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Where Have I Been?

February 17th, 2013

Hey Kids!
Sorry I’ve been remiss in posting here, but I’ve been having health issues which severely compromised my brain. In July of 2012, I went to the hospital with nausea and fainting spells. They gave me phenargen for the nausea, which gave me grand mal seizures. Which blew out my brain for a while and rendered me unable to write. Slowly, my brain has returned and I’m finally getting back to abnormal. So hopefully, you will see many more postings here this year.

For those who try to leave comments: Sorry. I will be having my technical person looking into why no one can leave comments. My apologies for the glitch.

For those who have tried to contact me and had their email bounce back: Again, my apologies. This issue has just been brought to my attention. Again, I’ll have it fixed soon. Until then, you can go to my Facebook Page and like it and leave me messages there. Look for Janet Periat’s Fan Page (Official, Authorized and Fully Licensed).

In other words: I’m baaaaaack!!!!

Love to everyone!


Mama Hummingbird Feeds Her Babies

May 27th, 2012

Hey kids!

In case you ended up here from YouTube, just wanted to point out the obvious: the hummingbird video has zero to do with my writing. However, studies have shown that 9 out of 10 hummingbird watchers like my books. It’s a really weird coincidence. Spooky, even.



The Power of Story

May 1st, 2012

Reality is made up of a system of stories. We tell ourselves stories to make sense of the world around us. We have stories about everything and everyone: our towns, family, coworkers and pets. But the most important stories are the ones we have about ourselves.

As babies, we start life without a story, but pretty soon, our families begin to tell stories about us. Heather always sees the glass half empty, Suzie is smart, and Maureen is the troublemaker. Whether these attributes are the truth or not doesn’t seem to matter. One day a child exhibits certain behaviors, a story is told and quite quickly, the story becomes reality.

While we have to make judgments and conjure stories to navigate reality, humans don’t seem to be very good at changing the stories once they’re written. And because of this, we end up interacting with each other’s stories, not our true selves. If you were raised in a good household, your story is probably more or less truthful and therefore working for you. But in dysfunctional households, stories can be toxic and have lifelong negative consequences.

If you were raised in a dysfunctional household, your story was not made with you in mind, it was made to benefit your crazy parents. Kids in dysfunctional households have been trained to disregard their desires and needs because their pleas either went unheard or their needs upset their parents. Their parents’ denial of their abusive/neglectful behavior trains the children that what they perceive is not the truth; the Happy Family story conflicts with the war zone reality. To survive, the children modify who they are — their stories — to fit their crazy parents’ needs, leaving any sense of themselves behind. While these new stories help them survive childhood, the same stories can cripple them as adults.

When you don’t know who you are, you don’t know what you want. When you don’t know what you want, you can’t ask for it. When you can’t get what you want, your needs aren’t met. And when your needs aren’t met, you aren’t happy. Which is why half of this nation is on antidepressants. Our stories make us miserable.

Thankfully, for me, my therapist is helping me rewrite my story. My problem now is trying to figure out who the hell I really am.

To determine this, I started with what I’ve been told about myself. The stories vary wildly. I’m either a great friend or a flake. (Flakiness is the side effect of a writing career; my true friends know enough not to pin me down.) I’m either the best daughter in the world or the worst. I’m a good wife, a good critique partner, and my neighbors like me. I did great in school and got blackballed at every bookkeeping job I had. I’m either a great writer or the worst in the world, who should be fired and never allowed to write another word. To one reader of CoastViews, I was “a short-fused head job” and “a tightly wound harridan.” When I moved away from living next door to my parents, I was “selfishly abandoning” them. When I took care of my stroke-victim sister, I was a saint. And there are a million more stories just like that. I’m either a great person or I’m Satan, thankfully leaning more towards the former.

The main story that people tell me is that I’m weird. Not only weird — people have described me as wacky, a freak, out there, Janet From Another Planet, the list goes on. I gotta say, this is one story I think I hate the most. None of these terms is nice. Weird is not positive. Weird is derogatory. Most people who call me weird seem to be worried that they might lose their social standing by associating with me. Calling me weird is their subtle attempt to distance themselves from me and therefore, not look bad. For whatever reason people call me weird, I don’t like it. Eccentric would be a better term, if we insist upon labels. But one thing I will agree: I stick out.

After reviewing others’ stories about me, it became clear they were not very accurate. Because I am the only one who knows me. And I have to accept this simple truth: all that I am was given to me. I didn’t choose to hate Indian food anymore than I chose to love toy robots. My only job is to accept who I am completely and love myself as I am. So that’s what I’m trying to do: stop telling old stories and write myself new ones rooted in truth.

My entire goal this year is to be authentic. I want the people in my circle to be there because of who I am, not despite it. However, in order to find the people who genuinely like me, I not only have to figure out my stories, I have to deconstruct the stories of others. In the past, I’ve clung to false stories about friends because I didn’t want to face the truth: normally that someone didn’t like me or was mistreating me. But now, no matter who they are, I have to allow myself to see the truth.

I think it would benefit us all — the healthy and the healing — to determine our stories and our truths. Even if we’ve been brainwashed our whole lives, that little voice in the back of our heads knows who we truly are. Continually reviewing and editing our stories to fit our current truths ensures that the stories help to move us forward and not hold us back.

But the transformation of self is a daunting task. My stories are so rooted in my emotional foundation, I feel like I need dynamite to dislodge them. But they are merely stories and as such, can be edited and changed. And I can’t wait to put my writing talents to work on my personal story. So far, all I’ve got is that I’m not weird. In my opinion, it’s a hell of a start.

© 2012 Janet Periat

Neither A Slut Nor A Whore

April 9th, 2012

Okay, so I promised myself I wouldn’t write about religion or politics anymore, but this renewed War on Women infuriates me.

The extreme Christian right has recently pushed through laws mandating state-sanctioned medical rape (a transvaginal sonogram) in order to get an abortion in Texas; Topeka, Kansas has decriminalized domestic violence; Republican congressmen want to redefine rape, and Colorado Republicans want to make taking the morning-after pill a first-degree homicide. I’m waiting for the ultra-conservatives to start promoting Christian burhkas.

I was baptized in the Protestant church and was fed their toxic, anti-woman dogma since I was a baby. I received the same brainwashing in school and in society. Gradually, over my lifetime, women’s rights progressed. But now, the extreme Christian right has dredged up all this old toxic waste again, lobbed it straight at us and—in parts of the country—have dragged women back to the cave. And I want to beat them all bloody for it.

What the toxic programming has done to my mind is criminal. No one should have these thoughts about themselves. No one deserves these messages. Pets are treated better. I’ve been in therapy for five years trying to rid myself of the poison. And it’s still an on-going battle.

I was taught that I was dirty because I was a woman. I was taught to be ashamed of myself. That everything was great until The Original Sin when women (Eve) ruined the entire world. I was taught that I was a weak moron who wasn’t capable of doing anything but pressing buttons on a typewriter, a dishwasher, or making babies. I was not expected to do well in math, science or sports. I was not encouraged to get an education. I was not encouraged to take care of myself, only others. If I wore a short skirt, I deserved to be raped. If my husband hit me, it was my fault. I had no value unless I was married, and single women were the most pathetic creatures in the universe. Women were harping, gossiping, shallow, vain idiots who needed permanent guidance—children who couldn’t handle responsibility or make decisions.

I was taught that sex was dirty. If I touched myself, I was a slut. If I had sex, I was a whore. If I used birth control, I was a super big whore because I’d planned on having sex. I was taught that good girls hated sex—even with their husbands. Yet I couldn’t say no because I had no rights over my body, I was my husband’s possession. I was supposed to endure the act, find no pleasure in it, and never respond. If I enjoyed sex or had an orgasm, then I was the biggest slut of all. The only reason I should ever have sex was to have babies. If I got pregnant, I was redeemed, but lost all my power and was sentenced to a lifetime of toil, servitude and hardship. If I had an abortion, I was a murderer and deserved to go to Hell.

