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by women… for women… about women…

Inside: • Voice for the Voiceless • Real Men Read Her Voice • Women and Hormones


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C o ntents Features



Getaways for the romantically challenged . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Have children, work and daily chores dulled your desire for romance? Read Jenny Holme’s simple suggestions for getting it back. by Jenny Holmes


A special olympian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Alicia Paine stretched her skill set and earned medals in last summer’s Special Olympics. by Janet Moran

Winning at losing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Now less invasive, bypass surgery still involves a healthy lifestyle practice from the recipient. by Melody Banks

Musings of a poet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Charmaine Donovan shares some of her newly published poems and reveals how growing up in Crosby was formative for her work. by Charmaine Donovan


The art of being Amy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Renaissance woman Amy Sharpe lives on a woodsy plot of land near Deerwood where she weaves, writes and runs an art gallery. by Annie Andrews Bandel

Voice for the voiceless . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 More than a reporter, this photo journalist searches for truth in the lives of people all across the globe. by Carolyn Corbett

In This Issue 32

editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6


H e r Vo i c e ; A s h a r e d l a n g u a g e by Meg Douglas

Inspired to run by Jenny Gunsbur y

yard and garden . . . . . . . . . . 34

her say/his say . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

arts and crafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39


R e a l m e n r e a d H e r Vo i c e by Mar y Aalgaard and Hans Anderson V i v a L a s Ve g a s by Meg Douglas

health and wellness . . . . . . 20 Wo m e n a n d h o r m o n e s by Heidi Sorenson, M.D. THE STRIP by McKenzie Bass



The giving of a war m fuzzy by Jill Ander son

cultural diversity . . . . . . . . . . 28 Kim-Chi 2 by Ahna Otter stad


. . . . . . . . . . . . 40

A positive attitude + lots of talent = the perfect career by Sheila Helmberger

clubs and clusters

. . . . . . . . 42

A d i ff e r e n t k i n d o f t r a v e l by Mar y Rober ts

comics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 a hero among us

Ever yone lives on the waterfront– landsca ping with native plants by Pam Lander s Making old treasures new by Bettie Miller

travel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18





Fit 4 life by Mar lene Cha bot

36 42


business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 When marr ied couples wor k together by Sher i Davich Co v e r ph o t o b y J o ey Halvorson O n t h e c o v e r : H e alt hy relat ionships ke e p t h e r o ma n c e alive, writes Jenny H o lme s , s e e n e n jo y ing a dinner of pa s t a a t G r iz z ly ’ s Wood- Fired R e s t a u r a n t in B a x t er with her h u s b a n d, T im.

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Starting February 1, 2011

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Starting March 5, 2011


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from the editor

PUBLISHER Tim Bogenschutz EDITOR Meg Douglas photos by Joey Halvorson


Women of words: (clockwise top left) Carolyn Corbett, Mary Aalgaard, Jo Wiesner

In “Real Men Read Her Voice,” Pastor Hans Anderson writes, “Her Voice is more than just a magazine, rather it’s a shared language in our community.” This happens, he explains, “by asking and framing the right questions, telling stories of substance, focusing on people-not issues, and relationships-not rewards, and by voicing authenticity.” Powerful words worth illustrating! Let’s take a look. In her sensitive portrayal of journalist, Carolyn Corbett tells the story of Georgianne Nienaber, a woman who travels the world, seeking truth. “Her voice is passionate, poignant, blunt, with a wicked bit of an edge, ” she says. Not unlike Carolyn herself. As a girl in Crosby, Charmaine Donovan received a dictionary from a classmate — a testament to her early affinity with words. In this edition she gives us insight into how those early Crosby years shaped the making of a poet and shares selections from “Tumbled Dry,” her recently published book. After years as a journalist, Amy Sharpe is a self-proclaimed “word person,” even as this Renaissance woman runs an art gallery near Deerwood. Fun-loving, spontaneous, she mixes a variety of media in the “Art of Being Amy,” says profiler, Annie Bandel. McKenzie Bass, creator of “The Strip,” brought an edgy, irreverence to our pages in her comic, “The Strip.” As McKenzie takes her leave into the wide, wide world she says of her time with HV: “It has been a fantastic year! It’s exciting to Meg think about what the next 6

one holds… I know that that is one of your goals at Her Voice: helping out creative people at the start of their careers. And you have met it beautifully from my perspective.” And finally we say goodbye to a master wordsmith, Joan “Jo” Wiesner, who died Sept./ 30 at the age of 81. Jo loved words, played with them, sometimes bugging her editors unmercifully with revisions. First, Jo wrote about Mary Tornstrom, the Washington High School principal who served from 1922-40. In the years following, her profiles included Milli Michaelis, Brainerd’s first woman mayor, and Anne Brainerd Smith, the town’s namesake. Jo relished research, digging into dusty files, interviewing neighbors, faraway contacts and admired the accomplishment of pioneering women. Kudos to the women of words, past and present, who help create a “shared language in our community.”





IS A QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF THE BRAINERD DISPATCH • For advertising opportunities call Carla Staffon 218.855.5834 or 1.800.432.3703 find our publication on the web at E-mail your comments, suggestions or topics to or mail them to Her Voice at Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 copyright© 2003

Douglas, Editor


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by Jenny Holmes photos by Joey Halvorson

In the rat race of a busy mom and wife, the word “romance� is often as hilarious a thought as cats wearing pajamas or long bubble baths at bedtime. But finding time for a date night or even some special time away from routine really is critical in maintaining a healthy relationship with your significant other. SPRING 2011 | her voice

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George Tetreault, a licensed psychologist in the Brainerd lakes area, said quite a bit of his work involves helping couples preserve their relationship in light of increasingly busy schedules. “I have found that people have become so complacent, so focused on their careers or raising their children that their relationship with each other suffers. There’s nothing positive in their relationship so their relationship focuses on conflict. To repair that, people need to spend time together and surround that time doing something they enjoy. I will tell my couples, ‘You found each other very attractive at one time; had similar interests once — so what changed?’ It’s really healthy to do something for yourself individually, but you also have to spend some time as a couple doing something.” George said most men are happy to do something with their partner as long as they’re together. Women, on the other hand, are more relational. When they go out together, they want to do something that also allows them time to talk — like going out to dinner where they can also visit. So, with the arrival of Valentine’s Day, what better time to dig into the pages of the Book of Love and add a little spark to an otherwise ordinary evening? A quick, and completely informal, survey of some of my Facebook friends brought in a myriad of date night ideas and comments. “Romantic evening out... my husband???? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha,” commented one friend. And in a separate post a few minutes later continued, “Still laughing... wait...oh no....ha ha ha ha.” OK, so maybe not everyone was feeling the love. But some did come back with their favorite spots to get away. “Any time away from the kids is ‘romantic’ because it doesn’t happen that often,” said a high school classmate of mine, noting favorite local dining spots or even a friendly game of mini-golf where the loser has to pay up with a full body massage. “We’ve also had nights away where we just have pizza and come home and watch a movie together (something other than ‘Nemo!’). Like I said, with three young kids at home, ANYTIME we can get some alone time without them is sacred and special! Even if we just go grocery shopping together.” Others agree they don’t need to go any farther than their home to find romance. “My favorite is when we arrange a night IN without the kids home,” said another high school friend. “We get to eat our dinner while it’s hot, actually have a conversation without little ears AND watch a movie that doesn’t have animated characters.” All of the suggestions got me thinkin. What is it that my husband and I like to do when Grandma and Grandpa bravely take on our two little people? Where are our favorite “getaway spots” in and around the lakes area?

If you’re feeling indulgent, says Jenny, schedule a couple’s massage at The Glacial Waters Spa, Grand View.


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George said the key to planning a successful and mutually enjoyable date night is to find common ground. Establish something that you both enjoy doing and then make a date out of it. That may be a lot easier said than done and may necessitate some creative thinking, so I’ve taken the liberty of coming up with a few ideas that could appeal to those with differing interests and personalities. Who doesn’t like to eat? Dinner out is typically a fairly safe bet. Finding a restaurant you can both agree on may be a different story, but the lakes area is chock full of great places with ambiance and menu selection. And perhaps you choose a restaurant that you don’t ordinarily patronize. Maybe a restaurant that isn’t likely to be filled with other couples’ children on your night away from kids. The Landing at Lake Alexander near Cushing is a great example of a romantic, yet casual, atmosphere with a gorgeous view of Lake Alexander. The menu touts everything from burgers and sandwiches to beef, chicken and seafood entrees. Add a candle and maybe even a window seat and you have the ingredients for a romantic rendezvous. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the Northland Arboretum offers well-groomed trails

that could lend to a romantic night of cross country skiing or snowshoeing under the stars. Trails are rated beginner to moderate, with some of the trails being lit until 9 p.m. each night. But who needs light when you have the moon glistening off the snow? Warm up afterward with a cup of coffee or another favorite hot beverage and, if you’re anything like us, laugh about your surprising lack of coordination and balance. Feeling indulgent? Why not go all out and schedule a couple’s massage? The Glacial Waters Spa at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa offers couples treatments where you can relax and unwind sideby-side in the ultimate of decadent surroundings. Let your worries float out the door as you each receive a Grand Relaxation, deep tissue or stone massage. Before and after your appointment, you can sit together and take in the amenities, including a gorgeous relaxation room with a large stone fireplace. Want to take it a step further? Grand View Lodge offers romance packages that provide overnight accommodations in a cabin with a fireplace, a bottle of champagne, chocolates and a love note from the purchaser, breakfast and the option to participate in a wine tasting, all in addition to the massage for two. Frank Soukup III, director of marketing for Grand View, said he takes couples’ experiences very seriously. “I have four kids and I never get away,” Frank laughed. “If I can get away locally, there’s a better chance.” Grand View also offers wine tastings and wine dinners in the Headwaters Wine Cellar at their Gull Lake Center. Frank said the Wine Cellar

Jenny and Tim find thrifty ways to rekindle the romance: a snowshoe outing at the Northland Arboretum, playing board games at home by the fireplace.

provides the perfect setting for just the two of you or even with other couples. And, if all else fails, you don’t really need to go anywhere. Rent a movie, dust off a board game, order a pizza and stay in for the night. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend or relative nearby that can take the kids for a few hours or, ahem, overnight, you have all the elements it takes to create a romantic evening in the comfort of your own home. This is also a more budget-conscious option and you can stay in your PJs or sweats. Just make sure to keep the conversation flowing - a relationship staple, George emphasizes. So have fun with it! And don’t make it a one-time deal. George emphasized making a point of setting and sticking to date night once a week, even if it means just taking the dog for a walk.


Jenny Holmes Jenny Holmes is a former reporter with the Brainerd Dispatch and owns a free-lance public relations and communications company. She lives in Nisswa with her husband, two children, dogs and a cat. SPRING 2011 | her voice

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story and photos by Janet Moran

Alicia Paine won a gold and silver medal in the Minnesota Special Olympics August, 2010. Denise Paine says that horseback riding has been good therapy for the traumatic head injury suffered by her daughter at 16 months.

