Money, Happiness, Humor

It is an amazingly beautiful Saturday morning. The temperature is just right; the sunshine is bright and the sky is a clear blue with cottony white clouds. The jasmine outside my window has wrapped around the thin bark of my young oak tree; the sweet scent of tiny, delicate jasmine flowers reminds me of just how perfectly God has balanced this life. In this moment, cool breezes scented with sweet jasmine, song of birds serenading from the high branches of oak and pine, my books lined up on my bookshelves next to my desk in my room, remind me of thankfulness; I remember darker days before now. I remember days I never thought I would find peace; but now, I have peace. I have happiness. It has taken decades to get to this peaceful space.

Throughout the ages, the question of what brings happiness has been hotly debated.

Is it money that brings happiness? Is it inner acceptance of God’s will in a person’s life? Is it environment? Is it the connection to family and friends? Is it. . .? Is it. . .?

Is a person’s level of happiness impacted by genetically-based tendencies towards biochemical changes in the brain that makes their moods fluctuate beyond their control?

Is personality quite simply the major factor?

Honestly, I think it is a combination of factors; I don’t think it is just one factor.

I can say for sure that I found peace in my soul when I became honest with myself, when I stopped looking over my shoulder in anticipation of whether I had made someone else happy. My happiness increased when I learned to say “no” and to set boundaries, when I learned that it is not selfish to defend my own personal space. I found happiness when I learned that I am valuable quite simply because I am God’s child and that I do not need anyone else’s approval.

Happiness means different things for different people, of course. We have all read about the massively rich who are miserably unhappy. Yet, we have all met people who live in poverty who radiate contentment.

I live near the ocean; while I don’t have a yacht, I do have the opportunity to rent a kayak. Well, I know it’s not the same thing, but. . .Happiness is joy of living; Happiness is laughter at the peculiarities of life.

I like brainyquotes and I often look for interesting quotes there. I would like to share some humorous quotes regarding happiness that I found on that website. I hope you get a few laughs from the quotes. Have a beautiful and joy-filled Saturday.

Here are the quotes:

“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable-” Clare Boothe Luce

“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it-” David Lee Roth

“Happiness is good health and a bad memory-” Ingrid Bergman

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city-” George Burns

Please leave a comment and share your definition of happiness.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Art for Fun

“Artist are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.”- Al Hirschfeld (Brainyquotes)

Okay.

I would never be delusional enough to think that I am Picasso or Dali (then again, on second thought, maybe a delusion is in order considering how disordered our world can be at any given time in history).

I have a huge box of crayons, watercolor pencils, calligraphy pens, stacks of coloring books, canvases, water colors, paint brushes, and sketch pads.

When I am not crafting the next greatest novel of the 21st Century (I am beginning to enjoy this delusion thing) I knock myself out like a kindergartener with crayons, sketchpads, canvases, et cetera, to quite simply create joy in my life. I love colors, bright colors. I love to turn up my music and just immerse myself in art, in the creation of beauty.

It is healing to switch off the distortion and fear mongering that is the day to day loop on the news stations. It is healing to just remind myself that I can control my environment by creating beauty, by sitting in the sunshine in my garden and just simply be. Art, music, and writing are the three soul-healing activities that nourish me.

The next time you feel yourself feeling down, grab a box of colorful pencils or a paint brush and become a kindergartener again. Don’t worry about whether you’ve colored within the lines.

Just enjoy the absolute freedom of art, of writing, of music.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Bully Another Day

I have been debating whether or not to put my novel “Bully Another Day” on Kindle Publishing. It is available in paperback, however, I have been hesitant to go the Kindle route. After two years of my novel being available just in paperback and one sale only, I have decided to just go ahead and publish on Kindle. My hesitation has mostly been my own bias towards electronic books. Personally, I like to curl up with an actual book, but, alas, growth is about recognizing that not everyone thinks like oneself.

So.

My dear readers, I am asking for your encouragement as I embark on this journey of trying something new. Yes, I have just put my novel on Kindle, and it should be available for reading in 72 hours (if all goes well with technology, that is).

It is available for $9.99, so that is not too expensive. I think it is quite reasonably priced.

In this work of fiction, I wanted to explore the impact of bullying on those who already have mental health issues, and or a genetic predisposition to mental health issues.

I also wanted to explore society’s prejudices against those who do not fit into the narrow parameters of what is considered “normal.”

