Let Go of Comparisons

Nankeen Kestrel, size comparison

 “Comparison is the death of joy.”

~ Mark Twain


How much do you hold yourself back or sabotage your own feelings of happiness by comparing your life or your progress to others?

Comparisons can be deadly.

I have known people that have very full, blessed lives that spend most of their time dwelling on the blessings in the lives of others. If you have a roof over your head, good health, enough to eat and a person or two to love, you have a pretty full life. But if your neighbor has a much bigger house, a much newer car and the ability to take exotic vacations, you may feel like the blessings in your life are somehow not enough.

The problem in this case isn’t that you don’t have enough. It’s that you are focusing on what others have and using it as a gauge to make you think your blessings aren’t enough.

Comparisons Can Drive You or Distract You

Of course, in the case of athletes, comparisons can be the driving force that makes them excel. Those who make it to the top are often driven by their competitive spirit, their desire to prove that they really are the best at what they do, or that they can be just a little bit better than their competitors.

On the other hand, dwelling on what your competitors are doing can distract you from your own goals.


What you focus on expands. So if you are focused on what others are doing, especially if you are focused on the chance that you might lose, there’s always a chance you won’t be able to focus on your own goals. Comparisons can distract you from attaining your own best possibilities.

Comparisons Can Be Disabling or Motivating

Comparisons can cripple you, or they can be used to your advantage. As long as you are comparing yourself to those who seem to have more than you do, or to people who seem to have accomplished more than you have, you are probably going to feel bad.

But there are also always those who have less than you do. You probably have more than those who are homeless or those who don’t have the ability to read. If you have a job, you have more than someone who is struggling with unemployment. If you live in a free country, you are more blessed than someone who is living in a war-torn area.

If you came in at fourth place in a race, you did better than the person who came in fifth or last place.

The best way to use comparisons is about your own progress. If you ran faster or swam faster than you did in your last race, you are making progress

You Are OK Just as You Are

Imagine if every tree spent its life comparing itself to the tree next to it. Fortunately for us, trees don’t do that.

They just grow.

Each simply displays its own beauty and its own uniqueness. Each carries out its own unique destiny without being held back by larger trees or showier trees.

You can notice and admire the beauty in someone else without questioning your own or feeling like you have been shortchanged.

You can find the courage and the grace to be your best self.

Michelle Parsons said, “Don’t compare yourself to others…that’s a battle you can never win.”

You are where you are supposed to be, and you are ok exactly as you are.


A Simple Happy Day: Making Memories


FullSizeRender (1)

“Today is life – the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today.”

~ Dale Carnegie 


Yesterday was a memorable day for my family. My older daughter is a hair stylist so she almost always works on the weekend and is typically not available to do things with the family on Saturdays or Sundays. She happened to have yesterday off, and we planned a special day of making memories.

I am very fond of butterflies, and there was a butterfly exhibit at Roper Mountain Science Center here in Greenville, SC. It was an opportunity for us to walk among several species of butterflies in an enclosed area. The staff of the science center provided us with sticks dipped in Gatorade, telling us that the sugar would attract the butterflies.

It did. My younger daughter and my grandson were able to experience having a butterfly land on the end of the stick they were holding.

Moments to remember such as these are priceless.

Other Simply Happy Activities

We also enjoyed other indoor exhibits at the science center yesterday, including turtles, a few snakes and a touch tank. The grandkids were able to make paper butterflies at a craft area. My younger daughter and all but one of the grandchildren that were present joined Roper Mountain’s “Eat a bug” club. They rose to the challenge of eating a cricket! That wasn’t something I wanted to experience personally, but it helped make it a day to remember.

We were told that the science center also had an area with farm animals, but we opted not to go there because of the heat and humidity. It was probably 93 degrees or so, which meant we thought we’d be more comfortable if we sought out air conditioning.

Later that afternoon, we all went to see “Finding Dory”, the sequel to “Finding Nemo.” It was a fun, heartwarming movie which we thoroughly enjoyed.

What we enjoyed the most was the opportunity to spend time together.

How Life Evolves and Changes

In my family, we are on the brink of major change. My younger daughter is heading away to college in the fall and will be hundreds of miles away. My oldest granddaughter will be starting middle school.

