Gather At the Table: Green & Fruity Salad
Start to finish: 1 hour Servings: 16-18 Submitted by LaDonna Loerhke New Salem, ND This salad is a favorite at every gathering I take it to. The original recipe called for two to three times as much sugar and twice the amount of oil. I changed the recipe to make it my own with a natural sweetener and less oil, and I think now it’s even better. I take this salad to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and potlucks, and I always bring home an empty bowl! 1/3 cup almond oil, high oleic sunflower oil, or olive oil 1/3 cup lemon juice 2 Tablespoons Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener (Truvia natural sweetener is another option; or use regular cane sugar) 2 teaspoons green onions, chopped 1/3 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon poppy seeds 5 cups spring mix greens 5 cups Romaine lettuce, torn into pieces 1 medium red apple, chopped 1 medium pear, chopped 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (I soak them for six hours and then drain and rinse before toasting in a pan on the stovetop.) ¼ cup dried cranberries* Prepare the salad ingredients as the pecans are toasting. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, lemon juice, sugar, onions, salt, and poppy seeds; shake well. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately. *Blueberry or cherry flavored Craisins would be a great alternative to try!
Look What She Did: Amber Cummings
Amber Cummings’ life has been touched by autism. Her 12-year-old son, Dacotah, doesn’t have an official diagnosis, but Amber knows he’s on the spectrum. Her four-year-old daughter, MiKynna, was diagnosed at 15 months old. “MiKynna doesn’t look autistic, and truly, there is no ‘look’ to autism,” says Amber. “That prompted me to show people what autism looks like, and show them that in a picture, you’d never know someone has autism.” So three years ago, she started a project called “Faces of Autism.” Amber photographs kids with autism and shares their photos and stories on her blog, Dear Me Photography. The first year, she featured 12 kids, as well as siblings and therapists. This year, she featured 28 kids on her blog and the project has grown beyond Bismarck and Mandan. This year Amber photographed a subject from Minot, and her blog has readers across the world. “My goal started with awareness, now it’s about acceptance. This project is an outlet for families to tell others what their life is like and it gives them a chance to highlight their child’s strengths, their hobbies; to show others that they’re really just kids.” Amber starts planning for the Faces of Autism project in January, and the blog posts run each April. Learn more on her blog, dearmephotography.com/blog.
Look What She Did: April Schmidt
April Schmidt’s home yoga studio is small and intimate, just the way she likes it. That’s because the Bismarck woman is certified in Yin yoga, and she caters to a niche audience: pregnant women and new moms. “Yin yoga is extremely relaxing; it’s to reduce stress and ease depression. I don’t just want to teach people how to keep in shape, I want them to be healthy in their minds, too,” April explains. “That’s my motivation in yoga.” April’s own experience inspired her to become a yoga instructor. After the birth of her second child two years ago, April was diagnosed with severe anxiety and postpartum depression. “When I went in for help, the first thing the doctor said I should try is yoga. At that point I wasn’t even eating or drinking water; I was just taking care of the baby and not myself.” April says yoga helped her get through the hardest time in her life. She was going to a class nearly every day. “It wasn’t so much for my body, it was for my mind. When you can take your focus away from all your anxiety and yourself and do yoga and balance poses where you have to concentrate to stay in a pose, you forget about anything that harmed you.” April leads yoga classes five days a week at various times. She recently added yoga for emotional balance to help fight anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma. April is also certified to teach yoga for children. Follow her on Facebook and save a spot in one of her classes at LiveWellYoga.
Look What She Did: Linda Donlin
After many years as a public relations executive in energy, healthcare, and higher education, Linda Donlin of Bismarck is preparing for her next adventure. She recently launched a professional artist website, and has created four paintings of her hometown of Sykeston, North Dakota to honor the town’s 135th anniversary. “I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life as an artist,” she says. “I’ve always painted, but I will soon be able to concentrate on this passion. I have many paintings in my head waiting to get out onto the canvas. Working on these paintings of my hometown has been a great way to begin a new adventure.” The paintings are of Lake Hiawatha, St. Elizabeth’s Catholic School, Sykeston High School, and Old Downtown. “I got a lot of suggestions from people about how to make the paintings part of the town’s anniversary celebration. I contacted my brother Jon Polries, who’s on the committee, and we settled on having note cards printed from the paintings for souvenirs.” Linda is preparing for a show at The Capital Gallery in Bismarck in 2019. For more information about Linda’s paintings and her artistic journey, visit her website: lindadonlinfineart.com.
