Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Unexpected Gift

The Christmas of 2010 was supposed to be just like every other Christmas that came before it. Same faces, same places, same routines, same...well, everything. Thankfully my expectations were nothing more than ideas based on superficial, mundane concepts.

A few days ago, Santa came and went, gifts were swooped down upon, played with and left behind in stacks next to torn and discarded wrapping paper.

The cookies were devoured, the movies watched, the stories read. Pretty much like every year except for one thing. Everything was different.

Our family was suffering through a personal loss that we weren't planning. We were suffering through the loss of one of our brightest stars; one of our dearest members.

She wasn't with us this year. She wasn't with her husband, her in-laws, her children. She was alone, preparing to fly out of town to a state she'd never been to before, to a place she never knew existed, until that morning.

Christmas evening, the rest of us stood around the kitchen without her, trying to talk about the usual things while watching the kids play and laugh, feeding our faces though the food never satisfied our hungry souls.

The silence of not having her with us was deafening. My brother, her husband, couldn't stick around for long; the void was too much.

I watched as tears welled up in my mother's eyes. Words of comfort could not pacify the fears. There was a feeling of helplessness that could not be shaken. What was to come of this? What was going to happen?

Who the hell knows what's going to happen when a family is falling apart.

And that's just it...no one knows. No one know just what kind of magic can happen when everyone "accepts defeat", gets out of the way and let's God get His hands on the situation. Magic amongst the sorrow.

Our family, though stunned and shaken, did anything but fall apart. We came together. Still disoriented by the morning's events, we rose above it, stood tall and held on, to each other.

My brother and I shared a moment of understanding and forgiveness. My past mistakes became attributes in his eyes. For only 1,000 days earlier, I found myself exactly where his wife was today. Years of his judgement dissolved instantly.

My mother's constricting bonds of trying to save those in need, those in pain, were cut away. Now she had to let go and in return, was set free. Sad but still free.

Her parents were surrounded by those that could explain and share with them what shey was going through and what she was feeling. To reassure them that she was right where she needed to be. Bittersweet comfort came over them. Hope was born. Thank you Jenniflower.

The children had each other and they had us. Their natural sweetness and strength carried them through the day.

The dog? Well she just was as oblivious as she always was.

Fast forward to today. Today we wait. We wait for her return next month with open arms, hearts and minds.

My sister-in-law is my inspiration to keep going, to keep the faith. She shows me that miracles can happen. She's my hero for reaching out and asking for help.

Through her brokeness will come a family that is closer and stronger than it ever was. She saved us by saving herself.

And I get to cherish this unexpexted gift.

Thank you Sis. I simply love and adore you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

There's Something You Should Know...

My Mom sent me this and it just brought a tears to my eyes and I knew right away I had to share it with you.


There were probably many, many times this year when I may have

Disturbed you,

Troubled you,

Pestered you,

Irritated you,

Bugged you,

Or got on your nerves....

Knowing me, I never took the time to say "I was wrong."

So today I just wanted to tell you...........

Suck it up Cupcake, because there are NO CHANGES planned for 2011!!!

Tears of laughter!! Thanks Mom

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Full Original Copy of the Serenity Prayer

by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas (it's not what you think)

I'm stealing this straight from a quote posted at my office. It moved me and each day this holiday season, I am trying to do at least one of these suggestions.

It's harder than I thought...

Christmas Gift Suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.

To an opponent, tolerance.

To a friend, your heart.

To a customer, service.

To all, charity.

To every child, a good example.

To yourself, respect.

~quote by Oren Arnold

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Really? Just what does that mean anyway? I've never been able to wrap my head around this phrase, this simple concept and this morning, it baffles me even further.

Recently I have played and enjoyed the Numbers Game on FB. Many good friends have said amazing things about me. It really helped me see what a valuable person I am in so many lives. It's easy to forget.

I'd like to share one particular post that brought all of that crashing down for me, at least temporarily. As you will read, this person has only the best in mind for me yet I was able to find the negative in it, and of course, I'm chewing on this like a dog on a bone.

