Everybody has a book in them, or so it's said. But it's something else again getting it onto the page and to a place where it might be shared.

I have been writing since I was a young child. Always, my dream was to see my name on the spine of a book. Books gave me life, a dream to live by. Through their portals I could escape so easily into other worlds. Books also saved my life ... yes, really!

This is the story of my books and my journey as an author, including a very personal view of my journey through Life. I hope it will inspire and give hope to writers and readers young and old.

Getting published can be a waiting game. It's hard .. and getting harder. But then sometimes it can happen in an unexpected way and suddenly, we truly are living our dream. And we realise that it isn't after all the winning that is important, but the journey that is ours along the way.

I would love to hear from anyone who connects with what is written here. A signed copy of any of my books is available. You have only to write and ask:

Wednesday 28 October 2015


Sometimes words slip out in a stream of consciousness, and suddenly, I'm looking back at the woman I once was, waiting for my man to come home ... waiting for the unexpected gift ... waiting for a spark of understanding ... waiting with arms outstretched ... always waiting ... and waiting never made it come ... Now I am the Lady in Waiting for the Knight who will never again return Home!

                                       A lake of soulness, a place of sadness and space
                                       where I feel alone ... afraid ... unsure ...
                                       and more than anything, not knowing suddenly
                                       which way to turn.

                                      What do I say
                                      to make the pain go away?
                                      How to act
                                      to retract
                                      the tears that pour through all the years
                                      pooling in the lake of sorrow
                                      from yesterday, today, tomorrow,
                                      where that sense of grief prevails
                                      as if I've lost something precious,
                                      something special
                                      which was there ...
                                      but now is gone.

                                      Right now, everything feels like quicksand,
                                      the place on which I stand
                                      suddenly uncertain.
                                      I need to determine
                                      who I am, what I'm doing, where I go.
                                      The same old questions
                                      slipping through Time,
                                      pooling in this place
                                      of sadness and tears.

                                     I'm a lost and frightened child
                                     because I see things different.
                                     Is that so wrong?
                                    Why should it matter?
                                    Why does he care?
                                     It's what makes up Me -
                                     the Me he has to come see and know.
                                     But then, right now, it's not enough.
                                     I have to be tough ...
                                     But I'm just not like that at all!

                                     I cry ... I know why.
                                     And it isn't what He thinks!
                                     It isn't just caught up
                                     in machines I don't understand.
                                     There's so much more,
                                     while at the core
                                     what I really need is Love.
                                     Hugs and cuddles,
                                     gentle words,
                                     smiles, and ...

                                     I feel things deeply,
                                     Is that wrong?
                                     Stress makes my head hurt,
                                     my heart ache.
                                     But instead of a good shake
                                     and shout,
                                     I cry instead with yearning;
                                    with aching, gnawing need
                                    and the plea
                                    to simply feel accepted
                                    Just the Way I Am.

                                    For that to be enough.

                                   He's there immediate with the phone.
                                   Does he get frustrated and shout,
                                   raising his voice at another
                                  when they don't understand
                                  what he's talking about?

                                  It must just be Me.

                                  I'm not enough, for sure,
                                 while others vie for his attention
                                 more and more and more.
                                 He's there for them.

                                 So what's the point?

                                 I'm supposed to accept the way it is,
                                 alone through the week
                                 while he's away working
                                 and with people, yes, yes;
                                 those who understand and know
                                 without him having to show
                                 them how to be, what to see,
                                 telling them to recognise the truths,
                                 the facts, the techie moves.

                                I write ... rubbish!
                                I paint ... so what's special about that?
                                I play, I see things in an unusual way.
                                So what?
                                You're not an idiot, he says,
                                but why can't you understand
                                the way I do?
                                Why can't you see and tell
                                and do
                                the way I am?
                                Keep to the Plan!

                               What Plan?
                               I've already said!
                               How many times does it take!!

                              What do you do ...
                              when all I want to hear is:

                               I love you

                               copyright: Janine Harrington, 2015

Monday 26 October 2015


This is an open letter, thanking everyone near and far who have offered me a place of Sanctuary and a warm welcome, friendship, support, understanding, compassion, love just when I needed it most.

I don’t use the word ‘Sanctuary’ lightly. For me, arriving on a Sunday morning to share worship with my local Salvation Army, going for my only hot meal of the week at a Luncheon Club on a Monday, on a Wednesday attending a Ladies Meeting, warm cuppa and chat, while on a Thursday meeting up with The Show Stoppers AgeUK, a group of singers who have welcomed me into their fold, and slowly together we are creating harmony and Christmas gigs amidst much laughter and frolics ... gives me a point of contact, something to look forward to, lifting my spirits, knowing I am amongst friends, accepting me just the way I am ... that is so vital to me right now. Somehow, during these times shared, I feel as if a tremendous burden has been lifted. Yes, I arrive home after, and my situation hasn’t changed. But somehow, in heart, I feel less isolated, less bereft and alone. Thank you all for helping to provide me with peace of mind, a place to be, friendship and support,encouragement and love in the truest sense of the word.

