Win an Overnight Stay & Kayak Adventure in Fort Dodge, Iowa

A Community Worth Exploring

Complete Entry Form on Bottom of Post for Your Chance to Win! Photo by Linda Leier Thomason

Curiosity finally got the best of me.

As an Iowa State University student, I frequently sped by Fort Dodge, Iowa on US 169 North, never stopping. Fellow students from Fort Dodge consistently boasted “it’s a great place to live and work.”

I disregarded their propaganda.

Time passed.

Finally, in spring 2021 when COVID restrictions lifted, I ventured to Fort Dodge, Iowa. Homepage – Fort Dodge (

To say I was amazed by what the community offers is an understatement.

I’ve lived in major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Georgia, Washington, D.C. and Omaha, Nebraska. I was totally entrenched in my 20+ year hometown of Charleston, SC, and others. But this place, Fort Dodge, Iowa, has been perhaps the biggest surprise yet.

For its size this community is richly diverse in what it offers its citizens, everything from top-notch parks to plentiful dining and shopping to a diverse cultural experiences, including public art. ENTER to WIN an OVERNIGHT trip. Complete form below.

Location + Distance

Des Moines: 1 hour + 24 minutes

Kansas City: 4 hours

Minneapolis: 3 hours

Omaha: 2 hours + 45 minutes

Sioux City, IA: 2 hours

Sioux Falls, SD: 3 hours

Fun Facts

  • The town was founded in 1869 and is informally known as the “Frontier of the Future.”
  • Fort Dodge traces its beginnings to 1850 when soldiers from the United States Army erected a fort at the junction of the Des Moines River and Lizard Creek. It was named after Henry Dodge, a governor of Wisconsin Territory (which had included Iowa until Iowa became a state in 1846). The fort was abandoned by the Army in 1853. 
  • The Des Moines River flows through Fort Dodge.
  • Population is just over 25,000.
  • Fort Dodge is the commercial center for North Central and Northwest Iowa.
  • The major industries include biofuels, livestock feed, gypsum and limestone mining, can production, drywall manufacturing, trucking, the manufacture of veterinary pharmaceuticals and vaccines, and retail. 
  • Drywall was patented by a Fort Dodge resident.
  • Gypsum rock is processed into drywall and plaster products at several Fort Dodge manufacturing facilities.
  • The Blanden Memorial Art Museum, the first public museum of art in the state of Iowa, is located in the historic Oak Hill district of Fort Dodge. It opened June 5, 1932 and is renowned as one of the finest small museums in the nation for its extensive permanent collection as well as popular touring exhibits. The permanent collection on display includes European and American artists prints, sculptures and paintings. 

Public Art


Veterans Memorial Park Parks & Trails / City of Fort Dodge, Iowa ( Photo by Linda Leier Thomason.
Veterans Memorial Park 1421 National Avenue Photo by Linda Leier Thomason.

The 400-acre John F. Kennedy Memorial Park (1415 Nelson Avenue) and Veterans Memorial Park surround Badger Lake and are linked by an outstanding trail system. The playground will delight kids of all ages.

Photo by Kenneth R. Thomason

Yurts to rent at Kennedy Park on Badger Lake. Kennedy Memorial Park – Webster, IA ( Photo by Linda Leier Thomason.

Grain Silo Mural

Imagine time & talent in this creation. Fort Dodge Grain Silo Project History | Fort Dodge Public Art Photo by Linda Leier Thomason.

What’s Included in Giveaway

Fine Print

  • Complete and return entry form below.
  • Each person may enter 1x only throughout the contest. If your household uses the same email, it can be used for multiple entries.
  • Trip must be completed by October 31, 2021.
  • Entrants must be age 25 or older. USA Citizens only.
  • Winner is not required to use kayaking portion of this giveaway but, if not used, cannot gift to another party.
  • Winner is responsible for making reservation through the hotel and agrees to all conditions of the property.
  • Transportation to & from Fort Dodge, Iowa is not provided.
  • Winner agrees to forward three (3) photographs taken during the trip and five (5) sentences about their experience to www.lindaleierthomason within seven (7) days of completing their trip. Images may be used on social media outlets and on this website.
  • Winner Notification: Winner will be chosen at random on Friday, July 9, 2021. Winner will be notified via email. Response must be received in 24 hours. If none, another winner will be randomly chosen.
  • Prize is non-transferable. No cash redemption or substitution will be allowed.
  • Winner assumes all responsibility and releases and all prize donors and sponsors from all liability.
  • By accepting prize, winner understands and agrees to all contest rules.
  • Immediate family members (spouse/partner, children, grandchildren and parents) of prize sponsors, Fort Dodge, Chamber of Commerce and/or are not eligible to enter.

This contest is done in cooperation with the Fort Dodge, Iowa Convention and Visitors Bureau Homepage – Fort Dodge ( and we thank them and all contest sponsors for their generosity and desire to introduce their community to us.

Enter & Win Overnight Stay

By submitting your information, you’re registering for the giveaway and understand and agree to abide by all contest rules.

Your information will not be used for any marketing campaigns nor given to any other organization to use.

Who do you want to share this trip with?

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©Copyright. June 2021. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.

You will most often find her outdoors enjoying natural settings, wherever she’s at.

Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Send me a note today. Let’s connect.

How to Climb the World’s Largest Mountain Carving in Progress?

Who’d voluntarily climb to the top of the world’s largest mountain-carving-in-progress, Crazy Horse Memorial, in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota 21 times?

They would!

Photo Credit: Rachel Knight

Meet Marty and Ray.

These retired 70+ year old Sioux Falls, South Dakota residents always permanently mark the first weekend in June on their calendar.

Making this 36th Annual Spring 10K Volksmarch (an organized hike) extra special for them was their whole family, including their two granddaughters, joining in for the 6.2-mile round trip woodland ramble.

“For two decades this event has been the hallmark for the beginning of our summer activities,” said Marty. “The weather is always an unknown in the Hills, but we revel in enjoying spring for a second time…smelling lilacs and crabapple trees in their prime.”

Unpredictable Weather

2021’s record heat made the hike on the dirt trails and gravel work roads a bit more rigorous. Organizers were prepared with four check stations on the pathway along with fund raising refreshments and port-a-potties. Roving trail monitors and medical professionals for those needing assistance were also available.

Marty nearly had to call it quits with the onset of heat stroke symptoms. The family paused while she rested in paltry shade and consumed plenty of liquids, allowing her to continue onward and reach the turn-around point: the arm of Crazy Horse directly in front of the nine-story-high face, which was completed June 3, 1998.

2021 Changes

According to Marty this year there were a few unexpected changes with a $20 fee to get on the grounds. “In the past they asked participants to bring canned goods and the fee was waived.” The hiking fee is $3 per participant or $20 for the hike and a medal. Plan your hike.

Their Why

Marty’s response when asked why they’ve hiked Crazy Horse 21 times?

Photo Credit: Chris Johnson

“There is such natural beauty along the way. We enjoy visiting with guests from across the USA. And the view from the top is truly spellbinding.” 

NOTE: The hike averages two to four hours to complete. Hikers are encouraged to pace themselves due to the terrain and peak elevation (nearly 6,500 feet above sea level.) The trail rises about 500 feet up to the mountain on hilly, rough terrain with some steep inclines. Infant strollers and pets are not allowed.

In addition, this year’s hikers had the opportunity to visit with the 17 workers carving the monument.

Marty added, “The monument is a true testament to the creativity of man and aptly represents the dignity of Native Americans.”

“I don’t know if our granddaughters will ever accompany us on the climb again. I do know they felt a sense of accomplishment for completing the six-mile event. They also experienced a new appreciation for the history and beauty of the Black Hills.”

Plan your visit and meet this retired teacher and health scientist on the trail in June 2022-God willing, their 22nd Volksmarch.

