Category: General Jenerosity


I love you memo

My dad has always told a lot of jokes…”a million of ‘em” to be exact.  As children, he would often ask us, “When is the best time to say ‘I love you?’”  We would wait for the punch line.  And he would follow with a simple, “Right now.”  He was right.  There is no better time than Right Now to say those three important words.

Those words are meaningful, but our society has also put a lot of pressure on them.  Who said it first?  Did he say it back?  Do you think she meant it?  Does he say it too often?  Who else is she saying it to?  Quit contributing to over-analysis of this beautiful gift of communicating love.  If you feel it, say it…without regret.  Saying it doesn’t mean you have to propose marriage, or that you are obligated to change their bed pans in 40 years or that you are being disloyal to someone else you love.  There is always enough love to go around.  Love is not a lifelong commitment.  It CAN evolve into that if you both choose to nurture the relationship.  But for now, if you feel love for someone, say it.  Love without regret because if for a moment you love someone with all of your heart, you may regret it if you never get another chance to tell them.

Saying “I Love You” doesn’t always have to be romantic.  I often end calls with my family and close friends with “I Love You.”  I think it gets easier to do so as we get older, when we realize that time isn’t eternal, for ourselves and for those we love.  I love how my friends listen, offer to help, make me laugh and share their lives with me.  Why wouldn’t I say it?  And when would I ever grow tired of hearing it?

When I was a child, we had a poster hanging in our laundry room of a cute bunny that said “If you love some bunny, let them go.”  I always thought it was a typo.  Shouldn’t it be, “If you love some bunny, let them KNOW?”  Maybe if you let them know, you would never have to let them go.

Love is beautiful.  Love is free.  We can all give it.  Tell someone special today, RIGHT NOW.

My dad has always told a lot of jokes..."a million of 'em" to be exact.  As children, he would often ask us, "When is th...

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GIVING, Old-School Style

Plaid skirts

My parents are both hard workers; the importance of a strong work ethic was instilled in us as small children.  I couldn’t wait to get my first real paycheck…so much so, that I got my first job working after school at my church rectory when I was in the sixth grade.  I attended a K-8 Catholic School in San Francisco’s East Bay.  Adjacent to our bright little fortress of religious solitude lingered a largely intimidating public high school, full of scary older kids who loved to torment us younger ones, easily identified by our plaid.  The campuses were separated by a simple chain link fence.  While our faculty did their best to protect us from interactions, it wasn’t uncommon to see teenagers approach our students during recess to offer them “candy” or say something mean to try to make them cry.

My new job required me to get a work permit, which was available at the High School.  I soon learned that the things you want most in life often require courage.  I mustered mine up, tuned out my surroundings and diligently marched next door.  No high school students were going to get in the way of my newfound adulthood, my entry into the great community of taxpayers and my contribution to the family enterprise.

The job consisted of answering phones, assisting with dinner service to the priests and directing the homeless to shelters as the evenings grew colder.  If the high schoolers were scary, then the homeless were terrifying.  Only responsible girls with thick skin were offered the opportunity to work there.  One would wonder why a church would hire such young girls to work in that part of town into the evenings.  Three reasons: 1. Our parish was rather poor and couldn’t afford more skilled workers.  2. The rectory manager had a child with down syndrome, whom she had to care for after school hours. And, 3. Rumors of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Oakland were beginning to spread, so boys were not offered positions that could allow them to be alone with priests.  Capable female child labor just made the most sense.  And I was grateful.

Since I “held political office” and had sports practice after school, I worked the late shift.  It worked out well because my dad’s office was rather close and he could pick me up on his way home.  Our little administrative team got to know each other very well over the years, transitioning projects and hanging out until the early shift’s ride would arrive.  It had been almost 30 years since I last spoke with any of those girls, but I never forgot them.  We were the tough ones.

