Tag Archives: children’s books

LOVE

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My first thought was to title this post “A Happy Surprise”, but after thinking about how to write about this happy surprise, I felt the word “Love” was a better fit. If you are new to “My Happy”, welcome! “My Happy” began as a simple scrapbook, in a sense, of the things in my life that add to, strengthen, or create my happiness. It is a way for me to focus on the positives giving me strength, clarity, and appreciation for every day experiences. As I began this journey, I was testing out the positive psychology practices that I had learned.  In doing so,  I wrote “That Makes Me Happy!” a children’s story.

“That Makes Me Happy!” was written and illustrated with love, for my children, and for children everywhere. A passion emerged from my life experiences to show children that we (adults) value happiness and that we love them, whether they are our own child, our neighbor, our friend’s children, our relative, our student, we care about them and want them to feel loved and happy.  

This blog also gave me a doorway to the world. I could connect with people all over the world. I took a chance and reached out to Madame Corinne, a teacher in France.  There was no one to tell me it was right or my story was going to be well received. I only knew in my heart that this story could bring smiles and love. I trusted myself and knew that sharing “That Makes Me Happy!” is sharing my love, and my love is the best thing I can share, right?

Madame Corrine an open-minded, kind, wise teacher accepted my story and used it as a part of her happiness project she had planned for her elementary students. Madame Corinne shares my belief of the importance of teaching children about their ability to create their happiness. Please read about her happiness project here Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project.  Madame Corinne and I have continued to e-mail and share our life experiences and I look forward to learning more from our friendship.

The experience of sharing the story and knowing it was included in a happiness project has been such a gift to me and my family. Love certainly comes back to you and this experience truly came back to me through an amazing surprise from a special teacher and class! Madame Corinne’s class collected their beautiful drawings of happy thoughts they devoted time to during the school year. They created a book “101 Things That Make Us Happy” and sent it to me! I cannot describe in words the happiness I felt when I received the book in the mail. I was close to tears when I realized the children had sent me their original drawings and I saw their happy, loving words.

 

Madame Corinne and her class also felt happy to give such a treasure to me. I would say we all shared much happiness and love. The students made a difference sharing their own happy thoughts. What an amazing lesson for the students to learn.

Thank you, Madame Corinne and all the children for the most precious happiness book ever! I look forward to sharing it. You have all inspired me to keep sharing “That Makes Me Happy!” and creating my happiness because we all deserve to be happy and loved.

“My Happy” readers, I hope this story inspires you to create your happiness and look for opportunities to share your love. I would be happy to hear and share your stories, too. You may comment below or you can e-mail me at thatmakesmehappy@yahoo.com 

 

Websites to be inspired by:

http://www.actionforhappiness.org/

http://www.lifevestinside.com/

 

 

Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project

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Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project

A Happiness Project taught in a classroom in France brings happiness to a classroom in Spain and to me! Two students taking “The Science of Happiness” course given by the University of California Berkeley were unaware that their paths would happily cross and be mutually beneficial.

My new friend, Madame Corinne, a caring teacher in France to six and seven year old creative students and I connected when Madame Corinne did a Google search and found “My Happy”.  Madame Corinne was kind enough to leave a comment sharing that she was a teacher in France. After reading her comment I was eager to ask Madame Corinne if she would like a copy of That Makes Me Happy! I noticed that her e-mail address came up with her comment on the “My Happy” comment page. I thought about sending her an e-mail, then decided not to. Yes, self-doubt held me back. In the past I would have simply given in to my self-doubt. Instead, I reminded myself how far I had come since my first blog post. I felt good about the writing, the volunteering,  and the learning. One question I now ask myself when I am presented with an opportunity is: “Why not?” I again found myself looking at Madame Corinne’s e-mail address. This time I e-mailed her. I asked if she would like a copy of my story to read to her class. Madame Corinne was so kind to say yes! She was already planning a wonderful Happiness Project for her new class and the story fit right in.

