Peace, Hope, and Coincidences

Today, September 21, is the International Day of Peace. The 2022 theme for the International Day of Peace is “End racism. Build peace.” internationaldayofpeace.org

WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE?

The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”

To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”; the inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”. (Wikipedia)

Coincidentally, I’m reading “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” by Jane Goodall and Douglas Carlton Abrams, with Gail Hudson.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56268863-the-book-of-hope

I’m about halfway through the book. Today I happened to read about Jane’s experience with the UN International Day of Peace in New York. I’ll let her tell the story:

“Last year, on the UN International Day of Peace, I took part in a very special ceremony in New York City, along with about 20 high school children from across America. We all gathered around the Survivor Tree—the tree who was rescued after she was crushed and wounded on 9/11. We looked up at the strong branches reaching toward the sky.

Only a short time before, they had been filled with beautiful white blossoms, and now the leaves were beginning to fall. We stood silently and prayed for peace on earth and for a new respect for animals and nature. I looked around at the young faces—the faces of those who would inherit the planet wounded by countless generations of humans.

And then I saw it. I saw the neat perfection of the nest of some small bird. I imagined the parents feeding the nestlings, the fledging, the final flight into the as-yet-unknown world. The children were also staring up at the nest. Some smiled, others had tears in their eyes. They, too, were ready to move out into the world. The Survivor Tree, brought back from the dead, had not only put out new leaves herself but also nurtured the lives of others.

Now do you understand how I dare hope?”

In the opening of this book, Jane says, “Jane is almost 90 years old,” you may be thinking, “if she is aware of what is going on in the world, how can she still be writing about hope? She is probably giving in to wishful thinking. She is not facing up to the facts.”

But Jane insists she is facing facts, and she writes an entire book giving us facts to base our hopes on.

I believe in Jane. I believe in Hope. Maybe some of us are genetically wired to see hope all around us. I believe Peace is possible. When I say this, some folks assume I’ve lived a charmed life of ease. As if I have no idea how difficult life can be: despite enduring severe poverty, times of hunger, being in foster care, filling out welfare forms since I was 9 years old because my parents couldn’t read, working 23 jobs just to get to the point where I didn’t feel like I was always drowning, etc…

Still, I believe in hope and peace.

My imagination can see a world filled with peace, goodness, and vibrant energy. It’s all right there in front of our faces, just waiting for us to open our hearts and brains enough to bring it forth.

It’s possible.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

Gentle Friday Encouragements

To everyone having a difficult day, week, month, year? – I’m holding you in my thoughts and in my heart.

You are incredible, you can face anything in your life, you have the strength within yourself.

You are not alone.

Please be easy on yourself.

You’re doing the best you can.

You’re still here, trying to live a better life, and make the world a better place.

Now is the time to recognize your worth. You’re a Precious human being, with a Beautiful soul.

Love yourself.

Send out hugs and love with your smiles, your eyes, and your words.

Keep the encouragement going.

Lift up every person around you in the way you need to be lifted.

May we fill our homes and neighborhoods with Love, Peace, and Health.

You and I can do this, together.

Health, Research, and Trust Yourself

The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness” by Sarah Ramey

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33516728-the-lady-s-handbook-for-her-mysterious-illness

This book offers a long and wide-open look at the struggle one woman had (and often many women have) in trying to find the answers to her mysterious illnesses. I appreciated the author’s courage in sharing her story. In the end, Sarah found some very real reasons for her illness, and was able to take actions that helped her.

Let me get a few negatives out of the way:

  1. The author tells us she is a privileged young lady whose parents are both doctors, therefore they have the ability to contact every professional they know to consult on Sarah’s case. They take care of Sarah in ways not possible for most of the rest of us. They move her back and forth across the United States whenever Sarah wants to try living on her own. They sit by her bedside for months/years when she’s too weak and sick to take care of herself. Most of us would’ve had the misfortune of dying because we do not have any healthy, wealthy people in our lives to help us.
  2. I believe in telling the truth, but I’m not a fan of criticizing doctors. Doctors are humans. They go to school for many years to try to help people get better. They’re often overworked with far too many patients. And sure, they suffer from the same imperfections as the rest of us – they can be racist, sexist, and many other -ists… They have bad days, can be jerks, and many can’t see beyond their typical textbook learnings. In the same way I don’t want them to see me as a difficult patient or gossip about my shortcomings, I don’t want to gossip about theirs. Just stick to the facts please.
  3. Rambling. I skimmed areas.

I read a few criticisms:

  • ‘she used the wrong terminology’
  • ‘she doesn’t look sick’
  • ‘if she’s so sick how did she…’

Many of those words seem to be spoken by people who don’t understand that:

Most of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well.” ~Winston Churchill

What I loved about Sarah’s story – once she realized other women were suffering similar mistreatment, she made it her focus to help women everywhere! She put in a tremendous amount of research, trying to find answers to many of the mysterious illnesses that seem to plague (mostly) women. Thank-you!

One thing I truly valued from this story was the daring of Sarah to share her illnesses and all the conduct around it. She shares openly; doctor mistakes, her mistakes, all the efforts made to heal, and other random maybe-connected things.

I’m not always brave enough to share negative parts of my life despite encouraging myself to share both the good and bad as equally as possible. Illness seems an especially inappropriate thing to share, even though we’ve all been ill. Growing up with a very ill mother, led me to try to make my life about helping people get better. The best way to do this is through truth and education. I trust my pursuit to find answers.

Over the years I’ve suffered weird symptoms, doctors have yelled, “You work with kids, what do you expect!” and “That’s what happens in middle-age.”

I was given labels, which I thought meant cures. I was wrong.

I quit going to doctors, I quit taking the unhelpful medicine they prescribed. I decided the closest I’d ever get to ‘healthy’ was to eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, keep my body in motion, and get some sleep.

Through it all, I kept working hard in my careers. The place I felt the most value was at work. This is probably true for many of us. Often boosted by anger, I dragged my aching body to work. I was humiliated about being ill.

This year, I’ve been struggling to hold my value. In March, heavy lifting hurt my back and abdomen. Doctors order blood tests and scans and send me home with antibiotics. Each time telling me, this will fix it. After Multiple ER visits, I keep telling them something else is also wrong. I’ve lost a lot of weight. Antibiotics do not appear to be the answer.

It’s frustrating when the people who are supposed to help, are too busy to listen.

I could go in search of a second opinion, driving many hours away from home, costing more money than I have. And most likely put myself in the same position I’m in now, where the same tests will be ordered, ending in the same dismissive results.

It’s on me to figure this out. I have no medical training and I’m not a medical professional in any capacity. There’s a lot of things I do not know. But I do know my own body and I have to trust me to make the best decisions by learning all I can.

I asked for copies of all my scans. I’ve had time to study these files by myself to see if there’s anything I might notice. I’m not a radiologist, and these scans could just as well be Rorschach tests. I have no idea how radiologists make sense of these.

Next, I went to the library, looking for medical information as to why I might have hard lumps and swelling on my abdomen. (I suspect a slight hernia, and swollen lymph nodes caused by repeated infections, but I’m not a medical professional…).

In my limited research, I was surprised to discover that there isn’t a particular branch of medicine that deals with healing the lymphatic system. Sure, there’s endocrinology which deals with the endocrine glands, and immunology which deals with immune issues, and other ‘ologies, and other internal medical labels. There’s lymphedema, and lymph cancer, and lymph node removal. But the lymphatic system which spreads throughout the entire human body, and cleans out the debris and infections, transports white blood cells, and has over 500-800 lymph nodes, doesn’t have its own specialist category to heal it.

This has created tons more investigative questions for another time…

Unfortunately(?), the library was where I found – “The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness”. I read it in one day. It made me feel angry, vindicated, frustrated, and kept me wondering, if so many women have gone through this nightmare for this many years why hasn’t it changed?

Sarah’s story inspired me to maintain trust in myself and continue my own research. No one else is magically going to run here and heal me up. I’ll either figure out my health stuff on my own, or I’ll find someone who can. Or I might not. Sometimes we die before answers arrive. And sometimes we heal as unexpectedly as we got ill. Either way, at least I’ll have some information on hand in case someone in the future would like access.

I’ve also joined a large research program from the National Institutes of Health. I’ve been ‘warned’ by well-meaning folks that ‘the government is collecting my DNA for ill-gotten gains’. But the fact is, if you were born in a hospital or have ever been in a hospital, they have your DNA. Joining a research study gives me the right to have access to anything they learn about me.

It is impossible to fully enjoy life if you’re not healthy. Our health is important. The healthier we are, the better we can function.

Then we can take on larger tasks to heal the rest of the world.  

Meaningful Intelligent Conversations

One of the reasons I like blogs is because they feature wonderfully heartfelt conversations. People openly share their experiences, thoughts, and opinions. Bloggers add depth to their conversations that isn’t found on other social media platforms.

I appreciate people who are brave enough to share, and kind enough to listen.

Meaningful intelligent conversations are one of the best ways to move society forward in a healthier direction. By ‘intelligent’, I don’t mean everyone should have a PHD or a 180 IQ to converse. What I mean is that everyone should use the best parts of their own brain to add their own perceptions to a discussion.

