Don’t Panic (Coldplay)


My car was totaled and towed to the scrap yard. Our home is dismantled, cabinets torn out and emptied of family memories. The baby grand piano I’ve cherished for 24 years is gone. My children are spread across the globe in various stages of transition. This country is heartachingly fragmented beyond belief. And worst of all – my mystical mala necklace broke, beads scattered and lost forever!

The demise of my talisman is a metaphor in this disheveled, shambles of a summer. Clearly it’s time for change.

Some of these changes are of my own doing, but the most disconcerting ones are not. People often say, “Things happen for a reason.” It’s a nice philosophy to try to make sense of the insanity and the unimaginable, but all too often that seems like a little too much sweetness and light. What on earth could the reason be for the atrocities that mankind brings upon each other or the unbearable sorrows that people somehow endure? Reason or not, the important thing for us to do is to try to make reason out of the things that happen by doing something with it in the aftermath. We can analyze the reasons until the polar caps melt, but it’s not until we focus on results that we can truly transition and move forward.

On the 8/20/17 edition of Meet the Press, the panel discussed the questionable moral compass of our great country. Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal columnist and political analyst conveyed a reassuring perspective: “For moral leadership, people look the way they looked in Charlotte, South Carolina two years ago when that bible study group was shot up. The great moral moment the day afterwards was during the bonding hearing of the shooter because the families of the dead showed up and showed who they were as Americans, and said it was heartbreaking [but] I forgive you.” Former Democratic Representative Donna Edwards of Maryland responded, “There are more Americans who don’t engage in hate than there are others, and that is our moral authority.” We look to each other.

There is hope and goodness in this unsettling time of transition. Even in the midst of our stark divisions, the vast majority is striving for ways to find unity in the heart of the matter. And I am finding reasons, results, and most of all peace in the paring down of minimalism and what actually matters in my heart.

  • My eleven-year-old car was slammed by an eight-ton truck, but amazingly we walked away relatively unscathed. My trusty old Lexus served us well right until the end, but it’s time for a new eco-friendly hybrid version.
  • Rather than move from the place we’ve called home for 25 years, we decided to switch it up to accommodate our shifting family. Turning the forgotten living room into a spacious dining room, the cramped dining room into a cozy study, and the tucked away game room into a more open great room may have thrown us into dusty turmoil for a while, but it should wind up just the right size for an empty nest with lots of visitors.
  • There was no room for my piano in our home’s new footprint, but truth be told I hadn’t played it much in years. Serendipitously, an adorable family with two toddlers and another on the way – in fact, our exact family 26 years ago – bought the piano, which made the letting go much gentler. Selfish of me to hang on when others will enjoy it more.
  • Mothers are only as happy as their least happy kid, so they say, and only as settled as the most unsettled one. So I suppose I’m grateful that my children are all happily unsettled, of their own choosing. A baby-on-the-way in Chicago, farming in Italy, studying yoga and meditation in Sweden and India… what’s not to be excited yet slightly off kilter about?
  • is an artistic mecca, and it was there I found a jewelry maker to re-string my scattered mala beads, mixing the leftover magical old with some beautiful new crystals. Maybe it will infuse my sagging mojo with inspiration and vitality. What this tired old chickie could do with some fresh energy…
  • As for our confused country and edgy world, I’m struggling to find reason but taking heart in the overwhelming fact that beauty and morality far outweigh the pervading ugly and iniquity. Focusing on the Good and pushing aside the Bad simply feels better. Loving one another is truly the overriding purpose of living, and the results are mindblowing.

If all else fails, I’mma sheetcake like Tina Fey.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Paul Mortensen
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 02:31:23

    Let’s eat cake young lady and don’t ever tell me again that the bright, vivacious, exciting and fun mother and friend I know is a tired old chickie with sagging mojo! You’re the best!! Love ya.


  2. Linda Baer
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 02:35:56

    Jana…..Definitely getting into “sheet caking, “but better yet, doing it very seldom in Mendocino, as I’m not allowing what causes the “sheet caking “to reach me!!! Or ,at least , separating myself from the madness !

    We’re hoping to see Brandon more, but also I am finding the quiet surroundings very peaceful, and isn’t that what we are all searching for? Surroundings are important….as you are changing yours. We all find our peace in many ways. Reading your thoughts , another way. 😘❤️


  3. Margaret Cavalli
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 03:40:55

    I’m with you and Tina!


  4. Karen Larson
    Aug 25, 2017 @ 13:09:50

    Oh, I needed to read this today, Jana!
    I came back on Sunday from our wonderful Italian vacation to learn that my uncle had died in NY. After recovering my delayed luggage on Monday night, I flew east with my mom to bid farewell to my home-away-from-home. After losing both my aunt and uncle in two years, it will never be the same again.

    But I’m like you (which is why I like you so much, I guess): I looked for the silver lining. And I found it – 9-fold! First, for the opportunity to see my dear cousins and their spouses. And there are 5 kids- ages 15 to 5. They are the best & I loved having the chance to be with them.

    Thanks for writing just what I needed to read,

    cousins a


  5. Laura Moran
    Aug 28, 2017 @ 16:20:29

    Beautiful sentiments, Jana. Thank you for the Monday morning inspiration – much needed in this crazy world we are living in today.


  6. terismyth
    Aug 28, 2017 @ 23:19:41

    I can relate in so many ways Jana. I pray a lot for my children and hope they are happy. That is all I ask for.

    Loved running into you the other day. You haven’t changed at all. Are still as beautiful as ever, inside and out.

    I broke a favorite necklace recently also, but they can last forever, right?
    As for the state of the country? I can’t let some crazy guy upset me every day, so I keep my news watching to a minimum.

    Enjoy your new car and remodeled home. God is good.

    Keep writing. It’s therapeutic.


  7. brendadit
    Aug 29, 2017 @ 18:16:28

    I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!


  8. brendadit
    Aug 29, 2017 @ 18:17:21

    Have i mentioned how much I LOVE you!!!!!!! Brenda


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