Monthly Archives: August 2013

Managing Change

I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change.  I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back! ~ Erica Jong

This summer wrought many transformations in our family.  Some were wonderful, like the birth of our new niece; others were not so welcome, like the massive firm-wide layoff that claimed my husband’s job a few weeks ago.  Today, the beginning of the new school year brings more change to our household.  One child merely faces new teachers, while another is entering a middle school for the first time. 20099897_s

With each alteration, a surfeit of mixed emotions emerges, impacting our thoughts and actions.  Obviously, unwanted developments dredge up pain, sorrow, and dread.  Last night my ten-year-old hit me with a barrage of nervous questions (will my teachers like me, is it going to be harder than grade school, how will I find my way around the building).  During our discussion, it occurred to me my husband is contemplating similar concerns as he begins his job search.

But even the joyful anticipation attached to exciting transformations contains an edge of trepidation – the fear of the unknown.  When Jill Marsal offered me representation in June, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.  Yet, as the surge of adrenaline faded, I worried about those same fretful issues my son and husband now face (will she like working with me, will she like my newest work, will my work sell, and, if so, will readers respond positively).

Whether a change is welcome or unwelcome, no one escapes it without suffering a little apprehension.  Fortunately, humans are truly resilient.  I’ve witnessed amazing resiliency within my extended family, including comebacks from major physical, emotional, and financial upheaval.  I draw courage from their examples of facing facts, adapting, and moving forward.  For me, the key to minimizing nagging doubts is to focus on the possibilities ahead – the chance to reinvent myself – rather than cling to the comfort of what must be left behind.

After all, there is no getting around change, so we may as well march straight into it with our chins held high.  The added bonus of embracing new circumstances occurs when you come out on the other side with newly acquired confidence gained by having met that challenge head on and survived.

Care to share your advice on handling change?

xo-Jamie

 

Vacation Bucket Lists

Hey there, it’s Katherine, taking a break from beauty and fashion to talk about another fun topic — traveling!

As August comes to a close, I’m already asking myself “What can we do next summer”?  With one child entering high school this fall, I’m saddened to realize I’m running out of time for family summer vacations.

Summer trips have always played an important role in my life.  Throughout my youth, my family annually planned an extended summer vacation around my father’s business meetings.  IMG_1753Those trips inspired some of my fondest family memories, and helped shape the person I am today.  Now I want to engender the same kinds of memories for my two kids.

Selecting vacation destinations that intrigue and satisfy kids and parents isn’t easy.  Tweens and teens need age-appropriate activities, while my husband and I want a little peace and quiet in the sun, followed by a nice dinner and drink in the evening.  These photos are from our trip to New Mexico (to visit my parents), and Georgia (to visit my husband’s family).IMG_1634

I’ve given it some thought and created a list of things that to see with my kids before we kick the proverbial “family travel” bucket (in other words, before the kids are “too cool” to travel with us).  Some of these places are locations I’ve visited but wish to share with my kids, while others would be new to us all:

  1. Backroads Tour to Spain or Italy
  2. Hawaii
  3. Costa Rica
  4. RV trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons
  5. Alaskan Cruise
  6. Grand Canyon
  7. Mediterranean Cruise
  8. London
  9. Turks & Caicos
  10. Germany

Have any of you been to these places and, if so, are they worth the trip?  And tell me, what destinations comprise your “travel” bucket list?

xo-Katherine

The Serenity of Insignificance

I woke up unusually early this morning, so I quietly sneaked away from the sixteen other family members (who were still sleeping in our vacation rental) to enjoy a rare, private moment on a deserted stretch of beach.  I’m more of a mountain lover than a beachgoer, but there are few, if any, more peaceful experiences than watching the sun crest over the Atlantic Ocean.  Soft rose and gold light reaches out, tinting the clouds.  The steady thrum of waves beats against the shore, soothing the soul. IMG_2579_2

Whenever I’m staring across an expanse of ocean toward the horizon, I’m struck by the contrast between the huge, timeless planet and my small, temporary role in its evolution.  Although I don’t generally like to think of myself as insignificant, the feeling can be very freeing.  Mundane worries, or even larger problems, gain a new perspective and feel less insurmountable.  Whether those concerns resolve favorably or not, life goes on until it’s over, and the ups and downs we experience blend into a seamless, colorful tapestry of experience that would be less beautiful without the good and the bad.

