Monthly Archives: December 2014

A Twist on Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, isn’t it?  I could dust off last year’s list of resolutions, but I fear that could be a bit depressing.  I have a habit of coming up with great ideas, but my follow-through isn’t as good.  Still, the pressure to reassess and improve taunts me.

Maybe it’s time for a twist on this whole New Year’s resolution thing.  Instead of making sweeping changes, I’m going to simply look at what’s working really well in my life and resolve to keep those things going.  Definitely seems more affirming than itemizing all the things I didn’t do so well and could improve.

So what went well?

Drawing boundaries, for one.  Instead of taking on everyone else’s burdens as my own, I’ve gotten better at knowing when to step out of a situation, especially when it’s really between third parties.  I’ve finally accepted the fact that I can’t fix things for anyone.  We all have to fix our own stuff!

Exercise.  I squeezed it in just under the wire in 2014, but I’ve gotten back into exercise thanks to my blog mate, Katherine’s, harassment!  I think this summer will be the first in two years when I’m not dreading putting on a bathing suit.  And maybe I’ll be able to do a few pull-ups by June, too.  Who knows?  Miracles do happen!

Junk Food.  Amazingly, I’ve cut out a lot of junk food in recent weeks, and I haven’t even missed it too much.  If you knew me well, that would shock you, because I’m a junk food junkie.  Although I haven’t seen a drop in weight as a result, I do feel better about myself for having some self-control, so that’s a great benefit.

TV.  I admit it.  I love nighttime TV dramas like The Good Wife, Stalker, Nashville, and a variety of others.  My husband teases me because he doesn’t like these shows (then again, he’s a fan of Tosh 2.0, so what does he know about good TV?), but I feel NO guilt indulging my TV habit.  I love my DVR and will continue to worship it in 2015!

Flexibility.  I’m a fairly rigid person, and strongly prefer plans and order.  I don’t deal well with chaos.  But with a teenager and pre-teen in the house, I’ve been working on being a little more flexible with their last minute requests and changes in plans.  It’s a balancing act, to be sure, but I think my kids appreciate my effort and feel their complaints have been heard.

How about you?  Share something that you resolve to keep doing in 2015.

xo-Jamie

 

Holiday Baking…and Other Disasters

I knew before we started that my daughter’s and my plan to bake Christmas cookies would not become a blissful Betty Crocker memory. First, I’m not a baker. And when I do bake, I prefer to make brownies or cakes. You know–things that are less time intensive, require just one pass at the oven, and generally are difficult to burn.

FullSizeRender(1) But my daughter really wanted to make the pretty iced cookies she saw on the covers of every magazine at the checkout line, so I went along.

Within minutes, confectioner’s sugar had spilled all over the table, along with a container of green sprinkles. Greasy fingerprints and red gel icing dotted the counters. And the cute candy cane and wreath shaped FullSizeRender 2cookies we attempted to create ultimately spread and melted into blobs on the cookie sheets.

When we tried to ice one batch, we didn’t wait long enough, so that first smear of icing just tore off the top halves of the cookies. We burned the bottoms of another batch of chocolate cookies. My daughter tried to salvage what we didn’t destroy, but needless to say, they look nothing like intended. We can only hope they taste better than they appear.

I wish I could report that I rolled with the punches and giggled and laughed. Sadly, the perfectionist in me just got more disgusted with every mistake. My attempt to share a Christmas moment with my daughter went up in flames (much like that one batch of cookies).   In other words, major fail on my part, despite the smooth voice of Bing Crosby in the background.

Next year I vow to do a better job (assuming my daughter gives me another chance). If I stick to cupcakes and hot chocolate, perhaps I’ve got a shot.

Do you have a Christmas fail story to share?

xo-Jamie

One Week

Exactly one week ago, my debut novel (In the Cards) was released into the world with some fanfare (mostly by my friends and me…LOL).  This milestone sits pretty high on my life’s list.  Certainly not up there with my marriage or the birth of my kids, but definitely above my JD/MBA graduation.

That said, by December 10th life had already returned to the norm:  laundry, groceries, homework checks, and preparing for the upcoming celebrations (my daughter’s birthday today, and Christmas next week).  So at the end of the day, after a few years of work and many months of anticipation, nothing about my life is any different than it was on December 8th other than the fact that I am now a published author.  A distinction which makes a material difference only to me.

It makes me realize how critical it is that the goals we pursue matter to us, because frankly, they won’t matter much to anyone else.  Yes, family and friends will support and encourage you, they’ll be proud when you announce your success, but then they’ll return their attention to the pressing matters and goals in their own lives.  So if you’re chasing after something solely to please someone else,  stop, because you will probably not be very satisfied once it is accomplished, and will have wasted a lot of time pursuing the wrong thing.

I wish I had learned this lesson at twenty instead of nearly fifty…but better late than never, I suppose.  Now I preach this to my kids and hope that they choose goals for which they have great passion.  That makes the journey as much fun as any accomplishment and, to me, is the ultimate definition of success.

xo-Jamie

 

 

 

5 of My Favorite Things

Move over, Oprah!  I’ve got my own list of favorite things to share with folks this holiday season.  And my things don’t cost a lot, either…

1.  Hot chocolate with whipped cream.  Not the fake watery stuff, but the real deal.  Cocoa made with *gasp* whole milk and topped with homemade whipped cream.  Add a snickerdoodle on the side and I am h-a-p-p-y!

2.  Roaring fires.  We never light one up in our Connecticut house (the firebox is small, the chimney short), but we enjoy raging, crackling fires all winter long in Vermont.  I love the smell of firewood (inside and outside), and nothing beats the indulgence of curling up in front of the fire with a great book.

3.  Holiday music.  I admit, I do love some of the old classics (like Bing, and Nat King Cole), but one of my all-time favorite holiday songs is “Merry Christmas, Darling” by Karen Carpenter.  I also love Christina Aguilera’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Kelly Clarkson’s “My Grown-up Christmas List.”

4.  Pretty wrapping.  As I said the other day, I think my mom spoiled me a bit with this one.  Now, I can’t make my packages look pretty, but I so appreciate other people’s artistry with bows and other decorative wrapping trinkets.  It’s very romantic.

5.  Snow!  Oh, I know.  It creates all kinds of practical problems–traffic, school cancellations, shoveling duties.  But few things on earth are more beautiful than waking up to a thick blanket of snow on the ground and frosting the branches of the trees, or that lovely quiet it creates outside–a muffled kind of peace that practically reaches inside your chest to slow your heart and breathing and force you to relax and appreciate the day.

So those are my top five favorite things about December.  Share one of yours!

xo–Jamie

My Book Birthday!

After a few years of writing, and many months of editing and promoting, my debut book “birth” date is finally here.  A book birthday is an apt term because, in many ways, writing and publishing a book parallels getting pregnant and having a child. book-bday

First you work hard to conceive (in this case, a story idea).  Then you let the seed germinate: you outline, write drafts, revise, get advice, and revise again.  You invest yourself in its development, nurturing it with each new day.  Once you finish a manuscript and start to submit it to agents or publishers, people “see” it as real, start to congratulate you and express support and enthusiasm, they give advice, they offer their help.  And then finally, after months or years, the book comes out and you hold it in your hands with wonderment.  Like a baby, it’s something you created from nothing, and that first moment is amazingly surreal.

Then a whirlwind of emotions occurs: excitement, anticipation, pride, anxiety, and even fear.  You worry you’ve taxed your friends’ goodwill too much.  You read sections of the story and immediately see elements you wish you could tweak one last time.  You hope people will “get” the point of the story.  You pray it will sell!

But ultimately, like with one’s children, you don’t have genuine control over anything that happens once the book is out in the wild!  All you can do is hope that everything you’ve done aligns and the book is well-received.

December 9, 2014, Montlake Romance

December 9, 2014, Montlake Romance

So tonight, mere hours away from the official launch of the book, I’m going to try to simply toast the fact that I’ve exceeded my original goal, which was to write a love story.  And after the hoopla of tomorrow’s party subsides, I’ll sit back at my desk and keep working on my new project, and try not to obsess about sales and reviews and all of the other things that get in the way of enjoying the process of writing.

Thank you for celebrating with me!

xo-Jamie