The Family photo taken by Crazy Horse Memorial Representative

8 Quick Facts & Links

  •  Polish American sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, began this granite sculpture to honor the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, in 1948.
  • The memorial was commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder.  The Mountain : Crazy Horse Memorial®
  • The sculpture is planned to be 563 feet high and 641 feet long, making it one of the largest sculptural undertakings in the world 
  • The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation’s mission it to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians.
  • This project is funded solely by private donations.
  • The grounds of the sculpture include an Indian museum & plans for a University & Medical Training Center for the North American Indian.
  • Plan a visit. Plan a Visit : Crazy Horse Memorial®

    ©Copyright. June 2021. Linda Leier Thomason

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

If you’d like to have Linda write about your community or event, contact her below.

42 Buildings You Must See up Close & in Person

I’m in awe of buildings. Their size. Their function. Their design. Their history.

The architectural design and messages conveyed leave a lasting impression. Looking back on photographs, I easily recall the location and the feeling I had near it.

Buildings communicate the way people live, work and move in an area. They represent both history and progress.

I marvel at the gifted, creative minds and hard-working tradespeople who design and build such pieces.

I’ve been told I’m a “cheap date.”

Drop me in a location and I’m impressed with buildings.

Trees impact me equally.

I’m okay with this. Perhaps, it’s my petite size. Or, insatiable curiosity.

Either way, I’m not alone. The emotional impact of architecture | TED Talks

Here are some of the most impressive buildings I’ve seen and visited. Some are not the most well-known buildings in their communities. They are, however, the ones that instantly grabbed my attention and captured my interest.

Links by building and location sorted by state/region/country are provided under each image.

Click on them. Plan a visit.

All photography is mine.

What’s Your Favorite Building?

What message does it send you?

Let me know below.

Suggest a new building for me to explore. Be sure to send a photo and link along. Thank you.




Chase County Courthouse | City of Cottonwood Falls Kansas ( What to See & Do in Kansas Flint Hills – Linda Leier Thomason

Kansas City

100 Years Of Kansas City History | Union Station KC Home | Visit Kansas City, KS ( Kansas City Must-See Attractions in One Day – Linda Leier Thomason

South Dakota

Sioux Falls


Welcome to De Smet, SD ( Laura Ingalls Wilder (De Smet Development Corporation) ( Little House on the Prairie Getaway – Linda Leier Thomason


Home – Mitchell Convention & Visitors Bureau, SD (


Clear Lake

Clear Lake, Iowa | Chamber of Commerce | Stay at the Shore and Explore! ( Surf Ballroom Win a Visit to Clear Lake, IA – Linda Leier Thomason %

Fort Dodge

Homepage – Fort Dodge ( Fort Dodge Grain Silo Project History | Fort Dodge Public Art


The Covered Bridges | Madison County, Iowa Chamber & Welcome Center 9 Reasons Madison County Iowa is Worth Visiting – Linda Leier Thomason



Harvey P. and Eliza Sutton House, Scheme 3 | Frank Lloyd Wright Trust ( Home – Visit McCook Faith, Family & Farming: McCook, Nebraska – Linda Leier Thomason


The Archway – Kearney, NE Visit Kearney Nebraska – Sandhill Crane Capital of the World 5 Ways Kearney, NE Stole My Heart – Linda Leier Thomason

Red Cloud

Lodging at the Cather Second Home Guest House | Willa Cather Foundation – Red Cloud Nebraska (NE) 3 Generations Thrilled with Nebraska Adventure – Linda Leier Thomason


Johnson County Courthouse City of Tecumseh, Nebraska – Home (


NOTE: Roofline resembles a plow breaking through sod. Gage County Tourism Beatrice, NE ( Nebraska’s Homestead National Park & Holy Family Shrine – Linda Leier Thomason




Churchill Downs Racetrack | Thoroughbred horse racing in Louisville, Kentucky | Churchill Downs Racetrack | Home of the Kentucky Derby



Former President Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home. Plains | Official Georgia Tourism & Travel Website | Explore SAM Shortline | Home


Attractions and Things To Do In Georgia | Visit Columbus, GA | Visit Columbus, GA (


New Orleans

Home Page – Louisiana Supreme Court (

South Carolina


United States Custom House (U.S. National Park Service) ( 20 Free Natural Attractions in Charleston, South Carolina – Linda Leier Thomason
Colonial Lake Charleston, SC | Official Site for Charleston Vacations & Charleston Tourism | Charleston Area CVB (




Blaine House-Maine’s Governor’s Mansion


Maine’s General Store

New York

New York City




Jerome Chamber of Commerce – Jerome, AZ Home – The Haunted Hamburger Hint: Request Backside (not StreetSide) patio.


Coronado Island

Coronado Visitor Center | Discover Coronado Island

Napa Valley

Napa Valley | Explore Napa Valley Online



Home ( Hotels Near Waikiki Beach – Hilton Waikiki Beach


Las Vegas
Taken outside the Aria Resort

Boulder City

Hoover Dam | Bureau of Reclamation (



Visit Seattle Washington | Travel & Tourism | Official Site Downtown Seattle-A Review of 7 Attractions – Linda Leier Thomason



Antigua: Everything You Need to Know for a Memorable Trip – Linda Leier Thomason

Costa Rica

Visit Costa Rica | Costa Rica Tourism Official website

Dominican Republic


British Columbia



Tourism Vancouver – official source of tourist information, things to do, restaurants for Vancouver BC Canada 3 Stunning Days In Victoria & Vancouver Canada – Linda Leier Thomason

Which building do you want to see, or have you seen? Jot me a note below.

Suggest another building for me to explore. Be sure to include a link or two. Thanks!

©Copyright. May 2021. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.

You will most often find her outdoors enjoying natural settings, wherever she’s at.

Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Send me a note today. Let’s connect.

10 Ways to Begin Healing from An Emotionally Absent Mother

Everyone has a mother.

Mother’s Day elevates the importance of this role and can be especially painful for anyone experiencing the death or absence of a mother in their life.

While cards are bought, flowers delivered and gifts given, there are those who grieve for something they do not feel or experience, or maybe never had-a bond with their mother.


Those in loving close relationships with their mothers, especially within the same family, find it difficult to understand that the opposite can be true.

In fact, they may alienate, or be mad at, a sibling estranged from their mother. They cannot comprehend the hurt, secrecy and shame of being on the outside of the family unit and that collective bond. They may also feel the favoritism but not know how to change it. They can’t. No one can.

There is no grasp on the deep scars and hurt from being rejected by their shared mother.

It simply doesn’t mirror their own personal experience. Nor, does it fit the universal mother myth–that all mothers love their children.


Researchers have long studied parental absence, neglect and abandonment on the family dynamic. Considerable research also exists on what happens to a family structure when a mother dies, at any age.

For those whose mothers have died, solace may be found in reading Hope Edelman’s book of comfort, help and understanding when a mother dies- “Motherless Daughters.” Motherless Daughters | Hope Edelman

This piece focuses only on mother’s who are emotionally absent from their daughters’ lives, subsequent effects of that and ways to heal from the rejection.

It does not cover neglectful mothers who, themselves, were raised by loving, supportive mothers. This subject will be covered in a future post.

What is an Emotionally Absent Mother?


Emotional Intelligence: Ability to use our feelings to inform our thoughts.

Emotionally Absent Mothers: Unaware and insensitive to emotional experience of their children.

Who is She?

Emotionally absent mothers are too busy, stressed out or self-absorbed to see who a daughter really is. This sort of mother doesn’t even realize being emotionally present is a critical role she should play.

Instead, she treats all of her children the same, never seeing each for their unique interests and characteristics.

She provides for the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter but emotional needs such as acceptance, validation and unconditional love aren’t given.

Feelings are never acknowledged or spoken about. And, if the daughter dares express an emotion or feeling, she may hear harsh responses from her mother like, “Get over yourself.” Or, “So and so has it much more difficult than you do,” and “Stop being so weak, needy and sensitive.”

In managing her daily family life, an emotionally absent mother may have neglected, or been absent from the lives of, her child(ren) whom she saw as stronger. She may not have even realized they still needed her to listen to and understand them.

At the time, it’s sort of a compliment to the “strong” child but it has lifelong emotional consequences.

