Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Poet Javier Sicilia leads 150,000 in march against Mexican drug violence

Poet Javier Sicilia's 24-year-old son is dead. He was found with six others who had apparently died of suffocation after being wrapped with masking tape and left inside a car. The deaths fit the pattern of drug-trade related killings in Mexico — killings designed to send a message to the government to cease its “war on drugs.”

Javier Sicilia silently marched to the Mexican capitol to make a difference. When he reached the capitol, this is what he said: read the translated script here:

His most powerful words apply to us all.

"We have walked and come here like this, in silence, because our pain is so large and so deep, and the horror it brings is so immense, that there are already no words to describe it."

"We are here to tell each other and to tell them that this pain in our souls and our bodies must not turn into hate or more violence, but rather be a lever to help us restore the love, peace, justice, dignity, and bustling democracy that we are losing, to tell each other and them that we think it is possible for the nation to be reborn again ... we still believe that it is possible to rescue and rebuild the social fabric of our towns, neighborhoods and cities. "

"If we don’t do this our children, our boys, our girls, will only inherit a house full of helplessness, of fear, of indolence, of cynicism, of brutality, and of deception,..."

Even though this is a problem occurring in Mexico, people in every country can understand this pain. We all want and need our governments to take the right action to protect its citizens. We all want to end the cruelty of criminals.
I'm so proud of Javier Sicilia and all the people who walked with him.

Friday, March 5, 2010

We're kinder than you are

Elk River, MN had a contest in which they completed 1,300 acts of kindness. This story was nice to read. I am extremely tired of news stories about random acts of crooks. I know it's not "Christian-like" to tell others of the kind things a person does, but I wonder why we're supposed to keep goodness a secret. By keeping good acts a secret, aren't we promoting a world where our kids only see bad and therefore deduce that good is wrong? I, for one, am excited that others share their stories of inspiration. Tell me more.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What's the Best that can happen?

Instead of asking, “What's the worst that can happen?”
Why don't we ask, “What's the Best that can happen?”

What's the Best that can happen...
To you?
To your family?
To your neighborhood?
To your world?

If you want to change your life, you have to change what you think about. I read somewhere that 90% of what we think about today, we already thought about yesterday. I don't know if that stat is accurate or how it was measured. But it kind of makes me want to think some brand new stuff today.

What's the Best that can happen?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wishes for the Holidays for Red Lake Rosie's Rescue

If you notice on the right side of my screen, I follow Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. It's a wonderful blog about rescuing animals. It's updated often and the stories of hope are so inspiring. On Saturday, Dec. 19th, the blog sent out a flyer to help raise money for the end of the year. It also mentioned the tireless efforts of Karen Good:

"Times are hard at Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. Last year Karen had a leave of absence from her teaching job, but this year she is working three days a week. She also lost the crucial help of Mike who took a job at the new casino. There is simply too much work for Karen to do and not enough hours to do it.
Winter makes everything harder and the circumstances more dire for homeless animals. On top of all that, there has been an outbreak of parvo. Puppies have died and Karen can't accept others until the risk has subsided.
I'm told she is as exhausted physically and emotionally as her friends have ever seen her. Send a donation if you can or send Karen a card to her address below or a comment on the blog. She needs to know how much her dedication to the animals of Red Lake is appreciated.
Karen Good
Red Lake Rosie's Rescue
23880 So. Good Road
Trail, MN 56684 "

If you know someone who lives near Trail, MN and would like to help, here's a wonderful opportunity. Anything you can do is always appreciated.

God Bless you all and may you have a very Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

CNN Heroes

One of the best things I’ve watched on TV was the CNN Heroes Awards. If you didn’t get the opportunity to see it and would like a little inspiration, here’s a link:

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The Brainerd Dispatch printed some essays from children about what they are thankful for. A few titles include:
"Family is greatest treasure" - Abbey Sutton
"A house in which to live" - Tristan Brecht
"Education, clothing and home" - Veronica VonSpreecken
"Have you ever thought how lucky you are?" - Jordan Whitehead

There are several more stories. To read them go to:

Have a peaceful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Saturday, I was able to enjoy the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (often abbreviated as TSO). TSO was founded in 1996. The band incorporates progressive rock, symphonic metal, heavy metal, and classical music.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has recorded and performed renditions of traditional Christmas songs, and these have been among their most popular works. They are also known for their elaborate concerts, complete with a full light show and dozens of pyrotechnics that are synchronized with their performance.

The group's name is inspired by the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia, which connects many cultures otherwise isolated, much like music.

I really like the fact that TSO often donates $1 from each ticket sold to a local charity in the city where they are performing. In Minneapolis, the money went to the children's hospital.

Another way they stay involved locally is by having the string section comprised of local musicians.

TSO is an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and instruction to children in poor public schools throughout the USA. The band has donated grants to LKR to help them hold free teacher trainings. They also sit on LKR's Honorary Board of Directors.

TSO contains two touring groups, informally known as TSO East and TSO West, although these descriptions are not entirely literal; before 2008, for example, TSO West historically played in Atlanta and Florida. Both groups have appeared in Midwestern cities such as Chicago and Indianapolis. Two separate touring groups were formed to allow the band to cover more ground in the short holiday timeframe, beginning early November to the first week in January.

Carson Williams, an electrical engineer from Mason, Ohio choreographed his outdoor Christmas lights to the song "Wizards in Winter" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

“Wizards in Winter”

A youtube link from West Virginia for you to listen and enjoy a ‘fireshow’.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 – Give to the Max Day!

Have you heard of GiveMN? It’s a new way to donate and raise money online.
Whether you want to donate money, run a fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit, or raise money as a nonprofit, GiveMN offers simple tools to achieve your goals.

