Category Archives: Creative Inspiration

Creative Inspiration: Time Travel Off the Beaten Path, a 4-County Adventure

Now that summer is finally upon us and nature calls us to explore its many splendid venues, I am reminded of a poem by T.S. Eliot… “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time.”

This so accurately describes my feelings when I get out into the wilderness where the flow of nature’s seasons carves the landscape so very differently every year. It becomes so new and fresh all over again that when I get back to where I started it feels like the first time.

I have read that if you surround your senses in nature, the creative juices will begin to flow. Add to that an historical aspect nudging your imagination to journey through time to when early Native Americans may have traveled or later settlers laid down their roots or traversed a trail in this vast wilderness.

Often, especially during summer, I like to indulge myself with day trips on less-travelled routes, those hidden gems that may be a little off the beaten track, and less likely to be frequented by tourists, in hopes of ushering in such a time-traveling reverie.

Each U.P. county has such spots. In Marquette County, for me, that spot is the Forestville Falls trail, located off Forestville Road, just eight minutes from the city of Marquette. The first thing you see from the parking lot is a fenced property owned by the Marquette Board of Light and Power, with a sign warning you of surveillance cameras and not to trespass into the generating facility. It’s letting you know to stay on the trail. There is an opening in the fence to follow a gravel path up an incline. Taken slowly and steadily, it brings you to the plateau from which you’ll see signage down the other side toward the flowage below.

While the trail has had some improvements made to it over the years, it is not handicapped-accessible. Once you get down to the river, you are rewarded with rock formations likened to those found in Colorado and the West. Here you can enjoy the beauty of the area and have a picnic with friends or decide to explore further. The latter, however, will require crossing a creek over several logs. You can either stay at the base of the rock outcropping and proceed alongside the river, climbing over boulders at times to stay on the path, or you can take the other route, weaving uphill through the forest, until you get to a narrow path at the top on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the falls below. Once you get over and around this highland, both trails join back together, meandering along the river and through a series of waterfalls ranging from a few feet to approximately sixty feet high.

This area is popular with the college crowd, which often can be found camping in the woods throughout this gorge, or swimming on sunny days in the various pools created between the cascades. After a rainfall, this area can be more dangerous to swim in, and even in the summer months, it’s quite chilly.

This hike takes roughly two hours roundtrip at a steady pace. Most weekdays, you may be the only person there, but on weekends, plan on seeing other hikers, depending upon the weather. It’s a nice place to go on those extremely hot summer days since the trees combined with the ravine and water go a long way to cooling the temperatures, not to mention the mist and water particles floating in the air closer to the falls themselves.

Forestville’s enchantments always prompt me to imagine Native Americans using these same trails in earlier times, as waterways and the paths beside them were the roads of yesteryear.

When visiting Alger County, a hidden-in-plain-sight gem that is great for both nature lovers and history buffs is the Tyoga Trail. This historical pathway is less than two miles north of M-28 in Deerton, marked with a sign that easily can be overlooked.

Imagine yourself back in the early 1900s, most likely working alongside an Englishman, Finn, or French Canadian Lumberjack. Work was hard, long, and dangerous. You’d be part of a crew that felled massive virgin pine trees, shaking the ground with thuds that could be felt throughout the town.
Forty men were needed to run the mill. A huge steam engine operated the band saw. After an exhausting day in the woods, this rugged bunch would often begin drinking to soften sore muscles, escape the boredom and isolation of being away from family and friends, or bond with peers in this far-flung sawmill and town site. Alcohol-fueled fights frequently broke out.

The new town of Tyoga sat alongside the Laughing Whitefish River where a virgin forest contained trees one-hundred-and-fifty feet tall and 3 1/2 pound brook trout were often pulled from the river. The town’s residents numbered 150 in its heyday, housed mostly in plank houses and log cabins. The town boasted a company store, blacksmith’s shop, boarding house, horse barns, and cook’s shanty in addition to the sawmill, and eventually a school and a post office. But then the mill was sold to Cleveland Cliffs, which dismantled and moved it, leading Tyoga to become another of the Upper Peninsula’s ghost towns after only about a decade in existence.