Chelsea Berler: The Blue Bag Movement
by Marci Narum | Submitted Photos | Cover Photo: Sidiqqi Soul Ray Editors’ notes: We began planning this article in February. At that time, Chelsea was eager to share her story with Inspired Woman. She had received good news from her doctors and had a new reason to celebrate life. Since then, Chelsea’s circumstances have changed, and in May, she published a book detailing the last nine months of her life and what dying young has taught her about living. The italicized lines in this article are excerpts from her book, “The Yellow House on the Left.” The face of breast cancer is often presented in the media by models with beautiful bodies and fake scars. Well, I know what breast cancer really looks like. It’s CTs, surgeries, amputations, biopsies, MRIs, X-rays, radiation, chemo, IVs, blood tests, medications, check-ups, fear, worry, hate, anger, confusion, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, depression, insomnia and pain. Breast cancer is not pretty. And it’s no pink ribbon. No offense to the pink ribbons people wear for breast cancer and all the money that’s been raised because of them. But if breast cancer is a color, I’m pretty sure it’s blue. Because it makes you feel blue to the very core. Chelsea Berler was determined to beat breast cancer, despite the scary news she received in October 2017. The Bowman, North Dakota native was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer—a very aggressive form of the disease. Chelsea could admit that cancer made her feel blue, but it was not going to break her. The 34-year old lives Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, where she met her husband, Mark, and started her boutique marketing agency 12 years ago. Chelsea and her team help businesses and nonprofit organizations with branding, design, and marketing. Solomar Agency has been wildly successful because Chelsea has a passion and a knack for helping people leave their mark on the world. Her experience with cancer inspired her to do something that will mostly like leave a mark for generations to come. Cancer is ugly. But Chelsea chose to embrace her cancer journey and share it with others in a way that can only be described as beautiful. FOYE BELLE FOUNDATION Chelsea has two older sisters—Jessica Petrick and Alicia Kulseth—who both live in Mandan, North Dakota. Jessica says her sister is one of the most selfless people she knows. “When Chelsea was first diagnosed with breast cancer and was sitting getting chemo in the chemo rooms, she was getting gifts from so many people from all over the country,” Jessica shares. “She would take this stuff to the chemo room and give it all away because there were so many people that didn’t have anything or were there by themselves or didn’t have the simple things that made chemo more comfortable.” I knew, even though I was miserable as hell, I had so much to be thankful for. I had Mark and was surrounded by so much love and support from friends and family. A lot of the time, they’d pack me a bag of goodies to take to chemo that brightened my day—stuff to help keep me comfortable and pass the time during the six hours I spent getting poison pumped into my body. Just basic stuff like really nice hand lotion and lip balm for when my skin felt dry and adult coloring books and crayons for when I got bored and herbal tea to sip and hard candy to suck on to help fight the nausea. So, I’d come in with my bag full of all this cool stuff, stuff that really helped. And I’d look around the room and see so many people suffering alone, with nothing. So I ended up giving most of my stuff away. And that’s when Chelsea found a way to turn the ugliest thing she had experienced into something beautiful for anyone else facing the same fate. She established the Foye Belle Foundation. “Our grandma Foye Belle died of breast cancer in her early 60s,” Jessica explains. “She always had bright red lipstick on and high heels and always dressed like the fanciest lady in Baker, Montana. And she loved her grandkids.” From the moment I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I thought about my grandma and the suffering and pain she endured. Did she have the support she needed? When I realized that I could actually do something to help provide support to other people who were suffering, naming the foundation after her was a no-brainer. And don’t forget—Chelsea is the CEO of a marketing agency. She knows the strategies and has the skills and tools to help a brand take off. “Alicia, Chelsea, and I talked about starting this nonprofit where we’ll raise money to come up with these blue bags and anyone going through chemo can receive a free blue bag. We send them a blue bag that has Queasy pops, crossword puzzles, hats, blankets, books; just stuff to make a horrible situation a little better.” BLUE BAG MOVEMENT BEGINS The idea became the Blue Bag Movement, and Jessica says in three short months, the foundation raised nearly $50,000 and gifted 150 people with Blue Bags. Jessica says Chelsea would raise enough to assemble 50 bags at a time. “It’s called a blue bag because it’s a blue time of your life, but it’s hopefully something that can make your experience a little better.” Sadly, Chelsea’s condition took a turn for the worse. In February, doctors told her the treatments had worked—her cancer was not gone, but it had shrunk enough that surgeons could remove the tumors. Chelsea thought she had indeed beat cancer. Everyone celebrated. But in March, Chelsea began having severe headaches. The cancer had spread. After doing multiple tests on Chelsea, her doctors told her she had terminal brain cancer. I never thought I wouldn’t beat cancer. I thought I had it and I was good to kick its ass. NEVER did I think it would win. But cancer is kicking my ass, not the other way around. “As much as she was going through, she wanted to make sure everybody else was okay. She never really complained, never really cared that she lost her hair or didn’t have eyebrows. It was always a funny joke. She’d joke about how she looked like Mr. Clean. She took it all by stride and in the most graceful way possible,” Jessica says. “She didn’t lose her spirit in this entire process. It’s amazing. There are days we get really mad and upset, and we’re not sure why we’re losing her. But she’s made peace with it.” MARK OF BEAUTY Jessica says losing her younger sister means she will have to find a new “normal.” She is the owner of BREA, a clothing