Friday, June 01, 2012

Jana's bizarre.

Well, I've done it. I started the new blog I kept threatening to create. Email me or fb message me if you'd like the link. It won't be public. At least not yet. I'd love to have you along though! (Sorry this post wasn't more interesting or colorful. I promise interest and color at the new blog. Promise.)

Friday, March 16, 2012


This family bazaar has taken new and unexpected shapes over the last year. And yes, it has been the better part of a year since I last wrote.

We've undergone some changes that I couldn't begin to share with you all while in the midst of it. While each day still reveals new challenges and heartaches and gifts, I feel like I am coming out on the other side. It's spring. Hopeful, determined blooms splatter the yards and roadsides. We made it through a long, dark, winter once again.

So what I'm wondering if if you all (if there are any of you left) would be interested in following me to a new blog. I'm afraid I've outgrown this Family Bazaar skin and it is time now to do something new.

What do you think? Please comment or email me. Would you care to join me on a new writing journey? Come grow with me?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


The number is 6.

6: the number of gnats resting (and puking and pooping and sneezing and farting and eating and fornicating no doubt) on my toothbrush this morning

6: the number of cans of Raid that have been discharged in my kitchen in just the last month

6: the number of houses for sale that I gazed sadly at today thinking, "they probably don't have gnats in there"

6: the current number of ways I can think of to kill myself if this bug situation does not reach a speedy resolution

The post below was supposed to have been posted May 17. You'll notice that it is now June 7 and I'll have you know. . . the situation has grown even more dire. Imagine, for a moment, that it is mid-May and unusually cool in Saint Louis.

Gnats 2.0



Not only have they returned, but I'm not entirely sure they ever left.

It is only May. 4 long, hot months are staring back at me. Laughing. Knowing that they've already won and that I will resign myself, once again, to living in a gnat infested house.

We've added a dog and a 12 year old since the last round. Maybe we are ready for a more brutal fight now.

Or maybe I'm even more exhausted and will give up before the fight even starts.

It remains to be seen.


Imagine that it is June and the temperature threatens to reach 100 degrees before summer even officially begins. Think about the sweat that pools in every crease and crevice of your body (I'll spare you the gruesome details). It's hot. Like, really hot.

Imagine that there is a swarm of gnats not only near the garbage can or fruit (which is, of course, no longer kept on the counter. We've even eliminated the counter-kept bananas from our diet, resulting in dangerously low levels of potassium and a pervasive crankiness) but in the shower, at the kitchen table, and even, sadly, in your bedroom.

Imagine now that you have just cracked open yet another can of Raid and hosed down the kitchen and you are wondering just how serious they are about this being bad for animals and small humans.

Imagine that you have embraced serenity to such an extent that you sigh and call the exterminator AGAIN without even considering putting your head in the oven or changing zip codes.

If you made it through that last bit you are a far more evolved human than I.

We've called the exterminator. We've sprayed every inch of the house with a potpourri of chemicals. I've filled tiny dishes with vinegar, poured ammonia down the drains, stopped eating bananas, scoured every surface.

I'm exhausted.

I've even tried to accept the little f*$@ers and come to some peace with their presence.

I've tried. I really have. But no.

Things have gotten worse.

At the risk of sounding a bit whiny or (gasp) self-centered and pitiful, I'd like to introduce you to my new friend.

Yep. We've added a brown recluse invasion to the wonders of our home. Thus far we've killed two in the hallway, one in Jordan's room, one in the bathroom, one in the kitchen, and one in the bedroom shortly after it dismounted my leg.

Yes. My LEG!! Because I apparently was not having enough trouble with the gnats and the heat. I also had to be assaulted - ok fine, threatened - by a poisonous spider. In my bed.

No, it didn't bite me. Yes, I'm fine albeit a bit dramatic.

I will typically carry my burdens with a smile. I will be that enlightened individual who sighs, breathes, and picks up the phone, nonplussed. I might even chuckle.

Most days.

But that spider scurrying up my leg was my complete and total undoing. I cracked. I sobbed. Not because I was afraid of the spider (puhleeze) but because it was suddenly all just too much.

And so I whined and whimpered and cried.

And now I rant.

And hope for your sympathy and pest control tips.

So what shall I do?

Evacuate? Bomb it? Do a special chant/dance combo at midnight under a full moon? sacrifice one of the children?

I'm open to suggestions. However outlandish. Because, seriously, something's gotta give.

P.S. Please don't call DFS . . . I promise that it is an otherwise lovely, healthy home.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

There is only us.

A few weeks ago, I had the incredible privilege of hearing Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, speak here in St Louis. His talk focused on creating a sense of kinship and mutuality. He pointed to the lyrics of O Holy Night - "Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth." And that's it - in kinship and mutuality, our spirits/souls feel their worth. I don't think it a mistake that the song later cries "Fall on your knees! O hear, the angel voices" for there is no more humbling, awe-some experience than meeting another in the beauty of our creation, our humanity.

If you are willing to stand in the margins, be present on the edges, and connect, you will find there is a mutuality there, a beauty that cannot be described. There is no us and them, there is only us.

There are moments that leave you crying on a classroom floor, watching as two devastated young people walk back to the hotel where they are living hand in hand, the despair on a young woman's face as she sits abandonned in a condemned apartment, the humility that you find at the laundromat later that night. These are scenes that move me, wake me, remind me. The moments when I see God in the margins, in the alleys, and on the faces of those who so many would rather turn away. To love them when they cannot/do not love themselves. The stories told with their lives are stories of disconnect and separation.