Generational Absenteeism

Jasmine Lee Cori, author of The Emotionally Absent Mother, explains many of these mothers were severely unmothered themselves; therefore, they are emotionally underdeveloped and have no idea what a close healthy parent-child relationship looks like. The Emotionally Absent Mother: A Guide to Self-Healing and Getting the Love You Missed by Jasmin Lee Cori (

In her book Running on Empty, Dr. Jonice Webb offers help in identifying feelings and suggests healthy ways for expressing emotions to those who were never taught this as children. Running On Empty By Dr. Jonice Webb | Dr. Jonice Webb

She shares that daughters of emotionally absent mothers often believe, and act, like their feelings don’t matter; therefore, “I don’t matter.” These daughters learn, at an early age, to bottle up, or stuff, their feelings and have no tools or experience to tap into them as an adult.

Dr. Webb writes, “When your emotions are blocked off, your body feels it. Something vital is missing. You sense this deeply, and it does not feel good. You are emotionally numb.”


When feelings are discounted, we get discounted.

  • Many learn it’s not safe to share their inner world, so they numb themselves with alcohol, food, drugs and work to distract themselves from unwanted emotions. They put on a suit of emotionless armor every day so they are protected from hurt and rejection.
  • Daughters of emotionally absent mothers find it extremely challenging to build healthy adult relationships, especially with other females. There is a lack of trust and fear of abandonment. They become armored, wary and defensive. They feel too ashamed to share why they act and react like they do.
  • Not feeling seen, accepted and loved unconditionally results in daughters feeling unsure of themselves and doubting if they deserve to be valued for who they are.
  • There is consistent self-worth doubt and anxiety around internal issues. “Am I lovable?”
  • A longing to feel loved, which was denied as a child, often results in looking to form intense bonds quickly, which can scare off intimate partners who do not understand the origin of this needy behavior.
  • Many daughters feel like orphans. They fear abandonment and lack trust in others. She can’t reach out to the mother or her siblings for comfort and support. This may result in acceptance of loneliness and complete self-reliance in one’s life.

The emotional pain of rejection from either parent, or both, has considerable long-lasting effects on a child’s personality. Unlike physical pain, this pain is relived repeatedly for years.

It may show up in the child at any age with low self-esteem and high self-doubt feeling:

  • Anxiety                
  • Insecurity
  • Numbness
  • Closed Off
  • Emptiness
  • Loneliness
  • Unlovable
  • Invisible
  • Misunderstood
  • Hostility

10 Ways to Begin Healing from an Emotionally Absent Mother

Motherless daughters feel persistent grief for many years, some forever. But this loss peaks when the daughter experiences milestones in her own life where she’d benefit from mothering herself. Moments like child delivery, child rearing, health crises and marital challenges.

There are ways to heal from a mother’s emotional neglect through knowledge, understanding and action.

These include:


  • Find a substitute mother role model. There are many excellent examples of emotionally available mothers, perhaps within one’s own extended family. Seek someone who is emotionally responsive, nurturing, unselfish and emotionally open. Make sure you can go to her with any emotion, not just the happy ones.
  • Practice acceptance and forgiveness. Understand your mother’s limitations. She may not have had the tools and experience to mother you based on her own history. Accepting this paucity will give you peace as you seek counsel and comfort from someone else. Avoid turning back to her for emotional support, which she is likely incapable of giving you. Find peace by letting go of the need for your mother’s validation. Stop waiting for her to admit she failed you and caused you suffering. Move forward.
  • Set realistic expectations. Quit waiting for your emotionally absent mother to take an interest in you and your life, or even to love you. People are consistent. She will act as a grandparent as she did as a parent. Don’t be disappointed when she has no curiosity about your children, her grandchildren, either. Don’t speak bad about her in front of your children. Instead, be fully present and show that change is possible without trying to change others.
  • Accept that your mother will favor, and be more comfortable with, your siblings who didn’t, and don’t, require her to be emotionally present. Be aware and okay with the fact that she may not want to spend time alone with you. She most likely knows that she lacks the ability to give you the intimacy you so desire and is very uncomfortable, perhaps even making herself sick, when you’re present.
  • Distance yourself from your mother and put limitations on your interactions by finding a way that honors you. For instance, a 30-minute call one time a month or visiting her only when others are present. Accept that your strong wish to have a close mother-daughter relationship will never happen. Be at peace and focus on your own career, family and life.


  • Approve of yourself. Make yourself a priority. Believe you are worthy of the effort to get to know yourself. Be okay with self-care. Give yourself permission to feel. Don’t deny your own feelings or be afraid to express them as you were taught as a child. Advocate for yourself as you would for your child. Get plenty of rest, exercise and eat healthy. Journal. Quiet your mind. Read. Meditate. Be present with yourself. Do your best. Forgive yourself.
  • Establish reciprocal friendships that are fun but yet deep and meaningful and where your feelings are heard, understood and valued. Learn to identify and express your needs and wants. Be patient. Accept that you are still in the process of learning what you want, more less asking for it. 
  • Focus on your own family (or family of friends). If you have children, start a new pattern by being a safe place for your children’s emotions. Help them name the feeling and seek ways to deal with them. Listen. Be comfortable even with their uncomfortable feelings like anger, frustration, fear and sadness. Try to stay present and focus on the many blessings in your life, including your children, not the love and attention you missed from your mother.
  • Seek therapy with a professional trained in estrangement and abandonment. Or, talk to yourself by writing out your experiences and feelings to get clarification and contentment. Finding another woman with a similar experience to share your thoughts and feelings with is also helpful.
  • Work on building your confidence and self-esteem by setting goals, working hard to achieve them, and celebrating when you do. Your self-confidence will grow when you “impress yourself.” Become an authority on your own life.

As great spiritual teacher and life coach Iyanla Vanzant Home – Iyanla Vanzant | New York Times Best-Selling Author says, “You don’t get to tell people how to love you or how to love. You get to choose whether or not to participate in the way they are loving you.”

Finally, recognize that this journey of understanding and acceptance of an emotionally absent mother is not easy nor straight-lined. Be patient and kind to yourself, knowing you have value, are loved and deserving of inner peace.

Denise’s Insight

This subject matter is quite difficult because it is rarely spoken of and there are so many layers to it. It’s sort of taboo. Yet, it exists.

I’m not writing about it to be controversial. Rather, since it’s near Mother’s Day and we always have clients struggling with this issue, I wanted to share our perspective and experience with this touchy, very complicated, subject.

As you read the post, maybe you even thought to yourself, “Oh, my goodness! This is how I grew up.” Perhaps you even thought this was ‘normal.’

It isn’t. And, it becomes very challenging when an emotionally absent mother has declining health and the daughter feels obligated to care for her.

This is where Craft LifeStyle Management steps in with our 3+ decades of experience to assist in ensuring your mother receives the care she needs while protecting your soul as well.  If you’re in need of help, contact us. Contact – Craft Lifestyle Management (

My precious daughter and grandbabies.

On a personal note, when I grow up, I want to be just like my daughter, Summer, who has two children of her own.

I recently asked her if she learned to be such a great mother by watching me and learning what not to do. She responded with, “NO!”

Thank you for that, sweet Summer! Happy Mother’s Day to you!

It’s not a secret I personally grew up with an emotionally absent mother. We lost her to Alzheimer’s, starting 10 years prior to her death April 2020. The last six years she was here on earth but her mind was not. It truly was a blessing when she passed.

I understand this subject matter. I am here to support you!

More Information

How an Emotionally Absent Mother Impacts Her Daughter’s Life – WeHaveKids – Family

Rejection By This Parent Does Most Damage To Personality – PsyBlog (

Abandonment issues: Signs, symptoms, treatment, and more (

©May 2021 Craft LifeStyle Management.

All Rights Reserved.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

Prayer, Faith & Old Age

Benefits of Religion & How Places of Worship Can Help


We have found in our 30+ years in the industry that prayer, faith and spirituality are important to most of our clients. Overwhelmingly, we know a kind, caring soul is exactly this, in any faith setting.

Craft LifeStyle Management has worked with clients from almost every religion/faith. We love learning and following every detail to ensure our clients can comfortably and peacefully continue practicing their faith/spirituality in whatever setting they are in.

