To My Husband

If you see Jeff Zahner today wish him happy retirement!

Jeff is going on an adventure.

That’s how we do things in our family. Our oldest daughter, Jessie, inspired this family moto. “What adventure shall we tackle today, Layla?” she asks her two-year-old just about every morning.

And that’s exactly how Jeff is looking at his future. He’s gathered up books he wants to read, Marx toys he wants to organize, and journals he wants to reminisce over. He’s made notes of places he would like to visit, sorted through boxes of sports paraphernalia, sold his journeyman’s tools, and emptied his prized shed.

He’s free.

For over forty years, Jeff worked full time and provided a wonderful life for me and our children. Twenty-five of those years (at a minimum), he worked consistent 60+ hour weeks.

I know, lots of people work overtime. But the one thing that sets Jeff apart is in the over-forty years of rising early and working long days and weekends, he never once complained.

Not one single time.

I’ll never understand that in him–his ability to accept the hand life deals you so easily, happily.

I have been blessed to be married to Jeff for over thirty-eight years. I asked him the other day if he minded always being my shoulder and never having me be his shoulder because that’s the way it is in our marriage. Me worrying. Him coddling.

He thought for a moment and then said, quite sincerely, “Actually, no. I like being the shoulder.”

That’s Jeff. Content, happy—accepting life just as it is. That is a quality many people never choose. (Me included!)

I think my children will agree, Jeff has been a great role model. All three inherited his courage and work ethic. Jessie ventured away after high school to earn an undergrad and graduate degree in psychology, then worked in the professional sports arena for years until taking on her most important job, raising our granddaughter! Zak said goodbye to Erie for good after law school, and Jilly, at age twenty-six, packed up her car, moved all by herself to Raleigh, North Carolina, and today holds two jobs and is working toward her doctorate!

Now it’s Jeff’s turn, and I am blessed to be a part of his next adventure. We will spend the next few years partially in Erie and partially in Raleigh. We will also visit our daughter and granddaughter in California, our son in Philly, and travel as often as we can/want!

There will be good times and bad times ahead. (But how lucky am I to always have that firm shoulder to lean on?) Our adventures may lead us to many places. Some we will love and others, not so much. But that’s what makes life exciting, isn’t it? The adventure? And there isn’t anyone else in the world I would rather go on an adventure with other than my husband.

I love you, Jeff. Thanks for working so hard all these years and providing a great life for me and the kids.  Thanks for always being a firm shoulder for me to rest my weary head on. And most of all, thank you for loving me. Marrying you was the absolute best adventure I took in my life. If our next adventures are half as good as that, what a great retirement you (we) will have.

jillys fence(Ps. Jilly texted. Don’t sell all your tools. When you get to Raleigh you have to fix her fence.)



CJ Zahner retired from her full-time job at 58 years old when her supportive husband, Jeff, said, “Quit your job. You’re a writer.”

She is now the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a paranormal element. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon. And watch for her soon to be released novel, Friends Who Move Couches.







A Thank You to My Candle Holders

“First day of the rest of your life…. You ready?!”

These words travelled 2440 miles through the air and landed on my phone at 6:35 am this morning.  “OMG I love you but what are you doing up?” I respond. “I’m working dude! Gotta get these images right!” comes back on the screen.

It’s 3:35 am in LA and my daughter, Jessie, (a new mother by the way) is still working on pictures for me. She’s relentless. Never stops. And I’m so lucky to have her in my life.

Publishing these two novels has been a roller coaster ride. I’m up. Down. And all around.  Putting your work out there is scary. And piecing everything together into a full-length novel? Terrifying. But I have Jessie and her brother and sister and father and you. I have you guys. You are the tracks beneath this roller coaster ride that has turned me sideways, upside down, and nearly ejected me from my seat.

My books are not perfect. But is anything in life?

I’ve been in love with words for decades. I read, write, rearrange, and loop them in and out of each other all day long. But I never really get the order perfect. There’s always a better way to say something.

Just this one time, though, I wish I could find the perfect words. For Jessie. And Jeff and Zak and Jilly. And for those of you who mean so much to me: Carol and Carolyn and Mary and Marie. For my unbelievably strong running friends Robin, Heather, Jan, LeAnn, and who did I miss? (Laura!!!) For new friends Jean and Christine, old friends Jody and Val, my great friends Teresa, Karen, and Linda, my sorta-aunt Penny, my Rose friends, reviewers, editors. AND to the large community of Facebook friends too wonderful yet too numerous to mention.  (And I’m sure I missed someone important because I’m exhausted.)

I’ve been a bear these past weeks and you’ve all put up with me, because, well, because you know I’m not perfect. So, thank you. Thank you from my soul. I’m blessed to have you in my life.

My books are out. I’m still alive. I’m finally an author.

What are those words? Oh, yeah, right. “Do not go gently into the night.”


Cyndie “CJ” Zahner is an author.