Sparkles, S’mores and Land that I Love | Happy 4th of July

Smores Fourth of July NostalgiaI love the Fourth of July (or Fourch of Guly as I said when I was little), it makes me feel a bit nostalgic. One of my first 4th of July parades I remember being sad because I wasn’t fast enough at getting candy and I’m sure there were one or two thoughtful kids & parents who saw that and walked over to make sure I had some. Then there was the first parade I was in with my sister where we both wore costumes and tap shoes from dance lessons. My mom told us to march holding our batons with one hand lifting them straight up and down with each step and of course, we thought it was a great idea.

As we grew older, we were blessed enough to spend the first two weeks of July up north with my dad and dear friends at Crane Lake in Voyageurs National Park on the Canadian Border. The only way to get to the cabin was by boat. Imagine hauling 3-5 adults, 5-7 kids and a dog, 2 weeks worth of food, clothing and fresh water for drinking. Sometimes it would take 2-3 trips and the boat would be so heavy the waterline was about a foot below the top. While we did have a short wave radio to hear the closest weather reports and listen to the international time, we did not have phones or television and we actually learned to appreciate that.

It was there we explored the chain of lakes where water is so clear you can look 15+ feet straight down and see the bottom. We learned how to water ski, responsibly shoot guns at targets, become great fishers and use a filet knife to clean and prepare our catch. At night, my dad would bring Crane Lakeout his guitar and we sang songs together around the fire, roasted marshmallows for S’mores and later hear the cracking and snapping of the fresh burning wood. Some evenings we would go out “on the rock” and enjoy the sunset, seen in the picture to the right. I would close my eyes and take in the fresh smell of the Norway Pine trees and burning fire. I would listen to the water lapping up on the shore, loons, seagulls or a boat humming in the distance. It was heaven on earth.

After fourth of July celebrations in the small town across the water, we would take the boat to the middle of the lake, cut the engine, watch the fireworks and have rich conversations about freedom, life or whatever was on our minds. It was there we discovered breathtaking views where stars are so clear you could see them sparkle right down to the horizon. In a good year, we could see the northern lights dance, displaying colors of green, blue and red.

I’m grateful for the people and all of those memories we created together. It shaped me in growing a deeper appreciation for this land where we live. Today, I think about so many people around the world who don’t have the same choices we do. At the same time,  we can not forget those who have gone before us and those still fighting for our freedom because they have laid much of the groundwork for us.

I also will not forget that there is still more work that needs to be done.

Regardless, I celebrate the fact that we are so fortunate to be citizens in a country where we have the freedom to express ourselves, choose to practice our faith, celebrate diversity, practice servant leadership,  be educated and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Wishing you a very happy Fourth of July. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences about how this day has shaped you. Please share below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Time: Stop, Travel, Escape, Feel, Release | Weekly Photo Challenge

|  How to stop time:  kiss.  |  How to travel in time:  read.  

|  How to escape time:  music.  |  How to feel time:  write.

| How to release time:  breathe.


 How to stop time: Kiss


anotherkiss copy







How to travel in time: Read





How to escape time: Music









How to feel time: Write


How to release time: Breathe

Breathe copy







This post was inspired by Lignum Graco who asks us to show him time as part of The Weekly Photo Challenge over at The Daily Post. Please feel free to leave any comments below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Interpretations for Gathering

GatheringOver at The Daily Post, the theme for this week’s weekly photo challenge is posed by Krista, who asks us to document a gathering and share our interpretation of it.

Consider the different ways we can think about the word; Gathering as in material things we can see and touch. Gathering as in knowledge or information we get from various sources. Gathering as in symbolic ritual like celebrations or at places of worship. Gathering as in shared experiences like school plays or concerts. Gathering as in complex systems, where everything is related to everything else. Many may argue that there are interdependencies and that we can’t refer to one type of gathering without taking into account all the others.

Regardless of the kind of “gathering” we refer to, each person gets to decide which definition (singularly and collectively) is the most important to them.

In life, we gather things that we don’t get to take with us when we leave this world.

At work, we gather reports and data. We gather at meetings or to network.

In change management, gatherings are significant because they are considered as a type of symbolic ritual that can help bring a group of people together and move them through transition, from one stage to another.

In communities, we gather to celebrate, to educate, to worship, to grieve, and to share experiences.

Mentally we gather knowledge and information.

Emotionally we gather our thoughts.

At home, we gather as families to make sense of this world. We come together to teach, learn, share, grieve, grow, pray, laugh and to love. We create memories and meaningful experiences that leave legacies.

Do your organizations use the concept of “gathering” as a symbolic tool to move people through change? My wish for you; may your gatherings bring significance to whatever is important in your personal and professional lives.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Out in the Cold, But No Thin Ice Here – Twinkle Lights

Out in the cold, but not on thin ice - Twinkle Lights

I took this picture in Rice Park at the 2014 St. Paul Winter Carnival on January 31st and the temperature was well below zero. There was a live band outside that evening complete with an ice bar and ice sculptures. We didn’t stay long, but we did get some great pictures.

The lights are so beautiful and remind me of a quote by Brené Brown from her book called “The Gifts of Imperfection.” A while back I posted one of her TED Talks videos that went viral about the power of vulnerability. In the book; The Gifts of Imperfection; Brené writes;

I think the beauty of twinkle lights is a perfect metaphor for joy. Read more of this post

A Random Act of Kindness for Wordless Wednesday

When was the last time someone reached out to you and performed a random act of kindness? I was pleasantly surprised when a complete stranger recently did something thoughtful for me just when I needed it most. As a result of her good-hearted deed, I plan to honor her by paying it forward.