"A few times in your life you get an opportunity to meet someone who amazes you in so many ways, and on so many levels. Someone who you immediately judge to be one way, but then find out there is immeasurable depth in intellect and emotion. Someone that you have incredible physical chemistry with, and that chemistry that emanates from somewhere beyond just the skin-deep view that most people have of them. Their life, their feelings, their pain, their joy is a wonder to behold. And you don't understand the connection, or even want to try to understand it. You just accept it, in spite of how you think others may judge how you feel about this person. You amaze me, intrigue me, and excite me, 121. I am so glad I've come to know you the way I have. I hope we will have the opportunity to know each other on many other levels in the coming days."

This person works in the same circles as I do. We share our time with the same persons, inside a very tightly-knit atmosphere. From my 3 years there, I have taken note of the many ways most of these people are connected to each other.

Since my early days, I've wanted nothing but to fit in. I've wanted to be a part of whatever it is that makes these people so close, so friendly with each other. I've never quite succeeded.

It's taken a lot of courage to suit up and show up to this establishment every week day and hold my head up. It's been a struggle not to allow the way these people "see" me to get me down, to define who I am.

There's a reason why most of the people I work with see me a certain way, why I'm judged the way I am. Let me try to explain without opening the self-bashing flood gates.


I can't do it. I have written and deleted so many lines about what I don't have, what I don't look like, how "stupid", "dumb" and "simple" I can be. All in an attempt to show you how I come off to most of the people I work with. Almost defending the same attitudes and misconceptions of what others "see" in me.

I won't do it. I won't listen to that negative voice inside my head that wants to ultimately destroy me. The one that taunts me into believing the image that so many others see. The voice that holds the same power as evil that can actually kill me spiritually, if I listen.

What leaves me sad about all of this is how my first reaction is pain, self-loathing, self-pity. The exact emotions that I need to stay away from. I just re-read the post and tried to see it from a healthy perspective. I want to thank the person who wrote it and privately sent it to me. They hold a very lucrative position in this Company and they took a risk creating it. There's something to be said for that.

What leaves me peeved about all of this is that a majority of people, not only in this particular office, but possibly world wide, are fucking wrong, dead wrong.

Too many people are too caught up in things that hold absolutely no value, What good is being good looking, wealthy, inconceivably smart, successful and desireable if you use it as a bar to judge others with? I don't see the value in being someone like that.

Maybe it's because I could never fit into those variables and I'm jealous. Maybe it leaves me hurt and exposed that others see the "real" me and reject it. Maybe it's because I work within the walls of what life really is all about and I just don't get it. Maybe I'll never know.

But what I do know is I don't want to be like these people anymore. I just want to be Me. The Me that makes this place just a little bit better than it was before. The Me that desires to make someone else's life just a little bit better than it once was. the Me that seeks to give back all that has been given to Me. I want to be the Me that makes a difference in this world. The Me that my daughter sees, that my true friends see.

I want to lose the desire for this group of people to accept me. I want to be done with thinking twice about how I look to these people. So I don't make the cut. So I don't quite measure up. So this one person has to tippy-toe around because if anyone there found out we have made a connection, it would possibly damage his relations with others. I don't want any part of that.

I just want to be Me. The Me that will never be successful by most other's standards. The Me that can smile when she helps those less fortunate, those without presents to open on Christmas Day, those that feel alone, those that are in pain, those that are struggling to find a way out of the exact places I've been in.

I want to be the Me that God made me to be, no matter if it's not good enough for someone else.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lennon's 'Lost' Las Vegas Weekends


His musical presence still quakes the Strip, from The Mirage production bearing his rock band's household name to the revolving fab faux's "woooh!"-ing smaller venues.

But John Lennon, slain 30 years ago today by a deranged fan, once had a physical presence in Las Vegas, too.

It's well-documented that the Beatles played the Las Vegas Convention Center on Aug. 20, 1964, and stayed that night at the Sahara, where they also rehearsed. But few fans realize that the bespectacled former Beatle returned twice more to Las Vegas, during his mid-'70s separation from wife Yoko Ono, to quench a thirst for Vegas culture.

"He was fascinated with the Rat Pack and the old world of Las Vegas," said May Pang, Lennon and Ono's former personal assistant, who accompanied Lennon to Las Vegas as his lover on both getaways and documented their 18 months together in a 2008 book called "Instamatic Karma."

"With the Beatles, he never saw anything except the inside of a room," Pang said. "This time, he went back as a civilian, going around to take it all in.

"He was very much into Americana and wanted to experience it."