Do you know an Olympian? I do. Have you ever watched an Olympian win a gold and silver metal? I have. I think many of you may know Alicia Paine, but may not know that she is an Olympian! Alicia won a gold medal in the English Obstacle class and a silver medal in the English Equitation class in the Minnesota Special Olympics this past August in North Branch. Minnesota Special Olympics is designed to give individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to compete fairly, learn team play, gain self-confidence, as well as learn how to handle defeat when they do not win. Months before the competition Alicia, 31, was asked by Lynn Fairbanks, Mounted Eagles Special Olympics coordinator, if she 10

might be interested in riding in the event as a member of the Mounted Eagles Therapeutic Riding Team. Receiving a very positive response from Alicia, Lynn had to then find a volunteer coach for Alicia and sponsors. The volunteer coach stepped forward quickly. She was Susie Baillif, Mounted Eagles senior instructor. Her sponsors were Spirit Horse Center, Inc., the stable that Mounted Eagles rides in as well as Grattan HealthCare, Inc. Now it was time for Alicia to start her training for the event. “The hardest part for me is pulling on the reins,� says Alicia. So she squeezed a small ball in her hand for 10 minutes daily to increase the strength in her right hand. Alicia had strep meningitis at birth and suffered a traumatic head injury from a motor vehicle accident at age 16 months. She went from a happy 16-month-old to a

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child who had to learn to walk again and has had to deal with cerebral palsy on her right side. She also spent additional training hours with Susie practicing the patterns she would be expected to perform in front of the judge and spectators. Alicia’s mother, Denise, said, “Alicia began riding with the ‘Eagles’ about 14 years ago. While taking physical therapy to improve her balance and agility, the therapist suggested that she might enjoy horseback riding as the motion of the horse would also be good for her balance and flexibility. The riding is good for her, part of her ongoing therapy.” Since that time Alicia has been riding once a week and takes her riding seriously. Every year the Mounted Eagles program had a “Riders Horse Show” in which Alicia participates. Her apartment has boxes filled with ribbons and she proudly displays her trophies for visitors to see. She can now add a gold and silver medal to her collection. Alicia smiles at this suggestion and nods. Competition day turned out to be extremely hot for horse and rider. At a temperature of 98 degrees and high humidity, both horses and riders were challenged to drink enough water and attempt to keep cool. Alicia’s classes were to begin about 2 p.m. She arrived at the barn at 10 a.m., in time to have lunch, look at the arena she would ride in and acclimate herself to the

competition environment. She does not like Tennessee Walking Horse, ‘Wind Dancer.” surprises and prefers to have some time to Alicia enjoys learning new things and adjust to new surroundings. Little did she through her riding years she learned how to know that she would have plenty of time to mount, steer, turn, stop, back up, trot her see the competition arena. Her classes did mount and dismount. No one else in Alicia’s not begin until 6 p.m! family rides. Her two younger sisters enjoy But she never complained of the heat and figure skating, “but this is something Alicia when it was her turn to mount she got on a can do that her two sisters cannot,” says horse named “Diamond” whom she had Denise. She also enjoys working on her comnever seen or ridden before. Her mount was puter, having coffee with friends and workprovided by the Special Olympics. In her first ing at Cragun’s Resort. class Alicia could have requested to have a At the end of her competition, having “walker” with her. The walker is a volunteer won gold and silver medals, with everyone who would walk next to her in case she including her coach, mother, grandmother, needed assistance with her horse. She chose niece, other volunteers thrilled for her and to ride alone and rode the obstacle laden very proud of her accomplishments — Alicia course with confidence and a perfect score. had one thing on her mind. “I want to get She won her gold medal in the English back to Brainerd in time to see my fiancé Obstacle class! Her next class followed short- tonight.” She sounded like a pretty typical ly and she was in the hardware again win- young woman. ning a silver medal for her efforts in the English Equitation Class. HV She has ridden many horses throughout the years. Her favorite was a large half Belgium/half Morgan named Bill. They were a good pair, but Bill had to move on and Janet Moran was purchased by Janet Moran lives in Nisswa. She enjoys equine and another rider at people-oriented photography, horseback riding, garSpirit Horse Center. dening and cooking. She is an active volunteer with the She now rides a Mounted Eagles Program. black and white

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by Marlene Chabot

photos by Suz Wipperling

f it ne s s

Estelle Paulson, wellness consultant and personal trainer, educates others on living a healthy lifestyle.

Eating healthy and the right combination of exercises helps keep a body fit. So why do we find ourselves giving up on our New Year’s fitness resolution only two weeks into the new year? Could it be you just haven’t found the right person for motivation and support? Then you need to stop in at NRG Xpress and meet Estelle Paulson, wellness consultant and personal trainer. Paulson, who has been in the fitness world for 13 years, greets each visitor with an all-encompassing smile. She readily shares her smart, sensible no-holds-barred nutrition and exercise expertise, as well as, prepares refreshing all natural herbal tea, energy drinks or meal replacement smoothies. One only has to speak with Estelle for a few minutes to realize how passionate she is about educating people on ways to be healthy. “I chose to go into business for myself,” she said, “because I want to reach as many people as possible and share the positive effects exercise and nutrition have on the body.” Business plans in the near future include a “senior day” and a special for mothers and their children. Paulson and Jason Evanson, her co-partner in business and life and a wellness consultant himself, opened their health business on Northwest Sixth Street, Brainerd in the summer of 2010 and have been busy ever since sharing what their NRG Xpress store is all about. The bright, cheerful main room allows one to sit and relax with a friend, communicate with free WiFi or have a thought provoking conversation with Estelle in regards to nutrition or weight management. At the smoothie bar, one can purchase healthy drinks or additional nutrition supplements. And 12

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then, there’s the fitness studio. The specially designed room holds a treadmill, elliptical, recumbent bike, free weights and strength training equipment. There are two huge benefits to having a fitness studio at NRG Xpress, Estelle said. “It gives those who want a personal trainer the opportunity to work one on one with me, and it also gives those who work out on their own the ability to exercise as little or as frequently as they wish without being locked into a health club membership.” Estelle, one of three children born to Scott and Karen Harmening, was raised in New Ulm until the age of 15 when her father’s forestry job brought the family to Brainerd. “As a youth I was very active physically,” she said with gymnastics, T-ball, dance, baton twirling, swimming, volleyball and softball. It wasn’t until Paulson graduated from high school and had completed her first year at Central Lakes College that she began to seriously think about what to choose for a career. “My mother suggested the health field,” she At the NRG Xpress you can take classes, purchase a health drink or use said, “I’ve always been so health conscious and conthe WiFi connection. cerned about staying fit.” After receiving a B.S. degree in recreation administration with an emphasis in wellness, Estelle’s first job was HV at Northwest Health Club’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis Park where she ran the employee health incentive Marlene Chabot program. Always looking to do more with her degree, Paulson evenMarlene Chabot lives in Fort Ripley with her hustually left Northwest and took on a child care position at a Twin Cities band. A frequent contributor to area publications, YMCA. “Once I got my foot in the door at the Y, it gave me advancement opportunities,” she said. A year later, she became a member she’s a member of the Little Fall’s Great River Writers and Sisters in Crime. She has written three Minnesota-based services supervisor. private eye mystery novels. When not writing, she One other opportunity presented itself to Estelle before leaving enjoys nature and time with friends and family. the Twin Cities, that as a KinderCare Learning Center director. In 2004 Estelle and her family returned to Brainerd. A year later she was hired as a certified fitness instructor for the YMCA. But she didn’t stop there. She continued on to become certified in other areas, including certification as a personal trainer, which she has been doing for four years now. “Estelle’s whole life revolves around other people’s health,” said her partner, Jason. “I feel I’m here to educate people on the importance of being and living healthy. Moderation is the key. A calorie is a calorie,” she said. A firm believer in a strong support system for those involved in a weight management program, Estelle’s clients know she is there for them any time they need her. “It’s so rewarding for me to see people I’ve worked with lose weight, feel better and obtain their goals.” Even after clients have reached their goals, Estelle continues her support. “We keep in touch. I want to hear how they’re doing.” What’s Estelle’s secret to staying fit for life? “Exercise, nutrition and drink plenty of water.” Time away from her business finds Estelle caring for five children, attending health seminars, speaking at local functions, singing for weddings and funerals and occasionally riding a motorcycle. The fitness studio holds a treadmill, elliptical, recumbent bike, free weights and strength training equipment.

1-800-458-0895 17274 State HWY 371 Brainerd, MN 56401 SPRING 2011 | her voice

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he r s ay / h i s sa y

by Mary Aalgaard and Hans Anderson

Men read Her Voice. Not that this should shock anyone. After all, men are interested in women, right? Her Voice is a great community magazine with stories about your friends and neighbors. A guy might be sitting in the dentist office, waiting for his appointment, and notice a copy of Her Voice. The cover might catch his eye (especially the Summer 2009 edition), and he flips it open. What I’m wondering is, if another patient walks into the waiting room, does the first guy continue to read the magazine, absorbed in the story, or does he quickly grab a “guy” magazine to cover up the “girl” one? A few women have had to wait to read the magazine because their husbands grabbed it first. Some men will tell me, in a hushed voice, that they read my article in “that woman’s magazine,” or they’ll call it something like “She Said,” or “Woman’s Voice,” or, my personal favorite, The Lakes Country Journal. (Nope, you didn’t read my articles there.) They look at me shyly as they make their confession and tell me that they connected with my writing, or enjoyed another article in that issue, or personally knew one of the women featured. I smile and thank them. “Yep,” he’ll say. “I read it every time it comes out.” Then, he looks around to see if anyone else heard him, or he’ll say he read it at his mom’s house. Some men will puff up their chests a little when they make their confession and say, “Well, you know, I read it because I know so many of the ladies in there,” or they’ve been hunting with her husband, or something. One such person is Hans Anderson. (Wait a minute.) *Whispers to Hans* Do you want to use your real name for this article, or should we use your feminine pseudonym, Hannah? Hans: Hans is fine… I better “man-up” here! I will use my real name. Yes, I do read Her Voice! Yes, I do enjoy reading the wonderfully written articles! Yes, I do like looking at the pictures…seeing all the bright, shiny, happy, go-getter-type women making a positive impact in the Brainerd lakes area. Having confessed this, should I be concerned about “man-points” now? Do I need to puffup my chest a little? Should I grunt and grumble and talk about motors and meat? Does my confession make me a wuss or just in-tuned and sensitive? Mary: No chest-puffing necessary. Your confession is what makes you…you! Plus, “manpoints” are a mirage. What you think adds “man-points” probably subtracts, and vice-versa. Hans: Is it kind of like the time I asked my wife when she found me most attractive and I just assumed it was my 80s hairdo, and my flattering one-liners, only to find out she finds me most attractive when I am doing the dishes? Mary: Roll up your sleeves, Hans, and welcome to Her Voice. Thank you for being one of the few good men to lend his voice to Her Voice. What draws you into the magazine? Hans: I am who I am today because of Her Voice. Not just the magazine, but the daily call and connection to her voice…my wife, Erin. She, and most women for that matter, understand relationships. Here’s what I mean. When I go fishing, I have grown tired of the age-old, outcome-based question, “Did you catch anything?” Whereas, Erin never thinks to ask this question. Why? Because she gets it! She understands relationships. She’ll usually ask questions like… “Did you have a good time? What did you guys talk about? Do you have a new buddy?” 14

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The success of a fishing trip is not always about fish; rather it’s about friendship, adventure, and shared stories! Just as my wife gets it, Her Voice is a testament of how women get it! By asking and framing the right questions, telling stories of substance, focusing on people - not issues, and relationships - not rewards, and by voicing authenticity. Her Voice is more than just a magazine, rather it’s a shared language in our community. I have confessed to my wife on more than one occasion, “I am a wreck without you.” It’s true! I sleep bad! I eat bad! Then, I feel bad. But, out of this confession/predicament, I have learned that what flows from an ego-crushing confession… is usually the truth. The truth is my need for our relationship. Men in general are “wrecks” without women. Her Voice calls and connects with me and many other men reading out there who still won’t admit it! Mary: Well said, Hans. Thank you for honoring the women in our community with your words and your reading. Thank you for showing love to your wife through your sentiments. And, thank you for sharing your strong, male voice that is so filled with respect.

