L.M. Long's Blog, page 4

April 9, 2015

 With General Conference last weekend, and the dissenting vote that was voiced during the sustainings, I have been thinking a lot about personal apostasy. I consider my testimony to be fairly strong, but no one is safe and I've definitely had my moments. 
I think we all have things about church history, or church policy, or whatever - that we don't totally love. For example, I don't love going to church for 3 hours. Ever. Even when it's 9:00 church. And I don't love the fact that we are called on daily to drop whatever we may be doing for our family or ourselves (yes, that's important too) and go clean someone's nasty house, that they only needed help with because they let it get so bad. (Just an example). Recently a returned missionary, married-in-the-temple friend with a strong family started questioning things about polygamy in the early days of the church, and which leaders practiced it. This friend was completely thrown to learn that Joseph Smith was indeed one of the prophets who was commanded to practice this law. The fact is, it was a commandment that was given during that time, for whatever reason. Just like Nephi being commanded to slay Laban . . . just like Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his son. I don't know about you . . . those things have never made sense to me - but in both of those cases the Lord had his reasons, and the only thing required of those mortal, imperfect men was obedience.
There are so many, many ways we can be drawn away from that Rod of Iron. Whenever I hear of someone leaving the church, my first question is, "Were they reading the Book of Mormon daily?" If not, go figure. We learn that even the righteous, the ones who partook of the fruit were clinging to the Iron Rod all the way to the Tree. Not gliding along with one hand on it, not reaching out every once in a while just to make sure it was there and making their own way the rest of the time. CLINGING. When they finally reached their destination, they FELL DOWN at the base of the tree. Have you ever done this? Maybe after a physically taxing or emotionally draining day? Just collapsed on the first surface that would hold your weight? That kind of reaction indicates a really tough road traveled. It's not supposed to be easy, folks. And even after all that, some of those faithful saints who struggled down the path bit into the fruit, only to be shamed by the mocking coming from the great and spacious building. The fact is, some of these saints let the fruit fall from their hands after they'd partaken, and fell away themselves.
This is one reason I am so enamored with the Book of Mormon. Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life is one of those things that was clearly written for our day. I see so many parallels in it to our modern world. It is easy to get caught up in these little snares, these "strange roads" that will ultimately lead us away from that white tree and its precious fruit. So for me, it helps to focus on what I know to be true. When I was struggling with some of the above-mentioned issues a while back, the spirit whispered to me to write my testimony. Start at the very basic thing that I know to be true. I was amazed with how much I do know to be true - and how much of it was the very foundation of our religion. Church policies come and go for the most part, and that isn't what our testimony should be based on. God is our Father, Jesus Christ is our Elder Brother and Savior. The Holy Ghost truly is a gift, the most precious gift our Father could give us. Joseph Smith was a prophet. He did see God the Father and the Son. The spirit has witnessed this to me so many times. The Book of Mormon is the best book in the world . . . everything, EVERYTHING in it is for us, and the more I read it, the clearer it becomes. Because I have a personal testimony of these things, which are the foundation of everything else church-related, I don't worry about things that are less eternal in nature. So, if any of you find yourselves feeling disgruntled about church-related things, maybe not feeling a burning in your bosom over something or other, try starting with what you know.

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Published on April 09, 2015 13:06 • 27 views

April 6, 2015

A month ago I shared with you the loss of my son, David Alexander Bucheger--our infant son who was stillborn 22 years ago. Today, I share with you the passing of my twenty-year-old son-- Ryan Michael Bucheger. Ryan was in a car accident on the afternoon of March 22, 2015.

He died a few hours later in the presence of myself, seven of his siblings, four of his grandparents, and several of his friends--including two of his "other mothers"-- wonderful women who loved him nearly as much as I did and who are heart broke at his passing. 
My husband flew in the next afternoon. The rest of our children drove through the night to arrive early Monday morning. They didn't make it in time be with Ryan before he passed. However, I did think to put my cell phone next to Ryan's ear so they could talk with him one last time.

Although unconscious, I know Ryan heard. His heartbeat strengthened and sustained him for a few more hours--a lot longer than his doctors told me would be possible. They expected him to pass shortly after I arrived at the Emergency room.