In my novel, the main character Johanna Larson comes from the wrong side of the tracks in a small town where there is a gap between the haves and the have-nots. Needless to say, when a person is born into poverty that person becomes an easy target for blame, although he or she might just be innocent.

It took me over twenty years of revisions to get this novel the way I want it. I have something to say about how society looks the other way when those around them are bullied. It is the vulnerable who are the easiest targets. Society turns a blind eye until it is too late; society turns a blind eye until tragedy strikes. Then, society scratches its collective head and is shocked that something went terribly wrong.

Ultimately, my message is that if you see something, say something when a person is being bullied.

Be kind; do the right thing.

Thank you in advance for reading my novel. Please be sure to write a review after you read it. I have not written this story for monetary gain (although that is a perk), but rather I have a greater purpose.

Words are power.

Words can change the world.

It is my hope that my words will inspire you to a deeper compassion for those who suffer with mental health issues compounded by the damage done by a society that does way too little to intervene when a person is being bullied.

I look forward to your comments.

My book “Bully Another Day” is currently on Amazon Books in paperback. It will be on Kindle in a few days.

God bless.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

It’s All in the Perception. . .Where are you from?

“I’m a kind of paranoid in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.”-J.D. Salinger (Brainyquotes)

Just yesterday, I had to complete a diversity and inclusivity training at my job. I was informed in the training that the question “Where are you from?” is an example of microaggression. Needless to say, I scratched my head. Maybe it’s because I was born in the middle of the last century, but I could have sworn that “Where are you from?” is an icebreaker in a conversation. In my life, “Where are you from?” is usually followed by the sharing of information to get to know the person better.

Evidently, for the under forty crowd, the question is the equivalent of a vicious verbal weapon laden with layers upon layers of negative, discriminatory innuendo. Seriously, it’s obvious that somebody has read far too much into this icebreaker question. In fact, anyone who experiences discomfort from being asked “Where are you from?” should seriously sit down and ponder why they feel discomfort at the question. Why the paranoia? Maybe the person asking the question is just trying to start a conversation. Maybe I am just simple-minded, but I have been asked the question and I have asked others the same questions. It’s called a conversation.

In it’s very definition, microaggression admits that it’s often unintentional in nature.

Unintentional meaning that it is not intended to offend.

Truth is every little word cannot be dissected and scrutinized for underlying meaning and innuendo that quite possibly might not exist. It is absolute madness to create a society in which everybody has to walk on eggshells and monitor every little utterance so as not to offend.

Truth is everybody is offended by something.

My mother told me a long time ago, “If you can’t say something kind, don’t say anything.”

I have lived by this.

“Where are you from?” is just a question intended to start a conversation.

How the person receiving the question perceives it is entirely up to that person’s interpretation of the intention of the person asking it.

Of course, depending upon the situation, if the person asking the question is being a jackass, then that is an entirely different animal.

I think we all know the difference.

Intention and perception are everything.

Let’s just be kind.

Let’s be mindful of our words.

Words have power to heal; words have power to harm.

Think before you speak, but, don’t be afraid to speak.

Start a conversation. We need each other on this lonely planet.

What we don’t need is a laundry list of what we can and cannot say.

Who gets to write the list?

Who?

Think about it.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Everything That We Need. . .

“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit, and a violin. What else does a man need to be happy?”- Albert Einstein (brainyquotes.com)

I am looking out my window at my rose garden, alive with red, yellow, pink, and lavender roses, the sun brilliantly shining on the oak branches, and my heart is bursting with thankfulness to God for this moment in time, for these blessings. I choose not to look back to those dark, sad days when there weren’t roses outside my window blooming in a glorious garden, when I had struggles that could have defeated me. Rather, I choose to lift my hands up in gratitude to God who has protected me and who has led me to the beauty and peacefulness of this space.

Hardships come and go; life is a cycle just like the seasons, our lives have seasons. We just have to wait on God and trust that He and He alone will lead us out of the darkness and into the light.

Never lose sight of that path before you; continue to look forward with uplifted hands and thankfulness to God. I never gave up; I never lost sight of knowing in my soul that God would one day lead me to this space. I knew that despite the suffering and the loss that one day I would look out my window at a glorious garden of roses.

Thank you God for all your blessings. Thank you for showing me that no matter how dark the night, you and you alone could lead me out into the brilliant sunlight. Amen.

In fun, Einstein spoke of all that we really need to be happy is a table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin. In his words, I think he was talking about simplicity. And before someone inevitably notes that he said “man,” rather than being “inclusive” please remember that “man” applies to humanity. In his day, it was a more common use.

