Exploring Happiness…

As many of you know, the end of last year was pretty dark for me. My beloved cat was diagnosed with an untreatable heart condition and every day became a vigil, waiting for him to die.

This included waking up every morning and being in a suspended state (unless he was there with me) to wait for him to jump up on the bed, terrified the entire time between waking and him arriving that I’d have to force myself out of bed and look for his body.

Ditto any time I went out. If he didn’t greet me at the door when I arrived home, something he and his sister normally did, I didn’t even drop my purse before I went in search of him to make sure he was still alive.

Not surprisingly, this took its toll. And even after he passed, I was mired not only in the grief, but the strain of waiting for months for the reason for that grief to happen.

What you might not know is that even if this was the darkest part of that time of my life, I will admit to you now that the “est” of that is important. My life was already dark.

How can that be? I had everything! I was living my dream. The dream I started dreaming when I was thirteen years old. A dream that meant everything to me. Writing romance for a living.

The answer to that is I had made my life about my work.

That’s it.

Outside an occasional pool party with the fams, or a rare lunch with a girlfriend, my life was my books…and not just writing them.

At first, this was okay, considering I love my work, and prior to publishing, and my books beginning to sell, I guarded every second (and that isn’t an exaggeration) of writing time. Looking back, I had two full-time jobs. One as a charity executive, which was rewarding but stressful. One was a romance writer. It was less a “hobby,” as I liked to think of it back in the day, and more a mission.

I wrote when I got home from work and I wrote from morning until night on the weekends.

And I loved it.

But when “work” became writing, continuing in that bent, twelve- to sixteen-hour days, seven days a week, narrowed my world to a pinpoint. There was writing. And there was the work around writing.

As it happens, the joy of finally being able to devote myself to my passion faded and it did this without me noticing it.

I didn’t lose the passion.

But you cannot create without filling the well. My books are as they are because I inject much of me, the ones I know, and my experiences into them. I can’t continue to do that if my whole world becomes my office.

Less, my desk.

Even smaller, my computer and keyboard.

When it occurred to me that this was a problem (and this was about six months into my making the conscious, and depressing, decision no longer to keep in any modicum of a healthy physical state, including getting exercise and eating food that’s good for me, something that not only made me feel rundown but also severely affected my sleep and mood…both in the negative), I decided to do something about it.

I started a journey that began with journaling…and blossomed and grew.

I could write a book about all that I’ve done over the last year, how I’ve shaped it to fit my world, life and way of doing things, the work it took to do it, and the results that are ongoing (energy! good sleep for the first time in my life! planning vacations after not having a real one in eleven years! HUZZAH!)

The above paragraph has the word “ongoing” and that, for me, is one of the many keys.

I’m not on a diet to lose weight. I’m not on a meditation plan to find better sleep. I’m not on an exercise regimen to tone my muscles. I have not found the answer to the meaning of life. In fact, I don’t have the all the answers, even for my own story.

I’m on an ongoing journey that is day-to-day-to-day-to-DAY and will be for the rest of my life.

I’ve likened it to unraveling the life I was living and doing the painstaking work to reweave it into the life I want to live.

No…the state of mind I want to have.

It involves seeing more movies (which I love and got out of the habit of doing). Reading more books (which used to be an obsession, but I MIGHT read a handful of books a year, and that in itself is depressing, and even criminal considering my profession). Trying something new at least once a week. And stopping, and seriously considering, when I say no to an invitation, reminding myself my first thought for an answer should be yes…then taking time to really decide if I can or cannot fit it into my schedule (so I’m socializing, getting out of my office, and expanding my world).

I’ve also organized my house (my pantry could be an ad for the Container Store) and cleared out my closets of all the debris and detritus of past lives so just perusing my wardrobe reflects where I need to remember to be at all times…my NOW.

And my NOW, with a lot of hard work which is what hard work always is—insanely rewarding—is pretty danged great.

I would not have said that a year ago, even while I was living my dream (wrap your head around the guilt of that…having everything you wanted and feeling the shame of being ungrateful because you aren’t skipping-through-the-tulips happy).

But now, I’ll repeat, life is pretty danged GREAT.

I’m actually typing that. Defiantly. And happily.

(Mind you, I’m about to go to Australia and Hawaii for two weeks, one for work, one for fun, they’re both going to be fun, so I’m in the pre-holiday glow and LOVING IT!)

