Autumn Days with a Twentieth Century Leader
By Carole Hemingway ⼁Submitted Photos I first met “Uncle Al” during the cozy autumn months, when I was still in grade school. I adored my teachers, and they liked me, especially my science teacher, who was German and looked like Eleanor Roosevelt. To me, Mrs. Strein embodied a goddess, the woman I looked up to, who educated me in the field of science. She had polio, and walked with a cane. The other kids made fun of her constant limp, but I often stayed after school and washed the blackboards. Mrs. Strein had a unique way of teaching science, it was like storytelling. She made it interesting. One day, as I was about to walk home, she offered me a ride. On our drive through a backdrop of autumn colors she asked me if I’d like to go and meet a dear friend of hers whom she called her ‘political soul mate.’ She said my mother would have to sign a permission slip; Mom trusted Mrs. Strein above all, and consented. So on a beautiful Saturday morning we pulled up to 112 Mercer Street in Princeton, New Jersey. Suddenly, when the car stopped I had a queasy nervous stomach. His house was a world-famous landmark because it symbolized the man who lived there. The man with wild white bushy hair, who wore no socks greeted us outside his door as we walked up the steps littered with pumpkins which were on the left of the stairs. The air was crisp…and Albert Einstein lived in an unassuming house, unpretentious, and charming like its owner. The house sat on the main street, highly visible yet protected by deep, dark shrubbery; furnished in heavy German-style. When Mrs. Strein introduced us, he took my hand and kissed it. I knew I was never going to be the same. I sat in a corner on a leather couch by the fireplace playing with one of his cats, when he came over and knelt beside me. “Child, come and join us in conversation,” to which I replied, “I’m a kid; what could I possibly have in common with you?” He answered, “Can you swim?” to which I replied, “No.” He said, “Neither can I. Let’s talk; I’m sure we will find other common ground.” I remembered afternoons sailing in his ‘leaky boat’ and we bailed out a lot of water. His housekeeper and secretary would come out on the lawn screaming in German because neither of us wore life preservers, our code and proof of bravery. Since he didn’t drive, we walked everywhere. He used to help me with my math homework. I was terrible at it. I wanted to be a writer, so I had no interest in math. He loved wearing old sweatshirts, baggy pants, and no socks even in the dead of winter. He found that real power was in knowledge and that power without wisdom was deadly. He was passionately curious and asked what would it be like, did I think, to race alongside a light beam? At my age then, I was struggling with a dysfunctional family and never thought of such things. He felt that freedom was the lifeblood of creativity and that without it man could not write what he was feeling. Later in life, I learned from my dad that creativity required being willing not to conform to anyone’s standards of excellence, except your own. Life’s mysteries were Einstein’s playground and he invited me into his world. I was fascinated and never bored. On love, he said one day, “something feels right, or it doesn’t, child, and believe me you’ll know the difference.” He was easily moved by other’s pain. I watched him deliver a litter of kittens to a very pregnant mother cat that otherwise would have died. He was a gentle man, a kind man, and he allowed me to call him affectionately, “Uncle Al.” I simply loved him. He sympathized with the misfits of society, his patience unending. As he neared the end of his life, I was sitting with him on a park bench and asked if he regretted anything in his life. He puffed on his pipe, suddenly grew sad with wrinkled brow and answered: “The only regret I have, Carole, was signing a letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atomic bombs be made.” He saw the startled look on my young face, put his arm around my shoulders, looked into my eyes and said, “America is an adolescent country and Americans will never learn how to use POWER properly.” Carole Hemingway is an internationally regarded author, speaker, and historical researcher. She currently lives along the coast of Maine where she is writing a book about Gettysburg and waiting to publish another book about her father, Ernest.
Community Contributor: House of Manna, Inc.
