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.

  • The Pioneer Woman's Boarding House in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a special hotel. There are eight rooms, each beautifully decorated, and no two rooms are alike. With large bathrooms, a mini-bar, evening reception, room service, valet parking, high-speed internet, and friendly service, a night here is a real treat. Ann snapped this picture of the arrangement of fresh flowers in the Butterfly Room. The bed in the background? That's a Tempurpedic mattress with some of the softest bedding around. We can't think of a better place to spend a cozy night when you @visittheosage and Pawhuska.⁣
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@pwboardinghouse
  • While in Italy, we took a cooking class in the home of a the owner of a small vineyard. During the class, we learned to make several dishes including pasta (which we rolled and cut by hand) as well as Tiramisu. Looking at this picture, we can still taste the freshness of the pasta, the tomatoes picked that morning from vines in the yard for the sauce, and the herbs clipped from a pot on the porch. It was a magical meal, paired with wines they had produced using grapes they'd grown on their own land. Talk about a farm to table meal.
  • The Enchanted Highway near @visit_dickinson, North Dakota, is a 30 mile stretch of road that runs from I-94 to Regent. Along the way you'll find a number of huge metal sculptures that have to be seen to be believed. The size and scale of these creations is such that you'll be filled with a sense of wonder, and a desire to drive on to the next one. This particular creation is called, appropriately enough, "Grasshoppers in the Field." This road is just one more reason for you to hop on up to North Dakota. @NorthDakotaLegendary
  • One of our favorite restaurants whether on land or at sea is @celebritycruises Luminae restaurant. Every morsel of every dish has been thoughtfully considered, prepared, and presented. Take this Chocolate Palet dessert for instance. It's so rich that more than a few bites would be almost overwhelming. But that's okay, as the serving size is perfect. Paired with the scoop of gelato on a bed of chocolate crumbles? Well, it makes a perfect end to a scrumptious meal. A true masterpiece.
  • One of the things we love most about traveling is discovering new things. New destinations, new foods, new cocktails, and new people. What do you like to discover?
  • Our imaginations run wild when we find ourselves in a place so chock-full of history like Deadwood, South Dakota. As we took in the town, we closed our eyes and listened for echoes from the past when Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok lived here. If only the streets could talk. @tripscout @midwestliving⁣
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  • Standing on a hill in present-day Rome, you can look down on the Roman Forum, the center of activity in ancient Rome. We've all heard of Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Marcus Agrippa, and the Apostle Paul, and we know them as ancient historical figures who almost don't seem real. And then you see this space, the very streets where they walked and the buildings they knew. This is why Rome is the eternal city. You can still walk streets and cross bridges built thousands of years ago. Being there makes it's real, and suddenly history comes alive.
  • Is there anything more relaxing than the thought of a beautiful sandy beach? How about one with pink sand, like at Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda? We made a stop here during our visit to the island nation and loved seeing all the folks there enjoying their time splashing in the warm summer sun. ⁣
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Would you like to visit this beach?

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