Since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to help people. As I grew older, I wanted to help people all around the world. For someone born in a trailer park in small town USA, this desire seemed a little strange. What did I know about the world? But language, culture, history, and political systems fascinated me, and it became my life mission to learn more about this big world I found myself a part of.
And I did it… against all the odds, I was told. No one knew what to do with a sixteen-year-old girl who said she wanted to negotiate peace between warring factions and create better living and working conditions for people around the world. With a lot of divine support, I found the road less traveled, and it opened up everything to me. I became a Rhodes scholar state finalist. I became the only American chosen for a full graduate scholarship in Notre Dame University’s prestigious peace program in 1998, which had been endowed by visionary philanthropist, Joan B. Kroc. From there, I was given the honor of being the first fellow with a non-governmental organization working on free and fair elections.
Soon I was working for the greatest humanitarian and development organizations operating around the world. My training might have been in peace, but I soon discovered it was equally important to mitigate and stop conflict. I worked in the Middle East exclusively after 9/11 and then globally on some of the biggest conflict-affected areas out there: Lebanon, Colombia, West Bank/Gaza, Pakistan, and Congo. On a daily basis, I faced ethnic and religious hatred and social and political inequalities and their impacts on people’s lives.
After working for almost fifteen years on these issues, I was mired in the weeds of genocide, poverty, and intractable conflict. I didn’t feel like I was making much of a difference anymore, and it broke my heart to see what people were enduring while politics and greed seemed to rule the day.
On a singular night in Sierra Leone, I realized I needed to write a new story for my life. I’d written stories since I was a young girl, and the act had always made me happy. I realized I wanted to be happy. And so I began writing that first book.
A few years later, everything seemed to be leading to becoming a published author and letting go of my old career. And I did so in 2013, walking away from a successful six-figure career working around the world. People called it the bravest (and craziest) thing they’d ever seen.
But I knew it was the right thing.
I wasn’t wrong.
Now I’m reaching people around the world through my stories, spreading messages of love, community, and yes, peace. I remember the first time I learned I had readers in Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and Lebanon… you get the picture.
You see, I’ve been a global awakener for a long time, since I cared about people around the world and wanted to connect with them.
We awaken the globe by being ourselves and realizing everyone is human—just like us. We all want love. We all hurt when we experience loss and suffering. And we all laugh when there is something to celebrate.
We’re all global awakeners when we want the best for humanity regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, class, etc.
I’m happy to declare I’m a global awakener.
Once in a while, a special book reaches into our heart and touches our soul. When Ava writes, it’s the same way. Discover the book that touched her so profoundly—one she’s most happy and grateful to share with the world right now.
Since coming out as a healer in addition to being a writer and staring to integrate the Happiness Corner blog feel into more of my social media, I’m going to be posting things on Facebook that I post here as well. So if you follow me you might see it both places. Hope that’s okay. 🙂 I don’t have an easy solution to that right now, but I’m working on it.
Here’s what was on my heart today…
Can we talk about this for a minute? It seems like a simple question, but until a beautiful friend asked me this a few years ago, I don’t think anyone had ever asked me before what I needed.
All I had as a reference was “is that a want or a need?” And usually that was a shame tool someone said to me to shut me down from reaching for what I wanted—usually because we couldn’t afford it.
Yesterday, I ran into a new friend here in a parking lot, and we had this discussion. I’ve been introducing this question to other people in my life since it had been taught to me.
But lately, I’ve realized I’ve been forgetting to ask it of the person who needs it the most: ME.
I’ve gotten so busy and wrapped up with the people I love and their needs, I’ve been putting off the question for me.
Why am I doing this again? Am I still really afraid someone will withdraw their love if I don’t support them?
Being someone who’s especially sensitive to people’s needs makes this especially hard for me. You know that phrase: I feel your pain. Well, with me as a healer that’s literally true frequently. I want to help them. It’s my natural tendency.
But what this new friend and I were able to help each other remember yesterday is that supporting other people at the expense of ourselves isn’t the right thing to do. It’s not our responsibility. We need to speak up more for our own needs and ask ourselves this question more. And we need to expect that the people who love us will give us what we need as well so there’s balance.
I’ve realized true happiness comes from giving myself what I need in the moment.
I haven’t been as happy because I’m not doing that. I’ve been juggling the other stuff and supporting other people too much at the expense of me.
Mostly after a lot of reflection, I realized I need to trust that the people I love are supported by someone and something other than me. Including themselves. And that they won’t take advantage of me and will support me back somehow.
But mostly I want to believe we can all live happily ever after, giving ourselves what we need moment by moment.
This note in the picture is now on my bathroom wall so I can ask myself this every day.
What do you need?
Join me in asking.
Woman’s World Magazine selected The Promise of Rainbows as a Spring Book Club pick!
After I revealed to all of you that I’d suffered from PTSD like Jake in The Promise of Rainbows, I was contacted for an interview to talk about my experience. This was a little scary because…it’s a vulnerable topic for me. But it’s also about me talking about me. Still a little hard for me. The other part knows it’s important to share me being me with all of you, who I am and what I’ve gone through. I also hope it somehow encourages you to share the vulnerable parts of you and know they’re okay.
