Hearth & Home

Last Friday I cooked my first meal in my kitchen and last night my son Jake baked a cake.  The kitchen is ours.  The house is nearing completion.  Most of the work remaining is on the library (I converted the living room to a true library…dark paneling, floor to ceiling bookshelves and wonderful crown and base) and the mud hole which is my yard. 

I once had a beautiful garden but back hoes have cleared, scraped and reduced the side and back yard to mud.  The most painful part of the remodel was losing some of my beloved Japanese maples.  I was told they’d be saved but they weren’t.  In fact, there was no attempt to save which I didn’t find out until it was too late. 

I look forward to spring when I can begin replanting.  Hopefully I can establish a new garden and nurture and shape new trees and flowering shrubs and find a spot for a cutting garden.  I don’t have a really sunny lot, not with all the big cedars dotting my yard and the neighbors.  But I love trees, and am beginning to love the new house.  Cooking in the kitchen helped.  Making lasagna and chili and all the family favorites helps.  There’s been so much change in the past year that I find myself longing for things that are familiar.  Calming.  Comforting.

Which brings me to me.  And my personal house…my body/shape/self-esteem.  Whenever I mention my weight or my desire to get back in shape, I get some interesting emails.  People who criticize me for being shallow, or image obsessed.  People who don’t want me to care so much about getting my pre-baby body back.

But I have a right to feel comfortable in my own personal house.  I have a right to want to feel a certain way.  We all do.  And I won’t be bullied or shamed or chastised for saying I’m more comfortable smaller,  or leaner, or fitter.   Our lives as women are filled with demands and stresses and emotional responsibilities and psychological hurdles.  Being strong helps me handle the pressure.  Being fit helps me cope.  Mentally, emotionally, physically.   My father died at 43.  I’ll be 46 next month.  If me being lighter or leaner or stronger helps me feel better about my mortality, then allow me to celebrate my physical ideal because there’s no right weight.  There’s no right body shape.  There’s no one way to be. 

But there is a way not to be.  Unhappy.  Insecure.   Haunted by self-hatred.

We are each responsible for making sure we’re joyful.  Peaceful.  Positive.  It’s not a one shot thing.  It’s not a hit the goal and you’re done.  It’s a daily thing.  It’s a weekly thing.  It’s a life thing.

To work towards joy.  To work towards self-acceptance.  To aim for our personal best.

We’re not going to always succeed.  But we don’t fail if we don’t give up.

So take care of your personal house, that body that takes care of you.  Give it the good stuff.  Give it rest.  Give it love.  We don’t have forever.  But we don’t need forever if we live fully each day.


  1. Great post Jane, I loved it. I wish I had your will power! I do need to start taking better care of myself and I have weight issues. I have started to do some exercise each day. I have to start somewhere! I figure every little thing will help. I don’t get much support for my husband and that doesn’t help either! Hang in there girl you will get where you want to be again! You have the will to do it and support of a good family!

  2. I LOVE this! You are so right. We have to take care of ourselves and also do what we feel is right for ourselves.
    Such an obvious statement really, yet often hard to remember…

    Best wishes, Jane! Hope you enjoy the new house and new year.

  3. Well said, Jane! And those criticizing you for wanting to be a healthy mom are wrong. Too many parents die young from preventable causes, leaving children behind to cope with the loss. If we were all as motivated to get healthy as you are then our children would not only be happier but healthier as well. They take their health cues from us.

    As for your garden, I’m so with you! I’m really looking forward to spring when I can begin making my new yard my own with flowers, vines, shrubs and a vegetable garden as well. The sun is shining so bright today making me wish I could be out in it but it’s only 30 degrees so my chores are inside today 🙂 Bless you, my friend, and keep on being the best you that you can be.

