Donning Fox Gloves

In our lives so many moments are pivotal and yet it is often only in hindsight that we realize moving forward led us there. The human ability to move forward fascinates me because, as a PTSD survivor who still endures triggering episodes that can last a week or longer, I wonder how some make moving on look so easy when tomorrow can be a challenge for me depending on today.

Humans are all so different and nothing illustrates this more than our stress responses. Some work best under stress. Some cannot work under any stress at all. Even trauma responses are so varied it leaves me wondering how nothing bothers some and everything bothers others. My mother used to say I was like the princess and the pea, I could feel anything anytime. “If there’s something wrong, Janice will feel it.” She was right and it’s still true.

I read some years ago about a couple who witnessed the same car accident and nearly two decades after witnessing that tragic scene, the woman was still having nightmares while the man was able to process it and never looked back. And before you go thinking this may be a male or female matter, it is not. I know of first responder men with PTSD who cannot get out of their homes while some women who were working alongside them are doing just fine.

For me this may come down to being another nature versus nurture matter. It seems some are born with an innate resilience that carries them through all life challenges big or small while others are born naturally more sensitive to the slightest speed bump in life. Of course I wonder if parenting/nurturing contributes to how we cope in life. Yet, my parents were both survivors who lived through much which, as role models, should have prepared all of us kids with a survivor’s coping mechanism. Yet, some of us are as hardened as they come while the slightest negative tone of voice can still hurt the rest of us as old as we now are. Some are good at “putting the gloves on” for battle while the rest of us don’t even want any gloves.

My own “dream time” defeats me when under stress in that I can nightmare for weeks. The source of stress that triggers this can be anything at all. From my own physical health challenges to worrying about a loved one, from financial stress to social stress of having to be in a large group for several hours running. Some days the daily routine of self care is all it takes to overwhelm and paralyze me. Other fortunate days I think to myself, oh wow, I don’t think I have PTSD anymore. Then, after being triggered yet again (usually by mean, rude or abusive people), I realize I may never be free of PTSD.

What prepares us to react better to trauma or challenges? It could be said that the more we survive and cope with life challenges, the better we grow at coping. To some extent there is a learning curve to life that means we naturally develop and refine our life skills as we go along which is my experience. Yet an unforeseen life changing event can alter everything as it did for me, out foxing all my coping abilities when I was physically assaulted into PTSD.

Perhaps we are all like foxglove blossoms born of one stalk yet our internal freckling so different there may never be a complete answer to any of this. Happen there may be greater peace in simply accepting and supporting one another however we are, wherever we are.

(c) Janni Styles


Humble Sandwiches

Sandwiches don’t get a fair break in this world. What led me to think this was reading a morning piece about two women on corona virus lock down in their Tenerife hotel room with no food and only four bottles of water between them. How I wish I could take them some sandwiches was my first thought because sandwiches were the first easy to make and transport meal that flew into my head.

From there I thought of a conversation I had with my mother in her latter years where we shared our love of sandwiches. “I could eat sandwiches for every meal!” my mother announced. “Oh so could I!” I said. We then launched into all the kinds of sandwiches we favored with egg salad at the top of each of our lists. My mother made the best egg salad sandwiches ever. Obviously growing up in a household where sandwiches were so revered and where home made bread was once the norm has left me forever imprinted by “the sandwich.”

if you have bread and most any other ingredient, you have a sandwich. Of course most think of meat or fish or cheese or peanut butter or jam or molasses or honey or mashed beans or eggs or…see what I mean?

Sandwiches as comfort food go back a long way. In my twenties I was down because I didn’t get a job I wanted. I felt flattened because I thought the interview went really well. I went to see a friend and share my disappointment. My friend said, let me make you a nice sandwich. It didn’t totally erase the sting of not getting the job but it sure tasted good.

An in-law in his eighties still shares stories of stomping over to a great auntie’s home whenever he was upset  or angry at an older sibling. There in her kitchen his auntie sat with him sharing tea and jam sandwiches she’d made for him which likely served to heal his emotions just as much as being in her safe, warm kitchen.

Sandwiches are the perfect traveler pack and carry food from working in the fields to a Sunday family picnic. My father used to pack peanut butter or baloney sandwiches for us all whenever we took a ferry to or from the mainland. Initially a cost saving measure, those ferry sandwiches live among my best childhood family memories.

Apart from being so portable sandwiches are quick and easy to make. If you have a baguette and cheese, you have an instant breakfast. If you have bread and meat, you have a meal, no butter or mayo needed.  You can use veggies, avocado, sprouts, chicken salad, tuna salad, whatever you please between two pieces of bread and away you go.

Another sandwich story I will never forget was shared by another senior in law . This “auntie” often tells the story of her wedding day by mentioning first “we had sandwiches.” “I love sandwiches,” I said, “nothing wrong with sandwiches!” She goes on to say they’d had very little money for their wedding and that was all they could afford. Everyone gets that with some weddings these days happening as a tea rather than a meal or as a potluck where closest relations do all the cooking. Most of us don’t even care what we eat, we are just happy to be included whether there is a tea, a meal or a humble sandwich. Her wedding photos are so beautiful, they live forever as testament that sandwiches are a wonderful food fit for any occasion

One of my own aunties is now ninety and still in her own home doing all her own baking and cleaning. On our last phone call together after Christmas she said she’d just baked some bread and was having some for supper. Oh shut up! I said and we laughed. Her key to health and longevity might just be in that toasted tomato sandwich she has every morning for breakfast. Whatever her secret is to aging well, I want the recipe and something tells me it will likely be a sandwich.

