Book Review Ordinary Magic by Cameron Powell

Ordinary Magic Promises I Kept to my Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk

Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept to My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago

Cameron Powell describes the delicious as well as the sadder moments that comprise life as ordinary magic. His story has a magical draw that I think my readers will enjoy.

Are you planning to walk the Camino de Santiago?

Several of my friends have added this famous walk to their bucket list. I have not, but I’ve contemplated going with them. If you are considering the journey, PLEASE read this book first, Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept to My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago. I think now that I had better be committed and really WANT to go.

The Impact of Travel on Dynamic People

Cameron Powell’s mother wanted to go on the 500-mile-walk on the Camino de Santiago even though she had cancer. He agreed to go with her even though he didn’t always get along with her perfectly. (What adult child ever gets along perfectly with his or her parent?) As he describes their experience on the Camino, he shares the fascinating story of his life with his mother including the reason she changed his name. Powell’s powerful tale reminded me of my friend Chuck’s memoir, April in Paris Rendezvous with my mother, a tumultuous relationship with his mother, and a trip to Paris.

Attention Authors

I highlighted tons of his descriptions and a few things I thought was funny because I am so bad at writing them. Here are a few I chose.

“We passed her sayings around like nudie magazines, like samizdat, like Lemonheads candy.”(Can’t you picture young boys doing that?) 11%

I could have swallowed the moon.” (after he survived his divorce) 15%

“…an accent as sturdy as the stone of a Spanish villa.” (described his new friend Julio)

“We have arrived in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, henceforth “St. Jean” so as to ration our hyphens for the rest of the trip.” 20%

“Pilgrims crinkle plastic bottles while they whisper, stomp around in their boots (while whispering), or even call out to their fellows in the next bunk in the sort of library voice that would be most appropriate if one were in a library to which one had accidentally set fire.” 26% (Can’t picture sleeping in a room of strangers along the road? This did it for me.)

The Unhighlighted Words

Eventually, I quit highlighting every few words that were funny or well phrased and immersed myself in the book. Cameron went through what many people in their forties to sixties endure, taking care of parents or being with them towards the end of their life. I could identify with his experiences, both the good, the sad, and the hard to write.

The final part of his book was filled with pictures of the people you met on the journey through his life with his mother. It felt like sitting on the couch with your best friend looking at the pictures of their family after you’d heard them talk about the folks for years.

Videos

I think you will enjoy this book.

Cameron PowellAuthor Biography

“Cameron Powell is a writer, six-time startup entrepreneur, consultant and coach, a largely repentant lawyer, and a semi-pro karaokist. Once upon a time, as a young lawyer, he got to say “Your honor, I represent the United States.” In early childhood pictures, there is evidence of his mother committing lederhosen. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Harvard Law School. A rugged indoorsman, he nevertheless spent the last five years skiing and hiking around Telluride and Boulder, Colorado, and he’s now chosen to live in San Francisco.” Goodreads

Related Reviews

https://tchistorygal.net/2017/03/02/easy-read-memoir-conflicted-hearts/

https://tchistorygal.net/2017/12/11/medical-students-perspective-didnt-get-frazzled/

https://goodreads.com/review/show/2337926936/  Brigid Gallagher’s review of Walking Home.

How to Learn What To Expect Twenty Years: After “I Do,” Even If You’re Not a Young Newlywed

Should You Marry a Man Twenty Years Older Than You Are?

What happens twenty years after you marry an older man? Most women do marry older men when they are younger. Twenty Years: After “I Do”  tells you what you might expect twenty, thirty or forty years later.

Are you thinking about getting married? Worried about the future? Read on.

Memoir or Self-Help Book? Or Both?

Debby G. Kaye writes what I would label as memoirs. Her editor calls this one a self-help book. Deb has a story so compelling that her memoirs work their way into being helpful. She inspires me, not to write my memoirs because I’m not as brave and forthright as she is. However, as an educational consultant, my gut reaction is that her book needs a study guide, and I’m just the person to write it.

When you read Twenty Years: After “I Do”. you will learn how Debby managed to “navigate companionship challenges and show love and kindness to her partner, handling life together gracefully and in harmony.” Some of the hard challenges she shares must have been excruciating to write. 

You Mean There Might Be Problems in Our Marriage?

