The beat goes on

Jeanne has been faced with more challenges over the last two years of her life than she would like to admit. It all started with the passing of her husband, followed by poor life choices and, eventually, the theft of her prized guitar.

Jeanne had a life many would envy — a loving family, a wide support system of friends and a local touring band that sold out venues, whenever they played.

That all changed with the tragic loss of her husband, which triggered a downward spiral. She didn’t know how to emotionally handle the unexpected loss of her best friend. That preceded financial decisions that were meant for an advisor, which she did not have, and eventually, what remained was just nine months of funds to pay rent.

When that money dried up, she was left with whatever would fit in her truck and belongings that could be stuffed alongside her prized Ibanez guitar. Jeanne stayed with friends for a while until those relationships became stressed and she moved on. Nature had always called to Jeanne, so she decided to camp in numerous Arizona state and Bureau of Land Management parks.

That decision gave her a sense of freedom and energy, similar to the electricity of being onstage, strumming a beat on her guitar, and commanding the microphone for thousands of fans. The energy of the stage was second to none for Jeanne.

“Exchanging energy on stage is the greatest feeling and it’s the best,” Jeanne recalls from some of her great performances. “Whenever I go into that bubble on stage, I could tell when the fans were getting what they needed, and I got what I needed. And then the next song was even better.”

Those feelings on stage and her positivity have kept her upbeat during her most recent difficult times.

Camping across Arizona lasted only a few months because her truck broke down and a wildfire raged across the state. Through connections with friends, she received a plane ticket to Green Bay to stay with a friend named Joe.

Joe had known Jeanne for 30-plus years and had one house rule: no alcohol. That lasted a few days before she broke the house rule. Jeanne said she was having a lot of horrible nightmares and could not sleep, therefore, life’s path steered her toward St. John’s Homeless Shelter and Wellspring. She doesn’t remember the night she broke the house rule or how she got to St. John’s.

“Luckily, the outcome is I’m still here and somebody is looking out for me,” Jeanne said.  “I am alive and not losing weight. Wellspring has helped me in every way, shape and form. First, you walk in, and you just feel safe. This place has things that will help your brain, like puzzles and books. The people here also helped me fill out a job application in the first couple of days and I hope to get the job I interviewed for.”

Jeanne knows and will admit to her mistakes, but her most devastating loss since traveling to Green Bay was the theft of her Ibanez ukulele. It was stolen the night she was told to leave’s Joe apartment.

Although life has thrown her some big curveballs and hardships the last two years, Jeanne is a positive person at her core: “Find the positive or find the funny, that’s my motto. I even wrote it on the front of my truck. It even still probably says that. Even after all that I have gone through, there is always a comedic value to everything. You might need the hindsight first, as you can see, but it’s at a time like this one that you have to look for the positive and funny.”

No matter what life throws at Jeanne, the beat will go on.

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