Submitted Photos The House of Manna, Inc. has been serving the Dickinson community and the surrounding area for nearly 30 years. A Bible verse that guided the organization from the beginning, continues to inspire volunteers today: “In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.”—Matthew 25:40 Here’s more on how the House of Manna, Inc. is helping those in need, and how you can help too: Give us a little history of the House of Manna, Inc. A fire that had taken a family’s home and all their belongings sparked the formation of the House of Manna, Inc. in November of 1989. Dickinson homemaker Jean Stull went into action and gathered two carloads of donated clothing and delivered them to the family. She continued to gather clothing from there on out to offer to all fire victims that she would read about in the newspaper. Jean started storing items in her basement, her garage, then a cold storage unit. A local pastor from Dickinson offered storage space at their church, until that too became too small. The next place became downtown in the old Binek Café, however, again space became a challenge. So, after four moves, it found its home of its current location at 1100 East Villard in Dickinson. However, space is again a challenge and it is the House of Manna, Inc.’s dream is to have a larger building to accommodate all of the amazing donations. How are you different from other organizations like yours? The House of Manna, Inc. is a Christian, non-denominational, non-profit, charitable organization. It consists of one paid employee, which is the director, Nan Rapp, amazing volunteers, and a board of directors that meet quarterly. It assists individuals and families in emergency situations as well as those who do not have access to other services to meet their needs. The House of Manna, Inc. could not run without the amazing support of our community. We are funded in part by the City of Dickinson and the United Way, as well as individuals, businesses, and organizations who donate throughout the year and by the people who utilize the House of Manna, Inc. People may give a free will donation, but this is not an expectation. How can people donate or get involved? The House of Manna, Inc. accepts donations of: useable clothing (children and adult), household goods, mattresses, small appliances, furniture, and some food items. Donation times preferably are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Individuals and families in need of the donated goods may come once a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. If you are interested in volunteering, you may call Nan Rapp at the House of Manna, Inc. at 701-483-5733. If you are interested in donating monetarily, you may send your donations to PO Box 55, Dickinson, ND 58602. What are your needs right now if someone would like to help? With the winter months coming up, we are in need of winter coats, boots, socks, hats, gloves, and scarves. There is always a need for all donations, but it seems like men’s pants and jeans are something that are in great need also.
Called to Help: Responding to Hurricane Harvey
By Jody Kerzman ⼁Submitted Photos Texas is a long way from North Dakota. Just ask Brooke Larson. “It’s about a 28 hour drive from Bismarck to Lumberton, Texas, which is on the Gulf Coast,” she explains. Brooke knows that because just days after Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast, she and her husband, Will, and their friend Zach Jackson headed south to help. “Will has an airboat and is involved in the Bowfishing Association of America. That group had a lot of guys going down there to help. Airboats and law enforcement boats were the only boats allowed into certain areas,” Brooke explains. “Airboats can go on dry land, and there were many places there that you’d go from really deep water to two inches of water, and then to dry land. Airboats were perfect for getting around.” Will had been watching his bowfishing friends’ Facebook posts about helping in Texas, and decided he wanted to help too. “He’s just got a heart of gold and seeing his friends helping made him think he could be helping too,” says Brooke. “He had a strong desire and the means to go. So we made the decision to go together and help where we could.” They ended up in Kountze, Texas, about 100 miles from Houston. “When we pulled up to the shelter, a hearse was pulling out. I thought, ‘Oh boy. Here we go.’” The next day they went by airboat to Lumberton, about 11 miles away. “It was incredible to see how high the water was. Water was to the roofs of houses. It was crazy,” says Brooke. “I’ve seen floods before, but this was extreme.” The three took the airboat around the flooded town, looking for anyone who needed help. “The people that were still there said their homes were dry, but they were running out of supplies. They couldn’t get anywhere to get more food, water, or gas, and they didn’t have electricity. We took them by boats to other cities where they could go to a shelter.” The most amazing thing, Brooke says, was that many of the volunteers they worked alongside were people from Lumberton whose homes had flooded. “Even though they had lost everything, they were still giving every last bit they had to help their neighbors. And those whose houses had stayed dry were lending beds, warm showers, and warm food to us and other volunteers. We were expecting to eat sandwiches for a week and sleep in the tents that we brought. The hospitality was unlike anything I have ever seen.” After two days of helping, the three headed home to North Dakota. It’s a trip they’ll not soon forget and a trip they’d take again in a heartbeat. “It’s just how we were raised,” Brooke says with a shrug. “If you have the means to help someone but you don’t that really weighs on your heart. We had to take off work to help. But dropping everything you have and going across the country and helping is really what we are called to do. If we were in that situation we hope that’s what people would do for us.” Now, safely back in North Dakota, Brooke says life quickly returned to normal; Zach and Will went back to work, and she went back to school. She’s finishing up physical therapy school and getting used to life as a married woman. She and Will got married on July 1. “I think going to help in Texas definitely strengthened our relationship and gave us some good perspective into what’s really important in life,” says Brooke. And although they’ve travelled more than 1,400 miles together, they still haven’t taken a honeymoon. That’s planned for January.