boutique in Mandan. She says the best part of her work is helping people find a reason to smile and feel confident. “Beauty to me is not the outside appearance at all. It’s more who you are as a person. It’s what you give to others; the difference you make in other people’s lives and seeing the lives that are affected in my volunteer work, and seeing the lives Chelsea has affected through her life. Making people truly feel you’ve impacted their life is the true definition of beauty. “I didn’t realize the depth of the people she has affected until I read the posts daily on her Facebook page, of how she’s affected so many people nationwide. It brings comfort to me because I know she’s made such a huge impact.” Chelsea will continue to leave her mark of beauty on the world after she’s gone. Jessica says she and her sister Alicia and Chelsea’s husband, Mark, will help run the Foye Belle Foundation. The work Chelsea started caught attention in the nation’s capital, and it was officially recognized by Congress in February. The Blue Bag Movement has only begun. Chelsea’s book, “The Yellow House on the Left” can be purchased on Amazon. All proceeds from her book support the Foye Belle Foundation. Join the Blue Bag Movement: Visit FoyeBelle.org — watch and listen to Chelsea share her story and her inspiration for the Blue Bag Movement Send a message via Facebook: The Foye Belle Foundation Contact Jessica: email@example.com Jessica carries a charity line of retail items at BREA called “Be REAL.” She also sells Foye Belle Foundation T-shirts. All proceeds go to The Foye Belle Foundation.
Beauty 101: Beauty on a College Budget
Lexi has discov- ered thrift store shopping. This sweatshirt was a $1 bargain that she personalized with vinyl iron on letters. By Halloween of her freshman year of college Lexi had already learned how to have fun on a budget. She and her friends crafted handmade costumes for a fraction of the cost of buying a costume. Lexi is dressed as a fork in the road! Lexi says another way to save mon- ey on clothes: share with your friends! You each get double the outfits! By Lexi Kerzman | Submitted Photos I survived my first year of college, and I learned a lot, not only about my classes, but about budgeting, about beauty, and about loving myself. The worst part of college life is the price tag—$20,000 just to attend. Knowing I had to pay my own tuition, and that I couldn’t just grab a $20 from my mom’s purse, I quickly learned about priorities and spending. I have had a job since I was 15 years old. In the past, my paychecks were my “fun” money. Now the money I make working goes to adult things like food, gas, and tuition. Going to college has made me much more aware of my money and my spending habits; things you can’t learn in a lecture. Things my mom calls “life lessons.” Before college I thought I had to spend a lot of money on clothes, makeup, and name brand items to be beautiful. I was wrong. You don’t have to change everything about your beauty routine to make it college budget friendly. I like to shop a lot, and I like makeup a lot; that didn’t change when I went to college. What did change was how I shop. The first important thing to do is cut out any unnecessary purchases. For me that was acrylic nails. I used to spend $75 every two weeks on a set of acrylic nails. As nice as they looked, I quickly realized they were not worth it for me. College is about budgeting and learning to decide what is a need and what is a want. I decided trips to the nail salon were a want, so I eliminated them from my budget. I started painting my own nails. My roommate and I soon made painting our nails together our Sunday night routine. We made memories that will last a lifetime, and that’s something you can’t put a price tag on. When I was in high school I was convinced everything I wore had to be name brand. I wore only Victoria’s Secret leggings and only Nike shorts. Now, at the wise old age of 19, and with a year of college under my belt, I realize brand names mean nothing to me. In my opinion, having shorts with a little Nike symbol doesn’t make them any better quality than my clearance rack Old Navy shorts. Sometimes name brand is good, but I refuse to pay full price. My advice is to look online for deals on all name brand items or watch the sales. Everything eventually goes on sale, and if it doesn’t, I probably don’t need it anyway. I have always loved makeup so going into Ulta or Sephora is always an expensive trip. I used to constantly try out the newest name brand makeup. I would even try and convince myself that it worked better than it actually did. As a broke college student, I learned that some of my favorite makeup is from the drug store and, for me, works just as well as the name brand version. When it comes to makeup, it’s important to remember that what works for some might be a disaster for others. My experiences have taught me that I always need to try the makeup before I determine which is the best. Because I like to have first hand experience with all my makeup products and not rely on online reviews, it is better for me to go with drugstore options. That way, if I don’t like it, I didn’t waste as much money. Makeup also expires, which is something that is often forgotten. Makeup should be thrown away and replaced regularly, so when it is name brand and twice the price, it is hard to toss it into the garbage can. If expired makeup is continued to be used it can cause break-outs or infections. If there is a name brand item you know you will love and use before the expiration date, absolutely buy it. If there is a product you love, budget for it and splurge. You deserve it! But learning to cut costs where you can is an important thing to learn. College teaches us many skills for the future, even how to love yourself. In my first year of college I learned how to love myself for my true self; not someone obsessed with her image, but for who I am after all the makeup and clothes come off. Once you can truly say you love yourself for you, you will be so much happier, and you will find cutting out unnecessary purchases will be easy. Makeup and clothes might help make you feel beautiful on the outside, but true beauty is something that is grown inside you and is priceless. Lexi Kerzman is a sophomore at the University of South Dakota where she is studying journalism and media. She is spending the summer at home with her family, where she is enjoying homemade meals and her own bathroom.
