Link Love Friday: Five Articles to Brighten Your Day

Link Love Friday: Five Articles to Brighten Your Day

By Angela Atkinson

As a writer, I also happen to be a pretty avid reader. As a blogger and someone who’s got a vested interest in personal development, pursuing my own fulfillment and just generally feeling awesome, I read my fair share of inspiring blog posts. And, as someone who loves to pay it forward, I thought I’d share some of my favorite feel-good posts that I read this week with you in the hope that they might brighten your day as much as they did mine.

The Key to Happiness and Success Boils Down to Attitude

Chuck Gallozzi over at has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to changing your attitude. In this post, he offers sage advice on how to change your attitude, and even tells you why it matters so much. Don’t miss it. (more…)

Thank you: A Thumbs Up From the Universe…and a Reader

Thank you: A Thumbs Up From the Universe…and a Reader


By Angela Atkinson

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.” ~Oprah Winfrey

I’ve written on the virtues of gratitude many times on this site. I’ve talked about how gratitude can lead to improvements in your life.  I’ve encouraged you to find reasons to be grateful, even when life is hard. I’ve talked about some of my own experiences and lessons I’ve learned on gratitude –sometimes from the most unlikely teachers.

Every day, I’m grateful for many things. My husband, my children, the supportive members of my extended family–my friends, my fellow writers, my readers–and all the good stuff. Home, health, abundance, love. You know how it is.

And the truth is that it works. My life is noticeably smoother and happier–just generally better–when I focus on those people, situations and things that make me feel grateful and give thanks for them. (more…)

Link Love Friday: Five Articles to Brighten Your Day

Twenty Things I Wish I Knew Twenty Years Ago

By Angela Atkinson

Love Yourself10If you could write a letter to yourself and send it back in time 20 years (or five or 10, depending on your age), what would it say? Would you tell yourself that things would get better? Would you give yourself some valuable piece of advice that you didn’t learn until you were older? Would you send back some winning lottery numbers? Maybe tell yourself not to date that loser who broke your heart?

Twenty years ago, I was 16. It seems so long ago sometimes. Other times, it feels like yesterday.

At 16, I was selfish, self-absorbed, emotional, dramatic…overly sensitive…you get the idea. I was probably pretty typical that way. I was also creative and growing into a “real” person. I was independent and dependent, all at once. I liked to consider myself unusual, unique–uncommon. I thought I was dark and disturbed, and in fact, succeeded in making some of the people around me believe it too.

If I could send my 16-year-old self a letter, there are definitely a few things I’d like her to know–even though she probably wouldn’t listen anyway. I’d tell her: (more…)

Get By With a Little Help From My Friends: Finding Your Happy Place

Get By With a Little Help From My Friends: Finding Your Happy Place


I don’t know about you, but some days it’s harder than others for me to find my “happy place.” Everyone has had times in their lives when they feel overwhelmed, over-extended–over it all. And, when times are tough, we all need a little boost to help us find that place within ourselves that brings us back to center. That’s what prompted me to write a post awhile back, aptly titled How to Find Your Happy Place…Even When Life Sucks. Because sometimes, it can really feel like life, well, sucks.

But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you get to decide how your life is going to be, and it all starts in your own head.

Recently, I decided to take a poll of my Facebook friends. I asked them a simple question: What makes you happy?

The responses were well-varied–I got some funny ones as well as some serious ones. But ultimately, everyone was able to identify something that brought them joy. And today, I’m going to share them with you, so that the next time you are struggling to find your happy place, to find something for which to be grateful, you can gain a little inspiration from my friends.

You know how the old song goes, right?

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” Well, this time, you’ll get by with a little help from my friends. And so, without further ado, here are some of the things that bring my friends to their happy places.

“My son.” ~Danielle

“The little things in life…a smile, a simple thank you, a kind word and a hug, and I love you just because. Bigger things: my family and believing some day I will find a sense of peace in this life of madness sometimes.” ~Terri

“Music, more specifically classical music.” ~Carrie

“Seeing my kids happy.” ~Karen

“Being read to. I was told by a college professor that I would appreciate being read to one day. I didn’t believe him until I started working full time in a cubicle. Thank God we are allowed headphones. And thank God we organize our libraries to share audio books retrieved from the library.” ~Kristopher

“My husband, and going to church. Also, memories of my mother and my Aunt June, who are both now gone.” ~Jeanne

