I unapologetically live a Female Evolution and encourage you to do the same.
I recently had a birthday. I am now what society would call a woman of a certain age—I am no longer young. In this new era, I find myself in a space where I am better equipped for inner reflection and resilience, which has opened up far more possibilities in life than I ever had in my girlhood. I am immensely satisfied trading my youth for empowerment.
I grew up in Cloquet Minnesota with a family who celebrated life with BBQs and pool parties in the summer, giant pots of Booyah in the Fall, and Holiday gatherings in velvet dresses and patent leather shoes. Music and the arts called to me at a young age and I was able to attend the Perpich Center for Arts Education where I studied classical music, playing the flute. After graduation, I worked several jobs to support myself living in Columbia Heights and eventually married, settling into Fridley 23 years ago and had two outstanding children, Anna and Sam.
I was lucky I could stay home to raise our children and am thankful I did. It was also one of the most challenging times of my life. I knew the importance and privilege of being a mom. And the monotony of diapers, laundry, feedings and doctor appointments was hard for me and often times felt lonely.
As the children became older and entered into school, I became restless to expand myself. I knew there was a bigger world beyond the sticky-finger-smudged walls of my home and I longed to be part of it.
I started becoming involved with various community organizations, starting first with the PTA. Over time, as my experience and network grew, I was invited to be part of other projects. Through this work, I found joy and purpose in serving as a collaborator and connector and advocating for others.
Before I knew it, my kids were in their teens and had grown-up. And so had I. I was no longer the girl in a velvet dress and patent leather shoes.
I had often been asked—encouraged even—to get into politics because I was good at talking with people and bringing them together. My answer for years was always a firm NO. It seemed like an ugly profession.
But life is strange, and opportunity can pop up when we least expect it. My County Commissioner was retiring. It would be the first time this seat would be open in 64 years. I knew enough about politics to know an open seat was the best chance I would ever get as a woman with no political background. As scary as it was, I took that chance, organized a women-lead team, ran for office in 2018—and won. I am now in my second term in office, having just won a re-election in 2022 (with the same women-lead team).
A lot has changed since my first election. My 20-year marriage ended during the throes of the pandemic. I settled my oldest in college and am adjusting to a modified role where mom now looks more like a mentor than a guardian.
I’ve learned politics can indeed be an ugly profession. It can also be a beautiful one. Because for me, politics always boils down to helping people. County Government is the least known level of government (most people don't know what a County Commissioner does), yet directly impacts your life in many ways, unsung and unseesn every day. County Government is boots on the ground in your own backyard—and that is the pull for me.
My life as an Anoka County Commissioner looks different from day to day. I can be in a Human Services Committee (I serve on over 20 different committees) ensuring Child Protection, Medical Assistance and Public Health run smoothly. I could be meeting with a Mayor, State Representative or Chief of Police talking about public safety or policy issues that affect you. I might be at one of the numerous fundraisers supporting our non-profits, or helping someone to receive food support or emergency funds to stay in their home. Or, I am out in the field working with a social worker to connect with our homeless to offer resources.
"County Government is boots on the ground in your own backyard—and that is the pull for me."
I’m not sure how long I’ll be in politics. While I’ve certainly got more work to do, I never take for granted that the people of my community ultimately decide if I have this job. And politics is a harder profession to be in every election cycle. As I get older, I am finding I have less patience for nonsense and big egos. What I am sure about, is that however long I am gifted this seat, I will do my best to do as much good as I can for the most amount of people.
This is what my evolution has been so far. Yours might look different and that’s ok. It’s more than ok, it’s exactly as it should be. If you happen to be like me and can also claim to be a woman of a certain age… I hope you feel the same way I do; age is a gift that brings pain and beauty and wisdom. That the older I get, I realize my life is what I shape it to be.
And I’m just getting started.
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.