Breaking Free from the Imaginary Leash

freedom, purpose, dreams, courage, passion, authentic
Goldie’s leash is real, but Henry’s is imaginary.

joy, passion, authentic, free, dog

Henry just realized he is UNLEASHED!

Hey FTG friends! In recent author talks for my book, Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness, I’ve been having fun sharing about the December 29 entry, Life Lessons From the Dog. Dog lovers are everywhere so they can relate! During my talk, I also briefly discuss the daily meditation from November about the imaginary leash many of us choose to live with. Today, I remembered I had these great pictures to further illustrate this concept and wanted to share them with you.

The dog in both of these photos, affectionately named Henry, is actually the subject of his own daily meditation on November 24. Henry showed up one evening and called us “family” for a few days. The dog on a leash is Goldie, our dog for seven years who has upgraded herself to a home with no cats. Yes, it was hard to let her go, but we knew she would be better off. We get pictures of her at the beach all the time!

Anyway, I’m excited to share the photos and the lesson about the invisible leash.

From the November 18 entry in Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness:

Goldie and I went on a walk this gorgeous autumn afternoon. The brilliant neon orange trees were glowing in the late afternoon sunlight and the sky was bright blue, with white, fluffy clouds. All the cares of the day just disappeared from my mind and I was free again. We have a street in our neighborhood that still has only a few houses, although recently they completed two more. Usually on this street, I let Goldie off the leash so she can run wild through the undeveloped land alongside the road. We all need to run free now and then. I haven’t been doing it as much lately though, because one of the new neighbors has a dog they let roam free. Today we circled the cul-de-sac, and once we passed the last house, I let Goldie off the leash. She trotted along as if nothing happened. She had no idea she was free and just kept her pace beside me on the street. I had to run away from her into the grass to show her she was off the leash.

How many of us voluntarily buy into the boxes and chains we trap ourselves with? We are the only ones keeping us stuck. We buy into the should’s, the what if’s, ought to’s, and have to’s so much that we forget what free feels like. Worse than that, some of us don’t even realize anything is wrong—that we are not actually free. We move along doing what we’re supposed to do, never challenging the beliefs we have tied ourselves down with.

Are you living the life of your dreams? Do you dream of living a different life? Do your dreams even surface anymore? Today can be a new beginning because awareness is the first step. Maybe you just need a little more life in your life, rather than a drastic change? Join a bowling league. Buy an arts and craft kit. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Pack an overnight bag and drive until it looks like an interesting place to stop. Just do something different. Maybe it’s time to really assess the path you’re on, or examine the detour you accidentally took so long ago. What can you do about that? When you think about what you really want, instead of saying, I can’t, ask yourself, How can I? Look around. The leash has been imaginary all along. You are free!

P.S. If you have a Finding the Gift story, I want to hear it and so does the rest of our FTG community! Please send me a message through my contact Angela tab. Not an FTG member? Look for the orange box to the right and sign up! I’ll send you a free eBook immediately, Ten Secrets to Finding the Gift! (Depending on your device, you may need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.)

P.P.S. Do you have your own copy yet? Find out why Finding the Gift has been featured in the Sunday Tennessean five weeks in a row, as part of the top ten best-selling books locally. Shop awesome booksellers like BookManBookWoman and Parnassus, or you can find it on Amazon.

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Some Resolutions Are Just Too Big

Happy New Year! Whew, it’s been a while since I posted. Author talks and book events have kept me jumping, but I am so very grateful for the impact “Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness” is making in people’s lives and their perspectives. We’re all in this together!

January is the biggest month for most of us to think about our lives and make new resolutions. But for many, these are quickly abandoned by February. Too often people resolve to accomplish goals that are too big and daunting, and/or deep down, they don’t believe they deserve to have or be “x.” Surprisingly enough, we make progress much quicker by taking baby steps consistently. The turtle beats the rabbit on this track!

