Whatever Happened to Accentuate The Positive?

johnny mercerI’m not Political. Let me just begin by saying that.

Now, having uttered that statement in an intense election year is not meant to imply that I don’t care about politics and the political arena. I care. Deeply.

What frustrates and discourages me in this election/primary year is the constant need to undermine … the constant decision to tear people down and rely on destructive tactics to raise another up.

Would it be so difficult to tell me what You are going to do for me and this country instead of relying on the cheaper ploy of criticism tearing apart the opponent? I don’t care what they didn’t do or what you think they won’t do. I don’t want rumors or gossip. I don’t want mud-slinging.

I just care what You plan to do so I can compare it with what THEY plan to do. Just the facts, please. But that’s not how it works, is it? We tear others down in an effort to foist our own viewpoint to the top. To the victor go the spoils and those we hurt along the way are unfortunate casualties of war.

I see a lot of it. I hear a lot of it. And it’s not just in political ads or debates or shown in blatantly inflammatory Facebook Posts and Feeds. It seeps into every aspect of life …

Why is it so much harder to Shine than Undermine?

Does it make us feel more significant to throw unkind or even cruel remarks and criticism at others? Does it help us rise to the cream of the crop by condemning others’ choices, actions or viewpoints?

This Undermining runs rampant now, with primaries and political commercials.

But it’s not just there … it bleeds into our very culture. It’s how we make ourselves feel good about ourselves. We’re so much better than so and so. So and so got the job but they only got it because they knew the owner. We lost the gig but it couldn’t have been a talent thing since so and so is a jerk (or whatever descriptive word fits for the scenario) and we were better for so many reasons. Choose me — I’m so much skinnier or prettier or smarter or (fill in the blank) than so and so. We didn’t get the mortgage because so and so doesn’t know what they are doing.

And so on and so on and so on.

We have so many things to say about others that tear them down. We may say it loudly or whisper it behind their back and out of their hearing. We place ourselves up on that pedestal — a pedestal built on the broken backs of those we deem inferior to us.

It’s loud now, this Negativity. This Critical, Comdemning Behavior. This … dare I say it … Unkindness.

If I earn something … if you vote for me … if you cast me … if you follow my Blog … if you Friend me … if you go out for dinner with me, I want you to choose to do so solely based on what I offer, present, say or do … not because you want to hurt or negatively impact someone else. Like me and what I offer for me … not to hurt or belittle another.

Choose to be with me based on what I bring to the table or walk away. Vote for me for me, or vote another way. I want to know the choice you make is not because of someone else or whispers in your ear … but because it is what you decide you want to do … or be … or whatever. I want a Clean Battle and the Best Candidate to Win.

Whatever happened to the idea of winning based on our own merit versus the failings of someone else?

There’s a song Hayden Panetierre sang in the first season of the TV show Nashville: “It’s all talk, talk, talk Talkin’ in the wind / It only slows you down if you start listenin’ / And it’s a whole lot harder to shine than undermine.”

Too bad … that.

I think we should start listening instead to wise Johnny Mercer and his 1940s hit Accentuate The Positive. Pretty simple guidelines:  You’ve got to accentuate the positive / Eliminate the negative / Latch on to the affirmative / Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.

I choose to Shine. What do YOU Choose?

— Jenni

 

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Silent Betrayal

Godspell

The Thursday of Holy Week is the darkest day of the year for me. It symbolizes isolation and abandonment. It epitomizes betrayal …

In high school I performed in the musical Godspell. Our director was particularly creative with this summer production, the cast connected in a unique way and the experience was powerful, perhaps that is why it remains such a special memory for me even years later.

Godspell is a clever retelling of the Biblical Book of Matthew, dramatizing parables and relationships and integrating music to bring key stories to life.

The most memorable scene for me remains the Last Supper and the moments following, when the cast wiped off our decorative face painting, coming clean and showing our true selves. It was then that the character of Jesus declared that one of us would betray him. Of course we all denied it. We loved him. We would never abandon him.

Then came the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went to pray … begging his Father to remove the burden he knew was coming. And we … his followers … fell asleep, deserting him in the darkness.

We awoke to the slamming of the door — which always made me jump and still gives me chills as I remember Judas marching down the aisle, kissing Jesus on the cheek, and betraying him to the Roman guards.

In the discordant music following, we … the friends who had shared years of laughter, joy and fun together … we who ate, drank, talked and told stories together … we who only moments before had declared our love and genuine feeling … scattered.

Silent Betrayal.

