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Maybe the modern world’s indulgence of the individual above all else was selfish. But in the absence of self-actualization, what was there? Once basic needs were met, like food, clothing, shelter, it was all that was left.

It’s why it was a modern world problem. There were always queer humans. Indigenous people called them Two-Spirits. It’s just that the struggle to find food, warmth, and avoid sickness gave them little time to ponder their inner world. Shelley watched a young mother adjust a child on her lap while controlling two who sat next to her. Humans arrived in the twenty-first century with worldviews formed five thousand years before penicillin. Those world views were clashing with new understanding of sciences and psychology. The outer and the inner, dancing for realignment, everyone struggling to maintain what they thought mattered most for human survival.

Shelley looked for a chair, her head swimming. She wished it were possible to power down her thoughts, not see so much, but knew it wasn’t. There were twenty-seven pictures on the wall. What was Rand doing? She pulled out her phone to check for a text. There wasn’t one. She shifted her suit jacket and then flinched at a flash. A reporter took her picture. In the middle of her brother’s funeral service. The choir sang. Then she was mad.

She left the chair and walked to the reporter, strides strong and confident. Shelley yanked the camera from his hands and threw it on the ground. The sound was muffled by the rug it fell on.

“It’s my brother’s funeral,” Shelley said.

“You’ll pay for that,” he said.

“Send me a bill,” Shelley said and returned to her seat. That would make the news too. She was fairly certain someone else snapped a picture of it. There were cameras everywhere. No one was allowed a dramatic moment of emotion without being held accountable for it forever. No one was allowed anything other than perfection. Shelley thought life might have been simpler if she could travel back in time to live in a convent without running water. It just needed a large library and garden. A small barn with animals and many dogs. No cameras.

And Rand. It definitely needed Rand.

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Die before you die

I posted this meditation originally on August 14th, 2017. I was recovering from shoulder surgery, two dogs had passed away, and I was pondering the decisions that took me from the life I made in NJ, to the one I have now. I didn’t know what to expect then, but now, looking back, I know the lesson of surrender & acceptance I learned during this difficult passage is what continues to sustain me today.

I hope someone else finds comfort knowing peace is possible, even in the darkest moments, when we’re able to surrender to what IS. We may not be happy about it, but with acceptance,we can know peace.

Sometimes, there may be no answers, but we can let go of the questions.


I just read a Zen proverb tonight ‘Die before you die.’

I love this. I think each time we let go of something, we’re preparing for the ultimate letting go when we die. How we die is how we lived. Death & living, like grief & love, are the same thing, just inverse.

Each time we let go something -a relationship, loved one, expectation, addiction – who we were dies. Our world is re-ordered. The perceptual markers which orient us in reality shift and the world is no longer the same. Which is a powerful thought because our perception drives so much of what our world is. We tend to inhabit what we perceive. At least this is true for me. Hell is a state of consciousness. It’s resistance to what it is and my arrogance which insists I know what’s happening.

I never really know what is going to be best for me and I’m always surprised by what lurks right below the surface of what I think I want. I’m often a mystery to myself.

Now, I’m in a passage marked by both loss and expansion. I must let go of what was to make room for what is coming. If we allow it, loss opens room for different energy and growth.

But I can’t talk about loss with new age platitudes. It really sucks. I have no desire to overlay the challenging experiences in life with unicorns. (Like getting a hole drilled in your humerus or losing your best girl, Junie B. Jensen.)

When you think you’re ready to evolve, do something more, change, forge ahead, the Universe somehow expands like a rubber band with you and then, just as you test the farthest limits of your current reach, it snaps back, sends you back a pace or two, puts you in your place, demands your patience, acceptance, surrender and generally, let’s you know that you’re most definitely not really in charge. Then, with time, as you start the trek again, the band stretches with you, instead of against, and you gain more ground.

You can get in alignment but you just don’t know enough to really chart the course for yourself.