This was to be the first of many tender mercies our family would experience over the next few days.
I have thought often about the atonement of Jesus Christ over the last few months--and its two-fold purpose: 1) to help people repent and be forgiven of their sins so they can return to their father in heaven and 2) more importantly for our family at this moment--the atonement of Jesus Christ brings comfort and peace during difficult times. 
Times when there isn't necessarily fault, but there is much pain and sorrow.  
When we lost David, I gained a strong testimony of the Plan of Salvation as well as the Atonement.

During the last couple of weeks, I have revisited that testimony many times and have come to the same conclusion now that I did 22 years ago: Heavenly Father knows and loves each of His children and wants to ease our burdens and heal our sorrow. I also know He hears and answers prayers.

So many of our friends, strangers, and extended family have offered prayers of comfort and peace in our family's behalf. My husband, children, other family members, and good friends who have felt Ryan's loss deeply have felt much peace and comfort while we come to terms with the loss of our son, brother, grandson, friend, uncle and cousin. 
Without the atonement--I know this experience would be far more excruciating. 
I'm writing this post on Easter Sunday--after spending a wonderful day listening to uplifting messages from our church leaders, gathering as a family to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, and enjoying the company of friends and family. I miss Ryan and felt the loss of his presence today. I also know--without a doubt--that his loss is a temporary situation. Our family will be together again.

It's that knowledge that brings me peace and gives me strength to do what I need to do daily.

Ryan was an good and faithful son, an amazing friend, a great missionary, and positively influenced the lives of many. For this I am very grateful.

On the Sunday morning that he died, Ryan met me in the hallway at church. He had come to an earlier service to be with a friend. The last thing he said to me after giving me a hug goodbye was: "I love you, Mom. See you later."

I returned the hug and the greeting (and added a "behave yourself" for good measure. :))
Because I know the separation is temporary, I feel good about saying, "See ya later, Ryan," rather than "Good-bye." 

I hope it is many years before I see him again, but I know that when I do see him again, it will be a wonderful reunion and he will be waiting for me with his brothers and sister who passed before him. "See ya, later," may take a while to come to pass, but it will come. Of this, I have no doubt.

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Published on April 06, 2015 12:31 • 337 views

April 5, 2015

This last month I got to go to my very first writing retreat. I hope it's not my last.

I had seen all the pictures from each of the different retreats and I knew I was missing out. I thought I'd miss this one as well, but a room came open and my friends talked me into going. For three weeks I waited for it to come, hoping I'd be able to get my mind to concentrate long to write anything. I'd been so busy editing that I couldn't concentrate on a new book.
The day of the retreat arrived, and I headed up to Heber with five of my friends. I sat in the back, enjoying the scenery as we drove up. It was a beautiful day, promising lots of awesomeness.
In the three days I was there, I managed to write 25,000 words. That was in between chatting, eating, going on walks, classes, and sleeping. Although I managed to write AND sleep at the same time once or twice. Or five times.
If you've never been to a retreat before, I highly recommend it. If life has just gotten crazy and writing isn't happening, this is a great opportunity to get new words written that you wouldn't be able to otherwise.
Here are a few tips:
SNACKS - If you go to the retreat I went to, the food is fantastic and you fill yourself up. But sometime snacks can help your mind calm down and concentrate on your writing. I've heard chocolate helps ... but my personal favorite is popcorn and a drink. Or Cheetos. Okay, we'll leave this portion before I think of more, because I might get hungry.
CLASSES - if classes are offered, take them. I was able to learn more about keywords for marketing, branding yourself, making the most of social media, and a few different brainstorming sessions. 
SPRINTS - Take advantage of these to help you get more words out. No matter what your typing speed is, it will help you concentrate on writing and make good progress.
FRIENDS - Make them, love them, keep them forever. I knew many of the writers already, and got to know others. I even found out I was related to one of my good friends. Crazy! I don't know about you, but when I'm with other writers, I feel completely at home. All their quirks, all their fears, all their senses of humor. This is a great time to let your mind relax and be yourself.
PARTICIPATE - Help out where you can, brainstorm with others, help with the meal. Be involved. Especially when you're stuck on a spot in your book. Cleaning or talking can help you break through the block and soon you'll be on your way. 
GET COMFY - Like writing your pjs? Dress? Whatever! Relax, bring a blanket, and be ready to write. I personally love music. Normally I love the Piano Guys Pandora station. I tried a couple other music options, but I'm thinking I'll go back to Piano Guys. Headphones are awesome so you can listen to your own music—or even silence—and everyone else can listen to theirs.
I look forward to the next retreat, and I hope to see you there. And, remember, if you fall asleep typing and someone takes a picture, own it.

