Monday, July 29, 2019

GOOD GRIEF, "Plan Self-Care Activities"

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation
For those of you who struggle with guilt regarding self-care, answer this question: What greater gift can you give to those you love than your own wholeness?
     — Shannon Tanner, Worthy: The POWER of Wholeness

     Self-care is the best way to replenish your mind, body and spirit. Most, if not all, of us are givers in varying capacities. We give our time, our money, our expertise, and our presence generously to others on a daily. Yes, it’s important that we give to others. But, we must also give to ourselves, which includes accepting care from others. Not only is it important, I believe that it is essential to our wellbeing.

     Think of how you sometimes feel at the end of a work day — frazzled, tired, hungry and looking forward to more giving of yourself when you get home. You are in a constant state of stress that can have a negative impact on your being. If you do not de-stress, you will implode.

Have you ever considered telling someone, “I need some me time” or “I need a time out”?

And if you have, did you feel guilty, selfish, and undeserving? Of course, you did, and I used to too. Get rid of these negative thoughts and turn yourself around! You need to care for yourself so you can better care for others. What’s the alternative? You wear out and there is nothing left to give. Your resources are depleted.

     So, the first thing I would like you to do is repeat this sentence every day: “I am worthy of self-care, and I choose to plan a ‘me time’ schedule.”

It is even more powerful if you stand in front of a mirror and say this to yourself, as it gives the words a sense of reality while you talk to yourself in the mirror. You may feel silly doing this, so enjoy the laugh — just do it.

     Choosing self-care may be stressful at first if it’s a new behavior for you, so take small steps and allot 15 - 30 minutes for a self-care activity daily. The next important thing to do is to educate your family on your need for self-care and to set limits. This is also an opportunity to teach your family by example of the importance of self-care.

Plan to do one self-care activity focusing on replenishing your mind, body, and spirit. The choices can range from free to expensive and depend on your desires. If money is an issue, choose something simple like taking a walk in nature or taking a bubble bath or salt bath with candles nearby. Don’t forget to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the bathroom door.

     Here is one of my self-care examples. My daughter made the appointment for me at a local spa. I spent two hours at this spa: one hour for a total body massage and one hour for a facial. I had never done this before and felt out of place, but I did it. What a wonderful feeling the massage was — caring hands gently gliding over my tired, stressed body. The benefit here was not only the immediate caring feeling, but afterward, the release of trapped stress toxins that were worked out of my tissues. The facial was also wonderful and included a hand and foot massage. Something strange happened during the facial experience, I started crying for no reason when my attendant was out of the room. I did not try to figure it out, I just let it be. I left the spa feeling cared for and renewed, as well as grateful to my daughter for such a wonderful gift.

     Self-care activities can be anything that makes you feel good, feel peaceful, feel cared for, and feel relaxed. Some call them guilty pleasures. I consider them survival skills for living…no room for guilt there. Don’t suffer, choose self-care!

Use the Self-care Activity Worksheet on the next page to create and plan your strategies for caring for yourself. Follow the instructions included here as a guide for success.

     In each box, write a few things that you consider self-care that you can accomplish daily. There are two additional boxes to write items of your choice. Once you have listed your ideas, put an amount of time next to each one that you are willing to commit to the activity. Then make a choice to do one activity…and do it. Once you have written down your choices, you have a better chance of follow-through. Remember that you deserve and need this self-care to be your best for others.

You may start your self-care activities without revealing them to others at first. But remember, you can also include your family and/or friends by educating them to your needs. Do whatever meets your requirements. This will take practice if you are a novice to self-care. You may find a friend who is willing to be your accomplice in self-care! Don’t be bashful, just ask.


·       I honor myself and take care of all my needs.
·       I love every cell of my being.
·       I take time out for myself to restore my mind, body and spirit.


With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link: 


Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication
Ruth climbed the courthouse steps alone and afraid.  When she entered the courtroom, it was already packed.  She surveyed the room and was surprised to see Toni and Jim in attendance.  This fact disturbed her, and she hoped it was not a bad sign. 

