After my appointments today at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Steve and I spent two hours sitting in the lobby of Mayo’s Gonda Building where we listened to Jane Belau play the grand piano for passersby. We’d seen her play before and enjoyed the music, but today was different.

We took the time to sit. To watch people. To listen, to think, and to connect.

We met an elderly woman who lives four blocks from the clinic and has a multitude of health issues. She told me that when the doctors can’t help her anymore, she comes here for music therapy. She’s been coming every week for the past eight years.

We watched a tiny little girl, who knew no English, leave the hand and security of her father and walk past a group of strangers to sit on the piano bench and play a few notes.

We visited with a WWII vet and lover of Gershwin who was now in a wheelchair and shared a story about the time he convinced Doris Day to dance with him by telling her he was going into combat the next day.

We heard from a Filipino woman who said she works upstairs, but when she’s off duty, she sits in a chair in the lobby and prays for people passing by.

We admired Tom, whom I was told works in surgery at Mayo, as he sang love songs from the balcony of the foyer. And we sat amazed when parents with seemingly sick children strolled by and grown men and women stopped what they were doing and united in singing “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” in an effort to cheer them up.

At one point, a man walking to his chemotherapy appointment stopped in his tracks and straightened up a bit when the piano player noticed his Navy cap and played “Anchors Aweigh.” He nodded and smiled.

It was especially emotional to watch a young boy with special needs walk out into an empty space in the foyer and begin to move his body to the notes of “I Could Have Danced All Night,” sung by clinic staff who were using their lunch breaks to encourage others. A woman with a headscarf joined him for the dance, while his mom watched from the distance with a smile on her face and a tear on her cheek.

Just as we were leaving, another Mayo Clinic associate joined in and sang “You Raise Me Up.”

As I looked around I saw men and women. The young and the old. I saw people pushing wheelchairs and others pushing strollers. I saw people in suits and sweats and burkas and yarmulkes. There were people walking briskly and people who could barely walk.

As we sat listening to the music, I was reminded that sickness knows no boundaries — in one way or another, it impacts us all. I am thankful today for my life, my family, my health, the means to be treated, and most importantly, for a God who continually lifts me up and renews my strength through experiences like the one I had today.

  • Curious to see what Iowa has to offer to visitors besides corn? ⁣
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FOLLOW ALONG on our Instagram and Facebook stories as we travel to Iowa Sept. 19-22. We're going to be exploring Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa, and we can't wait to take you with us!⁣
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We'll hit all the popular attractions like the Surf Ballroom, The Music Man Square, and the Historic Park Inn. And, we'll take you behind the scenes at several unique eateries and venues. ⁣
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Our coverage of our trip to Iowa begins the morning of Sept. 19. We hope you'll join us on what is sure to be another fun-filled Midwest travel adventure. ⁣
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Also, let us know your recommendations for things to see and do in the Clear Lake/Mason City area if you have ideas. We'd love to hear from you. ⁣
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@clearlakeiowa @visitmasoncityiowa @traveliowa @midwesttravelnetwork
  • Steve is 47 today! ⁣
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A definite advantage of getting older and gaining experience in traveling is not being so terrified to hop on the plane and go.⁣
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This is 17 year-old Steve, way back in 1990, as he prepared to leave for Argentina where he would spend six months living with a host family as an exchange student.⁣
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As it turns out, Steve's time in Argentina was wonderful, and he remembers it fondly. After his time in there, he went on to get a degree in Spanish, spend a semester abroad in Costa Rica, participate in missions and community-service trips in third world countries, and finally be a teacher and eventually a school administrator. None of this would have happened if he hand't conquered his fear and gotten on the plane.⁣
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So if you're nervous to travel somewhere, that's understandable. But put your fear aside and go--a life changing experience awaits you.
  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.

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