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Author Joanne Jaytanie

To find out more about Originality by Design co-founder and author, Joanne Jaytanie, please visit her member page by clicking HERE

Empathy and Compromise ~ by Marj Ivancic

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“They” say one of the keys to a successful relationship is compromise. But people rarely talk about the role of empathy in negotiating a healthy compromise. 

I think it’s because many people don’t really understand what empathy is. It is often confused with sympathy, which is all about sharing or partaking in someone else’s feelings. Or empathy is seen as a weakness or softness.

But empathy is neither of those things. You don’t have to feel the
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same as someone else or agree with their point of view. And it doesn’t mean you give in or surrender. Instead, it means you understand WHY someone might have a particular emotional response or hold certain a belief. You’ve listened and heard their thought process. You know the inputs that would result in that output.

Think of all the things in your life that have gone into building your opinions and stances, either directly or indirectly. Upbringing, past life events, current life events, media influences, familial influences—the list is extensive. So much goes into building who we are. 

But once you understand how all those pieces of a person fit together, you can find the truest common ground, one that leaves everyone feeling respected and whole. It may even lead to an opportunity to educate or to enlighten one or both parties.

Empathy certainly is not easy. Especially when passions are high. I think it requires an element of detachment from one’s own emotions, which is why it usually comes after an argument, after you’ve had time to think. 

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It requires practice and discipline to suspend judgement and imagine what you would do or think if you were in that person’s shoes. But if all parties would do so, there’s a chance that while they may never agree, they may at least feel truly heard and maybe even a little respected.

I'm Not Saying Goodbye to Summer ~ by Darlene Kuncytes

Say it isn’t so! 

July 4th has come and gone and for all intents and purposes, with it, so has summer. 

But…as a stubborn, die-hard summer girl - I refuse to accept that it’s the end! 

Go ahead stores…put your bathing suits, pool floats, and yard decor on clearance! I look forward to it! It just saves me all the more money!  

It has been this way forever. July 4th was always the start of the beginning of the end for us Mid-Westerners. It was when we realized that the lazy days of playing outside and floating in the pool were limited. That school would soon rear its ugly head.
Back in the day, we got out of school at the beginning of June and didn’t go back until after Labor Day. But even back then, come July 5th, school supplies would start popping up in stores. Taunting us.  Trying to ruin our fun! 

Of course, not as blatantly as they do now. I mean, who are we kidding. Halloween decorations will be on the shelves come the end of August! 


Nowadays, school starts so much earlier. It seems that they want to strip summer from us as soon as possible, but I will not go down without a fight!  I’m just not ready for the cold and the snow. I want sunshine and days floating in the pool on those clearance-priced rafts!

In this new normal we now call life; I want to make the option of being outside last for as long as I possibly can.  I don’t want it being squelched and taken from me too soon!

So, this month and next (I, myself, am going for well into October! lol)  I urge you to enjoy the sun. Breathe deeply into your lungs the scent of fresh cut grass and blooming flowers, and make it a point to cherish these moments. They are so precious! 

We too often take for granted the sunshine and fresh air, and it seems lately with everything else going on, our minds need these little de-stressors more than ever.

So, be sure to take that moment and make it a point to go sit outside for a while and just enjoy. 

Sit out there with your coffee, iced tea, cocktail…whatever, in your hand and just celebrate today! 

Celebrate summer!

Hugs and kisses!

The How and Why I Write ~ by Monica Reents

Nothing captures who I am more than when I am creating art,
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whether with words or paint. The mix of my emotions, thoughts, imagination, and feelings with the words I choose to work with is nothing short of magical (for what it does for my soul, anyway). It’s my love of creating that has always drawn me to writing. But it’s not my love of writing that brought me to sharing my work. Life events opened that door and changed everything about the how and why I write.

Writing was something I always did in my free time before shoving it in a drawer or saving it on some random file on my laptop.

Like so many, I have had a lifelong love affair with books. The
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written word garnered a special place in my heart before I even began kindergarten. I excitedly read everything I could get my hands on, looking to escape into the fantastical worlds born from genius minds, as far as I was concerned. It was in middle school that I decided maybe I could write a book. A friend and I tried to write and illustrate a book together. I have no memory of what the book was about or what happened to what we wrote, but a need to write was born.

If you ask someone who writes, why do you write? You’ll gather various answers, but the principal reason may simply come down to need. That’s my why. It offers a release that nothing else compares to. But always keeping it to myself, that came from fear. Much of my writing is dark and emotional. Most of it has no tangible origin, it just comes to me.

Without giving you an entire timeline of my life, let’s jump to 2011. I had been writing poems and short stories for many years, never sharing them. Most people who know me never knew that I wrote. It was for me and, while I wanted to write and publish novels (someday), I was fine writing for myself (for now). Newly married, working on blending our families, and working full time as a pediatric ophthalmic surgical assistant, I didn’t have time to write and I needed the creative outlet it provided. Little did I know that my opportunity was fast approaching.

In July 2011, I began having severe chest pain that radiated up into my shoulder, across my upper back, and down my left arm. I was experiencing numbness and tingling, along with loss of sensation on my left side. After two or three days of coping with increasing pain, I went to the emergency room and was quickly taken back and hooked up to an EKG (electrocardiogram). My results came back normal. Which was great, but the pain persisted.  A week later, an MRI (magnetic resonance image) was taken of my entire back.

This scan changed my life.

The first neurosurgeon I saw (I’m leaving names out for privacy) read the results of my MRI to me, and my husband (of three weeks). Walking into the office, I felt fairly confident that I had a pinched nerve in my neck from a herniated disc. We weren’t worried.

Once the surgeon began speaking, I felt myself becoming hot, nervous, then came the tears. So many tears. I sobbed until breathing became difficult. I became a mess while hearing words like tumor… largest I’ve ever seen… entire spinal cord… not surgical… and about a year left… even, now, knowing that I beat the odds, it’s still emotional

At the age of 34, I was diagnosed with syringomyelia. My tumor (syrinx) was from C2 to T12 (2nd vertebrae in the neck to the last rib vertebrae)
and was extremely swollen. He was surprised that I could walk and still had use of my arms.

Syringomyelia is a rare spinal cord disease that creates a fluid filled sac (cyst) within the spinal cord. The cyst, called a syrinx, can expand and elongate, destroying the spinal cord. The damage can result in chronic pain, loss of feeling, loss of sensation, paralysis, weakness, stiffness in the neck, back, and extremities. There is no treatment or cure for this progressive disease.

It was a long, quiet ride home from that first appointment. By the time we had made it home, my husband had decided what he was going to do. He made me comfortable on the couch and then made  a phone call. We couldn’t accept that I only had one year left to live and our minds were racing with anxious thoughts. But that phone call he made, saved my life.

He called his cousin who works for a very talented neurosurgeon. I had an appointment within a week and surgery two weeks after that… these amazing people literally saved my life!

I survived surgery (obviously), moreover, I have survived ten surgeries!

Every day is different for me. Some days are ‘fine,’ I go about doing whatever I want as long as I can maintain a level of pain to my level of tolerance. Other days are high pain days and I don’t even get dressed, staying in my robe, minimal physical activity, and dozing whenever I need to. I’ve learned to listen to my body because I know that having a busy day means not having a busy day for the next two to four days. 

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My life is all about the balance of activities. I hate nothing more than a wasted day, so I use my love of list writing and planning to try to prevent from overexerting myself. I see a pain management doctor once a month that helps me track my ever changing symptoms, as well as a myriad of medications. I’m thankful to say, that I have been stable for about a year and a half now. I have a lot to be thankful for.

It was during the recovery of my first surgery in August 2011 that I told my husband about my writing. He was surprised, but not overly. He knows how much I love books, so wanting to write them wasn’t a far stretch. I asked him for a notebook and pen; explaining how I had hidden everything I had ever written in the past and never even talked about it with anyone.

Here is where I walked through that life changing door I mentioned. I immediately began filling the pages with poems and story ideas, character profiles, world building thoughts, and plans for the hopeful future of my writing.

I read my poems to my husband every night. Now, he isn’t a reader, but he listened, said each one was great, and supported me as I had just (re)discovered what I was going to do with my life.

For me, writing out in the open has been a dream come true! I have had several major bumps in the road since announcing to my family and friends, most importantly to myself, that I wanted to publish my writing. Unfortunately, I was paralyzed for about a year in 2016 and was unable to write. I had a year of therapy and have regained use of my body, but I don’t have much sensation and my balance is questionable. Again, a lot to be thankful for. 

I have been diagnosed with several other diseases since learning about my syringomyelia. It makes writing challenging, if you want to publish, because chronic pain hurts more than your body. After years of pain, I have found that my mind isn’t always clear. It becomes a reflection of what my body feels, leaving me tired and weary. Later, reading what I write in those moments isn’t always anything I keep. I’ve learned to listen to what my body is telling me. I never feel rested or that I've had a good night’s sleep. So, I have again adjusted my thinking on what determines a “good night’s rest.” I know that I do best when I sleep from about 10 pm to 6 am. My writing feels most productive in the afternoon into the evening as long as I haven’t been physically active. It’s all a balancing act. But so worth it to have the opportunity to do what I love.

I have published two poems. The first one was in 2014 in the Cogs in Time 2 anthology, called Darkened Love. The second poem, Whispering Seduction, is in the novel Tempted by Kristine Raymond.

Currently, I’m working on a poetry collection and a debut novel. I know that I will publish, but I don’t have a clear deadline as to when. As long as I am taking steps forward, that’s okay with me.

Monica Reents was born and raised in Kansas, where she lives with her husband and Bentley, their dog. She grew up with a love of books and found a passion for crafting her own stories and poems in High School after reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. 
   Monica also runs a blog, My Chronic Happiness. She designed her blog to be a reflection of who she is. It is informative for anyone living with chronic illness, as well as anyone interested in the world of writing and books. You can find her at the links below.

Ruby, Ruby, Ruby Will You Be Mine? ~ by Grace Augustine

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Did you know that the ruby is considered the “king of all gems”? I’m assuming that is because of the beautiful, vibrant color and belief that the stone carries the properties of love, health, wisdom, and good fortune. Rubies aren't only for women, as evidenced by this gorgeous men's ring below.

The deep red of the ruby comes from the mineral corundum. The more corundum, the more color. The finest of all would be if the gem had a touch of purple, referred to as ‘pigeon’s blood’.

On the Mohs scale of hardness, the ruby is second only to the diamond for durability.

“In ancient India, ruby was called the “king of precious stones” for its rarity, hardness (second only to diamond), beauty and seemingly mystical powers. Long associated with the life force blood, ruby was a symbol of power and youthful energy in Indian jewelry. In past centuries, some believed this birthstone for July could predict misfortune or danger, and others claimed it would cure inflammatory diseases and soothe anger. Burmese warriors believed it made them invincible in battle. Medieval Europeans maintained that rubies bestowed health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.” **

Rubies are most prominently found in Myanmar, Vietnam. Mozambique, Thailand, Cambodia, and Madagascar.

Caring for this precious gem is easy…a simple wash in a mild soapy solution and make sure to completely dry your stone. For more information on this beauty, please visit 

To read more of my birthstone series, please visit my page by clicking HERE.

**information from
**Jewelry photos courtesy of Riddle Jewelers

Meet our Members

Author Joanne Jaytanie To find out more about Originality by Design co-founder and author, Joanne Jaytanie, please visit her member...