We are a judgement-free company. We each have our own individual faith backgrounds and are happy to hear about, and accommodate, yours.

Your faith background never enters our decision to work with you.

Here is what we’ve learned and observed through time.


The term “Religion” used here is derived from the Latin religare, meaning to “tie or bind.” In other words, religious communities (Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Jewish, Buddhist, etc.), are tied or bound by shared beliefs.  

Religion as a Habit

Does growing older make one more religious?

Scholars debate this. Some argue that as one thinks about his own mortality and does a major life review, he is drawn toward religion or spirituality.

Others say that if someone practices a certain religion throughout his life, this practice continues as he ages.  Maybe his faith even grows deeper with maturity since aging influences our interactions with life.

At Craft LifeStyle Management, we have found clients who’ve changed their faith over their life find peace in referring back to the different religions and examining the similarities.

Following the practices of one’s church seems to be a life-long habit for many of our clients. In other words, they practiced what they were taught in their childhood homes throughout their lives.

This doesn’t mean; however, if you weren’t a churchgoer or religious before identifying as a senior citizen that you can’t explore it now. You certainly can. It’s never too late to learn something new.

Most faith communities would likely welcome you regardless of where you are in your faith journey.

Religion Benefits

There are many benefits to being part of a faith-based community. These include:

  • Social Support. A church community is a tremendous source of social support for many senior citizens. They not only attend weekly services but also participate greatly in other church sponsored organized events like Bible studies and day trips or tours. And, retirees often fill a majority of volunteer duties within their churches. Interacting with peers while volunteering for a good cause is a Win! Win! It’s proven to cut down on loneliness and depression.
  • Purpose. Joining and actively participating in a church provides a much-needed sense of meaning or purpose in one’s life. By this time most retirees have completed their professional quests, and, if they had children, are empty-nesters. Rather than sit at home and brood about a life gone by, joining and participating in a faith-based community provides PURPOSE-a reason to get up each morning.
  • Mental Health. Regardless of denomination, faith and religion provide a positive and hopeful approach to life. This attitude is especially important when facing illness and coping with the loss of a spouse or close friends.
  • Peace. Faith-specific guidance, care and practices are extremely important to devoutly religious people, especially when they are battling a terminal illness or nearing death. This faith-specific attention by a religious person offers comfort and peace in a time of great need.

10 Ways Faith-Based Communities Can Help Senior Citizens

Here are some tips and suggestions for places of worship to consider to make regular church attendance safer and easier for senior citizens.

1. Provide transportation to the community for worship and fellowship.

2. Ensure accessibility for canes, wheelchairs and walkers, including in the restrooms.

3. Provide a sound system that is easily heard regardless of seating location.

4. Make anything that must be read large enough to be read. For instance, hymn numbers.

5. Provide large print bulletins and Order of Worship publications

6. Have amplified hearing devices available.

7. Reserve seating for those with limited mobility and diminished hearing.

8. Easily identify restroom locations.

9. Establish a ministry for shut-ins: Scheduled visits, telephone calls, mailings, prayer cards, etc. [Churches must be vigilant and thorough in screening any parishioner going into another’s home.]

10. Live video stream worship services and connect small church groups using the Internet. Offer technical support during the early stages.

Denise’s Insight

It’s really important that our team understands what our client’s value and what may be missing from their lives.

We actively listen, guide and provide help.

© For illustrative purposes only. Not a client.

Here’s one client story about faith and re-building relationships.

Our client had not talked to his three children since his wife died over a decade ago.

Each of the children had changed or modified their religion, causing much aggravation for their father. He had failing health when we were hired.

He spoke about his three kids all the time, but with anger and hurt about their leaving the church and its beliefs. He truly loved and missed them but couldn’t get over their decisions about religion.

It was so sorrowful that religion kept the kids away. It always turned into a fight. Once their mother passed, they were done!

Craft LifeStyle Management has worked with this client now for three years.

We are delighted that he is now interacting with two of his three children and his grandchildren.

Our goal was not to bring anyone back to another’s beliefs. Instead, our goal was for him to have somewhat of a relationship to heal each of their hearts. Each, in their own way, is such a kind and loving soul!

It has been as simple as finding conversations that keep the peace, or determining what topic is ‘off the table.’

They do not see one another every week-more like once a month-for a few hours at a time.

It is going great.

Granted, our client will say, “They don’t stay long enough,” or “Only one of my grandkids came this time.”

But he ALWAYS has a smile on his face and talks about what they did.

We offer suggestions based on years of experience and understanding our client and his family dynamics.

One of his kids can’t stay in the house. “It’s Dad’s turf.” Or, it angers him. So, we suggested he pick up Dad for a picnic lunch at one of the adult grandchildren’s homes. This is now their “go to” method.

It may only be for an hour or so, but considering it’s been 10 years, this has brought peace and calm to the family, and to our client.

Religion doesn’t need to separate a family.

If Craft LifeStyle Management can be of help to your or your family Contact Us. Contact – Craft Lifestyle Management (

More Information

Why Are Old People So Religious? | Psychology Today

©April 2021

All Rights Reserved.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

Springtime Awakening

©Photo Credit:

2021 has gone by so quickly. The first quarter of the year is nearly over already.

So much attention is given to New Year’s Resolutions. A time of optimism and hope. A time to restart-to begin anew.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Personally, I’m not very good with following through on those resolutions. And, I hear I’m not alone. (Wink. Wink.)

I began 2020 calling it my year of “vision and clarity”. Well, it turned out it was more a year of seeing and watching how all of us would cope with and get through the unexpected COVID Pandemic.

We coped. We are strong souls.

For my Spring 2021 I’m calling it my “Plus One” – I still have the Vision and clarity but One Extra Bonus-We don’t have to do it alone!

Springtime Why

My personal favorite time of the year for awakening and recharging is Spring. It’s a beautiful season.

I love it when snow starts melting and the birds start chirping. I do love winter and the snow also; however, the anticipation of NEW fills me with energy, wonderment and excitement.

Each spring I look forward to watching the birds come back and make nests in the same places.

Witnessing new birth is awesome.

I enjoy seeing flowers start to bloom. I marvel at the critters scurrying around.

There is just a certain energy I receive from each of these wonders of seasonal transition.

©Photo Credit:

Remarkable 2021

Spring 2021 is remarkable after 2020’s spring when we were all rightfully fearful of the many COVID unknowns.

Thank goodness we were able to get outdoors during warmer days to social distance. But then cold weather came and we were stuck back inside.

Yet, we made it!

Here in the Midwest, we were rewarded for getting through 2020 and a harsh 2021 winter with such a beautiful first weekend of March.

Brilliant sunshine and warmer than normal temperatures felt like a reward for endurance. Right?

©Photo Credit:

Heartbreak & Hope

Winter 2021 presented us at Craft LifeStyle Management our share of sorrowful client stories and crisis clients – more intense than usual.

We have experienced unbelievable obstacles and nearly insurmountable challenges while finding a healing plan of action for our souls’ futures. Each needed our help more than ever.

Was it the long, cold winter with Covid that caused so much seclusion? Or, was it the pride of our elder clients who were telling their kids “we are fine,” but clearly weren’t?

Was it just coincidental timing when parents/grandparents, taking care of their special needs children, reached their limit and decided they can’t do it any longer?

We don’t know the answers. We never will.

We just know how to come up with solutions to efficiently solve so many safety, dignity and health concerns.

Granted some days are more challenging than others. But the Craft LifeStyle Management team keeps going until a solution for whatever the challenge is has been put in place.

That is who we are!

©Photo Credit:

Happy Springtime Hearts

Our greatest wish is that we could mend broken hearts.

Time always does heal.

It does seem to get easier when the days are longer and we can get outside to enjoy nature.

Some of our clients cannot get outdoors. Instead, we bring the fresh air and sunshine to them. We

  • Open a window
  • Bring a spring flower bouquet
  • Pull back the curtains
  • Place a bird feeder outside a window

Each little effort brings such a happy heart to all of us-givers and receivers.

