Archive for the ‘Favorite Blog Posts’ Category

A Knock on the Window

Friday, December 13th, 2013

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I drove my kids in this morning, we got kind of a lazy start to the day.  I live in Somerset, Wisconsin and we live about 3 miles from school.  I was in a long line of other carpoolers inching towards the light at 64 and 35.    I stopped to let a car into the line of traffic from a driveway.  He gave me the wave and I waved back.  No biggie.
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We made it to school and I pulled up to the drop off spot we always use and put the car in park.  I turned to give my kids our usual goodbye “ob shnob de gobble dobble” (thanks Nanny Jean) and out they went.  Off  to tackle whatever 3rd and 4th grade had to offer them today.
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I was watching them go and I heard a knock on my window.  I turned and a man was standing next to my car.
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My immediate reaction was “crap, what does he think I did and is he going to yell at me?”
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I was so anxious that I pushed the lock/unlock button instead of the window button.  He had me jumpy.
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I figured out how to lower the window and said hi.
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He said “Say, I just wanted to thank you for letting me into traffic.  It was the first time in like 5 years I haven’t had to push my way into that line.  So thanks, have a great day”
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WHAAAA?
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This guy actually got out of his car, which was 3 cars behind me at the drop off door (I know because I watched him walk away, I was too stunned to put the car in drive) and thanked me in person.  Wow.
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My first thought was how sad that no one lets him into the line of cars.  My second thought was how sad that my first thought was he was going to yell at me.

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Wonder why I thought it would be a negative exchange.
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I think we are conditioned for negativity.   On TV, the radio, pop culture, news…negativity is all around us.
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Wouldn’t it be great if you got a knock on your window and thought something awesome must be about to happen?
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You never know, it just might.
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Thanks Giving

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

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We got a letter in the mail.
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An actual letter that had an actual stamp on it.
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It was addressed to Darn Knit Anyway attention Amy.  So I opened it.
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It was a beautiful thank you note.  It was from a woman, who’s mom came into the shop to get a little refresher.  It was a heartfelt letter of gratitude for kindness that we showed to her mom.
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I read it, showed it to Jennifer and immediately felt grateful.  Grateful that I get to be a part of so many lives.  Grateful that this shop I helped create has meant so much in the lives of other people.  Grateful that this is what I get to do each day.
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I didn’t remember this particular women, or her mom.  Which was weird, because the letter included a newspaper clipping of her mom.  Which I read.  She had quite the life.  An entrepreneur like me, running many businesses in her lifetime.
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Then I reread the outside of the card.  It was really addressed to Amy B.  not Aimee.  Not me.  Amy B has been a part of our shop since day 1 and she is the glue that holds Thursday night knitting together!
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For a second, just a split second, I felt bad for myself…that it wasn’t me that got the nice letter.
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Then I was overcome with even more gratitude.  Gratitude to Amy B for opening her heart to our customers.  Gratitude for all of our staff.   I even hate to call them staff, because they are more like family to me.  This letter could have been addressed to any one of them!  All of them have their own stories of how they’ve touched lives here at DKA.  Ask me someday about what Carly did with a Christmas Stocking for someone once.  Whew!
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I am grateful today.
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I am also reminded just how much a simple card in the mail still means.

It’s perfect that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I may just spend a few minutes writing a few of my own thank you cards.
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Maybe you have someone in your life that deserves your thanks too?
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Happy Thanksgiving!
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Open Letter to MnDOT