I’ve always approached acting in a “Method” kind of way, getting deeply into the mind and embodiment of the character I sought to play. To prepare for Godspell each night, I played the Pilate/Jesus scene from the album Jesus Christ Superstar.  It is an intense musical number where Jesus is whipped by Pilate. It’s the scene where Jesus stands alone, betrayed by everyone who said they loved him and promised to stand by him.

I imagine him there, knowing he’s on his own. God is silent. Judas has sold him out. Peter has denied knowing him and being his friend not once but three times. Every one of his friends has fled, leaving him with memories of words spoken and empty declarations of love. He stands before the crowd, completely alone and — I think  — sad too. All that time invested in friendships and all the experiences shared, only to watch those he loved most walk away without a word.

Silent Betrayal.

And this Silent Betrayal led to a Trial and scourging, to a bloody walk carrying the heavy cross down the Via Dolorosa, to the crucifixion where Jesus died not with his friends to support him but between two thieves.

Yet … and this gives me hope. In the midst of that Silent Betrayal, he forgave them. He knew in his heart that they loved him and cared about him. All along he knew that when things got tough, they would desert him. But he stayed with them.  He loved them still.

Day by daySilent Betrayal. It makes today the Hardest Day of the year for me. It makes me sad.

But in Godspell, I was the Day by Day girl. And, in the scene prior to my song, I learned that we must each “each forgive our brothers, from our hearts.” So even in the darkest of darks 2000 years after that awful betrayal (and 35 years after my final performance of Godspell), Forgiveness is there. Love is more powerful than hate and anger. Oh, I’m not alone when I say that I’ve felt the sting of Silent Betrayal myself. I’ve been hurt by people I cared deeply for who walked out of my life without a glance back. But, I can choose that no matter what happens to me on my own personal Via Dolorosa — and no matter if people hurt, abandon or even betray me — to follow Jesus’ example. I can choose to Love and Forgive too …

Maundy Thursday is about Betrayal. But Love and Forgiveness didn’t wait until the brightness of Easter Sunday to save the day. They were there in the darkness of Gethsemane when his friends betrayed him and fled. And they are still here today.

Hallelujah.

                                                                                                                          — Jenni

 

 

One Voice

I voted today.

I was number 387 at my precinct. I stood in line behind an 18 year old young man who was excited to vote in his very first election.

I don’t know your politics or leanings. It’s such a volatile thing, politics … polarizing at times. Anger and strong opinions abound.

Myself, I like exploring different viewpoints and enjoy a good discussion. I listen to others ideas when it comes to the leadership of my country. I ask for their thoughts … even ask for some perspective from individuals whose opinions and knowledge I truly respect.   I learn from people who don’t necessarily think exactly like me. They offer ideas I might not have access to. See, I like to consider everything before I take pen to paper.

But as I looked at the extensive list of candidates today, only a few were truly familiar to me. I’m not sure that means others on that list weren’t capable or worthy of a party nomination. They just didn’t command the press and airways the way others did.

And, I didn’t spend much time reviewing their politics and plans I’m afraid.

I struggle with elections. I honestly don’t know if it matters … my vote. At times I don’t know if it makes a difference who wins or gets kicked to the curb. I haven’t seen much change for the better during my voting years. It concerns me deeply.

Anthony-Susan-004But, I voted. I voted because there were women a hundred years ago who couldn’t and who fought the fight, went to jail, and endured hardships and cruelty because they wanted to have a voice.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began working to give me the right to voice my opinion on this country’s leadership in the mid-1800s. Anthony never did get to see the passing of the 19th Amendment. But women like Alice Paul. Ida B. Wells and Emmeline Pankhurst continued her mission, leading protest marches, picketing the White House, and causing more than a few riots before President Woodrow Wilson changed his position to support the amendment in 1918.

On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and 2 weeks later, the Senate followed.

So, I voted today. My voice was heard. It’s on record now.

It’s important to speak and know that we are heard. And as I watch political commercials and read up on the candidates and their positions and plans for my country, I wonder if I made a difference today. I wonder what’s next for the US of A.

I have a sticker. I have a voice. It may be a small female voice, but it has power. And thanks to some amazing women, it gets to be heard. Someone asked my opinion. So … I gave it. I voted.

I feel empowered. I made the most of the 19th Amendment and my right as a citizen of this country. And, once I did, I felt a smile light my face and a spring in my step as I left Precinct 4.

One voice. My voice. The 387th voice in Precinct 4.