The modern-day Tyoga Trail is easily walkable, with interpretive signs along the way making it a family-friendly adventure. Its 1.4-mile loop takes you through mostly hardwoods, but old growth pines can also be found, along with some foundations hidden among the overgrowth. You might even spot the graves of loggers accidently killed on the job, as well as remnants of the town’s railroad.

How long you’ll be on the trail depends on whether you take time to read its many signs, and what the weather has been, as some parts can become quite muddy after rainfall.

In Baraga County, our next “off-the-beaten-path” adventure takes place at the Hanka Family Homestead, settled in 1896 in an area later known as Askel Hill. This eighty-acre property was a subsistence farm, used primarily to provide food, heat, and water for survival.

Around 1890, a number of recent Finnish immigrant woodcutters at Bootjack near Torch Lake heard there was a freshwater lake with abundant fish somewhere near Chassell. Two of them successfully set out and explored this densely forested wilderness, finding Otter Lake sitting between deep ravines and high hills. The lake reminded them of Finland, so they returned to Houghton in hopes of gaining possession of this beautiful area.

Fortunately for them, Abraham Lincoln had signed into law the Homestead Act of 1862, so they were able to file their claims on September 13, 1890. Five families set out together via boat up the Sturgeon River, with the men following along the shore with cattle and a horse.

In 1889, after becoming unable to work due to a mining accident, Herman Hanka decided to homestead in the Misery Bay-Toivola area on 160 acres, roughly twenty miles from Askel. After several years of isolation and hardship, the family decided to move once again, this time to the settlement on Otter Lake.

In 1896, Herman’s older daughter, Mary, applied for a homestead and received it on the eighty acres where the farm is still preserved today. Records indicate the sauna and farmhouse were built first, followed by a log barn and a log root house. Five acres were fenced and farmed. The property also has a pond which was used in tanning leather.

Can you envision yourself living as the Hanka family did, spending nearly all of your day working to meet your basic survival needs? Wondering whether you would have enough food to last through your next winter? Whether your clothes would be warm enough? Despite the challenges of modern life, it’s far easier in so many ways for most of us to access these basics.

For more information and directions to experience the Hanka Homestead yourself, call the Keweenaw National Historic Park at (906) 337-3168 or visit http://www.hankahomesteadmuseum.org.

In Keweenaw County, a beautiful out-of-the-way hike where a person’s imagination might come alive is at Black Creek Nature Sanctuary. Within its 241-acres lies a 2.5 mile trail through a wide variety of landscapes, including sandy dunes with berries, meadows with wildflowers, and forest canopy of birch, balsam fir, maple and cedar. The path continues past beaver ponds and through conifers and hardwoods of various sizes.

Arriving at Lake Superior, where Black Creek and Hills Creek come together to create a spectacular, continuously-changing lagoon, you can find remnants of the copper mining era along the shoreline from old stamp sand deposits, as well as non-magnetic black basalt sand, and an assortment of multi-sized rocks.

This beach and creek area is also a hotspot for wildlife of all kinds – moose, wolves, beavers, black bears – and an aquatic home to various species of fish. Patient visitors will also enjoy watching a range of bird species in the canopy and on the shoreline.

To reach the sanctuary from Calumet, take M-203 west and head north on Tamarack Waterworks Road. Veer right onto Cedar Bay Road. You’ll find a parking lot on the east, and the trailhead less than a quarter-mile south.

Kevin McGrath can be found time-travelling through history on his journey through life. He can be reached with enough creativity or intention.

http://www.mikelclassen.com/Tyoga_Historical_Pathway.php
http://www.hankahomesteadmuseum.org/stories-tales/
https://www.michigannature.org/filelibrary/Black%20Creek%20Nature%20Sanctuary%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

Excerpt from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Summer 2018 Issue, copyright 2018.

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Creative Inspiration: Inspiration in the Sand, by Marty Achatz

Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation from performing in his first Broadway musical, In the Heights. He was exhausted and looking for a big, fat book to distract him, so he picked up a copy of Rob Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton in the airport bookstore.

