My job is to share God’s love by connecting people with their family, friends and pets who have passed on so that they can be comforted and reassured that there is much more beyond our experience here on Earth. This is a gift that I am sharing. You can sign up for a session with me at www.janetkangas.com. I always work from a place of love and light. I am a Christian and this gift allows me to share God’s message that love never dies.
Summer is a time when most people take a break. They go on vacation or sit on their porch. In fact, you can take a vacation on your porch. The picture to the left is of New River Gorge in West Virginia. I took it on a cold fall day, the kind of day you wish you had remembered your gloves. When I’m sitting on my porch on this hot July day in North Carolina and the heat index is 105 degrees, I think about New River Gorge and how cold my hands were that day. It’s my own little vacation. I breathe in and close my eyes and I’m on that mountain. I don’t even notice the sweat trickling down my neck. I think about how quiet the woods were. It felt like my own private retreat. Take another breath and invite someone to join you. I was alone that day in West Virginia, but if I breathe in and think about my dad, there he is next to me, enjoying the view. That’s how close we are to the ones we love who have passed on. They really are just a breath away. Invite someone special to join you as you breathe through those memorable moments. Sitting on my porch by myself doesn’t have to mean that I’m alone.
On this page, I usually write about writing. I write about classes that are coming up (check our classes page!) and I write about books I’ve read. Today, I need to share something that I might have missed if I hadn’t kept my eyes open.
I’m always looking for a sign. I look for messages of hope and encouragement. They often come in the form of a rainbow or a bright red cardinal. Sometimes the Universe takes me literally and hands me one printed in color. I was at a gas pump a couple weeks ago and happened to look down as I was filling my tank. There was a card on the ground next to the pump. It looked like a business card, but there was no name on it. The card was printed on one side with this message, “it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, love never fails. Corinthians 13:7-8a.”
You aren’t going to get many better signs than that one. Love is always the answer.
Love always protects. That protection doesn’t always look like what you would expect. It isn’t necessarily a wall or a gun or anything tough. Love can protect in a softer way. Love protects that heart that has been broken by showing up with a friend when you feel like you can’t take one more step. Life is hard but no one said it was going to be this hard. Then, your Aunt Frances shows up with cake and invites herself for coffee. After you laugh and talk with her for awhile, you can go on. Her love protects you.
I feel like hope and trust go hand in hand. Our little dog Dodger is how I know that. Dodger is blind. He is a chihuahua that came to us very abused and malnourished. In spite of the neglect and abuse that he experienced, Dodger has learned to trust us. He recovered completely. He’s 12 now and gets up every morning like it is the best day of his life. He has taught us about healing and trust. Dodger reminds us every day that love hopes.
Love perseveres. Anyone who has failed at something important to them and gotten up to try again knows that love perseveres. If it is too hard, refer back to Love Protects, Love Hopes or Love Trusts. Love never fails.
Finding that card brightened my day. More than that, it reminded me that sometimes help shows up even if you didn’t realize you needed it.
Let’s keep going with the summer writing challenge. Set aside 10 minutes and just write. Today’s topic is “How hot was it?” Write about the hottest summer you can remember. What did it feel like? What did you do to cool off? Here’s a memory of mine:
I can hear my dad’s voice now, “Lay still and you’ll cool off.” I grew up in western Pennsylvania in the ‘60s and 70s when air conditioning wasn’t everywhere like it is now. We lived in a ranch style house that had an attic fan in the hallway. It pulled the warm air out of the house at night, encouraging the cool air to come in through the windows.
Sometimes on those few August nights when we couldn’t get relief from the heat, it felt like we were baking in our beds. But Dad was right. If we just relaxed into the night, the air would cool down and we could drift off. With all the windows open, I could listen to the frogs and the cicadas sing us to sleep. By the morning it was cool enough that the sheet felt good around my shoulders. It was so delicious to feel cool, especially when we knew it wouldn’t last long. That heat would find us before noon and follow us into the evening.
(sunset photo by Elaine Estes)
I felt inspired last week to try something new. I have never thought of myself as an artist. I don’t sketch or draw pictures. The only thing I ever draw is maybe a funny face in a birthday card. But I took a leap and I bought a kit that had five little bottles of paint and some paint brushes. The directions told me how to mix colors and which brushes made the shapes I might want.
The kit also came with a few pieces of paper, about 5×7 inches. Somehow, that reassured me. I didn’t have to start big. I could just give it a try. It turns out that I love mixing colors. When I created green from yellow and blue, it felt like magic. I know for many, this would not be such an amazing discovery. I loved it.
What does this have to do with our writing challenge? I realized that there are plenty of people who feel the same way about writing. It can be overwhelming to begin. That’s why I wanted to challenge myself and all of you to write a little something every day. Start with just a few sentences. We’re not writing term papers or the great American novel. Write about a memory, an observation. Write a grocery list. Let the words out.
