What a Gem

Thoughts to Contemplate by Dr. Luann Robinson Hull


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It was a Soulful Weekend…

yoga

Thanks to all who participated in the Immersion weekend offered by Jess Jacobsen and me last weekend in Carbondale, Colorado. We did some inner exploration around our soul’s purpose and how to unlock our limitless potential, and it was exhilarating!  The mixture of lecture and practice turned out to be a winning combination that resonated with our lovely gathering of beautiful souls!

For those of you who couldn’t be there, we spent time together reviewing some of our “inner workings,” looking at why and how we get triggered, which hijacks or log-jams our peace and creative potential.  As neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux points out,

“human consciousness is the way it is because of the way our brains operate…emotions evolved not as conscious feelings, linguistically differentiated or otherwise, but as brain states and bodily responses….(and so)… Where is evolution taking our brain?”

Deutsch: Phrenologie

Deutsch: Phrenologie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As it stands now, we are not very effective at turning off our emotional states once they are triggered. The good news is that it has been proven that through the strengthening of cortical connections to certain areas of our brains, we can begin to condition ourselves to start to step back and take a breath away from our emotional states, reducing the amount of charge these emotions can cause.

That’s great, Luann. But… huh? How do we strengthen those connections in our brains?

We do this by practicing mental focus (another proven fact). There are a plethora of ways that we can engage in these practices, including meditation, yoga, conscious walking, and more.

If you are inclined, please take some time this week to explore how your days are unfolding. Are you taking some time for yourself…I mean just for you?  Do you have a regular time set aside to renew and recharge? Have you considered or are you engaged in a daily meditation practice? Are you exploring your life purpose…and taking some moments to reflect on what you want…how you can serve? Just checkin…

Let’s hold hands and stick together. Believing in you!

Love,

Luann


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Broadening Our Outlook

Changes

Changes (Photo credit: prayerfriends)

It seems like there is some pretty significant turmoil in the world–people having trouble getting along–from the personal to the global level. Women want one thing in a relationship–men want another. The Republicans have a position–and so do the Democrats. As humans, we just plain struggle to get past our own stubborn stand on things–our feelings of righteous indignation. Why is it so hard for us to move into states of compassion and empathy for the other guy/gal? Why does our positionality laced with its fears and insecurities, so often have a stronger voice than a compassionate, loving heart?

I am no newcomer to the planet and I have been studying human behavior for over twenty-five years. I gotta tell ya, people. I am pretty frustrated. Why aren’t we making more progress? When I take off my rose colored glasses and really look at the state of humanity, I definitely see the deep threads of evil sprinkled everywhere. None of us is immune from it-both from exhibiting it ourselves and also being the unhappy recipients. We are all capable of demonstrating the most heinous deeds of hatred just the same as we can choose to offer acts of compassion from an open, magnanimous, and loving heart.  The following quote from Carl Gustov Jung, the famous Swiss Psychiatrist, who introduced spirituality and consciousness to western psychology states:

“All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble…They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This outgrowing proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the (persons) horizon, and through this broadening of his or her outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge.”Carl Jung

Do we really want to continue letting the challenges of life, the triggers that dig into the ditches of our heads, get the best of us? Or do we want to transcend the tendency to be driven by these unconscious patterns? I believe we each have the ability to reboot our brains and change the age-old propensity to react from fear and “urgency.” And it takes self love, courage and commitment to make those changes.

Please join Jessica Jacobson, ABT, and me this coming November 9-10 in examining the possibilities for emphasizing that “stronger life urge” in an immersion in Carbondale, CO. We will enjoy this time well-spent… together.  Jessica and I will apply our combined wisdom to support you as you strengthen your emotional intelligence and expand fully into “a new level of consciousness.” And this is where the seemingly “insoluble problems” of life will fade and eventually disappear. Show yourself how valuable you are. Treat yourself to this and join us!

Believing in you and us!

