The Strong Survive!


Wind hurls shards of ice over undulant waves of snow.

Brooding skies usher in gray days without sun.

Monochrome world rests, void of life save for the tracks of wild turkeys, foxes, and a lone wolf.

Deep, profound, stillness.




My love for this place is an ache.

At five, maybe six, I helped Dad plant a windbreak, the seedling pines that now soar thirty to forty feet. Their tips touch the clouds.

Back then, it was called Willow Island Farm, and I climbed the graceful trees that gave it that name. Hopefully, I aged better than they did…decayed stumps…a few sprawling branches.

I’ve moved more than 45 times in my life. Vagabond. Gypsy. Restless maybe. But also curious. What’s it like over there? Are the people kind? Happy? What stories do they tell? What gods do they worship? I was told that people are people – basically the same no matter where you go. That isn’t true. Brilliantly unique and endlessly fascinating, humans reflect their culture, their climate, their geography, and their belief systems.

Balinese are nothing like Australians. Aussies are vastly different from Italians. Italians are as unlike Norwegians as Chianti is to Aquavit. But how magnificent. I love them all.

So where am I going with this? Good question. Sometimes I write because my head cannot contain the abundance of my heart. For instance, right now it’s 6:46 a.m. Look at that sky! I’ve been gifted another glorious morning. A splendid new dawn. My throat constricts and tears burn behind my eyelids. It’s -18° F out there with a high of 7° expected today. This is winter in northern Minnesota and I came back.

It’s about choices and consequences. Connections to people and places. Belonging.

The long-time residents of this area are tough and willing to help one another. Community sustains itself through connection…shared abundance…shared work…shared life experience…winter!

People have welcomed me because of their memories of my parents, because of their love for my sister, and because of the helping hand my brother-in-law has extended time and time again to so many over the years. And, I suppose, because they’re curious. Who is this woman who left so long ago and now returns late in life? Why here? Why now?

For eleven years, I was defined by where I was. It was an exciting, exotic persona. Shedding that skin leaves me naked, a blank canvas. I no longer have the urge or feel the need, to be unique. No, that’s not quite right…I am, by nature, unique. But I’m ready to be a part of this culture that is in ways so familiar and yet so foreign. I want to approach the people here with as much curiosity as I carried with me to other lands. I want to know them, not only for the ways we’re different but also for our similarities. I want to engage and blend and discover my place and purpose. But most of all, I want to spend the time I have left near family.


During the past six months, my energy has been consumed by house construction. There was little time for reflection and less time for writing. Exhaustion was a permanent state of being.

On Valentine’s Day, I moved into a not-quite-finished home. There’s still work to be done. My shower tower (raised because all the plumbing is housed beneath it) needs steps. The kitchen begs for a countertop, a sink, and shelves in the corner for dishes. Oh…and dishes…I’ll need those, too!

It never ends. But now, there’s a little more time to think, to feel, and to remember how delightful it is just to be.

Soon I’ll share the after pictures of the magical home that has emerged from the love and sweat that Gwen, W, and I have poured into it. Just another week or two and the finishing touches will be photo-worthy. And so will I, stronger and more resilient, with a host of new skills I didn’t know I needed.

Don’t mess with this Granny!

But I will never, NOT EVER, tape and mud sheetrock again!

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rosemary donnelly
    Feb 24, 2023 @ 14:02:48


    div dir=”ltr”>I so enjoy your ema

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Gail Brown
    Feb 24, 2023 @ 15:27:45

    Really looking forward to seeing the finished product, Sherry!



  3. Nancy Leatzow
    Feb 24, 2023 @ 15:42:32

    I love this photo of you! You are strong, and you are letting your gray show! Reading about what you are doing makes me think of my beloved grandparents. I would go back to them, but they are long gone, so I continue my search and you remain an inspiration. I send you much love!

    Liked by 1 person


  4. sageblessings
    Feb 24, 2023 @ 15:42:46

    Such progress! SUCH muscle! Careful getting out of that shower😃

    Liked by 1 person


  5. shanemac
    Feb 24, 2023 @ 17:32:51

    I’m not too sure about that cutting board under your coffee maker 😂 but I love seeing pictures so I’m looking forward to your continued progress in photo format.
    Your muscles are envious. That gives me something to strive for in my yoga routine.

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 24, 2023 @ 20:24:26

      I put a REAL cutting board over that piece that was at one time the top of a dishwasher I’m told. And honey, you don’t get biceps like that from yoga! You need to shovel trenches, hang sheetrock, and mud, tape, and sand a house. Then show me your muscles!!!



  6. Carol Taylor
    Feb 24, 2023 @ 21:12:01

    Good job! You can be proud!!

    Liked by 1 person


  7. rickerw
    Feb 25, 2023 @ 01:46:47

    Nice reflection on things. The north country has its beauty, and edurance is part of it.

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Kathleen Anderson
    Feb 25, 2023 @ 11:29:36

    You have lived such an exciting life and seen the world.  No need for any regrets which I’m sure you don’t have.  I taught my children about the world but had no real experience.  We read about different countries, had globes in each of their rooms, etc. Each of the three were given a “dream trip” when they turned 10 which included overseas travel with either myself or my husbsnd.  They grew up to enjoy new experiences.  When it was time for college they all went away from Minnesota and loved it thoroughly.  After those years were done two of them moved overseas for their jobs; one to Tokyo and my only daughter to Sweden.  About 10-12 years for both of them.  They are married and have established their lives there.  Thankfully one son still lives in Minnesota.  There are times I wish I would not have encouraged them to explore as much as I did.  But not really.  Very proud of them but I do miss them.  But I have no regrets either.  It’s just life.   Your house looks lovely.  I wish you the very best.  Have followed you for a few years and it has been very interesting.  You will continue to be interesting well into your future, travel or not. Take care, Kathy Meyer

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 25, 2023 @ 11:48:59

      It’s lovely to hear from you. What a wonderful gift you’ve given your children! I am convinced that nothing educates more eloquently than travel, and that is magnified 1000% when you live in a culture that is not your own. And two of your children have established lives abroad. What travel opportunities that gives you! But I understand how grateful you must be for your son who stayed in Minneapolis! My youngest daughter, her husband, and my twin grandsons live in Minneapolis. I can drive to see them – no passport needed, no layovers in congested airports, no 36-hour flights! After two difficult years of Covid lockdown isolation in Bali, I needed to be closer to family. It feels wonderful!



  9. Phyllis
    Feb 27, 2023 @ 12:27:07

    Thanks for sharing your journey of becoming to this return place.

    Liked by 1 person


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