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Life and Arts

An evening of coffee and conversation

As a young boy, Todd Jensen attended Roosevelt Elementary and delivered the Burbank Daily Review. As he got older, and the paper he delivered transitioned into the Burbank Leader, he was given his first job in journalism by editor Joyce Rudolph. And, as a student attending Burroughs High School, he was a fixture at the old Buena Vista Branch Library where library assistant Louise Paziak assisted him in finding the research materials he needed for his writing assignments.

Last week, as a part of the Burbank Library’s ongoing Coffee and Conversation series, Jensen came full circle as Paziak introduced him to a crowd that included his fourth-grade teacher, Dorie Beaumont. Those attending came to hear him discuss his newly published book, “On Gratitude.”

A tome that takes readers deep into the understanding of how important it is to be grateful, Jensen’s book is a collection of interviews with 50 well-known people including Jeff Bridges, Sheryl Crow, Ringo Starr, B.B. King, Ray Bradbury and Deepak Chopra who express gratitude for their family, friends, inspirations, mentors and life experiences.

“The more I listened to the gratefulness of others, the more grateful I felt,” said Jensen, who went on to tell his audience that his book is a call for readers to learn that gratitude is powerful, contagious and transformative. “It’s an invitation to listen to what others are grateful for, and then in turn to count your blessings and share them with others.”

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When asked to do just that, hands shot up from every corner of the room as the gathering expressed gratefulness for everything from ginger snaps, indoor plumbing, the opportunity to connect with old friends through Facebook, grandchildren and those serving in the military, to parents, beating cancer, having gone 13 years without a cigarette, and as still being able to drive at night as an octogenarian.

Among those in attendance were the author’s wife, Jennifer Jensen, and family members Matthew Jensen, Bronwen Bateman and Gloria Slate. Also enjoying the evening were Dan and Karen Haskett, Howard, Allison, Maddie and Cameron Alan-Lee, Sandy Valladez, Kylie and Donna Lewis and Michael Loria.

Jensen, a former high school English teacher and film production instructor who is now an award-winning journalist with bylines in more than 100 publications, including GQ, Life After 50 and Esquire magazines, today partners with his wife as foster parents and certified Kundalini yoga instructors. The couple own and operate The Yogi Tree — a studio and wellness center in Toluca Lake that among their many programs offer yoga classes for at-risk youth.

During last week’s event that culminated with a book signing, Jensen was queried on the luminaries he interviewed for his book and those he would have liked to have included. Jensen related that the most unusual interview included a staring contest with actor Samuel L. Jackson, while the most difficult was with singer Alicia Keys because it was done by phone while she was preparing to go onstage for a concert in Paris while he was standing on the third-base line coaching his son’s baseball game.

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“The most regrettable thing in doing this book was that I didn’t have the opportunity to include John Lennon,” Jensen lamented.

“On Gratitude” is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as at Amazon.com and other online retailers.


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