Love,

Luann


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Taking the Road Less Traveled by

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference” — Robert Frost

AspenFallIt is getting to be late in the season and the gondola that I use for transport down the mountain after a hike will soon be shutting down, so, I decided to go on another hike this morning.

Today, I decided to take the “road less traveled by” so I could discuss the topic of resistance first-hand with you.  Since our discussion last time was on courage, I thought it might be appropriate to explore the subject of resistance or avoiding the inclination to give into fear and taking the path of least resistance.

There are several ways to go up the steep incline (Aspen Mountain) which continues to be my training ground on so many levels—physically, spiritually, emotionally.  And the route I chose today, being the steepest, is no exception.  When I arrived at the crossroads (which I have filmed in the video below), I saw that the path up Copper (going left, or the steeper choice) was almost completely overgrown with weeds and prickly, thorny bushes. I really had to re-think my choice. There were hidden potholes, thorns, and other unpleasantries, which would have to be negotiated if I persisted. I was literally going to have to blaze my own trail. And yet, I had made a commitment to you (even though you didn’t know it) that I was going this way. How else was I going to make my point?

Entropy: The Human Enemy—“…the force that holds us back from spiritual evolution”—Scott Peck

In his legendary book, The Road Less Traveled, the late Scott Peck discusses the subject of entropy (laziness) which he says is “…the only impediment to spiritual growth.”  He goes on to offer that our failure to conduct a “true internal debate,” on which path to take (in any given scenario) and becoming skilled at identifying the Wise Internal Voice (God)—is the true human challenge/dilemma. “Generally,” says Peck, “if we do seriously listen we will most always find ourselves taking the more difficult path—the path of more effort.”

 

If you are unable to see the video box above, click this link: http://youtu.be/8wh97xudvrE

This week, I’d like you to notice what you are resisting. Have an internal debate or inquiry on what is really going on. And, incidentally, have you considered starting or deepening your meditation practice? Research continues to show that with meditative techniques, you will strengthen the parts of your heart-brain connection that will support you in considering the “road less traveled.” Here is an interesting link to contemplate on the subject: http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2013/Anxious_Activate_Your_Anterior_Cingulate_Cortex_With_a_Little_Meditation.htm 

In order to prepare ourselves… to even be willing to go on that less traveled road, we have got to calm down, people!

We are a stressed out, highly strung, over-functioning culture. So… let’s find some ways to chill!

Believing in you/us!

Love!

Luann

Image Credit: Lisa Jey Davis (c) 2005


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Courage! A Labor of Love

In my last message, Taking Back Our Emotional Wellbeing, I talked about proven ways to interrupt the brain’s conditioned mechanism to “emotionally hi-jack” us, when we get triggered–a coping mechanism which has actually been dialed into our programming to keep us alive throughout our evolutionary development.

As we continue to learn, some of our conditioned fears and the responses caused by these are no longer useful—at least when they cause more harm than good—like running around your back hand in tennis—or, consider this: Suppose you have had a life-long fear of heights for whatever reason (like me). And, for the last 11 years, you have been living in an alpine town, filled with hiking trails, cliffs, ski-mountains, and a multitude of exceedingly high places. What are your choices? You could most definitely avoid direct contact and just enjoy viewing the scenery—certainly a valid and understandable choice. Or, you could make a decision to use the proximity of these mountains as an opportunity to break through some of your fears.

What I have found is that the more I am willing to approach something that scares me (within reason–I mean–no need to test out the theory on a bear or mountain lion)—the more I am able to release the grip of fear’s hold on me. Hiking in the mountains of Colorado has definitely changed me on many levels—no doubt about it. When I came here over a decade ago, I was terrified to go up even the most benign of trails. Nine years in, my son took me on an amazing adventure—the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, where I was the first in our group to summit a peak of 13,900 feet (maybe not a big deal for macho hiker dudes/dudettes, but for me, a true accomplishment!). As far as I am concerned, the going up isn’t really scary anymore—it’s the coming down that I still dread (there is more work to do on that one). And though I continue to be uncomfortable on the south-bound journey (even on a pair of skis) the level of fear I experience now has significantly diminished.