Community Contributor: The Mercy Box
Staff at First Western Bank and Trust with their Mercy Box Sargianna Wutzke (Mercy Box Chair) and Rhonda Styles-Rohde (Mercy Box Com- mittee Member) with the Mercy Box donations collected for Bismarck Public Schools A Mercy Box at a drop off site Submitted Photos When businesses and the community team up to help those in need, great things can happen. That’s the idea behind a new movement in Bismarck and Mandan called The Mercy Box. What started as a one-time collection has grown into something much more. Sargianna Wutzke is the chair of The Mercy Box. She shares about the project that’s helping a different nonprofit organization each month. Tell us a little history of The Mercy Box. The Mercy Box was started as a movement to help the homeless by collecting items for blessing bags. It was originally going to be a one-time collection. After the event, it was decided that there are many deserving nonprofits and causes in Bismarck-Mandan that are in need of donations. The Mercy Box could be a way to help impact those nonprofits and causes. The Mercy Box has grown into a movement that brings the community together to collect donations for a new nonprofit or cause each month. How does The Mercy Box work? Nonprofits apply to be recipients of The Mercy Box. There is a new nonprofit or cause chosen each month; the chosen group sends a list of up to four items that they would like to be collected in The Mercy Box (which are actually just red totes placed around town). We put signage on each box that gives information about the nonprofit or cause for the month as well as their donation requests. The Mercy Box team puts all this information out on our website and Facebook page so the community is aware of what donations are needed that month. Community members drop off their donations at one of the 20 drop-off locations in Bismarck-Mandan. At the end of the month, The Mercy Box team collects the donations and then delivers them to the nonprofit. Have you selected future nonprofits? If so, what are they? We have selected nonprofits and causes for the rest of 2018. They are: Carrie’s Kids (July), Will-Moore Elementary (August), Missouri Slope Areawide United Way (September), Pink it Forward (October), God’s Child Project (November), and Charles Hall Youth Services (December). We are currently taking applications for 2019. You mentioned the red totes that are placed around town for donations. Where can people find those? Our drop-off sites in Bismarck are Boneshaker Coffee, YMCA, Luna Fusion, Bjork Dental, The Printers, First Western Bank and Trust, Fireside Office Solutions, Proforms, Roberta Storm- State Farm Agency, Bismarck Antique Mall, Bismarck Police Department, Core Chiropractic, Booming Nutrition, Surprise Church, and People Ready. In Mandan, drop-off sites are Classic Rock Coffee, BAM Nutrition, Taylor Made BBQ, Farmers Union Insurance, and Surprise Church Mandan. How are you different from other organizations like yours? We are different as we are the only organization that currently collects donations throughout the year for different nonprofits and causes each month. There are many different organizations that collect for a certain special event for a nonprofit, but not on an ongoing basis. We realize that there are so many amazing nonprofits and causes in our community that are in need of a variety of items. We want to help reach as many of them as possible through the movement of The Mercy Box. What are your needs right now if someone would like to help? We are currently looking for more drop-off sites in the community. We’re looking for businesses that are easily accessible for the public to drop off donations. We supply the red Mercy Box totes, and The Mercy Box team picks up donations at the end of the month and changes the signs to the new nonprofit or cause each month. Our team handles all social media for the boxes and checks in with each business monthly as well. It is literally hassle free for businesses to take a box and they get to impact a new nonprofit or cause each month. How can people contact you? They can call 701-319-9928 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a website, themercybox.com. There you will find a list of all the drop-off locations as well as their business hours. Thanks to an amazing volunteer, we’ve got a new feature on our website—an interactive map of all our locations; you can click on the drop-off site, and it will show you where it is on the map and the hours that business is open. How can people donate or get involved? People can get involved by donating to the nonprofit of the month. The drop-off sites in the community are businesses that people frequent already, so why not drop-off donations and impact those that need it.