It was not long before her name was called.  She stood before Judge Thomas and looked up at a tall man in his 50’s with silver white hair.  When the judge looked down at Ruth, his kind face seemed to show compassion.  Was she imagining this; was it wishful thinking? 

“I have received a message from the prosecuting attorney in this case that they have requested a decision of public service for your assault action.”  The judge continued, “This request is a kind act considering the severity of your assault.  Still I will honor this request and order you to the Riverview Animal Shelter for your six-month probationary service.” 

The judge’s words seemed like an answer to Ruth’s prayers. 

The judge was an animal lover and knew the shelter needed more workers.  He also knew that Ruth was a farmer’s daughter; it seemed a perfect match.  The judge continued, “You will report to Mrs. Jane Huffman at 7 a.m. on Monday.  She is the supervisor of the shelter, and she will assign you the work schedule.  You will report back to this court after your six-month probation, and I will determine if your community service should be extended or if I will consider your assignment completed.  You are dismissed.”

Ruth wanted to thank the judge with a hug.  She was so happy that he had not issued jail time.  She knew that a hug would not be appropriate but decided instead to ask Jim and Toni if they had been responsible for the community service.  Turning to survey the courtroom, she discovered that they were no longer in the room. 

She thought more about Judge Thomas’s ruling and was thankful for his decision but was unsure what her feelings would be for the shelter’s animals. I will think about that on Monday, Ruth decided.  She still had the weekend free, and at this moment she was going to head home.

Mom was setting the table for dinner when Ruth arrived at the farm.  As Ruth entered the dining room, she found her mother standing with her back to the doorway.  

Because Ruth was happy, she decided to greet her mother like she did in the old days, “Hi, Mom.  What’s for dinner?”  Mom jumped and let out a terrified scream of fear. 

Startled, Ruth cried, “Mom!  What’s wrong?” 

Mom gave a sigh of relief to see that it was just Ruth that startled her. Then she answered, “I am so embarrassed! You surprised me!  I’m so sorry about my reaction.” 

Puzzled by her mother’s explanation, Ruth put her arms around her mother and encouraged her to sit.  Ruth felt it was her turn to help her mother relax, “I’ll get you some tea with honey and lemon.  Sit here and talk to me while I prepare the tea for you.” 

Ruth entered the kitchen, and as she prepared the tea, she decided it might be a good idea to talk to Pop about Mom.  She asked Mom again about dinner.  “What have you planned for dinner?”

Mom’s reply made Ruth’s mouth water, “I have a ham roast in the oven, with my special gravy.  I’ve made mashed potatoes and a salad.  I’ve also baked fresh crescent rolls.” Mom’s reply sounded tired. 

Ruth placed the cup of tea in front of her mother. 

“Mom,” Ruth said, “I have never seen you so jumpy.  Are you sure you’re all right?” 

Mom answered simply, “I’m only tired.”  She quickly drank the hot tea and asked Ruth to make another cup.  Walking toward the kitchen, Ruth heard her mother say, “I’m not sleeping well.  It’s nothing to be concerned about.” Then she added, “Could you bring a glass of water with that tea?”

Pop soon arrived home from milking the cows.  The meal was ready to be served.  “Hurry and wash your hands,” Mom urged.  Ruth did most of the talking during their meal.  She explained about her court notification and the Judge’s ruling.  She added that she would begin her public service work on Monday at the Riverview Animal Shelter.  “I will need to meet Mrs. Huffman at 7:00 a.m.,” Ruth explained.  “She is the shelter’s supervisor.” 

The rest of the dinner conversation consisted of comments on the food and requests like “pass the rolls” or “more potatoes?” 

Ruth noticed that her mother seemed to be drinking a lot of water with her meal but decided it was just because they had been eating a ham roast.

After dinner, as her mother cleared the table, Ruth motioned for Pop to come outside to talk.  Once they were outside, Ruth asked, “Can you get an appointment for Mom with the family doctor?”  Pop looked puzzled at the request and asked, “Why?” 