I suspect many find that same sense of serenity through their faith.  Although raised as a Catholic, you’ll only occasionally find me seated in a church pew on Sundays.  Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with organized religion and questioned my faith.  With so many options, can only one of them possibly be the correct belief?  But when I’m standing at the edge of the sea bathed in sunrays, it’s hard not to believe in God.

Where do you find serenity?

xo-Jamie

In Love and Romance, Does Effort Match Expectations?

No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved ~ Mignon McLaughlin

Do you sometimes feel this is true?  Do you give as much as you expect to receive?

I suspect women have greater expectations of love and romance than most men.  After all, we women are bombarded with movies and books featuring amazing heroes who fall head-over-heels for their heroines.  Those heroes literally risk death for their women.  They don’t need instructions in romance, or lessons on thoughtfulness and empathy.  Those heroes continually seek ways to surprise their women with affection and praise without reminders or prodding.  And, much to the feminists’ chagrin, we women still want to live that dream, to be that lucky heroine who is cherished and protected.  That is the way we want to be loved.9922717_s

Unfortunately, in reality, persistent attention is a tall order.  It presumes your man has the free time and money to constantly woo you without worrying about work pressure, budgets, kids’ tuition, and taking out the garbage.  The imaginary twenty-something billionaire with an endless sex drive doesn’t have those concerns.  Perhaps giving your partner a romance roadmap isn’t such a terrible thing after all:  flowers for no reason, help me out in the kitchen, tell me I look pretty without initiating sex immediately after the compliment (unless I’m in the mood, of course).

Yet, the real point of the quote and my question is to acknowledge we probably aren’t lavishing our beloved with the very love we feel entitled to receive.  I must admit I could do better.

In my mind, I’ve got good excuses: too busy with the kids, too busy with my writing, too busy running errands, too busy dealing with the latest family crisis.  But those are the very excuses I’ve heard from him that make me bristle and feel under-appreciated.  During the early days of our relationship, I used to get a kick out of surprising my husband with silly, out-of-the-blue gifts and cards.  Now I can’t remember the last time I bought him a card for no reason at all.

Well, I can’t control the way I’m loved, but I can control the way I love.  I also can recalibrate my own expectations to something more realistic than the fairy tales I’m writing.  And maybe, just maybe, by focusing more on what I can do and give, I might end up receiving what I need.

How about you?

xo-Jamie

What Is True Love?

True love begins when nothing is looked for in return ~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Lovely sentiment, but is it true?  Can a person really give love to another without any expectations?  Alternatively, if one has expectations or needs, does it mean his or her love is insincere?

During my earliest experiences with romantic love, I was a generous, giving person…and uncharacteristically bold in my declarations.  I went out of my way to be thoughtful, to make the object of my affection feel special.  At the time, I didn’t require reciprocation (a fact lamented by my parents and friends).  In fact, I rarely received much back at all (ah, unrequited love)! 8676906_s

Yet, I stayed my course.  It made me feel good to make ‘him’ feel good.  I believed my form of love was pure and true.  But, within a few years, the “giving without receiving” grew old pretty quickly.  The term “doormat” springs to mind when I reflect upon those days.  By my mid-twenties, I began to demand something in exchange for my time and attention.  I learned to balance self-love with love for another, and in doing so I think I became a happier person and better partner/lover.

Now I’m a parent who hopes to pass on a certain amount of wisdom about life to my children.  Love is never an easy subject because it is so personal, so subjective, and so often painful.  Still, it’s probably the most important, fundamental element of all interaction.  As such, it cannot be ignored.

So, the question is, do I agree with the quote?  Not really.  Naturally a person should not be calculating and manipulative in order to win or sustain love.  That would be putting self-love above the welfare of one’s beloved.  In my opinion, however, true love requires a balance between the two types of love.

Give generously of yourself, but do expect to reap what you sow.  If you give everything away without any expectation in return, you will likely end up empty.  True love should never leave one empty.

Do you agree or disagree?

xo-Jamie

photo credit: aspenrock (123rf image id 8676906)