"Hope is in short supply these days," writes Sue Patton Thoele, author of 10 books. "We look around and don't necessarily see a lot to be hopeful about. But the truth is, each of us carries within our hearts the seeds of enduring hope. Growing hope is an inside job. And like anything worth cultivating — happiness, success, peace of mind, a loving family — hope requires conscious effort and committed action to be able to grow deep roots in our heart and soul."

Many things have the potential to bring us down and keep us on edge in these tense times. The author points to these: media mayhem and madness, economic iffiness, sandpapered senses, and personal pain. Her book gives an optimistic overview of hope as a virtue with chapters on growing, sowing, cultivating, harvesting, spreading, and watering seeds of hope. She includes plenty of practices to be tried as part of your sowing the seeds of positive change in your life and in the world.

Thoele includes many soul-stretching quotations on ideas, practices, and attributes that foster and encourage hope. Here are a few:

• "The idea that we should avoid pain no matter what is crazy, because it separates us from the experience of the sacred. We are often in touch with the deepest part of ourselves through pain."
— Isabel Allende

• "Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self."
— Henri J.M. Nouwen

• "I do not at all understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us."
— Anne Lamott

• "Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. And give. Give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than how it is shared, and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace."
— Kent Nerburn