It’s easy to use. For those of you interested in giving, just type in the name of the nonprofit you admire and give the amount that feels right to you.

On, “Give to the Max Day”, all donations made through the GiveMN website on Nov. 17 will be matched.

What a great way to do something important!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Honor for woman who honors vets

Riverside Elementary School students in Brainerd honored war veterans Wednesday during the school's annual Veterans Day ceremony. In a surprise move, Riverside Principal Cathy Engler took a moment during the ceremony to recognize one of the school's special volunteers who works hard each year to teach students the importance of remembering the veterans within their families.
Rose Robison, or Grandma Rose as students call her, has spent the past 27 years working at Riverside, the first 13 years in the food services department and the last 14 years as a foster grandparent. She volunteers five days a week for most of each school day, spending much of her time helping students learn to read.
Robison has been helping Engler organize the Veterans Day program for the past 17 years, said Engler. And for the past 15 years Robison has spearheaded the Riverside Veterans Wall project. The wall is actually two walls near the Riverside gym filled with paper "bricks" written with the names of students' family members who are veterans. Some feature photographs and news stories about their veterans. Students bring the bricks home and their parents help fill them out.Engler said for two years before the wall was created the school had a tree that featured the names of students' family members who are veterans for Veterans Day, but it became so popular it was difficult to find room for all the names on the tree.
Robison said many of the third- and fourth-graders help her put the bricks on the walls and each brick has a VFW poppy on it. The veterans wall continues to grow each year. Last year there were 554 bricks; this year there are 560 bricks.
"It's my favorite," Robison said of the wall. "The kids are so involved in it. This has always been a project I have always loved to do."Robison has been an active member of the VFW Auxiliary since she was 16. She's also a member of the Brainerd American Legion Auxiliary and her late husband, Robbie, was a World War II veteran. She said the students and staff at Riverside, who say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, have a genuine patriotism that is evident at the school. Both of Engler's parents are veterans so the annual Veterans Day ceremony means a great deal at the school. It means a lot to Robison, too. She participates each year, as does her brother, Matt Gilgenbach, who is a member of the VFW and American Legion Color Guards.
Robison said when community members stopped in to Riverside to vote last week many were amazed by the wall, stopping to read many of the names after they cast their ballots in the school board election in the gym.
"A lot of people don't know about it," said Robison. "It's a school I couldn't be more proud of."A few years ago when gas prices were at an all-time high, Robison decided she could no longer afford to drive five days a week to the school and was going to cut back on her days volunteering at the school. Students and staff took up a collection and bought Robison a gas card to encourage her to stay. Talking about it still brings tears to her eyes.Robison said after her husband died in 1991, she adopted the students and staff at Riverside as her family."I've made this a family for me and they've accepted me," Robison said with a smile. "I say, 'Look at all my kids.'"The Veterans Day presentation included musical performances by students as well as veteran Jim Kounkel, poetry and an informational presentation by Steve Rosenow, former county veterans service officer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Brainerd 9th-grader to be honored

What a great young lady! I wish we had many, many more of these stories.

It’s been awhile since a story ‘resonated’ (I’ve also been bogged down by home repairs).

Brainerd 9th-grader to be honored

When 15-year-old Sarah Fairbanks walked to the Brainerd High School South Campus media center Monday morning, she thought she was in trouble for something.
After all, Fairbanks was called out of her classroom to come down to the office and was told to speak to the counselor. Fairbanks said the teacher then had to do a "walk and talk" with her to the media center that made her even more nervous.
Once Fairbanks opened the door to the media center she figured out that she was not in trouble because she saw her parents, Lynn and Mike, smiling.
The ninth-grader knew something was going on. What was going on was Fairbanks was named the 2009 Youth Volunteer of the Year, which brought tears to her eyes as she hugged her family members.
Fairbanks will be honored at the annual Distinguished Service Awards banquet Dec. 17 at The Lodge in Baxter. The awards program is sponsored by Brainerd Community Action, Brainerd Jaycees and the Brainerd Dispatch.
Nancy Cross, Brainerd Community Action executive director, said there were several nominations for Youth Volunteer of the Year. Cross said Fairbanks was chosen for her well-roundedness in the community and how she had gone above and beyond in her volunteer endeavors. Cross said she is a leader in the community and is deserving of the award.
4-H leader Cindy Terwilliger, nominated Fairbanks for the award. Terwilliger said Fairbanks, who is a 4-H ambassador, has been involved in the Black Bear 4-H Club, a Nisswa area club, since she was 5. Terwilliger said Fairbanks has done a lot of community service and she's enjoyed every minute of it.
Fairbanks is involved in many 4-H activities, including the recent Crow Wing County 4-H Ambassadors' haunted house, she's helped with the 4-H Club's banquet and she takes photographs of 4-H activities throughout the year for a scrapbook.
Fairbanks not only volunteers in the community through 4-H, she also has been involved with the Mounted Eagles Therapeutic Horsemanship program. Fairbanks has been involved with the Mounted Eagles since she was a young child because her brother, Justin, was a rider there.
In Mounted Eagles, Fairbanks raised $2,200 for the "Loose Change Roundup" and through her leadership she created a project called "Giddy Up Games" where she developed and organized games to benefit the Mounted Eagles program and riders.
Fairbanks also volunteered at the Nisswa Children's Library in the reading program and she created a petting zoo program she does at the library and at Nisswa area events. Fairbanks takes her animals from home and shows them to the children.
"We live on a hobby farm and we have a mix of stuff," said Fairbanks. "We have miniature horses, goats, rabbits and ducks."
Fairbanks also volunteers at her church, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Pequot Lakes, where she plays the flute and helps with brat and rummage sales.
Fairbanks also helped plant trees at Fritz Loven Park, cleaned up after parades and planted and cared from the Heritage Garden at Pioneer Village.
"Volunteering makes you feel really good," said Fairbanks. "It doesn't feel like volunteering. It's a part of me, I just do it."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jane Doe No More Inc.

