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Mitch Blessing grew up in Bemidji, MN., he has family here and he was educated through college here receiving his BFA at BSU. But then Mitch moved away, far far away. To quote Dr. Suess,
OH! The Places You Will Go:
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
and go Mitch did, he went far far away. He went all the way to Miami, Fl. He finished his schooling at the University of Miami Florida while working construction to “keep up his art habit”. Finishing school and having a baby brought the Blessing family back to MN and soon back to Bemidji. Mitch is now part owner of Design Angler, along with serving as president of the Sculpture Walk Committee. I came to know Mitch through his wife Alice Blessing who is a talented artist in the area (and a dear friend of mine). The best part of this job is getting to know so many wonderful people- maybe through his story you can get to know Mitch Blessing just a bit (or maybe a bit more than you already do)
Meet Mitch :
I remember the sounds of water, thundering and splashing in the summer, corky and crackling in winter. I recall from earliest childhood the sunburn and cutoffs as well as the frostbite and thawing toes. I’d love Bemidji through my whole body even if I tried not to. I am of here.
In High School everyone talked about what a wretched little place it is here and how they couldn’t wait to get out.. to where? St. Cloud? To the mythical Twin Cities? I didn’t need to leave, didn’t hate it here, but I did have the wanderlust of a teenager. I guess we all did and just expressed it differently. Many did leave and many came back. Bemidji has gravity.
Every time I returned to Bemidji from far off lands, a prodigal son, I would feel newly overwhelmed by the wholeness of this place, the breath of it. My minerals and water are from this ground, my paradigm, though traveled and travailed, is nestled in this little home in the world.
In the spring I soften here, and I keep my shoes off as much as possible. I drink in the water all summer. In the fall I hike around and rejoice in the musk and the departure of all the things that make me itch. In the winter I tighten and I feel like working, warming things, and feasting. The extremes of every season make each one exquisite.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the guy who wrote 100 Years of Solitude, and Love in the Time of Cholera, grew up in a high mountain monastery school, then spent time down in the “exotic” cities of the coast. He spoke about the positive insular quality of places that are far inland and hard to get to. Bemidji often seems “behind” in the world, and frustratingly conservative, even (like the weather) oppressive. There are many obstacles and it takes a strong person/family to live happily here. Incidentally, there are many such strong, talented, happy people here.
The warm and worldly coast is so attractive. Out there, gifts arrive quickly and easily from around the globe. Great things happen quickly every day. So do great terrible things. Most everything happens too quickly. The large interchanges of the universe are enriching, and exposing.They demand a lot of energy, a fast burn, good defenses.
Our forbidding inland home is a buffer in many ways. It reminds me of the Bozone Layer (a la Dave Larson’s The Far Side) which protects the rest of the universe from the Earth’s harmful effects. A similar layer may lie between here and St. Cloud.
If time can be slowed a little, just to let us filter the input somewhat, then here, in nearly the geographic center of North America, we may have an advantage.
Breathe in the seasons, raise a healthy family, and mediate the unceasing, uncaring stream of input, that’s what I’m trying to do here in my town, Bemidji. Thanks for asking.
A wooded trail
East of Bemidji
Strong and determined, caring and compassionate, educated yet grounded, these are terms that come to mind when I think of Sanya. I have known Sanya since what seems like forever. She came to my daughter’s early childhood class (6-7yrs ago) to speak on juvenile chiropractic treatments. Since then my life has made a transformation toward health and wellness and it has been steered by “Dr. Sanya”. A lady with a strong will and common sense mixed with a lot of letters following her name combine to make one of my favorite ladies in town.
It is time you met Sanya S. :
My relationship with Bemidji began when I was a young girl, summering near Itasca State Park. On occasion we would come to “town” for groceries or laundry duty and there would be a stop at the lakefront for ice cream and a souvenir. As a teen, I met the camp bus here for the rest of the journey to Lake of the Woods. Then as an adult while shopping downtown I fell in love with the 100 year old Victorian building on the corner of 4th and America. I knew at that moment that Bemidji would be my home and the beautiful building would house my business- a health and wellness center. A unique place where alternative health choices are offered, healthy living practices are promoted and health information, resources and education are provided.
My professional training is as a Doctor of Chiropractic. My vision was to develop a practice where people would feel comfortable and cared for, one where members of the community could come and get the help they need. Six years later I believe that dream is well on it’s way.
I knew I wanted to serve my community and I had much to offer it, but what I didn’t realize was how much my community would give me in return. Bemidji has become my home, a place where I can walk into many, but not all, local establishments and be greeted by name. I can bike to work, walk to anyplace I need downtown and even when driving I will never get caught in a traffic jam – well, maybe over the 4th of July! I can take in the sheer beauty and power of the Mississippi that pulses in, through and around Bemidji. On any given weekend I can enjoy world-class cuisine in the morning, hike, bike, paddle or ski in the afternoon and still fit in an art show, a symphony concert, the theatre, a sporting event, or a good old-fashioned jam session at the local pub. When I lived in the twin cities any one of those things would have taken up much of the day or my finances, here all of these things are available and affordable.