I am certain that having the courage to overcome some of my fears on the mountains of Colorado has transferred to other areas of my life.

I believe that each time you “walk yourself through a fear” you are strengthening (even training) that “courage” pathway in the brain, which will eventually provide you with a more balanced choice when you are triggered (this process is called neuroplasticty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity).

The “happily team” wants to support you in having more peace, more fulfillment, more freedom, and just generally more happiness in your life.  We want to help you upgrade into your most full and optimal potential—right now! And so here’s the rest of this week’s message filmed in my little vlog on “walking down the mountain” (maybe you will be able to sense the fear in the beginning and the victory at the end—stronger “courage” pathway in progress here!).

 

YEA!

Let’s celebrate courage—a personal labor of love…

Believing in us!

Luann


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Taking Back Our Emotional Well Being

Last week we continued our discussion on “the power of emotions over happiness” and shared insights from cutting edge scientists, who are merging science and spirituality. Today I’d like to discuss how our conditioning influences our emotions and provide a simple technique on how to begin to make permanent changes in patterns of behavior that cause challenge.

Among those participating in breakthrough studies on the brain (merging science and spirituality), is Dr. Richard Davidson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. “Dr. Davidson has unearthed some significant findings regarding how the emotion of happiness can be tracked in the brain. Davidson collaborated with His Holiness the Dalia Lama to study monks, who are experienced practitioners in meditation, having meditated ten thousand hours or more. These monks live in states of peace, compassion, gratitude, happiness, and well being…”(Excerpt from Happily Ever After…Right Now, pp.xxx, Prologue).

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 11.28.19 AM

Andrew Newberg, author of How God Changes the Brain, mentioned in last week’s post, states that, (  “…Focused attention (meditation, focused breathing, yoga, etc.) begins to build new neuronal circuits (brain patterns)…repeating a task, such as meditation or prayer, changes the synaptic activity at the end of a neuron and will eventually change the structure of the cell (forming new patterns). Such changes affect the way information is relayed to other parts of the brain.—pp. 33, How God Changes the Brain. Recall what Joseph LeDoux’s finding suggested: The struggle between thought and emotion might be resolved by a “more harmonious integration of reason (cortex) and passion (fight/flight/amygdala), and focused attention (meditation) seems to be a supporting link.

Perhaps you meditate regularly. If so, we would welcome your ideas and suggestions of what has worked for you. If you have never meditated and are interested in getting started, I encourage you to begin to practice it (simple steps below) and take note of any subtle changes that might occur in your level of stress or anxiety.  If you do, please keep us posted!

 

Suggested meditation practice for beginners this week:

Time commitment: 5-7 minutes daily (preferably upon awakening, though this can be done anywhere—even in the subway on the way to work)

Exercise:  The Breath and Focused Attention

Sit in a comfortable position. Focus on the “in” breath and the “out” breath. You could repeat the words “in” and “out” as you notice your breathing. Try not to change your normal breathing pattern.Your mind will wander. Come back to the breath. Practice this technique for five to seven minutes and try not to judge how well you believe you are doing. Meditation practice has been shown to have a cumulative effect. Just the fact that you are sitting there, committed to doing this is progress!

Next week we will continue the series with more information and meditation practice ideas. The goal: To change the chemistry of our brain, change the patterns that have allowed our reptilian brain to rule our emotions (and allowed the “fight or flight” mechanism to dominate), and to finally reach a higher (or more expanded) level of consciousness.

We can do this!

Love,

Luann

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Be sure to share this post with someone you love.

REPLY TO THIS POSTOther readers would love to hear your thoughts on this! Please post a comment or leave a reply here.

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SUMMER READING SPECIAL

dsc03294.jpg

These posts may be a blessing to you, but they do not compare to receiving the message in context and in its entirety in the book!