Are you married or thinking about getting married to an older man? Maybe not, but if you are married for very long, you will be married to an older man whether you set out to do that or not. D.G. Kaye points out some authentic problems in Twenty Years: After “I Do”  that you are going to encounter when your husband reaches his 60s or 70s. Many people jump into marriages in their later years. They will face these problems more quickly than younger people.

  • What happens when or if wee willy wimps?
  • How do you talk about death, burial, wills?
  • Does your partner have grown children? They certainly play more of a part in your relationship than you might expect since they are out of the home.
  • What happens when one or both of you suffer a life-threatening illness? Do you know how to navigate hospitals and doctors?
  • Of course, you love your husband, but what if he can’t hear very well anymore? Worse, neither of you have perfect hearing.
  • What if you’re childless going into the marriage? Do you consider having children when he’s 60 or 70?
  • What if you don’t have children to help care for you in your old age? 
  • Is there a right way to fight with the one you love so that you both win and you don’t end up hating each other? Deb shares some insight into how to do it kindly.

How to Use Twenty Years: After “I Do” 

You could use Deb’s book as a guide to face the challenges of life or a template for writing your memoir. Or you may seek professional assistance when you need it because you realize there is another way to handle the challenges you face.

Does this sound like a book you might enjoy? Maybe you just want some light reading, chisme, gossip about someone else’s life. That’s ok too because if you’ve read any of Deb’s other books, you’ve probably fallen in love with her, and you can’t wait to hear the next installment of her life. She writes in that conspiring secret telling phone call style that you would use with your best friend. The difference is she’s gossiping about herself and in this case her husband. I think mine would shoot me first if I wrote about our life so honestly. He’d be the first to read her book, though to find out what’s going on in her life.

My Rating

twenty years after
Click to order Twenty Years After I Do

My enjoyment level of this book gives it a 5-star rating. I adore Deb, and therefore it falls into the phone conversation category with me.

As a self-help book, I would give it a 4-star rating for this reason. Deb wrote Twenty Years: After “I Do”  in a narrative style and focused on her experiences as opposed to a clinician’s style of writing. While each chapter focuses on a different issue, it reads like a story, so it may not hit the problem you seek, and it doesn’t have multiple examples to validate the solutions. As far as I know, Deb is not a marriage counselor, nurse, attorney or other professional you might need as you enter the golden years. She shares from her heart what has happened to her. It will resonate with you if you are living with a man in his 60s or 70s.

Who Should Buy This Book?

If you are in your early years of marriage with a young man of 20 or 30, you probably will have so many other issues hitting you in the face, that you may think that these are best put away for a later year. No worries. Buy this book for your mom or even your grandma.

However, maybe you have to help out with a parent or grandparent. Do you need to develop empathy? Twenty Years: After “I Do”  will clue you into the inner sanctum of their life. Reading it may spark some important questions you need to ask them. You will learn that they are not so different from you as you think except they have to worry that their bodies are wearing out and they are going to face the inevitable termination of their life. Twenty Years: After “I Do will help you understand that.

Deb has been working hard to get this book in your hands before Christmas. So even though I haven’t read the epilogue yet, I’m rushing to get this review out before the holidays as well. It may just be the perfect present for someone you know and love.

Let me know if this review is helpful. Leave me a rating on Amazon.

Book Club Study Guide Now Available

About the Author

twenty years after
D. G. Kaye

“D.G. Kaye was born and resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Conflicted Hearts – A Daughter’s Quest for Solace From Emotional Guilt, Meno-What? – A Memoir, Words We Carry, Have Bags, Will Travel, P.S. I Forgive You, and her newest release – Twenty Years: After “I Do”. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer and writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

Kaye writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life and the lessons that were taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcomes some of the many obstacles that challenged her. From an emotionally neglected childhood to growing up with a narcissistic mother, leaving her with a severely deflated self-esteem, D.G. began seeking a path to rise above her issues. When she isn’t writing intimate memoirs, Kaye brings her natural sense of humor into her other works.”

Read more on Amazon.

