Grief Walk from New York to Wisconsin

George Asa Sprague felt numb as he turned his back on his home where he had lived with his wife, Lydia, and baby son, Oscar, on the shores of Lake Skaneateles near Syracuse, New York. It was the summer of 1854, and his young family had been destroyed a few months earlier when Lydia and Oscar had died of influenza only Continue reading Grief Walk from New York to Wisconsin

Big Meadow in Norway

As I set off for school with my older sister, Cindy, I heard the neighborhood kids shouting, “There’s Cindy Big Meadow!” and chanting, “Jean Big Meadow!” I shrunk away, confused and embarrassed, while Cindy went off to figure out what was up. She came back to explain that our neighbors’ Norwegian grandma was visiting, who had told them that “stör” Continue reading Big Meadow in Norway

Miracle on Lazy M

“Turn off the wind!” 4-year-old Jackson hollered as we paused a short way into our first run of our second family ski trip to Red Lodge, Montana. Everyone was excited to ski Lazy M again, a 2.5-mile cruising run with spectacular vistas. Abby, Jackson, and I were getting slapped by a howling wind as we waited for others to catch Continue reading Miracle on Lazy M

A Puzzling Family Gathering

With sub-zero temperatures predicted for the holiday weekend, we decided to order a jigsaw puzzle and chose a picture of Santa’s Workshopthat was supposed to glow in the dark. On Christmas Eve day, we set up the 1,000-piece puzzle on a portable table in the center of our gathering space. An hour into the project, it started to feel overwhelming. I Continue reading A Puzzling Family Gathering

Special Teachers Are (Story) Gems

I vividly remember the day in third grade when a teacher touched my life. Done with my classwork and tired of staring out at the dreary landscape of late fall in Wisconsin, I wandered over to the bookshelves to browse the books. When Mrs. Athnos came over, I thought I was in trouble … for leaving my desk … for Continue reading Special Teachers Are (Story) Gems

From Peaceful Evening to Stormy Night

After enjoying a pleasant picnic on an island in Lake Minnetonka, our friend Cindy and I gathered up dinner gear as the sun slipped into the horizon, leaving a splash of color behind. Busy chatting as we set up for a campfire and tucked gear away before dark, we didn’t notice that the sky had changed. We were startled when Continue reading From Peaceful Evening to Stormy Night

Sunset and Fireworks Mark Key Milestones

When I got home after receiving my lay-off notice from General Mills, I tossed my severance packet on the couch, joined my husband on the porch with a glass of wine, and started brainstorming names for the business I wanted to start.   After working on the naming challenge for about six weeks, I was telling our friend Doug Benson Continue reading Sunset and Fireworks Mark Key Milestones

Passport to Rainbows and Waterfalls

As he eyed three passports and a Minnesota Driver’s License, a Canadian Customs Officer asked me (the driver) why a Brit, an Australian, and two U.S. citizens (from Georgia and Minnesota) were traveling together across the border at Niagara Falls? I replied that we were attending a conference at the University of Buffalo and wanted to visit the falls. He Continue reading Passport to Rainbows and Waterfalls

Resting Logs Kept Little Legs Moving

Jay and I paused at the crest of a foothill overlooking Boulder to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west. According to my iPhone Activity App, we had climbed 71 floors. We decided to rest on a fallen log. While we soaked in the vista, Jay recounted a memory about hiking in the woods of Northern Wisconsin with Continue reading Resting Logs Kept Little Legs Moving

Nevertheless She Persisted in Wellness

Snow covered the grounds of the Cooper Aerobic Center in Dallas, TX, when Georgia Kostas arrived for her interview with Dr. Kenneth Cooper in 1977. Tip-toeing out of the cab in her winter-white suit and pink floral blouse (with a flouncy bow), Georgia’s heart was set on getting this job.  A few years earlier, Georgia had become inspired to work Continue reading Nevertheless She Persisted in Wellness