Facebook has allowed us all to easily connect with people from our past.   Last year, I was contacted by one of my fellow “secretaries.”  She was moving to Florida because she got a great new opportunity with her employer of the last eight years.  Being from California originally, I was the only human being she would know in the Sunshine State.  She got settled in, set up the new office and, suddenly, their industry took a turn for the worse.  Regardless of the hours she was putting in, her paychecks never came.  She continued to work, keeping the faith that they would make good on their commitments, but it was becoming more and more difficult to keep food on the table for her kids.  She reached out to me for advice and insights into the support network within our state.   Our economy over the last decade has provided us with many examples of how bad things happen to good people.  It can even get the strong girls.

The night I got the call, my heart was heavy.  I got into bed and opened up the April issue of The Oprah Magazine, and began reading “20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself Now!”  Question 5 – What do I really want to do all day? – “Hmmm…maybe I’ll skip that one since I already know the answer is ‘Take a miracle pill that allows me to eat every flavor of Ben & Jerry’s without gaining weight.’”   Needless to say, I continued to read.  In the article, Maureen Taylor, career coach and CEO of SNP Communications (Smart Nice People),  states that to choose the right career, one should “think back to when you were in second grade.  Some psychologists believe it’s around that age – the first period of time many of us can remember – when we become individuals, when we fully grasp the meaning of right and wrong.  It’s also when we tended to gravitate toward what makes us happy.”  She goes on to remind us that we are still the same people.

I began to reflect on some of my amazing elementary school peers, people who expressed a spirit to serve and valued jenerosity at a very young age.  These are kids I admired…kids who pushed me to be better.   I realized that the same things I liked about them then, I still liked about them now.  The article was a reminder that, like me, they are still the same people.  I reached out to two of the boys who also knew my old friend from the rectory and asked for their help.  They both jenerously jumped at the chance to provide assistance and together we sent her $500 for groceries and gas.  I got a call last week.  She got a new job and things are looking up!  No doubt…she is still one of the strong ones.  That hasn’t changed.

Time goes by and even though we don’t always keep in touch, close childhood friends stick together.  Dolly Parton, who released her 42nd album today entitled Blue Smoke, reminds us of the same through her duet with Kenny Rogers entitled “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”  True.  Very true.

My parents are both hard workers; the importance of a strong work ethic was instilled in us as small children.  I couldn...

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Fly A Little Higher…The Blog Tour

zach sobiech

Last year, on May 20th, I wrote about Zach Sobiech who lost his battle with osteosarcoma at age 18. Zach didn’t go quietly. He left the world with a musical gift called Clouds which hit #1 on the charts the week he died. Laura Sobiech, Zach’s mother, just released her memoir of Zach’s journey yesterday. The book, Fly A Little Higher, is written from her perspective as she deals with her own emotions and prepares for her son’s death. Grab your copy HERE

Laura asked that I be part of her Blog Tour, which is celebrating the release of Fly A Little Higher this week. I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful launch, and am grateful that, in some small way, I can participate in being part of Zach’s legacy.

As I read the book, I found myself relating to Laura, imagining that I would have similar struggles and questions if I had to walk the same path with my son. Laura turned to God and asked that out of this tragedy, Zach’s death could mean something…something big. She encouraged Zach to write letters to his family, but that wasn’t his style. Rather, he wrote songs to communicate his feelings and encourage his loved ones to stay positive and make each day meaningful. I believe that her encouragement was an integral part of his musical legacy. As parents, we influence our children because we believe their potential as limitless.

When I first heard Clouds, I connected to it instantly, playing it over and over again. I loved the lighthearted pings from the glockenspiel, the sense of rising and falling with the lyrics, the clear message about faith in God and the refreshing innocence in Zach’s voice. It made me question my own legacy and how I could follow in Zach’s footsteps by creating something big. It made me reflect upon what is important to me.