So my hope today is that someone near that hotel in Tenerife will take those two women sandwiches every day until they are able to go home. I know I would if I were near enough. Since reading about those women I’ve learned there are 1,000 hotel guests on lock down. My hunch is a humble sandwich wouldn’t be unwelcome while they all wait to get back home.

(c) Janni Styles





The Bike Series: No Name

tidy orchard rows

decades ago

planted in true love


no room for flyers

with mismatched wings

on a solitary dove


many stop to partake

rescuing the bruised

from shifting ground


overcome with heady fragrance

never hearing the quiet

lonesome sound


of one brave tree

rooting apart

breaking straight lines


the inner rings

and outer calls

resisting all confines


against the sturdy trunk

stands a rusted

two spirit ride


wood arms cradling steel

love has no name

hearts will abide



(c) Janni Styles




Day 20

Day 20 of the 30 Day writing challenge is: post about three celebrity crushes.

Okay this could take me a while because I don’t really have any crushes on anybody, celebrity or otherwise.

When I was a kid I did, I guess, so that will have to do. In no particular order:

Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy. Yes I am that old lol

Which leads me to add also in no particular order, Morgan Freeman (the brilliant soulful human actor) and the late David Bowie (brilliant at everything).

See? Told you I’m old.



Old Groves

somewhere between

ocean fragrant breezes

and flexing

whispering trees

my own language



triggering unease


all that pain

she fired at me

because she hurts

too much to see

all that pain

she won’t let near

so Invested in serving

her anger muffled ear

pain never mine

misplaced wrath hers to heal

her peace will come only

when she lets herself feel


still learning

me too

how to gratefully

bow away

to write only on sea winds

words I vowed

never again

to say


(c) Janni Styles





Day 18 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge

Day 18 is: Post 30 Facts about yourself. Well, well, well. Wouldn’t that be giving up on being mysterious? Hah! As if. Not one to mince words nor do I care for mystery, bullocks to that, let’s just keep it real, lol, so here goes.

  1. My love of dogs once gave me nightmares when I worked to rescue them from vivisection and could not raise enough funds to save them all.
  2. Since I was a little girl I have yelled about injustice or unfairness, at parents, teachers, whoever, I think it’s in my blood because I cannot seem to stop lol
  3. If I could be a fictional character I would be Lisbeth Salander, love her strength, intelligence and sense of justice.
  4. I love strong spirited women who are honorable, no two faced gossip crap, just straight up loyally supportive as humans should be.
  5. I love strong spirited men who are honorable, no two faced gossip crap, just straight up loyally supportive as humans should be.
  6. I detest people who are rude, wishy washy or who engage in “gang think” to justify their malarky I can’t help calling them out on.
  7. I love vegetables. You may take away the meat or dairy or whatever but I would just die without vegetables.
  8. Ditto for fruit.
  9. People have told me I look like a movie star more than once in my life. (most often these three: Kidman, Streisand, Marilyn)
  10. Climate change is really scaring me. Really scaring me. I do what I can and wish everyone would hurry up and do what they can, too.
  11. I have Fibromyalgia, it runs in my family and is a physically grueling task master.
  12. I have PTSD from a brutal physical assault in 2012, something I never knew much about until I was struck with it.
  13. I don’t believe the number 13 is unlucky at all.
  14. I have a beautiful loving family and long time friends who I would do anything for, their steadfast love and loyalty for me moves me to tears.
  15. I am trying to write another book I think women of all ages will relate to but my energy and pain levels mean this is very slow going. Very slow.
  16. Simple is best, in food, in home, in life, it really is the simple things that make life worth living. Especially simple kindness.
  17. My musical tastes are eclectic.
  18. I like to drive at night time, it is quieter, there is far less traffic, the moody moon and glimmering stars my guides.
  19. I no longer own a car so number 18 may not happen anymore lol
  20. I hold an Interior Design Diploma I never really used because encouraging people to buy new when old still works sticks it to the climate.
  21. I am not afraid of anyone or anything. Not even of death. I will be dead so I won’t care lol
  22. The world is in such chaos at the moment, I take sanctuary whenever I can by the sea, church of all churches in my opinion.
  23. I once worked with victims of violence but did not think I was one myself. Violence takes many, many forms.
  24. I believe if we are constantly seeking peace we will never find it, being at peace wherever we are is where peace lives.
  25. Many have mocked my writing but were very pleased to know me when I was published or won awards for it. Art changes lives, writing is art.
  26. Baths are one of my favorite ways to ease my stresses, even watching the water go down the drain, taking away all that stress.
  27. Sleep is something I often struggle for but, if pain allows, I can sleep 11 or 12 hours straight, catching up on those “short” sleeps I guess, lol
  28. My favorite color is white. Then pink. Then blue. No my wardrobe and home do not resemble a nursery lol
  29. Walking is one of my favorite things to do. With the right shoes on my rare good day I feel like I could just walk forever and ever.
  30. My ideal life would be in a humble, pretty home near the sea with energy enough to write out all these books living in my head.

Day 17



Day 17 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge: Post about your zodiac sign and whether or not it fits you.

