Doing the Little Things Right

By Angela Noel

August 31, 2016

At six foot four, broad-shouldered and bearded, Joseph Vasterling looks every bit like the guy who earned a scholarship to play football at a now Division 1 school. At a practice before his freshman year even began, his hip flexor, the ghost of an old injury, screamed. His football career on the line, his coach asked, “Are you hurt or are you injured?” The implication was clear; if you’re hurt, rub some dirt on it and get back out there, but if you’re injured . . . goodbye scholarship. He walked back out onto the practice field under the blazing South Dakota sun only to watch the running back collapse. Joe decided then that football, a game he excelled at with minimal effort, wasn’t for him. He called his parents and boarded a bus for home. On that day and many since, he proved he has more in common with a reclusive 19th century poet than he does with a stereotypical jock. Continue reading “Doing the Little Things Right”

Saying Goodbye (For Now)

A Love Letter by Tessa Moore

August 25, 2016

Dear Kyra,

We told you for months that I was leaving for college, but it wasn’t until you were looking through my bottles of shampoo, laundry detergent, silverware, and soap that you finally understood. You turned around and crawled on my bed next to me. “I don’t want you to go to college.” Your six-year-old voice cracks with tears. Then, I had to hug you and let you cry. You didn’t know this but I was crying along with you. Technically, I was tearing up. But I wouldn’t be crying if I hadn’t tried so hard not to. Continue reading “Saying Goodbye (For Now)”

How to Let the Magic Happen

By Angela Noel

August 18, 2016

Getting from here to there could be a harrowing journey; drivers honked, tires squealed, and traffic lights were mere suggestions. Angela did’t like traveling in her city. But that wasn’t the only problem. In the 1990s, members of a drug cartel moved into her quiet, middle class neighborhood in Santiago de Cali, Colombia. Someone was assassinated across the lane from her house.

Angela, a teen then, wondered, Do people obey the law in the U.S.?  Continue reading “How to Let the Magic Happen”

What Doesn’t Kill You

By Angela Noel

August 4th, 2016

Weeks after the birth of her first child in 1946, Dolores Meurer Reed climbed into the cockpit of the Navy surplus airplane she and husband Bob bought with the last of their newlywed nest-egg. Not long after her wheels left earth, the instruments failed–every single one of them. “I landed it on fear alone.” She promised herself she wouldn’t fly again. At least, not until her babies had all grown up. Flying, her capricious and complicated first-love, kept trying to kill her. Continue reading “What Doesn’t Kill You”

I Want Your Love Letters

by Angela Noel

July 28th, 2016

“Bye. I love you.” My stomach dropped. My brain didn’t consciously plan to say it, but there it was. Out there. These three little words, reserved for more than thirty years for only close family and romantic partners, had slipped through my lips. My friend Jenn laughed, “Ang, I love you too.”

Acrobat Adventure
This is Jenn. Who wouldn’t love this woman?

Why did it take me decades to tell a dear friend I loved her? Short answer: I was afraid. I feared the vulnerability of such a declaration. I reserved my “I love you’s” as if the words, and the emotions behind them, were rare gems, meant to be precious and few. But love, in its many forms, needn’t be scarce. Science and philosophy agree: love is a renewable resource with exponential return on investment.  Continue reading “I Want Your Love Letters”

Living on the Edge of Fun and Scary

by Angela Noel

July 21st, 2016

We bumped along a rutted dirt road in a rented SUV, parking a quarter mile from the trailhead that would lead us to the summit of Mount Democrat.  We hoisted backpacks stuffed with water, food, dry socks, and extra clothes onto our backs. The thin, 38 degree air nipped at our hands and faces left exposed by our light down coats. We looked ready to conquer a mountain or two.

While I’ve run a few 10K’s, Paul, my significant other, and our friends, Dan and Jayme are veterans of marathons, triathlons, and obstacle courses, (and in Jayme’s case, an Ironman). But, winded by the walk from the car to the trailhead, even they worried that our less than 24 hours at altitude had not been enough time for our sea-level dwelling bodies to adjust. I began to sweat.  Continue reading “Living on the Edge of Fun and Scary”

How the Threat of Losing Her Job Set One Woman Free

by Angela Noel

July 13th, 2016

“You know that scene in Runaway Bride? The one where she doesn’t know how she likes her eggs?” Melissa asks me.

“Sure,” I reply.

“I always think of that scene. That was me until last year.” Mel leans in, her black hair framing her face, “I chose never to really make a choice. The path that had been laid out for me, had become ME.”

Get good grades. Do well in sports. Get promoted at work. These were the stars Mel had been invited by well-meaning family and friends to steer her life by. Content to follow this advice for the most part, Mel smiled and maximized whatever life served up. That is, until the layoffs began. Continue reading “How the Threat of Losing Her Job Set One Woman Free”

5 Ways to Change Your Mindset

by Angela Noel

July 7th, 2016

“Our love of being right is best understood as our fear of being wrong”Kathryn Schulz

My seventh grade home economics class taught me an important lesson, but it wasn’t how to sew.

Assigned the task of creating a garment, I picked a pattern for what I thought would be a cute pair of shorts. I bought the fabric, pinned on the tissue paper shapes, and cut. Using a sewing machine, I punched a line of thread through the hem. The line, supposed to be neat and straight, looked as if I had traced rolling hills instead. Fearing a bad grade, I told the teacher I intended the design. I even wore the terrible, turquoise, wavy-hemmed shorts the next day to class. My teacher, Mrs Hart, gave me an “A”. I gained no skill in sewing. But I learned how to sell and reap the benefits of a convincing lie. Continue reading “5 Ways to Change Your Mindset”

Leadership Should Feel Like This

By Angela Noel

June 30th, 2016

A little more than four years ago, a leader of his church pulled Doug Timothy aside for a pleasant but purposeful conversation. Doug wondered if he would be asked to serve the church community in some way, perhaps as a teacher or a youth advisor. But the leader had a different, far scarier, role for young Doug in mind. Continue reading “Leadership Should Feel Like This”

Change is Hard: a “Say Yes” Mentor Can Help

by Angela Noel

June 16th, 2016

Julia Zhang. She's on a boat.
Julia Zhang. She’s on a boat.

Julia Zhang sparkles. Not because she has an addiction to the Bedazzler, but because, in her words, “I think everything is kind of awesome.”

Dragon Boat racing? Yes, she’d like to do that. Hot Chocolate 5K? Yes. Deliver Meals on Wheels? Yes, but she might be late for happy hour/book club at Sushi Tango. Julia lights the spark, inviting others, like me, to follow.

In 2012, when a new job, divorce, putting my dog to sleep, and selling my house had turned my life upside down, I had a choice: become an ostrich, head in the sand, or embrace the disruption as opportunity.

Forrest Gump-ish

Fear of stagnation and regret overcame fear of newness and change; my “Say Yes” phase had begun. But I needed help. A near lifelong practitioner of saying yes, Julia wordlessly offered me mentorship in the art of openness.

Later, I would learn that this occasional Forest Gump impersonator had powerful “Say Yes” mentors of her own. Continue reading “Change is Hard: a “Say Yes” Mentor Can Help”