The Rose Wall – Excerpt From My Novel

Greetings, Friends,

After a three-month break from writing, I am back to it. Here is an excerpt from my novel (supernatural genre). This work has not yet been formally edited.

Be well,


Copyright 2014, 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.
The Rose Wall

“My dad killed her,” Trenton said.

“Did you bite her first?”

“Yes.” Trenton again looked down, staring at the ground.

Visad put a hand on his shoulder. “But you did not kill her, Trenton. That is incredible for a vamp as newly turned as you are. Some would say, impossible.” The young vampire continued staring at the ground, shaking his head back and forth shamefully. “You are fighting your very nature right now. It is the most difficult thing you will ever do.”

Trenton looked sad and angry all at once. “I don’t want to have this nature. I do not want to be a vampire or dead or anything else. I want things back like they were before the crash. It was my 18th birthday. I had everything to look forward to in my life. My high school graduation. My girlfriend, Megan. We had plans for our future together. Now, I can’t even be around her because I would hurt her. Or worse, kill her.” He kicked a rock that flew ten times the distance it would have were he still human. “This is so messed up.”

Visad nodded, “I am truly sorry. I know this is not the life you wanted. But you have to trust me now. Your adjustment would have been much worse if your father would have found you before I did.”

Trenton agreed. “I just – I thought if I stayed out here in the woods, I could fade away. Without a food source, maybe I would die. Really die, this time, like I should have at the scene of the accident.” Trenton shuffled his feet in the dirt, looking down at the ground. “I am sorry, I just can’t see how there is any good in this situation.”

He looked at the older vampire before him. Visad had strong, lean and masculine features – the physique of a stealth runner. Trenton could see light golf flecks embedded in the older vampire’s chocolate-brown eyes. With his sharp features and tall frame, he was sure Visad could be menacing, if need be. But there was also a calm about him. Trenton instinctively knew he could trust Visad.

“Do you have any idea where your father might be now?” They started walking again through brush and vines that were beginning to grow thick as they walked further from the clearing where they had met.

Trenton watched as a sharp vine drew scraped across his arm, opening the flesh. Blood seeped out and then the wound closed up again, just like a zipper. Within seconds, there was no trace of an injury. There had been a split second of pain. Then, nothing.
Copyright 2014, 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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Oregon’s Winter

Greetings, Friends ~

Beautiful Oregon usually gets a bit dismal this time of year. The trees have not yet rejuvenated the life that will soon appear on the branches’ ends, the rains start taking their toll on residents here, and the evasive blue sky is scarcely seen. But this year it has been different.

Twice since Winter’s bell rang, we have had snow events. Regardless what the season is like elsewhere, the great Willamette Valley of Oregon is ill-equipped for Mother Nature blowing through and leaving a foot of white powder in her wake. Both events caught a large part of Oregon by surprise because the weather forecasters missed again. At least, that is true where I live.

These ill-planned weather events throw the citizens into a panic, of sorts. Businesses and schools shut down, vehicle accidents breed on the roadways and there is not enough equipment to clear the streets for a safe passage before the next evening’s freeze returns. The news channels explode with cold-weather preparedness information, which seems ironic. The time for preparing for a snow-and-ice-mess this big has long since passed.

Now is the time for waterside dwellers to be raising the first-floor furniture, moving outdoor pets to higher ground and making sure your aluminum rowboat is tethered to your front door so that you can get to your vehicle once the flooding starts. And it will come. Ice and snow here generally means that the temperatures intend to rise twice the numbers they were when the first flake fell, causing a rush of water to fill every stream, creek and river that calls Oregon home within a matter of hours.

Midway through February, I am hopeful that this will be the last of this Winter’s blast in the great state of Oregon. If you listen closely, you can hear the high-pitched sounds of Mother Nature’s voice, warning us to prepare better next year. Wait – no. Actually, that is the sound of our up-north Alaskan and Canadian friends laughing at us as they easily navigate six-seven feet of snow en route to work.

Be well,


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The Rose Wall – Excerpt From My Novel

Greetings, Friends ~

Here is another excerpt from my novel, The Rose Wall. This book is just a formal edit away from being published now. The work I am sharing has not yet been formally edited.