Needless to say, I feel that as a society, the world has become way too serious. So serious in fact to the point that we have lost the ability to see humor and as a result society has become somewhat joyless. Life is beautiful; God has given us a beautiful world.

Let’s be kind; let’s be thankful for our blessings.

Let’s spend time on this path listening to the music of birdsongs, to the music of violins (or guitars, et cetera).

Have a joyful, beautiful day.

I plan sit in my rose garden and drink a cup of hot green tea.

And thank God for His blessings.

Have a blessed day.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Writing: Motivation

It has been a few months since I have written anything on this blog. With all that is going on in the wider world outside my relatively quiet corner, I am still bothered by it all. I try not to look at the news very often, but out of the corner of my eye, I know that there is immense suffering and it pains me to have to accept the truth that true evil does indeed exist.

But, God is on his throne and has always been, is right now on his throne, and will forever be on his throne. He will defeat evil; God always wins. I ask that you all join me in prayer for all the suffering souls at this very moment in every corner of this world. May God surround his children and protect them and give each one peace and assurance that he will deliver them from evil.

Sometimes in the chaos and suffering of this life we lose our motivation; fear distracts us, stuns us into inaction. Anxiety robs us of our hope.

But, God is our hope. We hope in Our Lord. We trust in his protection. He is our refuge, just as the psalms assure us. Mortal man is just mortal man. God is the ruler of the universe and he alone is King.

It is difficult in the darkness to remember that God is that light at the end of the abyss. In fact, he is the light that shines through each darkened corner in which we might cower out of fear. God is our light and he alone is our salvation.

Let’s pray for each other without ceasing. Let’s lift each other up. Let’s motivate each other with our words and our actions.

As writers, let’s make each word we write give hope to our hurting world. With our words, let’s inspire, let’s remind people that this world is a beautiful place and that evil will never win. With our words, let’s create beauty and hold tight to all that is true and give a voice to the voiceless among us.

May God bless us, protect us, and keep us safe from all evil.

Amen.

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2022

Masks, Masks, Vaccines, Boosters, Yay!

So, here we are in 2022. It appears that nothing at all has really changed, at all. We’ve just circled back to bite our own behinds! Same smell, just a different year.

Skippy, I guess we all need to just settle in, be obedient, and do as instructed. It has worked in 2020 and 2021, and now with the same obedience we enter 2022 and it appears we are having the same results!

Yay! More mask fun! More vaccines and more boosters.

But, but. . . . like a see saw the numbers just go willy-nilly as if there is no rhyme or reason.

And introducing a new strain to scare ourselves with. . . More fear-mongering from our pharmaceutical and media sponsors.

Will the fun ever end?

How long will this go on?

One mask, two masks, three masks. . . .perhaps five or six will help.

Boosters, Boosters, Boosters? Boosters!!!! Yay!! Yay!!

Vaccines, vaccines, vaccines galore but that pesky virus just won’t go out that dang door and be no more!

What to do? Does anyone have a clue?

Maybe go to Florida and party at a bar? Or maybe go sunbathing in Cancun?

Oops! Somebody forget to wear their mask! But, rules for thee do not apply to me, so saith the gods of fearmongering.

On an airplane? Strap yourself in and tighten up your mask, unless of course you are on a private jet. The rules do not apply to you, of course.

Arbitrary, Arbitrary. It’s all arbitrary, Skippy. Rules for the peons on the bottom who are bullied with fear of losing their jobs if they do not comply with the arbitrary rules.

Fear so thick you can vomit it out (into your mask).

Unless, of course, you aren’t wearing one as you party in Florida or sit on a beach in Cancun or enjoy a flight on a private jet.

So, here’s to 2022 and more of the same.

I’d like to leave you with a few Haiku I wrote. I find them to be quite witty. And, please, I beg you do not comment with that irritating bunk about how mask can save lives. If that were true, then how come we are still where we were two years ago?

Here’s my Haiku:

Media

Fearmongering clowns

Gleefully spew their venom

Laugh as we suffer.

Pharma

Greedy parasites

Fill our bodies with poison

Make our fear their bread.

At the beginning of 2022, I am tired of the constant, unrelenting, grinding fearmongering that is the media and the pharma industry. Haven’t they capitalized enough already?

Don your mask, roll up your sleeve, go get your booster, et cetera and et cetera. But, please media and pharma, just shut up already!

We get it! Viruses are dangerous! Alright, already!