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


Hello MnDOT,
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I am writing to you today to let you know about something I just can’t keep quiet about any longer.   It’s about the road construction for the new St. Croix River Crossing.  Specifically the 95/36 exchange that is progressing quickly.
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Now, I assume you are getting prepared right now to hear something negative, but that’s not what’s about to happen.
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I am writing to tell you about a gem you have working for you.  Well, I don’t know who she works for exactly, she may be working for a contractor,  but she is a gem none the less.
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I’m sure that everyone who drives this stretch of the river valley knows who she is too.  She handles the stop and slow sign at the intersection of 95 and 36.  She tells us when a big dump truck is heading our way.
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I don’t know her name, but I wish I did.
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She smiles, waves, and looks like she’s laughing sometimes. She actually seems to pay attention to the cars when they pass her by.  I get to look her in the eyes even!  I drove by her today and she was dancing.  DANCING!  Now, it is 20 degrees outside today and she was probably freezing and dancing was keeping her toes warm but still!  I love this woman.   I wish I had a picture of her, but I thought better of taking photos while driving:)
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You should know that she brings a smile to my face every time I pass by.    You should know that she is making that construction easier for all of us.  She should know that too.  I wanted to bring her a cup of coffee or hot cocoa, but that isn’t a super spot to stop my car!
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So, MnDOT?  Maybe you should find out who she is and thank her.  Bring her a nice cup of coffee.  Or some of those hand warmer things.  Heck give her a raise.  She is certainly raising the spirits of people who pass her by each day.
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With warm regards,
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Aimee and all the other commuters on Hwy 95!
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Decay…really?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Discover Stillwater

There has been lots of conversation lately downtown Stillwater about the word decay.
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The word was brought up at a City Council meeting a few months ago.
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It was said that our downtown was in a state of decay.  Decay is a pretty serious word and words are powerful.
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Decay = fester, descend, decline, ferment, mortify, rot, putrefy
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Wow.   That sure sounds serious.  Especially during a City Council meeting.
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Sure, like most Main Streets in America, our Main Street has had a rough 15 years.  The big box retailers up on the highway have made shopping more convenient, get everything in one shopping trip.  I get it.  It hasn’t just happened in our town, it’s happened in hundreds of small towns all over America.  Throw that in with the recession and you’ve got a recipe for small business trouble.
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Some long time locals will say they miss a pharmacy, a furniture store, a butcher shop.  I don’t blame them for not coming downtown anymore. There used to be a daily reason for them to come.  They could come to get prescriptions filled, diapers, and aspirin.  They used to stop at Brine’s and get brats and meat and deli.  It’s not necessary for them to come downtown anymore.  That’s what’s changed.
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It’s not because there aren’t great things downtown.  It’s not parking or traffic.  It’s not because businesses downtown aren’t working hard enough.  It’s not because the Chamber, the IBA and the City aren’t working together.  It’s not because we don’t have fancy lit up buildings or great signage.  It’s not any of that.  It’s just the way it is.  Downtown Stillwater will never be the way it was and some residents that remember the way it was, when there was a pharmacy and a furniture store, simply won’t be satisfied.  And that is ok.
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Many residents and visitors love downtown Stillwater.  They know how to get downtown, they know where to park, they don’t worry about traffic.  They come downtown to enjoy an experience. They come to buy baby gifts, t shirts, yarn, cooking supplies, olive oil, tea, spices, a new dress, a new purse, a kayak, school shoes, wedding presents, wedding dresses. They eat on patios and have ice cream in the park.  They have drinks in long time established pubs and they check out brand new ones.
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We love local shoppers.  Locals are important to keeping downtown thriving year round.  And every day I thank a local for shopping in my store on Main Street.  But I also thank my Wisconsin regulars and my Minneapolis and St. Paul regulars and the visitors from California, Washington State and Iowa.
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We need to remember that downtown will never be the way it was.  It will never provide absolute necessities again.  Those things are found in more abundance at big box retailers.
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What we can and do provide is a great boutique shopping and dining district.  A place where people feel at home and welcome.
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What we can do is stop using words that tear down our town.  That make us look bad, that make us feel bad.
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Use your words wisely.  People are listening.
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I prefer to say that downtown Stillwater is in a state of ascent.
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ascent = climb, lift, rise, scale, spring.
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Better right?

