Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Interview and Book Review for Jaime Theler

I've never met Jaime Theler, but after reading the book she co-authored with her mother Deborah Talmadge, Enjoying the Journey—Steps to Finding Joy Now, I would like to. Mainly I'd like to find out how it is that someone as young as she is has managed to capture so much knowledge and wisdom in her life. I admit that I'm resistant to any book or person who tries to change me in any way. I'm Fifty years old and pretty happy with how I am. I don't mean this arrogantly; it's just that I'm a bit on the laissez-faire side.

We just built a home with two sets of stairs. I love the view from the upper floor and our television is upstairs, but because I have to walk upstairs, I watch less television than ever before and mostly enjoy the views from the main floor. Steps equal effort. So keeping all this in mind, I found this book, even with its steps, surprisingly enjoyable, readable, and, better yet, applicable. The authors have filled it with anecdotal examples, quotes, and encouragement on ways to make your life more fulfilling.

The book is divided into thirteen varied chapters, everything from "The Pursuit of Happiness" to the final chapter, "Reach for Your Destiny." I think one of my favorite chapters is: "Live on Purpose." So many of us, myself included, just let things happen to us, failing to realize the ability within to take hold of the reins. In this chapter we learn about Nazi concentration camp survivalist Victor Frankl. "He observed that many of the concentration camp prisoners died when undergoing less hardship and suffering than those who survived. The survivors tended to be people who envisioned a future for themselves despite their present suffering, people who believed there was a deeper meaning in life and did not surrender to despair." The chapter ends with six steps from reading your patriarchal blessing often to writing your own mission statement.

I think the best way to read this book would be to read it and apply the steps using a companion journal. The two together would make an awesome gift. I would like to read it again and concentrate on the steps found at the end of each chapter. They really are a simple approach to making life more meaningful. Now I have some questions for Jaime, one of the co-authors.

1. What prompted you to write this book?

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. I once heard an author say that if you ever want to really learn how to do something, write a book about it. So “Enjoying the Journey” was something I had to write for myself, to work through things as I found my own answers. I just hoped others were in the same boat.

2. How did you organize it and work with your co-author?

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.

3. Tell me something about the research you did.

At the beginning I was just sort of stumbling around, so I read anything I could get my hands on that talked about joy. I read a lot of LDS material, but also some psychology stuff. I talked with others, too. I started to notice some patterns, and things that came up many times. That helped me narrow down my research, and it was amazing how many experiences in my own life fell into what I was finding. I wanted to make this book for others who listen to great, motivational talks or read motivational books, and then aren’t quite sure how to apply it in practical terms. It really stretched me to go beyond just theories and figure out what I could do to really imprint what I was learning into my life.

4. Your first book is "Parenting Ephraim's Child." I'm not sure what that would be about. Can you tell us something about this book?

That was another book I had to write for myself. If I had to condense it to a nutshell it would be: parenting the strong-willed child from an LDS perspective. We know that the Lord’s strongest spirits have been saved for the last days, but parenting these strong spirits can be challenging. “Parenting the Ephraim’s Child” looks at the common temperamental traits of these strong children, gives parenting tools on how to work with them, and then how those traits are really spiritual strengths in the rough. The main premise of the book is that these children can be valiant in the latter days because of their strong spirits, not despite them.

5. Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and what you like to do and what you are good at.

I am smack in the middle of a family of three children, with a half-brother and half-sister on each end to complete the sandwich. I grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, and went to college at BYU, where I met and married my husband, Jason. We ended up staying in Utah and now I’m the stay-at-home mother of three very active, intense, and wonderful children that keep me on my toes. I love to run and play tennis, sing at the top of my lungs in the car, read anything I can get my hands on, and, of course, write! As far as what I’m good at, I’m usually pretty organized and love crossing things off my list. I’m not really good at relaxing and have some workaholic tendencies I have to keep in check.

6. Who are some of your writing inspirations?
In LDS non-fiction I love Sheri Dew, and am happy to just bask in the magnificence of Neal A. Maxwell and C.S. Lewis’s writing (there’s no way I can even come close to them). I also read a lot of fiction and am inspired by the great turns of phrase of Elizabeth Peters, the wonderful character development of Jodi Piccoult, and the ability of Stephenie Meyers to suck into her stories two generations of readers. I love the imagination and depth J.K. Rowling brought to children’s fantasy through Harry Potter, and when I want to thoroughly enjoy an imaginative story told in a unique way I curl up with Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series.

7. Tell us something about your writing process.
For non-fiction I brainstorm often as I’m doing research. And I do a lot of research. My thoughts and what I’ve researched intermingles and grows through the whole process. For fiction, I’m still finishing up my first novel, so I’m trying to figure out what works best for me. I do know that I do better with more planning than flying by the seat of my pants. It’s been a fun learning experience.

Thank you so much for having me!

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