Be well,


They drove away in a modest Subaru that looked more like an SUV than a car. The dark tinted windows helped with traveling distances while the sun was shining. He’d told Megan that he had a mild allergy to direct sunlight and would become sick if he were exposed for more than a few minutes at a time. This story had served him well, as she was always careful to rush him out of the light when they were together.

As they entered the town of Seaway, Oregon, they could see their hotel rising above the surrounding buildings that littered the coastline.

Megan gasped as they neared its entrance. “Wow!” She cupped her hands around her face and nodded her head. “This is breathtaking!”

“Even prettier than the pictures on their website,” Grant said, as he pulled into the check-in area. “I’ll be right back,” he said, stepping out of the car.

“This is truly incredible,” she said, grabbing Grant’s hand. “It must have cost a fortune.” He gave her hand a gentle squeeze and smiled at her, kissing her on the forehead as they entered their room.

“Money is easy,” he whispered. “Finding someone like you – that was the hard part.” The inside of his face was pressed firmly against the right side of hers. He felt her smile.

Megan placed her hand on his other cheek. “You feel chilly.”

Smooth as habit, Grant delivered his excuse. “You know me. Cool body, warm heart.”

They stood together looking around the room as the bellboys finished arranging their bags and left, shutting the door behind them. Hand-in-hand, they crossed the open area of the living room that led them to the massive private deck. There, they stood gazing at the great Pacific Ocean. It was sunny and clear, the view spectacular.

The sky was that particular shade of blue and it seemed to go on forever. The color grew richer the higher they looked. The contrast of the ocean was striking against the softer color transitions of the sky.

Grant gave her another quick kiss, grabbed his bag and stepped into the restroom. “I’ll be right back, beautiful.” Winking at her, he shut and locked the bathroom door. Unzipping the hidden compartment at the bottom of his bag, his mouth began to water. His reflection in the mirror revealed fangs and reddening eyes as the monster within him caught scent of what he so desperately needed.

Copyright 2014, 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 – Excerpt From My Book

Greetings, Friends ~

This excerpt has not yet been formally edited. I took it from a chapter that focuses on how to better understand some of the complexities of a loss due to suicide.

The more we know.

Be Well,


Just Keep Breathing

The way someone died should not make a difference in how we offer emotional support to those grieving that loss. But sometimes it does matter – a lot. Like everything we do not understand, by learning a little more about it we can minimize damage and better help.

Suicide is a type of loss that, when discussed, can shut down a conversation entirely. Generally speaking, humans are extremely uncomfortable at the slightest mention. I understand. I felt that same way before my son died.

I now see a problem with that level of discomfort, in addition to the stigma that society has created about suicides. Because these types of deaths are so difficult in conversation, those close to the deceased do not feel as though they have the same opportunity to share memories of their loved ones as, say, someone whose family member died in a car accident. Why is that? Should I not grieve my son because he committed suicide? Should I remember his entire 22-year life here by his final action?

Keeping in mind that no one would have ever chosen this nightmare, we can do better than we have in the past. For many reasons, it is necessary to have a direct conversation about suicide and its aftermath.

In the case of losses due to suicide, the bereaved have a double blow. Not only did they lose someone close, but they have to deal with a very high level of judgment from others. It is not always direct, but it makes it way back around. Several times after my son’s death, a few people expressed how sorry they were that my son was not going to heaven. I heard it directly, and a few times indirectly. I believe that is beyond cruel. I have also heard, “What kind of family did Lewis have that he would do something like that?” Excruciating emotional pain with a side order of judgment. I would not have heard those harsh remarks had my son died by accident.

Because of Lewis’ choice to leave his life here, I am more aware of the stigma surrounding suicide. In many ways, it is highly misunderstood by the masses. I believe this is because as humans, we feel the need to label every situation and assign it a meaning that makes sense to us. Regarding suicide, that label says that every single person who dies by his or her own hand must have some sort of mental illness, even in cases where there is no medical record or other evidence to substantiate it. And why do we feel it necessary to diagnose a dead person, anyway? It seems ludicrous to me. Having studied psychology, I understand how it came to be this way. But remember, the world used to be flat, and people were stoned for saying otherwise.