My community not only serves me but it serves my children, they are in a tremendous school, they have opportunities and freedoms that were not available before we moved here. The lifestyle here allows for a more balanced life, the emphasis is on authenticity not materialism. My neighbors and friends support my family and me. I truly believe I am cared for here.
I have found my place in Bemidji and the wonderful people who make up this community. I could have never dreamed as a girl on summer visits, a young adult passing through or as a 30 something looking for a change that it would be this good.
Laid back yet determined. An eye for the unseen. Melissa creates art out of the every day beauty around us. A mom who found herself after raising her family. I had a great time at Melissa’s house on Stump Lake. The fortune of nature was with us as the lake was calm and peaceful that day and the wildlife made an appearance. Getting to watch a simple picture turn into a piece of artwork was inspiring.
Can I introduce you to Melissa?
I was not born or raised here in the literal sense. I found Bemidji in 2006 and knew the moment I stepped off the plane that this was HOME.
My journey began the summer of 2006 in Owosso, Michigan where I lived for ten years with my husband and six children. Don’t be too impressed, I didn’t give birth to them all, we are a meshed family, but a family all the same and I love them all as if they were my own. Most of our family vacations were long weekends to the upper peninsula of Michigan. The only place I found solace. My heart was heavy on the trip back and my husband and I fantasized about moving to the U.P. buying a tiny cabin on a lake surrounded by forest. It was not practical and selfish for us to consider uprooting our children from the only home they could remember, so we patiently waited. The summer of 2006 marked the milestone of all children graduating from high school. It was time – our time! I was on the search for a job in the north, what I thought would be the U.P. of Michigan.
Fortunately a fairy godmother found me, and of course as fairy godmothers are, much wiser than I am, took pity upon me, and paved the way for my journey home. I had three job offers in northern Minnesota and no prospects in the U.P. My husband and I decided why not investigate. The first company did not offer enough salary so I turned it down. The second offer was from Arctic Cat. Thief River just did not feel like home. The third offer from a company not far from Bemidji seemed just right. (I know – too Goldilocks – sorry) I flew into Bemidji airport for my interview and immediately sighed and said…..HOME! I rushed to the interview, accepted their offer, rushed back home to tell my husband that I have found our paradise. Much more beautiful than what we imagined. Two weeks later I was in a manic dash to pack and start my first day of work. In keeping with my Goldilocks theme, there was a bear involved (or if you choose a Big Bad Wolf both villains are appropriate) and just over a year after my first day I left the company. Once again my fairy godmother stepped in. This, like other fairy tales has a touch of irony. The company that offered me a job when I thought no one ever would (long story and too negative to elaborate) happened to be the first offer I turned down, Nortech Systems. Forgive me for not noticing what this company had to offer, I had yet to learn that what seems like a frog is truly a prince! (Yes again with the fairy tale theme!)
The past three and half years in this little piece of heaven have been the most inspiring time of my life. I have grown as an artist, mother, wife and person. I am no longer that tightly wound woman that was ready to stress out about any issue, frazzled to the point where getting out of bed took all the energy I could muster. I turned from a puppet to a real girl! (Yes now a Pinocchio theme) Life here in Bemidji has taught me to slow down, take in the magnificent landscape and wildlife, breathe in all the beauty and diversity that Bemidji and life has to offer. So, in essence, I was RE-BORN and raised in Bemidji.
My artistic outlet has been landscape and wildlife photography. I was only inspired to take photos when I was in the Upper Peninsula, which was only one maybe two times a year for long weekends. Now I find it hard not to photograph, document, and share the beauty that envelops me, much of it in my backyard on Stump Lake. Yes I got my cabin on a lake surrounded by forest! Hmmmm… I love drinking my coffee on my deck at sunrise listening to the loons, chickadees and that friendly call of the Phoebe – PHEEBEEE, PHEEBEE. The various woodpeckers lend their percussions on the pines and a determined little sapsucker has taken up the cymbals by drumming on the metal around my chimney all the while the wind whispers through the pines. I am hypnotized into complete bliss. And NO, this is not in cartoon format with the birds landing on my shoulder and I am singing back at them this is no fairy tale – it is my fantastic life! I can’t image life could be more incredible.
I suppose you wonder if I miss my children. Well they never gave me the chance. Five out of six of my kids have moved to Bemidji, or very close to Bemidji. They love the area just as much as my husband and I do. What can I say; they inherited their good taste from me!
I have just recently found a new fairy godmother that has encouraged, supported and help make my dream of sharing my art with the world come to fruition. Christina Thorne at Bad Cat Creations is kindly showcasing my photography. It is not the average photograph. I create kaleidoscopes from my photos. It is my interpretation of the wonders of nature. I have been on a marathon of creativity and Bemidji is my muse!