Here's a gentle reminder to check-in

Here’s a gentle reminder to check-in

It’s comforting to hear some say winter makes them happy because the holidays bring more family time or the snow blanketing the earth looks divine. It’s soothing to me because it’s a reminder to take in the season.

Yet, winter can still feel too dark for some of us. Dark because some are worried about getting the heating bill paid, the weather has been battering producers, or others are grieving the recent passing of a loved one.

Here’s a gentle reminder to check-in with family, friends, and neighbors if you haven’t already. But also, check-in with yourself. Pay attention to how you feel when you wake up in the morning, on your drive to work, or when you get home after a long day, and how you’re interacting with others. If something isn’t quite right, make an effort to reach out if you need help. Your feelings are as important as anyone else’s. You matter.


Originally published in St. James Plaindealer on December 5th.

For my birthday this year…

I turned 23 year old on Nov. 21st. I’ve been questioning my every thought and action a little more than usual after my boyfriend asked me if I feel different. He seemed serious. He said I sound different. He’s known me for around nine years and has dated me for six. He’s noticed I talk more, and it appears like I like to talk.

I do enjoy talking, but it’s a struggle. There’s feeling shy, and then there’s social anxiety disorder, where a zero-danger situation feels physically overwhelming. Sweating, trembling, nausea, headaches, trouble breathing, your mind going blank, your heart trying to beat out of your chest, and all from just being asked how your day is going or if you want to hang out later.

Continue reading For my birthday this year…

Parenting half the time

I’m trying to help raise my two little sisters while my mom spends around half her time at work. Valerie is 11, and Vianey is nine. I hadn’t realized how absent my parents need to be to provide until consistently hearing my sisters ask, “When are they getting back from work?” Then when they get back, they’re in real need of a nap, and my sisters need to wait to bond with them. This set up is pretty common, and a lot more kids don’t have anyone.

Continue reading Parenting half the time

A Country of Many Voices

As Hispanic Heritage Month continues to run until October 15th, I’m digitally digging through archives to find contributions from the Hispanic/Latinx community to U.S. history. As of now, I’ve learned a Mexican created the first color TV system, Cuba funded the end of the American Revolution, and, not only did Hispanic/Latinx immigrants fight in WWI, “temporary” Mexican agricultural workers feed the country.

Yet, I am struggling.

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Gus the Dog is loved at Nursing Homes and Hospitals

Lonnie Bloomquist of Jackson, MN sits on a patterned brown sofa, resting his cane against his thigh, and his cap slightly shadowing his face. He’s at Good Samaritan Society-Brandt Ridge visiting his aunt, Eunice Wheaton of St. James, MN on a Thursday morning. He’s brought his dog along.

“Gus, say hi,” Bloomquist says to the large black dog, cuddling up against Wheaton’s legs.

Wheaton sits on her rollator in the middle of her living room while facing the open front door of her assisted-living apartment. She sports dark brown cheetah print sunglasses and grips Gus’ red leash. She’s 93-years-old, and has been at Brandt Ridge for around 16 years.

“He’s tired,” Wheaton says about Gus. “He came in and he lays out by my feet…resting.”

Gus is half Border Collie and half Siberian Husky with two different colored eyes; blue and brown. He’s been with Bloomquist for about a year, and he’s already become a favorite for patients at the Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD, and at three nursing homes: a home in Jackson, and two in Estherville, IA.

Continue reading Gus the Dog is loved at Nursing Homes and Hospitals

High Tea Party: “very, very English.”

The red sofas in Judy Raatz’s living room pop against the white walls and the golden oak hardwood floor. She has invited her friends to her St. James, Minnesota home on a Thursday for afternoon tea or “high tea.”

The gals sit around the living room, some wearing patterned blouses and others wearing dresses with their sunhats on their head or resting on their laps.

“A high tea, also called a full tea, means you will have three courses,” Raatz explains to her friends while standing at the entrance of her living room. “A high tea also means a cake sitting, and of course, also means high society. The funny thing is what it really turns into is gossip.” The women burst into laughter. “Then I thought,” Raatz continues, “‘Oh my gosh, Sunday, the minister says thou shalt not gossip.’ Oh my goodness. Here we are.”

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My Old Little Sister Is Leaving for More Than Just College

My sister who is four years younger than me is beginning college in the fall. In the next week or so, she’s also completely moving out of my parents’ house…before me. Part of me thought, she’s way too young, moving way too quickly, and I have to talk some sense into her. But now I know she’s been pushed a bit ahead since as far back as I can remember, and I won’t suddenly try to stop her now.

Continue reading My Old Little Sister Is Leaving for More Than Just College