Melancholy for Madison

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Audrey’s moving to college.  She’s going to my Alma Mater, UW Madison.
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Audrey has been a part of our lives for 4 years.  She takes care of my kiddos after school and in the summer.  Her family and mine are intertwined.
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Anyway, her move to Madison has me melancholy.  It was a mere 23 years ago (holy crap) that I made this same pilgrimage.
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I moved into Witte Hall with my high school pal Jami.  I moved with one suitcase of clothes, my tiny little tv and a hot pot.
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Witte Hall

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Dorm Aimee

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Aimee & Jami Witte Hall

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I don’t remember too many specifics about that day.  I remember we had to wait forever for the elevator and I remember watching my mom leave.  I remember that feeling.  That sour feeling in my stomach.  I wasn’t sad, or scared.  I was excited and probably in shock.  I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it.|
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I have mostly great memories of my life in Madison.  So many great times; Halloween,  5th quarter at football games, Mifflin Street Block Party, The Terrace, LaBamba burritos as big as your head, The Red Shed, Boots at the Essen Haus, Hempfest, so many things I can’t even list them.  I am grateful for those memories.
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Some of our gang...heading to a game

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We came to see the band:)

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Badgers!!

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Halloween.oh.my

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I made life long friends in college.  Mike, Eric, Korinne, Jami, Carmen; these friends I would later watch get married, have babies, get high powered important jobs and travel with to Europe.  Korinne, Jami and I were roommates the entire time.  We learned so much together.  We experienced so much together.  We made great, important life decisions.  We also made not so smart decisions.   We will forever have that connection, that shared experience.  I am grateful for those friendships.
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My hope for Audrey is that she will find a great group of friends that will take care of each other.  Watch out for each other.   We did.  Our friends Mike, Eric, Jeff, Jim and Mark took care of us.  They never left us behind at a frat house, never let us walk home alone.  I am grateful for those protectors.
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Enjoy this time Audrey.  Trust your gut, but don’t be close minded.  Keep your options open but stay focused on your goals.  Spend a beautiful day enjoying the terrace and don’t feel guilty about it.
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This time in college is short.  Live it each day.  Be grateful.
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Audrey Move In Day

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Hopefully, maybe 23 years from now, you will be grateful for your time in Madison and will be feeling melancholy for your Alma Mater too.
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I Censored Myself