If you are having trouble with any of your New Year’s resolutions, I have a few suggestions that have helped me in the past. If all I have identified is the ultimate outcome, I can stare at that goal until I am blue in the face, paralyzed to take any real action. However, if I create some smaller resolutions that will cause me to take a step toward the final destination, I can make forward progress.

Excerpt from “Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness” for January 1:

Sometimes I find it easier to look at a big goal and then work backwards, breaking it down into smaller pieces. I’ll ask myself, Well, if that goal was true one year from now, what else will be true? For instance, if I had aspirations to become more fluent in a foreign language one year from now, I could start by finding other people to regularly converse with. Boom. I just created a tangible action step I can do today, which will help me get where I want to be a year from now. This sounds so obvious, but too often we get overwhelmed and intimidated by the idea of attaining huge goals. We can’t think of how to get started and we stay frozen.

If my goal for 2016 as an author/speaker is simply to reach more people with my book and my message, I could easily remain intimidated by how to actually go about doing that and do nothing, but hope and pray it just happens. Or, I can pretend it’s December, 2016 and that I’m looking back over the year feeling grateful that I did successfully expand my impact. I can ask myself what must have happened for my goal to be realized? I probably had to identify some groups who could relate to what I have to say. Then I probably had to do some research and make some phone calls or send some emails.

So now, rather than focus on my big goal, I can start thinking about specific groups or organizations who would be thrilled to have me as a guest speaker. Once identified, I can make another goal to do some research and find out who secures speakers for the event. I can make contact through phone or email. I know this is a very specific example but I’m hoping you can translate this to your own goals and see that a big resolution needs to be broken down into several, smaller goals. Tasks that can be done in a day. Activities that when put together, lead up to helping you reach your bigger destination.

If this sounds elemental but you are facing a resolution that is quickly fading, I hope you will give it a try. Just ask the question, “If this were true, what else would have to be true?” You have all the answers you need inside you. Sometimes we just aren’t asking ourselves the right questions!

If negative beliefs are holding you back, that’s going to require a different strategy. Write down the three most powerful self-sabotage beliefs that run through your mind. Reasons that deep-down are keeping you from attaining your resolutions. Let’s say you want to increase your income in 2016. That’s a great goal, but until it’s defined in detail, it could easily remain a resolution that’s just too big. But let’s deal with the negative self-beliefs because if those are dominating your daily thoughts, the best-laid actions plans are meaningless.

Perhaps your first negative thought is this: “I don’t deserve to make more money,” or “No one in my family has ever made much money.” If that is an underlying belief, your sub-conscious will make sure your life backs that up. How would it feel to believe, “I deserve to make an abundant living to be able to provide for myself and my family and have fun doing it?” Can you feel the shift? This isn’t hard work, but it does take intentional effort. Change your software programs in your mind and you will change your life!

Excerpt from “Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness” for January 6:

Take a moment. Stare out a window. Let yourself dream of a life that is to come. If you could do or be anything—no limits based on finances, present circumstances or past experiences—what would you do? Where would you go? What would you invent? What new hobby or interest might you explore? Who would be in your life? (Who would you let go of?) Who would you help? How much money would you see in your account? Where would you live? What would your body look like, and how strong and flexible would you be? What charity would you support or create? What would your doctor say at your annual checkup?
This is YOUR dream. STOP the limiting chatter!

My book is full of daily meditations to challenge old beliefs, broaden perspectives and offer practical tips that will help us all achieve the lives we really desire from the inside out. I can’t say it enough: this is MY handbook for living. I do not have all these lessons mastered! Far from it. I wrote this book to provide reminders for the many issues I still need to work on myself. I just decided to share it with you so we can do it together! We all need traveling companions on this journey of life. Thank you for being one of mine!

If you’re in the Nashville area, I will be at the Green Hills Library on Thursday, February 4 at 6pm for an author talk and book signing event. Books will be available to purchase and a portion of the proceeds will go to the “Friends of the Library.” I hope to see you there!

P.S. If you have a Finding the Gift story, I want to hear it and so does the rest of our FTG community! Please send me a message through my contact Angela tab. Not an FTG member? Look for the orange box to the right and sign up! I’ll send you a free eBook immediately, Ten Secrets to Finding the Gift! (Depending on your device, you may need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.)

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Angela Howell and America’s Love Doctor Discuss Mindfulness

Angela Howell, Mindfulness, Holiday Mindfulness, Year end mindfulness, Finding the Gift

Recently celeb psychologist Dr. Brenda Wade, a regular guest on The Today Show, Dr. Oz and Oprah, interviewed Angela Howell to discuss year-end mindfulness and her new book, Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness. Click the replay to learn how Angela Howell practices mindfulness in her life and get her secret for how to become present in less than two seconds. Hint: find your feet, hands and breath!

As a bonus, you’ll also hear Angela discuss why she believes suffering is ordinary, as she challenges others to lay down their (superior) victim identity and join the human race as an equal—no better and no worse than their neighbor. Cheers to you Finding the Gift through mindfulness!

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The Norman Rockwell Illusion

Holidays are supposed to be a joy-filled, happy time with friends and family. Day after day of sparkling euphoria, right?! Don’t we all long for the Norman Rockwell experience? What if after the timeless moments are captured, we showed each other what really goes on—the good, the bad and the ugly, and also the ordinary? I found an interesting book review in the New York Times written in 2013 for a biography written about Norman Rockwell. Reading that and exploring a few other search results for ‘Norman Rockwell,’ I quickly learned that he also did not live the “Norman Rockwell” experience.

I’ve spent many days thinking if I had just come from a “normal” family, my life would have been so much better. I grew up believing that what I saw in Norman Rockwell illustrations really existed in most other homes but mine. As an adult now, I know the truth. No one has it good all the time, and no one has it bad all the time. And sometimes, the ordinary moments are the best ones of all. Times like this morning, when my husband and I cuddled on the couch enjoying the glowing Christmas tree at dawn, as he drank his coffee before getting ready for work. Or letting my son show me how swift he can handle his car on back roads, making a night run to the grocery store for milk and bananas, with music blaring from the speakers. And enjoying a peaceful, quiet morning with my furry children, looking out into the majesty of nature surrounding me. Those are the moments I live for now.

And most of the time, I’ve stopped the comparison game. Comparing my life to others is a fast road to discontentment and “missing the gifts.” In the recovery world, we often hear, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” We only see what “they” let us see anyway. In a thriving social-media-filled world, it often looks like most everyone is living the good life. Rarely can we see the aches in their hearts or the depths of loneliness common to us all. Common to us all—yes, even I have my bad days too, where I’m struggling with “Finding the Gift.” I know those days will pass and I personally choose not to use my social media platforms to air my fleeting moments of lost perspective, but I do share those hard days with those closest to me.

Living a life of “Finding the Gift” to me means truly believing everything, everything is working for my good. Even when it doesn’t seem like it. My best use of energy is always spent re-directing my thoughts to what is going well and celebrating true treasure, the unexpected, ordinary moments of real bliss. Happy Holidays and may your ordinary moments bring you great joy! If you are in Nashville today, please come join me at BookManBookWoman in Hillsboro Village for a Finding the Gift book discussion and signing event from 12-2 p.m. .

P.S. If you have a Finding the Gift story, I want to hear it and so does the rest of our FTG community! Please send me a message through my “contact Angela” tab. Not an FTG member? Look for the orange box to the right and sign up! I’ll send you a free eBook immediately, Ten Secrets to Finding the Gift!

P.P.S. If you are looking for a special gift for someone, check out the reviews on Amazon from those who have been touched by reading Finding the Gift.