You can find D.G. on social media and her author and blog pages:
http://www.dgkayewriter.com
http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye
http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7
http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster
http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
http://www.about.me/d.g.kaye.writer
http://www.google.com/+DebbyDGKayeGies
http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7

Related Posts

https://tchistorygal.net/traveling-hints-keep-clothes/

https://tchistorygal.net/easy-read-memoir-conflicted-hearts/

https://tchistorygal.net/displacement-anne-stormont/

https://tchistorygal.net/a-great-book-still-alice/

From Your Blog to Published Book: Experiences of a Published Author

the interviewAs I continue to try to find my voice as a blogger, I find myself drawn into the role of book reviewer.  As I continue on this pathway, a next step that I notice among other blogger reviewers is the INTERVIEW.

51FaVPslSPL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-44,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Since I am blogger friends with JT Weaver, who authored Uphill Both Ways, he’s my interview guinea pig.  Thanks JT  🙂

Hi JT,

Let’s begin with an ice breaker question.

jt

What makes you laugh?

I guess I like intellectual humor; the kind of story that has you going in one direction and then at the last-minute gets you laughing at what you missed.  I’ve never been a fan of slapstick Three Stooges type of humor.  The Bill Cosby “Himself” album still cracks me up.  I was raised on the droll tangentially humorous stories of my father and it became easy for me to adapt any of my own stories into the format that he used. 

What do you think contributes to your success as an author?

To be honest, I don’t know what “success as an author” really means.  I wrote some stories and then discovered that, without any approval process from the world of “Big 6” publishing, I could self-publish my book at almost no cost.  Years ago being a published author meant you went through several gateways, signed your rights away, hired an agent, hired an editor, and were accepted and printed by Houghton-Mifflin.  Because of these gateways, the title of “published author” carried with it an aura of prestige that perhaps no longer exists.  While my stories were individually lauded and my book is 5-star rated and reviewed, it is also doing well in the marketplace.  

The impetus of the project was to document the important parts of my life for my children in such a way that they could understand who I am.  At the beginning of the project, there were no ideas or discussions about compiling these stories into a single volume; that discussion came later.  The mere idea that someone outside the family might have the slightest interest in these stories is somewhat shocking to me.  I am, of course, delighted that people enjoy them and even want to buy them, but that was never my intention.

 Since you wrote this book to your kids, what is their reaction to your its publication?

“Congratulations Dad, what’s for dinner?”  I haven’t really discussed it with them.  I have a sense that they may be a bit uncomfortable with it all.  From their point of view, this was supposed to be my “letters” to them.  Now the world has access to it.  It somehow has lost it’s personal appeal to them I think.  Many of the stories in the book are familiar to them already.  Some of them probably make them a little uncomfortable. Just because I was documenting my life for them didn’t mean that they had to read it now.

Another part of the emotions of a document like this is the finality of it all.  I think to them it signals the beginning of the end.  Kids grow up thinking their parents will be around forever and only when something happens, an illness or an accident, do they ever think that their parents are even mortal.  They have both moved away from home and are leading their lives to the fullest.  In their minds, they can visit Dad and Mom anytime they want.  Reading this memoir may signal to them that a time will come when they won’t be able to do that.  And to me, that’s OK.  When they’re 60 and I’m long gone, this will be something I hope they will enjoy reading.  I think they’ll like to reflect back on things and this will help them do that.  Perhaps they’ll even want to read some of these stories to their own grandchildren, who knows?

What part has your wife played in getting this book off the ground?

At first, I just began writing a story.  My wife, Karen, really wasn’t involved.  Then I wrote a little something about Social Security and then something about the 2nd Amendment.  Then I found the picture album my parents had made for me and wrote a story about one of those pictures.  I honestly was just fooling around with it.  As I was writing, Karen and my college roommate John were both reviewing each piece.

 Then a discussion started among John, Karen, and I about what it was I was doing.  They thought these stories were better than I did.  At one point John said that he thought he was looking into my soul, and because he knew me so well, he was a little uncomfortable with it.  From that came the idea came the thought from Karen that this would be a nice gift for the kids and it was then that I wrote the letter that would become the Prologue to the book.  When I published that letter, the blogging community took notice and my readership exploded.  At that point Karen got involved with every aspect of the writing.

What obstacles did you run into as you went through the process?

Generally, the writing was very easy.  All I had to do was remember things that happened and write them down.  It wasn’t like writing fiction where you have to make sure everything fits.  In a memoir, if it happened, then it fits, plain and simple.  The difficult part was the rigorous editing and publishing.  I had no previous experience with any of these things so I had to learn it all for the first time.  I am a consummate researcher so I spent many hours trying to understand everything.

