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transforming vision to reality

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Sometimes writing about a vision helps it along on its path to material existence.  Today I am putting my vision for a retail space in New Rockford, North Dakota in words. Part of my effort is to help give me a jump start on the process of writing a business plan to take to the bank. But also, my effort is an attempt to elicit feedback. So, I need your help. Share this blog with and folks you might know in North Dakota and encourage them to share their thoughts with me. The good or the bad. It is time to get this fantasy a little closer to reality.

I live in a small town of about 1,500 people in North Dakota. We are about two hours from any “major” cities. I have lived here for just over two years and have appreciated the openness in which we’ve been greeted and welcomed to the community. The summers are radiant here. Warm, but rarely HOT. My plants flourish in the garden from May to September. We use the tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and green beans to make a variety of pickles and preserves. I have been introduced as the “lady with the big garden.” We also have several chickens. They just started laying eggs. So, we are also known as “the people with chickens.” Those titles are just fine with me. But, I am also a woman with a vision.

I am glad to say that home has become where the heart is. In the past several months I have taken some time to heal this heart. After tragic loss, physical pain, and emotional turmoil, my heart definitely needed the rest. Finally, I am beginning to feel nourished and whole. I feel that I am able to share myself with others in a unique and genuine way.

I envision an eclectic shop, a inviting space that encourages creativity, solace, and inspiration. This place is clean and spirited, refreshing and true. A variety of nonfiction books, specializing in natural sciences, arts, and hobbies line the walls.

UntitledThese are resources to enrich the daily experiences of individuals. Individuals who would like to know how to identify birds, animal tracks, insects, or plants. Curious folks who would like to explore or improve their skills in writing, journaling, drawing, painting, knitting, scrapbooking, sculpture, and the like. I imagine people selecting books to reconnect with pieces of themselves they had put on hold years ago. Who doesn’t have a long lost hobby that is just waiting to be revived? Fly-tying anyone?

Books are just one aspect of the shop— the ones that line the walls. To continue the theme of creative inspiration, the storefront would feature art and craft supplies. Many of the artists and crafters I know in the area specialize in beading, jewelry making, knitting, crocheted, quilting, or scrapbooking. To me, drawing and painting are inextricable parts of my well being. I expect many artists feel the same about their talent. Unfortunately, I find it difficult to keep inspiration going when there aren’t many places for me to stop in and get supplies, books, advice, inspiration, or finished products. I either order my supplies online, make d0 with what I have, or wait until I make the drive to Bismarck, Fargo, or Grand Forks. I imagine others must face the same predicament.welcome

The shop I envision would solve this creative dilemma. I envision an open space with a long centerpiece displaying beads, cordage, clasps, and jewelry making accessories.  I find inspiration for this design from Von’s Shop in West Lafayette, Indiana.

This space in Von's Shop in West Lafayette, Indiana was the site of a creative epiphany. Photo by Pamela Sari.

This space in Von’s Shop in West Lafayette, Indiana was the site of a creative epiphany. Photo by Pamela Sari.

Earlier this year, a best friend and I spent hours finding peace by amid tiny pieces of beauty.  Building a piece of display furniture similar to this seems like an honorable way to utilize the load of walnut lumber I inherited from my grandfather. The beads and jewelry supplies would be of high quality and reflect the nature theme in the shop. But would offer enough variety for a diversity of tastes in creativity.



The high quality of supplies would be a characteristic found in yard, fabric, paper, and other supplies, making an effort whenever possible to purchase materials from local or handcrafted sources.

Handspun yarn from Lollyarn.

Handspun yarn from Lollyarn.

Areas of the shop would be dedicated to fiber arts. Others to scrapbooking. Blank journals and sketchbooks, along with pencils, charcoal, conte, and watercolor would be featured in another section for fine arts. General supplies such as scissors, fixatives, glues, and adhesives would be available as well.



The third segment of inventory for the shop would include finished hand-made items that would be of interest to the shop’s clientele. Last week I wrote about my impressions of the Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase and how amazed I was at the talent that goes into wonderfully handcrafted items.

I find it an amazing opportunity to feature the work of artisans throughout the state. There are talented hands at work, crafting beautiful gift items as we speak. I have been able to find many of them through Etsy, an online selling site for artistans.