HV photo by joey halvorson

Mary Aalgaard Mary Aalgaard is a free-lance writer in the Brainerd lakes area. She is a regular contributor to Her Voice, and has heard many confessions from men who read it. Mary lives with her four sons and teaches piano and dramas and writing for kids.

Pastor Hans Anderson Pastor Hans Anderson is associate pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church. He is a “wreck” without his wife Erin. They have two children Karlton age 6 and Kaya age 3. They live in Baxter.

Family Law Experience and Expertise


Pastor Hans Anderson confesses he’s a Her Voice reader to writer, Mary Aalgaard.




Borden, Steinbauer, Krueger & Knudson, P.A. 218.829.1451 302 S. 6th St., Brainerd • SPRING 2011 | her voice

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photos and story by Melody Banks

Lani Hatrick has been winning her battle with weight for seven years now. In October 2003, Lani had weight loss surgery. Lani’s story is one of success but she is quick to say the surgery is only a tool that she uses to help her control her weight and live a healthy lifestyle. “Overall, people seem to have a misconception about weight loss surgery,” she says. “Recently, my husband and I were out to dinner one evening when one of the wait staff, a woman who knows us, asked me how I had lost so much weight. When I told her I had weight loss surgery she was quick to reply, ‘Oh, you took the easy way out.’ But anyone who has had the surgery will tell you it is not easy and it is not a quick fix. Losing weight takes commitment and determination even with surgery. If a person doesn’t change their lifestyle and eating habits, having a weight loss surgery procedure won’t make them successful and eventually they will gain the weight back.” Before her surgery, Lani was morbidly obese. At her heaviest she topped the scale at 250 pounds. That is a lot of weight on a person who is only 5 feet tall. Heart disease was a concern because it runs in Lani’s family and even though she was only in her 30s, 16

she had already been diagnosed with high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. People who are obese are also at greater risk of having a stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer. Studies have also found that people who are obese may struggle with psychological disorders and depression. After years of trying to loose weight with exercise and diet alone Lani finally approached her family practice physician at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby and asked about the surgery. Crosby and St. Cloud were the closest places offering the surgery when Lani had it in 2003. The preoperative counseling, testing and follow up care required with the surgery would have meant driving 90 miles one way to St. Cloud but she says, “After talking with the surgeon, Dr. LeMieur, I chose Cuyuna because they were performing the procedure using the minimally invasive surgical technique. I have been pleased with the outcome. Cuyuna has a great program and the support and care I received there has helped with my success.” The type of surgery Lani chose is known as lap-band surgery, also called gastric banding. Lap-band surgery is considered less invasive than Roux-en-Y or gastric bypass

Lani Hatrick lost weight after her weight loss surgery in 2003 but changed her lifestyle to keep the weight off.

surgery and a newer procedure called the gastric sleeve; and the lap-band can be reversed if needed. “CRMC offers all three types of weight loss surgery,” says Lani’s surgeon, Dr. Timothy LeMieur. “Physicians recommend the type of surgery that is best based on their patient’s specific needs. All the weight loss surgical procedures we perform at CRMC are done with minimally invasive surgery.” The lap-band works by restricting the amount of food that can be eaten with an adjustable band. The band is surgically attached at the top of the stomach. Once in place, the surgeon can loosen or tighten the band, through a port, as needed to help the patient reach their weight loss goal. The port is not visible but the opening is just under the skin for easy access by the surgeon. Even with the green light from her physician it would be almost a year before the Lani’s surgery took place. “There are a lot of pre-conditions before surgery,” Lani says. “Patients have to attend meetings and talk to a counselor and other health care providers so they have a good understanding of everything that is involved.”

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CRMC bariatric nurse coordinator Jill Wehseler, explains, “Certain requirements must be met before a patient has weight loss surgery. They must successfully complete a bariatric program. Our program includes visits with a psychologist, dietitian, pharmacist and surgeon. They also must have comprehensive lab work done and undergo an endoscopy to ensure there are no ulcers or bacteria present.” “It is important that patients are healthy enough, not only physically but also emotionally, to have weight loss surgery,” Dr. LeMieur elaborates. “We take a person’s emotion health seriously. The practice of our staff psychologist, who sees these candidates, is dedicated only to this type of counseling.” “The lap-band surgery helps me limit the amount of food I eat and how I eat,” says Lani. “Now there are consequences if I overeat.” Lani eats five or six small meals a day. Each meal consists of only a cup or less of food. She does not drink anything with her meals because the liquids will flush the food and nutrients through her system faster. “It is important that people who have this surgery eat good foods that are high in vitamins and protein, not full of empty calories. They have to learn to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. I like yogurt so I tend to eat quite a bit of that,” she says.

“In my job, eating on the run is an occupational hazard so I often bring my own food but I have always loved to cook,” Lani says. So when she makes a special dish, Lani takes it to work or someplace where she can share it. That way she can eat a smaller portion while others enjoy it too and she does not have it around home to tempt her. Lani’s weight loss journey has probably been more public than most. She has worked as a bartender at the busy Nisswa Municipal, The Pickle, since before her weight loss surgery. And while she enjoys and receives many compliments for her success, the downside is that if she were not to succeed, her failure would be obvious to the patrons. “I have a pretty good handle on it now,” she says. “I still attend some of the support groups at Cuyuna. They offer the Lifers weight loss support group for those of us who had weight loss surgery a year or more ago.” The program is an open forum cofacilitated by weight loss surgery patients who share their experiences and provide emotional support to one another.

“My weight has pretty much stabilized around 140 now,” says Lani. “People are surprised to hear that. They think I weigh less.” That’s because exercise firms up our bodies and muscles. Muscle weighs more than fat. Exercise has always been a part of Lani’s lifestyle. “Even when I was at my heaviest,” she says, “I tried to stay active. Now, I am totally dependant on my studio classes at the Y. I attend four days a week. The support of staff and classmates really helps to keep me motivated and on track. I also roller blade and walk my dog quite a bit too.” “Lani has been a star patient,” Dr. LeMieur says. “Any person who has this surgery can fail because many of these patients never feel full. Lani is successful because she follows the program. She keeps all her follow-up appointments, attends support groups, eats good foods in the right amounts and stays active. She uses the tools.”


Melody Banks Melody Banks has been working professionally as a graphic artist and writer since 1987. She owns Black Sheep Family History Publishers in Nisswa and frequently writes articles and contributes photographs for special sections of the Brainerd Dispatch, Her Voice and the Lake Country Echo.

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t r ave l

photos and story by Meg Douglas

The Aria pool area—one of the newer hotels on the Vegas Strip

Glitzy, glamorous, edgy Vegas!! Not a place I’ve been or a destination I’d desired. But when good friends invited us to their wedding, including time for sightseeing, I said, “Viva Las Vegas!” Flying west the terrain morphs from fields of waving grain and soldier-stiff corn to rocky peaks and miles and miles of dusty desert. Shortly before landing, my eye caught multi-layers of softly colored bluffs in a far off blur. ‘Had to be the Grand Canyon,’ I thought to myself as we landed. “Welcome to the desert,” said a friendly doorman. Trips to Vegas are nothing new to Brainerdites. A neighbor across the street says her company schedules conferences in Vegas because it’s such a popular destination. Still others opt for gambling junkets to 18

Laughlin, just south of Vegas, several times a year. The media report that the national gambling capital of the world is in its deepest recession since casinos first dotted the desert in the 1940s, but we found the streets packed with people. Visitors still flock to see the destination that’s Las Vegas. It’s a city like no other with languages and skin tones as diverse as people’s outfits. Here middle class matrons mix with hawkers in neon T-shirts promising “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and everyone sightsees on the strip. So what’s to see? You don’t need to be a guest to cruise through the luxurious hotel complexes with shops, casinos and theatres. One of the more opulent hotels, The Bellagio, boasts a conservatory and a dancing water

show. We were so mesmerized by the waters, moving in rhythmic time to music, that we came back a second night just to watch from a balcony. Caesar’s Palace offers a multi-level “forum” for the high end shopper with names like Tiffany’s, Prada and Versace. Prices are well past my budget but it’s fun to window shop. Indoor fountains replicating Rome’s Trevi, statuary and ceilings from St. Peters, transport the tourist back to ancient Rome. Down the Strip are hotels with more replicas of castles, a pyramid, the Eiffel tower and even the streets of New York. Not to be missed are the nighttime shows — where more than one entertainer got his/ her start. (Think Celine Dion.) Before the trip we accessed the Internet, searching out

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The Red Rock Canyon, just west of Las Vegas, where oxidized minerals create shades of red, pink and sienna in the sandstone while an older gray limestone rises above in craggy peaks.

shows for better seats and shorter lines. Choices included Cher, Barry Manilow, Donny and Marie or comic Frank Caliendo but we opted instead for something with some production pizazz. Cirque du Soleil, a Canadian artistic entertainment company with over 4,000 employees and shows all over the world, offered a special deal on “Viva, Elvis,” their show at the Aria. Not your parents’ Elvis, this production, with its dancers, acrobats and singers, put a fresh, contempory take on the songs of the classic crooner and created lots of energy as well as nostalgia. After a full day of exploring the strip, we rented a car and drove into the desert. Following a tip from our hotel desk clerk, we got an early start, before the hordes of tourists descended on the Hoover Dam, 30 miles southeast of Vegas. We Brainerdites know dams, the Corps of Engineering kind that tamed the Mississippi

River. But the Hoover ov ve er Da D Dam am is is iin n a le lleague eag eag gue eo off lilions ion ons o off y eaars wi e inds nd ds b bl lew w aacross cro cr osss tth he ssa and d years, winds blew the sand, its own and we marveled at the engineering creating striated lines visible in the rocks feat of mammoth proportion. Dedicated in today. Oxidized minerals created shades 1935, the dam was designed to flood the from pink and burgundy to earth tone sienfruit and veggie fields of southern California. na. In some locations an older limestone In addition it produced the power that some pushed above the stand stone in craggy say fueled the growth of the West; cities like peaks of gray. Los Angeles, Phoenix and points south. While the natural wonders continue to be Originally a two-lane highway crossed the an ongoing delight, the bills often aren’t. dam, creating jams that brought traffic to a Don’t expect the Vegas of old, where cheap crawl. After 9/11, fears of terrorism spurred food and lodging fueled non-stop gambling. the creation of a bypass bridge and from Especially on the strip, bills can inflate faster January 2008 to October 2011, engineers than your winnings, but even so we left saydesigned and built this “cool bridge” over “a ing, “Viva LasVegas.” hot dam!” In the afternoon, we circled west of Vegas HV to the Red Rock Canyon, on the east side of the Spring Mountains, the highest range in southern Nevada. Only 20 minutes from the glitz of the city, Meg Douglas this 197,000 acres of Mojave Meg Douglas is editor of Her Voice. desert is a world apart. For mil-

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he alt h a n d w e l l n e ss

by Heidi Sorenson, M.D.

