Friday, July 2

Reasons why we love to love Arkansas


    A diamond in the rough, a hidden gem, the land of opportunity, The Natural State, these are just a few of the many names that have been given to the state we now call home.  While neither my husband nor I grew up here, this is where our love story  began.  In the middle of Lake Hamilton, that serendipitous afternoon in the Summer of ‘11, the beginning of the rest of my life.  From this beautiful state, we circled to other amazing places like New Zealand, Hawaii, and then came back full circle, the continuation of our love story as a family of 5 here in Arkansas.  

    Recently, even prior to this blessing of an opportunity to collaborate with Arkansas Tourism and their gracious sponsorship of this post, all the reasons for loving Arkansas has been a topic of many organic patio conversations that we have had with family and friends.  It’s actually one of the things I initially noticed when I moved here the first time in 2009 for residency training.  The locals love their state and always spoke about it in a positive light.  That was so refreshing and uplifting for me as a newcomer because there truly is an “Arkansas State of Mind.”  Honestly, it would be easy to hide our already hidden gem, however, as my selflessly generous husband so often reminds me, the best part of a good thing is when it is shared with others.  

Here are a few of the many reasons why we love to love Arkansas:

1.  Green space and nature

    Arkansas truly lives up to its name.  The Natural State has an abundance of accessible places to breathe in pure oxygen and become one with nature, all with minimal traffic.  I say accessible because you don’t have to drive or even walk far to experience the great outdoors, something that as human beings we so desperately crave and need to stay healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.  There is so much thought and time poured into recreational parks, playgrounds, hiking trails, golf courses, and so much more.  We enjoy spending time biking at Two Rivers Park, exploring the wonder of the majestic Ozarks, waterfall chasing, photographing, fishing, and picnicking with our 3 precious daughters.  

When we lived downtown, we walked, scootered, or took the trolley to the Margaret Clark Adventure Park most days of the week, a beautiful experience through the River Market District and The Sculpture Garden, with a view of the Arkansas River, and our incredible six bridge skyline. In fact, Little Rock is home to the longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the world!  I think that speaks wonders for the importance of a lifestyle where the collaboration with nature is not only valued, but encouraged for overall wellness.

2.  Cost of living and quality of life for families with children 

    I recently asked our daughters if they would rather live on the beach.  They all answered that they love that we can easily visit the beach, and then come back to their favorite place, home. It was a beautiful thing to witness because 2 of our daughters, Ariella Love and Gwendolyn Rose were actually born in Hawaii.  Living in Hawaii in many ways was a dream come true.  But when we made the decision to move back to Little Rock, we found out shortly thereafter that my sweet Momma had stage 4 lung cancer.  We spent over 2 beautiful years being close to her and I always truly felt like living in Little Rock was such a blessing because it helped us spend more time with her since she only lived 4 hours away.  That’s one of the many advantages of Arkansas, location, location, location!  We are a relatively short drive away from most of the things that are important to our family life and allow us to thrive.  It takes us on average of approximately 11 minutes to get to most of our activities.  Day trips to surrounding areas are a common occurrence with our adventurous little girls! 

Another positive aspect of our location is that we get to experience all four seasons, along with the dreamiest 20 inches of record-breaking snowfall this past winter that gave our family the experience of a lifetime!  Living here has also afforded us the opportunity to live on the golf course, a true privilege with a beautiful view that I won’t allow myself to ever grow accustomed to, with quick access to enjoy our favorite game and amenities.  Actually, one of my husband’s contingencies upon moving back here was to become a member of a country club.  Golf is a very therapeutic outlet for my healthcare hero husband who serves on the mental health front lines as a psychiatrist.  We cherish our time spent together as a family playing golf and taking in the breathtaking sunset views!

3.  Major companies with ample employment opportunities: 

    I mentioned earlier that I moved here in 2009 for my residency training, and my husband actually moved here for the same reason.  I completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS) and my husband completed his Psychiatry Residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).  After my graduation, I worked at Baptist Health Hospital as a clinical pharmacist.  Many assume that Brent and I met at work, but I love that we actually didn’t.  However, both of our ambitions matched us to this state, and ultimately God led us to each other on a day where we were both just out enjoying another beautiful sunny Arkansas afternoon on the water.  We got married and moved away to travel the world in 2012, then returned in 2015 where my husband has had multiple opportunities in building relationships and fulfilling his life’s mission of healing the sick and bringing hope to the broken hearted.  

I call him a doctor, but he calls himself a humble servant.  I will forever be grateful for the hospital systems here in providing high quality healthcare, education, and employment opportunities for the next generation of healers.

4.  Emerging industries like food and technology: 

    My native Texan husband endearingly calls Little Rock, “little Austin.”  Living here is a whole vibe of cultural diversity, good music, art, community, the most delicious food, and in my opinion, some of the world’s best patio dining.  

Good conversations with my sweet French expatriate friend open my eyes even more to the beauty and wonder of how truly fortunate we are to live in a place like this.  Our children have become little foodies requesting meals at their favorite restaurants like The Fold and outings to their very favorite place, The Museum of Discovery, which was recently awarded one of the Top 10 Best Children’s Museums by USA Today! 

We have lived in 3 different neighborhoods here in Little Rock and each one of them was wonderfully unique in the experiences it provided our family.  Hillcrest is a historic neighborhood with a vibrant walking community where my love and I had our very first date after we met and the home in which we welcomed our third daughter, Florence Pearl.  Some of the best restaurants in town are only a short walk away, including the sweetest Saturday morning farmer’s market for locally grown and made foods and flowers.  The River Market downtown is another great neighborhood where everything is within walking distance along with great patios for those beautiful evenings, great music, and sweet sweet memories with my family that will be cherished forever.

    In conclusion, for the million other reasons that I could list for how grateful we are to call Arkansas home, the most important one is that we are exactly where we are meant to be, right now.  We truly believe that home is wherever we are together, and we are so blessed that our togetherness brought us here.  

*Dislaimer: while this is a sponsored post, all words, thoughts, opinions, experiences, & enthusiasms are our own.*

For more information visit this link at Arkansas State Tourism and follow the hashtag #visitarkansas

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