Cathy Schumacher: Boss Lady of Diamonds
Article and Photos by Michelle Farnsworth A little known fact: Cathy Schumacher is a registered nurse by trade and didn’t know much about jewelry or diamonds. But that all changed when she married into the Schumacher Family. The Schumacher’s have been selling jewelry since Barney, Sr. started the family business in Linton, North Dakota in the late 1940s. “Ten years ago my husband asked me to join the family dream,” says Cathy. Schumacher was still a practicing nurse in a private clinic setting when she approached her husband, Barney Jr., with a jewelry showroom idea. “He said, it’s your idea, you run it!” The jewelry showroom ended up being very time consuming and labor intensive, ultimately taking precious time away from family life of raising two sons, and the Schumacher customer. In 2011 Cathy decided to close the showroom and change to private consultations. “I didn’t have to wait for a customer to come casually strolling in. Now we create a one-on-one personal customer service experience,” explains Cathy. The positive results for the business benefited both the family and business. “I’m working smarter and no two days are alike. I can mediate for the customer,” smiles Cathy, her eyes shining bright like a diamond. Michelle Farnsworth Michelle Farnsworth is a local writer and owner of her own Younique Makeup and Skincare business. Two humans, one fur baby, and her husband, Richard, occupy her free time.
Trending: Shine Bright Like a Diamond
Article and Photos by Michelle Farnsworth I have a confession: I’m addicted to bling. The ultimate bling: diamonds. When I see a beautiful stone, my eyes glaze over and little birdies gather and tweet above my head. SNAP OUT OF IT! There are definite trends in diamond jewelry, just like any other spoke of the fashion industry wheel. And like fashion and makeup trends, the diamond industry is trending rose gold and two-tone gold settings. “For instance with wedding bands, women are excited to pick out their husband’s band. And there are no rules any more,” says Cathy Schumacher of Schumacher Diamond in Bismarck. Another big trend with diamond jewelry is bar necklaces or shapes such as stars or hearts with diamonds. But the good ol’ diamond studs are the workhorse and are the equivalent to the little black dress every woman likes to have in her wardrobe. “Round diamonds are still very popular,” Cathy says. Something I did not think about before, and is now on my personal wish list, (Richard, are you reading this?) are diamond earring jackets. Yes! A jacket in fashion is important to a wardrobe and now earring jackets are their equal. “You have your core diamond studs and adding earring jackets dress them up for formal events or an evening out,” explains Cathy. Women are consciously thinking about their big diamond purchases. It’s something that will be treasured and passed down for generations. I think of who will get my special pieces. Although I have two sons, I’m hoping someday their significant others will enjoy something that connects family members together. That aspect of diamond purchases in itself is an important trend in the industry. But hold onto your babies, have you heard about “push presents?” Yes, it’s what you think it stands for. Women are receiving special diamond pendants or diamond upgrades after giving birth to a child. I’m thinking that makes me about 20 years overdue for mine. And let’s say your first pair of diamonds is a “k’nardley diamond.” (“Can hardly see it”—it’s an old family joke, roll with it, people.) An easy gift idea is to upgrade your diamonds to a larger stone. Genius idea. Bigger is always better, especially with diamonds. Colored diamonds are mind-boggling when you see them up-close. Yellow, pink, green—doesn’t matter they all call my name. When Cathy pulled out the loose colored diamonds; it was a heart-pounding experience. Trust me. Now back to my diamond dreams…I’ll be dreaming about twinkle diamonds in rose gold, how about you? Michelle Farnsworth Michelle Farnsworth is a local writer and owner of her own Younique Makeup and Skincare business. Two humans, one fur baby, and her husband, Richard, occupy her free time.
Leading Without Self-Doubt
By Bethany Berkeley I read a study recently published in The Atlantic on the confidence gap that exists between the sexes. The research confirmed that men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both.The article further indicated that women applied for a promotion only when they met 100 percent of the qualifications and men applied when they met 50 percent. To gather the research, dozens of women were interviewed, all accomplished and credentialed. Time after time, the interviewers came across the same issue: self-doubt. The researchers couldn’t figure out why the successful investment banker mentioned that she didn’t really deserve the big promotion she’d just received. Or why the engineer who’d been a pioneer in her industry for decades, told them offhandedly that she wasn’t sure she was really the best choice to run her firm’s new big project. Over many happy hours and coffee connects, I’ve noticed a theme too—that each and every one of us, no matter how confident and put together we may appear, no matter how accomplished we are—experience self-doubt. And you know what? It is time to stop giving this little voice in our minds so much airtime. Here’s my challenge to you: Stop apologizing. Did you know women apologize more than men? In fact, I tracked my apologies for a day and I said, “I’m sorry” over 20 times. I even apologized to the waitress for bringing me a glass of moscato instead of the chardonnay I ordered! No more ‘buts.’ Whenever we say ‘but’ we are automatically reducing the power of whatever came before it (“I need to exercise more, but…”) Find your tribe. Surround yourself with people who challenge you, empower you, and don’t play into your self-doubt. The bottom line: you are stronger and more capable than you realize. Bethany Berkeley Bethany Berkeley is a Performance Consultant with Dale Carnegie. She is a University of Texas at Austin graduate and a frequent presenter on women’s leadership, business innovation, and personal empowerment. Bethany also serves on the board for multiple nonprofit organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Vanity Plate Envy
By Renae Walker You know that game kids play during a long drive where whoever spots the most licenses from the most states wins? My geeky habit is to look at vanity license plates when I’m driving. Here are some I saw recently that made me smile. Mom vehicles: MOMST3R on truck with big wheels; VANCLAN for a mommy wagon; proud mom with 4GR8SNS; SK8RTXI for a mom that schleps a skater around; and HARPSMA. Inspirational plates: GRABLFE; LUVLIFE; HES4GVN; REVIVE; REJOICE; NRGIZED; RVR CRZN; and ADVENTUR on an SUV. People who love their rides: ZZIIPP on a Scion; RAGTOP1 on a vintage convertible; STTOAD on a motorcycle; TARBEAR on a black pickup; ZOOM 6 on a Mazda 6; LNDSHRK on a Sebring convertible; RNAWAY on a shiny red sportier car; BADTOYS on a 4×4 Chevy; and HOGRYDR on a pickup but he must have a motorcycle, too. WLD PNY on a sports car that was going too fast for me to see the make and model; FLASHY; HUMMS on a SRX4 Cadillac; TOYODA on a Toyota driven by a Star Wars fan? SMURFD on a cute bright blue pickup; and my personal favorite: 4DPULR, Ford puller on a Dodge truck! Work vehicles: SOLD1; REALEST; YARDDOC; NRGTECH; VALVES on a lawn sprinkling vehicle; BREAD1 on a Bread Poets vehicle; EXECAIR on an Executive Air Taxi Corp. vehicle; COMPTR4; CDHS for Central Dakota Humane Society; and POLICE…I hope my habit isn’t considered distracted driving! Hunters & fishermen: DEDBRD; BIGBUCK on a 4×4 Chevy Silverado with lots of stickers of deer and pheasants; HOOKEM2; and maybe WLF PCK. People who like to define themselves: Initials SMW; CR8TIV; 4HER&ME; WW2VET; ERRAH with a Veteran’s sticker—Twitter says it means tough Marine; MRSDICE; married ML & JL; LV2CMP; NATRGRL; FRMGURL; LUV2BIK; NRMAJNE, a Marilyn Monroe fan; COBLER, a shoe repair artist or a pie lover; ART4U, maybe an artist or art store owner; TJAY; VITA; LILBELK; and FRDRR a guy I work with–last name Ferderer! Sports fans: BISON1; STEVE on an NDSU license plate with a Bison plate cover, too; GO CUBZ on a baseball blue car; ST33LERS. Plates that make me wonder: OOPS 1, I wonder if there’s an Oops 2; BATMN1, ditto; BOO 2 on white vehicle, do they own two white vehicles? CHLAB, maybe they own a chocolate Labrador? DARTHMD; NICEICE, a skater or hockey player? The vehicle also had a Ron Jon Surf Shop sticker. BOOGNSH, I had to look this up—it’s a demon god symbol of wealth and power. So to all of you out there with vanity plates, thanks for piquing my interest as I drive the same old streets back and forth to work every day. May our paths cross again. Signing out: license plate 577 BHL on a red mustang convertible because I’m too cheap to pay extra for something clever! Renae Hoffmann Walker Renae Hoffmann Walker is a Bismarck native and has enjoyed many years as Community Relations Director at Bismarck Public Schools. She and her husband, Dwayne, are river rats, seasoned travelers, and proud grandparents.
