Sometimes I don’t sleep very well and I pray. On good nights I wake in the early hours with ‘messages’—a sense of such clarity and peace that I get up and write. I don’t receive words but feelings and images, which I translate into words. For me, it helps me to imagine that these come from ‘angels’. Many years ago I went to an angelic energy therapist, Christine Voss in Colorado. Something in me clicked. Perhaps it was from my Christian background but the image of angels allowed me to connect deeply with Spirit. They have guided me ever since—though the connection has been somewhat tenuous lately.

Here, with courage and trepidation, I offer you my first ‘angelic’ post.

Thur 19 Jan 2017

Be patient. Do not seek outside yourself for answers or fulfillment. All is well! We keep telling you all is well. And you do not believe us for the world tells you different. Ask yourself what it is that you want—fear or love? And then go for it. But if it is love you choose, that means living love right now, in this moment and every moment. What better moment than now? Look around you. What is there here to love? A cat purring on the table. Clean clothes drying on the rack. Drapes closed against the cold night. Pretty new peach paint on the walls. Serafina smiling from her portrait. A mess of clutter, a lived-in warm cottage. A life well lived. So rejoice and be free. Nothing can enslave you or defeat you, nothing but the failure of your imagination, the dwindling of your spark, your love. 

Be always gentle with yourselves and others. Nothing to achieve, nothing to prove. You are learning to live in a brand new way. Your ancestors rejoice with you. All their lives they dreamed of peace, of love, of wholeness. And now it is yours to enjoy. Forgive them all their trespasses, their sins, and welcome them all into your heart. Forgive yourself your failings, your shortcomings. Berating yourself will not improve anything. You are no worse than anyone else. All people struggle to be the best they can, to live the best possible life. And all learn through the challenges.

Ask yourself what it is you truly desire. Hold to that vision with conscious intent and it will come to you. We promise. Be careful what you see for yourself and the world. 

Mon. 23 Jan 3:40 am

We cannot help you unless you tell us what you want. You know that all you need to do is state your intention. Even if it is very small.

The reason for your pain is the disconnect between your intention and reality. You are pulling in one direction and going in another. Looking backwards and trying to move forwards. Always your mind is in the past. Let go of those old thought forms. Be in this world. It is a wonderful one. Feel the longing but don’t drown in it. There is so much that you desire. Simply focus and be gentle.

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Yes to the Blessings of 2017

I say no to fear.

From everywhere fear is being hammered into me. The other night I watched the news for the first time in weeks and saw Donald Trump in presidential mode, a complete buffoon, his press conference a terrifying farce. Then there was a litany of disasters around the world, the customary story on failings in the NHS (Britain’s brilliant National Health Service), the latest government scandal, the worst of current wars. More and more all the media (newspapers, radio, TV, internet) feed us a feast of terror, a frenzy of fear.

I say no to it. There is another way of living. I refuse to turn against others, even those epitomized by the Trumps of this world.

While I was in France over Christmas I read Vous n’aurez pas ma haine by Antoine Leiris (You Will Not Have My Hate). It is by a journalist whose wife died in the Bataclan attack in Paris, leaving him with their 17-month-old son. It is raw, courageous, beautifully written, inspiring.

Many nights lately I sleep fitfully and wake drowning in nameless dread. Some days I feel overwhelmed by the smallest tasks and barely function; other days I step onto the treadmill of chores and jobs and projects, accomplishing a lot but feeling drained.

You may know that last year I taught workshops on non-fear, so it is ironic that I sometimes feel overwhelmed by fear. Maybe we do teach what we need to learn. One thing I have learned is that fear is energy, an invaluable energy that can propel me into something new. Right behind the fear hides a whole new way of being—incredible joy and aliveness. In my better moments I imagine this is true not only for me but the whole world. If we manage to open our hearts to love and move through the fear, a beautiful life awaits us.

Just came across this quote by Audre Lorde (in an announcement about a Sound Circle concert in Boulder, Jan. 28 & 29, wish I could be there): “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Yes!

