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They placed her in my arms. I thought they had made a mistake and brought me the wrong baby. She was so big with beautiful dark curls framing her face. When she left to be with who we were told would be her adoptive mother she was a tiny three-month-old that had been with us over two months. I hardly recognized the six-month old I held in my arms. She cried and cried refusing to be set down even for a second. I understood. For the next several months she was either in my arms or my husbands. That summer her brother and sister came to live with us too. They were two and three years old. We had five children under six–seven of us in a two bedroom house owned by my grandparents.

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The Art of Happiness.

Perhaps it’s because I spend my days writing imaginary scenes with imaginary characters that I understand the power of imagination. I’ve come to realize the way in which I view the world, and my everyday experiences are under my control. In other words:“With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.” Oprah Winfrey

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What I’ve learned so far. 

If you want to be really good at something there are no shortcuts. You have to do the work. You must put in the hours. 10,000 hours? Probably more.

Friendships are important. They’re like planted seeds. If you want them to grow pay attention and care for them.

“The language of friendship is not words, but meanings.” Henry David Thoreau

Don’t make yourself so busy that you forget to be grateful. Gratefulness is the key to happiness because when you’re grateful you feel joy and when you’re filled with joy you’re happy.

Marriage is difficult. Don’t always trust your feelings because they change. That thing I wrote about working really hard to be good at something. It applies to marriage. The thing I wrote about friendship. It applies to marriage. There will be good days, days that carry frustration, and many days where you’ll be grateful to have such an incredible person in your life. keep those days close to your heart. The thing I wrote about gratefulness….

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Your kids are not yours. You may forget this for a while and stress about their behavior, grades, their future, but in the end, the most important thing to think about is what kind of relationship do you want to have with your children when they become adults.  When they look back on their childhood will they feel your love and acceptance?

Your thoughts are really important because they tell stories you believe which can evoke many different emotions. Tell yourself more good stories than fearful or angry stories and you’ll have a better day.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau

While routines can bring comfort they can also bring stagnation. Get out of your comfort zone and travel before you get stuck.

It’s good to have goals and dreams, but if you become too obsessed with them you can make yourself and those around you miserable. Work toward your dream remembering to enjoy the climb. Take breaks to breathe and celebrate your work along the way.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Henry David Thoreau

Live! You must listen from within and find the strength to live your life your way. Don’t wait until you’re eighty to look back, wonder where the time went and wish you would’ve done things differently. Live the gift of life.

And finally, I’ve learned that there’s so much more to learn!

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” Henry David Thoreau

Having lived in Florida for many years has given me the opportunity to learn from the lives of those much older than myself.

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There are two things I must do. One is write, and the other is run. The problem is there are days when I don’t feel like doing either.  On days when I accomplish both, I feel complete. I feel like me. Yet, for as many miles as I’ve run each time I begin, I must fight the demons that tell me to stop. Every step I take fuels me to keep going until I reach a stride where my mind focuses, and running is enjoyable. The first two miles are always the toughest. It’s the same for writing. Getting started can be a battle. I’m working on my third novel, and it’s not any easier than the first. Actually, it’s harder because I’m learning more. When I sit down to work on my manuscript or to write a post I go through an entire Facebook, email, Pinterest ritual before I begin. The longer I wait, the more I torture myself until finally, I focus. And it is torture because I let the fear swirl around in my mind growing more intense with every minute.

The lesson I’ve learned from writing and running is the importance of doing something–anything when faced with fear. Taking that first step toward doing the very thing that frightens you is empowering. It teaches you to get up, get courageous and go! It’s not easy. The things we feel the most fearful of are the things that are the most important to us. We can choose to let fear immobilize us or we can walk confidently in the direction of our fear and do something.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between happiness and joy. Happy is what most people say they want to be. Happy is ripping open presents, enjoying our favorite meal, or watching our football team score the winning touchdown. Happiness is dancing and singing. Happiness is an emotion that fills us, makes us smile, laugh, and emanate an energy that others respond to. However, sometimes happiness can be tied to an outcome we are seeking. I’ll be happy when….  If our goals aren’t met, or things don’t go exactly the way we planned, or we don’t get the gift we were hoping for then we may not allow ourselves to be happy.

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