launching from the nest

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
-Kahlil Gibran

“Times they are a-changing!” This past week my family went through major transitions. My oldest daughter left for an internship in a different part of the country, my middle daughter to her first year of college, and my son will start high school next week. My nest, which used to be a hub of activity, is slowly getting emptied. To put it simply, I am on the edge of tears each day knowing this part of my journey, something so all-encompassing, is reaching the final act. I’m not kidding. I saw a jar of peanut butter when I was making dinner tonight, and I burst into tears because I remember that being my daughter’s favorite. Who will finish it now? I’m a mess!

While I always knew this day would come, I had no idea how hard it would be, and I have been caught off guard that I am not handling this better. My daughter said, “just think of all the times I drove you crazy.” My response was, “I am a mom…I forget the pain, which is why there are two more after you.”

Life is a book filled with chapters, and motherhood was one I truly relished. From the early preschool years to watching them drive away the first time, there has always been an inner reserve that I found within me. As Shakespeare wrote, we are all merely actors in a more significant play, and our job was to give our kids the tools for the performance of their lives. The time would come to let them go. The warnings were always there. Little grandmas would tell me, “The days are long, but the years are short.” “Enjoy it because it goes to fast.” Added to that, 2019 sounded like it belonged in a galaxy far, far away. Of course, I would be ready!

While I am incredibly grateful for the years of being a mom, even the challenges of being a single mom, there is no guide on how to transition to this new role that can convince my heart to get a grip. Any time you open your spirit to another and invite them to make a home in it, you expand yourself in ways that you can never be the same. I know I could get really excited about this unique opportunity of time and space. I have been working on a book for a few years, and maybe it is time to commit to getting it done. There is the yoga mat that has been ignored, and books to be read.

And yet…there is still this ache that busy-ness can’t solve. Theoretically I should look at this as a promotion. You never stop being a parent. Just when you thought you had it all figured out, you are pushed to grow yet again! That is the richness of being alive. As your nest empties, you have to pump your wings and chart your next course! So here’s to those who are launching their kids this week…you are not alone in your search for a Kleenex! May you find joy in knowing you made a contribution by your love and may you find something to inspire you to aim for a brave new adventure!

And if you think it is just us…watch this ❤️: https://www.mother.ly/news/viral-michael-buble-video-makes-parents-cry?utm_source=rebeccaeaines&utm_medium=partnership&utm_campaign=fbpost



The fastest way to bring more wonderful examples of abundance into your personal experience is to take constant notice of the wonderful things that are already there. -Esther Hicks

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is to have dinner outside. There is something about being in the outdoors that makes dinner more savory. With the abundance of fresh produce, it is so easy to create healthy, colorful meals, and at Chadds Peak Farm, every day is a good day for bubbles…why wait until you have a special occasion? When you find reasons to celebrate, isn’t it funny how more exciting things show up?

I had an epiphany this week on finding reasons to celebrate. Our kids are all home for the summer, and as the weeks stretch out toward the return to school, everyone seems to be on each other’s nerves. Coming home to a sink full of dirty dishes after a long day just drives me crazy, and once my mind gets in that state, it is easy to start seeing all the flaws. My friend, Judy, who is working with me on the Seven Keys to an Easier and Better Life, reminded me yesterday about the power of finding the good. “Look for things you appreciate about the other rather than expecting them to change. Just watch what happens!” And just like magic, staying open to the wonderful things that the kids do and how much we really love them transformed the situation.

So how do you find abundance? Is there a situation in your life that you could transform by making a conscious effort to see the good? Take some time to see if you can make a reason to celebrate. It really works!


the train will come…

They say they built the train tracks over the Alps before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway.

-Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun

From the beginning of my life, I was always surrounded by people. As the eleventh of twelve kids, I never really knew what it was to be alone. My mom used to say to us, “if you want to be alone, do the dishes.” That was her funny way of saying, “don’t feel sorry for yourself; you are lucky to have people around!” She was right!

There came a time in my life when everything I had created came tumbling down, and I had to decide how to rebuild. I had three kids who were watching and an empty house that needed us as much as we needed it. I remember saying a prayer to that house, “if you want me to stay here, you damn well better figure out a way.” Somehow things came together and through a bit of hard work and determination, that house and I stayed together to make a wonderful nest for my kids. What a blessing indeed!