Ruth went on to tell about Mom’s scream and added, “Mom keeps saying she is tired, and she seems to be drinking a lot of water.  She is jumpy and easily startled most of the time.” 

Pop thought about Ruth’s observations and decided it would be wise to also get an appointment for himself.  “That way I can tell your mother that I felt it was a good time for us to get a routine check-up and I believe she will agree to see the doctor.”
Pop set up the appointment for Wednesday of the following week.  Pop called it a “routine check-up,” but the results of the tests did not end up in being routine.

In another part of town, Donald was working with the Animal Control Officer.  He enjoyed the flexible hours and his boss, Mike, was a pleasant and friendly fella.  Donald thought, I’ve been able to observe the community as well as keep an eye on Valerie.  I’ll make her regret the day she threw me away!  I’m going to make her feel miserable!  She’ll be sorry for doing such mean and uncaring act toward me, her own child!


With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through

As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my endeavor.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication
As the cold spring rains turned into the dry heat of summer, Goldie’s puppies grew larger and stronger.  Each day, Mom continued to teach us lessons in listening with our eyes.  I knew that I was Mom’s best student.  Mom would always tell me, “Sassie, you need to pay attention!”  I liked learning a new skill.

The prey knowledge was an important survival skill.  Mom taught us the parts of the predatory sequence which began with the eyes, then the stalk, then the chase, followed by the bite, then kill, and finally dissect.  I had already been using my eyes to scan the areas around me.  

If I saw something interesting, I seemed to automatically stare intensely at the object.  My body shifted my weight onto my front toes.  My ears were pricked forward, and at this time I might do a prey bow.  Sometimes I would get small, walk quietly, and perform a stalking movement toward my intended target, before I did the prey bow. The Prey Bow is the position I take just before I case my victim.  My back legs are tense and ready to push me forward.  My elbows do not touch the ground and my front legs are braced.  All my muscles are ready for action.

I would then spring into a chase.  During the chase my head would be lowered, my ears pricked, and I would have an intense fixed gaze on my target.  Other than the capture of my prey, the chase was the most exciting part of the hunt.  When I attacked my victim, I would give it an additional shake to kill it.  These hunting skills were needed if we were to survive.  Sometimes I would lay in wait and patiently watch a rabbit hole, but more often I would sniff out or search the area for our food.  We needed to hunt for food in the wooded area we called home.

One day as we were hunting we saw an animal that stood on two feet.  Mom told us that this animal was a man.  She warned us that man was a danger and should be avoided.  We practiced hiding whenever we came upon this creature. 

Mom had noticed that I would ignore caution whenever I was curious about something.  She would often warn me about this dangerous practice.  I tried to do as she taught and made every effort to listen to my mom, but I wanted to know more about the animal called man.  I saw little reason to fear man.  They moved slowly and looked safe.  They made enough noise, so I always knew whenever they entered the wooded area. 

I made sure that I was well hidden as I watched two men come through an area of the woods.  I did notice that one man was taller and fatter than the other.  They were carrying sticks that I later called “thunder sticks.”  These sticks made a loud sharp crack like the sound of thunder.  If I saw man carrying a thunder stick, I would always move further into the woods to hide, not because of Mom’s advice, but because the loud noise scared me.

Exploring one day, I had traveled a great distance into the woods.  That was when I discovered a dirt road.  As I walked down this road, I saw a large hole that seemed to go deep under one side of the road.  I looked into this hole and saw what looked like some light and dirt a distance from where I stood.  Carefully, I moved into the hole and crawled to the area of dirt and light.  When I crawled out into the light I looked around.  I then realized that I had crawled under the dirt road.  What a great hiding spot, I thought. 

That was when I heard a loud rumble.  I leaped into the hole and crouched back away from the entrance.  The noise became very loud, and I felt a vibration that was scary.  The rumble quickly grew softer and turned into a quieter sound.  The vibration seemed to slowly disappear.  As I crawled out of the hole I could see that something on the road had created a fog of dust.

