Women and Leadership: Stop Talking. Start Doing

By Angela Noel

May 13, 2018

I want Amy Jean Kramer Brenengen in the room when tempers flare. She’s the cheerleader I want on my team when I’m afraid I may lose. She’s the leader I want in my ear when the stakes are high. But she’s also the woman I want to have a huge glass of wine with to either celebrate our victories, or strategize on how best to learn from our defeats.

Though passionate about many things including, family, working, running (kind of), and the arts, a constant and persistent interest tells much about this woman’s story and her contribution to the world.

This interest, this love, recently drove her to issue a public challenge.
Continue reading “Women and Leadership: Stop Talking. Start Doing”

I’m Breaking up with Perfection

by Angela Noel

February 8, 2018

Two words drive me crazy. The first is perfection. I don’t believe perfection exists. I happen to like plenty of things that don’t exist, fairies for example. Or Santa, he’s a pretty jolly (not real) man. But the myth of achieving perfection causes real problems at work and at home. And that makes me mad. Santa never made me mad. Fairies are equally blameless.  So, perfection is bad. Continue reading “I’m Breaking up with Perfection”

Printmaker Josh Bindewald Wants a Moment of Beauty

By Angela Noel

January 25, 2018

I hold Josh Bindewald partially responsible for one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had. As the Exhibitions and Artists Cooperative Manager at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis, Josh invited his wife, Sarah, to bring a few friends to the gallery for an evening exhibition. Sarah and I met up with a few other people for drinks before the public show and headed over to the event. Among the genuinely beautiful pieces of art, a performance artists with shaggy hair, a microphone, and a (hopefully) fake pile of feces, writhed on the floor.

Memorable to say the least. Continue reading “Printmaker Josh Bindewald Wants a Moment of Beauty”

Food, Conversation, Gardening, and Pepsi: A Love Letter for Grandma

A Love Letter by Erin Burton

September 14, 2017

She was tall (about 5’9″), thin, and always active. She loved going on walks, gardening, and picking wild berries. Her hair was always perfectly curled, her clothes always pressed with the most perfect creases, and her socks were always bright white (this still baffles me). But, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my grandma was the way she was always smiling, her cheeks always pink, and the warm hugs that flowed freely. Grandma was quite the woman. Continue reading “Food, Conversation, Gardening, and Pepsi: A Love Letter for Grandma”

Inventing Success One Good Idea at a Time

By Angela Noel

August 24, 2017

“I don’t consider myself an inventor,” says Max Markgraf. “I used to like the word maker, but that’s not right either. I want to consider myself a creator.” For Max, it’s transformation not modification that represents creation. He’s looking for the space between what existed before and what isn’t yet reality, but should be. He found that space for the first time in high school. And he called it Stallion Wear. Continue reading “Inventing Success One Good Idea at a Time”

Story Skeleton: She Who Laughs at Grammy

By Angela Noel

August 3, 2017

“She who laughs at Grammy cries at the reading of the will,” says my grandmother, draped in curlers and a silken turquoise robe.

Lugged from some hidden corner, she plunks a mutant plastic Easter egg on the kitchen counter. She opens the domed contraption, extending its long neck. Settling herself in her barstool, she flips a switch on the device. Whirring, then a huff like a deep sustained sigh, begins. Beneath the dome, her head, to the lips, disappears. Continue reading “Story Skeleton: She Who Laughs at Grammy”

The Most Creative Man I Know: My Dad

By Angela Noel

June 15, 2017

My father isn’t a “guy’s guy.” He’s not a hunter, sports-fanatic, beer-drinker, or back-slapper. But, he can grill things and fix other things. He can build decks, waterfalls, and walls. When my dad wanted to go price a boat or a washing machine, he let me tag along. He called me his “lucky charm” because we always seemed to find a good deal whenever we went shopping together. He told me he was 99.4% perfect. I believed him. Continue reading “The Most Creative Man I Know: My Dad”

Strength and Dignity: The Power of Choice

By Angela Noel

May 25, 2017

Charlie, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, unwraps only the tiniest morsel of chocolate each birthday, hoping to make the treat last as long as possible. He nibbles off just a corner—just a taste—each day. Joi Campbell isn’t a fictional English boy living in a shack with four bedridden grandparents. But she’s as careful with her story as Charlie is with his chocolate. And her story has hidden depths, flavors, textures, meaning, and significance just as important to the world as Charlie’s birthday treat was to him.

Joi revealed her life to me in small pieces, inching closer to a deeper truth about who she is and what made her into an extraordinary, resilient, and delightful human being. Some of what she said made me uncomfortable. Because truth can, and sometimes should, hurt. I wanted to feature Joi because her smile lights a room. She always has a kind word, and she’s exceptionally good at truth-telling with both empathy and grit. But now I know better: Joi’s all those things, yet so much more. Continue reading “Strength and Dignity: The Power of Choice”

Amish Friendship Bread: More Than Just Delicious

By Angela Noel

April 27, 2017

My mother-in-law, Karry, makes a bread that tastes like the intersection of pound cake, cinnamon sugar donuts, and the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. It’s so good, my son wanted me to save some so he could invite his friends over for a slice, and my husband and I had an uncomfortable stand-off over who should eat the last piece. (He won—but only because I didn’t tell him I wanted it. I just stared at him while he popped the crumbly, chocolate chip-studded morsel into his mouth.)

This evanescent bread, a variant of Amish Friendship Bread, has a mission beyond being delicious.

Surprising no one, I hungered (pun intended) for more. Continue reading “Amish Friendship Bread: More Than Just Delicious”

How One Connects to Many: An Only Child’s Story

By Angela Noel

April 6, 2017

“How’s your son? How’s Jackson?” Danny asks me, almost every time we meet. Danny and Jackson have something in common. They’re both “only” children. Often I’ve wished for a better way to describe my son’s lack of siblings. Being an only child has cultural baggage for both child and parent. Even the way we describe only children, as if they are by turns selfish and lonely, feels messed up to me. Particularly because my experience with the sibling-challenged has universally been positive. Several friends of mine grew up without a sibling. Each of them are among the most independent, generous, outgoing, thoughtful people I know. Danny is no exception. Continue reading “How One Connects to Many: An Only Child’s Story”