Later, sitting on the beach, reading Chernow’s book, Miranda began hearing Hamilton’s life in song. By the time his vacation was over, he was on the road to creating his Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning hip-hop musical Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda discovered his masterpiece like a seashell in the sand.

Inspiration can be found in unlikely places. I’ve discovered poems while jogging, watching the film Citizen Kane, and baking a pecan pie for my mother. In fact, when I feel creatively stuck, I purposely take a break from my normal activities. I do something as far away from poetry as I can, and that is when poetry usually finds me.

If you are looking to jumpstart yourself creatively, here are prompts for how to find your seashell:

Pick up a book by one of your favorite writers. I love the poet Sharon Olds. When I read her poems, I find myself opening up like a tulip bulb.

Go for a walk in the woods or along a beach. If you are a writer, don’t bring your notebook with you. Instead, take your phone or a sketchbook. If you are a photographer, leave behind your camera. Bring a journal instead. Try your hand at a different art form to record your stroll in nature.

Todd Kaneko, author of the acclaimed poetry collection The Dead Wrestler Elegies, once told me his trick for finding his seashell. He said that he comes up with the absolute worst idea in the world (in his case, it was a series of poems about dead professional wrestlers), and then he pursues that worst idea.

When she feels creatively stuck, writer Natalie Goldberg makes a date to meet with one of her writing friends to share new work. Simply having a deadline can be enough of a kick in the pants to get started.

Listen to music that moves or inspires you. For me, recently, it has been the cast recording of Hamilton. However, I am equally moved by Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma or Billy Joel crooning “Captain Jack.”

Take a class in something you’ve always wanted to try—cooking or quilting or gardening or speaking Italian. Again, it’s about shaking the cobwebs out of your head. Forcing yourself to think “outside the box.”

Like Lin-Manuel Miranda, pick up a book you would never ordinarily read. I recently read a study of journalism at the turn of the 20th century. It ended up providing the background for an essay I wrote for Christmas.

Go someplace you have never been before, even if it’s a simple day trip to a local waterfall. A change of scenery often sparks new ideas. I once struggled with a poem for three months. I didn’t know how to finish it. Then I gave a reading in Sault Ste. Marie. As soon as I checked into my hotel in the Sault, I sat down at the desk in my room and wrote the ending to that poem.

Eat some dark chocolate. Just because chocolate helps everything.

Finding seashells is easy. They come in all shapes. All sizes. Tonight, I’m going to sit down and start reading a 1200-page biography of Charles Dickens that’s on my bookshelf. Who knows? I might find a poem or painting. Or maybe, just maybe, a Broadway musical.

U.P. Poet Laureate Martin Achatz teaches at NMU. He has published a collection of poems, and his work has appeared in anthologies and journals.  Also a musician, Martin has released a CD of Christmas music and essays.  Martin also enjoys hunting for Bigfoot with his son.

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: Sticks & Stones, by Kevin McGrath

kevin-smiling-in-garden-2010.jpg

While many people are busy leveling their yards and trying to get the edges straight, spending countless hours making sure all the bushes and plants line up in a nice orderly fashion, clearing unwanted stones and dead wood, I am adding stones and wood, and creating surfaces both below and above ground level.

 
In retrospect, I was inspired by several factors. All of my life I have been in love with both dead and decaying wood and stones. A friend recently told me she believes my stone crush stems from my Irish ancestry. After all, Ireland is a country built with stone – stone fences, cobblestone streets, buildings and castles of granite, and the fields are scattered with outcroppings of this natural rock.
Each hardened sphere is unique in size, shape, color and weight. Especially when wet, their radiance shimmers and dances, exploding with a wide spectrum of color that tingles the senses. Dead and decaying wood are more subtly hued with grays and browns; however, they can often be seen joining forces with lichen and mosses to create a beautifully colored landscape.

 

I have always enjoyed seeing downed branches or trees in their artistic poses, curving and twisting as if in a snapshot of a wooded kind of ballet. Unearthed roots especially excite me, as this secret dark society, which usually lives underground, is finally revealed for all to see. If my stone love stems from my Gaelic descent, then perhaps my wood infatuation is derived from my Native American roots.

