Change the World by Pursuing Your Happiness by Shawndra Russell

Hillary asks on her blog, “If I can’t change the world, what do I do now?” I thought I’d tackle this question by talking about what drives me to write fiction like my new novel, Couple Friends, with the hope that my stories inspire readers to pursue their versions of happiness.


I’ve always been independent. I was a tomboy as a little girl, hoping to make my Dad proud. I didn’t care if people thought that I was a brownnoser or geek for getting good grades. And I tended to get crushes not on the most popular boy, but the guy I saw as a diamond in the rough who liked to hold my hand and didn’t care if his friends thought he was “whipped.”


But after graduating from college, I stopped blazing my own path. I fell into pursuing the American Dream complete with a husband, house on a cul-de-sac, and fenced in backyard for our dog. My girlfriends and I started talking about baby names and nursery themes even though we were only in our mid-twenties.


As my husband and I were continually pulled into groupthink, my old rebellious nature started to resurface. What if I didn’t want a baby yet? What if I was bored living in the suburbs? What if I didn’t want to already be counting down to retirement, worry about having a steady job, or let go of my youth just yet?


So we changed everything. Moved away. Quit our jobs. Changed our lifestyle completely, even though we were (gasp!) 30 years old, and now it really was time to “grow up.” We chucked it all for our version of happiness, and we still aren’t there yet.


But we are a heck of a lot closer than we were.


One of the added perks? I’ve had friends and family tell me that we inspired them to pursue some of their neglected passions and interests. I was hooked. I wanted to encourage even more people to buck the status quo and live lives that make them happy instead of worry about what others will think. So, I started writing fiction that captured some of the challenges we all face in our relationships and highlight our seemingly innate compulsion to put too much stock into what others may think of our choices.


Maybe you can’t change the world. But you sure can affect your sphere of influence in a positive way by living a life that you love and refusing to be satisfied following some unattainable “dream life.” As Bradley Trevor Greive’s book, The Meaning of Life, states:


“If you follow your dreams, at least you will exhaust yourself doing what you love most…when you get the most out of your life, savoring every last drop, it will transform everything about you from ordinary to extraordinary. When you do what you love, you can pull back the bed sheets every morning feeling excited about beginning another day, and you’ll be filled with a heartfelt joy that is highly contagious.”


How have you bucked the status quo? How do you want to? Are there toxic behaviors or people you need to let go of in order to be happier?


Shawndra Russell is a freelance writer, social media manager, and marketer. You can pre-order her novel and support her dream of self-publishing by visiting Kickstarter at You can also follow her on Twitter at @ShawndraRusselland read her published work at


Check out: Shadow on the Wall

Shadow on the Wall is now available at in Kindle and paperback. Please remember to include the buy link in your posts!

Knock. Just one solid sound.

Recai sat up too quickly and fell back against his mattress gasping as Rebekah stuck her head

into his small room, her face creased with worry and fear.

“Cover yourself and stay silent,” she whispered before closing the door and rushing back into

the living room to retrieve her burqa and open the door. Recai heard the movement of the heavy fabric

she wore on top of her house dress as she moved across the room to greet their visitor. He wondered if

she had retrieved her father’s gun which he’d overheard Hasad say was under the couch in the living

Before hiding beneath the thin sheet that covered him, he reached down and pulled the rug from

the floor and threw it across his legs. He covered his head and melted against the wall with the pillow

on top of his upper body. Feeling foolish, Recai laid there, wishing he had his ID, his phone, anything

to help bribe his way out of this situation if it was indeed the RTK at the door.

Perhaps it’s just a neighbor, he thought. A neighbor come to ask after Rebekah’s father’s health

or to borrow some salt. His attempt at rationalizing the unexpected visit did not quell his fears. The

RTK made a habit of performing home inspections, especially if they suspected a woman alone. It

wasn’t a safe time for anyone under the jurisdiction of Mayor Yilmaz.

Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and
number cruncher. She graduated Smith College
in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After
graduation, she moved to New York, where she
worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and
Production Manager on productions both on and
off Broadway.

Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance
industry as a freelance accountant for several
international law firms. She now operates her own accounting firm in the
Washington DC area, where she lives with her husband, two daughters
and two terrible dogs. When not preparing taxes, she is hard at work as
the Director of Publicity at Novel Publicity and penning her next novel.

Overcoming writer’s block, Desiree Finkbeiner:

We all get it from time to time… writer’s block. How does it happen and how can you get over it?


I seem only get writer’s block when I am not living my life in harmony with my spiritual beliefs.  I believe that all creativity is derived from the flow of spiritual energy, which influences our thoughts and actions. If that energy flow is inhibited by poor choices, we become poorly connected to the source. As with electrical wiring, when it becomes corroded, the flow of electricity is inhibited and gadgets malfunction or cease to operate. The human soul operates the same way. If we are not living in harmony with our beliefs, our connection becomes corrupted and the flow of creativity is blocked. 

I overcome writer’s block by taking an inventory of how I’m living my life, and seek to change things that are not in harmony with my spiritual progression. Once my priorities are in line and I’ve taken a moment to meditate, to reconnect to the source, the flow of revelation is fluid and the creative process is enhanced.


If you’re not really into meditation or prayer, then maybe taking a nature walk would help. There’s a special connection we as humans have to other life forces, and we can pull strength from the energy that other life forces create. While I prefer to pull my inspiration directly from God, it also helps to be close to his creations. Trees, streams, wildlife, pets etc. Whatever makes you feel good- helping an old lady across the street, smiling at someone who could use a smile, uplifting someone else… service. Those are all things that give. When we are giving and free with our energy, it is returned to us ten fold- So if you are feeling uninspired, maybe it’s time to do something for someone else, then the inspiration will flow freely because what goes around comes around.


Author Name: Desiree Finkbeiner

Book being spotlighted: Ethos: Morning Star (Book #1 in the Ethos series)

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Publisher: Hydra Publications (March 28, 2012)


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The Milestone Tapes

Jenna Chamberland never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother. That is, until she realized that her life was ending after a three-year battle against breast cancer. Now, all she really wants is more time.

With 4,320 hours left to live, Jenna worries for her loved ones and what she knows awaits them on the other side: Gabe will have to make the slip from husband to widower, left alone to raise their seven-year-old daughter; Mia will be forced to cope with life without her mother by her side. In a moment of reflection, Jenna decides to record a set of audiocassettes — The Milestone Tapes – leaving her voice behind as a legacy for her daughter.

Nine years later, Mia is a precocious sixteen-year-old and her life is changing all around, all she wants is her mother. Through the tapes, Jenna’s voice returns to teach Mia the magic of life, her words showing her daughter how to spread her wings and embrace the coming challenges with humor, grace and hope.

THE MILESTONE TAPES is the journey of love between a parent and child, and of the bond that holds them when life no longer can.

This book is great.  It made me very sad because I have a daughter and hope to be around for as much of her life as possible.  It was a lovely idea to make tapes for her child.  I encourage you to read it!