Monday, July 28, 2008

"Enjoying the Journey," with flip flops in a 5-star restarant!

by Shirley Bahlmann
Everyone loves a super hero. That’s what authors Theler and Talmadge say in their book “Enjoying The Journey,” where one of my favorite phrases is, “Don’t read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.”
With humor and gentle insight, the authors take on the meaty subject of life, season it with anecdotes, and garnish it with scripture, making it easy for the reader to digest. They cover timely topics for today’s world, from overcoming depression and despair to the importance of family.
My heart lifted to read the reassuring words that we will recognize God when we see him. It’s just that for now, we’ve simply forgotten his face. I learned that I don’t want to be a whiny child in God’s eyes.
Okay, I’ll admit it; I’ve been depressed in my life. But Theler’s and Talmadge’s words made me truly believe that we are Father’s BELOVED sons and daughters. Riding on the waves of the friendly, conversational writing style, I could read the phrase, “Knowledge of our eternal identity is a potent antidepressant” with a chuckle instead of a gag reflex.
I also renewed friendship with the Holy Ghost when the authors reminded me that He can replace anger, anxiety, and despair with love, faith, and joy. Now that, I can live with.
While some people would count this the best part, in my Primary-geared mind, there’s a spot or two where a pack of scripture quotes got a little lengthy for me, like a little too much garlic in the sauce. Yet every scripture pertained to the subject, and it only matters if you’re not terribly fond of garlic, because overall the book had an amazing blend of personal stories, quotes, scripture and text that made it delicious to my soul. And for those of us who do best with paint-by-numbers, there are helpful lists of simple steps to take toward your goal at the end of each chapter. Bless you for a summary I can wrap my brain around.
After reading this pivotal book, I feel like saying better prayers. I’m encouraged to exercise greater faith, and I’m not ashamed to admit that Chapter 10 had me in tears.
This book offers encouragement without the guilt and insights without the confusion. So pull up a chair, tuck in your napkin, and get ready to read to your soul’s content.

Shirley: Ooo, it smells so good in here. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a 5-star restaurant. The neon star on the local “Brite Spot” eatery is missing one of its points. Where’s your favorite place to eat?
Jaime - The last year or so I’ve been leaning toward Mexican food, but I go in phases. Next year will probably be Italian or Chinese. Last summer we found a Mexican restaurant on a family vacation to southern California that I still dream about. It was so good that we contemplated making an hour detour on our 10 hour drive home from Disneyland last fall, until we decided that no chimichanga was worth two more hours in the car. Around here, I’m really fond of Café Rio. (Looking around self-consciously) I haven’t been to many 5-star restaurants. Perhaps I should have worn something nicer than flip flops.
Deborah – I’m a Wendy’s kind of gal. Huge hamburgers are the best. My parents owned a drive-in, so I grew up on the stuff; shakes, fries, hotdogs, hamburgers, onion rings, ice cream. My very favorite though, are a couple of places in Italy, one in Urbino and one in Stressa. Real Italian lasagna is so much better than anything you can get in the United States. No meat and dripping with lots of yummy cheese.
Shirley: (looking over the shiny menu) I wonder how they decide what dishes to serve. Speaking of deciding, what made you decide to write, “Enjoying the Journey?”
Jaime – I think they just have a wheel with fancy sounding dishes and the chef spins it and throw expensive knives like darts to choose the specials of the week. Hey, I feel a character idea coming on. Do you have a piece of paper? I would write it all down on the napkin, but these are cloth. Writing by napkin worked for J.K. Rowling…
Deborah: You know, the first time I ever heard about writers using napkins to jot their notes on was in the book Turn Not Pale Beloved Snail, by Jacqueline Jackson. And that was in 1976. So you might say Rowling stole the idea. Sort of. Albert Speer wrote on toilet paper while in Spandau. You know whatever works… This chef’s salad looks good.

Jaime – Sorry, back to your question. The idea for “Enjoying the Journey” had actually been bouncing around in my head for years. It began at a time when I was feeling awkward, lonely, and struggling to figure out life with three demanding children. I listened to a talk by Sheri Dew where she said, “No woman is more persuasive, no woman has greater influence for good, no woman is a more vibrant instrument in the hands of the Lord than a woman of God who is thrilled to be who she is.” Those words really hit me, and I thought, “I want to be thrilled to be who I am!” I wanted to shine with joy like others I have known. The tricky part was how to do that. So “Enjoying the Journey” was something I had to write for myself, to find my own answers. I just hoped there were others out there in the same boat. My mom assured me that there were, and she became my sounding board.
Deborah - I often sit on the stand in sacrament meeting because I’ve been the Ward Chorister and other times have substituted. I watched the expressions on everyone’s faces and very few ever looked like they were glad to be there. Most of them had this clenched, “I’m here because I’m supposed to be, and I’m going to stick it out if it’s the last thing I ever do” look. I wondered if they had permission to leave if they would. And gladly. Then one time a new Bishopric counselor thought it would be a good idea to cancel classes because it was Easter. The building was empty in only fifteen minutes. A few stayed because they weren’t sure it was all right to cancel.
When Jaime told me about her idea, I thought it was a great one. I know I have struggled with being happy about all the things we are supposed to do. I have felt more pressure than joy in being a member of the Church for a good part of my life.

