Over the last couple of years I have been on a mission to purge our house of anything that clutters our lives. If something is broken, has missing pieces, or does not bring us joy, I want to get rid of it. It has been a two year journey of learning to let go.
When I first began chucking things, it was tough. It felt like everything I was looking to get rid of had some kind of emotional tie to it. I began reading blogging articles about how others had found freedom in purging and de-cluttering. Their number one obstacle was their emotions! It’s hard to let go of something, even if it does not bring you joy when it is tied to a person giving it to you. Even if you have not used it in ten years, it almost feels disrespectful to get rid of it.
I had to get over that mindset. It is a mindset that follows into other areas of my life and ties me down. I took a deep breathe and started praying for wisdom of what to keep and what to get rid of. I started with the hall closet, the area of our house that had the least amount of emotional ties to it. By the time I was done I had two garbage bags of stuff I had held onto for who knows how long! I saw how much room was left in the closet and I experienced a moment of calmness. I became inspired and pumped to pitch more and more! Our spaces, our home, and our brains began to find freedom.
There is a level where this same kind of purging needs to be done within a community. We get caught up in the moments of yesterday. We remember the performances at our high school, we remember watching E.T. at the bustling theatre downtown, and we remember eating corn dogs for a dollar at the hole in the wall restaurant, and vanilla ice cream in a triangle cone, at the ice cream parlor at the skyline mall, the one with the iron back heart shaped chairs.
These are all great memories, I treasure them, and there is nothing wrong with pondering and remembering these sweet times in my life. What isn’t healthy is when I hang onto them so tightly it actually hinders our community going forward.
Take the old high school for example. I have heard many people complain about it being torn down, yet, I sat in that building as a student, and we needed a new school. In my opinion it is not enough to save a building merely because it is part of my past I don’t want to forget. Similar to my need to throw away something at my home that is broken, falling apart, and past repair, this is true of the old high school.
We were all use to a two lane road down Broadway and I have heard stories of drag racing down that road…ahem…er…heard rumor of drag racing.
The reality is we are not the same community we were 30, 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. Change happens and we need to be ready to embrace it. The fact of the matter is we are not likely to get a large corp to come into our community. It’s just fact. We do have the capability to become an entrepreneurial community. Sure, it will take creativity, sure it’s not going to happen overnight, anything worth doing never gets done overnight. It does take the people of a community to see the beauty of their surroudings, the beauty of the people who live in our community, a belief, and drive of a whole community to go forward.
We need to stop looking for a savior company to come sweep us off our feet and rescue us. We need to come together to figure out creative and positive solutions. There are already people in place helping to take Albert Lea to a place of becoming a business community. If you have concerns about us going forward, then bring a positive attitude and jump on a board or a committee to help figure out a solution to the problem! Don’t be part of the problem, be someone who will help us figure out a solution!
Honestly, I don’t want to be what we were in the past. I want to help create a thriving, creative, diverse community. Seriously, we Albert Leans need to wake up and look around us. I personally live in a neighborhood in which our kids can walk two or three blocks to three different parks. In the winter we live three blocks from an ice skating rink, five blocks from a bike trail that goes all the way out to the state park. We have beautiful walking trails, I can walk around the lake at midnight if I wanted to on a path that is safely lit the whole 6 miles around the lake! We have bald eagles, pelicans, deer, beavers, loons, and other amazing wildlife that call our community home.
I love raising our kids in Albert Lea. I can let our oldest daughter ride her bike around our block with very little concern. Albert Lean’s we need to wake up and we need to take responsibility in helping our community. Our community is stronger and better when we come together to create a home in which we want to live and enjoy. The reality is maintaining a city and a community takes money, time, and neighbors to be willing to dig their hands into even the messy parts of running our town.
It’s hard to step away from what was yesterday, sometimes even painfully hard, but it’s important. We need to be willing to joyfully let go of what is broken, old, or doesn’t bring our community joy. It’s a transition for sure, but one that is freeing to take. We can do it Albert Lea and we can do it together!