                                                                                                                      — Jenni

 

 

 

 

Before the Kick-Off

The other day, I was watching a football game. I don’t watch a lot of football, I must admit. I grew up in a state that was all about basketball. But it was one of those playoff games where both teams had stellar seasons so the pre-game chat projected a compelling competition. And, well, my husband was watching so I thought I’d hang out, knit and see how it all shook out.

Energy was high as the clock ticked down the minutes before that important first play of the game: the Kick-Off. Even I felt the tension through the television set.

It’s exciting in those moments before the kick-off. The records of the season are top of mind. All the great plays and accomplishments rank them at the pinnacle of their leagues. Sports fans wait for the match-up and anticipate a great game. There’s so much Hope and Potential. The air is ripe with Possibility and Promise. Expectation.

Before the Kick-Off, anything is possible.

With the first snap and the kick, the ball sailed through the air. It was beautiful. And then, it was caught. And the next thing I knew, the ball had made it all the way back down the field and the officials declared a touch-down.

There was silence for a moment. And then one set of fans exploded into triumph. The other sat, shocked at what they had just witnessed.

I hung around for a little longer. These kind of games make me really tense. I feel for both sides. They’ve worked so hard for such a long time. They’ve put their heart and a lot of hard work into getting this far in a competitive, physical game. I want to see both do well. But that was not the case. For after that returned kick resulted in a touchdown, the game shifted and was a one-sided domination.

Bad luck? Better team? I honestly couldn’t say. But that Kick-Off — that one play in the initial minutes of the game — changed everything and the tide turned quickly. The mood in the stadium did too.

Got me thinking about New Years Resolutions and Hopes. At the stroke of midnight, armed with a glass of Chateau Chantal Celebrate and my New Years Intentions, all is possible. But then, the morning dawns, stuff happens, and old habits and actions damper the hopes and dreams of accomplishment, improvement, happiness and growth … or, perhaps, less growth and a few fewer pounds.

It doesn’t matter the Resolution or Intention you set. It’s easy to get off course … to allow the other team’s Kick Return to throw you.  To allow that unexpected play and its implications undermine your confidence in your plans, or what you hope to do or accomplish.  It’s much safer to stick with the status quo and surrender your dreams or goals or hopes to change and improve your body, spirit or mind, relationships, career … etc. Heck, ya can’t fail if you don’t put yourself out there. Isn’t it just simpler to go with the flow and what you know? To keep out of the fray and accept that the die is cast and what is … is.

But, no matter how the game ended and who went on into the next phase of the Superbowl playoffs, both teams put themselves out there. And no matter the score at the end of the game and the discouragement as the one sided game continued, the players didn’t walk off the field and give up. They kept playing and doing all they could do until the final whistle.

I don’t know if you make New Year’s Resolutions. I set Intentions, myself. And I do what I can to keep the focus. I don’t always meet the goal. I get off course and discouraged at times. I lose and fail. And there are moments in which I feel the failure more acutely.

But there’s something that pushes me along after even a messy Kick Off. Every moment is a new opportunity. I can’t fail unless I give up and stop trying. I may not win. I may not get what I want or achieve my fondest wish. I may lose things and people along the way. BUT I’m going to fight a good fight and finish the race. I’m going to keep the faith in myself, in my “intentions” and aspirations whatever they might be, and in the people racing beside me — whether they’ve fallen behind, advanced beyond me or walked off the track and away from me. Think Paul suggested that  … And it gave him a sense of peace in the moments before his execution.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 

2 Timothy 4:7


Or, if you prefer a simpler, more popular mantra, remember Dory’s words of Wisdom in Disney’s Finding Nemo and “Just keep Swimming.”

We’re a few weeks into the 2016 Kick-Off. You may have scored a goal or two. You may be facing a tough challenge and waiting for your break. You may be in a Time Out, seeking strength and perspective. But you can’t win if you stay off the field. It’s comes down to Endurance, I guess.

So, whatever your “game,” don’t allow a rough start or a few tears or a week where you just didn’t get to the gym and instead consumed a box of Oreos or a difficult meeting or unexpected loss keep you off the field.

You don’t know what you’ll discover unless you pick yourself up, offer your best and let go of the rest. That’s really all you have to offer … the best of who you are in this moment and what you know and can do now.

Find the Joy in that … Shake it off … and Just Keep Swimming. Before the Kick-off gets all the hype. But it’s how you play the game that defines you.    Happy New Year.                                                                                                                                                                                                       — Jenni

What’s Next?