For those who don’t know me, or what brought me to your doors one empty Sunday morning, my experience is one of betrayal and loss. My husband, also my Carer, wrote an email telling me he wasn’t coming back from his contract in London … he didn’t want me or the place we called Home. End of. It arrived early one Sunday morning not long ago leaving me understandably shocked and distressed. Unbeknown to me, he was leading a double life, with a rented house in the area he was working rather than staying in B&B as I believed, had been busy furnishing it, and a young Italian lady he took with him from Thirsk. The last time he was a part of my life was on my birthday on 4 July this year. 
My faith is the strongest part about me. With a PhD in Life and having worked in brokenness with people who are vulnerable – homeless, addicts, abused, disabled, unemployed, offenders in and out of prison, young mothers, and teenagers excluded from school – it has been my faith which has always sustained me, like a rope reaching through my life, enabling, empowering, sharing and supporting others. I have always accepted people just the way they are, no matter what their circumstances, living by the words: ‘To deny one’s experience is to deny one’s self’.

As an author of some twenty-one publications, I am aware that everyone has a story to tell. As a Counsellor for thirty years, I know the importance of simply listening to someone in crisis. As a person of faith, I believe there is a wider purpose in all things beyond our knowing. There is always a reason behind what is happening to us at any given time. We have only to believe, to trust in God to see us through, to share His Love openly, and to give ourselves up to His Will.

As I write this, the chorus with words from childhood slips easily through my mind. I can still see the little girl with auburn curls and a freckled face sitting there, eyes wide open, naive to the ways of the world, not knowing what Life yet has in store:

Two little eyes to look to God,
Two little ears to hear His Word.
Two little feet to walk in His ways,
Two little lips to sing His Praise.
Two little hands to do His Will,
And one little heart to love Him still.

My grandmother’s parents were named Mary and Joseph. They moved from London to Cheshire, and it was my grandmother Emily who would play the piano, teaching young children choruses she came to know so well as a Salvationist. She was well known in the area, not just because her parents went on to adopt ten of these young children they helped feed and clothe, but also because she was such an open caring person, who lived by her faith. In later years, she was always giving a home to people in crisis. She would meet someone on a bus and they would talk and share what was happening to them. The next thing they would be home with her having tea, and stay on while she supported them through whatever life burden they were carrying. She married a deeply spiritual man, and together they became Speakers of Faith, leading worship, but also demonstrating their faith in truly meaningful and remarkable ways. When Will her beloved husband died, they had only been married six short years. Emily continued as a widow for 39 years, making a difference to the lives of people in her neighbourhood and beyond. In time, she was given a small chapel to work from, but her front room was still used often.

I was close to my Nanny. We shared a love of music, and would write hymns for one another along with many hundreds of letters. She was the only person to talk to me about the disability I had been born with, otherwise none of my questions were answered. It was as if I was born into a family of secrets. Only years later did I discover my mother felt the guilt of being punished in some way for ‘the sins of her fore-fathers’. Meanwhile, I recall going to Sunday School in calipers, with irons up my legs, believing through Bible stories I heard that there must be a reason why I had been born this way. If I wasn’t miraculously cured like the man lowered through the roof to Jesus by his friends, then He would show me another way for the future. As my father became a minister and I a ‘daughter of the Manse’, it felt as if I still needed to find my own sense of identity. With horrendous bullying at school, it took many years to accept being labelled ‘disabled’, brought up as ‘the cripple on the street’ which no-one in my family talked about. But then working in brokenness helped. It doesn’t really matter what experience we come from, we can still share the same emotions, the same sense of feeling afraid, unworthy, lacking in confidence and self-esteem.

Today, I know with absolute certainty that God continues to work through my life, enabling, teaching, guiding me down alternative paths. It was He who surely urged me one Sunday this summer to come out of the shadows into the light and embrace a new and very different dawn. I was engulfed in a tsunami of inner pain and had lost the point to life. I would much rather have shut myself away in my spiralling endless tunnel of darkness, locked away from the world. Instead, God led me to walk the back road of the village where I live and happen across a service about the start in the Salvation Army Hall. It was here I met for the first time such wonderful people who made me feel immediately welcome, as if I was already a part of their Family.

There are still large seemingly endless patches of darkness in my life, but like stars flickering in a night sky, I also feel connected, valuing the new and very real sense of friendship and love I have found in unexpected places.

A great believer in 'Happenstance', my life today is filled with strangers who quickly become firm friends. Then again, every day I receive letters, emails and/or phone calls from veterans of a secret group during World War Two: RAF No. 100 (Bomber Support) Group, whom I have known and worked with for the past twenty or so years. I feel privileged and honoured to be Secretary of our worldwide Association and Editor of our quarterly magazine; still passionate about preserving their history and stories through books and writings.