I’ll share here that I am not complaining about this dark time in my life. I’m not angry at myself that I fell into it without realizing what was happening…and why. It is what nearly everything is in life…essential to the experience. It’s irrational to think my whole world is always going to be rosy. There will be dark times. And you learn from those dark times and become a better person for yourself—and for those you love—when you fight your way out of them.

This means I’m actually GRATEFUL for that time. I wouldn’t be where I am now without it.

It also means this is a never-ending journey, and I’m excited about that. I’m excited about getting into gardening (my next challenge, I may fail in this Arizona heat with my travel schedule, but I don’t care). I’m excited about finding a Pilates or yoga class I can do that isn’t in my workout room at home in front of a video on TV. I’m excited about exploring my “natural” talent for swinging a golf club (my brother-in-law said that, not me, and he’s golfed in every state of the Union!) when the weather breaks.

So when I happened onto the latest edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, and it was about understanding and doing the work to find your happy, I read it cover to cover.

And I’m lifting something from it to share as I continue the work to build my happy. Shift my focus to what makes me feel that. Share it to help others find ways to focus on theirs. And keep up the righteous work to be all I’m damned well going to be.

The magazine asked the contributors to answer some questions. I’m going to answer these here.

“What is one way to maximize happiness…” As mentioned above, try something new and do it regularly. Order something you wouldn’t normally order from a menu. Stop in a boutique you frequently pass that you’ve always wanted to check out. Read a book in a genre you wouldn’t normally read. Attempt a new recipe. Go out for a coffee instead of making one at home. Sit in that park you never visit that’s close by and read there.

Just shake it up.

Whatever it is, do it. And do it as often as you can.

“These days I’m grateful for…” My health and learning to cut myself some slack.

Working out and eating right is a challenge for me because I don’t like to do either!

But due to my obsession with writing, when I’m in the middle of a book, since I’m all about the book, it’s nearly impossible to tear myself away even to eat, much less do it healthily. Forget about popping on the treadmill or going out for a walk.

Add onto that travel, where, if I’m in Washington DC, I’m damn well going to eat crabcakes. And if I’m in Cleveland and I get invited to a place that sells amazing grilled cheese sandwiches (thank you, Brijin!), I’m IN! I cannot, on the whole, live a life without pizza (or ice cream). So I don’t intend to do it. Ever.

I’ve tried to plan ahead and make goals to be as healthy as possible when those times in my life make it a bigger challenge. But it just happens that things get away from me.

So my mission is to get back to it as soon as I can after I’m home or the book is finished. I’ve found being gentle with myself, saying, “Okay, I’m off the path, I have to be on THIS path now. I’ll veer back when I’m ready and not stress myself right the ef out by beating myself up about where I am now.” Then, when I hop on the treadmill, I find I’m not starting from the “beginning” but pumping out my walks with sweat and attitude and killing it like I didn’t take four days or two weeks off (because I only took four days or two weeks off, I didn’t give up for six months just because I took four days or two weeks off, so “what’s the point?”).

Giving myself permission to give myself a break rocks my world.

And I’m the fittest I’ve been in years.

“A song that will instantly turn my day around…” “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman soundtrack. I don’t know if I’ve ever only listened to it once. And it usually has me singing at the top of my lungs and stomping with glee.

“Who are the people who always put a smile on my face…” The Cantu sisters. Amanda and Crystal became friends by being readers of mine, in fact, they are two of the first readers I ever met at my first-ever book signing in Orlando. And they drag their sister Bonnie into the mix, so I’ve adopted her too.

They love romance and I see them at a ton of events, and since have invited them into my life, and they’ve done the same (I still regret I didn’t go to Crystal’s wedding when invited, I should have been there with bells on!).

The thing is, there’s just a stillness of peace and goodness whenever my eyes roam a room and I see Amanda, Crystal or Bonnie. It’s more than the love of romance. It’s the fact that what I do opened my world in a way that I would never have met these beautiful women if it hadn’t been for my books.

They’re also a reminder of the many beautiful women who have become an integral part of my life because of my books. And that is a colossal blessing. Grounding myself in the unexpected bounty of this writing gig is marvelous.

And their personalities and kindness and quiet love and saucy sassiness would have been lost forever for me due to the fact I wouldn’t have even known it was there to be had…but now it’s mine.

