Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kindness Renews Itself By Withdrawal

John Steinbeck and I are still hitting the pillows together. It's been months now and I haven't tired of him yet! A deep-seated caring comes through his words and captivates me every night. He is, of course, a master word smith and storyteller extraordinary, but behind those carefully crafted sentences is something else. Behind those descriptive paragraphs there is kindness.

Kindness has been described in many ways and by many people. It has been shown to me by others through their example. It has been gifted to me through acts of service from people I barely know. It has been denied me by some who have chosen their own gain first. And it has been offered by me, hopefully more than not.

I don't think of kindness as something we can always put our finger on. It can happen without our being aware. It can surprise us in the middle of despair. It can truly take away every care - if only for a moment.

But John said it best, in my opinion (but then again, I am still besotted with the man so I may be a bit biased).

"Out of some deep pouch in our souls we draw kindness which renews itself by withdrawal," (adapted from the exact lines in Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck).

Out of some deep pouch in our souls we draw kindness which renews itself by withdrawal. No one could write those words unless they felt them personally.

It's morning now, but oh how I wish it was bedtime again. My pillow (and John) are calling. I am addicted to his words. Until then I will try to share some kindness along the way...and hope that some will come my way as well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On the Other Hand...

On the other hand...maybe I am already living the fairy tale! Or pretty close, anyway...

After all, I am healthy, I have a wonderful family, I have a great job, I have a roof over my head and food on the table, I have amazing friends and I split my time between the Land of Enchantment and the Land of Saints.

It's all about your perspective, the vantage point you approach things from, isn't it? Some days I feel like I am living the fairy tale, other days I question everything I do and have done. Not everything is perfect, but I really can't complain. Anything that's not quite right is of my own doing, which means I can fix it when I am ready. Maybe it's part of my fairy tale right now, or maybe I'm not quite ready for the whole fairy tale. And if I am tired of moping, I have no one to blame but myself.

Anyway, more often than not, I am in good spirits, in the company of good friends, reading from good books, engaged in uplifting work, living by faith, spending time with family, taking time to be outside in the fresh air and enjoying the simple but great things of life.

And that is pretty much a fairy tale, isn't it? It is.

Sometimes, all we need is a reminder of what we have, especially when we are focusing on what we don't have.

Today, I am living my very own fairy tale for today...and I am comfortable here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's Never Too Late for the Fairy Tale

Those ah-hah moments can really get you. They can quietly sneak up in your life when least expected and take your breath away. So much so that it's hard to not notice, but every now and then they can actually go by without making the impression they should.

Our lives are so busy now with jobs, church, friends, children, grandchildren, school, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, TV, movies, sports, exercise, entertainment, and every other distraction we fill our daily 24 hours with.

We keep ourselves so busy that those ah-hah moments can actually slip by without the due attention they deserve. And when that happens, we can miss out on a life-changing moment of clarity, or a simple truth, or a much needed whispered word of encouragement.

And so, as I get older, I am trying to listen better. I know there were a lot of whispered directional signs that I missed in my life, and not because they weren't there, because I wasn't paying attention.

I can look back on my life and see amazing moments of joy and clarity, but I can also look back and remember periods of time when I was lost, navigating life on my own and taking wrong turns at every bend.

And because of those wrong turns, which may very well have added excitement or adventure or knowledge to my life, I am not where I expected to be today. Not geographically, this isn't about what state I should be living in. It's more about who I am, not where I am.

And that is exactly what I was thinking when the ah-hah moment hit. Who am I? And why am I this me?

I spent this weekend wondering and doubting and wishing, and by the end of two days of pondering, I was fairly depressed. After all, when we do this kind of thinking it's very easy to remember everything we did poorly, and that's exactly what I did.

And then that much-needed thought came to me in a quiet moment of solitude, "It's not too late for the fairy tale, Jeannie."

That woke me up! It was the first optimistic thought of the past 3 days. It was much more like the me I like to think I am, and didn't fit at all with the "How in the world did I mess up my life so badly," persona of the past 40+ hours.

And so I am slowly digging out of my self-induced despair and actually beginning to see the light over the rim of the hole I dug pretty much all by myself. It's not going to happen instantly, but I am on my way up and that's what matters. Every push and pull upward, every toe hold, every bead of sweat and every harried breath will be punctuated with that ah-hah thought that came to me when I was least expecting it and most needed it. It's not too late for the fairy tale, Jeannie. Really? Woohoo, then let's get on it!