This story originally aired 2007 but I didn't see it until a few weeks ago. Because of the countless women I know who have been sexually assaulted, I thought it important to share this information. Most of the women I know, haven't come forward with their stories for various reasons... they don't want to 'be seen as weak and helpless'... or 'this happens to everyone, what's the big deal'... or they may live 'in total fear of telling another living soul'... or...

Whatever the reason, many women suffer in silence and denial. We don't have to. This is a situation where honesty is vital: to heal, to regain our sense of strength. We owe it to ourselves and each other.

"The mission at Jane Doe No More is simple and focused, with one main objective. We will improve the way society responds to victims of sexual assault. We will accomplish the mission through awareness and education about this horrific crime so that all victims of sexual assault will have the chance for a full and healthy recovery; thus shortening the time from crime to healing."

To read more on the story go to MSN. Also read the comments section. It will give you just a glimpse of how much this was needed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


There are several reasons why I like this concept of giving anonymously.
1. You can help whoever you want.
2. The money goes exactly to who you want it to.
3. It saves you and your recipient the embarrassment of the transaction. I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to accept charity and it's made worse by accepting a handout from someone I know.
4. It keeps you anonymous, so that your recipient won't expect you to continue to give more than you can.

Giving Anonymously began in 2005. Their motto is they aren't the charity, you are. Their books are open to the IRS so be aware of the rules that apply to giving.

Friday, August 14, 2009

65 years later, female WWII test pilots finally recognized

What an inspiring bunch of women. Please go to the link for more on the story.

St. Paul, Minn. — When Elizabeth Strohfus looked into the sky above her hometown of Faribault, Minn., during the height of the Great Depression, she saw a future that didn't involve working at the city clerk's office and struggling in poverty. She saw the clouds and the open air, and she wanted to be up there.
"It began as a young gal trying to climb as high as I could," she said. "I had that feeling that I wanted to get higher."
Strohfus went to the bank, and took out $100 to join a local flying club. She left behind her bicycle as collateral, and headed into the air.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, she quit her job and signed up for the newly formed Women's Air Force Service Pilots, where she became one of the first women in the United States to fly military planes.
The story of these women, known as WASPs, remains largely unknown. They flew the biggest bomber planes. One of the planes they flew, the Martin B-26 Marauder, was so dangerous that it became known as "The Widowmaker." They even attached a long piece of canvas to the back of their planes to allow men to practice hitting targets -- with live ammunition.
A famous female pilot, Jackie Cochran, spearheaded the effort. The military agreed to create the program in 1942, when they realized it would free up male pilots to go to war. The WASPs flew in the United States, since Congress refused to send them into combat or recognize them as official members of the military.
Last month, President Obama signed a bill to give the WASPs the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award for civilians. President Carter had previously granted the WASPs veteran status.
Strohfus and another Minnesota WASP, Mildred "Micky" Axton, will travel to Washington DC in a few months to receive their medals.
Sixty-seven years ago, Axton and Strohfus loaded up their suitcases, unsure of when they would return, and headed for Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. About 25,000 women applied for the program, and 1,800 were chosen.
Axton, 90, recounted her story on a recent afternoon at her Eden Prairie apartment, her walls covered with framed WASP-era photos, her carpeted floor blanketed with cardboard placards pasted with war memorabilia.
Unlike Strohfus, Axton had graduated from college with degrees in math and science. She vividly remembers her first flight as a licensed pilot in Coffeyville, Kan. Her great-grandmother insisted on being her first passenger.
"She said, 'Tip it over, Micky, so I can see better,'" Axton said, laughing. "I said, 'If I do that, we'll get killed.' That settled that."
When her brother left to fight in the Pacific front, Axton felt like she couldn't stay home. "There was no way to keep me from going," she said.
Axton and Strohfus left for Texas, where they lived in military barracks and wore uniforms discarded by male pilots.
"They were big," Strophus, 89, remembered. "Yank 'em up, roll up 'em, we didn't care. We wanted to fly airplanes."
The heat was sometimes unbearable. One night, Axton and her roommates decided to escape the stuffy barracks and sleep outside, but they quickly returned to the barracks after encountering a rattlesnake.
There were many close calls in the air. The WASPs acted as test pilots for aircraft that had been repaired after being damaged in combat. It was a job that didn't have many male volunteers, but the WASPs agreed to take on any job that allowed them to fly.
Axton told a story of a time she was flying a repaired twin-engine B-25 bomber, with a male co-pilot who sat behind her.
"We took off and it didn't act right," she said. "I knew it was trouble, and I called the tower and told them I had to bring it in."
The engine was quickly failing, and ambulances rushed to the scene. The male pilot started crying. "He thought he was going to get killed," she said.
Axton managed to bring the plane in. "I was a little shook up, but I was tickled to pieces that I brought it in and didn't hurt anything. It was a nice landing."
Her co-pilot did not share Axton's glee. He was removed from the plane by a medical team and carried away in an ambulance, sobbing.
The military knew that the WASPs would fly any plane, but male pilots had preferences. Rumors circulated about the dangers of certain planes, and the military asked the WASPs to shame the men into flying them. If a woman could fly a particular plane, the thinking went, so could a man.
This was how Strohfus ended up flying a "Widowmaker," the B-26. The heavy plane had a short wingspan, which required pilots to land the plane at a dangerously fast speed.
"Taking off or landing it was pretty iffy," Strohfus said. "So you had to be careful. You could crash very easily, but I thought it was great. Once you got it in the sky, it was a great plane to fly."
In between flying, the WASPs cultivated a unique culture, complete with their own mascot named Fifi, a female cartoon character sporting wings and blue flight goggles. On their way to the runway, the WASPs marched through the barracks, singing.
At a recent air show, Strohfus stood behind a booth commemorating her service, and eagerly broke into song, to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy:
"We are Yankee Doodle Pilots, Yankee Doodle, do or die! Real, live nieces of our Uncle Sam, born with a yearning to fly. Keep in step to all our classes, March to flight line with our pals. Yankee Doodle came to Texas just to fly the PTs! We are those Yankee Doodle Gals."
But the mood was not always so upbeat. One night, Axton stood next to the runway, getting ready to fly, when she looked up into the sky, just in time to see a plane descend rapidly and crash a few hundred feet in front of her.
Several of the WASPs started to cry, but they were ordered to fly that night, or else leave the program.
"We saw it happen," Axton said. "We were right there waiting to fly. Can you imagine?"
The pilot who died that night was one of 38 WASPs killed while flying. Another was Axton's close friend and roommate, Gertrude Tompkins-Silver. She took off in a P-51 fighter and crashed into the Santa Monica Bay in California. Her body was never recovered.
When WASPs died, the military refused to pay to send their bodies home, or provide a military funeral. Instead, the women took up collections for the families to cover the costs.
"They never did get a proper burial," Axton said. "The families had to bury them themselves. That's how those men in Congress were then."
The military disbanded the WASP program in 1944, before the war ended, and sent the women home. Military officials said they had enough pilots, as fewer male pilots had died in combat than expected.
A letter sent to the WASPs said, in part, "You have freed male pilots for other work, but now the war situation has changed and the time has come when your volunteered services are no longer needed."
Axton went on to have a successful career at Boeing, and eventually moved to Minnesota. The news hit Strohfus much harder.
"When I got out, no one wanted a woman pilot," she said. "I went to Northwest Airlines and showed them my credentials. I had sea plane, I had a commercial rating, and I had 1,000 hours of flying time. They were very impressed. They surely would like me in their front office. I told 'em what they could do with their front office."
The rejection stung. "I wanted so badly to be out flying that it kind of broke my heart, but that's OK, because that was the way it was."
After the war, "nobody wanted to hear about women pilots," Strohfus said. "They didn't even know we existed. I had everything in my closet, my uniform, my pictures, my books. I told the kids, 'When I die, put it in my coffin.'"
But when the Air Force allowed female pilots to start training in 1976, Strohfus started going to air shows and schools to tell her story.
When she was 72 years old, she asked the military if she could fly the F-16 as a co-pilot. Her request was granted, and she flew with a male pilot over the skies of Duluth. She took over the controls mid-flight.
"I said, 'I'll just do a gentle turn,'" she said. "I did 6 Gs. He said, 'Take it easy. I don't have a brown bag.' I said, 'You can take mine. I don't need it.'"
Strohfus said she's glad to finally receive recognition for her achievements, but then she paused, grinned, and said, "The award is nice, but heck, I just like to fly airplanes."