Last, Crystal sent my cats bottles of kitty wine when my baby got diagnosed. I missed her wedding. She did not miss sharing she was there for me in a time of need.


Now, I urge YOU to think about these questions and answer them for yourself. You can share them in the comments section if you like. Or just do it as a personal exercise in exploring your happy.

I’m grateful for mine.


No matter how much hard work it is.

Or maybe because of that.

And I hope if you answer these questions, you find gratitude for the happy in your life too.
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Published on July 03, 2018 16:03 Tags: kristen-ashley, rock-chick
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message 1: by Callynt (new)

Callynt It's all about the balance and being willing to explore new things, my dear. Thank you for sharing this. I fell into a dark place as well. Worked too much, played too little. When I started letting myself go, I knew something had to change, but I didn't even know where to start. This weekend I'm purging closets :)

Michelle McFarland It’s all about reminding yourself to be true to yourself and remember to take the time to do what you love!

Duchess Crystal I love you!!! Maybe I'll surprise you one weekend by knocking on your door and never let go of the hug I'll be giving you.

message 4: by Tracie (new)

Tracie I am so glad for you! Balance, balance, balance.

message 5: by Judy.Ca (new)

Judy.Ca Thank you for sharing that Kristen! Cheers! :)

Spoiler Whore-Momoa Much love sista!

message 7: by Ginger (last edited Jul 03, 2018 05:50PM) (new)

Ginger Kristen, thank you for sharing with us, that having everything from the outside doesn’t mean you have everything on the inside. We all think when we meet certain goals our lives with be perfect our happiness assured. The truth is in a perfect life we will never be assured of happiness because life is filled with ups and down and the good and the bad. We would never recongnize the of the beauty of the good if we never live through the ugliness of the bad. All those bad days making us cherish the good days. We should value every moment like it could be the last but the power to do that is hard to sustain. However when a doctor or vet informs us time is short we use every ounce of engergy cherishing each minute while we pray for more. This is what life is up and down, easy and hard, happy and sad, grateful and greedy. We move through it all with the grace we have learned from past moments like them and try to do better each step we take. Your words help all of us do better! I love you so much!

message 8: by Judy (new)

Judy Keating Hi Kristen:
I hear you girlfriend, what a beautiful blog you posted.
For myself, i think life is always evolving into shapes we never can envision. We are constantly making daily decisions that impact us and sometimes we get in a rut that becomes a habit
for good or bad.
One thing I'm seeing in your stories is you give your heroes HEAs, maybe that was as much for you as for your characters.
Anyway, its time for KA to come out of her chrysalis and become a new butterfly.
We are all behind you cheering you on.

message 9: by Karen (new)

Karen Everyone has people that just suck the energy right out of you. 2 1/2 years ago I realized that they were getting most of my time, energy and effort. During that time, best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is the person who knows me better than anyone, even better than my husband. She only lives about 6 hours from me, but I would only see her about once a year, if I was lucky. I felt like I didn’t have the time or just felt exhausted from all of the drama. Her getting sick was such a wake up. Now we see each other about 4-5 times a year, and I limit time with the E.S. Some of them are family, which has caused issues, but I’m ok with that. I also started reconnecting to people I used to hang out with. Life is too short and there are people who are too important to miss out on.

I turned 49 in June, and I’ve started feeling like I’m 49. You’ve made me realize that my desk job is not an excuse to not stay active and in shape. I can start small, by just eating better. Thanks for your words!!!

message 10: by Wateena (new)

Wateena Kristen, You know the loss I had in April. The things my husband and i had planned. This year was finally our year to travel. Now my kids are telling me to start doing things while I have a chance, because tomorrow isnt promised. At first I was totally against it. But I feel now I need to do things to help me from becoming too depressed but also while im physically able. I think you have the right approach to this; and wish you joy and safe journies as you do. Big hugs

message 11: by Jill (new)

Jill Bloor Wow, thank you Kristen. As I was reading your post, I realized that some of what you describe is what I'm going through. The birthday this year is a big one (right after 59 - but I can't say the number) and I realized that that event has triggered me questioning my life. I work a lot and get a lot of my self-image from it. I think I need to spend a couple of days just writing and thinking. Thanks again K

message 12: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Finck The next time I see you and E, give you both huge hugs, it’s because of this. As a corporate exec, being off for a month for a major surgery, and then coming back to insanity, I find I’m spiraling. This post tells me I’m not alone in questioning the lifestyle choices I’m contemplating. Thank you for being brave enough to shout it out loud. <3

message 13: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra Well, that was unexpected and so beautiful of you to share.

