By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

George and Merrijo Wheaton’s new book is the result of the life lessons they’ve learned -— namely that happiness is not a place or a situation. Rather, it’s found within you.

“You only find it when you settle down and look inside,” George said. “That idea is so important to get across to children.”

“It’s not about stuff, about some place,” Merrijo added. “It’s something innately within you.”

“The Bug’s Journey” is the Baker City couple’s literary debut. It is available in Baker City at Betty’s Books and Press Works, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Both worked on the book’s poetry, and Merrijo illustrated with works of collage art.

Merrijo has been making art since she was a child — about the same time she fell in love with books and illustrations.

Both Wheatons are retired teachers. Merrijo, 69, taught first grade in Arizona public schools. George, 75, taught middle school and high school.

“Engaging with a book is the beginning for kids and literature,” she said.

The inspiration for the main character in “The Bug’s Journey” came when Merrijo glimpsed her own framed art of a bug sitting in a chair.

Her first rendition of the story was in prose, but she wasn’t quite satisfied.

“He said ‘how about rhyme?’ ” Merrijo said of George’s suggestion.

So they reworked the story into a poem. The artwork took about a year to complete.

“The Bug’s Journey” follows Boswell the Bug, an adventurous insect who sets out to find happiness. Her adventures take her far and wide, to different places and cultures.

Then she has a revelation — happiness comes from within, rather than a specific destination.

“It came about as a result of the journeys we’ve been on, traveling from one place to another,” George said.

The Wheatons met and married in Arizona. When looking to move, they considered Oregon — but moved to Cincinnati instead. However, their son lives in Ashland so in 2015 they bought a house in Baker City.

They are working on their second book titled “Leafed.”