Sitting here on the shoreline of Como Lake in St. Paul, MN on a perfect summer Friday. The flowers smell sweet, there is a slight breeze and it is not too hot & not too cold. Just right. Idyllic.
I have nothing but time to write, read a book and sip on a local craft beer. It is blissful and I almost feel guilty. Almost.
Como is where I have come over the past 25 years during good times & bad. It served as my long, country road for contemplating but with a city setting. During my years at the University of Minnesota some friends introduced me to this place. We would sometimes walk to the park from campus while getting to know one another. We would enjoy an ice cream cone or a concert and learned to love the city. I’ve listened to community bands here on hot summer nights and watched weddings from a distance with the beautiful backdrop. It is a place where the good things in life are on display and I feel calm.
It was my walking path for several years as there is a nice path around the lake. I have done some of my best thinking and decision making at this lake. During my St. Paul years, I didn’t make any major decisions until I trekked around the lake. It was almost instinctual. I needed to walk Como to make sure my decisions were correct.
I have walked the lake during every season. When the trees are in full bloom with their pink petals and walking underneath them is like a pink canopy. In the fall, the colors of the leaves turn intense orange & reds and there is a carpet of leaves to walk in. Summer is a time to sit along the shore, sip a beer and look out at the kayakers. Winter is barren and quiet, but that is the way I like it.
This is also the place where I trained for a half-marathon with like-minded friends passionate about finding a cure for crohn’s & colitis. I’ve been around this lake countless times trying to push myself to make another lap. As running is about my least favorite thing to do, at least I enjoyed the place.
When I lived away from MN, this was a place I visited often to get some serenity and reflection time. After I moved to Indianapolis and would come back to visit friends, I was often homesick for this lake. I loved living in St. Paul and wanted to come back. When I lived in DC, this was a nice place to remind me of good times had at the park. Good reminiscing. Then, after my assault this park became somewhat of an escape for me. I spent several hours on trips to the Twin Cities sitting along this lake thinking, reflecting and praying.
I remember watching the sunrise in spring 2015. I had a bagel from my favorite shop & piping hot coffee. I was one of the few people on the path that time of the morning. I was sad and defeated. The long trip into the pit of despair was just starting and I needed some clarity. As I watched the sunrise over the trees, a calming peace came over me and I knew that I would be okay. It was something that I felt in my bones. I just didn’t know how I would be okay, but I knew I needed to keep on moving forward. I’ve been back here several times since then and each time I am advancing on this journey of healing. Sometimes the visits are good and I go for a joyful walk. Other times, I try to hide my tears behind my sunglasses as I slowly walk the path. Today, I feel good. It is a beautiful day & I want to enjoy it. This is a big change from a couple years ago when I didn’t want to leave my apartment on even the nicest of days. I am so thankful for this day that God created.
Como relieves my stress like no other place other in the city. I am safe here and I can think here. So, it is only natural that I bring my writing to this place. I’ve been reluctant to write lately because I’m trying to find that balance I’ve talked about before. My job with 4-H is fantastic, but when I come home at night I want to eat supper, go for a walk and relax with my family. Writing is the last thing on my mind, yet it continues to nag at me. What is your message? Will anybody read the book? Does anybody care? Maybe I should give it up and move on? Maybe I’m not cut out to do this? Maybe I should settle for mediocre and not go after my dreams? After all, the big city life didn’t work out for me.
Lots of big decisions are on the horizon this summer. Will I continue to be gainfully employed by somebody else? Or, do I create my own business focusing on sharing my story, writing, speaking & coaching? It is nice being safe & secure after so many years of being the exact opposite.
This is why I’m at Como Lake. To figure out my next steps.
So, if you will excuse me, I am going to make a couple laps around the lake on this glorious day and do some serious thinking. After I walk Como, the decisions will be well with my soul.
PS – don’t worry…I’m going to continue on the writing and public speaking path. I just don’t know if it will be full-time or part-time. I just needed to visit Como Lake and get my mind right.