Did you ever watch a flower grow on time lapse photography?  Everything around us is actually evolving and changing imperceptibly right before our eyes. We just can’t see the tiny signs of change. Images caught on time lapse photography give us a glimpse of how things are changing even though we can’t see all that’s going on right under our noses. Check out the work of Louie Schwartzberg if you have never seen it.

The simple, happy moments of family togetherness are the stuff memories are made of. These are experiences that will never come again. If we get to visit the butterfly exhibit again sometime in the future, we will all be a bit older and we will be changed. We all will have had our own different experiences between now and then that give us different perspectives. We will each have our own reactions to the experience.

In a lot of ways, we won’t even be the same people two, three or five years from now that we are today.

Every single day gives us a chance to have brand new experiences. Some are more memorable than others.

To me what is the most cherished of all is the opportunity to spend time and make new memories with the people who are most important to me.

A simple, happy day is one of life’s greatest blessings.

Rising Above Negative Messages and Criticism

Light escape

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”

~ David Brinkley

Most of us have heard the childhood chant “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”

The words of others do sting at times though.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I hear negative messages or critical remarks from other people and I take it to heart.

Believing the wrong messages from others or yourself can ruin your day.

Or your life.

Other People’s Opinions

The opinions of other people are just that – their opinions.

There is no reason for you to believe negative messages from other people. They don’t know everything, and they don’t know more than you.

Motivational speaker Les Brown was given the label “educable mentally retarded” at a young age. But a person crossed his path who changed his life and taught him a very important lesson – that he didn’t have to believe that message.

He could choose to believe in himself whether or not others believed with him.

As Les says, “Don’t let someone’s opinion of you become your reality.”

Learning that lesson allowed Les Brown to transform himself from a young man that some thought of as slow to a very successful motivational speaker, writer and former politician. These are goals he would not have accomplished if he had believed the opinions of those who didn’t see the greatness and tremendous potential in him.

There is greatness and potential in you as well. It’s time to shrug off anyone who tells you anything else.

Hold your head up. You can rise about criticism and negativity.

Maya Angelou said, “I can be changed by what happens to be me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Believing the Right Things

The thing is, we all choose what messages we choose to focus on.

If someone tells you that you are unintelligent or ugly or too fat or too clumsy or too anything at all….so what?

It’s only their opinion.

You can have a different opinion. You can believe that you are someone who is unique and special, someone who has plenty to offer the world.

No matter what anyone else says.

Throughout your life, some people will be in your corner and some won’t.

Each time someone says something negative, critical or discouraging about you, it’s like you are standing at a fork in the road. You can choose to listen and be bothered by it. Or not.

The late Muhammed Ali said, “I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”

What a great way to approach life.

It’s time to expect the best of ourselves and the universe.

If people throw negativity your way, hang onto the positive, wherever you can find it.

Let your light shine.

4 Myths About Happiness

Boquete - Snowy-bellied Hummingbird

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.”

~ Albert Camus


If you feel like you are not as happy as you could be, it may be that you are holding onto certain beliefs. In fact, what you believe about happiness may hold the key to how much joy you actually experience in your life.

Some of the most common myths about happiness may cause you to hold yourself back from experiencing the best of all life has to offer. Here are some examples.

Myth #1: You can only be happy if….

I think if I had to choose one happiness myth that causes people pain, this would be it. Do you ever find yourself feeling that there is one particular thing or person missing from your life, and without it you can’t possibly be happy?

You may wish very much for a new car or a bigger house. You may wish for someone to share your life with if you are single. You may wish for more time to yourself if you have a smothering spouse or a large family.  You may wish for small things like a certain pair of shoes, or big things like a new job or the ability to travel to exotic places.

Don’t postpone your happiness. You have exactly what you need today, and it’s possible to be happy with exactly what you have. Sure, you might be able to be happier if you had more money and more people surrounding you. But you can choose to be happy in your present circumstances, because happiness is not something that lies outside yourself.

Myth # 2: You can’t be happy because….

Rather than longing for something that you haven’t yet attained, the opposite side of the coin is believing you can’t be happy because of some external thing that has happened to you, such as a recent death, divorce, car accident or health problem.

