Janine Urbaniak Reid

in Conversation with Anne Lamott

Recorded June 13th, 2020

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Janine Urbaniak Reid in conversation with Anne Lamott
Saturday, June 13, 2020

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Janine Urbaniak Reid’s The Opposite of Certainty is the story of her reluctant journey beyond easy answers and platitudes. Drawn deeply and against her will into herself, and into the eternal questions we all ask, she discovers hidden reserves of strength, humor, and a no-matter-what faith that looks nothing like she thought it would.

Janine writes about her imperfect life, what connects us, and addresses the question of what it means to love fiercely in a sometimes dangerous and always uncertain world.

She was born in Chicago and grew up in California. She graduated from the University of California at San Diego. She was vice president of a San Francisco public relations firm before she began raising a family, and then writing full time.

Janine has been published in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and widely syndicated. Hoping to bring humanity into the healthcare discussion by sharing her experience as a mother of son with a brain tumor, she penned a piece for the Post which went viral. She has been interviewed on national news networks, and continues her work as a spokeswoman for healthcare justice.

She lives in Northern California with her family and a motley assortment of pets.

Anne Lamott is the author of seven novels, Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, All New People, Crooked Little Heart, and Imperfect Birds. She has also written several bestselling books of nonfiction, including, Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year; Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son; and the classic book on writing; Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

“Connection makes it possible to get through days that are too hard and too long.

I’ve found that the surest way to feel acceptance and love is to let it flow through me without stopping to judge whether someone is worthy or not. It’s easy to give to people I’ve chosen as my friends, and the family members who I love the most.

Yet every interaction is an opportunity to put kindness into the world instead of more annoyance and anger. We can practice in small ways.”

– Janine Urbaniak Reid

All Janine ever wanted was for everyone she loved to be okay so she might relax and maybe be happy. Her life strategy was simple: do everything right. This included trying to be the perfect mother to her three kids so they would never experience the kind of pain she pretended not to feel growing up. What she didn’t expect was the chaos of an out-of-control life that begins when her young son’s hand begins to shake.

The Opposite of Certainty is the story of her reluctant journey beyond easy answers and platitudes. She searches for a source of strength bigger than her circumstances, only to have her circumstances become even thornier with her own crisis. Drawn deeply and against her will into herself, and into the eternal questions we all ask, she discovers hidden reserves of strength, humor, and a no-matter-what faith that looks nothing like she thought it would.

Beautifully written and deeply hopeful, Janine shows us how we can come through impossible times transformed and yet more ourselves than we’ve ever allowed ourselves to be.

Visit the Book Passage website to have Janine’s book delivered right to your door.

You’re sure to enjoy this Book Passage favorite:

The Opposite of Certainty: Fear, Faith, and Life in Between

The Opposite of Certainty

Get ready to join Janine in conversation, Saturday, June 13th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

Feel free to add your own question. Then spread the word to make sure others have the chance to help move your question to the top of the shared list.

  • 4

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    How does faith help, and were you always someone who had this kind of deep faith?

  • 3

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    Who are some of your favorite authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have they influenced your writing?

  • 2

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    In writing about a person I actually know, what are ways to disguise her identity, so I can tell her story and not be sued? She having 2 careers, and one of which is that of a lawyer so she threatens people. If I change her name, and the local in which such and such happened, can I still say she has that as one of her careers, or would I still take the chance on being sued?? Lela Josalyn Rose

  • 1

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    Janine – What advice do you give to parents with chronically ill children? How do we advocate for our children while trying not to alienate medical personnel (who we so desperately need)?

  • 1

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    What’s next for you Janine?

  • 1

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    Have you always bee an introspective person?

  • 1

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    Crises tend to sharpen our focus in certain ways, how has the situation with your child challenged you to sharper your focus — what concerns fell away in the process?

  • 1

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    During COVID-19, many people are dealing with challenging health situations in which loved ones are farther away than they might like, and maybe they can’t travel to see them with restrictions in place and social distancing. It’s perhaps the first time in our lifetimes, where the whole country is experiencing a health crisis at once. People are under a great deal of stress. What sort of things should we be reminding ourselves, or doing collectively right now, to take better care of one another at this time?

  • 0

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    Has it been difficult for you to find a group of like minded Christians–people who see God as mystery rather than believing they “have all the answers”? I find that I don’t have much in common with the people in my church, which makes me very sad.

  • 0

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    Hi Anne, Seen you multiple times in Marin, once on a narrow hiking trail in the hills of Fairfax, with your son. Smiling, greeting me with a ‘hi’! You’ve been a massive inspiration to me in writing because of your realness laced with humor. Currently penning my memoirs of my outside-the-box life. Also real, wonderfully crazy experiences, and tragedy, with humor. My question is…how do I know when to submit my writing for publication? I have 10-15 solid chapters so far. Thank you!!!

  • 0

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    When we think about a health crisis we often think it is stressful, but managing an ongoing health crisis for a child, must be beyond stressful. What have you learned about adapting to living with this level of crisis?