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Recognize Blessings

Feeling overwhelmed is common to all of us.  Most of us have experienced times and seasons where the circumstances in our lives make it seem impossible for us to get through them gracefully and emotionally intact.  Life is hard at times.

I love listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “Count Your Blessings.”  This popular hymn teaches a great truth.

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

Even listening to the soothing music is calming.

Recently my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly.  Her entire extended family have each reeled through their reactions of shock and grief.  I too have reached into my quiver of coping mechanism arrows to try and defeat the lethargy and spiraling despair.

For me, the first step in counting my blessings is to recognize the blessing.  It may not immediately appear as a blessing in my life.   I have learned that events and circumstances in our lives can be great blessings even if they are hard to bear.  The difficult life lessons that we experience can become our greatest teachers and thereby the catalyst for personal change thus we discover that we have grown.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”  The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche coined the phrase, “Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker.” It is from the “Maxims and Arrows” section of Nietzsche’s book, Twilight of the the Idols (1888).  It is usually translated into English as “what does not kill me makes me stronger.”  A well-known quote, it is found in many places, including the lyrics of a popular song by Kelly Clarkson.

Do a Google search on “hardship and personal growth.”  It is an amazing exercise and you will find incredible resources.  There are scholarly articles, blogs, youtube videos, TED talks.  The list goes on and on.

By definition, hardship is hard.  If we are going to survive it, we do need to find ways to navigate the rough waters in our lives.  Practicing techniques such as counting our blessings, meditation and relaxation, will help us avoid allowing the storm to create an emotional whirlpool that becomes a vortex dragging us down.

I am grateful for the many reminders this past week of previous lessons I have learned.  Some of them are: family support is healing, hugs are therapeutic, laughter and tears can both bring emotional release and sleep is crucial.  What have you learned from your difficult days?

Please share this blog if it resonates with you or you know someone who might benefit from it.  If you want to get a copy of the book as soon as it is available, be sure to sign up.

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Announcing that I have finished a book with the working title of “The Fairy Fort.” I am currently pitching it to publishers. Keep checking back to watch the progress of my newest novel.

Here is a quick glimpse of the story.

Sarah Doherty is an 18-year-old living in rural Ireland at the tail end of the Great War. Plagued by severe epilepsy, she is protected by her parents and lives a sheltered, secluded, lonely life. The Fae, local Irish fairies, interfere with her life. She falls forward a century in time through the local fairy fort of standing stones. She had a seizure in 1918 and woke up in 2020. The 21st century world includes life-saving prescriptions, physical comforts and the independence and freedom she seeks. The locals are welcoming and Andy Mclaughlin, a handsome young historian, is intriguing. She doesn’t want to return home.

Then a letter arrives from Boston divulging the story of Sarah and Andy’s lives that are deeply entwined in the previous century. They are not yet in love but as they seek to verify the letter through online resources, they feel a growing obligation to their unborn family and to each other. What would happen to their posterity living in Boston if they don’t return to 1918? Even if they do make it back, her parents can never know what happened to her or that would change everything.

This Young Adult time-travel romance explores the question: Do we have the freedom to make choices or is free will an elaborate illusion?

This is my third book. I love reading time travel romances. I am an advocate for epilepsy awareness because my 43-year-old son has intractable epilepsy. As a genealogist specializing in Irish research, I live part of the year in the village where the story is based. I wrote the book to help young adults understand that difficult situations can change your life. Sometimes miraculously.