Proof of Life
Journal Entry No. 01
Welcome to the first Proof of Life journal entry.
Writing more in general and specifically with you is something I hope to continue throughout the year. Like many of you, life has become clearer over the past year and there are many things I have dropped along the way that I deeply desire to pick back up. In turn, there are things I never want to pick up again.
From the very beginning, I have always felt like we are on this journey together and I can’t wait to hear what proof of life will come to mean to you.
A few years ago Mary-K Mullin, a girl I went to high school with, died from a brain tumor. When I first found out she was sick and that it was terminal I wrote her this message.
Mary-K, I have just heard the saddest news and I can’t even believe it is true. I don’t want to waste one more second telling you something while I still can because I have thought of it hundreds of times over my life. When we were seniors in high school we were all supposed to stand up and recite something. I don’t even remember the assignment except that it was in Mrs. Nevenhoven’s class. We all half-ass got up and recited something but not you. You started reciting freaking Hamlet. You gave it your all. I have thought many times of how you didn’t care and just were you way before I knew how to be me. You had the strength of character to know who you were even in high school. I have often wished I could go back and do those years again and just follow what I knew to be me but afraid to do it. I should have done more theater, created an art studio up in our barn loft and I should have gone to art school because it just made me happy. I can not even count how many times I have thought of you standing up and reciting, “To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”. You made me see. You have made me see over and over through the years and we were never even near each other. You lived boldly and I promise to live more boldly because of you. Jeanne
I came across the above message just the other day and then the next day I read the following from Martin Luther King Jr. …
“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
I have been thinking a lot of this “Proof of Life”. Are there areas in my life where I am still acting like that 17-year-old sitting in Mrs. Nevenhoven’s class? What will I look back on if I have the privilege of living to an old age and wish I could do it over and show up? Do I ever worry that because my voice will be shaky and my words not polished or perfect that I don’t still open my mouth and speak? I can tell you with all honestly that it has stopped me in the past for sure. Will I offend? Will I say it “right”? I probably don’t know enough about XYZ to debate this or put my thoughts out there or a million other lies that keep me quiet.
I don’t know what is stirring in you. I don’t know if there is a little bit leftover from you feeling like a 17-year-old sitting in a high school class but Mary K would give anything to still show up. I still get to. I still can. I want my whole life to drip with proof that I am alive and that I choose to live! So, this first journal entry is to stand next to you, and maybe we can hold each other’s hands and do the hard and scary things together. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just can be.
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Beautiful Jeanne. Deeply written and deeply received my dear. We still can. You still are. Dripping with proof. Your words echo off the walls of my heart. Thank you for stepping into honest and sometimes uncomfortable places in this new season of writing and sharing Proof of Life. Xoxo
Oh. My. Goodness. I love this. This past year was a living reality of the verse, “Wake up, O sleeper…and Christ will shine on you.” Eph. 5:14. I’ve let fear and doubt and sloth keep me from finding my voice. Thank you, for sharing this beautiful entry. Can’t wait to read more!
Love this ! Thank you Jeanne
Love the title! Wonderful words to ponder, and even better to act on. 🙂
What a wonderful wake-up message, Jeanne. For me, not “wake up and smell the roses”, although that is part of it. It’s “Wake up, become congruent with your life and what you stand for, then take it out into the world at large and share your gifts and your integrity, come what may.”
Thanks for posting this. Glad you’re writing again.
hit me like a ton of bricks. ♥
After a deep hurt, I needed to read this, so I don’t get stuck or stopped in fear. Thank you.
Wow, so grateful for you and your words and this space! I couldn’t begin to explain how this resonates with me. Simply beautiful .
Jeanne I always appreciate you and now appreciate this. I decided to post “Mooneen step of the day” for those people that reached out and asked me for help and then suggested that I post a daily thought
My children are educated and older and have said that they appreciate my thoughts but they worry that it’s not a perfectly edited version
I mentioned the same thing I’d rather put it out there casually and contribute and worry if it’s perfect
So thank you for this and thank you for all you do I always appreciate you
You brought tears to me again on this beautiful inaugural day…your words and your title are perfect and inspiring. Thank you.
You are a nice person Jeanne. It was a good thing that you wrote to you school friend. I think she would have appreciated knowing that she made a difference.
You have nailed how I am feeling these days. Empty nest…. Dad died at 58 so I keep thinking at my age he only 3 1/2 more years to live…I have such a desire to be more intentional with my days….I have so much more I want to do and it is going to take standing up and quoting Hamlet! Being brave. Living boldly…
Years ago I met you at a women’s retreat. The lead speaker gave a lovely welcoming speech about the rules of the weekend. To have fun, create and grow but please don’t talk about faith or politics. One by one the other talented speakers stepped to the mic and gave there bio. Then you stepped up. I’ll paraphrase from what I remember. “Hello. I’m Jeanne Oliver. I have amazing a kids and my husband Kelly encourages me to do what I love. I believe in Jesus Christ and am nothing without God.” You went on to tell about the creative things you do but it was that bold profession of faith and that stuck with me all this time you were my Mary K! I kept thinking wow she is so kind and genuine and brave! I want to live that authentic. Thank you for being my Mary K
Between this and your recent perspective about the winter season (I detest the shorter cold days – but your insight was great); I’m soaking up the God-inspired wisdom!
This spoke to me so deeply….I am just starting to enter the online business world and have thought long (too long, in fact) and deeply about how I would use my gifts to help others in this great big world. You have been an enormous inspiration in your openess in regards to your faith and courage to create without fear of not being able to first see the end results. In fact, it was these two reasons that I have signed up for your Creatively Made Business course even though I am already enrolled in an expensive business course elsewhere. I felt moved by your art, message and spirit…..and I wanted to learn about your specific artful business journey and in turn, support you.