After someone voluntarily ends their life, that person is deceased. Because they are gone, they cannot participate or offer any information to support any kind of diagnosis one way or other. If they had a history of mental illness and that contributed to their choice to die, then that is one thing. But that is simply not the case with everyone.

I would submit that some people, in a moment of time, become too overwhelmed by the circumstances that exist in their lives and they simply cannot see their way around their situation. That said, I know that I have absolutely no qualification as an expert in the area of what causes a person to choose to die. Why is that? Because I am still alive, and that means I have never experienced suicide. For that reason, I cannot possibly be an expert on why people choose in a moment of time to end their lives. I believe that same way for all people who are still living today. If we are here, we did not die by our own hand. So, how can we speak to why people do it?

On behalf of the people like me who have lost someone close to them as the result of suicide, especially if it was their own child, my wish is that you have the same compassion as you would for anyone suffering any other kind of significant loss. The bereaved who lost someone to suicide are struggling with thoughts and feelings that are so harsh even the strong among us would buckle under the emotional weight. We can choose to judge the survivors and even say harsh things about the deceased. Or, we can focus on the fact that their loss caused them a severe amount of pain. We can also be of assistance in their healing process. That cannot be done by placing blame, judging, saying the deceased was selfish and cowardly, or feeding into this idea that everyone who commits suicide was mentally ill.

Those left in the wake of this type of loss need to believe that they are not being judged. They need to process the death itself without more difficulties being placed on them. They do not need to hear unkind and harsh beliefs and opinions about where their loved one’s soul may have gone from here. What they need is sincere and heartfelt compassion. Compassion in this context need not include someone’s personal religious beliefs or their opinions about the final action of the deceased.

Copyright 2013, 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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The Rose Wall – Excerpt From My Novel

Greetings, Friends ~

Finishing two books at once is difficult and time-consuming, but by year’s end this work will be counted as two of my biggest accomplishments. Here is an excerpt from my novel, which is based in Oregon. This work has not yet been formally edited.

Thank you most sincerely for reading my work and sharing these excerpts. Your support means a great deal to me.

Be well,

The Rose Wall (Excerpt)

After the accident, her carefully-planned dreams were shattered. Megan thought that if there was a god, he was a cruel being and intended a severe consequence for loving Trenton Murray. Six weeks shy of high school graduation, her future was consumed by a fiery inferno where the souls of her boyfriend and father would remain forever.

Determined to avoid attention that the rising tummy of a small town teen would attract, Megan had stayed out of sight those nine months. Trenton’s mother would hate her all the more if she’d known of the pregnancy.

The bitter and cruel Joy Murray. Megan had often wondered how her boyfriend turned out so well, given the bitter ways of his mom. Judgmental and harsh, Joy’s interpretation of religion left no room for tolerance of those around her who did not believe as she did. Premarital sex would have been the worst imaginable sin, had she known. Aiden’s existence would have sent her holiness right over the edge.

Megan would not have it. The secret of she and Trenton’s son would be kept, and the story that Aiden had come to them as the result of a deceased family member would be told a thousand more times. There was truth to their tale, in some ways.

Before his death, Trenton had joked with Megan, mimicking his mother’s unkind words, “That girl does not come from a grounded family, Trenton. Why don’t you get to know the Johnson girl? She likes you, and she is in church every Sunday.”

Smiling, Megan recalled Trenton making her laugh as he keyed his voice up and down, trying to sound as condescending and bitter as his mother. There was irony in Joy Murray’s name. She was anything but joyful.

The smile left her face as aging pain turned everything cold. Joy had made it clear to anyone who would listen that small-town Megan Banks would never be good enough for her son. Sighing heavily, Megan’s memory recounted the bitter scowl of that hateful woman after the memorial service. She would always blame Megan for Trenton’s death.

Megan’s eyes wandered back to the sleeping child that Joy Murray would never know. Sweet, young Aiden. His dark hair mimicked that of his father and maternal grandmother. In certain light, evidence of Megan’s red hair danced atop Aiden’s head. But the resemblance to Trenton was strong and uncanny, even at this tender age.


Copyright 2013, 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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Melva, At DMV

Greetings, Friends ~

While waiting at DMV some years ago, I noticed a woman waiting to be called to the counter. Her very presence told a story, so I wrote a poem about her for a 2002 Writer’s Market short poetry contest. Here it is.

Be Well,


Melva at DMV

Across the room
she sits, reading
brown pages tattered
dying text

Dime store shoes soil the carpet
nervously, she shifts
Cigarettes visible
a thin shirt pocket

One ring evidenced
happier times
face flush
unmistakably, liquor

Unnoticed by others
I study her
until, “Melva”?
a second call

Closing her book, she rises
smooth as habit
sadness lifts itself
and quietly follows.

Copyright 2002, 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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The Rose Wall – Excerpt From My Novel

Greetings, Friends ~

Many know that I am finishing my book, Just Keep Breathing. Because of the difficult subject matter of that nonfiction book, I sometimes switch back to working on a trilogy of novels I am writing. Actually, I nearly finished the writing of my first novel last summer, but then set it aside to work on Just Keep Breathing. I have a lot of plates in the air right now with my unfinished books. I need to buckle down and get them finished, edited and out the door to a publisher. So very many things to do. Writing books is more difficult than I imagined it would be, but I am a perfectionist and do not want to send them out if they are not written to a high standard.

The first of my 3 novels-in-progress is called, The Rose Wall. I began writing it about five years ago – have set it down for years at a time. This entire supernatural trilogy is based here in Oregon. Here is a small excerpt from a graveyard scene. This work has not yet been formally edited.

Be Well,

The Rose Wall (Excerpt From My Novel)

On either side of their resting site were fresh roses. Each time Megan had come here, the flowers on the Lighten graves had been new. Red. Perfect. Their grave was a large tomb and looked as ancient as it must have been. Why, after all these years, would the roses be replaced so often? They were never faded or brown. Enough years had passed since these graves were placed that even the Lightens’ children would have been deceased by now.

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 otherwise.

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.

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 on the beautiful Willamette Valley. Dew sparkled on the tall grass in the fields surrounding the cemetery.

Megan was excited for the warm weather to return to Monmouth. Just a few more months and it would be cool sunshine, followed by the heat. Then a crisp, colorful fall. 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 still 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, they 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.

Copyright 2013, 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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Things I Do Not Do Well

Greetings, Friends ~

I am told I do a lot of things well, but sleeping is not one of them. To be one of those people who can sleep through the waking city, right past the sunrise and straight to 10:00 a.m. – that would be heavenly. But I cannot remember a time when any night lasted that long for me, at least not from the view of my bed.

I know I am in good company. Friends on Facebook are up at the witching hour every single night. Thinking to myself as I scroll through my news feed, “What on earth are you doing up at this hour?” And then I realize…I am up too. Night after night, tossing and turning, chasing the Sandman through a labyrinth of dream lands one should only experience while asleep. He is elusive, cruel and obviously on his way to someone else’s bedroom. If I ever catch him, he and I will have a little chat.

Truth be told, sleep is not the only thing I don’t do well. I am not good at politics, being a respecter of persons, or playing career games. I am that professional woman at the table who mentally rolls her eyes when someone walks in the room and wants immediate respect based on their status. I once left when the President of the United States came into a place where me and my colleagues were hard at work. We were told he was coming. From that moment on, I was busy planning my escape route and intended to give a much-needed bathroom break as my excuse. On the scene of one of America’s biggest disasters, I was there to serve the people who had lost everything in the wake of a bad storm. I had little interest in joining my colleagues to swoon over a man I did not know and had no desire to meet. It did not matter that he was America’s leader. That did not make him a good person, in my view. Fortunately, I know myself well enough to realize when the lock between my brain and mouth is about to malfunction. In those instances, it is best I excuse myself, as this will avoid a speedy end to a good career.

The same holds true for people who think they can bypass being kind to others just because they hold high positions in their companies or agencies, have earned high college degrees or are monetarily wealthy. Don’t get me wrong. There are many good people who have accomplished those things. I know and respect several. But they are not worthy humans because of their studies, advancement at work or political positions. They are worthy of my respect because of how they treat others. It has nothing to do with whatever title or acronym follows their name on a signature block.

Other things I do not do well include: Flying without a plane (to be fair, I’ve never tried this); texting with auto correct turned on; dealing with stress related to financial difficulties; shopping for clothes that match; and keeping up with a too-crowded social schedule.

