Previously on Jana’s Thinking Place…

Did you read the title like the beginning of LOST? All dramatic and mysterious?

If not, go back and try again. I’ll wait. I’ve got nothing better to do.

So today finds me sick and grumpy.

I KNOW, right?  I’m never grumpy. But I am today for some reason. The kiddo is being good(ish) and is playing and watching TV and generally being lazy because it’s too hot to do anything else. School starts in 10 days and both of us are oh-so-ready.

We’re just jamming to Phineas and Ferb sing about how much they love and miss Perry the Platypus. Eating biscuits with butter and blueberry preserves. Trying to stay cool and sane. Watching the Chipmunks (Who thinks that Chipmunks going to school is normal? They just carry on like it’s no big deal that furry rodent things are roaming their schools in monogrammed sweaters) and doing budgets.

The exciting news today is that I’m syndicated on BlogHer!

Syndicated on

It’s my maiden voyage over there and I couldn’t be more thrilled! See my cute new button over on the sidebar? That’s my badge of awesomeness.

Some of you will recognize part of the post but it IS different.

Without further ado…

Playing the Hand I Was Dealt on BlogHer!

Saint August Teen

Saint August Teen

As yesterday’s post showed, we were in St. Augustine this past weekend for a wedding. What a history-filled city! Surprisingly, that was my FIRST visit to St. Augustine. And I would love to go back one day.

When we pulled into the city, I was immediately in love. It was like a Spanish New Orleans, only without the constant stench of urine and rum. Families, tourists, locals; young and old. Everyone seemed to fit right in.

Me: Henry, did you know St. Augustine was the country’s oldest city?

HL: Of course I did. It says it in its name. Saint means old. August means it was founded in August and teen because it was found on the thirteenth.

Me: Uh, ok.

We checked in our hotel (yes, we’re sick of hotels) and it was just delightful. I highly recommend the Hilton Historic Bayfront hotel.

So we just walked down A1A with Ice, Ice, Baby stuck in our heads.

Looking at the cannonballs. Standing way too close to the edge of the grass. I was scared they would get run over by somebody. 

Is it a surprise that we would go somewhere and there would be WAX FIGURES OF STAR WARS CHARACTERS? No. I didn’t think so. 

Or maybe that there would be Seinfeld wax figures? Because we don’t watch it EVERY. FRICKIN. NIGHT. 

The Fort. Castillo de San Marcos. It’s a big fort and it was way too hot to go over to it. I’m guessing it wasn’t air conditioned. 

After our tour of The Pirate & Treasure Museum. It was an amazing museum. It’s a must-visit for anyone going to St. Augustine. 

No caption needed. They wouldn’t let me have my way…

The next day we ventured to the beach. The old people were out playing bocce early. 

We snapped a picture for a family and in return they got one of us.

Self portrait. It’s as close to posting a picture of me in a bathing suit as I’m going to get. 



Just pretty. 

Getting knocked down. 

A pitcher of Sangria for lunch at Columbia.

And then we were off to the wedding.  It was an exhausting but lovely weekend. We all enjoyed ourselves and are ready to be done with hotel stays for a while!

An Aussie and an American Walk Down An Aisle…

An Aussie and an American Walk Down An Aisle…

Sounds like a great start to a joke. But it’s not. It’s the start of a lifetime of adventure for two wonderful people.

This weekend, my “little sister” got married.

See, she’s my little sister due to the fact that I actually have two sets of parents. My parents and The Khourys have been BFFs since way before BFF was even a term. I was “their” (collective) first kid. Then came my sister, Lauren, then Natalie and Andrea (both Khoury girls). We grew up together. For my first years of life, I honestly thought that I had two sets of parents.

We did everything together. Holidays, vacations, Saturday nights… you name it! We grew up. My sister and I married. Natalie and Andrea went to college. But we have always been sisters.

Me, holding Andrea. My sister Lauren. And Natalie.

This weekend we drove to St. Augustine to see Natalie marry the man of her dreams — her Australian track-star mate, Ross.

After a rehearsal dinner overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on Friday night, Saturday brought “The Big Day.”

Under giant oaks with St. Augustine grass under foot, a backdrop of the Intracoastal Waterway and a setting sun, Natalie was given away by her dad — my “other” dad — James. If it had been pitch black outside, James’s smile would have lit up the night. Beaming doesn’t even begin to describe the smile on his face.

In her mom’s dress, with a veil that stretched for yards behind her, she and Ross were joined in marriage by their friend John. He spoke of their friendship, their love, their future and their dreams. Right there in front of God and their witnesses, they professed their love and commitment to one another, now and forever.

The glow on the parents of the bride and groom and on Natalie and Ross was not from the humidity and heat of the beach in July, but from the joy, excitement and happiness that comes with making promises in front of those who love you to love, to honor and cherish each other.

James and Cheryl celebrated their 40th anniversary this year, and I know they wish the same for Natalie and Ross… a lifetime of mutual respect and open communication. And most of all, LOVE.

On our way home, I looked into the sky and thought to myself, “Self, you used to love finding objects in the clouds when you were little. You should lay in the grass when you get home and do that.” And as I was looking in the sky, I was shown a sign of love, one that hopefully means that a lifetime of love will follow us all from now through eternity.


Congratulations, Ross and Natalie.

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.


I’m Thankful

This has been a most unusual week. A week like no other I’ve ever had. A lot of sadness, a lot of triumphs, a lot of talk of insecurities and anxieties. Not necessarily for me or Jason, but for those around us. It’s made me really ponder things I’m thankful for RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. Here are 10 of them.

  1. I’m thankful for AIR CONDITIONING! Need I say more? Oh, yes, I should. WORKING air conditioning!
  2. I’m thankful for my oldest and dearest friend who will just call and say she’s in ATL and is coming by!
  3. I’m thankful for divine timing. Two minutes difference in chain of events could have made this week a whole lot different… for a lot of people. In good ways and in bad ways.
  4. I’m thankful for a son who is thoughtful and caring. Even though he has his moments of pain-in-the-butt-ness, he’s such a gentle soul and really does care a lot about life and people.
  5. I’m thankful for busy people who are taking time out of their lives to make others know how much they are loved, appreciated and needed. They are reaching out and being open and honest. It’s amazing to see how kindness and compassion can change the feel of a situation.
  6. I’m thankful for the chance to take a very short vacation to the beach this weekend. It’s for a wedding, but there’s BEACH involved. Which also means HEAT, but I’ll take it. Since we’re not going to be able to take a long St. Simons vacation this year, this will have to do.
  7. I’m thankful for perspective. Being able to see the good in a situation or being able to make heads or tails of a situation is valuable. I’m so glad to be (fairly) logical and rational, otherwise this week would’ve been a lot more difficult.
  8. I’m thankful for hospitals that do amazing things. In the last two weeks, I’ve heard of 8 year olds having aneurysms, young women whose lives are forever changed physically and emotionally, brain injuries that have essentially been corrected, babies who have beat the odds and survived trauma during birth. It’s just overwhelming to me what can be done in hospitals now.
  9. I’m thankful for social media for making a small world even smaller (yes, I’m looking at you, Dana and Chelle).
  10. I’m thankful for my husband. This last week has shown me, REMINDED me, what a good person he really is. He’s caring, thoughtful, loving, appreciative, sensitive and gentle. Sometimes (for all of us) it gets hidden under all the hustle and bustle of life, but it’s always there. Sometimes we just look for it or it takes a traumatic event to bring it ALL to the forefront.

What are some things that you’re thankful for over this past week? It can be as simple as an extra cup of coffee or an hour alone. Or maybe that a small miracle has happened in your life.

Whatever it may be, take a minute and be grateful. Be thankful. Tell someone you appreciate what they do for you.

The Ability To Survive

I’m just now watching the Jaycee Dugard interview that Diane Sawyer did a few weeks ago. Yes, I know I’m behind, but this is the first time I’ve had to sit and watch it.

I was only 15 when she was kidnapped in 1991. I remember it, but not vividly. I knew there was somebody that was kidnapped. But that was around the dawn of 24 hour IN YOUR FACE news stations and they certainly didn’t have live clips from South Lake Tahoe every 15 minutes every day. So I knew about it but I was way more interested in 90210 than watching CNN or whatever.

The book club I’m in just finished reading ROOM, a novel about 5 year old Jack and his mom who live in an 11×11 room with no contact with the outside world. It was an amazing, yet simple, look at captivity and how the human spirit can overcome just about anything. I won’t give any spoilers but if you get the chance, read it. You won’t regret it.

We met to discuss the book (and other non-book related subjects) and it was only a week later that the Jaycee Dugard interview was on. We talked about how similar the stories were, but how different. Eighteen years in captivity for Jaycee Dugard is more than half her lifetime. Think of what all has changed since then.

She birthed two children while being held in a shack out back of a sex offender’s house, with parole officers checking in on a regular basis.

HOW was she not found? HOW did she not crack? HOW did she not give up?

During the interview, the conversation goes to how she survived it.

Diane Sawyer: How did you stay sane?

Jaycee Dugard: There was always hope. I always had hope… You just do what you have to do to survive.

I’m just awestruck by the strength and resolve that someone like Jaycee Dugard or Elizabeth Smart or even Jack and his mom in the book have. I have a hard time staying at home for more than 48 hours without leaving. I get claustrophobic and itchy and antsy to get out. I can’t fathom spending YEARS, almost two decades, in a situation where the outside world was forbidden.

I believe that what these stories show us is that we ALL have it in us to survive. We all have strength. We all have resolve. Our spirits don’t have to be broken. Jaycee had HOPE.

Even through all the abuse, rapes, filth she lived in, she still had HOPE.

She had to change her name, but she had HOPE.

She birthed, loved and educated two children who were half HIS, the disgusting sex offender who stole her from her mother at the age of 11. And she still had HOPE.

She did this with a 5th grade education. Because she had HOPE and strength.

Near the end of the interview, Diane Sawyer asks her why, after 18 years of being held captive, she has no bitterness or rage.

Jaycee responds with, “I refuse to let him have that. He can’t have… ME. If I had rage, it would mean he had won.”

He didn’t win. He may have stolen 18 years of her life.

But she had hope. And HOPE won.

Her spirit won.


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