Maureen Wanner’s Mission Field: Pampering Promised
Article and Photos by Paula Redmann Maureen Wanner has been making people feel beautiful for 27 years. She entered the world of hair and skin in 1991, fresh out of a Bismarck beauty college. All paths crisscrossed to where she is today, to Homestead Salon and Spa—her salon and spa—inside of Edgewood in Mandan, home to assisted living and memory care residents. “It’s so interesting. All the people I’ve met along the way have all lead me to this point. My salon is my mission field. Things happen for a reason, don’t you think?” asks Maureen. Her years of providing skin care expertise for plastic surgeons and dermatologists, combined with years of owning her own salons in Beulah, Dickinson, New Rockford, and Bismarck, weave into raising three children with her husband, Sherwin, in Mandan. Add in years of evenings working as a Certified Nursing Assistant, the next acquaintance, the next connection, all leading her to Edgewood, and her next client, waiting for her weekly shampoo and set. “Miss Dorothy sees me every week. It’s a treat from her daughter, and I get her all decked out for her husband,” says Maureen. Miss Dorothy is Dorothy Ward. She and her husband, Milan, live at Edgewood. Dorothy says Maureen does a good job. “She gives me a good scrubbin’,” says Dorothy, “And it feels delicious.” Maureen gently helps Dorothy lie back onto the sink, as if she’s releasing a sleeping infant. After a relaxing shampoo, Maureen applies a product called “Black Rage,” to Dorothy’s hair, which Maureen says is “a little color without the color.” The name of the product doesn’t match Maureen’s demeanor or Miss Dorothy’s grace. Follow that with a little gel, a rainbow of curlers, and Dorothy goes under the dryer for a little nap. “This is her spa time,” says Maureen. “These people are just the best. They’re leaders in technology, skills, and mothering. And they’re so full of history. I love hearing about their travels, crops, families, and faith.” While Miss Dorothy rests, Maureen grabs the tub of curlers and moves to her next client, Miss Laverne. “Look at her hair!” exclaims Maureen. “What most of us wouldn’t give for this thickness and these curls?” Miss Laverne is Laverne Parkin. Maureen knows of Laverne’s first marriage of 51 years and her second marriage of 18 years. “Both good men,” says Laverne. “My second husband and I spent every day together, fishing and hunting and then going dancing on Saturday nights. We had a real good time.” “I get great advice every day,” says Maureen. “I get marriage advice and parenting tips. They tell me what to spend money on and how they saved money.” Miss Laverne pipes in with, “I saved money by not going to the casino this week!” Maureen knows her customers. She knows how many children they have. She knows what their grandchildren do. She knows all about their special occasions and comes in to do their hair and make them feel beautiful. She knows the weekly—and popular—shampoos and sets. She knows haircuts are every six weeks and perms are every 12. Although a majority of her clients are women, Maureen also takes care of men. “I schedule a ‘Men’s Day’ and just do guy haircuts that day. I introduced them to something special, something they never experienced from years of going to a barber; the treat of having someone wash their hair.” Maureen hums along with her customers when they sing, appreciates the prayers they offer her, right from their chair, “and when they move their toes in the chair, well, we call that dancing.” Years of standing have had an impact on Maureen’s health. She has some back issues, and knows she needs to rest more, slow down, relax and do some stretching. “I’m working on that. My youngest son will ask me, ‘Mom, are you relaxed?’” Maureen turned 50 recently and celebrated the only way she knew how; by throwing a party at Edgewood and inviting all the residents. “My sister and I love to bake, so we had all kinds of goodies, ice cream, and balloons. It was so much fun. That’s why I put cupcake ornaments on my Christmas tree, turned Easter tree, turned birthday tree!” Looking back on her career, Maureen says she feels more successful today than at any previous point in her profession. “I love this generation. I love doing something to help them maintain their beauty and their wellness. I truly believe that beauty began with this generation. They are an inspiration to me.” Paula Redmann is the Community Rela- tions Manager for Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. She married her high school sweetheart, Tom. They have two grown sons, Alex and Max.
