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Nov. 13, 2022

What Makes This Award Winning Author Happy?

I am honored that Jake Pearson, host of the positive and uplifting podcast “What Makes You Happy?” invited me to write a blog follow-up from my Fall 2022 guest appearance interview on his show.

What Makes Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro HAPPY?

I have always considered myself to be a HAPPY person.  

Despite enduring significant losses and surviving unbelievable adversity in my life, I am  still thankful for the many blessings that I have been given and continue to see the glass  as half-full, not half-empty. I have chosen to live my life with an “attitude of gratitude.” I  sincerely see the good in humanity and the beauty of God’s creations as I navigate this  earthly journey learning life’s, sometimes challenging, lessons. 

As a writer (I am the author of the award-winning spiritual fiction “God Came To My  Garage Sale” and the prominently-endorsed 5-book series “True Deceit False Love”) and  as an educator (I retired from a successful and rewarding 35-year career as a high school  special education and English teacher, with 12 of those years as a university graduate  school adjunct professor) I appreciate acrostic poetry and enjoy the simple structure it  provides, so I will share what makes me HAPPY using acrostics. 

H…elping others 




Y…oga & meditation 

H is for Helping Others: 

As an empathetic soul, helping others is woven into the fabric of who I am. I was drawn to  a service-oriented career in the field of education, just as my parents were, as well as  many others in my extended family. My teaching style was characterized by helping others  know their worth and celebrating their strengths and abilities, rather than focusing on their  weaknesses, challenges or labeled disabilities. I felt my role was less about imparting  content and information and more about instilling a love of learning and encouraging  independence so that my students could feel good about themselves as they realized their  potential, pursued there passions and moved toward their own self-actualization.

As an empathetic person, I have been known to literally give the coat off my back or the  shoes off my feet if I saw someone in need. When a displaced person asks me for money,  I realize that by giving them cash I may be enabling or contributing to unhealthy behaviors  or addictions, so if they are open to it, I often choose to offer to buy them a healthy and  satisfying meal instead. 

As a loving mother and positive role model for my two beautiful children, I believe that I  have instilled in them the foundational value of generosity. Our kind and caring gestures  can provide hope and be life changing for others, as well as being personally rewarding.  It’s a great feeling to pay it forward and know that you have made a positive difference in a  person’s life. 

I raised my children in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago and during many holiday  seasons we would spend a weekend downtown in the city to see the Christmas lights and  enjoy the festive celebrations. While others chose to shop The Magnificent Mile of high end stores purchasing very expensive items for themselves, such as the latest electronics,  fancy jewelry or name brand, designer clothing, I encouraged my children to be aware of  and be sensitive to those people less fortunate than us. We made a yearly effort to  distribute care bags filled with necessities such as food, toiletries and clothes, and we  made sure that we wrote a special personalized note of hope and encouragement to add  to the care bags, along with some inspirational reading and a creative art project. Every  year when we would return to Chicago for our holiday weekend we would see at least one  person who was still utilizing the care bag that we gave them from the previous year. We  knew that we were making a positive impact in many people’s lives. 

If we all would help others with random, or intentional, acts of kindness, instead of focusing  solely on ourselves, then our efforts most likely would have a positive ripple effect,  spreading joy and love throughout the world, one person and one kind gesture at a time. 

A is for Author: 

I became a published author in midlife. I love to write and the process of writing and editing  makes me happy. Of course, throughout my life I have technically been a writer. When I  learned to write my ABCs as a toddler, I also learned that there was an alternative way of  communicating other than with behavior or the spoken word. In elementary school there  was a strong focus on writing. After learning how to print your name with oversized pencils,  this skill progressed into writing other words, which led to writing sentences and eventually  writing paragraphs. In Junior High we learned to write reports and longer essays.  

One memorable and ongoing writing experience I had took place when I was in 6th grade  during my many after-school detentions as I was being punished for laughing in class  during serious classroom instruction. On numerous occasions throughout that school year  when I would begin to get silly, my teacher would say, “Marni, you’re standing on thin ice”  and I would be required to stay after school. My consequence was to write on the  chalkboard (we didn’t have white boards back then) or my lined notebook paper “I will not  laugh in class” 100 times before I could go home, as if this exercise would curtail my  humorous outbursts at inappropriate times throughout the school day. After some time I  chose to get creative and practiced my various styles of printing and cursive, which led to  my getting even more creative by bringing my enormous set of colorful markers so I could 

write each line in a different color. This provided great entertainment for me and the others  who were being punished for inappropriately laughing at my inappropriate laughing in  class. I’m not so sure if my teacher found my actions amusing, but as a kid, I sure did. 

