#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Tina Bonelli, California

When Tina Bonelli begins to feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, she turns to her gratitude list. After 30 years of marriage, she was forced to divorce her husband and relinquish her home in order to salvage her life. Friends have stepped in to help the 56-year-old with a room and a borrowed car, but it’s the daily gratitude list that has changed Bonelli’s story from one of inertia to self-reliance.

“I have forced myself to write gratitude lists,” said Bonelli. “Some days, I would write, ‘still breathing.’ Some days I wasn’t sure that ‘still breathing’ was something for which to be grateful, but I kept writing those lists, and found that they were the most effective tool to shifting my energy from negative to positive, and keep my focus placed on what would serve me. The more I was grateful, the more I had to be grateful for.”

Unable to find a job, Bonelli decided to create her own career. She’s working toward a degree in liberal studies so that she may deliver memoir writing workshops at senior centers, retirement centers and community centers.

“It is my firm belief that every life lived is of tremendous worth, and contains gems of learning and inspiration that, if recorded, can be a noble legacy. I believe that in the most ordinary of lives can be found stories of humor, heroism, sacrifice and love.”

Bonelli will use her $800 scholarship for books at Brandman University.

“Completing my education will dramatically improve my story, both in terms of competing in the marketplace and in building my confidence to succeed as I create my own career.”

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