Lennon, who would have turned 70 in October, strove to be just another tourist at Caesars Palace, where he and Pang shared a deluxe suite for four days in October 1973. Gambling was an immediate draw, says Elliot Mintz, a TV reporter friend who accompanied the couple from their base in Los Angeles and later became the publicist for Ono and many other celebrities, including Paris Hilton.

"(Gambling) seemed like a very childlike experience to him," Mintz said. "John was immediately enchanted."

Mintz remembers lending Lennon $200 for roulette. ("He rarely carried money," Mintz explained.) Then Lennon announced he had "a system."

"He said the key was to cover every number except one," Mintz said. "John kept dropping all the chips over all the numbers. He said to let the croupier turn the wheel and it's a virtual certainty that you're going to win."

Within minutes, the chips were gone and word had reached all nearby gamblers about the legend in their midst. Mintz remembers it as "minor bedlam."

"A crowd gathered around him, but not the kind of crowd that gathered around high rollers," he said. "Everyone had cocktail napkins in their hands for him to sign."

Mintz said the moment of childlike tranquility quickly morphed into "a Hunter S. Thompsonesque-like Fellini movie."

"I told him it's probably a good time for us to leave," he said.

According to Pang, that first trip included a largely unreported footnote in music history: the only meeting between Lennon and '50s rock pioneer Fats Domino, who was headlining the Flamingo lounge over Frankie Valli.

"Fats came to our table before the show and sat down," said Pang, who reports that Lennon gushed: "I love you! I can't believe you're doing the lounge!"

Domino's "Ain't That a Shame," which appeared two years later on Lennon's "Rock 'N' Roll" album, was the first song taught Lennon by his mother, Julia, who died when he was a teenager. (She taught it to him with banjo chords, which he transposed to guitar.)

"I can't recall if he mentioned that," Pang said. "But they seemed very happy to meet each other."

Elvis Presley was never in town when Lennon was. But they had already met at Presley's Beverly Hills, Calif., home in 1965. And Lennon opposed the idea of catching his Hilton show. Earlier in 1973, when Mintz disclosed he was attending, Lennon demanded a full report.

"I described it in as much detail as I could," said Mintz, who strongly encouraged Lennon to attend. "I told him the songs he played, the configuration of the room. And I did add that, of course, he didn't look the way he looked on the Sullivan show. But if you closed your eyes and pretended ..."

That's when Mintz remembers being cut off.

"I don't want to close my eyes and pretend," Lennon said.

Lennon's final Las Vegas sojourn, in March 1974, was spent mostly at the Riviera, where he and Pang stayed. But it included a tour of the newly opened MGM Grand (now Bally's). It was a more stressful four days, Pang remembers, because they were accompanied by troubled singer Harry Nilsson, for whom Lennon was about to start producing an album. (Days later, Lennon and Nilsson would be ejected from the Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles for shouting insults at headliners the Smothers Brothers from the audience.)

"If John joined Harry in escapades, I had to be the one to watch out," Pang said. "John would drink, too, but he would stop. After a while, John would say, 'I've had enough, I don't want to be in the papers.' "

In June 1974, Lennon and Pang moved back to New York to share an apartment. By January 1975, Lennon had returned to Ono and their digs at the Dakota building. ("The separation didn't work out," he told reporters at the time.) The couple had a son, Sean, for whom Lennon ditched five years of his career to raise. Lennon was murdered in 1980, at age 40, while returning to the Dakota from a recording session.

"When December 8 happened, it was such a loss," Pang said. "It was devastating. I got a call from Ringo's executive assistant. She's going, 'Which hospital?' And I'm saying, 'You can forget it, he's gone.' "

Since the 2006 opening of "Love," the only show ever co-produced by the Beatles, Las Vegas has become Liverpool west for Fab Four tourists. Mintz recalls accompanying Ono to the Cirque du Soleil co-production's premiere as her spokesman.

"I kept asking myself about how John would have reacted to all this," Mintz said. "I think that if he saw the reaction of the people who go to the theater to see 'Love,' in my heart of hearts, I feel that he would have been very pleased.

"When you go into that hotel, it just feels like you could be entertaining that era once again."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Whale

My Mom sent me this email and it really moved me. I hope it does the same for you. Thank you Mom. I love you dearly...


If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her.

When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.

May you, and all those you love, be so fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.