How humbling life is. As I get older I find great comfort in humility. I’m fond of saying, “I have no idea what I am doing. None. Right now I’m not a mess but I could be at any moment in the future. I’m just happy I’m packing all my marbles in my pockets today.”

In the past few years, I’ve learned about the uncomfortable process of surrender and acceptance and now I find great solace in the moment I get to turn inward because I’ve realized acceptance is demanded. It is as though I can somehow just wrap my arms around it, pull whatever it is tight, and whole it with presence.

Don’t ever be afraid to just sit with your shit. Once embraced, it’s not really all that scary. Just let go and die a little every day.

We’re all in process

I’m wrapping up a program at Rutgers this week, and I’m writing about Jung’s shadow. I came across this passage in my reading today, and noted how much it resonated.

It’s Carl Jung himself, (though I modified the pronouns):

“It is often tragic to see how blatantly a human bungles their own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in themselves, and how they continually feed it and keep it going. Not consciously, of course – for consciously they are engaged in bewailing and cursing a faithless world that recedes further and further into the distance. Rather, it is an unconscious factor which spins the illusions that veil their world. And what is being spun is a cocoon, which in the end will completely envelop them.”

Almost ten years ago, I wrote:

1. Most of what goes wrong in your life is going to be your own fault. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You do the best you can with what you have at the time.
2. It’s like your life is a video game – it’s only after you clear a level that you realize there was a shortcut there the whole damn time. Don’t fret. Just remember it next time.
3. From time to time something really awful will happen that won’t be your fault, but through the intricate absurdity of the universe, know that this will be the thing for which you blame yourself. Try not to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m any Carl Jung, but I think the commonality of the expression makes me really settle into his theory of archetypes and collective consciousness. I arrived at those same conclusions after making such a horrid mess of my life there are no words for it. In the aftermath of the disaster that was me, I had this profound epiphany while sitting outside drinking my coffee one morning. I took a sip, and a voice inside my head, mine, but different, stronger, wiser, said, “If you made this mess, which you did, that means you can fix it.” Somehow my higher cognitive processes got the upper hand on my subconscious shadow impulses and sent a message through. I imagine a great struggle happened to do so, with ships and cannons firing, while one brave neuron and synapse broke through the barrier, crossed the moat, and lobbed the bottle with the message into my conscious mind, over the castle wall. (The battle continued on for a few more years with great intensity, and every now and again, I still hear the occasional burst of gun powder, but most days, I think everyone gave up and went home.)

The greatest work we will ever do in life is with our own shadow. Those impulses we project onto others, and the faults we see in their decisions, beliefs, and actions are our greatest teachers. The messes we make, chaos we spin, and arguments we pick can point the way to our own awakening. And if your life feels messy right now, it’s all good. We do the best we can with what we have and know at the time. We’re mysteries to ourselves. Jung also said that our shadow can’t be truly anticipated, only met, in the world, through our action and continuous commitment to understanding ourselves, each other, and our existence.

Which means we’re all in process, and that really takes the edge off.

Citation: Carl Gustav Jung, The Portable Jung (New York: Penguin Books, 1986), 147.