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

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So this morning, I wrote a blog post.
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I wasn’t sure if I should post the entire thing.  It talked about Stillwater specifically and people who post anonymously on blogs and articles.  I know better than to engage online with people who post anonymously on articles.  I didn’t want to open myself up to any drama.  But it felt good to write it.
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I wrote it and before I posted it, sent it on to a few of my downtown business friends to see what they thought.  Was it too much, should I name names?  Would it be best to just let it be?
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Well, I didn’t hear back from them soon enough so I censored those parts and posted it like this.
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As the day went on today, my friends responded that they loved the original post as it was and that I should tell it like it is.
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When I censored myself earlier in the day, I did exactly what people do when they choose not to engage.  People don’t engage in things for fear of confrontation.  They don’t volunteer for the Parking Commission because they don’t want residents to yell at them when it costs $5 to park.  They don’t volunteer to coach a little league team because they don’t want a parent to yell at them for not playing their kid on 1st base.  They don’t want to say their peace on a blog because they don’t want to open themselves up to be yelled at in comments.
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I guess I’ll post this and let the chips fall where they may.
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So…here is the original post.  Complete.
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I think this is so great.
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Lake Elmo, a neighboring town, is taking a stand and taking initiative to try to change how we talk to each other.  They know that they can’t stop disagreements, but they are going to try to “Improve the level of civility in public discourse”.  How great is that?
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They say many things on the website that I loved, but this line stood out.
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“Civility is about advocating for your beliefs without degrading someone else in the process.”
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In addition to changing how we talk to each other, they want to encourage civic engagement.  What city wouldn’t want their citizens to be engaged and plugged in?
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It’s hard to open yourself up to be engaged.  I get it.  That’s why it’s always the same people volunteering…for everything.
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I’m sure you see it in your town too.  The same people offer to help out at church, with t-ball, with school stuff and with city stuff.  Those volunteers aren’t any less busy than other people, they just put themselves out there.
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It’s also hard to put yourself out there these days.  Our every action is scrutinized and commented on through Facebook, in blogs and articles.  People can be vicious and anonymous.  I blogged about it earlier this year.
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There is one certain person on line who has a negative comment on everything that happens in Stillwater.  We’ll call him “Randy Marsh”.  It’s not his real name anyway.  He can be brutal.  He seems to be, on the surface, plugged in to what’s going on around town, but no one knows who this guy is.  I tried to find him online, to maybe have a private conversation. But he doesn’t seem to exist outside of the television show South Park and article comments.  So this guy is choosing to comment anonymously.  Why?  What good is he doing?  He certainly isn’t “improving the level of civility in public discourse”.  If I didn’t know better, I would think he is just a bully.   Wonder if he takes the time to volunteer for anything to improve the city or if he just simply wants to complain?
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If you want to see for yourselves, the level to which our civility has fallen, check out the comment sections on our Stillwater Patch site, or any public news online source really.  There are almost all anonymous.  It’s too bad.  The Patch is doing a good service for our community and the comments posted on news articles just turn nasty.  Often. 
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When I opened the yarn store in 2009 I had NO IDEA that the issue that would give me the most anxiety would be dealing with that kind of stuff.  Dealing with other businesses, owners, politicians and organizations can be hard. 
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Stress brings out the worst in people too.  The last 5-7 years have been difficult for all businesses and certainly small business in Stillwater is no different.  Like other parts of our economy, retail and restaurant businesses were hit hard with the recession. 
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Small business is tricky.  You might think someone who owns their own business must have a lot of money.  But let me tell you, that is almost never the case.   Owners have leveraged their homes and other assets against loans for the business.  Owners don’t often take paychecks.  Heck it took me 3 years to take a regular paycheck:)  I’m not telling you this to make you feel bad for small business owners, most of them I know love what they do.    I certainly don’t regret for one second opening my store.  I am just mentioning it because when you are backed into a corner, and you are fighting for your financial life, things can get mean. 
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Things are looking up though.  We have been working for years to make changes downtown.  Change is slow.  We have a group of engaged, involved businesses, and residents, downtown and up the hill.   We have committees and volunteers that are sacrificing time to try to change things.  The city is doing their part, working to get downtown cleaned up and they are listening.
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Good luck Lake Elmo!  I don’t live or work in Lake Elmo, but I will take the pledge!  I will Speak the Peace.   I hope more people will engage in their communities,  pay attention to how they interact with each other and how they speak to each other.   It can’t possibly hurt right?
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So, go forth and volunteer for something for goodness sake!
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If you are looking for something to volunteer for tomorrow (Thursday, May 23rd) come plant flowers in the pots on Main Street with the Mainstreet Stillwater Independent Business Alliance (IBA).  We’ll be doing our annual Spring planting.  We’ll be meeting in front of Darn Knit Anyway at 8:30am!  Bring your gloves!

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This was my complete post.  I am not anonymous.
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Can’t wait to read your comments:)

 

Civility Project

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

 

I think this is so great.
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Lake Elmo, a neighboring town, is taking a stand and taking initiative to try to change how we talk to each other.  They know that they can’t stop disagreements, but they are going to try to “Improve the level of civility in public discourse”.  How great is that?
.
They say many things on the website that I loved, but this line stood out.
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“Civility is about advocating for your beliefs without degrading someone else in the process.”
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In addition to changing how we talk to each other, they want to encourage civic engagement.  What city wouldn’t want their citizens to be engaged and plugged in?
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It’s hard to open yourself up to be engaged.  I get it.  That’s why it’s always the same people volunteering…for everything.
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I’m sure you see it in your town too.  The same people offer to help out at church, with t-ball, with school stuff and with city stuff.  Those volunteers aren’t any less busy than other people, they just put themselves out there.
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It’s also hard to put yourself out there these days.  Our every action is scrutinized and commented on through Facebook, in blogs and articles.  People can be vicious and anonymous.  I blogged about it earlier this year.
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Good luck Lake Elmo!  I don’t live or work in Lake Elmo, but I will take the pledge!  I will Speak the Peace.   I hope more people will engage in their communities,  pay attention to how they interact with each other and how they speak to each other.   It can’t possibly hurt right?
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So, go forth and volunteer for something for goodness sake!
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If you are looking for something to volunteer for tomorrow (Thursday, May 23rd) come plant flowers in the pots on Main Street with the Mainstreet Stillwater Independent Business Alliance (IBA).  We’ll be doing our annual Spring planting.  We’ll be meeting in front of my shop at 8:30am!  Bring your gloves!

