Are you happy at the moment?

I am happy. I believe that happiness is a choice we can all make, and I choose it. Even on days when my kids are overtired and screaming, I choose to be positive. On my worst days, I don’t succeed, but I remember that this, too, shall pass, and I refuse to let it drag me into the mire of perennial discontent.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

I was just 16 when graduated from high school. There’s so much I wish I had known then:

  • When your gut tells you not to do something, just don’t do it. God gave you insticts for a very good reason. Listen to them.
  • You are fat. Get over it. You are worthwhile, wonderful even. Don’t assume people won’t like you just because you’re fat.
  • Making friends is hard work, but you need some. Go out and meet people.
  • Get off your butt and go to class. You can’t be successful in college without going to class, and someday, you will wish you went.
  • Driving fast doesn’t make you cool; it just makes you dangerous.
  • Don’t let fear of change hold you hostage. You have to take risks to grow.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

I’ve learned that successful entrepreneurs spend 1/3 to ¼ of their time pitching new clients. I have a master’s degree in education, but I never learned anything about marketing in college.  For two years, I’ve wondered why I wasn’t getting more clients, and now I know it’s because they don’t know about me. I’ve had to learn a lot about marketing messages and how to help people solve their problems.

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I want to empower more women entrepreneurs to make money from their blogs through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and private coaching. I know there are thousands of moms just like I was 3 years ago on the internet – hoping to make enough money to quit their full time jobs and stay home with their kids. I want to help them do that.

What’s your secret to happiness?

Gratitude. I’m a very spiritual person; I have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When my day goes sour or my kids get on my nerves or I get mad at my husband, I start thanking God for all of the blessings in my life. If it’s my kids, “Thank you, Jesus, for giving me these beautiful babies. Thank you, Jesus, for challenging me to grow more patient. Thank you, Jesus, that I get to stay home with these cherubs.” You get the idea. I keep on going until I’m over whatever got me so worked up to start with. It’s impossible to be miserable and grateful at the same time.

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Prayer. I pray every day. At night, I have a long prayer time right before bed, but I pray periodically throughout my day. Sometimes, it’s a simple as, “Oh Jesus, what am I supposed to do now?” or “Thank you for getting us through that!” and sometimes it’s gratitude like I described above.

Social media keeps me grounded, too. When I’m having a bad day, it’s nice to be able to reach out to a group of friends who understand what I’m going through. I’ve been a professional blogger for enough years that I have a wide circle of blogging friends. They’re always good for a conversation, for support, for encouragement, for advice. I love that about the internet.

What’s your biggest regret?

My only regret is that I didn’t find a way to stay home with my kids sooner. I was a full-time working mom for 3 years, and I had so much stress over day care and my job that I was frequently sick and chronically unhappy.  It wasn’t easy to lose my teaching income; it was 2/3 of our household income. But I had to do it, for myself and for my kids. My husband and I have struggled since I quit (partly due to financial irresponsibility, to be perfectly honest), but there hasn’t been a single day when I wished I’d kept my job. Not one single day in 2 years. I only wish I’d quit sooner.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

There is one phrase I remember my mother saying often when I was growing up.  “I never wanted any children!” she’d say plainly and without any emotion at all. I don’t remember feeling anything in particular when she said it, but as an adult, I can see that it hurt me a great deal. It shaped me into a person who believed she wasn’t important, wasn’t worth anything, wasn’t special.

When men came along who wanted to use my body, I let them. Why not? I was fat and no good, so what was the big deal?

So, the most important lesson I can teach my own kids is that they are wonderful, worthwhile, and special. They are magnificent creatures who are worthy of respect and celebration just for being.

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

I’m lazy. I don’t like to exercise. I don’t like to go to the kitchen for my own glass of water if I can get my husband to do it for me. If I could change one thing about myself, I wouldn’t be lazy any more.

Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

I am proud that I graduated from high school when I was 16. I am proud that I earned a master’s degree. I am proud that I touched hundreds of students in the ten years that I taught high school. I am proud that I’ve built a business that allows me to work from home. I’m proud that God uses me to help and encourage other women through my blog. I’m proud of my work through Compassion International and proud of what I’ve done for AboutOne, too.

I know your question said what am I most proud of, but there isn’t one thing. I’m proud of the amalgum of my accomplishments so far.

When were you happiest?

I was pretty happy on my honeymoon, but I think I am happiest now. It’s probably cliché, but my life began when I had my children. I grew into a patient, kind, gentle person. To have my dream job (Working from home! Online! Helping other women!) and be home with my kids every day is my heaven on earth.

What ten words best describe you?

Tenacious, astute, animated, relaxed, mothering,

Tara Ziegmont is a professional blogger, blog coach, and SEO specialist. She created an internationally-syndicated, award-winning blog called Feels Like Home in 2007 and continues to publish it today. Tara homeschools the older of her two crazy children and lives an old-school back-to-basics frugal lifestyle all while working full-time from home. Follow her on Twitter @TaraZiegmont