I also do not excel at being in a situation where many small children are present. They seem a bit alien-like to me. Those little nuggets are noisy, and sometimes they smell. Of course, any tiny human is a blessing and some of them are pretty darn cute. But being around a herd of them gathered in one place is just not where I personally shine. I do much better with teenagers and older kids.

The full list of things I do not do well would be long and arduous to type. Suffice it to say that I choose to focus on those things I am good at, like working; keeping countless plates in the air all spinning at once; cooking; loving passionately; standing up against wrongdoings; recovering from difficult things; supporting my daughter; and writing. I am also pretty good about leaving the employees at Wal-Mart in a better mood than when I first arrived. I am not always successful, but I give myself points for at least making the effort.

Be well,


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Just Keep Breathing


Having lost my only son over 2 years ago to suicide, I have struggled with writing a book intended to help others who are forced through this horrific experience.

Once I began to accept the loss, I felt utterly alone. I would have done anything, paid any price and gone anywhere just to escape my emotional pain and the reality of what had occurred. I was desperate to talk to someone who, by experience, truly understood. I searched for publications that other surviving parents had written that resonated with me, but I could find none. My counselors relied on textbook explanations and advice which, however well-intended, was also not helpful in my case initially.

And so, I started writing my own book so that other survivors of severely traumatic losses might discover even one ray of hope that their pain and desperation for help would ease with time. I soon realized why so few surviving parents have been able to finish books on this topic.

For those left to deal with the harsh realities that exist in the aftermath of a child who chose to leave this life, the pain of writing it all down in a publishable work is simply too great. I am doing it anyway.

My book is called, “Just Keep Breathing.” Here is the book’s Introduction.



Just Keep Breathing
Author: Jana Brock


On December 30, 2010, just before the birth of the New Year, I joined a club. It is exclusive and mysterious. Few participate. When your name is called to step forward, the light disappears from the room. Everything falls dark and silent.

Once in, you search endlessly for someone who understands the qualifiers for membership – anyone who can help you wrap your mind around how you wound up here. You beg and plead aloud, every moment, to be taken out of the club. But no one can remove you and put you back in the mainstream again. Your name was placed on a list, and it cannot be unwritten.

This is not one of those swanky places where waitresses come around with cocktails. There is no welcome mat at the entrance, no greeters at the door. The rules of this club are strict, and the consequences of breaking them are severe and painful. You have to learn quickly, because no qualified person is there to explain these rules or how to behave, what to say and what not to say. How to feel or how to escape feeling.

Though people are all around you, they are not part of your group. Your very membership now separates you from connecting with almost every person you have known or been close with in your life. They try, but they can no longer reach you.

When you join, your senses become heightened. People in this club experience a level of emotional pain that most humans cannot fathom prior to membership. There is no way around it. You are forced through it.

The door that separates the rest of the world from the club is a heavy, dark curtain – a veil that will not lift. The sun rises there, but its members do not see it as they once did. For those who search for the light it is an uphill climb, a constant battle requiring actions that defy the very nature of human emotions. It is a long and painful journey from the club’s entrance back to the light. Some never make it back.

Nonmembers are fearful to even talk about the club, or the event that led a person to membership. There is no escape. You cannot pay someone to let you out. Your membership card will never expire. You are stuck here, trying to find others.

There are no others.


Copyright 2013, 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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Grownups And Growndowns

Greetings, Friends ~

My in-transit career means being behind the wheel – a lot. I’m not complaining. I like to drive, especially here in the beautiful state where I live. Oregon bleeds beauty in its nature, and the blessing of that scenery is given freely.

During the many hours on my way to somewhere, I get to observe a lot of different methods of driving. Many drivers are polite, but they sometimes get overshadowed by the mass of rude and belligerent people who act like they are so important that their presence is required at their destination immediately. Tailgaters come to mind.

I was driving a state car which unfortunately is well-marked (hence, well-identified as a target on the backs of all hardworking public servants). A car behind me was tailgating me so closely that I was being vehicularly harassed by him. In my rearview mirror I could see him ranting, throwing up his hands, flipping me off and swerving back and forth to try to get me to break the speed limit, which I dutifully obey whenever in a government rig. He was not a grownup. He was growing down.

