Jeannie Bruenning Author

Let’s Pretend

I love watching kids play. It’s like watching mini adults without all their protective shields.

This weekend our three youngest grandchildren were at our house.  They may only be one year a part in age but in personalities – they aren’t on the same sphere. 

Liam, our lego engineer had designed a lego RC (remote control so I’ve been informed) robot. Elin, who has big plans of becoming a SuperStar, enjoys her barbie dolls. And Emery, who prefers being surrounded with a zillion buddies, (stuffed animals) while watching Pokemon or playing the Wii – and scowls at the thought of playing with dolls – had found a way to join in.

They had created a movie set complete with movie stars, a full kitchen to use on their cooking show, and of course, a RC robot to help with the set design.

That evening these same three were sitting in a circle on the floor. Elin was swinging her barbie around making it’s long hair twirl around in the air. “Let’s pretend that our mother is dead,” she began…

You know when the TV has been ignored for a bit and those beautiful screen savor images begin to appear? A while back, I started seeing if I could make up a memory or short description of each image. Some become vacation spots or family estates in far off lands, others are romantic adventures or scenes from our own Hollywood lifestyle. One day, our future SuperStar grand-daughter was in the room when the images appeared and she willingly joined in the fun. It didn’t take long to realize that Elin’s imagination has a lot of death in it. Each images was where she had fallen and broken her neck or mangled her body. Others were where she had fallen and simply died. So, when pretending that their mom had died was the opening line to this new game, it wasn’t surprising. 

However, Liam, the lego king interjected. “No, let’s pretend that she has cancer and has been taken to a facility for treatment…”

Really? We’ve moved from death to cancer and treatment facilities? What happened to Christopher Robins and Winnie the Pooh? When did Curious George and Little Bear turn into As the World Turns?

Liam continued, “She has to stay there forever now and can’t come home to take care of us.” I watched as a dark heaviness blanketed these three grade school kids as they considered the possible of a dead mom, cancer facilities and treatments. 

Without a seconds hesitation, Emery, our Pokemon, Wii, and you can never have enough buddies in bed with you, confidently proclaimed, “Well then, I guess we’ll just have to figure out how to do this ourselves!” She’s a no-nonsense kind of a girl.

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Turn the Page…

My dad used to say this when a soloist was preforming a song for longer than he thought was necessary. With a curious grin and a painful expression, he’d quietly say, “Turn the page, you fat-head.”

I’m not sure where this statement originated. Many of his quirky sayings came from the early radio days. “My get up and go – got up and left,” and George Burn’s famous closing, “Say Goodnight Gracy.” 

We all have a tendency to sing songs that go on longer than necessary. They are the songs of our lives that typically contain the words alway and never:

  • Money is always tight
  • We never have enough time
  • My job is alway stressful
  • I never have enough help
  • We’re always sick, tired, with an abundance of aches and pains 
  • We never feel respected, appreciated, or cared for

I’ve been watching a situation that needs to change. A few days ago as I was thinking about it, I realized that I was singing the same old song, “It never changes – this always happens – there’s nothing we can do…” 

“I’m sick of this song,” I said out loud.  I need to start singing a different one. The version that tells about the good, the potential, the possible (instead of impossible), sing of the new adventure that will be ahead when change finally comes.

Yesterday, I found myself singing that same old song… “I gotta change these words!” I said with great determination.

Today, as I began the old familiar stanza, I heard my dad’s quiet voice, “Turn the page you fat-head!”  

With a curious grin I burst into laughter, “Thanks dad, I think I will!” 


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I’m intrigued with the idea that our emotions can be measured as energy. Laughter, joy, love, are positive energy, while anger, hatred, anxiety are negative. 

There seems to be an abundance of negative energy these days. We seem to ooze anger, hatred, anxiety, resentment and fear. 

I recently listened to a series of books written in 1910 by Walter Wattles. Mr Wattles has taken a scientific approach to this subject. 

Wattles was convinced that we have the power to change our world by controlling our emotions; positive energy creates more positive energy and  negative energy creates more negativity. He says if medicine is focused on illness, it will create more illness. On the other hand, if medicine is focused on wellness, it will create wellness. Religion based on fear creates more fear. Faith based on love will create – love.

How does this translate into our current world environment? How does it effect our daily lives? Scientifically it would make sense that if we want to change a negative situation, fighting it with negative energy will not give us the result we desire. Sadly, when we come out fighting against something, we are actually increasing that which we hoped to eliminate or change. 

The only way to change negative energy source is to weaken it with positive energy. This is no easy task. It’s much easier to come out fighting. 

36270697_10156007745914079_3011563989155971072_nI saw this book cover on Facebook today and it grabbed me. I’ve not read the book, but I love the cover. Hard Times Require Furious Dancing.

That’s it! We have to find the strength to dance. Difficult times require us to create all the joy, love, laughter, graciousness, happiness, peace, generosity that we can muster – because it is the only way that we can defuse negativity.

This isn’t ignoring negative situations or living with our head in the sand. Far from it. It is a determination not to get sucked into its negative hold.  It’s choosing to flood the world we have control of with an abundance of positive energy. In doing so, we have the ability to weaken it’s power. If enough of us do it, we can defuse it all together and possibly replace it with good. 

