Little March


With the month of March comes the start of Spring. Moldovans and Romanians celebrate a widely observed tradition called Martisor (pronounced Martishor – little March). The tales about Martisor are gathered and surely twisted when passed from one person to another, and generation to the next. My Mom told me this version of the fairy tale when I was around seven.

The symbol of Martisor is a ribbon which has the same name as the event. People make them from red and white threads and wear them on their lapel starting March 1st. At that time, you had to make your own, and my Mom showed me how to make it. You make little brushes by twisting red and white threads and tie them together on the top and put lots of love into what you are creating. Finally, under my Mom’s supervision I managed to bring life to my first Martisor.

I went to school with white and red little brushes on the lapel of my school uniform and felt it was giving love to everyone around. My Mom also said that at the end of March I would need to to put it on a branch of one of the cherry trees in our garden. This act was supposed to assure a good crop of cherries.

I couldn’t wait for the end of the month to hang the ribbon on the tree. Then, I couldn’t wait to see how the trees were generously covered with cherries — and I knew why!

Today, my cousin in Romania sent me a picture of a Martisor, and I recalled everything: the fairy tale, my mom’s story, the Martishor on my school uniform and our cherry garden full of cherries because of the Martisor that I hung on a branch of a tree nce each year at the end of March!


My Turn To Help



I was awakened by a 5 AM call from Kiev.  An 89-year old woman, whom I met in Crimea, when it was still Ukrainian, called with a calm hopeless voice.  I haven’t talked to her for several years.  It must be something serious I thought, still trying to turn on my sleeping brain…

Everyone has left.

“A war started,” she said. “I am at home in my condo-building.  Everyone has left. They forgot me here. They told me they would pick me up in an hour… five-six hours ago, and nobody came.”

“Do you have food and water?” I asked.

“Yes, for a day or so.”

“Where would they be taking you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

Something doesn’t match, I thought. My friend was a biologist and a poet, both well educated and literate. Here she sounded numb. Why doesn’t she know? I kept silence for a minute while my brain finally got into gear. “What can I do for you if anything?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Not a surprise. She was in Ukraine where an invading army was rolling her direction. I was in Ohio.

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” Larisa replied.

So, what could I do? Phone connections are available, and I have friends around the world. I called one in Crimea and told her what happened. She, in turn, called someone in Kiev and gave Larisa’s address. 

Good people are everywhere. The same day, Larisa was evacuated. They say you can connect almost any two people in the world in six steps. For Larisa, rescue had taken three.

Over the next few weeks, millions of others joined her. Many have fled the country. Many more are trapped in cities under siege. in a country with 43 million people, one in four has been displaced in just over three weeks.

A week later, about 2 am (I am getting used to overnight calls), I received another call. Larisa happily reported that she was in a shelter in Western Ukraine near Hungary, and she was safe. She assured me that she doesn’t want to go to Poland, Israel, or any other country. She wants to return home, back home to Kiev. “My walls are waiting for me! I have at home my books and my friends,” she said. “I have my streets, and my Buckeye trees. I will return when all this is over!” She told me she wants to celebrate her 90th birthday in Kiev next July. This was the friend I remembered.

I will return when all this is over!

Her optimism gave me hope – hope that the evil will back up, and people will rejuvenate and rebuild the destruction. I will also visit there again, at least once, and walk my favorite streets.

Saturday March 19, I was at a fundraising at the Grace Evangelical Church in Columbus. I talked to the minister Viktor Moskalyuk. He shared how carefully they were spreading the funds received from people here. The whole process is being managed by people through Ukrainian churches. I learned the finances are going three ways.

  • To cover the cost for shipping humanitarian aid 
  • To pay for the fuel for volunteers to deliver this Aid, and
  • Direct financial support of those places that can’t be reached by volunteers.
Minister Viktor Moskalyuk (right) calls for aid to Ukraine

Viktor was kind enough to provide this video.

Over thirty years ago, when the Soviet Union was crumbling, my family and I were among a wave of refugees. We survived with a lot of help from others. This time, the crisis is being driven by a war and things are much, much worse. This time, it’s my turn to help and I need you to help me help them.

Several years ago, I wrote and published my book Love Is Never Past Tense. The book is largely biographical and has two features that make it appropriate for this situation. One large part is set in Odessa Ukraine. It gives you a historic view of the city and its culture as seen through the eyes of the protagonists. Another part, my personal experience as a refugee, can be found in the chapter titled Exodus. I have made this book the center of a fundraising campaign..

You can buy copies of Love Is Never Past Tense at Amazon and 100% of my royalties will go to the Grace Evangelical Church’s Ukrainian campaign. This applies to any format of the book but not to (generally used) copies sold by third parties that do nothing for my bank account. If you want to maximize the benefit to the cause, please consider the Kindle edition which has been priced to maximize the royalty rate. The Love Is Never Past Tense eBook trilogy containing the story is available for the same price. If you also want to make a straight donation yourself, go here.

Nathan Weidner: A Story For Winter


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Creativity isn’t limited to the world-class sculptors, artists, and musicians I have had the opportunity to interview here in the past. Creativity is a combination of inspiration, opportunity, effort, and execution. It can show up in obscure corners, as it did with one of my best friends Nathan Weidner. Nathan is a teacher at Canal Winchester High School where he teaches French and Film Arts. Several years ago, a mutual friend introduced him to my book Love Is Never Past Tense. He wanted to write a screenplay for it, which he later did. We connected immediately and became the best of friends!

At our first meeting, he told me about his daughter Meah. I listened without interrupting as he shared her story, a story that is both tragic and inspiring. Even then, her inspiration had him hard at work on a screenplay. He told me that he had finished the first draft in one week and that the result had left him in tears. This was the first of sixteen drafts. When I first saw a draft in 2014, I could feel his emotions running through the pages. I could barely imagine how anyone could endure it.

Nathan Weidner

In addition to his full-time job as a teacher and more than a full-time job as a parent and grandparent, he has created and released three film projects. Today, you can see the result of that inspiration, opportunity, effort, and execution in his newly released film A Story For Winter. on Amazon Prime

I invited Nathan to my blog to share the process of making an independent film, the story, and the story behind the story.

Hi Nathan! Can you give us a synopsis of the story?

The story is about a small-town doctor who gets called to a home that adopts special needs children. On one of his visits, he gets snowed in and passes the time telling stories to his patient, a little girl named Winter. What he doesn’t realize is that she lives these adventures out in her mind like a typical child, but eventually he falls into a dream in which he goes on the adventure with her, and the experience helps him to heal from some significant hurts from his past.

I understand the script was years in the making. Where did it start? And why?

Hi Janna! I got the idea many years ago when I was watching my daughter, Meah, sitting in her wheelchair laughing and having a great time. I always wondered what was going on in her mind, and I imagined she might have special places she goes to where she is unfettered by her disabilities. In February of 2009 I had just completed a film I had been working on for the past 5 years, and I started thinking of what I wanted to do next. I came back to the idea of this story and decided it was time to write this one. I wrote the first draft in one week – it just flowed out of me.

How is the actual movie different from the first draft?

The central story always remained the same, but a number of subplots changed over time. Initially, Owen’s wife, Connie, had a supportive family who encouraged her when she became concerned about Owen, but her family eventually evolved into a more chaotic group that shows up uninvited to her house at Christmas. By doing this I was able to juxtapose Owen’s family experience with Connie’s and pose the question of whether it’s better to have a dysfunctional family rather than no family at all.

Another big change was the fairy tale that Owen tells Winter. Initially, it was a story about kings, queens, and castles, but it eventually evolved into a tale based on Celtic folklore. Finally, the backstory between Owen and his mother changed considerably between the first and last draft. Originally, there was no resolution between the two of them, and she was written off as a bad memory, but I eventually realized that it was important for Owen to make peace with his past, and I changed how the film ends in relation to the two of them.

A Shooting Session in the Woods

And with that, the film goes from a writing project through a production project. Making an independent film is a lot of work. What sent you off in that direction?

This was always a script that I wanted to shoot, myself. I was too invested in the story. I once had an offer to option the script to another production company, but I turned it down so that I could retain creative control over the project. I tried to make this film through traditional means, getting investors to finance it as a low-budget film. I developed a budget of $500,000, which is still fairly low compared to the budgets of most studio films, and in 2012 I came close to getting investors to give us that amount. However, at the last minute they pulled out, and for 9 years I tried to locate other funding sources but was unsuccessful.

What finally got the production up and running is pretty amazing. I was teaching a video production class in December of 2019, and one of my students turned in a video that he had shot on his iPhone, and it looked phenomenal. I began to entertain the idea of shooting my film on the iPhone, which is very cost-effective. Then, in May of 2020, I had another student turn in a video that starred one of our school’s most gifted performers, Adam Ashton Scott. He played a troubled young man on the verge of self-destruction, and his performance blew me away. I realized right then that he could play the lead role in my film. These were the seeds that were planted in the back of my mind, but they continued to grow over the course of the next year, and by the spring of 2021 we had set a date to start shooting the movie. Everything came together so easily that it was unreal. For 9 years I couldn’t have shot the movie regardless of how hard I tried, but now it was as if the movie was shooting itself and dragging me along for the ride.

So how long did it take to shoot the film?

Everybody who worked on the film was volunteering their time, so I had to work around their schedules. My two leads were only home for the summer and had to leave for college in August, so it was important that we get it all done before they were no longer available. In the end, we were only able to get them all together on 15 days between June 21st and August 1st. That is not a lot of time to shoot a movie, but somehow we pulled it off, sometimes shooting between 10-15 pages in one day. The cast was so dedicated and worked really hard to get everything done in time. 

One of the most challenging aspects of shooting the film when we did was the fact that it is a Christmas movie, and all the exteriors were being shot in June and July. The poor actors had to stand outside wearing winter coats in 80-degree weather, and we had to be certain to keep trees with leaves on them out of the exterior shots. In some shots, we added some fake snow on the set, but most of the snow effects had to be added during post-production.

I barely saw you that summer except for when I put in my little bit. I was really impressed with the young man who played the doctor.

Adam Ashton Scott

I cannot say enough about how much I appreciate Adam Ashton Scott. Everyone I worked with on the film was phenomenal, but as Dr. Owen Hughes he was the core of the story and had to appear in nearly all of the scenes, so he carried the weight of the film on his shoulders. What he gave me on camera was beyond my wildest expectations. He invested himself completely in the character, and he nailed his scenes time and time again. I can honestly say that there were only 2 times during the entire production when I had to say, “Why don’t you give me that line a different way.” He’s that good.

The film was made in 2021. What challenges did that create?

We did have to contend with the pandemic, but fortunately, the number of cases dropped considerably in the summertime. We never encountered a case of COVID-19 during production, for which I am genuinely grateful.

What was it like turning the vision into a real product?

They say you write a film three different times. Once when you write the script, the second time when you’re on set shooting it, and the third time when you’re editing it. I always had a vision for what the film would look like when I was writing it, but when you get on set with the actors, the environment and the people will bring an energy to the scene that dictates how it’s going to unfold. You just need to navigate around it with the camera to capture it the best way possible. As much as I thought I knew what this film was going to look like, there was no way for me to know exactly how it would unfold until I got on set each day. I can honestly say that it all came together better than I had ever imagined. I sat back and simply enjoyed what was coming through the camera lens, like someone who was seeing the movie for the first time. You would think that, after working on it for so long and screening it so many times, I would grow tired of watching the film, but I don’t. The actors brought the characters to life in such a wonderful way, and I enjoy spending time with them no matter how many times I watch the film.

What else would you like to share about this project?

Meah never got to see the movie that she inspired. She actually passed away just 4 months after I wrote the first draft of the script. I have been asked how impactful that has been on the production of the movie, and I would say that her life and her memory have been a huge inspiration for me to see the project through its completion. I miss her immensely, but I feel a lot of joy in being able to share the story that she inspired with the rest of the world.

How can we see A Story For Winter today?

We submitted the film to Amazon Prime through a service they offer independent filmmakers, and they began streaming the film in December of 2021. I cannot express how overwhelmingly grateful I am that we were able to distribute the film this way, considering the humble means in which we produced it. I believe this is a huge testament to the dedication of those who worked on the film, and I cannot thank them enough for helping us to achieve this milestone.

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

My previous 2 films (Parchegona, In Other Words) are on YouTube under the channel titled Praus Media. You can also follow me on Instagram @PrausMedia or on Facebook @PrausMediaFilms.

Sometimes, it’s hanging in there that makes all the difference

Do you have any suggestions for aspiring filmmakers, Nathan?

Yes, don’t ever give up! The film industry is a difficult one to navigate for numerous reasons, but if you have a vision for telling stories, keep plugging away at it no matter what it takes. You may need to take a day job to keep yourself financially stable, but once you clock out your time belongs to you, and you can do whatever you want with it. Shoot your movies, learn from your mistakes, and grow as an artist. Take constructive criticism from those who have earned your trust, but don’t allow the negative opinions of others to deter you from working on something you are truly passionate about. If you’re passionate about it, there are others who are going to enjoy what you create, and if you can’t find a distributor to share your work with an audience, go find your audience yourself. It can be done. See more here.

What are your thoughts on the future of independent filmmaking?

Technology has evolved so much over the past 20 years, and the average consumers have equipment in their homes that can create impressive videos and films. This has busted down walls for independent filmmakers, and the possibilities are endless. I believe we will see an increasing stream of self-made filmmakers who operate outside the Hollywood studio system because of this.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you had it all to do over again?

I don’t regret anything about how we made this film, but I do wish that the “me” from 2012 could have had a better understanding of how the following 9 years were going to prepare me to make the version of the film that I was going to truly love. It’s difficult to be patient in the moment, but the waiting truly paid off.

See also:

A Story for Winter Trailer

In Other Words


Adam Adhton Scott IMDB Page

A Story for Winter (IMDB)

Cast and Crew (IMDB)

James Garrett: The Brain Behind Brain by Design


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Recently, I was listening to a webinar at Los Angeles Chapter of International Coach Federation. Impressed by the content and presentation, I went to the presenter’s website and realized that he offered a full course. I was lacking a couple of CCEUs to support my International Coach Federation certification so I signed up for a piece of it.

When my two planned hours were taken, I did not want to leave the course! I thought:” Let me get through the first module – it’s pretty interesting!”. So I did. Soon it was over – then what’s next? I could have said “Thank you,” taken my certificate and left. How I found myself in the second module, and then the third, is now hard to say. I am an experienced coach, I had met my requirements, yet I was enjoying every moment.

I was talking to James later, shedding at him lots of compliments and questions.

A couple of days ago I realized that he is repeating the course on June 30 and offered him a chance to visit my blog.

James Garrett

So, today we have James Garrett who was glad to share his insights on human psychology. For over a decade, James has been studying and teaching the psychology of success, and unpacking the brain science behind what makes human beings thrive. As an entrepreneur, scientist, trainer, and coach, he is passionate about turning academic knowledge about the human brain into practical tools that anyone can use to change their life—and the world.

Here is my discussion with him:

Hi James! Can you please share your personal growth path? How did you get in this trouble? 🙂 

James and his brother Brennon at graduation

I fell in love with Psychology at Columbia University, but was always fascinated by human behavior — why we do what we do.  The deeper and more personal story, though, is that I struggled with OCD growing up and throughout my life.  So I was deeply interested in part because I thought there was something “wrong” with my brain.  This is partly why I fell in love with neuroplasticity, because it is the science of human change.  It gave me hope.

I thought there was something “wrong” with my brain.

In your course you have three sections. Tell us about them

That’s right, Janna. The course takes hundreds of the very best books on the science of habits, happiness, and productivity, and makes it easy to digest in videos and exercises.  In a six week period, you’ll cover all the most cutting edge neuroscience and behavioral science, but in a format that’s clear, easy to apply, and feels relevant to your life.  In a sense, I did all the reading so hopefully you won’t have to.

I did all the reading so hopefully you won’t have to.

The happiness portion of the course is an exploration of the science of positive psychology and the science of flourishing. This is where you’ll start to understand what role mindfulness plays in your wellness, how positive emotions can be utilized for creativity, and how to tap into flow states.

The happiness portion of the course is an exploration of the science of positive psychology.

Finally, the productivity portion of the course helps you design your work life (and personal life) to be distraction-proof.  We’re swimming in a sea of distractions and the best way to increase your ability to stay focused is to design for focus.

The productivity portion of the course helps you design your work life.

Is your course certified for Continuing Education?

About a third of each group who takes the course is doing it purely for personal growth reasons.

I’m currently working on getting the courses certified for other types of professional groups (e.g., health care workers, teachers, etc.).  Sometimes (but not always) professional development organizations will honor the continuing education credits from another certifying body like ICF.  So if you take the course, it’s worth getting the certificate at the end and asking your institution if it will accept the continuing education credits.

What should someone who goes through your course expect?

The course has a live portion and a pre-recorded portion.  There are 6 live sessions and 12 pre-recorded sessions.  For example, the first live session is on habits.  So in order to prepare for that live session, each student will watch the first and second pre-recorded sessions of the Habits by Design course and then come ready with questions about how they can deepen their learning, how to overcome an obstacle they’re facing, or how to help a client with a problem they’re having getting their exercise routine to stick. 

The live sessions are designed to be purely interactive and are an opportunity to discuss how to apply what the students are learning from the pre-recorded sessions in their real lives or the lives of their clients. 

The live sessions are designed to be purely interactive.

The last piece of the course is that if you are doing the course for continuing education credits, ICF requires you to fill out a brief 3-question reflection sheet for each of the pre-recorded sessions.  If you’re not going it for CCE credits, that piece is optional.

May I please, pretty please, have a discount to offer my readers?

Absolutely! I am happy to offer them a discount. This link will give your readers $100 off.

Thank you, James! That’s very generous! And how has COVID-19 affected how you are doing business?

Most of my business was online, even before COVID-19 hit, so it hasn’t affected my business as much as I thought it might.  Two resorts that I do weekly presentations at temporarily closed down, so some parts of my business have slowed.  But overall I feel really grateful because my courses have actually grown over the past few months — possibly because people have a little more time to catch up on their CCEs or do online E-learning while they’re quarantining at home.

Any specific advice for someone who is reading this article?

The advice I would give you is to take the neuroplasticity science seriously.  You have more dormant potential than you can possibly imagine — just waiting to be accessed.  You can learn how to unlock the power of your brain, but it takes a bit of training and understanding to help it work better. 

Take the neuroplasticity science seriously. 

I sometimes think of it like an airplane.  When we board a plane, we all turn right and go to our seats, right?  Imagine turning left and going to sit in the cockpit.  What do you see in front of you?  Dials, levers, gauges, buttons — things that don’t make much sense, unless you’re a trained pilot.  The only difference between you and a pilot is that the pilot has been trained for how to operate the machine. 

And what, James, is the best part of your job? 

I love watching people transform as they understand more about how their brain works and how to get it to work better.  It inspires me to watch people master the skill set of habits and then apply that to forming better exercise habits, better eating habits, better sleeping habits, better meditation habits, better empathy and listening habits.  As I watch their relationships with themselves and their loved ones improve, this is why I do what I do. 

I love watching people transform.

Confidence soaring!

I also love to watch people’s confidence soar as they feel like they’re not at the mercy of their emotions or negative thought patterns.  People genuinely start to figure out how to manage their minds in a way that is empowering and creates an upward spiral of positive change in their lives.  It’s incredible to watch!

Do you still do coaching yourself?

Yes, Janna! I do still do coaching myself, and am actively accepting clients at this time.  

Anything personal you want to share?

The best part of my life is definitely my 6-year old Sophia and my 4-month old Aeon!

What I’ve been trying to do through something called the Deep Change Project is really live the science in my own personal life.  Since my passion is getting science out of the labs and into people’s lives, I knew I wanted to get out from behind the science and experiment with applying it in various areas of my life.  In a sense, I’m doing a big experiment on myself to see how much I can change.  This year, I’m focusing on overcoming fear.

Deep Change Project

Thank you, James, for your visit! Where can people can find more information on your training?

They can find all the information on my website.  Or if they just want to go straight to the information about the courses, they can go here.

My Social Media posts:







How It All Began

An Excerpt from Love Is Never Past Tense by Janna Yeshanova

Serge didn’t try to catch up to the shuffling, thin, leather skirt.

Love Never Audio

Serge didn’t try to catch up to the shuffling, thin, leather skirt. He hadn’t a clue what he would do if he actually caught up with her. So he continued following her along the high embankment for a fairly long time, until they crossed the whole of Lanzheron Park. But, reaching the beach, the girl quickly descended to the sea. Serge even began to jog a bit to keep her in sight. His head was clear this morning, and soon he would try out his cunning for the first but not the last time this day. The spy set up camp at the upper solarium and watched over her. Maybe she was waiting for some company, or a young man, or a girlfriend (which would undoubtedly seem to be better), but to our spy, all were equally bad possibilities. This guessing game carried on in his head, but it seemed she wasn’t looking for anyone. She ducked into the changing room, and her leather skirt momentarily hung over the edge of the stall. After a minute, she exited, and Serge, pulling his long hair away from his head with both hands in anguish, groaned something unintelligible. Her breasts exited the little room first. The spot from where Serge looked down provided such visibility that his knees began to tremble. Her face was impossible to discern through her long hair and sunglasses, but something told him it would also be in order. She laid before her a light beach towel, and laying down she took a book from her bag and began to read. Burning her “landing site” into his mind, Serge took off like a shot to the nearest cabana rental. Fast as lightning, he exchanged his clothes for a key, crammed two metal rubles in the pocket of his swimming trunks, and became Don Juan. He feared, though, that there were already a bunch of admirers slinking ever closer to the sacred beach towel, and that he would simply be too late. He’d have to crawl to his place in line, and like the others, would have a poor chance of success.

He flew down the stairs and quickly found the beach towel, but … its owner was nowhere to be found. There was a book, a beach bag, and sunglasses, but their owner had disappeared. Oh, yes! This would be the second time that a smart thought visited Serge’s head today. People come to the sea to swim, after all! This interpretation of her disappearance comforted and delighted Serge. He became bolder and impudently tossed his glasses onto the same towel and cheerfully marched to the water. With his half-blind eyes, he surely could not see her. And where, among dozens of bathers? He dove into a wave, and swam away from the shore. First, he couldn’t stand to watch bathers jumping around like frogs in the shallow water. Secondly, at this moment, his exceptionally quick-witted head told him he couldn’t be the first to return to her beach towel. Then he’d have to take his glasses and fiddle around a bit in front of the beach towel to buy time as he came up with a new plan. Perhaps he’d cover himself with the towel, or maybe … no, he needed to work on his initial scenario.

He even came up with a sophisticated opening: “Excuse me, young lady, but I left my glasses here on your towel. I simply didn’t have anywhere to put them, or myself for that matter.” With this, his stockpile of ideas was depleted …

At last he climbed out of the water and headed along the well-trodden route to her beach towel. The towel was in place, and on this towel lay the magnificent body of its hostess, but Serge’s glasses were lying a little bit farther on the edge of the towel. Serge squatted down and mumbled his introduction. He was counting on her to respond with typical beach chit-chat: “Where are you from? How long ago did you arrive in Odessa?” or other such nonsense.

“Your glasses are fine,” she responded. “I figured someone just confused their beach towel with mine, but have a seat anyway.”

She scooted over, freeing up half the beach towel. He got scared. If he lay down, then he wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to nuzzle up to her. Then he’d certainly look like a pervert, a youth brought up with no manners, or a pest—in a word, he would give the exact opposite impression than he wanted. He mumbled something like a “thank you” and lay down beside her on the sand. She motioned towards him with a little bag of sunflower seeds, “Help yourself.”

”Oh God, what’s this?” resounded in Serge’s mind. “Are you kidding me … sunflower seeds?” And his hand with a subsequent “thank you” reached in the bag.

“Do you like Ilf and Petrov?” 1

”Lord, who is she talking about? I’ve only heard of them in passing, but I don’t know the slightest thing about them …” Serge thought to himself.

“My name’s Janna,” she came to his rescue.

“Sergey,” he stammered in reply, “but at the institute everyone actually calls me Serge, or Seriy …”

She chuckled – in Russian, Seriy means grey.

“Grey. You’re actually black as tar. Where did you get such a tan?” she asked, spitting out sunflower seed shells. Not even awaiting a response, she exclaimed: “Here is an interesting moment”—and she began to read her book aloud, something about Ptiburdukov and his Varvara, who was leaving her first husband for him but couldn’t make up her mind. Janna read for a while, probably about five pages, and then thrust the book towards Serge and said, “You read from here,” marking the place with her fingernail. Serge began to read, but he didn’t understand a word. He was too busy worrying about his diction, trying not to miss any letters or words. He fought through two pages, but his audience was clearly not impressed.

“Would you like a cigarette?”

“If he has a smoke, then he’ll stop reading.” Serge could almost hear her thinking. He pulled a cigarette from a mashed-up pack of Javas, the best tobacco the Soviet Union could offer at that time. She handed him the matches. He brought the flame close to her face. She took a drag and rolled over on her back. Serge absolutely didn’t know what to do: read, blow sand from her, ask her about something. But she was not waiting for any questions and didn’t ask any questions. It was as if he simply was present. And that was that. The only thing that remained was for Serge to stare dumbfounded into the sand and observe the ants. Having smoked half the cigarette, she jammed the other half into the sand and turned back over on her stomach, brushing her leg up against Serge’s. But she did not hasten to remove it. Silent Serge, who really didn’t look the part of a reasonable person, turned into an animal. His uncontrollable desire sprang to life, pulling his swimming trunks down into the sand with such force that it became painful. Serge secretly burrowed a hole in the sand, easing the pressure. He became obsessed with a craving to climb on top of her. But this was out of the question, which made his desire even stronger …

“It’s hot. Let’s go for a swim,” she said, lifting herself up on her elbows. For the first time he could see her breasts up close, causing his heart to leap through his ribs like a bird in a cage. He muttered he’d catch up to her, and when she left, his desire ever so slowly began to hide itself away, until he was finally able to get up and head towards the sea.

She splashed around in the waves, which towards midday became quite sizable. He flopped about next to her, often brushing up against her body. Then he suggested tossing her in the waves. He cradled her head and shoulders, gathered her hands into his, and finally lifted her up and tossed her into the waves. Janna liked it, and so did he, but for a different reason: every time she hit the waves, her bathing suit slid down slightly, and when her breasts finally became exposed, he was ready to splash to his very death. Suddenly, she ended up cradled in his arms. With one arm, she grasped his neck, and he now understood that everything will happen, he just needed to patiently wait.

Once something starts, eventually, it ends. The delightful swim as well: they returned from the water and again lay down on the beach towel.

“I want to get tanned like you.” (She had already switched to the informal you4 in the water. He liked this, as it made him feel less uneasy around her). She placed her arm next to his for comparison, and her brown skin seemed much paler than his almost blackened arm. Guiltily, he informed her that he just returned yesterday from his apprenticeship in Baku, and so it was not surprising that he was so dark.

“You have beautiful hands,” she pensively remarked. Then, determined, she added, “No, you just wait. I’ll catch up with you in two days. Just wait and see.” These words poured over his body like oil. For Serge, this meant that he would spend at least two more days with her.

“Get some ice cream. Do you need some money?”

“I have it,” answered Serge, but before he could get up and leave, he had to turn and crawl to hide his “desire” …

An Excerpt from Love Is Never Past Tense by Janna Yeshanova

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What Could Go Wrong?


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It was open mic night at the Comedy Club, and nothing was working for the aspiring comedian. He picked up the audience’s disapproval which made him even more nervous.  At one point, his gesture contradicted his story, and the audience laughed at the incongruity. As he came off the stage, the manager said “I’m sorry”.

The comic responded “Sorry? Didn’t you hear them?  I got a laugh!”

Sometimes, success comes in small doses.  As an independent author looking to find a buyer to the screenplay for my novel Love Is Never Past Tense, I find myself in interesting and unexpected places.

On the evening of July 26, over 100 filmmakers converged on the Gateway Film Center for the kickoff to the local 48 Hour Film Project. My team, led by TJ Cooley and Lewis Gordon was one of dozens of film crews that had signed up for this two-day event.  At 7.00 PM we were drawing our assignments.  By 7.30 PM we were racing out the door. We were one of 48 teams that showed up two days later with a completed film.

My friend Lewis Gordon is an officer of MOFA (Mid-Ohio Film Makers Association). He was part of the writing team for my screenplay, so I encouraged him to enter the contest. I figured that at a minimum it would develop connections to movie people that might help. He agreed if I stepped in as Executive Producer.

The 48 Hour Film Project is a grueling (yet fun) race to write, shoot and deliver a seven-minute film in two days. Teams enter local contests all over the world, drawn in by the line ” What could go wrong?”

Problem one: penciling me in as Executive Producer…  What does EP do anyway? High on the list of duties is finding a Director to take on the project, and I had already done that. Lewis sweetened the offer by suggesting that my book be included in the film. With that, we struck a deal.

Every team was given the requirements used to prevent getting a head start.

  • Required character – Jordan or Jayla Tillerman, detective.
  • Required prop – a sheet or roll of paper towel.
  • Required line – “How did you do that?”

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Each team drew genre assignments from two lists. Our team drew the genres “Family Film” and “Musical” – we could pick either or combine them. Lewis and his writing/directing/producing partner TJ Cooley spent a sleepless night putting together a screenplay. By 7.00 AM, cast and crew showed up ready to work. That’s when I discovered…

Problem two: I had been written into the script! Do EPs do that? Apparently, sometimes they do!

The work on our Family Film began in earnest. If Family Film and Musical bring up an image of The Sound of Music for you, scratch that and think the Sopranos. Yes, we made a gangster family film!

Problem three: In mid-afternoon, with the clock ticking, a camera failed.  Rehearsals and rework went on while another camera was shuttled across town. By early evening, filming was done and the focus shifted elsewhere for editing and production.


Problem four: About 7.00 PM Sunday, I saw a Facebook post of our “delivery” car stopped in traffic.  In the end, the car and the film made it to the delivery point on time, along with 47 other contestants. Two weeks later, all of them, including our masterpiece A Kill of Her Own got premier screenings at the theater where the madness began.

Problem five: Although we filmed the book in a couple different places, the angles were


After the Screening at Gateway Film Center, August 10 2019

picked to move the action along — the start of my book’s film career ended up on the virtual cutting room floor. You can see the result of our work on YouTube. You won’t want to miss the last few seconds of the film.

A Kill of Her Own is now at the mercy of the judges. If it wins, it goes to the next level of competition and could help us get attention for the Love Is Never Past Tense screenplay. Sometimes success comes in small doses.poster


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Happy Second Birthday, Mom!


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We celebrated May 9 for as long as I can remember! May 9 was the end of World War II. May 9 of 1945 became a day destined to be commemorated through generations!

Several years ago, I visited Czech Republic and was surprised to be a part of the parade devoted to the celebration of Victory Day – on May 8! “What happened?” I thought. Why did they switch the date? I wanted to scream: People! I know! It’s not today! It’s tomorrow… Wait when May 9 comes! But nobody could hear my scream: it was in my head!

Victory Day, in America VE Day, celebrates the triumph of the Allies over the Nazis in 1945. In western countries. Including Germany with Nazism defeated, official events are celebrated on May 8. Ukraine and Baltic countries do the same. Russia, many other former Soviet States and now Israel celebrate on May 9. The two different dates are an accident of history showing that even allies don’t always agree. On the night of May 7, 1945, Hitler’s Germany officially acknowledged its defeat, and its Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, had been dead for a week. On May 7, 1945 at 02.40 AM Central European time in French Reims, the surrender of Germany was signed. On behalf of Germany, the document was signed by General Alfred Jodl. Representatives of the anti-Hitler coalition allies — the American General Bedell Smith and the Soviet Major General Ivan Susloparov — accepted the surrender.

In Europe and then in the United States, there began a spontaneous celebration and universal rejoicing. Especially stormy celebrations were in London, and then in New York — millions of jubilant people gathered on the streets. However, the leader of the USSR, Joseph Stalin, decided the document signed at Reims did not satisfy him as sufficiently reflecting the role of the Red Army in the victory over Nazism.

Stalin demanded the signing of a new act, and by his order Marshal of the Victory Georgy Zhukov accepted in Berlin a general surrender of representatives of all the arms of the defeated Germany. From Germany, the Berlin Act of Surrender was signed by Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, as well as the leadership of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and the German Navy. Also, out of respect for Stalin, the document was signed by representatives of the allies – the United States, Great Britain and France. The Berlin Act of Surrender was signed on the night of May 8–9, at 00.43 Moscow Time, that is, in fact, it began in Moscow on May 9. Note that in Europe it was at 23.43 CET, that is, there it was May 8.

For me, World War II is a collection of horrible/amazing stories shared by my Mom. She experienced the war first hand, as I shared in a previous article. She celebrated the end of the war on May 9. I still have and use a small metal bowl she used during the war.

A few months after my family and I came to the US, I was driving through a small Ohio town. Suddenly, on a nearby driveway, I saw a sign “Fresh Honey!“ I translated it to my Mom, and she said “I want it!” I made a turn into the driveway and my Mom and I were greeted by a tall man, my Mom’s age.

My Mom knew Russian, Romanian, and French, but English at that time was so far away from her ear! My Mom asked me to translate for her.

Considering the age of this man she decided to ask him if he participated in the WWII – Russia and America were allies in that horrific period! I translated. He confirmed. The next thing I saw they were hugging each other. The interpreter was not needed anymore: both of them had tears. The man invited us in the house and started showing his pictures from THAT very time… The friendship and peace were established in one moment!

I am reposting my blog article from two years ago… This Article is devoted to my Mom. She is not here anymore, but she is and will be with me always!

Janna Yeshanova

My Mom (in a white dress) with her cousins just before the war.

Senior Lieutenant Malka-Galina Lerner, 1944

Today, May 9, I celebrate my Mom’s second birthday. I call this day her second birthday, as she did, because her actual birthday was on another day years earlier. She chose this second birthday herself because it represented a huge change in her life and the lives of everyone around her. It wasn’t that this was a beautiful spring day, or that the lilacs were in full bloom. May 9th is the day Russia marks as the end of World War II in Europe.

On 22 June 1941, the Germans broke their agreement and invaded the Soviet Union in ‘Operation Barbarossa’. It was a Sunday. The day before in Soviet schools there were graduation parties. When bands stopped playing, yesterday’s classmates, by tradition, went to meet the dawn. Young Muscovites headed to…

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I Can Hear You Now!


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Recently, I presented training at the International Coach Federation Columbus Charter Chapter. Interactive and dynamic training is always a blast!  It was a reminder of how we should listen to invite better communication in our lives.

shutterstock_407475370 LISTENNING SKILLS

Keep in mind LISTENING is a skill – not an inherent ability. Good listening means fewer family divorces, better relationships with coworkers, clients, friends, neighbors and everybody around us.

At the end of our session I shared a poem of Leo Buscaglia that really impressed me. I decided to share it with you here. I hope you like it too.

When I ask you to listen to me, and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.

But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince you and get about this business
of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s behind them.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn –

and I will listen to you.


Janna Yeshanova, MA, MEd, PCC –



Blog Tour – Love Is Never Past Tense by Janna Yeshanova

The Book Mistress

Originally from the former Soviet Union, Janna Yeshanova escaped in 1989 when persecution became violent during the crumbling of the Soviet state. This required getting permission to emigrate and a long dangerous train trip across central Europe with her elderly mother, her young daughter, and the $126 she was permitted to take out of the country. She did this by overcoming gridlock in Russia, animosity and graft at the border, and neglect in the west. Safely out of Soviet control, Janna and her family spent months as refugees waiting for permission to come to the United States.

Arriving in the United States knowing not a soul, Janna settled in Ohio and began to rebuild her life. She earned a second masters Degree and was invited as a speaker at the Bosnia and Herzegovina International Peace Conference in 1996. While building her business as a Leadership Trainer and consultant, she has…

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Spotlight – Love Is Never Past Tense

C.A. Milson

Originally from the former Soviet Union, Janna Yeshanova escaped in 1989 when persecution became violent during the crumbling of the Soviet state. This required getting permission to emigrate and a long dangerous train trip across central Europe with her elderly mother, her young daughter, and the $126 she was permitted to take out of the country. She did this by overcoming gridlock in Russia, animosity and graft at the border, and neglect in the west. Safely out of Soviet control, Janna and her family spent months as refugees waiting for permission to come to the United States.

Arriving in the United States knowing not a soul, Janna settled in Ohio and began to rebuild her life. She earned a second masters Degree and was invited as a speaker at the Bosnia and Herzegovina International Peace Conference in 1996. While building her business as a Leadership Trainer and consultant, she has…

View original post 3,232 more words