Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Month: May 2016

Girls’ Weekend {Book Review}

Shortly after I released my first novel, I received an email from a fellow blogger and author Cara Sue Achterberg asking if I would be interested in reviewing her newest novel, “Girls’ Weekend”.

Of course, I was immediately intrigued and couldn’t wait to dig into it. As soon as the file was sent to me and I figured out how to load it onto my Kindle, I sat down to read…and was interrupted by my three year old daughter within seconds.

I set it aside with a sigh. Like many moms, it often feels like there is no time for me amid all the chaos. I expend all my energy on my family. Each day is exactly like the one before it, and endless march to do what needs to be done. I find myself daydreaming about all the things I could have done, all the people I could have been, and wonder where my life would be if I had followed another path. There are days when it all seems to be too much and I can’t help but fantasize about running away. Of course, these aren’t feelings we normally talk about, and there can be quite a bit of guilt and shame served alongside those fleeting visions of freedom.

How could I feel this way when we have so many things in our lives that are going right? Do all mothers feel this way from time to time, or is something wrong with me?  Why do I feel so empty?

These questions must have run through my mind billions of times by now. The doubt, the guilt, the longing, all these negative feelings can be extremely isolating.

When I finally picked up Cara’s book again, I was met with immediate relief. I most certainly was not alone in this line of thinking. The three women in this story all felt the same way. They all dreamed of something more. They were all searching for something. Just like me.

I was hooked from page one. I felt like I knew these women already. Although I could relate to them all to some degree, it was really Dani that hit home for me. Here was a woman with a wonderfully normal life, with a loving husband and two children, who had nothing “wrong” with her life that still felt this stirring of discontent. Here was a woman who had once dreamed of being an artist and put her identity on the backburner for the sake of her family. Here is a woman who is bored by the monotony of life. It was a story I knew well.

When Dani’s friend Charlotte, who is facing a similar crisis, suggests a girls’ weekend, she is hesitant at first, but knows that she needs a break. Neither of the women are certain that their friend Meg will come along. Meg’s life is outwardly perfect. She’s the type of mother who goes above and beyond, giving her all to her family, even to her own detriment. She’s in the midst of an all-consuming grief, and I feel like she’s the one who needed the break the most.

The three women travel to a beach cottage and discover that they are all in need of change. They decide that they simply cannot go back to their lives and extend their stay indefinitely. From there we watch this women tackle their own issues and find their own answers. To say that I found this book inspiring is an understatement. Watching the transformation of each of these characters stirred something within me and helped me discover not only some answers of my own, but the types of questions I should be asking myself. This book definitely takes you on a rich journey.

“Girls’ Weekend” is beautifully written. It feels as though you are right there with Dani, Charlotte, and Meg. It’s a wonderful read and I highly recommend it to any woman who has ever been struck with a case of the “what ifs”.

“Girls’ Weekend” by Cara Sue Achterberg is available now in ebook and paperback formats. The Amazon link above is an affiliate link, which means I receive a small profit at no cost to you. I was in no way paid for my opinions. You can also purchase this book through Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

If you would like to hear more from Cara, you can follow her on her blog, Cara Writes.

Dreaming Of The Roads Not Traveled

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“What is your dream job?”

“If you money wasn’t a factor, what would you do with your life?”

These types of questions have never ceased to instill a sense of panic in me. While it is true that I’ve always wanted to be a writer, that never felt like an acceptable answer. There is an intense pressure to answer those questions with something more realistic, something along the lines of, “I want to be a (teacher, doctor, business owner, etc) who writes fiction on the side.”

Logically, it makes sense to have a backup plan when you wish to pursue a nontraditional career. The chances of somebody “making it” in a creative field are generally thought to be pretty slim (although I’d argue that it all depends on what your definition of “making it” is). Then again, there is something to be said for going all in. Keeping your focus entirely on your goals certainly has its merits. These conflicting points of view certainly don’t help one find the answer!

To further complicate matters is the fact that over the course of my existence I’ve wanted to do more jobs than anyone could possibly fit into one lifetime. I’ve wanted to run a record store, open a bar and grill, become a record producer, be a teacher, be a therapist, be a neurologist, run a charity, open a family restaurant, become a pediatrician, run an alcohol delivery service, be a wedding planner, open a bookstore, become an entertainment lawyer, work in PR, work in marketing, be a social worker, work in a bank, be an accountant,  manage a band, be a tax-preparer, be a real estate agent…and that’s just to name a few!!

That list doesn’t even begin to cover everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing, nor does it take into account all the creative projects I’ve wanted to take on. The thing of it is, there are so many potential jobs out there that have sparked my interest that I could never decide on just one. Every once in awhile I’m drawn to one of these careers and do some research on it. I find out what it would entail, what the job market is like, what schooling I would need. I get all into it…and then another career path catches my eye and I repeat the process.

too many choices, dreaming of all that could be

I know I should pick one of these…

As you can probably guess, this pattern has gotten me nowhere fast. It has also brought on moments of despair when I think of all the time I’ve wasted and all the things I could have done with my life. I worry about waking up one day at 80 years old and realizing that I’ve done nothing worthwhile with my life. I worry about missing out on all the options life has to give if I should choose just one job, just as much as I worry about the ramifications of choosing the wrong one. It can be incredibly stressful!

However, there is a huge upside to all of this indecision. As a writer, I have the ability to do all of these things through the stories I create. I may never be a record producer, but I can live it through Maggie Hawke. I’ll never go back to school and become a neurosurgeon, but I can learn about it while developing a character who is. Through writing, I can be anyone I want to be. I can explore any avenue that calls me.

It’s amazing really, and extremely liberating, especially on those days when the slog of working my day job gets me down. A job’s a job, it pays the bills. Writing, on the other hand, is not only my career, but the vehicle through which I can live my wildest dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

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