Sometimes when so many things have gone so wrong, it's hard to imagine that so many things could still go right. It takes effort and faith and a change of heart and a new direction. It takes humility and repentance and a desire to go there. But it's worth it. I know it. I've been there before and then lost my way, more than once. This time I am holding on tight and following the path so that I won't get lost on my way, and trying to not be so damned independent. I really CAN'T do this alone. Just admitting that is a huge step in the right direction.

No, it's not too late for the fairy tale.

I just need to grab offered hands along the way and focus on catching up.

It's never too late to do that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Healthy Anger

Anger has its place.

Yes, it can be a negative force for bad actions. But it can also be the necessary catalyst for good.

Recently, our nation has been divided as we continue to fight the Civil War of Health Care. Brother against brother, father against son, mother against granddaughter, husband against wife. This issue has divided our nation at every level.

The Health Care Bill passed the House, the President has signed it. I am still stunned. Well, somewhat stunned, after all, they had their reasons.

It has been said that it was done in honor of Ted Kennedy - I can't think of a more lame reason to pass legislation.

It was dramatized through heart-wrenching experiences in lives of Americans who could not get appropriate care because they did not have health care.

It was manhandled into a victory with Air Force One criss-crossing the country to finagle votes from opponents.

It was passed with AYE votes unaccounted for in preparation for the upcoming November elections.

It was written, rewritten, edited, amended, and mostly unread from cover-to-cover by most who voted.

And finally, in yet another publicity stunt, it was signed with children who have real life and terribly sad stories of death and illness in their families standing by the President and looking on as he put pen to paper.

This legislation brought government into a decision-making role when it comes to every American's health, doctor, treatment and even, death. Yours, mine, our children's.

It will cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. It put small businesses in jeopardy - again. It removed a basic freedom of choice for every citizen of this nation. It will raise taxes across the board.

Sure, it guarantees insurance for all children, regardless of preexisting conditions, but it also means that when your child is ill, they may not even get to see a doctor. It may no longer be your choice. Uncle Sam will decide. But, I guess he's "family", so it will be OK, right? Absolutely no, it's not OK.

There is no question about it, the Dem's pulled a fast one. They passed this bill without transparency and without a roll call vote. Dark shadowed, whispered conversations and closed door negotiations come to mind. So do higher taxes, government red tape on doctor's orders, and a greater debt for my grandchildren to bear.

And more unique heart wrenching experiences from people who could not get appropriate treatment - but this time WITH government-mandated health care.

But having said all of this, the real issue is still the historic, and in some circles - catastraphic -  legislation that was just passed at the great cost of freedoms lost.

"America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power," is how Mitt Romney expressed what has just happened.

"A spoonful of taxes makes the medicine go down," was another anonymous comment.

And Vladimir Lenin once said, "Medicine is the keystone in the arch of socialism." It appears that Obama agrees, and that's just downright scary, but even scarier to me is the obvious fact that a lot of American's must agree with Lenin too. 

But I don't. I am on the "What In The World Were They Thinking?" side of this national issue. I am still stunned by the arrogant posturing of Pelosi and her cronies. I was astounded by her inability to make a convincing speech on the House floor and yet garner the votes to pass a bill she couldn't even adequately defend or describe. I continue to shake my head at the socialist positions of our President.

And I am worried about reaching old age and not being able to see a real doctor when my health has deteriorated due to aging and I am no longer considered a member of the "A" list for quality, timely, specialty health care and early preventive measures. (After all, when I am older, I will be expected to be dead in a few short years by the government agency managing national health care benefits and medical treatment decisions).

So, yes, I am angry. And for the second time in my lifetime, I am scared as a result of the leadership policies in DC. The first time was shortly after Obama was elected when I watched him share a beer in a publicized stunt to show reconciliation, and then heard him speak about his first 100 days in office.

No negative emotion, including worry, anger, and fear, is a truly healthy emotion. Each can bring out the worst in humans. But they can also bring us to our knees, and lift our voices, and cause us to take a stand for something.

I've been on my knees a lot recently. I have joined the conversation and I have taken a stand for liberty. And I still have hope.

I hope this country will live up to its destiny and that Americans will find the courage to fight for their freedoms. But my greatest hope is that I will stay healthy long enough to beat the new health care system's estimated date of my viability, that day when I will be moved to the "NOT URGENT" list.

I am angry, and I will do my part, but it won't be behind closed doors, in a muffled whisper, or in the shadowed corners of secret combinations. I may be only one voice, but I can shout if I need to.

