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cover Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I’ve been sick the last couple of days.  As I rested, I began to reread the Harry Potter series.  I love J.K. Rowling’s books.  They’re just as fresh, alive and fun as the first day I read them.  I finished #3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I began to think about how Harry uses the Expecto Patronum spell to get the dementors away from Sirius Black and his earlier self.  In case you don’t remember, the dementors suck all the happiness and goodness away from a person, leaving them with only the negative.  If the dementors use the kiss of death, they suck a person’s soul away too.  Terrible creatures!  Anyway, Harry tries to learn to do the Expecto Patronum, but he has a hard time because he has so few happy memories, and they aren’t strong enough to overcome the evil he is facing.  Finally, (spoiler alert) he is able to do it, partly because of the love he has for his parents, who gave their lives for him, and partly because he knows he’d already done it.

I closed the book and asked myself, “What is my Expecto Patronum?”  As I look back on my life, I’ve had a lot of hard experiences, sad memories, and difficult trials.  If I stopped there, it would leave me feeling as if I’d had contact with a dementor.  But shining along the pathway of my life are the jewels, memories of happy moments and joyful experiences.   Some are intensely spiritual, such as when I was baptized.  Getting married to Sam was definitely one.  Many involve my children, such as at their births or special moments in their lives when I was so proud of them for what they had accomplished.   One day my daughter-in-law brought my grandkids over.  They came in the door, looked up at me, grinned, and shouted, “Amaw!”  Then they rushed to me and hugged me.  I overflowed with happiness.  That was definitely an Expecto Patronum moment.  Then there are the personal creative moments, such as the day I finished a painting, took it to art class, and they oohed and ahhed over it.  I realized that I had created something quite good.  It felt amazing. When I finish the first draft of a book, and type The End, I feel a great sense of fulfillment, even though I know there is more work to come.  Last year I attended the League of Utah Writers conference, and they announced the winners of the contests.  When they got to the short genre fiction category, they called out my name.  I had won!  It was so totally unexpected that I almost fainted as I walked up to get my prize.  Now that was an Expecto Patronum!

So, don’t let the hard, sad, or negative experiences of life get you down.  Don’t give up on your writing or art, or whatever you do to express yourself creatively.  Don’t let the dementors win.  Think about your Expecto Patronum moments and keep fighting on.  You will triumph. And thank you, J.K. Rowling!

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