I pass this on to you, my friends, in the same spirit.~

Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm sitting here at the end of a great day, in my cozy bed with my laptop and a dozen thoughts buzzing around in my pretty little head. Good things are happening; great feelings are bubbling up from that long forgotten place deep inside my conscience. And the one word that keeps coming up when I try to pigeon hole these emotions is "Purpose".

Purpose. Really? I mean that's the best you can do? Awwww come on Jen. How about something more dramatic like "Reason" or "Fate"? Oh, OH...I know!! What about "Destiny" or even "Divinity"?!

Nope, sorry. Just "Purpose". Now shut up head and let me finish.

I believe as human beings, we all seek a reason for why we're living, why we're here, on this planet, experiencing all the bittersweet moments that make up our lives. I know for me, I've wondered many times just what the hell I'm supposed to do with my life and does it even matter that I'm here. There was a time that I asked myself if anyone would miss me if I were to disappear. And around that same time, not many people would have. I am blessed that today, many, many people would miss me and that I have no desire whatsoever to disappear. But that's not where I was going with this.

Seeking that grand explanation into why we exist is a bit of a tall order. It became too much for me to deal with so I became an alcoholic instead. Now I didn't set out to break my parents hearts, smash their dreams for me or ruin any chances of living a decent, respectable life; I just chose the path of least resistance. And it lead me right to Las Vegas, a single mother, broke, pathetic, and addicted not only to alcohol but to hopelessness.

I don't have to live that way anymore. Those of you that read my blog know most of my story. I don't care to relive it in this post but I do care to share just what I am feeling this night in particular.

You see, there's this guy....

LOL, I just had to say that for some giggles. (I like to giggle.)

No really, I did have a guy that's a friend ask me earlier to write a little something when I'm feeling good, not just when I'm bitching about yuppie scum or not having enough sodas and chocolate at my disposal (God I crack myself up).

Tonight I have been given the pleasure of knowing 100% that I have a purpose here on this planet. Just for tonight, there is a purpose for me being exactly who I am, not some fake wanna-be person, but the real deal. The real Jenny Jen Jen. And let me tell ya, it feels great.

When you can listen to someone share things that open them up to vunerability and be thrilled that they did, that's gratifying. When you can be there for someone when they need a real friend? Absolutely the coolest. When you can share with someone how you feel about things that you really can't explain but they "get it"? Bitchin'. When you spend an hour conversing with another human being and making a connection that helps you feel less alone? That's a gift. And when you can get off the phone, elated, knowing that your friend is in a better mood, a little happier, in a better "place" because of what you gave to the conversation? That's Purpose.

And that's what makes this recovering alcoholic, this bat-crazy single mommy, this struggling receptionist with no idea of what she wants to do when she grows up, a happy camper.

I can honestly say that, that Something Within is glowing inside me tonight and really making it clear that life, coincidence, and even the concept of "God" all come down to this feeling. The feeling that we all belong, we all need each other, we are all connected, and that we are not alone.

Life's good.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I Almost Missed

Today is my daughter's 6th Birthday. Only 6 short years ago, a doctor in Sylva, NC was removing a 22", 7 lb,11 oz human from my tummy. The anesthesia from the epideral left me paralyzed and not able to breathe on my own so I was a helpless lump on the operating table, as a nurse pumped oxygen into me with one of those bulbous bag thingies and my baby was taking her first breaths. It's funny how time can make you forget and almost minimize some of the most frightening yet strangest moments of your life.

Flash forward to December 1, 2010. I find myself in Las Vegas, NV working at the same job as a receptionist for almost 3 years, raising my lovely daughter on my own and actually smiling. It took a lot of sweat, tears, mistakes and regrets to get here and I couldn't be happier about it.

For about 10 days now, I have been in a funk. This blog post is going to snap me right out of it. Yep, you guessed it...it's GRATITUDE TIME! But before I begin, I have to digress just a wee bit...

Now, 6 years ago I brought into this world an amazing little person we call Riley. I didn't tell you that the reason WHY I was having Riley in the first place was because one night almost 9 months prior to that, I was too drunk and careless to give a damn, about anything, especially myself.

To spare you the boring details I'll get right to the point. I was an alcoholic dating a loser pothead and having the time of my life. I was living at my mom's (mind you I was 32 years old, not a teenager). I was pathetic, lazy, unaccountable and most of all, completely oblivious to anyone else's feelings. I was a drunk, just getting started on throwing away any chances of living a decent, self-respecting life.