I can’t play an instrument (except the air guitar and kazoo) or carry a tune (as proven in many late night karaoke attempts); however, attending concerts, remembering lyrics, introducing others to the meaning of songs and supporting the arts has always been part of my passion. Zach shared something very personal with the world and has encouraged me to “fly a little higher” and share my very personal ‘Ultimate Mix Tape’ playlist. Each song is a favorite because it reminds me of a moment or inspires me with its meaning. Clouds is one of the few songs on my playlist that contains both elements. ‘Ultimate Mix Tape’ Playlist

I hope that you get to know me a little better through these songs and their stories. If you discover a new favorite of your own as a result of exploring this list, then my heart will smile. I encourage each of you to create your own playlist. What a wonderful gift to give your friends and family. Please, take your time compiling your list; mine took DAYS. Revisiting various times in my life and listening to many old favorites brought back so many raw emotions. I laughed, cried and even blushed. Thank you, Zach, for leading by example and encouraging me to “Fly A Little Higher” as well.

Last year, on May 20th, I wrote about Zach Sobiech who lost his battle with osteosarcoma at age 18. Zach didn't go quiet...

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Survivor Summit

Mt. Kilimanjaro

We each have a special purpose; I firmly believe this. Some waste their time searching for it, rather than creating it. Some accidentally stumble upon dumb luck. Others, discover their calling later in life and use their experience to conjure up the courage to relentlessly pursue their passion. But few of us are able to realize it at a young age and work hard enough to achieve these ambitions, often not realizing that the path they are on is intentional and purposeful until it impacts their personal lives.

Meet Dr. Robert Masson, a Central Florida Neurosurgeon, who just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 50 with a team of 17 to personally raise $20,000 for cancer research via the Livestrong Foundation. I had the pleasure of meeting Rob many years ago, but never knew his personal story until learning about his recent climb.

When Rob was a young medical student, his stepmother died of cervical cancer as his 10-year-old half sisters sat by her side. Fast forward about a decade and his twin sisters were thriving as track stars at Arizona State. Rob was the Chief Resident of Neurological Surgery at University of Florida Shands Hospital and was at the Dallas airport flying to a neurosurgery interview in Seattle, when he was paged over the PA system. He soon learned that one of his sisters had a bad kidney infection and needed a needle biopsy. Listening to his intuition, he got on the last flight to Phoenix so he could be with her and review her case. He knew a needle biopsy was too risky for her to endure, so against the doctor’s advice, he had her flown back to UF Shands where his trusted team of surgeons and advisors were able to perform a 14-hour right kidney resection, which included surgery on a third of her liver. She survived the surgery, then a year of chemo/radiation and even an experimental bone marrow treatment. Calley had a 5-percent/5-year survival projection. Thankfully, she is still thriving and living life to its fullest…traveling, teaching yoga, rescuing animals and loving an active outdoor lifestyle!

Last year, Calley and her twin sister, Christie, watched alongside Rob and his brothers as their father tragically lost a 13-year battle to prostate cancer.

Rob’s commitment to medicine, and his pursuit of purpose, saved his sister’s life. He has endured so much loss, but continues to work hard through his career and through his recent personal achievements to help those who, like his family members, face cancer. Dr. Masson serves as a reminder to us all that pursuing our purpose often serves a greater purpose than we may realize at the time. Listen to that inner voice and pursue your dreams. That voice is there for a reason.

You can visit Rob’s Livestrong page here

Dr. Robert Masson (top row, second from the right) with Wendy Chioji and Marc Middleton at Survivor's Summit (Mt. Kilimanjaro) via the Livestrong Foundation.

Dr. Robert Masson (top row, seconf from the right) with Wendy Chioji and Marc Middleton at Survivor’s Summit (Mt. Kilimanjaro) via the Livestrong Foundation.


We each have a special purpose; I firmly believe this. Some waste their time searching for it, rather than creating it....

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Spreading the Love on Valentines Day!


The Valentines Day surprises were heart-warming! It was so much fun to share some love with women who are going through relationship transitions. We had the whole gamut of reactions – caught off-guard, ecstatic and brought to tears. But, I know each of them appreciated it in their own ways. Our week of love here at Just Jenerous may be over, but love is EVERY day. May you all continue to give love and receive love freely!
Feeling the love on Valentinnes Day!

The Valentines Day surprises were heart-warming! It was so much fun to share some love with women who are going through...

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