Just Keep Breathing

Just Keep Breathing, by Oregon Author Jana Brock, was written to raise awareness and share vital information about the effects of losing someone very close. Many books on this subject are not written to reach the reader on an emotional level. So that we might remember these critical lessons, this one has been.

At some point, we will all succumb to death. Before that day comes, it is also likely we will lose people we love. We will see friends, family and colleagues suffer those losses, too. When death occurs, we become a support system for the bereaved, just as they will at some point be in a position to give their support to us. Learning how to best support those around us is key to maintaining strong relationships in times of crisis.

Take a walk down the path that stretches from the present day back to the turn of the 2011 New Year. Read. Learn. And pass your knowledge onto others so that they may do the same. May this book travel far across many miles and oceans, helping as many people as possible.

Just Keep Breathing can be purchased in paperback and in ebook formats on Amazon, Barnes & Noble. It has also been distributed to over 115 book stores in several countries through online outlets and other literary sources. To buy your copy, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Just-Keep-Breathing-Journey-Recovery/dp/1507765525/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424996598&sr=8-1&keywords=just+keep+breathing

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Copyright 2015, Jana Brock, Author. All rights reserved. No duplication, distribution, use or copying of this material without express and written permission from Jana Brock or Starry Night Publishing is permitted. (c) February 2015.

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Starry Night Publishing

Fellow Authors ~

Having done I a good deal of research on large publishing companies for possible acceptance of my manuscripts, I have learned a lot. For starters, taking that path to publication would mean not reaching goals I have worked toward all these years. I would also have to give up rights to my own work in addition to accepting unfair compensation for my books.

After deciding the large publishing houses were not the best fit for me, I looked into self-publishing. I determined quickly it was not my thing, either. Hours turned into days and months of searching for the right outlet for Just Keep Breathing. Because I have other books in the pipeline which are also ready to release this year, I wanted to find a solid publisher – someone established in this business. A fellow author recommended I look into Starry Night Publishing. At long last, my search was over. They offered me exactly what I needed.

starrynight

Starry Night Publishing is not about greed. They are about helping good writers succeed as known authors. This company will handle your manuscript with integrity, answer endless questions and publish your book on time. If your manuscript is not ready for publication when submitted, you will be told that up front. In addition to countless perks of publishing with Starry Night, the CEO is genuinely a nice person.

Be well,

Jana

For more information on Starry Night Publishing, click here: http://www.starrynightpublishing.com/
__________________________________________________________
Copyright 2015, Jana Brock. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication, copy, rewrite or other use of this material without express and written permission from Jana Brock or Starry Night Publishing, is strictly prohibited.

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The Rose Wall (Excerpt From my Novel)

Greetings ~

In the wake of releasing my nonfiction book, Just Keep Breathing, I am working on my novels. The Rose Wall is the first fiction book in a supernatural trilogy. Several years in writing, it is nearing its last formal edit. As with all books I write, the story is based here in Oregon.

Juggling several manuscripts at once, family time, a long bought with (some kind of still undiagnosed) illness and a full-time career has been tricky. But you know what they say about busy, motivated people getting things done. We do.

This work has not yet been formally edited.

Be Well,

Jana
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The Rose Wall

On either side of the resting site were fresh roses. Each time Megan had come here, the flowers on the Lighten graves had been new. Red and perfect, their color bled onto the concrete structures surrounding them. Both graves were encased in a larger-than-most tomb. Ancient and weathered, Megan was somehow drawn to the bold floral color flawlessly placed around it.

Why, after all these years, would the roses still be replaced so often? They were never faded or brown. Enough years had passed since the Lightens died that even their children would be elderly by now. Or deceased.

Her lips pursed tightly as she turned her attention back to The Rose Wall, looking at the niche of her dead boyfriend. There was always a fresh rose there, too. She wondered how long Trenton’s mom would keep bringing the roses in memory of her son. Megan had never once seen Joy Murray’s car, nor any evidence of her visits here otherwise. Joy had been so harsh, so unkind. As if the reality of a dead boyfriend wasn’t enough pain, she had endured the unyielding feeling of guilt that Trenton’s blood was on the hands of her father. Avoiding Joy had been easy since the funeral, even in this small town. It was better their paths not cross again.

Standing there pondering the flowers, Megan was startled as movement in her peripheral vision sharply caught her attention. Gasping, her pulse raced hard. Crossing her arms tight against her chest, she looked around the graveyard. Nothing. Not even a bird moved in that direction. That familiar anxiety invaded her – a feeling she often had here that she was not alone.

She thought if ghosts did exist they would be in a graveyard, but she doubted she could see them. With intention, she slowed her breathing and decided that spirits would probably only appear at night anyway. It was broad daylight now.

“Ghosts,” she said quietly to herself as her eyes surveyed the cemetery. “Get ahold of yourself, Megan.”

The fog was lifting, revealing the sun high over the East hills. Soon, rays of bright light would replace the lingering fog and cast itself across the beautiful Willamette Valley. Dew sparkled on the tall grass in the surrounding fields as the blades swayed gently, back and forth as subtle winds picked up.

Megan was excited for the warm weather to return to Monmouth. A few more months and it would be cool sunshine, followed by warmer days. Then a crisp, colorful autumn. The calendar showed springtime had been here for a while. In Oregon, it often still froze as late as May and the cold rains were frequent.

She turned around and leaned her back against the gate. Tucking her hands back into the pockets of her coat, she thought about him. In three years, she had not been able to shake the dreadful feeling that one decision could have changed everything.

Just weeks after his 18th birthday, she and Trenton would have graduated high school together and been off to some college far away from the overbearing eyes of her father, and the judgment of Trenton’s mother. Instead of those dreams coming to pass, half a future remained behind her, stranded and alone on the very day that permitted his entrance into legal adulthood. Frozen there in time, forever.

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Copyright 2015, Jana Brock. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Just Keep Breathing ~ Jana Brock

Just Keep Breathing, by Oregon Author Jana Brock, was written to raise awareness and share vital information about the effects of losing someone very close. Many books on this subject are not written to reach the reader on an emotional level. So that we might remember these critical lessons, this one has been.

http://www.amazon.com/Just-Keep-Breathing-Journey-Recovery/dp/1507765525/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423542835&sr=8-1&keywords=Just+keep+breathing

At some point, we will all succumb to death. Before that day comes, it is also likely we will lose people we love. We will see friends, family and colleagues suffer those losses, too. When death occurs, we become a support system for the bereaved, just as they will at some point be in a position to give their support to us. Learning how to best support those around us is key to maintaining strong relationships in times of crisis.

Take a walk down the path that stretches from the present day back to the turn of the 2011 New Year. Read. Learn. And pass your knowledge onto others so that they may do the same. May this book travel far across many miles and oceans, helping as many people as possible.

Just Keep Breathing can be purchased in paperback and in ebook formats on Amazon, Barnes & Noble. It has also been distributed to over 115 book stores in several countries through online outlets and other literary sources.
________________________________________________________________________________________
Copyright 2015, Jana Brock, Author. All rights reserved. No duplication, distribution, use or copying of this material without express and written permission from Jana Brock or Starry Night Publishing is permitted. (c) January 2015.

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Calling All Authors: Starry Night Publishing

Greetings ~

As authors do, I did a good deal of research on large publishing companies for possible acceptance of my manuscripts. I learned that taking that path to publication would mean not reaching goals I have worked toward all these years. I would also have to give up rights to my own work in addition to accepting unfair compensation for my books.

After deciding the large publishing houses were not the best fit for me, I looked into self-publishing. I determined quickly it was not my thing, either. Hours turned into days and months of searching for the right outlet for Just Keep Breathing. Because I have other books in the pipeline which are also ready to release this year, I wanted to find a solid publisher – someone established in this business. A fellow author recommended I look into Starry Night Publishing. At long last, my search was over. They offered me exactly what I needed.

starrynight

Starry Night Publishing is not about greed. They are about helping good writers succeed as known authors. This company will handle your manuscript with integrity, answer endless questions and publish your book on time. If your manuscript is not ready for publication when submitted, you will be told that up front. In addition to countless perks of publishing with Starry Night, the CEO is genuinely a nice person.

Be well,

Jana

For more information on Starry Night Publishing, click here: http://www.starrynightpublishing.com/
__________________________________________________________
Copyright 2015, Jana Brock. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication, copy, rewrite or other use of this material without express and written permission from Jana Brock or Starry Night Publishing, is strictly prohibited.

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Just Keep Breathing – Book Release

Death is a harsh reality of being human. Our bodies do not live forever. Some lives are cut short, leaving behind emotions that have the power to disable even the strongest among us. Every loss is significant to someone.

Just Keep Breathing, by Oregon Author Jana Brock, was written for many worthy reasons, to include informing others about the effects of losing someone very close. Many books on this subject are not written to reach the reader on an emotional level. So that we might remember these critical lessons, this one has been.

http://www.amazon.com/Just-Keep-Breathing-Journey-Recovery/dp/1507765525/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422763705&sr=8-1&keywords=jana+brock+paperback&pebp=1422763719444&peasin=1507765525

At some point, we will all succumb to death. Before that day comes, it is also likely we will lose people we love. We will see friends, family and colleagues suffer those losses, too. When death occurs, we become a support system for the bereaved, just as they will at some point be in a position to give their support to us. Learning how to best support those around us is key to maintaining strong relationships in times of crisis.

Take a walk down the path that stretches from the present day back to the turn of the 2011 New Year. Read. Learn. And pass your knowledge onto others so that they may do the same. May this book travel far across many miles and oceans, helping as many people as possible.

Just Keep Breathing can be purchased in paperback and in ebook formats on Amazon, Barnes & Noble. It has also been distributed to over 115 book stores in several countries through online outlets and other literary sources.
________________________________________________________________________________________
Copyright 2015, Jana Brock, Author. All rights reserved. No duplication, distribution, use or copying of this material without express and written permission from Jana Brock or Starry Night Publishing is permitted. (c) January 2015.

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Just Keep Breathing: Excerpt

In the months following my son’s passing, I thought about how easy it would be just to lay down and close my eyes for the very last time. If I could just slip away like he did…all of the sadness, pain, guilt and confusion would disappear with me. I would not have to feel anything. It would all just stop.

But only for me.

Everything else in my life was accomplished by that time. I had two great kids up to that point. I had overcome anger issues and done a great deal of hard work on myself. My career was solid and I finally felt like I was where I needed to be.

The thoughts I was having were not healthy. I had my daughter to think of, and she was hurting too. I was a single mother then and had been for some time. At the time Lewis died, my immediate family was small. I was not married, so it was just him, Alexis and me. Sad that I would have ever thought about leaving my amazing daughter to carry the burden throughout her life that not only did her brother leave her, so did her mom.

Even with that knowledge, grief had enough power in those early weeks that the thought of checking out repeatedly crossed my mind. In fact, I was in so much consistent pain that I actively prayed for God or whatever existed of a higher power to take me off this planet completely. A car wreck or some other accident – just something to end me having to deal with what had happened.

Not everyone has a good support system to remind us that emotional responses are not reliable solutions. Fortunately, I did.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Copyright 2015, Jana Brock, Author. All rights reserved. No duplication, distribution, use or copying of this material without express and written permission from Jana Brock or Starry Night Publishing is permitted. (c) January 2015.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Only Love Can Do That

A great leader of our past spoke volumes about people and resolving the conflicts inherent in the human condition. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Imagine the world if we took hate and all things associated out of our lives and replaced those interactions with behaviors that emanate light and love. Though we will not be perfect, we can certainly head in that direction.

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We know what the characteristics of love manifest as in each of us: Living honestly; giving; treating one another with respect; being kind; keeping our commitments; practicing ethics in all areas of our lives; helping others and truly caring for our fellow man/woman/child; being loyal to friends and loved ones; omitting greed; respecting others for their merit rather than their money; admitting our faults and working to correct them; and practicing gratitude consistently.

Conversely, hate breeds: Dishonesty; disloyalty; greed; treating others with disregard and disrespect (and standing by those actions); putting politics before ethics; using people; taking; cheating; habitually gossiping about others; stealing; causing others pain – to include hurting others unintentionally with no remorse, et cetera.

I don’t know about you, but I can see a little of myself in both lists. Like many, I have more work to do.

What if each of us were to shake the web we have woven by doing whatever we can to reach unity and peace? If you have hurt someone, apologize. If you have stolen something, give it back. If you are struggling with a behavior (or several) that do not serve you or others well, make a commitment to get it resolved. Give. Give. Then, give some more. In the big picture, good actions benefit the people around us. Hence, we heal the world.

We could all use a good dose of widespread love and light right now. Even the most positive person cannot deny that if we do not turn things around, our collective legacies will be a dark planet. We cannot add light by continuing behaviors that are based on hurtful actions and hateful things.

Let us behave in such a way that begins to repair the messes we have made individually and as a whole human race. Only love can do that.

Be well,

Jana

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The Journey to Authorship

Greetings, Friends ~

Having a book-length publication eminent, my awareness of others’ desire to see their own names in print has been heightened. I am reminded of my long journey and what it took to get here. Not only do I write every day, but like fellow writers, I constantly read. When you read a great deal, you quickly learn to separate well-written books from those of lesser quality. Certainly, there are excellent books for sale. Some, however, are not worth the purchase. When writers do not put in the time and hard work prior to publishing their books, those shortcuts become obvious.

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In my view, there are only two types of pro writers. I am not talking about descriptive, expository, poetry, narrative, etc. I am referring to the two main types of people who write: 1) People who write but would never do so without compensation or other persuasion; and 2) People who are writers at their base. Those in the second group can be found scribing on lunch breaks, weekends and even on vacations. They sit by the ocean, around a campfire or by their bay windows, journals-in-hand, just…writing.

I am the second type, although I intentionally situated myself in careers that require me to do a lot of reading and writing. It was strategic, getting myself into these professional positions. Even in college, I knew I would not graduate and then suddenly become a well-published author. The next-best thing was to get paid every day doing something that moved me closer to my long-term goal.

The documents I have written which were published nationally often did not list my name as author. They are owned by the government because I was being paid on salary to write them. In fact, some of the best writers never get any public credit, nor is their work widely published under their own name. Ghost writers also come to mind.

Also indicative of a true writer is the sacrifices they are willing to make to become proficient. After working our respective 8-5 career jobs each day, my husband often finds me tucked away in solitude, working to capture whatever idea that woke me up the night before. No one told me to do that, nor did I have a sudden epiphany. I just showed up with writing hardwired into who I am. The sacrifices involved in developing my skills, however, were my choice. While everyone else was watching t.v….

Several of my paid vacations have been spent locked in my home office with the door shut focusing 100% on my manuscripts. I know I am in good company, as my peers in the craft have done it too. Not for a few hours here and there, mind you. But weeks at a time with the only interruption being showering, sleeping and eating. Knowing friends were vacationing somewhere on a white sand beach, I was hulled up with my laptop, chewing on my pencil erasers and reading out loud until my throat was sore.

There are exceptions to every rule. But when it comes to good writing, editing, and wide distribution of an author’s work, there is no way around it. It takes sacrifice – and a lot of it. If that sacrifice feels like a sacrifice, then writing may not be your thing. Editing won’t be, either. To me, working 10 hours a day in my regular paid job, and then spending another 4 hours each night on my books is heaven.

Fortunately, my years of hard work and perseverance have led me to 2015 – a year when several of my book-length publications will be released. In addition to my nonfiction book, Just Keep Breathing, I have three novels in progress. My first, The Rose Wall, has been written for almost a year. It will be edited in the Spring, followed, no doubt, by a massive rewrite.

Just Keep Breathing took me four years to complete and still, I do not see it as perfect. Perhaps it never could be. Its path to publication included several editors, countless rewrites and consistently reworking my original manuscript outline. That is just one book of six manuscripts I have in progress. All of it is being done in my spare time.

Also due for publication this year is my light-hearted, out-of-the-ordinary cookbook, Recipes From the Vault (Lessons From the Kitchen of Hard Knocks). I work on that manuscript at times when I must put my other manuscripts aside. Though authors must keep several plates spinning at one time, taking a break from heavy or intense composition is important. That does not mean we drop our writing for months on end. Writers….write.