I realized that my hiding spot was not only good but a safe spot as well.  Knowing I had a safe spot to hide in, I decided to look beside the road and investigate the interesting smells.  I did not wish to wander too far from my safe hideout, but the scent reminded me of food, so I moved forward. 

That is when I discovered the black skin.  I pounced on it and the black skin split open to reveal some food scraps.  I gobbled the food and decided that this black skin held good things to eat.  I looked to see if I could find another such skin and was rewarded several times in my search. 

As I returned to my hideout, I heard another loud rumble.  This time I decided that I wanted to see what created this noise, so I did not go very far into the hole.  The vibration and noise seemed to stop quickly.  As I slowly looked out of my hide-away, I could see a man walking from a large metal object.  He stopped for a moment and threw one of those black skins into the woods.  He hopped back into the metal thing.  I heard the loud noise start, and his metal object moved away from me.  I realized that man came with this metal object, and that this was what had caused the dirt fog.


With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through

As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my endeavor.

GOOD GRIEF, "Take Care of Yourself..."

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation

Take Care of Yourself Physically and Mentally

Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.
                                         — Eleanor Brownn, Author

     Some people increase physical and/or mental activity during such times to distract them from the reality and pain of this situation. Keeping busy occupies their mind and their time and provides a self-protective mechanism used for coping. Others decrease their activity and become more sedentary and withdrawn and retreat into isolation. Either choice is an extreme with its own negative effects. Balance is the key to survival here.

     Although you may have the tendency to deal with your grief and loss by withdrawing from the world, shutting yourself in darkness and curling up in bed trying desperately to block out everything, life still moves forward and you are still among the living. This, “doing nothing,” is a paralysis of mind, body, and spirit that is unhealthy and of no service to you or the loved ones who care about you. Embracing this numbness and paralysis is emergency self-care at first and acts as a self-protective mechanism of survival. But remember, this is only the beginning and there is much to do and learn on this journey through grief and loss.

     So, what you need to do…what I forced myself to do…was to keep moving and doing the routine tasks of living. These included cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, sweeping the floor, reading a book, taking a walk and other activities.

It does not matter what activity you choose — just move! Activity helps you get outside yourself and focus on a task, very helpful to use pent-up emotional energy. Doing this may even help you sleep better, too.

     Others may deal with grief and loss by being constantly busy as their way to block out everything — not allowing time to really think, feel, or process the loss. Here again, life still moves forward.  And although you are actively moving among the living, you are really “not living.” This, too, causes a halt to the processing of life events and is of no service to you or those who care about you. So, what you need to do is to slow down and allow time to think and feel.  Keeping a friend at hand or at least a phone call away for support is extremely helpful.

     I continued working for several months after my husband died. Was it helpful? Yes, at first. The continued routine helped to push some of the grieving to the back of my mind. However, as time moved on, I realized that I was going in circles and getting nowhere.  I was stuck in moments of grief that kept me repeating “woe is me.” I was exhausting myself mentally, physically, and spiritually trying to function in both worlds: my work routine world and my grief and loss world — neither of which was going well. I had to do something before I fell apart.

     Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others.
                 — Bryant Mc Gill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration                                                for Living Your Best Life

     So, I took a deep breath and stepped back to decide how to find a balance between too-busy and too-idle. I did this by making healthy choices in self-care for myself. You can do this too.

     First, I just made simple choices. Making a big plan required too much thought and work. I knew that I needed to include both activity and rest in my physical and mental self-care plan.

I had such tension and pain in my neck and back that these created structural issues. So, I scheduled a visit to the chiropractor before we went to Florida. What a relief I got from my first visit and adjustment! Then I had another adjustment after I returned from our trip to Daytona Beach and ritual spreading of ashes in the ocean.

I asked myself, “Why did I deny myself this treatment, knowing full well that I would feel great afterward. Was I trying to punish myself by suffering in pain?”

Like me, you’ll probably deny it, but it does have some truth to it. Misery loves company, right? It was a start, and that is all it takes to make a change. You are worthy of self-care and feeling good.

     Later, I had a cranio-sacral treatment (a spinal energy realignment technique) with my practitioner, which really helped open up my body and relieved a lot of stress. I went for walks with friends, did grocery shopping, joined the gym’s “Silver Sneaker’s” program for seniors, biked with my daughter and felt better. There are many other activities that can be chosen depending on the individual’s interest.

Self-care is your friend — just choose it!

Two and a half years after the loss, I am working with a local chiropractor, Dr. Dan Wilson in Cornelius, NC, who developed a long-term plan of care that has led to significant improvement in my mobility, decreased pain and ease of participating in activities of daily living. I can now walk up and down stairs normally instead of one step at a time. I can sleep without back or hip pain. I can walk for 2 miles without distress…and so much more. No more sporadic quick-fix trips for me — I’m sticking to my plan!

Also, take time to sit quietly and think about your circumstances and how you feel. Talking to others may be helpful; sometimes talking to a professional may be needed. Another strategy is to keep a journal, writing down thoughts and feelings as you process through the loss. I address this in a separate section.

     Sleep is not on good terms with broken hearts. It will have nothing to do with them.
                                                     Christopher Pike, Author

     Getting adequate sleep and rest is another way to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Sleep was a challenge at first, so I took naps whenever I felt like it. Sometimes, I would like to have retreated into a coma and disappeared for a while. I had to laugh at myself. You know that’s not happening. There’s too much to do.

     It’s good for you to know this “coma” thought occurs. It’s normal. Just “don’t do it.”

     The mind continues to replay hundreds of events, memories, and all the “I wish” thoughts that torment your nights. So, you cry yourself to sleep, or you go sleepless, or at least not remembering if you fell asleep or not. This too improves over time.

What helped me is that I kept on a normal schedule and continued to use a sleep CD that I had already used for a long time. Only under this new set of stresses, I had to sometimes replay it two, three, or even four times. The normalcy of this was very comforting. However, I needed to change the usual CD I used while my husband was alive to another one of my favorites with soothing tones for Chakra balancing. The old one elicited memories of him when I played it each night and he was sleeping beside me. Making this change worked much better.

     I also visited my doctor, who offered me “something for sleep” if I needed it. A generous offer and sometimes helpful; however, I chose to forgo this option. It is worth consideration for temporary relief, but only under a doctor’s care. Sleep is often elusive when it is quiet and you are alone lying in bed — your mind actively replaying and reliving events while you judge yourself harshly. This creates even more pain and sorrow. How to deal with this is unique to the individual.

     My self-care was to stop worrying about “not getting enough sleep” and instead to find something to do while I was awake. When I started rehashing events, I wallowed in self-condemnation for a while. Then, I just said, Cheryl, stop beating yourself up. You weren’t perfect. Get over yourself. Think of something good, happy, positive and get a grip.

Well, if you keep telling yourself this, it works and you feel better. Maybe you still won’t sleep better for a while, but you will feel less stressed. Sleep will eventually happen. Give yourself time to adjust.


·       I nourish my mind and body.
·       I breathe deeply and fully and relax my body.

·       I get the sleep I need every night, and my body appreciates how I take care of it.


With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link: 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

WHAT EVER HAPPENED...? Janet Schliff's Speaking Schedule

What Ever Happened to My White Picket Fence?: My Brain Injury from My Massive Brain Tumor


What Ever Happened to My White Picket Fence?
My Brain Injury from My Massive Brain Tumor


Where Janet’s been in 2018

Janet Johnson Schliff spoke at the Oblong Books Bookstore in Rhinebeck, NY, on Tuesday, February 6 at 6 p.m.

Janet was on WKNY Radio 1490 in Kingston, NY, on Thursday, March 1 at 9:10 a.m. 

Janet spoke at Barnes & Noble in Kingston, NY, on Saturday, March 3 at 1 p.m. 

Janet spoke at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on March 6 at 7 p.m. 

Janet spoke at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY, on March 17 at 2 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff, NY, on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. 