Friday, July 31, 2009


In a time when ‘the economy’ is in such a mess, jobs are scarce, and money is non-existent for so many of us, I looked for options out of the usual scope of work.

I found two I thought were interesting.
If you love to travel and aren’t tied to your current community
If you are interested in helping people all over the world
If you are tired of feeling trapped where you are
If you really just need to get out and do something instead of stare blankly at all the help wanted sections

These may be exciting options for you.
Why not consider the Peace Corps?
Or the UN?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Life You are Meant to Live

Why are so many of us unable to live the life we dreamed?

If we lived as though our lives were exactly what we wanted, would they become so?

What would that look like?

What holds us back?

In my case, as in most others, I would guess money is the culprit. If I could get paid to write, read, travel, explore the world, help others: that would be living my dream.

Imagine no Ponzi scandals to steal the money of the elderly. No pyramid schemes to steal the cash of family and friends. No e-mails from rich princes to steal gullible people’s cash. No suits and dresses, no corporate ladders that topple. No crabby bosses. No more ruining your health and working yourself to death. No more missing out on precious family moments.

Just you, your loved ones, and your inspirations. Creating the life you were always meant to live.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Philanthropists in our own backyard

Mike O’Rourke from the Brainerd Dispatch brought forth this story. On July 9, 2009, Mr. and Mrs. Arnie Johnson from Brainerd, MN are receiving an award for their giving. Mrs. Jo Ann Johnson wondered why that was worth an award. “Everybody should be doing something,” she said. The Johnson’s have been married for more than 50 years and that’s a wonderful story by itself. Some of the organizations the Johnson’s give to include Project Haiti, a mission in Uganda, Teen Challenge, PORT, Bridges of Hope, Youth Investment, Timber Bay, the women's shelter, and Timberwood Church of Nisswa. They both find it hard to understand people who are blessed with wealth and who don't feel compelled to share it.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation (BLACF) is honoring the Johnson’s. The award is BLACF’s way of saying thank-you. The award has been bestowed upon community members such as Bruce and Kathy Buxton, Bernie and Linda Roberts, John Sullivan, and Fran and Clarence Holden.
The Foundation was established in 1998 to link donors with the needs of our community.

Read more here:

Dated June 27th, 2009

A Greater Love

I watched a movie recently, which left me questioning humanity and our lack of progress. Perhaps I haven’t seen enough multi-media or war to become desensitized to violence.

I like my movies to have heroes and Clint Eastwood has always been an icon of one of those rough and tumble, imperfect, movie heroes. “Gran Torino” is one of Mr. Eastwood’s latest. The movie is filled with racism, sexism, and language that made me cringe (especially because it reminded me of the way my step-dad used to talk).