Madame Corinne began her new school year by focusing her students on happiness. I was very honored that she read “That Makes Me Happy” and had her students make Happy Rings as part of her project. Madame Corinne asked her students to think of “3 small happinesses” each morning. Students created pictures and  posted their drawings to a bulletin board.  Below are the pictures Madame Corinne shared with me. Her students were very creative with the Happy Rings. I especially liked how they personalized them, even the smiley faces! Happy Ring total has now reached 127! I also enjoyed looking at all the pictures on the bulletin board.

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Madame Corinne shared her project with a teacher in Spain. Senorita Berta will be teaching her students this happiness project and all the students from each classroom will share their ideas this year! How wonderful!

I was excited I had written that e-mail and in a small way I was apart of these terrific projects. I am still amazed at how simply reaching out has connected me to fellow happiness creators so far from my home. Creating happiness is making a difference to Madame Corinne, Senorita Berta, and their students this year. Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project not only teaches students they can create their happiness, it also teaches students even though we may be living in different countries, we CAN connect, and we CAN make a  POSITIVE difference. Everyone’s ideas are important and we can be happier by sharing them!

Thank you Madame Corinne and Senorita Berta for teaching your students about creating happiness! Thank you for sharing my story. Please thank your students for making Happy Rings!

That Makes Me Happy!

More Pictures 12/5/16

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Summer Reading

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Summer Reading

Happy News

This summer dive into these good reads! While reading a Happy blog (ha ha… yes, many others are sharing their happy stories), I learned about this great newspaper:  “The Happy News”.   A newspaper to celebrate all that’s good in the world…The Happy Newspaper is a platform to share positive news and wonderful people. The line up in this issue was: General News Stories, Everyday Heroes, Celebs/Showbiz, Poems, Lifestyle, Food, Travel, Your Year, New Year Tips, Meet the Writers, From me to You. All written from a positive perspective.

One of my favorite sections included positive news about celebrities. It was great hearing about good news like Pharrell Williams turns ‘Happy’ into a children’s book. Malala Yousafzai, youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize celebrates her 18th birthday by opening an all girls school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Prince Harry and Prince William join BBC home improvement program ‘DIY SOS’ in renovating an abandoned street in Manchester into 26 homes for homeless war veterans. Another section I enjoyed reading was Everyday Heroes. There you can find people and organizations trying to make the world a happier place.  One organization, Free Cakes for Kids UK network is a community organization of volunteer bakers who provide birthday cakes to families who are struggling and find it difficult to provide a cake to their child.   www.freecakesforkids.org/uk  The paper includes many websites and other resources to lift you up.

Emily Coxhead  had the idea to begin a newspaper that “added sunshine to a person’s day”. She and other volunteers collaborated on this fun and enlightening newspaper. To learn more about it or order the next issue go to:  http://www.thehappynewspaper.com

9781611800586_p0_v3_s192x300[1]Sitting Still Like a Frog” Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel is a fun way to encourage children (and their parents) to meditate. Eline Snel is a therapist who has been working with Mindfulness for 20 years, developing training programs. She is the founder of the Academy for Mindful Teaching in Leusden, Netherlands.

Bedtime “shenanigans” led me to try meditation with my children. Does anyone still use that word? I think it is a nice way to explain the silliness that occurs at my children’s bedtime. Sometimes..er..okay a lot lately my little ones have difficulty settling in. Even after their bath and stories, they are still playful. I find having them lay down in their beds and talking them through a relaxation meditation can be very helpful.  “Sitting Still Like a Frog” helps parents and teachers use meditation at various times during the day and it also includes a meditation for bedtime, “Sleep Tight”.

Eline Snel uses the description of a frog to develop an understanding of the importance of stillness.  My children found it interesting and fun.  There are positive reviews from teachers who have used it in their classrooms. You will find an Introduction to Mindfulness, Parenting with Mindfulness, Weathering the Storm Inside, Handling Difficult Feelings, It is Good to Be Kind, to name a few. The book includes a CD of 11 mindfulness practices you can do with your child. Our children LOVE to spend time with us. Sometimes simply role modeling  gets children interested enough to try a new thing. I realized, though my children preferred  my voice over listening to the CD at bedtime. My friend, Kathleen noticed that with her daughter. Familiar voices are the best, of course. Your children may prefer you to do the narrative for the bedtime meditation.

