My Story // Contained Beauty: Photographs, Reflections and Swimming Pools // The Empty Nest

Thursday, September 20, 2012
Debbi DiMaggio

My Story

This is my story as to how Contained Beauty came to be…

As you know, my name is Debbi DiMaggio. I am Midge and Vince’s daughter, Michael’s sister, Adam’s wife, a mother of two amazing children, Bianca and Chase, a Realtor, an avid volunteer and now an author.

Reflections

The first question I am asked most frequently is just how Contained Beauty came to be and what does the title mean. Contained Beauty: Photographs, Reflections & Swimming Pools.

In my book, the word “Reflections” refers to both, the reflections in a swimming pool and the reflections in my life.

Swimming Pools are Contained. For me, they are a place of beauty and comfort. Throughout the journey and putting this book together, I realized that I was like a swimming pool. I was living contained trying to keep a tight hold on my life and everything in it.

If you know me well, then you will know that when I get an idea I have to follow through with it or it will stay with me, keep me up at night and will occupy my mind until I do something about it.

A coffee table book about swimming pools was one of those ideas that kept repeating. I could picture my coffee-table book in hotels and resorts around the world and in people’s homes and in all of my real estate listings.

It wasn’t until Bianca’s junior year in high school, when she was busy considering colleges, and Chase was becoming more independent with friends, sports and school when things started to change… I felt a void, similar to that, of an empty swimming pool.

Empty Nest

As they got busier in their own lives, all I could see was an empty nest in my future. I wasn’t prepared for what was to come and the emotions I would feel. It was during this time I began searching. I needed a project to move me forward. I just kept thinking, we were once a family of four, soon to be a family of three. It was really, all too overwhelming. ( What I experienced was very different than what I had understood about the Empty Nest. My sadness and Empty Nest feelings did not begin when my last child left, but occurred when Bianca, my first child left, realizing that soon our son Chase and all of his friends would be gone too. )

One evening at a high school senior going away party a father said, “it’s not like she is going off to war”. As crazy as it sounded, his comment really put things into perspective and actually made me stop and think.

However, I was still reminiscing. I was still sad.  I spent time going back through our family photo albums, assembling a collection of meaningful photographs and creating a memory book for Bianca.

As I pulled together photographs of family, friends and Bianca’s travels, I wrote captions, sharing words that would hopefully help her with her transition to college and what she meant to me. The captions were as much for me as they were (hopefully) for her.

I titled it, “What to Share with Your Senior Before they Leave for College.” I wrote things like… I love you, we are just a phone call away, try new things, get involved.  I cried as I put the book together.

When you are one less in the household, time opens up. One early morning, after Bianca had left for college, I began to re-read and write in my personal journal.

I had been adding to my journal over the years when I was inspired. I tend to write in the morning before my family gets up, and when the house is quiet and my mind is clear. And I love to write when I travel.

Over the years I have been assembling a “believe” handbook, filled with my inspirational words of wisdom. It is something I hoped to share with my children and their friends, and to inspire others who might read it.

Swimming Pools

Also, you may ask – Why a coffee table book on swimming pools?

Swimming pools inspire me. When sitting next to a swimming pool I feel renewed and peaceful and open to new possibilities. And it is also a place where I find balance.

Looking at water helps me clear my mind and allows new ideas to seep in.

When I started this project I didn’t realize just how contained I was living. Just like a swimming pool.  I was living my life in the shallow end of the pool but knew there was so much more. As I tried to push out to the deep end, it was challenging.  In order to do that, I had to release the boundaries that I was living within.

It was then that I began to notice that the people around me were also doing the same thing. I started seeing life and people differently.

It was then when I decided that I had to finish my book, for all of us who need to remove our boundaries, follow our own path and loosen the control we try so hard to keep.

Emotions would follow, as I reflected…

In writing this book, I learned and understood that for myself it is difficult to really open up, and to deal with sadness and disappointment. I was surprised to find the healing that would transpire through my willingness to be open and to allow myself to feel.

I do understand, so much more now, that I try to control life in an attempt to keep everything contained in a neat, tidy, little box.  And when I don’t find success, I get frustrated and sad.

I have identified that when I do this, I really don’t have control at all.  But, I am still a work in progress.  I believe my journey has really just begun. I have IDENTIFIED something I want to change.  “Identify” is the key word.

One of the passages in my book says, when you are working on your dreams and goals, that you must first IDENTIFY just what those dreams and goals are. That is the first step towards achieving your goals and making your dreams come true.  I’m living my writing now.

Visual Inspiration

I also am a very visual person. I memorize information visually, whether a home, a hotel or a book. I even recall my conversations, visually.

Images speak to me, and stick with me. I created Contained Beauty for others who might do the same.

Contained Beauty is a visual journey. It is a blend of stunning photographs from my favorite places around the world interlaced with my personal journal writings.

I created my book so you could travel from the comfort and ease of your own space, while being inspired through images and words.

Giving Back

Helping others is a value that is deep in my heart. I believe so strongly in giving back that the proceeds of Contained Beauty will be donated to the George Mark Children’s House.

George Mark Children’s House supports and provides medical care for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families living with such challenging circumstances.

It is a place of healing and a mission that tugs at my heartstrings.

Gratitude

I want to take a few moments to thank the many people who have made my Contained Beauty journey complete.  First and foremost, my editor, photographer and dear friend, Jennifer Fox. Without her Virgo organizational skills and extreme follow up, patience and desire to make sure I followed my dream to fruition, this book would not be possible.