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Published on April 05, 2015 12:31 • 26 views
These past two weeks have been a difficult one for our group of bloggers.  One of our dear blogger friends had lost a beloved son to a car accident and buried him a week ago.  It has been a difficult month for Monique and we are all in shock as to this great tragedy.

It was only a few weeks ago when Monique posted such a great writing on helping to heal after a miscarriage and now she has to deal with this. This Bucheger family, as with many other families, have the comfort of knowing that we have a Savior who has give us life after this life is a great blessing.

There is no beginning and no end. We are eternal beings who has a loving Heavenly Father who will welcome us back to His house... and a Savior who gave up His life to give us life so we can accomplish this great task of earth life.

This is the greatest Easter message we have and we should remember.....

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Published on April 05, 2015 11:47 • 10 views

March 23, 2015

Three days after Valentine's Day, I went to put sheets in the washer and broke my foot. 

See I told you laundry was dangerous business. It should be banished.
Actually, I really don't have anything against laundry. As one of those mundane-everyday-life tasks, I find it pretty enjoyable. The machines do all the work (no scrub boards or line drying) and I can indulge in Downton Abby and other shows while I fold. Cleaning the shower or dusting on the other hand...
But back to my foot. There is one small step in my laundry room. I must've lost my balance going down it. My left foot turned over, popped inside, and I screamed. (Pretty sure some dogs in the neighborhood howled just then.) My kids and husband came running. 
As I sat there on the floor stewing about not having worked out that day and unlikely to be able to for weeks to come with a busted foot, my husband points out that at least it's my left foot and I can still drive. Huh. True, esp. as my car is automatic. If it was a stick shift...
5 days on crutches and 2 in a borrowed boot later I made it in to see the foot and ankle specialist. 
X-ray says: BROKEN!
On the positive side, the words surgery and torn weren't mentioned. Also, other than the first 2 minutes, I really haven't been in any pain despite the beautiful yellow, black, and blue bruises on my foot that visually try to say otherwise. 
Choice: Boot or Hard cast?
I went with the boot. At least I can take it off to shower and sleep. 
Healing time: 3 months: 2 in the boot followed by 1 in a "sneaker". I'm pretty sure he wasn't talking about he Adidas in my closet. Then, if all is well, we'll see if I need any physical therapy or not and can resume normal activity. Just in time for me to "run" two 5 K's back to back with my kids. Hmm. We'll have to see about that last part. 
All in all, I'm pretty lucky. 
It's just inconvenient. Plus, the novelty of waiting on Mom hand-and-foot and helping out with the housework wore off after the first week for the rest of the family. 
But, I can't do it. My orders are to stay off my foot as much as possible and keep it elevated. 
This is hard for me. 
I'm pretty active. I usually put in 8-10, 000 steps per day, and some days more. Needless to say I've taken off my pedometer until all this is over. I've only considered putting it back on to make sure I'm not taking too many steps. But I do get funny looks at the stores riding around in the motorized wheelchairs. I wish those people could understand that walking would mean more healing time for me and I want to do all I can to heal A.S.A.P.  Not to mention that initially I couldn't do any of my physical therapy for my back which I've faithfully done for over 18 months. 
So, I've taken up chair workouts on YouTube for now. I can't be totally inactive. I'll go crazy. Plus I recently discovered I am healed enough to add three of my back exercises into the routine again. Hooray! I keep focused on my core and arms. Spring looks like it might actually start to arrive which means warm temps and usually for me 2 mile walks daily. Spring can come, but the walk will have to wait. After all, my broken foot is temporary, not forever. 
So, while my house isn't getting all the attention it deserves (like cleaning, painting, and landscaping), being laid up is very good for my writing, editing, etc. That's something to smile about. 
My greatest lament in all this: my first broken bone doesn't have an awesome story to go with it. 
Just laundry. Blech. 
 Feel free to unleash your inner writer and in the comment section below to write me a cool story to go with my broken foot and I may come up with a cool prize. 
Oh, and . . . Beware the laundry!

