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”

Awesome Nuggets: Thanksgiving Edition

by Angela Noel

November 23, 2017

It’s Thanksgiving!

Weird thing about gratitude: In the act of calling to mind all the good things we have in our lives, we’re actually receiving a powerful benefit. As Alex Korb Ph.D discusses in The Grateful Brain, studies have shown that calling to mind what we’re grateful for has a direct effect on depression and an indirect effect on anxiety. As we express gratitude our brains increase dopamine production, making us both feel good, and increase our activity levels–a kind of “more of that, please” response. So offering thanks for the gifts we’ve been given is also a gift to ourselves. Continue reading “Awesome Nuggets: Thanksgiving Edition”

Five Essential Qualities of Everyday Leadership

By Angela Noel

October 16, 2107

Some bosses inspire fear, others devotion. The call to leadership asks for the best in a person, but does not always get it. Bosses make our lives better or worse with the simplest of inconsequential acts. A “good job” can mean the world. A well-placed critique can change a career. But a thoughtless comment will damage any relationship, never more so than when one person has the ability to terminate the other’s livelihood. Worse, a pattern of ego-driven blindness can turn a leader into an employee’s personal Satan. Continue reading “Five Essential Qualities of Everyday Leadership”

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”

Why Dragons are Terrible Role Models for Humans

By Angela Noel

August 10, 2017

Dragons, according to some myths, hoard gold and shiny things. They gather the stuff up into a big pile and sleep on it. They can’t spend it. They’re giant flying serpents for heaven’s sake. If they wanted something they could take it, no need for a wallet or coin purse. Why would a giant, powerful creature feel the need to find, store, and jealously guard shiny things it cannot ever use?

Then again, why do people hoard things like compliments? Why do humans find it so difficult at times to offer genuine praise or admiration? Or to accept it graciously when offered?

Could dragons and humans suffer from the same affliction: Protecting things we cannot possibly make use of because of some fear that without that thing we’ve lost our power? Continue reading “Why Dragons are Terrible Role Models for Humans”

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 Failure of Words is the Beginning of Truth

By Angela Noel

July 27, 2017

I saw four-hundred-year-old ice fall into the sea. A crack like thunder preceded the calving. Then shards of ice cascaded down the face of the glacier and crashed into Disenchantment Bay, Alaska.

The largest calving glacier in North America, Hubbard is advancing into the ocean. This slow march into the water didn’t seem particularly spectacular to me until I saw it. Now, I understand. Continue reading “The Failure of Words is the Beginning of Truth”

Play, Create, Explore: What My Dad Taught Me

By Angela Noel

June 29, 2017

Some dads teach their kids how to fish, or how to play backgammon. Other dads teach baseball or carpentry or cooking. Since a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich served as my father’s specialty–it’s safe to say his skills weren’t in the kitchen. Also an excellent handyman, he tackled work around the house as one would a science project. He’d carefully form a hypothesis of what needed to happen, then experiment until he found just the right way to fix whatever needed fixing. But I didn’t learn much from him on that front either.

My dad taught me skills of a different sort, like how to play, to explore, and to create. I remember few of the many nuggets of advice he offered, his words passed over my younger-self like water. Yet my quest to understand the world in new ways, my curiosity, all stem from the lessons of my youth. Who he is, rather than anything he said, shaped me. Continue reading “Play, Create, Explore: What My Dad Taught Me”