Thank you

Life can be so very, very dark and when you are in it, you can fail to notice (probably like a fish fails to notice water) until something prompts you. Sad that its often something tragic that makes us like the proverbial fish sticking its head out of the water.

in answer to the questions for I am tasky by nature :-) :

What is one way to maximize happiness…” Kristen - I live for your books - there is just nothing that does it for me like a KA book. The heroines are often older (i turned 50 this year - urgh!), there is always a HEA and they unfailingly take me to my happy place. Thank you

“These days I’m grateful for…” Everyday I try to think of 3 things, however small and trivial they might be, that I am grateful for. It could be having a job, the fact my car is running or that I wasn't shouted at today.

A song that will instantly turn my day around…” Probably lots but currently loving 'Habits ' by Marmozets and on an altogether different note, 'Born to Love You' by Lanco (it makes me think of my kids and feel grateful, if teary, and country music is my dirty little secret! Dont' tell...)

“Who are the people who always put a smile on my face…” the beautiful man who smiled at me like I was the only person in the room when I walked into a conference presentation last year. Way too panicked to speak to him but the memory brightens my day always.

Hang in there Kristen. Even the darkest places can be lit eventually

message 14: by Trina (new)

Trina Thanks for showing us you are as human as your most devout fans. It always helps when I know know those who I respect face the same challenges as I do. Happy journeys to you!

message 15: by Kvkeith (new)

Kvkeith laurie Your are inspiring. Not just your transparency and empathy, but your courage in taking steps to change your own circumstances. To quote Uncle Marsh and Aunt Bette, “You matter”. And to paraphrase all of your excellent advice. You need to take hold and ride these experiences. “You must be strong enough to take a risk that certainly may frighten you...” (Celeste). I saw you briefly, as I was reading on of your books in the wild in DC. You, who bubble with life and sweep others into your realm, need to feed that bubbling source of life - with more experiences and love. Find and hold love. We who respect you will wait.

message 16: by Angelique (new)

Angelique Kennerley Exploring Happiness,
Thanks for sharing a part of yourself with this blog and with your books, it is such a amazing thing to be brave enough to share a part of your soul to people you do not know. I have not yet found my brave to do so, so I stand in awe of anyone that do it.

Exploring Happiness, I like the title because it opens it up nicely for me to get something that has really upset me for so long of my chest.
Happiness is one emotion, we have collectively 235 emotion and yet we focus on that one and then we have been taught that if we do not feel happiness all the time there is something missing in our lives.
Life is about learning and growing, when you have a moment of "Oh sugar lumps! Why didn't I see this was happening before" It would have been nearly impossible for you to have seen it because you had to learn what to look for.
I am by nature and by design and by knowledge a naturally grumpy person, From childhood I have expected the worse to happen, by knowledge I know that it takes a rare and extraordinary person to do something nice to a fellow human being. I find it hard to just be able to talk about stuff that does not matter when I know that the energy it takes to talk about inconsequential things can be taken to make a difference in someones life. I am a grumpy person and I have made peace with that because I feel... I feel everything and acknowledge that everything I feel comes from me and I have a right to feel what I feel. I do not have good days or bad days, I have I feel sad moments or happy moments or I feel the love moments or I have angry moments.
I try and see how I deal with things through the eyes of a child, If I just show my children my happy side how would they know what they are feeling when they feel sad or upset, We forget to teach children how to deal with emotions or we only show emotions we can not control like anger or rage.
I adore your books so much because it taught me something and it made something settle within me because you made me feel like I am not the only one.
Actions speak louder than words, body language and small tokens of love say I love you so much more effectively than words. I am able to see the love better now and for that, for that I can never say thank you enough.
There are things I can say about life being dark for you at the moment but I think by what you said you have that covered.
Once again I thank you for teaching me things I would never have known if you were not brave enough to share your soul with us. Thank you for putting your energy into the books you write because we can feel it, and we take from it what we need to carry on. So please I hope you feel that everyone is giving you a bit of energy back to fill your well.
Thank you, for everything

message 17: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Forstrom Thank you Kristen. I found you and your books at a time of loss in my life. I was and am a caregiver for my family. I was broken and giving up. I found and read Wild Man. Joy, because that book gave me several hours of fun and reminded me life is good. I found more of your books and the happiness and joy grew. I am not ashamed to admit I use your books to prop myself up on bad days. I am so glad you are allowing yourself some joy. Take those vacations and fill your life with happiness.

