Posts Categorized: Personal

Read the Winter 2016-17 Inspire(d) Online!

Winter is a wonderful time to cozy in and think about making life better. So we’re excited to bring you the new Winter 2016-2017 Inspire(d) Magazine, all about bettering yourself and your communities! Online today, and out on stands starting this weekend!

Here’s what you’ll get to read:

Forgiveness Initiative • Smithsonian Water/Ways in Lanesboro • Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness • The Walking Revolution • Sum of Your Business: Brenda Harris • Heard About It? Try It! • Wild Rice Chicken Soup recipe • DIY Envelopes! • Probit: Grace Peterson

Winter 2016-2017 Editor’s Letter

These are some tumultuous times here in our world. There are so many things folks are upset about, and rightly so. These problems are very real and concerns about the future are legitimate.

arynroxie_fall_winter16We’re not here to say everything is going to be all right, but we are going to say that this time is yours to shape. Just like any time. And just like always, Inspire(d) encourages you to start small, start in your own community, or even just start with yourself. Winter is the perfect time to look inside and work on being well and being a better person.

Where do you start? How about with a little (or a lot of) forgiveness? Sara Friedl-Putnam chatted with Luther College forgiveness expert Loren Toussaint, who has done extensive research on the mental and, yes, physical benefits behind being more forgiving of others and yourself. It makes perfect sense to us – holding on to negative feelings will only make us feel more negative. Toussaint shares some tips on how to start forgiving on a more regular basis – we hope you’ll give it a try (pg. 24)!

winter_16_coverInspire(d) newcomer Cerrisa Snethen covers the part where we make our communities better places – she did an fabulous job covering the amazing work of Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. Come 2017 (which is, indeed, coming!), FFI has been bettering Northeast Iowa for a decade! We had no idea just how many awesome changes in the region were due to this many-faceted organization. See for yourself on page 50.

Speaking of communities, we’re pretty excited that Lanesboro, Minnesota is one of the towns hosting the national Smithsonian exhibit, Water/Ways, January 7 – February 18, 2017. Water is life – we need to protect it, conserve it, and respect it. Kristine Jepsen fills us in on all the cool details of the community-wide exhibit and its multitude of events. It’s going to be a perfect combo of education and fun (pg. 14)!

This issue’s Sum of Your Business feature, Brenda Harris, owner of the Acupuncture Center Decorah, fits perfectly with winter wellness. The three facets of the Center – acupuncture, qigong, and herbal medicine – are fascinating to learn about, and Brenda’s business story is great too (pg. 24).

And while we’re talking about wellness, we should also talk about staying well – I’ve included my go-to chicken soup recipe (pg. 48) – make this for yourself or your family when someone is under the weather, or if you’re just looking for a healthy, warm winter meal.

We were happy to have former Inspire(d) intern, now legit-design-pro Kristin Anderson create the paper project this issue. She came up with a fun idea for reusing your favorite magazine pages: Homemade envelopes (pg. 33). They’re super cute, and who doesn’t love to get a fun little piece of snail mail delivered to their door?

Okay, and winter doesn’t have to be all about looking in – you can get out too! Try some of our fun “get active” ideas – from silo ice climbing to Aerialates – on page 30! And, finally, don’t miss Grace Peterson’s wonderful probituary – we just love reading those interviews!

We here at Inspire(d) hope you enter 2017 with optimism, strength, and health. Make it the best year possible. You’ve got this.

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

Electing for Change: Why Vote?


By Aryn Henning Nichols

There are many boards, committees, and political offices that rely on local volunteers. And these positions do so much to guide how your community moves forward. Do you have opinions about things happening in your town? The answer is, very likely, yes. Why not get involved so you can make those opinions better known?

electing_votebuttonNot up for that? It’s cool! You know what’s super easy? Voting. Seriously – you can even get your ballot mailed to you (absentee ballots). And then – if you’re like me and aren’t sure about the lesser-publicized election contests – you can research each candidate and their platforms as you vote. Because it’s those contests down the ballot that often impact your lives and communities even more.

We are so lucky we live in a society where we get to vote – we Americans get a say in how our lives are run (even if it doesn’t always seem like it)! It’s pretty cool.

