Jeannie Bruenning Author

That’s Not Evil!

Today I was searching for information about the book Girl, Wash Your Face by a young woman named Rachel Hollis. This is a best-selling book which I’ve seen but know very little about. I found what I was looking for and read about this best-seller. In my search, I also found a blog that was warning against this book.

Now my curiosity was sparked, “What could possibly be wrong with a book that encourages women to stop believing the negative things they’ve been told about themselves and focus on the good?” As I read through the warnings of the evil dangers in positive thinking, accepting others who are different than you, and dreaming big, I thought, “Hmmm, according to this definition of evil – I’m really, really bad!?”

Earlier this week I had seen a facebook post about evil that also caught my attention. It pointed out the danger of accepting what was once evil, making laws in favor of it, and so on and on and on.

This made me wonder, Who’s deciding what is Evil? Is there an Evil Meter? Or questionnaire? Is there an Evil Council that listens to individual cases and passes judgement?

I’m a preachers kid with almost 60 years of watching the definition of Evil change. When my mom was young, cards, movie theaters, and bingo were Evil. When I was a kid, dances, rock music and drinking were Evil. Before the 90s, divorce was Evil. Recently a group who apparently sit on the Evil Council decided that the show Good Omens was Evil. That should have been my first clue of my Evil demise – I love Good Omens and watch it at least once a month. 

The definition of Evil has gone through a lot of revision…but has it really? Or have we lost what Evil really looks like. I believe the Holocaust was Evil. I think sending young men and women into crowded places with bombs strapped to their bodies is Evil. When a young person open fires on innocent peers, Evil is at work. I’ve watched drugs take over a person’s being and believed it to be Evil. 

It has never dawned on me that thinking good thoughts, desiring to live joyfully, accepting those who aren’t like me, offering love unconditionally, or finding one’s potential had Evil connections. I guess that is because – they don’t. 

However, diminishing the heaviness of what defines Evil to include differences of opinions or beliefs or life choices also diminishes the weight of the consequences of Evil – and that may just possible be Evil at its finest. 

Check out my latest release; Caffeinated! Stories from behind the counter of your local cafe.

Dear to my heart: please read: Raun’s story

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20/20 Vision

Ahhh, it’s that time of year again. The time to look back over the last 12 months to figure out what went well, what changed, what blew-up, what blind sided me, and what I promised never, ever do again. 

2020 – who’d have thought. As a high-schooler, the year 2020 was so far in the future we could only speculate what it might look like. We believed we’d all have computers, but never dreamed they would be in the form of our telephones. We were sure that robots would take over most of our jobs. And we were certain that we would be navigating our way to work with jet packs on our backs.

“2020? Who’s going to live that long?”

Well, we have, and we are about to enter the 20’s. 

This is also the time of year I typically choose 3 words that will define the next 12 months. Three word that will keep me focused, on task, and headed in the right direction. 

But there is something different about 2020. It could be that I’ll be 59 in a few months, or that Jeff and I will be celebrating our 40th anniversary, or that we will have successfully completed our first year in our California Hacienda without killing anyone. 

But, every time I think about 2020, it shows up in my mind as 20/20. (I also hear Baba Wawa, instead of Barbara Walters, thanks to SNL.)

I asked Wikipedia what the news broadcast 20/20 title means, it said; “The program’s name derives from the “20/20” measurement of visual acuity.”

What does Visual Acuity mean? Visual Acuity; sharpness of vision, measured by the ability to discern letters or numbers at a given distance according to a fixed standard.

Ahhh, that’s what I want 2020 to be! I want to see the year through visual acuity. 

Through the eyes of 59 years’ worth of life experiences and wisdom, 40 years of becoming one with someone who is my total opposite but I’m still excited when I hear his car drive up the hill. Visual acuity when my adult children are frustrated with finances, or raising children, or relationships and just happen to live 100 feet away from me. 

I want to see with 20/20 vision in the small stuff too. Like when another irrigation pipe breaks and drains the well, or the septic tank needs cleaning, or the dogs eat the chickens. In 2020, I want 20/20 vision when life gets overly complicated, or sensitive, or ridicules, or heavy. 

As I think about living life with visual acuity, I immediately think, “that’s going to take some time!” 

Yep, lots of time!

Time to stop and ponder instead of reacting. Time to recall past lessons. Time to understand all that is involved in the decision.  Time to breath, think, contemplate, and understand. But most of all, time to quietly wait to hear the beautiful wise voice that speaks so gently the slightest ripple can cause us to miss it. 

2020 is my year of 20/20. 

The year of seeing life with a sharpness of vision and the ability to discern.

Check out my latest release; Caffeinated! Stories from behind the counter of your local cafe.