  4. It saddens me to think that you have recieved e-mails of the like we already personnally bombard ourselves with everyday. Everyday when we catch a moment we as women tend to dwell on the changes we would like to see and feel quite frankly overnight and tell ourselves we are being selfish,vain and we should quite wasting time thinking that way because those things aren’t for us and they are impossible to reach as mothers and such.Like we would be sinning to do for ourselves, care for ourselves when we have so many more people in our lives to care for.I love your blog entries almost as much as your writings Jane. I catch everyone of them and they remind me that it is ok to love myself as much as I love my kids,it is ok to expect as much love from a marriage or relationship as I put into it and it is ok to want as much for my self as I would like to see the people around me recieve.I want better health, more happiness and the feeling of great relaxation and acomplishment I get when I walk run or exercise. I used to shy away from my part of life literally counting down all the days I might have left like my death would be the end of a race or the equivalent of the last of of school before summer. I look forward to my life now and all the great things I can still acomplish.And I mean I. Not my husband and not my kids. I support and lead them when needed but just recently by listening to my kids’s concerns of leaving home and me not being happy I started living for me I think I am actually a better happier person. That doesn’t mean I am not still a little concerned. Heck I have been a troll in life so long everything I do is new. The exercise is hard(been a year since Feb)starting college ( on 01/14) is scary and being honest to my husband on the true state of our marriage( I mentioned divorce 1st time ever)was humbling. And you know its all ok. Keep doing everything you do Jane. You inspire me and I am sure I am not alone. One day I hope to get my new Jane Porter collection of books signed by you if I ever make it to your area. I’d like to shake the hand of a great role model for us women who have been living our life simply by sitting on the sidelines and offering water to everyone else. Thank you so much!

  5. Also I have a group of women here at work that meet with me to workout to Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. It is easy to follow(even though it melts me literally) and fun. I feel great with that video. I do that 3 days a week and workout in my modest little wieght room( that we setup for our high school boys)3 days a week. What do you do in your workouts? Mine are 30 to 45 mins unless it is nice outside then I take off walking and jogging for 1.5 hours.I still can’t believe I do it.

  6. Rock on Jane. You do whatever you need to do to make you happy. Sometimes its the wishing of “well meaning” friends and family that make you doubt yourself.

    Case in point my father-in-law keeps telling my 6 year old she should watch out because she’s getting fat! Can you believe it. I tell her no she’s not fat, she’s a strong girl. Her sisters and cousins are rail thin but she’s in no way fat. (You put anything next to a toothpick and it looks big – it’s all relative) She can outrun them, out do anything physical because she’s strong even though she’s 3 years younger. I’ve told my husband to talk to his father because if he says anything else to her, he’d better hold me back because I’ll come out swinging (verbally) – which is a terrible sign of disrespect in our culture. Now she’s turning down her favorites because she thinks she’s fat. It’s so sad.

    Anyways sometimes the people who love you should just shut the heck up and do simply that – love you – w/o criticism.

    Take care.

  7. You look fantastic and so young for your age…those kids are so lucky to have you and you…them…they will always keep you young too. Your garden will be way too much fun and it’s all new. New is good. She who plants trees loves others besides herself (take that). Enjoy all that is new and all that is old and thank you for the inspiration to all of us.

  8. Great post, Jane!

    Sorry to hear about your trees, is there any hope of replacing them? Can you require the people who didn’t even try to save them, to at least pay for new ones? (I don’t think you want them to re-plant if they are that unreliable, but you shouldn’t bear the cost, either)

    I found the following sentences to be especially meaningful to me, and thank you for them:

    “We are each responsible for making sure we’re joyful. /snipped/ It’s a life thing. /more snipped/ We don’t have forever. But we don’t need forever if we live fully each day.”

    Now to put that into practice ~

  9. So sorry to hear about your Japanese maples… I hate losing stuff in my garden. I am, however, jealous of your climate. You must have the most amazing azaleas and rhododendrons… I have some, but I am zone 4 and it is just too cold for them to grow to any great size.

    Good for you for taking care of yourself… it’s a tough road and I admire your discipline. there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, especially if you put effort into it. I have always battled my weight, am up 20 lbs now. It is a struggle for me to get below 130 and when I was it used to irk me no end when people would say how lucky I was to be small. Not luck, just lots of hard work. If they ran 3 miles with me 5-6 days a week they wouldn’t think I was THAT lucky!

