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.
I am a medium. A medium is someone who connects the people here with their loved ones who have crossed over. I’ve written about the loss we had as a family a few years ago when several members passed on within a very short time. I have always prayed. At the time, I asked God to help me find a way to deal with so much loss. One of the answers was to begin the writing workshops. The workshops have been so much fun and so healing for me. I’m going to continue to offer them.
But, I got another answer. When I asked God for help, I never imagined that help would show up in such a big way. God and the angels reached out to me. I learned that we are never alone and that we are surrounded by love. We just need to ask and it is there for us. My job is to share that 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 on the sign-up page.
I always work from a place of love and light.
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.
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.
I took a little break from writing and figured out something important. Writing soothes my soul. For most of my life I have taken writing for granted. It’s something that I have done since before I even knew how to form letters. It was so much a part of me, I didn’t realize that it was a gift.
When people would tell me that writing was hard for them, I thought they meant that they just hadn’t given it a chance. I know that there are good writers and not so good writers. I’m not talking about talent or winning awards. I’m talking about writing until you feel better. I love writing other people’s stories. I love writing letters. My husband said I am the last person since the 1940s who still writes post cards. I just hadn’t realized how much writing has been responsible for keeping me from falling off the planet.
Four years ago we had several deaths in our family. I called it the Winter Everyone Died. It wasn’t quite everyone, but it felt like it. I signed up for a “Writing to Heal” class. I didn’t know where to go with the grief I felt. The class reminded me of an old fairytale where a man had a terrible secret that he couldn’t share with anyone. Because he couldn’t say it aloud, he dug a hole in the ground and shouted the secret into the hole. His secret was safe in the earth and he no longer had the burden of carrying it around by himself. That’s how I felt about grief. The page became my hole and I wrote my feelings onto it.
It was a good thing that I did, because there was more grief on the way. My dad died next. And I lost my job. Everybody has the same kind of loss in their lives. What I have found is that everyone needs a place to put their feelings. Our family and friends want to help us (sometimes), but our culture does not encourage us to talk about hard things.
When we say, “How are you?” most of us want to hear “I’m fine, thanks.” We also need the answer to be 15 seconds or less. We love a good sound bite.
To soothe my soul and to help you soothe yours, I developed a writing class. It is called Soothing Your Soul – Writing through Life’s Hurdles. This is a class that gives people a place to write what’s in their hearts. It is intended to be fun and creative. Each class will begin with topic guides and a theme. Write that letter to someone who is long gone. Write a poem that expresses how you really feel about a success or a loss. Just write because it feels good. You can choose to share your writing with the class or keep it for your eyes only. Saying what is in your heart on paper helps you to feel heard. Writing is a way to gather up all those feelings and put them in one place.
I plan to offer the class in September through the Holly Springs Arts Council. I’ll post more details in plenty of time for you to register.
Contact Janet Kangas at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Instructor Janet Kangas is a lifelong writer and editor. She is experienced at teaching Writing to Heal and Guided Autobiography.)