While loss frequently requires a time of grieving and rebuilding, it doesn’t mean you can’t experience some happiness now, or that you will never experience happiness again.

The subject of loss is very familiar to me. Some of the major losses I have experienced include the death of my husband and my mother. I also experienced an apartment fire while my husband was on hospice care. If you are in pain, my heart goes out to you. But trust me, you will survive the pain and learn from it. Often there are blessings in loss.

If you are hurting today, you may want to read the chapter on loss in my book Happiness for the Clueless. You can be happy again.

Myth #3: You don’t deserve to be happy

Sometimes people think they don’t deserve to be happy. For some people, this could be the result of childhood abuse or trauma. If you grew up in an environment where you were treated like you were worthless, you may have a deep-seated sense of toxic shame and a belief that you don’t deserve to be happy.

Let the past stay in the past. Get in the habit of noticing and recognizing all that you do right each day. Shower yourself with all the love you may not have received up to now.

Another reason you may think you don’t deserve to be happy is guilt over things you have done. Guilt is a terrible emotion that can wreak havoc with present-day happiness. Whatever you have done in the past, there is absolutely nothing you can do to undo it. All you can do is try to do better in the future.

No matter what others may have said to you or what you have done, you deserve to be happy.

Myth #4: You have to work for happiness

How hard do you think you have to work for happiness? The answer: not at all. Happiness is positive emotion that comes from living in today and accepting your circumstances as being exactly the way they are supposed to be. You can hope for certain things to change, you can make a plan and start to take steps toward new goals, but in the meantime simply experience whatever positive feelings you can each and every day.

Don’t work so hard at it. Don’t struggle against what is. Look for the good in this present moment.

As Chuang-Tse said, “Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.”

The Joy of Completing a Goal

Sunrise over Ellesmere

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

~ Nelson Mandela


When you set a goal and then see that goal through to its completion, it can give you a pretty good feeling.

I know, because I recently completed a book about happiness, which is something I have wanted to do for quite a while. The topic of happiness, particularly in the sense of spreading positive energy to people who might need to be lifted up, is something that is very dear to my heart.

In order to complete the book, like many writers, I had to overcome a bizarre inner resistance to doing the thing I wanted to do most. I’ve done a lot of ghostwriting for other people, but in the recent past (and as a middle-aged woman, the recent past encompasses probably at least a decade), I have done very little writing just because I wanted to. My focus has been primarily on writing what clients tell me to write, and on taking care of other people.

I’ve been having a hard time putting the focus on me, or my life or goals that I want to accomplish. It’s been even harder to follow through and complete projects I start.

I have just been putting one foot in front of the other for years.

I have become clueless about life and about happiness.

Lessons and More Lessons

This blog and my book Happiness for the Clueless: 7 Simple Tips for a Happier Life have been evolving because I have an eager student who needs to learn about happiness, joy, contentment, satisfaction and inner peace.

The eager student is me.

I like to think the things I write about might be touching others who have been presented with challenges and difficulties that tripped them up or knocked them down.

Other writers have done that for me.

For as long as I can remember, I have drawn courage and strength from the writings of others, people like Maya Angelou and Wayne Dyer and Kahlil Gibran. During dark days, I have been comforted by the written words of people who took the time to share their thoughts in writing.

Getting to the Finish Line

Recently I found that I needed to prove to myself that I could actually complete a book that I started, a book that I wrote just because I wanted to write it and not because I had been hired to write it.

And then I decided to follow this project through to completion by releasing my book to the universe as an indie writer.

I did it.

My book Happiness for the Clueless: 7 Simple Tips for a Happier Life is free on Amazon from now until Saturday June 18.

My hope is that maybe my words will touch the lives of at least a few people. I even hope that maybe in taking the time to write this book, I might make a tiny difference.

I know that I have made a difference in one life.

My own.

Can’t Figure Out How to Be Happy? Get Free EBook Today!


Butterfly at Omega

“The day I realized that I am in charge of how I will approach problems in my life, that things will turn out better or worse because of me and nobody else, that was the day I knew I would be a happier and healthier person. And that was the day I knew I could truly build a life that matters.”

