Some unsolicited feedback I’ve received over the years (you can also read a few endorsements in my LinkedIn profile)

“We would like to thank you for the wonderful article you ran on Rosedale Gardens; we really appreciate it. Rodika Tollefson did a great job; you are very fortunate to have such a talented writer working for you…”
~Scott and Lyn Junge, Rosedale Gardens (Letter to the Editor, WestSound Home & Garden magazine, Spring 2007)

“Thank you so much for a wonderful article (“3 Star Green Home Remodel”)! I am honored and humbled by your portrayal of me. I am absolutely amazed you got so many many details, all correct, and were able to assemble them in such a nice way! This is something I will really treasure…”
~Jane Ritley, Green Sticks & Stones (Letter to the Editor, WestSound Home & Garden magazine, Winter 2010)

“We both wept when we read your story. Thank you so much for capturing in words how we feel in our hearts. You are truly amazing.”
~Oscar and Paula Abalahin, Jaxon’s Cure

“You have done an excellent job of covering the news in our community. You’re an excellent writer, and always know and remember lots of information about topics you’re covering. You’re also very fun to work with!”
~Monna Haugen, North Mason Coalition of Churches and Community

“Thank you so much for the wonderful story you did on the Haven in Allyn. I felt real good reading it, because it was true and you were able to capture our hearts.”
~Ron and Debra Jamerson, Haven in Allyn

“We are all so very pleased with the story you wrote about Dad and his book — it was very cleverly done and all the details you included made it a very interesting read, even to those of us who have known and loved him a long time. Great job, thank you.”
~Pam Merrill

“That is one of the best articles that’s been done on me. It’s outstanding. Over the years I’ve done a lot of interviews with a lot of people and I have to say, you’re there with the very best.”
~Herman Petersen, retired top-fuel car racer

Words of wisdom I try to live by

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.” ~Jonathan White

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” ~Michelangelo

"It's never too late to be what you might have been." ~George Elliot

A little creative writing break: Writing TIme

An impromptu unedited piece about writing

By Rodika Tollefson

All those writing books by seasoned professionals tell you: You must have morning pages. That’s when you get up 10 minutes early and before you go about your day, your first thoughts pour into the pages for 10 minutes. Write junk if you want to, the advice says. Complain. Make shopping lists. Plan your day. Write whatever comes to mind, just write.

I have resisted so far giving in to such advice. I plan my day all day long already. I have little time for shopping so the lists would just there, unspent. I get to write junk already plenty, being a paid writer with lots of assignments they call “fluff.”

It’s that fluff writing that pays the bills -- not those wonderful literary masterpieces that undoubtedly are waiting inside me, waiting to be discovered, waiting for me to become the next Hemingway. Well, maybe I could become famous posthumously; it seems a lot of writers die first before getting noticed.

Where were we? Oh yes, writing time.

No matter what they say, writing is still a lot about inspiration. Maybe good writers just learned to be inspired instantly as soon as they get a hold of the pen and paper. After many failures, they disciplined themselves to write beautiful prose instantly. But me, the average scribe, I need inspiration.

And I do get it at least once a day, but it’s usually in odd places. I’ll be driving one time, be in the middle of a deadline the next time, or in the middle of a book whose sole purpose is to inspire me -- which it does -- but I ignore its pleading to drop it and write. I’m too tired. Too busy. Too whatever -- the explanation changes each time.

And so those fleeting moments of inspiration take off from inside me, hover in the air as if making sure I don’t change my mind, and move on. Maybe to another writer, another universe, another day. With them goes my masterpiece, my brilliant piece of writing that instead will end up with another writer’s name on it -- a writer who was smarter than me, more disciplined. Maybe a writer who does morning pages as a self-exploration or an exercise to get all the junk out of the brain so he or she can move on to the more brilliant stuff.

Once in a while, I do get lucky. Those fleeting moments of inspiration take mercy and instead of flying away forever, they get tucked in back inside my soul. I do love them, for they are patient…knowing…hoping that some day I too will be smarter, more disciplined, more motivated to listen to them, give them freedom. They yearn to guide my pen toward that next wonderful story.

Writing time. Part inspiration, part luck, part the ability to ignore the outside world in the whirlwind of children needing help with homework, husband waiting for dinner, clients waiting for their collection of fluff, deadlines waiting to mess up what you’ve managed to have left of a social life, bills waiting to be paid. This outside world must be what writer’s hell is like -- that perpetual agony between snatching the inspiring thought and finding the time to make it fly and go for a ride. Writing time. Maybe it’s just a curse?

Creative writing break: From the Essays file


Memories are like birds.

They fly, fast and free, with their wings spread open.
They are swarming, loud.

Once in a while, they stop still.

They nest in our hearts.

Unlike a bird's nest, memories are less exposed to the world. They are concealed deep inside our hearts and soul, often time stuffed there by a mind that does not want to remember a painful sensation.

Other times they are lively and ecstatic, laughing out loud or just smiling contentedly.

These are the memories that we put into pictures and keepsakes in order to capture them into something more material, something more feasible that we can touch and see over and over again, something that would live through generations to tell the happy story.

Those are the memories of a first bouquet, wedding bells, first charming baby smile, the long gone dear friend…

They are the memories we try to hang on to, try to grasp them with our fingers and clutch them in our fists… too precious to let go.

Among them is a picture of the sunset and a tree in full bloom.

What is the soul trying to tell by captioning these serene moments onto the glossy paper? Are these part of the memories that will be shared with generations to come, or are they just a trace of lost happiness, an attempt to recreate a smile of the nature itself?


a few of my favorite quotes

“To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being wrong.”
~Joseph Chilton Pearce

“Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.”
~Henry Ford

“I couldn't wait for success... so I went ahead without it.”
~Jonathan White

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
~Hellen Keller

“It's never too late to be what you might have been.”
~George Elliot