Ok, so that sets the scene. My boyfriend and I did what two jackasses do when they are carefree and stupid and we created life. Ahhhh, yes...I really knew what it was to be a jerk.

Within 6 months, my once fun loving boyfriend had hit the road, my mother was at her wit's end dealing with a daughter that she could hardly stand to look at, and I was finding an end of my own. I couldn't run away from life anymore. Ironic how I wanted out of life when I had a life growing inside me.

My best friend in NC coaxed me into moving back out there and living with her while I finish trying to make this baby inside me and have some sense of stability. It was the answer to my prayers.

By August 2004, I found myself living in Whittier, NC with my best friend, her little poodle, my two cats and my growing belly. I was scared to death and took it out on Robin as often as I could. Because, after all, it was her fault that I was in this mess. (please, enjoy the sarcasm).

December 1, 2004 and I'm laying motionless on a gurney while the nurse bags me while trying to explain to my mother, who is in scrubs next to me, why I look lifeless and am not responding. One neat thing (again, sarcasm) about being temporarily paralyzed when the epidural pumps too much anesthesia into you is that you have no use of your body, you can't feel a thing, you can't open your eyes or move a finger but you can hear everything. It's a complete twilight zone, especially in the maternity O.R.

Little Riley was brought forth at 9:12 am. I couldn't lift my head to look at her but I could hear her first screams. Music to my numb ears. I could hear voices telling me she was beautiful and had all ten toes and ten fingers. I ached to see her myself.

The doctor then explained that she was going to sew me up now while they took Riley out to clean her up. By all means, go right ahead. I'll just lay here motionless and wish that someone hadn't f*cked up in the prep room so I can actually see and hold my own child after carrying her for 9 months. I never felt so lonely in all my life.

Finally, the anethesia began to wear off. It started with my being able to move my eyebrows, then I could blink and finally, smile. If I could scream "WTF was that?!?!" I would have. Instead, I just wanted to see my Riley. I turned my head to my left and someone held her at table level so I could glance at her.

All I saw was her bright pink nose and squished little face amongst all her blankets. My first words after getting my voice back were "Is she cute?" Seeing her little button nose was enough evidence for me. My biggest fear was that she would look like me with a cleft lip and palate. We were spared that heartbreak and given a great looking little monkey.

WHOOAAA can I digress...

I have to stop and get to the real reason why I started this post. I wanted to share with you what I
almost missed if I hadn't of messed up my life in NC with my active alcoholism and found my place to breathe and recover here in Las Vegas. And how I ended up in Vegas from NC is another long post for another day *wink*.

A good friend called Riley this morning to wish her a happy birthday. I haven't seen this lady in a while and we were catching up a bit after they talked. She congratulated me on some blessings in my life that I've recently acquired and it hit me...WOW. I AM BLESSED! And it's all because of recovery, no doubt about it.

If I hadn't reached my emotional bottom and made my way into the rooms of recovery, I wouldn't have anything like I have today. Who knows where I'd be or what I'd be doing. I do know that celebrating my Angel's 6th birthday and speaking to a wonderful friend would not be on the docket, that's for sure.

Today, I am proud to share with you just some of the blessings that I have been so grateful to receive and enjoy. Thank You GAAWD for being there for me always with your subtle whispers and gentle reminders that You love me and will never leave me. This one goes out to You.

> A healthy, happy, beautiful 6 year old daughter
> A rental house in the Lynwood Community
> A blackberry phone to keep in touch with my loved ones
> A Toyota Camry
> Nice clothes, shoes and makeup
> The same job for almost 3 years
> Being able to host a huge Birthday Party this weekend for my Riley
> Friends that love us and are coming to celebrate with us.
> Long-distance friends that would be here without-a-doubt if the miles didn't separate us
> My restored physical and mental health
> Having a good credit rating
> Finding a safe place to be able to breathe
> Money in the bank
> Paying the bills on time
> Being single and setting healthy boundaries in my relationships
> Having a solution for living this life as it comes, one-day-at-a-time
> Having compassion for others
> Being able to hear and respond to that Something Within, my gauge, that tells me when it's time to slow down, get back to basics and remember where I've come from...and how far I've gone.