    You’ll reach your goals, of that I am sure. Can’t wait for She’s Gone Country as I especially liked Odd Mom Out and Easy on the Eyes.

  10. Your absolutely right Jane! We have the right to feel the way we feel and to say what we want to say without being criticize. Everyone is a critic and it’s up to us to ignore all the negative comments! We are all responsible for our happiness and we should live our lives to the fullest and try to be positive each and every day. Its all we can do. 🙂

  11. Oh Jane! Who would take the time to write and chastise you for wanting to get back into shape?! Soooo aggravating. It’s 100% normal to want your old “self” back after having a baby. As much as we adore our children, our identities tend to be wrapped up mothering them. If getting back to your writing and getting your figure back is part of that, who is to say otherwise or what you should/shouldn’t care about!! Sorry for the run-on sentence, but I could just go on for days about people who should MYOB.

    I’ve been meaning to email you all weekend, but I had a busy one. I’ll do that separately.

    For now, do what is best for you–ignore the rest.

    Hugs, Shannon

  12. You go Jane! Ignore any negative emails because they are probably from people just jealous because you’re slim and beautiful. I would bet any emails that call you shallow for wanting to look your best are probably from fat people who let themselves go and have no pride in their appearance! I remember when my neighbor and I got pregnant at the same time, but during the pregnancy I tried to eat healthy and gain only the recommended 25- 30 pounds, and she ate for the USA! Result – post baby she still looked pregnant and resented me for being roughly back to my normal weight. Being fat is a CHOICE and misery loves company!
    Just keep moving forward Jane!

  13. There are those who’ve already posted and have been more tactful than I’m about to be. What buttheads! I mean, they truly spent energy (bad energy, at that!) on telling you mean things. Feeling good is a priority. I get so irritated with people who act as though someone is “shallow” because they care about how they look and feel. I suppose if you were admiring yourself 24/7 in front of a mirror that might be a bit much, but my gosh, you just had a baby and you want to feel good!

    Also, I do the Jillian Michaels 30 minute shred that one other person mentioned here. Love it. It’s quick and efficient and result oriented. Go get it!

  14. You rock Jane! Congrats on working on your house and doing what it takes to make you feel happy and healthy. I love your candor and ability to express what so many women are thinking.

    I am so excited for your next novel, they just get better and better! 🙂

  15. Congratulations on your new house and that’s a shame about your garden. There is nothing wrong about wanting to be thinner and in shape. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.

  16. I could not have said that better, Jane! You have every right to find your happiness whether it has to do with the way you look or the way you live. I choose to work out regularly and get back into shape. I have inlaws who have made “Skinny Bi***” comments to me. But I don’t make comments back because I feel that if they are happy with themselves, I have no place saying otherwise. But I work hard for my body and I have NOTHING to apologize for. I feel better being thinner. I am not skinny as in size 0. I am a healthy 4-6. But I feel more alive and more energetic at this body size. I look forward to the workouts and the feeling after them too. I think people who complain about being overweight and choosing not to do anything about it is more worthy of criticism than us.

    So, go exercise, Jane. And do it for you!! I am!! In fact most mornings, at 4:30am, you will find me at the Fitness Club on the treadmill. I find it a great way to start my day before the kids are up and I head into work (even when it is 9degrees and the warm bed is so much more inviting).

    Love ya! I am cheering you on from Jersey in hopes of drowning out all the criticism of the others!!


  17. Jane, I wouldn’t pay much mind to those who criticized you for wanting to be healthy & in shape. I’ve received negative comments about the importance I place on being healthy & in shape. Whatever your motivation = health or fitting into your clothes – is your business. I’ve found that people like that are lashing out because they cannot make the commitment to change their habits. Do what you feel is right.