In addition to composing a book intended for the stove-challenged among us, I am in the introductory phase of developing two online college classes. I have done a great deal of teaching and public speaking over my career. As well, I am an excellent editor. That said, good writers have good editors. I never edit my own publishable work anymore. Editing one’s own work is about as smart as representing oneself in court.

A writer’s job is to make any story seem as though it just effortlessly develops. That takes more work and skill than you might imagine. Writing also requires the ability to do thorough research, have good organization and the ability to take rejection well. That is true of both fiction and nonfiction authors.

A final thought to those who decide all-of-a-sudden to be the world’s next bestselling author. Read – a lot. Become proficient in high-level, complex editing. Take English classes. Do the long-term homework that is behind every successful author. And by all means, keep writing – constantly.

If you dig into any well-known author’s past, you will likely see evidence of their blood, sweat and tears spanning from the present time all the way back to their beginnings. It is not easy. It is not difficult. It is just either a part of who you are, or it is not.

Be well,

jana

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Elements of Style

Elements of Style: Jana Brock / Ash Creek Writers

Ash Creek Writers

Each well-read author has taken some kind of consistent action to achieve publication goals. While being schooled in the craft, the literary world is moving forward – whooshing by us at high speeds. How do we keep pace with what is current?

Searching for the next great learning tool should become as natural as breathing. Classes, videos and ebooks flood the market each year. With only so many hours available to us each day, choosing the right writing resource can be arduous work. Even so, our work needs to be refined, relevant and marketable.

Some years ago, I happened upon a book that captured a wealth of information in just a few pages. Some writers refer to it as their writing bible, but it is formally titled, The Elements of Style (by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. white). If it is not already occupying a space on your shelf, perhaps…

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Write Right

Greetings, Friends ~

There is a certain feeling one gets when reading well-written prose. If done carefully, a story can take us right into its pages. As writers, the manner in which we connect words on paper is important. We are ever striving to give our readers an imaginary passage which will transport them to the scene.

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Evidence of great nonfiction work lies in whether it has the ability to spark emotion in the reader. Worthy fiction allows one to visualize the scene and characters we introduce in its early chapters. Regardless the subject matter or genre, writers need to become artists of mental imagery.

To accomplish this in my work, I travel with my camera and consider it just as important as my notebook and pen. Whether I focus on a clock tower in Atlanta, a country roadside stream or the dramatic rock cliffs of Coastal Oregon, I will find use for those images later. It has become a vital part of my research process.

Pictures help me construct sentences intended to recreate scenic locations for a subsequent manuscript. In fact, every state and country I have visited is aptly memorialized in my digital albums. Twenty photographs may result in the production of only one, single paragraph. It is time well spent. The importance of “show, don’t tell” cannot be overstated when writing publishable work.

To show an example in the difference between show and tell, I submit the following:

Telling

There is a long road with an old steel guard rail that stretches alongside its entire length. Steel hand rails are on either side. The yellow paint on the railing is old and started chipping off years ago. The steel is bolted to a concrete foundation which is covered in brown, dying moss. At what appears to be the end of that road is a forest. It is built over Detroit Dam and goes on to take a sharp turn at the edge of a line of trees. If you It continue on that road, it will take you closer to the forest where you can find other places to access Detroit Lake.

Showing

An aging road spans between Route 22 and the massive Douglas firs, mighty oaks and tall pine trees of the Willamette National Forest. Providing safe access for sightseers and fishermen to cross Detroit Dam, this area also boasts a breathtaking backdrop for even the most novice photographer.

Browning moss clings to massive concrete structures that border each side of this passage. Steel railing intended for the safety of onlookers is aptly bolted down for those who dare lean over it. Without it, getting a closer look at the North Santiam River’s swift water some 1,500 feet below may be a death wish.

Chipping yellow paint tells the story of this time and weather-worn structure. Standing at one end of the road looking toward the opposite side of the dam, it seems that the Pacific Northwest wooded areas stretch all the way to forever.

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Good writing takes a lot of research and attention to detail. It is an intensely time-consuming craft, but well worth the effort. Authors who make an effort to master these skills will produce publishable and competitive work. They will be writing right.

