, , , , , , ,


Once, back in Russia, I parked my car overnight near my house instead of parking it in the garage. The next morning, I was preparing to take my little daughter to the swimming pool when my next-door neighbor suddenly grabbed my attention. He was so agitated! He spoke very, very fast, pointing to the back of my vehicle. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, so I went to him and to my huge surprise, I realized that the back tires were gone. Neat, accurate rectangular red brick structures were supporting the back end of the car!

My first thought was to thank God that my Mom was not around to tell me that I should’ve parked in the garage, given the shaky economic conditions of my Soviet country, but my temporary psychological comfort was abruptly interrupted by her voice.

“Ha!” She had decided to visit us that shiny Saturday morning. This was, after all, the Soviet Union. Perhaps God was elsewhere.

My Mom’s voice proclaimed, “Janna, this is what happens when the car does not spend the night time in the garage,” but that was not the end of her thoughts. My Mom, who had endured World War II and knew that one needs to survive in any given circumstance, continued, “Janna, you can’t leave the car outside. You have to drive it in the garage… Now!

My helpful neighbor quickly installed the spare tire, but the fourth one… was still a problem…

“How can I do it now, Mom?” I asked, repeatedly counting the tires and realizing each time that there were only three. “How can I drive on three tires?” I asked facetiously.

“Janna! When you want it you do it!” was her reply.

My feelings bounced between anger and the desire to burst out laughing. Time has passed, but I still remember one thing: “Janna! When you want it you do it!”


This conversation took place in the days just before my country began to crumble. Life was lining up a generous supply of adversity and turnabouts.  My Mom’s words “Janna! When you want it you do it!” echoed in my memory when I needed support.  They helped me to cross the Atlantic with almost no money or help.

At that time, the Soviet government allowed emigrants to exchange only $126.00 from local currency. So I had a choice:  I could stay and keep what I had, or go…

Going wasn’t easy. A narrow window of opportunity had opened, but just barely. Bureaucracy tried to freeze the status quo with one hand and extort the last kopek from anyone who dared to leave with the other. Ethnic tensions, held in check for decades by Soviet power, found new voices and raised new threats. Not all neighbors were helping with tires. Some were stealing them. Some were trying to steal the country. Go. Definitely go. Tough choices are easy when you have no option. I took my $126.00, my mother and my daughter and dashed for the border.

0First two weeks in USA  May 1990

Two weeks after arrival to the USA. My Mom, may daughter and me

The full story is told in my book Love Is Never Past Tense.  I never thought about writing a book.  I thought about writing a letter to my future grandkids, so they would know their background, appreciate what they have and know how they got it.  I started that letter, but it never stopped.  The story kept running and running out of my quill.  Then I realized that I could wrap this story into an inspirational second chance romance, so I did that!

Doubts crept in. Who would read all this material I produced?

A thought about publishing a book knocked on the door… Was this thought knocking on my door? I believed it, and then I did not. Who will read it? – was the next thought.  Doubt was trying to steal my tires, but in my imagination Mom’s voice repeated “Janna! When you want it you do it!”

Another pity party showed up as I flew home after a seminar. On my lap, I had a proof copy of the book. I was scanning the lines, double checking for mistakes and possible flaws. The thought ‘who will read it’ was following me even in the sky. Doubt was sharing my seat, but opportunity was in the seat next to me.


Opportunity can show up anywhere

The man in that seat wondered what I was reading. I briefly shared the story and he asked to see the manuscript. He started reading as we took off from Philadelphia and didn’t stop until we landed in Chicago.

Alex was a PhD graduate from Yale. As we parted he handed me his business card and asked me to let him know when the book would be published. He said he wanted to buy it. “No, no, no!” I protested! “I’ll send it to you!”  I was so happy that someone wanted to read it. “A man?!  Reading a love story?!” was in my head.  “Please… No need to buy it!  I’ll send it to you!” I heard my voice say.

Months later, I sent him the promised copy. After reading it, he called me and said that he could picture a great movie based on the book. A movie? I hadn’t imagined! The story for my future grandchildren was gaining traction.

Alex took on the role of my excited neighbor mounting the spare tire and eight months later the Jewish Federation of Omaha Nebraska invited me to present Love Is Never Past Tense. They flew me to Omaha, offered me a great hotel and placed an article with my picture and my biography on the front page of their newspaper! They bought, as far as I remember, two hundred books.


Omaha Book Signing 2012.jpg

 In Omaha NE

Three tires on. “Janna! When you want it you do it!” Life doesn’t stop, it keeps going and going. A new idea evolves in my head and keeps disturbing my world. I imagine a book trailer would be a great reward for all my trouble.  I dial the first film maker my internet search provides and run into a guy who won an Emmy.  He makes my book trailer and more than that – he becomes a friend.

My book trailer catches the eye of a screenplay writer who decides to read the book. He falls in love with Love Is Never Past Tense and writes a screenplay. The movie Alex imagined has started materializing.

We all know that opportunity comes from within. First, you need to decide. Then, everything falls into place. Not immediately, but it does! Did someone say that thoughts are materializing? They do!

Now I am looking for a new adventure. Is it a new adventure or is it a sequel of the same one?  Is this the adventure that we call life? Is it really the case that when you want it you do it?

Do it, even when a whole set of tires is not available!


This article was first published for a community of 500.000 filmmakers as :