The same thing occurred just a few days later. Different guy, different car, same type of situation. This guy, however, was weaving in and out of 3 lanes of traffic, harassing everyone and coming up fast behind me. As is my habit when I encounter such a dimwit, I searched for a spot to pull over and let this very important person go around. Before I had the chance to let him by, he swerved around me, threw something at my vehicle as he passed (which hit my car) and continued ahead to give the other drivers ahead a hard time. He was growing down too.

There are countless stories of road rage and other bad driving behaviors. I have decided to count them all as blessings. Those instances give me a chance to practice my big-girl, grownup response, which is to just wish them well as they continue past me. I also say a little prayer for others they come upon, that they might display patience and realize that acting in-kind will do nothing but put more negativity into the world. Reacting to such situations could get someone hurt. After all, anyone behind the wheel of a car who is acting like a growndown is treating his vehicle as a weapon. We grownups need to be smart about reacting to that kind of danger.

The more tense society seems to get, the more opportunities we have to shake the web in a positive way. Maintaining our grownup posture when others well over the age line of adulthood behave as out-of-control children diffuses the situation and keeps us out of harm’s way.

Be well,


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The Elusive Sandman

Greetings, friends ~

Most people are, at this moment, tucked away in their warm beds sleeping peacefully and preparing themselves for a productive tomorrow. But not me. It is midnight here in the Garden of Good and Evil, and that means it is thinking time.

This fascinating brain of mine is busy mulling over an impossible work to-do list, next month’s budget, missing my at-college daughter, holiday planning, and how to reorganize the ever-shifting chapters of my book (Just Keep Breathing). Will I EVER get it finished? There is much to be done.

Laying in my bed with my eyes closed does not get me closer to my goals. Even medication cannot override the presentation of things I have yet to do. It is like a list with bullet points of never-ending chores and it lives in a filing cabinet in my brain. The drawer containing the things I must accomplish never closes. Like a worn-out recording, these “must-do” items roll around in my head until I get up, get dressed and start making progress toward their completion. Even though I often get to sleep well into the very late hours of each night, coffee is usually brewing by 4 a.m. each morning and I’m at it again.

How did life get this busy? One day folds into the next, building weeks that turn into months of “all-I-did-was-work.” It was just Springtime yesterday, wasn’t it? Summer flew right by, and Fall is now heavy in progress. Were it not for the trees turning to bright shades of yellows, oranges and reds, I would not even have realized the arrival of Oregon’s most beautiful time of the year.

In addition to the many projects I am balancing, the stress of life these past few years does not not play well with my need for sleep. But the glass is always half-full here in my over-productive corner of the world. I accomplish more by each midnight hour than many people do all week. At least I will have something to show for my workaholic nature.

Perhaps the Sandman will only be content here when my time on this planet expires. The final tick of the clock will summon him, and he will then stay awhile. Until that day comes (many years from now), there is work to be done. I’ll do it – I wasn’t sleeping anyway. As the old saying goes, “I can sleep when I die.”

Be well,


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Making A Difference In A Complex World

Greetings. friends ~

Lately, I have been focusing on the fact that positive thinking will get me much further than negative thinking ever will. That does not mean that I ignore the injustices occurring in our world, especially that which I can affect. It just means that I choose to always find a way to do my part to contribute to the greater good, rather than complaining without offering any solution.

Media, politics, medical care, and the ever-rising financial hits to those middle-class folks like me seem to weigh heavier today than just a few years ago. I believe that there is too much greed now in America. What can I do to ensure this ill behavior does not continue?

I can refuse to participate. Imagine what could happen if we, as American citizens, stopped buying anything that is overpriced and can be purchased elsewhere for a reasonable amount. It takes a bit of effort now, but changes for the greater good always do.

Just last night, I went to a local, popular hardware store to purchase a few light bulbs that are not a standard size. They were priced $7.99 for two, which I knew was outrageous. The man I am dating was with me and I refused to make the purchase, stating that I know these bulbs are much cheaper a few miles away at a different store. It was going to cost a bit more in fuel and take another 30 minutes out of our day, but it was in line with my new commitment not to participate in consumer gouging. Down the road a few miles, we found those same bulbs at $4.99 for twice as many. Rather than paying an obscene $4 per bulb at the expensive hardware store, I paid $1.25 per bulb.