message 18: by M.J. (new)

M.J. So happy for you reading this! xxxxx

message 19: by Annette Rogers (new)

Annette Rogers I love this post. I recently posted my own Inspirational message to my girls on fb. There's an epidemic of divorce going on for us and I feel like all of us are regaining our equilibrium and finding our happy. During the last two years I cleaned up my eating act (but like you I will never give up pizza and pasta 🤷🏾‍♀️) and lost a good deal of weight. I started writing my poetry again and took a chance on a new job when my old job started to really burn me out. Life's about change and adjusting to the change. Sometimes in the midst of my divorce I still struggle with old mindsets. I have to Allow the emotions to rain on me. a little while then pass me by. My current boyfriend asked me if he makes me happy. He does things that make me happy, but I don't think you should let a person be the source of your happiness. Sometimes that's a hard lesson. Thanks for sharing. Your books and characters have made an impact on my life. I'm glad you're taking the time to enjoy the life you've built 😘

message 20: by Ankita (new)

Ankita It's what all you said....all true. Just the different scenarios but same feelings. I can so much relate to everything you said here and it made me cry so much. Sometimes we just don't have enough words to explain what's actually happening in our minds and hearts. Daily struggles that cannot be perceived by others in the way you have. Thanks for your beautiful post KA. All the best in life:)

message 21: by Cyndi (new)

Cyndi Becker Your words, your thoughts, are amazing and inspiring.! Rock On beautiful lady, Rock On!

message 22: by Laurie (new)

Laurie What a beautiful post! Thank you.

The past few years I've had to rethink what exploring happiness means to me. I've learned to not think about what I can't do but take joy in the things I can. It wasn't easy, but it's been rewarding. I've learned to never take anything for granted but also not to get bitter. Lots of doors closed for me, but I have taken a proverbial sledgehammer and made my own doorways. I may not be able to work the job I loved anymore, but I've found new joy in reading, blogging and writing. Instead of letting myself be defined by my limitations, I rewrote the book on what I was capable of.

That's not to say when I have setbacks I don't take a moment to get angry or bummed out, I just put a time limit on any pity parties and then force myself to move on. It's freeing. Life is out there just waiting for all of us to grab ahold and then fly. We just have to remember to do it.

All this to say, I completely get you. And I am so glad you are getting back to living life, the fact this means you are going to be breathing some life into more stories is just the icing on the cake.

message 23: by Tina (new)

Tina Thank you for your honesty! I too have been thinking about my life lately and how my depression and anxiety make me feel like I don’t recognize myself sometimes.

As someone who mentioned above I tend to be a more grumpy person but also introverted too. My teaching job is very stressful and I decided that I can’t keep doing it anymore so I went back to school to be a librarian. I am at the end of my degree and hopefully will be a librarian soon.

I also thought about what makes me happy and being creative by crafting (making paper flowers, painting things/repurpose things, and coloring) and reading are what makes me most happy.

Your stories along with a few other authors are filled with real people with flaws and all , yet still in the end have their “happy” ending. This makes me laugh, cry, and smile when I need it and sometimes even when I didn’t think I needed it.

Thank you for the great stories and hoping that you continue along your journey and get what you need from it.

message 24: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Garrison SO, 2 thoughts: 1. I have a hard time with down time. I think this may be in part what you are talking about? I always feel like I'm supposed to be doing something. I got into this thought mode while being a wife & mom, launching a new church and completing a doctorate degree all at the same time! If my disabled husband couldn't have been a stay at home dad, I'd never have survived! But in 2007 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This was followed by osteoarthritis recently connected with psoriatic arthritis. My joints all hurt - hardest to do anything about is my neck and spine - and my physical abilities have become limited. My right knee was replaced 2 years ago and I contracted a superbug, which means I actually had 2 knee replacements 2 years ago. All this is to say, I have been forced to take some down time and it has been difficult adjusting... feelings of guilt and more importantly fear, that I should be doing something and/or have left something undone. But am adjusting and am learning to let myself off the hook for having some down time. Its still difficult, and I imagine it will be for the rest of my life. Its not the way I swing. I am use to being in control of my actions/time and I don't like it. All this is to say, I feel you girl! You hang in there! Hopefully you are able to enjoy the down time. 2. When I read your post about organizing your closet not only by color but shades of color, I though immediately of a colleague who did that who had severe OCD. Girl, that shit ain't right! So you can get dressed faster??? Perhaps that is one place where you need to slow down and enjoy the process! Live it up on the wild side! Mix your colors! Paint your world!

