Creative Inspiration: A Secret Plan for Poets, Ronnie Ferguson

creative inspiration, secret plan for poets, brainstorming support, U.P. holistic wellness publication, U.P. holistic business

“Everything is a boss… You must always have a secret plan!”

– from “Bad Deal/Secret Plan” by theillalogicalspoon (https://theillalogicalspoon.bandcamp.com/track/bad-deal-secret-plan)

In many ways, poetry workshops during the pandemic have been like physical workouts with a group of friends. We all agree to meet in the Zoom “Fitness Center,” the one on the corner of Comfy Chair and Computer, around 7 pm. Over the course of two hours, we try out three different “machines” (writing prompts) that, if all goes well, get our hearts going and stretch us in new ways so our poetry muscles grow. After each exercise, we take turns flexing in our rectangles. We make each other laugh, and sometimes laugh at ourselves. We take risks. We virtual-hug. Most importantly—we feast, passing around encouragement like delicious sides to the main course, which is always We Hear You. Workshops can be a worthwhile discipline for poets, and often lead to joy and revelation.

But sometimes things don’t go as planned. We stare at the blank page and, even with a carefully crafted prompt, nothing comes. The ten-minute time limit ticks away. Maybe we pray. Maybe we panic. If we’re lucky, inspiration makes an appearance before the end, and we scribble until the last second (or after). No time for options. No time for second-guessing. Barely legible. Is it intelligible? Who knows? But at least we have something to share. This is a great strength of the timed prompt—it forces us to write something, anything.

Adding a wrinkle to the format can make the experience even better.

For many poets, getting started is half the battle. For some, it is the battle. It’s not uncommon for poets to collect kernels of inspiration throughout their life. These might be lines of poetry without a home, images, stories, snippets of dreams, random articles, overheard conversations, and more. Lists can get long; inspiration folders can get thick; and there’s always the danger of our kernels remaining, simply, “great ideas I once had but never used.” That is, unless these kernels find a home.

For this reason, in the poetry workshops I’ve been leading, I give participants a three-minute brainstorming prompt—a way of collecting kernels in real time—before they’re challenged with a poetry prompt. When I attend workshops led by other poets, I often bring a single page filled with unused kernels of inspiration. Sometimes the prompts are enough, but when nothing comes, sometimes my unused kernels pair with the prompt in surprising ways and get me started. This is a secret plan for poets: Come prepared to poetry workshops with your own ideas so that, whether or not a prompt inspires you, you’re never forced to stare at a blank page. Allowing yourself this flexibility, this pairing of creativity with creativity, can help you be a better steward of the potential-packed kernels you’ve collected throughout your life.

“An inspiration passes, having been inspired never passes.”
-Abraham Joshua Heschel

Three-Part Poetry Exercise – The People We Pass:

  1. Gather some of your kernels of inspiration and jot them on a single page.
  2. Set a timer for three minutes and, on the same page, brainstorm as many people who you see regularly, near or afar, but never speak with. In most cases you will not know their name, so find some way to identify them, such as “Guy Who Mows My Neighbor’s Lawn” or “Woman I Always See at the Laundromat.” Before moving on, note any interesting connections between your kernels and the people you’ve listed in your brainstorm.
  3. Set a timer for ten minutes and, on a different page, write a poem that considers or imagines the experience of one of the people. You may choose to observe and reflect from afar, allow the poem’s speaker to interact with the person, or allow your poem to take on the voice of the person. Here’s a poem I wrote using this same exercise:

Joy to the World

six mornings a week for minimum wage
the woman with three fingers
serves the greasy eggs and bacon
biscuits
coffee and cream

to all the tough faces
the old hairy moles
the saggy scalps
the hard of hearing
and harder to please

with this hive of damn-near-dead complainers
it’s a mystery she’s usually smiling
but if i had to guess
God has blessed her
cuz she still paints her nails pink

*If you write a poem, please send it to me at rofergus@nmu.edu. I’d love to connect and read your work and tell you about upcoming poetry workshops. I hope to write and share with you soon!

Link to “Bad Deal/Secret Plan” by theillalogicalspoon:
https://theillalogicalspoon.bandcamp.com/track/bad-deal-secret-plan

Ronnie Ferguson is an MFA candidate and an instructor in the English department at Northern Michigan University. A King Chavez Parks Fellow and President of the Graduate Writing Association, his creative work (often hybrid) spans the genres of poetry, music, film, theatre, fiction, and the visual arts.

