Tag Archives: Love

Goodbye, 2016

By most standards, 2016 has been a turbulent, surprising, somewhat devastating year.

We’ve lost some amazing celebrities, the most notable being singers like George Michael, Prince, and David Bowie, actors like Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, and Carrie Fisher, director Gary Marshall, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, journalists Gwen Ifill and Morley Safer, Janet Reno, Justice Scalia, Arnold Palmer, author Harper Lee, songwriter Leonard Cohen, astronaut John Glenn, pop icon Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Fidel Castro.

We’ve lived through the ugliest political campaign I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, and sadly we’re still seeing a rise in populist sentiment (eg., Brexit and other elections across Europe). Cop killers and killings have sparked protests and resentment nationwide. Nearly 91 people per day are dying of opiod overdoses in the U.S. (according to the CDC). Zika is spreading (not only through mosquitoes, but also through sexual contact), and no one knows how long that virus will last in one’s system or how devastating the ultimate consequences will be. On the somewhat lighter side of bad news, Brangelina split! And Kim Kardashian lost millions in a weird jewelry heist.

Scary, sad times, most say. But as we head into 2017, let’s remember some of the positive things that occurred in 2016.

Need examples? Well, the economy has improved. Stock markets have hit new highs, and unemployment is at its lowest rate in nine years. Harriet Tubman will be on new $20 bills. The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in more than a century. And U.S. carbon emissions are at the lowest levels since 1991. Those are just a few examples of good news that seems to get buried beneath the bad.

It’s so very easy to get caught up in negativity when it’s trumpeted on every major media outlet, and on social media. People love to be heard, and for some reason, most like to spread doom and gloom.

If we want a better world, maybe the place to start is with a resolution to look for, share, and celebrate good news (big and small)! If we collectively contribute positive messages and share “feel good” stories and wins, maybe a groundswell of goodwill will slowly erode fear and hate and lay the foundation for change for the better.

That’s my wish (and goal) for 2017. Are you on board?

xo-Jamie

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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Attitude of Gratitude

I think it’s fair to say that November has been a tough month for most of us. Those of us who are upset by the election results are feeling afraid for the future of our nation and many of its people, while those who are celebrating the results are feeling attacked for exercising their rights. Everyone is pointing the finger at each other and spewing ugly, hateful words. I can’t recall a time in my lifetime where the country has seemed more divided and angry. I can’t speak for anyone else, but none of this puts me in the holiday spirit.

So, I’m taking a page out of my mother-in-law’s book. Since I’ve known her, she has engaged in a nighttime ritual designed to support a positive outlook. Once she’s in bed with the lights out, she reflects upon the day and every event that made her smile or feel grateful, then she settles on her favorite moment of the day and replays it in detail.

My mom's Thanksgiving table.

My mom’s Thanksgiving table.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I’m thinking this is something we might all try to do, even if just for one week. I don’t know that it will help (although my mother in-law is a pretty happy person), but it certainly can’t hurt.

To kick it off, I’m going to list a host of things I’m generally grateful for:

  • My family (the whole messy bunch that brings laughter and tears, as well as challenges and triumphs, into my life). We share an elastic bond of love and history that can’t be broken, no matter how badly it might get stretched at times.
  • My friends and colleagues, who are supportive, thoughtful, and intelligent people that teach me something new every day.
  • My agent and publishing team, who are helping me live out a childhood dream.
  • My “fans,” who read my work and write to me, sharing personal stories and well wishes.
  • My ancestors, who bravely came here from other countries hoping to give their progeny a better life. I hope they know that their sacrifices and courage were well-rewarded.
  • The majority of Americans, who stand together to fight for freedom, justice, and the equality of all, and who are resilient and passionately committed to the betterment of humanity.
  • God, for giving me a healthy mind and body, both of which I try not to waste.

Tonight I will follow my mother-in-law’s lead. I’ll reflect on my day and the specific moments that made me smile. I know waking up to the first snowfall (or dusting) this morning will be one. If the Steelers win today, that might be another. 🙂

I wish you all a very lovely Thanksgiving holiday, and hope that you will be surrounded by family and friends.

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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