So here’s another one of mine.
I’ve lost track of the number of you who have written me to say how you’ve felt healed in some way after reading one of my books. Some of you have said you suffer from chronic pain even and bring my books to bed with you when you’re having a tough time because they make you feel better. A rarer few have said you hadn’t been able to read a book due to vision problems or “blocks” from whatever was going on in your life, but you picked up mine and read it and it changed something in you.
The reason many of you have felt this is simple: I’m a healer.
It’s one of those gifts I was given—like someone knowing how to instinctively play the piano.
You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about, so let me go a little deeper here. A lot of people say I’m not a typical “romance” writer and that my stories aren’t the norm. They’re right. I write about healing messages and people being healed because they represent all of us somehow. You might not connect with every journey of one of the characters, but as you’re reading, you’re learning about you too. So am I. The healing is in the words. The healing is in me. The healing is from love.
Now are you wondering if I’m plumb lost my mind—as Rhett Butler Blaylock would say. Funny how I now have to bring up one of my favorite Disney movies, Tangled. You have no idea how much I resonate with that movie. Like when Rapunzel tells Flynn about her magical hair and asks him not to freak out? 🙂 I’m hoping the same here with you. The thing is, the healing isn’t in her hair. That’s why she can heal Flynn at the end of the movie after her hair has been cut off. It’s not in her tears. It’s in her.
Okay, now you’re really thinking this is weird. That’s okay, I’ve had my moments too. But stay with me…
For a long time, I’ve had moments of awakening to all of this. Illness has been a powerful catalyst in my life because when you’re sick, you really want to be healed. You’re also so sick that you don’t have the energy to resist like you would normally—and that’s when miracles happened. They happened to me.
I’ve always known things. I used to call them hunches or say I had a good gut. But then I got sick and started to dream about things that came true. Even more freaky, I could sense things when I was awake—and not sick.
And so it all continued…
When I worked as a hospice volunteer, I was the person the nurses asked to sit with an agitated patient because my presence soothed them. I sat beside people who were in their final hours alone. I was told I had a gift.
Honestly, I was just trying to be a “normal” girl with a nine-to-five job who just wanted to help others, but the Universe or fate or whatever you want to call it had bigger plans.
Some people call it an awakening, but mine continued to happen. Mostly, it happened with family first—a safe space. On one Thanksgiving nearly five years ago, my sister was experiencing chronic back pain and suddenly I could feel it in my body. I somehow knew the root cause of it and how to shift it. I thought it was a one-time thing after we both stopped freaking out, but then another sister got sick a couple of days later, and I was able to do it again. Of course, this blew all my notions of reality. I can’t begin to describe how much.
I was connected to the divine or whatever you want to call it in a way I’d yet to experience in this life, and it was the most beautiful space I’d ever experienced. Kind of like what people describe when they die and come back. Except I wasn’t dying. I was connecting to something bigger—whatever you want to call it—and it was helping people.
It pretty much changed everything.
I couldn’t hide my gifts anymore or what was happening to me. My gifts were supposed to be shared. And so, for a time, I shared them one-on-one with people connected to my friends and family.
All of you know about my best friend who died of cancer this past summer. What you don’t know is that I helped her too, but healing isn’t “curing.” And since I’m not really the source of the healing anyway, it’s not something I can control. My friend passing away really taught me that, and it hurt, losing her. I wasn’t able to “cure” her, but I helped her with my gifts, and in the end, that was all I was asked to do.
So…if you’re still reading this, let me say thank you. If you’re still not sure what it all means, that’s okay. Sometimes I don’t know where it’s all going. But I do know this: I’m supposed to be me and that means sharing all of me with you.
From Day 1 when I launched myself as an author nearly three years ago, I’ve been writing about happiness on and off. That blog was me being me beyond the books. That was me sharing what I was learning about living a life filled with love and joy. When I’m blocked being happy, it’s something unhealed in me. And that’s also what I’ve written about.
Now it’s time for the blog, Facebook, and the books to all merge. And so I’m revealing this other facet of me publicly because I’m more than just a writer. Everything that makes me up deserves to be seen and shared—just like everything in you deserves it too. We all need to stop hiding beautiful parts of ourselves out of fear of disapproval.
One of my greatest joys is to inspire you from my experience but also to show I’m just as human as you are. I have my story, and you have yours. We’re all special and sacred. We all matter. And there’s no shame in being us.
Some of you may be wondering if I can be your healer, and I can honestly tell you I’m not doing the one-on-one anymore. I’m not supposed to. A dear friend said a while back it was time to reach more people, and he was right. The healing in my books reaches the right people and does what it’s supposed to. I only write them. I let the Divine do the rest.
Are they still just books? Yes. I’m not espousing more here. Some of you feel more connected to them than others. Some of you are affected more than others. Some of don’t feel a thing. Whatever you feel is whatever you feel.