Excerpted from the Fall 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Holistic Animal Care: Help for Rescue Animals & Their People! Jenny Magli

help with rescue animal, holistic animal care, holistic wellness publication

I have experienced some wonderful rescue animals in my home over the years, and have great memories of all of them. It seems to be my “thing,” and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are deserving of all the love and care they can get, especially since most of them have come from an abuse and/or neglect situation. Thank goodness there are now more no-kill shelters than ever before. There are also animals that are victims of circumstances when an owner has died. These often aging animals end up with other family or friends if they’re lucky, or a shelter situation if they’re not.

So here are some points to consider.

Please make sure you and your family are absolutely ready to commit to a lifetime of love and care for the animal you adopt. This includes medical care. If you are not 100% sure you are ready to adopt, you might consider fostering first. This way you get an idea of what it will take to care for the animal, and also get some guidance from a shelter along with veterinary care while the pet is with you. You might end up as a “foster fail” because you’ve fallen in love with the pet and wish to have it in your home for the rest of its life. This happens a lot, and is not a bad thing!

Prepare your home for this new addition. Pet proofing your home is important. Keep hazardous items out of reach. Remove loose cords or cables. Safely store medicines, cleaners and chemicals out of reach. Remove poisonous plants and anything that could potentially be chewed and/or swallowed.

Patience is key!

You are coming together typically not knowing much, if anything, about the animal’s past. If you are able to learn something, that’s a bonus! Time will be needed to get to know each other. Remember, typically the animal has come from a shelter or rescue situation, so it will likely be nervous, confused, anxious, scared, sad, bewildered, etc. Imagine how you would feel if you were in this animal’s position!

The first week is often the most challenging but also a wonderful discovery period. Your new pet needs some structure and guidance on what you expect from it, including where it will sleep, nap, eat, play, and so on. As you get through each day, you will learn more about each other. Don’t expect everything to go smoothly. It takes time to become familiar with each other and get into a routine. The animal needs time to adjust and warm up to you and your family, so give it space but also give love and attention. Pet, groom, and play with your pet. Providing a pet bed in a quiet area or crate creates a safe space where it can relax.

If you have other pets in the household, give them time to gradually get to know each other. Avoid forcing them to be together. Let this happen slowly, cautiously, and always with supervision!

Some training will be necessary.

Setting boundaries to stay off furniture and counters or teaching basic commands such as sit and stay are important from the start. If you have a pet with bad habits, or just have trouble with training on your own, there’s an abundance of trainers out there to help for a fee.

If you know the breed of the dog, it can be helpful to study about that breed to help you understand its character traits better.

Some frustration with the new pet is inevitable. Patience and time are needed to get through this first phase. You can do it!

Jenny is a Certified Natural Health Consultant for pets and their people, and a Healing Touch for Animals (Level 2) and NES BioEnergetics Practitioner. Consultations are done over the phone and through email. To contact, call or text (906) 235-3524 or email 1healthlink@gmail.com.

Excerpted from the Fall 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Green Living: Climate’s Magic Pill, Steve Waller

green living, climate change, climate support

Heat domes, temperature records, droughts, wildfires, smoky UP air from Canadian fires. On June 29th Lytton, British Columbia (near Vancouver, BC) recorded an all-time Canadian record high temperature of 49.6°C (121 °F). Then, the next day, that town burned in a wildfire! People were evacuated. Some died.

Is this our new normal? When will it end? Likely not in your lifetime. Humans haven’t figured out how to renounce fossil fuel, but have invented a magic pill that, like aspirin, ignores the problem but relieves the symptoms—air conditioning. As the climate changes, areas that rarely used AC before, such as the U.P., are now rushing to beat the heat by installing AC. But read this first!

We are living more like human dairy products, in refrigerated spaces behind closed doors, protected from the overheated environment. We go from refrigerated houses to refrigerated cars to refrigerated workplaces, then a quick stop at a refrigerated store on the way home.

The magic AC pill comes in two colors: Blue (conventional AC) and red (heat pumps).

Blue pill (conventional AC): Cools your house using more electricity. The blue pill makes you feel physically better, but the additional electricity generates more CO2, making the global problem worse!

Red pill (heat pump): Cools your house using more electricity, but the heat pump supplement for your furnace can also heat your house for much of the cool weather seasons as well as heat hot water. It generates more CO2 during hot weather, like AC, yes, but less CO2 in colder weather. Total annual CO2 is significantly less. Here’s why:

AC doesn’t “create cold.” It simply moves heat from inside your house to the outside. Refrigerators move heat from inside the fridge to the kitchen, making the fridge cooler and the kitchen warmer.

Home heat pumps can pump (move) heat either way. In summer, they move heat outside, exactly like AC. In cool weather, heat pumps run the AC backwards, moving heat from outside back inside, even at freezing outdoor temperatures or slightly below.

Heat pumps can heat your home while generating less CO2 than oil, gas, even electric furnaces. Heat pumps use much less energy because they just move heat to where you want it, outside or inside.

But there is a problem. HVAC contractors spend a lot of time talking people out of getting heat pumps. Heat pumps are not what they are accustomed to, so they discourage them in favor of their favorites—fossil heat and traditional AC. That locks customers into another thirty years of fossil fuels. Boo. Bad. We must move away from fossil energy. Electricity is slowly getting cleaner. Fossils never will. We must go all-electric.

Contractors will claim that heat pumps won’t work because there’s little heat to move at -30˚F. That’s true and that’s why I suggest the red pill as a supplement. On those -30˚F days, use fossils if you must. But the rest of the time, with the help of your thermostat or control system, you can use the heat pump.

There is a special cold weather heat pump option–ground-source heat pumps (GSHPs). Ground below the frost line doesn’t freeze. GSHPs can capture enough heat for your house most of the winter. Back-up is only needed on the absolute coldest days. GSHPs cost significantly more but eliminate fossils.

When it comes to home heating, especially if we end up with a carbon tax, as I believe we will, heat pumps are our best solution. We need young HVAC heat pump specialists to start new businesses providing the expertise and equipment needed to install heat pumps cost efficiently, to out-compete stubborn fossil contractors stuck in the fossil fuel era. It’s the smart move.

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind- and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. Steve can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

Excerpted from the Fall 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Positive Parenting: Mental Health Red Flags

U.P. holistic wellness, children's mental health, U.P. holistic wellness publication, positive parenting

How often have you or someone you know been shocked to discover that a child in your midst is suffering from a significant mental health disorder? The National Institute of Mental Health explains that in 2017, 9.4% of US 12 to 17 year olds, an estimated 2.3 million, had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. And, according to childtrends.org, “While research on the pandemic’s effects on mental health is still in the early stages, current evidence shows a surge in anxiety and depression among children and adolescents since the pandemic began.”

“When we have less positives going on in our life and more negatives, it increases our stress, MARESA (Marquette-Alger Regional Education Service Agency) school social worker Ann Lacombe explains. At the age a lot of the students I see are at, interactions with peers or sports or people overall is their main positive. When something that’s really fun is taken away from you, it can be rough. I’ve seen a change in the mood of students. They’re dealing with different stressors than they’ve ever had to deal with before. Organized sports are a good environment for making new friends. Being without that made this a really difficult year for students to organically make new friends. Lunch and recess had to be less social than in past years for everyone’s safety. A lot of the fun times students looked forward to looked very different for them.

When a child is suffering from a mental health disorder, the sooner we can step in and support them, the better. LaCombe says red flags to be on the alert for include:

  • Avoiding or missing activities the child used to engage in–sports, time with friends, school in general
  • Changes in sleep patterns—way too much or not at all
  • Changes in eating habits—sudden weight loss or gain
  • Sudden changes in mood—observing body language and facial expressions
  • Hurting themselves or talking about hurting themselves or talking about death
  • Withdrawing from social interactions in general
  • Sudden changes in friendships
  • Substance use
  • Change in performance overall—sudden failing grades, withdrawal from effort in anything


“Trust your gut. I think parents know their kids best. If you get a sense something’s not right, a great first step is approaching the child and saying, ‘Hey, I’m worried about you, and I care about you. How can I support you right now?’ You can open that door to communicating with you and trusting you, even if you don’t get much response right away,” says LaCombe. “Focus on not being judgmental, and no matter what they tell you, not being overly reactive. Let your child know ‘I’m not here to judge you or get you in trouble. I just want to help. I hope you can be honest with me about what’s going on.’ Then look into what additional support may help your child.”

