When I left my office on a recent Friday afternoon to interview a local potter, I didn't expect it to take as long as it did. I didn't have anything else scheduled for the afternoon and a friend of mine was going with me to the interview as she had arranged for me to do the story and knew where the studio was located out in the rural area between Lanesboro, Mabel and Preston.

Sue Pariseau is the potter I am referring to and you can find the story that resulted from my interview on the front page of this week's issue. While I am happy with the story, it is merely my professional reflection on the experience.

My personal retelling of the experience would include a lot of laughter and conversation that had nothing to do with the story I was working on.

I instantly liked Sue and her husband, Kevin, and felt right at home in their small country retreat. We met in her studio, which also serves as their living space when they come out to the country. Clay mugs were lined up on a counter and her potters wheel was located nearby. We sat around a card table in the corner and visited about her art and her reasons for donating bowls to the Empty Bowl project.

We also digressed, adding in topics of conversation that were in no way related to the story I was writing. Perhaps I should have been more professional and stayed on topic, but I felt a creative kinship with Sue and I think our general conversation actually helped me write a better story.

Looking back at the time I spent there, I hope I didn't overstay my welcome.

One of the things I loved about Sue was her generosity. She uses her talents to make the world a better place. Not only does she give bowls to the Empty Bowl event, which will be held in Harmony on Sunday, Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Harmony Community Center, but also to "Mugs for Jugs" and other charitable auctions throughout the year.

It is what I aspire to do someday with my quilting. While I don't do original designs or even really count myself as an artist, I do love sewing and creating things that make people happy. Once I finish a few quilts designated for loved ones, I hope to do a few pieces that can be given to local silent auctions and benefits.

The Friday before I interviewed Sue, I spent some time with Dr. Jan Meyer, the writer of the "Biker's Diary" column that can be found weekly on page three in the Reader.

She had just won an alumni award from the University of Minnesota and I was doing an interview with her for an upcoming story in the Republican-Leader.

Jan, too, was an inspiration for me as she talked about how grateful she was for the education she received from the University and how she uses that gratitude to "pay it forward" by funding scholarships and working with students to develop their career path.

It reminded me of the many kindnesses that I have been blessed with throughout my life and how there are times when you can never repay the person who helped you out. And, sometimes, saying thank you doesn't quite seem adequate.

If we all lived by the "pay it forward" attitude, I truly believe our world would be a better place.

Going out and meeting with people in our area is one of the greatest things about my job. I am continuously inspired and reminded that the people who live here are truly wonderful.

While these are just two recent examples of how I am inspired and motivated to be a better person, I know that the stories I have collected throughout the last 18 years have taught me a lot and have made me the person I am today.

And, while I may have over-stayed my welcome at the art studio that Friday afternoon and was away from my office longer than I had intended, it surely was a wonderful way to spend a nice fall day.