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Published on March 23, 2015 01:00 • 18 views

March 19, 2015

You know what, people are funny creatures. We're all completely different, even though we have similarities. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. We all have different trials to overcome. And we all have different reactions to those trials.

I've had a few conversations over the last couple of months that have really solidified my thinking that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. I've spoken to people going through really tough challenges who handle them with patience and faith, and to them, those challenges don't seem all that huge. I've also spoken to people who are going through some minor inconveniences who act like it's the end of the world and the sky is falling and all the buildings are collapsing and oh! The horror! To them, that trial is the most awful thing that could be wished on anyone.

Why is it that the huge trial was seen as something small, and the small trial was seen as something huge?

It's all in how these individuals choose to react to them.

And that makes me think. If my attitude determines whether a trial is large or small, why wouldn't I choose to think of all my trials as small? Why wouldn't I choose to be positive, to see things in the best possible light, and reduce the stress on myself?

Where does the ability to do that come from?

Trust in the Lord.

When we're able to look at our lives and say, "Okay, I don't understand what's going on here, but I'm going to trust that the Lord's got this," our challenges become so much easier to face. Why do we fight so hard to fix things that only He can fix? It's like we're determined to beat our heads against brick walls, trying to control things that are simply out of our control. As I've practiced turning things over to the Lord, I've found that things go so much better than they would if I were the boss. Kind of mind-boggling, that God might actually be better at being in charge than I am, right?

My challenge to myself and to each of us is that as we are faced with difficulties, we learn to turn them over to the Lord and then ask Him what our part is in the solution. Usually it's so much simpler than the tasks we try to assign ourselves. Let's seek to face our problems with patience and faith. Let's choose to see them as small setbacks rather than earth-ending calamities. The Lord has this all well in hand. He really does.
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Published on March 19, 2015 01:00 • 11 views

March 9, 2015

I started a part-time job last week. I went into my training knowing full well that it was going to be a suck-fest for the first little while, during the learning curve. I don't know about you, but nothing's worse than being out of your comfort zone and feeling like an idiot at the same time. So, on Day 1 I inevitably felt like a fish out of water. Day 2, I'm feeling good. Really good. Like maybe this won't be so hard after all. Day 3, not bad. Learning a computer program and still doing pretty good. Day 4, snow day. Day 5, up until 1/2 hour before my shift ended, this is cake! Then, at 3:00 p.m. - HOLD THE PHONE. I made a tiny little mistake on Day 1 that has now contaminated all the work I did the other days. What is my first reaction? "Misty, you idiot! You failure! You can't do anything right!"

Needless to say, this teensy little blunder haunted me the whole entire weekend. My trainer wasn't upset about it at all. Only to be expected, she said. Just a natural part of training, she said. But I continued to feel crappy about it. Why? Because I was being way too hard on myself. Not only did I verbally abuse myself with words like idiot, failure, etc., (words I would never dream of using on my loved ones) but I couldn't let it stop there. I had to badger myself about it for the next 48 hours.
Why do we do this?? I actually have the answer! And yes, I went to therapy a few years ago to obtain it. I think therapy is the best thing in the world. Everyone needs someone to get them out of their own head from time to time. The things I learned from my counselor were mind-blowingly simple, and beyond life-changing for me.
Here's what I learned. The Feeling Good Handbook is worth its weight in gold.

If you can get through a non-fiction book that size, good on you. I won't even try. But here is the basic premise:
You identify an EVENT that made you feel something negative. In my case, the stupid Day 1 blunder that set me back.
Identify negative feelings that resulted from this even: shame, frustration, etc.
Record your automatic thoughts: I'm an idiot, I can't do anything right, I'm a loser, my trainer must think I'm so stupid, etc. Rate each thought from 1-5 (1 being I don't really believe that thought, 5 being I absolutely believe it.)
Here is an example of a worksheet in the book. I actually have my very own composition notebook that I use for this all the time. It is red, and my family knows not to go near it if they don't want their feelings hurt!

