Morning Gratitude

This morning, as I sit here at my desk writing and drinking my coffee, I’m overwhelmed with all of the blessings in my life. Crows outside munching on trail mix, David doing weekly bills and hanging out with me in our warm, toasty house with the snow falling outside — all make for a great morning. Add to this beautiful morning my two amazing kids who love me beyond fault and constantly inspire me to be my best, my superwoman sis who keeps laughter and love in my life, a chosen family and blood family who love me unconditionally, best friends abounding near and far, a great job with a great agency, now two published books (!?!) with Soul Mate Publishing, Forevermore our Teardrop, my health (thank the Gods), and a spiritual path that makes my heart sing, my body dance, and my soul heal . . . I give thanks to the Universe for all of my blessings and the abundance in my life.

2021 started off rough, which was disheartening because we had so many hopes for a better year after 2020 pummeled us.
The year started off with my third cancer diagnosis (this time it was Uterine Cancer). My January 4 surgery got it all, according to the wonderful Dr. Adelson out of St. Joseph’s in Syracuse.

As we recovered from that, in the first week of February my mother-in-law, Lauretta Phillips, passed away. We had to take some downtime to regroup from both of these hits, and thankfully we are blessed with jobs that took care of us and gave us the time we needed to heal.

And with that behind us, goodness started presenting. It’s important to understand that we have the choice to find the goodness, or focus on the dark times. I call the goodness that manifests during the hard times ‘Dark Blessings.’

We can choose to focus on the doom and gloom that sometimes seems to be all around us. Or we can focus on the positive, and live a life of gratitude and hope that everything is going to be okay, no matter what.

So this morning, I am choosing to acknowledge the beautiful, blessed, abundant life I live.

Have a great day, everyone! Stay safe, healthy, and warm.

And remember that Springtime is just a few weeks away!

Love in the Forest coming June 2021

Something exciting happened today! I received the cover for Love in the Forest!

It’s BEAUTIFUL! Just how I pictured it! Ramona the Cover Artist at Soul Mate Publishing created the cover for Ten Bucks and a Wish, which was just perfect for that sweet contemporary romance.

The cover for Love in the Forest has a completely different feel to it! It’s magical and mysterious and captures the essence of Love in the Forest and the people who work and visit Earth and Sky, a (fictitious) transformational retreat located in the (also fictitious) town of Demilune, in the foothills of the Adirondacks.

Brooke Meadows and Josh Quinn have an amazing story to tell that is filled with healing, transformation, and passion. Share their journey as they learn how to let go of the past, grasp the future, and trust in the Universe to deliver what matters most. Love.

Stay tuned for information on the Cover Reveal, contests, Pre-Sale information, and the final release date.

If you haven’t sunk your heart into a Janina Grey romance yet, check out Ten Bucks and a Wish available on Amazon.com, soulmatepublishing.com and online at Barnes and Noble (barnesandnoble.com)

Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Ten-Bucks-Wish-Janina-Grey-ebook/dp/B07PRMJLLS/

Barnes and Noble
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ten-bucks-and-a-wish-janina-grey/1132245114?ean=9781682919385

Soul Mate Publishing
http://soulmatepublishing.com/ten-bucks-and-a-wish/

Life is for Living

David, Janina, Thia, and Mike- August 2018.
First Thistle Dew Retreat

Life is for Living

This phrase means more to me now than ever before.

I adopted this phrase as a column I used to write for the Richfield Springs Mercury over a decade ago. The readership was small (about 1,000) but it was a community that had heart, just north of Cooperstown. They welcomed me and embraced me and loved the topics I discussed in that column, which would deal with the ins and outs of life.

Then, when I started this blog (which has gone through numerous reincarnations) I called it Life is for Living, with the idea of carrying over the focus of the column to digital readers.

Most recently I’ve named my WIP Life is for Living. It’s the second book in a trilogy I’m publishing through Soul Mate Publishers. More about that another time.

Today, Life is for Living is so much more poignant than ever before.

Today is the birthday of a friend who passed away from cancer over a year ago, pre- pandemic. She was a beautiful soul sister who I’d lost real contact with over the years. We did get to see each other about once a year, but all our plans to keep in touch and get together always faded with passing days. I miss her terribly.

A few days ago, a fellow CNYRW romance writer passed away after battling numerous health issues long and hard over the last year at least. I kept expecting her to get better. But she didn’t . I will miss her terribly, and like my other friend, there are so many regrets for not keeping in touch regularly.

We’ve spent the last year watching the world battle COVID-19. And while I’ve done my best to stay secluded and take care of myself and husband, life has gone on around us. And over time, COVID went from a world-wide pandemic to a disease that is laying low friends and relatives near and dear to me.

On top of this, the last month I have spent dealing with a diagnosis of cancer-Uterine Cancer. This is my third time battling the dreaded disease (three distinct unrelated types) and I struggled with my own mortality. But the prognosis was good, with the surgeon telling me he believed he got it all, and that I would not need chemo or radiation.