Kids are great! As a loving mom I can remember wonderful times teaching my own  children how to write and fondly recall the many years they sat down to pen their special  notes to Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or write a letter to their grandparents to snail-mail  in the stamped envelopes they learned to properly address. I even allowed my children to  have a graffiti wall in their bedrooms to express themselves, just as my open-thinking  parents did for me; writing on the wall while using permanent sharpies, which is normally  and understandably taboo for kids, was a very cool and creative release, which also made  writing fun and exciting. 

In high school, students had to write and type term papers where we incorporated  research and other’s quotes into our essays as we learned about plagiarism and  substantiating our reported information. It was in high school that I wrote my first practice  resume which I used as a template guide for my first professional resume when I applied  for and secured my first teaching job before graduating college. As a lifelong learner and a  lover of acquiring new knowledge, I pursued higher education. Of course with earning an  advanced academic degree, your writing skills are expected to be advanced as well. I was  required to write, type and publish a thesis for my master’s degree and a dissertation for  my doctorate degree. As an adult, writing was just part of life and a necessary skill. It  wasn’t until I really had something to share with the world that I put pen to paper and wrote  my first book “God Came To My Garage Sale.”  

You see, the backstory is that I was forced to leave my marital home and have a garage  sale after I mustered up my courage and chose to escape my 27-year marriage. Over  dinner at the local pizzeria, his unintentional confession is when his false mask slipped and  some of his deceptions of his double or triple life were revealed. This was my lightbulb  moment that prompted me to finally realize that for years of his secrecy and money  manipulations, I was also being financially deceived and taken advantage of. I had  experienced the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” The most lethal time for victims is  when you are about to leave or have left the relationship, and the abuser’s power, control  and threats ramp up to a dangerous level. Years of my enduring emotional abuse  escalated and I was physically assaulted. Without a safety exit plan, I immediately  contacted a lawyer because I was too scared of the harm he would do to me if I reported  him to the authorities. Many Domestic Abuse perpetrators have connections to people in  powerful positions, so the targeted victims rarely stand a chance for any justice. I was in  survival mode with no support system. 

As a result of my choice to file for divorce, I knew that there would be repercussions, I just  had no idea of the extent. I naively believed he would cooperate and be fair, we could  separate amicably and respectfully co-parent our adult children. Boy was I completely  wrong. Predators don’t let their prey go easily. I was stalked, harassed by ongoing  lawsuits, tracked and trolled, and I must still be vigilant because this aggressive behavior  continues to this day. I endured significant losses: my home, which I was told for a decade  was paid off but was actually in foreclosure, my assets, my money and investments, my  support system of friends, family and neighbors due to a ruthless smear campaign of  outright lies and believable half-truths and the most painful experience of all, I even lost my  two beautiful adult children to extreme Parental Alienation. 

Parental Alienation is a devastating family dynamic that usually happens after a separation  or divorce, where the kids are brainwashed with a false narrative, rewritten memories, lies  and a campaign of denigration as they are encouraged to fear, hate, blame and reject their  

loving parent (either their dad or mom, as it happens to both and is not gender specific)  and align with the parent who is more concerned with maintaining their false public image  and is on a mission to destroy their ex by using the children as weapons in their war of  revenge. Alienating parents hate their ex more than they love their children. In cult-like  fashion, the kids experience Splitting, Stockholm Syndrome and Independent Thinker  Phenomenon as they cut the loving parent, and that entire side of their extended family,  out of their life. The damage caused to the children by the narcissistic alienating and  abusive parent is significant and has lifelong and detrimental consequences.  

Prominent psychological researchers believe Parental Alienation is a severe form of  Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse. I have personally experienced the shock and  heartbreak of extreme Parental Alienation for close to a decade. My adult children were 20  and 23 years old when I filed for divorce. Days of not hearing from your children turn to  weeks; weeks turn into months and months turn into years. I have been blocked from all  forms of communication and can face serious legal consequences if I were to reach out  and send a card or gift. For the targeted parent, Parental Alienation is like experiencing the  death of your living children. You go through all of the same stages of grief. Nobody should  have to endure such significant loss as a result of the harmful and intentional actions of a  malevolent, misguided and mentally ill ex. It is beyond painful for the targeted parent to  feel helpless and unable to protect their young or adult children from being isolated and  controlled by this type of child abuse inflicted by their alienating parent. Deep down I am  confident that my adult children know that their mom loves them unconditionally to the  moon and back. I pray for my children continually. It’s in God’s hands now. Truth eventually  prevails. 