The br The Th brai brain rai a n is i a one of the most mysterious organs of the body. The good news is that we are gaining ga g gain ain inin ing k knowledge know kn ow ow in the overall field and specifically improving our understanding about ssome so ome ome me o off th the he unique mental health challenges women face as they ride the hormonal waves throughout h h their lives. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is evidence to suggest that twice as many women as men will experience depression. That means one out of eight women will at some point in their lives struggle through moods that cause significant dysfunction. We are not talking about the normal ups and downs of life, the challenges that come with balancing work and family, the moodiness associated with the menstrual cycle, the sadness of divorce, or the stress caused by care-taking an elderly parent or a special needs child. We are talking about moods so significant that a person’s normal resolve, determination and strength feel like they are being drained from the body and the meaning of life itself comes into question. We are talking about a time when joy feels totally absent and despair is all that is evident. We are talking about being surrounded by people that love you and still feeling utterly alone in it all. Tough life circumstances can be a tipping point and that is what makes it difficult for people to identify that their condition is not normal grief, but rather depression. Or to understand that their rages during menopause are more than just general edginess brought on by a hot flash. Or to appreciate that they are suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and not just run-of-the-mill moodiness associated with “that time of the month.” Lori Gutierrez, Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP), specializes in OB/Gyn and carries a mental health emphasis. She is currently working in the Mental Health Clinic at Brainerd Medical Center, Essentia Health and actively pursuing a second degree in psychiatry. She works with licensed psychiatrists and obstetricians and specializes in treating women with mental health conditions. “Women’s mental health concerns have not been well addressed in the past and we are making great strides in identifying and treating their unique concerns,” says Lori. Women have unique hormonal ups and downs, and distinct “phases of life” that bring with them incredible physical and mental challenges. With puberty, a girl first experiences estrogen/progesterone swings. The body changes and the brain continues to develop. She undergoes visible changes: a growth spurt, fuller breasts, and a menstrual cycle. Emotions also develop: passion of new love, friendships that are immediately intense and endearing, and an increased sensitivity to her own heart and the hearts of others.

photo by Joey Halvorson 20

Lori Gutierrez, Certified Nurse Practitioner, works with licensed psychiatrists and obstetricians treating women with mental health conditions at Essentia Health’s Brainerd Medical Center.

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Most girls endure and thrive, but some become too sensitive, too emotional, and feel that things are spiraling out of control as they try to adjust to moods that seem to have a life of their own. According to Lori, PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is normal. 30-80% of women deal with the moodiness of menses, but PMDD is different. It is more intense, far more dysfunctional, and less common with only 3-8% having to endure that hormonal rollercoaster. Symptoms of depressed mood, anxiety, anger, social withdrawal, as well as a sensitivity to rejection predominate in PMDD. There are sleep disturbances, fatigue, appetite disturbances, and generalized aches and pains. Women can have decreased concentration and become forgetful. This may sound a lot like PMS, but the difference is the degree to which it impacts life. PMDD results in extreme social and occupational impairment and causes significant dysfunction within personal relationships and marriage. As girls move on into womanhood, they enter the age of child bearing, complete with the joys of pregnancy and motherhood. For some, however, an unforeseen and darker path occurs. Issues of infertility can introduce a sadness that brings some women into the realm of depression. Women already in treatment for depression or anxiety may face

difficult decisions regarding use of medications that maintain mental stability for her, but may compromise the physical health of her developing child. Or, after a healthy pregnancy, the normal “baby blues” during the first weeks after birth turn black and become postpartum depression a few months later in 10-15% of women. Worse yet, previously sane woman literally face insanity when they develop postpartum psychosis. Mature women are blessed with their monthly cycles coming to an end, but also face the “reverse of puberty” as hormones withdraw. They experience night sweats, poor sleep, edginess, palpitations, memory problems and major life adjustments. This is normal. But just as the increase in estrogen can bring on depression, the return to a decreased estrogen life is just as disruptive and again women are vulnerable to anxiety and depression. As the field of women’s health expands, it is apparent just how much

of women’s mental health is linked to their physical health and hormonal wellbeing. Professionals such as Lori are uniquely qualified to address women’s mental health concerns using hormonal treatments to level the mood symptoms associated with menopause, select antidepressants to treat hot flashes and pain syndromes, and specialized diabetic medications to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome. There are unique water pills available that level the moods associated with PMS and specialized treatment planning and monitoring to manage anxiety, depression, and bipolar affective disorder during pregnancy. There is no need to suffer alone, women merely need to know that there is a place to turn and treatment options available to deal with their unique mental health concerns.


Heidi Sorenson A Brainerd High School graduate, Heidi Sorenson, M.D., chose to return home to practice medicine because of the great schools and recreation opportunities. A psychiatrist, she works in the outpatient psychiatry/mental health department at Essentia Health-Brainerd Clinic. Heidi graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School where she also completed her residency.

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co m ics

Dear Readers, All too often we are made to think we should have all the answers. I’m finding that both life and art are about process. That’s what THE STRIP was about from the beginning: figuring it out. It was born of my trying to figure it out in a tattered sketchbook. Even though I wasn’t at all sure of its broader validity, I knew I needed to be drawing. Yet every time I’d open that sketchbook it drew small crowds. When someone I had only just met had a dream that my work had been picked up by a magazine, I thought it was a good indication it was time to step beyond myself and share. So I made THE STRIP for you. And I’m glad you liked it because it’s helped me to take even more steps that are leading in ever wider circles of possibility. So thank you for your encouragement. May I offer you mine in return: Never fear. Only hope. And take that next step. However small.

McKenzie Bass McKenzie Bass is an emerging talent whose work draws much of its energy from the world of fashion. 22

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A first collection of poetry by Charmaine Donovan, Brainerd, was recently published by Lost Hills Books, Duluth. The book, entitled, “Tumbled Dry,” has a section about growing up in a small town, Crosby-Ironton, during the 1960s. Below, Charmaine writes about ‘the making of a poet’ and shares some of her work from “Tumbled Dry.” Charmaine says she stumbled upon Sue Bowen’s artwork at the Pine Cone Antiques & Arts in Deerwood and asked her to illustrate the collection. The background for the following pages is off Sue’s “Water Lilies,” painting.

Words were always an important part of my world. Mom often read stories and poems to my siblings and me. My dad wrote rhyming poetry. Once I recited his historical poem at a school program. I memorized numerous poems for church pageants. What generated that first poem? Emotion. “Go on. Get out of here.” “We don’t want to play with you.” I was the crowd in a childhood threesome. I shuffled off and wrote my first poem, placing feelings on paper. Satisfaction. This sensation would return when I began to write poems in earnest. Admiration. While I was writing Rod McKuen-ish poems, a good friend, Mary Johnson, wrote astounding, imaginative prose and poetry. I remember looking at one of her poems hanging on the wall outside the library at Crosby-Ironton High School. “Someday,” I thought, “I want to do that.” She won the Minnesota High School English Competition. I was awed by her artistry. Inspiration. Encouragment. Our high school English teacher, Jim Rude, placed unusual visual aids in the classroom. This encouraged me to think and write about unusual subject matter.

Although I was primarily an expository writer and diarist, I was also a prodigious notewriter. Classmate Nancy Ravnik, handed me a large bag of these notes at our C-I 20th class reunion. Some classmates nicknamed me “Dictionary” because of my obvious love of words. Intuition. My mother often told me I had wisdom beyond my years. It wasn’t until I was in college, taking poetry classes at the University of Minnesota with Michael Dennis Browne that I began to see how details in a poem often generated insight and understanding before the poem was finished. I went on to take a three-quarter, twelve credit Master’s poetry writing class with Patricia Hampl. Prior to that, I was educated in “the school of hard knocks” which led to alcohol and drug treatment in the early 70s. A chemical dependency counselor by trade, my 30s overflowed with family life. I took dance classes with my teenaged stepdaughter to fill the creative gap. In the 1990s, my mother and I joined Heartland Poets, a chapter of the League of Minnesota Poets. We attended monthly meetings and wrote poetry, submitting our work to contests and for publication. We

photos and story by Charmaine Donovan

visited schools to promote student poetry writing. Involvement. Poetry groups led to publication opportunities. One became the first group writing project supported by Five Wings Arts Council. The other, a Minnesota sesquicentennial poetry anthology, “County Lines,” showcases 130 poets whose poems represent all 87 counties in the state. I am fortunate to have worked with such luminaries as Ted Kooser, Pattiann Rogers, and Hilda Raz. I also received individual artist grants to attended workshops and conferences including The Festival of Faith &Writing, Split Rock Arts Program, and the Taos Summer Writer’s Workshop. After meeting Bruce Henricksen, Lost Hills Books publisher, I was invited to publish my first poetry book. Duluth is where my parents met and where I was conceived. This seems an apt place to publish my first book. Whether I win prizes or receive recognition for my poetry, I will continue writing because I enjoy the process-poetry is a method to discover what I know, to wonder, to explain the inexplicable.

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HEAVENLY BODIES We were not cheap tricks as we walked the streets. While our bodies bloomed in matching flowered shirts, we poured ourselves into rear-hugging stovepipe pants. The rubber toes of our new bumper tennies shined like childhood patent leather. We were hipless, girlfriends partway through our teens, our dolls ditched for real action. Dark-haired Barbies, on the lookout for their faceless, groovy Kens. We sauntered the sidewalks while sunbeams and moonbeams tracked our aimless route. We thought we knew what to do with ourselves, where to find out. We traipsed through town, wore our youth like tiaras on the glistening hair of beauty queens. Main Street was our runway. Our talks circled like our walks, as familiar and repetitive as lyrics to every favorite Beatles’ song. Up and down streets, hitchhiking on highways, we carried dreams on our backs like magic carpets. They warmed us on cold nights when coats were thin and no one seemed to notice how we twinkled— how this orbit was meant to steer us from that lukewarm town, a town whose gravity held our bodies earthbound, kept us from melting the stars.

PORTHOLE TO THE FUTURE Sometimes sitting in the Laundromat, my behind conformed to the hard plastic chair, I would look up from my ragged Glamour magazine and peer intently into the large porthole– a dryer’s Plexiglas front, damp with washing, and see past my reflection to the other side where the low hum of a cruise ship’s engines pushes the prow through warm waves while I stand naked in my stateroom, calm and dry. I am grown, my body as smooth and hour-glassed as Barbie’s. I turn toward the shiny-sheeted bed where a broad-chested Tarzan awaits me. Eyeing my curves, he reaches to hold me and when I turn to him, I turn toward his love like a sun whose blistering rays I have only imagined. 24

Charmaine Donovan has published her first collection of poetry, “Tumbled Dry.”

SUPER VALU Of course I dressed up when I went with my mother to the biggest grocery store in town. I was going to be in public, I was going to be seen. I dressed up like every teenager too young to drive who had nowhere to go. I pawed through my wardrobe like a model on her way to walk the red carpet. My makeup was impeccable–every Twiggy bottom lash painted on, the top ones mascaraed to the nth degree, lipstick pale pink or white, giving lips a slightly bluish hue. Mom would tell me to hurry up, but she always waited. This time I walked down the stairs in my white hip-huggers, wearing red, white and blue platforms, and a red and white striped sailor top. I could see that she approved, though she had said the wide legs were a bit over-the-top. What did she know? She was my mom. At the store while at the check-out counter, she dug in her purse for pennies. I rolled my eyes at the grocery bagger, a junior, who carried the sacks to our car. “Thank you,” I called over my shoulder while opening the passenger door. “You’re welcome, ma’am,” he said. Over and over I replayed his three-word reply. Was he mocking me? Did he ignore me and thank only my mother? Was he saying, “Hey, I see you girly-girl, but I have orders to say ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’ to all the customers.” When I saw him wrestle on the mats that winter, his sweaty body in maroon tights, I imagined myself washing his uniform by hand, scrubbing the crotch extra good.