Let me know what YOU think! You can share what you like about the “The Happy Newspaper” or how your children respond to “Sitting Still Like a Frog” by commenting on this post. I would be very interested in your feedback!

Happy Reading!

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“That Makes Me Happy!” News

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“That Makes Me Happy!” has really done just that. It has made me happy.  Many of you have been asking how things are going with my children’s book. After the book launch, opportunities for volunteering to share my book and teach the lesson it holds fell into place. Volunteering and focusing on my family filled my time and this blog took a back seat.  Now it is time to catch up.

My enthusiasm for the science of happiness resulted in writing “That Makes Me Happy!” a story that teaches children they can cultivate their own happiness. At the end of the story children can make a “Happy Ring” to practice the strategies which are deep breaths, smiling, and thinking a happy thought.  By reading the story to children, adults can show children we value well-being as much as academics and achievements.

This past school year I volunteered to teach the lesson from my story at my oldest son’s school. As I had read the story in my youngest children’s class the previous school year.  His school had a set time every week to bring health and wellness education to their students. Awesome, right?  The science behind happiness lesson fit right in.  Not ever having taught more than a classroom size of 31 students it was a new experience for me. I was asked to teach the lesson to each grade. There were 100 students in each grade.  Keeping a group that size engaged and interested definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wished that I could simply read my story and make “Happy Rings” but that wouldn’t fly with these older students (4th, 5th, and 6th graders).  20160802_122551

 

While creating the lesson, I thought back to what really amazed me in the research.  Richard Davidson’s research with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was top on the list. thRichard Davidson’s research focuses on the brain-emotion connection. When the Dalai Lama heard of his research he urged Richard Davidson to study kindness and compassion. “He said: ‘You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear.  Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?’  Data from brain scans of Tibetan monks were studied. The monks observed had a regime of meditating 8 hours a day, some had done so for 20 years.  The findings led to the understanding that meditative practices and practicing kindness and compassion result in a brain that is more capable of change, in theory becoming more resilient.

“Rather than think of the brain as a static organ, or one that just degenerates with age, it’s better understood as an organ that is constantly reshaping itself, is being continuously influenced, wittingly or not, by the forces around us.”  Richard Davidson 

Brain plasticity, mirror neurons, and calming jars…oh my!   I brought the lesson to life by using student volunteers.  Teaching a group of 100 students was a challenge for me. Did I already say that? Teaching your own class is much different from teaching a large group of students you do not know. Using strategies like positive self-talk, visualizing the lesson going well, deep breaths, and having a growth mindset kept me on track.  I also had support from a few teachers with each grade.  Once I had taught the first group of 100 students, I felt proud of myself and realized it helped me to grow. It felt like such an accomplishment to have taught this lesson to my son and his peers.  Thank you to the staff and students of Proctor Elementary School.

My cousin, Helen, a third-grade teacher was very excited about my story. I offered to read it to her class. In April Saint Joseph’s school welcomed me to share my story with 4 classes, kindergarten, first, second, and third grade! Reading my story, sharing author secrets, and creating “Happy Rings” together created my happy! Seeing the smiles, the interest, receiving inquisitive questions, the excitement about using “Happy Rings” is truly priceless! Thank you to Mrs. Fitzgerald, all the staff and children at Saint Joseph’s school.

My more recent news for “That Makes Me Happy!” is it has traveled overseas! “That Makes Me Happy!” will be read in classrooms in France, India, and possibly Germany!20160802_131341 (1)

 

 

 

“That Makes Me Happy!” is doing just that, making me happy. I hope it is making many people happy. In fact if you have read the story and made “Happy Rings” please e-mail me how many children made the “Happy Rings” at: thatmakesmehappy@yahoo.com.  I will be keeping track of how many are made. So far, there have been a little over 100 Happy Rings made. I look forward to seeing that number grow. I am also happy to have taught over 400 children that they can cultivate their own happiness and a few strategies to begin with: deep breaths, smiling often, and thinking happy thoughts.

Did I imagine all this when I took my first “baby step” which was starting this blog? No, I did not. I knew I wanted to share this wonderful information with friends, family, and especially children. I am glad I found a way using many of the strategies I have been writing about!

