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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

‘An Advocate Always’

After two days of listening to presenters and participating in table conversations at the FD Qualey-Skjervold Conference, I looked for folks to debrief with on Friday morning. I found small groups of FD staff discussing their experiences, and one person told me, “We should have encouraged staff to block off Friday morning to reflect as an individual or in groups!”

One activity that I reflected on as an individual was the question Brother Menkara Tezzat asked: “How have you and your people impacted the planet?” The results of my recent DNA test showed that my heritage is 90 percent Scandinavian; the report also provided history pertaining to Viking invasions of European coastal areas to explain my DNA results that were not Scandinavian. So I could focus on a history I am not so proud of — that of the Scandinavian Vikings pillaging and raiding northern islands and coasts of the North Atlantic, North Africa, Russia, Constantinople, and the Middle East in the late 700s.

But during that exercise last week, I thought of another seafaring Scandinavian, Fridtjof Nansen. While he started his career as an Arctic explorer, he became a diplomat who created the Nansen Passport. The League of Nations issued Nansen passports to stateless people and refugees who needed travel documents, but could not obtain one from a national authority.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Renewed Appreciation for Family

Dear Colleagues,

On Wednesday, April 8, I will see many of you at the annual Qualey-Skjervold Professional Development Conference at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. After six months of medical leave to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I returned to work on February 25.

The memories and emotions of my journey to complete remission are beginning to fade, but several positive outcomes remain fixed in my heart. My husband and two daughters plus their spouses were rock stars of support and care. It was not always easy for them, especially during the six hospital stays for chemotherapy, as well as the recovery from a broken leg caused by the cancer (another separate hospital stay of six days).

Word Matters: Get Organized!

Of all the challenges in writing, one of the biggest is organization. And it’s a particular challenge when putting together big projects like curricula and longer reports.

Organized writing reflects clear thinking, and clarity is essential to effective communication, not to mention engaging your audience. As Kate Kiefer with the English Department at Colorado State University says, "If the organization does not provide readers with the information they are looking for in an orderly manner, they will quickly lose interest."

So how can you make sure your writing is well ordered?

April is Financial Capability Month

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed April as Financial Capability Month in Minnesota. Financial Capability Month is an opportunity to showcase the importance financial education. Our team has several events and workshops throughout the month to help educate and empower the organizations, communities, families, and individuals we work with across Minnesota.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Reflecting on Our ‘Artistry of Practice’

This week’s columnist: Mary Marczak.

A recent conversation with my mother made me laugh. A devout Catholic who attends church twice a week, she told me rather derisively about “Catholic CEO’s.” She didn’t mean the ones who run major companies — she was talking about the “Christmas and Easter Only” churchgoers! Easter, which is this coming Sunday, April 5, is considered the holiest day on the Christian calendar — explaining the 30 percent or so increase in church attendance that day.

The arrival of Easter also marks the end of Lent — the 40 days leading up to Easter when Christians reflect on past actions and ways of being. This act of reflection prepares them to renew their covenant (a contract or promise) at Easter to act in ways that brings them closer to God.
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