Be well,

Jana

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Lessons In Writing

Greetings,

Thumbing through some of my early writing, I ran across this poem. I wrote it when I was still a teenager, long before I realized that writing classes help. A lot. One draft was published in 1997 – a small chap book published by local authors. At that time, I thought it was pretty good for something I wrote as a kid.

Looking at it now, I am thankful for college. Advanced writing and other such courses, that was money well-spent. I liken it to my high school photos. Surely bell-bottom pants and feathered hair would never go out of style…

Be Well,

Jana
_____________________________________________________
Lessons In Writing

Sitting here thinking
of ways that I might
pass on to my readers
some lessons in write

And then occurs to me
I may not be
the talented writer
the mirror lets me see

I write in the bedroom
the kitchen, and then
I move to the sofa
composing. And when

my story is mid-way
not yet fit to read
my brain starts to focus
on things I don’t need

I’m back to it later
when my thoughts return
I sit down to edit
and suddenly learn

My plot’s too outrageous
and words out of date
So I start all over
again, I must wait

For another creative
idea to emerge
I then start to realize
That I have an urge

For ice cream or candy
or cookies and tea
You get the idea
I’m sidetracked, you see

Get over the fear
It is all in your head
your writing’s fine, dear
get published, instead

The lesson learned is
I have to get through it
Dedicate time
Sit down, and just do it.

_____________________________________________________
Copyright 1997, Jana Brock. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication, copy, rewrite or other use of this material without express and written permission from Jana Brock, Author, is strictly prohibited.

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Authors of Ash Creek Writers Move Forward in 2015

Good Reads.

Ash Creek Writers

Fellow Authors and Readers ~

We would like to start out by wishing each of you a safe and happy entry of what promises to be another great year. As 2015 unfolds, we are mindful of fellow writers who continue a quest to provide the world with great literary works. Around our ever-spinning planet, imaginations spawn ideas for aspiring writers. Closer to home, however, two of our authors have completed new manuscripts.

Just Keep Breathing, by Jana Brock, follows a significant event which changed Brock’s life entirely. Though nonfiction, it is written so that even those unfamiliar with the subject matter can relate. This book speaks to readers on an emotional level, inspiring us to embrace circumstances so powerful they can change our lives forever. Just Keep Breathing will be ready for sale sometime in January in both paperback and e-book from major stores such as Amazon and Barnes…

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Unfriend Me, Right Now. A Closer Look at Prejudice

Greetings, Friends ~

We live in a world where going out on a limb can be risky business. The “Politically Correct” of our society dictates that we walk right up to the edge of the cliff with all the other sheep…and jump over. Do not question what society has accepted as truth. Do not research on your own. Just go along with whatever has been published and call it good. Unless, of course, you break from the herd in search of real truth. “PC” be damned.

Being raised in a follow-every-rule-blindly religion taught me that I am not so much a follower. At some point in my mid-20’s, I freed my life of those fire-and-brimstone beginnings. In doing so, I made a decision that honesty was more important to me than popularity. I not only go out on a limb at times, I might well break the whole branch.

I am reminded about the tragedies in Ferguson. You know the story by now. Similar cases have also come to light since. These cases spotlight police officers who are investigated for using an inappropriate amount of force, to include causing the death of their suspect. In the Michael Brown (Ferguson) case, many just listen to the hyperbole, blindly accept whatever the media spoon fed us, and call it truth.

Regardless what side you stand for or against in such controversies, perhaps we can agree on this. We get further in our quest for change by staying with facts. And the fact is, our collective responses to Ferguson was not about racism. It also was not about law enforcement (as a whole) being corrupt. The big-picture issue about the actions we, as citizens, took as the result of that incident is about prejudice.

In addition to all the news I read concerning these cases, I listened to several helpful commentaries on NPR regarding the use of force as it relates to law enforcement officers. Knowing many cops personally, I began to shy away from mainstream news and social media posts about that controversy. Comments on both sides were disturbing.

