A well-lived life is one in which you never settle. You live and learn – sometimes the hard way, but you’re not afraid to learn the hard way because it means maybe you took a risk, and maybe you failed, but you’re stronger because of it. You know the world and yourself better because you’re open to possibilities. These risks and the constant quest to always ask “what’s next?” allow you to make a bigger impact on your environment and on those around you.

Not settling is synonymous with always learning. You continue to learn new skills like how to bake sourdough, and dive into the endless subjects that entice you. Most importantly, you hone the skills that get harder as you age. How to be kind, genuine, and honest with others and yourself. How to persevere. How to have both grit and grace. The best way to learn is to soak in all you can from those around you whom you admire. Life is a careful balance of “to thine own self be true” and looking to others for traits you wish to emulate. Mentorship is a life-long blessing for which you’re never too old, successful or experienced.

This community is built on strong women, many of whom I’m lucky to have as mentors and friends. These women are pioneers, artists, champions of others. Rather than compete with one another, they empower and encourage each other. They’re not afraid to take up space, to be voices of dissent, to fight the good fight. These are women whose work isn’t confined to their contributions to their respective careers but extends into every facet of this community. They run restaurants, teach classes, lead organizations, and own businesses while striving to make this community inclusive, safe, healthy and creative.


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I don’t have enough column space to name all the women in this community whom I admire and learn from, but there’s one woman I can’t let go unmentioned. She’s an unsung pioneer to the revitalization of Downtown Fargo, but she’s helped shape it into the destination it’s become with her continued creativity. She’s undoubtedly one of the best artists in this community. When her ideas take shape, they never cease to amaze. Her talent is unexpected and seemingly boundless.

Of anyone, this woman has had the most influence on my life. She exemplifies selflessness, and she’s been my most ardent supporter in all my pursuits. The best feeling in the world is having someone you admire believe in you, and she’s always believed in me – even when I haven’t believed in myself. She’s honest, patient, forgiving and kind. She’s stood by my side through depression, anxiety and heartbreak, and she’s never once given up on me. I’ve not always reciprocated her patience and I’ve taken advantage of her love. I’ve put her through hell and challenged her strength with trials and tribulations for which no one could prepare. Nevertheless, her love endures.

To have network of mentors that allow me to never settle and always strive to do and be more is fortunate. To have a mother that is your No. 1 fan, loyal ally, and constant inspiration is a blessing. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. And Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who are mentors to the next generation of strong women.

Danz is an avid runner, reader and writer. She’s a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead who lives, works and believes in downtown Fargo. She’s a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages.