Beyond The Pages — Enjoying It For What It Is

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!



The book that inspired this conversation:

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid


After I Do
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

Lauren and Ryan have been together since they were in college. Now, many years into their marriage, it’s all fallen apart. In an attempt to figure out what to do next, they decide to take a year off from their marriage — no communication at all — in the hopes that spending some time apart they would fall back in love again or figure out what their future is. They both end up on a journey of self-discovery and that year questions what they think about love and marriage and their ideas of it.

What I said about it:

 “I’m so used to reading books about people FALLING IN LOVE that it was refreshing to read something different. I honestly was glued to this unraveling of love but then also this year of self love and reflecting on the marriage and the love for each other.”  Read my full review from last year here!

What It Got Me Thinking About:

It made me think about A LOT re: marriage but I’m not going to get into that because VERY PERSONAL. But today I’m talking about this quote from it:

“Isn’t it nice … once you’ve outgrown the ideas of what life should be and you just enjoy what it is.”



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I feel like if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 29 years of living is that there is no one way that life should be or is going to turn out. And I feel like, while I’ve really embraced the idea in this quote in the past couple years, I find myself in each different stage of life battling it.

We learn from an early age — through movies, tv, and what is around us — what life is supposed to be like. You go to school, go to college, get a good job, get married, have some babies, grow old into retirement and then die. But there are so many variables and details it doesn’t account for. It’s easy to get thrown for a loop when suddenly you don’t find your life checking that next box.

When I was kid, I thought life should include your mom and dad staying married forever.  They got divorced and suddenly the new normal was being a child of divorce, which came with its struggles, but ultimately brought me a stepdad who is like a second father to me, a stepmom who has become like a mother when my own mother has passed and a little sister I wouldn’t have if my parents stayed together.

When I was a teen, I thought life looked a certain way until it didn’t. I went from fun Friday nights and school day dramas to watching my mom get sick from brain cancer. You don’t think, when you are that young, that your parents won’t be there with you into adulthood. You don’t have to think about dying much until it is in your face and then it becomes such a reality. This is by far one of the hardest things of life and it is hard to see any good things but it definitely made me grow up a lot and gave me the ability to help people who have gone through things like this — including Will when he lost his dad.

When I was a college student I always thought I’d get out of school, get a good job and start my career in marketing. That’s what was supposed to happen. That was the goal we’d all been working toward with all my studying and good grades. Little did I know when I graduated in 2008 that I’d face one of the worst job markets, that I’d work retail hell at minimum wage for a year, get a part time job in marketing, then FINALLY a full time job that I hated. And I would have never guessed that after I landed that full time job, that a year and a half later, I’d get laid off. I would have never guessed that, here we are 2 years later, and I’m nannying so we can pay the bills and still not in my career.

Before I was a wife, I had ideas of what marriage would be like. In my 2 1/2 years, while it’s been great, there was nothing that could have prepared me for what marriage really is. How hard it is while being wonderful. I’d had all these notions in my head for what marriage SHOULD and WOULD be like and I tried so hard to keep us there…until I realized that we can’t fit a married people mold. That our marriage is our marriage and we can’t compare it to others or what we think it should look like.


There’s so many expectations of what life should be like. In my head I should be in a successful career, maybe buying a house and just feeling more like a grown-up. I don’t. I feel way behind in my career and like I’m a fake grownup. But I’ve realized the more I’ve tried to compare myself to that picture of what life is supposed to be like, that I’m super unhappy. I can’t measure my life or my marriage on some stick that god knows who invented. Our lives can’t and won’t follow that. And the best thing we can do? It’s to just embrace the place we are in our life. Take every single deviation from “the plan” for what it is and enjoy the crap out of it.

For me, it’s as simple as reminding myself the good things about my place in life right now. The ACTUAL reality of my life. Not what I’m missing out on or where I should be. When I’m upset because I feel like a failure career-wise, I take a deep breath and think about the fact that in the summer I’m enjoying a nice day at the park when most people are in an office wishing they were outside or that in the winter I can wear sweatpants and hoodies to work. I think about the lessons I’m learning that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. And there are so many of them.