If every one of us did this on items we purchase, that would force fair prices to return. My wish is that each of us can stop saying that we cannot make a difference. We can, individually and together as a community.

Always, when people join together for the greater good, positive changes occur.

Be well,


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Just Keep Breathing – Excerpt From My Book

Greetings, Friends ~

Though the whirlwind of my career and commitments seems consuming lately, I am still writing. It is hard work finalizing a book, especially given the topic. I am doing it anyway. The most difficult writing is behind me, and I am focused more now on the positive messages of light and hope for recovery from such traumatic incidents. That is a good place to be.

This is an excerpt from one of the more difficult chapters. It is not yet formally edited.

Be well,

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Final Arrangements

On New Year’s Day 2011, two days after learning of my son’s death, I sat in a funeral home wondering how I wound up here. There were coffins and urns surrounding the table where my mother, sister, daughter and I had been seated. I remember it as the darkest and most surreal place I had ever been. I was told later it was very nice. I do not remember it that way.

Unable to do much of anything on my own, I could not have driven myself. I was unable to make the appointment or even see a reason to show up. My family had explained to me that there were decisions to be made, papers to sign, and cash to be fronted. For this, we had to meet with the funeral director and take care of those pressing matters. In his line of work, it was another day at the office. To me, it was the worst parental torture I could have ever imagined.

We were in a room that was like a shopping center for the dead. The smells were all wrong. The death-like displays seemed to purposefully taunt me, almost jumping off the walls. And it was horrifying knowing my son lay lifeless behind one of the closed doors down the haunted hallway within my view.

As we sat there in what I remember as “the coffin room”, the funeral director spoke. I am told he was gentle, but direct. Regardless, I received his words as a series of emotional assaults, one after another. I wanted no part of engaging with him for any reason.

In heavy grief herself, Annette looked at me in that older sister way and waited for a signal that I was tracking with her. Patiently and slowly, she translated everything he said into shorter, more manageable sentences. I nodded to let her know I understood. Smooth as habit, she looked back at the funeral director and waited for more information so she could repeat the process.

I kept mentally checking out, my mind reviewing my list of responsibilities as Lewis’ mother. Over and over, I thought about every moment that led me there. I was his guide. He was my son. I brought him onto this planet, and he should have lived out his life. It was my job to help positively shape him and prepare him for adulthood. Yet there we were, discussing things that should have forever been left unsaid.

Over many years, I had worked hard to maintain a good career with a stable paycheck. I had put myself through college – twice. I paid my bills on time and was as fiscally responsible as any single mom could be. I had consistently helped Lewis through his college years while supporting his sister through high school. I taught my kids to treat others well, and apologize if they hurt someone. My to-do list as a parent seemed solid, especially in recent years. Like all parents, I had made my share of mistakes. But my mindset was to correct the wrongs and set things right again along the way. I had done that, too. I had given this parenting role my very best.

No matter. It all meant nothing now. Karma had fallen asleep with God as I sat there trying to answer questions that would bankrupt even the most responsible among us. I did not want to think about money at a time like this, but the system forced it. Like everything about the past few days, I was ill-prepared.

Looking around that heavy-with-darkness room, I knew the years of my hard work came down to one harsh reality. I could not afford to bury my own son. Those moments made me feel like I was the biggest failure of all parents everywhere. Not only had my son chosen to leave life, but I could not even pay for his exit.

The world had never seemed more broken.

Having been advised not to view Lewis’ body, I tried to focus on my sister, daughter and mother. I listened to Annette as she continued to translate questions. I silently pleaded with God that if he ever existed, I would wake up. Now.

One after another, documents continued to appear before me. Annette was strong and her process was streamline. “Just sign here. Here. And…here.” I obeyed.

Fighting severe nausea, those closed doors down the hallway kept catching my attention. Like a record with a skip, my thoughts went from Annette, to the pen and paper before me, and then back to those rooms. Which one was he in? Lying there…alone. Cold. Lifeless.

In another moment, my mind returned to the gripping feeling of guilt about money, mistakes, and things that can never be undone. Despite feelings that were too severe for even the most balanced person to manage effectively, the world expected me to keep pace with the process of final arrangements. Fortunately, my family was able.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Copyright 2013, 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.