Let’s circle back to normal, why don’t we, Skippy?

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Is There a Point?

Okay, so let me get this straight. There is another virus that has suddenly appeared that is a threat to humankind. We are supposed to cower in the corner with, perhaps 4 or 5 face coverings in 2022, I suppose. Perhaps, we should just lock ourselves in our houses and order our food online. Perhaps, we should disconnect our phones and our internet and isolate so as not to spread our germs to our loved ones. Perhaps, we should quit our jobs.

I am just so disgusted with the fearmongering, the constant, incessant grind of hearing about some freaking virus that is going to wipe us all out. The media and the governments of the world are taking a vile, evil, demonic joy in making us afraid to associate with our loved ones and of going about our daily lives with confidence and God-given joy.

I hate to be the bearer of the cold, ruthless truth, but death is inevitable. If you live long enough you are going to die of something. Cancer is a big nasty bastard that killed my mother, my sister, and probably is going to kill my brother in a few months. Heart disease killed my beloved cousin Billy at age 32, my father and my aunt Sally. Oh, wait, cancer killed my cousin Doreen, as well. My other sister is now suffering from a genetic disorder that is so brutally horrific in its devastation of this beautiful, kind and intelligent woman that she can barely walk across the floor without wincing in pain. She is only 61 years old. It’s probably doubtful she will reach 70.

My first mother-in-law whom I will honestly say was not my favorite person died a few years ago of heart disease and Peripheral Artery Disease. She was 84. My second-mother-in law, whom I loved as if she were my own mother, died of cancer at 62 years old.

My nephew died young of a heart attack.

My mother’s nephew died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a young age because this life just became too painful for him after his wife left him.

Death! Death is everywhere. It isn’t a matter of if; it is a matter of when.

No vaccine, no booster shots, no vegetables and fruit diet, no exercise plan can stop our inevitable march into that dark night.

It comes for us all.

I have lost almost everyone I have ever loved to those unrepentant bastards: cancer, heart disease, and suicide.

My heart grieves for anyone who has lost a loved one to death for whatever reason.

I am marching closer to that dark night; I am 60 years old.

And, I am sick of this constant grinding drone of the news media and so-called expert babbling on with a satanic gleam in their eyes spewing out their vile rhetoric designed to scare us into submission.

But, what’s the point? What is the endgame here?

Oh, I tried to forget, but the memory just stabbed me. This is the birthday of my brother George. He died at 16 years old while swimming with friends the day after he finished 11th grade. He and a group of guys headed to the lake. Damned death snatch him from me, and I wasn’t even born yet.

What is my point?

LIVE. LOVE. LIVE. LOVE. AND DO IT WITH WILD ABANDON. TIME IS SHORT; YOU CAN NEVER GET ONE IOTA OF A SECOND BACK.

Oh, what I would give for just one second to sit with my uncle Carlton. He died of a heart attack at 42 years old when I was 9 years old. I remember crying at his funeral. I remember my daddy having to be carried from the church because his grief at the loss of his brother was so strong that he collapsed. I had never seen my daddy cry or appear weak. That day is forever emblazoned on my soul. My daddy cried and I never forgot it.

Grief. Trust me, I understand it. I understand fear; I understand all too well how fear can immobilize you and warp your reason, logic, and judgement.

This post is not about vaccinations; so, don’t get this post twisted.

This post is about realizing that life is too short to cower in the corner and be immobilized by the inevitability of death. It comes to us all sooner or later.

REACH OUT TO THOSE WHOM YOU LOVE; TELL THEM EVERY SINGLE DAY THAT YOU LOVE THEM. GO EAT CHRISTMAS DINNER WITH THEM. LOVE THEM AND CHERISH THEM. DON’T LET SOME FEAR-MONGERING FOOL WITH A HIDDEN AGENDA STOP YOU.

Life is excruciatingly short. One day, someone you love will not be with you.

My mama Gracie Lee, my daddy Oscar, my uncles Carlton and Bo, my aunts Eltrum, Sally, Myrtle, Gladys, and Mary, my sisters Selma and Sara Jo, my brother George, my cousins Billy and Doreen, my nephews Dennis and Randy, my mother-in-laws Patricia and Shirley, my father-in-law Charles, are all gone. Gone. Dead. If there were words I had wanted to speak to them, I do not have an opportunity to. They are all gone from this life. I can only pray that God in His infinite wisdom will one day reunite me with my loved ones.

This life is painful enough without constantly being reminded about the specter of death every time we turn on the internet or television.