Toula Victor, my marketing coordinator and organizer who continued to smile as we worked on my many lists and lists and lists.

Rob Bond, my publisher who said it was possible and introduced me to PGW Distributors, Four Colour Printers and the book publishing business.

To all the photographers, property owners and models who worked on this project from their hearts, for George Mark.

Angie, my graphic artist, who dealt with the perfectionist in me as she endured my numerous edits.

And to Michelle Bakken Whitaker, an amazing designer, who brought in her expertise, in the nick of time, just before Contained Beauty went to press.

My husband Adam, my rock, for his love and support, and to my amazing children, Bianca and Chase, who are my inspiration and my life.

Jennifer’s daughters, Jessica and Chelsea who traveled with Jennifer and I and acted as my mini assistants. To Steve, their dad, Jennifer’s husband, for his patience and understanding as we spent hours and hours on the book.

And a huge thanks and gratitude to my Believers, including Jennifer and Steve Fox; Kathy Hull, Visionary of the George Mark Children’s House; Rasheed Alli of X2Media; Sherry Paterra, my mentor; my new friends, Linda and Bruce Titus; our real estate partners and friends, Ed and Kathy Krafchow; my longtime, dear friend, Mindy Sun; and of course, my loving husband, Adam and my parents who have supported me throughout my life and allowed me to change my career as many times as I changed my mind. And to all of you…

In Closing

I now understand that I was living with constraints, just as a swimming pool, with restrictive borders, that slowed me from living my dreams. I put up boundaries because of my own doubts and fears.  I stopped short of doing for myself as it always is much easier for me to do for, and to believe in, my children and in others…

Contained Beauty is for me and for you.  It is a reminder for you too, to let go of what holds you back and to find your passion and follow your dreams.

Believe in yourself, seek inspiration and keep going even when things are less than perfect.

And should you purchase a copy of Contained Beauty, The George Mark Children’s House thanks you, just as I do. Please go to Barnes and Noble.com Amazon.com or call your local book store and ask them to order you a copy. Contained Beauty can also be purchased at Rue Atelier Boutique on College Avenue.

If you would like more information on the George Mark House, please go to George Mark.org.

Thank you!  XOXO!!

Debbi

DebbiDiMaggioPR

For Author Events or Book Signings, please contact Jennifer  Jenn-Fox.com

Imagine. Believe. Visualize. Dream. Achieve.

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6 Responses

  1. Jan says:

    Debbi:
    We missed you at the AREA Convention last week in Vegas. I was so in hopes to get to meet you this year. I’ll call you soon.
    I just read “My Story” and have been weeping over the eloquence of your expression. I just recently (at 66 years of age) went through the “empty nest” syndrome after raising my children and having had a dozen grandchildren in my life on a regular basis. I would sit at night and say, “Where have they gone”? My husband had a stroke within the same time frame, and I thought my world had ended. I re-posted your FB post on my page with my thoughts regarding your all too familiar expression of loss and containment. Thank you. Thank you for putting a voice to my sadness. Dr’s tried to medicate me and others tried to tell me I was being silly; however, you have given me such insight… “identify” and move on. As I said on my FB page; I have never related to anything in print like I did “My Story”. I wish you unlimited success for such a worthy cause (I lost my oldest son to a cancerous brain tumor as a child) and congratulate you in having achieved the inner experience that has no value large enough to quantify it. You are blessed.

  2. Debbi DiMaggio says:

    Dear Friend,

    Tears are streaming. I am so sorry for your loss. I really cannot imagine. I tried to read your letter to my husband, but was unable to speak through my tears.

    My journey to write this book, to be open and to share so much with the world has been very emotional. I am grateful everyday. And touched to hear stories like your own. It it my hopes that your story and the stories of others who have been touched by such sadness might offer a shared experience, a connection and help in some small way.

    Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your story, It has touched my heart, then and now, more than you know. I will cherish your kind words, forever.

    XOXO! Debbi

    PS. A book signing in the Tacoma-Seattle area is slated for early 2013. I certainly hope we get a chance to meet in person. I would love to give you a big hug!

  3. Debbi DiMaggio says:

    Dear Jan,

    I am so sorry I had to miss the AREA Conference this year. I tried everything to fit it in. I know we will meet in person someday soon. Hopefully we will not have to wait another year for the next conference. Although we haven’t met, we have spoken on the phone, and your kindness is felt.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It saddens me to learn what you have experienced and had to endure; words cannot express.

    When I wrote this book, sharing such personal stories, I had no idea the healing it would spur. My editor, Jennifer Fox, kept reminding me that Contained Beauty is a book of healing, for me and for others. It was difficult to believe, especially when, at times, feeling doubtful and insecure about my writings and emotions and how I might be judged.

    I am grateful for your story. Thank you so very much for sharing what “My Story” means to you.

    I wish you love and peace and abundant joy.

    With Gratitude,

    XOXO!
    Debbi

  4. […] my earlier blog on the Empty Nest and the Empty Nest begins long before the last child goes […]

  5. […] Bianca left I was pretty devastated so I immersed myself in work, our son and this book. Contained Beauty was born from that […]

  6. […] And so it began. Bianca departed to college in 2011 and that was when I realized Chase was not far behind. That year I published my first book, Contained Beauty, filled with emotion and loss. During the process of that book I couldn’t talk about it without crying. It may seem odd, and now looking back I can’t believe I would tear up every time someone asked about it. It was as if I had experienced a death. I kept reminding myself it wasn’t a death, but the natural progression of life. Still, it was hard to swallow. My story… How Contained Beauty Came to Be […]

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