Today in Yoga, my instructor (and friend) Suzanne called to attention a very common human habit … looking beyond the now for what is next.

Throughout our lives, we do this. We are impatient creatures. We want a glimpse around the corner into our future. We want to know if Something Is Coming and what that Something might be!

What’s next dangles before us like a carrot … luring us on with its potential to be better or more exciting or just a release from the boredom, mundane day to day, stress or perhaps sadness we are experiencing in this current moment. But as we look around the corner, we neglect the opportunity to make the most of and learn from what is currently before us — be it good or bad, challenging or smooth sailing.

This happens more often when situations are challenging. We want to get past the difficult or uncomfortable moments into the fun and happy. Into the easy.

In Yoga class today, Suzanne brought this up when we moved into our first Chair pose. Well, I bruised my tailbone last week ice skating and have been a bit stiff since, so I wasn’t at all sure how my body would react. Once settled in, I felt a strong desire to get to the next pose. And though I could blame my initial concern on my injury, my longing to move had nothing to do with a bruised tailbone and Everything to due with the difficulty of the pose. It was hard. My muscles were shaking. I wanted to move desperately.

Of course, Suzanne knew that. Heck no one is ever “comfortable” in Chair pose. But she encouraged us to stay there … to focus on that moment and maintain our calm and focus … to breathe through whatever discomfort we might be experiencing. To find strength in the shaking and in ourselves.

Last night, I participated in a CycleBar challenge that raised money for a Scholarship Fund. Good cause and amazing, healthy activity too. We rode for 45 minutes, increasing speed, using weights and adjusting the bike’s tension based on the directive of the instructor. Music played. Videos flashed. The instructor encouraged and challenged us constantly during the ride.

There were many times in that 45 minutes that I wanted to stop. That I wanted to know that after a certain amount of time we would do something else — something easier. But, I didn’t have the instruction manual. I didn’t know what was next. All I could do was draw on my own inner strength and keep pedaling. Keep breathing.

So when Suzanne brought up this idea in yoga today, it hit me. This is a philosophy that extends outside of yoga — or the CycleBar — into daily life. When faced with difficult times or struggles or dissatisfaction with wherever we are, our instinct urges us to get out of that moment. To seek what is next. We want out of the pain or sadness. We want excitement or a new challenge. We hurt so we want the next pose or the next project, job, opportunity, relationship, play etc etc. We just want what’s next.

And, what do we do with instinctual urge?  Sadly, it’s not always good.

When the “now” struggle begins to take its toll, we tend to seek a quick fix. Instead of breathing and staying calm, we self-medicate with pills and alcohol in an effort to cope with anxiety, stress, or emotional pain. We bolt away from relationships and isolate ourselves. We escape into television programs to lose ourselves. We regret and practice self-judgement. We shop and buy “stuff” to make us happy. We overeat. We run away and lack conviction to confront and deal with our inner dialogue and struggles. We look ahead instead of settling into where we are and allowing whatever transformation has begun to complete the process.

We want what’s next. What’s next is inevitably better than what we are in now … or we think it will be.

In Slow Flow yoga, there are many common poses. However, the order differs with every class and every instructor. When we begin, I don’t know what’s next. And, after side one is over, I do my best to forget and allow myself to be guided to whatever is next. I let go. And it feels so good and so affirming when I make it through challenging poses. When I truly let go and flow.

I shake. I even fall sometimes. And there is a temptation to crave what’s next. But I keep breathing. And that’s really all that matters because when I can do that, I can keep my calm even when I don’t know what is coming my way. I hope one day I can truly bring this technique outside of class.

Me, I am a planner. I like control. It’s soothing to know what’s next. Organizing and lists are daily tools. But when I look back over my life so far, what I expected and what happened next, well, they weren’t necessarily what I had on the list. But, the good, the bad and the ugly have made me the woman I am today. I’m honestly not sure I would have wanted to know all this in advance. It might have impeded my adventure.

What’s Next? I don’t know. Life has a way of throwing curve balls and putting a wrench into the most idyllic of plans. When it happens that way, it IS still a Grand Adventure despite bumps in the ice that cause you to take a tumble or two. Sometimes what you find when you slip on the ice is strength to get back up and keep moving. Sometimes you laugh at yourself and find new joy. Sometimes you meet a fellow adventurer who becomes a life-changing presence in your life, whether around for a few years or a lifetime friend. But, if you knew you were going to get hurt, might you have avoided the ice altogether? And thus, might you have missed out on something truly amazing?

