From my Heart

As a child, I was fascinated with people not from Minnesota. World travel was not commonplace where I grew up and classmates from other countries were non existent until my high school years. It was exciting to meet my great uncle Larry who spoke Spanish as his native language and to hear his stories of childhood in Spain. He inspired me to learn Spanish at the age of 9. It was memorable to go to what was one of the first Mexican restaurants in Minnesota, “La Casa Coronado” and to enjoy my first tamales.

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These events sound commonplace, but there was a time in Minnesota when areas were more isolated due to less highways and little immigration. It was considered “ideal” to blend in and even dress alike. How exciting it was when our town had an influx of refugees from Vietnam during  my high school years!  Before then, our only Asian neighbors were restaurant owners from China.

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I remember sitting in the gym when a beautiful girl named Anh entered, carrying her tennis shoes and looking frightened. My heart melted seeing her fear and I greeted her. As I tried to explain  that she should wear her shoes, she politely nodded and said “thank you.”  This was a defining moment in my life, as I realized  my world was very small and needed expansion.

Fast forward to grade 12 where we had 2 exchange students: Elena from El Salvador and Erik from Belgium.  My new friends were the best education I received in my senior year! You see, at this point in time, the  only kids I had met not born in the USA were from Vietnam or Mexico.

From Elena I learned of poverty, political unrest, the importance of family, grace, dignity and gratitude.  She bore an incredible amount of  grace in meeting our stares of curiosity with her bright, wide smile. Elena was quick to educate us on her customs and we learned from her generous example to be more thankful and humble. We were pen pals after graduation for about five years. Occasionally I wonder if political unrest caused her letters to cease.

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I could write volumes about Erik!  We became very close and he called me his little sister.  For over 10 years, Erik and I corresponded.   Erik had an interesting perspective on Americans. From the television and movies, he thought our country was crawling with what he called “hippies.” In the spring, he went to a rock concert with me and he excitedly pointed out “hippies.”   Another endearing quality of Erik’s was he would correct our grammar! On the day of graduation, we embraced and cried.

Erik visited the USA 9 years later on business. It was not the meeting I would have preferred. About a dozen classmates met at a restaurant. At the time, my former husband accompanied us and his domineering, entertaining personality took over our time together. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to see my Belgium brother again!

We all have varying belief systems. My  belief system says things happen for a reason. Through career changes and life events, I found myself working in the same school district that educated me. What a blessing to end up educating international students in the ESL (English as a Second Language) program! The students taught me more than I could ever teach!

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My blessing of working with ESL students came to an end due to budget cuts. After a stint working with a wonderful company that did not align with my life purpose, I ended up with Council for Educational Travel USA!  We place and supervise international exchange students. It truly feels like life has become full circle!

With the advent of social media we are able to communicate more around the world. However, that does not replace the experience of spending time with others firsthand.  It is priceless witnessing “firsts” with our students:  the “Welcome to the USA” signs at the airport, the wonder of snowfall, homecoming, American food, Mall of America, Halloween and more!

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I think we may all agree that we are greatly influenced by images on media and may assume things that may or may not be true. For example, not all Minnesotans act like the characters in ‘Fargo.” Another example is not all Muslim women wear Hijab. By spending time with those brought up in other lands, we receive a valuable education not found elsewhere. That education can create a ripple and that ripple may extend around the world.

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I invite you to join me on CETUSA’s mission of: Reaching out to encourage a lifelong journey of global peace and understanding. You may do this as a host family or as a local coordinator, which is a rewarding part time endeavor!

CETUSA life

 

 

 

 

A Visionary Woman

What is a visionary woman?

There are many connotations associated with visionaries, but the first definition in Merriem-Webster defines the visionary woman we are celebrating today: having or marked by foresight and imagination.  This visionary woman persevered through childhood bullying, a physical impairment and heartache to become a fine jewelry designer, inspirational jewelry retailer,  marketing expert,  shopping club entrepreneur and leader in the self development industry!

