About waringis.com

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jana-headshot-smallHello there! Welcome to my blog and thanks for taking the time to visit. This space started as an interviewing website for the City of Orlando back in May 2007, when my innate curiosity to know people’s stories was at an all time high. I had just left my employer of three years after a messy, complicated break up and was needing a new, creative outlet. I also needed a reason to write because I wasn’t quite feeling ready to share my own journey yet. So I went out into the community, started interviewing strangers and shared their stories instead. Interviewing others in my community became a way for me to hone my writing skills, surround myself with people and have fun in the process (as an extrovert I found isolating myself in a room, to go at war with my brain and keyboard, while facing insecurities completely underwhelming).

I wasn’t always a writer, nor did I want to be. When I was 20-years-old, I went to work one day and became paralyzed while participating in a gymnastics and ski show called “Intensity Games” at Sea World, Orlando. At Bayside Stadium, in front of a live audience of at least a thousand people, I took an unexpected fall while doing a trampoline-basketball act on stage. I didn’t know it that afternoon of November 16, 1998, when my spinal cord injury happened, but my dreams of being a stunt person were no longer viable. Instead, I would need to turn inwards and find something else.

Gymnasts of the Intensity Games show at Sea World's Bayside Stadium.

Gymnasts of the Intensity Games show at Sea World’s Bayside Stadium.

I didn’t love writing at first (I’m not even sure I like it now). But I’ve given a lot of myself to it over the years. After only missing one semester of college due to my injury th months of rehab that followed, I graduated from University of Central Florida with BS degree in Interpersonal Communications. After graduation, I interviewed and accepted my first “grown up” job as Managing Editor of Wakeboarding Magazine. Three years later, now wanting to really improve my writing skills, I decided to go back to school at Rollins College for a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. That’s where I launched this website, and ended up using a collection of my interviews for my thesis project, a book titled Who’s That? Discovering Orlando One Person at a Time. After my time at Rollins, I went on to freelance for magazines and volunteer at my favorite Orlando non-profit, Page 15. I also co-founded an independent publishing company called Burrow Press (which still exists in Orlando today. Check them out! They’re good stuff.).

Over the years, after meeting my now husband Cory and moving across country, my blog has evolved from other people’s interviews to my own personal stories. Like many, I’m trying to find my place in this World and contribute something to it bigger than myself. Also, I’ve learned, sharing these stories with you is much cheaper than going to therapy. So enjoy and laugh away. Allow my pain and misfortune to be your guilty pleasure. I prefer it that way.

J. Helms

Meet Chewie & Maz

Meet Chewie & Maz