I had no choice but to leave my dream home, neighborhood and village and have a huge  garage sale to downsize and unload most of our family’s material possessions, along with  letting go of so many of my hopes, dreams and memories. However, instead of feeling  sad, angry or vindictive, all negative emotions which would be understandably justified, I  was filled with the positive feelings of love, compassion and forgiveness. I was thankful for  the many wonderful times our family had in our gorgeous suburban home, even though I  found out later that many of those experiences were based on a false reality of secrecy,  lies and betrayal. I have always been a happy person, and despite this challenging period  of transition as a result of my choice to divorce, to stay true to my values, be safe and live  in peace, I continued to be happy. 

In a state of gratitude and love, during this garage sale, I was presented with spiritual  miracles that filled me with hope and the knowing that I would survive this ordeal and that I  was loved and supported by some divine presence. I kept asking myself, “Did God come  to my garage sale?” So many experiences were so very positive, profound and other worldly that I was compelled to research about STEs-Spiritually Transformative  Experiences to validate what I encountered and write my first book to encourage others to  pay attention to signs and synchronicities from the universe. I was extremely honored that  my spiritual fiction, inspired by true events, was endorsed by James Redfield, the  bestselling author of “The Celestine Prophecy” series of books, among other notable  people. My book “God Came To My Garage Sale” also found national acclaim as it won  literary awards and placed in book competitions including being runner-up in the 2022  Hollywood Book Fest, winner of the 5-Star Reader’s Favorites and finalist in the 2020 Best 

Books Awards sponsored by The American Book Fest. These acknowledgements gave me  validation to pursue future creative writing endeavors. 

After retiring from my amazing career in education, I moved from a lifetime in the Chicago  suburbs to the wonder and natural beauty of the Caribbean. It is there that in my research  to try to understand what I experienced and why bad things happen to good people, I  wrote my prominently-endorsed 5-book series “True Deceit False Love,” which creatively  addresses and provides resources and tools to understand Domestic Violence,  Narcissistic Abuse, Parental Alienation and Intergenerational Family Trauma.  

A significant component to understanding and healing from this trauma is to do the inner  reflection work to analyze your own family of origin dynamics and foundational  experiences influenced by your parents, your siblings and your upbringing. Abuse often  has a generational component that must be acknowledged. You need to take responsibility  for your own behavior and how your past experiences and core wounds contributed to the  dysfunction in your relationships, and make the necessary changes to break unhealthy  patterns and trauma bonds. This may mean you learn to set healthier boundaries and be  more discerning about who you let in or keep in your life. 

Luckily, I enjoy writing and believe it to be very therapeutic on my healing journey. I have  used the written word during my lifetime and now in midlife, and found being an author to  be very rewarding. Writing makes me happy. 

P is for People and P is for Places: 

I am fond of global travel and as a result of my numerous domestic and international  adventures exploring the world, I have experienced firsthand that our amazing earth is  filled with beautiful people who live in beautiful places. Actually, I am the kind of person  that can find happiness and beauty wherever I go, whether the setting is urban, suburban  or rural.  

I loved living in the Midwest, where I spent the first half of my life. I enjoyed experiencing  the multi-sensory wonder of the changes in seasons. I believe that I positively influenced  my two children’s appreciation for the natural and animal world, not only as we explored  

life in different towns, states and countries on our many travels, but all around our  quintessential home and Victoria Woods neighborhood in Fox River Grove, Illinois. Every  season contributed to the ever-evolving landscape of the places we experienced, even in  our own backyard.  

No matter where you go, most places are inhabited by people. I have always been  accepting of people of varied races, cultures, sexual orientations and religions. I don’t  judge others on their educational achievements, employment positions or socioeconomic  status. I believe that we are all God’s children and look more at a person’s inner soul  rather than anything outward. In so many ways, I believe that the people of the world have  more in common with each other than they have differences.  

With that being said, not everyone shares our same values. We are all at various stages in  our emotional growth and spiritual evolution, so naturally we tend to resonate with and  connect more with those whose values are similar to ours when it comes to actions and 

intentions. Sometimes we are forced to make tough choices about who we let in or keep in  our lives because the relationship dynamics may not include mutual respect or interest, or  we have been used, abused, discounted or our values of honesty and integrity are not  aligned. Learning to set healthy boundaries in relationships, even with family members,  and making the effort to break toxic patterns to protect yourself may be necessary,  however this doesn’t usually happen until after we have learned tough lessons, processed  our pain and gained valuable wisdom the hard way through our experiences. 

