Janis Ost

Age: 58

Teacher, Author, Victim’s Advocate

"Try not to give all of yourself away. Learn to appreciate 'self energy.'"

Janis Ost

What is the best thing about being your age?

I’ve experienced over five decades of the rollercoaster of life, and I’m grateful to be exactly the age I am right now, because my body, spirit and mind and are in a healthy place, and the culmination of these working parts are unstoppable.

What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?

I lost my mother, her partner, my brother (who was my only sibling), my sister-in-law and my four month year old niece in The Alaskan Airline Flight #261 in January of 2000. It was horrific. I loved my family deeply, and I had the choice to be bitter and shut down, or live a life of trying to be happy and of service, and with time and courage, I am still healing and chose the life they would have wanted for me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Raising two children, who are now adults. I absolutely love being with both of them.

What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?

Went back to school and earned my Masters in Special Education.

Also, I published a book, Frances, This Time You’ve Gone Too Far (Boyle and Dalton, 2019). Both of these endeavors took a lot of patience and perseverance.

What is your most treasured possession?

Two wooden angels my mother gave me. They hang above my bed under a skylight, and I feel her saying good morning to me each day.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A line Morgan Freeman said haunts me, in a very good way of course. "Have you found joy, and do you bring joy to others?" To me, that’s happiness. A perfect day includes an hour at Crossfit, working with kids in the classroom, guitar practice, time alone and time with friends, a special dinner with my honey, a game of ping pong and setting up the chessboard to potentially get him in checkmate!

What is a trait you are most proud of?

I am a very good listener.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wouldn’t be so hard on myself, especially when it comes to playing the guitar and singing. I didn’t have critical parents, but I really am too tough on myself. Working on it.

what is your greatest extravagance?

Probably having 5 guitars and too many boots!

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty, humor, and kindness. Also, respecting that writers work at home a lot, and we need quiet time, so respecting that is very important.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Try not to give all of yourself away. Learn to appreciate “self energy.”

What is your motto or favorite quote?

Just keep your side of the street clean. Also, keep on writing!

Words of wisdom for younger women

Make time for yourself; learn to say “no.” If relationships are not allowing you to grow and be your best self, find a door. I really didn’t start loving myself fully until I was in my mid-forties. I wish I would have had more confidence when I was a teenager. It really is okay to be alone, to find your own voice and silence any notion that you are here to please others.

Additional thoughts...

I started riding my bike with a close few teacher friends. We comment how the beautiful rides on West Cliff make us feel so young, bringing us back to our younger selves. I do Crossfit 4-5 times a week and also ride on Peloton. I truly believe that mind, body and spirit are ONE, so each day I exercise and try my best to eat well.

At the end of each day, I ask myself if I was completely present. I try not to worry about things I can’t control. This becomes easier as I get a little bit older. I also spend time writing and enjoying my own company, it’s really important not to lose yourself.

Volunteering makes me feel that I’m doing my part in making the world a little brighter. I am proud to serve on the Board of CASA of Santa Cruz County. We are always looking for advocates and ways to support children and teens having a tough time. I volunteer at the Santa Cruz Police Station and also with Young Writers Program. As I age, I find my happy place with the simple act of listening to a young student read their poetry and helping them get their feelings on a page, holding space and offering resources to a victim, or being a part of a team that helps kids have a better day. I don’t mind lines on my face if they come from smiling and laughing.

Janis Ost
Janis Ost