I could sit here and focus on what life should be/where I should be at or I could embrace what it is and find some freedom in that. It’s not always sunshine and roses but it is what it is and I’m not going to waste my one, precious life here on earth in the rat race of trying to make my life mold to a certain way.


Also check out: On Being LikedYou Mean I Have To Work At This?, What Will You Do With Your One Precious Life?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I’m bookmarking this, it’s amazing. I’m always astonished to remember how much my life parallels yours, so posts like these always hit hard on the things I need to hear. Your words and that quote echo exactly how I’ve been feeling at this turning over of the new year.

    And in case YOU need to hear something inspiring – you’re awesome, and your time spent on this blog is appreciated, and you are exactly where you’re meant to be in the “timeline” of life. Never let it get you down that the next step seems out of reach, it just means you have a lot left to look forward to. How boring our lives would be if all our “good” days and accomplishments were behind us! This is what I tell myself, at least. 🙂

  2. Really good post. Sounds like an interesting premise, but it also sounds annoying. I am married and have been for six years. I was not prepared for how HARD marriage is. It’s tough. My parents got divorced and believe it or not, got back together and remarried a couple of years ago (after about fifteen years apart). I don’t plan on getting divorced unless something drastic happens, but I guess no one plans it. My issue though is that I don’t understand how people just “separate” to work on their marriage. I mean, if it’s a lost cause then get divorced. I don’t understand how people can continue to work on their marriage if they aren’t living together. And I REALLY don’t understand how it is supposed to help your marriage to not speak with each other at all for a year. Maybe I will give the book a chance, but that’s just my opinion.

    • Yeah, it was really interesting to read about! I could NEVER do that in my marriage for the same reason you say but I will say I found the book to be less annoying even though I disagreed with what they were doing. It was interesting to see their reasoning and all that and then see what they DID during that year apart.

  3. I love posts like this because they always help to my life back in perspective. I sometimes stress that I’ve not sorted my life out and I’m getting ready to approach 24. I think it’s made worse when talking to some of my friends who have all these plans for where they want to be and what they want to be doing. They talk about their careers saying they want to be in such and such a job by such and such an age and all I can think is where was I when we had the life planning class? Did I miss it when I didn’t attend a lecture at uni?

    So, it’s nice to be reminded that life doesn’t stick to your plan, instead you have to go with it and make the best of whatever situation you land up in. After all, life would be pretty boring if it always stuck to your plans wouldn’t it? It would also be way less stressful, but what can you do?

    • SERIOUSLY where was that GET YOUR LIFE TOGETHER class?? I feel like all my friends got invited to that. I’ll go on FB and I’ll see people I graduated with in these great careers and I’m like WHAT HAPPENED. WHERE DID I GO WRONG?

      And EXACTLY. What CAN you do? Stress a lot about the things you can’t change? Or make due with what you are given and fix what ya can!

      • I know, right. I think they happened in that week I was off sick or something, maybe I missed an email. Everyone else seems to have pulled themselves together and I’ve been left behind a bit.

        I used to stress a lot more about things, but I keep trying to remind myself that there are just some things you can’t change. If only it was easier to remember that most people don’t know what they’re doing and it’s all about putting on a good front and stressing privately, but some people are so much better at looking in control than I am.

  4. I totally feel like a fake grownup. I think it boils down two main things for me:

    * I know NOTHING about so many grownup things. An example is insurance. I don’t know how to deal with that stuff. When I was growing up, my parents dealt with it. Now I’m married and my husband takes care of it. I’m just along for the ride.

    * I feel like I’m in a fantasy land with my job. I’m self employed. I make my own hours. I wake up sometime between 10am and noon, then grab a Starbucks, have a leisurely morning, and then start working. I can take vacations and breaks whenever I want because about 50-70% of my income is passive, and then we ALSO have my husband’s income. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes I feel like I’m not working at all. And since I feel that way, I then feel like I’m still a teenager just messing around instead of a working adult.

    But I guess that all still ties back into your point that we’re all different and there are no molds. There’s nothing you should really *expect* from life, since it’s always the unexpected.

    • OMG SAME. My parents handled all that crap for me and now Will does. I always joke with him that I’m screwed if he ever kicks the bucket. I know nothing about any of our crap. lol.

      PERSONALLY youuuu have my dream job. I wish I could be self-employed!! But I get what you mean though…everyone seems to be off in their business casual attire and off to their cubicles and you aren’t. And it’s true…I bet there are SO many people out there sitting in cubicle jobs just WISHING they could be brave enough to quit the corporate grind and work for themselves.

  5. This is a beautiful post! I am unexpectedly at another crossroads in my life, and I just keep reminding myself that there are so many awesome things happening in this moment that I don’t want to not fully appreciate or miss out on because I’m so worried about where I should be instead. I do believe that everything happens for a reason – whether it’s some experience we need to have or some lesson to be learned. Embrace your life for what it is and make the most of it!

    • YES so much this. I wish sometimes I let myself find the beauty in these unexpected places life took me instead of sitting in misery. Like when I graduated college and worked retail…I wish I traveled more and took advantage of not really having a job that was SUPER serious (Forever 21 was just not that kind of job..not trying to dog retail) and the fact I was living at HOME for FREE. I mean, why did I focus on what I didn’t have?? I had freeeedom. Lesson learned, though!

  6. Everything you’ve said here is so true. I think our lives rarely go according to plan, but you know, if everything went as expected we wouldn’t learn nearly as much. I’m 41 and still don’t feel like a grown up (Ashley, I don’t understand insurance either. I’m not sure anyone really does!) I’ve had many conversations with friends around my age in which we admit how much we feel like we’re faking it. My career did not ever go the way I wanted until very recently, and like you, I’ve had horrible jobs and a layoff. My parents both died much earlier than I expected (my father when I was in high school, and my mother just a couple of years ago). But still, I have to feel grateful for what I have and what I have learned. It maybe be cliche, but I do truly feel like the things that don’t kill us make us stronger. And of course, some of life’s surprises turn out to be very good ones.

    • It does make me feel better than other grownups feel this way!!! I feel like such a fraud as an adult haha

      It is SO SO true. I feel like I have a strength I wouldn’t have had if some of these things didn’t happen. And my sister and I were talking about how if our mom hadn’t passed strange as this is to realize..that we wouldn’t probably BE with our significant others that we are with now. And like there would be no Genevieve or Adela. It was just like…wow…as devastating as that loss is…good did come from it.

  7. You have no idea how much I needed to read this. I totally feel the same way. I have to stop comparing my life and how I feel to others’ and I need to work harder to make sure I’m happy (because that full time job you got and we’re unhappy at?…yeah. that’s my life.) Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • You got this, lady! I have full confidence in you to dig down deep and create that happiness for you. And yes…the key thing was to stop comparing my life to others. SO MUCH UNHAPPINESS FROM THAT. xoxo

  8. I think it’s crazy the ways we really realize that life is what it is, and that it won’t go in the typical storybook type way. As a kid I think I knew this, but since everything was good with my parents and we were financially stable I didn’t really think much of it. But then my dad faced an quick and devastating battle with cancer. Within a month of diagnosis he was gone, and that’s when it kind of struck me, how life really doesn’t fit into those molds. And even though it sucked and still sucks, I grew up a lot from that point and have been able to be there for friends and family when they lose loved ones.

    Also a fake adult here! I had my DREAM job. A dream job I didn’t realize was my dream job. But then I had a decision to make and we ended up moving for my husband’s job. Now we’re living paycheck to paycheck as I work retail (I HATE WORKING RETAIL!). My friends have their grown up jobs and are looking at houses, and I’m selling shoes with high schoolers. But I have to keep remembering to take it in stride. I have so much. I have a job, and sadly not everyone does. I just have to man up and learn from it and make the best of it. This is just one of the stepping stones to something else.

    Great post. Great thoughts. I may have to find this book at my next library trip.

    • It’s so true. That you almost don’t truly REALIZE how things can change and deviate…until you face something like that. So sorry to hear about your dad <33 But the same was true for me in losing my mom. There were things I learned far earlier than most and I also know I've been able to be there for so many people. Especially Will. I think going through what I had been through helped me to know HOW to be there for Will when his dad was sick and then when he passed.

