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I've been keeping a gratitude journal. It's just a list, really, that I make at the end of each day. It keeps my mood buoyed while I'm making adjustments to my medication. It also reminds me that I have a lot of beautiful things to appreciate in my life.

This year, I've lived in Frederick County, MD for a decade. Not consecutively...but, what does it matter? Ten years is a long time. It's been thirteen years since I first arrived in Frederick and this place just still amazes me. It's beautiful in all sorts of ways. It has as much to offer as many cities: international cuisine, gorgeous boutique shopping, magnificent parks (I will argue with anyone who doesn't find Baker Park one of the loveliest places on Earth), a lovingly preserved historic district, and a lot more. It's a beautiful place to live and I feel lucky to be here. Things are happening all the time. Certainly, it's not perfect, but it's incredibly beautiful and I have been trying to pay more attention to its beauty since I plan to leave soon.

Because of some construction on the Interstate, I've been choosing a back route the last couple of weeks to get to school. When I drive that way, I pass goats, llamas, cows a plenty, sheep, horses, and today a giant turkey vulture flew so close to my windshield that it made me jump (no one was injured - thankfully!). I've passed families of deer, lush green fields that have just been planted, a Buddhist temple, a country Catholic church, a pumpkin farm, and countless other pastoral beauties. It's like a dream country setting. Then, I emerge onto a road lined with corporate campuses, warehouses, and a variety of industrial shell buildings. Beyond that, there is an ever-growing shopping plaza, an outdated-but-still-in-use mall, car dealerships, chain restaurants, and a multiplex movie theatre. If you take the road that runs parallel, you'll see a Civil War battlefield. If you keep going north, you'll find yourself in that beautifully preserved historic downtown.

In the part of the county where I live, things are still pretty agricultural. Just a little south of my house is Burkittsville, where the Blair Witch is said to reside. Keep going from there and you're in Brunswick, facing the Potomac River, so close to both Virginia and West Virginia you could spit on them. To the west is Hagerstown and Antietam Battlefield. I love to drive the back way to Hagerstown and pass through the adorable town of Boonesboro where the romance writer Nora Roberts lives.

Lately, I've been seeing all of this with fresh eyes. When I was growing up in Buckhannon, WV, I really hated it. I felt like an outsider there. Looking back, though, it was a lovely little place to be. It has a sweet Main Street, interesting local businesses, a small college, and a good balance between town and country. I was lucky, really, to grow up there. I'm not sure I could go back there, but I think I am glad that's where I was formed.

I hope I can see everything with this kind of appreciation and wonder while I plan this big road trip. There's so much I haven't seen, I don't want to get overwhelmed trying to see it all. Instead, I hope I can absorb it as it comes. See what makes each place unique and lovely and home. We all fall into a rut sometimes. What makes your home special? Have you taken advantage of what it has to offer lately? For the next few months, I want to take a vacation in my own home and try to soak it all in before I'm gone.

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