And we can all see the beauty of this springtime season Mother Nature brings to us!

©Photo Credit:

Forever Spring

The Craft LifeStyle Management team is deeply appreciative of seeing light, hope and healing for each of the souls who came to us in crisis over Winter 2021.

We want it always to feel like “Spring” for them for whatever time they have left here on this earth.

I hope your 2021 spring feels more alive and healing than all of ours from 2020.

Gratitude, Always

As always, thank you for your trust and faith in our services. Please contact us Contact – Craft Lifestyle Management ( when we can be of service to you and your loved ones.

Wishing you a springtime season of many good graces and blessings.

©March 2021. All rights reserved.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Denise Craft @www.Craft LifeStyle Management.

Do You Want to Get Paddled + Other Fascinating Messages

Power of Words

I notice words.

As a reader and a writer, this reveal is not too surprising.

I study how words flow together and often applaud an author’s creative genius.

I ponder the intended meaning and am acutely aware of my reaction to the message.

When I pause to capture great messages, it’s usually because they meet a former marketing boss’s dictate: If it doesn’t fit on a matchbook cover, start over.

He exclaimed and fervently believed “Brevity yields reaction.”  Brevity | Definition of Brevity by Merriam-Webster (

Words can be inspirational. Often, they are humorous. Sometimes they invoke sadness or create awareness.

Traveling adds a localism to words.

Localism in Words

Here are words I captured on our travels. Perhaps these 12 messages reflected in photographs will inspire you, or add humor or meaning to your day.

“Um”, long pause, “Where are we again?” On Wharf Street seated at a restaurant patio.

When in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada do as the locals do. Answer, “yes,” and order a beer flight paddle at the Milestones Grill + Bar. milestones (

This provoking question headlined the menu. At our table, it created much laughter and conversation about the double entendre. Clever marketing.

Messages often capture localism.  This sign was seen on Washington Island in Door County, Wisconsin. Many landowners are frustrated with tourists using their property for beach access. This resident expressed his clearly, though a dictionary might’ve been helpful.

This message greeted us as we landed at LAX-Los Angeles International Airport during a renovation period. A great example of regional language. It made us smile! Acting out not tolerated.

How do you interpret this? “Mind your head” can mean make better choices and decisions.  Or, if you’re a tall person, it can mean stoop so you don’t hit your head on the awning of this Antiguan convenience store.

Small in stature, I took it as the former. My 6’3” husband, the latter. Proving words have many meanings, and are often personalized.

Cottonwood Falls in the Flint Hills of Kansas is home to Emma Chase Friday Night Music. This is an open group of musicians & listeners who gather here for free jam sessions/open mikes.  What to See & Do in Kansas Flint Hills – Linda Leier Thomason

This Pier 39 San Francisco, California street sign captures attention. We lived in the coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina for over two decades without seeing similar signage. The community there apparently didn’t have to, or chose not to, regulate streetwear near the water. San Francisco does, and found a creative way to communicate the message.

The placement of this message is intriguing. It hangs inside the Cancun Mexico airport. Perhaps the airport authority has seen and experienced too many unappreciative young adults and teenagers coming through their airport.

Seems the hidden message is “practice gratitude” at all ages, but especially if you are fortunate enough to be on a family vacation in Mexico.

Hung at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds in North Sound, Antigua.  Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds , North Sound, Antigua news, scores and venue information | West Indies cricket grounds (

The International Cricket Council’s message is relevant in other countries, including the USA.

Would you have guessed this is a souvenir shop in the French Quarter of New Orleans? It is. And, it aptly depicts the lingo and culture of this great city.

Seen at a convenience store off I-80 west of Omaha, Nebraska during a recent election season.

Sometimes the simplest message is the most difficult to implement. I promise.

This heartbreaking question was seen at Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii Pearl Harbor National Memorial (U.S. National Park Service) (

Found in North Omaha, Nebraska. The visual of the two profiles with sign language between them is as striking as the words on the bench.

Words matter in any format: Print. Photo. Voice. Song.

Here’s one of my favorite songs, “Words,” for you to enjoy!

Bee Gees – Words – YouTube

Words that Matter to You

I have a folder of photographs of fascinating word messages from all over the world. These are 12 of my favorite. Which one made you pause, smile, or some other emotion? Share below.

What word messages have you found and captured in a photo?

How did these inspire or otherwise affect you?

Do Share below.

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©March 2021. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

10 Unique Churches to See in USA

Churches are often landmarks of fascinating history and awe-inspiring architecture.

Here are 10 such churches in 8 states well worth a visit when in the area.

All photographs were taken by me with one noted exception.


Holy Family, Jerome

LOCATION: 101 County Rd, Jerome, AZ 86331

Holy Family Church, Jerome Az | Facebook

Holy Family is the oldest Catholic structure in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.


Sts. Peter & Paul, West Bend

Location 206 1st Ave. NW West Bend, IA 50597
Click for Directions

Sts. Peter & Paul | Five Saints Community

Next door to the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption.

Home – The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption | West Bend, Iowa (

World’s largest man-made Grotto and often called “eighth wonder of the world.”


St. Michaels, Tarnov

Location: 309 3rd Street Tarnov, NE

:: Historic St. Michaels Catholic Church in Tarnov, Nebraska ::

First Polish Catholic parish still operating in Nebraska. Opened in 1901.
Tour the museum, grotto and cemetery on the property. Call ahead for personal tour.

Holy Family Shrine, Gretna

LOCATION: 23132 Pflug Road, Gretna, NE 68028

Home Page – Holy Family Shrine

A place of respite and reflection for I-80 travelers near Omaha, NE.


Cathedral-Basilica Saint Louis, New Orleans

Cathedral-Basilica Saint Louis is commonly known as St. Louis Cathedral

LOCATION: 615 Pere Antoine Alley New Orleans, LA 70116

St. Louis Cathedral | New Orleans, LA

Photo taken in October 2016.
Built in 1793. Oldest cathedral in continuous use in the USA.

New York

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City

Location: 460 Madison Ave, New York, 10022, NY

St. Patrick’s Cathedral | New York, NY (

History & Heritage | St. Patrick’s Cathedral | New York, NY (

North Dakota

Sts. Peter & Paul, Strasburg

LOCATION: 503 N 2nd St Strasburg, ND  58573-0322 – Emmons County, ND

Built in 1910. German Russian community.

Strasburg is home to bandleader Lawrence Welk. Welk Homestead State Historic Site – State Historical Society of North Dakota (

South Carolina

Saint Mary of the Annunciation, Charleston

LOCATION: 95 Hasell Street Charleston, SC 29401

Saint Mary of the Annunciation – Home (

Oldest Catholic parish in southeastern USA and where we married.
Charleston is called the “Holy City” and has array of beautiful churches. Credit: Pat Ring (RIP).

Stella Maris, Sullivan’s Island

LOCATION: 1204 Middle Street Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
 Stella Maris Catholic Church – Charleston, SC (

Across the street from Fort Moultrie.
Stella Maris: Church History (

South Dakota

St. Joseph Cathedral, Sioux Falls

Location: 521 North Duluth Avenue Sioux Falls, SD 57104

Cathedral of Saint Joseph | Sioux Falls, SD (

History of the Cathedral | Cathedral of Saint Joseph | Sioux Falls, SD (

Plan a church tour.

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©March 2021. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

5 Trusted Professionals You’ll Need as You Age

Independence, individualism and self-sufficiency are encouraged and admired in our country. There’s nothing wrong with any of these traits. Nor is there anything wrong with needing or seeking help at any stage of life.

The challenge arises with aging.

As our bodies and minds change it becomes apparent help is needed in multiple ways. Sometimes the suggestion of help is stubbornly refused. Actual help is rebuffed.

Letting go is not always easy.

Help may seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

We may need help in the business of our daily lives and/or with our healthcare. Either way, if you’ve forever been self-reliant, it can be a tough adjustment.

Denise’s Advice

“I can assure you from my 30+ years of experience working with adults making transitions in life that getting a trusted professional in each of the 5 categories below, sooner rather than later, is a very wise idea.”