Shirley: How many books have you written so far?
Jaime - We have written two books together, our first book, “Parenting the Ephraim’s Child” and “Enjoying the Journey.” “Parenting the Ephraim’s Child” was another book I needed for myself, that just happens to help others too.
Deborah: And before that I had two fantasy books published as well, “The Apprentice” and “The Heldan.”

Shirley: Hey, look at this, pate de foie gras. That sounds good.
Jaime: Uh, Shirley, that’s goose liver.
Shirley: (Pulling pressed linen napkin folded like a swan to her face to hide the look of horror.) Maybe I’ll have the escargot instead.
Deborah: Do you like snails?
Shirley: I’ve never become personally acquainted with one.
Deborah: No, to eat. Escargot are cooked snails.
Shirley: What? Can’t they afford to serve anything in this place besides goose guts and garden pests?
Deborah: I took a survival course once, and had to eat snails. We were required to eat everything given to us or we would be kicked out. It was like eating an eraser. I don’t know if American snails qualifies for Escargot though.
Shirley: (Mops forehead with napkin.) Maybe I’ll just order a hamburger. How do you say that in French? Haum-bair-gair? Hey, have either of you ever been depressed?
Jaime - I am generally optimistic, but just before writing “Enjoying the Journey” I had a period of time where I felt really down. I don’t know if I’d classify it as a depression, but definitely an extended low point in my life.
Deborah: I have battled with depression off and on for a long time.

Shirley: It feels like you have the knack of reaching through the pages with a warm, helping hand. Do either of you have a degree in counseling?
Jaime – Not really. (laughs) I actually graduated from college in Physical Therapy. I guess you are sort of a counselor in that field. I just try to see things from another’s point of view, and treat others like we’re in the same boat. We’re all brothers and sisters, after all, and we should help and lift each other.
Deborah - I don’t have any counseling experience either. I double majored in Piano Performance and Geology. Rock music. Have you ever read “Crystal Singer?” One of my favorites. The hills are alive with the sound, and all that.

Shirley: Let’s move on to dessert. (Narrowing suspicious eyes at the menu.) What’s Glace?
Jaime and Deborah: That’s ice cream.
Shirley: That’s perfect! But how did you say that at the same time? You sounded like echoes of each other!
Deborah: Death by Chocolate looks good.
Jaime: Yuck.
Deborah: Hot Fudge Sundae? (Teasing)
Jamie: Yuck.

Shirley: How do the two of you work to write a book together?
Jaime – We love email! Unlimited long distance helps a whole lot too. We talk over ideas, and then send chapters back and forth to each other until we get it right. It works a lot better than you might think, and it’s fun to have someone else to discuss all the little things with. Sometimes as authors you are so wrapped up in your project that you forget others don’t want to hammer out all the details. My husband gets this glazed look in his eyes sometimes.
Deborah: But Jason is really a great editor. He’s grueling. If he didn’t understand what we tried to say then we knew it had to be reworked. Driving around to book signings was fun too. We really could get into discussions.
Shirley: What’s your next writing project?
Jaime – We’re actually going separate ways for our next projects. (reaches out to hug Mom) Not because we don’t want to write together, but we both have stories in our heads that need to get out. I wanted to take a little break from non-fiction, but there are more of those ideas that I will probably write as well.
Deborah - She’s actually pretty good at fiction.

Shirley: (wiping mouth with napkin.) Ahhh. That was good. Thank you for meeting me here. (pause)
Jaime: What?
Shirley: You’ve got something green stuck in your teeth. (Politely looks away.)
Jaime: At least I didn’t spill it all down the front of me this time. I should probably pack a bib.
Shirley: The publisher is footing the bill, right? I suppose we ought to leave a tip, even though you can’t read the menu in plain English. (Reaches in bag, pulls out “Enjoying the Journey,” and lays it on the table.) There they go. Food for their souls. (Stands up.) Okay, Jaime, leave the enamel on, the green stuff’s gone. (Starts for door, then turns to Jaime and Deborah) Hey, I know! Next time let’s eat at the “Cow Palace Lanes.” Yes, we should. They deodorize the bowling shoes before they stick them under the counter beside the dining area, and believe it or not, they serve killer-good fried onions. Just be sure to wipe your fingers before you roll a bowling ball.
Jaime: Sounds like a place with the menu in English. It might have bibs, too. Although, I don’t know about the bowling. I went a few weeks ago and my score was really bad. Like, under 65 bad.
Deborah: My best bowling score was 83. And I got the trophy for best improvement. That was thirty years ago.

Jaime: Maybe we just better stick to writing, huh? Thanks so much for meeting with us Shirley!

# Paperback: 170 pages
# Publisher: Cedar Fort Inc. (March 10, 2008)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0882908391
# ISBN-13: 978-0882908397
# Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches


Marsha Ward said...

Awesome interview, Shirley! I love the tip you left, and I hope the wait person appreciated the gem that it is.

Janet Burningham said...

I too love this book! Thanks for the review.

Marcia Mickelson said...

That was a really funny interview.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I really liked this book too -- and I loved how empowering it made me feel to realize that women really do rock in Heavenly Father's plan.