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The Gifts of the Season

IMG_6778 copy

No, I have not finished my holiday shopping! Grrr … I mean, Happy Tuesday! Every year it seems I get more and more Grinch-like when December rolls around. Maybe that’s not fair. I’m not really a Scrooge and I have nothing against gifts. I just want to enjoy more of the simple, beautiful parts of the holidays and less of the should’s and have to’s. I’m convinced that the real wonder of the season is felt sitting quietly in front of a sparkling tree or a crackling fireplace, basking in the glow of gratefulness for life exactly the way it is, in that very moment.

Every year, the idea of going out to spend money we may not necessarily have to buy things that people don’t necessarily need or want—just to say we did or just to have presents under the tree—feels so forced and well, just not fun. I try to keep my opinion to myself because I feel I am in the minority. Clearly, many people absolutely love making their lists and checking them twice! If motives are pure, more power to them!

In my dream world we offer meaningful gifts to those we truly want to show love and appreciation for, and we don’t put our finances in jeopardy in the process.

Handmade cards and gifts count double! We stand firm against pressure to do things we really don’t want to do, or go places we really don’t want to go. Our well-being is more important than our people-pleasing. We set aside time and resources to help those less fortunate than us, allowing us the full, unparalleled experience of joy that comes from giving and touching a life. In my dream holiday, you are your best you, and I am my best me.

The truth is, every year I am more focused on finding the real gifts: love, peace, service and gratitude. And heart-felt connections with others who value the same. Will you join me in celebrating the silent wonders this holiday season? Please leave a comment and tell me what your dream holiday looks like!

P.S. If you have a Finding the Gift story, I want to hear it and so does the rest of our FTG community! Please send me a message. Not an FTG member? Look for the orange box to the right and sign up! I’ll send you a free eBook immediately, Ten Secrets to Finding the Gift!

P.P.S. If you are looking for a special gift for someone, check out the reviews on Amazon from those who have been touched by reading Finding the Gift.

P.P.P.S. (Is that too many P’s?) Well anyway, if you want to see one of my recent, early morning, Finding the Gift moments, check out this video. I was so taken by how perfect the scene looked and felt, I let my cinnamon rolls get cold while taking videos and pictures! That’s the thing about Finding the Gift: sometimes we may lose something, only to gain an even bigger reward! Enjoy!

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FTG eBook Is Live With a Special Offer!


Hello my “Finding the Gift” friends! I am writing from a hotel in Knoxville and couldn’t wait to announce that my eBook is now available for “Finding the Gift!” AND if you purchase the physical book from Amazon, the eBook is only $2.99! Both purchases are an Amazon-only special. Check it out here!

If you’ve already bought a book, but want an eBook at the special price, no worries! You probably have someone on your gift list you can consider buying the physical book for and you can keep the eBook for yourself. Give a gift that will keep giving all year long!

Check out the latest reviews on Amazon for “Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness.” I am humbled and so excited to read about the impact this is having on a daily basis in people’s lives.

I’m off to have breakfast with our son, continuing a wonderful holiday weekend. May your gifts be plentiful today and always!



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Open Minds Get More Gifts to Open

“Authentic, captivating, thought-provoking! Angela Howell’s insights remind the reader that in every life experience there is a gift waiting to be found … if we only dare to look deeper.” —Rachel Martinez, Certified Addiction Counselor

Hello FTG Friends! Happy (almost) Thanksgiving! I hope each of you have a special time planned to celebrate with good food among great family and friends.

I have a question for you to consider as we enter into this season of thanksgiving. If you were to receive a “Finding the Gift” report card, would you get an A? How well are you able to look at a situation and find the gift, instead of the problem? I read a story once about Benjamin Franklin. Apparently he had a habit of finding fault and when he was strongly confronted by someone he respected, he vowed to never complain again. Oh, if only it were that easy! With practice, however, it does become easier to ask, “What’s the gift in this?” versus, “Why did this happen?”