You can find the book “Happily Ever After Right Now. Stop Searching! Start Celebrating!” hereAND for a few weeks only “Happily Ever After Right Now” will be available on Kindle at the very special, affordable price of $2.99. If you don’t own a Kindle, you can get Kindle for Mac, or PC for FREE and pick up your copy for only $2.99!

ALREADY FINISHED READING MY BOOK? PLEASE WRITE A REVIEW FOR ME!

Already finished reading “Happily Ever After Right Now?” I’d like to ask a very special favor. If you found the book to be informative and helpful in your journey, would you be so kind as to post a review of the book? Here is a link to my Amazon page for you to do so:  http://www.amazon.com/Luann-Robinson-Hull/e/B00AQIQ3B6/, and here is the GoodReads page for the book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11522606-happily-ever-after-right-now.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

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Join Me on the Huffington Post!

I’m thrilled to be published on the Huffington Post! I would love for you to take a look at my author page, and if you’re inclined, it would be wonderful if you would click the Facebook “like” for my articles. Click here to go to my author page. Thanks so much!

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SUBSCRIBE TO THESE GEMS  via email by clicking HERE (you may unsubscribe at any time, and we never spam).

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Contact me by visiting my websites: Luann Robinson Hull and Happily Ever After Right Now

GRATITUDE:

I want to extend a very special thanks and gratitude to Cindy and all of those on my wonderful “Happily” team who make these posts (as well as the emails and social media) possible, and make them come together in a beautiful way!  Without their dedication and help, I wouldn’t be here “blogging” or sharing information with you electronically!  I would still be writing on my yellow tablets!

Image Credit: http://www.lisajeydavis.com copyright (c) 2005


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Balancing Your Emotions

Balancing_Yoga

Last week we talked about the “power of emotions over happiness,” and posed the question, “How can you interrupt the tendency for the “emotional hi-jacking phenomenon” to play out in your world?”

Here are some insights from Joseph LeDoux, Professor of Science in the Center for Neural Sciences at New York University. “…we are evolution in progress… As things now stand, the amygdala (which governs your fight or flight response to perceived or imagined fear  http://bigthink.com/videos/the-amygdala-in-5-minutes) has a greater influence on the cortex (reasoning centers of the brain) than the cortex has on the amygdala, allowing emotional arousal (fight or flight) to dominate and control thinking. Throughout the mammals, pathways from the amygdala to the cortex overshadow the pathways from the cortex to the amygdala. Although thoughts can easily trigger emotions (by activating the amygdala), we are not very effective at willfully turning off emotions (by deactivating the amygdala). Telling yourself that you should not be anxious or depressed does not help much.”

LeDoux goes on to say that, “The increased connectivity between the amygdala and the cortex involves fibers going from the cortex to the amygdala as well as from the amygdala to the cortex. If these nerve pathways strike a balance, it is possible that the struggle between thought and emotion may ultimately be resolved, not by the dominance of emotional centers by cortical cognitions, but by a more harmonious integration of reason and passion. With increased connectivity between the cortex and amygdala, cognition and emotion might begin to work together rather than separately.”—Joseph LeDoux, The Emotional Brain, pp.303)

And so how do we participate in creating such a “balance?” Andrew Newberg, Professor of Psychiatry and Director for the Center for Integrated Study of Spirituality and the Neurosciences at The University of Pennsylvania says, “…the anterior cingulate, which processes social awareness, intuition, and empathy, contains a unique neuron that only humans and a few primates have. These neurons have only been around for about fifteen million years whereas the amygdala has been happily generating neurons for 450 million years. Spiritual practices strengthen the anterior cingulate, and when this happens, activity in the amygdala slows down….When you intensely and consistently focus on your spiritual values and goals, you increase the blood flow to your frontal lobes and anterior cingulate, which causes the activity in emotional centers of the brain to decrease. Conscious attention is the key…”—Andrew Newberg, M.D. How God Changes the Brain, pp.17 and 20.

DRole of Amygdala

Let’s make a concerted effort this week to slow down what can be an overpowering effect of the emotions and the fight or flight mechanism of the brain.

