University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Sept. 24, 2004

UW-RF Prof's New Book Says Cherish the Little Things
By Christine Duellman
UW-RF News Bureau

In the course of one's life there is usually a true test of a person's character. For Nan Jordahl, several life trials resulted in a newfound appreciation for the both the mundane and not-so-ordinary in life. In a new memoir, Chasing Sophie's Ashes (Authorhouse, 2004), Jordahl relives the death of her husband who succumbed to leukemia, her own struggle to overcome leukemia, and several losses in her family.

In an open and serious yet often humorous style, Jordahl's book will inspire the reader with a sense of triumph and determination.

Jordahl married a U.S. Navy sailor at age 20 and refers to her late husband as "the love of my life." Together they had overcome many health complications with their children and family members. Her husband, Bob, was diagnosed with leukemia in 1985 and struggled with the disease for several years, after being the first person in medical history to receive a highly experimental autologous bone marrow transplant.

Nine years later, Jordahl began the same battle that her husband went through when she, too, was diagnosed with leukemia. Luckily her younger sister was an exact match for a bone marrow transplant, which resulted in Jordahl's remission. During her struggle to survive this disease, Jordahl cultivated a new perspective for life.

Jordahl's youngest son, Travis, inspired her to write Chasing Sophie's Ashes, which is titled after a pet that died. "It was Travis, in protest of his mother's leukemia, who gave me the will and determination to survive," she writes in the dedication, which is also dedicated to her deceased husband, her father, the staff at the University of Minnesota Bone Marrow Transplant Center, and her animals.

Joining UW-River Falls in 1976, Jordahl is a professor of communicative disorders, assistant to the dean and provost, and director of the honors program and faculty development, as well as an academic advisor. She particularly values her opportunities to work with students--one of her many passions.

Jordahl completed both her bachelor's and master's degree in communicative disorders form the University of Rhode Island. She has also completed all of her coursework for a Ph.D. in educational administration at the University of Minnesota.

Chasing Sophie's Ashes is her first book, although she is planning to continue her career as an author. Jordahl's next book will be about the life lesson's she has learned from animals. She hopes to finish it next year.

Today Jordahl values the perspective that life challenges bring. "I really appreciate everything, and I try my best not to let my inner problems get blown into big issues," she says.

She spends most of her free time with her many animals and would some day like to have a large animal rescue--a dream she shares with her daughter.

Jordahl hopes that her readers will leave this book with a larger appreciation for life's blessings. She lives her own life in the moment and encourages others to do the same. Her advice is "Stop complaining; life is good."


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