There are multiple types of intelligence, therefore multiple ways to have intelligent conversations.

I’m always curious to know what people really, truly, deeply think and feel. I want to hear about their creative, inventive, innovative, brand-new ideas. I have millions of questions I’m seeking answers to.

Here are a few examples:

  • What are people’s thoughts on how to end wars? Can we utilize similar tactics parents use to get their children to stop fighting? After all, we are one big human family…
  • With our wide variety of personality types, and competing interests, how do we produce a world that works for all of us?
  • How do we develop a more equal society, yet preserve everyone’s individuality?
  • How can we balance the spirit of competition with compassion?
  • What does the future of politics look like? Will we always have two warring factions who refuse to peacefully compromise? Or might we one day really have politicians who want to find solutions by fully understanding truthful consequences?
  • Will we save the planet and ourselves from climate change? Why isn’t everyone taking this topic seriously?
  • Why do we have so many people suffering poverty and starvation, and what should we be doing about it?
  • How do we keep from overpopulating the earth, and at the same time eradicate deadly diseases?
  • What is the best education we can offer future generations? How do we decide what they should learn?
  • Why aren’t we further along in exploring the infinity of Space? What are we afraid of? What if there are perfect solutions out there to our problems, but we let our fear of something worse keep us trapped on this planet in our ancient miseries?

Why do so many people answer these questions with oversimplifications and defeatist attitudes? Why aren’t our higher thought processes fully engaged, creating solutions that are different from the same old dismal answers we’ve always heard?

One way to find better solutions is to have better conversations. We need the kind of discussions that fully engage our brains, our hearts, and our creativity. Better answers should involve thoughtful logic, and deep caring, and a profound quest to find brand new ways of doing things.

If we don’t engage, bravely share, kindly listen, open our brains and hearts to their hugest capacity, how will we ever help this world, or the universe become a better place?

The Woman They Could Not Silence

I enjoy reading history. It’s interesting for me to see if I can figure out how one life affected the world. What impact did certain figures have on those around them, and on the future? How did humanity change because one person chose to do something a certain way?

I recently read “The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear” by Kate Moore

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56132724-the-woman-they-could-not-silence

Reading the story of Elizabeth Packard, it’s easy to see how her bravery helped change the world for women, and the care of people with mental conditions.

What’s difficult for me, is trying to put my internal outrage into words. Why would any human in their right mind, think it would be appropriate to own other humans, or treat them in such a shockingly disgusting manner?

The story of Mrs. Packard takes place during the Civil War, when black people are trying to gain freedom. This was the way our country was, people owned slaves, and men owned their wives.

Elizabeth Packard was a woman who had no rights. She was owned by her husband. He was intimidated by her intelligence and independent thinking. He made claims that she was insane and had friends write letters to support his claims. Her husband had her committed to an asylum because she chose to have ideas of her own.

While at Illinois State Hospital, Elizabeth found many other sane women whose husbands had committed them to the asylum. Here Elizabeth was not allowed any contact with the outside world. Letters to and from her were intercepted by Dr. McFarland, who held her in the facility for 2-3 years, while waiting for her insanity to show itself.

Elizabeth witnessed atrocious abuse of patients in the facility. She spent her years inside the asylum overcoming many dastardly challenges. While there, she staunchly maintained the goal of getting out and telling her story and the story of other women.

When Elizabeth was released, she wrote books and helped create laws to protect women from such horrors.

Her story, and her bravery are powerful.

Some historical facts of the book startled me.

The time I grew up in was different from Elizabeth’s.

In my life, I only ever heard of female genital mutilation as something done in other countries. I didn’t know that it was practiced in mental health institutions in our country. I shudder that such a nightmare could be forced upon women simply because a man decided they were insane. Dr. Isaac Baker Brown published a book in the mid-1860’s, saying to cure a woman of insanity is easy, just cut off her clitoris.

All of my life, women have always had the right to vote. This was a right fought for by Elizabeth and many other courageous women. Sadly, too many women today refuse to use the right given them, they don’t bother voting. Unfortunately, I’ve seen arguments in families when the woman wanted to vote one way, but the husband wanted her to vote the other way. Often if a woman was voting, she voted the way her husband told her to. I’ve always thought this was backwards and outdated thinking. The right to vote is given to every American. Ballots are secret for a reason, so no one can pressure anyone else to vote a certain way. I believe we’re supposed to vote with our conscience, and choose the very best, most honorable person possible. I don’t think most of my country takes voting seriously. They vote party line, putting little to no effort into researching real issues.  

I grew up in a time when divorce was painful, yet normal, and it was normal for the children to be given to their mother, unless some irregular circumstances were involved. Under nineteenth-century law if a woman divorced her husband, she also gave up her children, her home, her money, and her reputation.  Father’s rights of that time took precedence. Whatever was the woman’s was the husband’s – her property was his, her earnings were his, her children were his, and she was his. It’s strange how divorce changed, from one extreme to the other. First, everything went to the men. Then, everything went to the women. I don’t understand why things aren’t fairly split as equally as possible.  

I just can’t believe these inequalities happened, and continue to happen today. I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would commit such acts. All I can think is that somehow narcissistic sociopaths have figured out how to get into powerful governmental positions and force their nightmares on the rest of us.

I struggle to understand why everyone isn’t shocked and offended by these behaviors. Even as a kid, it would eat at me that things weren’t fair. My mom and I had many arguments about fairness. She’d yell at me that life wasn’t fair, and that I should get used to it. I did not. Maybe these types of things don’t matter much to other people. Maybe there are only a few of us infuriated by these kinds of unfair injustices. Maybe I was the only one who had nightmares after watching the first few episodes of the “Handmaid’s Tale”. Maybe there aren’t enough people who’ve had their heart ripped out by real life horror stories of abuse of someone they loved…. I don’t know why all of us aren’t concerned more about equality and fairness.

As I said in the beginning, it’s difficult to put my outrage into words.

Around the world women are losing their rights. A great site to demonstrate this can be found here:

Jane has accumulated fabulous maps and guides showing how women are treated around the world. She describes how Afghanistan is returning to the Dark Ages. Women were able to go to school and become professionals, and now all those rights are gone.

In America there is no constitutional guarantee of gender equality, no parental leave, and more states are prohibiting abortion (women are forced to give birth no matter what terrifying circumstances, but not allowed time off to care for a child).

In our country, “lawmakers save their cruel treatment for others”, for the poor, for the uneducated, for minorities… There is little equality, justice, or fairness, when it comes to those who have money versus those who do not.

I can only hope that more of us have the bravery of Elizabeth Packard, and are able to make this world a better place for all.

World Truths in a Fictional Tale

A question I pondered as I read the following book:

What if the 8 billion of us already on this planet chose to make it our goal to stop war?

The Paris Library: A Novel by Janet Skeslien Charles

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52761909-the-paris-library

Although I’m generally more of a non-fiction reader, I couldn’t pass up this fiction story about Paris. I borrowed a copy of this tale from our local library. This historical fiction novel is based on the true story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II.

The book alternates between two separate time periods, in two unique locations, involving two different young women:

Paris, 1939 – Odile Souchet

Montana, 1983 – Lily

The story begins with Odile nervously recalling Dewy Decimal System topics on her way to her job interview at the American Library in Paris (ALP). This moment mirrored the way I felt as I interviewed for my own library assistant job. What I wanted most was to have the entire library memorized so I could help all patrons who came through the door.

Shortly into the story, Germans invade Paris during World War II. We’re taken through a time of rations, crow letters, and the internment of enemy aliens (Americans, Brits..) and most painfully, the marking, arrest, and murder of Jewish people. As the War goes on, so do the lives of normal people doing normal things – dealing with family members, creating friendships, reading books, and falling in love.

Author Janet Skeslien Charles worked as a program manager at the American Library in Paris in 2010. She was told the history of the courageous staff who kept the ALP open during World War II. The author based this historical fiction novel on those events.

I was drawn to this book because I adore Paris, Libraries, Books, History, Romance, and Strong Clever Female Characters. Intelligently written, the story seems to ask us, what would we have done if placed in the shoes (or the skin) of characters in that time period.

More importantly, what will we do now?

It was difficult to imagine how some Paris citizens, during the War, took the time to spy on and write “Crow Letters” to send to authorities. These letters consisted of tattling on, or accusing anyone who was an ‘enemy alien’ or who was Jewish, of crimes. Citizens turned against their neighbors, friends, and family.

It’s sad to see the continuing dark-heartedness today in people who follow certain hate groups, political groups, and religious groups.

Why can’t we learn from history?

Right now, we have wars going on around the world. And instead of stopping the wars, we’re choosing sides, and sending more bodies to be killed.

  • Russia wants all the land it previously had in its control from years ago.
  • Israel and Palestine want the same tiny piece of ground based on their ancient religious texts.
  • China wants control of the land it says is still theirs, despite those places claiming independence.
  • Boko Haram has been waging religious war – against everyone especially girls.
  • Lord’s Resistance Army Insurgency is a long-running conflict that morphs from one war and one opponent into something different.
  • Civil wars are raging throughout the Middle East.
  • In the USA we have non-stop political, racist, sexist, religious, and economic wars, that we reinforce by continuing to elect the oldest, most divisive, egotistical leaders possible who will maintain long-outdated battles. Our greatest interest is not in creating a free and equal country. Our greatest interest is in proving ‘the other’ side wrong.
  • Ad Infiniti ….