Once I got my feet on the ground, I decided to find some pieces for that empty house that would make it a home. The thing I loved most about my childhood was the big table where we gathered, and I contacted a friend to see if she would make me a very long and very special table. Since I am the the 11th kid, I wanted it to be at least 11 feet long. It was beautiful and exactly what I dreamed of having in my home. When the kids weren’t with me, I would sit at the end of this table alone. At first I would cry because this wasn’t exactly how the dream looked, but then I remembered this scene from one of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun. Sometimes you have to build the dream looking forward, and live your life in that direction. I used to set the table for two, even though it was just me. One day when I was sitting there, I decided to trace my hand and write down in my hand exactly what my partner would be like. I wrote down everything, even that he had sheep (something I had always dreamed of). I wrote that he would have hazel eyes, and the crazy thing is that he thinks he still has hazel eyes, but cancer treatments made them blue! He would love water and have a sailboat. He would love to cook and be passionate about life as I was…and guess what? When you are busy building the track, the train will come and you get to jump aboard for the adventure of a lifetime.

When the day came for Vince and me to marry, guess where the party started? Yep. At that big lonely table; except it wasn’t empty any more. It was filled with joy and everything that we had hoped. It has been the center of our celebrations for our family and friends, and we are working now to build a room in our new house that will be big enough for everyone to gather.

I sold that amazing house to run for Congress. It was like losing a best friend and I think of it often…how it held me when I was alone. Sometimes you have to make room for bigger dreams and leave a place so someone else can build tracks. That was the perfect place. The time I spent alone was often sad, but in that darkness, something was being fertilized in my spirit. In that time, I really got to know myself and be ready to find a new love when it came my way.

How can you take solitude and really savor what is there? No matter where you go, make the space special for you and in that sacred moment, write down your dreams; the life you are looking to create. Write what is beautiful about your life now…and then be ready. The train will come…and maybe even sheep!


room at the table

Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.

-Maya Angelou

Each summer for many years, my husband and I organize an event to bring the community together for a pop-up dinner party. Fashioned after the French white summer dinner parties, it is held outside in beautiful open space. Guests bring their food, wine, service wares along with beautiful decorations, and each group sets up a magnificent table. It is so inspiring to see the creativity expressed! Although it is a ton of work, it is a fabulous time for all who attend. If you want to join us, just check out Brandywine in White.

What I love most is the splendor of bringing people together at the table. When I was young, the dinner table was the most important place in the house. Aside from being a space where we gathered to eat (there were 12 kids in my family!), it was a place where conversations happened and manners were quietly learned. I still remember having great fun seeing how extraordinary I could set the table, learning the placement of the utensils and gathering some flowers for a centerpiece. It was all so simple, but it taught me about life’s little luxuries that really don’t cost a thing. The dialogue and debate around the table was as filling as the food. If you were missing, you would be quickly summoned because there was no excuse that could be more important.

As much as things have changed, this is one part of my day that continues…whether the gathering be for one, two, or three hundred, there is magic when people come together at the table. My mom always made room for unexpected guests. “We’ll just add more water to the soup,” she would jokingly say. And like a mystical loaves and fishes, there would be more than enough to go around. The spirit of hospitality and generosity is essential to our way of life, and I believe these acts of bringing people together for a meal can transform our world…one table at a time. I invite you to observe the rituals you have around the table and see how you can create your own magic. Let me know how it goes!

photo credits: Edwin Williams Photography of our last Brandywine in White event


through the looking glass

“The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

– Carrie Bradshaw, Sex in the City

It was one of those record hot days and of course it happened to be a day we were throwing an event in the barn. I was racing around and didn’t have time to change before the guests started arriving, so I decided to just wing it. One of our friends was taking photos and when I saw the picture of me, my first reaction was… “who is that woman and what has she done to my body?” Never mind the smile and twinkling eyes, I went right into the mode of critic…picking myself apart.