 
One can never be sure about these things of course, but I do know that decaying wood and stones have been favorites of mine since childhood. I know my most recent creative inspiration for incorporating these two natural wonders was inspired by a recent trip to New York’s Central Park. My son and I spent an afternoon there, frolicking along streams and through woods, up hills and down slopes, as we meandered along the winding paths.

 

This trip inspired me to take the things I love and, in a micro sort of way, create this hobbit type world in my own backyard. Inspiration can come from all sorts of things, whether from within, where the genes of a distant relative seek expression, or a place that draws you in and makes an impression to the point that you want to recreate it in your own way in a nearby location, where you can see the things you love spread out before you. I believe the most important point, however, is to listen to these urges and see what they bring you.

 
Given his fondness for sticks and stones, Kevin McGrath has been called by many names and is fine with that.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2010 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

*Join us for Myth-Busting & Self-Help Tips: YOUR Health & Happiness Forum, Saturday, Sept. 30th 2017, 1 pm – 4 pm in the Community Room on the lower level of the Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI, and help us celebrate our 10th Anniversary.  Click here for more info!

**FOLLOW us here and/or on Facebook to be entered to WIN in our 10th Anniversary drawing! 

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Healing Hearts + 10th Anniversary Celebration

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, Health & Happiness is posting some of its best articles from its first 10 years throughout the month of September.

If you like what you read here, please LIKE and SHARE this post, FOLLOW our site, and JOIN us on our Facebook page.

And if you’re in the Marquette area on Sept. 30th, please join us in celebrating our anniversary at YOUR Health & Happiness Forum from 1 pm – 4 pm in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library.

Stay posted for more details! And please enjoy the 3rd article of 10 in our 10th Anniversary Celebration September Retrospective Series!

copyright Lucy Jeanette LaFaive

Creative Inspiration: Healing Hearts

by Lucy Jeanette La Faive

Five years ago, in March 2003, on the eve of the war in Iraq, I was very terrified that the United States Government was choosing to go to war. I was feeling helpless and fearful about what the outcome might be, fearing violence, destruction, and the death of many people. So one night I decided to finger paint my feelings. I feel very connected to my emotions when I use my fingers directly in the paint. I can literally feel my emotions move through my fingers onto the paper.

I started with dark colors – black and brown – then I just began dumping other colors on the paper and moving my fear, frustration, anger and helplessness through my fingers. Suddenly I realized the page was green. Green is the color of the heart chakra (energy center), also known as the bridge between mind and body. It is the color of healing.

The realization transformed me. I started to move my fingers in the shape of a heart. What resulted was a green heart. I later highlighted the heart shapes already in the painting with white oil pastel.

This painting transformed my feelings and me. It symbolizes that fear can be transformed into love. I painted two other paintings the same night. The second is mostly red, with hearts layered one on top of the other. The third painting is multicolored, with one large heart and two smaller hearts. I highlighted the colors and shapes already in the painting with oil pastels.

I titled the paintings “Healing Hearts: Transforming FEAR into LOVE,” because these paintings healed my heart by transforming my fear into love. I still had no control about whether the U.S. went to war, but I no longer was struggling with my emotions and a decision over which I had no control.

I could have spent the past five years living in fear, anger and frustration about a war that continues or I can live with love and joy. I choose to live with my heart open with love.

I feel love and joy when I see these paintings rather than the death and destruction I was stressing about at the time I started them. The love came through the struggle, the struggle I was having with my emotions.

I know that if art can be this meaningful to me, it can be healing, transforming and powerful for you too. So next time you are wrestling with something, give art a try.  Maybe it will transform you too!

Lucy Jeanette La Faive, certified wellness speaker, uses art for healing and self-discovery.  Lucy does coaching, workshops, and presentations on joyful living, self-love, self-discovery, creativity, self-care, healing, body image, personal empowerment, movement, and stress management. Free consultations. Contact Lucy at 906-225-1059 or lucyis@chartermi.net.

 

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2008 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: Interview with Shane Murray, Founder of Music 4 All Kids

mfak photoWhat is Music 4 All Kids?

It’s a non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of youth ages five to eighteen through learning, applying and teaching music, regardless of a student’s ability to pay.  We work with students at our local facility, (MacDonald’s Music), as well as Marquette’s Alternative High School and YMCA.

We teach individual lessons and workshops, along with a comprehensive four-phase advancement program that culminates in students becoming instructors.

In the first stage, students learn the fundamentals of music, begin lessons on an instrument of their choice, and have access to one-on-one mentorship for building confidence and motivation.

In the second stage, students can join an ensemble of two to four peers playing many genres of music. Social skills are developed while expanding their social circle.

Once students have advanced, they get to experience engineering and recording.  In this third stage, they create their own productions and promote them, which develops their job skills. Working on a project and producing a finished piece is a great experience for our students!

Those who reach Stage 4 can become student instructors. They work with our team, learning how to lead workshops and teach beginning lessons.  This gives them a sense of accomplishment while promoting leadership skills, and the good feelings that result from passing on what they’ve learned to another student.

We have a talented staff of directors and teachers, plus a board of directors. And we’re partnered with the Cedar Tree Insitute.

What inspired you to found this program?

My mom’s work as Director of Great Lakes Recovery Centers for twenty-seven years inspired me to become a counselor in that field, working for seven years with kids with substance abuse problems in residential settings.  As a musician, I later began teaching music lessons in Marquette to kids.  While teaching, I realized there was a local need to help children thrive and become better students overall through music and mentoring. So I decided to create a nonprofit to help reach these goals.

We just finished our first instructor training program on October 26th and 27th.  Fifteen instructors, local professional musicians and social workers, were trained.  We’re implementing the program at the Marquette Alternative High School and the YMCA, along with other community nonprofits.  The passion of the musicians and teachers at the instructor program was amazing, and we all can’t wait to share our passion with the students!

What successes have you seen with the program so far?                                                   

The children in the program are thriving, excelling in school and life.  And we had a student who’s been part of the program since it began attend our instructor training program. This year she attended the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camps on a scholarship.  We are excited to expand our staff, and to begin teaching in the Alternative School – which currently has no music program!

What are the challenges?                                                                                                                               

We’re a nonprofit, so we rely solely on donations from the community, and are working hard to obtain grants.  We’re constantly looking for donations of instruments, new and used, as well as sponsors from local businesses, and anyone in the community who believes in children, music and personal growth, that can assist us with monetary donations.

What else would you like people to know about Music 4 All Kids?                                                                                                                                 

Research shows children who participate in music programs become better students.  Our program teaches and mentors children.  We believe in the power of music in a child’s life, and the power of a positive role model. Music can expand and grow your life, and we are excited to bring music to children who don’t have that benefit through their school system.

If there is a child you know who could benefit, or needs a mentor or a musical mentor, contact us. Our new website is http://www.music4allkids.us, and my number is 906-235-5163.

Additional funds would help us to expand our program by providing funding for those students in our target demographic, as well as add a wider variety of musical instruction to our current program.

If you or anyone you know would like to make a donation of instruments or money, we thank you, and the children in the program thank you!

(This article was reprinted with permission from the Winter 2013 – 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2013. All rights reserved.)

And what did Shane say when we surprised her last night with news of Health & Happiness’s donation?

Oh my God! That’s great! That means so much. Wow, thank you!

Be sure to check out their website, www.music4allkids.us and Facebook page for more on their program!

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Creative Inspiration: Spinning Your Web, by Roslyn Elena McGrath

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that snags your dreams

and digests them into poems,

stories, anecdotes, detailing  your pursuits.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that composes melodies,

visualizes songs, and arranges cantatas

into vessels that carry your essence.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that turns sounds into words, words into stories,

stories into epics and epics into history

that echoes your perspective.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that causes thoughts to grow into patterns,

patterns into beliefs, and beliefs into panoramas

of living art that creates itself.

You are now enchanted here,

the believer of the tales you’ve spun.

Turn this weaving at an angle now

and watch the kaleidoscope rearrange.

The colors shift and change

to elaborate new stories.

Cause and effect continue unbroken

‘til the strand holding them together changes.

Allow one piece of the puzzle to emerge

and the whole puzzle is recreated.

