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Live Life Fully: Thanks for helping my dreams come true -- and keep reading!

By Linda Arnold

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- May 6 marks an important occasion for me -- my anniversary. Not my wedding anniversary though. It's the commemoration of my first "Live Life Fully" column -- six years ago!

Reflecting back, I realize we've covered everything from defining moments in life to having our buttons pushed. And from breaking bad habits to living our lives on purpose. Obsessions, addictions and the vastly different ways men and women communicate have popped up in this space. And we've run the gamut from emotional fitness to tough love.

I couldn't do it without you. So, I want to thank you (and I do mean you) from the bottom of my heart for your continued interest.

When I started on this mission, my intention was to create a dialogue on "Life 101" issues we all experience. And to get feedback from you. Because I believe we all learn from each other.

It's actually worked out pretty much that way. Writing this column is one of my favorite things to do, and I feel it's part of my life's work. It's not something I have to do. It's something I get to do. And your feedback keeps me on my toes and helps me walk my talk.

In some ways, six years seems like a long time. In other ways, I feel I've just begun. It's a good time to take stock of things. Many of you have asked for additional information and have requested collections of my columns. More on that later.

For now, I want to acknowledge three people from the Sunday Gazette-Mail who believed in me six years ago and took a chance on me: Rosalie Earle, Patty Vandergrift Tompkins and Trip Shumate. To this day, Rosalie remains my editor. And, from the operational helm, Trip is still overseeing the effort, while Patty cheers me on from the sidelines.

Several unsung heroes, though, make me look good week after week. Like my copy editor, Rob Stiles, who makes sure I don't embarrass myself with some inappropriate structure or reference. Rob also makes sure the column gets out electronically. I can't forget Melinda Hill and Kathy Mobley from the administrative side -- or professor Mary Jo Brick, who got me started on my psychology path in graduate school, and still weighs in often with her opinions on what I've written.

My hat's off to all of you, as well as the other folks who provide press proofs, enforce the deadlines and make sure all the trains run on time to get this information in your hands or on your screen.

And a quick nod to my husband, John, who tolerates my getting up in the middle of the night because I have an idea to explore -- and respects the quiet time I need to dive into a topic, no matter what else is going on in our lives. (Unlike our furry children who like to pick the times I'm at my computer to insist on going for a walk or getting a treat. That's OK, though, because they're my muses.)

On a current note, I want to acknowledge all of you who are facing your first Mother's Day next week without your mom. This is the fourth year for me, and my writing -- and your responses -- have helped tremendously with my own healing. As a recap, here are a few nuggets you've shared with me:

  • You'll never forget. You'll always know you honor her every day in how you live and by who you are.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Act like you've just had open-heart surgery. This is a significant life event.
  • I inhale my mother daily -- her thoughts, her strength, her attitude, her convictions.
  • Rest in the knowledge that your mother's love for you will never, never, never die.
  • As I've taken time to reflect on all this, I enter my seventh year of column writing with a renewed sense of purpose and zeal. I'm redoubling my efforts to bring you the most current (or classic) information as we navigate this "living laboratory" of life. It doesn't do any good to know the theories of dealing with conflict, setting boundaries or handling stress -- to name a few topics -- if we don't put them into practice in real life.

    And I like to think we keep one another accountable. I've had the pleasure of running into many of you around the region and state, and I always enjoy your comments. To hear that you've cut my columns out of the paper to keep -- or that you've forwarded them to a relative or friend -- means the world to me.

    Sometimes I'll read one of your emails and think to myself, "That's exactly why I write." Few things are more rewarding than knowing I've been a catalyst or made a small difference in someone's life (while also learning from their experience).

    So, I'd like to ask for your help as we move forward. If you're a regular reader and can take a minute to send me an email (or jot a quick note) about the column, I'd really appreciate it. My contact information is at the end. I'm always looking to provide information or insights that will strike a chord, and I realize some weeks I come closer to hitting that mark than others.

    I'll also update you on other information that will be available soon. I'm finally getting around to complying with your requests -- the ones about compiling a collection of columns, that is. The encouragement from many of you to write a book is quite humbling, although I'm not quite sure about that. What this says to me, though, is that you value what I have to say. And that's what keeps me going.

    You make me want to be a better person.

    Linda Arnold, M.A., MBA, is a certified wellness instructor, counselor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm with offices in West Virginia, Montana and Washington, D.C. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301 or emailed to livelifefully@arnoldagency.com.


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