“You can check whether your child’s school guidance counselor has noticed any changes in your child’s behavior, and see what options they may have at school or in the community. If he or she doesn’t want to go to school because of a conflict with a peer, connect with the school on this. Otherwise, meeting with your primary care doctor can be a great place to start so you can get their thoughts and recommendations on where to go. They’ll be able to look at a list of providers that your insurance covers, and also check if something medical is contributing to what your child’s experiencing. Often the first things students with anxiety notice are physical signs—‘My heart is pounding, and I just feel shaky and dizzy.’ This way the doctor can make sure there’s nothing else causing those symptoms outside of a mental health challenge,” adds LaCombe.

U.P. holistic wellness, children's mental health, U.P. holistic wellness publication, positive parenting

Parents can also contact their school’s social worker. LaCombe says, “If we don’t immediately have an idea of a resource in the community, we’ll get back to them with a resource or article, and look at how else we can support them if we don’t have an answer right away. When parents reach out right away and are interested in making some changes at home, we can see improvements so quickly. It’s so helpful for them to reach out, even if it’s just asking questions and for resources. We’re happy to do that.”

Another resource is North Care Network, which can do a screening to see if you qualify for community mental health services, and if not, point you to other options available.

LaCombe reminds, “There’s nothing wrong with asking someone if there’s something going on, or saying that we’re worried. We’re often worried about offending, or hurting, or annoying the person. Even if it’s something small we’re noticing, even if they say no, it’s worth bringing up. Make sure you’re opening that door. Let your child know, ‘I’m worried about you; I care about you.’ They may not be ready to talk about it yet. Let them know ‘I am here and am ready to talk about this whenever you’re ready. You’re never going to be in trouble for talking with me about this.’ Opening the door is the most important thing in those initial conversations.”

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression

Excerpted from the Fall 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Fall 2021 Issue Out!

*Click here to see where you can pick up your copy in the Central & Western U.P. today!

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About the Summer 2021 Cover Photo Keith Glendon

U.P. holistic business, U.P. holistic wellness publication

The healing, centering, powerful magic of Lake Superior is a foundation of strength—and a source of whimsical play, joy and fun for those who live and love here. Whether you’re a child, a child-at-heart or an adult who’s lost touch with your child-at-heart: Superior and the U.P. will speak wisdom to those who listen.

Photographer Keith Glendon is a devoted husband and father of four, poet, writer, joy-seeker, entrepreneur, founder of Campfire CoWorks in Marquette, believer in Spirit and optimistic advocate of a better world.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Spotlight On… Blackbird Boutique with Owner Brett Stiles

Blackbird boutique, sustainable fashion, U.P. holistic business, U.P wellness publication

Tell us about Blackbird Boutique.


Blackbird carries anything from new vintage-inspired clothing to bohemian to more timeless, elegant classic pieces. I try to have quite a range in a small space, and for a range of ages too.

I spend a lot of time researching and networking with other designers and going to markets to find sustainable, ethical, fair trade clothing and accessories. I think it’s important to understand where your clothes come from and who made them. We carry a lot of things made from natural fibers. They’re more durable, and require less water to manufacture. A couple of brands I carry are zero waste. They use scrap materials that larger clothing manufacturers would have to get rid of, even whole bolts if there’s one little flaw, because they use machines. These are handmade, and if the fabric pieces are too small, they’ll use a more traditional patchwork style or weaving. Some lines use organic cotton or non-toxic, natural dyes. Some manufacturers say their items are natural but they still use copper and things to bring out more vibrant colors in clothing.

There’s a huge selection of locally made jewelry and artwork, gift items, accessories too, a little home décor as well—the little unexpected treasures that people find, whether it’s for themselves or gifts—little luxuries, little out-of-the-ordinary bits ’n bobs. I’m constantly on the hunt for unique jewelry, clothing, and accessories.


While it is difficult at times to be the sole proprietress of a business, it also has many rewards. Blackbird is really an extension of my life, philosophies and interests. It is challenging to have to wear so many hats—to be the creative force, as well as have the business mind that goes with it.


I think Blackbird fits well into the downtown Marquette scene. I feel I’ve created an inviting space and sometimes customers will just pop in for a little inspiration and because they love the way the shop makes them feel. I really can’t believe it’s been four years since Blackbird opened. I am excited to be a part of such a wonderful community here in downtown Marquette. 

Why did you open Blackbird?


I grew up with my mom having a boutique. I worked there summers early on during college, and I absolutely loved it—helping women find things that inspired them, and all the patterns and textures and colors of the fabrics. I enjoyed it so much, I was kind of hooked.

