"Licensed Massage Therapist, Artist and Writer"
Jena is a Licensed Massage Therapist, artist and a writer. She's self-published books in her Shorty series as well as a a romance novel, Twice Upon A Lifetime. In her newest book Shorty will be exploring Florida. When I spoke with Jena she was working on a drawing for this book - giving Shorty a Hemingway-style beard.
After we talked I ordered (and received - Jena's publisher is fast!) a copy of The Adventures of Shorty for my granddaughter - she's already "reading" it (it's in verse/rhyme - so it's easy for her to remember).
And Jena sent me a picture of the drawing she was working on when we talked - it made me smile (I have a soft spot in my heart for Papa Hemingway - like me, he loved the little island of Bimini - and writing. We've even named the Square-Peg office "the Hemingway room"!)
Jena says that the idea for the adorable character, Shorty:
Come meet Shorty's creator.
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How Do You See Yourself as a Square-Peg?
Well, I've always been one. Everything I think seems to be the antithesis of what everybody "normal" thinks. My mother took everything I did with a grain of salt - she tried to understand me. My father sometimes got upset at my "rebellious streak" or strange ways of thinking, but now that I'm a bit older we get along a little better...he seems to be more accepting of my thinking now.
I have always thought differently - only I don't see it as different. But, when I express my views, sometimes people look at me like I have 3 heads - like: "Oh, reallllly".
When I was younger I never really cared about feeling different. There was a dark time in my life when I started to care about it - probably when I was married to my first husband. He was and became very controlling. I found myself worrying: "I ought not think this way." After awhile I realized I was becoming what someone else wanted rather than who I was. I made many mistakes and missteps trying to get back to who I was.
Jena talked about a couple of Square-Peg turn-arounds in her life:
When my daughter was 17 I got divorced from my first husband. When she graduated high school I changed what I was doing. I'd been a 3rd grade teacher for 13 years (taught for 16 total) and got trained as a professional licensed massage therapist.
How about that? Have you noticed that Square-Pegs seem to make big changes? I've been wondering about that. Is it because we're less afraid of rocking the boat, less attached to security, or WHAT?? I love seeing and hearing the stories of people who feel that something in their life wants change - and then going for it!
How Do You Maintain Your Square-Pegness (in a round-hole world)?
I have found my prince - the most wonderful husband. He's always loved me the way I am. That is so refreshing. He doesn't care if or when I work - which gives me time to write. He loves Shorty - thinks he's the greatest. Any time I do something he thinks it's wonderful - he celebrates me - and I him.
He's a tennis player and he loves the fact that I never complain when he wants to go play tennis. Why would I? Why would I complain about him doing something he loves? I don't want him to complain if I want to do something!
He helps me celebrate who I am, which makes life so much easier. When you're allowed to be yourself without judgement in your own home - then you can do it in the outside world. If you don't have that at home you won't have the confidence to be yourself in the outside world.
What's Been the Hardest For You as a Square-Peg?
I'm a very sensitive person. If somebody makes fun of me or doesn't like me I really get hurt (this was more when I was a young person - a child - although it doesn't ever completely go away).
Jena asked me if I'd ever read The Four Agreements (I have! I've gotten a lot from it too) - she reminded me that the second Agreement says: "Don't take it personally."
It's not as bad now as when I was 10-12. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I'm a Cancer - very sensitive. Criticism bothers me. I've had to really grow a shell - I don't get my feelings hurt as easily. Now I realize that if someone doesn't like me or what I'm doing - that's their problem, not mine.
What Is Your Favorite Square-Peg Trait?
I'd probably say my ability to laugh at myself. If you can laugh at yourself you'll never cease to be amused.
What Are Your Favorite Books?
The New Testament - The Living Bible version. Jena told me a story about a Bible class she was in where all the other women read The King James version of The New Testament.
She said that after a passage had been read in the King James Version the Sunday School teacher would ask: "Jena, what does your Bible say?" Jena laughed as she told me that she felt the women were saying: "Jena is here! We can read in English now!"
A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson - Jena laughed as she said: It's like the Living Bible version of the Course in Miracles - the English speaking version.
The Velveteen Principles, by Toni Raiten-D'Antonio - a guide to becoming real - wisdom from the children's classic. It's about life.
Succulent Wild Woman. Anything by SARK! I have her cards (Living Juicy Cards). I use them in my weight loss classes. At the end of the class each woman picks a card and reads it.
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In the interview Jena shared: My mother died in 2000 of breast cancer.
She continued: Every year I make a Pink Ribbon Turtle for a raffle - a beaded turtle that I frame in a shadow box. We send the proceeds to Breast Cancer Research. You can see pictures of, and get information on, Jena's Pink Ribbon Turtles - plus check out all her passions - at her site: At a Whisper.
And you can read our review of one of Jena's favorites, The Velveteen Principles, in Square-Peg People's book reviews (click on the link).
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(Full Disclosure: we're affiliates of Amazon.com - so when you buy from the book links above you don't pay a penny more, but you help support Square-Peg People. Thanks!)