I might really go crazy for my next painting and use an 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper. Or, maybe I’ll paint just one little thing in the corner. Our creativity is lurking inside of us. We just need to let it out.
We make new memories every day, but with just a scent of honeysuckle or a taste of watermelon, we can flash right back to a summer day in our childhood. The senses do a great job of reminding us of times gone by.
The picture of the roses in a vase was made here in Willow Spring, NC, at my kitchen window. We have one of those knockout rose bushes in front of our house. It grows so fast that, before you know it, it’s six feet tall and filled with roses. When it blooms and the bees start humming around it, it takes me right back to my Great Aunt Frances’ house in the 1960s.
She and my Uncle Ed lived just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, in a sweet little four-room house. They lived in town (which is what we said because we lived in a rural area) and they had a little yard that my Uncle Ed kept immaculate. Behind their house was a huge rose bush. I think it wasn’t as big as I remember it, but it was so beautiful. As a little girl, I loved to just sit in the grass next to it. When the summer air was warm and there was a breeze, the roses smelled like love. My Aunt Frances was so proud of her roses. I remember her smile like it was yesterday.
Aunt Frances and Uncle Ed and the rose bush have all been gone for more than 30 years, but the little vase of roses on my kitchen windowsill takes me straight back to them.
What memory do your sense conjure up? Take today’s challenge and write a few sentences. I know I enjoyed writing about my summer memory today. See you tomorrow.
I got reacquainted with Natalie Goldberg last week. I’ve never actually met her, but I’ve read most of her books and feel like we know each there where it counts. She has written many books about writing and also memoir. We are from the same tribe. I don’t know how she would feel about that, but I say that because it seems like she has been looking over my shoulder as I write, encouraging me and cheering me on for years. I know when I hear that she has a new book out that I love it already.
Her book, “Writing Down the Bones,” was released this year in its 30th anniversary edition. What I hadn’t realized until I went back and read it again after all these years is – first, wow, I’m old – and second, I have built a life of writing on her foundation. She approaches writing as a practice. It’s not just a way for her to tell a story, but it’s a way for her to express the layers, the nuance, the feelings that all of us have but don’t always get to acknowledge. She lets herself roll around in the words and not get stuck on what’s perfect. Her advice is what I took to heart to Write It Out. Don’t stop yourself. Give the editor who lives in your head ten bucks and send her to lunch. Don’t stop, don’t cross out, don’t second guess what you are writing. Just let it happen. You will get to know yourself in a way that will surprise you.
Write something every day. That is the challenge that I’m giving myself and I would like to bring you along. I’m going to post something every day for two weeks. There isn’t going to be a theme, but please write about something that matters to you, that you enjoy or that speaks to your heart. It doesn’t need to be deep or personal. Just start writing and see what happens. Keep it short. Don’t feel pressured. This is going to be fun! I’ll see you back here tomorrow.
The first ripe tomato off the vine, warm in the sun and juicy in that sweet bite, brings back all the summers of my childhood. We always had a garden. My dad grew up on a farm. He showed us how to plant tomatoes, green beans, squash and peppers.
The zucchini and the tomatoes seemed to grow the fastest. When the first ones were big enough to eat, it felt like we were rich. Our creativity was put to the test by the end of the season. I’m sure that’s where the recipes for zucchini chocolate cake and fried green tomatoes came from. We needed to find new ways to enjoy the bounty after we had given away bags of summer vegetables to everyone we knew.
By the time steamy August rolled around, we started preparing for the winter. When my sister and my mother and I worked together to can tomatoes, it felt like we stepped into a sauna and someone handed us a sharp knife, some glass jars and a pot of boiling water so we could spend the day together. The tomato juice ran down our arms as we sliced the red deliciousness and stuffed the jars. It was worth it when we finished. We really felt rich when we saw all of those jars filled with tomatoes lining the shelves in the root cellar. We knew that winter would be full of hearty stews, rich chili and homemade lasagna.
All of those memories rushed out to greet me with that first bite under the hot summer sun. What do you remember about your childhood summers? Take time to write it out. They might surprise you. Keep making those memories.
I have been a writer all of my life. I have loved writing about other people and the amazing stories that every one of them has to tell. Someone asked me why I wanted to write a blog and I had to think about it. I have written everyone else’s story but never my own. I can’t write my own story without mentioning other stories along with it, because all of my life I have been a people watcher. I am always looking for the happy ending. If you have lived at all, you know the happy ending isn’t always easy to find – but I have learned that it’s always there. If you choose love no matter what happens, it’s always there. I like to think love and joy go together, but sometimes love and grief are holding hands for a long time. Love is there if you look for it. This blog is about how I learned that love is always the answer.