Thank you for these beautiful words and the prompt to live out loud and use fear as the trigger to move past it and do the thing(s) I ought to
Wow, that was beautiful! I do feel like my 17 year old self much of the time, scared to put myself out there. Thanks for the inspiration.
Your story spoke so deeply to me. I want to hold it in my heart for those moments when I think “I can’t”.
Your words are just what I needed to hear today, on so many levels.
Even as I am laying the foundation for what’s to come, fear of leaving the security of my current job keeps trying to grip me. This is another reminder to stay true to my heart.
As always, thank you Jeanne.
I’ve been feeling like I’m at the other end of the spectrum with “I’m only one person, so what can I do to change xyz.” But I also love the quote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I guess even if I don’t have the power, it’s still my responsibility to try.
Thank you so much for the thought provoking words, and so sorry for the loss of your friend.
Kathy, I love that quote, but also just want to add to it, because one person may not be able to change the world but you can change one thing at a time. It’s the adage of not being able to save all the baby sea turtles, but you can save … this one, and this one, and …. some of us can do what’s right in front of us, and others may do bigger things, but we all make a difference/ripple moving forward and being true to ourselves. We never know what that ripple does, just as Jeanne talked about with Mary K, she may have never known what a difference she made in Jeanne’s life until Jeanne wrote her that letter. You do make an impact every day, that you are true to you =)
That was wonderful! I loved it all
Aww Jeanne, this is truth and beauty.
Such an eye opening perspective. I have often had vague thoughts of “what am I doing to live my life to the fullest?”, but you articulate it all so beautifully. Thank you Jeanne for the kick in the pants to stop standing on the sideline.
Thanking for sharing 🥰 Not sure when you posted but I read this today, January 20th , the Presidential Inauguration Day. How timely ❤️
Beautiful and timely. Thank you so much for sharing this.
Beautiful post Jeanne. Thank you for sharing and being a constant inspiration to me. xo
Oh my, this was really something. I am very moved. Courage has always been distant, my life mediocre because I’ve been afraid to try things, and now…not really sure who I am. I wish I had been a Mary K. What MLK said, too, was profound, but so obvious. Thank you for sharing this from your heart. I’m on the far side of the hill now, and so much of what the world puts on is is simply drudgery and busywork – I am desperate to find a way out of this rut. I have been inspired by your writing to try to really live, to make beauty every chance I get.
I love your first entry and that you want to write more. I began ‘morning pages’ over a year and a half ago (tho I’ve always journaled) and they have been so very cathartic to not have any thought as to how or what I’m writing and just dump what I’m feeling and thinking when I awake in the morning. I look forward to reading your ‘proof of life’ and how you’re showing up with your authentic self, thank you for sharing.
I too am sorry about your friend, but so happy that you sent her a note to let her know how much she had meant to you over these years. I only hope that with this writing that you will inspire more people to do the same and not wait until someone’s dying to share what they meant to them. We should all let people know the impact they’ve had in our lives. I read something a few years back about writing a note each year to the people that have meant the most to us the previous year, I made handmade cards to 5 people that year. Thank you again, for putting yourself out there.
Thank you for your constant inspiration, inspiration that comes from the heart. The most important word here in my first sentence is constant. You are a constant in my life Jeanne and I am forever grateful. All your offerings are based on being constant. Blessings to you and your family.
Omg. Tears in my eyes now. That is so heartfelt and beautiful and brave of you to write to her too after all these years. Life shows us that sometimes it is the ordinary individuals who are not so ordinary and have much to show us. Equally this story is exactly what I needed to hear. So many regrets that I spent most of my life too afraid to express myself authentically and listen to my creative soul. Working to be authentic is so hard sometimes when you feel judged. But I know now that to live a life that isn’t authentic to who you are is a slow living death. Jeanne I feel your friends courage and creative spirit continues through you sharing this story with many of us. Thankyou so much
You have such a gift for reaching right into my heart!
Beautiful encouragement filled with powerful, yet simple truth.
God bless you, Jeanne and your family and everyone at Jeanne Oliver.com.
“proof of life”
what a great platform to write from and about.
what amazement 3 small words can provoke.
please, continue to write. I am listening.
Thank you Jeanie for the reminder to live out loud and not be silent. The written word is so cathartic rather than keeping it all inside where it all becomes a jumble of fear, and voices, that say you can’t do this. I needed to read this today.
Thank you Jeanne, for sharing your creativity, your faith, your God-given gifts. It is beautiful and vulnerable and absolutely proof of life. You are an inspiration.
As your words often speak deeply to many of us, these words really shouted at me. Jeanne, you are the Mary-K in my life. I’m glad you had the chance to write what you did to your friend and that she got to cherish your thoughts before she passed; and that you shared it gives it even more power. I’m now in stage IV breast cancer after having dealt with it since 2004. There are so many things I could say about this but I want to keep my post at a minimum. The bottom line is, I’m thinking seriously about how much more time I have to love on my children and grandchildren, my husband and friends, and to express myself through art. I’m not panicky at all, nor am I really afraid; but I do not want to spend my days piddling time away and missing opportunities because I am afraid to try new things. I was more creative this past year than I ever have been, making art for some dear friends and giving more creative/handmade gifts. IT FEELS GREAT!!! A huge thank you for your network of artists, and to you for being so transparent in your blog and your messages – it matters a great deal to this blooming artist!!!
Thank you for sharing these deeply personal, yet universal revelations. So often we get caught up in the daily grind, forgetting to actually live. I hope to reach the end of my days looking back at memories – not regrets. <3
Powerful words! Keep on saying those words in your heart and mind…we are all listening.
Oh my gosh! I love this so much. I need reminders like this. I don’t want to live a dead life.