Life Lessons:
Clarissa Dane Hughes


*Are you happy at the moment?

I have never felt more happy or content in my life. And it isn’t because I have more it is because I have learned more, and I pray and laugh a lot more. I had become a little lost and stagnant in my life for while in the past personally and professionally. I took life a little too seriously for a long time and sort of forgot to just laugh. Since getting married, becoming a mom and starting new businesses (Photography, vocal coaching and a new children’s book), I laugh a lot more and have been feeling a deeper sense of purpose again. Feeding my mind and my soul with new things makes me feel happy. I have an insatiable appetite for figuring things out, and so learning new things feels invigorating and life affirming. But overall my greatest happiness comes from my husband and 2 beautiful children. Hilarious, hilarious humans.

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

I would tell her not to be so self-obsessed and self-critical. I would tell her to stay out of the sun. I would tell her that mean people are really just hurting people because someone hurt them. I would tell her to stop worrying, work really hard, and play even harder. I would tell her to practice balance, peace and faith now so it isn’t such a struggle later. I would tell her there really is such thing as God and magic. I would tell her it is all going to work out beautifully, stop forcing it and just enjoy the ride. I would also tell her she wont find true love until 37.

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

That the cliché baby steps is a cliché for good reason. Just asking myself, “What’s the next thing that needs to be done?” And if it isn’t working ask, “How can I make this work?” Has been the impetus to completing a five-year project. If someone had handed me a thick handbook that had all the steps that needed to be taken to complete our book project and how long it would take, I never would have done it. Going blindly forward in faith was a huge blessing. Also having cheerleaders there every step of the way was imperative. It really does take a village!

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

Now that KC’s Magic Garden is finally in the world, we want it to reach many families, as many as possible and hope it spreads some extra happiness, wonder and surprise to children as well as new family traditions. The vision board to complete this project was all the children and families it could touch and bring joy. The vision beyond that has been the potential it has to grow and what we could do to help foster children, orphans, children in poverty, and children with special needs. They are all of our future.

*What’s your secret to happiness?

My secret to happiness is breathing, laughter & prayer. Being in the moment and taking in just the life around me, which is the same distance for all of us, brings me true happiness. The thrills in life are fleeting, but inner peace is something to hold on to. No matter who we are or what we do we can only have a private, meaningful, fun conversation with one person at a time. The only time I am not happy in a “normal” given day is when I let my thoughts or fears throw me around. When I stop and just breathe, it brings me back to the present moment. Anytime I am fully in the moment and letting myself be real in my emotions, I feel an inner peace and serenity that is pure. And again, when I don’t take life, or myself, too seriously. I laugh a LOT. I am not funny, but I surround myself with funny people.

*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Prayer and faith helps keep me grounded. When I feel like I am starting to spin out, I breathe and ask for direction. It helps every time. I also have daily talks with my BFF’s. I the most amazing women in my life and I feel truly blessed. They are all very real and also very funny. They never fake fabulous they are fabulous because they are real. Even in their weakness, in their vulnerability, it is every part of them that makes me love them more and what helps me embrace my own weaknesses (and I have plenty!) Loving my friends through their struggles helps me forgive myself for my own.

*What’s your biggest regret?

That’s one that makes you go hmmmm… I am pretty sure I do not have any regrets. I remember always thinking I would never allow that, because I knew I would always learn from certain things. There are definitely stupid things I have done I maybe wish I hadn’t done, like when I dressed up like Madonna and showed up at a random record company unannounced in the 80’s. But even the stupid things I did, or bad choices I made, always steered me in a different direction and forced me to grow. I do believe we can learn more from our mistakes than from our accomplishments and I try to never regret anything and not to fear failure. I never truly felt accomplished until I really wasn’t. When I fell to failure is when I could actually start to see. I had been blinded by my dreams and the expectations I had of myself and I felt others had of me, which was nothing but a treasure trove of unwarranted pressure. I am not as hard on myself anymore, so I don’t let anything feel like a regret, just a good lesson.

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

Kindness. I am so grateful to have had an amazing source of wisdom in my life from so many brilliant friends and moms and my family. I try to use what they have shared with me or I have witnessed. Another big one is, “Do as I say and not as I do/did.” They are still little, seven & eleven, so we will see how that works out, but and all I can say is I am just so grateful there were no smart phones when I was growing up!

Overall I want them to be kind and brave enough to follow their own path and lean into their faith and not allow themselves to be swayed by others. To do the right thing when everyone else wants to do the wrong thing. Also, that fame and fortune does not necessarily equal happiness.

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

There are a few, but one of the biggest things I would like to change about myself is my disorganization with my house. I am organized with work, but disorganized with my house. I detest laundry and little clothing (as in socks). I would rather work for 48 hours straight than sort socks. I have to work extra hard at getting my home organized, which at the moment is utter chaos, though I prefer it organized. I work a lot so I need to more gracefully balance my entire life.

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

I was adopted as an infant, so one is that I found my entire birth family in 1990. They all live in Europe so I don’t get to see them often, but it has been a great experience. Another is actually completing the project, KC’s Magic Garden a family tradition of ours which my sister-in-law, Kim Hughes, decided to begin the task of bringing to market in 2009.

*When were you happiest?

Now. Hearing my children laugh. When we snuggle, cuddle and tell stories. Having long, amazing talks with my husband. Spending time with amazing, supportive, beautiful, funny and inspiring friends. Being in the moment while making memories. I wrote a song a few years ago called, “Here & Now” and it reminds me to breathe, be present, and to be happy with the simple things now.

*What ten words best describe you?

That would probably be a combination of what I strive to be and want to work on… So I would say: loyal, loving, goofy, hard working, faithful, determined, young-at-heart, responsible, messy, and stubborn. I have learned that even my negative qualities can work for me if used in the proper context. Being stubborn has actually kept me going for the last five years. The messy allows me to let my kids get messy too. I guess there really is a place for everything. But I still wont ever like to mess with socks.

Clarissa Dane Hughes is a former singer/songwriter. She is now the co-creator, co-author and illustrator of a brand new book and activity called “KC’s Magic Garden TM” a magical, interactive bedtime story for birthdays, holidays and special occasions. She is the co-founder and CEO/President of distribution company, K&C Hughes, Inc., with sister-in-law and other co-author/co-creator/co-founder, Kim Hughes, VP of Creative Development along with newest partner, Patrice Hammill, VP of Marketing/Finance.

During the building and branding of KC, Clarissa has continued to be a professional photographer and owner of CDH Photography in Redington Beach, FL. She is also a private vocal and performance coach. She was a co-president of the St. Pete Chapter of the Pajama Program for four years, and is on the board of The Philip A. Bryant Melanoma Foundation, the nonprofit family foundation named after her late nephew, Phil Bryant. KC’s Magic Garden can be found at:

You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Etsy and Pinterest.