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A Beautiful Sight . . . Everyday

 

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine was admitted to the hospital for a “routine” procedure. She ended up in an ICU and had several more surgeries due to unexpected complications. Her recovery will be long and will involve another surgery.

A few days after I visited her in the hospital, I drove past a patch of prairie at dusk. I was in a hurry, but I thought that my friend would appreciate seeing the late fall colors vividly draped across this timeless landscape. I stopped quickly, backed up the car, jumped out, and took a picture on my phone before rushing on my way.

I emailed the image to my friend and in return discovered that taking the photo had as much of an impact on me as it did on her. She appreciated the beautiful view that she couldn’t get out to see for herself. And I realized that I had slowed down barely, but enough to be connected, at least for the moment, with the beauty around me.

I decided to take a photo of something beautiful for her (and me) everyday. Initially I missed sending images a couple of days when the weather was dark and rainy. I learned that I had to intentionally look for beauty. Now, during my drive into town everyday, I watch for something beautiful. If I don’t see something in the morning, I look in the afternoon, including when my canine companion, Beethoven, and I take a walk.

My search for beauty has become a powerful antidote to the frightening and depressing news of wild fires, hurricanes, mass shootings, and mean spirited Tweets and executive orders emanating from the White House. I had been struggling to cope with all of the depressing and demoralizing news, wanting to ignore it for my own sanity, but also fearing my silence would passively condone destructive actions and attitudes.

While I am still not totally sure what my role as a writer, teacher, friend, and grandmother is during this time, I sense I should be doing what I do best. And for now, I am finding, appreciating, and sharing beauty everyday, as an act of healing and strengthening, so I can continue to write, teach, and grandmother the best that I can during a trying time.

Women of Mayo Clinic: The Founding Generation has been named a Minnesota Book Award Finalist

IMG_1183 I am so grateful for this news. My goal in writing the book was to make more people aware of these inspirational women and to encourage others. This recognition will help further that cause at time when women’s history and stories are not sufficiently being represented in the media and publication world.

The honor is even more significant to me coming from a public library. Public libraries in the United States represent a cornerstone of our democracy, open to everyone, and empowering anyone willing to read something longer than a tweet!

Women of Mayo Clinic: The Founding Generation is a reality!

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A few weeks ago, I came home from a trip out of state and nearly stumbled over a box frozen to my porch. As I fumbled for my keys in the dark, I realized it must contain my complimentary copies of the book I have been writing for four years. Despite the chilly, dark February night, I was elated. I am so grateful that Minnesota Historical Society Press saw the value in these stories and offered to publish the boo9781681340005_RGBk. I am also grateful for everyone who helped me along the way and that list is long. I am going to post more soon about my adventures discovering and getting to know these strong, intelligent, and resilient women.

Mayo Clinic gave them a warm welcome by commissioning a play written and performed by the awarding winning actor Megan Cole, as well as funding an exhibit of twelve of the women, which is on display in Hage Atrium of the Siebens Building in Rochester through most of the month of March.

 

 

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So, ta-da! Be prepared to be inspired by these women.

Some of these stories have waiting 100 years to be told!! 

Another Minnesota Winter

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Today is a beautiful day in Minnesota. The sun is shining, illuminating a bright, blue sky. Freshly fallen snow covers trees, houses, and all open spaces with a whiteness as white as you can imagine. These are the pleasant remnants of Thursday’s blizzard.

The storm had been predicted well in advance, but it was late in arriving. We expected to wake up to a blizzard in progress, but instead there was only a cloudy, gray stillness. Some schools and businesses had already closed in anticipation, and downtown seemed deserted. People stopped moving, for the most part, staying put where they wanted to be when the storm hit. Many watched the mass of blue and purple creeping towards us on the radar screen, reminding me of the lines in Yeats’s poem, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” As the storm approached, businesses and schools abruptly began closing, although not a snowflake had fallen, nor the wind stirred. Even buses were canceled. I felt like a sitting duck, but even ducks have wings they can use for a quick escape. Anyone who has lived in Minnesota any time at all knows how storms can descend suddenly. One snowflake becomes a wall of snow in minutes.

And it did descend, the snow filling the air as the wind gusted. People scurried to get home.

By morning, nine inches of heavy snow had fallen on top of snow that had fallen only days before. We had barely recovered from two storms in the preceding five days. But this storm was worse, a blizzard, and one person died. I am surprised only one person. 1,900 cars collided or slid into ditches, utility poles, guardrails, and who knows what else. Mailboxes in rural areas leaned after being pummeled by snow pushed by plows. The governor called a state of emergency and released the National Guard to help clear the roads. Power outages left a few thousand in the dark and without heat. Two days later, we are left with roads glazed in thick, immovable ice. Salt apparently doesn’t work below a certain temperature, and we have been below that temperature almost all winter. It is scary driving. I try to keep one wheel on the shoulder of the road, which for some reason is the only clear spot on most roads. Is this any way to live?

It has been a long, cold winter, and it is only the end of February. Last year, we dealt with a heavy snowfall in May. This year it seems as if it got cold around Thanksgiving and hasn’t warmed up since. The temperatures have been below zero week after week, punctuated with polar vortexes bringing wind chills to fifty degrees below zero, colder than the surface of Mars, according to one account.

My mother and I have imagined going somewhere, but we can’t think of a good place to go. The winter has been hard almost everywhere. Cape Cod has had repeated storms. There are droughts and fires in California. The national weather map is grim.

So best to stay put, endure it, and try to enjoy the beauty. But don’t be deceived. In the photo here, those puffs of white snow clinging to the tree branches like cute marshmallows are actually balls of ice. When the wind blows they plummet onto cars and people below. It’s a Minnesota winter, people. Keep your heads down!