Janet spoke at RCAL in Kingston, NY, on April 3 at 4 p.m. [They gave her an impromptu book-launch party.]

Janet spoke at the Parkinson's Support Group at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on April 4 at 2:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Stone Ridge Library in Stone Ridge, NY, on April 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Hurley Library in Hurley, NY, on May 4 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Kingston Library in Kingston, NY, on May 9 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Staatsburg Library in Staatsburg, NY, on May 14 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Clinton Community Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on May 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Mountain Top Library in Tannersville, NY, on June 9 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Gardiner Library in Gardiner, NY, on June 11 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Marbletown Community Center in Stone Ridge, NY, on June 20 at 6 p.m.

Janet was interviewed on radio station WTBQ-FM (93.5) on June 29 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Esopus Library in Port Ewen, NY, on July 13 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Pine Plains Library in Pine Plains, NY, on July 20 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Ulster Library in Kingston, NY, on July 23 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Northern Dutchess Bible Church in Red Hook, NY, on August 11 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at a writers' group in Rosendale, NY, on August 30 at 2 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in New Paltz, NY, on September 6 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie, NY, on September 15 at 2:30 p.m.

Janet was interviewed on radio station WRIP-FM (97.9) on September 21 at 8 a.m.

Janet again spoke at the Mountain Top Library in Tannersville, NY, on September 22 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Enchanted Cafe in Red Hook, NY, on September 28 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Hyde Park Library in Hyde Park, NY, on October 4 at 7 p.m.

Janet participated in an Author Weekend at the Barnes & Noble in Poughkeepsie, NY, on October 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Tivoli Library in Tivoli, NY, on October 22 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Germantown Library in Germantown, NY, on November 7 at 6:00 p.m.

Janet’s interview for the TV program Wake Up with Marci on the You Too America Channel aired on Monday, November 5, and Friday, November 9. It is now available on the Internet.

Janet participated in the Red Hook Middle School’s College and Career Cafe in Red Hook, NY,  on December 19 at 10:30 a.m.


What Ever Happened to My White Picket Fence?
My Brain Injury from My Massive Brain Tumor


Where Janet’s headed in 2019…

Janet will speak at the LaGrange Association Library in LaGrange, NY, on Wednesday, September 11, at 6:00 p.m.

Janet will speak at the Pawling Senior Center in Pawling, NY, on Wednesday, October 9, at 12:00 p.m.

Janet will speak at the Sarah Hull Hallock / Milton Library Tea in Milton, NY, on Friday, November 1, at 3:30 p.m.

Janet has been invited to speak at high school health classes, hospitals, and senior centers, dates to be determined.

Where Janet’s been in 2019

Janet spoke at the Poughkeepsie Brain Injury Support Group at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall in Poughkeepsie, NY, Saturday, February 23 at 12 p.m. 

Janet spoke at the Stanford Free Library in Stanfordville, NY, Saturday, March 9 at 10 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Howland Library in Beacon, NY, Wednesday, March 20 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the West Hurley Library in West Hurley, NY, Saturday, March 23 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the East Fishkill Library in Hopewell Junction, NY, Monday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Grinnell Library in Wappingers Falls, NY, Saturday, March 30 at 10:30 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Dover Plains Library in Wingdale, NY, Friday, April 5 at 6 p.m.

Janet participated in an Author Talk at the Saugerties Library in Saugerties, NY, Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Red Hook Community Center in Red Hook, NY, Wednesday, April 24 at 5 p.m.

Janet participated in the Authors’ Event at the New Creations Gift Shop in Fishkill, NY, Saturday, May 4 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at St. Timothy's Church in Hyde Park, NY, Sunday, May 5 at 11 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Moffat Library in Washingtonville, NY, Saturday, May 11 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Beekman Library in Hopewell Junction, NY, Saturday, May 18 at 10:30 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Pleasant Valley Library in Pleasant Valley, NY, Tuesday, May 28 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Blodgett Memorial Library in Fishkill, NY, on Saturday, June 8 at 1:00 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Westchester Medical Center's "Lunch and Learn" in Valhalla, NY, on Friday, June 14 at 12:00 p.m. (And because this went so well, she has been invited to speak at two more hospitals, dates to be determined.)

