jenny munro

my journey

I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds – and it’s taken 18 months.

I still have about 30 to go so I’m far from through with this journey. But at least I’m well underway.

Thinking back, I’m not sure why I reached the decision I needed to lose weight. Of course, any photograph I looked at showed me why. But that wasn’t new. Every time I stepped on the scales (which didn’t occur often), the numbers also told me why the weight loss was needed. That wasn’t new either.

I knew I could do it; I lost about 60 pounds years ago when I did WeightWatchers at Work. But I had gained every pound back plus maybe a few more.

Actually, the real reason probably was because I huffed and puffed when climbing the 15 steps to my mother’s apartment at College Walk. I did that when I arrived and when I bought groceries, lugging the bags up in two or three trips. I was beat at the end of that. And I noticed that I automatically took elevators whenever possible.

I had retired six months earlier. I had no excuse of working too hard, having lousy hours or eating on the run.

On Jan. 13, 2013, I took the plunge. I found a WeightWatchers meeting in Greer and walked in. That first weigh-in was humiliating. When I came back to the house and looked up more information, had to admit that I wasn’t just overweight. I was obese. That’s an ugly word that is thrown around often. We read about obese kids. We hear about and see obese adults. Now I had to say out loud and to myself – that’s me I’m reading about.

My health wasn’t bad. I did have high cholesterol. I wasn’t fit. I ate poorly. But I wasn’t diabetic. I didn’t have heart disease. I didn’t feel bad most of the time.

My support community became a staunch ally in my weight loss journey. As I grew to know people in the meeting, they supported me as I lost one pound, two pounds. Then I lost five pounds. They all clapped for me. But even more supportive was my mother, a woman who has never had weight problems.

She encouraged me and applauded my losses. She made up a game that provided money as I lost certain numbers of pounds. She said, “That’s okay” if I gained a little. I wanted so badly to lose all the time so I could tell her every Monday night. Of course, that didn’t happen.

I realized as I started that this would be a life-long journey. I’m the type of person who can look at potato chips and gain a pound. My first experience nearly a decade ago was losing between half a pound and 1.5 pounds weekly. So I had realistic expectations.

The disappointment came when I looked no different after losing 10 pounds. My clothes seemed no looser. My shirts were just as tight. But at the meetings, I still was applauded for every five pounds lost.

Then one day, one of the lifetime members said, “You’re going to have to get new pants soon.” What a lift!

I wasn’t going to buy new slacks because weighing in with the same clothes – navy blue pull-on pants and a gold and white top that I bought when I retired – had become a ritual (weigh-in time also meant taking off my shoes, my watch and glasses). But it was nice to know that the time had come.

Still, I was in no better physical shape. I didn’t want to exercise although I knew it would make me feel better and spur my weight loss. Finally, I met someone at WW who said she needed a walking partner. So we began walking at the old high school track – nearly a fourth of a mile around.

That first day I made one mile. Every week, we added another lap.

Then I had difficulties with my feet. Old shoes caused blisters. Other shoes only made them worse. I knew I needed new shoes, but my feet hurt too much to try them on and buy any. So to a podiatrist I went, a man I had used years earlier. We cleared up the blisters. I bought new shoes – expensive ones. They didn’t cause blisters.

Then came the day I tried on a pair of size 12 pants I had hanging in my closet. They fit. Some of the sweaters were now looser. That encouraged me to consider going to a gym. Walking wasn’t enough although we up to three miles a day.

Toward the end of May, I went to SSI, a gym that is primarily a therapy center. Allison, a trainer, weighed me, measured me and ensured me I could do an exercise program.   The next time I was there, I tried out the equipment as planned. Some were easy. The arm exercises hurt.

But Allison told me I was limber. Anything that sounded good provided encouragement.

After a couple of weeks, she checked me out again. I hunched my shoulders as I did the arm exercises. That’s not good and made my neck tight. So my goal now is to lower my shoulders, do the exercises and get stronger. Once again, this will be a long-term exercise. It will take months to get stronger. It will take years to get fit.

But I’m on another journey – a fitness journey to join my weight-loss journey. And it’s one I expect to last a lifetime.



Human are little bits of stardust,  so a professor once told me.

And maybe they become those stars after death.

I believe stars are really little holes in the floor of Heaven

And the light shining through is the love of those gone before.

Daddy, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends –

They’re all there waiting for the rest of their family to arrive.

Before those still on earth come home, the ones already in Heaven

Act as our guardian angels, covering us with warmth and protection,

Guiding our way in life.

