Ten Years


Ten years ago on October 17, my partner, husband, best friend and so much more, died. He had just turned sixty and just like that his life on this planet was over.

it amazes me that it is ten years. There are times it feels like yesterday. Then I look at the ten-year mark and am amazed. Where did this time go? How can it be ten years? Wasn’t it just last year that I dove headfirst into grief? And how can it be ten years and I still miss him so?

I will continue to make a commitment to his memory and my grief and loss at this time of year. It helps me acknowledge one of the highlights of my life on this planet. It allows the grief that is often floating somewhere deep below the surface to be acknowledged and loved as a part of who I am as a whole person.

Jim was a unique and special part of my life. He showed up at thirty-eight years of age, at a time when I was sure I was going to remain single for my whole life. He turned that one around. We were a team. I never thought I would meet someone who I was so compatible with.

It is not that we didn’t have relationship issues from time to time, we were both stubborn. We wanted to make this relationship work and we knew that it was of value to both of us. It was more than of value to me. He saw me in a way that no other has ever seen me.

  • I was a person of value.
  • For the first time, someone thought I was beautiful and sexy. (ooh it is still hard to say or type that last word)
  • What I said mattered.
  • He encouraged my art and although I have changed art forms since his death, his encouragement has continued to push me forward to explore new mediums.
  • Jim allowed me to see that the whole world was open to me. I could do so much when I had his support and love.
Jim & Janet

Since his death, I have realized that our relationship was unique and special. There were not the struggles that many describe when they speak of their relationships. We laughed together, tackled the hard stuff together, and when we hit a roadblock (otherwise known as stubbornness) we sought counseling and support so we could grow and move on. And we grew so much together. As Jim often said, “We’re a team”.

Jim was a supporter of higher education. He devoted his whole working life to helping students achieve. To honor this part of him I started the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. He believed that all could excel in college and there was no better honor that I could give to him than a scholarship that was inclusive of most students. The scholarship changes per each annual semester, one semester it is applied to the Arts and Humanities and the next semester it is applied to the Social Sciences.

If you would like to donate to the Scholarship, no donation is too small, please click below and you can help another student realize their dream.

The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship

I am blessed and honored to have been a team with Jim. I miss him still and I acknowledge how much richer my life is because of him.

As I manage my way through another October, I know that I have the loving support of so many. For each of you, I am so grateful for your ongoing presence in my life.Thank you.

Another Year-Reflections

Tomorrow is my birthday.

The day after tomorrow will mark the sixth anniversary of Jim’s death. Time stands still. Time flies. It is amazing that it is six years since I last saw him. It is amazing that it has been six years since I last heard his voice. Well this whole process is pretty amazing and not always much fun.

I grieved when my mom died. I grieved when my dad died. I have grieved over the loss of friends and over the loss of others in tragedy, which we have seen so much of this year. The loss of Jim was different. I lost my life partner, my friend and my companion in mischief and dance. I describe the three and a half years leading to his departure, like a deck of cards thrown in the air. Just as they started to come down and I was picking them up, something else happened and the cards were thrown back up in the air again.

I am still picking up cards from six years ago. I didn’t know there were so many cards. Yet I have accomplished a bit along the way and each day I attempt to live life to its fullest. Some days it is a wee, tiny bit and other days are big a luscious and overflowing with awe and beauty.

I am beginning to realize that I may never have an answer to the question “What’s Next?” At my best I look for the large and small around me and find some marvel in it all. At my worst, I still find I can treasure my current surroundings and who I am.

  • I am not homeless.
  • I have this lovely little Roadtrek to call home.
  • My home is heated, which feels good on these chilly fall nights.
  • Elsie is always my faithful companion, in adventure and silence.
  • I know, oh how I know, I have many out there that support me daily, mostly in thought and prayer. Yet I know you are out there.
  • There are many books to read. On days where I don’t have much energy, I sit and read.
  • When I was younger I went through a short, period where everything was gray. I appreciate that I have never gone back to that place. I still can see and marvel at the loveliness of the places I visit and the people I meet. Color is a wonderful medium.
  • I have a family, sisters and nieces, that though not often heard from love me and support me.
  • And there is always my camera-I love taking pics even at my lowest.

There is always hope. In this coming year I am going to attempt to not be so hard on myself. I really don’t need to make far reaching decisions about anything. I want to focus on what is best for me at this moment in time, in this day and in this year. I want to experience a little more joy, wherever I can find it. And, although I am not sure I may want to settle down. I shall see on that statement.

I now understand a bit more of the statement from others that “you can move forward, while treasuring the moments Jim and you had”. I know that I can do both. And, ever since Jim’s passing he has been very good at helping me find my car keys. I have called on him more than once. This is one of the important reasons to keep him nearby as I adventure forth into life.