Colin and I spent two weeks over Christmas in France, living with my friends on the farm in Montaillac and visiting Plum Village nearly every day. It was so lovely! Quiet, cold and gray, peaceful and nourishing. The plum trees, oaks and chestnuts were bare of leaves, the lotus pond dark, the earth thick and muddy. In their brown robes the monks and nuns moved silently; lay people hunched into wool and fleece. Everywhere, smiles and happiness. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, after the inspiring Dharma talks and the delicious Vietnamese feasts, we watched performances of song, dance, and comedy. Such joy!

Being there reminded me (for the ten thousandth time) that happiness is an inside job. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, I always have all the conditions for happiness.

That’s why I’m writing this blog: to remind myself and you of the goodness of life and the love that connects us all—to God, to the earth, and to all beings.

May the coming year bring you endless blessings of peace, simplicity, and joy.



P.S. Welcome to my revised blog (still under construction…) Leave me a comment if you feel inspired. I would love to hear from you!

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“Fear not!”

When I was in the second grade, in the early 1960s, we were taught to file into the hallway, kneel with our heads low against the wall, and put our hands over our heads. This would protect us in case the Russians dropped a nuclear bomb on New Jersey. I grew up fearing the Russians.

My mother in Washington State in the 1940s learned to fear the Japanese. Today the Russians and the Japanese are our friends, or at least our allies. Now we fear Islamic terrorists. Tomorrow, those we call terrorists might be our friends.

In this election year, some people fear more than anything that Donald Trump might become president; others fear that it might be Bernie Sanders or Hilary Clinton. In many ways, the mass media spreads fear with endless stories of conflict and violence, with advertisements that make us feel bad about ourselves, with messages that promote separation rather than unity.

The epidemic that I perceive threatening our well-being more than any other is an epidemic of fear.

Humans have learned over millennia to be alert to dangers in the environment. In our modern world, we no longer fear being attacked by tigers or mastodons; yet the brain is hard-wired to be on the constant lookout for danger. The threats to our well-being today are much more subtle, for instance, running out of money, losing a job, facing a conflict with a neighbor or co-worker. We fear growing old, getting sick, losing our loved ones. The greatest fear of all, underlying the others, is the fear of dying. Over time, these perceived threats build up to create a pervasive anxiety, which can manifest in depression, physical illness, failed relationships, or rage.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that fear is at the root of most of my difficult feelings, whether anger, jealously, hatred, self-loathing or shame. I can never get rid of my fears, but I can find ways to transform them. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, writes in his book Fear: “We may think that if we ignore our fears they’ll go away. But if we bury worries and anxieties in our consciousness, they continue to affect us and bring us more sorrow. We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us. We can transform our fear.”

A kind of magic happens when I have the courage to acknowledge, accept, and release my fear. What Pema Chödrön calls the “iron heart” softens into a “tender heart.” I am more able to cope with difficult situations, deal with conflict, and make better decisions. My relationships are more open and more intimate. Paradoxically, I find that dealing with fear directly makes me a more loving person.

In his book Freeing the Soul from Fear, Robert Sardello says, “When we don’t run from fear, or try to eradicate it, we discover ourselves anew. We discover ourselves as beings of love.” I believe that this is the most important work of our time. “Love works to cancel fear,” he writes, “because love is a force of connection and attraction, while fear is a force of separation and division.”

It is possible to live more in love than in fear. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Non-fear is the basis of true happiness, and if you can offer non-fear to someone, you are giving that person the best kind of gift.” Many people are practicing this all over the world, though you don’t hear about it much on the news. I currently live in a spiritual community in Scotland, where people have been attempting to live this way for over fifty years and still going strong. Countless movements exist, including eco-villages, permaculture, alternative education, and so on.

Brother David Steindl-Rast is a Catholic monk and mystic. Some years ago he said that the “most frequently repeated command in the Bible is not ‘love your neighbor’ but ‘fear not.’ And if there is one thing that we need in our world, … it’s ‘fear not.’ If we went into the day with that command deeply tattooed on our heart, ‘fear not,’ we’d be completely different people and create a completely different world’ – a world of love.

This is a world I’m just beginning to know, and it is wonderful.

My next all-day workshop is at Plymouth Church, 916 W. Prospect, on Saturday, Feb. 27 from 10:00 to 4:00, entitled The Gift of Non-Fear: Choosing Love and Joy in a Fearful World.

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The Gift of Non-Fear: Choosing Love & Joy in a Fearful World

A Workshop with Janelle Combelic

Non-fear is the basis of true happiness, and if you can offer non-fear to someone, you are giving that person the best kind of gift.

—Thich Nhat Hanh, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm

            Fear has been my constant companion. It wakes me in the night and walks with me in the day. In a way it keeps me safe, just as it did my ancestors who watched out for tigers and bears. However, in our modern age the dangers that we face are more subtle and our fears more insidious, and so I find myself imprisoned in anxiety, confusion, loneliness.

For years I ran away from my fears. I thought I was free but my fears were constantly pushing me – from one relationship to another, from house to house or country to country, out of one job and into a different career.

Slowly I have been learning that fears are at the root of all my afflictions. Not only that, but I am learning that if I can face my fears directly, they give me the energy for transformation and show me the path to liberation. In fact, I now believe that fear is the gateway to love.

“Non-fear” does not mean that we’re not afraid; it means that we acknowledge our fear, calm it, and choose the way of compassion. Learning to deal with fear is more urgent than ever; sometimes it feels like a tidal wave of terror is sweeping over the earth. We live in a time of immense transition, when the old structures of society are crumbling and the new has yet to appear. As theologian Walter Wink wrote in The Powers That Be, we are coming to the end of a 10,000-year-old domination system and “we may be the first generation in the history of the world that can make a conscious choice between these world views” or in essence, to choose between fear and love.

In this workshop, we explore our relationship to fear, using traditional tales, meditation, writing, interpersonal processes and ritual. When we look deeply at our fears with courage and compassion, the heart softens and we can open to love in a new way. From a workshop participant: “Enjoyed hearing teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh as adapted to this context, especially NO ESCAPE! Also hearing variety of fears and approaches from participants. Loved the storytelling, especially Tiger’s Whisker!”

I’ll be in Colorado for a month from the middle of February, and I’m thrilled to be able to present some of what I do. See my Storytelling page for event listings.

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2016 Is Here

The other day I went for a walk alone on the beach beside Roseisle Forest, a five-minute drive from our house. It was a moody winter day but the sun burst through the white and leaden clouds, which dispersed to leave the sky bright blue. The tide was way out so there were 200 yards of flat sandy beach between the dunes and the sea, and the beach stretched for 3 or 4 miles either way. Hardly a soul in sight, just me and a few distant dog walkers. A big flock of seagulls took flight as I approached, sparkling like diamonds against the darker sea and sky. Such a blessing to live here on the Moray Firth.


Colin and Janelle at Wee Christmas Ceilidh, 20 December 2015

Colin and I had a quiet holiday season, celebrating with our community as we have in previous years — dinner with 150 friends and community members on Christmas day and then spending Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) doing sacred dancing and then Scottish dancing. One highlight was the Wee Christmas Ceilidh on the 20th. This is a monthly event that a fellow storyteller and I have put on for two years and Christmas is my favorite one. We had a Scottish accordionist, a choir director who led us in carol singing, other musicians, lots of stories, and yummy cakes. Here’s a photo of Colin and me that day.

Hard to believe 2016 is here! I am busy preparing for my big trip to the States – leaving February 11 for a month. Colin will stay home and tend the hearth and the cats. I will miss him but I’m very excited because it’s the first time I’ll be doing such a working trip. I’ll be doing storytelling and leading workshops (on how to deal with fear) in Longmont and Fort Collins. First event will be a storytelling fundraiser for The Meditation Place, 324 Main St., in Longmont on Valentine’s Day from 3:00 to 5:00. See my Storytelling page for a full listing of events.

