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Owner Kari Nokken: The Alchemist

Updated: May 30, 2023

Turning Struggle Into Growth and Healing

"And the words she speaks, no matter the topic of conversation or who she is talking to, make you feel safe and valued. This is who Kari is as a person. She has been able to translate her personal gifts into professional resources for women who need them most. "

Kari Nokken at The Nest Retreat Center. Located in Shoreview, MN

Since the beginning of time, women have taken the role of caretaker. We are often the glue in-between-the-cracks that holds it all together: families, professional relationships, and neighbors. We are the “yes people” and will find us at bake sales, chairing fundraising events and leading social change. But what happens when we are at capacity? How do we continue to keep up the pace of taking care of others when we are running on empty? Kari Nokken strives to answer these questions.

Kari is one of the most unassuming and steadfast people you will ever meet. Kind. Humble. She is the friend you call when you need to talk something out without judgement and the woman in the group who shares her wisdom in generous servings, filling the plates of all those around her.

And the words she speaks, no matter the topic of conversation or who she is talking to, make you feel safe and valued. This is who Kari is as a person. She has been able to translate her personal gifts into professional resources for women who need them most.

It all started with her. From her own struggles and pain. Rather than remain inward with her suffering, she found a way to focus outward and help others.

Like many women, Kari was a young wife who couldn’t wait to start a family. What she thought would be a reasonably fast track to parenthood, turned into a season of painful loss, frustration, and isolation. She had no prior indications of any reproductive challenges. She was in good health. She had done all the “right things” to set herself up for what should have been the next step in life: motherhood.

After several miscarriages, Kari and her husband Eric, adopted a beautiful baby boy, Isaiah, at seven months old from Ethiopia. Shortly after, Jacob was born. She continued to have numerous miscarriages, a total of six, before they finally stopped trying.

Through her difficult journey to build their family, Kari knew she needed to create a space for others who were also struggling. Patiently Waiting was created in 2006 as a support group model and later become a 501c3 nonprofit in 2014. Since then, they have helped hundreds of families—mostly free services—such as adoption grants, support groups, and annual retreats. It is run as a 100% volunteer model with all donations going directly back into the program.

A Patiently Waiting Retreat held at The Guest House in 2023

For most people, creating and running Patiently Waiting would have been more than enough. But not for Kari.

In 2022 as Kari’s life evolved from raising small children to being in the throes of two teenaged boys (Isaiah 17, Jacob 15), meeting the increasing demands of her nonprofit, and coming out of a pandemic, she realized something had to change.

What had always been energizing to her—saying yes to nearly everything—was leaving her drained, stressed, and off-kilter. She decided she could no longer operate from a leaky bucket. Through this process she heard from other women who also felt the same overwhelm in their lives, but had been living this way for so long, they weren’t sure what “different” even looked like.

With a partnership of several other women, The Nest Retreat Center was born. Launching in June of 2023, The Nest is a nonprofit located in Shoreview, MN and is focused on self-discovery providing educational opportunities and resources to help you find the best, most authentic version of yourself. They offer leadership development by professionally trained staff and are dedicated to meet women wherever they’re at in life to support their unique goals.

Kari Nokken with her husband Eric, and sons, Isaiah and Jacob.

Kari had to figure out how to say no to a lot of things, for her to say yes to what truly inspires her. Parts of her life may not have gone according to plan, yet it is through those struggles that she has gained the most insight. She continues to forge pathways for others to grow and heal.

While she may be unassuming in dispostion, it is clear through her work, generosity of spirit and ability to change lives that she is anything but simple.

Like finding a hidden geode among the rubble, underneath the plain surface, she will dazzle you with her spectacular brilliance.

Follow our blog for candid stories of Year One.


"The Guest House Mission Statement: To build a legacy of memories for others by providing a beautiful and welcoming space for all communities to gather, create and share. "

Mandy Meisner is one of nine women co-owners of The Guest House; A restored Victorian home serving as a vacation rental and event venue in the beautiful city of Excelsior, Minnesota. Walking distance from Lake Minnetonka. This is her first venture as an entrepreneur.

A creative at heart, she graduated from the Perpich Center for Arts Education and continues to be an advocate for the arts, community and philanthropy.

She is a blogger for various syndicates, including the Minnesota Orchestra and has been nationally published. In addition to writing, she enjoys taking ballet classes, cooking and having a glass of wine with friends. She lives in the Twin Cities with her two children.

Mandy is also the Anoka County Commissioner for District 7. She is the first woman to hold this seat and the first person of color on the Anoka County Board.

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