We know it; they know it, and they are evil in their capitalizing on our fears.

My prayer for 2022 is that we all disconnect from the media and spend less time on social media and more time sitting at the kitchen table with our loved ones simply talking, laughing and relishing the preciousness and sacredness of this fragile, time-limited life.

So, there is a point.

The point is life is short so love with abandon.

Love, after all, is greater than fear.

Love is eternal.

God is love.

Blessings to all.

This is my last post for 2021.

Pray for me; I pray for you.

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2021

NOTE: The holiday season is very difficult for some people. Reach out to someone if you are depressed and need help. Tomorrow is another day. Trust God’s love and his comfort. You are not alone on this lonely planet.

Not a Hallmark Holiday

NOTE: Hi everyone, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and that means that families will be gathering around the turkey, et cetera and so forth. . .but, the reality is that families are complex social systems and the reality is that oftentimes these gatherings are fraught with emotional baggage, such as abusive and bitter histories that make the holiday less than joyous. Out of obligation, some family members feel pressured to attend these Thanksgiving Day dinners. Those family members who opt out of the mind games and abuse and choose not to subject themselves to the family drama are often left to feel inadequate and ostracized from their family and society as a whole. We are supposed to all be the Hallmark movie family with the two sets of happy, smiling grandparents, wonderful parents, and loving siblings; of course, all our houses are two levels with spacious lawns and even more spacious dining rooms in which we gather with generations of family and dear, lifelong friends. Oh! Only if this were reality! Well, it isn’t true for everyone. If it is for you, then bravo for you and have a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving. But, if your Thanksgiving Day feast is more like “I’m going to turn off my cellphone, put on dark sunshades, grab a novel and a notebook, and head to Starbucks for a holiday latte, and be totally incognito until January 5th,” then this short story is for you.

Short story: Not a Hallmark Holiday

Pollie Johnson polished the pink porcelain figurine. Carter Cumbee had been restive in his long, dramatic life. Never satisfied, he had changed jobs like most people changed their underwear. She laughed at her witty analogy regarding her mother’s third cousin, twice removed. Looking around at her family gathered for their Thanksgiving feast, she bit her bottom lip and felt the pit of her stomach churn and lurch a bit. But, they were her children and extended family. And, well, nobody’s perfect.

Ganymede jerked the tablecloth from beneath the Thanksgiving dinner plates. Aunt Sue and Uncle Hobart scooted their chairs back, their chair legs scraped against the hardwood floor. Plates shattered, teacups clattered, silverware hurled heavenward. Grandma Martha’s turkey toppled over and landed with a sickening thud at the white paws of Miss LeMeow, Pollie’s 14 year old Himalayan cat.

Mouths agape, Julius, Cyrus, Cyrene, Lydia, and Micheala, Ganymede’s siblings, jumped to their feet and stared at the hardwood floor strewn with stuffing, green beans, sweet potato pie, and the turkey.

“But, why?” Julius screeched, his hands shoved towards the culinary mess.

“Because he has to always be the center of attention. It’s always like this. Always,” Cyrus yelled in response, and slammed his white linen napkin against the white linen tablecloth.

“He just likes to ruin everything for everyone.” Micheala and Cyrene chimed in together.

Lydia clutched her sides and screamed. “I’m panicking. Panicking. Can’t stand this!”

“What the heck is your problem, Lydia. No wait, let me guess. Your ulcer is acting up. Always something with you. You, you hypochondriac.” Cyrus lowered his voice and spoke deliberately as if he were lecturing a small child; then, he sneered.

Ganymede knelt down and scooted Miss LeMeow up and scratched her behind the ears. He rested his nose against her warm, pink nose. “Miss LeMeow, it was an accident. My foot got caught in the tablecloth. It’s too long.”

She nuzzled his neck and purred.

Pollie blinked back tears and looked at each of her adult children as they yelled, criticized, and berated each other. Opening her arms, she asked Ganymede to give Miss LeMeow to her.

One hour later, Pollie and Miss LeMeow sat at a booth at Starbucks. Miss LeMeow’s pink tongue licked at the tiny styrofoam container of milk Pollie had placed on the floor. Jumping, Miss LeMeow landed in Pollie’s lap, snuggled up and fell asleep.

“Next Thanksgiving Day, Miss LeMeow, let’s make this our tradition.”

Miss LeMeow’s bright blue eyes opened. Pollie felt sure that she saw a smile cross the little cat’s face.

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2021