Dear to my heart: please read: Raun’s story

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Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai | Prickly Pear

Somehow our littlest one has turned one. She’s a socialite and her first word was “HI”. It’s no wonder, because every room she enters has someone new greeting her saying, “Hi, Amelia!”

Since we moved into this multi-generational crazy world, I’ve found myself frequently saying, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai.” It’s fun to say and a bit of a pressure release. 

Once Amelia began adding to her vocabulary with words such as dada, didi, baba, mama, I thought it was time for her to learn my new favorite saying. 

“What does Neenee say?” I’d ask. Then I’d throw my hands in the air, toss my head back and say, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai.”

Amelia caught on quickly and “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai” became part of her vocabulary.

The other day I glanced into the kitchen just in time to see her straddling the high chair and counter top. I froze for a moment and then jumped in and grabbed her. Mom had turn away for just a moment and when she turned back and we shared the same shocked and horrified look.

Mom took Amelia in her arms and hugged her. Amelia tolerated the hug for just a moment then pulled back, looked over at me, tossed her head back and exclaimed, “Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai!”

…at least she knows how to use it!!

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Hen House and Puppy Dogs | Prickly Pear

We currently have thirteen pets on the hill: three dogs, four cats, two hermit crabs, and four chickens. We had five chickens until one of the hens let us know she was a rooster and is now living at a new house.

Sadie, our textbook ADD & ADHD puppy has visited the hen house on a few occasions. It didn’t seem to bother her or the hens. Sadie was far more interested in their food than them. 

The other day, Sadie took her brother Charlie into the chicken run and things changed. Charlie is the our big gentle bear, but once in the run, he became more bear than gentle. Feathers were tossed and hens pinned to the ground. 

The only witnesses of this adventure were three of the four kids who also live here. One stayed to try and get Charlie out the run, one ran for help and we’re not sure what the third one did.

The puppies and hens were safely divided and except for a few feathers and a limping hen, they all lived. 

All three of the grade school age witnesses have shared their take on the situation with me. Liam, the 5th grader mentioned that one of the hens is now limping. 

“I know,” I said. “I’m so sorry Charlie got in the hen house.”

“That’s ok,” Liam said, “it’s natural for dogs to go after chickens. If they were in the wild, they would be eating them.”

“Well that’s a very good way to look at it,” I replied. 

The fourth grader, who plans to someday to be a superstar – traveling the world singing but only after she becomes a world famous gymnast – found the situation to be traumatizing. In her words, “it left her trembling for hours.” (She’s kinda a diva.)

Our third grader sees life a bit differently than most. Emery sat next to me and in her serious and soft voice said, “The pups got into the hen house.”

“I know,” I said, “I’m sorry.”

Emery lowered her head and looked up at me through her brows. I saw her dimples begin to appear as she fought to hold back the smile. 

Then I heard it… that sinister laugh that lets me know she is my grand-daughter.

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Love Well

Our adventures with a 17 year-old has come to an end as abruptly as it began. A week that started with the old escape through the window ended with uncovering text messages from mom which provided the address of the AirB&B she had arranged, delivery of food and plans to drive to California to take her home. These empty promises combined with a week long Meth high ended with yet another arrest and orders to return to the courts in Colorado.

We are left with broken hearts, numbness, sadness and a very clear understanding of just how broken our system is.

It would be so easy to slide into anger, but I admit I’ve lived there and it’s not a place I’ll ever choose to go back to. It would be easy to fall into the pit of regrets, but I have non – truly. What I’ve learned in the past 13 months could never be regrettable.

I’ve learned what loving unconditionally feels like, and it’a pretty amazing. 

I’ve discovered that Love is the core of all of us, some just haven’t discovered it yet. But that’s ok, because that’s what life is all about, discovering our true selves. Surprise, surprise – our true selves has nothing to do with our capabilities, it has everything to do with our ability to love.

Learning to love well may just be our soul purpose. I can’t imagine a higher calling or a more difficult one. Most of the time it challenges everything we know, everything we are and everything we do. 

I’ve been stretched, challenged, and changed in the past 13 months, and all for the good. 

Live, laugh and love well. Oh so simply – oh so complex – I’ll never live any other way.


Note to friends –

Many of you have been with us through the challenge to keep our Colorado Kids safe. After years of trying on our own, we felt the need to seek legal help. The results have been strong but the financial obligation is overwhelming. If you’d like to support financially, click here:  Raun’s story


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Writer, Author and Coach. Jeannie started a publishing comapny in 2009 called A Silver Thread. Resides in a small beach town on the Central Coast of California and has a passion for people and stories. Click here to learn more.

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