I am a city boy, born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis. My world changed in December when I took a job at the Perham Focus as the newspaper's main reporter. Now, here I am, in a town of just over 3,000 people, learning what small town living is all about. Some people have a way of always attracting the spotlight, but my “focus” will be on those who quietly go about their day making this community a better place to live. And since this is my new journey, too, I wanted to document my discovering what this "Perham pride" thing is all about. Everybody in Perham has a story, unique in their own way … 1 in 3,000.

Meeting Leona

Leona Cichy grew up in New Jersey, but she’s been visiting the Perham area almost her entire life. When Cichy’s friend moved to New York Mills during elementary school, they stayed best friends as Cichy frequently trekked back to visit. When Cichy was her friend’s maid of honor in 2014, she met a groomsman who eventually became her husband.

Cichy says the meeting came at a point where she was looking for what was next, so she decided to move to Minnesota and give the relationship a try.

Since moving to Minnesota three years ago, Cichy founded the Roots and Wings Yoga Studio, while also working in program development for the Boys and Girls Club.

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A lifelong dancer, Cichy discovered her passion for yoga during college. Cichy says she always wanted to be a yoga instructor, but never imagined it would turn into a full-time job.

“It’s a side gig that’s turned into more than that,” Cichy said last week in the studio space above Harmonious Architecture on Main Street.

Cichy’s favorite part of being an instructor is sharing the practice with people that aren’t as familiar with it.

“People have two ideas about yoga. Either it’s young girls doing super crazy upside down poses on Instagram, or it’s super spiritual ‘let me sit down and meditate for two hours,’” Cichy said.

While she admits it can be both of those, she says even taking a deep breath throughout the day is a form of yoga.

Cichy would tell anyone interested in starting yoga to reach out for a private session, or attend one of her foundations of yoga classes. The series covers the basics, in a question friendly environment, so there’s no risk of feeling intimidated when jumping into a full class.

After three years in Perham, the only thing Cichy misses about New Jersey is the 45-minute drive to either the ocean, the city or the mountains. Luckily Cichy doesn’t have to miss her family. Her parents, sister and brother all followed her out here shortly after she moved.

Cichy said Perham is a lot different than her native city of 56,000 people. However, living in a smaller community gives her a stronger connection to the people and places around her.

“I really see how people come together for the community,” she said. “Someone might do one thing, but they’re also involved with four other things that are happening in the community. Everyone helps to make it a good place to be for everyone.”