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I’ve traveled on some winding roads in my life.

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Sometimes I’ve known where I was going, other times I’ve stumbled along until the fog broke only to be surprised at where I’d arrived.

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Sometimes the road has been smooth and free of potholes.

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At other times, it’s been rough going.

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I’ve seen a vision at the end of some of the roads I’ve been on… far off, and faint, but still there, beckoning, calling… enticing me to travel on, no matter how weary I am…

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I’ve traveled roads that have taken me closer and closer to my dreams…

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Sometimes the door at the end of the road has been flung wide open, ready, waiting to welcome me home.

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Sometimes I’ve found a door closed. A dead end. Sometimes the road has told me it’s time to stop chasing those foolish dreams, to turn around and back track a bit.

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The road has been steep at times, with many hills to climb.

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The road is straight and easy-going today.

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But there have been times that the road was so full of twists and turns that I didn’t know which way to go.

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Sometime the road has been so drenched in sunlight that the sailing was smooth.

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The road has been cold, and frigid, and bitter.

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Every once in awhile there’s been a rainbow to show me I’m on the right path.

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And so I will keep on traveling, until the road leads me to my final resting place… a heavenly home beyond compare.

The Long and Winding Road by Sherrie Hansen

Chapter One… Home on the Range

Chapter Two… The Happy Wanderer

Chapter Three… Rocky Mountain High

Chapter Four… Country Roads, Take Me Home

Chapter Five… In His Time

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I received a very warm welcome from Erik and friends at the Danish American Center in Minneapolis yesterday. I spoke about “Night and Day” and its Danish connections, our recent trip to Denmark, and the creative process of writing a book.

My first book, Night and Day (It's Midnight in Minnesota and Daybreak in Denmark...)

The Melting Moments (little Danish butter cookies with almond frosting) I took were a great hit and the book signing went well! My Mom and Dad went along and so did my husband, Mark.

I told several family stories and told about my niece making Danish aebleskivers when I was talking about new generations of Danes. I also told them about the delicious pork roast with the crackled skin and brown gravy that my Danish cousin’s daughter, Anne-Sofie, who is 21 years old, made for us when we were in Hillerod last month. (Red cabbage and new potatoes, too!) My mouth still waters thinking about it! It was so fun getting to know another generation of Danish relatives, who will hopefully keep the family relationships and stories going strong for another several decades!

My Danish cousin, Helle, me, Anna-Sofie, her daughter, and Boyda, her mother, who wrote letters to my Grandma Victoria for decades.

Another of Maren Jensen’s descendants (my Mom’s second cousin, Shirley) also came to hear my presentation and bought a copy of Night and Day for each of her brothers and sisters. It was a great day, and I enjoyed meeting all the fellow Danes at Danebo! I even met a fellow Betsy-Tacy / Maud Hart Lovelace fan!

I’ve always loved mosaics. I find them at summertime garage sales. I gravitate towards them when I’m buying remembrances from our summer vacations. I’ve inherited afew when relatives have died.

When I don’t find actual mosaics, I gravitate towards mosaic-like images. What is a quilt, if not a mosaic made with fabrics?

A stone wall if not a mosaic made with rocks?

Stained glass windows if not a mosaic made with bits of colorful glass?

Just like jigsaw puzzles, I like mosaics because they’re bits and pieces – nothing pretty by themselves – that when put together, become beautiful.

As a writer, my hope is that my books – mosaics of words and thoughts woven together in such a way that they’re pleasing to the soul -reflect that same sort of beauty.

Some would say that my collection of would be candidates for mosaic creations is just one more way that I feed my pack-rat tendencies. That’s me… I can’t throw anything away, even when it’s broken. As I writer, I also cling to things. I remember things that happen to me, people I’ve known, sights I’ve seen, and file them away to be included in a book someday. Nothing gets deleted from my memory banks permanently. Even when I purposely hit delete, it seems my thoughts and remembrances hide away in a cache somewhere, ready to resurface when the moment is right.

I’ve written 8 books. There are several more floating around in my head, random snippets of life, experiences, and emotions waiting to beorganized into a mosaic of words.

Someday, I’m going to make my own china mosaics, too. I’ve got the materials. I’ve been buying up flat-faced photo frames on clearance so I can cover them with mosaic wonderfulness. I have the tools. I even bought a nipper. Now I just need the time. Summertime is too busy. Maybe a winter project. (I’ve been saying that for at least 10 years…)

In the meantime, when someone breaks a piece of china at the Blue Belle Inn, I try not to hyperventilate. Then, as I look at the broken shards and the shattered pieces, I console myself with dreams of mosaic-fronted fireplaces and coffee tables covered in mosaic splendor.

