Didn’t you hear about the study that came out of England? The smarter you are, the less likely you are of getting married. The dumb girls are getting the guys.’

‘So, you say that you give facials for a living, instead of that you’re a lawyer who graduated with top honors from Harvard Law School?’

‘Yes, and it works.

Only you know your circumstances, your energy level, the needs of your children, and the emotional demands of your other obligations. Be wise during intensive seasons of your life. Cherish your agency, and don’t give it away casually. Don’t compare yourself to others – nearly always this will make you despondent. Don’t accept somebody else’s interpretation of how you should be spending your time. Make the best decision you can and then evaluate it to see how it works.

The commandment to work is imposed on us by our descent from Adam and Eve, but it is a blessing to us. Illness and adversity are not punishments for being alive; they are natural accompaniments of life. Our bodies are not vile and loathsome snares for our spirits, but the temples of our spirits. The daily activities of mixing orange juice, making telephone calls, supervising homework, and scrubbing the bathtub are not distractions from our spiritual lives. They are the vehicles through which we live our spiritual lives.

I’m sure the red fern has grown and has completely covered the two little mounds. I know it is still there, hiding its secret beneath those long, red leaves, but it wouldn’t be hidden from me for part of my life is buried there, too.

Yes, I know it is still there, for in my heart I believe the legend of the sacred red fern.

What I saw was more than I could stand. The noise I heard had been made by Little Ann. All her life she had slept by Old Dan’s side. And although he was dead, she had left the doghouse, had come back to the porch, and snuggled up by his side.

November came roaring in with gusty winds and more wet weather. Mandy’s depression would not go away. Her garden seemed sad, too. It was virtually empty now, and the few brave flowers that remained there were flattened by rain, their yellows stalks sprawling in all directions. Most of the trees were bare, and the woods had a wet carpet of leaves.

Has the finger of death to be laid on the tumult of life from time to time lest it rend us asunder? Are we so made that we have to take death in small doses daily or we could not go on with the business of the living?

Very gently and quietly, almost as if it were the blood singing in her veins, or the water of the stream running over stones, she became conscious of a new feeling within her. She wondered for a moment what it was, and then said to herself, with a little surprise at recognising in her own person so famous a thing: is happiness.

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