How can we do that? Take a few moments each day to simply quiet your thoughts. Clear your head and breathe. Remind yourself that you are worth the time and attention it will take for you to refresh/reset your brain to support you in better coping with your busy world. Stay tuned for next week’s post with practices and techniques.

Believing in you!

Love,

Luann

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Be sure to share this post with someone you love.

REPLY TO THIS POSTOther readers would love to hear your thoughts on this! Please post a comment or leave a reply here.

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THIS FRIDAY EVENING

in the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen, Basalt, Snowmass, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Colorado):

Proof-Of-Heaven-Dr.-Eben-Alexander-Near-Death

I am pleased to co-sponsor this exciting evening!

Please join us for An evening with Dr. Eben Alexander, author of “Proof of Heaven – A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife”

FRIDAY, August 9 at 7PM – Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, CO.

PurchaseTickets: http://www.davinikent.org (Featured Events)

See full Event Flyer here (http://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/554935_490403207712292_475076117_n.png).

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SUMMER READING SPECIAL

dsc03294.jpg

These posts may be a blessing to you, but they do not compare to receiving the message in context and in its entirety in the book!

You can find the book “Happily Ever After Right Now. Stop Searching! Start Celebrating!” here. AND for a few weeks only “Happily Ever After Right Now” will be available on Kindle at the very special, affordable price of $2.99. If you don’t own a Kindle, you can get Kindle for Mac, or PC and pick up your copy for only $2.99!

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PLEASE WRITE A REVIEW

Already finished reading “Happily Ever After Right Now?” I’d like to ask a very special favor. If you found the book to be informative and helpful in your journey,would you be so kind as to post a review of the book? Here is a link to my Amazon page for you to do so:  http://www.amazon.com/Luann-Robinson-Hull/e/B00AQIQ3B6/, and here is the GoodReads page for the book:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11522606-happily-ever-after-right-now.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

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Join Me on the Huffington Post!

I’m thrilled to be published on the Huffington Post! I would love for you to take a look at my author page, and if you’re inclined, it would be wonderful if you would click the Facebook “like” for my articles. Click here to go to my author page. Thanks so much!

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SUBSCRIBE TO THESE GEMS  via email by clicking HERE (you may unsubscribe at any time, and we never spam).

FOLLOW ME:

    FB Like        

Twitter     FB        Videos    Google +

Happily Ever After is now on Google Plus! Please add us!

Contact me by visiting my websites: Luann Robinson Hull and Happily Ever After Right Now

GRATITUDE:

I want to extend a very special thanks and gratitude to Cindy and all of those on my wonderful “Happily” team who make these posts (as well as the emails and social media) possible, and make them come together in a beautiful way!  Without their dedication and help, I wouldn’t be here “blogging” or sharing information with you electronically!  I would still be writing on my yellow tablets!

Image Credits: yoga image used by permission from the book “Ahhhhhh…Haaaaaa Moments with Ms. Cheevious”  diagram pulled from article here: http://www.positivehealth.com/article/cfs-me/me-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-causes-and-the-amygdala-retraining-recovery-programme


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The Power of Emotions Over Happiness

20130708_600

The July 15, 2013 issue of Time Magazine introduced a series of articles on “happiness,” and emphasized a point, which I made in my recent Huffington Post article (excerpt below) : “Being distracted (by emotional charges, thoughts, etc.) blunts responses in the brain (Time,  pp. 30).” That’s a pretty radical statement! Your thoughts and emotional charges will blunt responses in the brain? Yes, they will.