What is her story?

I will not share all I know about her story, as that is her tale to tell. What I will tell you is she has helped dozens of people I know find their purpose and passion in lives, raised two beautiful and successful daughters as a single mother, and is a young, lively, glamma!   She is an expert “shifter”, teaching people how to reframe their self defeating thoughts. This expert shifter envisioned her ideal husband on a vision board before she met him and lifted herself from near poverty to enjoying a second ocean side home in addition to her home in Minnesota.

How did she achieve her dreams?

Only she can tell this wonderful story properly!  The expert shifter and visionary woman we are celebrating is Mary Hartmann, owner of Mary Hartmann-Simply Shift and Mary Hartmann Designs.

Mary offers you a first breakthrough coaching session for free, as her giving heart wants to help all who seek her assistance.  Mary says:

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“If you’re like me, you’ve asked yourself this question more times than you can count and came up empty. No matter how many books I read or positive affirmations I recited, at the end of the day, I was mostly back to square one. It didn’t make any sense.

So I started digging really deep. I wanted answers. I wanted to truly change my life. There seemed to be some door locked tight, shutting me out of life’s good things, peace, joy and happiness.

Then one day, something clicked. Like a stubborn key finally releasing a lock, I learned about the subconscious mind and the paradigms controlling us that we don’t even realize are there. 

 Once that door opened, I never looked back. You can open that door, too.”
Mary doesn’t sell a hodgepodge of jewelry.  Her designs are either original or hand picked for meaning. The following is Mary’s original, trademarked design:
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From her website:
Wearing symbols which represent our desires, our milestones or the steps we’re taking on our journey is a tangible way to express gratitude for all that we are and all that we are growing to be.
If you are not where you want to be in life, take advantage of Mary’s free coaching session while it is  still available. Whether you desire coaching or not, it only takes a moment to click on the link to Mary Hartmann Designs to view her symbolic jewelry offerings.
For my overseas readers, Mary coaches through Skype.  I also want to disclose I am never paid for my articles and receive no compensation from anyone I highlight. It is my calling to write when the inspiration comes from the Spirit.
Namaste

 

 

Finding Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

sunshine-natureNot long ago, a small deli opened up nearby next to an auto repair shop. Each time I drove by, I looked at it with intrigue, wondering if there was food to appeal to my vegetarian lifestyle. An online search did not bring up a menu. but a job posting looking for experienced bakers in a multicultural restaurant.  Needing some cheer on a bleary, cold Minnesota “spring” afternoon., I decided to stop in.

I was warmly greeted by Liman and asked if I liked tea. I expressed my appreciation for good tea & he offered my a very generous sample of Somali tea and explained how in every Somali home, guests are offered this tea, usually taken with milk. It was deliciously spiced and sweet, Although I am not a sweet tea fan, this was so good, that I had to purchase more.  Upon inquiring of vegetarian dishes, he asked me to wait because he had something special for me to try. My wait was pleasant, as there was another customer to visit with. Liman than brought out a generous sample of Foo, a spiced vegetable and bean stew, The other customer told me it was usually served over rice. It was fabulous!18476lrg

Liman explained he needed more staff and was in the back baking muffins and cooking more food. I find it impressive that the goods are baked right there and  enjoyed a very good chocolate chip cookie. There is an impressive array of food listed on the  menu board, including:  gyros, pasta, pancakes, traditional Somali food, unique smoothies (one is avocado) and pizza. Desserts included cheesecake, cookies and pastries.

My sunshine was found at the Sunshine Bakery, Coffee & Deli, located at:  3654 Stinson Blvd. NE, Minneapolis 55418. Their phone number is:  612-886-1244 and fax is:  612-886-1563.  Currently. hours are 7am to 7pm. Liman hopes to expand the hours as the business grows. Whether it is cloudy or sunny out, we all could use a little extra sunshine!