The biggest thing I walked away from the movie with was anger. Anger so deep it left me momentarily motionless. How could anyone watch what happened to Sue, Walt, or Thao and not want to grab an arsenal of weapons and destroy that gang?

But one of the points in the movie was to show there had to be a different way. I knew Walt was smart and had guts, so I knew he wasn’t going to load up his gun and shoot up the town. But I felt a kick in the gut when the best thing the movie writers could come up with was Walt sacrificing himself, especially when the desired outcome was not guaranteed.

Come on people! There has got to be a better way!

I know the verse, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

But one more death doesn’t seem to be the answer. Humans have been on this earth for thousands of years. We continue to destroy each other as well as the planet that sustains us. My brain just hurts realizing that after all this time, this is what we do. We haven’t outgrown our childish need to belittle the other guy. Can we ever learn how to preserve and defend ourselves without the playground bully antics of coming back with bigger weapons and more henchmen?

It bothers me that there are people out there with more intelligence, more education, more resources than I and yet we can’t master self-control, a fearless peace, or grant all people an honorable dignity.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The moment is long overdue for us to become moral and worthy ancestors. Peter G. Peterson

I will not be advocating Mr. Peterson’s foundation only because I haven’t investigated it thoroughly.

However, I am advocating his statement that “the moment is long overdue for us to become moral and worthy ancestors.”

Peter G. Peterson cofounded the Blackstone Group and at age 81 became an instant billionaire.

He didn’t want to sit on his butt and throw his money away on silly things like yachts. He wanted to do good like the philanthropists he admired. He wondered, “But to which worthy cause would I direct my money?”

Mr. Peterson decided to commit $1 billion to the Peter G. Peterson foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to bring awareness to economic challenges threatening America. The goal is to bring Americans “together to find sensible, sustainable solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results.”

Read more here:

Mr. Peterson had this to say about our broken political system, “Our representatives, unlike our Founding Fathers, see politics as a career. As a result, they are focused not on the next generation, but on the next election….Too often, our political leaders are just enablers, co-conspirators in a disingenuous and greedy silence. Our children are unrepresented. The future is unrepresented. The moment is long overdue for us to become moral and worthy ancestors. So I decided to set up a different kind of foundation, one that would focus on America's key fiscal-sustainability challenges. The fact is, for most of these challenges, there are workable solutions. Our problem is not a lack of such options. It is a lack of will to do something about them.”

More from his Newsweek article here:

You have to admire the goal of getting our country out of debt and preserving a future for our children.

Friday, June 12, 2009

If you want to be successful, it's just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing. Will Rogers

Will Rogers was a comedian and entertainer. And as with all great comics, his words had much deeper implications.

In light of Will’s quote and my current pursuit of “success”, I’ve been reading everything I can borrow from the library.

My most recent book is entitled, “What Should I Do with My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question” by Po Bronson. I’m only on chapter 11 of this 54 chapter book. My brain and emotions are set on fire, reading of other ‘crazy, daydreaming, slackers’ who know they only have one life to live and they wanna get it right. They are relentlessly pursued by their struggle to find their passion, only to be made fun of by people who are either born knowing their passion, or by others who don’t care if they ever get it, or by people who think the pursuit is childish and live in ‘the real world’.

My life is in the ‘begin again’ phase. My one and only child has graduated and left home. So my days aren’t filled with continuous parental worry. I recently recovered from a long physical illness and a car accident. My health is now better than it has been in over 10 years. I have a Bachelor’s in Education with minors in Early Childhood, Psychology, and Library Media. My plan was to spend 10-20 years in each area: teaching, counseling, and retiring as a librarian. I ran the entire length of my plan in 15 years – having worked in childcare, preschool, as a school crisis interventionist, and assistant librarian. I already did all I was determined to do (as well as worked in many other career-related and non-career-related jobs). I will always love kids, books, and helping people. But I need something new.

My confidence has been shaken more than a few times. I’m apprehensive about riding my motorcycle since my car wreck. I’ve spent more than a few nights rehashing some of my work related choices: I should’ve handled some things differently, I should’ve listened more, I should’ve known what that child, parent, person was struggling through, I should’ve seen the signs. I should have…

Now what?

Every single day, I search through the help wanted sections of all the local papers. I search through the Job Service site. I search online for jobs. Only to see headlines like this: “300 applicants for 8.5 teaching jobs” Are you kidding me?

Go back to college? The idea is exciting to me but the debt is not. The first time I went to college full time, I also worked several part-time jobs. It was exhausting.

Start my own business? Doing what? “Do what you love,” they say. Aside from loving all the people in my life, I love this - writing! I love writing about ideals and values. I love sharing them with others. I love spreading around stories about volunteers, great organizations, philanthropists, and super-heroes. I love honoring the good guys. I keep hoping it will help people feel validated and give more people a sense of purpose. With our over-crowded jails, our insane government debt and current economy, our entire world fighting terrorism, and after hearing one senseless heart-wrecking story after another, I just need to do this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I’m always on the hunt for people or groups who are trying to benefit the world we live in. One of my Google searches led me to this site.

“Our Vision
We would like to live in a world where:
All people can lead free and dignified lives.
Every person who wants to help another has the ability to do so.
No opportunities for action or collaboration are missed or wasted.

Our Mission
Action Without Borders connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.
AWB is independent of any government, political ideology, or religious creed. Our work is guided by the common desire of our members and supporters to find practical solutions to social and environmental problems, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect.”

Would you like to live in a world like this?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


One of our relative’s is getting treatment for cancer in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He has a site on CaringBridge. One of the journal entries told us about how in between treatments last month, he and his wife took in a Twin’s game (the Twin’s won). They took the city bus to the game. A group called, “Mad dads” was on the bus, protecting everyone from violence. That prompted me to do a little research.