I did have some difficulty with some of the chapters.  Recounting military school and the death of my friend Rick was one, some of the experiences in my teen years were some others, and the last chapter was very difficult.  What I found was that a wonderful healing that occurs when you commit these things to paper.  I was surprised and gratified that the weight had been lifted.

Do you have another book in mind?

As I continue to write, I may consider compiling a large series of essays into a book.  That would depend on the enthusiasm of my blog readers.  If the quality of my writing stays up, and people want it, I can publish another book.

What place in the larger picture of American history do you think your book holds?

 From my point of view, the answer is none.  It’s something that we cannot know.  The wonderful letters home from the Civil War are a perfect example.  They were simple and innocent when they were written however; now give so much insight into life at that time.  I cannot know what people will interest people in 100 years.  To me this is a good look at what it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s.  It wasn’t an ideal life perhaps but then no one knows what that is.  I just lived my life in the best way I could, married a wonderful woman, and raised two great kids.

What was your favorite period in your life?

 The best part of my life began on August 22, 1984 and has continues every day.  That was the day that I met Karen in San Francisco.  

What surprised you as you went through this writing process?

Everything!  I’ve never written anything before.  I’m a pretty good storyteller like my father before me.  In my mind, I simply placed myself in a favorite chair by the fireplace and enjoyed the warmth it gave me.  I would enjoy some fine wine and aged cheese and daydream into the past.  When the children came into the room before bedtime, I would tell them a story.  What you read in my book are those stories; nothing more complicated or fancy about it.  It was extremely easy to write these stories down because I had lived them.  I think the most surprising thing for me was that there are people who like these stories. 

 What would you change if you were going to write another book?

The process would be the same, I think.

What are your favorite songs?

This is the “record” he wore out as a teen.

If you enjoyed learning about John T. Weaver, then you will enjoy his website.  You can go on his site and see what he’s working on now.

memoirs

Have any of you written your memoir?  It’s amazing how little our children actually know about our lives before they were born.  Do JT’s motivations to write his story remind you your own?   Would your children read it?  How did the events in history touch your life? Let me know what you think!  🙂

Tuesday Review: Interview with JT Weaver

the interview

As I continue to try to find my voice as a blogger, I find myself drawn into the role of book reviewer.  As I continue on this pathway, a next step that I notice among other blogger reviewers is the INTERVIEW.

51FaVPslSPL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-44,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Since I am blogger friends with JT Weaver, who authored Uphill Both Ways, he’s my interview guinea pig.  Thanks JT  🙂

Hi JT,

Let’s begin with an ice breaker question.

jt

What makes you laugh?

I guess I like intellectual humor; the kind of story that has you going in one direction and then at the last-minute gets you laughing at what you missed.  I’ve never been a fan of slapstick Three Stooges type of humor.  The Bill Cosby “Himself” album still cracks me up.  I was raised on the droll tangentially humorous stories of my father and it became easy for me to adapt any of my own stories into the format that he used. 

What do you think contributes to your success as an author?

To be honest, I don’t know what “success as an author” really means.  I wrote some stories and then discovered that, without any approval process from the world of “Big 6” publishing, I could self-publish my book at almost no cost.  Years ago being a published author meant you went through several gateways, signed your rights away, hired an agent, hired an editor, and were accepted and printed by Houghton-Mifflin.  Because of these gateways, the title of “published author” carried with it an aura of prestige that perhaps no longer exists.  While my stories were individually lauded and my book is 5-star rated and reviewed, it is also doing well in the marketplace.  

The impetus of the project was to document the important parts of my life for my children in such a way that they could understand who I am.  At the beginning of the project, there were no ideas or discussions about compiling these stories into a single volume; that discussion came later.  The mere idea that someone outside the family might have the slightest interest in these stories is somewhat shocking to me.  I am, of course, delighted that people enjoy them and even want to buy them, but that was never my intention.

 Since you wrote this book to your kids, what is their reaction to your its publication?