Why do we do this? I realize we are in a culture where the perfect picture of female beauty is plastered across everything we see from social media, advertisement and shopping malls, but I’m a feminist and have a degree in Women’s Studies. I know better! The pressure to show up as an air-brushed version of myself forgets the beauty of what my life has been…a student of the mystery of life, a mom of wonderful children, a wife, a politician, a writer, and a believer in possibility. When we look beyond the mirror and see through to our souls and our passions for life, we get a different picture of a person who is really quite amazing.

So if you have been in my shoes and forgotten to look beyond the surface at the wonder-filled person you are, I invite you to take another look. Elizabeth Gilbert, one of my favorite authors, calls perfectionism “fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified.” We all want to be loved and cherished, and the truth is if we look within, it is waiting there for every one of us. Maybe if we give ourselves a break from perfection, we will see magic. That smile that loves life, the eyes that behold everyone in a unifying grace, and a desire to bring everyone together at the table. Well, that sounds pretty royal after all.

Words have power and it is essential to our self-esteem to use words of love. How can you define yourself in the most loving and beautiful words? Take a moment each day to write down your favorites…it is the best gift you can give the most important person in your life…yourself!

photo credits: our good friend, Ed Williams 🙂


true love

I read this on an advertisement from body positive columnist Charli Howard and was inspired to share it here on my page. For how can one create a magical life if you miss the one in the mirror? Valentine’s Day is all about expressing true love…and it has to start with loving who you are…all of you! Here’s to all my readers…May you fall in love and discover the magic you create every day just by being you!

A love letter
to myself by: Charli Howard

To my Body,
This is a letter to say thank you: a thank you for all the times you loved me, when I showed you no love at all. Our relationship in the past has been complicated. I spent years comparing you to numerous women I will never be, and against bodies I will never have. I based my value on what other people thought of me or saw in me, seeking their approval before I sought my own…My curves were shameful; my stretch marks hideous. My hair should’ve been different; my clothes a size smaller. I was never satisfied with what you gave me, even when you tried telling me I was enough. I wanted to change you in the hope someone else would love me in the ways I couldn’t love you. But, in reality, you’ve loved me better than anyone else ever could; more than anyone ever will. I put so much focus on looking perfect on the outside, that I forgot about the love you offered me from within. And the truth is, Body, you were perfect already – I was just blind to it. When I abused you, you never left. When I criticised you, you never fought back. You’ve repaired and renewed me; kept my heart beating and my blood pumping. You never gave up on me throughout all the times I was ready to give up on you. And, years later, when I finally realised how much I needed you, you continued to love me like you had from the beginning. That is true love. So this is a promise – a promise to love you, flaws and all, and to make up for the years I didn’t realise your worth. And while my skin might not be the smoothest, or my hips the smallest, you’ve taught me what I needed to know: I am enough. So we’re in this together for the long run. Because you may not be perfect, Body, but you’re the only one I’ve got. All my love, Charli xxx

Try writing your own love letter to yourself…the results will be magical!!


setting the table

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not a single act, but a habit. -Aristotle

As a child, one of my daily tasks was to set the dinner table, and because my mother had a great collection of dishes that had been passed down from other generations or purchased at yard sales, there were always many to choose from and an opportunity to be creative.  Our dinner table was originally my great-grandmothers, and it had a span that fit all fourteen of us for the evening meal.  In our “assigned” seats we passed the prepared dishes and had lively debates over the issues of the day.  There wasn’t an option not to be at the table; it was required, and if you were missing, there had to be a good reason.  Because coming to the table was essential, I liked to take extra care in setting the stage for a wonderful meal.  This is something that sticks with me today as I set my own table built to resemble that long table of my earlier years.

In an age where efficiency has often replaced elegance and convenience has replaced the timeless, I invite you back to the table so you may explore what happens when we use the real dishes and utensils.  So get out the china set, and let go of the attachment that it will break.  Dishes were meant to be used and it creates the element of respect at the dinner table…a dropped dish is not so likely to be ignored so things may slow down a bit to be experienced.  Simple foods on a beautiful plate never tasted so good! Take out the silverware at your next party and notice the mood of your guests shift when they realize you are treating them like royalty.  Wine tastes much better in a glass and it is more fun to drink coffee in a cup with a saucer.  Does it take a little extra time? Perhaps, but it is worth savoring the meal and having it served up with class…a feast for the eye.

