• The Power of Prayer

    We’ve all heard the phrase before, and have either believed in it, hoped for it, or scoffed at it. I saw a new example of it last week. (And I encourage you to read-on, even if you aren’t a believer.)

    It was dark and early Monday morning at Sierra Vista Hospital (which, by the way, I am now even more proud to say is the hospital where I was born. The staff there was AWESOME!) Anyway, my fiance’ was due for surgery at 7:00 a.m. so we were to be at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. Not a lot of traffic in the waiting rooms at that time of day. As they geared Gordon up in is hospital gown, inserted IV’s and got all his vitals, I headed out to the dark parking lot to put his street clothes in the car. As I did so, I noticed a few people meeting up with their coffee cups and heading inside. I kind of assumed they were doctors the way were cheerfully greeting each other with a sense of familiarity.

    Minutes later, as I waited with Gordon behind a curtain the pre-op room, I noticed some of the “doctors” walking in with some new additions to their group and asking for one particular patient. The narrative in my head continued, with me assuming that patient must be having one hell of a complicated surgery to warrant such an assembly of medical professionals. I listened for occasional clues as I heard bits and pieces of the chatter happening behind the curtain across the room. It all seemed peppered with bits of laughter and light-hearted chuckles. Maybe doctors yucking it up with a fellow surgeon who was going under the knife himself. And then it happened. All went silent for a minute and one strong voice emerged.

    “Heavenly Father, we want to reach out to you this morning for our brother….” the voice began.

    In an instant, all went silent in that pre-op room as nurses, medical assistants and those of us also waiting behind curtained walls couldn’t help but stop and listen in. It lasted maybe 3-4 minutes, I don’t know. But I could picture this group of men standing around with their heads bowed and perhaps even each other’s hands held, praying along silently.

    “And we love you, and we thank you for your wisdom and loving protection of our friend…. Amen.”

    As they left the pre-op area I peeked through a gap in our curtained wall to catch a glimpse of the group as each member exited. I recognized one as he passed and I reached out to grab his arm and say howdy. We both inquired of each other: “What are you doing here?” I pointed to Gordon and explained he was having what we hoped would be his last surgery for a long while. I returned the question to him, and he explained a friend was having his first surgery at the age of 88, and was a bit nervous. This wasn’t a group of doctors, this was a group of open-hearted, supportive friends from church, I gathered.

    “So you all came out just to pray for him?” I asked.

    “Yeah.” He answered with an open-hearted smile. “And to let him know we will be here the whole time he is under and will be waiting for him when he wakes up.”

    And that they were. I sat across the waiting room from the group as more members, wives, and friends showed up. They sat and chatted and left for a quick breakfast at their friend’s favorite pancake shop, and were sitting there waiting when Gordon’s doctor came out to tell me all went well with his surgery. They were there when I left to head to Gordon’s room, and I wished them equally good reports from their friend’s doctor soon. I also told them their friend was a lucky man to have such a support network. And I meant it. I don’t care if you believe their showing up and leading a prayer led to more attention from God. That prayer took over the noises of a hospital…the beeps, the questions being asked of patients, the lack of a sense of serenity that exists inside this kind of hospital room.

    I felt like everyone within earshot was moved by the sense of support these men created when they gathered around a friend who was scared that morning. It wasn’t just the faith they displayed, but they all got out of bed in the dark of early morning, lit from within because they were able to to come support a friend. That is something we see far too little of these days.

    It moved me, and made me see the power of prayer is far more complex than asking for and expecting favors from God. It’s about showing up, with joy, to make the ask. And it’s about showing those who may have reason to worry, they can let their worries go for awhile because their tribe has their back. It’s about sitting quietly with someone until the threat has passed, or waiting for them, so they know their not alone when they return from battle. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a smile and a joke at a particularly tense time. Prayer can take all kinds of forms. One thing I am certain about: there’s power in sending one up for someone who needs it.

    And I’m grateful to the group of people who reminded me of that last Monday at Sierra Vista Hospital.

  • JT Returns

    Well, here I am! Yes, I’m still alive. Yes, I still live here on my beloved Central Coast. No, I didn’t just marry rich and become a kept woman. No, I’m not still on T.V. (At least not full time.).

    It’s been almost a year since I called it quits at KSBY and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone.
    So what have I been up to? That’s the most frequently asked question I receive when out and about these days. The short answer is “Not too terribly much.” The more honest and realistic answer goes something more like this:

    I went off the grid. I cancelled my newspaper subscription, I quit watching anything news-related (perfect timing because I missed most of the hate of the election season) and I did my darndest to slow down my mind a bit.