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing! What a beautify image.  What a powerful statement. 

Negativity can not be fought with negativity –  it will loose it’s power when we choose to furiously dance!

Hard Times Requre Furious Dancing, New Poems by Alice Walker

Please check out my newest book: Living Unstuck, finding your joy!

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Is it good?

Is it really possible that we can bring things into existence by speaking it? Can we move mountains or walk on water? There are many who say we can’t – Jesus said we can.

I believe that we are creative people. In fact, I think that it may just be our creativity that God made in His image (I certainly hope its not our physical appearance). Creating is a powerful energy. Sit in the middle of a group of creatives and you can’t help but feel it. It pulls you in and allows you to dream big and feel bigger.

During one of my many contemplative days, I felt I was missing a piece of the puzzle. “God,” I said, “I’m not understanding this whole create your life thing, I’m missing something.” Each time I found myself trying to figure it out, which was most of the day, I’d pray the same pray. 

The next morning I woke with this thought. In the story of creation God has laid out everything we need to know. 

“So what does that look like?” I said out loud. Then I thought about creation.

  1. God called things into existence.
  2. God set them into motion.
  3. God called them good.
  4. God rested. 

I call things into existence all the time! In fact, I’m rather good at it! I’m never without an idea. My mom claims I walked around the house at the age of three saying, “I gutz a ide!”

I’m pretty good at setting things into motion. I’ve started a lot of things. I get charged up about bringing ideas to life!

Then my mind went blank. My head dropped as I sighed a big deflating sigh…I couldn’t remember the last time I called those things I’ve created ‘good’. I’ve waited for others to claim they were good. I’ve hoped someone else would see my creations goodness. I even start sentences with, “I did that but it’s not really good….”

I signed again as I thought of the next step. “…and I don’t rest after I create them.” Who has time to rest when you’re worried if someone else is going to notice how amazing you are? 

Four easy steps all demonstrated to us through the greatest creation story ever. 

  1. We call things into existence by having an idea, thinking a thought, dreaming a dream.
  2. We set them into motion by taking steps to making our ideas, thoughts and dreams real.
  3. We stand back and realize just how amazing it is that we have the ability to do so AND we see the good in what we’ve created.
  4. We rest in the knowledge that we have given it our best, grateful for the ability to create.

I’ve still never seen a mountain literally moved. That actually seems a bit dangerous. I have seen mountainous situations move. 

I’ve yet to literally walk on water (and yes, I’ve tried that too). But I do know what it is like to step out of the safety of a boat onto the rough waters  – knowing that if I looked down, I’d surely lose it. Feeling the excitement of taking the first steps with no knowledge just how far down the bottom is. 

We are creators. I don’t think we have any idea just how powerful our creativity is. Maybe it’s because we aren’t good at seeing what we do as good or resting in the satisfaction of creating. But if it truly is our creativity that is made in the image of the Creator of the Universe…the possibilities are endless. 


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Down and to the Left

We had a kitchen faucet that leaked. It was a slow drip. The only way to stop it was to move the handle slightly to the left when turning it off. We lived with this special faucet for approximately seven years – which was 6 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 6 days too long, but we survived.

Down and to the left became a normal response when we found a guest standing at the sink unsure how to stop the gentle flow of water. 

Down and to the left was the instruction given to the grandkids when they grew tall enough to reach the handle.

Down and to the left was our normal.

Then one glorious day, my husband and son installed a new faucet. It was a new day! A new dawning! I was certain there would no longer be the need for down and to the left. 

And I was correct. Those five little words were successfully removed from our vocabulary. However, it did not changed our behavior. When not in use, the new faucet is in it’s old familiar position – down and to the left. 

We have a new vocabulary now. Ouch! This water is too hot! You have to adjust the temperature! The problem? Down and to the left is the new hot. Really hot. Our sink is directly above the hot water heater, a direct line. It’s instantly hot.

Our old faucet forced us to learn a behavior the new faucet doesn’t require. Learned behaviors can be difficult to unlearn. It’s been 3 years since that new faucet was installed. Three years of mindlessly following the down and to the left rule. Three years of hot water blasting out of the faucet and 3 years of Ouch! This water is too hot! You have to adjust the temperature!

I am certain I have a lot of down and to the left kind of behaviors in my life. Things that I do on a regular basis that were once essential to my existence and are no long required. The problem? I still do them. Sometimes, I have to scald my hands a few times before it dawns on me that I could possibly be the cause of my own pain.

There is a couple of ways to fix this. We could switch the hoses and have the cold be hot and the hot be cold. My father and father-in-law did this once when installing a toilet. When you flushed, steam rose from the bowl. 

We could get a new faucet, the kind with two handles. That would certainly bring an end to the down and to the left. 

Or we could just learn to do it differently with gentle reminders that we don’t have to do it that way anymore.



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Living Unstuck




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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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LIVING UNSTUCK is a collection of lessons to navigate through the journey of finding joy and living a life unstuck. Released Feburary 1st. Learn more...