“Congratulations Dad, what’s for dinner?”  I haven’t really discussed it with them.  I have a sense that they may be a bit uncomfortable with it all.  From their point of view, this was supposed to be my “letters” to them.  Now the world has access to it.  It somehow has lost it’s personal appeal to them I think.  Many of the stories in the book are familiar to them already.  Some of them probably make them a little uncomfortable. Just because I was documenting my life for them didn’t mean that they had to read it now.

Another part of the emotions of a document like this is the finality of it all.  I think to them it signals the beginning of the end.  Kids grow up thinking their parents will be around forever and only when something happens, an illness or an accident, do they ever think that their parents are even mortal.  They have both moved away from home and are leading their lives to the fullest.  In their minds, they can visit Dad and Mom anytime they want.  Reading this memoir may signal to them that a time will come when they won’t be able to do that.  And to me, that’s OK.  When they’re 60 and I’m long gone, this will be something I hope they will enjoy reading.  I think they’ll like to reflect back on things and this will help them do that.  Perhaps they’ll even want to read some of these stories to their own grandchildren, who knows?

What part has your wife played in getting this book off the ground?

At first, I just began writing a story.  My wife, Karen, really wasn’t involved.  Then I wrote a little something about Social Security and then something about the 2nd Amendment.  Then I found the picture album my parents had made for me and wrote a story about one of those pictures.  I honestly was just fooling around with it.  As I was writing, Karen and my college roommate John were both reviewing each piece.

 Then a discussion started among John, Karen, and I about what it was I was doing.  They thought these stories were better than I did.  At one point John said that he thought he was looking into my soul, and because he knew me so well, he was a little uncomfortable with it.  From that came the idea came the thought from Karen that this would be a nice gift for the kids and it was then that I wrote the letter that would become the Prologue to the book.  When I published that letter, the blogging community took notice and my readership exploded.  At that point Karen got involved with every aspect of the writing.

What obstacles did you run into as you went through the process?

Generally, the writing was very easy.  All I had to do was remember things that happened and write them down.  It wasn’t like writing fiction where you have to make sure everything fits.  In a memoir, if it happened, then it fits, plain and simple.  The difficult part was the rigorous editing and publishing.  I had no previous experience with any of these things so I had to learn it all for the first time.  I am a consummate researcher so I spent many hours trying to understand everything.

I did have some difficulty with some of the chapters.  Recounting military school and the death of my friend Rick was one, some of the experiences in my teen years were some others, and the last chapter was very difficult.  What I found was that a wonderful healing that occurs when you commit these things to paper.  I was surprised and gratified that the weight had been lifted.

Do you have another book in mind?

As I continue to write, I may consider compiling a large series of essays into a book.  That would depend on the enthusiasm of my blog readers.  If the quality of my writing stays up, and people want it, I can publish another book.

What place in the larger picture of American history do you think your book holds?

 From my point of view, the answer is none.  It’s something that we cannot know.  The wonderful letters home from the Civil War are a perfect example.  They were simple and innocent when they were written however; now give so much insight into life at that time.  I cannot know what people will interest people in 100 years.  To me this is a good look at what it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s.  It wasn’t an ideal life perhaps but then no one knows what that is.  I just lived my life in the best way I could, married a wonderful woman, and raised two great kids.

What was your favorite period in your life?

 The best part of my life began on August 22, 1984 and has continues every day.  That was the day that I met Karen in San Francisco.  

What surprised you as you went through this writing process?

Everything!  I’ve never written anything before.  I’m a pretty good storyteller like my father before me.  In my mind, I simply placed myself in a favorite chair by the fireplace and enjoyed the warmth it gave me.  I would enjoy some fine wine and aged cheese and daydream into the past.  When the children came into the room before bedtime, I would tell them a story.  What you read in my book are those stories; nothing more complicated or fancy about it.  It was extremely easy to write these stories down because I had lived them.  I think the most surprising thing for me was that there are people who like these stories. 

 What would you change if you were going to write another book?

The process would be the same, I think.

What are your favorite songs?

This is the “record” he wore out as a teen.

If you enjoyed learning about John T. Weaver, then you will enjoy his website.  You can go on his site and see what he’s working on now.

memoirs

Have any of you written your memoir?  It’s amazing how little our children actually know about our lives before they were born.  Do JT’s motivations to write his story remind you your own?   Would your children read it?  How did the events in history touch your life? Let me know what you think!  🙂