The folks at Bear Creek Design, of Fort Ransom, create unique, detailed needle felted art.  To me, nothing quite says North Dakota art like needle felted waterfowl. Seeing that Ruddy Ducks are one my favorite aquatic quackers, with their blue bill and all, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this sculpture.

Upcycled wallhangings have an impressive floral quality about them.

Upcycled wallhangings have an impressive floral quality about them.

Another North Dakotan artist, Bobbie creates beautiful upcycled wall-art from vintage books. I find them absolutely stunning and think they would have a perfect place in the bookstore and craft shop I envision.


Making this metal daisy necklace takes a certain skill and specialized tools. The artist at Stellar Fusion does great work.

Unique finished jewelry items would be a must for the shop’s inventory. Even the most talented jewelry makers like to wear something made by someone else.

This hand stitched felt squirrel melts by Hill Critters just melts my heart with cuteness.

This hand stitched felt squirrel melts by Hill Critters just melts my heart with cuteness.

The Fargo artist at Hill Critters has a wonderful way of imbuing a sense of play into her unique woodland creatures. This slightly albino squirrel may have stolen my heart.

Nature inspired gift items, vintage or handmade would certainly have a place in my vision.

Nature inspired gift items, vintage or handmade would certainly have a place in my vision

The owner of Its Still Life in Bismarck, restores and enhances vintage housewares, toys, tools, glassware, and paper from the Northern Plains. She says, “anything that can be saved, cleaned, upcycled and treasured.” Many of her items would be of interest to folks who love sketching still life. But some items, such as this coaster set and tray would make lovely gift items.

There is so much talk these days about shopping locally, but sadly sometimes that means buying imported goods at local shops. Why not buy locally produced goods at locally owned storefronts? The artists are there and the market is there, they just need to be put together in a dynamic setting. That’s what I hope Pages of Paradigm to be. A place for being, inspired.

So there it is… my vision, my dream. To open and run a retail space that features books, craft supplies, and handcrafted gift items. I want to hear what others have to say. Do you think it’s a good idea? Would you shop there? Would you have items you would want to consign for sale there? Or is it just a place that me and my imaginary friends would hang out at all day?

to hell with to-do

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I find it funny when people suggest I am good at being organized. Perhaps I am “the organized one” in my family of origin. But this illusion seems to be encouraged by my affinity for making and following lists. These lists, often known as to-do lists, have proved helpful in hectic or grievous circumstances as they help provide focus and make it possible to discern what is important, urgent, an interruption, or a welcome diversion.

However, when it comes to setting goals, to-do lists feel like time-bombs ticking in my brain. Several of my former students witnessed the after-effects of these explosions as a sat on my office floor, surrounded by piles of papers, trying to find some orientation in the surrounding crowd of priorities. Since I no longer have an office floor for my thoughts to explode out on, I have come to find that to-do lists simply instigate my compulsive tendencies. My jaws tighten and tunnel-vision sets in. I begin to ignore my body’s need to eat, drink, rest, or contemplate. The compulsive actions seem to happen without awareness—only going forward with a bold confidence that thrives on escalating stresses created through excitement and achievement. It is not joy or happiness. It is not complete or compassionate. Any pleasure of success does not belong to me, but to the compulsion.  Sadly, such behaviors can be easily mistaken for motivation, determination, or excitement—which is why its existence is so strong. It has been nurtured greatly and for too long.


I am happy to say that it has been two weeks since I have made a to-do list! This is especially important as plans to buy commercial property and open a bookstore are growing each day. I do make notes of appointments and events in my calendar, but I am no longer filling up every blank space with what I “need” to do before those times come. No more scratched out lists on the backs of envelopes. Instead, I have been keeping track of my accomplishments with an all-done board. I post the contact info of people I have met, I post quotes from important conversations, I acknowledge my achievements, like setting up the blog or going out in town when I’d rather just stay in my house. It is still in the works, mostly residing in my head and on the inside of a file folder. But, I really love the concept because it places events in the context of how the experience felt. Plus, it is much more celebratory and satisfying than checking off items and throwing them away.