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TEENS AND MAIL A-GO-GO Eager to listen to live rock bands, we descended a steep stairway underground into that windowless basement beneath the post office on Main Street. We paid our babysitting and dishwashing dollars, had our hands stamped by adult chaperones who leaned close to see if they could smell booze on our under-aged breath. The band and bathrooms were at the far end of this narrow cavernous room with folding chairs placed strategically along the cement-block walled perimeter. An unlikely room to captivate youth, transformed by the heat of bodies in motion, strobe lights, and loud music. On Friday nights after hours in the post office letters boogalooed in their numbered boxes, matched our watusi moves to Wipeout. How many packages lost their stamps sweating to the lyrics of Purple Haze or grooving to Iron Butterfly’s psychedelic In-A-Godda-Da-Vida? How many envelope tongues tangled while paired-up in a slow-dance to House of the Rising Sun?

COFFEE SHOP GIRL REINVENTS WOMAN She enters her Metallic Phase: gold lamé dresses mirror-lensed shades silver threads bronze purse-on-a-string Clunky copper platforms stretch her neck three inches longer (like mushroom-eating Alice in her la-la Wonderland) Brass gong earrings announce her arrival Launched into the Space Age: moon-walking knee-deep in marshmallow boots sausage-tight in jumpsuit Lycra elbows splashed with electric gloves hairdo defies gravity She is beamed into realms beyond probability Swirl-girl in short, sequined float dress held up on legs smooth & curvy as dowels skin sealed in stardust lips like a full, cloud-cluttered moon eyelids darkened into black holes Through folds of her shimmering shift gleam outlines of her galactic figure A Planetary Woman sculpted in particles of time


About the book’s illustrator Sue Bowen “entered the world of painting— specifically watercolor— after retiring in 2002.” Through. lessons, workshops, and collage classes. She says her artistic tendency is to observe, analyze and then change what she is creating. She finds the images of the “North Country can’t be beat for inspiration.” Sue has memberships in: Artists of Minnesota, The Crossing Arts Alliance, Crosslake Art Club and the Jaques Art Center.

Below-zero on a Saturday night, yet never too frigid to leave town. We camp out in the bathroom both leaning into the mirror as we separate our mascara-clumped lashes with straightened safety pins. Our bugged-out eyes are new worlds yet to be navigated, orbs to be explored. Mary wears my green paisley mini with neon nylons, a see-through scarf holds her hair in a low pony tail. I wear a short, scoop-necked pink and black shift with shocking pink tights that shimmer my legs and make me think I might be part-flamingo. Her brother, John, hollers outside the door, begging to use the only bathroom, but we are caught in the middle of preparing for the time of our life yet to come and nothing can distract us from our future.

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a he r o a m o n g u s

story and photo by Jill Anderson

It plays out like a well-orchestrated symphony. Each section does their job, yet harmonizes with other sections to culminate in one colorful, beautiful, heart-warming gift. But instead of delivering music, the Brainerd area Kinship Coats for Kids drive delivers warmth and care. Approximately 22 years ago, WJJY radio, Kinship Partners, and Crystal Cleaners all came together to do the first Brainerd area Coats for Kids drive. And every year it has grown, much like a snowball, including more and more people and organizations, more and more coats and other winter items, building to a point now where more than 1,200 needy youths and adults receive coats each year. When I asked Susan Bricker, who owns Crystal Cleaners with her husband, Rick, how they became involved, she recalls the origin. “Steve Foy, from WJJY, approached us about cleaning the donated coats. I love people and wanted to give back to the community by helping kids in need.” The coat drive is usually held the last weekend in October. Crystal Cleaners receives donated coats year round and spends roughly eight to 10 hours each day cleaning the items during the month before the coat drive. Service Master helps store some items until the drive. “We have people drop off new coats with the tags still on them. Everyone is so generous,” said Susan. “Every year we see people wanting to help children. I’ve had people come in with new coats they purchased, saying they never had children of their own but wanted to help.” 26

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Susan Bricker, with her warm personality, has given in so many other ways, too. Crystal Cleaners donates the cleaning of all U.S. flags for veteran funerals, cleans women’s professional clothing for the area women mentoring program and has cleaned blankets for the women’s shelter. For the coat drive alone, they clean more than 2,000 items each year. Getting set up for the coat drive takes many hands. Sandi Colbenson, activity and volunteer coordinator at the Brainerd Kinship office for the past four years, puts in about 60 hours each year organizing and running the coat drive. One of many Kinship projects she works on annually, the Kinship coat drive is not just for Kinship partners. It encompasses the need in all of the Brainerd lakes area. “Before I became activity coordinator, the coat drive was held in the Qwest building and it was a lot of work for everyone hauling the coats up those stairs,” says Sandi. She is very appreciative that the last two years Westgate Mall has given them space in the mall. “We are so thankful to David Jackson and his staff.” Her list of gratefulness is long. “Kohl’s is a great supporter, as is the Sunrise Sertoma Club. Both have helped in so many ways. And I have many volunteers help at the Coats for Kids giveaway.” Then, of course, there is B.L. Broadcasting. Brian Churack and Barry Brueland both take care of the advertising and promotions during the month leading up to the coat drive. B.L. Broadcasting is a cluster of six local radio stations; four FM and two AM. Not only does B.L. Broadcasting help transport the coats, the stations get the word out. “Every year we have an outpouring of help and support,” Sandi says with a smile. “We are so grateful and nothing makes me happier than seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when they come in to pick out their winter wear.” Along with the usual donated hats, scarves and mittens, this year they started a new program, Knitting for Kinship. Participating area churches have boxes set up where extra yarn can be dropped off so others can pick it up to knit or crochet items for the coat drive. The program allows people to make items for Kinship’s coat drive without investing money into yarn by using the extra yarn others might throw away. Hundreds of handmade hats, scarves and mittens were provided by area women this year. “We are hoping to continue this addition to our coat drive. So many women and churches contributed so much.” Sandi observed. “There have been many hands over the years that have donated in so many ways!” And the warm, fuzzy giving continues into spring. It’s a perfect time of year when your child has outgrown their winter wear. Bring them to Crystal Cleaners and they will clean it up to be ready for the coat drive in the fall. Remember, they accept adult coats too; need has no size. Coat drop off sites are Crystal Cleaners in both Brainerd and Crosby, along with various businesses and churches in the area. If you are interested in donating or helping in any way or have questions, please contact Sandi at Kinship at 218-454-8011 or Give a warm fuzzy today. The great feeling can last all year long!

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We’ll be there. Jill Anderson Jill is a frequent contributor to Her Voice. She enjoys the outdoors, running, and spending time with her ever-growing family.

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ccuu lt u r aall di v e r ssiitt y dive

It has been nearly eight months since I embarked on my journey back to Korea. I’ve chosen a city in which I’ve never traveled to and am currently working in an all-girls middle school. It’s hard to imagine that I would pick a city smaller than my last English teaching assignment, but I did. Buan is a city so small that there are no major department stores or movie theaters or anything remotely American. Although at times inconvenient, I have to admit the family-run stores and restaurants are refreshing to see. To get some perspective, Buan had its first foreigner about six years ago. Currently there are only 10 foreigners that live in Buan. If Google’s search engine and Wikipedia are the measure of significance of a place or person, then Buan is nearly nonexistent. But I know otherwise — it’s the place I currently call home. Some things cannot be measured, can only be 28

story and photos by Ahna Otterstad

felt. The heart and soul of the Buan community has allowed me to embrace the countryside. Yes, the rice fields have a beauty all their own. Living here, I feel like a mini celebrity. My students have made me feel famous. I cannot deny that secretly, I actually enjoy the cheers of the young girls as I enter my classrooms or all the “hello Ahna teacher!” that are screamed three blocks away. My first day at school, the students stood up screaming and clapping with extreme enthusiasm. I turned my head to see who was behind me. “They really like you!” said my Korean co-teacher. But I hadn’t done anything; I just walked in the room. The students were so excited to see to me! I think it helped that I looked like them-same black hair and brown eyes; I had that going for me. Not too far away, the Blanck family, Daren, Michelle and their

The Blanck Family from the Brainerd lakes area: (left to right) Daren, Michelle, Sophia and Elijah, are living in Korea, the parents teaching English at the Christian International School.

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two children, Elijah and Sophia, also from the Brainerd lakes area, are also living in Korea and teaching English. Even though we live in the same country, our worlds could not be more different. I am teaching English to nearly 600 students in three grades. My largest class is 36 and the smallest, 24. I am the only foreign teacher at my school. Communication has been my biggest challenge. The Blancks’ experience has been quite different from mine. They work in a Christian International school, pre-K to grade 12. They have about 550 students with a total of 50 teachers total, about 37 are foreign teachers from all over the world. Classroom size ranges from 5 to 25. Their school structure is based on more of a western Christian approach. Even the Blancks’ apartment is more westernized. They have a three-bedroom, twobathroom apartment that has all the basic amenities of an American home, including an oven and even a clothes dryer, which is a rarity in Korea. The children attend school at a nearby campus, which they love. The Blancks have the option of literally creating two worlds, living more like a westerner and immersing as much or as little as they want in the Korean culture. Foreigners living in Daejeon, Korea’s fifth largest city, have easier access to most of the western restaurants and comforts of home. My school is a traditional conservative Korean school where men and women sit at different tables during lunch and everyone brushes their teeth together in the bathroom. It’s important to have good hygiene, especially when you eat spicy kimchi, but I admit it was awkward at first, standing with six women in the bathroom with one sink. Teachers are highly respected and have a lot power here. Although outlawed, the students may be physically punished with a stick. I do not punish my students. I am powerless here as a foreigner. All I feel that I can do is listen to my students’ pain. The students must adhere to a strict dress code and must wear uniforms. Hair must be shoulder length or up in a bun. No perms, curls, or coloring to the hair is allowed. There is also no piercing, no nail polish of any sort, and absolutely no make-up that can be worn. Shoes must be taken off in the front entry and slippers worn. There are also no custodians here, so the students must mop the floor, clean the bathrooms and assist even with gardening. Despite the communication and cultural challenges I face daily at my school, my students are the hope and the reason I know that this is where I need to be for now.

Ahna Otterstad is teaching English at an allgirls middle school in the small Korean town of Buan, with little to remind her of life in the U.S.

Ahna Otterstad A resident of the Brainerd lakes area, Ahna Otterstad is a design consultant currently teaching English in Korea.