~ Steve Goodier


Do you ever feel completely clueless about how to be happy?

If so, you aren’t alone. So many people want to be happy, but instead feel sad, puzzled, disappointed or discouraged. Often people can’t put their finger on what’s missing from their lives. They just know something is.

They want to be happy, but they can’t figure out how.

Can you relate?

Happiness can seem as elusive as a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it may seem like you can’t catch it.

Happiness and Expectations

 If you feel like you can’t seem to get your share of happiness, the problem may be that you have expectations that are way too high. Even though your life is reasonably good, you want it to be perfect. You believed the fairy tales. You expected to live happily ever after in every area of your life.

But some aspect of your life isn’t perfect.

You feel short-changed, and you may spend most of your time focused on whatever is missing in your life.

Is happiness a hopeless destination, a proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that you have no hope of attaining? Do you think that the lack of whatever is missing in your life dooms you to a life of unhappiness?

What if whatever you have in your life today is enough?

Learning to live in the now and embrace whatever and whoever you have in your life could just be one of the keys to happiness.

Choosing to be Happy

In many ways, happiness is a choice.

Instead of dwelling on what is missing in your life, experience the joy of loving exactly what you have.

Practice gratitude. Practice embracing this one special, unique moment in time.

You may think on some level that you don’t deserve to be happy, or you may think that you have to earn happiness, but somehow keep falling short.

You may even be in the habit of nursing negative emotions, that are typically preceded by holding onto sad or angry thoughts.

You have it in your power to make better choices.

You can choose happiness starting now.

More Tips for Happiness in My Ebook – Free for the Next Few Days

Being happy isn’t rocket science. You can get there by replacing some of your bad habits with more positive ones.

In my book Happiness for the Clueless: 7 Simple Tips for a Happier Life I have designed a simple system to help you follow easy to remember steps toward a happier life.

Download it for FREE between now and Saturday. It’s a short read, but I think the tips will help you on your journey to a happier life. Read the book, post a review or let me know what you think in the comments below.

Choose happiness starting today!


25 Thoughts to Lift You Up on Gloomy Days

Water Autumn RipplesSome days it feels like it doesn’t pay to get out of bed. You may start the day by arguing with your spouse or your kids, or your car won’t start. A passing motorist may cut you off or express hostility toward you for no apparent reason.

Let’s face it. Not every day can be a good day. When you’re feeling down, reading a few uplifting quotes can help to lift you up.

Overcoming adversity starts with changing your thoughts. Take a deep breath. Better days are coming.

Focus on uplifting thoughts such as these:

“Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you got a bad life.        ”

                                                      ~ Author Unknown

“Problems are only opportunities with thorns on them.”

                                                        ~ Hugh Miller

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

                                                         ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”

                                                          ~ Robert H. Schuller

“Let us be of cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those that never come.”

                                                           ~ Amy Lowell

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.”

                                                           ~ Sigmund Wollman

“People are resilient. After all, every person born has recovered from nine months on life support.”

                                                          ~ Robert Brault

“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”

                                                         ~ Maya Angelou

“Every flower must grow through dirt.”

                                                        ~ Laurie Jean Sennott

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

                                                       ~ Napoleon Hill

“I am one of those people who just can’t help getting a kick out of life – even when it’s a kick in the teeth.”

                                                       ~ Polly Adler

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.”

                                                    ~ Author Unknown

“By trying, we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s I mean.”

                                                  ~ Mark Twain

“No one really has a bad life. Not even a bad day. Just bad moments.”

                                                   ~ Regina Brett

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

                                                     ~ Albert Einstein

“There’s nothing wrong or evil about having a bad day. There’s everything wrong with making others have to have it…with you.”

                                                    ~ Neil Cavuto

“Difficulties strengthen the mind as labor does the body.”

                                                      ~ Seneca

“Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.”

                                                        ~ Og Mandino

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”

                                                     ~ Barbara de Angelis

“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it…. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

                                                       ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

                                                      ~ Samuel Beckett

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

                                                      ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Your highest self is revealed in your lowest moments.”

                                                    ~ Matshona Dhiliway

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

                                                      ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful Strive to be happy.”