I’ll post something next about my workshops. That’s pretty much the focus of my life right now. I started holding the workshops here a couple of weeks ago, and they’re going really well. I’m learning a lot! And enjoying it immensely, though I confess that the work has triggered a huge number of fears, big and small. Friends tell me that’s a good thing — I can teach from direct experience!

If you’re in Colorado, I hope to have a chance to see you while I’m there.


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Editorial Services

Editing is a labour of love — kneading an author’s creation into a more perfect form. Words are the materia from which poems, stories, books are crafted, and I love working with them. Words are the medium for transmitting thoughts, feelings, images, experiences from one mind to another, from one heart to another. To me they are as real as any artist’s medium, whether paint or stone or wool, or musical notes or a dancer’s arabesques.

That said, it’s the mind behind the words that intrigues me — working with you, the author. How can I help you express yourself more beautifully, more accurately, more authentically? My pleasure comes from assisting an author to craft a more excellent piece of writing.

Editing is far more than proofreading. I work with authors from conception to the final product. I can help clarify your ideas, organise the structure, and complete the manuscript.

Does every writer need an editor? As a writer myself, I know that I always need an editor; my writing always benefits from a critical eye. And as a former publisher, I can definitely say that almost every article I ever received needing some editing (and it’s very possible that those that didn’t had been edited by someone else before they came to me). I’m happy to read what you’ve written and tell you what I think; it’s possible you don’t need an editor!

My approach to editing is always constructive, not critical. My intention is to empower you to express yourself as well as possible, to bring out the best in your writing. You can trust me to be respectful in my comments, considerate of your needs, as clear as possible. I will work to your specifications, doing as much or as little editing as you request.

Professional Background

I have 15 years of experience in the computer industry as a technical editor. Employers and clients include Alcatel, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard. I also spent 6 years editing two magazines, one a small art magazine I published myself, the other a Buddhist magazine called The Mindfulness Bell: A Journal of the Art of Mindful Living published by Thich Nhat Hanh’s international sangha.

I’ve also had a number of clients for whom I have edited non-fiction and fiction books, articles, resumes, and other writing projects.


“Asking Janelle to edit my book gave me invaluable support in many more ways than I had expected.  As it is a non-fiction, educational book, it has been wonderful to have someone point out where things needed to be unpacked more, where they didn’t flow together easily, and also where things had a magical, inspired quality that I could build on.  I hadn’t expected the joy of having a collaborator, someone with whom I could talk over extra ideas, and explore deeper questions.  Janelle’s attention to detail and engagement with the topic encouraged me to reach into myself to create a book that will give the reader the best possible experience, opening them up to absorb new information. I used to imagine I could do this on my own, and now, that seems like a crazy idea… I will welcome Janelle’s skilful support when writing the next two parts!” Kate Friendship, Findhorn  

Initial Consultation and Fees

The initial consultation is free. I am happy to look at your project and tell you whether and in what ways I can help you. If we decide to work together we will agree on a fee before I start; please email me at

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Welcome to my new blog!

Gingerly, I step into the 21st century. I’m eager to write more, to share stories and photos and poems… and to hear from you! Today is the 13th of July 2015. As I look out the window in my attic office, I see the lane bordered on the far side by tall wild grasses and beyond that a field of beans in flower. Fifty yards away is the berm above the Kinloss Burn, no more than a deep ditch through the countryside. Then on one side are the trees that rise up on East Grange Hill, still young, now lush and green. In the center the view opens into more fields, sheep pasture and forested hills. The right side is barred by the tall hedgerow alone the side lane, with huge elders in white bloom, hawthorns and blackthorns. All through a haze of light rain. The sky now is washed out gray and the breeze is cold. Perhaps summer will come soon. Meanwhile, let’s do some serious thinking about climate change.View from Taigh Solais attic

Here’s a photo from a couple of years ago.

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