If you look on this site you will see a Go Fund Me tag. I have been raising money for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship for 6 years. I am close to my goal of $25,ooo to make this a perpetual scholarship. I have about $8,000 more to go. I have been constant and steady in trying to raise this amount. If you would like to donate, small or large, some student out there at Grossmont Community College will thank you for your efforts.  I treasure each donation because I know about the thought and caring behind it. If you would prefer to donate directly to the college, here is their information.

Mail your donation to:

Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Contributions are tax deductible

On to another year of discovery. Who knows what it will bring. I will continue to follow my own path, carrying the memories of my time with Jim forward. This year I pray that it will be just a wee bit easier. Each year seems to be getting that way. I am thankful for this.

I am thankful for 21 years of love, caring and relationship. I am thankful for being able to have those memories to help me move forward with my life, no matter what direction it takes.

Today I am thankful.




Another Year



Year number four. Today would have been Jim’s 64th birthday. Four years ago he was in the hospital for the last time. I keep thinking that this time of the year will get easier. Each year a new challenge presents itself at this time of the year. This year it is a really big one. What do I do when this trip down the coast is over? Right now I do not know.

I like to take this time of the year to reflect on Jim and what he meant in my life and what he means in my life now. I try not to get maudlin and as each year passes, it gets a bit easier to reflect with love and humor and gratitude for being in such a complete relationship.


Jim sharing Big Red with K-2 Kitty

I am not sure if he would have enjoyed what I am doing now. He was a home body. He liked going away and exploring. He also loved coming home. Home meant a lot to him. He liked to fix things and make things and sit in his big red chair and read. I am not sure how he would feel about being on the road full time. I am not always sure how I feel about this new lifestyle either.

After Jim died I set up a scholarship in his name at Grossmont College. He was an administrator and counselor at the college for close to twenty five years. He loved working in a college. He enjoyed the staff and the students. Being involved with the college was an important part of his life. Sometimes he was frustrated but over all he really enjoyed his work. He liked to see students achieve and move on in life.

Jim at Work

Jim at Work

Since this scholarship was started I have been invited to the breakfasts they have for the students who have won the scholarship for the current semester. At first I thought that these events would be boring. I have found them to be just the opposite. These students who win the scholarships are the hope of our future. They are focused and determined and want to achieve. Each semester the applicants need to write an essay on why they are applying for this scholarship.

The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship is split. One semester it is awarded to a student in the Fine Arts. Jim was a dancer, Hip Hop, Ballet, Tap, Scottish Country Dancing and more. While he was going through his masters program he was involved with several theater groups. I have some wonderful photos of this time in his life.

The second semester it is given to a student in the Social Sciences. Jim spent most of his work career supporting students. As a counselor and the Dean of Counseling he supported his staff of counselors to find some unique ways to help students achieve their dreams. He was proud of his staff and his students. I was proud of him. It was so good to live with someone who had passion.

If you click the link below it will take you to the essay of the student who was awarded the scholarship this fall.

The Essay

With the anniversary of Jim’s passing I like to remind all of you my faithful and not so faithful readers that I am still attempting to make this scholarship a perpetual one. To do this I need to raise $25,000. I have raised over $9000 yet I still have a ways to go. If you would like to donate to help me achieve this goal I will deeply appreciate it. No amount is too small.

There are two ways to donate. You can write a personal check made out to FGGC. and mail it to the address below. It is a tax deductible donation. The information is below.

The Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges
8800 Grossmont College Drive
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799

Tax Deductible Contributions per section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS Code; EIN 45-2692818

The other way to donate is to click on the Go Fund Me picture on the left side of my Blog. It will take you to the Go Fund Me Site I set up for this scholarship. You can also click here and it will take you to the Go Fund Me site as well.

This is a gentle plea. I am not always comfortable asking for donations, yet I know that some of you would like to help and it is the end of the year. Please know that I accept each of the donations with deep and heartfelt gratitude.


Now I venture off into year four. I am still trying to figure it out, whatever it is. I am so grateful for having twenty one years with this lovely man. I miss his still and yet I find I can smile more now when I remember him. The tears are less often. Maybe it is true that grief softens over time.

Ask me tomorrow.


Enjoying the Bi-annual Scholarship Awards Breakfast


images-2This past Saturday was the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College student scholarship awards breakfast. I am invited to attend these breakfasts twice a year to present the award for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. Saturday was the second breakfast I could attend.