What’s Next? I don’t know. On the mountains and in the ravines, there is always change, You never stay in the same place. In yoga, Chair Pose is temporary as are the difficulties, challenges, and even joyful moments we experience every single day of our lives.

My advice is to listen to Suzanne. Just keep breathing and stay present …

— Jenni

Get Your Ticket for the Happiness Express!

Got you, didn’t I? Who among us doesn’t want that ticket? Who doesn’t want to ride the ride?

Happiness is an elusive, much sought after tease. We race after it using self-help books as road maps. We listen to speakers extrapolate guidelines and flow-charts to finding joy. We talk to therapists, spiritual leaders, ministers and priests as well as friends and loved ones about uncovering what makes us truly happy. We do crazy things to find that much longed for Blissful State.

With so many people looking for it, you would think it would be easier to find. So why then does it seem to be so difficult to pin down? Under what rock does it hide? And — here’s the kicker — should you find that Zen, Happy Place, what kind of deal with the devil do you have to make to stay there in Wonderland?

I’ve heard it said that Happiness is a Decision, not an Occurrence. That you choose it. That no matter what comes at you, you can decide whether to allow it to thwart your joy or strengthen your spirit. I learn that in my Yoga practice. No matter what Pose I’m faced with — or how difficult/easy it might be, I can determine how to respond and manage the challenges it presents. I can determine my response. And I can take that off the mat every time I leave the Shelter for the World.

That said, I’ve also read that there’s More to life than Being Happy. That it’s the very pursuit of happiness that will actually thwart happiness at every turn. We should instead look for Meaning, which doesn’t necessary make us happy — or unhappy for that matter — or stress-free and easy but does potentially increase our overall sense of well-being and enhance our self-esteem which is good too. Investing in something bigger than our own personal agenda gives us a chance to use our highest strengths and talents in a servant focused way. But … that potentially produces depression, anxiety and worry.

Taking care of others allows us to transcend ourselves and reach beyond the present moment to affect change and serve something more significant. Sometimes it involves self-sacrifice or denying self. As Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities and Spock later quoted in Star Trek’s Wrath of Kahn: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.”

Seeking Happiness can be considered a shallow endeavor, encouraging us to choose things that make us feel good, satisfy a need or desire or bring us closer to what we truly want in our lives. We want less stress and more peace. We seek a calm ride instead of one riddled with bumps and challenges. We want our lives to Matter, sure. But we want Joy along the way too.

Is that too much to ask?

That’s selfish, I guess. After all Money doesn’t buy you Happiness. It may get you that outfit you want or that book you want or that house you want or the cool car or the pretty lingerie or the Pandora bead or the trip to that warm, sunny location which will make you Happy for a time but won’t necessarily buy a continued Happy Happy Joy Joy.  Happiness just isn’t like that. Neither is a Meaningful existence.

When we seek the Happy State, we selectively avoid elements that might rock the boat and thereby enhance our resiliency and make us better human beings. We resist, avoid, dislike and even resent those things that require us to make sacrifices and keep us from that longed for Blissful State on the couch of life. We steer clear of projects or people or things that might challenge us or cause stress. But when we seek a more Meaningful existence, we serve others and find Joy there — perhaps relinquishing our personal Happiness for a Higher Purpose, a Greater Good or to Serve Another.

It’s a vicious cycle, truly. I want Meaning. I want Happy. I find Meaning. I find Happy. Yeah! Did it, right?

Nope. Here’s how I figure it works. Happy is just one aspect of your Train. It’s always with you. You just have to embrace it and recognize it might look different than you expected.

While you ride, you encounter special moments of necessary respite or growth or gifts you need to support your journey at a series of Train Stations. These can offer moments of peace and rest or especially dynamic joyful times. You drive through them during your Journey, disembark for a bit. You even make longer stops at times and relish the many Blissful Benefits of that specific station. Then you climb back on the Train and continue your journey in an effort to find Meaning, making delicious memories and experiencing amazing adventures all while you grow and make your life count. Your ride gives you a chance to meet and touch the lives of others … to do what you love to do … to laugh and cry … and encounter Wonderland on and off the train as you travel along.

Happiness isn’t truly elusive. It’s with us all the time. When bad things happen to me and I’m “unhappy,” there are moments I still laugh. There are moments after a cry that I smile. There are moments of Joy in all Sadness and Struggle.