Most wars appear to be a result (or continuation) of a chosen point set in the past, and an unwillingness to find non-war solutions. So like dominating, villainous exes from bad past relationships, dictators fight for total control over others using all the bombs they have.

There has to be a better way.

Humans tend to see war as having two sides – winners and losers. When really all we ever have is unbelievable tolls of loss and death.

No one wins.

We only create more fodder for future wars.

As someone who’s been trained to look for win/win scenarios in crisis situations, I can’t help but wonder why we all aren’t trained to find the win/win. It’s true there are monsters out there who defy all logic and kindness (I’ve seen some myself). But before someone tells me we can’t find win/wins because of some political, religious, or diversity issue, let me point out there are communities that make each other better in their diversity. https://theconversation.com/people-who-live-in-diverse-neighbourhoods-are-more-helpful-heres-how-we-know-94878

In my naivete, I dream of a world where we live in peace in our wild diversity. I dream of a world where we are free to be our very best selves, taking care of our families and our planet. Of all the things I’ve ever dreamed is a world where truth, love, honor, freedom, healing, and joy abound. Where no one kills anyone over money, oil, jealousy, land, power, revenge, imaginary religions, or anything else that doesn’t belong to us.

We always hope the Next Generation will figure it all out and make the world right. It’s time to stop putting ridiculous expectations on the children who did not create these messes.

It’s on us to do things right.

What if the 8 billion of us already on this planet chose to make it our goal to stop war?

Two Cool News Stories That Made My Morning

First:

Blue Angels Select First Female F/A-18 Demonstration Pilot

The Blue Angels select their first female F/A-18 demonstration Pilot. Lt. Amanda Lee has been selected as part of the six new officers for 2023.

From a 2019 Facebook bio:

“LT Amanda “Stalin” Lee grew up in Mounds View, Minnesota. While attending the University of Minnesota in Duluth and working at UPS, she decided to enlist in the Navy, graduating from Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois in 2007. Her successful enlisted career as an Aviation Electronics Technician led to her selection into the Seaman-to-Admiral (STA-21) Commissioning Program. LT Lee received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at Old Dominion University, and earned her commission in August 2013. She was designated a Naval Aviator in April 2016 and recently completed a deployment aboard the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75), in support of Dynamic Force Employment (DFE), Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR), as well as numerous exercises with NATO Allies.”

Exciting! I wish her great success, and I hope to see her at one of the airshows I attend in the future.

The Blue Angels airshow acrobatics in Fargo, ND 2019.


Second:

Notre Dame is Reopening

Notre Dame Cathedral is making plans to reopen. Like many people around the world, my heart hurt to watch the Notre Dame burn in 2019.  

Plans are to have it (mostly) open by the Olympics in Paris in 2024. The entire project isn’t expected to be finished until 2027. Included within the restructuring are plans that take into account Climate Change. Bureau Bas Smets, a Belgium landscape architecture firm is leading the redesign of the grounds. You can see their Notre Dame (and other projects) here: Projects Bas Smets

Again, I say Exciting! I look forward to returning for a visit when it’s finished.

Street signs near Notre Dame Cathedral during our 2015 visit to Paris.

Response to the Drop In

I follow a really great blog and I love a lot of what she has to say.

She recently wrote about the “Drop In”. She doesn’t like drop in visitors. And she asks:

“Will people ever really go back to the world of come on knock on my door, we’ve been waiting for you. Did we ever want to be there in the first place?

Past: Did you like the drop in?

Present: Do you answer the door for an unexpected visitor?

Future: Are you going to drop in on someone you know?

Discuss”

I was a bit surprised by how many commentors did not like the drop in.

Apologies, but I take a different view. I grew up in a very rural area of woods and farmland, without a phone. The only way to visit with people was to show up at their house. I miss those days of really ‘knowing’ people. Back then, we knew if we showed up at a bad time, people could tell us to leave, and no one’s feelings were hurt.

The biggest assumption these days is that everyone has a cell phone so letting people know you’re coming is mandatory. I have a cell phone now, but service is spotty in my area, so I have to drive away from my house for a clear uninterrupted signal… I despise the cell phone and would like to tell makers to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

Now days, we don’t get to really know anyone –  at their worst (when we really need each other), or their best (many people do Great things in secret). Everything is so blandly ‘staged’ for pre-approved appointments, and social media feeds.

Yes, I answer the door when the doorbell rings. My house looks how it usually looks. I wear whatever clothes I’m wearing for whatever work I’m doing, which can be a variety of messy outdoor stuff, or creative stuff, or office stuff, or grandchildren stuff… If anyone just ‘assumed’ I always wore jeans with manure on the knees, then they’d just be an ass. Or if they drive into our driveway, they may be wondering “what is all that white stuff sliding down the road.” That would be the grandchildren’s latest science experiment.

And yes, I talk with unexpected visitors, traveling salespeople, political, or religious people who knock on our door… We talk, not because I’m lonely, actually I’m an introvert who highly values being alone! but I’m also interested in other people’s stories.

The last unexpected visitors we had were some lost dogs. They looked well-cared for. We tried to tell them to go home but they were confused. I went driving around the neighborhood to see if I could find someone who might be looking for dogs. I waved at a vehicle as I drove by, and the driver wasn’t sure but she offered a suggestion of who might own those dogs, and she suggested I follow her as she drove to the possible owners house. When we knocked, no one was home. I drove back to my house. One dog finally left, and the other circled our house and tried to get inside. So, we let her in. We checked her collar and called her owner. Her owner was so grateful we called. She had been out frantically looking for her dogs. They were rescues. The family had moved to this area only a few years ago. It was neat to be able to bring the owner and her beloved dogs back together. She was a wonderfully nice lady, and later brought us a lovely cookie treat for our efforts to reunite her and her dogs.

The last time I had religious people knock on my door, it was an older couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were very nice people. I stood at the door and talked with them, with rubber gloves on and the toilet brush in my hand, as I was cleaning bathrooms when they knocked. They didn’t seem to care. They asked if they could leave pamphlets. “Sure” I said, “I like reading.”

The time before that we had a political person, all dressed in Trump paraphernalia. She said she was an Independent voter, but her clothing made it clear who she was voting for. We talked a while on our porch. She wanted to see change in our country. She wanted things to be better, like the economy. She was fun and full of energy. Not like the angry, aggressive Trump supporters you see on TV.

Society has become so self-focused, living like the selfie camera is always on them, and they want every shot to be some imaginary version of perfect. And if things aren’t perfect they want to skulk alone in their rooms, when they should be sharing their suffering so others who suffer the same things don’t feel so alone. Life is full of good and bad, we need to share both so we can overcome the difficult, and celebrate the awesome.

How many times have you heard this when you shared a story? “I thought I was the only one.”

Folks should be more interested in really living real life, being who they really are, and be interested in others, and share the stories that connect them.

People are literally dying of loneliness because the world has gotten so weird about who can see who when… Our kids are feeling so utterly alone, lost, and suffering untold complexities of mental health issues because they’ve been pressured into a picture-perfect mold, or kept in solitude for their safety. People are resorting to extreme violence to release the pent-up rage that’s been stewing inside them, because they have no one to talk to who can offer them a more complete view. We have become a nation obsessed with hiding behind our couches, or if we do go outside it’s to yell profanities.

We can’t drop by just because we love someone and are thinking of them, we have to make a pre-approved appointment. We can’t go to our loved ones when we’re hurt and broken, because we haven’t made a pre-approved appointment. Love and pain don’t make appointments.

Of course, pandemics and illnesses need special consideration. And yes, everyone should spend some time alone to figure out some things by themselves. These are necessary and respectful concerns.

Maybe my husband and I see drop in visits different from many other people because we grew up in huge families, who dropped in whenever they wanted. We’re used to all kinds of wild personalities. We love all kinds of people.

I try to respect other people’s wishes. But in order for me to let them know I’d like to see them, I first have to go for a drive, and then pull over when I get a signal, and then ask when I can come over…. I’m too old and tired to do all that prearranging…

I just love people as they are, and hopefully, they love me too.

Sweet Spots in MN Lake Country (a mini-series) – Part 4 and Final, Pequot Lakes

Welcome to Pequot Lakes, a place to reconnect to a simpler time. Come for a visit and fall in love with the area.

According to world population review, the city of Pequot Lakes holds about 2,278 residents.

The Pequot Lakes Heritage Preservation Commission says this about the history of the city:

A city once called Sibley and Frogtown became Pequot. In 1900, Walter and Flora Brown filed their plat for the E 1/2 of the SW 1/4 section 10 in T136N-R29W under the title Pequot. It’s easy to figure out where the name Lakes came from, but what about Pequot? The Pequot Indians are a small tribe that has existed in eastern Connecticut since the first European settlers arrived here. While no Pequot tribes ever lived in this area, the Algonquin language was carried here by the Chippewa (Ojibwe) tribes.”

Here’s a link to the city’s website: https://www.pequotlakes-mn.gov/

There are several things that make Pequot Lakes unique, besides tons of adorable local shops such as: All Things Herbal, Castoff’s Second Hand, Dennis’ Clock Service, Expressions Shoe Center, Fun Sisters, Latte’ da Coffee & Gifts, Lonesome Cottage, Red Ruby Art Gallery and Gifts, Seeds of Sommer, Serendipity Art Gallery, SuperValu, Sweet Life Bakery, The Celtic Cottage, Thurlow Hardware, Timeless Appeal, Weise Crafts & Variety, Wild Daisy and more…


First off is the Giant Bobber Water Tower. Legend has it that Paul Bunyan rested his bobber on the Pequot Lakes water tower and would keep an eye on it while he rested in his oversized chair.

Bobber Park where Paul Bunyan’s oversized Chair, Babe the Blue Ox, and human-sized park benches sit next to the Giant Bobber Water Tower.

Cute little Bobber Flowerpots can be found in front of many businesses and homes.

The next super neat thing you will see are all the flags flying along Main Street, from Government Drive to Patriot Avenue. There are flags for each state in the United States and its Territories.

Another unique tradition in Pequot Lakes is the annual Bean Hole Days Festival in July. The event began in 1938 and is centered around an old tradition of cooking beans in pots in pits. The festival originally began when store owners in the town hosted a bean feed for the local farmers. Over the years, new traditions were created, such as giving pots Scandinavian names like Ole and Sven, and electing a Bean Hole Days “King” and “Queen.”

This one-of-a-kind event is rootin’ tootin’ good fun for the whole family! The huge cast iron kettles of beans are buried to cook overnight and served on the next day at noon to more than 3,000 hungry visitors.

Pequot Lakes is one of the many cities located along the Paul Bunyan Trail. The Paul Bunyan Trail is the longest MN Bike trail at 120-miles, and it connects the Heartland Trail, the Blue Ox Trail and the Cuyuna State Trail. The 120 miles are continuously paved from Crow Wing State Park just south of Brainerd, MN to Lake Bemidji State Park in Bemidji, MN. The terrain of the Paul Bunyan Trail ranges from flat and open, to hilly and scenic. While biking is the main event, the Paul Bunyan Trail is open year-round with loads of other recreational activities available.

The Pequot Lakes Welcome Center near the Paul Bunyan Trail. Here is another Babe the Blue Ox statue.

Pequot Lakes has several parks:

The Babinski Playground is a lovely park by Sibley Lake.

Trailside Park, this is one of the grandchildren’s favorite parks. It’s near the Paul Bunyan Trail.

Near the Trailside Park is Dru Sjodin’s Garden. As a young woman, Dru was abducted from the Columbia Mall parking lot in Grand Forks, ND, and murdered. Her parents and community have been relentless in maintaining her memory in hopes of protecting others.

All Veterans Memorial.

 Pequot Lakes Post Office Mural.

Another mural in Pequot.

Welcome to the Paul M. Thiede Fire Tower Park. The Fire Tower was built in 1935. The county acquired it to preserve and protect its history.

The Park has 3,000 feet of walking trails on 40 acres.

You can climb the Fire Tower but there are regulations to follow. No more than 6 people can be on the Tower at one time. Be careful, don’t climb if you are dizzy or fear heights. The Tower is dangerous in bad weather and after dark. Take your time and hold on to the railings.  

We’ve climbed the Tower a few times. It’s fun to look out over the landscape above the trees.

Here is a view of the Minnesota Highway 371 bypass as it was being developed, taken from the Fire Tower in 2016. The bypass is now complete. If you look closely, you may be able to make out the Bobber Tower in the middle/top of the greenery.

Picnic Shelter and learning area at the Fire Tower Park.

Of course, I have to mention one of the special events that happen in Pequot Lakes in the winter – the Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous!! It’s an antique and vintage snowmobile show, with trail rides, and competitions.

As with all the small cities in our area there is far more to see, do, and enjoy than I can list here.

Thank-you for letting me share with you, the Sweet Spots in the Mid-Minnesota Lakes Country.

Sweet Spots in MN Lake Country (a mini-series) – Part 3 Nisswa

Nisswa is a lovely little city that has a population of around 2,200 (according to World Population Review 2022). The city stretches out along Hwy 371. One part of the city is filled with unique and fun shopping. And just when you think you’ve seen everything in Nisswa, drive down Hwy 371 a bit and see more interesting things.

Nisswa Square has some “Pretty Good Shopping”. If you like shopping for novelties, this is the place to find many interesting, one-of-a-kind, or locally sourced items. Shops have names like Meg’s Cabin, The Fun Sisters, The Chocolate Ox, Turtle Town Books and Gifts, The Woodland Meadow, Found a Curated Life, Appaloosa Ridge, Buffalo Plaid, Zaiser’s, PrimRose Park, Quirks, The Dock Panther, CoCo & Co, and more.

A glance down main street, starting at the DQ. The Dairy Queen is easily one of our favorite places to eat locally. There’s a Dairy Queen in many of our cities in Minnesota. Our local Dairy Queens even offer Gluten Free buns and other options, these aren’t on all Dairy Queen menus. This is one of the least expensive local places to eat, and the staff at every local Dairy Queen is so Sweet!!

A shot of Main Street/Smiley Road. Nisswa shops are terrific places to grab a classic Minnesotan gift for family and friends. Many of the shops support local talent: authors, paintings, metal works, soaps, candles, farm-raised wools, home-grown products, and other hand-made materials…

There’s a lovely tunnel that leads from Main Street Nisswa, under Hwy 371, to Nisswa Lake Park and Recreational Area.

View of Nisswa Lake from the tunnel.

The Nisswa Lake Park and Recreational Area is a lakeside park providing nature-based recreational opportunities and regional access to water for residents and visitors. The park is 2.1 acres.

Nisswa Lake.

https://www.cityofnisswa.com/departments/parks___recreation/nisswa_lake_park.php

The Paul Bunyan Trail is 120 miles of continuously paved MN Bike Trails from Crow Wing State Park just south of Brainerd MN to Lake Bemidji State Park in Bemidji Minnesota. The Trail goes through many of our area’s small cities. The paved trails are not only used by bicyclers, often visible sharing the route are walkers, joggers, and runners.

More information about the Paul Bunyan Trail can be found here: https://www.paulbunyantrail.com/

This location to enter the Paul Bunyan State Trail is just a bit off main street in Nisswa. It’s not difficult to find. The parking area includes a map of the Paul Bunyan Trail, a bench, and a handy Bike Tune-up station.

One of my favorite parts of the city are the Nisswa History Center and Museum which includes the historic Pioneer Village, and the Depot and Caboose.

Small towns and unincorporated townships in north-central Minnesota were established largely due to the influence of railroad companies and the rail lines they constructed.  In 1898 Ernest Smiley established a railroad stop and Post Office at his homestead located on what is now Poplar Avenue just off Nisswa’s main street.  The stop was called ‘Smiley’.  When the township was founded in 1900 it was named Smiley Township.  In 1908, when the village incorporated, the name was changed to Nisswa from the Ojibwe word “nessawae”, which means “in the middle”.  In this case, in the middle of Clark, Nisswa and Roy lakes. 

In the automobile phase (1920-1965), improvements were made along the Leech Lake Trail, now known as Highway 371, which allowed urban residents from Minneapolis/St. Paul and other urban centers to live and vacation in the Central Lakes area.”

https://www.cityofnisswa.com/visitors/about_nisswa/index.php

Enjoy a self guided tour of the Nisswa History Center and Museum which includes the historic Pioneer Village, Depot and Caboose. Nisswa is filled with rich history with Native American roots, logging and railroad industry, resorts and restaurants all of which contributed in making Nisswa the number one destination place in the summer months. By touring the grounds and log homes, you will have a glimpse of a quieter, more peaceful–but hard working life at the turn of the century. Take time to relax in the seating area alongside the Heritage Garden which is filled with native plants that come from local farms and gardens from over 75 years ago.”

https://business.nisswa.com/list/member/nisswa-area-historical-society-nisswa-history-center-and-museum-220

https://www.facebook.com/Nisswa-Area-Historical-Society-993480577710475/

This Depot and Caboose are across the street from the History Center and Museum.

Full disclosure: I know where many of the parks and playgrounds are in our area. I love taking the grandchildren to a new park every day they visit. We compare and contrast as we visit each one. Some have great swingsets. Some have better equipment. Some have more types of activities. Some have better picnic areas… Parks and playgrounds are on all the ‘sweet spot’ lists.

Playground

The Warming House near the playground is for use in the winter, along with the ice rink.

The Community Center in Nisswa is near the playground, and is available to rent for: Weddings, Birthday Parties, Reunions, Private Special Events, Anniversaries, Company Holiday Parties, Workout Classes, and more.

There’s more to see in Nisswa, as it stretches down Hwy 371. There are many other shops, stores, gas stations, eateries, places to stay, and things to do.

I have a love of outdoors, nature, parks, playgrounds, learning, libraries, history, and fun free activities. Some folks might not find these topics to their liking. I encourage people to check online to see if the local cities have the types of activities they’re interested in. In each city and surrounding area, there are far more things than I can list.