Looking for a quick and easy reference? Check out Enter your address and it will show you a sample ballot for 2016. Then you can click on the people running and learn what they’re all about. Then click on through to candidates own websites to learn more.

It feels great to make educated decisions, and it feels great to know more about topics that are important to local and state-level constituents. You are one of those constituents! Let your voices be heard, friends. And not just every four years! Pay attention, share your ideas, and together we can all make this community, region, state, country…world…a better place!

XOXO – Aryn

Fear Fear


The only thing to fear is fear itself. Man that is a genius quote. You’ve heard it, right? It’s from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech back in 1933. Things were tumultuous then. Things are tumultuous now. And we wonder how we can move forward; how we can conquer the fear. Here’s what I’m thinking:

It’s totally natural to have fear. Fear of heights. Fear of public speaking. Fear of starting a new year at school, a new job, a new relationship. Fear of riding on a plane for the first time or, if you’re like me, fear of bats (ugh).

So often, this fear comes from a place of ignorance, irrationality, or preconceived notions. It doesn’t make the fear any less valid, but it’s incredibly important to acknowledge its source.

But this emotion – fear – it can’t control us. Think of all the times you’ve overcome your fears: You started that new job and kicked ass. You rode on a plane and went thousands of miles in a few hours (wow!). You conquered something that was holding you back, and it was exhilarating. When you realize you can take on your fears, you can do anything.

Fear of each other and our differences – these are the fears I want to talk about today. So much of what’s wrong with the world right now stems from not understanding or being willing to accept that all of us humans are different.

You and your wife? You are totally different, right? (Think about how you load the dishwasher, amIright?) Your best friend is not exactly like you either, thank goodness. Otherwise you’d never be able to kick each others’ butts into gear when you need it.

What else? Your Muslim neighbor worships her God differently than you worship yours. Your atheist co-worker goes on a hike in the woods every Sunday. The cashier at the grocery store doesn’t own a television while the person grabbing organic pears in the produce aisle is a Game of Thrones aficionado. We all love to do different things.

But the fear comes from thinking that one way is the right way. It festers and grows and fear becomes hate that becomes, maybe, evil. Then it all leads to war and terror and hate crimes and a whole bunch of isolated, disconnected people.

So we ask ourselves: What can we do? It’s too big! What can we do?!

Don’t worry – there’s always something we can do.

Maybe we all love chocolate chip cookies. I bet we might. Try making some for your neighbors – especially the ones you haven’t met yet.

I’m certain we all love laughing. And I’m with Buddy the Elf – smiling’s my favorite. Smile at the people you cross paths with on the street. Look them in the eye. Especially if your first thought is to look away. Make eye contact. Smile. It’s simple.

We’re all looking for connections. Strike up a conversation with a person in a crowd that looks out of place. Odds are they want to be welcomed in – otherwise they wouldn’t be in that crowd. Don’t assume they’re strange or weird or dangerous. They’re definitely not like you – no one is – and that’s the beauty of it all! Remember the exhilaration of overcoming fears. Of trying new things. Of making new friends. Maybe you’ll shed some important light to an issue that new friend hadn’t thought of yet. Maybe you’ll humanize an issue for them, put a fear to rest, and change the world for the better.

The best way to end fear of the unknown is to get to know it.

Trying new things can be scary. It’s comfortable to stay in your house, in your pajamas, turn on another episode of the Walking Dead, and wait for it all to burn the f*&k down.

But the reality is that we don’t really want it all to burn down.

Mr. Rogers says look for the helpers. I love that quote. But here’s a secret: You’re one of the helpers. We’re all the helpers. We’re all the heroes. We all have the opportunity to affect change. Look inside, start with yourself, and start today.


And for f*cks sake, vote! If you missed the primaries, well… no regrets, but do better next time, and VOTE this November. Educate yourself on ALL the politicians on your ballot and VOTE!  It is so important and we are so lucky we live in a democracy that allows this. The system might not be ideal for you, but it will only change if you vote in people you believe will help better it.


The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself – Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech, 1933:

“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”