Mentor, a Change Agent

Ann Minnett MWW photoBy Ann Minnett

Did you look back over the events of 2013 and reflect about their significance? About where you go from here? I did, and not too far into the process, had to narrow my focus to those events that affected me personally. (Others can ponder the government shutdown and how it affected all of us.) I was surprised at how much change occurred in one year and how little of that change I intended.

What hadn’t changed was my waning memory, so I relied on weekly letters that I wrote and shared with my mentor. Throughout the year I responded to a few questions about the previous week.

  • Where have I been resentful? Selfish?
  • Have I been of service?
  • How are my relationships with family and friends?
  • What did I do well?
  • Where was I pleased?

I loved reflecting and writing about the week because it revealed my emotional/spiritual well-being and what needed work.

My mentor read and commented on each week’s letter, pointing out the obvious and ‘suggesting’ alternatives. I love her because she’s had a full and remarkable life and calls me on my BS. She sees the world in black and white—my opposite in that regard. Although the term shades of gray has been ruined, that’s how I view the world. When I dithered in 2013, my mentor grounded me.

So what changed over the past year?  Sure, a lot happened, but my weekly self-reflections revealed that my writing ignited the most significant change—not what I wrote or that I self-published my first novel. The most significant change occurred in the process of publishing a very personal novel about a hard topic. Not all events in Burden of Breath are real, but I thought that the emotions on the page would kill me. Still, I put the novel out there, revealing myself at a level I’d never dared. My mentor walked me through it, and I’m so grateful.

I claim courage for 2013’s change. Who could ask for more?

Nov 28 2010 art shots 146

Snow ghosts are created when heavy snowfall covers and bend trees into ghost-like shapes. This one reminded me of a snow angel. Happy 2014!

Montana Winters


When the winter moon is cold and daylight hours are few, some people dread the darkness and storms of DSCF8095winter. Wintertime blues can be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with symptoms of true depression, but the good news is, bright lights and activity help.

Years in Alaska taught us to savor short daylight hours and enjoy outdoor sports and nocturnal gatherings with friends, establishing friendships lasting over 40 years. We learned to snowshoe, cross-country ski, race sled dogs, snow camp and dog skijor.

DSCF8112 (Medium)Today, I am not as inclined to snow camp but enjoying our area’s beauty and wildlife boosts my mood andDSCF9097 (Medium) stimulates my writing. Breaks to photograph a dozen different bird species and laugh at feral cats interacting with little deer are common happenings. We have learned to make wine, bake bread, enjoy family and realize Montana is a wonderful place to live, write and laugh with friends.

Ina, Dennis, MicheleEnjoy winter!

Cabin Fever Justice?

ImageIn Bush, Alaska, Cabin Fever, or being Shack Nasty as it’s sometimes called, can turn fatal. My husband and I lived for four years in Wales, Alaska, an Inupiaq village of 150 people strung along the Bering Strait. There, death in winter is not infrequent. Jack’s (not his real name) occurred a few years before we arrived.

Jack had raped his little cousin. After serving time in prison, he returned to the still-outraged village. Winter days and nights in the tundra are long and dark, the temperatures arctic and the wind relentless, driving blinding snow from the polar ice pack, far beyond the frozen beach. Anyone caught out in such weather depends on the village lights to orient against becoming hopelessly turned around and out on the unforgiving ice.

The village has a generator, but power outages are common during blizzards. Jack had been visiting one household and left, announcing he was going to walk a ways to visit another family.

Minutes after he set out the village plunged into darkness. After an hour, the lights came back on, but Jack had vanished. The first rumors began. Talk was that the power outage had been timed for Jack’s walk alone on the beach.

That spring, hunters found him out on the ice. Ravens had disfigured his face, and one arm raised high with, they reported, Jack’s hand pointing accusingly at the village. Was the outage caused by fierce weather, or the brooding hatred that can grow and be acted upon in the long, dark, Cabin Fevered nights of an Alaskan winter?

Cabin Fever in the Electronic Age

By: Deborah Epperson

According to the dictionary, cabin fever is an idiomatic term, first recorded in 1918, for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period.

I can understand how early settlers in rural locations could get cabin fever. There were no cars, phones, electricity, or the many things we take for granted today. But in this era of television, cell phones, computers, Skype, IPods, streaming videos, Facebook, eReaders, and a never-ending list of electronic wonders, it takes a lot of work to be “disconnected” from family, friends, or world events.

I never get cabin fever. There is simply too much to do. Research for a book or article, write, cook hearty stews or soups, answer emails, clean out the closets or design that special project to build next summer …here too, the list goes on and on. There are shelves of books, baskets of books, a Kindle full of books waiting to be discovered. There are stories running through my mind, scenes playing out in my dreams, and characters waiting to be named and given life on pages I have yet to write.

When I need fresh air and just want to play, I let loose the hounds (in this case – golden retrievers) into the fresh fallen snow. They romp, frolic, and roll around making their equivalent of snow angels. They’re like two silly kids enjoying a snow day. When play time is over, we trudge back inside to find a warm fire, a treat for them, and cocoa for me. Nope, there’s no time for cabin fever here in our winter wonderland.

Thanks for stopping by,


by Deborah Epperson

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG


Winter Isolation (?)

By Ann MInnett

We live in a snow belt, 21 miles from the nearest town. Our property butts up against the Flathead National Forest, so it seems as though we own thousands and thousands of acres. What I see from my office window this morning: three feet of snow, forest, and higher mountains to the west. And it’s snowing.Image

I thrive in the quiet, the isolation, and even the long dark nights of Montana’s winter—great ambiance for writing.

However, we are far from alone up here. An amazing community of like-minded folks has sprung up within a mile radius. Some of us are year-rounders, some not. We have neighborhood gatherings, and we leave each other alone. We are self-sufficient, and we help one another. We are retired seniors, and some are just starting families. Coming from the big city where I knew the couples who lived on either side of our house and no one else (until I had a garage sale before moving), our community both worries and delights me.

I find solitude and a close spiritual connection in this wilderness, but I was more isolated in the big city.