Epilepsy: My Story

You are imprisoned. Your captors are known for their cruelty. You are in an unfamiliar land, far from anyone who will help you. Worse yet, your family and best friends are imprisoned, separated from you. Finally, a guard tauntingly tells you a thing you’ve been dreading more than your own fate. Tomorrow at eight A.M., fourteen hours from now, your loved ones will be tortured and killed in front of you. The floor drops out from beneath you, then rises up, spinning, catapulting you into a hateful whirlpool of nausea. You are freezing, but you are sweating. You have never felt so completely abandoned, even by God. Satan has never felt so close. It feels as if someone takes every memory and thought you’ve ever had out of your head, dumps them on the floor, then throws them back into your head in a jumbled mess. Nothing is familiar, and yet you have been through this before. After a few hours, you are physically exhausted. Finally, you accept that there is absolutely nothing more you can do to escape or help your loved ones. Continue reading “Epilepsy: My Story”

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Blog Feature Explained: Heartletters

I don’t have to know you to care about you, and I don’t have to have met you in person to speak a kind word to you when you need it.

After reading between the lines of one cryptic social network post too many, I reached some conclusions.
We live in a society that is connected on a global level, but it seems that humans have never been more separated from each other than they are today. We read news from across the world instantly, yet we are often the last to know when the person next door, in the next cubicle over, or in the bed next to us, is hurting. Many people are suffering in quiet desperation, hiding in plain sight, pretending it’s Ok when it’s not, and going through the motions in order to spare others the pain they are feeling!
We have all experienced situations where we know friends or strangers are in pain. We are helpless to do anything about it, either because they won’t say what’s wrong, or we just don’t know them well enough to bring it up in conversation. I imagine at one time or another, we have all felt completely alone with feelings of anxiety, sadness, or fear. I love people, and I want to help, so I developed the idea of heartletters. (Sorry for the hokey name, but I couldn’t think of anything better to serve as a unique way of categorizing them.)

Each letter addresses a feeling or situation common to the human experience, and it will be written to “you.” I may not know you, but I care, and the post will be there if or when you need it. “You”could be anyone, and you could be feeling afraid, overwhelmed, bullied, successful and miserable, or any number of ways.

These letters are intended as words of solace during the alone times, for when friends and family are absent, or when there just isn’t a sufficient support system. They are meant to console, encourage, and soothe a wounded heart. However, they are not a replacement for medical advice or therapy, and if you, or someone you love, is in need of more than a friendly word, PLEASE PLEASE seek help from a professional!
I am not a teacher, or a doctor, or an expert of any kind. I am just a human with a heart, and I have read silent pleas for help one time too many. I cannot do a lot of things because I am not a professional, but the one thing I can do, in abundance, is perhaps the most important thing any one human can do for another. I can care!

While the words in these posts may seem obvious or cliché to some readers, I am a firm believer that human beings can never speak enough kindness to one another. If my words make one person feel less alone in the world, or show another person that there is a brighter future ahead, then I have done well with the gifts I have been given.

Feel free to share them with someone who needs them.
I don’t know how often I will write these letters, because I have so many things in mind for this blog, but you will find them under the category of “heartletters.”
Each post will be titled something like, “Heartletter: Abandoned”, so it will be easy for you to see that this is the letter you should read if you are feeling, or have ever felt, abandoned.
I hope this explains the feature, and I really do hope these letters will help someone.

The Book That Started It All

Ask any book lover, and they will tell you about a perfect intersection in time, when an author’s words meet a reader’s imagination. A book is transformed, from words on a page, to complete worlds! This moment is individual to each person, and it is pure unadulterated magic!
My love affair with the written word began long before 1981, but it was in the honeysuckled nights of April, in the year that I was seven, when I met Tabitha, Sarah, and all the cats. Continue reading “The Book That Started It All”

How Porch Swing Writing Got Its Name

My stuffed animals heard a lot of stories when I was a little girl. A pen and paper was no option for a tiny blind writer, and a Perkins Brailler was too bulky to be carried everywhere.
All of the drafting, character sketching, writing, and revising occurred inside my head.
For better or worse, very likely for the better, the audience for those early imaginings was limited to my Grandma, and my stuffed animals. I made up the stories, and just told them to whoever would listen. The “writing” was like dreaming then, but so vivid!
As I grew older, I liked to be outdoors when I was dreamwriting. In the springtime, I spent hours on my Mam-Maw’s porch swing, surrounded by the scent of hyacinths and lulled by the sound of birdsong. Stories took shape against that peaceful backdrop, and although I technically had no way of writing them down, those are still my sweetest writing memories.
Time passed and technology eclipsed my imagining. I possess ways to write that fit in my pocket! Now I write indoors, and publish instantly if I so desire. But I named this blog for the time and place when my writer’s voice was formed, on a porch swing, with spring and youth blossoming, and the possibility of magic in every dawn and evening.
Welcome, to Porch Swing Writing!

The Front Porch

Welcome to my front porch.

Sit a while, have a glass of sweet tea, or a bite to eat, and I will tell you a little about myself.

My name is Jena.

When I was a little girl, hay and honeysuckle were the scents I loved, and the sound of mockingbirds was my symphony. In my little hometown in east Texas, I sold Girl Scout cookies, took ballet and gymnastics, played a cow in the Christmas pageant at church, and had amazing birthday parties. I went through an awkward preteen stage, but it all worked out. In high school, I played drums in the marching band, acted as class President, stressed over SAT scores, and even won Band Sweetheart. A fortress of loving family supported me through all of it. I grew up sweet and slow, in a town filled with good people.

I went to college, got a cool apartment, and thought I knew a lot more than I did. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, but I had a lot of fun along the way. Later, I met my best friends, walked a half marathon, read a lot of books, and wrote some as-yet-unpublished novels to pass the time.

These days, I adore animals, including skunks and snakes. I am slightly obsessed with the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I will watch football for twelve hours straight, and baseball doubleheaders for as long as they last. Diet Coke is my oxygen! I love exercise, once i can get myself into it, and swimming is my favorite outdoor activity. Sometimes, I do stupid hilarious things that make my friends love me even more, and sometimes I give everything I have and don’t succeed. In other words, I am normal, quirky, imperfect, and occasionally amazing.

I have been blind since shortly after birth. It’s inconvenient on occasion, but otherwise, no big deal. I have a severe sleep disorder called Non 24, which is a result of my inability to see light. That challenge is much more difficult, because it disrupts my life on a regular basis. I also have temporal lobe epilepsy, and although my seizures are infrequent, they are the greatest hurdle for me where my health is concerned. In short, I am no stranger to adversity.

Even so, I love my life, and I feel blessed! My parents and grandparents taught me to see the world through a lens of optimism, to view unfairness or hardship as a challenge rather than an end, and most of all, to be grateful, for things big and small. My younger brother taught me that blindness made no difference, by treating me normally. My uncles taught me to laugh. My friends taught me about grace, dignity, and selflessness. If I am a good person, it is because every person in my life played a part in making me who I am today.

There is still so much I want to do.  I want to visit Scotland, see animals in Australia, become a life coach, try scuba diving, and a million other things. I hope I can share my vision of the world with you, make you smile, and leave you glad that you read this blog.

Come by any time.

I will be out here on the porch swing, writing and dreaming.