Thank you all for reading My Happy, you are a big part of this!

Keep Calm and Growth Mindset

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Growth Mindset

I couldn’t believe it when I found this! Yay! I need this on a shirt, now. 🙂 Are you or your children back in school? Maybe you are beginning a new job? Maybe you are managing or teaching others? If you haven’t learned about having and encouraging a growth mindset yet, please read on.

The concept of growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck.  In recent years, many schools and educators have started using Dweck’s theories.  Carol Dweck explains “In a fixed mindset people believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They also think talent alone creates success, without effort.” Alternatively, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, brains and talent are just the starting point.  This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

When you embrace a growth mindset you realize that your effort and perseverance will lead to learning more and becoming smarter. You will also view challenges and failures as opportunities for your learning and growth.  I can only speak of my own experiences with this. I can say for certain that I have made positive changes in my life by having a growth mindset for myself and my children.  In fact, I typically had a growth mindset for my own children, but not for myself. I really kept myself from new experiences for reasons like I’m not that smart, I can’t learn that at my age, I don’t want to fail…It also made me realize that I wasn’t being a good role model for my children thinking that way.

As I tried to keep this mindset when encouraging my children, I found it difficult not to tell my children they were smart! I think It’s okay to still say those things as long as you explain to them that their hard work and effort help them become smarter. My children love to draw and color. When I praise their work I try to be specific about what they did. Instead of just saying “What a beautiful picture”, I would say “Wow, I really like the way you used all those different colors!”, or “I can see how much time you took coloring in that background so carefully.” Another point I have made with my children is that it is okay to make mistakes or even fail at something. It helps us to learn and grow. My older son was pursuing his black belt in karate and at one of his tests he failed. He did not earn the next belt. It was a very difficult experience for him and myself, to be quite honest. It is difficult to see your child struggle, but it is a learning experience. He learned that he needed to practice more and not give up. He did both of those and did go on to receive his black belt. ( Let’s Talk about Karate )

After reading about Carol Dweck’s research regarding growth mindset, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s with Kristina Tracy Unstoppable Me 10 Ways to Soar Through Life came to mind. This is a wonderful book to read to your children to encourage them to have a growth mindset and of course, it also ties nicely with ways to cultivate happiness and mindfulness. 🙂

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What’s Inside…

  1. You’re Great-No Matter What!
  2. Persistence Pays Off!
  3. Welcome the Unknown
  4. You Have a Choice
  5. Farewell to Worry
  6. Peace Begins with You
  7. Enjoy the Here-and-Now
  8. Healthy Me!
  9. Creativity is the Key!
  10. What Can You Give?

Each point includes an example and an illustration showing how a child might apply the concept in his or her everyday life. Dr. Dyer also includes questions at the end of the book to help begin conversations.  My children have been captivated by the stories and illustrations.  Great book to share with your children or children you care for.

I also found this simple chart that explains the two ways of thinking:

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Older children will appreciate this simple chart to encourage their understanding of the concept of having a growth mindset.

Again, having a growth mindset encourages a love of learning and resilience. It helps us to connect with others in a positive way and gives us all the opportunity to reach our full potential.  If you are interested to learn more I have a more detailed chart and a video on my Happiness Page which is currently my home page. You can also go right to the source at http://www.mindsetonline.com

Stay Calm and Growth Mindset….

I Did It!

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Happy Rings

“Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.”  Dalai Lama 

I did it, with help, support, and encouragement but I did it! I had an idea for a story to teach children (preschool through 2nd grade) how to help themselves to be happy. The story also concludes with making a personal ring of pictures. Using the ring will help children practice 3 happy habits deep breaths, smiling, and thinking a happy thought.

Each small step I took towards a happier me made a difference. No matter how big or small the differences were, it is still a positive difference. I want to be a person who creates change for the better. If you want greater good, you have to be the good. The following paragraph includes the strategies I have been writing about that helped me this past year, and more specifically with writing the children’s story.