So here's to a long and healthy life...and sunshine.

Cheers, damn it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Me and My Reading Partner

Sometimes, when you least expect it, life wraps its arms around you and gives you a big hug.

Who would have thought that today would be, not only a hug day, but a banner day?

I woke up this morning feeling about 70% of my normal state-of-being as a result of two weeks of linking arms with an antibiotic to fight off THE sinus infection from hell.

We (the antibiotic and I) are slowly winning the battles, but the germ warfare has been tough. So this morning, I was due for a break.

The point of this blog entry, however, is not to talk about my health. It’s to talk about my good fortune, or luck, or destiny, or happenstance, or serendipity, or an answer to prayer. Take your pick, because they all apply.

My quick, but heartfelt prayer of this morning was a sincere but silent cry for help as I faced the beginning of what promised to be a day requiring focus and energy and cheerfulness – three attributes I was greatly lacking in the early hours of the day.

I also asked for something extraordinary. A sign, if you must. An indicator of sorts. Something special (even though, I was quick to add, I didn't necessarily deserve it.)

Who would have thought that my prayer would be answered at all, I mean, who asks for something extraordinary with the caveat that they really don't deserve it? Only me, I imagine.

And who would have thought that my whispered plea would be - not only answered - but answered in the form, the HUMAN form to be exact, of Stephen Baldwin, the actor?

Yep, you read that right, there's no need to rub your eyes. I said it - Stephen Baldwin, the actor.

You see, Steve Baldwin and I are now airplane buds. We are reading partners. We sat next to each other (4C and 4D) in a very narrow puddle jumper for the approximately 2 hour flight between the Land of Enchantment and the Land of Saints.

I would like to tell you that I took one look at Steve and knew exactly who he was, but I can’t. I am just not that good at lying (or placing people out of context).

The reality is that I took one look at him and thought, “I should know this guy.”

I had watched him board the plane. He was the last passenger on the flight. Most of us had been boarded and in our seats for a little over 5 minutes when this guy - wearing headphones, camo jacket and baseball cap, and carrying half a dozen miscellaneous articles - clamored on board.

There were lots of empty seats so the chance of him sitting next to me were pretty slim, besides in an effort to deter anyone from sitting there, I had spread out my stuff pretty well, placing magazines on his seat and bags under both seats in front of me .

But as I watched him remove the layers: glasses, ear phones, cell phone and Bluetooth, huge camo jacket, and hat...I knew there was something familiar about this guy.

So, when he finally settled into the seat next to me, after giving him a moment to catch his breath and hang up his phone call(s), I tilted my head and whispered, “Should I know you? Are you a famous actor?”

His response, “I don’t know, do I owe you money?” I laughed as I looked into those famous baby blues and then asked his name.

“Steve,” was the answer, so I – still in some sort of stupor - had to ask, “and your last name?”


Steve Baldwin. Of course. (Those were my actual words.)

"Well, Steve, I am Jean, it’s nice to meet you." And we shook hands.

And that was the beginning of our friendship. After that we shared some laughs, perused a People magazine together – the Oscar issue, so his older brother Alec was in a great photo with Steve Martin (we thought it looked like they were holding hands in the picture, but they weren’t – another lost opportunity to have some fun and maybe even make some moolah - you know how brothers can be) and we critiqued fashion, hair and even posture as we looked at the pictures of some very famous peeps.

And speaking of moolah, I don’t know what business deal Steve was working on when he boarded the plane, but his conversation was pretty impressive. This wasn’t an idle conversation by someone who was uninformed, or ‘just an actor’. It was the conversation of a very intelligent, savvy and aware businessman.

It made me realize that so much of our (“our” being the public in general) opinion of actors is based on the silly antics of a few who make headlines through their bad behavior, and that really isn’t fair.

Which goes along with what Steve said when I asked him if he hated "this kind of magazine" (and then also promised to not believe anything they said about him from hence forth in" this kind of magazine"). His response was that they are typically 80% accurate, but the other 20% is where the disconnect happens, and of course, the attention focuses.

It’s not that I didn’t know that there are a lot of people in the entertainment industry (or any industry for that matter) who are not only nice, but also very smart with a knack for business, it’s just that I hadn’t experienced it personally before. And I would imagine that is true for most of the ‘general public.’ It's much easier to focus on that 20%.