As thought leaders, we sometimes forget the view, taking a moment to acknowledge the people around us via random acts of kindness can go a long way. We get so caught up in our calendars, goals, and tasks and only see the road ahead. But when we slow down a little to enjoy, pleasant surprises seem to come out of the woodwork.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, this past Monday, has been deemed a day to encourage making a difference in communities. As I wrote in a previous post called: Servant Leadership: Facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. King was a strong proponent of servant leadership, so whether or not you took action this week, I would like to propose a challenge.

What can you do to make a difference for someone this week? Please make the effort, then come back here and share your story below. I’d like to hear what you did, the response you got and how it made you feel. I look forward to hearing from you.

Day 7: The Answer to All of My Problems Today

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for: 

Sometimes my tank feels a little empty and I get discouraged. Everyone does, it is part of the human experience. Despite the frustration, I forge ahead with my chin up high, trusting that there is more because I have faith.

So the other day, in the midst of my 21-day journey to happiness, a guy by the name of Troy, liked one of my blog posts. He is author over at Life Aisle. I was honored, stumbled over to his site and this was what I found:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life  – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.”

                                                                                                                                                                           – Dr. Paul Ohliger

WOW. Talk about timing.

Three things I am grateful for today:

  1. We don’t always have what we want but somehow find just what we need
  2. A home filled with love, acceptance, and gratitude
  3. The compassion that comes from those who remind me about the things I already know but need to hear again

Day 5: Because Creating Memories are Forever

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for: 

I love the way a variety of mismatched picture frames can give personality and warmth to a room. Today I counted 17 that I can see while sitting on my couch.

The lemonade stands, running through sprinklers at water parks, the first official family picture with our new puppy. Silly faces and parades with cousins, sunset on the beach on The Fourth of July and my grandparent’s 68th wedding anniversary. Our National Product Launch at the Mall of America for our Children’s Books, Bur Bur and Friends, one character poses with our favorite Sports Mascots. Crunch and TC Bear.Special Appearances - Crunch and TC Bear pick up Mateo MOA Launch


My sisters would tell you I am always the one who says, “Come on everyone, let’s get a picture!” But what they don’t know if there is a method to my madness. Time flies by so quickly and it’s up to us to create memories.

Pictures are a collection of moments that are imprinted on our hearts forever and if you ask me, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Three things I am grateful for today:

  1. The spontaneous laughter of a child
  2. Knowing I have the power to make a difference in someone’s life today
  3. That I am a creative and innovative thinker

Day 4: Climbing the Mountain Takes Time, But Pay Off is at the Top

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for: 

Courage is the ability to do the right thing, all the time, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it might be”                                                 -Tony Dungy

My mother is one of the most resilient and bravest people I have ever known. She was a single mom during a time when women were not allowed to have checking accounts or credit. We lived in the suburbs and were the only “divorced” family on the block. At the age of 30 she was raising 3 kids all under the age of 7 and I can not begin to imagine what that must have been like.

I remember the feeling of distress when the car broke down and work was a 30-minute drive away. And the tears when her wallet, with all of the money for bills that month, was stolen at a grocery store. She surrounded herself with a community of people who were very supportive.  One year, a family from that group brought us a Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve because they knew we could not afford one.  There were blessings everywhere and despite the misfortune, we always managed to get what we needed. During that challenging time, she went back to college and eventually became a registered nurse working in hospice.

So here is my point. It was hard, and overwhelming at times, but she always got back on her feet with dignity.

Her example demonstrated that if she made it through that adversity, there is no obstacle I can’t overcome. In the midst of my search for employment, I have a lot to be thankful for. I am grateful for the gifts that experience taught. It gave me a strong work ethic and instilled in me the values of education, faith, community, building strong relationships and so much more.

Fast forward to the present. I am about halfway through the Executive MBA program at The University of St. Thomas and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am blessed to surround myself with a support system of positive people I trust who give me energy and encouragement. The evolution of acquiring knowledge and learning is hard, fun, exciting, exhausting and challenging, but that is why they call it an education, it isn’t supposed to be easy. Life continues to remind me that delayed gratification works and is far more rewarding.

The groundwork I am laying is making me a better leader every day and pay off is just around the corner because when I graduate, I will have gifts no one can take from me. Integrity, faith, accomplishment, education, wisdom, stronger work ethic so much more. But the most priceless are the values that are being passed on to my son because my passion for learning and growing are showing him I live what I believe. That is my legacy, to leave something behind that will last forever. My thoughts feelings and actions are aligned with my values, principles, and goals.

I am proactively adding new tools to my toolbox with the excitement of bringing them to the next adventure. I am building authentic relationships with Professors and 25 amazing people who are in my cohort as I shape my future. We don’t get anywhere by ourselves and the community has been and continues to be a resource, teacher, healer, and a friend. It doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me.

Four things I am grateful for today:

  1. That the process of reinventing myself has been an invigorating journey
  2. My education and commitment to life long learning and growth
  3. The people who have provided insight and direction with me throughout my career through their mentoring. People like Doug Lennick, Patty Moren, Debbie Magnuson, Priscilla FarisBarb Adams-JohnsonJohn WetzelBarb HendersonBuckley Brinkman, Paul Debettignies, Gary Stinnett, Scott Hyland, JoAnne Pastel, Tom Endersbe,  Marilyn Corrigan, Bonnie Bielen, Katherine Johnson, Jack Militello and so many more.
  4. My mom, who is simply amazing