Gratitude is a habit of the mind and with regular use, it can become an automatic response to life. When I experience disappointment, for example, I choose to believe I will find a gift (as long as I’m willing to look for it). Maybe what appears to be a setback is actually some form of protection? Something to keep me from going down a particular path, which ultimately won’t be in my best interest? Maybe I’ll never know why certain events transpired, but I always have a choice in how I perceive what life brings my way. I can choose to believe things are working for my good, or I can get caught up in frustration. Faith feels  better to me so I don’t let myself wallow too long in how I wish things were. Instead, I begin finding the gift in how things are.

Jumping ahead in my book, Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness, I will leave you with an upcoming entry on gratitude. I sincerely wish you the best Thanksgiving ever, abundant with gifts given, received and observed.

November 26: A Daily Gratitude Practice

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
~ Oprah Winfrey ~

November is the perfect time of year to focus on being thankful: good health, relationships, friends and family, our jobs, our homes, and our freedom. Many of us can count some or all of these as blessings in our lives. What else? What else are you truly grateful for? Look around. Listen. Feel. Take stock of everything you have appreciation for. Holding gratitude in your heart attracts even more good to come your way. Count your blessings often. For extra benefit, make a daily gratitude journal, listing at least five new things every morning or night.

In addition to what’s noted above, I am deeply grateful for nature, music, role models, reverse role models (who teach me what NOT to do), nature seasons, thick fuzzy blankets and socks, fast cars, adventure, adversity (without adversity, personal growth is much slower), my furry loved ones, sidewalks, hot baths, dark chocolate, apple cider, boots, things that sparkle, laughter and piano music filling my home, and much, much more! For a real challenge, make a list of all the people, places and things you are grateful for. Do this alone or with a group. When you run out of things to write, go through the letters of the alphabet to jog your memory some more. Keep this list and your daily gratitude journal handy for rereading frequently. Turkey hunters practice making turkey calls to attract birds to come their way. Practice using gratitude to attract more goodness to come your way. Cheers!

P.S. If you have a Finding the Gift story, I want to hear it and so does the rest of our FTG community! Please send me a message. Not an FTG member? Look for the orange box to the right and sign up! I’ll send you a free eBook immediately, Ten Secrets to Finding the Gift!

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A Reader Had Me in Tears

fall trees, Finding the Gift, Angela Howell, landscape

A few days ago, I received a private message from someone who purchased my new book, Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness. I was just floored and with permission, have to share and comment. To protect anonymity, I will change certain details.

Reader writes, “I ordered your book. I made it through the acknowledgments and the introduction, read the first two entries and then I got busy… So yesterday I was [taking a road trip] and found myself wandering in thought about my daughter’s recent [troubles] … blah blah blah. As I realized I wasn’t being “present,” I remembered your first two journal entries where you find gifts that are there, if you look for them.

I looked out the window and saw the most beautiful grave yard to the right. As I was pondering this breathtaking sight, [my husband] said, “Here is your favorite place!” I looked up and on the curve of the road, I saw the unique store front that I refer to as “Whistle Stop” (from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes). It’s so rustic and quaint, but old and dilapidated as well. We kept driving and I looked to my right on the next curve to see if the gray-haired lady was out in her overalls pulling weeds from her lovely garden that winds around her house, just fifty yards from the road. Like a landmark I can count on, she was there as always, whenever we drive by.

I’m assuming I found the gift…

Time is all we have, there will be many bends in the road, so do what you love! We all end up in the same spot (at the end of this physical life), so make the most of every moment.

I felt this sense of relief! I said to myself that it’s okay if [my daughter has to go through these challenges]. This is her journey. She’s not all worked up, nor should I be. Things happen for a reason, so live life in the present and enjoy the ride! Thank you, I look forward to reading your book.”