                                                      ~Max Ehrmann

 What are your favorite uplifting quotes? I invite you to share them in the comments.

Making Dreams Come True

Dreaming ...“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt


What is your most heartfelt dream? Small children don’t hold back when they imagine what they might have or who they might someday be. Whether they think about someday being a firefighter, a doctor, a famous musician or president, they don’t hesitate to imagine that they can and will someday attain their deepest desires.

At high school graduation, young people are expected to choose a path, and by choosing a path, they are saying goodbye to all the paths they didn’t choose, at least for now. Reality begins to set in, and many people lose that childlike belief that they can have or be anything by the time they are adults.

Some even stop dreaming altogether.

Keep Dreaming

It’s so important to keep dreaming and to keep imagining that you can attain whatever you hope to attain. The formation of a vision as to where you intend to be in the near or distant future is the first step to getting there.

Take the time to picture yourself meeting your goals. Are you hoping to run a marathon someday? Do you want to travel to Hawaii or the Caribbean? Do you want to pursue a completely different career?

Who says you can’t?

If you’re like many people, the person standing in the way of your dreams is you. In the movie “Creed”, an aging Rocky Balboa pointed out to young Creed that the toughest enemy he is ever going to face is the man in the mirror.

It’s time to get out of your own way. Allow yourself to envision your best life and make a plan to get from here to there.

You can do it.

As Oprah Winfrey said, “You can have it all, Just not all at once.”

Get in Touch with What You Want

If you have gotten into the habit of ignoring or pushing aside your own dreams, you may have lost touch with even knowing what you want.

It’s time to figure it out.

Spend some time envisioning yourself living the best life you possibly could. Although there may be things that aren’t in the cards for you, there may be things that you could attain if you set your mind to it.

Spend ten minutes every morning sitting quietly and imagining that you can have exactly what you want. There is nothing holding you back. Can you put your finger on what is missing from your life and what steps you need to take to make your dreams come true?

My Own Dream

I have always dreamed of being a writer. Ever since I was a very young girl, I imagined that one day I would make my living by writing stories, articles and books.

The problem was I lacked faith in my own ability to make that happen. I was a college dropout who became a single parent at a fairly young age. I struggled to support myself and my daughter on barely over minimum wage for years.

In my late 30s I remarried, and within a few years, my husband began having major health problems. Once again, my focus was on simple survival and being the head of my household.

I set my dreams aside.

Over the last few years, I have been dabbling in writing again, and even though I’m nowhere as successful as I hope to someday be, I am getting in touch with what I want to be doing with my life.

I am writing and getting paid for it. So far it’s not my only means of income, but my dream is that it one day will be.

This week I have released a book on Kindle for the first time. It’s called Happiness for the Clueless: 7 Simple Tips for a Happier Life, and it offers a simple roadmap to a happier life.

It will be available for free for five days beginning June 14. I’d love for you to download it, read it and leave a review.

My dream is to have other books published on Kindle, and I already have other books in mind.

What is your dream? I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”



8 Authors Who Can Help You to be Happier


“I owe everything I am and everything I will be to books.”

~ Gary Paulsen


Picture yourself sitting in a cave by yourself. There is no light. You are consumed with pitch darkness.

Suddenly there is the light of a single candle. It burns silently and subtly, but this tiny light breaks through the darkness and allows you to see the way in front of you.

For me, that light is often found in the pages of books.

I am a self-confessed self-help junkie.  I devour self-help books, and because of that passion, the words of others have often been that candle in the darkness that has allowed me to see the way

The following list is just a few of my favorite writers who have written about personal development and happiness. Reading their books is like stepping into the light of knowledge, wisdom and comfort.

Wayne Dyer. I first fell in love with the self-help genre back in the late 1970s when I read Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer. It was the first of several books I read by this brilliant author. As I read his simple, conversational writing style, or whenever I heard him speak on television, I began to get a glimpse of the things I could control in my life. As a naturally depressive person, the one thing Dr. Dyer gave me from the beginning was hope, hope that in controlling the things I could, life could get a whole lot more manageable.

