life and her death became a rally cry. Aroostook came together one year ago when she was initially taken, poured love into her family, all over her two children, and then one year later, they came back together and honored her memory…honored the life she led, and the person she was. They stood in silence and mourned her loss together. This is what makes Aroostook unique, and our desire to do this, to ride the wave together is what makes us special. Aroostook is filled with incredibly, resilient people. This is why I choose Aroostook, why I choose it for my lifetime, for my forever. I am so proud to call this place home, and often I wonder how I got so lucky.
I am a blessed woman. I live with the love of my life, I have two beautiful children, I work with incredible people, I get to experience joy every day…I just look at the faces of the 35 (YES 35) Aroostook kids I work with in this position. I’m blessed to live in the most beautiful place in the world. I love this place, I love Aroostook…and I choose it, every single day.
I’ll end this week with: Help Aroostook Aspirations Initiative help Aroostook kids who want to choose Aroostook stay in the County. Believe it or not, 80% of our young people want to stay here. We have to do a better job of helping them to understand that they CAN stay here. We want them to stay! We need them to stay! Your donation allows us to continue our work with Aroostook young people, continue our mission to reverse outward migration, continue our work to increase our degree attainment and decrease poverty. You can help! Even if you are not physically here anymore, if you’ve ever lived here or visited here–a piece of your heart will forever be in Aroostook, and we are in this together.
Aroostook doesn’t just choose anyone, and I’m sure glad Aroostook chose me, and I’m glad Aroostook choose you!