Finally, after flipping EVERY single page of PEOPLE mag together, Steve took a nap and I drafted this blog entry. It was a peaceful flight for both of us. And a memorable one for me.

So, I am here to tell you that it happens. Fate sometimes jumps into your life when you least expect it. Serendipity is real and prayers are answered, often  in a way you least expect.

Steve Baldwin would probably not consider himself an answer to my prayer, but I know better. Fate is more than coinkidink. And he was definitely extraordinary.

And not only do I know better, but now I know Steve too. And he’s forever a part of my life, because this serendipitous meeting is 2 hours that I won’t forget. It's a memory that will bring a smile to my face every time it surfaces. Not necessarily life-changing, but certainly memorable.

And who knows, we may meet again. After all, we exchanged business cards and are working for common, conservative, Christian values and just never knows, as today has shown.

We should always remember that everything we do can make a difference in the life of someone else, even when we don’t know it and least expect it.

Steve could have been indifferent and I could have been star-struck and silly on the airplane today and everything could have turned out very differently. But we didn't and it didn't.

It’s been a great day: life hugged me, and I am hugging it back.

PS Steve took the pic with my iPhone. :)

PSS I am not typically one to be affected by fame or fortune, I have met and talked and negotiated and laughed with the best (and the worst) of them. But I have to admit that a silly, star-struck moment hit right after saying good-bye to Steve. Suddenly I was walking down the terminal in SLC and the thought came to my mind: "I just read People magazine with Stephen Baldwin!" 

Now how many people can say that?! Woooohooooo! And hugs to all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blogging from iGoogle and Gmail - Blogger Help

iAm blogging from iGoogle - iMagine that!

iT's pretty amazing that so much can be done from your home page now. Life just got a bit easier!

iT's been awhile since i have blogged, mostly because i have been both busy and sick. The busy part was fun, the sick part wasn't.

This is a completely pointless blog entry, except to pay homage to the GoogleGods who have made one more thing easier to accomplish in a day.

Thank you iGoogle!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Butt's Calling

I know, I know. It's a silly twist on the hysterical cell phone commercial, but so what?

My butt IS calling! And not only that, my butt is calling ME! Over, and over, and over again...

Why, you might ask? Why is your butt calling you, Jean?

Well, I am so glad you asked. Let me tell you why my butt is calling me. (over and over again)

I walked. You would think I had committed a heinous crime or something, as anxious as my butt is to get my attention, but no I didn't commit any crime, I just walked.

I walked, and I walked hard. I walked 2 1/2 miles at a pretty good clip. I took my phone with me, it's not as if I abandoned it (or my butt) on a park bench or something. I walked and they both came along for the ride (so to speak), my phone tucked carefully into my back pocket and all cozy against my butt.

But (or butt), that's when I think it all started. That coziness didn't set well and my butt has been calling me constantly since.

It's different than a cell phone call, there is no ring, no funny little song, no beep, no honk. It's nothing like that.

It's more like silent torture. No sound at all. Just a dull, ongoing ache.

And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go. I can't sit much longer to blog. My butt is calling again, the silent communicator. The dull ache. I certainly walked enough, I am certain of that because I can feel it...constantly...and you know where.

Gotta get moving, my butt's calling again. See you later...

What a pain in the butt!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Some people live without regrets. I am envious of them.

I have a lot of regrets, in spite of a post written last year in this blog that talked about No Regrets.

I regret anything I have done that has caused pain or confusion for others.

There are choices I have made that I thought - at the time - were justified or good or right, but in retrospect it's so obvious that I was confused or had allowed myself to be deceived, or just plain selfish.

Life is too short to make some of the big mistakes that I have, but here I am - living proof that life really ISN'T too short to make those kind of mistakes.

Life may be too short, but the big mistakes do shorten your life. They rob you of moments you might have had. They steal opportunities that might have been. They replace real with imagined.

Life should be lived with no regrets, but that doesn't mean you don't regret things you have done, it means you live so that you have no reason for regret.

If I could turn back time, I would make better choices. I would reclaim the lost moments and opportunities.

But I can't. So now I will simply look forward and try to push the regrets aside so that they cannot claim even one more moment of my life and shorten it any more.  I have spent too much time punishing myself for bad choices in the past. I am stealing my own life from me.

The clock is ticking and I plan to savor every moment. Maybe if I fill every moment with as much living as possible, I can recoup some of the time I have lost.


Only one thing's for sure. I am going to do my very best to live the remainder of my life in a way that does not give cause for any new regret.

Because I have enough already.