Now identify thought distortions in your automatic thoughts. Based on the above scenario, mine would be Overgeneralization, Discounting the Positives, Mind Reading, Emotional Reasoning, etc. We all have these, they are hard-wired in us. It took someone pointing mine out to me before I realized my thoughts were unhealthy at all. Here's a list of the little buggers:

Next you go back to your list of automatic thoughts and re-rate them from 1-5 according how much you believe in them still. If you don't feel better after, then you haven't correctly identified the event.
This has helped me so much. It actually changed my whole outlook on being a wife and mother. And even though it is usually in the back of my mind, I find that I need reminding. So if you, like me, find yourself being your own worst critic, then GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. If that means eating a Kit-Kat while talking yourself down from a masochistic cliff, then go for it.
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Published on March 09, 2015 10:14 • 25 views

March 6, 2015

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The first week of March has been a little rough for me for the last two decades. In the afternoon of March 4, 1992, my dream of having a newborn baby was shattered when I was informed that the baby I carried was stillborn.
Not sure how to react, or even if I could believe the awful news, I denied it at first, still remembering the clop, clop, clop of the sweet heartbeat from the month before.  My husband and I had teased about “our little pony.” After all, Doppler batteries could drain, doctors could be wrong, and my oldest child would celebrate her 4th birthday two days later. This wasn’t the time to mourn, right?
And yet it was.
It was also a time to live, even though I had days where I would have gladly stayed in bed, curled into a ball, pretending the inevitable wouldn't happen.
But of course it did.  With an almost four-year–old who had been looking forward to a birthday party with all of her best friends as well as a busy sixteen-month old, we had a party to host and things to do while my body took it’s time going into labor.
Looking back, the last week-and-a-half that I carried my second son was a time of both harsh realities and tender mercies. I learned to lean on my husband, my Heavenly Father, and my Savior. Decisions were made, burdens were eased, kindnesses extended.
Ten days after finding out my little son had died, I delivered him. The emotions were many: numbness, sadness, anger, frustration, and many more. 
I tried to figure out why he had left. How I would explain his leaving to our older children, and could I deal with the reality that I would only hold him once?
Losing a baby through stillbirth and miscarriage is an experience only truly understood by others who have gone through it. If the lost child was wanted and hoped for, it can be every bit as devastating as losing a child who was born alive and welcomed into their family. And yet, other people’s reactions to this devastating experience vary from helpful to hurtful.
Sixteen authors share their stories of miscarriage in hopes of strengthening others going through the same trial.  We want to get the message out that when you lose an unborn baby, you’re not alone. 
When I lost my very first child to miscarriage, someone gave me a book similar to Little Boy Blue: Finding Hope after Miscarriage. That book brought me comfort as I tried to navigate around a loss I never thought I'd have to endure. When one loses a baby through miscarriage or still birth, there is a lot of guilt and blame--almost always undeserved. 
When one loses a baby through miscarriage or still birth, there is a lot of guilt and blame--almost always undeserved.
“Is it my fault?”
“What could I have done differently?”
“How do I cope?”
“Will the pain ever end?”
It can be—and is—a scary, painful, devastating, confusing time. 
Along with fifteen other women, coming from all walks of life, with differing experiences with motherhood, I share the story of suddenly belonging to a club I didn't want admission to: Mothers who have miscarried.
Little Boy Blue: Finding Hope After Miscarriage offers a message of hope and connection to other mothers (and fathers) going through a truly unique experience. 
The women in this book share their trials, their pain, and their recovery in hopes they can reach out to others going through the same experience and ease their pain. To offer the comfort that while you may think no one can truly understand how it feels to lose an unborn child, way too many people DO know the pain and hardship. 
If you, or someone you know,  has suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, Little Boy Blue: Finding Hope After Miscarriage will be well-received. Within its pages you will find that others DO understand what you are going through and these women share their stories of grief and healing to let you know they are there  in spirit, if not in physical presence. 