Finding Beauty in Every Medium
Candace Brekke by Nicole Thom-Arens | Submitted Photos Candace Brekke’s contemporary artwork has been on display in boutiques, cafes, and businesses in Minot for several years, but it took the artist years to find her peace on the canvas. “In college, Walter Piehl was one of my professors, and I remember him saying I was too commercial—that I had to not only be more open and free with the medium, but with my mind—but I had just graduated from a technical program at Bismarck State College, where design and detail were ingrained in me. Realistic drawing was all I knew,” Candace recalls. “It wasn’t until after I graduated from Minot State University that I began relaxing a bit and really experimenting with paint and freedom of expression—it took me away from the computer.” Candace’s career began as a website designer in the late 1990s while she studied commercial art at Bismarck State College. Despite always loving art, Candace didn’t initially know how to apply her passion toward a career. “I was trying to decide what to do for a living when I hit college and couldn’t. I was thinking nursing. I was a CNA for a very, very, very brief period,” Candace remembers with a laugh. “Then my friend showed me graphic design. He went to BSC, and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. Duh,’ art and making a living.” As a child and while in college, Candace’s passion was realistic drawing. “In elementary school, I liked to draw. I liked to try to draw realistic, so I’d just stay up at night and draw until my mom told me to go to bed, and then I’d still stay up later and draw,” Candace says. That specialty in the realistic served her well in graphic design, but painting on canvas allowed her to get her hands dirty—something she really enjoyed. “I finally found the freedom of the medium,” Candace says. “It didn’t have to be perfect. That drip, or that whatever, creates a cool texture or a cool pattern or what shows up underneath it once it’s dripping—it’s like it plays off of each other and I’m finally just able to let it go and just let it be what it wants to be.” “I love the colors that she uses and the layering and the textures that you can see on the paintings,” Jessica Ackerman, a collector of EyeCandy, says. “If she doesn’t explain the meaning of it from her interpretation, I feel like I can come up with it on my own, and neither is really ever wrong. They bring meaning to a room.” Last summer, Candace, who works as a designer for an engineering firm in Minot, returned to the details and intricacies she enjoyed as a child and teen when a group in town started The Kindness Rocks Project where community members decorated rocks to hide with the goal of bringing joy to people finding the special rocks. “It was a good thing to do with the kids. It was a really good lesson, obviously. We’d go camping and sit and do rocks. We talked a lot about the lesson of the kindness project, so that was part of it,” Candace says. “The other part of it was that I found myself going back into detail again, which was funny—being able to take a rock, my paint pens, and my markers and go sit for a half-hour and just create. I’m never looking at anything for reference. I’m simply letting it come to me; it became therapeutic for me and still is.” She describes her ability to see shapes and images in blank rocks or paint on a canvas as being similar to seeing shapes in the clouds. While there is certainly a debate among artists and consumers about what constitutes art, Candace believes the answer is in the eye of the beholder. “Who’s to say what beauty is or how it got there?” she asks. “I’ve come to call myself a visual communicator instead of a graphic designer because that’s what it is. It’s visually telling a story no matter what medium you’re working with. That’s what I want to do. In advertising, you’re trying to convince. In photography, you’re trying to capture and tell a story through the emotions of that visual. Painting, you’re just trying to evoke some kind of emotion and speak to whomever you want to speak. It’s never just one thing for me and that’s okay. If someone finds beauty in my work, then that makes me happy.” Candace Brekke Nicole Thom-Arens is a writer and an assistant professor of communication arts at Minot State University where she teaches journalism and communication theory courses and advises the student newspaper the Red & Green.
The Beautiful Gift of Mindfulness
by Melanie Carvell What does it mean to be a “beautiful” person? We often say a person is “beautiful, inside and out” or “beauty is only skin deep” or “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” When we have a particularly positive interchange with another person, we sometimes walk away wondering what it was that they brought to that interaction that left us feeling uplifted. Was it charisma? Beauty? Peace? Kindness? When I think of people who leave me feeling inspired, one person who rises to the top is Sister Thomas Welder, past president of the University of Mary. She brings an amazing sense of presence to every interaction she is a part of. Sister Welder has the superpower of remembering names and—legend has it—knew by name all 2,000 or so students on campus. My guess is that every one of those students can tell a story about at least one encounter with Sister Welder that occurred on a campus sidewalk or at a campus event that left them with their chin higher and back straighter. Do you think Sister Welder is simply more skilled at remembering people? Her ability to be mindfully engaged and present in her interactions is a superpower we can all work toward in our encounters and relationships. Even if we get a little better at being mindful, our relationships and our personal health can benefit in significant ways. We are much more likely to be an empathetic listener, better able to hear, comprehend, relate, and remember. Mindfulness can simply mean setting down our juggling balls (and our phones!) for a moment and taking a few deep breaths when we are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Mindfulness techniques, including meditation and deep breathing, are some of the best tools to manage stress, improve sleep, and avoid illness. The American Psychological Association recommends mindfulness and meditation as ways to decrease depression, anxiety, pain, migraines, and panic attacks. Mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally,” according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Professor Emeritus of Medicine and the creator of the Center for Mindfulness Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Being mindful means staying in the present moment, so we don’t get caught up in replaying yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. Hanging onto the past saps our energy and worrying about tomorrow steals precious time from today. Being mindful helps us enjoy life while it’s happening, rather than missing out because of worry and busyness. How do you leave others feeling after they have crossed your path? Are you fully present in your daily interactions? Not being able to experience the present because you are running wild to the next moment is not the kind of energy that others enjoy being around. Mindful people bring a measure of peace to their relationships and are less likely to try to get the last word in, be reactive, or take things too personally. They understand all things come and go, and in tough times are likely to have a broader perspective that life does not revolve around themselves. Do you share your beauty in a way to uplift and inspire others? Of all the 43 people honored with the North Dakota Roughrider Award—the writers, the artists, the athletes, the giants in business—Sister Welder, the humble woman who made uplifting others her life’s work, may be the most beautiful. Being fully present and engaged with others is a gift that makes a lasting impression. The beauty of that gift is that when we are compassionate, forgiving, empathetic, and grateful, it changes us. And, as a result, people in our lives will very likely reflect those positive changes back to us, leading to a life that truly can be beautiful. Melanie Carvell lives in Bismarck with her husband, Charles, and her dog, Case. She is an author, health and wellness speaker, and grandmother of six. She loves sharing her fitness enthusiasm with others and hopes to see you in one of her cycling classes soon.
Oh Man: Mike LaLonde: Picture Perfect Volunteer
Mike LaLonde by Jody Kerzman | Submitted Photos Mike LaLonde is a regular at Bismarck’s Dakota Zoo. It’s where he finds his favorite subjects of his photographs. “I’m not much of a people photographer. I prefer taking photos of wildlife,” says Mike. “The animals have personalities. You can see it in their faces, in their eyes. They’re not all cute though, but are all good photo subjects.” Over the years Mike has snapped thousands of pictures of the wildlife at Dakota Zoo. His favorite animal subjects are the foxes. “They’re so animated,” he says. “I also really like taking photos of the raptors, the wolves, the primates, and all of the cats.” It’s not uncommon to find Mike strolling the paths at the zoo before the gates open in the morning, always with a camera in hand. “I never come to the zoo without my camera. I even bring it to board meetings because I might have time to capture something great something great after the meetings.” Some of his favorites hang on the walls of the Cass-Clay Ice Cream Parlor. There are prints of snow leopards, geese, camels, racoons, turkeys, otters, and more. “The otters are fantastic. I could watch them all day,” says Mike. “If you can get good shots of their eyes, you’ve got a great photograph.” And each December, Mike gives his time to photograph the annual Santa at the Zoo event with other volunteers. Proceeds from the popular event help fund children’s events at the zoo throughout the year. They are long days for this photographer who would really rather be taking photos of animals than children, but the smiles from the kids and the gratitude from the parents make it worthwhile. “It’s fun to see the same families year after year. We’ve seen some of the same kids as babies all the way through junior high.” Mike grew up with a camera in his hand. His dad, Leo LaLonde, was a long-time photographer for the Bismarck Tribune, and during high school and college, Mike always found work at camera stores and photo studios. “I was always around cameras.” Mike spent 35 years as an adjunct professor at Bismarck State College where he taught photography classes and inspired hundreds of young people to take better photographs. Now retired, Mike stays busy volunteering. “I’m a full-time volunteer,” he says with a smile. He has served on the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations in the past: the United Way, the Bismarck Rotary Club, and the North Dakota Wildlife Federation. He presently serves on the Dakota Zoo board, Bismarck Library Foundation Board, Lewis and Clark Wildlife Club, and the Bismarck Historical Society. He graciously shares his talent for taking great photos with all these organizations. “I take photos of annual meetings, events, and other things. They’re all nonprofit organizations so they don’t have a lot of money to spend on photographs for their websites and marketing. I’m happy to do it for them. It’s my way of helping the community. This is a wonderful community and we’re really lucky to live here.” His photographs have graced the covers of many magazines, including the North Dakota Outdoors magazine several times. Mike’s photos are real, with little to no editing. “I guess I’m old school. I don’t use Photoshop and I don’t really edit my photos more than just some minor color corrections sometimes,” he says. “I figure if I shoot the photo correctly in the first place, I shouldn’t need to edit it.” Always the teacher, Mike offers some advice to amateur photographers who want to get a good photo from the zoo. “Some of the animals at the zoo are tough to photograph because of the mesh screen,” he explains. “The secret is to get close, use a long lens, and open your aperture as wide as you can. That will blur out the mesh screen.” He adds, it’s okay to take more than one photograph. Digital cameras make it easy to keep trying for that perfect picture. And Mike says the zoo is a great place to practice your photography. “The Dakota Zoo is a community treasure,” Mike says. “It is an affordable, relaxing place to go and the whole family can have fun.” For Mike LaLonde, it’s the perfect place to capture the beauty of God’s creatures. Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Photo: Mike LaLonde Mike LaLonde Click here to listen to Mike talk about some of the favorite photos he’s taken at the Dakota Zoo.