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by Jenny Gunsbury

r e c r e ati o n

It’s probably one of the most common questions runners get from people unfamiliar with the sport. “How do you do it? I could never run a 5K, 10K, or (insert race distance here).” My answer is always a resounding, “Yes, you can! It just takes some training.” My own training started in high school as a way to stay in shape for danceline. I liked it enough to continue running and participate on my college cross country team. Many miles, races, and pairs of shoes later, running has continued to be the sport I rely on for fitness and fun. One thing that still keeps it fresh and inspiring is hearing the perspective of people who are new to the sport, just finding their stride, excited about how running has impacted their lives. Nanci Koski, Baxter, decided to give running a chance a couple of years ago. Volunteering at the Sour Grapes 1/2 Marathon and 10K race held at the Northland Arboretum motivated her to try the sport. “I always said I couldn’t run so I never tried,” she says. “But once I tried running a short distance, I realized that I could go farther with practice. That’s when I really started to enjoy it.” Another relative newcomer to running, Nicole Finnegan, Baxter, was encouraged by her husband to try it. “I was frustrated when I couldn’t lose weight after having children. He promised me that running was the answer. I ended up losing 25 pounds.” Both Nanci and Nicole have noticed similar physical benefits from running. “I have never felt stronger,” says Nanci. “At my last physical, I had great blood pressure and low cholesterol. I know it is because of running. Everyone in my family has high blood pressure, so I am grateful I have been able to keep mine

down.” Besides her weight loss, Nicole notes she has more energy. Studies have shown that running also strengthens and builds bones, helps reduce body fat, strengthens the heart, and improves muscle tone and strength. The physical exertion of running triggers many emotional and psychological benefits as well. It causes the body to release chemicals called endorphins, which can produce a feeling known as a “runner’s high”. “It’s a great stress reliever,” says Nicole. “I never would have believed it before, but I actually feel much calmer after running.” Nanci agrees about the stress relief and adds, “It helps clear my mind and I’m happier. In some ways, it’s a form of meditation for me.” Encouragement from family has also been helpful for these women. “My husband comes and cheers me on at races and is very supportive,” explains Nanci. For Nicole, support from her husband comes in another form. “He does the morning routine with the kids. Then I can get out of bed early and run before work in the morning. Some mornings are harder than others but I always feel good afterwards!” Both women value the process of setting and achieving goals. “One of my favorite things about running is that you can see your accomplishments so quickly,” says Nicole. “My goal in the beginning, which seemed unattainable at the time, was to run one mile without stopping! Now, I adjust my goals on a daily basis, either by setting a time goal or a distance goal. I also never compete with anyone but myself.” After completing the Sour Grapes 10K twice, Nanci’s next goal is to train for the Brainerd Jaycees Run for the Lakes Half Marathon in April, 2011.

Nicole Finnegan (above) found that running helped her lose the 25 pounds she gained during pregnancy. Nanci Koski started running after volunteering at area races. 30

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photos by Joey Halvorson

“Completing that would be a great feeling!” she says. Inspired by these women who took a chance on something they thought they couldn’t do, but tried it anyway, and are now reaping the physical and emotional benefits? The wonderful thing about running is that you can start at any time. There’s no age limit, “season,” or facility required. All that’s needed is a desire to try something new, comfortable clothes, and a good pair of shoes. Here are a few steps to get you on the road (or treadmill) to a healthier lifestyle: Set a goal. A time or distance goal works well: Running a 10-minute mile or maybe a 5K (3.1 miles) event sounds like fun. Find a training program. Numerous websites offer training programs for runners at every level. A good one to try is www. Check local libraries for books on running. These resources will also provide a wealth of information on other aspects of running such as proper form, nutrition, and clothing/shoe reviews. Smart phone apps are even available that can pace your workout, track your distance, and provide music to keep you motivated. Make exercise a priority. Make an appointment with yourself and schedule it into your day. Putting it on the calendar will increase the likelihood of it becoming part of your daily routine. Celebrate your achievements. Find a friend or loved one who can share in your success. You never know who you may inspire along the way.


Jenny Gunsbury

Nicole exercises at the YMCA; Nanci at Anytime Fitness.

Jenny Gunsbury and husband, Brent, enjoy sharing their love of running with their junior high-age kids. “My personal challenge,” she explains, “has been to keep up with them as they’ve gotten older and faster!”

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by Annie Andrews Bandel

Co-owner Amy Sharpe (far right) welcomes visitors to Ripple River Gallery, Deerwood. Gardens and yard art are all part of the appeal. “Woman with attitude,” a plant stand by Keith Rairo.

Amy Am my SSh Sharpe haarrp is not only a gifted weaver, writer/photographer, w writ wr rit iter iter er/p er/p /pho ph hoto ho oto ogr gr former publisher of Homespun H Ho ome mesp spun un m magazine, a co-owner of Ripple River Rive R Ri iv ive ve er Ga Gall Gal Gallery allller ery an aand n enthusiastic gardener. She’s a lot of fun! Over a delicious lunch of wild rice soup, blueberry muffins and the best salad I’ve ever had (yes, she can cook, too!) Amy talked about her and husband Bob’s latest adventure, a road trip to New Mexico. While on their trip, Amy created her own post cards — a larger version of Artist Trading Cards — sending them to her home in Deerwood daily. On the postcards Amy would journal about their travels, adding souvenirs, a drawing or water color painting. 32

I was amazed at the detail of the drawings and the tiny elf-size printing. They were each a small work of art, which Amy says is the point of the Artists Trading Cards. She says what she likes about the ATC’s is that “it gives you a chance to play with materials without a huge commitment of time or materials.” After admiring the ATCs, Amy was eager to show me the real treasure she had procured while in New Mexico. She goes into her weaving room, which is located off a four- season porch on the back of their craftsman-like cottage and comes out with an armful of Southwest-colored yarn. Amy excitedly hands me some of the yarn, and as I exclaim over the hand painting and high prices, she makes no apology saying, “Yarn like this inspires me as a weaver. When I’m home I try to look for bargains but this is my fun.” When I asked what she was planning to make with the yarn she paused for a second, then said, “I

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dunno. I weave the way I cook; I’ll look in the cupboard, see what I got, see what will go together and then decide.” From everything that I had seen and tasted so far, I thought Amy’s cupboards must be full of magic as well as yarns and canned goods! Following the artist’s way has come natural to Amy. Her mother, Kitty, always wanted to be a portrait painter and encouraged Amy and her two brothers to find their inner artist. Amy says that when growing up, their big dining room table was “always full of stuff. Nobody ever said that we couldn’t make a mess.” Amy’s mom also provided them with an opportunity for learning at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Amy chuckles and says, “While all my friends were watching cartoons on Saturday mornings, my brothers and I were taking classes at the art institute.” Amy’s joy of living has led her in many different directions, from selling diamonds to being a teacher in an outdoor learning center in upstate New York, to being a typesetter and editor for the CrosbyIronton Courier to working at a natural health foods store. But each experience reinforced her love of the creative process, leading her back to her roots as an artist. She was working at the Elf Shelf in Brainerd when she discovered weaving. It started with a small frame loom before “really getting into it” and taking an intensive three week course in weaving at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. Above all else Amy says she enjoys learning new skills and “feeding her head.” The other thing she enjoys, she says with amazement, is “retail.” That love started as a teenager working for Nature Food Center. Ever since that experience it had been in the back of her mind to open her own shop. For a short time she owned a shop in Ironton, but it wasn’t until years later, that her retail itch was scratched. In June 2000, Amy and her husband, Bob Carls, a wood artist, opened Ripple River Gallery. Before opening the gallery, Amy accompanied Bob to about 28 shows a year across the Midwest. To avoid the stress and wear and tear of traveling, she and Bob put their heads together and decided to turn their garage into a fine arts gallery. Amy chuckles and says, “If we had tried to get a small business loan we would have been laughed out of the room.” It helped that the artists and crafts people they knew from years on the road loved the idea of a fine arts gallery in the woods. Amy didn’t quit her “day” job right away. She kept working until her 50th birthday and continued to publish Homespun, along with Louise Johnson, until 2008. Amy says that in addition to her weaving and Bob’s wooden bowls, currently 60 artists rotate through the gallery. Since Amy calls herself a “word person,” she asks the artists who exhibit at the gallery to write about their work and include it with their pieces if possible. Amy says she comes from a long line of people with big skill toolboxes. “My mother could do anything, and my dad was no slouch either.” Amy prides herself on having on those skill tool boxes herself, having dabbled in stained glass, bookbinding, crocheting, needle felting, collage, herbal medicine, poetry, photography and more. Lately Amy has had a chance to pay her mother back for those long ago art classes. Kitty now lives in a memory care unit at Heartwood Senior Living in Crosby. Amy visits often, but last summer she took it up a notch, offering arts and craft class for her mother and the other residents. In August, after matting and framing everyone’s work, they held an art show. It has been hard to watch her mother lose the skills she once mastered, but Amy is determined to be there as an advocate and provide a comforting if not always familiar voice. The legacy of skills and love of the creative process Amy received from her parents is being passed on through her sons. With pride in her voice she calls her sons “renaissance” men. Clearly, Amy is in her element at home surrounded by books, works of art, closets full of yarns and other assorted art materials, herbs and veggies cultivated from their gardens and plenty of room for friends and family. Ripple River Gallery is the piece de resistance,

In the gallery: pottery by Christy Wert, decorated with a technique called scraffito; potter carves through layers of color before the glazing and firing of the pot.

the icing on the cake, for this woman who defies being pigeon-holed and has a love of retail. I know her dad would be proud.


Annie Andrews Bandel Annie and Amy both graduated from the same Edina High School class and also summered on Bay Lake cabins near one another while growing up. Annie is a professional astrologer, part-time writer and belongs to Kindred Street Writers.

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yar d an d g a r d e n

by Pam Landers At Shady Hollow Resort, Pillager, rustic willow furniture nestles in a bed of native plants; Liatris (pinky spikes), Black-eyed Susans (yellow petals, brown center) and Bee Balm.

Pleasant and unpretentious, Eleanor Burkett has gone to the natives; to native plants, that is. They fill her yard, front and back. Eleanor is well aware that local native plants work hard for us, making our gardens more productive, diverse and healthy. They can save money and time, provide food, keep our rivers and lakes clean and control erosion. They do all this while fulfilling our desire for color and beauty in our yards. Eleanor works for the University of Minnesota Extension where her focus is to use education to protect our water resources. She received degrees from the University of Minnesota-Crookston, North Dakota State University and the University of MinnesotaDuluth in horticulture and education. Although Eleanor lives on a small property in the Brainerd lakes area, her yard has gardens with specific functions. She grows vegetables and fruits for herself and native 34

plants for critters. A rain garden solves the drainage problem by her front sidewalk and keeps runoff from the rooftop and driveway from going down the storm drain directly into the Mississippi River. Eleanor’s eyes gleam when she talks about what native plants can do. “People don’t realize that runoff from our property, rooftops, driveways, other surfaces and even lawns, will end up in our lakes and rivers carrying fertilizer, pet waste, pesticides and other pollutants. It is much better to let that water soak into the ground. As the soil filters the water, the native plants break down the nutrients and many pollutants. My rain garden works even in winter.” she says. “My yard helps to keep the Mississippi River clean,” she says. If that seems a bit farfetched, she points to Buffalo Creek running behind her house. It flows from there through many neighborhoods, commercial properties, an industrial park and eventually

into the Mississippi. As it flows through town it picks up pollutants along the way. “Everything I do with native plants helps the water absorb into the soil where it can be filtered, instead of ending up in the creek. “If you look at it this way, everyone lives on the waterfront. We can all help keep bad stuff out of our water.” She wanted a windbreak along her driveway, but it was just where the underground utility lines ran. To deal with that challenge, she used bare root plants so that she wouldn’t have to dig deep holes. Now she has a colorful, functioning windbreak of dogwood, native roses and little bluestem grass. These plants are accustomed to the temperature extremes and the dry, sandy soils of Minnesota so they thrive with little care. While she designed the front yard, in part, with the aesthetic senses of neighbors and passersby in mind, she designed the backyard for herself. There she grows a vegeta-