If You Knit it He Will Come

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

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Carly’s friend is in her 30s and single.
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She has decided that she is going to knit a sweater for a man that she doesn’t have in her life yet.  Thinking, if she knits it he will come.
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This might seem like a crazy idea to you, but I believe in this.   This is exactly what I think she should do.  I am all in.
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It’s much like a prayer shawl.  The idea is that you knit or crochet something for someone who needs healing.  You spend your time thinking great calming, healing thoughts and then the person who gets the shawl wears it and feels your love.  The good vibes go out into the vast universe and then come billowing down on the person you knit for.  It brings them peace.
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So, why wouldn’t this work the same way?  What you put out there, you bring back to you.  It’s the law of attraction right?
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If its good enough for Oprah…
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I did something kind of like this many years ago.   I wrote a list of what I wanted in my ideal guy.
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Most of my friends were already married and having babies.  I was in my late 20s and was ready to be married too.  I was talking to my friend Earl and he asked me what I wanted in a man.  I told him some very vague attributes like…funny, happy, smart…those sorts of things.  Earl said I needed to be more specific.  Like really specific.  He said if you are specific then you won’t waste your time on men that don’t fit your list.    If you write this list, when your perfect man shows up, you’ll recognize him.
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This is how my life partner list read.
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-likes to laugh
-adores me (opens doors, gives me flowers, surprised me, romances me)
-approaches all things with a positive attitude
-respects marriage
-treats people with respect…especially his family
-5’10 or taller, shouldn’t be thinner than me
-comfortable at a formal ball or corner bar
-likes to travel and explore
-can run a power tool when needed
-wants to be a father
-enjoys a beer or two
-believes in a higher power (Catholic would be cool)
-successful enough in business to have lots of time to play
-money to play with would be nice too
-nonsmoker
-physically active (no couch potato)
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From then on, each time someone asked me why I was still single, I would pass them this list.  I would say “I haven’t found this guy yet, do you know him?”
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I met Jason about a year later. It was New Year’s Eve at O’Garas pub (corner bar – check).  He asked me to dance (surprised me – check).  I had to look up to see into his eyes  (5’10 or taller – check).   It went on like this…checking off things on my list until he asked me to marry him a year later.
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Pelletiers

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10 years, 2 kids, 1 dog, 1 cat and 1 yarn store later the list didn’t fail me.
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So, I absolutely believe, if you knit it he will come.
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I am all in!
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A little side note here…if you are interested in writing your own life partner list check out Earl’s book Finding Love on Purpose Write your own list and shoot me a copy.
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You never know:)
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We Finished a Sweater Today

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

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We finished a sweater today.
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Nancy's Kimono

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We finish a lot of sweaters in this shop.
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This one was special though.
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Our customer and friend Nancy passed away a few months ago and she was so close to finishing this sweater.
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We were lucky enough to be able to finish it for her.  For her daughter.
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Carly sewed up all the pieces, I picked up and knit the collar.
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We thought about blocking it, but decided against it.
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We thought her daughter might still want it to smell like her mom.
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Her daughter came in to pick it up and sure enough, she put it right up to her nose.  Sweet.
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A Gift for Nancy

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We finished a sweater today.   Our gift to Nancy.
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We are more than a yarn store and we like it that way.
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Found in my car

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Hummmmm

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Found these glasses today while cleaning out my car.  I have no idea to whom they belong.
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It’s been a long winter.
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My husband has always said I could survive for 2 weeks using just things found in my car.
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I think he might be right.
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