My eyes were full of tears when I finished reading this lovely message. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Ten years ago, I began to capture profound insights, as they were revealed to me. Over the years, I’ve filled up hand-written journals with these lessons that have been so eye-opening. Receiving this feedback is a surreal moment. To think that other people’s lives will now be impacted by my “little” book is almost overwhelming. I am humbled and grateful beyond words to have touched another life. I can’t think of any higher fulfillment on this earth!

As usual, when we gift a gift, we get so much more in return. Thank you, and “Bravo!” dear reader, for Finding the Gift, and in turn, touching my heart so deeply. Cheers to us all on this incredible journey of life. We’re in it together!

P.S. If you have a Finding the Gift story, I want to hear it and so does the rest of our FTG community! Please send me a message. And if you appreciated what this reader had to say, please tell her. She is a member of FTG Friends and will see your message and I’m sure she would enjoy knowing she also touched a life.

Not an FTG member? Look for the orange box to the right and sign up! I’ll send you a free eBook immediately, Ten Secrets to Finding the Gift!

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Live Interview Today at 4:42 P.M. CST

DSC_9497-2-Edit cropAngela Howell, Finding the Gift, Recovery, Daily Meditations, Mindfulness

Hello FTG community! The Michael Dresser Show has asked me to be a guest today for a live, twenty-minute interview and I wanted to give you the opportunity to listen in. We will be discussing my new book, Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness and how the book came about. He may surprise me with something else—I never know what detour may arise on a live show!

You can hear the show by going to or If you miss it, I will post a replay on my “Interviews” tab when it becomes available.

Hope you are all “Finding the Gift” today!

Blessings all around,


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Available NOW: “Finding the Gift” Is This Season’s Best Gift!

Angela Howell, Finding the Gift, recovery, daily meditations, metaphors

Earlier this month, author and speaker Angela Howell offered a sneak peek of her new book, Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness at the sold-out Nashville women’s event, The Ball in the Fall. Today, Angela Howell has announced Finding the Gift is now available in stores and online—just in time for gift-seekers this holiday season. (Locally available at Parnassus, BookMan BookWoman, Mrs. B’s, Orbit Health Food Stores, TAADAS Recovery Bookstore and other retailers.)

Angela Howell, Finding the Gift, Recovery, Daily Meditations, Mindfulness
Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness encourages readers to press pause for a few moments every day to gain life-changing insights from metaphors found in the most unlikely places. “I see things!” jokes Howell. Whether it’s from watching a favorite pet, a calm moment with nature, or a trip through the car wash, Howell reminds us there are lessons to challenge and improve our well-being everywhere, when we’re mindfully watching for them. In Finding the Gift, Angela Howell has captured 366 unique meditations to help readers see life from a greater perspective, so they can really “get the lesson” and apply new insights to their own lives. As we embrace mindful living and improve how we show up in the world, the world becomes a better place for everyone.

Howell says, “I was lost and sleep-walking for much of my life. When I was awake, I felt trapped and suffocated by all the masks I wore to present a perfect version of myself to everyone else. I suffered challenges along the way, but rather than give up, I learned to Find the Gift.” Instead of asking, “Why me?” Howell allowed her obstacles to become her teachers. Now she plans to shine the light for others who might know all too well what hopelessness feels like. She is also excited to share her insights with those who seek daily encouragement to remain inspired and grateful.

Howell has created an online community called FTG Friends for like-minded people who want more out of life, with support and encouragement along the way. New members can download her free eBook, Ten Secrets to Finding the Gift, as a thank you for joining her community at

Angela Howell has long been on the road to personal freedom. She survived a lengthy battle with anorexia and bulimia, and went on to earn multiple sales awards and top recognition with several Fortune 500 companies. As a speaker, Angela shares her compelling story of triumph with a variety of audiences and uses her coaching program, A Life Worth Having, to help clients find more ways to love their lives. Howell serves on the speakers bureau for the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee and is a facilitator for the Body Project. Howell is available to speak on several topics in communities, schools and corporations. For more information, please visit her website.

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