message 25: by Christina (new)

Christina Thank you for your intimate and inspiring post. My family and I have been in a dark place since my father suicided 18 months ago, and we had to disconnect from my toxic Mom and sister. We are trying to heal, but there are definitely ups and downs in the grieving process. It's so true that the basics of healthy eating, exercise and sleep are important. However, your reminder about balance and being gentle with yourself really resonated with me. As you pointed out, it is unreasonable to expect ourselves to maintain any rigid schedule 24/7. The goal is to live a healthy, balanced life, and an occasional pizza, or blue day is part of that. Your post reminded me that life is hard, but we have choices every day, and doing just one new or positive thing can move us forward. So instead of beating myself up for not cooking more or skipping yoga, I'm going to forgive myself and make different choices today. Hugs to you!

message 26: by Alejandra (new)

Alejandra Hi Kristen!
It's never late to realize what's really important in our lives. I always Say to my friends: "don't live for working, you have to work for living!"

message 27: by Amy (new)

Amy Always remember to stop and smell the roses. Find your happy place!!

message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica White Wonderful! Your journey is a good, healthy one. I believe no matter how old we are we still have so much to learn and so much growing to do. There is a poem I have had framed in my office since I graduated called Desiderita, and I often read it and it gentles my anxious soul. Maybe it will help someone else as well.

message 29: by RhoMelie (new)

RhoMelie I used to work with a woman who became a good friend. She had lost her very young son to leukemia several years prior to my meeting her. However, she was the most bubbly person to be around. She was always smiling and it was genuine. I asked her how she could be that way all the time after what she and her family had been through. She told me that she realized when he died that she would never be truly happy again because of her loss. What she decided was to stop chasing happy and start chasing joy. To find something in each day and moment, when possible, to bring her joy. She could be joyful in the things her son used to do and say to make her smile and laugh and still smile and laugh with those memories, even though his loss was still and always would be painful. She could be joyful in her remaining family. She could be joyful in her friends and her work. When she discovered things in her life that were the opposite of joyful, she did her best to eradicate them from her day-to-day experience, including people who brought her down.

I was in my 30s when she told me that. I am now 59. It is a lesson I've never forgotten and try to practice as much as possible. I'm not always successful, but I have found that since happiness is fleeting and we never quite get there (after all we can always be "happier" than we are right now), no matter how unhappy I may be or how bad my circumstance, I can find joy even in small things and I can do that often. I can, quite literally, smell the flowers and feel a since of joy.

Thank you, Kristen, for being open and honest about something that is hard for many of us to voice. As women, we often feel we have to show a good face for our families and friends when things may not be in a "happy" place for them or us. Sometimes we have to stop and find it for ourselves in order to be able to give it to others, and as women, that sometimes feels selfish when it very much is not, and I certainly include myself in that.

message 30: by Jenny (new)

Jenny I recommend also reading, if you’d like, “You are a Badass,” by Jen Sincero. It’s a book every Rock Chick should have in their library, as it is inspiring, full of attitude, and at times hilarious. ;) ❤️

message 31: by Yoella (new)

Yoella Thanks for your breathtaking honesty. It's scary how much of your story I related to. I just went on my first real vacation in 11 years. I finally made it to Europe for a two-week vacation in April. I know all about the agony of the death watch. My family member and cat were diagnosed with cancer approx 1 month apart. After such an experience, you really start questioning what's important b/c NOTHING seems very important. Yet, how do you complain when your life is better (outwardly) than it's ever been. Your career goals are reached. Your family is dead or gone. You're no longer close to any friends as they were sacrificed along the way. While you were busy with death watch, everyone else was moving on. What's next for you when that's over? I honestly don't know. It's been a long journey. I keep reminding myself, "Happiness is a journey, not a destination." I'll remind you to do the same

message 32: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Love you babyeee 😘. Keep kicking booty!

message 33: by Misty (new)

Misty Henderson Thank you so much for sharing with us! You have no idea how badly I needed to read this. I’ve been in a state the past couple years that only seems to be getting worse. After reading what you have been through and how much it has helped, I am going to try some new things. Try to find some balance in my life. I am sending you big hugs and so much love my friend. Thank you!

message 34: by Tweetybird (last edited Jul 09, 2018 08:10PM) (new)

Tweetybird Tammy wrote: "SO, 2 thoughts: 1. I have a hard time with down time. I think this may be in part what you are talking about? I always feel like I'm supposed to be doing something. I got into this thought mode whi..."