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Published on March 06, 2015 05:28 • 12 views

March 2, 2015

The other day I mentioned I needed to write a blog post, and one of my friends told me I should write about how people believe it's okay for girls to read boy books, but not the other way around. I pointed out that Shannon Hale had already touched on that subject just a day or two before. My friend said that it's a point that can never be brought up too many times.
It got me thinking. Had I ever experienced something like that? If you don't know what I'm talking about, Shannon Hale mentioned how she'd been to a few school assemblies where only the girls were invited to participate because the books were "Girl books." She couldn't believe it. Her post is here
Anyway, I have seen the same thing happen, but not to the extent that she has. I'll start explaining what my books are about, and the second I mention Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, the boys turn away. Never mind that my Sleeping Beauty knows how to fight and has to battle rather horrible creatures. Cinderella learns to use her magic to fight her captor.
Don't forget my character, Megan, who has to battle leprechauns, minotaurs, dragons, and all kinds of terrible creatures. Her boyfriend is right there along with her, but it's usually Megan who saves the day.
So are these considered "girl books?" I suppose it depends on who you ask. But really, they shouldn't be one or the other. Both boys and girls can enjoy my books. In fact, I have both nieces and nephews who love my books and ask when the next one will be coming out.
When did we start separating books into who can or can't read them? It's sad, really. It makes me think of Kevin J Anderson's speech at LDStorymakers a few years back. He mentioned how he went home crying because he wanted to read a book that the librarian said was too grown up for him. Thankfully, his mother stepped in and made sure he could read whatever books he wanted.
Shouldn't we be encouraging kids to read? 
I'm a firm believer that if you don't think you're a reader, you just haven't found the right book yet. So what happens if the books that are right for you are the ones that are discouraged because they're not the "right kind?"
As I've been raising my kids, I've noticed I can't pick a book out and have them read the book. It has to be 100% their idea. If they can find a book they want, it's guaranteed they'll have it devoured within a day. If I push, they may never read it. It wasn't until I'd given up on Harry Potter that my thirteen-year-old finally picked them up and read them all. 
Kids are smart. They know what they like. Let them have a the chance to enjoy it.
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Published on March 02, 2015 20:59 • 11 views

February 26, 2015

by Suzanne Warr
In ongoing and forever prep for our upcoming move, I've put some of the old workout equipment in the basement up on craigslist.  I brought it with me when we moved down fron Northern Virginia, and found here in NC, I'd just rather go for a run, and most seasons can get away with it.

What I didn't know was that I had a gold mine hiding down there.

Not the Nordic Track, I suspect I'll end up giving it away.  Not the weight bench, though it did sell for enough to pay for one trip's worth of groceries.  As it turns out my old rower was worth A LOT more than I thought it was!

Doesn't look like much, does it?  It works, and I've always enjoyed it, but after taking one glance at the newer, niftier models they've come out in the last fifteen years, I assumed it would go for fifty bucks.
Try adding a zero to that.  Yep, someone drove four hours to buy it from me last weekend, and felt grateful to get it for that price.  She was the nicest of the people to contact me, but she wasn't the first.  In the first few hours that the rower was up, my inbox was flooded with emails from people offering me a deeply discounted price 'and I'll pick it up first thing tomorrow, cash in hand.'  It became very clear very quickly that these people hoped I hadn't done my research and didn't know what I could ask--and get--for the rower.  One guy even went so far as to tell me he wasn't asking for much of a discount, cause I'd never realistically get that price.  I'm sure they hoped I'd jump at the chance for a quick and easy sell, and take their offer.  They probably planned to turn around and sell it themselves for half again as much.  Thank goodness for market research!
So, the question is, do you know your value?  Are there areas in your writing, in your life, where you're wavering on your worth or that of your work?  This is a tricky question, of course, and also deeply personal.  But, I hope we never let anyone dictate our value to us, or cheapen the worth of our books.  Odds are very good someone like that has their own motivation for what they're saying, and are not watching out for you.  Hang in there, and you'll find the right fit for your books and your life, without feeling you've sold yourself short.  Here's to belief!
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Published on February 26, 2015 06:00 • 12 views