Arlene J. Anderson is a Twin Ports native turned writer, teacher, traveler and speaker on resilience and leadership. She is currently working on her memoir to be released next summer. She believes there is always more music to play and dancing to do.
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- 3 years 8 months
It seemed like an ordinary day. And then ... My friend, Adnan, and I were leaving a crowded local cafeteria where we'd just finished lunch. As we stood up, he seized the used napkin from my hand. Passing by a garbage can, he raised his arm and jumped up to make a perfect dunk shot. "Score!" yelled a nearby teenager who was watching with a grin. Adnan and the teenager exchanged an enthusiastic "thumbs up" and soon everybody around us was smiling. The moment suddenly became extraordinary.
Are you bothered by unfinished tasks? Do you want to get rid of your pesky “to-do” list and really get things done? If so, try being a writer. Here’s how it works. When I have an article to write, I sit down with really good intentions. Then I feel a little hungry. Well, there’s no sense in trying to write if my stomach is empty. I’ll just get up for a quick snack before I get going. There are a few dishes in the sink so I quickly wash them while I’m at it.
I used to be really nice but that’s kind of ... over. The following story shows you why. Perhaps you can recall your own unique version of this tale? As newlyweds many years ago, my spouse and I went shopping for a dining room table. Upon entering a store, we found ourselves listening to an enthusiastic salesperson drone on about the virtues of a particular floor model. I had some reservations about the style and color but thought my spouse liked it and so agreed to the purchase.
I used to be really nice but that's kind of ... over. The following story shows you why. Perhaps you can recall your own unique version of this tale? As newlyweds many years ago, my spouse and I went shopping for a dining room table. Upon entering a store, we found ourselves listening to an enthusiastic salesperson drone on about the virtues of a particular floor model. I had some reservations about the style and color but thought my spouse liked it and so agreed to the purchase.
An icy wind whips through my gloves, causing me to swallow hard and grip my cross-country ski poles even tighter. A few minutes earlier my companions easily navigated the steep trail and are now at the bottom, looking up at me expectantly.
After a walk in a local park, my visiting South Korean friend, Jusop, and I chat happily while walking back toward my car. As we approach I begin my amateur juggler act, struggling to balance an armload of picnic supplies and jackets while reaching for my keys. In the next few moments Jusop offers me an insight I will never forget. “Come on, let’s go!” Jusop says to me from the other side of the car, watching my awkwardness with amusement. As a successful businessman, he likes efficiency and action.
What are you in the middle of? Five years ago, I was in the middle of mortgage payments, parental caregiving and a demanding yet meaningful management job. One day — perhaps due to the invigorating subzero temperatures of a January in Duluth — I start to talk to myself: "You know, Dear Self, this life has been great. Now may be the time to make changes." "What kind of changes?" I ask, suspiciously.
Who says Scandinavians don't express themselves well? My friend's grandfather would stand up after sitting for a long time and say, in Norwegian, "I have the taste of wood in my behind." (The word was not exactly "behind" but this is a family newspaper.)
A sign on a street in Norway promotes "Oslo: Extra Large, a City for All" and it got me thinking. The poster was about the need to reach out to those who are new to the city and culturally different. Since I've lived in Asia, Europe and South America, I know what it's like to be the alien newcomer, stumbling about, trying to fit in yet often not really belonging. But it doesn't require a move to another country to feel this way. I've certainly also had moments like that in Duluth.
"We'll come visit you in Duluth! Can we bungee jump there?" My new friends from Jordan, Ahmad Al-Mashaikj, 21, and Mahmoud Msalem, 24, were ready for an adventure. "Sorry, no bungee jumping," I answered. My mind raced to think of an activity that would suit both an old lady (me) and a couple of energetic civil engineering students from Amman working in Minneapolis for the summer. "How about kayaking?" I offered. They had never tried this before and the answer was a big "YES." "Oh boy," I thought. What did I get myself into this time?"