I always thought that these breakfast would be slow and more of a duty than something that I would like to do. Like the first breakfast, this one surprised me. The student that received the scholarship award this semester was Ivan. She and her family are originally from Iraq. Despite her and her family’s struggles they made it to the US. She is married with two young children. She is studying toward her degree in Social Services. She also volunteers at the college and tutors other students.

Click here to read Ivan’s Essay

Ivan and the other students who received scholarships this semester represent the best of this  generation of college students. These students are ambitious and driven with a need to succeed. The other quality I noticed with many of them is their desire to reach out and help others. I find I leave these breakfasts with feeling of hope for our country and our world.



Jim had dedicated most of his adult life working in the student counseling world within the community college system of California. It seemed almost a natural progression on his death to set up this scholarship. I believe Jim would be happy to know that he is still helping students to succeed.

Jim had more than two passions in life. I decided to dedicate this scholarship to two areas of study. One semester the scholarship is awarded to a student in the social sciences. This student is planning to matriculate to a 4 year program. The other semester the scholarship goes to a student that is pursuing a career in the arts. It is always so interesting to read the essays that come attached with the invitation. Each one is individual and interesting. I am glad that this scholarship can help these students to succeed.

I have been working on raising money to make this scholarship into a perpetual one. So far I have raised over $9000. I need to raise $16,000 more. I am not a fund raiser so I have just relied on the gifts of friends. If you would like to donate to the cause there are a couple of ways you can do this. On the right hand side of this page is a green Go Fund Me button. If you click on it it will take you to Jim’s page. If you would prefer you can make out a check to:

FGCC (Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges)
Mention that the contribution is for The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship

Mail contributions to:

Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Tax Deductible Contributions per section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS Code; EIN 45-2692818

Even the smallest contribution will help and it will certainly be appreciated. Here is my plea for this semester.


I look forward to the next scholarship award. I am anxious to see who will receive this one. I look forward to reading their essay and I look forward to presenting this scholarship to the next deserving student.

Another Year-Three to be Exact

Jim ready to Fly to Baja

Jim ready to Fly to Baja

This Saturday, October 17th will mark the third anniversary of Jim’s death. For those of you who don’t know, my husband, Jim died from cancer just past his 60th birthday.

It is a funny thing, sometimes it feels like three years or more and in some ways it feels like yesterday. Henry a friend and fellow runner, Jim was a runner, said last weekend he still expects to see him come around the corner for their Saturday morning run at the beach. There are times I still think he is coming home. I know better yet he still is a presence. Sigh

In lieu of a big celebration to honor his passing, shortly after his death I created a scholarship in his name at Grossmont College where he dedicated most of his work life before retirement.

He originally was the Director of Admissions and Record. He ended his career there as the Dean of Counseling and Student Services. He was absolutely dedicated to the students and his staff. Even when people were upset with decisions he made, I never knew anyone who did not like and respect him.

Usually at this time of the year I send out an annual plea to support this scholarship with your end of the year, tax deductible donations. I am trying to raise $25,000 to create a perpetual scholarship where no one will have to donate again and the scholarship will remain there for a long time to come. The scholarship, in the fall goes to student studying the arts. In the spring it helps a student studying the social sciences.

This year is going to be a bit different and here is why.



Jennifer DeMarco is a friend of mine. She was also Jim’s and my yoga teacher and mentor for several semesters at the college. I can’t even begin to tell you how much she has affected both of us and her other  students. She makes them think,change and broaden their thinking. Yoga is not just her job, it is her passion. She is an adjunct professor, meaning she teaches at more than one school and is considered part time and has little to no insurance.

She was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and will be having surgery tomorrow, Friday, October 16. Her son has set up a site to raise money to help her with the financial side of dealing with a tough diagnosis. So far they have raised over $9000. However, we all know cancer treatment costs way more than this.

Jennifer DeMarco

This year when you consider gifting, please keep Jennifer in mind, she can use all the support that any of are willing to offer her. Above is a link to the fund raising site. Click on Jennifer’s name to donate to a very good cause, to help a very good person.

If you would like to make an end of the year donation to the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship, which would be gratefully appreciated, you have two ways to do this.

  • Click on the GoFundMe button on the left side of the blog page.
  • To contribute directly to Grossmont College, please make checks payable to:

Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges (FGCC)
Mention that the contribution is for The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship

Mail contributions to:
Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Tax Deductible Contributions per section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS Code; EIN 45-2692818

Jim & Janet before the trip

You can also donate to both causes. There is no limit to giving. There are so many causes that need help and I know for most of us we have to use our money wisely. My feelings on giving is to give to what you feel most passionate about, but give. If it is a little, good. If it is a significant size donation, good.

It makes a heart feel good to give and it certainly is appreciated.