Give Your Meal a Makeover
Pam gave her chips and salsa a makeover with a pepper flower and onion fan. Article and Photos by Pam Vukelic If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times: the trite saying “the eyes eat first.” But researchers are discovering there is a lot of truth to it. In fact, the appearance of your food—the first impression you have of your meal—is most likely the strongest determiner of your level of enjoyment. Aroma is second and taste comes in at third place. Charles Spence, experimental psychologist at Oxford, has studied and written* about the importance of all the senses in food. His books are considered important textbooks for culinary students and valuable references for restauranteurs. He maintains the pleasures of food lie mostly in the mind, not the mouth. I have a few suggestions for you in the food appearance arena. You may be thinking, “I’m doing a decent job of getting nutritious meals on the table; I have no time for frills. Please don’t ask me to make them pretty, too.” But you can dress up a dish or a plate in no time at all. It takes more forethought than it does effort. Just having food attractively arranged is a great first step. When serving a tossed salad, group the cherry tomatoes separately from the radish and cucumber slices, and the jicama stars. Not only is it visually appealing, it allows guests to avoid ingredients that might not be high on their list of favorites. Adding some chopped fresh herbs (e.g., chives, cilantro, or mint) makes it prettier and tastier. I recently heard Tyler Zent, culinary staff at Edgewood on Dominion in Bismarck, say they are focusing on making the food more attractive, and are not so interested in plunking a garnish on a plate. That makes sense! Imagine the difference it makes if you reserve some of the shredded cheese that would have gone into the cheddar broccoli soup and sprinkle it on top. Or set aside some small bright green broccoli flowerettes for a last minute addition to each bowl. Spence has determined that your dinnerware makes a difference in your perceptions and responses to food, too. White round plates make foods seem sweeter. Black plates enhance the savory elements of a meal. And red plates result in us eating less. I’m thinking I should stock up on red dinnerware! Hard-cook a couple extra eggs at breakfast time to slice and add to small pumpernickel toast slices topped with pea shoots for appetizers. Grab some edible flowers (e.g., pansies, nasturtiums, chive blossoms) to easily make an impression. Remember, not all flowers are edible. Press some into the top of a disc of Boursin cheese to take it from blah to amazing. Brush the pansies with sugared egg wash for crystalized flowers. Do the same with basil leaves. 1 large egg white 24 basil leaves ½ cup sugar (extra fine, if available) Whisk egg white with 1 teaspoon water until frothy. Brush each leaf with egg wash. Quickly sprinkle with sugar. Let stand on wire rack until dry and firm (1 hour). Store in airtight container up to one day. Speaking of sprinkling, a generous dose of sanding sugar atop muffins or scones adds a delightful touch. A small dose of sprinkles on frosting before the frosting sets up makes a pan of bars more interesting. Also, remember that anything on a plate, even a garnish, must be edible. Don’t use a plastic red chili pepper to adorn your fabulous nacho platter. Grab a paring knife and cut a chile pepper into a flower for a lovely decoration. This needs to be done ahead of time as placing the cut pepper in cold water for awhile causes it to bloom. The same will happen with a green onion or celery stalk. Use your food decoration as a clue to the dish’s ingredients. Placing chopped peanuts atop your kale slaw suggests peanut butter is in the dressing. Speaking of peanuts on top of salad, remember that aside from its visual appeal, a garnish will often add texture to your food. This is another desirable element. Take a couple of minutes to toast any nuts or seeds to bring out their flavor and give them a bit more color. Popcorn on top of beer cheese soup, wonton strips atop your Asian salad, and almond slices baked into the top of your Swedish almond cake all create additional appeal. Make your food special at first sight, never mind first bite! Boursin with pansies Scotcharoos with sprinkles Scones with sanding sugar *Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating – 2017 The Perfect Meal: The Multi-Sensory Science of Food and Dining – 2014 Pam Vukelic recently retired from more than two decades of teaching. She says this is a wonderful time of year to use great ingredients from farmers’ markets and gardens. Pam encourages you to take advantage of this to add appeal to your dishes.