I was forced to leave my “American Dream,” but despite my significant losses, I chose to  move forward in gratitude to create a new life for myself. Change is hard, but sometimes  change is necessary to stay true to your integrity and reclaim your authenticity. I was one  of the fortunate ones; I was blessed to find true, empathetic love and honest, supportive  

companionship after years of living in a relationship with an abusive and dishonest secret  agent man. My new life partner and I chose to move to paradise. After we both retired, we  relocated to the Virgin Islands where we now live on many acres in the tropical rainforest  

overlooking the Caribbean Sea. We continue our love of world travel because seeing  places and meeting people bring us joy and happiness. 

Y is for Yoga and Meditation: 

Actually, I originally wanted to highlight that happiness can be enhanced when you  practice Self-care and Self-love, but the last letter in HAPPY is not S, it is Y, so I needed to  find a word that fit this acrostic and the word yoga was the best fit, as it is one of the  activities to help promote concern for yourself. Yoga, meditation, prayer, quiet reflection  and practicing mindfulness can all contribute to centering yourself and connecting you  back to your soul.  

There are many ways to find happiness. A more surface, superficial and temporary way  that many choose to achieve happiness is to acquire shiny objects and count on others’  confirmations as external validations to feel worthy. I was guilty of that mindset for many  

years, which also included over-giving and people-pleasing. I am now someone who relies  on my own independent perspectives to internally validate my worth. We need to connect  or reconnect with who we are, find ourselves again, reclaim our lives, rediscover or pursue  our passions and treat ourselves with unconditional love and compassion. Living in  goodness with peace and happiness is our reward for living a balanced and thoughtful life.  

It seems to me that a necessary stage of growth is for people to go through challenging life  lessons to grow and evolve. They need to experience the dark times of adversity in order  to truly appreciate the light and blessings that come their way. Self-love includes taking  care of ourselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. We can take the “Golden Rule”  from scripture (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31) “Do unto others as you would have them do  unto you” or a quote from Confucious (ca 551-479 BCE) “What you do not wish upon  yourself, extend not to others” and apply those same sentiments to ourselves. We should  treat ourselves with the same level of concern and kindness that we show towards others.  Grounding myself with positive self-care and self-love practices, such as yoga and  meditation makes me happy. 

What makes YOU happy? Sharing our values and thoughts on what makes us happy  helps people understand others’ perspectives on life, love and joy. I sincerely wish you and  yours happiness on your life’s journey.



Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro is an award-winning and celebrated author, speaker and educator.  She earned her doctorate in education from Northern Illinois University and completed  postdoctoral studies at Harvard during her very successful and rewarding 35-year career  as a high school special education and English teacher, with 12 years as a university  adjunct graduate school professor. Marni’s life was forever changed after experiencing  numerous trauma-induced STEs-Spiritually Transformative Encounters. Marni’s 2022  Hollywood Book Fest runner-up, 5-Star Reader’s Favorite and 2020 Best Books finalist  Award Winning Spiritual fiction God Came to My Garage Sale” is prominently endorsed  by James Redfield, best selling author of “The Celestine Prophecy” series of books and  founding directors of IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies). Marni’s  latest prominently endorsed 5-book series is entitled: “True Deceit False Love”  addresses Domestic Violence, Narcissistic Abuse, Parental Alienation and  

Intergenerational Family Trauma. Marni is a lover of animals, nature, music and world  travel who handles life’s challenges with love and compassion. She values honesty,  integrity, equality and goodness and prays for peace on earth. Marni was born in the  South, raised her children in the Midwest and lives in the Caribbean. In addition to her  speaking engagements and various writing endeavors, she is a co-author to numerous  anthology books, including: “The Last Breath,” “The Evolution of Echo,” “We’re All In This  Together: Embrace One Another,” “Passing The Pearls,” “Write & Publish Your Book,” “The  Ulti-MUTT Book for Dog Lovers” and “bLU Talks Presents” (Business, Life and the  Universe.) In January 2022 Marni was inducted into the Bestselling Authors International  Organization. Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro’s books can be found on her author page: https:// and her podcast and T.V. interviews, guest  articles, speaking engagements, book signings and events can be found under  “Happenings” on her website: