Life cannot be sugarcoated, but we all must take time and enjoy the sunny sideFree Access


Jessica Varney

Jessica Varney

Editor’s note: We at the Gazette are proud to welcome our newest columnist, Jessica Varney. She is the widow of the late CAL FIRE bulldozer operator Braden Varney, who died during the 2018 Ferguson Fire. She has two children and will be contributing a column once a month.

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived… this is the meaning of success.”

I soooooo LOVE Ralph. If I ever end up owning three dogs (or three sons), they will indubitably be named Ralph, Waldo and Emerson. A great American poet. A steady optimist. He avoided conformity, focused on nature, opposed materialism and lived a simple life.

Interestingly, these ideas mirror so much of what I see daily all around me, I was thinking I could convince the county attorney to draft a document renaming Mariposa. “Ralphland.” “Waldoland.”

Who’s in?

Alright. Where I’m headed with all of this is twofold. Words matter. People matter. Combine the two, and this is why I write. There’s great power and influence in the written word. And in people. You almost cannot divide the two. I live, eat and breathe words. They are my flame. Consider yourself. What lights up the inside of you? What makes you come alive? Look for it. Listen for it. Wait for it, and when you find it…never let it go. Let it grow.

Only by this will you manifest the “true” you — the best version of yourself. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you don’t have a lesson to give or a story to give. Everyone does. What you do and who you are does matter! We were all born with something. Something we can share with the world. So here I am, world!

I was born ready for this time. I have lessons, stories, poems and quotes to share. I’ll sprinkle in an interview here and there. Maybe a poll. I’m not here to monopolize the microphone. I want to hear your voices too, friends! This is going to be fun!

So what can you expect from me here in this new monthly column? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t want you to know either! Predictability — out the window!

I might keep you curious. I honestly don’t have a solid plan for this column. Dumb, right? Well, no. Not if you consider what I am led by. I don’t follow the faulty reasonings of my own mind. I don’t follow fickle emotions. I don’t follow pressure from what other people think or want. I go where I am led by inspiration to be. Example: I can wake up tomorrow and tell myself, “I’m going to write about how crippling fear is,” however, once my pen hits the paper, words on “fear” are not what hit the page. Suddenly an entirely different topic is what comes to me.

And that’s what I will go with because it will never be wrong. I’m submitting to God’s spirit within. All that said, I don’t know much. What I do know for certain though is this: I will always feed you words of encouragement and positivity. That’s my game.

I’m hoping this column will be a landing pad for you. When you’re weary from all the busyness of life. When you’re hungry and need to rest. When you want to slow down and catch your breath.

This will be a place to refuel your souls. A place to get you ready for lift off again. A warm, gentle wind uplifting the underside of your wings. I can’t start your engine or spin your propellers but I will nudge you in that direction. Try to give you the confidence to get back out there and be who you are intended to be. Be who only you can be. To help you show up proudly and give it all you’ve got. To help you run this race strong.

I. Am. Here. For. You.

This isn’t about me. I have plenty of life experiences to share with you, but when I share those things, the spotlight only remains on me temporarily. The goal is to get you to dig deep, find what resonates with you, apply that which speaks to your heart … and, as says Ralph, help you breathe easier.

Let’s not sugarcoat it. Life is often hard and rife with strife. At times it’s hard to see or feel anything good. Especially now with the way the world is. So much unrest. People are feeling so stressed and unsettled. So I really hope you’ll visit with me a while. We’re going sunny side up!

Jessica Varney is a single mom who lives in Mariposa County and is cofounder of the local group Widows/ Widowers in Need (W.I.N.). She is also a lover of everything about life — and chocolate. She can be reached at

Side note: With truly sincere gratitude, I want to thank a guy who is an amazing archaeologist. Greg Little. After digging around a little, he discovered me — hiding under a tragedy. He unearthed me, dusted me off, believed I had potential and is now letting me shine. It’s a leap of faith on his part. Folks, some opportunities only come once. I’m gripping onto this one with brute strength and am in for the long haul. Can’t wait to see where this leads! Thanks Greg. You’re my BBF (Best Boss Forever).

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