How was your week last week? I hope it was a good one, and you had at least one good surprise, or some really happy moments. Some nice things happened for me last week, we are planning a wedding for one of my daughters late in the summer and are looking forward to it, a celebratory moment and a happy event. We’ve all had a hard year and deserve to have some fun when things are safer. The vaccine roll out seems to be happening in the US but the daily Covid numbers are still high and rising, and we still have to be careful and keep our defenses up. It’s too soon to relax our guard with Covid, the experts say, although I think we are all tired of the strain and stress, and how hard it is to make plans more than a few days away.
I finished correcting a set of galleys yesterday for one of my books, and really loved the story, and I am excited about the books I have coming out this year, we’ve been working on the cover for the holiday book, both in the US and the UK, and it’s a book I’m really excited about. And I’m very excited about the book coming out next week in hardcover, “Finding Ashley”, and I really hope you love it too, and the mothers and mother figures in your life. There is an important sister relationship in the book too. As an only child, I have always been deeply touched by the relationships I see among my children, among siblings. It is a very precious relationship, not always easy, because siblings can be very different, but it is a very powerful bond, stronger than friendship. My kids are all very close and I think they treasure their relationships with their siblings.
I read something I found helpful yesterday, and will share it with you. I ALWAYS find the writings of Joel Osteen helpful and inspiring. Many of them are written in a way that is useful even for people who aren’t religious, they are so strongly positive. I love Joel’s books, and he recently came out with a small one, on the subject of Fear.
I have always been a worrier, even as a child. I had a bumpy childhood, my mother left when I was very young, and I grew up alone with my father. Losing a parent at an early age kind of sets you up to worry about how things are going to turn out—and what if the other parent leaves too, or dies?—then what? Children are sensitive to changes and instability in their lives. And much later, as an adult, I lost my son Nick—which again is a harsh reminder that bad things can happen and you can lose someone you love. So, I do worry, some of my children are worriers too, though not all. On the practical side, if you’re a worrier by nature, things usually go pretty smoothly, because you try to anticipate what could go wrong, and plan accordingly (like what if it rains the day you are hosting a big picnic or an outdoor event—do you have an alternate rain plan??) I also envy the people who just figure they’ll wing it and invent the alternatives as they go along—I would lie awake at night worrying about it, if I didn’t have a backup plan. Like if I’m travelling for some big event, I always take an alternate outfit, because what if the zipper gets stuck, or you spill a bowl of soup on yourself, or someone else does. Travelling with 9 children taught me that little trick early on!!!
Being a worrier is a burden too, because you’re always trying to anticipate what could or might go wrong. And some of the events in our lives (like lost loved ones) make us fearful. And Joel’s books are the perfect antidote for that, they are kind of handbooks to life, how to deal with life’s crises. His books have always helped and reassured me immensely. The ones I’ve read are normal length books, with many chapters, and I have loved them all. He also has a great sense of humor which comes through in his writing. (I have been lucky enough to meet him and his family, and he is an amazing person!!) He recently came out with a very small book called “No More Fear”. There are 30 chapters. Each chapter is a single page. It’s a fast read, and touches on a multitude of subjects, there are photographs in it, it’s a pretty book. But it is once again kind of a fast handbook to life, and this book focuses on fear obviously.
It is a warm, kind, reassuring reminder that we don’t need to be scared, that life works better if we aren’t scared, don’t panic, or assume the worst, and keep a positive attitude and trust that things will work out. Let’s face it, we’ve all had a tough year, worrying about our health, the health and safety of the people we love, terrified by the horror stories we’ve heard of Covid. For people with their own small businesses, in most cases it has been a challenging year. For people with jobs, they’ve worried that the company they work for could go under. In cities that have been under heavy lockdown, hairdressers, restaurant owners, waiters, even gardeners have been out of work for months. It’s been hard to make plans, nearly impossible to travel, kids have been out of school a lot, weddings and graduations have been cancelled. Celebrations have been few and far between, social gatherings have been forbidden. All the fallout of Covid has set the stage for us to be worried, even afraid, it has been an anxiety-producing time, and even with the vaccines now, the end isn’t clearly in sight yet. Fear has been with us ever since Covid arrived.
I sat down with Joel Osteen’s new book, read it carefully, and as with all his books, when I finished, I gave a sigh of relief. It reminded me that we don’t have to be ruled by fear, that we don’t need to be afraid all the time. Some things are good to be afraid of: an alligator in your backyard, an intruder with a gun, an airplane in trouble, a rattlesnake at your feet—-a pandemic!!! But we can’t live with fear all the time, we have to be able to unplug sometimes, we can’t live in a constant crisis. Joel helps one cope with the ordinary situations in life which frighten us—-that may not even turn out badly, they may turn out wonderfully in the end, but we worry about them until they do. I loved his book, and will read it again many times. It also reminded me of one of my favorite Bible passages, that I have clung to often:
“God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of Love and of a sound mind” Timothy II:7 There are various versions of it in more modern translations of the Bible. Most of the time, fear is not a good thing (except in the case of the alligator I mentioned, or the rattlesnake)—-we can’t live in fear all the time. And we’ve had a lot of it in these 13 months of the pandemic. We need to be able to unplug from that fear, to breathe, to relax, to laugh, to have a good time, to see friends and family when it’s safe to do so.
I just thought I’d mention Joel’s book in case it would comfort you as it did me. And we all have our own way to seek relief from stress and fear, jogging, other forms of exercise, talking to a friend, a good meal, a glass of wine, religious beliefs. There are many ways to deal with fear, and Joel’s book is just one of them. But I loved it, it helped me, and I wanted to share it with you.
And one day, hopefully not too far from now, this whole scary time will be behind us, and a distant memory. But for now, it helps to find something encouraging that makes you feel better and gives you hope again. Joel’s book did that for me. Take good care, and be good to yourself this week, you deserve it!! Have a great week, and I hope wonderful things happen to you!!