This is now a very new and different journey to the one I had imagined I was on, leading me to places I never thought possible, meeting people I would not otherwise have met, getting involved in a range of activities, firm in the conviction that out of every negative there must come a positive ... the greater that negative, the more that positive must be. 

My heartfelt thanks therefore goes to everyone who simply accepts me just the way I am … without having to pretend to be something I am not or hide behind a mask, or do the ‘I’m fine!’ greeting. Since Tony left, it is sad that people I knew when we were together back away as if there's been a death and they don't know what to say, don't want to get involved, leaving me feeling alienated, isolated and insecure. It reminds me of another old hymn … meanwhile, I deeply appreciate the unexpected kindness I have been offered, friendships shared, understanding without words that creep into the silence like a close warm hug just when I need it most during life's darkest times:

Just as I am, thine own to be
Friend of the young, who lovest me;
To consecrate myself to Thee:
Oh Jesus Christ I come.

In the glad morning of my day,
My life to give, my vows to pay,
With no reserve and no delay,
With all my heart I come.

Monday 12 October 2015

Out of the Shadows

Hello World,

Don't you think it strange that when a man leaves his wife, he takes no memories with him apart from those which reside in his heart? No photographs. No ornament or momento of the past, nothing of our togetherness or our wedding to remind him of a life shared? It's been three months now since my birthday, a different kind of birthday when somehow, lurking in the shadows, there was fear, as if something was just waiting around the corner ready to spring an unexpected surprise. Instinct was kicking in. But I had no idea then what it was trying to tell me. Nothing could have prepared me for the email when it came a couple of weeks later not having seen my husband since that day, basically telling me he wasn't coming back, he didn't want home, or me any more, and that his life was now in London where he already had a house. He'd been leading a double life and didn't say it then, but a young Italian lady had taken my place. To make it worse, he met her here in the north, and they presumably left together.

Last month was our second Wedding Anniversary. We'd been together five years. I still carry the pictures of Us around in my head ... standing behind the anvil at Gretna Green, wrapped in the warmth of the love of family gathered around us, like one big hug, my heart glowing with happiness, feeling the security and the freedom that comes in finally having found my peace. I had no idea it would end so soon. Did he love me, I mean really give himself to me, body, mind, spirit, soul, with everything he had in him to give? Or was he using me from the start? Right now, I feel like the 'other woman', a 'Scarlet Woman'. Somehow, she and I have changed places, even though I'm still his wife. I can't help my mind circling around a room, a house surrounded by green in London, imagining them together, what they're doing, shopping, sharing, doing things we once did together and how suddenly he has quality time for her the way he didn't for me. I realise that if I text he will probably toss his mobile back in his pocket, off-handedly saying 'Crap Text!' the way he used to whenever a text or email came through when we were together ... presumably from her.

Behind him, he has left a legacy of pain which doesn't go away.

New people I meet presume I'm a widow. That my husband has died. And in a very real way, he has. There is a part of me that died with him. I know my life will never be the same again. Because just as I was completely open and honest, faithful and true, hiding nothing, for the future I can never be that trusting again. Trust is like a fragile bird. It needs nurturing, tenderness, patience, understanding, caring, loving, reassurance, specialness, unexpected surprises given in love by someone who truly believes in the preciousness of Love. Now that bird is broken, and something inside it destroyed forever.

Tony didn't just take himself, he took the past we shared, the marriage where we promised for better, for worse, to be faithful and true, to love one another for always. He also took our future dreams, our hopes and wishes, those precious moments which will always be ours. I think of him often. I can't help it. People talk about moving on. Time is a healer. You're a strong lady, with an inner strength that will see you through, they say. But sitting here alone at home, in the silence of the evening, with Christmas just around the corner, it's a difficult time. I went to a Luncheon Club today and ate the first meal I've eaten in over three months. It was good to be with people, and I'll go again. I've also joined The Show Stoppers, a singing group, who have such a wicked sense of humour I can't stop myself laughing. And it's always a surprise. I'm not used to the sound. Laughter? It's been so long.

The book I read before bed was given to me by my daughter Jo: The Untethered Soul. It's a good book to go to sleep on. Last night it spoke of discovering the ability to open your energy channels by finding your path to enlightenment ... enlightenment meaning that we need to live in the moment, to find within ourselves the happiness that will free us, overriding barriers such as fear, worry, anxiety, jealousy, loneliness, and simply letting go and just being in that moment. Yes, life will throw at us the unexpected. But we each have within us the ability to observe what it is doing to our body, our mind, our thoughts and emotion, and we need to find a way to ride out the storm, without getting sucked in and drowning in a tsunami of self-pity, discouragement, doubt, and what-ifs.

I still try to live by the premise that out of every negative must come a positive. The greater the negative, the more that positive must be. Each day is a new challenge. But I exist moment by moment by moment. Small steps. Trying to live in that moment. To embrace it ... to feel it ... to know it ... to take from it what I need for the next one that comes along.

I'm learning how to survive in a brave new world.