Happiness. We seek it. We find it. We settle for a bit and bask in its warm, golden glow. Then we get up and keep moving, taking that Glow with us. It empowers us to touch the lives of others as we are called to do along the way, doing the things we love to do and making the most of the other stuff too. And we shine all the brighter for the tunnels we go through on the journey.

We have a ticket on the Happiness Express, but it calls us to complete the work we are meant to do and become what we are meant to be. Whatever that is. Wherever that is. .

Only then do we stop our Pursuit …

— Jenni

More to the Story …

The other day, I finished book 8 in a series of books I’ve been reading by Karen Marie Moning. Now, I thought I’d finished this series three books back and a few years ago. But low and behold, there was more to the story.

This isn’t the first book 8 of a series I’ve read. I also recently completed reading My Own Heart’s Blood, book 8 of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Each book is about 850 pages and should come with its own little red wagon to make transport easier on the back. But after 25 years of writing well-researched historical fiction spanning countries, wars, and decades, there seems to still be more to Claire & Jamie’s story.

Now, as many of my regular blog readers know, I love books. I am passionate about reading. But, I have to admit that I’m getting pretty weary of the series thing. I find myself seeking a one hit wonder. Hard to find these days. Authors create ongoing story lines for their characters and their faithful readers want to know the rest of the story …

There was a time when One Book actually told a complete story. Mansfield Park covered Fanny Price. No need for a book 2. Dickens fit A Christmas Carol, including extensive visits with three ghosts, glimpses of past days and time travel into one book, ending with the redemption of one Ebenezer Scrooge.

More and more though, writers create multiple book “stories.” Perhaps there’s an arch like Hunger Games and the Discover of Witches series. Or the characters have continuing adventures, like Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan or Deanna Raybourne’s Lady Julia. Or, somebody years after the initial publication decides to write a sequel, like Scarlett for Gone With The Wind and Mrs. de Winter (*not recommended) for Rebecca. Don’t even get me started on the number of Pride & Prejudice spin offs about Elizabeth, Darcy, their kids and zombie encounters. One wonders what Jane Austen would have to say about that.

Even fairy tales have their “continuing adventures.” And they lived Happily Ever After is not necessarily the end of the story anymore, as Sondheim’s Into the Woods and the numerous recent Disney film sequels years after original air date and additional stories illustrate.

See, there is always more to the story. When you complete reading that final paragraph, you wonder what happens next. Good fictional characters become friends that you care for. You want them to find happiness in their unwritten continuing story. You wonder.

It’s so like … life. When you say goodbye to someone whose played a role in your story — however it’s said be it at an airport for a few days apart, a move to a place not nearby, or perhaps a more final farewell as someone you’ve cared for embarks for places or a life separate from yours — you still wonder what happens next in their story. You are still invested because their story brushed up with yours for a time. And you still find moments to ponder what remains unwritten and if a sequel might perhaps be composed — or even in the works — in the days, weeks or even years in the future.

When your child goes off to college, their story spins off and a new tale begins.  They may re-enter your story from time to time. But, they are truly in their own series now. Even as a younger child, you are separated from them by school or activities for hours at a time … they craft their own tale on their own.

And with each person you encounter on your adventure — no matter how well you “read” them — there is more going on than you can discern. More to the story …

See, writers figured out something we simple readers didn’t catch on to. A good character draws us in and keeps us coming back. We don’t want a good story to end. So, sequels sell.

People, like characters in books, come in and out of our lives. They touch our souls in ways we can’t define at times. They change us. They make us smile and laugh and bring us to tears. They affect us. They are part of our story. But no matter how well we know them or what role they play in our story, they have their own arch going on. And there is just more happening behind their eyes and in their thoughts that we just don’t know. There’s a subtext we don’t have access to. And even our deepest curiosity and desire may not fathom all that is happening from our vantage point reading their pages.

They branch off. They weave back into our tale. Only the Great Writer truly knows the “rest of the story.” We are just part of a larger tale, glimpsing short stories on our continuing adventure into parts unknown.

So I will keep reading about Mac & Jerricho Barrons and about Claire and Jamie … and the numerous other characters I develop relationships with in our written encounters.  They have taught me, in their continuing sagas, that there is always More the Story. That “The End” is never really an end. It’s just a conclusion to my peak into their world. And the subtext I interpret on the written page and in the characters of my own story is never fully known … not when applied to real life.

There is always More to the Story. An arch yet to cover. An adventure yet to experience. Challenges, losses, joys and so much more. And though it may take time to be written, Book 9 is only a blinking cursor and publication date away.

— Jenni