Make the important decisions regarding your life and your affairs while you can.

Please reach out to us at Contact – Craft Lifestyle Management ( if you need a referral in any of these areas.

We work with the best in each category and we never take a referral fee from them.

Here are the top 5 Professionals to have on your side as you age.


A geriatrician is a primary care physician who specializes in the care and treatment of older adults.

Parents visit pediatricians for their specialized training and understanding of babies and young children. On the other end of the spectrum, geriatricians are also specially trained and have an understanding of the most advanced care available for older adults.

One of the best features of being cared for by a geriatrician is that they integrate your care. They are the central point for all of the other physician specialists you may need to see. They make the referrals, set the appointments and follow up with you. They are your primary doctor.

NOTE: There is a difference between a gerontologist and a geriatrician.

A geriatrician is a medical doctor. A gerontologist is a professional who specializes in the issues of aging. They may have a certificate of gerontology.

Make sure you seek the right professional for your needs. We can guide you. Contact – Craft Lifestyle Management (

Elder Law Attorney

An elder law attorney is one who advocates for the elderly and their loved ones.

Please put your affairs in order before it’s too late. It is always better to be prepared.

Not doing so leaves a tremendous burden on those you leave behind.

Here’s a sample of what you and your elder law attorney need to discuss:

  • Wills
  • Estate Planning
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Advance Directives
  • DNR or Do Not Resuscitate Orders
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship
  • Resource availability: VA Benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.

More Information:

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do? – FindLaw

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (

Financial Advisor

This professional is helpful throughout your life but especially as you near retirement.

Financial advisors counsel on wealth management and personal money matters. They can assist with putting together a retirement savings plan and also address life insurance, real estate, debt payoff, and estate management.

Most financial advisors also work with your team of other professionals like attorneys and accountants to ensure your money is working in the best way for your needs.

There are many ways to work with a trusted financial advisor. Please reach out to us for trusted referrals. Contact – Craft Lifestyle Management (

In Home Caregiver

As challenging as it is to ask for help with financial planning, medical care and legal advice, admitting you need help managing your life within your own home seems even more difficult for many seniors.

The best thing to do is make a list of tasks that you, or your loved one, seems to be struggling with. Some may include:

  • Personal hygiene like bathing, brushing teeth, toileting, putting on clean clothes, shaving, etc.
  • Mobility like taking neighborhood walks or even getting around inside the home.
  • Meal preparation. Everything from grocery shopping to the actual cooking.
  • Transportation needed for medical appointments and errands
  • Pet care including walking, taking to appointments, clean up, feeding, etc.
  • Housekeeping including laundry
  • Medicine management

Many services are available to assist in meeting all of these needs to help you or your loved one remain safely and easily in the home.

Contact us for assistance and referrals.

Transitional Specialists

This is what we are at Craft LifeStyle Management.

We transition clients into the right place, staying within their financial resources, the first time, all the time.

We advocate on your behalf in a timely and calm manner as we find you the most appropriate ‘home’ and level of care to fit your needs.

Click on this link What We Do – Craft Lifestyle Management ( to discover what we’ve been doing for clients for over 30 years at Craft LifeStyle Management.

HINT: Be sure to click on the + sign next to each category to get more information.

Please be prepared in life. “Be in Charge. Not in Crisis.”

These 5 professionals will help coach you so you can be at peace while aging. Of course, there are other professionals needed. Today, these are my top 5 for you to have on your team.

SHARE this with your family members and friends.

©February 2021. All rights reserved.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

Denise Craft founded Craft Lifestyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless. 

contact Craft LifeStyle Management for all of your transitional needs.

10 Coaches I’d Love to Interview & Why

Atypical Questions I’d Ask


I’m drawn to business and sports leaders. Little whets my analytical mind and awakens my curiosity more than observing and studying someone with fantastic leadership skills. Too often in sporting events I find myself observing a coach’s sideline behavior and post-game interview more than the actual game. In business, I read and observe how leaders structure and reward teams, or don’t, and how this affects the organization’s bottom line.

Rarely is it a leader’s aptitude that shines. It’s not the plays or the posturing or the buyouts. Instead, it’s their ability to understand and capitalize on group dynamics. The way they motivate, inspire and teach. It shows in sideline body language, player and employee appreciation, and always in results.

In sport, the team coach is the most heavily weighted variable I use to pick March Madness and Super Bowl teams. And, my longitudinal results with this approach-well, pretty darn good.

Coaches today, for me, are sort of the military generals of years past.

Thankfully our country hasn’t been in a position lately to rely heavily on historically great generals like Eisenhower and Schwarzkopf, and even George Washington.

Instead, we turn, rightly or wrongly, to leaders in business and sport for examples of leadership.

Public Figures

Like generals of year’s past, today’s coaches are often elevated to public figure status. I’m much too old to view any coach as a role model. Instead, I simply enjoy observing and studying the sport and X’s and O’s of their coaching positions. I readily admit; however, I often have unschooled opinions on both of these though I try hard to leave the analysis and critique of play calls and player choices to those with more esteemed credentials.

My Why

I despise having to justify my interest and intentions. But, through the years I have had to. I’ve even been called a lesbian by some ignorant observers as I engaged in basketball, football, tennis and soccer with our young, athletically talented son.

What my Mother’s Days have looked like for many years. Wouldn’t change a thing!

What is wrong with a woman having a keen interest in athletics and sport leaders?

To be clear, the attraction and observation of coaches has nothing to do with a coach’s physical appearance or the appeal of their public personas or bank accounts. I assume each has established relationships that I want nothing to do with. I’ve been married to the same great man for over 25 years.

Truth. My interest in studying coaches and deeply desiring to meet and chat with them is purely as a student of coaching and leadership. I want to soak up their wisdom and apply it to my living.

Here’s my list of coaches who’d I’ve give almost anything to sit down with and learn from. They are in no particular order.  I’ve never met any of them. I’ve only observed and listened to them through my television.

For all I know they collectively, or individually, may be ego maniacs and/or jerks. Somehow, I seriously doubt it. I generally have great radar for character.

I present a brief bio on each coach and a sample of questions I’d ask that they’ve likely never answered before.

If you are a coach reading this and are willing to chat, contact me. I’m ready to listen!

Chris Klieman

I have justifiable reasons to both love and loathe Coach Klieman.

LOVE: I’m a North Dakota native. Klieman coached Fargo’s NDSU Bison from 2011-2018. He was named head coach in 2014 when Coach Bohl left after 10 years (2003-2013) to coach at Wyoming.

NDSU is a storied football program. Kleiman led NDSU to the 2018 Division I FSC Championship-his fourth national championship in five seasons with NDSU.

NDSU fans had total faith in this coach. Well before the playoffs began, many, including family members, booked Frisco, Texas hotel rooms early in the season. They stocked their vehicles and campers and joyfully prepared for the journey south, letting everyone on the route know they were part of the “Thundering Herd.”

Kleiman exudes confidence and produces winning teams.

He left NDSU in 2019 for the Kansas State head coaching job made vacant with the retirement of long-term coach, Bill Snyder.

LOATHE: I’m also a dual Iowa State University graduate. Our schools now compete against one another in the Big 12 Conference. Thankfully, Iowa State has been reformed under Coach Matt Campbell. However, I don’t take recent Cyclone victories over the Wildcats lightly knowing Kleiman’s history. I sit on the edge of my seat until the final whistle blows and I can celebrate a Cyclone win!

When ISU isn’t playing Kansas State, I cheer him on. He deserves greatness. He’s put in his time and he gave North Dakotans much to celebrate.

Coach: You are the son of a Hall of Fame official and and Iowa catholic high school football and golf coach. Seems like your father had an immense impact on your life choices. What’s the one thing your mother did in your childhood that’s had the greatest impact on your professional life? Have you introduced the beloved North Dakota Knoephla soup to your players at a team dinner yet?