So look to the stars, those millions of twinkling bits of light, and Remember love.

— Jenny Munro

autumn leaves in florida

I wandered through the forest

Gathering fall-colored leaves.

Shannon, my granddaughter, needed them for show-and-tell.

She lives in Florida and leaves don’t turn

Russet and gold and orange and red down there.

But up in Carolina (what Shannon calls my home) those colors abound.

So my daughter and I gathered the leaves.

When I sent the box,

It was like mailing air.

Those leaves adorned bulletin boards –

North Carolina leaves for Florida children.

–Jenny Munro

the season

Note: This was written nearly a year ago, shortly after the Sandy Hook school massacre. It’s been a year, but those families and others still feel the loss.—


The lights are strung.

The bells are ringing.

The presents – most of them – are wrapped.

Joy brings smiles and laughter, love and caring.

Then – 11 days before Christmas – the season ends.

A bitter, sad, embattled man uses a gun to bring others down.

At the end, 20 little kids and 6 adults became angels.

Christmas – the season – has ended.

Or has it?

Those angels were greeted by Jesus.

He hugged them and consoled them.

He promised he would be there for the families left behind.

He would wipe their tears and reassure them that their loved ones are safe.

Those families will cry on Christmas, but the Babe will be with them.

That tiny infant, who once lay in a manager, will remind them of the

Hope he gives to them and to the angels newly received in Heaven.

— Jenny Munro

she knows them all

Can you believe it? She knows them all.

All of what, you ask.

All of her school teachers, I reply.

Me – I remember the most important ones.

But not my mother – she remembers them all.

And she reels off the names.

They flow with little hesitation from her brain and mouth:

Hattie Earl and Tessie Stanton and Rita Galloway.

Then came Gladys Lucas and Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Bethea.

They were followed by Ethel Lee.

By the time she reached high school, she talks about one teacher –

Elizabeth Covington, whom she adored,

Miss Covington  taught Latin and life lessons with equal abandon.

And she taught my mother to love education and respect

Those who taught it to others.

Eventually she followed in their footsteps, teaching students

Who still remember her name and lessons.

— Jenny Munro

what is Christmas?

Christmas for me has always been a time of magic.

It’s a time when peace is on the lips of all – even when it’s in the actions of just a few.

The season is a period of joy and quiet, or even exuberant, happiness as the timeless tale of the nativity is told again or viewed through the eyes of children..

Did you see that sheep lose it’s place. It happens all the time in pageants. And towels only look like headdresses at Christmastide.

It’s Christmas trees, the tannebaum of Germanic lore, and bright lights glimmering and silver bells ringing.

Christmas is the manger with a donkey and a camel as well as Santa Claus kneeling in front of it.

The holiday is also a holy day.

It’s a time of reflection (all of us should do as Mary did and ponder many things in our hearts).

It’s a time of giving, the one time of year that people try to think of others more than themselves.

It’s family, those that gather round the fire or the Bible and those in far-off places who gather with us in our memories and imaginations. It may also be crying babies and squabbling adults. But it doesn’t really matter. We’re all in it together.

Children all pray for snow, a glistening whiteness covering all the dreary darkness of the world.

What I like most about Christmas is that it’s a time of new beginnings: We have another chance to be the best we can be.

Let’s try it out this year.

she survived

“No! No! No!”

The voice sliced through her head –

A scream from a woman

Hearing her husband was dead.

She couldn’t go to the woman or help her

Because she was trying to absorb her own news

Her husband also lay dead – and he was the driver.

Tommy, that vital, fun-loving man, lived no more.

She took the news stoically,

Hiding her tears as a secret.

She was alone.

Friends gathered to support her –

Clean the house, cook food, call the children, help make arrangements.

Nobody could really help. It was so final.

Her husband was dead. Twenty-six years of marriage lay cold and still.

She was alone.

No – that wasn’t true.

She still had her children, a son and a daughter.

They arrived home and did their best to support her.

Their need for an anchor gave her life a new balance.

She got on with living. She cried, mostly alone.

She grieved. Her mind roared with anger, diving to the depths of despair.

Tommy was so young and he had so much to live for.

But she cared for her elderly mother, gaining purpose in life.

She taught, continuing to mold young minds.

The laughter came back. Tommy was still part of her life.

He lived through her thoughts and in family stories and pictures.

Grace was strong and not really alone.  Life was different, but it could be good.

She survived.

stained glass

The windows glow as the sun streams through.