Even back then, opening something like Blackbird was always in the back of my mind. I wanted to do it so badly, and just always thought, “It’s not a practical thing. I can’t.” I was afraid of going for it.

I finished school, was living in Denver a while, working at the Clyfford Still Museum. Although I loved it there doing event planning and coordinating for donors or for weddings, I just had this calling. I wanted to do something that made more of an impact. And I was missing Michigan, the lake, and family. It was time to move back. So I decided to go for it.

At the time there wasn’t a lot in Marquette like what I had in mind. I was nervous not knowing what the reaction would be. I always wanted to do something that was good, that made a difference. Finding sustainable, fair trade, ethically-made clothing allows me to offer something good for people and the planet.

I went to Western Michigan University and Kendall College of Art & Design. I have a degree in English, and minors in Environmental Studies and Art History. My education and art background play a big role in the design of Blackbird as well the merchandise I carry. I try to bring in a sort of ethereal, otherworldly vibe, and to make women feel empowered by dressing in a way that respects their confidence. There are things you can’t really find anywhere else—unique pieces that are also timeless and versatile, and can be worn comfortably too, with interesting forms and natural fibers. They just feel better.

What’s new at Blackbird?

I just did a little update while we were closed for March. I took down a couple free-standing walls to open the space up a little bit more. Also, there is a new wall mural, some new lighting, and I’m adding a much needed second dressing room. The space definitely feels more open because of the changes made.

What do you find most challenging about running Blackbird?

So far, the pandemic has been the most challenging thing to go through, but I have managed to successfully stay on top of it by following health department guidelines and offering contactless payments and pick-ups, if people wish. Also, there is an online shopping option at www.blackbirdmqt.com. And while not all of my inventory shows up online because so many things are one-of-a-kind or small batch, I can take pictures of similar items for customers if they desire. It’s sort of a personal shopping experience, and I’ve worked with many people this way. 

What do you enjoy most about running it?

I enjoy my customers the most, definitely. I just love getting to know them, and I especially love the one-on-one experience. To connect with these women, and just have fun, and have them leave feeling really good about something they purchased, not just because it looks good on them, but also because they know it’s sustainable clothing. That’s something I really hold close to me, and what Blackbird is all about.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Inner Nutrition: Minding Our Words, Charli Mills

anti-racism, U.P. holistic wellness publication

Words are the paint to my page. I’m a literary artist who minds my words to communicate the stories that flow through me to connect with readers. I want my stories to live in others, to change their minds and move their hearts. Because writing is my vocation, I know words carry power. Yet, I’ve observed that people often use words out of habit. To live as an antiracist is to mind our words. Habit can hide racism.

First, let’s examine the words, “not racist” and “antiracist.” Author and historian, Ibram X. Kendi clarifies the difference:

“The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.’ What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an antiracist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an antiracist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’”

We live in a time when we are working to shift our understanding. We explore words through concepts and explain their meanings. Recently, I read this meme on social media:

“White privilege does not mean your life was not hard. It means your race was not an obstacle.”

Everyone has had hardships. To understand these difficult or discomforting words, we must go beyond our poverty, trauma, and circumstances. We need to heal our wounds and not confuse personal pain with experiences of racial inequities. If indeed you’ve suffered, get help. Inner nutrition means we feed and heal our unseen parts. If you are White and have emotional pain from hardships, it’s near impossible to understand the lived experiences of Black people. Think of it this way—if you had an untended broken arm, you can’t pay attention in class. You’re going to focus on your pain, not the lesson.

To understand “white privilege” you need to set your inner broken arm. If the words “white privilege” trigger a pain response, explore its origin. We all experience suffering. It’s a shared human experience. Suffering is why we may practice breathing, mindfulness, and seek the comfort of shared spirituality, why we may hike, dance, learn yoga, tap, meditate, and participate in different types of therapies. From a centered state of self-awareness, we can examine discomforting words with resiliency and grace.

You can look up “white privilege” in an online dictionary, but Black historian and author, Ibram X. Kendi, explains it well:

“White privileges are the relative advantages racism affords to people identified as white, whether white people recognize them or deny them. To be white is to be afforded one’s individuality. Afforded the presumption of innocence. Afforded the assumption of intelligence. Afforded empathy when crying or raging. Afforded disproportionate amounts of policy-making power. Afforded opportunity from a white network. Afforded wealth-building homes and resource-rich schools. Afforded the ability to vote quickly and easily.”

If you are White, consider observing your social privilege the way you’d track daily gratitude.

When you pay attention, privilege reveals itself. I was surprised at how quickly I added up my white privilege despite being a woman who comes from poverty and survived childhood sexual abuse. None of my hardship erases the truth that I don’t fear for my white son’s life during a traffic stop.

Another set of contentious words built the movement #BlackLivesMatter. It’s action to end the deadly oppression of Black people after the 2013 acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. According to the official organization, “These three words have been said many times in many ways. And they still need to be said. Today.” Watch the words in action at https://blacklivesmatter.com/these-three-words/ and explore the website to understand their meaning beyond a rallying cry.

If your response to “Black lives matter” is “all lives matter,” pause, and take a clearing breath. Your response reveals a misunderstanding over semantics because “all” is an inclusive word. For clarity, expand the idea to: “All lives will matter when Black lives matter.” “All” is not true until we overcome systemic racism and end deadly oppression. You may have Black friends or family, but if you are White, you have not lived the greater Black experience. By greater, I mean a collective of experiences, an ongoing history of oppression, and social constructs that rely on White people remaining color-blind to systemic racism.

To open our eyes, let’s mind our words.

Be curious and willing to understand the stories of others. Respond from a place of healing to help others on their healing journeys, too.

As I conclude my series, I impart what I’ve learned so far on my journey to be an anti-racist.

  • Be willing to sit with your discomfort.
  • Be curious and explore your roots.
  • Amplify Black authors and artists.
  • Acknowledge and heal your inner pain.
  • Empathize with experiences you have not had.

“No one becomes ‘not racist,’ despite a tendency by Americans to identify themselves that way. We can only strive to be ‘antiracist’ on a daily basis, to continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage.” ~ Ibram X. Kendi

Charli Mills grew up out west where she once won a rodeo trophy for goat-tying. Now she wrangles words from the Keweenaw as a literary artist, writing about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history. She makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com.

Works Cited
Kendi, Ibram X. How to Be an Anti-racist. Penguin Random House LLC. 2019
Black Lives Matter. “These Three Words.” Vimeo. 2020. https://blacklivesmatter.com/these-three-words/.
Franklin & Marshall College Library. Black Lives Matter: Antiracist Resources. 2019. https://library.fandm.edu/c.php?g=1045768&p=7588278.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Green Living: U.P. Style Re-Creation, Steve Waller

green living, green recreation, sustainable recreation in MI's Upper Peninsula, U.P. holistic business, U.P. wellness publication

The COVID freeze is thawing. We are waking from a yearlong hibernation, anxious for “normal,” ready to get back to work, enjoy family, friends, and summer fun. Life is restarting. Summer recreation can re-create our lifestyle and for many, lifestyle re-creation would be helpful.

The American Psychological Association’s latest “Stress in America” survey of 3,000 people indicates that since the pandemic began, about 42 percent of U.S. adults gained weight—29 pounds on average. About half of the weight-gainers added more than 15 pounds; 10 percent, more than 50 pounds. On average, men added 37 lbs., women added 22 pounds. Younger adults gained more than older people (millennials 41 pounds, baby boomers 16 pounds). Only 18 percent reported unwanted weight loss. Stress, lack of exercise, unhealthy changes in eating habits, and increased alcohol consumption are all contributing factors.

It’s time to get outside, but being dragged around by a gas-powered ATV, boat, jet ski, dirt bike, motorcycle. or even an automobile won’t help you get back in shape. Recreational gas burning burns gas, not calories. It increases your personal contribution to the global warming problem, not your metabolism. It’s time to re-create your idea of recreation.

U.P. forest trails, some of the best in the nation, are ready for hikers, talking with friends, without noisy gas burning ATVs.

Trails seem much longer, more peaceful, relaxing, and more interesting when on foot. As John Muir, the famous 19th century naturalist, said about his 1,000-mile walk to the Gulf (instead of traveling by train or stagecoach), “How can you see anything when you travel 40 miles in a day?”

Streets are ready for bicyclists running local errands instead of running gas-burning automobiles. Electric bicycles are waiting in local bike shops for those with 10 to 15-mile daily commutes to work, or for a couple of hours of awesome trail riding. Two wheels roar. Four wheels snore!

Swimming is healthy and fun. Snorkeling the U.P.’s clear-water lakes is fascinating. Even sailboats are better exercise. Noisy gas-burning boats or jet skis won’t get that beach body back in shape.

Besides, after a two-year study, the Michigan governor’s recent U.P. Energy Task Force report clearly states that we, all of us, must move away from fossil fuels.

The easy first step is to eliminate recreational gas burning and get healthier at the same time. It’s a win-win!Even converting gas-powered yard tools, mowers (including riding mowers), trimmers, and blowers to battery power reduces stress on your ears, eliminates gasoline, and minimizes fossil-powered pollution. Today, battery-powered tools are versatile workhorses that help you spend more time outdoors, peacefully.

After a 2020 dip in carbon dioxide emissions due to COVID-19, CO2 emissions are forecast to jump this year by the second biggest annual rise in history as people and global economies recover from the pandemic’s recession. Our “new normal” could easily just repeat the old toxic normal. Now is the time to start fresh with smarter habits and less fossil fuel.

Once you’ve paid your bills, put COVID relief money to good use. Don’t blow it on another couch-potato TV, cable or video game subscription. Cancel those subscriptions. Invest that money and freed time in gas-free products and activities. It’s time to dump that gas guzzler and buy an electric car. Install solar power. Replace gas furnaces and water heaters with a cold weather-rated, high-efficiency heat pump.

Explore the U.P. Keep our land, our air, and yourself in great shape. Re-create that pre-COVID body naturally by abandoning recreational gas burning, and physically enjoying the beautiful local places where we live.

Sources:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/the-big-number-a-major-pandemic-weight-gain/2021/04/16/cc347e3e-9dfd-11eb-9d05-ae06f4529ece_story.html
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/61-percent-of-americans-say-they-gained-weight-during-the-pandemic
https://www.michigan.gov/documents/egle/Report-UPETF-Phase-II_720856_7.pdf
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/20/carbon-emissions-to-soar-in-2021-by-second-highest-rate-in-history

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind- and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. Steve can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Healthy Cooking: Grilling for Summer, Val Wilson

tofu kabobs, healthy grilling, healthy cooking, U.P. holistic business, U.P. holistic wellness publication

Summer is my favorite time of year. One of the reasons is because you can grill food outside. For some reason, food just seems to taste better to me when cooked outside. Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking you have limited options of just grilling veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs if you are living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. I have experimented grilling many vegetables and other fun recipes such as the tofu kabobs described below.

Tofu is a great option when you are grilling. When you marinate tofu, it takes on the flavor of the marinade and creates a very tasty dish. Tofu is a complete protein. It contains all eight essential amino acids. It’s also is a good source of calcium and iron, plus it contains phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesium, and vitamin B1.

Yellow summer squashes are one of my favorites on the grill. They have high water content, helping to keep you hydrated, and have lots of potassium and fiber. Carrots and radishes are high in antioxidants and contain potassium, which is essential for healthy blood pressure. And onions contain anti-inflammatory properties.

When creating this recipe, I chose the vegetables to give a rainbow of colors to the kabobs. These kabobs taste great when grilled. However, if you do not have a grill, you can cook them in a skillet or even bake them in the oven.


 
Tofu Kabobs

Wooden kabob sticks  
1 lb. fresh firm tofu  
1 onion (cut in chunks)  
4 carrots (cut in long, round diagonals)  
1 yellow summer squash (cut in cubes)  
20 radishes (cut in thick rounds)  

Marinade
1/3 cup tamari  
¼ cup each olive oil and water  
2 T. each brown rice vinegar and mirin  
1 T. brown rice syrup  
1 tsp. each basil and thyme  

Arrange the tofu and all the vegetables in a shallow dish, lying flat rather than stacked on top of each other. Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour over the vegetables. Let marinate 30 minutes. Take the wooden kabob sticks and place the tofu chunks and vegetables on each one. Alternate the vegetables to make each one unique. Heat a skillet or grill and brown the kabobs on each side, or place the kabobs on a cookie sheet and bake at 350  degrees for 20 minutes. If grilling the kabobs on a barbecue, soak the wooden sticks in water for 20 minutes before making and grilling the kabobs. 

Chef Valerie Wilson has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. You can attend virtually including a special class through Peter White Public Library on 6/15/21. Visit http://www.macroval.com for schedule, cookbook purchases, phone consultations, or radio show, and follow her on Facebook at Macro Val Food.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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