Ron Rivera

Photo by: Alex Brandon/AP

The Carolina Panthers were the team many Charleston, South Carolina residents, including us, cheered for in the absence of our own professional football team. When I started paying attention to the Panthers, John Fox, the team’s third and longest-tenured coach was at the helm. (2002-2010)

Rivera was named head coach in 2011. He remained with the Panthers until 2019. Twelve games into the season he was fired when relatively new owner, David Tepper, wanted a culture change.

In January 2020, Coach Rivera was chosen to lead the Washington Football Team (formerly Washington Redskins)-another team I followed while living in the D.C. metropolitan area.

I literally knew nothing of this man’s background. I’d never heard his name or even knew if he was a former player (He was. He played for the Chicago Bears and was a linebacker on the 1985 team many say was the greatest defense in NFL history.), yet was drawn to his quiet on-screen sideline demeanor while both winning and losing.

I hypothesized he was volcanically competitive and deeply intense in the right setting-the practice field and playing field.

Now relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, we seldom saw teams coached by Rivera. However, whenever I did, my curiosity of “what makes the man” only intensified. My desire to have a face-to-face chat with him only deepened in the fall of 2020.

Riverboat, as he is affectionately known, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in a lymph node in August 2020. Five months later he announced he’d “kicked cancer’s ass.” No one ever doubted this’d be the outcome. All celebrated with the man admired for his strength and resilience by legions of fans, including me.

Coach: You win on the field. You win in life. What’s the one characteristic within you that makes you an overall winner? Name the one coach still coaching in the NFL you admire most and explain why. Do you see similarities between your coaching style and Andy Reid’s style? If so, how? If not, why not? What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make regarding a player?

Greg McDermott

Coach McDermott and I have similar journeys-well, at least in terms of locations where we’ve lived and worked.

He was raised in rural Cascade, Iowa and held two coaching jobs in North Dakota. One as an Assistant Coach at the University of North Dakota (1989-1994) and Head Coach for the NDSU Bison from 2000-2001. He coached at my alma mater, Iowa State University, from 2006-2010 and he’s been coaching at Omaha’s Creighton University since then. He’s the current Big East Coach of the Year. Proudly, he coached his son, Doug, at Creighton before Doug joined the NBA (currently with the Indiana Pacers).

I have to support an Iowan who rises to the top of his profession, always. In some ways, Coach McDermott reminds me of the great former professional basketball player and coach, Phil Jackson, from my home state of North Dakota.

I suspect the caring nature exuded through my television screen is likely the same when all the cameras are off. I also suspect McDermott has a tell-it-like-it-is approach while holding his players and staff accountable. It’s just the Midwestern way…and it’s working for Coach McDermott.

Coach: What is the one thing you consistently pray for unrelated to basketball? Identify three things from your youth that contribute to your success, as you define it, today. What elements make a great basketball player a great coach? Complete this sentence. The one player I wish I would’ve spent more off-the-court time with is, and why.

Raul Mendoza

Photo Credit: The Arizona Republic

I was unfamiliar with revered Coach Mendoza until recently binging Netflix’s Basketball or Nothing. The series, which was released in August of 2019, follows the 2018 basketball team at Chinle High School located in Arizona’s Navajo Nation.

Mendoza, a certified high school counselor, has coached Native American teams for more than 30 years. He has been honored as a two-time Arizona Coaches Coach of the Year and the 2011 Arizona Republic Small Schools Coach of the Year.

Watching the series, one can readily see Coach Mendoza’s mission is far greater than winning basketball games, though he possesses intensity and an obvious will to win. He’s charged with developing and leading talented young men, who along with their families, face real hardships.

His players call him “old school” but his love for the game and for his players is ever-present.

One theme that comes through loud and clear is that Mendoza believes “offense sells tickets and defense wins games.”

Do yourself a favor and watch this Netflix award-winning series. It was recently named the 2021 Non-Fiction Sports Documentary Winner at the Realscreen Awards.

Doing so may put the life obstacles you believe you need to overcome in perspective.

Coach:  You’ve obviously witnessed tremendous changes in youth during your nearly four decades of coaching. What is the one thing that has remained consistent in these young men you’ve had the privilege of coaching? At the end of each season, how do you measure success? Finally, when a banner for you is hung in the high school, what sentence do you want inscribed under your name?

Becky Hammon

Coach Hammon was hired by the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs as a full-time assistant coach in August of 2014 when we were South Dakota residents. It was a big deal to the citizens of South Dakota and to women athletes everywhere. Why? Hammon is a Rapid City, South Dakota native. She played collegiately for Colorado State Rams (1995-1999) and then for the San Antonio Stars and New York Liberty of the Women’s Basketball Association (WNBA). Hammon was also a six-time All-Star in the WNBA in her 16 seasons with these teams.

She represented the Russian national team as a naturalized Russian citizen in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics before becoming the first full-time female assistant coach in any of the four major professional sports in North America.

On December 30, 2020 Hammon became the first female acting head coach in NBA history when head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Many see her as a pioneer. Hammon sees herself as a coach of basketball players. Coach Hammon is highly qualified. She has the skills, the aptitude and the experience to lead a team on her own, one day soon. Fingers crossed.

Coach: I know you’d like to lessen the references to trail-blazer and pioneer; however, since you were the first, and there’s still few women on NBA coaching staffs throughout the league, what three things must female coaches, who aspire to lead an NBA team, do now to achieve this goal? Also, what one person do you credit most with your career success, and why? Identify three personality traits within yourself that are uniquely South Dakotan.

Robert (Bob) Huggins

Photo Credit: ESPN

What is not to love about a guy nicknamed “Huggy Bear?” Every time I watch Coach Huggins frantically pace the sidelines, exclaiming his silent thoughts with grand hand gestures and then plopping his rear end on a wooden sideline stool, I smile. He just makes me happy. That is unless his Mountaineers are beating my Iowa State Cyclones. We are Big 12 Conference foes.

He’s been coaching his alma mater (1977) since 2007 and is under contract to continue coaching there until 2027, when he’ll be 74. Huggins coached in multiple locations including Kansas State (2006-07) and for 16 years in Cincinnati-where I first started watching this guy as the leader of the Bearcats.

Wherever he’s been, Huggins has achieved success as a recruiter, game strategist and program builder. His teams regularly play in the NCAA March Madness tournament. The Mountaineers, in fact, were in the 2010 NCAA Final Four. He’s rightfully the proud collegiate coach of multiple NBA players, including Jevon Carter-point guard currently with the Phoenix Suns.

Coach: Do you ever fear falling off that wooden sideline stool much like Georgia State’s Ron Hunter did during the 2015 NCAA tournament? Does that stool travel with the team, or does each location provide a stool for you? When you’re recruiting young men to your program what is the only guarantee you can offer them and their parents? What is something unique to your program that you’d like to see implemented throughout NCAA basketball? May I hug you?

Ryan Day

Photo Credit: WKBN

I have family living in Columbus, Ohio who are understandably rabid Buckeye fans. Occasionally I make the time to watch their teams in support of them, but not always, especially if we’re competing. For instance, my ISU Cyclones faced the Buckeyes in the first round of the 2019 NCAA March Madness tournament. We had a wager on the game, which the Cyclones were expected to win. They didn’t. We lost 62-59.

 A box of Nebraska made products was promptly, but begrudgingly, mailed to their Ohio home. Graceful winners, they mailed me buckeye chocolates as a consolation prize. The chocolates were fantastic. The loss still stung.

Ever since I’ve been paying more attention to their teams and coaches. One Buckeye coach who continually impresses me is head football coach, Ryan Day. He was named acting football coach in August 2018, winning all three games during his tenure, and then was named head coach in 2019, succeeding Coach Urban Meyer.

Like most coaches, his resume spans multiple positions, teams and locations. For example, Day coached quarterbacks for the Eagles in 2015 and the 49ers in 2016.

Day hails from Manchester, New Hampshire and played quarterback and linebacker for the University of New Hampshire after being named the state’s High School Gatorade Player of the Year.

He was awarded the 2019 Big Ten Coach of the Year. In 2020, the Buckeyes had an enviable 6-0 perfect regular season (We live in Omaha, Nebraska. The Nebraska Huskers play OSU in the Big 10.). Day’s Buckeyes went on to beat my beloved Clemson Tigers (We lived in SC for 20 years.) in the 2021 Sugar Bowl but lost in the National Championship game to Alabama 55-24. Despite these losses, that I could take somewhat personally, I have uber respect for Day.