Bernard Tolkien Jensen-Kennard, a.k.a. Bernie, Burns, Bernie-Burnsides, Bernard Kennard
Unknown – 1/20/2020 Approx. 14 years old
I didn’t mean to get you. I drove to California to pick up Mayra. You saw me, jumped in my lap, and leaned against my stomach like you owned me. Carrie said, “Um, he doesn’t do that to anyone else.” Maybe she was pulling my leg. I don’t know, but I said I couldn’t. I already had seven other dogs at home. Adding two more at the same time was insane. So I left you there, with a kiss and a goodbye, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about you.
Two weeks later I drove back to get you. I still remember how excited you were. You jumped and hopped and settled right next to me, and when I stood to leave, you followed me to the door. You were going home, and you knew it. When I sat you in the back of the car you looked at me with your vulnerable, uncertain eyes and I knew the question was, “Are you really going to love me?” The minute you got home you knew the answer, and you settled in like you’d lived here forever.
You didn’t listen. You got into everything. You drank my coffee and climbed across furniture. You peed on everything and refused to wear a belly band. (How did you get out of them?) You did whatever you wanted, when you felt like it. You walked through the house farting in the morning, after breakfast, like an old man in a nursing home. “Putt, putt… phoosh.” Deadly butt gas. Despite all this, you charmed every woman you met. We were all clear about your preferences.
I adored you for all of this. I’ve don’t really have a preference for compliance. Why should my dogs?
Then we met Sarah and you fell totally in love with her. Sold me out. Bernard Kennard. (I don’t blame you.)
This morning it was clear to me that your poor little body just couldn’t keep up the fight. Genetic defects of the esophagus. Vertebrae issues in your neck. (F-in min pin breeders in LA.) Prolonged steroid use. It was just time so you could finally rest.
Say hi to Murphy, Scully, Magnum, Penelope, Jude, Junie B. Jensen, Beauregard, David, Dobby, Mabel, Daisy, Mayra, and Ollie. They’ll take care of you until we see each other again.
I’m going to miss you, you little asshole.IMG_3467

Jamis Bachman, Ghost Hunter- REVIEWS

Reviews for Jamis Bachman, Ghost Hunter are coming in. I’m most pleased that my story scared people. Just wait until you see what I’m doing in book 2. (Please keep in mind I read Stephen King & watch Criminal Minds to decompress and relax.)

So you want to get scared? Cry a bit? Talk about consciousness and religion? Fall in love? Heal old wounds? Then read my book and hit me up. Let me know what you think.

Here is what others are saying:

“This is definitely a book you want to read in the daylight hours with lots of people around you.”  ~ Betty

“There were parts I would not recommend reading alone in the dark if you’re sensitive. During the day perhaps.” ~ Carolyn

“This was a perfect trifecta of angry ghosts, murder mystery, and new relationships. I made the mistake of starting this book at night, in bed, by myself just before going to sleep.” ~Cynthia

“Oh, and I’m not a crier, but twice (TWICE) there may or may not have been a couple of tears.” ~ Cynthia

“I loved this story and its sense of place, the philosophical discussions about religion and consciousness, and the possibilities of life after death. But most of all, I loved the complex, relatable primary characters, all on their own journeys towards healing and, ultimately, love.” ~ JaiBee

“I love ghosts. I love ghost hunter shows. And I loved this book.” ~ Carrie

“The author has a way of writing that is fast paced, brief, and cutting. That was mostly apparent with the dialogue. There were so many conversations that I adored.” ~ Carrie

“Ms. Jensen also has a wicked and twisted sense of humor that pops up occasionally in the story. I thoroughly enjoyed those moments.” ~ Betty

“The writing was witty and quirky and self-aware.”  ~ Cynthia

Visit Goodreads to read them all:


Happy New Year

Happy New Year from the Serenity Pack. They were all once dogs no one else wanted. Now they’re loved unconditionally. As we roll into a new decade, they remind me that no matter how bad things are, Hope is never far, and love is always possible, no matter what. We can always choose to let it all go, start again. Wishing you the very best in 2020

Jamis Bachman, Ghost Hunter – The Music

Jamis has rattled around inside my head for twenty years.  I could never quite get it together enough to bring her to the world.  Until I did, unexpectedly, in late 2017.  It took another two years to get here – and an amazing editor who believed in me.

The music I associated with the story was constant.   I’ve created a playlist on Spotify to share with you.    Click below for the playlist – and read on for my commentary.

Jamis, The Music


“Crazy” – Shawn Colvin  This is all Jamis.  It’s her anthem.  There is a great line about control, and I really think this story is about surrender, acceptance, transcendence and the what happens when we let go and trust.

“Waters of March” – Jane Monheit I originally thought about writing this story as a split Jamis/Johnna POV, but it didn’t work.  It wasn’t the story that wanted to be told.  But I always imagine Johnna running her favorite trail, the bricks, the bottles, the shotgun shells left behind.   Johnna more than any other character is fully present.  She notices and sees everything.  This is her anthem.  It’s ultimately what I wanted the story to be about – life, death, and carrying on.

