Can’t always be silent on the bigger issues

Julie Seedorf: Can’t always be silent on the bigger issues

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

I always seem to have an opinion on something. It doesn’t matter whether the subject affects me. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I know anything about the subject. I always find a subject to have an opinion about. I also have a problem with letting others know what I think they should do whether they ask me for my opinion or not. I do not know why I think I should give another person advice about their life when I can’t handle mine most of the time. It seems to be a call deep inside of me that I must always speak up. Lately, I have been examining why I do this and figuring out how to change this behavior. It is tiring  always having an opinion about things I am not invested in. I also need to ask myself whether stating my opinion is helping or hurting. And whether what I say will make a difference or whether the words are drifting out into space and draining my energy especially in conversations with others.

We can’t always be silent. Maybe we or me need to decide when to pick our battles and make it count. The citizens of Albert Lea and surrounding areas have done that when speaking up against Mayo moving services. It might not save this hospital (I hope it does), but it may help others in the future. In spite of being told you can’t fight the big entities, they have taken on this fight. Maybe if more of us had done this in the past we would have more left in our communities, rather than accepting this is the way it is going to be. This is one subject I will always have an opinion about because it does directly affect where I live.

I have always stated unless we walk in someone’s shoes we don’t understand the problem completely. I have been following the Save Our Hospital Facebook group and there are many out there who laugh and make fun of anyone thinking this could be an antitrust issue or that Mayo has a monopoly. They cite instances from other hospital groups and have said, “Well then these other groups are, too.” They are probably right but — the other hospital groups aren’t in our area and Mayo is the one that affects us. If they think there is a possibility the other hospital groups have the same issue then they should say something.

For years people have given up, kept silent and accepted there is nothing they can do about progress even when it hurts their community. The citizens of Albert Lea are giving the nation a lesson in saying, “We have had enough. It is time we speak up for our community and bring it back to what it was and what it can be again.” Maybe other communities will do the same thing, not just with health care.

I got sick this week. I had to visit a doctor. I have a clinic one house away from my house. That is the clinic Mayo owns. But recently I switched to United Hospital District. They have a clinic in my community. I did the first visit to meet my doctor but hadn’t used it for illness. One of the reasons I switched was because of difficulty getting appointments here when I was ill. I went through that maze six years ago when I had a more serious illness. My physician, after finally being able to get an appointment with her, would tell me to come back the next week, and then I couldn’t get an appointment. It finally led to her telling me to call and talk to her nurse, who would get me in. It was a frustrating experience. I had a wonderful doctor but was not able to access her.

There was also another physician at our clinic I loved. But he, too, was moved and hard to get into. The final straw was when I cut my head open and my husband dragged me over to the clinic for stitches. They wanted to send me to Albert Lea for stitches. I complained and they consented to do the stitches, but the bill was enormous, too. My insurance company told me I should have gone to the emergency room and it would have only cost me $150 versus the $500 for 20 minutes. I thought that was strange reasoning. I might add the day I was sick the clinic one house away from me was closed.

So the morning of my illness this week, I called the United Hospital District Clinic and I got in that morning. I didn’t have to travel, and I was happy with my treatment. When you are sick you don’t need to deal with the frustration of trying to find health care.

Another friend of mine got sick earlier in the year and went to see if he could get an appointment at the Mayo Clinic here in town. It would be two weeks. He remembered he could use the VA Clinic. He called the Albert Lea VA Clinic and got in the same day.

If these two clinics can provide same-day appointments, why can’t the Mayo Clinic, who is supposed to be the best at health care, find a way to do the same thing in outlying areas? They are the best at what they do in Rochester. Wouldn’t they want to be the best at what they do in those cities where they made a commitment to help and serve the sick?

So I do have an opinion on this because it not only affects me and my family but my friends. I want to thank the citizens of Albert Lea for taking on this fight. That is my opinion.

Watercolor Artist Charlotte Laxen

From the show at the Interchange

From the show at the Interchange

When I meet someone with talent I admire I swoon. I have never been a groupie for rock bands but if the word expanded to artists or authors the name would fit.

I am not shy of name dropping about those I have met who are famous in their world such as in my author world. Since at heart I feel as if I have the heart of an artist I have added painting to my groupie world and one of the people I follow is Watercolor Artist Charlotte Warmka Laxen.

I can claim knowing her, since high school in fact. We have maintained a friendship over the years but recently have reconnected and spent more time together.

So today I would like to share the artwork and story of my friend Charlotte in her own words.


Creating has been part of my life since I was a little girl. My love for watercolor began when I took my first class from Gerald Korte at St.Cloud State University where I received my B.S. in Art Education in 1972. My passion for watercolor began after my first trip to France in 1991. I have been blessed over the past years to receive both emerging and career grants from the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council with funds appropriated by the McKnight Foundation to help me continue to move forward in my artistic growth and recognition.

Having seriously been painting in watercolor over 24 years, I still continue to find new ways to get excited about the beauty and expressive qualities of this medium! I am presently exploring painting watercolor on canvas!

I generally paint in my studio but also venture outdoors often to paint as well. I began my journey to teach myself “plein aire” (outdoor) painting by painting the “Arboretum Through the Seasons”-an eighteen month period of painting at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum from 2005-2006. This was followed by a show in their Reedy Gallery from Oct-Dec. of 2006 which shared this journey!

