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home : commentary : thisissue October 22, 2017

A day in a life
Norma Smith Olson, left, and Kathy Magnuson

It's just something that unfolded one step at a time. Things happen that you never really planned. It just unfolds.
- Marie Olofsdotter, see her story here.

by Norma Smith Olson and Kathy Magnuson


Some people collect dolls, some collect salt and pepper shakers. We collect story ideas. In our day-to-day lives we meet strong, interesting and smart women whose stories we could share. Every month our readers send us ideas of women that we could write about. We hang on to these stories and often they show up in the magazine.

As we were sorting through ideas for this July magazine we found ourselves wondering, "What would a day in the life of this woman be like? Or this woman? Or that woman?" This idea for a theme led us to three feature stories of women for this issue - all suggested by our readers - and following each through a day in their lives.

Yasmin Mullings and Karen Kugler are special prosecutors in the Ramsey County Attorney's office, and share their story of the courtroom side of sex trafficking cases. Yao Yang is the co-manager of the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) Food Hub on the HAFA Farm, just south of the Twin Cities. Jamie Becker-Finn is a first-term legislator from Roseville and a member of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus. In this issue we also share stories of a woman who is homeless, a mother whose son was a victim of bullying, and an essay about writing memoir, which is how to share stories of the days of one's life.

Each month we ask you, our readers, to respond to a question related to the theme. This month we turned the theme a bit on its head. "What was a pivotal day in your life?" We've all had them - those times when we're faced with decisions and made choices that led us down one path rather than another. Those turning-point times. Or, we've had those aha moments, when someone says something that shifts our thinking and changes our perspective. We received more "thoughts" from our readers in response to this question than we have room to print!. Click on YourThoughts.

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An aha moment happened for Norma when she was a young mother with a colicky first baby. Feeling alone and inadequate to the job of motherhood, she wanted her own mother, Margaret, to be there with her for support. Margaret lived miles away and needed her own support due to health issues that left her unable to even hold a baby. All three felt like crying. When a friend stopped in to see the new baby, she unknowingly offered Norma lifetime advice by saying, "If your mother isn't able to give you what you need - find another 'mother.'" Aha, what permission! Since that time Norma has identified at least a dozen "chosen mothers" in her life.

Kathy bikes with a group of women most Monday nights. A slightly different group shows up each time, each with their own stories about their days. One friend has shared her recent diagnosis of breast cancer, another her excitement for her daughter heading off to paddle the length of the Mississippi. Other women have told of their pending retirement, world travels and the possibility of a job loss.

How do you choose to fill your days? How do you recognize and honor those aha moments? What happens when we say "yes" to plans that are not our own, things that weren't on the daily schedule? What is it we need to say 'no' to?

We plan to continue to hold room for curiosity - and serendipity - as we go through our days. How about you?

Coming up:

August's
theme is "Body Awareness." What is one thing you love about your body and why?Tell us about it. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: July10, 2017
August Advertising Sections:
• Education and Lifelong Learning Guide
• Women Going Places Guide
• GoSeeDo/Calendar Guide
Deadline: July 10, 2017

September's theme is "callings." What call to action have you answered? How did you recognize it as your call? Tell us about it. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: August 10, 2017
September Advertising Sections:
• Elder Guide
• Grrrls Go Green Guide
• Just for Kids Guide
• Spirituality Guide
• GoSeeDo/Calendar Guide
Deadline: August 10, 2017 Watch for the Minnesota Women's Directory with the September issue. Final advertising deadline: July 20, 2017





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