      I FEEL YOU. Every day I'm changing dirty diapers and I'm look at my friends with glamorous jobs. But 1) the grass is always greener and 2) comparing myself rather than making the most of what I've got and where I'm at is a recipe for unhappiness

      Thanks for sharing! <3

  9. My husband turned 40 in 2014. I will be 39 this year. I STILL feel like I’m not a grown-up some days, and that’s even with one kid who is a sophomore in high school. Yes, life is never about what you think it is going to be, and most of the time that is a good thing. For life is so much more fun and challenging and enjoyable than I ever thought. The same is true of marriage and parenthood (if/when you get to that point). All of it constantly tests your ability to adapt and change and grow. As difficult as some years have been, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. As long as I never grow up, I’m okay with that.

    • Love your thoughts!! I’m just nodding my head here. As hard as it has been our first 2 years of marriage with me being unemployed and then now still under-employed, I wouldn’t change it. So many lessons. So many ways to find free, fun things to do. And so many laughs….I mean, sometimes that’s all we could do is laugh at how horribly wrong things were going and just take it in stride.

  10. Honestly, I really love reading your blog. Half the time it’s bookish awesomeness and the other half, it’s full of wise things like these and I don’t know which one I admire more. You sound like you’ve been through a lot and grown as a person and I really admire that. In fact, it’s kind of what I aspire to do. I’m still very teenage, even though a lot of people call me mature. But right now, I have no intention of growing up. I’m going to enjoy my teen years for what they are and just go with the flow 🙂

  11. I absolutely love this post. I am not anywhere near where I wanted to be career-wise or living-wise right now. It’s hard and it makes me really sad a lot of the time. But I do this too: remind myself that I work in a library (albeit part-time) where I am SURROUNDED by books all the time! I work with two cool people and I enjoy it. This post reminds me somewhat of Zombieland: Rule #32 – Enjoy the little things. Anyway, great post. 🙂

  12. It is so good to be reminded of these things, Jamie. So often I compare myself to my friends and peers and think, “I need to hurry up and get to where they are,” but then I stop myself because I realize that I’ve been places they haven’t been and I’ve done things they haven’t done and instead of wanting to follow this ideal path through life, I need to stop and enjoy my life for what it is. Thanks for the encouraging post & reminder. Also, this book sounds super interesting!

  13. I LOVE THIS POST, and I totally agree with you! The older I get, the more I start to realize that things I thought were “truths” and just the way things “should be” are all things society has made up, and they don’t all make good sense! I’m starting to (thoughtfully) challenge a lot of societal rules and to do more soul-searching to learn what is right FOR ME and not for society. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Mr. Money Mustache (a blog about frugality and a totally different style of living) but he really got me to questioning what is “normal”. Thanks for sharing!!

  14. My method for not knowing how to do adult things is just to Google it. Seriously. 90% of the adult things I know how to do come from having done that.

    I so get everything you said here. When I think back on my teens and 20s the one thing I think about is that I wish I had been less afraid. I was afraid of being judged and afraid of not knowing how to handle experiences. An example is that while I dated A LOT in my early 20s I was always preoccupied with worrying about people thinking I was slutty and that was so stupid because now I’m married and WHO CARES what I did ten years ago?

    With work stuff, I felt behind for a long time because I didn’t know I wanted to be in marketing, but now I feel like at age 34 I’ve caught up. Also, people always think I’m younger than I am–I met with a girl in a mentoring-type thing and she was like “oh my god, how are you a marketing director at your age?” and it came out that she thought I was in my mid-20s!

  15. So after reading your review for After I do, I decided to read it 🙂 It got me, I was not expecting it to, but out of nowhere it got me when I was not expecting it. (The Hospital scene). It was such a unique and different take on love, I just loved it and it is a book that kind of stayed with me.

  16. I love that you’re choosing to focus on enjoying what it is that you’ve got at this point in your life! It’s not always easy to think this way, particularly when there are waaaaaay too many ways that we are exposed to other people’s lives (with social media being a huge culprit). But I think it’s worthwhile to pursue this way of thinking; you’ll breathe easier, be happier and just relax a whole lot more about life in general. Enjoyed seeing your thoughts, Jamie!


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