Tina wrote: "Thank you for your honesty! I too have been thinking about my life lately and how my depression and anxiety make me feel like I don’t recognize myself sometimes.

As someone who mentioned above I ..."

...Oh, but Tammy! When the closet is organized by colours, it looks so lovely and calming ;-) [Actually, seriously, that is just a fantasy of mine... I've let myself become a hoarder over the last several years as my family members have had one health crisis after another and I'm the daughter so the caregiving is left to me. So I cannot currently even reach my closet].
... I do appreciate the candour in your comment and do not envy you your hardships you've had to endure. I would only suggest one thing: I've heard tell [by doctors and naturopaths on PBS] that fibromyalgia is an inflammatory disease, and the pain may possibly be able to be controlled by diet. Check out the library and see what they have about treating physical inflammation issues with a modification in diet and moderate exercise. It's got to be worth a shot!

message 35: by Tweetybird (last edited Jul 09, 2018 08:14PM) (new)

Tweetybird Yeah. Definitely what everyone else have said in terms of thanks and you're not alone goes for me too. My big life change and exploration of 'happiness/joy' has to start with a huge de-clutter and purge so I can begin to enjoy my home again rather than just subsisting in it. (Unfortunately I cannot yet think of starting to fix my life until the new rare chemo drug he began in June actually works on my younger brother, so that he goes into remission after his second lymphoblastic [non-hodgkin] lymphoma/leukemia relapse in the last 4 years, and I can be his stem cell donor for the second time -- praying this time it will be the cure). Kristen, your books are a WONDERFUL escape for me... I can't tell you how often I've stayed up through the night to read (or re-read) one of your fantastic novels! I thank you for your inspirational ideas and those of all your commentors. I'm glad you've given yourself a break and sought some vacation time and respite from your insatiable work ethic. Please do take some time for yourself and enjoy it (& if you're ever in doubt, remember that you've touched more readers' lives with joy than you can ever imagine!)!
~Diana from Toronto

message 36: by Misa (new)

Misa Thanks for sharing this with us. I hope that your life will get better and I'm sorry for your cat, I love your pictures with you kitty.
I might be from a different culture than you and we think differently when it comes to life and work and so on. In my culture, we apply this kind of thinking in our daily life, when it comes to relationship and everything else and it is not easy to apply it in the correct way because it may leads to be careless and fearless but not in the good way.
What is it? You live your life as if today is your last day on earth so what to do when you wake up every morning: is to think this "if this is my last day: I take care of myself, I don't fight with that person and ask for forgiveness if I have hurt some one, I do that think that I always wanted to...", do good things for the others and to please god, be a good person in this last day of your life.
But there is something else, at the same time: you believe that you're going to live forever, live your life as if you're immortal, so you say to yourself if I'm immortal I can start this project or take this test and if I fail I'm gonna do it again because what the fuss I have all the time and this way you won't think about age and years and all the negative stuff before doing something that you're eager to do but too scare of failure to start...
I don't know if you will understand what I 've said but just think about it a little and try it just for a week and who knows it might work for you. This is our secret. Life is not only work, job, success, money, children, marriage and so on but it is everything. Don't lose yourself in it. Don't take those things so seriously because nothing last but the good that you took from those things. Be safe and don't forget to enjoy and be nice, it always helps.

message 37: by Autumn (new)

Autumn Oh Kristen.
I hope you know that you are such an inspiration to me.
Now and always...

~ All the love


message 38: by Ashley Cole (new)

Ashley Cole Thank you for sharing your story! Too many people feel like it is a weakness to reveal their dark times when in fact it is very much a strength. You have touched so many lives through your books and I for one feel as if I “know” you through your beloved characters but now feel even closer to you as I have gone through similar times myself. Thank you for inspiring us all to keep finding ourselves. Rock on Kristen!

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