“My husband and kids when we are not fighting, my dog when he is not pooping in the house (or getting sprayed by a skunk), coffee, baking and eating, cooking with my husband, rocking my grandson to sleep, playing with my grandson, making crafts, giving a handmade gift to someone and seeing their appreciation, sex, flowers, chocolate, sunshine, rain showers, snow, quiet times, times full of noise and laughter, reading a good book, reading quotes and appreciating someone else’s wisdom, a smiling face, music, artwork, my house when it’s clean, my car when it’s clean, going out dancing with the girls, going out to the movies with the girls, holding hands with someone, dessert, hugs, talking to people, sharing my passions, listening to people and being excited for their passions, signs of spring after winter, signs of fall after summer, a freshly laundered and made bed, cute shoes, clothes that flatter my figure, when my husband tells me how well something flatters my figure, learning new things, humming birds at the feeder, deer walking through camp in the evening, counting my blessings and feeling content.” ~Jen

“Laughing gas, hard to come by unless with whipped cream or dental work.” ~Neil

“The little things (that really are big things) that pop out of your children’s mouths that surprise you! Like…”I love you, Dad,” or “Dad, where is God now?” A campfire on a chilly frosty night…I love it when you turn your backside toward the flames and you look up at the stars! Seeing a plant or flower finally bloom that you planted! Seeing or feeling my wife’s hand in mine. (that one really makes me happy) passing a test I was certain I would flunk! Sun on your face early in the morning when you wake up during the cool of the morning. Doing something new and adventurous. Intimacy…the kind when you are with someone who is just real, no fake-ness and you are completely comfortable with them as a person because you feel no judgment just understanding and acceptance. Writing…” ~John

“Walking both my dogs along the river.” ~Ginger

“Good health and the prospect of a villa in Tuscany.” ~Sylvia

“My grandchildren, good health, and no bills to pay.” ~Monica

“The smile on my children’s faces, my puppies and not fighting with my ex-husband for at least one day out of the week. Times are good.” ~Nicole

“Living, laughing and loving. All three make me happy!” ~Pascha

“A good nights’ sleep. Without a hot flash. I am a simple person.” ~Pam

“Seeing old friends and remembering really fun times! Watching my daughters grow up…playing ball and watching my oldest girl get that devious little smile on her face when she throws the ball hard! Sitting in my ice shanty and hearing the ice crack really loud! It’s scary but I love it! Seeing my wife in a pair of waders and a fly rod in her hand! I really love that.” ~John

So how about you? What makes YOU happy? Tell me in the comments!

Lost History: Finding a Sense of Connection

Lost History: Finding a Sense of Connection

By Angela Atkinson

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” ~Richard Bach

A little over a year ago, I signed up for that well-known “find your ancestors” website. I have never known much about my personal genealogy, save for a few stories I’ve heard over the years.

I was lucky enough to meet great-grandparents on one side of the family, though the memories of that time are cloudy at best–I was just a small child when the last one passed away. And due to possibly undocumented adoptions and a lack of locatable records, it has been nearly impossible to determine any definitive ancestry beyond great-great grandparents.

It gets hairier from there–but let’s just say that I am basically a mutt. There are hints of a variety of possible ancestors–maybe some Native American, maybe some Irish, British and even a little Russian thrown into the mix, among others–but not anything that makes me go “Oh, so THAT’S where I belong.”

Only hints, possibilities.

And, while I probably think too much, I have always had a strong desire to know. I want to know who came before me. I want to look at their pictures and read their journals. I want to know if they looked like me, felt like me, thought like me. I want to share this information with my children so that one day, when they wonder, they won’t have to find out there’s nothing to tell.

I spent a few months working on putting together some semblance of a family tree. It didn’t help that my tree had many broken branches that left the trail cold. It didn’t help that the other side of my family is virtually unknown to me. And, even though I did manage to find a few names and dates here and there, I couldn’t be totally sure these were even my people. And if they were, what did their names mean to me? Nothing, really. They were just names, and as much as I wished I could, I couldn’t reach into the brains of the people who carried those names and find out anything of value.

And so, like many other Americans, I am left wondering. I finally cancelled the subscription to the genealogy website a few months ago. It wasn’t doing anything but frustrating me (and costing me money) because it wasn’t satisfying my need to KNOW.

I don’t know why it bothers me so much, not knowing who came before me. Something in me tells me that if I could just KNOW, something would click and I would understand things on a new level. Maybe I’d know why I am a certain way, why I have certain affinities and dislikes, why I do what I do…am what I am. Maybe there would be someone to whom I could relate, someone like me.

It leaves me with a sense of disconnection. It makes me feel jealous of people who know where they came from–those lucky souls who can trace their heritage back far enough to get a true sense of “where they came from.” It feels unfair.

Moving Forward

On the other hand, I’ve been blessed with many wonderful people in my life, and I’ve come to understand that family isn’t about blood, after all. Really, it’s all about who loves you, who you love. It’s about the people who support you when you need help. It’s about the people you’re comfortable with, the people who make you feel like you matter.

Whether you’re biologically related to them or not, if you take an honest look at your life, you’ll know who your family is…I know I do. And for now, that’s enough to satisfy me.

How about you? Do you know who your ancestors were? Do you care? Tell me in the comments.

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