“Life for Rent” – Dido  This is Jamis.  Another anthem.

“Take it Easy on Me” –  Beth Hart  This is a love song for Jamis and Johnna.  It’s so breathtaking, haunting, and beautiful.  I imagine this is how Johnna feels when she asks Jamis, “Why me?”

“Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” – Rufus Wainwright  I imagine this as another Jamis anthem, as she struggles through her course of action, to stay or go, to love Johnna or not.  To let go and trust and allow herself to find love and happiness.


“Divenire” – Ludovico Einaudi  This song is haunting and beautiful, and at times, builds in intensity to untenable heights. But it never stops being beautiful, and I feel like this is Stephanie.  Her pain is so real, it manifests in the physical world and brings Jamis to Sage Creek.   She is at the heart of the story, with Emma, and it is their story that carries Jamis to her destination.

Emma / Carmen 

“Love that Makes a Cup of Tea” – Gretchen Peters This is how Emma feels for her kids and Jamis.  It is the sentiment that guides her actions.   I love how this song makes me feel.  This is Emma’s story.  I love her character so much.

“Summer Dress” – Shawn Colvin I imagine this song playing as Emma dresses and readies to drive to Carmen’s mother’s funeral.

“My Immortal” – Evanescence This is Carmen’s song.  I imagine this is her anguish, losing Emma, twice.  Her struggle to move on with her life.

“A Case of You” – Diana Krall This is Carmen and Emma’s love song.  I imagine it playing while they make love after so man years.

The Story’s Arc and Ending

“Rain” – Creed I hear this song as Jamis drives away from Mildred and Salt Lake, confused by her own darkness and demons, uncertain of her path.

“Up the Wolves” & “Foreign Object” – Mountain Goats I imagine both of these songs as the ending blazes.  Read and you’ll know why.

“This Must Be the Place” – Shawn Colvin  This the song that takes us to the end of the story, when Jamis realizes Johnna is home.


“Let the Mystery Be” – Iris Dement  I think the song speaks for itself.

“Crazy” -Gnarls Barkely Just another great version of the Jamis’s song.

My New Book


Details about my book, from BOLD STROKES BOOKS

Jamis Bachman, Ghost Hunter – Coming in 2020

Jamis Bachman never stays in one place for too long. Retired from the reality TV show Ghastly Incidents, she’s now a social media sensation, chasing ghosts, demons, and inter-dimensional aliens—in an effort to avoid her own.

When a desperate young couple sends Jamis a video of a poltergeist disturbance, she jumps on a plane to Sage Creek, Utah, not knowing her world is about to change forever. Ghost stories she can handle, but a violent poltergeist, a brutal unsolved twenty-five-year-old murder, and meeting the love of her life? She’s in way over her head.

Jamis thought she was the one chasing ghosts, but it seems as though something is chasing her…

Follow BOLD STROKES BOOKS for other awesome books and purchase copies there in January 2020!

Junie B. Jensen – In Memory

Junie, I don’t know what this planet is because it can be awful. Being born and growing old and hurting along the way is stupid. There must be a better way to exist and I know that is where you’ve gone. I’m upset you must go without me because I know that scares you. I know you feel better when we are together. I do too.

Junie B. Jensen

July 21, 2007 (Gotcha day 3/4 years old)- June 29, 2017

AKA: My littlest. Bo-bittlest. The littlest, bo-bittlest of the bo-bittlest clan. Mick’s Widdle Waddle. Bug. Buggest. Beagle butt

I got you almost 10 years ago from people who couldn’t see past your anxiety to understand your value. But I did. I saw the soul in your eyes. I knew you belonged with me. You ran out of their house and saw me and peed on their porch mat. I laughed and you jumped into my arms. You never looked back. I took you home and woke up the next day to find you’d destroyed every pair of shoes in my closet and a couch cushion.