Oh Man: Mike Porter
By Marci Narum ⼁ Submitted Photos The sun has barely breached the horizon when about 30 students from Bismarck’s Solheim Elementary School have already laced up their shoes for a run around the building. Physical Education teacher, Mike Porter, meets the kids outside the school each weekday morning before the bell rings. He instructs some of them to run three loops around the building; the rest run two. “The loop is about a thousand meters,” says Mike. “So, my fifth graders will do about 2.5 miles, the other kids about 1.8 miles. The goal is to do it without walking. Most of them do. It just depends if they try to keep up with the faster runners.” The early morning run is not part of P.E. class; it’s training. Mike is coaching the kids who participate in cross country meets through the Bismarck Parks and Recreation Department’s track and field program. “Most of the kids that come out are multi-sport,” says Mike. “Many are involved in football and soccer. Not all of them race because some don’t have the access to get to the meets but they are more than welcome to come to practice with me.” Mike has been coaching cross country at Solheim for 12 years. He says in his first year, six students participated. Now he averages 40-50 kids. When his third, fourth, and fifth grade students aren’t running, Mike teaches them about proper nutrition, hydration, and the importance of building their core strength. “Because when you get tired, your form goes, and with that, you start developing injuries,” Mike explains. Their loop around the school wraps up with 20 pushups and 20 sit-ups. “I talk a lot about how your body feels when you’re running; listen to what your body tells you. “I teach them running techniques so they don’t carry a bad habit as they get older—incorrect stepping, push off, arm movement. You want everything to be linear and aligned with arm motion.” The young runners are learning from a man with many years of experience. Mike is an ultra-marathon runner. “I’ve competed in four 100-milers; I completed one which took 27.5 hours.” Mike has also run 20 marathons and completed ten 50-mile races. It took his fourth attempt to finish the 50-mile run in the Bighorn Mountains. “I was the last finisher. But I didn’t care—I finished it.” That’s Mike’s attitude when he’s coaching, too. He encourages his aspiring track stars to compete with themselves first—to focus on their form, breathing, and running technique. And it might explain why after school, Mike is coaching track again. He’s in his eighth year as assistant track coach at Horizon Middle School. When his Solheim runners move onto middle school, they compete against Mike’s Horizon runners. “I just like that it gives them something that’s a lifelong fitness activity they can do. And they seem to enjoy it. We’re seeing success.” Mike is enjoying his own success this season. Nominated by his peers, Mike was named the North Dakota Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year. An award his students say he should be in the running for every year. It’s those students who inspire Mike to lace up his coaching shoes day after day and who have made Solheim feel like home. “I really like the school here. I have great students and great parents.”
Mindfulness: Be Present on Purpose
by Dr. Karli Ghering On an average day, how much time do you pay conscious attention to what is happening in the present moment, as opposed to thinking about something else? If you’re like most people, it is probably rare for you to experience clear awareness of the present, as your busy life often requires you to multitask and manage interference from various distractions. In addition to being bombarded with information from our external environment, we are often distracted by our internal world, as we engage in daydreaming and dwell on thoughts about the past (“I can’t believe I made that embarrassing comment yesterday!”) and the future (“How am I going to get everything done?”). While these internal and external experiences may seem benign, such thoughts and behaviors activate our sympathetic nervous system, which can trigger an acute stress response and cause us to feel overwhelmed. Accordingly, researchers have investigated methods for reducing this stress response through the practice of mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., who has authored numerous scientific papers on the clinical applications of mindfulness in health care, defines mindfulness as, “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Although the concept of mindfulness is rooted in ancient Zen Buddhism, in recent decades there has been a surge of interest in determining how practicing mindfulness can benefit the physical and mental well-being of individuals. Since humans tend to operate on “auto pilot” as they process information and respond to their environment, it takes a conscious decision to focus the mind on what is happening in the present. Proponents of the practice of mindfulness assert that when individuals are present and mindful, the habits and patterns that cause stress are interrupted and the relaxation response becomes more dominant, resulting in fewer stress hormones being released into the body. Indeed, several studies have found the effects of mindfulness are associated with various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, enhanced emotion regulation, and reduced psychological distress. Mindfulness practice is also associated with various physical health benefits, including improved sleep and reduced heart rate, blood pressure, and inflammation. Most women can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed, due to our seemingly endless “to-do” lists and the immense pressure to wear several hats. The pressure to be everything to so many can cause us to lose our sense of self—and to forget that we need balance, peace, and time to re-charge. How full is your cup right now? The practice of mindfulness is about becoming fully engaged in your life, by making a concerted effort to be present with awareness and without distractions or judgments. Perhaps you are thinking, “This mindfulness stuff sounds great—if only I had time in my day to do it!” It is important to remember that any big change begins by taking small steps. Realistically, it is impossible for anyone to be mindful all the time, as the human brain is apt to wander and certain situations simply require us to multitask. However, you can begin to integrate mindfulness into your life by setting aside time each day, to intentionally be present. In my clinical practice, I encourage clients to start by allocating just five minutes per day to engage in mindfulness and suggest that they begin with the following mindfulness-to-breath exercise: Sit or lie down in a comfortable, quiet place. Notice and relax any areas of tension in your body. Tune in to your breath and feel the sensations of its natural flow, in and out, one breath at a time. Relax, focusing on the sensations in your abdomen, chest, throat, and nostrils, as you inhale and exhale. If your mind begins to wander, allow your thoughts to come and go, without judging, analyzing, or trying to change them, and gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Continue this for at least five minutes, just noticing your breath, in silence. Admittedly, the practice of mindfulness is somewhat paradoxical, as it is both easy and difficult: while engaging in mindfulness does not require any special equipment and can be done anytime and almost anywhere, the standards of the world we live in and the habits we have developed are generally not conducive to engaging in mindfulness. Therefore, making a deliberate effort to practice mindful observation during everyday activities (e.g., while drinking tea, reading, or driving) is an important and effective step in your ongoing journey to achieve a state of physical and emotional well-being, balance, and peace. Dr. Karli Ghering is a licensed clinical psychologist and has practiced in Bismarck for 10 years. Her professional interests include psychological assessment and providing psychotherapy to individuals who are experiencing adjustment difficulties, mood and anxiety disorders, and relationship difficulties.
