Tune in

We either don’t talk enough or we talk too much. Because nobody is listening, not really. To change the world, change your heart enough to hear one person, one voice for long enough to make a difference. Long enough to light a flame.

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Here’s the things, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.

It? I ast.

Yeah, It. God ain’t a he or a she, but a It.

But what do it look like? I ast.

Don’t look like nothing, she say. It ain’t a picture show. It ain’t something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found it.

Shug a beautiful something, let me tell you. She frown a little, look out cross the yard, lean back in her chair, look like a big rose.

                                                        –from The Color Purple, Alice Walker

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the definition of happy

009I don’t know what Hendrix song it was, I was so tired, but as I lay on the couch in the middle of the day listening to my children prattle and the guitar cords soar and swing on the air, I fell back into my earliest summers out of high school. These were the years of wanting, there is no other word that describes them better, except hunger. Everything in the wake of being grew from a tiny pit buried deep within my gut and burst forth with emotion and desire. Those early summers are the hardest to visit, but as August walks steadily toward autumn, the right song at the right time forces its own recognition.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”–Beautiful Boy, John Lennon (and various other sources)

Everything then, when I was eighteen-nineteen-twenty, was a plan. To get away. To buy a car. To move to the coast. To travel in a VW bus. To be with this guy who firstly and finally got me. Sometimes, things happened (got an apartment/chilled in a coffee shop/ wrote poetry/ took a bus to Colorado/ didn’t know what to do then/ bought a car/ broke down a car/ took a bus home/ watched t.v.). Sometimes, it felt like nothing was ever going to happen (watched t.v./ worked a factory job/ watched t.v./ lived with his mom and little sister/ watched t. v./ gave up/ watched t.v./ cried a lot). Sometimes, he didn’t get me at all.

After those summers, things changed, and we moved and I found a job with folks like me who wanted to experience something and gave me the courage to meet myself, alone. He moved out. I paid my rent and bills and bought a pick-up truck and read books. More importantly than that, I discovered a truth I had been blind to my entire life: Happiness is not a gift. Happiness is not something another person can give you. Happiness is not a relationship, unless it is a relationship with yourself. I always thought–such a little girl I’ve always been–I would be happy when I (Oh-so-Cinderella-like) found True Love. But that’s not how it goes, because unless you are totally down with your own desires, goals and person, you’re not going to be happy no matter what anybody else does. No matter when they do it.

to be continued…


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coming down

988235_398183350292220_919790448_nHi. It’s been a while, eh? Probably I should just start a new blog, but some things need to get out of me, so here we are again. The first time I ever read my work in public, I refused the microphone because I didn’t want to hear my voice calling out. The second time, I sat on the floor. I feel like that now, sitting on the floor, making a public space intimate. Coming down and landing on the cold, hard earth. Getting my feet filthy.

I’ve been tenaciously self-obsessed lately. Health wise, I’m a carnival of nerves. The coolness of this Midwestern summer has been my saving grace with the kiddos (ages 6 and 7.5) home. Together, we’ve been mostly well. Siblings fight, so there’s that, but bike rides and walking the dog have given us different places to focus our energy. In June, my husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage while spending two nights alone in a Door County yurt. I’d like to take the kids and dog and spend a week, two weeks wandering the beaches and state parks. Maybe next summer. Maybe next time.

Why so morose, crazy lady? I don’t know. I think it has to do with making it so long through life and getting hit on the head with the reality of loss and time. That’s why I’m here after all. Getting those things out I can’t seem to put anywhere else. My husband listens, understands, suffers some of the same losses, some of his own. 2013 was ugly with death, but 2014 hasn’t given any respite. Not all loss is direct and I’m certainly not patting myself on the back while gurgling forth tears, but writing is my process, I guess. So many friends, you maybe, are having your own heavy things, and I want to carry you, so I’m trying to keep my mouth shut (if I can, because it all comes tumbling forward given the chance).

So here we are. I am. Writing down the things again, but this time, not to make a mark. Not to gather comments or readers or tally scores, just to write it down out in the open with the hard, dirty earth under my feet.

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The End Days

Photo by Felixco, Inc

I have been incredibly grateful to so many of you over the course of Penny Jar’s life. This is just a note to let you know that I have moved permanently over to V’s Place: An artists’ cafe. I hope you will join me there along with a myriad of writers, artists and musicians. I encouraged you also to submit to Fourth Monday, an ongoing celebration of art and words.

If you are a subscriber to Penny Jar, please consider subscribing at V’s Place; it’s great to have you around!

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Grand Opening!

I am so happy to welcome you to V’s Place: Grand Opening on the fortuitous occasion of the Chinese New Year.

V’s Place made its debut on January 1st of this year, and is ecstatic to open its doors today to guest contributors across artistic genres. We are also celebrating this event with an assortment of hidden prizes and a door prize of The Dead Shoe Society, an anthology that features my story “The Deadest One” along with several other talented authors. Read more…

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On Tap: Hitching a Ride

This is what’s playing now at V’s Place.

A note: at the end of the month I won’t be posting on this page anymore. I would love to have you come with me over to the new site, so please remember to update your subscriptions over on the the left hand side of the page, or follow along with Google Friend Connect. I’d be glad to have you!


Before the inception of this site, I spent time considering the themes I explore in my writing. When I began blogging three years ago, I thought the only thing I had to write about was motherhood. It seemed feasible and popular. If I was going to take a chance on something it may as well be the life I’m steeped in.

What I found out is that I don’t write about motherhood. Mothering isn’t what drives me to write, that happened long before I had kids of my own. Read more…

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