It’s no surprise that as I mellowed these past five or six years so did you. Before that we both left a trail of destruction in our wake. We taught each other commitment, patience, and unconditional acceptance. Together we learned to be still. To be. We made our way through the darkness together and then we rested and just enjoyed each other’s company.

How I enjoyed it! When you were younger we’d walk for hours and I’d laugh at your insolent refusal to be decent on a leash. You hated being constrained, stuck, or held back. (We are twin souls.) I laughed chasing you when you’d talk me into taking off your leash. You always had to test the limits. You were just so naughty and defiant. You knew what you wanted to do and didn’t care what I thought you should do. (Again, we are soulmates.)

You accepted every dog you met. You never resented all the dogs in and out of our house. You welcomed them, excited, and then taught them all how to Dog.

A wise woman told me earlier this week you were holding emotional space for me. You felt like you could move on now – I’m okay. You’re not going to be part of my next chapter here. You’ve got some other work to do somewhere else.

Your little body struggled so much these past few years. Finally, the pain was too much and at 14 years old, you told me today it was time for your story here to end. What a story it was!

I still remember the day I came home from work to find you sitting in the middle of the kitchen counter. You’d pulled the kitchen chair to the counter and climbed up. You opened every door in the kitchen. Had you not still been up there I might have thought a poltergeist had visited. You scattered plastic containers. Cereal boxes and spices lay on the ground. You looked so perplexed sitting there. I was so angry but then I saw the look in your eyes. Your anxiety was so uncontrollable you couldn’t understand what you’d done. I realized you were not so different from me and I picked you up and held you on my lap. You shook and whimpered. I cried too. We were both so self-destructive. Somehow, our own way, we managed to pull it together.

You were all DOG. I remember the time I tried to stop you from eating that gecko you caught and swallowed alive when I tried to take it from your mouth. Then you climbed on my lap with your sad, Bette Davis eyes as it wiggled in your tummy. I told you I wouldn’t feel sorry for you but you still insisted on stretching out across my lap, on your back, and I rubbed your tummy for you.

Thank you for all the mice, snakes, birds, and geckos you brought me as gifts. I love you too, even though you were not a vegan.

I’m sorry for the times I yelled at you for eating my books. I’d let you eat all my books if I you didn’t need to go now. It’s so silly the things we get worked up about. Anger is so silly.

Junie, I don’t know what this planet is because it can be awful. Being born and growing old and hurting along the way is stupid. There must be a better way to exist and I know that is where you’ve gone. I’m upset you must go without me because I know that scares you. I know you feel better when we are together. I do too.

I guess it’s time for us let go of our separation anxiety and surrender to this transition. I’ll always carry you in my heart. I know I’ll be in yours.

I will miss sharing my watermelon with you. Your snores. Your beagle bay – which shakes the windows and rattles the pictures. I will miss the tiny cries you offer when you see me after you’ve not seen me in a while. I’ll miss my driving co-pilot, best friend, and teacher.

I will miss your beautiful presence. Your energy filled up my life for 10 years and I am so lucky I got you.

Today you were in so much pain. You knew what was happening in the end and you peacefully settled. You kissed me and then rest your head in my hand. Then, just as we thought you were going, you lunged to me and kissed me and I felt your last breath on my face. Everyone gasped because they knew what you’d done. You told me it was okay, thanked me, and made sure the very last thing you did while you could was love me. It was like you said, “Oh, wait… not yet! Hold on! One more time…” Your heart wouldn’t stop beating until I whispered it was okay to let go.

I’m sure you’ve already found Scully & Penelope. Keep them safe until we are all together again. Play. Run. Kiss. Snuggle.

Until I’m ready to join you, Junie B. Jensen, I will never go a day without thinking of you.


Your Human

“And she’ll tease you, she’ll unease you

All the better just to please you

She’s precocious, and she knows just

What it takes to make a pro blush

She got Greta Garbo’s standoff sighs, she’s got Bette Davis eyes” ~ Bette Davis Eyes