Lead Yourself First: Humility, Humor, & Education
By Monica Hannan I hadn’t been at KFYR-TV very long and I was new to the business, having been plucked right out of college and the newspaper job that I thought would jump-start my career. The TV gig was an internship that would lead, instead, to a life in broadcasting and eventually, to television news management. I was assigned to cover Lawrence Welk’s homecoming at the Bismarck Airport. I was very young and unsure of myself, but I was taking my cue from my photographer, Dwayne Walker. Putting on my best reporter hat, I walked up to Mr. Welk and stuck out my hand, introducing myself and letting him know where I worked. He took my hand, but didn’t let it go. I pulled, he pulled back. Worse, he tucked my hand under his elbow and proceeded to drag me around the airport as he visited with fans. I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing, and Dwayne just laughed. I’m sure Mr. Welk was just teasing me, but that day I learned an important lesson about humility and the importance of not taking myself too seriously. That lesson has helped me in my years as news director, and now as managing editor at KFYR-TV. Humility because people in my industry can often be guilty of hubris, of being impressed with our own importance. As in, “Make way, the media is here.” And the ability to laugh because let’s face it, even seasoned managers make mistakes. I’ve made a lot of them over the last two decades and my hope has always been that I did no lasting damage to anyone’s career or self-image. I’ve learned to see people as individuals rather than just “employees,” and I now know that everybody has a story. Once you know the story, it’s often easier to view others with compassion. In writing my latest book, “Gift of Death,” I interviewed hundreds of people, including the young people who worked for me. I wanted to get their perspectives on the fear of death and their answers surprised me. It turns out they were much more bound by their particular faith traditions than I would have thought. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised because we’re taught in our industry to keep our opinions to ourselves, especially when it comes to religious beliefs. It turns out, though, that thoughts of death and anxiety surrounding it are universal, even among the young. The idea that they believe they’re invincible is, I believe, more myth than fact based on what they told me. They worry about the world, about their friends, about their relationships and the fragility of their parents and grandparents, and about their own mortality. After writing the book, I’ve been asked to speak on death and dying to numerous groups of all ages. When one embarks on a publishing venture, the best way to get people to actually read a book is to promote it, promote it, and promote it again. That means Facebook, Twitter, Google-Plus, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram…talking about my feelings. Yikes! Reporters aren’t supposed to have feelings. To support what has become a new calling for me—speaking on topics of faith—I’ve gone back to school seeking a master’s degree in theology. Part of being a leader is preparing oneself through education. Before I became news director at KFYR-TV, I went back to school for a master’s degree in management and it’s served me well with those thorny issues that are part of everyday life for somebody who’s viewed as “the boss.” With theology that’s particularly important. Nobody wants to give a blank stare when they’re asked why they believe “that.” I do have one advantage when it comes to speaking to the faithful, and I take comfort in it. I believe the Holy Spirit has my back. Talk about leadership! Monica Hannan Monica Hannan is an Emmy Award-winning television news manager, anchor, and talk show host at KFYR-TV in Bismarck, North Dakota and is also the author of several books, including her latest, “Gift of Death – A Message of Comfort and Hope.”
Pop Out Some Popovers
By Pam Vukelic There’s something about a popover—the light, hollow bread with a crusty brown exterior—that says “special.” I think we all know they’re special. We might not all know they are also incredibly easy to prepare. They require only common ingredients that you likely have on hand. The term popover probably comes from the fact that the batter rises and pops over the edge of the pan during the baking process. Steam—created by the high proportion of liquid combined with a very hot oven—serves as the leavening agent. The basic recipe varies little between popular aficionados such as Martha Stewart, Irma Rombauer, and Ina Garten. Basic Popovers 1 c flour ¼ t salt 2 large eggs, slightly beaten 1 T unsalted butter, melted 1 c whole milk Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Generously grease the pan. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry. Mix until only a few small lumps remain; do not overbeat. Fill cups ½ to ¾ full. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from pan. Pierce at the waist with the tip of a knife to prevent sogginess. Serve warm. There’s nothing better than a warm popover slathered with butter. Depending on the rest of the meal, you might add honey, maple syrup, jam, or Nutella. You could fill the indentation that forms at the top of the popover with a mushroom sauce or gravy. In the unlikely event there are leftover popovers, stuff them with scrambled eggs to eat for breakfast. Line them up in a baking pan, cover with cream and grated cheese, and bake at 400 degrees until bubbly as a brunch side dish. A plain popover is plenty delicious on its own, however, there are interesting variations. Check the internet for orange, cinnamon sugar, chocolate, bacon and black pepper, ham and cheese, herbed, and provolone/parmesan popovers. Some are just toppings, some involve stirring ingredients into the batter, and some involve adding filling between layers of batter. Advice from experts: Hand mixing is best, but it’s possible to use your mixer, blender, or even your food processor to combine the ingredients. Avoid over-mixing. Unsalted butter is typically preferred in formula-type recipes to better control the amount of salt. Whole milk, with more fat, promotes browning, tenderness, and moistness and is often preferred in baked goods; generally substituting low- or no-fat milk is fine. Preheat the popover pan before adding batter. To grease the pan, butter is preferred. Make the batter as much as a day ahead of time but bring it to room temperature before using. For extra drying on the inside, pierce the popovers and then return them to a warm oven for several minutes. “Do not peek—keep the oven door closed the entire baking time,” says Irma Rombauer in “The Joy of Cooking.” Alton Brown, popular food TV personality, chides those who purchase “one-trick ponies” or tools that are not multi-purpose items. Space in kitchen cupboards and drawers is usually at too much of a premium to waste it on something that does not get a lot of use. Many experts would agree, though, that a popover pan may be the exception to that rule. Twelve-cup and six-cup versions are available. I contend that once you have a pan on hand it will become a frequently used item in your household. In a pinch, you can use a muffin pan but you aren’t likely to get as much pop. The much lighter metal does not hold and conduct the heat the same way a popover pan does. Karmin’s Kitchen Table, Capital City Restaurant Supply, and Ace Hardware carry the pans in Bismarck. Glass custard cups set on a baking sheet can be used, too. It’s speculated that popovers were invented inadvertently when too much liquid was added to a recipe. If you ever watched Bob Ross on “The Joy of Painting,” you probably heard him say, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” That’s surely what popovers are! Pam Vukelic is an online FACS (Family and Consumer Science) teacher for the Missouri River Educational Cooperative. Pam enjoys entertaining friends, family, neighbors, and strangers. She has a repertoire of easy yet tasty menu items to share.
Amy Gross – Walk the Talk: Leading by Following the Golden Rule
By Marci Narum | Photography: Photos by Jacy There is something different about the Bismarck Cancer Center. The interior of the building has changed dramatically with the completion of a remodeling and expansion project. But most of all, it’s different because of what is unchanging. “People come in and say there’s something different about this place,” shares executive director, Amy Gross. “They can’t pinpoint it. But they feel it.” Amy says what people are feeling is a result of the cancer center’s workplace culture, something she’s been part of since joining the team 20 years ago and continues to foster now as director. “We have extremely high expectations of everyone in the building. They have it of us, too. We also know we are all human, so we all fail. But when you fail and you’re surrounded by people that are forgiving and respect you, and understand that you’re just human, then we just start over again the next day.” Amy has experienced many fresh starts with the Bismarck Cancer Center (BCC). Her first job was radiation therapist in 1997. She became the center’s lead radiation therapist, was promoted to radiation therapy manager, and then named assistant director in 2014. She was hired as executive director in August 2016, following the death of longtime director, Ken Dykes. While it’s a position she never imagined having, Amy embraced her first major task as executive director: overseeing the building’s year-long expansion and remodeling project. She says it was rewarding to see it come together, having been with BCC since the beginning. Thriving & Striving “I came with the building,” Amy smiles. “I was a year out of my schooling when I started in the basement of MedCenter One, which was the only place in town that had radiation oncology. So when patients from St. Alexius needed radiation, they would come over to us or get sent somewhere else for radiation. “Both hospitals had the MRI Center as a joint venture and it was working really well for them, so they started talking about building the cancer center together. It was the best thing they could do for this community; it is well-served with one very high-functioning, state-of-the-art center where we can support the patients that are coming to us.” The list of support services for patients at BCC keeps growing. Patients are offered massage therapy, physical therapy, dietary help, social work, and survivorship counseling. It means the team of professionals providing the services keeps growing, too. “When we built the building in 1999 we had 16 employees. We now have 47 and we hadn’t changed the square footage.” Amy recalls closets, stairwells, and an elevator shaft being converted into office space. She says every decision is made with the patients in mind first. “We are always looking for something different, always striving for something bigger and better, and doing more to help our patients. We never say, ‘this is good enough.’ We never say, ‘we’re doing okay, we don’t need to do anymore.’” At the Front in Fundraising Too humble to admit it, Amy might also never say that she was instrumental in starting the BCC Foundation, which makes the support services possible. “I remember the days where we were really proud of the radiation therapy we delivered. It was always high tech, state-of-the-art. Always has been. But there are so many things it felt like we couldn’t do for the patient. If somebody had a need, who do we go to? Who can help manage through some of those difficulties? It was very hard. “When Ken came, he had this vision that we’re going to break down those walls; take away any barrier they have and we’re going to do everything we can. I remember when he told me, ‘you need to go out and raise money for this foundation.’” Amy says she knew nothing about fundraising or setting up foundations. But her first visit was to Wells Fargo to start the conversation. And their answer was yes. “Over the 10 years of the foundation we’ve learned so much and developed so many wonderful relationships with people in the community that are giving so much of themselves.” Each year, more than 30 fundraisers are held to benefit the BCC Foundation. Only five of them are planned and executed by the cancer center staff. “It’s amazing to see what people will do and how generous they’ll be, and a lot of times for someone they don’t even know. They step up and give their time to organize huge events for us. It’s so rewarding to be part of that community too and knowing what they’re doing for us is going to help so many people. “The money that we raise goes right back to the patients and it helps in a lot of those burdens they carry on this journey. We get to experience seeing the patient’s face after that first massage that helps take away that anxiety and some stress. We just started a yoga program and it was amazing to see the relief people got from just an hour of yoga, and what we can do to help relieve some of those aches they have.” Amy says there are many painful, hard days at BCC; she has been asked countless times how it’s possible to be in her profession. Amy gets teary-eyed as she shares how her career in oncology has been deeply fulfilling. “You get to say you’re part of curing someone’s cancer. That is so fulfilling from a personal standpoint. For those you’re not able to cure, you’re giving them a better quality of life. You’re taking away pain and making them more comfortable so they aren’t hurting or not having side effects from the disease.” Amy puts patients ahead of everything else and she leads her team the same way. Modeling Leadership “She’s been a mentor to me,” says Melissa Klein, who was promoted to radiation therapy manager when Amy became executive director. “I was lead therapist and then transitioned into this role which has really pushed me, and I’ve had her guidance through a lot of things. “I always think, what would Amy do? So I’m always double-checking everything. I want things to be at her standard. We are taking care of people. They’re trusting us with their lives so having high expectations is just fine.” Melissa says Amy exemplifies servant leadership. “There is nothing that I would ever ask anyone to do that I won’t do myself,” says Amy. Amy was part of the leadership team when BCC developed its core values 10 years ago. They include unity, respect, compassion, and integrity. “One thing that Ken taught me—he was so wise about integrity. He said to me very early on, ‘if you don’t have your integrity, you don’t have anything.’” She says the workplace culture at BCC is a result of hiring people who share those values and are willing to be part of the very intentional and consistent workplace experience called Walk the Talk. Amy says it’s all about relationships. “It’s simple, it’s very concise. Walk the Talk is built on five pillars and ultimately it’s about the golden rule; just doing the right thing for everyone around you and expecting the same back from them.” “The culture here at BCC is really unique,” explains Sara Kelsch, marketing director. “It’s a very patient-centered approach but more than that, I think everybody works well as a team, looks out for each other, and is very focused on what’s best for the patients. We hold each other up to high standards here.” “It doesn’t mean we succeed in everything,” says Amy. “But when it comes to tough decisions, I’ll look at the team and ask, ‘what’s best for the patients? Let’s decide on that. Will it be best for us—or for someone else?’ It might create more work but if it’s what’s best for the patients that’s what we need to do.” Sharing Success & Giving Credit Becoming executive director meant a new, larger office for Amy. But she is the first to say that her leadership role has nothing to do with where she sits or even her job title. “I’m only one person. I can make a difference and maybe do something to help, but it’s everybody else; people who are supportive and are willing to do things beyond their job description, willing to take ownership to whatever it is. They’re just the most amazing people and when we can work together we can accomplish so much more. “When you can keep the focus on the patients, which is what every single one of them does, we’re going to be successful. And when you have a team like this one, you feel like you’re unstoppable.” To see more photos of Amy by Photos by Jacy, click here.