Whether it is drugs, alcohol, crime, violence, victimization or the age old story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, there is a hopelessness that descends on us when we disconnect. When we begin to see that vast expanse between you and me, we lose something of our soul's worth. We lose something of this 'us', of this mutuality and kinship.

I am tasked each day with connecting. My job description is filled with tasks, responsibilities, roles. But really, what I get to do is connect. Sure, I could do my job without such connection. I could provide services, facilitate training, write case notes and manage programs. But I would be missing out. I have no interest in seeing where this "population I serve" is so different than me, but where I see my own heart break. Where we become one in this humanity. Where we connect with the divine in our suffering and in our love. To use Father G's words: "I defy you to identify who is the service provider and who is the recipient."

Each day, I encounter incredible strength and courage, I sit with crushing despair and shame, I draw open eyes that have been so long down turned. And I am connected. There is only us and there is a sense that we belong to one another.

My soul feels its worth.

Where do you feel your soul's worth?

What does kinship mean in your life? How do you come together and belong to one another?

This passion drives me. This work (can I call it that?) shapes me. And I continue to dream of this kinship and connection. Inspired daily by others who feel it and also dream of creating communities where each soul knows its worth. Where each one is valued and served by another. Where together we create opportunities for restoration and education and compassion. Boundless compassion.

I'm starting the book this afternoon. I hope you'll consider reading along.

Here is a glimpse at what Father Boyle is doing out there in California. What might we do here?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Up and coming . . .

I have 4 rather lengthy posts started. They've been started for weeks and yet they are still unfinished.

It is Memorial Day and there is a lovely breeze through the kitchen. I sit here typing, thinking that I am long overdue to post something and I mess around with those 4 other posts but still, they are just rambling half sentences and connections that float only in my mind.

I thought that maybe I would sit and write, check some things off the list, create a few spreadsheets, send a few emails, update the blog, reeeallly get some stuff done, ya know?

Sitting here in the breeze though. . . .I think maybe not so much.

I think maybe I'll go for a walk instead and take a few deep breaths and squeeze my babies and laugh just a little too loud at nothing in particular. And try to live fully for today. Its a rinse and repeat kind of deal. Each morning I start over. Each day calls for a new kind of peace. A new kind of presence. One intended, created, insisted upon for that very day. This morning. . . .this morning draws me away from the computer, away from the lists and into my children's arms and the freedom of the breeze.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

with a nod to Ghandi

Be the change we wish to see.
Live lives that change the world.
Seek out words that change our lives.

Words shape us, create us, uncover us. The right words put voice to things we've felt and seen but have been unable to express. They inspire, educate, destroy, and rebuild.

"speak only words that make souls stronger"

"And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

"There are no wrong roads to Anywhere"

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

"I don't really know what kind of girl I am."

"Don't let the ceiling fall on your head"

"Well-behaved women rarely make history"

"You should probably sign up for the vocational training program."

"I filed for divorce today."

"Grace is sufficient for today"

"I'm enough."

"Grant me the serenity"

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

"This is holy ground."

"I love you."

"Today, courage says Stand there and tremble. You will not fall."

"You are the deepest wisdom and the highest truth; the greatest peace and the grandest love. You are these things. And in moments of your life you have known yourself as these things. Choose now to know yourself as these things always."

"There will be feasting and dancing in Jerusalem next year."

and it goes on and on and on. I'm reminded of thirsty horses, a longing for the sea, and the many many other words that have so deeply affected me.

And I wander around the ways that I carry those words with me still. The marks they've left on my life, my soul, my world. Words just marked on a page. And then there is the way that ink impresses a page, impresses my heart. And then there is the way that ink and stitches and staples and scars impress my flesh. And then it all starts to come together.

And I remember this website.

There isn't enough flesh to capture all the words that matter. I'm anxious trying to distill the richest experiences into a handful of magic syllables. They write our stories, shape and create the spaces we inhabit, the changes that we seek. Maybe it is just the letters. The building blocks. The simple and sublime that gives us the eyes and hearts to imagine change.

"Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded" or so says Virginia Woolf. We are changing. The beauty, the magic, the pain, the fear, the urgency, the passion, the complacency. It is happening.

How will you record it?

Monday, May 16, 2011


Ok well, just a project, really. But adding -ion makes it so much smarter somehow. Imagine all the fun we could have here with notions of projection. But we won't because this is just a project, really.

A happiness project.

If you aren't familiar with Gretchen Rubin's book might I suggest that you hurry to the bookstore RIGHT now and buy it?

I'll wait.

Now that you've got the book, please proceed to her website. Bask. Browse. Dig in.

In addition to great quotes and tips and even Gretchen's 12 personal commandments (which I love) you'll find a lot of talk about these Happiness Project Groups. Sounds delightful doesn't it?

The trouble is . . . there isn't one in Missouri and that is where I currently reside. As if I weren't already stretched wafer thin - I am actually considering what it might be like to start a happiness project group here.

It might be something that my souls needs.

It might be something others need.

What if we met on Monday nights during my Connect group at CtS? What if this were a way to bring inspired, lovely people together in a new way?

Other communities and relationships that I've sought to build over the years have failed and failed again. Maybe because I was joining something and I'm not a joiner. Maybe because our intentions were fundamentally different. Maybe because they served a very specific, short-term purpose.

But this might be just the thing.

I have to tell you - there was a moment a few paragraphs back when my stomach started to feel a bit odd and I started smiling at the computer screen. I think I have to do this.

I think I may have already sent an email requesting the starter kit.

I think I might already feel a little glowy and squirmy.

This might be just what I need.