One of the misconceptions of using real dishes is that it is costly.  Actually, I find dishes of various prices and most of the time when people know I like them, they give them to me.  This set pictured here was a special set I purchased for our wedding luncheon, an English Staffordshire design that was hand-painted.  It was found at a local consignment shop and every time I take them out, I am reminded of that special day.  Other sets I like to collect are more simple: a band of gold or silver, small florals, perhaps a pop of color.  You can mix collections for a fun effect (and not having to have a fully matched set is actually more enjoyable for the tablescape).  Depending on the design, they may need to be hand-washed, but in our crazy paced life, sudsy warm water can become a quiet meditation at the end of a day.

The various silverware and stemware we have collected at local shops are tales of a bygone era…when people took time for elegant cocktails and soirees.  I adore drinking champagne out of these hollow-stemmed coupes–the bubbles circulating for a mini fireworks show in your glass.  The bubbles are able to sparkle on your face unlike narrow stem flutes and you get the true sensation of what champagne was meant to be.  Seldom do my silver sets match–they are random pieces that either were given to us by relatives or bits and pieces from over the years.  Again this adds to the interest of the table.  Using real linens is something we do most of the time…even if they don’t get ironed, it is still a more luxurious experience than a paper one.  On top of all this, using things over and again allows us to reduce our environmental footprint…which is very important to us as we consider the generations that follow ours.

How you place your settings doesn’t need to follow any specific etiquette necessarily.  Using a bit of creative flair always rules supreme at our table.  Flowers from the field or the yard are essential as are real candles.  (I cannot deal with those electronic versions on the dinner table and feel they are representative of the lost art of living a life of meaning.)  Even little votive lights work as they often cast just the right magical glow.  One tradition I like for special meals is to have a votive at each place setting.  Instead of a formal blessing, we go around the table, lighting our candles and offering a wish, a gratitude or memory of someone we would love to have present at the table.  Our dinner conversations have been transformed by this simple ritual and immediately all are lifted to a union that truly makes the meal something more than just physical nourishment…it becomes food for the soul.  

I invite you to reclaim some of the beautiful traditions of the past and bring them to your table. Watch how the experience moves you beyond just consuming the daily bread. 

photo credits: Tessa Marie Images



We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.  

T. S. Eliot, American born English poet, playwright, critic

My favorite part of my job is that I get to be an explorer…whether I am on the hunt for the perfect home for a client or looking for the right accent for my own…it is exciting to be out searching.  It must be a part of my gathering personae and having to think outside the box all my life, but I can see potential everywhere. You never know when “it” is going to appear.    For instance, I happened upon this amazing light fixture in a shop while I was taking a break from a conference…exactly what I was envisioning for my living room.  A beautiful light to can transform a room and set the stage for creativity.  We all are unique, so our spaces should convey our character. 

 When Vince and I travel, we like to find one special thing from our trip that will adorn our home…our house is full of memories of the places and people we love.  The Ironstone bowl we found while in Michigan for my sister’s wedding sits on an old coffee table which used to be a cart in a New England textile mill. The green glass fishing float was found on a Saturday morning at a local shop…we were wandering and it caught our eye.  Just the dramatic pop of color for a room with an otherwise subtle color palate.

Exploring is one of those lost arts…in our quick-paced world, who has time to stop and smell the roses let alone take time to see the potential in something?  It is much easier to buy new and be on our way.  However, when you slow down even once in a while, you might find hidden treasure or something magical that will make the time spent worthwhile. 

Where do you explore?


the beginning

Welcome to Queens Junction, a place to share all the things that make life magical…which was inspired by this post of our barn published in the recent The Hunt Magazine.  It was a magical meeting that brought my husband, Vince, and I together…on a Christmas night (will share that story in a later post!) and it was a magical opportunity when our friend, Eileen, asked us if we would set up the table for Christmas dinner for this article.  We had a great time creating a warm holiday setting in our barn and a place for guests at our table.  Making an inviting space is a passion of ours and we invite you to pull up a chair and join us at our table! (photo credits: Tessa Marie Images)