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ble garden and fruit trees for her table. Along the back fence, she has planted native grasses and wildflowers for wildlife. “Native plants can do their best work as part of a plant community,” Eleanor says. “Every plant in its natural habitat is part of a community of interacting plants and animals. Each needs the others to survive. The community fosters and produces energy and life force. When we recreate that community, the plants do their job with little maintenance. Thinking about plants as part of a community is a very different way of looking at things.” “It may be a little different than the gardening we are used to,” she goes on. “You will see more insects. This is good, because the insects signal the existence of a system of interacting plants and animals that supports life. Where there are insects, there are other wildlife forms that eat them, like butterflies and birds that we love to have around us. In a natural system, each insect has something that eats it so no single population takes over. We don’t panic at a chewed leaf. It probably means that caterpillars that will later be butterflies are feeding and life is going on.” On the other hand, nonnative plants in our gardens often are not the right food source for our local plants and animals. This can disrupt the food chain all the way up to the top. Nonnatives often attract

p ho to s b y Jo ey H al vo rs o n

insects that don’t have natural predators here so we wind up spraying with chemicals that are expensive to both our wallets and the environment. So many people in the Crow Wing County area were interested in native plantings that Eleanor started a Brainerd Chapter of Wild Ones. “Our members collect and grow seeds, design native gardens and sponsor talks and tours to promote landscaping with native plants, “she explains. To communicate their enthusiasm to younger folk, the Wild Ones have been helping high school students start and grow their own native seeds. Last year, the students created a butterfly garden and prairie area using the native plants they grew. . The club meets at the Northland Arboretum where they help identify and map native plants so visitors can find them. “We are happy to welcome people who would like to share our native plant passion,” she says. Wild Ones is a national nonprofit organization. For more information go to


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by Carolyn Corbett

photos by Joey Halvorson and Georgianne Nienaber From the confines of her kitchen, photo journalist Georgianne Nienaber shares stories of a much wider world.

Who are the voiceless? Anyone from the age and BP oil spill in Louisiana. It is impor- and scared, curious and confused. granny down the street, to a Congolese mid- tant to her, though, that she not to be identiLike an artisan, she weaves seemingly wife, to the residents of Camp Corail in Haiti. fied solely as a writer. unrelated stories into a powerful composite, From the unfound and undocumented bod“I’m a human being, just like the rest of fusing global situations with intimate one-onies underneath the cleared fields in the Ninth the human race.” She is fearless, she says, one encounters. She is both telescope and Ward in New Orleans, to microscope. As an advocate for the bullied gay kid in some awareness, she puts information, high school. The list is truth, in front of people who will endless. work for change. Her eyes, her And who is the voice? words, her camera are her tools. She is writer Georgianne “Look what is happening. Here, Nienaber. Her job she says, and here, and here. Do you know is observer. Seer. Eyes. these things?” One can take only “Maybe one day I am a so many notes, make so many voice for the swamp; tape recordings, so she goes back another day a voice for a to her camera to find the truth. Congolese refugee,” she Her voice is passionate, poignant, says. Her voice is heard blunt, with a wicked bit of an online through the edge. The truth is often not genHuffington Post and a tle. dozen other sources. Her mentor, Jill Johnston, was Googling her name brings a feminist author and cultural up 8,550 hits. commentator. Georgianne is not. Georgianne travels She refuses the label of activist as extensively, covering the well, believing activism gets in A Congolese midwife risks her own life to help mothers brutalized war in the Congo, the afterthe way of truth-telling — that by war. She pays for her own training and works for free. math of the earthquake in activists often adopt a philosophy Haiti, the hurricane damabout what truth is, while she 36

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believes truth is elusive and changing. Georgianne was an activist for a few years, maybe 20 years ago. Realizing it would be too easy to become an ideologue, she returned to journalism to try to sort out the truth. “I believe that governments, some scientists, activists exist in a self-perpetuating world. If the truth be told or the problem be solved, they’d be out of business. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of charities and NGOs (non-governmental organizations.) I see that whenever I travel in the Third World,” says Georgianne. She tries not to be opinionated, but in an IPD (internally displaced persons) camp in Congo, “ I can’t help but.” She doesn’t cry at the desperate conditions in the camps. While she’s there. The only way is to just do her job, focus on the story, try to float above it. It drains her, depresses her. “I call this photo my adopted family,” says Georgianne. After witnessing the genocide of relBut she has been blessed with a atives, the remaining family in Gisenyi, Rwanda asked Georgianne to adopt them. hopeful personality and turns to friends, books and music. As a young college student in Chicago, Women Don’t Get the Blues” — which Elliot visited about all manner of other things. “Since that day, if I can help a musician, I do, with safety pins holding her clothes together, went on to record. Ginni, one of the founding mothers of the and I feel good about it.” barely able to pay rent, Georgianne was women’s music movement, gave Georgianne Later, Georgianne produced rock and roll smack in the heyday of folk music. She was her car. Georgianne insisted she couldn’t retrospectives for Chicago’s WLS radio. Then honored to connect with Ginni Clemmens, keep it. Couldn’t possibly. It sat outside her she worked as a stringer for Lerner papers, an acclaimed singer in the national folk and place for two weeks, never driven. She was a radio producer in Florida and signed blues scene. Ginni shared the spotlight with finally returned it to Ginni who understood on as media specialist in the Florida aeroPete Seeger and Bob Dylan, and taught and invited her in where they had tea and space industry, with a media clearance that Mama Cass Elliot one of her songs — “Wild allowed her to learn too much about the weapons systems our country was producing. After moving to the area, she worked as a reporter for the Aitkin Independent Age. Here she met her husband and birthed her daughter Sarah, tutored chemistry and biology at Central Lakes College and co-authored a book about insurance fraud in the horse industry. She realized that being present for Sarah, whom she says is the most wonderful accomplishment in her life, was the most important job she could ever have. Georgianne’s own childhood was a struggle. Born and raised in Chicago, she wasn’t a popular kid in her Irish-Polish neighborhood. From a poor working class family, wearing funny clothes, a genuine bowl-on-your-head haircut and cat’s eye glasses, she remembers being a total outcast until the fourth grade. Voiceless. In the fourth grade things changed. She began writing pizza commercials, jingles not unlike the Burma Shave ads. Georgianne’s payment was huge when they ran on the radio. Not only did she receive pizza cou“Broken Baby” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kivu Province. pons, but her classmates paid attention. The 10-year-old learned quickly that writing equaled acceptance and respect. SPRING 2011 | her voice

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That respect holds today as she travels Third World countries speaking for those who are not free or able to speak for themselves. She decides where to go based on tips, Human Rights Watch notices, breaking news, interesting e-mails. She prefers situations where she feels she can accomplish something and has some knowledge of the area, a contact and a translator she can trust. Trust is an issue. Georgianne was thrown in a Congolese jail when a translator she’d hired turned out to be working both sides. He reported her as a spy and stole her camera, tapes, notes — all the information she’d gathered. In the jail, Georgianne was wearing a cross her aunt had given her before she died that Georgianne believes may have helped her gain freedom. The guard had a photo of the pope on his desk and Georgianne conversed with him about the pope as best she could, given the language problem. She showed the female guard pictures

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Mom handed me her baby when she couldn’t get him to the front of the line, says Georgianne (right). Food was being distributed at an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) church camp in Goma, DRC.

of her daughter, Sarah, again attempting to humanize herself. After three days, during which the guards pressured her to sign a confession and surrender her passport (she didn’t), the United Nations facilitated her release. “It was only three days in a lifetime. There are other things to talk about,” she says. Still, they were three terrifying days, where she was out of control, helpless. She worked on her breathing and focused on the teachings of Buddhism, reminding herself that her situation was “a teaching moment, only a feeling.” Later Georgianne discovered Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön when one her books, “When Things Fall Apart,” fell off a bookstore shelf in front of her. Georgianne picked it up and read it, deepening her study of Buddhism. Pema’s teaching encourages people not to run away from themselves, to embrace life fully, both pleasant and painful situations--invaluable concepts for a woman who purposely walks into painful places to be the voice for the voiceless.


Carolyn Corbett Carolyn Corbett is a free-lance writer and editor in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines.

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story and photos by Bettie Miller

A class on rug making several years ago started me on the idea of using discarded T-shirts to make rag rugs. There were starts and stops and ripping out and starting over before I was satisfied with the end product. The T-shirts were not hard to come by but I often had to wait for the right colors. When someone in the family was sporting the needed color I would put a bid in for the shirt. Cutting the required strips was time consuming until I found a way to do it proficiently. The craft group I joined was very “green” minded and it was amazing to see what could be done with recycled items. We collected empty wine bottles, empty peanut better jars, discarded denim jeans, burned out light bulbs, upholstery samples, used greeting cards, old ice skates, windows people were throwing out in favor of new efficient ones. The windows were a real treasure. After cleaning them up I had to decide which side to use and I usually favored the side that sported peeling paint and hopefully some antique hardware. At this point it was necessary to buy paint suitable for glass and a handful of brushes. Depending on the number of panels a design was chosen — owls in four panels, birds in a small two panel window, garden flowers and silhouettes in six panel frames. Actually, the ideas are endless.

Old shovels and handsaws were wonderful for scenic paintings as well as the outdated ice skates. The painted shovels and saws were great for the up north look and painted skates make a unique door decoration for our snowy season. A memory pillow can be fashioned from a loved one’s shirt, blouse or other apparel. It is a sentimental keepsake for the family or a friend. Sometimes a piece of clothing itself reminds someone of a special event or time in that person’s life. I have seen recycled dinnerware, glassware, cookware, flatware and other kitchen items turned into an array of decorative décor. A teapot that is missing a lid turns into a plant holder. Plates can be personalized, silverware makes bracelets and rings and an old scrub board becomes a key holder or clothes rack for the kitchen. I have seen table lamps fashioned from bottles, tinware and coffee pots. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Take a second look before you throw things away — it may have a new use. You will be helping to keep our planet green. If

nothing else donate your discards to a thrift shop or local craft group and it may come back to surprise you at a future sale.


Bettie Miller Bettie Miller grew up in Chicago and moved to Crosslake in 1978. She taught continuing education classes and sold real estate for 10 years. Now she enjoys arts and crafts, reading and writing. SPRING 2011 | her voice

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en t r epr e n e u r s

story and photo by Sheila Helmberger

Caro Paulson is doing exactly what she always Carole wanted— but if she had listened to others along the wanted way thi things may have been different. Carole didn’t set out to be a trailblazer, but she’s a perfect example of sticking to your dreams even when others try to deter you. Math and numbers haven’t always been thought of as topics that offered career options for women but when she was a student at Aitkin High School, Carole found they were things that interested her — and she excelled. “I’d always liked bookkeeping and when I took it in high school I got a perfect score. I didn’t miss one question on my assignments and I didn’t miss one question on the tests. My teacher said she’d never seen that before.”