So how does this very sad topic of death earn a blog on a page that’s supposed to be happy and uplifting?

Because Life is for Living. It is inevitable we are going to lose loved ones eventually, so embrace their essence and the times you spend with them now, while they are alive.

We are going to get sick and eventually die. Rather than live in fear, make the most of every moment. Whether we are struggling with disease or healthy and fit­– don’t take one second for granted.

Share your passions. Create. Leave a legacy – not by being boastful, but by being who you are, by being someone people will miss when you go.

We live in frightening times. As the fatalities increase as COVID claims loved ones every day, be the candle of hope, the emotional, mental, and visual hug people need until we can physically hug one another again.

And one day soon we will be able to get together without the fear of infecting one another, and the sun will shine, and the skies will be blue, and we will sing in celebration of life.

So make a vow to walk on and embrace every single minute you are alive. Savor every meal, even if it’s cereal. Enjoy that book you keep putting down. Nap if you need to. Breathe the fresh air, listen for the birds, watch your favorite tv show. Call an old friend you’ve not spoken with in a while. Write a letter to someone you are thinking about. Send an email saying you’re thinking of them.

Let the promise of tomorrow carry you through the dark times, the sad times, the scary times.

And most of all remember that Life is For Living, so live it.

Happy Birthday, Janie.

Today is my oldest sister Janie’s birthday.

She would have been 61. Instead she will forever stay 47 in our hearts and memories.

It’s difficult to believe that she’s been gone for nearly 14 years, but there it is. We didn’t live near one another, but we talked at least once or twice  a week. We saw each other a few times a year. I didn’t get to see her that birthday to give her all of her birthday and yule presents. She cancelled at the last moment because she wasn’t feeling well. So it was really rough when she died a few months later. So many regrets. So much guilt.

Janie may be gone, but like so many other loved ones who have passed, she lives on in my heart. And in my novels.

I honored Jane in my first contemporary romance, Ten Bucks and a Wish, which tells the story of a second chance romance between Deanna Drake and Michael McCord (aka Cord). Cord’s mom was named Jane. I hinted at childhood memories Jane and I made.

I also honored my own mom in Ten Bucks and a Wish, sharing my memory of what it was like to hug her, offering the wisdoms she was so good at passing along. And while I did not name any of the characters ‘JoAnne’ after her, I worked through my grief with her passing through the grieving Deanna Drake experienced with the loss of her own mother.

Today I celebrated Jane’s birthday with a cuppa tea and a toast in her name. I lit a candle and placed her picture by it, here in my office, where I do all my writing and where I work from home during the pandemic. I don’t cry anymore with her memory. But I still miss her terribly.

In my second romance, Love in the Forest, which is due out in June 2021 again with Soul Mate Publishing, death is a subtopic once more. This time, Brooke Meadows has the ability to receive messages from ‘Beyond the Veil,” and uses these messages to help loved ones cope with their losses, heal, and move on in life.

While I am not a medium, or as constant as professionals who get paid to talk with the dead, I do believe I have connections with the other side. They come to me in dreams, or in signs throughout my days.

Maybe this is why it’s become easier to deal with the loss of loved ones. Because I know that they are not dead, just away. And that one day we’ll be reunited. For now, I am happy with their messages.

In Love in the Forest, Brooke helps a widower, Quirkyflirt.com CEO Josh Quinn, cope with the loss of his wife and their two children. He works through his anger, his sorrow, his guilt, and eventually he learns that life is for living. And loving.

As I grow older, I realize that life is precious. Every moment we are alive must be experienced to its fullest. So whether I am working, napping, writing, playing solitaire, or just sitting in silence with David -just being- I always try to make sure this is exactly how I want to be living that moment. And if it’s not, well then, I figure out what I want to be doing, and I do it.

I don’t see any alternative to living life any other way. Because one day I may wake up on the other side of the Veil and realize I’m done. No more chances this time around, I will have to wait for the next.

So if you are grieving, if you are facing the death of a loved one, or a terminal illness, I’m sorry you are going through this.

But you have to remember:  embrace every moment. Cherish every moment you shared with the loved one you are grieving. Live your life making sure that when you go you will have no regrets.

On top of that, believe. Believe those who have passed are nearby, that they are celebrating your successes and weeping with your sorrows. Above all, they are loving you, with a love that knows no mortal boundaries.

So in honor of Jane, my mom, my cousin Alfred, my Aunt Leila, my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandfather, and all the friends, cousins, and aunts and uncles who have gone before me … I give thanks for the love and life we shared.

And in honor of all those who surround me now, living and well, I cherish you all.

And to friends I’ve yet to meet — stay healthy, love deeply, and remember, Life is for Living.

Goodbye to 2020, and Hello to 2021!

Happy New Year!
I say that with all my heart and soul, because, folks, it’s going to be a great year! We have so much to look forward to and to accomplish, and only 358 days left to get it all done.

Before we focus on the To-Do List, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on The Done List for 2020.