Louise Hay. I can’t think of anyone who exudes more grace and positivity than Louise Hay. Louise teaches that your thoughts create your life, and I learned from her the power of positive affirmations. Her book You Can Heal Your Life is a must read for anyone facing emotional or physical challenges.

Steve Chandler. I can relate to the experiences Steve Chandler has had in his life, and the impact they have had on him. My favorite of his books which has helped me to put things in perspective when life doesn’t make any sense is 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free.

Gary Zukav. This is a person whose words have a hugely calming influence on me. Gary Zukav’s passion is personal authenticity. For an amazing journey into self-transformation, I highly recommend Seat of the Soul.

Eckhart Tolle. One of the most powerful lessons in happiness involves learning to live in the moment, and Eckhart Tolle is probably the main expert on that topic. The Power of Now is a must-read on a journey to a happier life.

Byron Katie. What is holding you back from happiness? Often it is your own perception of the things that are going on around you. There is work to be done to end personal suffering, which puts healing squarely in your own power. Learn how in Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life.

Shawn Achor. For the perspective of a true expert on happiness, read the work of Shawn Achor. He has spent over a decade researching and learning about happiness. In The Happiness Advantage, Achor shares what it takes to reprogram your brain to become more positive.

Valerie Dansereau. If I may be so humble as to add my name to this list, I feel my upcoming book Happiness for the Clueless holds a message that is simplistic, yet powerful. If you can’t figure out what is standing in the way of your happiness, you may want to check out the roadmap I have designed for an easy-to-remember system for a happier life. Sign up here to be notified when the book is ready for download.

Who are your favorite self-help or happiness authors? How have they helped you to transform your life?

3 Important Lessons Learned From my Mother


Cardinal“Our mothers give us so many gifts. They give us the precious gift of life, of course, but they also leave treasured lessons that can guide us along our journeys even when they are no longer with us.”

                                                ~Maria Shriver


My mother passed away in 2009 at the age of 78, but there are many blessings and lessons she brought to my life, and there are many constant reminders of her. Whenever I see a cardinal, I think of her. She passionately loved these brilliant red birds and had a collection of little statues of them. She also loved robins, and would say that she knew when it was spring when she started to see robins.

She had many motherly sayings, as many mothers do, like “Always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.” One of my favorites was, “What doesn’t break you will make you stronger, Valerie.”

Of the many important lessons she taught me, here are 3 of the most important.

If you can read, you can cook.

I’m in my fifties now and it amazes me when I meet women my age who don’t cook, saying that they can’t. Some of them live exclusively on take-out or frozen foods, which horrifies me.

My mother taught me that as long as you read, you can cook. All you have to do is follow the directions. She tried a new recipe just about weekly.

Some of my fondest memories of childhood involve coming home to my mom cooking homemade spaghetti sauce or a New England boiled dinner, or the scent of snickerdoodles baking at Christmas time.

Because of my mom, I seek out new recipes and follow the directions. I’m not always successful and wouldn’t say I’m a great cook, but I’m not afraid to give it my best shot. Thanks, Mom.

Learning and reading make life worthwhile

What is your earliest memory as a small child? One of my earliest memories is sitting curled up next to my mother while she read me a book, which was something she did frequently.

Reading and learning was such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother read voraciously, and was almost always familiar with what was on the bestseller list. She devoured information and facts and was so good at Jeopardy that we used to encourage her to go on the show, which she never did, but I know she would have done well.

I think my love of reading and ultimately writing came about because of her. Without her influence, my life may have gone in an entirely different direction and would have been nowhere near as rich and fulfilling.

Love others

My mother was a living example of loving other people. She cherished people and made friends almost everywhere she went. She had long-term friends that were her hairdressers, waitresses and neighbors. A large number of her friends were friends for life.

She set an amazing example of love and tolerance for others. She taught me not to be judgmental or discriminatory.

She was extremely devoted to my dad and set such a power of example of what it takes to make a marriage work. Sometimes love doesn’t come easily and requires effort. This is true not only in marriage, but in raising children and in friendship. My mom taught me that.

There were many more lessons besides those mentioned. I do know that one of the greatest blessings of my life was having a loving mother throughout my life. As an unknown author said, “A mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go.”