After graduation Carole enrolled in the accounting program at St. Cloud State University. “It was something I just really liked even though it was kind of an unusual career for a woman,” she says, “and there were lots of times when I was the only woman in class.” Then something happened her freshman year that surprised her even more. When her adviser found out she was engaged, he tried to talk her into another major. “He said ‘I see you’re engaged. Don’t you think maybe you 40

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should go into teaching?’” said Paulson, “That floored me at the time and I just dug in my heels and thought this is what I want to do and I’m doing it.” Things weren’t a whole lot different after graduation. “When I got a job they didn’t quite know what to do with a woman CPA and I was young. There were people that didn’t, even 12 or 13 years ago, want a woman to be their main CPA. But after a while I established myself.” In 1998 Paulson decided to start her own business. “I had done several things in between. I had worked as a corporate controller and worked at (then) Universal Pensions in the pension field so I had a pretty good background … but I always wanted to get back to public accounting and I always wanted to have my own firm. I’ve loved it. It’s one of those things where you think, ‘“Why didn’t I do this sooner?’” In the beginning she worked out of her home. Then she moved into a one-room office, then a two-room office. For the past two and a half years the accounting firm has been located on Edgewood Drive in Baxter. Today Carole Paulson Accounting employs four people. Carole, her partner, Jill Brodmarkle, a bookkeeper and an administrative staff person. She is involved in Toastmasters and several organizations in the community, including Sertoma. Paulson also sits on the boards for the Crisis Line and PORT. “Jill and I really like to give back to the community,” says Paulson. “We do a lot of things for the nonprofits.” It gets busy for the company this time of year, tax preparation and planning. “The laws are forever changing,” she says, “If you do one or two tax returns a year you just can’t really keep up. If you have anything at all complex besides a W-2 and itemized deductions it gets complicated.” The firm handles payroll for a number of local companies and offers QuickBooks consulting. Since those days at SCSU, Paulson said big changes have definitely happened in the accounting field. For one thing accounting is no longer an odd choice for women. “It’s definitely changed,” says Paulson. “There are probably now more women than men in the field. I had a man come to me a while ago who was looking for a woman CPA.”

Other big changes in the accounting process can be credited to computers. “Things are very fast now and we can directly download so much information. You have to learn new things all the time,” she says. Carole also notes that software like QuickBooks changes how they do business. “We used to do everything by hand. Now a lot of clients do things for themselves and then we look them over.” Government regulations she says, adds to their workload. “There are so many government regulations and timing considerations now that clients want to make sure it’s right and done on time. Thinking back nostalgically, Carole says, “I remember the time we wrote everything on forms and had to erase if we made a mistake.” Away from the office, Carole likes to walk, read, knit and crochet. “I make a lot of scarves,” she says. She also loves spending time with her family. She has two sons, a daughter, a step-daughter and ten grandchildren than range in age from 2 to 19. She might be in a completely different career today if she had listened to other people in the early years. Instead, she did things her way — and when she goes into work in the morning, her name is on the sign out front to prove it.


Sheila Helmberger Sheila Helmberger is a free-lance writer and contributes to a variety of area publications.

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cl ubs a n d c l u st e r s

story and photos by Mary Roberts

As part of the international women’s travel organization, 5W, travelers are guided by the woman editor of the city’s newspaper in Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania and explore the city by bus.

A few years ago, I discovered a unique travel, hospitality and friendship organization. Women Welcome Women World Wide (5W) was founded in England over 25 years ago for women who love people and travel and wish to experience the world in a deeper more meaningful manner. My first adventure as a member was a trip to England. While there, one quite unusual experience was a day on a long boat traveling along a canal near the Cotswolds. Eight women from around the world had gathered for a week to travel together on the boat — eating, sleeping and managing the locks, all while getting to know each other. These women had given an open invitation for other 5Ws to meet and join them along their way. Last fall, my friend Sandy Holm and I joined a gathering in Romania. The group included 21 women from eight countries (Sandy and I were the only Americans.) We spent five days exploring together the mountains and medieval villages of Transylvania with the Romanian women acting as our 42

guides. They arranged everything — lodging, food, guides and transportation. Evenings, women sat around the kitchen table talking into the night, learning about each other’s culture. Though certified to teach social studies, I learned more about what rule under communism really means for an individual than I’d learned in all my classes over the years. Before and after the gathering we traveled and roomed with a German woman, Marianne. When visiting Sweden with another friend, Sharon Carlson, local women met us almost every day to share their perspective of Swedish life. Suzanne invited us to spend a night with her in the countryside, while Marianne guided us through the Carl Mills Gardens and Li cooked dinner for us. In Turku, Finland Liisa and her husband Jukka brought us home for the night, to their little cottage on an island in the archipelago, while their friend Ritva cooked dinner of Finnish specialties for everyone. Another time, in

Budapest, Kati met us at our hotel to spend an evening walking along the Danube, while sharing her knowledge. The evening culminated over dinner deep in the old Jewish quarter, in a delightful Hungarian restaurant whose translation meant ‘stone soup.’ The pleasures to be experienced are not just for grand overseas adventures. When my husband and I ventured this past spring to Michigan, we spent two nights in Traverse City with Cynthia — who planned for us a delightful itinerary exploring the sand dunes, cherry blossoms, vineyards and quaint towns

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Welcoming Ragi Moser, Switzerland, to the Brainerd lakes area: (Left to right) Dee Hoffman, Baxter; Ragi; Mary Roberts, Merrifield; Sandra Holm, Merrifield; Sharon Carlson, Brainerd.

of her area, including where to have great fresh fish. On the trip home, Jeanne and her spouse welcomed us to their home near Chicago for a night with a fine spread. My husband and I have opened our home to travelers from England, Canada and Switzerland. Also, Minnesota 5Ws have met for mini-gatherings at Itasca, Thunder Bay and right here in our Brainerd area. Each visitor’s perspective helped broaden our understanding of the world by enriching our boundaries. These many friendships could never have occurred without 5W. The international organization has more than 2,500 members in more than 80 countries. Member’s common thread is an interest in widening their horizons through travel and promoting international friendship and peace. With offers of friendship and hospitality, one member at a time, members ultimately grow in appreciation of other cultures. A typical member is open minded, excited to learn about other cultures and also to share their own culture. She loves to travel, loves people and values personal growth. Membership opportunities include: • Welcoming a visitor to your home or acting as guide for a day to show a visitor around your area. • Being hosted overnight in another’s home, or invited for dinner to their home or a restaurant. • Seeing the sights of an area, your host acting as tour guide. • Attending a gathering where several women plan for and invite other 5Ws to come for a number of days to their area. They arrange lodging, meals, transport and appropriate activities for the gathering. • Receiving newsletters and a directory of names, interests and countries and other pertinent information about all members. A friend, Paulette Buck, who recently discovered the organization, summed up her experience with 5W when she traveled in New Zealand. “It changed my whole way of traveling.” The hands and hearts extended in friendship by 5W women across geographic and cultural boundaries enrich lives immeasurably.

Mary Roberts

Mary has lived for the past 40 years in the Brainerd lakes area. As an elementary art teacher for many years, mother of five and grandmother of seven, she spent most of her life surrounded by children. She enjoys travel, walking, swimming, reading, arts and culture, foods and photography. Most of all, she enjoys people.


Great. For the price of good.



HV SPRING 2011 | her voice

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bu s in e ss

by Sheri Davich photo by Joey Halvorson

Greg and Sherri Shepard are partners in marriage and business.


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Greg and Sherri Shepard have been partners in marriage over 20 years. They’ve been business partners almost as long. “I read the directions when putting the tricycle together. Sherri assembles it without the directions and says, ‘Oh, look! They sent extra screws!’ … uh, no.”, Greg says, shaking his head. Sherri nods her affirmation and laughs. “Who’s to say there isn’t a better way?” It’s important to keep an open mind in a partnership. Both Greg and Sherri are licensed real estate agents with Edina Realty of Crosslake. The two share an office space clearly meant

©2010 Nor-Son, Inc. All rights reserved. MN Lic. #0001969 ND Lic. #25361


for one. It’s obvious they enjoy each other’s company because you really have to appreciate someone to share a broom closet with them. All that togetherness could take a toll on a marriage but laughter is good medicine. A shared sense of humor and an appreciation of each other’s strengths are a good combination. In real estate, a 24/7 proposition, distancing home and work is just about impossible. Greg and Sherri work around that and have accomplished dividing responsibilities quite nicely at work. They don’t traipse on each other’s toes.

Sherri handles the administrative side — writing property descriptions, staging homes, preparing virtual tours and taking pictures. Greg meets with clients and handles negotiating. She is able to use her creative, intuitive side and he puts to best use his analytical, outgoing personality. Theirs is truly a match made in heaven, both at home and at the office, but the times they are a changin’! The Shepard ship is about to be rocked. Their children are older and Sherri is planning on a more prominent role in their business. She’ll be meeting with clients and taking on some of the responsi-




co mfort is ou r bu siness. Nor-Son, Inc. A Construction Services Firm




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bilities that once were Greg’s alone. A “winwin” situation it seems. They will have two money makers in a difficult real estate market where agents say they work twice as hard for half the money. Their clients will benefit from a “two-for-one”, a double--pronged effort at finding the right property as a buyer or when selling a home. It’s all good, right? Potentially, yes, if handled properly. The Shepards’ situation is not unusual. About 8 percent of small businesses started recently in the U.S. are co-owned by husbands and wives, according to a survey by the Kansas City, Mo.-based Kauffman Foundation, which funds entrepreneurship education and development. This number is based on the responses of 2,606 companies that started in 2004 and were still operating in 2008. Many of these businesses began as a result of a job loss by one of the principles, and more and more family-owned businesses are springing up as the economy continues to falter. In addition to responding to a tough economy, couples with small children often choose this option because they enjoy the flexibility that comes with being their own bosses. Sherri explains why she and Greg chose to work together. “We’re there for our kids— lunches at school, vacations, days when they’re sick. The school calls at 11 a.m.

to tell you to pick up your sick child and you have only you and your spouse to answer to as you run out the door. What job or employer can offer that kind of flexibility?” Regarding children, another compelling incentive to becoming a husband and wife team is the elimination of child care costs. Financial stress, long hours, pet peeves — all can undermine the best of relationships. But, for a lucky few, working together can draw two people ever closer. For couples considering a joint venture, establishing boundaries is key in keeping a marital relationship healthy while working to keep a business afloat. Boundaries have to be maintained between work and home life and between realms of responsibility within the business. There are bound to be times in which partners won’t agree. In those moments it will be important that one or the other have the ultimate say in certain areas. Quality communication, honesty, being able to disagree while being ever respectful-all are necessary in keeping the peace. Sometimes, when wearing business hats, a hug doesn’t

feel appropriate. It’s OK! And if all else fails, keep things in perspective. Lighten up, and remember at the end of the day no business is worth sacrificing a relationship. It’s easier to get into a new line of work than it is to find a new spouse. Greg and Sherri will celebrate 21 years of wedded bliss in April. A symbolic gift of Nerf balls may be appropriate. Nothing says “fun” like tossing a Nerf, and if there’s frustration to vent it can’t do much damage to the broom closet, or to each other. It’s sure to make them smile, and no directions are required.



Sheri Davich Sheri Davich is a feature home writer for Lake and Home magazine. She contributes to other local, regional and national publications and lives in Breezy Point.

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HerVoice Magazine - Spring 2011  

By Women, For Women, About Women. • Getaways for the romantically challenged • A special olympian • Winning at losing • Musings of a poet...

HerVoice Magazine - Spring 2011  

By Women, For Women, About Women. • Getaways for the romantically challenged • A special olympian • Winning at losing • Musings of a poet...