One common challenge we all face is to find spiritual, mental and physical sanctuary during these extraordinarily chaotic times – to discover, within the rough seas, our own calm haven that can replenish the soul and allow us to look forward with hopeful anticipation. Many think that the journey to such a permanent safe harbor would require foregoing either where we live or who we are, and that absconding from disquiet to greener fields is externally determined. We are, in fact, exerting tremendous energy in search of an ideal surrounding for consoling familiarity that offers comfort and protection; perhaps a town in the literal sense or a sanctuary in the spiritual.


The fictitious towns often found in heartwarming literature engagingly embody one type of relief – a small village that celebrates the oddities and benign mayhem of everyday life with positive humor and a strong undying faith that all will work out for the best. In these novels, it is within the frequently-visited neighborhoods and Main Street stores that we find escape from profoundly complex issues, where we seek good and honest people who have steel moral fabric. In them and in these surroundings, we see a better self.

But these ideal towns are as much a compelling state of mind as they are quaint geographic locations. If there is any solace for those of us who don't live in such enchanting places, it lies in the fact that we can look inward and see those same rolling pastures and tree-lined avenues. Therein is an amazing grace of life: the ideal surrounding exists within each of us – it is not a destination but, instead, a vantage point.

A vantage point is the summit from which to view one's life as well as an embodiment of the principles that that life is to be lived and measured. It is the beliefs we hold, the dreams we share, the forgiveness we offer and it is the foundation cornerstone in which to guide our behavior. Here are nine ways to help you maintain a vantage point to find joy in every place we live.

  • Embrace and hold tight family and friends
  • Find confidence and comfort in your own spiritual beliefs
  • Be honesty with yourself and others
  • Show courage
  • Live a meaningful life
  • Define and defend your moral and ethical convictions
  • Accept serenity and happiness
  • Offer more and take less
  • Be kind

President Reagan's epitaph states that, "I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there is a purpose and worth to each and every life." Continuing that same thread, if we are deliberate in creating our own vantage point, then our positive sense of self and others, our purpose and beliefs, become our own port in the storm. That is what transforms any landscape, regardless how unpleasant or impossibly challenging, into an ideal sanctuary of hopeful calmness.

And that same vantage point also serves as both an anchor and compass as we negotiate our own paths and better understand our lives in context to our family, friends and society. It supports us as we tentatively consider venturing into new waters and strengthens us as we recreate that we are given and decide to keep.

One of the greatest gifts and most sobering responsibilities endowed upon us is to select the underlying assumptions and framework of our lives – to define our own vantage point. It not only perfectly reflects who we are as individuals but also projects what we can become as a community and as a country. So, if we have steadfast belief, if we maintain an uncompromised faith in God, ourselves and our fellow man, we no longer need to search for the ideal town, for it is here within each of us – it is our innate goodness and undying human spirit.


Gail R. Fraser, author of The Lumby Lines (Aug 2005) and Stealing Lumby (May 2006), continues to work full time on her six-book series about the extraordinary small town of Lumby and the humorous, benign mayhem surrounding it. Prior to changing her life and becoming a novelist, Gail had a successful career in "corporate America" holding senior executive and upper management positions in several Fortune 500 and start-up corporations, and traveling extensively throughout the world. She studied at the University of London, earned her BA at Skidmore College and completed her MBA at the University of Connecticut, with graduate work done at Harvard University. Married to artist, Art Poulin, Gail is also an avid potter, gardener and cook. Art and Gail live with their dogs, Emma and Yoda, in the rural landscape of upstate New York. You can visit Gail at

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