The Spring 2020 Inspire(d) is all about doing life in a way that works for you. Inside, you’ll find:
Take the Leap: Do life your way! Lauren Barry + Michael Anderson • Gap Years • Annie Titus • Zach Burke • Elliott Jewelers • Walking Space • Songs of Spring – Driftless Birds • Pop-Up Paper Flower Cards • And More!
Amazing cover illustration by Lauren Bonny
A note from Aryn:
What do you want to be when you grow up? Some form of this question revisits us on a semi-regular basis here at Inspire(d) HQ (also, who even WANTS to grow up?!?).
When I was a kid, living in the country near Frankville, Iowa, I thought maybe I’d be a teacher, or a nurse like my mom. My dad was a pilot, so there was a time in middle school that I considered becoming a major airline pilot.
In college, I knew I loved to read and write, but wasn’t sure how that would translate to a “real job” post graduation.
So, back to teacher – I was even accepted to the College of Education at University of Iowa. There was a brief foray into selling Mary Kay cosmetics and dreaming of pink Cadillacs (very brief), and then I spent a short time in the Air Force ROTC program, coming back to that pilot idea. It wasn’t until my junior year that I came to journalism.
But even with a journalism degree, entering the world seemed impossible. I considered graduate programs, but my advisor said, “Unless you’re planning to teach, there’s not much point in going further in debt to learn what you can learn in the real world.” Whew, am I ever grateful for that advice.
So, after claiming my degree in English and journalism in 2003, I took a bit of a “gap year.” I still worked – I taught oral English to middle-schoolers in China from 2004-2005 – but it wasn’t exactly a career.
The things I learned on that gap, though, have led me through this life. They changed me, and expanded my opinions of the world, just as the Gap Years did for the Decorah area folks featured in Kristine Jepsen’s story on page 24.
Back in the states, I figured I better get a real job… finally. But no one wanted to hire me, much to my surprise (ha!). I did have a back-up plan: This magazine in your hands. Really, it was the plan A, but it seemed too crazy to just make it up!
In Maggie Sonnek’s story, Lauren Barry of Dancing Gnome Farm and Michael Anderson of Broken Paddle Guiding Company find that “just making it up” is the best way to a life filled with passion. I would have to agree.
All of this is to say: There are a lot of ways to do life. To grow up (or not) as you grow older. Sometimes you just have to Take the Leap! Throughout this issue, you’ll read stories of people who have done just that. Annie Titus decided to head to undergrad at UW Eau Claire in her late 50s (pg 47). Zach Burke knew in high school that he wanted to pursue the John Deere TECH program at Northeast Iowa Community College (pg 56). This issue’s Sum of Your Business interview features three generations working side-by-side at Elliott Jewelers in Waukon.
Everyone’s path is different. For Andrew Boddicker, it was a literal path – a pilgrimage in Spain inspired his new business, Walking Space, featuring carefully curated, long-distance walks in the Driftless Region. Written by Inspire(d) newcomer Erin Dorbin, this story highlights the great benefits of a simple walk (pg 60).
Speaking of new writers, we’ve got two others to introduce! Mary Hyland shares her love of geocaching in the region with our readers, and Craig Thompson helps us train our ears for the sounds of spring – birds! You can’t miss the accompanying illustrations by Decorah artist Lauren Bonney – the amazing oriole on the cover is just one of five that go along with the story. It gets me excited about spring and warm weather and flowers (make paper ones for a card in this issue’s paper project) and all the lovely spring things! It’s my favorite season! We hope you enjoy it as well!
Aryn Henning Nichols