“Here is a key point that I have learned from devoting much of my professional life to studying the effects of human emotions. The raw, impulsive ones, like fear, excessive worry, and anger will absolutely hi-jack happiness and well being—every single time. And, once these emotions take hold, they can have a fierce grip. So, if we are going to make any progress toward maintaining peace of mind (the foundation for inner joy), we have to be aware of the triggers for “negative emotions.” Once they register in the primal part of your brain, which is where they originate, they will relentlessly travel the highways in your head with a single focus—to snuff out all of the good stuff. Why? Because that is what they have been “wired” to do. Will they be successful? Yes (until you learn to interrupt them), since they have been conditioned to respond this way for a zillion years.  You and I in our current level of evolution are still programmed to react to their messages. We have inherited this phenomenon from our ancestors, who needed to stay alert in order to keep from getting killed (and “alert” did not allow for peace, balance, and joy).

If you don’t believe me (that you are inclined to operate like the clan- of-the- cave-bear-tribe), do a little experiment. I suspect that one of the easiest places to practice is in your car. Any scenario will do, but let’s pick one. You have sat patiently (you think) awaiting a coveted parking space while High Maintenance Molly puts on her lipstick, and checks her iPhone. Finally, she exits the scene. Out of flipping nowhere, Mr. Big Bad Boy suddenly swerves into “your” place in his ridiculously gigantic, SUV, replete with deafening rap music. He then brings his unnecessarily large gas sucking vehicle to a screeching halt (right in front of your blazing eyeballs) and saunters away with a surly swagger never once acknowledging you and your pain. Now then, whether or not you blow your horn and call him a f+#%ing a*&%$#e is not the point. What does matter is that more than likely your red-hot-blood has reached the boiling point. Where is your compassion? Where is your heart? Maybe his need for the space is more urgent than yours—like his throat is closing after eating peanuts or something.  If I am correct in my speculation, you are probably not going to give him the benefit of the doubt here. And if that is the case your heart just got overruled by your emotional brain. There is no reasoning with this region, once it gets its hold on you.”

How can you interrupt the tendency for the “emotional hi-jacking phenomenon” to play out in your world? Mental focus (meditation, yoga, a brain break, etc.). More on this next week.  Stay tuned!

Believing in you!

Love,

Luann

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PS) I’d like to ask a very special favor of those of you who’ve read my book “Happily Ever After Right Now.” If you found the book to be informative and helpful in your journey, would you be so kind as to post a review of the book? Here is a link to my Amazon page for you to do so:  http://www.amazon.com/Luann-Robinson-Hull/e/B00AQIQ3B6/, and here is the GoodReads page for the book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11522606-happily-ever-after-right-now.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Be sure to share this post with someone you love.

REPLY TO THIS POSTOther readers would love to hear your thoughts on this! Please post a comment or leave a reply here.

————–

SUMMER READING SPECIAL

dsc03294.jpg

For a few weeks only “Happily Ever After Right Now” will be available on Kindle at the very special, affordable price of $2.99. If you don’t own a Kindle, you can get Kindle for Mac, or PC and pick up your copy for only $2.99!

————–

Join Me on the Huffington Post!

I’m thrilled to be published on the Huffington Post! I would love for you to take a look at my author page, and if you’re inclined, it would be wonderful if you would click the Facebook “like” for my articles. Click here to go to my author page. Thanks so much!

————–

These posts may be a blessing to you, but they do not compare to receiving the message in context and in its entirety in the book!

You can find the book “Happily Ever After Right Now. Stop Searching! Start Celebrating!” here.

SUBSCRIBE TO THESE GEMS  via email by clicking HERE (you may unsubscribe at any time, and we never spam).

FOLLOW ME:

    FB Like        

Twitter     FB        Videos    Google +

Happily Ever After is now on Google Plus! Please add us!

Contact me by visiting my websites: Luann Robinson Hull and Happily Ever After Right Now

GRATITUDE:

I want to extend a very special thanks and gratitude to Cindy and all of those on my wonderful “Happily” team who make these posts (as well as the emails and social media) possible, and make them come together in a beautiful way!  Without their dedication and help, I wouldn’t be here “blogging” or sharing information with you electronically!  I would still be writing on my yellow tablets!

Image Credits: Happiness – http://www.scoop.it/t/well-being

Time Cover – http://www.time.com/time/covers/pacific/0,16641,20130708,00.html