Not letting excuses get in my way, leaning on friends and family, listening (with my ears and heart), using a Growth Mindset for myself and others, taking risks, not allowing negativity in other areas of my life get me down, keeping my working materials ready and available, visualizing, deep breaths, meditating, using everyday bravery, focusing on the positives, taking time to be creative, being mindful, being thankful, not giving up, and of course, blogging.

I am grateful that I had this opportunity to focus on this project. I am thankful to the teachers and children who welcomed me into their classroom, listened to my story and created their “Happy Rings”. The pure joy I feel teaching in itself is rewarding. Seeing those sweet faces and bright smiles! Admiring the teachers who work diligently to create a loving, supportive, and comfortable environment for each of their amazing students to then be open to new learning.  Wow! The only thing that made this experience truly amazing for me was sharing my ideas and teaching about my FAVORITE subject, HAPPINESS! Wow! Wow!

These have been some of my actions. I would LOVE to hear about yours, big or small! You can comment below or e-mail me to share your information privately.

This has been the perfect way to conclude my first year of blogging.  Today is the one year date of my very first post “Lead By Example”. Thank all of you for reading “My Happy,  Creating Your Happy” and giving me positive feedback. Thank you to WordPress for designing a user-friendly site and for sending me this congratulations for “My Happy’s” 1st anniversary! I look forward to expanding my blog with a page for kids!

Achievement

1 Year Anniversary Achievement
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com one year ago!
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness for the Holidays

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happy holidaysJust like adults, children sometimes have stress, anxieties, or get overly excited during the holiday season.  Here are a few strategies to help yourself and your child enjoy the holidays and each other:

Be sure to do a self-check. If you are getting nervous, stressed or frustrated trying to “do it all”. It will surely trickle down to your children. Don’t be shy to ask for help! It’s okay to ask for help because it will strengthen your relationships.

Make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by keeping what is truly important in mind, your beliefs in the holiday your family celebrates, your family, and helping or appreciating others as well. It’s a great time of year to show appreciation to others who help your family in some way. Also, it is a time to help other families who may need it during the holidays.

Make lists and keep a journal. Making lists of items you need to buy or things you need to get accomplished. Be sure to write down a day you would like these tasks to be done. I also started to keep a journal of holiday giving to help me remember from year to year what we have given.

It’s also a good time of year to give to charities, food pantries, and shelters. Schools and stores usually have toy or gift drives. Wal-Mart, for example, has a giving tree with gift requests on it. You can select a tag off the tree, buy the request, and then give it to the customer service staff member. This is a good thing to do with your children so that they understand the importance of giving, even to other families they may not know.

A side note regarding donations. There are organizations in your area that need families to make donations which help your own community.  One way to make donating easier is by making a payment monthly for one year. Small monthly donations can be given automatically through your bank to the recipient.   This commitment is actually better for the recipient.

Strategies For Kids:

Give kids age appropriate “jobs” to help with holiday preparations. One idea is wrapping gifts. Cut paper to size of gift. Give your child sized paper, pieces of tape (or if old enough, the tape dispenser), bows, and a bag to place when finished. Here is the big tip for you: Love however they wrap the gift! Sometimes we have to “let go” of how we might do something because it’s all good. 🙂 The recipient will enjoy your child’s wrapping abilities no matter what. Other jobs may include: help with cleaning (socks on hands to dust is always fun), decorating, cooking, and making gifts.

Deep breaths (in through the nose, out through the mouth) and exercise daily.  Kids need to be taught how to take a deep breath. Elementary teachers sometimes  explain to their students, it is like smelling flowers and blowing out  birthday candles. Be sure to tell them to only do one deep breath, but remind them a few times during the day. If you practice this daily, your children will be able to use it more effectively when they really need it to calm themselves. Exercise is very important for your children to keep calm as well. An easy indoor activity is Freeze Dancing. Turn on your favorite tunes, but when the music goes off, you freeze! The kids really like this and they get some exercise.

Read and discuss holiday traditions along with their usual favorite books. (Bedtime is a great time for this. Kids are very open to conversations at this time. Especially if they get to stay up a little late. 😉 )

Emphasize Giving Make or buy gifts together for others. Include them in buying for the toy or gift drive you donate to. It will get your child thinking about how others need our support.

