A Day in Decorah with or without Kids

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Written by Gina Dewink

Just 70 miles southeast of Rochester sits an alluring town with heritage so rich that it’s gained national notoriety. Thanks to its Norwegian-American charm, “Forbes” magazine named Decorah, Iowa one of “America’s Prettiest Towns.” Whether you’re interested in its natural beauty or its thriving art scene, pack up the family (or leave them at home) and spend a day in Decorah.


“When I’m asked to describe Decorah, I tell visitors it’s vibrant, historic, quaint and filled with energy,” says Charlene Selbee, executive director of Winneshiek County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Selbee’s admiration for the town of around 8,000 residents is clear when asked to name her favorite thing about Decorah. “The art community,” she replies immediately.

Decorah’s main street, Water Street, is lined with local shops. Agora Arts features fine crafts and art created by over 250 American artists. Ace Kitchen Place is a proud supplier of Scandinavian heritage cookware made in Iowa. As their website explains, “If you need help with kransekake, krumkake or lefse, head to Ace Kitchen Place.”



Hugs are Important for your Health and Someone Else

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Written by LuAnn Buechler

"We need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, 12 hugs a day for change, 16 hugs a day for transformation." – Jack Canfield, Author, "Chicken Soup for the Soul"

There is scientific evidence that a hug a day can save your life. “Scientists are increasingly interested in the possibility that positive emotions can be good for your health. Support from a partner, even in a hug from a loved one, can have beneficial effects on heart health,” Dr. Manny Alvarez wrote for Fox News. Hugs may (or may not) be your norm with friends and family, but everyone could use a hug from time to time. 


Everyone I meet knows that I am a hugger, more so now than ever. For the last three years, I have been wearing a pin that says iHug™. It is an experiment to see how people react. Some look at it like it is promoting some type of technology. You can see the wheels turning in their mind…iPad, iPod, iHug? As they say it to themselves, it hits them, and they will throw out their arms with a big “I hug too” for a warm embrace. In other cases, it is a warning to people that I am coming in for a hug. If you wish to avoid it, you’ll need to stop me. 



I Am Grateful For My Friends

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Written by Jorrie Johnson

I appreciate my work-from-home business and lifestyle, but as telecommuters and home-based business owners understand, isolation can become depressing. When my boys went back to school this fall I decided to combat the loneliness. I invited friends and readers to join me for coffee at Dunn Bros. Coffee on Mondays from 9-11 a.m. Thank you to all of the women who came to talk with me about RochesterWomen magazine and your business and life.

I also co-hosted Women Wisdom Workshops with Adrienne Sweeney of the Commonweal Theatre at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Assisi Heights and Madonna Towers. Combined, we talked with more than 100 women about relationships, choices/decisions, aging and memories. The conversations we had with women were real, sincere and meaningful. 



Spreading Light and Joy: B'nai Israel Synagogue Hanukkah Celebration

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Written by Gina Dewink Photography by Alex Lupu

Traditional songs, community gathered together, candlelight—these are some of the major elements of the annual Hanukkah celebration at B'nai Israel Synagogue (BIS), Dan Abraham Jewish Cultural Center In Rochester.

Rabbi Michelle Werner defines Hanukkah as a “minor holiday in the cycle of the Jewish year.” So, why all the fanfare and festivities? Congregation member Ana Folpe explains, “Hanukkah falls into the time of other solstice and 'light holidays' and has become popular as a result.” This year the annual Festival of Lights celebration runs from December 24 to January 1, the eight days and nights of Hanukkah.


Hanukkah, which means “rededication” in Hebrew, is a celebration of the Maccabees regaining control of Jerusalem and rededicating the Second Temple. Despite having only enough altar oil for one day, the Temple's flame continued to burn for eight days. 



Girls' Night Out: Sharing the Essentials Friendship and Health with Essential Oils

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Written by Kim Zabel Photography by Kim Zabel

Sitting in a semi-circle with two diffusers sending sweet scents of lavender and peppermint into the air, each person passes around small, dark bottles of essential oils. Several women in the class rub a drop between their hands and then cup their hands to their faces to experience each oil.