Basically, I was taught to hate myself. The only way I could redeem my worthlessness and make up for my shameful womanhood was to sacrifice my entire life by serving a man and having children. Only a man could validate my existence.

As a result of these teachings, I’ve always felt defective and ashamed for being a woman. I’ve always been ashamed of my sexuality. I’ve always felt like I was worth less than zero and had to sacrifice every ounce of my energy and every bit of my soul to reach zero. And there’s no path to positive worth. Simply because I’m a woman.

The sole intent of the brainwashing I received was to warp my self-image and make me more susceptible to subjugation and control. The current agenda of the extreme conservative right serves the same purpose: to make women hate themselves.

So when men like Rush Limbaugh call women whores and sluts for using birth control, and Rick Santorum states that he wants to ban birth control because its “unnecessary”, and that mothers shouldn’t have jobs outside the home, these “Christian” men might as well be taking a baseball bat to Grandma’s skull. Might as well knife their twelve-year-old daughter in the gut. Because that’s the kind of psychological damage they inflict. That’s the reality. Putting their own vile words into God’s mouth is the worst kind of violation. Abusing women in the name of God is blasphemy. Promoting the loathsome view that women are subhuman sex-starved breeding stock who must be tightly controlled by a strict father is the same anti-woman agenda sold by the Taliban, Islamic extremists, and the Vatican.

This renewed War on Women is clearly a last gasp effort of a dying breed of terrified old men who have been in control forever and will do anything and everything to ensure they don’t lose their power. The original He-Man Woman-Haters Club.

Certainly, they are making progress in their current war. Some states might actually ban birth control. Abortion might become illegal. But neither change will last. The future is already in motion. More women than men are graduating from college. More women than men are becoming doctors and lawyers. More women are working today than men. Many young women watched their fathers divorce their mothers, leaving their mother destitute because she’d sacrificed her future to raise her children. And many young women have Deadbeat Dads. Girls today do not want to be like the victims of my generation. And they’re ensuring their lives will be different.

With more money comes more clout. With more women lawyers, there will be more women judges. And if the old white male fear-mongers think those ladies won’t have the self-esteem and resources to fight an anti-woman agenda, they’ve got another think coming.

The extreme right is wrong. The Original Sin wasn’t when Eve disobeyed God and bit the apple of Knowledge, it was when men turned their backs on women.

©2012, Janet Periat

Cinderolda in Print!

March 20th, 2012

Janet Bubbling With Excitement Over The Print Book

Hey kids! In case you missed the memo, Cinderolda is now available in print! Whoo-hooo!

At Createspace:

On Amazon:

Or CLICK HERE to buy on Amazon.

CLICK HERE to buy on Createspace.

People are loving it!

Stay tuned for updates about my next release, Payback, second in the Patriots Series, coming soon!

Things I Learned On Winter Vacation

March 20th, 2012


Frank and I recently returned from two weeks in paradise, celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. I’d been planning and saving for the trip for two years. The vacation was supposed to be a romantic rekindling of our relationship. What it ended up being was “Frank and Janet’s In Sickness and In Health Tour of Hawaii.” While the trip served its purpose—Frank and I are very rested—it was not what we had expected. At all. While I didn’t get what I wanted, I ended up with some important realizations. Which might turn out eventually to be what I wanted. Right now, I’m not so sure. At any rate, I thought I’d impart my wisdom-through-adversity onto you and maybe spare you future disappointment.

Number One: Leave your expectations at home. Here’s how I pictured our much- anticipated trip to Hawaii: We would fly into Maui. Frank and I would buy each other leis, we’d do a bit of food shopping, drive to the condo and unpack. We’d throw on our swimsuits, jump into the blissfully warm ocean, then watch the sunset from our lanai over mai-tais. For the following 13 days, we’d have magical romantic walks on the beach; I’d learn to surf and kayak; we’d snorkel; I’d swim in the ocean daily and we’d go out for magical romantic dinners. I envisioned Hawaiian music softly playing in the background while Frank and I gazed at each other lovingly, and celebrated our 24-year relationship. As you’ve probably guessed by now, that’s not what happened.

The night before we left, Frank’s throat began to tickle. By morning, it was sore and he was sick. Earlier that morning, I’d had a Travel Anxiety Attack. In my half-awake state, I tortured myself with all the worst-case scenarios that would prevent us from going on our overly expensive, prepaid, non-refundable vacation. I was so freaked out, I got sick. Sick to the point where I will not provide details. Somehow I recovered, breezed to the airport and onto the plane. While I still felt sick, I felt more stupid than anything for worrying about something so dumb as a routine plane flight.

Right as we were about to land, Frank developed new symptoms of his illness and my motion sickness really kicked in. We had to stay an extra hour in the airport, just to stabilize enough so we could drive. Took us all day to shop and unload, and I missed the sunset. Frank had soda crackers and white rice for dinner. I ate two bites of food and pushed my plate away. We finally gave up and went to bed. Next day, Frank woke up sicker. So I took myself on long, unromantic walks on the beach, went shopping and swimming alone, and cooked and cleaned while Frank slept. For 9 days. Finally, over the last four days, he got better and we snorkeled a couple times. But as for my romantic walks on the beach, even when Frank got better, I couldn’t get him to walk with me due to his aversion of walking in sand. Finally, he agreed on our second to last day there. We got down the beach and it started raining. Hard. Then the wind kicked up and I froze. Swearing, I stomped off the beach and threw out all ideas of magical romantic walks. This was the point where I gave up on the vacation. It wasn’t what I had anticipated, it wasn’t what I had wanted, and I felt cheated and stupid for spending all this money to fly three thousand miles to be disappointed.

Thankfully, I’m in therapy and have tools to deal with adverse situations. Once back in the condo, I finally realized I’d loaded out this vacation with so many expectations, there was no way they could have been met. Even if Frank hadn’t been sick, I would have come away disappointed. I’ve been with the guy for 24 years, I know he hates walking in sand. Yet I threw out all previous knowledge and was disappointed he didn’t turn into a romance novel hero once we hit the shores of Hawaii. I finally realized I’d had a good time. While we spent most of the vacation in the condo, the view from our room was astounding. 270 degree views of the ocean, Molokai and Lanai. Whales cavorted off our balcony, giant sea turtles swam below us, and the sunsets were spectacular. We listened to Hawaiian music, I read five books, and we had nice long talks about our lives and planned for our future. The vacation was fine. My expectations and I had been the problem. Like I told Frank, the trip would have been perfect if I hadn’t been on it.

Number Two: Vacations always cost more than you think. The $500 economy car I’d reserved from Thrifty was “unavailable” when I arrived. I was so sick—and worried about Frank—that I fell prey to the evil rental clerk, an innocuous-looking woman named Connie, who talked me into upgrading to a mid-sized car, the cheapest one with a trunk. $935 later, I felt so screwed, I expected a second date and flowers.

Number Three: If the locals give advice, take it. The warnings in Hawaii are everywhere: White people are advised to wear buckets of sunscreen AND stay out of the sun from 11AM to 2 PM because of the high UV index due to the proximity to the Equator. Everyday, a new white family would appear below us on the beach at 9 or 10AM. After an hour, they turned pink. After two hours, they were red. Oblivious, they stayed on the beach ALL DAY, even during the “Burning Rays of Death” midday. We never saw the same family twice.

I had six more nuggets of advice that don’t fit in this column. But since no one listens to sound advice—especially me—I don’t think you’re missing much.

©2012, Janet Periat

Planning for the Unplanned

February 3rd, 2012

The human mind is a marvelous thing. Capable of limitless ideas and thoughts. It tells us how to walk, talk, breathe, smile and eat. What the human brain is not very good at is estimating its accompanying body’s energy capabilities. Just because we can think we can do something, does not mean we can. As for me, I have a great zeal for making plans—until it comes time for the execution part. Here’s my mantra: “This is a lot harder than I thought it would be and is taking twice the time.” I routinely overestimate my abilities by about double. Which means I am continually behind. And continually frustrated.

I figured by the time I’d reached my fifties I’d have all this time management stuff figured out. While I’m a bit better at it, I still suck. I pile on the plans until I collapse under their weight. But I don’t notice I’m falling apart until I am in pieces.

I am acutely aware of this issue because as I write this, it is three days after Christmas. I woke up this morning still exhausted from the holiday onslaught with few brain cells left. First thing I did was spill hummingbird food all down my front and flip out—in the front yard no less. I finally dragged myself inside so I could yell without censoring myself. While I knew that the level of anger I was experiencing was totally disproportionate to the severity of the mishap, I was so tired, all I could do was watch myself freak out. When I finally got hold of my emotions, I realized how bloody tired I was. And that I’d been way too tired for far too long. Not only because of the holidays, but because I’d tried to cram a year’s worth of activities into the previous four months.

Why do I think I can do more than I can? Why do I set myself up like this? Why do I believe that if I just try a little harder, I can get it all done? Haven’t I noticed what I’ve been able to accomplish so far? Why can’t I properly anticipate and gauge my energy levels? Did I used to be a disembodied brain? Am I unconsciously referring to a past life? Was I an alien that had no need to sleep? As far as I know, I’ve always been human, although some would debate that fact.

As I look back at my plans for the last four months, they don’t look that crazy. All I had to do was MC the Pescadero Arts and Fun Festival in late August; go on two back-to-back vacations in September (dumbest idea EVER, so tired we couldn’t enjoy the second); host a Halloween party for 20; then host a two-week in-law attack—I mean, visit—over Thanksgiving; get oral surgery; shop, clean and decorate for Christmas; host a party for 17 at my house on Christmas Eve; clean up the party on Christmas Day and fix a special Christmas dinner for my sister and husband. Oh, and also complete the final edits on two books—and publish them—and write my columns while working on two new novels. Plus I started a new diet and exercise regimen in July, which takes two to three hours a day. The only thing I didn’t accomplish was a full first draft of the new Patriots’ novel. Which was bumming me out until I just read this paragraph.

I think my problem is two-fold: a hefty dose of denial regarding my abilities, coupled with the unplanned. I didn’t plan on rats chewing through the wires on my car and stranding me at home for a week in October. I didn’t plan on being sick for the remaining three weeks of October. Ditto on the toe surgery I needed two days after my oral surgery. And I completely forgot about the high drama that accompanies most interactions with my family or Frank’s and the subsequent drain on my energy levels. And there was a LOT of “interaction” during the holidays this year. Nor could I have anticipated what happened on Christmas night. I was exhausted and barely keeping awake during a movie before bedtime when the hot water valve to the dishwasher broke and flooded part of the kitchen. We were forced to shut off the water to the house and stayed up all night waiting for the plumber, who finally showed up at 8 AM. And we had overnight guests and couldn’t flush the—you get the idea.

At this point, I suppose I should stop wondering why spilling sugar water on myself made me cry. But it does make me want to do something to prevent the same kind of meltdown from happening again. I need to realize that life doesn’t fit neatly into task lists and datebooks. Lists are a man-made artifice/tool used to navigate life, but life isn’t good about obeying rules or lists. The old Woody Allen quote comes to mind: “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

So as I head into the new year, I am going to take this column and glue it to the inside of my calendar. I am going to write “Plan for the Unplanned” on every page. When I receive an invitation or make a date, I’ll look at my calendar closely. I won’t merely look at the day of the event; I’ll look at the entire month before and afterwards. If any of the plans coincide with a recent visit with certain family members, I will decline. And I also won’t make as many plans. As much as it bothers me, I have to finally admit the truth: I’m only human and can’t expect so much out of myself.

So now, if you will excuse me, I have to go clean the house, write and publish three books, host a party for 20, and fill the hummingbird feeders.

©2012, Janet Periat

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