At the end of the day, I just wanted you to know what a lot of you were sensing. It doesn’t change who I am. I’m still me. It just gives it a frame, like telling you there are hazelnuts in the particular cake you like. Of course, I would use a food reference, right? 🙂
I still believe one-on-one healing is a beautiful gift to give yourself. I’m happy to share a few people who do it professionally that I believe have the gift for those of you interested. I know some of you may want that, which is why I brought it up. Since we’re all a family, I don’t want to leave you hanging. But again, it’s all your choice.
I’m happy I’ve shared this with all of you, but to be honest, there’s still that human part of me that’s a little scared of how you’re going to react. But that’s okay too.
Thanks for listening and being part of this wonderful family, but mostly, thank you for celebrating me being me like I celebrate you being you.
Lots of light always,
PS: If you have any questions you want to ask me about all this, I’m going to answer them Live on Facebook May 11 at 7 pm EST. Just send your questions into email@example.com with your name and where you’re from so I can give you a shout out to our larger Dare family. I may not be able to answer every question, but I’ll do my best.
PPS: The list to other professional healers and resources is on my website under Extras.
You might have noticed I’ve been oddly silent lately. Being honest, I didn’t feel like I had much to say about happiness. I still read my Happiness Manifesto often, and I choose love and joy every day, but there have been more moments of the other junk lately: doubts, sadness, worry. Not just for all the changes in my life and those to be faced ahead, but for those people near and dear to me.
Happiness is a choice. I know that. And most days, I get up, and I choose it. In fact, I sometimes have to change my perspective on something driving me crazy (like going to the DMV for the second time after being turned away at first in my new state on a technicality in paperwork) or making me sad (like hearing news about a dear one’s troubles).
I’ve promised myself I won’t be Pollyanna about happiness. I’ll feel what I need to feel. One of my oldest friends recently told me I’m going through one of those seasons. She’s right, but frankly, I’m tired of it. I want to feel like I have a million hot air balloons and rainbows inside me every day.
What I’ve realized lately is that I can feel the other stuff and know it’s not going to stay. It isn’t me or the sum total of me. I am whole and complete as I am: fearful, joyous, or sad. Maybe the junk will pass in an hour or a day. But it won’t stay. I won’t let it.
Sure my choice to stay in my happiness has often felt like trudging uphill in a blizzard, but trudge I do, trying to believe easier roads are opening up as I walk. Because there’s no going backward. Only forward. Despite the doubts that plague me sometimes or the sharp sadness for others I love that breaks my heart.
How do we live in the world with compassion when people are hurting? When we’re hurting? One moment at a time has become my answer.
Wishing you easy roads and happy moments.
Nora Roberts Land, the first book in Ava’s bestselling Dare Valley Series, was recommended by Bookbub in their “18 Books to Read Instead of Watching the Super Bowl” feature on February 4, 2016.
Ava’s #1 Bestseller, Nora Roberts Land, was featured in the February 15, 2016 issue of Woman’s World Magazine!…
I was joking with a friend last night about the song, “Auld Lang Sange,” which is sung frequently around the turn of the year. One phrase from Robert Burns’ esteemed poem stood out to me:
“Should old acquaintance be forgot…”
I’ve never really listened to the song’s lyrics. Perhaps it’s the old English that prevented me earlier. But I got to thinking about it, and yes, I think old acquaintances should be forgotten. As I’ve gotten older, I more clearly draw the line. I delete people from my contact list that I haven’t spoken with in six months. To me that’s long enough to know if we’re meant to have a meaningful relationship.
The new year is always a time of reflection for me. Some days ago, I began the process with a list of all the things I was grateful for. The list topped out at three pages front and back. Hurray! Then I moved on to all of the things I didn’t want to bring forward, things like self-doubt, fear of the future, limiting beliefs, grudges, etc. You know what I’m talking about. Lastly, I picked up a fresh piece of white paper and began listing all of the things I wanted to have the Universe bring me this year with the caveat I now include with everything: “this or something even better.” I carry things over from year to year, sure, but I keep believing in them, keep sprinkling fairy dust on them, waiting for them to manifest. This year after meditating, I realized I needed to dream even bigger. And to open my arms to receive all the goodness in store for me.
On the eve of the new year, I bring out all my lists and give them one last gander. To the old, I say goodbye. To the new, I seal all my hopes and dreams in a crisp new envelope. I open my envelope from the past year, examine what I’ve manifested, and then let go of that too. With the new envelope in hand, I lay it in a sacred space in my meditation room. Every once in a while, I take out the letter and bless the intentions, giving thanks for those which have already appeared.
This year, I’m considering writing down all the acquaintances I need to say goodbye to—or the ones who bid me goodbye. I’ve never done it that intentionally, but perhaps it’s a fresh way of letting go of the past. There have been some hurts and misunderstandings. There have been some shifts and some changes in life. Whatever the reason, these folks have stopped walking with me. It’s time to officially say goodbye as I move into this new year. I want to manifest a lot of loving, fun, and trustworthy people in my life.
How do you cross the threshold into another magical time? What do you do with your blank slate?
Whatever it is, I’m wishing you all the love and peace and joy and abundance you could ever dream of.