Regardless what actually occurred in any of the police-using-lethal-force cases, I do agree that our legal system needs an overhaul. I have my own reasons for feeling the way I do, and it includes spending 13 years in a legal career prior to my current profession. That does not mean I advocate for standing up against all cops everywhere. Nor would I stand against (or for) an entire ethnicity. People just are not all the same, regardless the color of their skin or the badge they wear.

Of note in these types of cases, just because someone is not indicted does not mean they are not guilty of wrongdoing. Regardless whether you are the CPO of Microsoft, a police officer or the manager at a local McDonald’s, there are written laws that govern the job you are paid to do each day.

The difference between the job of a law enforcement officer and other jobs is that cops have been assigned to be operators of the laws – flawed or otherwise. Just because they are assigned to be an operator does not automatically mean they are good humans and do no wrong. They are people just like the rest of us. However, in the line of law enforcement duty, they are allowed to use whatever force they deem necessary against a suspect. That includes using a gun. They should, then, live by a much higher standard of how they do their jobs. Those jobs carry with them a serious amount of power and responsibility. If it is misused, our laws should allow for discipline, the same as any one of us would receive had we done that same thing.

Just a few months ago, what I would call a misuse of that authority affected someone close to me. Even the arresting officers’ fellow cops on scene disagreed with making an arrest. My friend is now paying thousands of dollars to address an unwarranted DUII charge and an unnecessary arrest. By the way, she is Caucasian.

As an aside, if you have balance issues as the result of medical problems, you too can wind up with a DUII – even when you blow a 0.00 blood alcohol content, and no illegal drugs are found in your system.

I accompanied my shaken friend to her attorney’s office. He is one of the best criminal defense lawyers in our area. He also disagreed that any arrest or charge should have been made in her case. Despite, he told us that lawyers know better than to fight these types of cases because historically, they lose. Why? Same reason no indictments occur in cases like the Michael Brown (Ferguson) shooting. The law allows a great deal of leeway for law enforcement to do their jobs. I am sure there are plenty of people who deserve to be arrested and charged with that crime. My friend was not one of them.

Programs and radio broadcasts recently have given many other examples of valid cases where police officers had made unnecessary arrests and written unwarranted tickets, and used a level of force that was not needed. For anyone to say that they support every single police officer or every person of color is prejudice. It requires making a statement about people you do not know, people you will never meet. That is judging someone before you know the facts. And that…is prejudice.

Conversely, people of color claiming they are “always” victims of officers is also showing prejudice. It is, in fact, the very prejudice they ask that others do not display toward them. My thought in seeing such outcry from both the black and white communities on this issue is that we can get much further leaving the race card out of the conversation entirely.

There is good and bad in every race, every career, everything. For any of us to stand in opposition of one group or another requires an act of prejudice.

All said, I decided not to put my dog in this fight. I did, however, take one action in response to these controversies. In perusing my Facebook news feeds the past few months, I saw countless posts from people who had either taken the side of law enforcement against the black community, or visa versa. Those posts were harsh, hateful and attacking. They said that anyone who disagreed with their very strong opinions should just unfriend them right now.

And so, I did.

Be well,

Jana

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2014 – A Snapshot

Greetings, Friends ~

2014 is standing near its exit. In keeping with my longstanding tradition, I am pondering all the many great things and people around me. My life has changed so much, I scarcely recognize it. That is a good thing. Mostly.

I started off my year in a phenomenal relationship with the most incredible man I have ever met. His best friends own property right on the water’s edge on beautiful Whidbey Island. Early in 2014, we spent some time there with two incredible people who were also gracious hosts. I was able to get a lot of great pictures. The landscapes there are breathtaking. I took full advantage.

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A few months later, we made reservations for a quaint little beach house called The Nantucket Inn. It was restored from an older, rustic building and sat right on the beach at Oregon’s beautiful coast. Our view was a floor-to-ceiling window where we looked right out at the Pacific Ocean. It was perfect for us.

Venturing down to the shoreline after we arrived, he proposed to me in a traditional manner. On one knee, hand outstretched toward mine and tears in his eyes. I think I shed a few tears that day, too. I knew then and there my arduous and painful search was over. I will stay with him till I draw my dying breath.

My daughter, a professional photographer, took our engagement pictures in the springtime. She does not just hold her camera and push the button. Her pictures are her art. It is truly where she shines. Each one creates a memorial of moments to be cherished long after.

