Here we are halfway through the first month of the new decade, which also happens to be a Leap Year and the headlines are piling up faster than we can read them.

As of today we are bombarded with a presidential impeachment, an attack on a U.S. Embassy, brushfires in Australia, floods in Jakarta, a volcano spewing ash in the Philippines, and Prince Harry wanting to leave his royal standing to be financially independent.

These are just a sample of the news-breaking stories jockeying for our attention … yet here I am on a sunshine-filled day in North Florida surrounded by the peace and quietness of small-town living, and I am thankful.

The thankfulness led me to look at my state of mind amidst some of the most chaotic times of my existence, and I didn’t have to give it a second thought to find a starting place. True peacefulness comes from the person living deep inside you. It’s the one that holds the compass of your life and allows you to find your North Star of direction even when the rough waters of life arise.

I am a firm believer that we are who we think we are, and this knowledge is the touchstone that keeps us grounded when our normal is shaken. I also believe my generation must be the “keeper of the touchstone of reality” for all the generations to follow. By that, I simply mean we should not overlook the devastating circumstances abounding in our world, but on the other hand we should remind our following generations that survival comes through making good choices and through a determination to preserve our republic.

I make no apology for my faith in God. It is who I am. I make no apology for my allegiance to America, it is also who I am.

These two attributes have granted me the freedom to choose the life I enjoy, and I am very aware of the sacrifices that provided these rewards for me today.

None of us can predict the future outcome of our days here on earth, but we can pursue the path that is laid before us. I love the moral of the children’s story, “The Little Engine That Could.” When all the larger engines refused to pull the train across the mountain the little engine spoke with confidence and said, “I can.” As each mountain of obstacle confronted him he voiced his belief in himself and climbed the height with determination.

This amazing journey into journalism had its beginning when I convinced myself that I was capable to see my dream come true. It has allowed me to share the merits of my dream with you, with students, with community clubs and the media.

It was my honor to speak to Mayo Woman’s Club on Tuesday about my love for writing and about the impact words can have on our society. While speaking, I felt a kindred spirit with “The Little Engine That Could.” I knew without a doubt that we are all one and the same, with similar dreams and aspirations to affect our world in a positive way. The methods are varied, but the goal is the same.

I don’t have my head buried in the proverbial sand and I am fully aware of the trouble that swirls around us constantly, but I encourage you today to find your engine of determination and see your dream become a reality. In my humble opinion it’s a much better solution than wringing our hands in distress and waiting for the next shoe of disaster to drop!

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