Teach expected behaviors for giving and receiving. For example, when receiving a gift always say “thank you” and something kind about the gift. When giving a gift watch the person open it and respond to a thank you with “you’re welcome”. This not only gives them the words to use, it provides the opportunity to learn about gratitude.

If you are visiting another home for a holiday party be sure to tell your kids beforehand the usual sequence of events and what is expected of them during the party. Remind them that expected behavior is important for everyone to have fun and stay safe. If you have a child who has difficulty in these less structured events, be certain to respect any concerns they have and help them to feel comfortable. It’s okay to request information from the host or bring something with you to help your child feel more comfortable. Don’t put your feelings or anxieties on them, however. Don’t ask or suggest anything negative, simply listen if they bring up a concern and reassure them that you will help them if needed.

Older kids need support, too. They would benefit by your sharing the above strategies with them (in your own words) and ask them what they might like to try this year. It may just be the conversation starter you are looking for. (Don’t forget…bedtime is a great time to ask and listen.)

Hopefully, you are also working on your happiness with visualizing, family cheers, exercise, getting rest, being thankful, being mindful, meditating, self-compassion, and thinking positive thoughts. Holidays are a wonderful opportunity to create amazing memories for your family and others. I hope this helps you and your children enjoy this special time of year. Please share some of your own strategies that have helped your holidays be happy in the comment section. I look forward to learning from you!

More to come……

 

 

A Happy Discovery

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Thanks for watching my video post about:

100 Things That Make Me HAPPY

Did you know libraries have many fun activities for children, whether it is a story time, a puppet show, or a visit from the “Whale Mobile”? Don’t be shy! Check out your town and surrounding town library websites to learn more. It is a great place to meet new friends and of course, find great books!

Have a happy day!

 

Kindness For You, Not Excuses

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Everywhere there are acts of kindness taking place. Our local channel for children has a kindest kid contest, teachers have kindness walls, counselors are telling of kindness as the key to successful relationships, I want to bring your attention to one of the most important ways to be kind that you might be missing.

I’m sure you are kind to your children or children you care for, I’m sure you are kind to your husband, wife, extended family, friends, colleagues, church groups, sales clerks, and I could go on. My question is, are you kind to yourself?

You are a very important person in your life, you are your first best friend, have you appreciated yourself lately? Are you chuckling to yourself right now reading this? I hope it is because you know I am right! It is called self-compassion. Be sure to take time to nurture yourself, create your happiness (of course, I had to say that), take a break, smell the roses, and appreciate yourself. We tend to be our own worse critics. We will judge ourselves where we wouldn’t judge or criticize another.  This is a current area of research because so many of us have difficulty with this. However you treat and see yourself, others will too.

This is especially important if you do have children. Your children will learn about self-compassion by the example that you set.  I discovered inspiring books for my children by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer which help them to understand self compassion, self-awareness and  improve their self-confidence. Dr. Dyer wrote “Incredible You” and “Unstoppable Me”, among others.  These, like many children’s books, are wonderful to read over and over throughout your children’s childhood. Because my children liked  these books, I looked for another. I then found, “No Excuses!”

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“No Excuses!” is a story of a young boy who loved sea turtles and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. My oldest son and I refer to this book often as a reminder to stay focused on our goals.  The first time I read this with my son, I learned a lesson myself!

Dr. Dyer writes this story to increase children’s understanding of what excuses are, where they come from and not to let excuses stand in the way of their dreams.  I had never really thought about my own excuses in the way he described.  At the end of this book I noticed that Dr. Dyer had written a more in-depth book for adults titled “EXCUSES BEGONE!”  How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. Got it, read it, and I would recommend it, if you find yourself holding back because of excuses. This was where I first realized how strong our mindsets are but, how possible it is to change them. When I asked my children to believe in themselves that they can do anything with effort, a good support team, and positive thinking….why was I not telling myself the same?

I hope YOU know that with effort, a good support team, and positive thinking  you can do anything! Are you telling yourself the same? Remember to be kind to yourself and don’t let your excuses stand in the way of reaching your goals, big or small. 🙂