I’ve seen mosaics embedded with Scrabble letters, sea shells, sea glass, pebbles, stained glass, beads, jigsaw puzzle pieces, driftwood, andcharms.

Some pieces are dimensional, and may even include half of a teacup, part of a special wine bottle, or some other precious object. Seeing the creative things other people think of always inspires me and gives me license to pick up pretty rocks, sea shells, and bits of this and thatwherever we wander.

I guess making mosaics out of my broken china is like making lemonade out of lemons. In many cases, so is writing a book. If those broken bitsand pieces can become a cherished memory, if a broken heart can be reshaped into a beautiful book, what better way to preserve the fragments of the past? What better way to tell the stories of our lives?

(Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen is scheduled to be released in June of 2010)

I’ve been fairly silent about this until now, but for the last month I’ve been participating in a group at Gather.com called Shedding Light. The group is led by a wonderful “sistah” named Mariana T. Our discussions are about light – not just about being lighter, but about knowing ourselves, being healthy, and treating our bodies in the best way possible.

Our assignment this week is to become a flower, and to write about our day, night and life from the perspective of that flower. This is a story telling form familiar to me – my husband is a pastor, and one Sunday, he astounded me by telling the story of David and Goliath from the perspective of the stone David used in his slingshot. The children in our Sunday School did a Christmas program in December that featured the Christmas story told from the perspective of the animals in the stable where Jesus was born. Another time, our teenagers told the Easter story from the perspective of the rock that lay rolled across the tomb where Jesus was buried.

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If my husband can tell a story from the perspective of a cold, inanimate rock, certainly I can handle being a flower!

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Choosing which flower I most closely identified with was my next task. The most obvious choice seemed to be the bluebell, the flowers after which my bed and breakfast, The Blue Belle Inn, is named. The bluebells are blooming right now, as they always do around Mother’s Day. But I’ve been Miss Blue Belle, done that, so often in the past 19 years… that I decided to go another direction. I truly wanted to distance myself from the business aspects of my life and have this be about me.

I thought briefly about being a pink cabbage rose, a color and flower I love, but as those of you who know about the book I’ve been working on for the last several months may have guessed, in the end, I had to be a water lily. It is where my heart is, at least for now.

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Here goes:

I am afloat in a tranquil pond of warm water today. Last night was very chilly, but the sun was bright this morning. I  languishing in my watery lair for part of the day, then poked my head above the surface of the water and unfurled my petals.

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My friends tell me admit that they think I’m pretty adaptable. I can live underwater, and in the air, and spend part of my time in each place – a feat the Little Mermaid would have given anything to accomplish.

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I am born of still, black waters, baptized in it so to speak, but I flourish in the sunshine.

My hardy cousins survive brutal winters when it is cold and the surface above them is covered with a thick layer of ice, but I am a fragile, tropical lily who was transplanted and forced to live in a bitterly cold climate. I spend the cold months inside where it is warm, laying dormant, wrapped in black, waiting for spring.

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Cold does not become me. I need the sunshine to bloom, the warmth of the air to be at my best.

If you could see my humble beginnings – a basket of wet dirt – mud really – weighted down by rocks to keep me at the bottom of the pond, you would marvel all the more at my perfectly shaped petals and sweet, pastel-colored blossoms.

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You might think my life is idyllic, as I float gently in the warm current of a summer pond – you might equate me with peace, stillness, and calm. But although I can hide under the surface when it hails and storms, my leaves can easily be ripped to shreds. I am happy to support my friends the frogs when they sit atop me and sing their nightly serenade, but I secretly detest the slimy algae that cling to my stem and cloud my home with green. Pond scum is a curse to my kind.

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But for now, I am happy. It is spring. Soon, there will be tadpoles flitting about in the water, hiding under my leaves. I feel lazy today, but I have just enough energy to lift my pink petals and yellow center to the sunshine. All is well.

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The Minnesota Public Television show featuring the Blue Belle Inn is now available online at http://www.youtube.com/ksmq#p/u/6/arS0cSJAgLg. It’s episode 403 when you get to YouTube. I’m the last interview for the Cities on the Move program about St. Ansgar, Iowa, so be patient!

My husband took these photos yesterday.

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Daybreak – New Release! (Sequel to Night & Day)

Night and Day

Golden Rod

Sweet William

Shy Violet

Blue Belle

Wild Rose

Thistle Down

Love Notes

Stormy Weather

Water Lily

Merry Go Round

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