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Storyteller’s attitude for gratitude contagious

Susan Boltz, of Cuyahoga Falls, who attended Dalton Local Schools and has family and friends in Dalton, wrote a story that appeared in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book several years ago and was chosen to run again in an edition that came out last year called “Your 10 Keys to Happiness.”

 

Many of us have been there. Waiting in a long line of grumpy customers at a busy grocery store the day before a major holiday with a lengthy shopping list in hand and an even longer to-do list in our minds.

We just want to put the chore behind us to get on to our next task while cashiers, baggers and fellow shoppers around us are frazzled — and we’re all feeling sorry for ourselves.

It’s amazing how a brief overheard conversation can suddenly put everything in perspective and turn around the entire experience – forever.

Susan Boltz, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, who graduated from Dalton High School in 1972, and frequently returns to visit family and friends in her hometown, wrote about what she calls a “God moment” and submitted her story to Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The popular series, which first came out in 1993, has sold more than 100 million books in the United States and Canada, has more than 250 titles and has been translated into more than 40 languages, according to chickensoup.com. Her story was published in an edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul in 2016 entitled “The Power of Gratitude.”

From there, her story grew legs.

The Thanksgiving-themed story has been a regular on the Chicken Soup for the Soul podcast around the holidays. This past summer, her story was chosen to appear again in a special edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul called: “Your 10 Keys to Happiness.”

“I’ve read tens of thousands of real-life, enlightening stories from our contributors, and I’ve developed an understanding of what makes people tick… and what makes them happy,” Amy Newmark, bestselling author, editor-in-chief and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, said in a news release on the website. “Now I’ve selected 101 stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul’s library that illustrate the 10 keys to happiness that work best for our writers. I’ve tried these out in my own life and I can report that I am a happier, more grateful, more grounded, and more relaxed person as a result.”

Years had passed when Boltz decided to pen her experience that stuck with her. The short story, called “The Grocery Store,” relays her relatable experience about grocery shopping to make that perfect Thanksgiving dinner for her family and in-laws. She overheard a brief segment of a conversation between two other shoppers about how some people spend their entire week’s wages on food that wouldn’t nearly fill a shopping cart. That prompted Boltz to reflect on how she spends a fraction of a week’s wages on groceries and how she has the luxury of shopping in a well-lit safe grocery store that has a pharmacy, bank and florist and she has help with bagging her cart full of groceries and can take them to her warm comfortable home. A feeling of gratitude washed over her and her attitude toward what used to be a tedious chore changed forever. As she left the grocery store that day, she made sure to thank the cashier and the manager and wish people a “Happy Thanksgiving.” She could tell that her demeanor was contagious and she heard others behind her doing the same thing.

“It’s one of those God moments you have that you all of a sudden realize, ‘what do I have to complain about?’” she said.

When Boltz discovered her story was going to be one of the 101 stories in the 358-page book published June 7, 2022, it lifted her spirits.

“They looked back over books that had gone before and they chose 101 of their best stories over the years,” she said. “They picked that story.”

She had been feeling lost since her mother had recently passed away and news that her story had been selected for “Your 10 Keys to Happiness” and would be shared with even more readers was validating to her as a writer.

“It seems to have struck a cord and made a difference for some people,” she said.

Read more in the March 1, 2023 edition.

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