My Zodiac sign is only the moment I was born, the full rendering of my chart revealed that I am influenced by many signs:

  • Cancer appears frequently in my chart which fits my love of “nesting” and making all things pretty at home. It also fits my emotional and sensitive side, “feeling” too much has always been very overwhelming for me since childhood.
  • Libra represents my love of balance and harmony and explains why I am so “thrown” when things are out of whack, planets, people, you name it.
  • Aries is where my driven nature resides or, at least, used to. Youthful energies achieved much in my life but, as Aries also go, it could never be enough lol
  • Taurus shows my love of serene environments and beautiful settings. Arts, music and all things relationship live here for me.
  • Gemini means two of me so that worked, that’s how I got all those Aries things done lol
  • Sagittarius represents my unquenchable thirst for knowledge. As a life long learner, I try to learn something new every day and adore reading.
  • Pisces always has one foot in fantasy and this has served my creativity very well from writing to arts and interior design.

More detailed explanation with elements:

Fire signs: Aries, Sagittarius = passionate, dynamic, fiery

Earth Signs: Taurus = grounded, stable, loyal

Air Signs: Gemini, Libra = ideas, motion, action

Water signs: Cancer, Pisces = emotional, intuitive, dreamer

If you limit yourself to reading only the sign you were born under, you may miss a whole other realm of who you really are because no sign is perfect on it’s own. Having a chart done is a cool way to get the “whole picture” and I believe there are some online sites that will help with that, not sure if they are free or not but might be worth checking out if you are curious about your “whole astrological self.”

To answer the challenge, yes, all my signs and corresponding elements “fit me” lol


Day 15

Day 15 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge: Bullet Point Your Whole Day

  1. awoke
  2. opened blinds
  3. opened balcony door to welcome cool, fresh morning air
  4. made a coffee, drank it while reading bits from “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  5. had to rest for a bit
  6. checked social media accounts, shared hopeful posts of “impeachment”
  7. sent message to someone struggling
  8. rested again
  9. answered unusual knock on door (buzzer in apt building)
  10. see RCMP
  11. started shaking, thought they were here to tell me someone else has died
  12. couldn’t stop shaking for a long time after, thank you PTSD (NOT)
  13. they were looking for my neighbour, hmmmm, should I be nervous
  14. answered text messages from loved ones to calm my trembling
  15. rested again
  16. emptied dishwasher and put dirty dishes in, wait, there were no dirty dishes, yet, lol
  17. washed face with beautiful gift of handmade soap, applied sunscreen and told myself I will go walk for a bit, if I have the energy
  18. opened blog to do this challenge and first answered kind commenters on prior posts
  19. rested again
  20. niece needs help, answered her request
  21. sitting with nephews for two hours, rather, they will “sit” me, lol, big boys they are now, good thing because my “littles” skills are no longer lol
  22. trying to get this post done before I fade away altogether, can rest the whole two hours boys are here
  23. haven’t eaten yet, that may help with the energy but what do you eat when you feel like nothing? Somebody cook for me please lol
  24. brought dried tops in from balcony drier, put damp things out to finish drying
  25. rested again
  26. thought about book I am trying to write but so overwhelming just had to say as Aria said “not today”
  27. thought about going down to fetch mail but legs are just too wobbly right now and vertigo is not helping, maybe later
  28. only half way through the day and I need to rest again
  29. opting to bullet point only half of my day here, no point boring you further
  30. That’s it, day 15 done, off to rest, hope you are having a pleasant day!

Day 14

Day 14 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge: Post movies you never tire of watching. Here are a few movies I love in no particular order:

The Red Violin

It’s a Wonderful Life

Forrest Gump

Cider House Rules


The Pianist

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

On Golden Pond

To Kill a Mockingbird

Steel Magnolias

The Deer Hunter

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Glass Castle

Dances with Wolves

The Best Years of Our Lives

Dolores Claiborne


Guardians of the Galaxy

What are some of yours?



Day 13 of 30 Day Writing Challenge

Something I am excited about.

Okay, as a writer mind, I am excited to be writing again. When those periods of “non-writing” strike as they often do whether from illness or a lack of inspiration, I always think I will never write again. Then, when I find myself able to, I am reminded once again that this is a temporary state for most writers. I have books living in my head that I am excited about writing. Word by word, I will get there. Thank you for reading and happy writing. What are you excited about?

Day 12 of 30 Day Writing Challenge

Five Blessings in My Life:

Children who love me deeply and tell me so for over four decades now. Wait. They aren’t really children anymore lol.

Relatives who “get me” – loving my relations, we know who we are. And aren’t, lol

A home, humble though it may be my home is the most safe, peaceful home I have ever known in my life.

The sea, living near the sea reminds me that you can take your troubles to the shore and by the time you leave, the waves will have lapped them all up.

My health, I have  some challenges but am ever so grateful that is all they are.

Love. I know this is a given as a blessing but had to add it because the love I have and know in my life is greater than anything I have experienced before.

There’s my baker’s half dozen, lol. 6 for the price of 5. Thanks for reading, wishing you a pretty day.




Day 11

Day 11 of the 30 day writing challenge: Something that you always think “what if” about.

Again, so much to choose from so here you go:

“What if they knew the truth?”

“What if God is only in our minds?”

“What if raindrops really were Gods teardrops?”

“What if aliens are already here, trying to help us?”

“What if you forget to brush your teeth?”

“What if the last thing you ever get to say is I love you?”