  18. Another great blog, Jane Porter!

    Even not knowing you personally, I read so much of your thoughts on life here I must say this: you are a GREAT example of balancing many important aspirations (personal & professional) and doing it while not pretending to be perfect. And that’s why I bother to read your blog.

    You, dear writer lady, are more fabulous that the best Sex & The City characters.

  19. I completely understand your feelings, as I’m sure most women do! After “dieting” for years and shedding (and regaining!) the same 20 lbs several times, I’ve finally found what works for me. I decided not to focus on how much I weigh, but to focus on eating healthy, BEING healthy. To eat mainly what my body NEEDS, not what my emotional 5 yr old inner child WANTS. Before I eat, I take a minute to listen to my body, it “tells” me what it wants! If I follow this and make sure to get some fun exercise, I’ve kept the weight off, and can occasionally give that little girl a treat.
    Our bodies are containers for our souls, that’s their function. Our responsibility is to take good care of it, so it can carry your soul wherever you want to go, as long as you’re meant to be here!

  20. What a really great post about your personal house. It has given more warm fuzzies and hopefully, dash of adrenaline for my next date with the treadmill. :o)

    Good luck with feeling as comfy in your body as you will in your newly renovated home!


  21. Very Well Said Jane! I like that. . .work towards joy. There is always joy in every second of our lives and I am working to hold on to the joy no matter how small all the time. And you know what, it becomes easier and easier to do as it’s becoming my daily habit! Bless you, dear Jane, be always yourself and stay happy.


  22. Hi Jane, I totally agree with you regarding how you wish to feel in your own home (body). Your Dad died so young – as did mine, and I am so conscious of being the biggest I’ve ever been, yet still able to squeeze in to those thin clothes. I’m sure you have the same problem, you can fit in to both sizes of clothes and people just do not know what we are going on about. In the past I would have tried to lose my weight real fast and overdo it, but my motto for this year is to take it slow. I’m going to try to be healthy, but if I slip up, so be it, it’s no big deal. I a just going to work towards being happy with who I am.
    Your post was so well said, Jane, you are an absolute star in my eyes 🙂

  23. Oh – oops Jane, meant to say to you, I’ve just finished reading Duty, Desire and the Desert King. You are so GOOD at writing sheikh stories 🙂

  24. Say it girl! Way to go! I’m sorry people respond to you like that! Thats awful! You’re a talented and beautiful woman! Look forward to your next post!

  25. Yes! You have put it so well, Jane, great words to live by for all of us.
    Now you can cook healthy meals in your new kitchen and work out again and you will be feeling and looking good before summer so you won’t feel bad at the beach in 2010.
    I felt bad for you last summer, but since we have the babies there are times in our lives when our bodies are not all our own, but also a time to take it back- so go for it!

  26. Thanks for that post Jane, I needed that.

    In fact, I read it on the shirt tails of giving myself a motivational speech in the bathroom just before that regarding my body and form. You’ve met me, I’m of slender stature. But I am sooooo out of shape. I’m not going to drone on about the issues, but they increase daily and make it difficult to exercise. I feel like a 70 yr old in a 38 yr old body. So the exterior “looks” in shape, but it’s not – it’s just shape. I haven’t lifted any weights since 2003, but my arms still give the appearance of tone (with cellulite, blegh). I look good, but I want to FEEL good too. Feel GREAT.

    So kudo’s to you for ignoring the ney sayers and sticking to your guns with your goals! And before you know it you’ll be back to the ‘you’ YOU want – and that is all that matters! :0)

  27. Jane,
    some people in this world are really mean. Bravo to you for putting them in their place! I admire you for who you are so here come the accolades: smart, kind, respectful, loving, beautiful, sincere, honest, sweet, thoughtful, etc. etc. etc.
    Have a joyful day!! Love ya…

  28. Isn’t there always someone, no matter what your life circumstance or occupation, who comes down on you negatively? Must be so we are challenged to really think about and learn what we really want regardless of those naysayers!! I’m with you on feeling more comfortable smaller, just haven’t got there in awhile and probably won’t until way after the baby arrives (I’m 19 weeks!!)

