A Religion of One’s Own

IMG_9798The first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant, twenty-five years ago this winter, was get in my car and drive to Harvard Square to buy a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  I am a book person, a life-long reader.  And so my first response to anything new or challenging in my life has always been the same: go find a book on the subject.

For a few years, as I became a mother to first one son and then another, I read my way through an entire shelf of parenting titles.  I read books about every age and every stage, about attachment and achievement, discipline and diet.

But the book that finally set me on my own path, both as a mother and as a person, wasn’t a parenting book at all.  It was a book called The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life by a writer named Thomas Moore.

Most of us have a handful of books we consider seminal, books that make such profound, deep, and lasting impressions that we remember, even years later, exactly where we were and how we felt as the words landed in our hearts.

I was in a lawn chair at my parents’ house in Florida, savoring quiet. [continue...]

Pub date! (Music, photos & books to win)

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Today is the official paperback release of Magical Journey.

Paperback publications of quiet, mid-list memoirs don’t generally get reviews or ad budgets or press releases or parties.

But I’m pretty excited about today anyway. The fact Magical Journey even made it into a paperback edition is incredibly gratifying.  It means this close-to-my-heart book will find its way to many more readers in the months to come.  (Thanks to some energetic advance footwork by the terrific Magical Journey Team, this is already happening!)  Reason enough to celebrate, right?

So, this morning I thought, Why not mark pub date with an intimate on-line party right here, in the space where we meet each week to converse, connect, and share stories of our lives?

First, some music. . .

Exactly two years ago this week, I was holed up in my mom’s guest room, writing five or six hours a day.  To stay sane, I took long walks.  One afternoon, while listening to a Pandora station through my earbuds, I found myself stopped in my tracks on the sidewalk, tears streaming down my cheeks. [continue...]

Dear Older (Love, Old)

sonata - Version 2This is the first in a series of letters between me and my friend, author Margaret Roach, on the challenges (and joys!) of aging. I’m Old (just 55) and she’s Older (facing 60 this year). Who knows where it’s going, but since the subject keeps coming up, and we’re both writers…well, you get the idea. Listen in.  

Dear Old(er),

Yesterday afternoon, I spritzed on a bit of Sonata, and then I drove downtown to the lawyer’s office and signed my last will and testament.

I can tell you, seeing those words next to my own name at the top of the page was pretty strange – about as stark a reminder as I’ve had that, yes, the day will come when I won’t be here.

It’s funny how I can get so caught up in the minutiae of  my everyday life – the emails that need answers, the dishes in the sink, the bills on the desk, my annoyance at someone I can’t change or at something beyond my control – that I lose sight of the big things.

Such as the fact that although time and space are infinite, I am not.  No matter how I spend it, my own time will run out. There aren’t too many absolute truths in life, but this is one: nothing lasts, not even me.

Which is why I got up this morning and helped myself to another generous spray of Sonata, the nicest perfume I’ve ever owned (handcrafted at a tiny perfumery in Maine using all natural ingredients) and the only one I’ve ever loved.

The perfume was a Christmas gift from my dad.  Five years ago.  As you can see from the photo, the bottle is still full.  Yep. In five years, I’ve allowed myself to use my favorite perfume exactly twice.  Both occasions were formal weddings, so I felt they justified a bit of extravagance:  dressy necklace, expensive perfume. [continue...]

The Journey continues — in paperback (and I want you on my team)!

Magical Journey_TPB Cover

Exactly one year ago today, Magical Journey, was published. I remember taking many deep breaths, trying (mostly in vain) to quell the butterflies in my stomach.

Watching my memoir arrive in bookstores across the land, waiting for the first readers to find it, wondering if my midlife “coming-of-age” story would resonate with anyone else, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to celebrate the birth of my new book or hide under the bedclothes and wait for it all to blow over.

What a difference a year makes!

Thanks to YOU, my dear readers — and to the heartfelt, eloquent, profoundly moving letters and comments you’ve written me over the past twelve months — I feel nothing but excitement and joy this week, as I await the first paperback copies of Magical Journey. (Official pub. date: January 21.)

These days, making the leap from hardcover original to paperback is not a given, as it once was.  It requires sturdy hardcover sales, a track record, and a commitment from both author and publisher.

So, I’m not taking this moment for granted.  In fact, I want to do all I can to fulfill my publisher’s faith in me, and to prove right their hope that this quiet little book of mine will now find its way in paperback.

Magical Journey owes its (admittedly) modest success in hardcover to you, and to good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth.

I didn’t go on Oprah or Good Morning America.  I didn’t get reviewed in the New York Times (though receiving a rave in People was quite a thrill).  There was no ad budget.  But I went to lots bookstores – and I loved meeting you there.  I answered every letter I received from every reader.  And I kept on writing to you all here each week.

I heard from many of you that you’d not only read my book, but you’d also bought copies for others.  You shared it with your friends.  You gave it as a gift.  You suggested it to your book group.  (Some of you even sent photos of your book groups!) You took a leap and said to someone else, “Here’s a book that speaks to me. I think you’ll like it, too.” [continue...]

Full circle

Henry in TImes Square, 1995Times Square, New York City, early on a Sunday morning, summer 1996.  The day before, we’d taken our son Henry, age six, to see his first musical, Beauty & the Beast, on Broadway.  A friend working on the show had reserved our seats, front and center, and had arranged a backstage tour after the final curtain.  Henry had been allowed to walk around on the set.  He’d touched the teacups and candlesticks and glimpsed the piano gleaming in the orchestra pit.  He’d shaken hands with the Beast himself, who had been kind and friendly to this scrawny little kid who knew every song in the show by heart.  And now, the next morning, all Henry wanted was to go back and do it all over again.

My husband snapped the photo because it was so not like our shy, mild-mannered son to be demanding.  And it was so not like me to ever speak sternly to him.  And yet, there we were, facing off in the first (and pretty much the only) argument we’ve ever had. [continue...]