You are a shape-shifter,

turning with the tides set in motion

by your self-created patterns

that shine upon reflection

and remain invisible in the dark,

netting the nuggets that fuel their weave.

Beauty lies in the lace of creation,

its tensile strength and endless adaptability

mesmerizing us deeper into its geometric repetition,

echoing the sound wave its Originator made.

Strum a strand for your own expansion, expression,

create a new form that propagates itself for you.

Witness the shift

of one heart humming

with Original creation,

hanging in the mystery of the Void.

You are endless patterning

recreating itself

with thoughtwave

after thoughtwave.

Channel the changes you desire

into your warp and weft

as part of the Eternal Tapestry

that lives and breathes and moves.

Continue your hum louder.

The chorus grows to support you.

You emerge with poetry

laced throughout your skin

and echoing through your pores

into your cells and out to the world,

a    spinner     spinning       itself       into      glory.

 

Roslyn McGrath facilitates healing experiences through her art, poetry, intuitive counseling, energy healing, workshops and guided meditations. This poem was inspired by her painting Spider Woman, and will be part of her meditation CD series. Listen to other meditations, view art and learn more at  www.intuitivelearningcreations.com.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Fall 2013 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration – Contagious?

Every day, the actions we take influence others, for better or worse. Though relatively small in population, our area has quite a few women who have influenced others for the better through their public achievements. We asked a few of them, predominantly those in the arts, to tell us about a woman who helped inspire their own creativity and/or achievements.  

We also were fortunate to be able to include this year’s USA Weightlifting Champion and local USEOC trainee Vanessa McCoy, who has created a very significant accomplishment in a field until recently associated with men.  

We hope these nuggets will inspire you and remind you of those who have already inspired you as well. 

Nationally Award-Winning Water Color Artist & Instructor Kathleen Conover: Marquette resident Maggie Lynn is a dedicated artist, art educator, friend, wife and mother who continues to inspire not only in watercolor painting but in life. Though very busy, she always makes time to help others, even myself when she didn’t know me, a struggling newbie-artist. I called one day, asking her to critique my paintings. Without hesitation she looked over all my pieces very carefully, considered silently and shared her years of artist’s-eye expertise. Then she encouraged me not to quit!  I was off and running and so was our friendship, for over thirty years now.  I am blessed to have Maggie as a friend and role model in my life. 

Gretchen Preston, local author of Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River, and More Valley Cats: Fun, Games and New Friends: I discovered the books of Beverly Cleary in the Riverdale School Library when I was a fifth grader. Her many books are about the antics of the children who live on Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon. My attraction to her stories was that not only did I live in Portland, but my grandparents also lived on Klickitat! This connection inspired me to write local children’s stories. My favorite Cleary books are Beezus and Ramona, and Mouse and the Motorcycle. Beverly Cleary is a Newberry Award winning author. Her enchanting stories have been enjoyed by children for over sixty years. 

Social Dance Instructor Camilla Mingay, co-creator and c0-producer of the Annual Blueberry Dance Festival and Holiday Dance Show: Marge Sklar, NMU Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Business, has inspired me since my high school days, when she provided me key dance instruction, and throughout the years since. She gave me the opportunity to perform demonstrations for her college students, encouraged me to choreograph and perform at NMU events, and even brought me to my very first dance competition at Michigan Tech University, where my dance partner and I took first place! Marge has helped make dance instruction accessible to all ages and levels of dancers throughout the community by offering free ballroom dance classes at NMU, acting as advisor to student dance groups, and opening the Dance Zone, where people of all ability levels can learn different forms of social dancing.  

Winner of three gold medals in the 2011 USA Weightlifting National Championships and Marquette USOEC trainee Vanessa McCoy: I’m greatly inspired by Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach.  Melanie has an incredible positive attitude and zest for life! She always seems to be smiling and having fun in competition. She’s also a master at life balance, managing a family of four children, including a special needs child and a husband in politics, while owning a gymnastics academy and training for elite weightlifting competitions.  Melanie’s perseverance has brought her to the top of her sport.  Her example of suffering a difficult back injury and coming back as the top finishing American 2008 Olympic weightlifter, male or female, pushes me to overcome my own obstacles.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2011 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.

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