I have no doubt Coach Day will have his team positioned to repeat success, time and time again.

Coach: Are you the most popular man hailing from New Hampshire, or do Adam Sandler and Seth Meyers still trump you? Which is most important for a great quarterback-skill or attitude, and why? I’m specifically asking as a North Dakotan following Carson Wentz’s volatile career. Buckeye fans are historically loyal and loud. What’s the craziest thing you’ve received from a Buckeye fan?

Luigi “Geno” Auriemma

Photo Credit: Jersey Man Magazine

Anyone who follows collegiate sports, particularly basketball, has heard of Coach Geno. The man is a legend in women’s basketball. He’s been the head coach of the University of Connecticut Huskies since 1985. Yes, nearly 40 years!

He’s led the Huskies to 11 NCAA Division I national championships, the most in women’s college basketball history. He’s also coached the United States women’s national basketball team earning gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.

The coach and the man Auriemma are today likely spawned from his early days. He emigrated in 1961 with his family from Italy to Norristown, Pennsylvania when he was only seven years old. He played varsity high school basketball for one of the most significant influencers in his life-Buddy Gardler. Today, Coach Geno admits he’s modeled his coaching style after his mentor. Both are considered old school and believed in toughness and grit. “Know the rules and follow them.”

This approach has served him well as he holds the record for the best winning percentage in the history of the sport: 955-134. He’s also an eight-time AP College Basketball Coach of the Year, seven-time Naismith Coach of the Year, six-time WBCA National Coach of the Year, 10-time Big East Coach of the Year and three-time American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

He’s coached some outstanding basketball players, including Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles who each went on to play in the WNBA.

In addition to coaching, enterprising Coach Geno owns several Connecticut restaurants. 

Coach: Will you take me on in a game of Horse or a free throw shooting challenge? Even at my age I’m still fond of doing both. A competitive spirit never dies, right? What would be the biggest shift you’d have to make in your coaching style, if tomorrow you decided to coach a men’s team? What do you see yourself doing on a daily basis after you retire from coaching? Is that day eminent? If you could wave a magic wand and place the next coach into your seat, who would it be, and why? What’s your favorite entrée of any on the menus at your restaurants, and why?

Andy Reid

Photo Credit: NBC 10 Philadelphia

If there ever was a coach for me who projects lovability and a need to be loved, it’s Andy Reid. In fact, he may require that now more than ever with the recent pre-Super Bowl accident in Kansas City where his son, Britt Reid, outside linebackers coach, was involved in a three-car crash injuring two children.

Coach Reid has experienced loss in his life. Yet, he paces the sidelines with an enviable calmness and confidence that must only come from decades of experience and deep faith.

He and his wife, Tammy, practicing Mormons, have five children. Part of what makes Coach Reid so appealing is that he doesn’t pretend to be something other than he is. Nor does he try to cover up his family’s struggles. He’s non-judgmental.

Two of his sons have fought drug and alcohol addiction. Garrett, his oldest son, died from an accidental heroin overdose in 2012. He’d also served time in prison for various crimes. Britt has also been arrested for drug possession and firearms charges. He was sentenced to eight to 23 months in prison and five years’ probation.

Prior to coaching the Kansas City Chiefs, Reid, one of the NFL’s winningest coaches, was the head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 to 2012. What he was unable to achieve there, he did with the Chiefs-a Super Bowl win in 2020-the first in 50 years for the Chief’s, and his first as a head coach.

He’s known as a trainer of coaches. Eleven of his assistants have become head coaches and two have won the Super Bowl. Most will cite Reid’s intelligence, discipline and attention to detail for his success. Throughout the league, he’s known for giving second chances, having an even-keeled vision for the game and being somewhat of a teddy bear gentleman who treats others like he’d like to be treated.

Kansas City is the nearest city with an NFL team to Omaha, where we live today. Until Coach Reid joined the team, I didn’t bother to pay attention. One game in, I was hooked, not so much on the team, but the coach. Of course, it helps that he has a superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but Reid’s legacy drew me in and keeps me watching and cheering for the Chiefs.

I know I’m not the only fan wondering what Coach is thinking as tight camera shots focus on his half smile and half wink. I never doubt his strong outward presence has an inner softness.

He’s beloved, winning or not.

Coach: What is the most valuable lesson you want all coaches to glean from Bill Walsh’s Finding the Winning Edge book-a favorite of yours? If you got one do-over in life what would you do-over, and why? Do you have any plans to shave your mustache anytime soon? If you could choose only one assistant coach from the legions of many you’ve worked with over time to be on a deserted island with, whom would it be, and why? How do art and science merge in your play calling? What is your all-time favorite bedtime story to read to your grandchildren, and why?

Eric Spoelstra

Photo Credit: The Maui News

We lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for a few years after leaving South Carolina. Imagine our delight in discovering the Miami Heat had a developmental team there-the Skyforce. We enjoyed attending many games during G League seasons as South Dakota residents. 

It was during our Sioux Falls tenure that our sports-obsessed son relentlessly urged me to start paying attention to the Miami Heat coach, Eric Spoelstra. I did, and I’m thankful for the nudge. I’ve been studying him ever since.

A lot of attention is given to Coach Spoelstra’s ethnic background: The first Asian-American head coach in the history of the four major North American sports leagues, thus the first Asian-American head coach to win an NBA Championship. 

While his ethnicity is notable, Spoelstra’s winning methods, player development technique, work ethic and record are remarkable. The Miami Heat made four consecutive NBA final appearances under his leadership (2011-2014), winning the championship in 2012 and 2013. He also took his team to the NBA Finals in 2020. There, the Heat lost to the Los Angeles Lakes in the best of seven-game series, 4-2.

In a somewhat old-fashioned manner, Spoelstra is an NBA coach who worked his way up to the top of the Heat’s organization during a 25-year span. He started as a video coordinator in 1995. Two years later he was an assistant coach and video coordinator. In 1999 he was promoted to advance scout and assistant coach. In 2001, he was again promoted. This time to assistant coach/director of scouting-a position he held until 2008 when legendary coach, Pat Riley, resigned to become the Heat’s President and Spoelstra was appointed head coach at age 37.

Spoelstra was raised in a basketball family. He was a point guard for his hometown University of Portland Pilots. His father, Jon Spoelstra, is a former NBA executive who’s worked for several NBA teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, New Jersey Nets, Buffalo Braves and Denver Nuggets.  His grandfather was a sportswriter for the Detroit News.

Though he’s never identified juggling as a skill, I can only imagine what’s required trying to sooth egos of NBA superstars the likes of former and current players LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Ray Allen, etc. while managing coaching duties with the pressure to consistently produce winning teams for the organization and its fans.

Not easy, but impressively well done, Coach Spoelstra.

Coach: Seems you’re a fan of not only inserting G League players into your team but also coaches who’ve lived and worked in Sioux Falls for the Skyforce. Explain why this is important to you. What is the one business lesson about the NBA your Dad taught you that no longer is true? When is the last time you’ve made Lumpia-the traditional Filipino recipe? Do you ever play Frisbee on Miami beach? If you hadn’t chosen basketball as a career, what would you be doing today? What is the one thing about Coach Pat Riley no one else knows?

Game Over, for Now

This was truly one of my favorite articles to research and write.

I’m a sports fan. I’m a coach observer. I certainly did not know the depth of each coach’s professional experience or personal background until I began this piece.

I was merely a silent observer of their great work and achievements.

Now, I long to know more about the person who became the coach and leader I admire.


Another plea to all coaches. Let’s connect!

I suspect I may have a part two to this post because at my desk I have a list of other coaches I’d like to know more about and speak to. These include: Fred Hoiberg, Bob McKillop, Rick Pitino, Chris Beard, John Cook, Ed Orgeron,  Doc Rivers, Todd Golden, Tony Bennett, Matt Campbell, Kyle Kempt, and Tony Dungy.


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Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.