Just Keep Breathing (Excerpt)
Author: Jana Brock

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The Calling


Greetings Readers,

I struggled for over a month trying to put together words that would accurately describe my brother-in-law’s long-standing service to others. Try as I may, I could not fit so many accomplishments into a one-page piece that was effective and accurately descriptive of who he is and how he has lived his life.

On the day of his 60th birthday which was in March of this year. I woke up at 4 a.m. That day and threw out every word I had previously written, determined to quiet my mind and effectively compose the perfect descriptor.

This poem is the product of those moments in silence. For Scott Smith, an incredible example of very good human beings. Happy birthday.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Calling

Carried on the winds of time
A message all could hear
Of service and integrity
But few men would appear

Much to do with little time
The labor would be long
Obligations few could meet
A calling of the strong

The scarce arriving often
Responding in the path
Destruction left behind the wake
Of Mother Nature’s wrath

The disadvantaged of the world
The frail and meek among
Are counted in on those well served
The elders and the young

The fathers of a bleeding planet
Step up to the plate
To fill the gaps of those in need
The tasks at hand are great

Burning homes and crashing cars
Animals left lone
Those who answer to the calls
Are heroes in their own

The Universe’s message
A gift bestowed to few
In Sixty years of earthly time
What would it say of you

I listened very closely
In the still of gentle rain
It spoke these words of all great men
And whispered out your name.

For Scott Allen Smith
Author: Jana Brock

Copyright 2013, 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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Workaholics Like Us

Greetings, Friends ~

Admittedly, I have done it again. Gotten myself so busy that not only are the days flying by, but entire weeks of time whoosh right past me. Because of competing priorities, my writing deadlines have sprouted wings and are “whooshing” with them. I find myself struggling to keep pace.

A workaholic is one who is addicted to work. Though no general, medically-accepted definition is agreed upon, the experts in the psychology of this problem agree it must be tied to some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Workaholism is different than simply working hard. The characteristics of one in such a state include putting aside any reasonable amount of time for their personal life in exchange for work. In that, even personal activities (let’s call it “time off”) are riddled with some type of chore. To a true workaholic, the term “work” is not indicative of just one’s paid employment.

As is the case with all “isms”, overworking is merely the symptom of a deeper issue. Historically, I have been called a runner. Not those lean types that utilize their morning hours for healthy activities, and THEN go to work. Rather, the kind that feels some level of emotional pain and…runs. Nothing but a cloud of dust behind me. What do I run to? Work. Piles of files and complex projects intended to consume even the most intelligent and organized of us. Is it a difficult task? Give it to me. I’ll take it on. After all, my day has 38 hours. It is a cycle of dysfunction with us working-too-much types.

With the best of intentions, we ground ourselves and promise to slow down. Enjoy life. Smell the roses. But then, something happens. The plates we have in the air start multiplying. They spin faster and faster until we can barely tell which is which. Unless we work every waking (and sleeping) hour available to us, one of those plates will surely hit the floor, shattering the self-image we hold that we are superman. And superman would never let something important hit the ground and break. That would be irresponsible.

As the workaholic cycle goes, our friends, families and colleagues start saying things like, “Are you taking any time for yourself?” Or, my personal favorite, “You know, there is always tomorrow.”

I do take the advice they offer. Recently, someone close to me said, “See that chair over there? Sit in it.” Looked like a comfortable enough space, so I obeyed. Moans of frustration were audible as I moved in that direction. En route to my adult time-out, I grabbed one of my laptops and powered it up. Sitting seemed like a great opportunity to catch up on some paperwork..,.

Other indicators also show up when a workaholic is about to hit the wall. Lately, I find myself telling people repeatedly, “I’d love to get together, but I am so swamped at work right now.” Right now turns into every single day from now until forever, if we don’t get a handle on it. Even the vacation days I have taken this summer were wrought with answering emails and working on projects. That is not the fault of my employer. I do that to myself. Perhaps after my life expires, the engraving on my headstone will read, “Here lies Jana. She worked.”

I am already committed to a busy end-of-summer, which now looks to bleed into early October. When the witching month reaches its mid, a few heavy-lift work-related projects will have been completed and I will rest.

I will.

Be well,


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