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The Art of Choosing Joy

Big Picture Scrapbooking

I rarely have time for it, but I really enjoy scrapbooking. A few years ago at a party, I met Kolette Hall. Kolette’s a designer, teacher, self-made businesswoman, and professional scrapbooker…so, of course, I thought she was cool. But what impressed me most was her amazing spirit.

Kolette’s husband, Jason, is a quadriplegic. He broke his neck when he was 15 years old. They met in college and married in 1992. Five years later he was in a life-threatening car accident which left him in the hospital for 13 months and then a series of hospital stays and about 20 surgeries over the next six years.

Given all of these difficulties, you might think that Kolette and her husband would be bitter or unhappy. But they were two of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. I lost touch with them, but I didn’t ever forget them.

I recently came across Kolette’s blog, where she describes her philosophy on life:

…in spite of our circumstances, I have found that life can be good; that I have the choice – to choose how I feel about my life and my situation. I get to choose my joy. In spite of the adversity and hardship that comes from being the caregiver of someone dealing with intense health issues, I have decided that I wouldn’t go back and change the challenge of dealing with Jason’s car accident.

I am a different person now than I was then. I am stronger and more independent. I am more tolerant, more understanding and slower to judge. I am better than I was before and I do not want to change the person I have become because of our challenges.

Kolette and Jason rose above adversity. Jason went on to be the student body president of his class at BYU and a successful businessman. Kolette started her own business and became a successful designer. And the two of them are expecting their first baby in 2009!

So why am I telling you all this? Well…the holiday season has me feeling introspective. As I reflect back on the past year, I feel so much gratitude for all of the blessings in my life. The biggest blessing: the birth of a healthy baby boy in April 2008. 

Rather than vowing off junk food yet again, I’m going to set a New Year’s Resolution that I actually intend/want to keep beyond the third week of January. In 2009, I’m going to focus more on appreciating all the blessings in my life even when they include bad hair days, blow-out diapers and other annoyances.

And if I need more inspiration to be happy and grateful, I’m going to get it– while scrapbooking!– by participating in an online class at Big Picture Scrapbooking taught by Kolette. Here’s the description for A Life Well Crafted:

Anna Quindlen wrote, “It’s easier to write a resume than craft a spirit.” Crafting anything worthwhile takes time, thought, and sustained energy. We want you to take the first step toward crafting your spirit with Kolette Hall in 2009! She will help you find the strength to take risks and create a better life!

2009 is the year for the ultimate craft project: you. As requested, Big Picture Scrapbooking is giving you Kolette Hall for an entire year. A Life Well Crafted offers you 12 months of new topics, fresh projects, and live chats. Plus, Kolette’s husband Jason completes the team as the Halls motivate and inspire us to live the very best life possible. Each week will offer something new to enrich your life, inspire creativity, and share your love of scrapbooking with those around you.

You can try out the class too for $18 a month or for $170 for the whole year.

Written by

Debbie Bookstaber started Mamanista in 2007 with her friend Candace Lindemann. Debbie and Candace also are the co-founders of, which empowers bloggers to become philanthropic leaders in their communities. Through their annual awards, recognizes bloggers who effectively use social media for social good. Debbie lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband and two young sons. She's an active volunteer in her community and a working mom. Debbie is a partner at Element Associates and the Social Media Director at Child's Play Communications. You can follow Debbie on Twitter @buzzmommy or meet her at a future blogging or tech conference, where she frequently speaks about social good efforts, SEO or affiliate marketing.

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