By Pamela Dozois
Few of us pass through this life unscathed. We all experience a variety of traumatic experiences, some from childhood, which can affect our entire life. These experiences may stay with us for years and continue to influence us well into adulthood if they are kept secret.
Debbie Jenae is a child abuse survivor. In her new book “If Roses Were Blue,” Jenae focuses on “telling someone” if something bad happens, not keeping it a secret.
The synopsis is this: Chris, a college student, believes a friend of her young sister is being abused – a secret that Chris had also kept at that age. With tenderness and insight, she takes the reader back several years to a decision that marked the beginning of a series of rescues, including her own. A lady of light, a boy named Gus, and a stolen dog add to this tale of courage, trust, and friendship.
A section also includes references to eight resources and answers additional questions that readers might have about the story, the book, and the topic.
“The book doesn’t focus on the details of the abuse. I wanted to write a story addressing abuse in a way that’s safe and entertaining enough to be read from cover to cover,” Jenae said.
The book is geared for readers age 8 and above, although adults whose inner child still suffers may enjoy hearing the many insights shared in this book.
Jenae originally wanted to title her book “The Blue Rose,” but the title had been taken. So she brainstormed with her daughter, Ashley, about a new title and her daughter suggested she call it “If Roses Were Blue.”
During the early stages of writing the story an inspiring image came into Jenae’s mind.
“An image of a blue rose appeared very clearly to me one day while meditating. I had never seen a blue rose, which led me to think they must be very special,” Jenae said. “I have since learned there are no blue roses in nature although since ancient times, the idea of a blue rose has held a sense of magic and mystery.
“So perhaps by fate, it found its place in this story. Whether we find one in a garden or in our imagination, a blue rose can remind us that we, too, are unique and anything is possible.”
Jenae also created the illustrations in the book. She says she doesn’t have any training in the arts but that she loves to draw. She enjoys creating images that have a life-like quality while holding a sense of magic.
“This story was actually written more than 25 years ago,” she said. “At that time, few publishers were interested in books about child abuse, no matter how encouraging. For various reasons, the manuscript went on my shelf but remained close to my heart. You might say, life got in the way.”
Recently a space was created in her life and she found herself with the time to self-publish. “If Roses Were Blue” came out in October. It is Jenae’s second book.
Her first book, “Be An Inspiration – 101 Things you can do to Prevent Child Abuse,” is an uplifting collection of ideas and resources for survivors, caregivers and advocates of change.
Her perspective is influenced by seven years as a court-appointed child advocate in Hawaii (for which she was recognized by the governor’s office for her dedication and commitment) as well as personal experience, study, and training in trauma and healing.
As she recounts the story, she was driving home one day, thinking that there was so much we can do to help children. Suddenly she began to download a list of actions, one after another, so intensely that she had to stop the car and write them down as quickly as they popped into her mind.
By the time she arrived home she had more than 90 ideas written down. The rest came to her that same night – her list of 101 things was complete. She created a website around the list and in 2013 turned it into a book. She also publishes a monthly newsletter entitled “Inspired 101 News” based on that theme.
Jenae credits much of her passion for understanding human behavior and potential to her study of handwriting analysis. She holds a master certification in graphoanalysis and was named Graphoanalyst of the Year in 2015. She has been involved in this field for more than 40 years.
As a shy young woman, she found herself becoming intensely interested in people and their behavior, and by using handwriting analysis she didn’t have to converse with them. All she needed was a sample of their handwriting to understand them better.
“I have always been fascinated with human behavior and potential, what makes people do the things they do,” she said. “I am a child abuse survivor. My recovery was intense at times but also immensely profound. In that process, it was writing that saved my life. First, it was handwriting analysis, which laid a foundation for a better understanding of myself and others. Then there was writing.
“I know, now, that this interest – obsession, really — started as a way to understand what had happened to me. This knowledge-seeking quest for insight led me down some fairly unconventional paths, but each of them brought truth, clarity, and a passion for helping others,” she added.
Jenae has published more than 300 articles on behavior and potential through her columns “Write On!” and “Handwriting@Work.” She is also a public speaker and gives presentations to schools and businesses. She uses her handwriting analysis skill to inspire others to see the possibilities that lie within each person and hopes to help them seek their full potential. She also shares her journey from quiet survivor to public speaker with honesty and insight, empowering her audience with a unique perspective and call to action.
If she could leave people with only one message from her work, and especially to survivors of abuse, it is this: “You are so much more than you realize,” Jenae said. “You can make a difference every day.”
For more information on Jenae’s books, lectures and handwriting analysis, visit debbiejenae.com or inspired101.com.