An Adventure of Another Sort….The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship

Daniel & Janet  Awards Breakfast

Daniel & Janet
Awards Breakfast

This morning, with the support of my good friend Tammy, we went to the Grossmont and Cuyamaca College Scholarship Awards Breakfast.

You may ask, why was this an adventure? I elected to introduce the recipient of the Jim Fenningham Memorial  Scholarship this morning. I know, I am up in front of people all the time when I am “on the tour bus”, but this is way different. I had to speak in front of people in a whole different way and it took courage for  me to do this.

I did well. I reminded myself to do what I do all the time and that is relax and speak from the heart. It helped to introduce such a good young man with an abundance of enthusiasm for his chosen career path. Not only have I gotten to know Daniel a little but now I feel like a bit of Jim is with him also. How delightful.

Tammy, Daniel, Janet

Tammy, Daniel, Janet

It was also very good to have Tammy with me. She was the person who suggested a scholarship in Jim’s honor instead of a memorial service that even Jim would not have wanted to go to. I appreciate her unwavering support any time I ask for it. She loved Jim and I know she loves me. I could have thought of no one better to sit next to me and take the photos while I presented this award. I am grateful for her ongoing friendship.

Over twenty scholarships were awarded this morning. The awards went to all ages and ethnic backgrounds and they honored many different areas of study. I admit, I was not sure that this morning would be interesting, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself attentive and interested in this breakfast. It gives me such hope to see so many students moving through adversity of all sorts to get to a place where they excel in their fields of study. These students represent all of our future and it is good to know they are there, interested and actively involved in their pursuit of education and learning. Many of their stories were  very touching. It was an honor to be there and to support them and to know that this will be an on-going role for me.

I am going to include a copy of the essay that Daniel wrote to win this award. He is seeking a career in acting. The scholarship this semester was awarded in the Theater Arts. Jim acted, danced, juggled and performed. He loved anything to do with the theater. Next semester it will be awarded to a student seeking a degree in the social sciences. It is exciting to be a part of this process.

Enjoy the essay. I did.


                                                                               My Dream

I am a Mexican-American low-income student living in the United States pursuing
an undergraduate degree. I was raised in Tampico, Tamaulipas Mexico to Mexican
parents, but my mom had the great vision to give birth to me in the U.S so I could have
more opportunities, and so I was born in McAllen Texas. Her decision to have me in the
States was the best decision she could have make because thanks to that I am now
here pursuing my dream of becoming an actor. I lived in Tampico until I was 18 when I
came to San Diego for my senior year. The plan was to come and graduate to here to
have more opportunities and to decide if I wanted to study in the U.S. or go back to
Mexico. After a year here I decided a wanted to stay, but first I had to ask my uncles,
whom I lived with, if I could stay for college. They said yes, and my parents supported
me with whatever decision I made. I stayed and would later payoff because of my
career choice.

I think that by just being in the United States studying is a great personal
achievement. My family is still in Mexico and I just get to see them during summer and
the holidays, and I think that is the biggest sacrifice I have made in my entire life. The
obstacle of being separate from my family is worth it because I am fighting for my
dream. As I already mention, I want to be an actor and I want to pursue a Bachelors
Degree in Theatre or a BFA in acting. I want to transfer to Cal State Long Beach to get
my degree and keep moving forward from there and start building my acting career. I
still have left at least a year at Grossmont, but looking forward to it to see what other
great acting classes I can take.

Besides of having a full-time schedule; I am in Grossmont’s touring show, which
tours around elementary schools around San Diego. We have rehearsals Tuesdays and
Thursdays from 8 to 11 am, and even though it is early I am always excited for every
rehearsal because of the great purpose of the touring show, which is taking theatre to
the children. I am very proud to be involved in this great project and I try to give my best
everyday even in rehearsals and help my fellow actors with whatever they need. I am
excited to be in this play because it’s my first play ever, but I am especially excited to be
in a play so kids with Mexican heritage can know that there is an opportunity in theatre,
and I wish to inspire Mexican-American children to fight for their dreams.

For the last two years attending Grossmont I struggled with commuting because I
didn’t own a car and took me two hours to get to school. I recently got a car but there
are other expenses that this scholarship would help me with. My parents help me with
what they can, but I will find the way to keep studying here to follow and accomplish my
dream. If I am selected for this scholarship it would be a big step forward in achieving
my short term goal, and help me fulfill my dream and motivate me to keep moving

Janet & Daniel Officials of the college & the district

Janet & Daniel Officials of the college & the district

To support this scholarship, please make checks payable to:
Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges (FGCC)
Mention that the contribution is for The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship
Mail contributions to:
Selam Gebrekristos
Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Tax Deductible Contributions per section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS Code; EIN 45-2692818