Janet spoke at the Fishkill Ability Center in Fishkill, NY, on Thursday, July 11, at 11:00 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Marlboro Public Library in Marlboro, NY, on Tuesday, July 16, at 7:00 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Plattekill Public Library in Modena, NY, on Saturday, July 20, at 1:00 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Rosendale Senior Center in Rosendale, NY, on Wednesday, July 24, at 2:00 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Newburgh Free Library in Newburgh, NY, on Monday, July 29, at 7:00 p.m.

More talks are being planned for 2019… contact her at 845.336.7506 (h) or 845.399.1500 (c).

17 July 2019

Sunday, July 14, 2019


Ruth did not remember how she got to the farm.  She did remember crying in her father’s arms.  When Pop had them join Mom, Ruth began to explain the reason for the blood on her clothes.  She told them about her anger and how she had lost her job.  They talked for hours.  She told them everything.  Mom’s solution for every problem seemed to be food.  She insisted Ruth should have something to eat. 

At first, Ruth told her mother that she was not hungry, but when Mom’s macaroni and cheese was placed in front of her, she began to eat.  After her meal, Mom had her move to the living room sofa and suggested that she try to relax by listening to some soothing music. Ruth was able to relax, but whether it was the music or the roller coaster of emotions, she fell into a sound sleep. 

When Mom looked in to check on Ruth, she was happy to see that Ruth was softly snoring.  Mom went to the linen closet, took out a small blanket and gently covered Ruth.

Ruth awoke the next morning to the smell of her mother’s applesauce muffins and her favorite brand of coffee.  Ruth rubbed the sleep from her eyes and ambled to the kitchen.  On the table were Mom’s homemade grape jelly, a tray of hot muffins, and a cup of coffee already poured and ready for her.  She immersed herself in the old, familiar breakfast routine and indulged in the comfort of old habits.  After breakfast she began to cry.

Ruth knew she owed several months of rent on her new apartment.  She had hoped to pay all that she owed this month, but her anger destroyed that option.  She realized that she probably would be receiving an eviction notice soon. 
Ruth wondered, should I ask my parents if I may move back home?  The thought seemed pleasant.

“I hope you have not eaten all of those muffins.” Pop teased as he reached for the coffee pot and poured himself a cup of coffee.  This coffee had also been his favorite brand.  Pop had been thinking and felt that Ruth needed comfort.  He also wanted his favorite daughter to come home to rest.  So, before Ruth could say a word, Pop told her that he wanted her to move back home.  Ruth again started to cry, but these were tears of joy. 

That afternoon Ruth moved everything from the apartment to the farm.  Her last stop was at the post office to pick up her mail and fill out a change-of-address card.  When the post office clerk said she had a registered letter, Ruth expected it would be a letter from her landlord. 

Instead, it was a notification to appear in court for an assault charge.  Ruth had heard that Toni had suffered a broken nose and a gash on her head.  Ruth worried as she signed for the letter.  She decided just to be grateful for being able to live in her parents’ home. She’d worry about the court situation tomorrow.

 Ruth was expected to help with the farm chores.  She had always enjoyed working on the farm and was delighted to be able once again to help her parents.  Mom’s garden produced a large variety of vegetables.  Mom would pack bushel baskets of tomatoes, peppers, or zucchini, and Pop would deliver these bushels to various grocery stores and even the Mom and Pop stores.  In the past, Ruth had always helped Pop with this process.  It felt like old times when Pop asked her to join him again.  The grocery stops were the same as she remembered.

One day when they arrived back home, Pop and Ruth headed for the kitchen.  As Ruth was getting a glass of water, Pop noticed that Mom seemed to be very quiet.  She was having a problem trying to hide the fact that she was upset.  Pop put his arm around her and gently asked, “What’s wrong?” 

Mom tried to ignore Pop’s concern and said, “My mood is not important.” 