    Hey, any chance you might post pictures of your newly done-up house? I love looking into other people’s homes to see how they live, which is why I’m a regular on a bunch of desing blogs. I’d love to see the changes!!!

  29. Bravo, Jane!
    You do what makes you and your family happy that’s all that really counts.

    I am so glad to hear that your house is nearing completion. It think I would have went crazy if my kitchen had been been torn up like yours was for so long.

  30. Glad to hear your feeling at home – at home and working towards your own comfort in your own skin! I also just have to say that photo in earlier post of Baby Mac is to die for! What a doll!

  31. Yahoo! Awesome comment and I hope more mothers & teachers promote your – being the best fit, healthy and lean you – you can be. May I add I hope they include posture?

    Last night a friend and I were sharing wine and at one point we did question if all the self-esteem messages have gotten skewed. In our older woman bodies, with some common age rolls and looseness that we prefer to keep covered, we have noticed that in comparing our body shapes to teens in the malls and on college campuses, WE ARE IN BETTER SHAPE!

    So keep preaching – I find it totally sad to see young woman wearing their skimpy clothes and have less abs than I – who is overweight and had 4 children. My current exercise regime involves having my one-year-old grandson 3 days a week. I expect that by summer, I’m going to really be a lean and sexy granny. 🙂

  32. Right on! Well said! It’s all up to each individual person to decide what is right for them in all areas of our lives- financially, value judgement- wise, body- wise … we have to decide for ourselves. I have high expectations of myself on some things and not on others- and my goals that I value are so different than some of my friends. And even my sister and brother. But we all have our own experiences and “destinies” …so thanks for sharing what you value and I wish you the best in getting back to feeling the way you love to feel! I understand! You WILL get there! Your body remebers and will respond quickly I’m sure!

  33. I think if YOU feel better by losing weight then that’s what you should do… If you’re okay where you’re at then stay there. Ultimately, you’re not shallow for wanting to be thinner. You just want to feel good about yourself. Do what YOU want!

  34. Hey Jane, I definitely believe in healthy body, healthy mind. It is definitely a goal that I’ve had for a few years now! And it’s not for “looks” its just to feel comfortable again! For some reason, when I’m feeling good, I also look good (for me). This is definitely a resolution for me as well! Take care!

  35. All so true. In our personal house we make the choices. I know when I feel better, is when I make the best choices for my personal house and when I do not I pay the price the next day.

  36. You must love what you do and do what you love. If it makes you happy to work out then do it. What most probably don’t see, is the real you. The kind, caring, giving you! So no matter what you look like, know that is what makes you a beautiful person.

    Love yourself and others will follow!

  37. Jane,
    I am so happy that you always share with us and it helps me atleast get to know you as a “friend” and makes me feel that I am not “the only one”.

    I have had a weight problem nearly all my life. I am short so it doesn’t help! And I have battled it for as long as I can remember.

    It makes me sad to hear my almost 15 year old daughter say that she is “fat”. She is almost 5’7″ and wears a size 10. She is freaking gorgeous too and her beauty is lost on the high school boys (which is good now! 😉 ) She is a dancer not only at a private studio but also on the school dance team so she is active. Just because she isn’t a stick like “all the other girls” she thinks she is “fat”. I wish I looked like her!

    My father had his first heart attack when he was 50. I just turned 45. Granted he smoked and was a workaholic he was over-weight and did not exercise. I don’t want to have a heart attack or a stroke and leave my kids with out a mom. I want to enjoy their lives and my future grand kids and MY life too! I am tired of feeling crappy!

    Slowly we have been starting to eat healthier. Tuesday I will go to my first Zumba dance class and I hope to add in weight training (we have a home gym). I just have to make myself do it!

    We all have to do what makes US happy! And it is true — If MAMA isn’t happy — NO ONE is happy! 🙂


Leave a Comment

Your email is never published or shared.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By posting a comment, you consent to have your personally identifiable information collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy.