Category Archives: love

Goodbye, Stitch…

Our neighbor’s cat, Stitch, was a fixture on our street for a dozen years. He’s been in everyone’s home from time to time–sometimes invited, other times not. As he aged, he became rather bold, lying in the middle of the road or driveway and refusing to budge for cars. Love him or not, no one would deny that he was a bit of an old soul and a vagabond (often being spotted a mile or farther away from our street).

My husband¬†adored this cat. Several times per week he’d sit on the front or back porch with Stitch, feeding him milk and tuna. He’d purr at that furry friend while petting him. In truth, he and my kids considered Stitch “our” cat, and based on the number of hours he spent with us, maybe they weren’t wrong.

On the other hand, I’m allergic to cats. I could also get easily annoyed by Stitch barging into my house or racing to the grill and standing at my feet whenever I cooked. I’d have to watch for him in the driveway and physically move him so I could come or go. He’d chase me into the garage, too, which would make me grumble when trying to carry the groceries inside the house without letting him slip past me.

Although he could be a nuisance, when I noticed how slow he’d been growing–how hard of a time he had getting up and down–I worried about how my family would deal with his inevitable death. In order to preserve his memory, I wrote him into my upcoming release, BEFORE I KNEW. When I made that choice, I didn’t know how or when the end would come, just that it would come.

Well, it came today. I wish I could say it was peaceful and that his owners informed the  neighborhood. Sadly, I discovered him in our yard this morning, clearly the victim of a coyote attack. It was heartbreaking, to say the least, which surprised me because I had not loved him like my family had.

But tonight when I go to the grill, I know I’ll feel his absence. Even now, writing this simple post, my eyes are a little dewy. My husband was right all along: Stitch was a cool cat. I now wish I’d appreciated that more before it was too late. This isn’t the first time I’ve been slow to realize something like that, but I hope it’s the last.

It’s a good reminder for me to be more present and to appreciate all the little things that are part of my journey. And when we all face the sad reality that nothing lasts forever, perhaps we should emulate Winnie the Pooh’s attitude and think to ourselves: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

xo-Jamie

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Holiday Shopping vs. Holiday Spirit

You’ve heard it all before, right? Complaints about retailers who put up Christmas decorations by Halloween, the commercialization of a religious holiday, and the stress and exhaustion (and emptied checkbook) caused by hunting down “the perfect” holiday gifts.

I’m not sure how you handle it all, but I’ve tried different techniques to cope with the madness that is Christmas in America.

This is the time of year I inventory all the coats, boots, clothes, toys, and other gently used items in the house that would better benefit others in need. Not only is it freeing to purge the closets and drawers, but also it feels good to know that these donations will end up helping others less fortunate than me.

Another thing I’ve done in the past is ask my family not to send me gifts, but to take whatever money they might’ve spent on me and donate it to a charity (if they pick a charity of my choice, I match it). One year I was able to buy two new kitchen appliances for a shelter for abused women thanks to my family’s cooperation. I didn’t get a single gift, but it might be one of my favorite Christmases ever.

Thirdly, the older I get, the more I realize that the truly memorable things in my life revolve around things I’ve done rather than things I’ve owned. Therefore, now that my kids are teens, we’ve switched from buying “stuff” to buying a meaningful experience (a camp or lesson). Hopefully, later in life, they’ll appreciate that idea more than they do right now.

Finally, this year I also want my kids generate an idea of their own that is in the true spirit of giving (as opposed to “buying”). That reminds me, I need to check in with them to see if they’ve come up with something.

Care to share any special traditions you and your family have that showcase the real meaning of this holiday season?

xo–Jamie

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Who Else Loves a Sad Song?

My brother and I were laughing about this recently, because he and I share an unusual affinity for all things melancholy. We love sad stories, sad movies, and sad love songs. To us, there is a cathartic quality to each of them. It’s oddly freeing to allow that heaviness in and then let the tears out.

Perhaps we like it because that emotional exchange takes place at a safe distance, far from the reality of our own life struggles? I don’t know, but I’m curious, are we alone, or do you like these things, too?

Here’s a list of some of my brokenhearted love songs:

Spotify Playlist

What’s one of your favorites, or are you only looking for the upbeat love songs and stories?

xo-Jamie

Fired Up for Fall

Game of Thrones fans may get excited when they hear “Winter is coming,” but I’m bouncing on my toes because autumn is coming! There’s so much to look forward to, how could I not?

46425130 - autumn landscape

46425130 – autumn landscape

Sweater Weather: I’ll admit, I’ve been craving a drop in temperature and the pop of golds and reds in the sea of green outside my window. Neither has quite happened yet, but it’s coming. I can feel it.

Structure: I also love the return to structure that fall imposes. School is back in session, so each day is parsed into segments of compromised of school start and end times, sports practices, lessons, and tutors. Structure makes it easier to be productive (at least, it does for me), so I’m optimistic about what I’ll accomplish this last quarter of 2016.

My Birthday: It seems like my family and friends have been celebrating this for weeks now, but this weekend I turn 50. Yep, a half-century and counting, people. Someone told me that’s roughly 18,200 days on the planet. That’s a lot of days. I’ve made the most of my time on the planet so far, but there’s still much to do, so I don’t want to waste the next 18,000 days (if I’m lucky).worth-the-risk-cover

New Release: Although excited to share my upcoming release, Worth the Risk, it’s also a little bittersweet. I’ve loved the St. James family since I conceived of David, and it’s not easy to close the door on them. I hope, however, that series’ fans will enjoy the way everything is wrapped up for Jackson and his siblings.

Holidays: Two of my favorites, Halloween and Thanksgiving, are on the horizon. I used to love coming up with imaginative costumes when I was younger, but now I just love the fistfuls of chocolate at my fingertips! As for Thanksgiving, it’s one of two times per year that I get to see my entire extended family, so that’s always something to look forward to.

Food: I’ve eaten enough spinach and kale these past three months, so I’m eager to sink my teeth into some fall favorites: hearty soups, roast chicken and gravy, and pumpkin pie. Add a warm fire and some new television shows, and I’m one happy camper.

What are you looking forward to this fall?

XO-Jamie

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“Promposals:” A Good Thing or Not?

It’s that time of year again: Prom season!

Some things haven’t changed throughout the decades, like mothers and daughters going shopping for the perfect dress and shoes. Of course, gone are the flouncy princess dresses of yore. I still remember my purple silk-organza gown, with its ruffled, off-the-shoulder neckline, fondly. It looked perfect with my Eighties-style big hair, I swear! Sadly, all the pictures are at my mom’s, so I can’t share.

Other things have changed a lot, most notably the latest trend: the Promposal. Teen boys (for the most part) across the nation nervously planning some way to wow their prospective dates with an Instagram or YouTube-worthy plan.

I can’t decide whether or not I think these Promposals are a good or bad thing.

They range from the sweet:

 

To the touching/tear-jerker:

 

To the painfully awkward:

 

My initial response to the hoopla is that it is a result of the reality-TV / selfie-obsessed generation that’s been trained to believe every second of every day needs to be larger-than-life and recorded for posterity. That side of this craze isn’t healthy. Not only does it create a tremendous amount of pressure on kids to come up with bigger and better ideas, but it’s also proven that chronic social media focus is actually causing depression…but that’s a topic for another post.

On the other hand, and particularly when watching some of the cuter Promposals that go well, I have to admit that I love watching creative kids who are willing to make themselves vulnerable in such a public way. There’s something courageous and inspiring about it.

And maybe these bigger milestones deserve to be recorded. Honestly, I can’t remember how my boyfriend asked me to Prom. We’d been dating all year, so it’s possible he never formally asked at all. We just assumed we’d be going!

So what’s your take on the Promposal: yay or nay?

XOXO-Jamie