MADDADS is an Acronym: Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder.

MAD DADS, Inc. was founded in May 1989 by a group of concerned Omaha Nebraska African-American men and parents who were fed up with gang violence and the flow of illegal drugs in their community. These men understood that they could not hold any one responsible for this but themselves, because they had allowed this to happen. They presented themselves as positive role models and concerned loving parents who were a visible presence in communities against the negative forces destroying children, families and neighborhoods.

The Minneapolis Chapter of MAD DADS was created in 1998 and adopted the goals of its National Chapter. MAD DADS has, at the request of law enforcement representatives, expanded services to some suburban areas.

A key ingredient to the program’s success is visible and vocal presence in neighborhoods and area schools. MAD DADS is an agency that enlists other community-based assets, including law enforcement representatives; judicial members and others who want to provide a positive environment for children, families and cities.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wish upon a Hero

“Everyone has a wish. Anyone can be a hero.”

Wish Upon A Hero was founded by Dave Girgenti in September 2007. The mantra became “No wish too large and no hero too small.”

This is a one of a kind service designed to connect those in need with people that can truly change their lives

Cast a wish
Wish Upon A Hero is completely free to its users, allowing everyone who registers the opportunity to cast up to three wishes at a time. Because Wish Upon A Hero is designed to help everyone, wishes can be big or small, elaborate or simple, based on financial need or just asking for a simple favor.

Be a hero
Wish Upon A Hero is a unique venue for any individual, organization, or company looking to make a difference in someone’s life, or the lives of countless people. Heroes come in all ages and from all walks of life. All of us, from our nation’s most powerful corporations to individual philanthropists, and those with limited financial means, can be someone’s hero:
*A man who buys uniforms for his town’s little league team.
*A plastic surgeon brings his skill to the aid of an uninsured breast cancer survivor.
*A national appliance retailer that donates a refrigerator to a single mom with a newborn.
*A groundskeeper at Yankee stadium who helps a woman fulfill her father’s lifelong dream of throwing a single pitch across home plate.
*A group of 8th graders that rally behind a fellow student whose home was lost in a fire.
*A woman who writes to a man in Seattle to say, “I think I’m the sister you’ve been looking for since we were separated 21 years ago.”
*A female soldier stationed in Iraq who says, “yes, I will.”

Once a wish is granted, the hero can choose to remain anonymous, or be formally recognized on the Wish Upon A Hero website.

Sign up and post a Wish or become a Hero today. Everyone can help anyone.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Project New Hope

Project New Hope offers Retreats for Veterans and their families with many services to assist in managing their lives after wartime service.

The Military Family Retreats are FREE to ALL combat veterans, whether they served in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever they were needed.

Retreat locations are in the quiet, pristine, woodlands.

There are many ways to help this program continue to be a success.

Please contact Bruce Billington at if you or someone you know may be interested in participating in a retreat.

Bruce Billington is a Crosslake resident, and one of a group of people who helped organize Project New Hope for war-weary veterans. Mr. Billington is a U.S. Navy Persian Gulf War Veteran.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NCAA Division II national championship

Pete Mohs and I must have been sharing a brain when it came to writing about the NCAA Division II national championship.
I intended to start my story off with a line similar to ‘getting second chances’, but Pete beat me to it.

Flecia Foster and Teresa Parker are two basketball players from Pequot Lakes. They were seniors when they helped take their high school team to state in 2005. They lost the state game back then.

But on March 27th, 2009, they had another opportunity to win ‘the big game’. The Minnesota State University of Mankato Maverick’s beat Franklin Pierce’s Raven’s to win the NCAA Division II National Championship!

I watched this game on TV. It was a great fast-paced, close-scoring, high-point game. The Maverick’s won with a score of 103-94. The Mavericks and Ravens combined points were a championship record of 197 points.

I wish the best to Flecia Foster and Teresa Parker and I’m proud of them.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I needed a story that didn’t involve such overwhelming pain and loss. And here it is: Real Life Super Heroes. KSTP presented a story on real life Twin Cities super heroes. Thank-you Chris O’Connell for reporting the story.

What’s most amazing about these superheroes is their volunteer work. They bring food for the hungry, walk to raise money for cures, protect abused women and children. We regular folks can do that, too.

I’ve been looking for these people for a long time. I’ve searched the internet, read the papers, and wrote stories prayerfully waiting for them to appear. If I had any skills I would be one of them. But this is as close as I can get to making my own little difference in the world. Please accept this meager gift, it’s the best I have for now.

If you need a super hero, here are a few places you can search.



and if you want your heroes from the Minnesota/Wisconsin area, try the

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March is Women’s History Month

Do some of you wonder why we need a Women’s History Month?

Let me give you an example of why we need Women’s History Month. Can you answer any of the following questions?
1. How many women explorers/adventurers can you name?
2. Who was the first woman to run for President of the United States?
3. Who wrote the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment, in 1923?
4. What leading suffragist was arrested and convicted of attempting to vote in the 1872 election?
5. Who was the first Black woman elected to Congress?
6. What woman was turned down by 29 medical schools before being accepted as a student, graduated at the head of her class, and became the first licensed woman doctor in the U.S.?
7. Who drove a stagecoach across the roughest part of the West without anyone knowing until she died that she was a woman?
8. Who was the first Hispanic woman to serve as U.S. Treasurer?

I’m not giving you the answers to any of these questions. You’re mission is to go find the answers yourself.

If you would like to read a book about strong, courageous women; I recommend “How to be Like Women of Influence: Life Lessons From 20 of the Greatest", by Pat and Ruth Williams. The values in these women’s life stories are remarkably motivating. If you need a little kick in the pants to reach your dreams, I suggest reading the discussion questions in the back of the book. And answer those questions! How do you carry on in the face of adversity? How do you make a stand for what you believe? Are you waiting for someone else’s permission to get started in things important to you? What are your excuses?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Talk

Mike Holst was the guest speaker at the Crosslake Area Library Book Talk this past Monday.

Mr. Holst is a local author and columnist for the Northland Press. I read his first published novel, "A Long Way Back”. I liked the believability of the story. There’s a plane crash, a family's strong will to survive, and unexpected help from the wilderness. It was a good, action-packed story written for adults without the constant barrage of vulgarness often found in adult books.

His second novel, "Nothing to Lose," is the story of a Minneapolis police detective who is killed in the line of duty and his wife's attempt to find his murderer.

The new book, "No Clues in the Ashes," is a novel that takes place in Minneapolis and is about a fire department. It draws on Mike’s experiences during his years as a fireman in the Minneapolis metro area.

Reading Mr. Holst’s book and columns in the Northland Press made me feel as if he were a friend I hadn’t gotten to visit with often enough. He is the kind of person you feel lucky to know. Mr. Holst’s presentation was comfortable, often making people smile and laugh. His love for his wife, Kitty is deeply admirable and sweet. Kitty is sometimes the target of some of his funny stories, but she was also given credit for the tremendous support she gives her husband as he writes. I also wonder if Kitty isn’t the basis for the strong female characters Mike has in his books?

Mike Holst’s books are available at local libraries, book stores, and numerous online sites. If you want to read some good Minnesota based fiction, check out these stories.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Pay It Forward Tour

The goal of the Pay It Forward Tour is a simple one: to change the world.

About 30 students left Bemidji, MN Friday afternoon on the weeklong tour, which is sponsored by Students Today Leaders Forever, a nonprofit organization that originated at the University of Minnesota in 2004. The STLF mission is to reveal leadership through service, relationships and actions.

The term “pay it forward” means to give to someone who in turns gives to someone else, rather than paying back.

The Tour will take the students through the central United States, from Wisconsin to Texas, as they help people through service projects. Most of the participants are BSU students, but a few are high school students. The first stop is Spooner, Wis., where students will do a recycling project and help a family in need move.
In Rockford, Ill., they will help at a nursing home and visit with residents.
They will help build a river trail and fix up a baseball field in Hannibal, Mo., and work with mentally disabled adults in Katy, Texas.
The tour will end in San Antonio, Texas, where the service project will be determined by the national STLF organization, Meehlhause said.
The students will stay at churches, a community center and a YMCA before staying in a hotel in San Antonio. They will return to Bemidji March 14.

To follow the tour, read their blog here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March is Minnesota Food Shelf month

Don’t let your neighbors go hungry.

Food donations to the Brainerd Salvation Army may be dropped off at 208 S. Fifth St. in Brainerd. Monetary donations may be made to Salvation Army, P.O. Box 385, Brainerd, MN 56401 and note March Food Share. U.S. Bank also is a drop-off location.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MS Awareness Week March 2 to 8, 2009

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Minnesota Chapter will observe MS Awareness Week March 2 to 8 as part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness about a chronic disease of the central nervous system that affects more than 9,000 people in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The week will be marked by the first ever federal MS Awareness Week Resolution in Congress, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of California. Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to visit , which features an online toolkit with tools, resources and information.
MS Awareness Week follows a recent research breakthrough regarding the potential link between vitamin D and the risk of developing MS, which may help explain why prevalence of MS is higher in places with less sunlight, like Minnesota.

More info here:

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Feel Broken

I’ve been in a hard spot this week. In the midst of many family lay-offs, non-stop winter, and my one and only child gambling with his future, I feel broken.
I’m disgusted by the high profile of ‘me-ism’, ‘where’s my part of the stimulus’, and tight-lipped fear.
I’m revolted by the lack of honor, ingenuity, and common sense.
And I feel old when I say this but what is with all these young adults living at home, not working, and not making plans for their future? I see so many parents working so hard, loving their kids more than their very own life, and what do they get in return – lazy kids who expect ‘more’! If you know of any kids that understand what hard work and honor are, please let me know because I am sorely disappointed.
I apologize to all of you good kids out there. I gotta believe you’re just not getting noticed for all that you do. Sometimes that happens, the bad gets center attention and the good gets dumped on the side of the road. I beg you, please don’t give up.
I’ll just have to try harder to find you. I’ve been in some amazing 2 nd grade classrooms, where I met conscientious, hardworking children. I would love to meet some older people who put forth the same conscientious effort to figure out right from wrong.
I’m determined not to continue feeling broken. Reinforcements are on their way. Some of these young people will figure things out.
After all, the world is at stake here.
All of us have our giant egos in play;
whether we suffer from delusions of grandeur and believe everything we do is perfect;
or suffer from severe inadequacy where we feel we do nothing good;
or swing drastically between the two.
If we don’t stand up and do the universally right thing, who will? And what direction does that send humanity?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good Sportsmanship

Just when you think high school sports are getting disgustingly out of control – the screaming parents, the spoiled kids, the win-at-any-cost coaches - here comes a story to change your mind.

Milwaukee Madison senior, Johntell Franklin lost his mother to cancer and planned to sit out in the game against DeKalb. He went to cheer on his team but then changed his mind and wanted to play. His coach put him in the game. Mr. Franklin’s name wasn’t on the roster and by the rules this was a technical.

The refs had no choice but to call the technical, which meant the other team had to shoot two free throws. DeKalb told the refs they didn’t want to. Finally, DeKalb senior, Darius McNeal went to the line and on purposely missed both of his shots.

“I did it for the guys who lost his mom. It was the right thing to do.” McNeal reportedly said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Other ways to help the world. – Each click gives food, sponsors mammograms, pays for children’s healthcare, pays for books, protects habitat, and helps rescue animals. - Each click gives 6 days access to clean water, helps a village feed itself, gives 2 days access to education, and helps finance a loan. - Play a game with English vocabulary words, for every word you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. - Your mission here is to locate the place given to you [e.g. Rome, Italy], if your answer is correct, they donate 10 cups water, they donate less water, the less accurate your answer is. - They give to the charity of your choice when you search through this search engine.

Brave People

I am exceptionally fortunate to know countless inspiring, brave people who put their lives on the line to make this world a better place. I just had to write about a few of them.

We have many friends and family members in the military. They have all done brave things. Some have finished their military duty and chose jobs protecting us here in America. Some have brought home purple hearts, and still chose to re-enlist. Here’s a glimpse of one of the people we know:

Alongside these brave military people, we know people who go on mission trips. They go to help the homeless and hungry. They go to other countries to help them with visual and dental needs. They go to teach English. They go to help, wherever they are needed, no matter what kind of dangerous adversity they may face.

We know people who despite tremendous physical, mental, and emotional challenges manage to work their hardest to make a real positive difference everyday. We know people who became mentors, foster parents, and adoptive parents. We know people who donate to the Food shelf, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Women’s shelters, and many other places. We know people who volunteer their time at many different school, social service, and civic organizations.

Wow! How did I get so lucky to know so many great people?

Monday, February 16, 2009

What does Freedom mean to you?

The Brainerd Elks Lodge Americanism essay contest "What Freedom Means To Me" was recently held in area fifth through eighth grades.
Below is the website where you can find other essays. I posted Miss Iverson’s essay here.
By Abigail Iverson Grade 8, Forestview Middle School
"For the land of the free and the home of the brave." The words of our national anthem describe America as only our founding fathers could. But do we know what freedom really means? America is known around the world as a safe haven against famine, persecution, suffering. The Statue of Liberty greeted our ancestors as they neared their future, reminding them of the promise I freedom.
Freedom means the ability to make decisions. In America, we have the freedom to choose our leaders, jobs, education, lifestyle, future, and it doesn't stop there. Simple day-to-day decisions we don't even think about are refused to others around the world. Freedom to run, laugh, play. Freedom to live.
Freedom means not only being able to dream, but having the ability to turn your dreams into reality. In America we have the privilege to follow our dreams and do the impossible. In less than 100 years, our country has gone from segregation to our first African American president. One man's dreams have become a symbol of change and hope for many.
America is truly the land of the free. The spirit of freedom wrote our Constitution, set us free from the British and shaped our country into the democracy it is today. Freedom is the heart of America. It makes us who we are. I am proud to live in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Freedom for one and all, for the sick, hurt, suffering, hopeful I freedom.

Monday, February 9, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

If like me you're interested to read what’s in the 778 pages of the latest $827 billion economic stimulus package, here you go:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Crosslake Winterfest

Crosslake Winterfest was this past weekend. We were able to take a helicopter ride and get a picture of our home. Wow it looks different from the air. It's not really impressive unless you live there. Click on the photo to get a "little" better view. I circled our house.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Lakes Area Restorative Justice

Have you heard about this opportunity?
It’s a program intended to make kids who commit minor crimes accountable and show them how they harmed others. Over 90% of kids who complete this program do not commit another offense.
If you would like to keep kids out of juvenile and help them turn their life around, this may be a volunteer opportunity for you.
Here is the homepage:
If you’re interested, just click on the volunteer section and see if you qualify.

Step children

I am/was a step child. My step dad passed away quite some time ago. I remember one day when I was a young girl about 9 years old. My step dad got a visit from a friend he hadn’t seen in a long time. As this friend was about to leave, he turned to me and said, “You better get on your knees and thank this man for taking you in, most men won’t take in other men’s bas***d’s.”
I was often referred to as “one of her brats”.
I never heard or saw that in other families. I have witnessed families where step children are blended in so seamlessly; the outside world would not know who was biological and who was not. So it surprised me to grow up and notice the negative things people still do to step children. Saying things like, “You’re just a step kid so you don’t really count.” Or taking actions such as removing step children from pictures because they “aren’t part of the blood line.”
I wonder if God sees it that way. From what I read in the Bible, we are all His children. We are all welcome in His house. We all have a seat at His table. I wonder if Joseph ever said to Jesus, “you don’t count because you’re just a step child.”
Mother Theresa said, “The worst hunger is for love. The worst sickness is feeling that no one wants you.”
In a day when gangs are prevalent, when kids need love and guidance more than ever, how can we look at any child and say, “you don’t belong.”

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Have you been listening to our politicians lately?

Our Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s State of the State Address, the confirmation hearings, President George Bush’s Farewell Speech, and President-elect Barack Obama’s speeches leading up to his inauguration this coming week – all are so inspiring, so hopeful, so positive, and gracious. I am motivated by these events.
At the same time, I refuse to be blindly led down a path of fluffy pretentiousness. I expect my politicians to be honorable and accountable. Some may say that’s a ridiculous expectation. But it’s our job to keep them accountable. If they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, it’s in large part, our fault.
For instance, concerning the extremely immeasurable “Bail Out”, ask questions. Where’s the money coming from? Where is it going? Ask your city, county, and state politicians. Is it going to your local lending institution, automobile manufacturer, or neighbors business? You have a right to know. We need to know how much our children and grandchildren will be forced to repay. You have a right to know how the folks getting the bailout money are using it. Write a letter, make a phone call, send an e-mail – to anyone getting the money, to anyone giving the money, to anyone who knows where the money’s coming from and where it’s going. Find out what’s going on.
And don’t let the bailout be the only subject that you seek answers for. This is a big world and we need to educate ourselves on what’s happening around us. Ask, and keep asking until the answers are clear to you.