“What if you try your best and it is still not good enough?”

“What if all those years you thought you wasted were educating you to help others free themselves?”

“What if climate change is reversible if we get busy on it right now?”

“What if climate change isn’t reversible no matter how busy we get right now?”

“What if we are already in Revelations?”

That’s 11. Brain hurts. 11 for day 11 is my quota.

Okay. One more for the road.

“What if the last thing you ever get to hear is I love you?”



Day 10 of 30 Day Writing Challenge

Another one that opens up endless possibilities: Write about something for which you feel strongly.

Since I was recently asked to write about the plight of abused children being used by sex traffickers and pedophiles, I will say I feel strongly about protecting children. My voice may not amount to much out there but since I agreed to do this a while back I recently started a series on here toward that goal, and will be sharing more as time progresses. It is my firm belief that “turning away,” “excusing” and “shame blaming” have held many abused people emotional hostage to these crimes right through their adulthood. If we can raise awareness not just in practical terms of educating children to what “danger” may look like but also in sharing what parents should keep an eye out for, I think that would be of service. And what are we here for if not to be of service. A dear long time friend says humans have a tendency to put most tough topics in the “too hard basket” and leave them there. I hope that won’t be the case for my series. I hope it will help or save at least one child somewhere from a nightmarish existence. Watch for my next piece in this series, it is based on a powerful real life situation and I hope my friend’s piece will be a warning bell for everyone using social media.



Day 9 of 30 Day Writing Challenge

Words of wisdom that speak to me:

“I must be a mermaid, I have no fear of depth and a great fear of shallow living.” Anais Nin

“He meant well.” Christy Logan, character from Margaret Laurence’s “The Diviners”

“Once you witness an injustice, you are no longer a spectator, you are a participant and you have an obligation to do something.” ~June Callwood





Day 6 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge


Day 6 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge: 5 Ways to Win My Heart

  1. Be polite. Manners really matter to me. If you are rude, it tells me you are someone I should probably avoid. Nobody in this world needs more rude and especially not those of us who are kind and mannerly toward others. It’s called reciprocity. Mannerly people are a lovely uplifting breed of humans I adore.
  2. Be genuine. “Take me as I am” is a rigid statement that usually means your way or the highway and that’s abusive. No thanks. Ditto for if you are only kind when people can “see” you. Genuine people who are truly themselves really make me feel happy about being human and about humankind.
  3. Be affectionate. Show you care and tell people you love them, life is so short and today may be your last chance. If you are reading this I love you. We may not know each other in the real world but I love that you care enough to read my posts and therefore I love and appreciate you. Thank you.
  4. Never assume. I have a really hard time with people who “assume.” Assumers tend to get all jacked up over nothing and leave me asking “how did you get way over THERE from here?” They usually don’t even know themselves because assuming is direct evidence of errant judgement in the first place. I avoid assumers. People who ask questions thrill me. It shows they care enough to find out the facts for themselves and that is a wonderful human quality.
  5. Don’t be a grudge bearer. Grudge bearers only hurt themselves. I have seen countless lives wasted, steeped in years or entire lives of anger over something that didn’t even warrant getting so upset about in the first place. Whenever I meet a grudge bearer, I steer clear. Not my way, not my thing and not my people. It’s one thing to have a difference with someone but quite another to stew your life away over it. I will never be willing to do that with my life, thank the Gods and Angels. Fair minded communicators who sit down at the table to sort through things in a caring, kind manner win my heart every time. Talking is a very good thing to do.

That’s it, day 6 is done. Funny how I doubted the writing challenge would work. Now I am finding it is getting me writing again. I start thinking and then write more than intended. All good since I was too ill to do much of anything last year. Nothing terminal, thank goodness, so here I am back at it. Thanks always for reading. See you soon.




30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 5

List 5 places you want to visit.

Machu Picchu – since I first learned of this magical place in school when I was 8 years old in grade 3, I have long been fascinated by the prospect of standing where so many ancestors once stood. Apart from the amazing and challenging topography navigated to erect the architecture, the location itself is, to me, a place of beauty and wonder with a mystic attraction unparalleled by any other location on Earth.

Nova Scotia – I have not visited Nova Scotia since childhood and while much has changed, my relatives and roots there have not. Would love to reconnect with all of my wonderful relatives there and spend time with them before we all become too old, too infirm or worse. Sigh. Hoping this will somehow become possible sooner rather than later. New Brunswick, too, such loving family I have there who I have not seen since childhood. Did not list it separately because it is beside NS.

Ontario – For the same reasons as Nova Scotia.

The Bermuda Triangle – my father was fascinated by this area and perhaps it is nostalgia driving this one but there it is, it intrigues me, too.

Europe – for the history, the charm, the art, the architecture, the people.


Day 4 of 30 Day Writing Challenge

Day four of the challenge is “Write about someone who inspires you.”

Oh my sweet Lord, how can I ever narrow it down to just one?  So many admirable souls have achieved so much for so many. This is truly challenging.

Here goes.

Maya Angelou has long inspired me and not just for her beautiful life observations, quotes and writings. Maya suffered horrible abuses in her earlier years and turned that pain into wonderful, moving ways to help others, inspire and give hope to people by always making a difference in every life she touched. Whether as poet, speaker, author, journalist, dancer or singer, Angelou’s activism was evident in all she achieved and she even said once it is her “duty to speak up for everyone.” The title of her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” compelled a question during a filmed interview where Maya was asked, “Why does the caged bird sing?” Maya calmly answered, “Because it must.”

“The caged bird sings because it must.”

Oh how that resonates with my heart and always will. This is why I will never stop “writing the wrongs” as long as my health permits. Because I must.

Jean Vanier is no longer with us either but his outstanding life’s work lives on. He was equally as moving and effective as Angelou at inspiring people to achieve goodness especially for those who cannot speak for themselves, people with developmental disabilities. As a humanitarian philosopher and theologian, Jean received many awards but those pale in comparison to the profound life long effect his work had and still has on so many around the world. The first book I ever read by Jean is called “Becoming Human” and I believe it should be required reading for all human beings. What a better world it would be if we all lived his words.

Okay, I made it. Starting to really fatigue out though so that’s it for now. Hope you are enjoying your day as much as I enjoyed thinking about and writing of two of the most inspiring souls I can think of. Who are yours?




Day 3 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge

It is likely obvious by now that I am doing my thirty day writing challenge when I can. Thanks to Fibromyalgia, life stresses and the daily business of life I am obviously not adhering to the notion that this challenge must be done in 30 consecutive days. That said, there is nothing to stop anyone who would like to do so. I just have no choice but to be here when I feel up to it. This minute I feel up to it. So thanks to all for reading and here goes.

Day 3 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge is: What are your top three pet peeves? Just three? Oh no! How will I choose lol Thinking… can you smell the smoke from my burning brain yet 😉

  1. People who blindly believe what others “say.”  It is our human duty to ask questions, dig for facts and draw our own well researched conclusions. If we don’t do that, we are agreeing to absolutely nothing at all because “hearsay” is not evidence and isn’t even admissible in court except under extraordinary circumstances.
  2. The incessant rudeness on the internet. My mother hated it if we behaved rudely nad let us know in no uncertain terms. She would absolutely blow a gasket if she could see the internet today. People flip one another “off” daily. Many don’t even bother to employ the common courtesy of a reply to a simple polite request. The internet seems to be breeding a mass of mannerless, flip, glib and apparently uncaring people who dismiss others in ways they would be ashamed of doing in person. I believe everything has to go full circle and I just can’t wait for this circle of arrogant rudeness to do just that. And I hope if my mom is watching she will give the “rudesters” all a good cuff on the ear. 😉
  3. The ignorance and denial around climate change. While we watch the catastrophic weather, countless fires and melting ice bergs, people are still consuming, consuming, consuming and wasting, wasting, wasting at far higher rates than our planet can take. Last year scientists said we have 12 years to get this right before climate change is irreversible. We are now in year 11 and counting down. I believe we need governments, federal, provincial and local to be on board with measures to address climate change. People laughed off Trudeau’s ban of single use plastics. I am not a die hard fan of his but I don’t laugh because I appreciate that it is one more step in the right direction. We need more of those. A lot more. Fast. And we have to do our parts as individual citizens who can “collectively” help turn this train around. This means buying only what is “truly needed,” buying second hand, reducing household waste, walking or biking instead of driving, basically just becoming far more “conscious” of how we are each contributing to the problem and change those habits to ensure our loved ones and their children all have a habitable planet to reside on.





Salad Matters

you look out the


of your life

a summer supper of endive salad

with tomatoes

plucked fresh

from patio planters

the daily exchange

of health hurdles

with neighbors

semi annual visits

from duty bound kids

pictures on the computer

of grandchildren

you once met

no more big houses

no more car

no more travelling

no more work

you ask yourself

am I?

Was I?

the weather


a daily event

too hot

too cold

too much rain

not enough rain

am I

the stretching of pennies

never matching the rising


the watering

of hanging

flower baskets


plucking spent leaves

where did I go?

Was I just an


a fringe benefit

in other’s lives

Was I?

Was I ever?

You grab your jacket

and head out

to run errands

on foot

because you

still can

I am!

This is all

that really matters

(c) Janni Styles

The Alchemy of Noise deserves to be on your summer reading list!

“The Alchemy of Noise” by Lorraine Devon-Wilke is a timely story I hope screen writers and movie makers will discover and develop. In the pages of this literary work the ride you embark on will make you stop and think more than once.  The “Alchemy of Noise” is a heart wrenching yet inspirational read as the characters inner lives leave us questioning our own role in dividing or unifying human beings.

Almost poetic in some passages, Devon-Wilke weaves “The Alchemy of Noise” with an intelligent pen of compassion and soulfulness. Her characters are all relatable as you find yourself transported inside the torn social fabric of our contemporary world to first person perspectives of family matters, addiction, police brutality and racism.

While reading I felt such frustration on Chris’s behalf I yelled out loud just as I have been known to do at a movie where I felt the story so strongly. Overcome with anger or utter sadness just as in real life when witnessing injustice, I was so hopefully invested I finished the book in a mere two days. As a woman I relate to protagonist Sidonie in a thousand ways:  her work life, her love life, her family, her human needs. As a life-long activist I relate to Vanessa’s passion for justice and grew to love her for her fighting spirit alone. As a human witnessing racial injustice in the world, I hurt for her, her family, her “sisters” in the trenches, her brother and so many others in the world suffering the injustice of “white privilege.”Chris is such an easy man to love, he is a shining example for men and women alike in my opinion because his way of walking in balance, not anger, is so admirable, so honourable. No more spoilers here, you have to read for yourself to see exactly who I am talking about and what ultimately happens to each of them.

The day I finished reading “The Alchemy of Noise” a post appeared in my social media feed that shocked me:  The gun toting woman was fired from her job, thankfully. Still, this incident is one of many similar injustices still happening daily in 2019. Yes, I said 2019, not 1920. Devon-Wilke poignantly brings this social crisis of racism to light with even-handed examples of human disconnection and the quiet, enduring power of love.

From the challenge of loving narrow minded relations to finding love without trust impossible no matter your race or level of privilege, this book is rich with raw human experience.  Deftly executed with grace and the author’s own keen sensibilities, the story left me wishing it would never end. It is well-paced with moments of epiphany that had me feeling I was not just a reader but part of the story. In some way, we all are.  Every single one of us can take responsibility for changing history for the better, lessons of yesterday are a chance to improve, to hate less, love more and a chance to be at peace with all people.

In my mind Devon-Wilke’s work is right up there with the movie “Crash.” My hunch is “The Alchemy of Noise” would make a block buster movie or a most deserving series with the much needed reminder that we are not separate as human beings, we are one huge “human race.”

(c) Janni Styles

#summerreading #summerbooks #books #summer #worthreading #brilliantbook

Downsizing, Decluttering and Doing Better With Less

A decade ago when I walked away from my more than three decades of marriage I found it challenging to down size my belongings and wound up leaving a lot of things behind. I left him all the house equity, the new truck, most of the three bedroom house full of furniture and many other joint belongings. I didn’t care about many of those things because they represented a life I wanted to leave behind. What got to me were the sentimental things, the photo albums, the family keepsakes collected over the years and my beloved books. How was I ever going to part with my hundreds of books?

Well, I will tell you. I parted with many of them book by book. When storing many of these things at my former marriage home was no longer an option, I took what I could stuff into my one bedroom apartment and drove the rest to the thrift store. Book by book. Ornament by ornament.

My years of dabbling in Interior Design after earning my Interior Design Diploma saw me building collections of textiles from zippered cushion covers to draperies and bedding, cabinet hardware as well as scads of different styles of art. It wasn’t hard to find storage for these items while living in a house. There was always a spare room, a large shed or garage and ample crawl space. Condensing a house full of memories and things I loved down to a one bedroom apartment didn’t happen overnight. It took me quite a few years to get it right.

The funny thing is I didn’t plan it, I just inched into it as changes in my life occurred and decisions had to be made. Like many of the jobs I have held in my life, I just seemed to land in the situation I needed to, learning to declutter by coming into it all sideways. That was how downsizing and decluttering happened for me. It was little by little and as I went along, I really began to see just how much mental, emotional and physical real estate these things were costing me to keep.

At first I was a bit angry that I had to even consider getting rid of so many things I had collected over the years. Then as I drove car load after car load to the thrift store, it seemed I could see clearer and clearer with each trek. What had befuddled me and torn me in half to think of parting with became an easy call as I realized what really mattered to me. The more I had to do it, the easier it became.

For a few years I lived in a two bedroom apartment but the square footage was actually less than my previous one bedroom suite. Recently I had to move again, not by choice but a serendipitous move for me it was. You see, I had to downsize again because I am now in a studio suite that simply will not contain all the things I once owned.

My photo albums matter to me so I have all twenty of those with me. Some books I know I can never part with including all those with my mother’s hand writing in them when she gifted them to me and a collection of literary classics she gave me in my thirties. I was able to pass on to beloved young family members some treasures and gifted other young loved ones with some books and furniture they could use or sell if they wished. It felt a bit like coming full circle to be giving these things away and  not feeling badly about it in any way. My emotional ties were not severed, they just weren’t involved in the practicalities of it all. It was as if my higher self knew this was the right thing to do for all concerned.

My clothes closet was another story altogether. I had hundreds of hangers, over a hundred pairs of shoes and I bet you I had 20 black dresses. When I knew I was moving to a studio apartment near the sea, I knew I would no longer have two closets. My new apartment has very little storage. Off to the thrift store again I went with bags and bags of clothes and shoes I had not worn in years. I whittled it down each week until I was left with 15 hangers not including coats or jackets. This was a massive downsize for me. Gone were the desert boots I hardly wore, the spiky silver sandals I bought for a wedding and never wore again. Gone were all the black dresses save one because, I now know, one is all I really need. Same for my drawers. I had three dressers and am down to one with only what I need in it. And, oddly enough,  some days that still feels like too much.

I think it feels like too much because it is still needy, still needs care, maintenance, cleaning and still takes up valuable real estate. This is the way I view “things” in my life now. I have to really really love it. Or need it. Or I can live without it. I know this now because I am doing it and happily so. Having too many things can absorb a lot of time and that doesn’t make me feel happy. I know many who declutter talk about the sense of freedom. I don’t know that I would call it freeing but it certainly frees up a lot of valuable time. I remember a friend who was downsizing years ago saying “If I have to dust it, I can live without it.” At the time I couldn’t understand her thinking. Now, some twenty odd years later, I get it. She was right. If I have to dust it, clean it, maintain it, store it or otherwise spend my valuable time on it, I don’t need it.

Doing better with less wasn’t something I planned but I am grateful for it because I now look for ways to continue living minimally. Have you ever had to downsize or declutter? How did you handle it and what did you learn about yourself in the process?

When Home Is Not Where the Heart Is

Where we live can make us very, very ill. High pollution areas are treacherous for those with asthma or any other breathing disorder. And nobody will ever forget Julia Roberts in the movie “Erin Brokovich.” Many “Erin Brokovich” folks are working hard daily to improve living conditions for many around the world. But what about not knowing that where you are living is making you sick until after you move? This is exactly what happened to me.

When I first found my last place to live I was excited because it meant I would be moving back to an area I had once lived in for 15 years so I knew it well and was looking forward to living closer to people I love. Living near those I love worked well for those four plus years because it meant no long drives for dear ones to visit me daily or on weekends, easy access for getting together for errands or outings and celebrations. But the joy stopped there unbeknownst to me until my recent move to a new above ground apartment near the sea.

The suite I rented for over four years was in a mansion, around the side gate, along a walk to the back of the house with a pretty yard to a staircase 15 steps down into the ground. No problem, I told myself, I am able so the walk and stairs are no biggie and not seeing any trees or green would force me into going out more. Or so I thought. The windows looked out on a 15 foot high concrete wall. No problem, I told myself, as I gathered “fake greenery” and fashioned a “drape” of it to hang on the concrete wall outside my main (and only) window in the kitchen/living room. The area had only one park nearby and it was not a proper park, just a play pad for tiny tots, really. No problem, I told myself, I have a car, I will drive to parks and green space more often. A dear friend came to see my last suite when I rented it and said, “I just wish you had more windows.” No problem, I told myself, I will just “whiten, lighten and brighten” up the space with paint and fabrics.

As life would have it the area had “devolved” into what I said it would eventually, a ghetto, if the city did not control the negative growth and high influx of criminal elements. They didn’t. In time, I realized with all the deaths of innocent people due to stray bullets of gang violence, the daily crime and the accompanying drug addicts and other unseemly traffic in the area, the area was nothing like it once was when I had lived there for 15 years in the first home I ever owned. No problem, I told myself, I won’t go out at night alone anymore. The problem with that idea was that I was soon too nervous to go out in the day anymore either with the high crime in the area, the addicts dogging you for money or trying to steal your purse as happens almost daily near the bus exchange now, the stray bullets causing almost monthly elementary school lock downs and crack heads tweaking out crazily in broad daylight on the street right outside my house. It was no longer the peaceful, pretty and safe community I had left all those years ago and likely never will be again.

Staying home more was okay. At first. No problem, I told myself, I will just write more. I had no way of knowing that the stresses were already taking their tole with such force that I would soon be in far too much pain and much too ill to write let alone do my own self care. I even stopped writing altogether as the physical side of me started deteriorating so rapidly.

One month into my new apartment I was surprised to see my nails were returning to their former pink glory from the grey, whitish look they’d had and the fragility of rice paper was diminishing. As I type this I can feel my nails which I could not for the past couple of years because they simply would not grow or what tiny growth they had was quickly torn away by the merest of task. This has ceased. I also noticed my hair was dulling in color, looking very unhealthy and falling out a lot at the old place. Aging, I told myself, just aging, soon you will need to buy a hair dye from the drug store, that’s all. Just over a month in my new place and my hair is lustrous, the hairbrush is back to normal instead of enough hair to build a blanket every time I use it and the color has returned. Yes returned. Best of all, I am no longer living in the bathroom. I spent over a year being so ill with my intestinal disorder that doctors recently found has naturally worsened with age. Little did I know that all the stresses of adjusting to my former neighborhood were the greatest triggers for worsening this disorder which resulted in losing over 50 pounds last year. I no longer have to stay home near a bathroom. The only sad thing about it the weight is I could stand not to gain it all back but it is slowly creeping it’s way up. Still, it is a good news situation.

I did nothing extraordinary. I was under no new treatment from any source. I simply moved away from the place that was making me so sick. I am getting better and better every single day. Once when I lived where there was black mold my asthma railed daily and I had to buy very expensive air purifiers just to breathe. That, however, was far more obvious. “Black mold” to me now is any place that does not contribute to our well being. If we are in a job or living in a place that is “black mold” to the heart, soul and mind, we need to address that as best we can to put ourselves in a position of joy. Not everyone can instantly change where they live or their work but we can do small things to improve the situation for ourselves until we can make the big changes that will nourish our soul once again.

If someone had told me that where I live was making me so sick, I had to get out of there, I would have argued with them and said no, it’s just aging, it’s just my body, it’s just life. Nobody did. Nobody ever asked me if where I lived might be affecting my psyche and therefore, my physical health. Nobody knew. I didn’t even know. Until I moved.

For me, it has been like getting my whole life back, having a new chance to live again instead of slowly die as my mind, spirit and body were obviously doing where I was. They say we should never say never but I know one thing for sure: I will never willingly live down in a cave or bunker style home in a crime ridden area again. It nearly killed me the first time and I’m not going to assist in that if I can help it. Each day as I gain back more strength and feel less pain, I realize how much where we live can deeply and even gravely affect us.

Painting all my furniture white and using light fabrics did absolutely nothing to “lift” the heaviness of living in such oppressive darkness where now in my new apartment with a view and the sea right out the front door, my pretty fabrics and white furnishings fairly glow. Just before Christmas when I was watching the children of a young thirty something woman I used to provide daycare for myself, her two sons entered my old place and the six year old said, “How can you live here, you can’t even see when the sun is shining!” Indeed, wise child, indeed.

Have you ever lived where it was not good for your well being? How did you cope until you could move?

(c) Janni Styles

Voices are Vital: Silence Changes Nothing

Many of you already know my story and while it is not the prettiest, I am one of the lucky ones and I know it.

I have a nice, peaceful life filled with many people who love me and appreciate me just exactly as I am which is just exactly how it should be for all of us. Sadly, it too often isn’t so for many. A recent spate of young women dying at the hands of their partners has me talking about these matters again and I know you’ve heard this before, too, but with that innate sense of justice I can never seem to shake since childhood I am compelled to share yet again:

“Once you witness an injustice, you are no longer an observer but a participant.” ~ June Callwood

A dear friend recently interviewed me for her blog and I would like to share that interview with you. So many angels lifted me through those awful years after the assault and Lisa was one of those kind souls who was a bright guiding light on some of my darkest nights. I failed to mention in that interview that I am working on a book I hope to have published by 2020 at the latest, please God and the Angels who watch over me. If it seems I am meandering a bit, I am but not without intent. I mention my story again as a trigger warning because in this interview I talk about what happened to me again.

Recently I stated this “If we stop talking about what must stop happening, it will never stop happening.” This is why we must never stop voicing the truth and keeping it front and center.

Facts can be hard for some to take but for others, they are a sign of hope, a sign of strength and a sign that they, too, can have a better life. On that note, I will say goodnight and share with you my recent interview, enjoy:

Celebrating Women: Janni



The Travelers

I am not a well traveled person

Unless you count human hearts

Those I’ve traversed in numbers

Proved loving among fine arts


So many electric connections

So many eclectic perfections


Time building loyal bonds

Over miles of emotions’ dark night

Down back roads of human minds

Shared relief in laughter’s early light


So many winding paths to wander

So many heart seasons to ponder


Entire mountain ranges undone

Stone by vast heavy stone

When wearied hearts thought

Themselves battling all alone


So much love from so many

How can some not have any?


My stories aren’t of destinations

No photos of grand places I’ve been

I’ve been to the heavens of hearts

To places that are felt not seen


If tomorrow should I fall

I’ve done the best travel of all


My stories are of navigating souls

Who loved me pure as I they

Souvenirs will never line my shelves

Our hearts is where they stay


© Janni Styles







The Rose Series: Hearts

some roses are born to love

some live just to poke holes

they are the misery dwellers

you must stay away from those

some roses are born for the love

they won’t let their thorns prick

hurting other roses so foreign

mere thought leaves them feeling sick

some roses were born of pure love

giving safety, protection and lift

they know all roses can live out this love

you just have to give away your gift

(c) Janni Styles


The Bike Series: Tilda

Matilda was born to a dirt poor clan in the great depression. She survived it all to tell of times when she finally “made it,” of not having to scrape for every bite of food anymore and of those times when she was without a man. “Of course,” she’d say, “back then you were nothing without a man.” In as many words she explained why so many women had “settled,” including herself. There was no one or nothing to fault. It was just the way in those times. Oh well, she’d say,  I burned three men out, they all died on me so that’s enough of that for me. Tilda, as those of us fond of her liked to call her, danced every Saturday night at the dance hall right up to the weekend before she peacefully passed in her pretty bed in the little two bedroom bungalow she had lived in for fourty years, the last twenty of those years happily on her own.  My memory of her always goes immediately to a pair of red leather lace up almost knee-high boots. She just had to have them when she saw them in a store despite the hefty price tag. She was already seventy by then. Even in her eighties she tied those boots on as often as she could. Tilda with her walker to stabilize herself, prancing through the mall showing off her red boots as if she wasn’t a minute over twenty. I still think of her from time to time, how she started life on such a rickety bike but by God, she knew how to ride.

(c) Janni Styles

The River Runner

one slippery rock

slid me barefoot

into roaring turbulence

ankles yanked by undertow

surface rapids no measure

of rogue currents below

tearing my born will apart

no besting a black river heart

frozen over cold

too hard to think too much

thoughts of home and kin and heaven

and of shores I could not touch

mind succumbs envisioning

one lonesome rocking chair

half love no love at all

one wing dangling in clear air

brain numbs, body slams

against herds of wordless boulders

everywhere glass shoulders

I clung

for every


I clung for

very life

hurling over the falls

that left me

nearly dead

Oh, that almighty river

I rode

a long mapped

bloodless vein


your blighted head

(c) Janni Styles

The Rose Series: The Cutting

one branch

seven sisters

only two true

the rest conditional

one true dead now

others mock

lone true

say if she were on fire

they wouldn’t piss on her

their hateful wrath

necessary for them to

feel happy

so sad

so wasteful

thorning themselves

to death

with too many days of hate

time’s harsh clock will not wait

plain to see

which rose truly lives

and which one will die

guilt free

(c) Janni Styles


The Bike Series: Cycles

you were sitting in the parking lot

the winter pavement so cold and unbending

unable to speak a single word

your lonesome tears of shame unending


memories of your father flashed

we found him long ago in the streets

his tears like yours a waterfall

in your brother’s arms in our back seat


family all gone save your stranger brother

I wish I knew who to call for you

all I can hear is your breaking voice echo:

”I don’t know what to do,







(c) Janni Styles