2020 will be remembered for the World Wide Pandemic we’ve been struggling with, as well as the Civil Unrest that shook our country. But with these dark times I’d like to believe that we have evolved as humans, and that as we move forward we do so with hearts filled with compassion and the desire to heal.

On a personal level, 2020 brought family issues, physical health issues, and mental health issues, but we got through them. Having family and friends to support us through the tough times makes it all worth while.

But happy times were interspersed throughout the year. Last January, David and I drove to Connecticut to pick up our first ever Five Wide Little Guy camper. We spent the spring and summer renovating it, and DMV opened up in time for us to get it registered so we could actually go camping with it!

For all of you tent campers out there who are starting to get achy backs and hips from sleeping on the ground, this little tear drop camper is a great solution. We still get the outdoors experience of cooking and living in Nature, but we sleep in a moisture proof, warm enclosure, on a mattress with pillows and blankets even! It’s the perfect compromise for trying to keep tenting but needing to nurture the body.

Forevermore, 2020

Inside! nice and comfy sleeping area 😀

We spent a good part of the summer camping in our backyard, while we waited for the registration to arrive from DMV. This gave us great memories with our kids and my sister and nephews and some close friends- our Covid Circle- so to speak. We masked up, kept socially distanced, and did not let the pandemic stop us from enjoying life.

My furgrand, Miso.

When we were able to take Forevermore on the road, we headed up to the Adirondack Mountains, and spent a couple days at Eighth Lake.

Eighth Lake, Adirondack Mountains

We got to visit a friend in his new home, also in the mountains.

As I write this recap, I realize there were so many good times throughout 2020 that I can’t fit them all in one column.

It would be very easy to focus on the negative. To fret about the world and where we will be in a year. But, I wasted a lot of time this past year worrying and fretting, and I have to say I want to be done with that.

So here is to 2021 and all that it brings us, both dark and light blessings.

I hope you all are safe, healthy, and surrounded by loved ones.

All the best,

Janina

Getting Un-Lost

Blogs are supposed to be light and easy reading. Too long (a horrible fault of mine) or too serious and bam! we move on to the next. However, this is an acknowledgement of a half a year’s struggle with writer’s block, and I hope at least one person can pull something from my story.

Writer’s Block is something we writers dread. But most will admit that they’ve suffered through it from time to time. It’s not just losing the ability to write words that work. It’s like losing a loved one, your hands, part of your brain. Part of your soul.

But when you break through it, it’s like learning to live (and breathe, even) all over again.

Last October, life was as lovely as the Mohawk Valley in autumn. My professional path was as colorful as the mountains I live in, and as comfortable as post-summer temperatures. Things were happening at a cool 70 F, there was little rain in the forecast, and we still had a few weeks before frost hit.

But winter came early for me, with news of a private nature that threw me off the path I’d been blazing. I got lost in a forest of muddy, mucky memories. And rather than stay on the path and find my way home, I hid in a cave as the early snows piled high around me.

The ink in my pen ran dry, or for a more contemporary analogy – the keys on my keyboard got stuck. Either way, my overwhelmed brain shut down. I couldn’t write a simple sentence, let alone a love scene.

Then, just as the snows began to melt enough for me to venture out into the woods to try to find that trail I’d wandered away from . . . the pandemic hit.

And over the edge I went, down the side of a mountain I did not have the proper hiking equipment to navigate.

But the elements were kinder. The days were warmer, the sun grew stronger, and hope twittered around me like chipmunks finding a misplaced cache of nuts.

With the change in season, I reached into my backpack and pulled out everything I needed; things I’d had all along, but in my frozen state of fear I had forgotten.

Close friends, family, my chosen family, CNYRW, my critique partners, my Grey’s Groupies all threw me lifelines, flashlights, new hiking boots. Everything that would prove helpful in finding that path, which was really only a few feet in front of me all along.

So, to everyone who was there for me, who watched on in patience, with love and compassion, who cheered me up and cheered me on, who believed in me. Who gave me hope . . .

Thank you.

Frank J. Basloe Library in Herkimer

We came full circle by ending the tour at Herkimer Library. Old friends and family and a few new friends found their way to the signing, and in the end, it was a nice way to wind down a crazy but very memorable book tour.
Thanks to everyone who made the effort to visit me at all the stops, and stay tuned, round two is on the way!

Didn’t notice the name was spelled wrong til after I got home!
No worries! it was still a great day!

Ilion Public Library

Ilion Library didn’t hesitate a moment when I asked about doing a book signing for Ten Bucks and a Wish. I had a replenished stock of books thanks to Soul Mate Publishing, and I was ready to go.

I got to meet up with a lot of new friends, old friends, and family. Thanks to everyone for coming out!

Little Falls Public Library Book Signing

Once we returned home from the Long Island leg of the tour, we made our way over to Little Falls Public Library.

We had a nice showing, and I even got to spend time with some of my CNYRW fellow authors and friends, and Herkimer Diamonds Critique Group partners.