The soft beauty of lapis lazuli, aventurine, emerald and amber

Sets my soul at peace.

Arches and diamonds adorn the stained glass windows

That send their colors across my mind,

Easing my fears and worries.

I look from the windows to the simple cross and the glowing candles

And know that I am home.

–Jenny Munro



Stained glass window
Stained glass window








the typist

Tap, tap, tap.

That’s the sound I associate with my mother.

Her fingers flew over the typewriter, clicking the keys with authority.

She typed letters, short and long.

This typing professor handled manuscripts and reports and minutes, always minutes.

Concentrating, with her tongue caught between her teeth,

She set the margins just right.

While she could wield an eraser with vigor, it seldom was necessary.

She typed fast, but she also typed accurately.

Those clicking keys lulled me to sleep, made me curious, inspired me to work.

Yes – my mother could click those keys.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

– Jenny Munro

psalm of pain and hope

Oh Lord, why has thou forsaken me?

Oh my God, please hear my cry of pain and rescue me.

The talons of the wild beasts tear at my body as the pain grows

And never ceases.

I have not defiled your name or your temples.

I have done good in thy sight.

But you have left me. You do not hear my cries.

Is my pain a punishment for my deeds or my thoughts?

What do I do to reach you?

As I huddle under a blanket, nursing my pain, I hear the song of birds

And see the colors of the trees. I seek cool water to quench my thirst ere I faint.

Oh Lord, I feel thy spirit enfolding me as with a warm blanket.

God, thou has not forsaken me. Thou hast given me strength to endure until I come into your kingdom.

– Jenny Munro

Note: My mother is fighting severe and continuous pain as she ages. This is dedicated to her.


Autumn by Jenny Munro
Autumn by Jenny Munro

Autumn is a melancholy season

Or so the poets say.

I don’t agree.

It’s not a sad and somber time.

Fall is a gush of vivid color – red, yellow, orange and gold

Along with the differing hues of the evergreens that make their home

In my mountains – the pine, spruce, hemlock and rhododendron.

No, autumn isn’t the season of dying and death.

It’s a time when the trees and earth sink into sleep, their long winter’s nap.

That sleep strengthens the world; the seasons change and the earth awakes.

Rebirth surges with the vibrant new life, the fresh tenderness, of spring.

Autumn isn’t melancholy; it’s part of the dance of life.

– Jenny Munro


It curves; it expands; it shrinks. Einstein said it is relative.

What does that mean?

As I looked at time as a little girl, I thought it stretched. Christmas took “forever” to arrive. And Christmas Eve seemed to last twice as long as it should before Santa arrived.

I reached school. Now time seemed pretty elastic. A school day sometimes seemed to be 24 hours long. But summer vacation just galloped past, not giving me time to enjoy it all.

Then I grew up. Exams could last forever. Meetings with bosses had minutes that crawled. Holidays flew past.

But I dreamed then. The speed of light was constant and nothing could go any faster. But I thought, “What would it be like if I traveled at nearly the speed of light.” I could get to the sun in what – maybe eight minutes. Or I go could back millions of light years to the ‘Big Bang’ when the universe was created.

Those were mind tricks. As I grew older, it seemed time passed faster.  It took no time from one Christmas or birthday to another.  Deadlines – a necessity in journalism – seemed to roll around faster as the years went by.

But I think, “How did I reach my 60s. Surely that many years has not passed?” And I look at my mother. She’s seen the arrival of cars, airplanes, rockets, the space shuttle. She was around for men arriving on the moon and for the explosion of the computer and the Internet.

Does her time speed by faster than mine or faster than my nieces or faster than her great-grandchildren’s? Einstein said, “No.”  I’m not sure I agree.  I’ve spent about 34,394,560 minutes on this earth. And I’m sure the ones in the last fourth of that time have sped by faster than the ones when I was a child.

– Jenny Munro

Clock in downtown Greenville.
Clock in downtown Greenville.

mary grace

Grace Jackson at about age 3

She is just a little barefoot girl

Standing in the dirt.

But, oh, that cap and the flower she  clutches.

They show how much she’s loved.

This dark-haired child is growing on a tiny farm

Learning to work  the seasons through.

She helps her mother feed family and hands,

She sweeps the yard and slops the hogs and tries,

Not very successfully, to milk the cows.

Despite the farm life and the work

That little girl with the pretty dress and cap

And the mysterious gleam in her eyes

Grows up to love learning

And spends  her life teaching others to love it, too  –

Her own children and those of others.

– Jenny Munro