Pop would not accept this answer and said, “Maybe so, but you are important to me!”  

He insisted that he wanted to know what was bothering her.

Mom explained, “I keep thinking that someone is watching me.  I thought I caught a glimpse of a stranger behind a tree.” Mom wanted to convince Pop that she was okay, so she added, “It’s probably nothing.” She kept repeating that she had been tired and probably had been imagining things. 

Ruth got an uneasy feeling about Mom.  Why would a strange man watch her?   She had never known Mom to be scared.  Ruth was not sure if she should be concerned about her mother or just believe that it was all due to being tired.

That night as Ruth was getting ready for bed, she picked up the court notification letter and re-read it for the tenth time.  Tomorrow was the appearance date.  She never did call a lawyer to represent her.  She couldn’t afford a lawyer, so she thought, why bother?

She had not shared this letter’s information with her parents.  She was just too ashamed to admit that her bad behavior resulted in hospitalization for her boss.  Would the judge put me into jail? she wondered as she climbed into bed.  She thought about praying for mercy but knew she did not deserve kindness after what she had done.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Donald had sold his parents’ house and had hired a very good detective.  The detective’s search was successful.  He found the name and location of Donald’s birth mom.  Her name was Valerie and she lived in upper New York State.  Giving him a map of Valerie’s location and a packet with the rest of the information, he wished Donald good luck. 

Donald studied the map and then decided that he was going to upper New York State the next day.

He got up early, and after a quick breakfast he began to travel north.  It was late in the day when he arrived near his destination.  He rented a room at a local motel.  He decided to take a shower and get a good night’s sleep.  He would check out the area in the morning. 

The next morning was sunny but not too warm.  He had seen a diner near the motel the night before, so he decided to walk over and get some breakfast.  When he entered the diner, he took a seat at the first booth.  The waitress saw him and brought a menu.  

“Would you like some coffee while you’re looking at the menu?” she asked. 

“Yes, thank you,” Donald replied.  After giving a quick look at the menu, he asked the waitress, “Do you have any specials?”  The waitress pointed to the board above the register.  Donald smiled and said, “I’ll take your handyman’s special.”    Then he asked the waitress another question.  “I just moved to town and am looking for work.  Do you have any suggestions?” 

“Our local newspaper may have something for you.  I’ll get our copy for you to look at.”  When the waitress handed him the newspaper, she topped off his coffee and then went to greet a couple that had just entered the diner.

Donald looked at the want ads as he ate his breakfast.  He jotted a few job locations and their phone numbers on his napkin.  Paying his bill, he returned to the motel to get his car and drove around the local area.  He found Valerie’s house.  Seeing her in the yard, he decided to park his car farther down the road in a location that could not be seen from Valerie’s home. 

He slowly walked back to take a closer look at his birth mom.  He managed to stay out of sight and watched Valerie plant flowers near the front porch.  He saw that she was pretty and that her hair was long and white.  He heard her singing as she worked in the garden.  There were several cats in the yard, and they seemed to like being near Valerie. 

Donald’s mixed emotions turned to a bitter anger as he felt the pain of not being wanted as a baby.  I was just unwanted garbage! he thought as he quickly returned to his car. 

At the car, he pulled out the notes he had taken when he was looking at the newspaper want ads.  He pulled out the one describing a need for a driver at the Animal Control 

Headquarters and decided to apply for this job. 

When he got to the Animal Control Headquarters, he filled out an application, sat down and waited for his interview.  A short time later, Mike called Donald into his office. 

“Please have a seat.” Mike said.  “I see by your application that you have lived in New York City. What brings you to Upstate New York?”

Donald replied, “My friends had mentioned a lot of good things about the Adirondacks, so I decided to see this area for myself.”

Mike pondered for a moment, and then decided that if this man had driven around in New York City, then he would be a good driver here.  “The job is yours if you want it.”  When Donald nodded his head yes, Mike said, “You can start 9:00 a.m. tomorrow” They shook hands and parted.
Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through

As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my endeavor.