Jaime Smoody and Angel Hutchins work together to lead the class on dōTERRA essential oils at Empowered Wellness, a fitness studio in Rochester.  Jaime and Angel have a friendship rooted in education and essential oils. Both are employed at Willow Creek Middle School: Jaime teaches 6th- and 7th-grade pre-algebra, and Angel works as a 6th-grade guidance counselor. Both Angel and Jaime are business partners with essential oils. “I’ve been using the oils for three years and building my business for two and a half years,” Jaime says. 



Staying Faithful in Love & Music: Country Music Singer Debbie Anthony

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Written by Kim Zabel Photography by Fagan Studios

Over 27 years ago, Debbie Anthony met the man who would become her greatest fan and her greatest supporter—her husband, Mitch. Introduced to one another by her brother, Debbie and Mitch started their relationship by talking on the phone, and three days later, they met at a local restaurant.

“We stayed there all night and talked. In fact, we were so focused on each other that we didn’t even touch our food!” she says. Debbie and Mitch eloped 13 days later and have been together ever since. Today, Debbie’s life is still centered on what touches her heart the most—her love for music and her husband, Mitch.


Debbie has always loved to sing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music from North Central University, in addition to a degree in psychology from Winona State University and two-thirds of a master’s degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. 



Sparkles from Ruthie: One Woman's Journey Through Depression

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Written by Terri Allred Photography by Fagan Studios

The concept is so simple, even a child can do it. Every time you see a sparkly object, take a moment to do a self-assessment. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling today?” Ruth Braun Tibesar hopes that this daily prompt and reflection will become a regular practice for all of us.


Ruth is a survivor of depression and is a mental health wellness speaker who shares her story in the hope that she can make a difference for someone else. Ruth’s journey began about seven years ago when she was making weekly trips to Mankato to take care of her ill mother. Despite having a loving husband and supportive coworkers and family, she shouldered much of the burden of managing her mother’s care. She was working full time as a laboratory technologist at Mayo Clinic during the week and acting as her mother’s full-time caregiver on the weekends.


Since its formation 126 years ago, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has admitted nearly one million members through its state, local and international chapters. DAR describes itself as “a womEn’s organization dedicated to promoting historical preservation, education and patriotism and honoring the patriots of the Revolutionary War.” The Rochester Chapter of DAR has strived to emulate this mission since its creation in 1903.


The Rochester Chapter sponsors American history and good citizen essay contests in local schools, organizes Rochester’s Memorial Day program, publishes an award-winning Veteran Day publication filled with veterans’ personal stories, participates in Olmsted County’s naturalization ceremony, collects books for local literacy programs, hosts public educational programs and maintains the History Center of Olmsted County’s historic William Dee Log Cabin. The group also sponsors the Pipestone Society of the Children of the American Revolution (CAR). Members of CAR, all under age 22, learn about American history and participate in community events, including dressing in patriotic costumes (made by DAR members) for local parades. 


Picture this: A young college graduate, the ink still drying on her diploma, assigned to work on a project alongside a 62-year-old seasoned employee. Sure, they may both be working for the same company, but you can bet their views of the world and the workplace couldn’t be more different. 

For the first time in history, we’re facing a time when employers could have employees from an unprecedented five different, very diverse generations working side-by-side in the office.

And while the generational boundaries for these groups—the Traditionalists (or the Silent Generation), the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Millennials (or Generation Y) and Generation Z—are not exactly clearly defined, understanding the differences among them remains critical for employers and employees alike.


Let’s just say times are a-changin’ for the Rochester Rotary clubs. It was only in 1987 when women were admitted into Rotary, based on a Supreme Court ruling, and since then, they’ve all but taken over local leadership and membership.

Each of Rochester’s three Rotary clubs has or will soon have a female president. In addition, membership in Rotary’s largest local club is 38 percent women, says Stacey Vanden Heuvel, the current and seventh female president of Rochester’s largest Rotary club, named The Rotary Club of Rochester, which meets Thursdays at noon. The Rotary Club of Rochester will have had three female presidents in a row, starting with Vanden Heuvel. The other two Rotary clubs operating locally are Greater Rochester Rotary, which meets Wednesdays at noon, and the Rotary Risers Club, which meets Tuesdays at 7 a.m. Combined, they have 275 members.

“The real impact of Rotary comes from our local clubs,” Vanden Heuvel says, “and collectively we make a difference. In teaming up with other clubs, we are able to leverage support for big projects from Rotary International globally. We do a lot locally, and we do a great deal globally.”


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