    You see, the life I was living was so full of multi-tasking, I had trouble slowing down, focusing on one thing or, well, sleeping. I had so many tasks and thoughts going on at any given moment I found it more more and more difficult to just relax and be in that given moment. For years, I was proud of my multi-tasking skills, but it got to a point that it was taking it’s toll. I really had to re-train my brain a bit. Add to that some personal drama and loss, and I was kind of spun out and burnt out.

    So, I quit my job. I ignored a lot of the things I “should be doing.” I took up coloring. Yes, the kind you used to do as a child. (which I highly recommend if you’ve been relying on the left side of your brain a bit too much). I bought dozens of coloring books and pretty pens and pencils. I poured a glass of wine, took a deep breath, and forced myself to sit still enough to start a page. (Believe it or not, it was actually hard for me to do so when I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything.). Before long I couldn’t wait to get to my coloring books.

    I craved quiet and spent as much time in it as I could. I got out in nature as much as possible.
    I watched my fiance’ get sick and get well, and did my best to help him along that journey. We spent a lot of time at Lake Tahoe. I lost 10 pounds. Then I gained 15, but did so with gusto rather than through stress. I enjoyed meals in the evenings rather than eating frozen dinners, Panera or whatever I could pick up in a hurry and eat at my desk. I had icy cold beers in frosty mugs with lunch (something you cannot do when you work a night shift!) or wine or martini’s in the afternoon (something else you cannot do when you are reading the news at that time of day.) And yes, some days I did both.

    I hit the beaches for sunset as often as possible, which was most of the time. I found I love the magic time that happens about an hour-and-a-half before sunset maybe as much or more than the actual moment when the sun falls into the ocean. Who knew! (Remember, I have spent most of my life inside TV studios from 2:30-11:30 p.m.)

    I took all my professional clothes out of my closet and bought storage racks to hide them in the garage. I wore comfy clothes, athletic shoes or flip flops only. Most evenings were spent in my Jammies.

    Eventually I could handle a little noise in the house and I discovered dozens of Netflix, Amazon HBO and Showtime series. I binged watched them all. I made pizzas more often than I want to admit, paired them with great central coast red wines and kicked back for evenings of home entertainment. It was awesome.

    I got moving with the help of the SLO Roadrunners team and actually got to attend their practices, which was also awesome. Being out and about and active in summer warmth at 5:00 p.m. instead of behind the news desk made me feel like a kid again. Eventually I combined fitness with my favorite time at the beach and discovered a new kind of Happy Hour.

    I made phone-calls instead of sent texts to everyone, because I had time to. I remembered a few more birthdays and actually remembered to send birthday greetings. I’m enjoying re-connecting, slowly but surely, with a lot of folks “I have been meaning to call” for years now.

    I enjoyed something I had fantasized about for a long time: I took a time out. I wasn’t sure how I would afford it. I just knew it had to be done. And low and behold, a year later, I’m not yet a bag lady. I may have done a little more shopping at the Dollar Store and Goodwill (which is another awesome thing you can do when you have time to look around and discover treasures!) and I may have built up a bit of debt, but survived financially and thrived personally. I feel blessed to have been able to do what I did. (It’s a lot harder to make such time-outs happen, I realize, when you have kids, or dependents to think about. I still would have rather had kids, but at least I was only risking my future by making what some would call an irresponsible move.)

    And now. Well I’m slowly reintegrating back into real life. Or should I say, a more responsible life. You’ve may have seen I have done a few guest spots for KSBY. I did a commercial or two. And I’m starting some other freelancing projects that are helping to pay the bills.

    Ruby Shoes Wine Club still exists and will be growing again with some trips planned and club shipments in the works. I also took and completed a life-coaching course with Martha Beck, which may sound kind of funny coming from a woman who basically dropped out of life for a year. But the truth is, if I had the wisdom of a life-coach myself earlier in my journey, I probably wouldn’t have allowed myself to get so burnt out. So I’ll be doing a little of that with a limited number of clients and doing some seminars based solely on lessons I have learned, not any claim that I have all the answers.

    I may or may not get a full time job again. It kind of depends on how all of the above play out. I may even venture into another television news job. I honestly don’t know. I do know my blogging will resume, though, so I thank you for taking the time to check in here today and read this one.

    And thanks to those who have reached out over the last year to say I was missed, or to just inquire on how things were with me. I apologize if I didn’t respond personally, but know I felt the love and support, and that I appreciate you.

    I hope you enjoy this wonderful day and will check back regularly!

    Cheers! To the good life!