Grand Haven author uses gratitude journal to support mental health

Grand Haven author Melanie Hooyenga plans to donate all March proceeds for her gratitude journal, “The Book of Good,” to Mosaic Counseling, specifically toward youth counseling and programming.
The Grand Haven nonprofit agency, founded in 1978, has changed the way mental health services are delivered by removing barriers so people can receive personalized counseling.

Finding the good

“I write books for teens and am passionate about supporting mental health, so it’s only natural that I give the proceeds to an organization doing so much for teens in our community,” Hooyenga says. “My birthday is in March and I’ve always celebrated for the entire month, and what better way to celebrate than by giving back?”
The “Book of Good” is a guided journal for people who want to find the good in each day. Appropriate for all ages — from adults to teens to parents and children — this journal encourages users to write three good things that happened each day. Each spread has three lines for each day, then space to highlight the three best things for that week.
Hooyenga says she experienced mental health struggles in 2011, when she was severely depressed and felt that therapy and medication weren’t doing enough to get her through the days.

She started a journal she called the Book of Good, and challenged herself to write down at least three good things that happened each day.

“Every day. It could be as monumental as winning the lottery or as small as the joy my dog brings me when we played after work. No matter how low my mood, odds were something made me smile, even if for only a second, and even if it was only on the inside,” she shares on her website.

Retrained her brain

Over time, she shifted her outlook to begin looking for good throughout the day. While the practice didn’t get rid of the negative things in her life, it did retrain her brain to stop dwelling on the negatives that were out of her control and to focus on the good things that remind her why she got out of bed every morning. 

“This doesn’t mean I completely blocked out the world around me, but I got better at not letting the negatives overwhelm me,” Hooyenga says. 

In hopes of helping others, she has created “The Book of Good,” a journal to help people find the good in each day. The journals, published in late 2019, are available at The Bookman in Grand Haven and online on Amazon.
Hooyenga has been writing young adult novels since 2010. Her award-winning YA sports romance series, “The Rules Series,” is about girls from Colorado falling in love and learning to stand up on their own. 

Her YA time travel trilogy, “The Flicker Effect,” is about a teen who uses sunlight to travel back to yesterday. The first book, “Flicker,” won first place for Middle Grade/Young Adult in the Writer’s Digest 2015 Self-Published eBook awards, and “The Rules Series” has won ten awards, including finalist for MG/YA in the 2019 BookLife Prize. 

The first book in her new series, “Chasing the Sun,” won gold for young adult general fiction in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was named one of the Best Indie eBooks of 2020 by Barnes & Noble Press.
When not writing books, Hooyenga says she likes to get outside to enjoy the beauty of West Michigan. She’s also busy training her puppy, Gus, and playing every sport imaginable with her husband, Jeremy Swiftney, Grand Haven’s DDA director. 

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