The privilege of teaching watercolor painting in Monet’s Gardens in Giverny France, through a school called Art-Study Giverny, was realized both in 2007 and 2009 and I have also painted in many different regions of France over the years. My work is found in private collections in the U.S., France and Australia.

I still find my passion in French themes or from this inspiration at the core of each new subject I choose. Even more importantly to me, the past few years, I have been able to share my personal Christian faith in many God inspired paintings such as Rabboni and the Lion of Judah. (see faith gallery) I love to share God’s amazing provision to encourage others. I was born and raised in rural southern Minnesota, a farmers daughter and the 7th of 8 children. I am the mother of two wonderful adult children and the grandmother of six. I have a deep love for God, people and painting. I have enjoyed sharing my home with people and students from France and other countries.

I was an art teacher part time in the Minnesota school system from 1973-1988 and presently, in addition to painting, I teach private lessons and  group workshops in watercolor. I have a new desire to offer opportunities that will allow art to bring people healing and to a closer walk with God.


On Saturday I attended an Art Exhibit at The Interchange in Albert Lea, Minnesota featuring Charlotte’s work. A couple of weeks ago I took my first watercolor class with Charlotte and visiting her show I could understand better what she does to create her beautiful paintings. So I am a follower not only of her artwork but of the way she chooses to live her life inspiring others. Please take time to visit her website and support her artwork, put one of her masterpieces on your wall or attend one of her classes. I guarantee you will come away inspired.

Vicki, Charlotte, Sue and Sue.

Vicki, Charlotte, Sue and Sue.

Is it Woo Hoo or Boo Hoo that the New Year is Almost Here?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf Published week of December 29th, 2014

Woo hoo! The new year is almost here! Or is it, boo hoo the New Year is almost here?!

I am very conflicted about whether we should be happy that the New Year is here or sad that the old year is gone.

What does it mean when the old year is gone? It is another year of your life that you can’t get back. Depending on what kind of a year you have had, that might not be all bad but it also means you are older.

What does the New Year mean? It means that we have to find all the paper work and file taxes. It means, if we have a business we have to do more paperwork. It means we have to redo our health insurance.  When the old year ends and the new year begins it means all that paperwork has to also start over and get organized for the new year.

We make New Year’s resolutions for the New Year that most of us don’t keep, and we also resolve to not make the same mistakes in the New Year that we made the year before. We usually don’t keep that resolve either or if we do, we make different mistakes in the New Year.

I looked around on the Internet to check out some other people’s New Year’s resolutions. They made me chuckle. Have any of you ever made these resolutions? I will not bore my boss by with the same excuse for taking leaves. I will think of some more excuses. I will stop buying useless junk online. I will read the manual just as soon as I can find it. Always replace the gas nozzle when driving away from the pump. I resolve to stop poisoning my family with my cooking. These were taken from Random on Fanpop and Lifestyle online. I could probably adopt some of those for me especially the cooking one.

Looking back at the past year, for me, it has been a year of joys and sorrows. We were blessed to spend time with family and also friends we had not seen in a long time. I had three new books published. We were able to complete some long-awaited home projects such as putting my bathroom back together after a pipe-breaking disaster, shingling our garage and installing some new windows so we could be warmer this winter. There was joy being cat parents to our shysters who turn our sometimes tears into laughter.

In the midst of happiness there is always sadness. There is sadness when those you love are in pain and suffer broken relationships. There is pain because we lost many friends this year to death. There is heartache watching more people we love endure illness.  There is emptiness when longtime friends move away.  The year was a mixture of both joy and sadness, and I expect the New Year to be the same.

I have written about my evergreen tree in my yard many times. It grows tall and has more tops than an evergreen tree should have. Every year we wait to see if we are going to lose it. One year during the high winds that tore apart our town that evergreen tree took a big lean toward the ground. We could have let it go, but I begged to try and straighten it so it could stand tall and beautiful again.

Going through my many pictures I came across the picture of the leaning evergreen tree. I looked out at the tree standing tall and proud once again in my lawn. It had recovered from disaster. It may have sprouted another top over the years since I last wrote about it. Each year this tree adds to its branches. Each summer it is filled with nests from birds making it their home. It gives them warmth and comfort and cover. Each New Year so far, this tree has weathered the storms. Looking at my tree imperfect and beautiful as it is, gives me hope for the future of my imperfect resolutions and life.

Woo Hoo! The New Year is almost here. Boo Hoo! I don’t want to deal with all the paperwork. Father Time will soon hand over the duties of time to Baby New Year. You know what they say about time:

Time is like the wind, it lifts the light and leaves the heavy. — Doménico Cieri Estrada

Time is making fools of us again. — J.K. Rowling

Time is a figure eight, at its center the city of Déjà vu. — Robert Brault 

Time heals what reason cannot. — Seneca

Time is the wisest counsellor of all. — Pericles

Time is what we want most, but… what we use worst. — William Pen

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind. — Nathaniel Hawthorne

Time is money. — Benjamin Franklin

When Time is spent, Eternity begins. — Helen Hunt Jackson 

Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away. — Ben Hecht 

And then of course, time marches on. March on this New Year through the thickness of life. Happy New Year.