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Also of significance (hence, my life changes were “mostly” good) was the first of two full hip replacements at the ripe old age of 46. I went into the hospital cursing bad genes. They have led to surgery after surgery to correct this bone problem, or that. The hip replacement went well, but my recovery did not. Daily fevers, severe nausea and a level of pain that is almost intolerable have plagued me for most of the last nine months since my surgery. And no one will even consider the other hip replacement since my body is fighting the first.

Fortunately, my mind remains strong and I am highly motivated to overcome this very random health hurdle. I will say I have lost my sense of humor with Western Medicine as a whole. I soldier on.

Planned by my siblings and I, we threw a great party for my parents who reached their 50th wedding anniversary in May. In today’s world, you rarely have the opportunity to attend that event – especially for young parents. My nephew sang with the band, “Whiskey Business” and provided stellar music for everyone. Pictured here are my parents and their two (living) biological grandkids – my daughter, Jelea, and nephew, Ryan.

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My daughter also completed her training in the first round of nursing school and passed the board exams for her CNA. She also graduated college with her first college degree. She misses being at Oregon State University in their pre-nursing program. But she is working on being accepted to her next leg of clinical training: nursing school for her RN. She is also working at a photography studio and has a second job as a barista. Her work ethic is solid as mine, which is really something for such a young woman.

I am a bit jaded, admittedly. But I see my daughter as a true beauty – inside and out. Her very awesome boyfriend adores her and she him. I think they make a perfect couple.

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My husband and I did not wait long to be married. His two grown kids are awesome. My daughter has a great relationship with my husband and his kids. Our small families blended easily.

Here at home on a perfect summer day, we had a beautiful backyard wedding with a handful of amazing guests. My daughter and my husband’s two kids were in the wedding. So was my son-from-another-mother (a young man very close to my heart). A dear friend married us. Our wedding party was the best!

Whiskey Business set up a stage in our back yard and gave us an incredible wedding reception. The band was amazing (thank you, Ryan, Jim, Dan, Michelangelo and Tom). My very talented nephew (Ryan) coordinated with my husband to surprise me with a special song he sang for me. It made the day absolutely perfect.

Our guests joined us in dancing and celebrating a very significant and happy life event. I came out of that day knowing that in the context of a true life partner, I finally got it right.

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As we near the start of 2015, my first book, Just Keep Breathing, is being sent to a local publisher. Since the book is nonfiction and written as a result of the death of my only son, I am submitting my manuscript on the anniversary date of his passing. That is coming up the day after tomorrow. Hard to believe he has been gone almost four years now. Time just keeps speeding by, paying no attention to the fact that he is no longer with us.

On the heels of my nonfiction book, I am wrapping up a trilogy (three novels) I have also been working on for awhile now. They need more editing.

And, finally, my daughter and I started making handmade soap that we will put on the market in 2015. Most of my family is allergic to soap. Because most soaps contain chemicals, scents and colors that are not healthy for our skin, we have spent a good deal of time perfecting our original, natural recipes. The trial soaps got great reviews, so we are almost ready to roll out that business.

There is much to do and even more to think about – especially at this time of year. For us, 2015 will kick off with busy work schedules, an anticipated return to Whidbey Island, and a belated honeymoon out of country. Belize has been calling my name for a few years now. In a few short months, we will answer that call and also spend some time in Honduras and Cozumel. We have some exciting things ahead, amidst some very hard work.

My hope is that even if you do not have a list of phenomenal trips in your near future, you plan something to make the difficult things in life a little easier to stomach. Dilute the challenging responsibilities with things you truly enjoy.

Finally, please remember those who struggle just to put food on the table. We do our share of giving, too. It not only helps those in need, but it makes us better humans. We cannot do much alone. But if we all give a little, we can accomplish a lot.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year from my family to yours. May your 2015 enter gently.

Be well,

Jana

The Sanner Family (Lonnie & Grace – matriarchs; Margaret, Lonnelle, Lisa & Mark – children of the matriarchs; Ryan & Jelea – grandchildren. Not shown: Brock (deceased grandson). Circa, 1964.

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