Looking for Your Questions and Help to Create an Interview

by Liz Jansen

This week I’m turning the tables and looking for your questions and help in preparing a simulated interview. Here’s your chance to ask what you’ve always wanted to know about me or my work.

Smashwords, a worldwide distributor of ebooks for Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, recommends that authors create and post a simulated interview, addressing what we think readers want to know about us.

They have stock questions as prompts and I could guess at others, but I’d rather hear it straight from you. That way I know I’m answering your questions, not what I think you want to know.

I’m up for the challenge, fun, and the openness (although I do protect my privacy), so here we go.

What would you like to know about me? About my background? (You can ask for a friend 🙂 )

What would you like to know about the story behind Crash Landing (or my previous books, Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment, Life Lessons from Motorcycles)?

Submit your questions in the comments below. You can also send them to me directly at liz@lizjansen.com. None of the questions will identify their author.

I may not have room to answer all of them, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Within the next week, I’ll post the “interview” on my website for all to read.

Thank you!

PS: Crash Landing is now available for pre-order at B&N, KoboKindle (US), and Kindle (Can). Start your shopping now! It will be delivered on December 6, 2018.


Photo credit: Oberazzi on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Remembrance Day 2018: With Honor and Gratitude

by Liz Jansen

Remembrance Day 2018Sunday I’ll walk to the cenotaph at the Orangeville town square. I’ll join hundreds of others gathered to remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve, during times of war, conflict, and peace. With each step, I’ll breathe a prayer of gratitude for being able to live in a land of peace, freedom, and opportunity.

One hundred years ago when the Armistice was signed, my ancestors lived in southern Russia, now Ukraine, in the self-sustaining Mennonite colonies they’d thrived in for more than a hundred years.

During WWI, Russia and the British Empire (which included Canada) were allies; Germany an enemy. Russian Mennonites were loyal citizens, but they were of German ethnicity and spoke German. Non-resistance was (and still is) a core Mennonite tenet. Rather than participating in conflict at the front, (most) men served in alternate services, such as medics.

WWI may have ended on November 11, 1918, but Russia was not at peace. Precipitated by the 1917 abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, followed by the Bolshevik overthrow of the Provisional Government, she was in the throes of a savage civil war. My grandparents were still teenagers.

Anarchy reigned and Russia seethed with turmoil and conflict. Years of living with indiscriminate plundering, terror, and mass murders, compounded by starvation and hyperinflation, followed for all citizens. German-speaking Russian citizens, who because of their values had not fought for their country, became direct targets of terrorists. Not until 1924 and 1925 were my ancestors, penniless refugees, able to flee to Canada.

Deeply divided Canadians resisted opening the doors to these people who looked different, came from a foreign culture, and spoke German (a reminder of their recent enemy). Under the leadership, vision, and courage of Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King, legislation barring immigration was revoked and émigrés allowed in.

Sadly, Johann Klassen, my paternal grandfather, died at age twenty-eight, two years after arriving here. Mom’s father, Gerhard Reimer, lived to age eighty. Having a say in government was new for someone who had grown up under the Tsar. Gerhard voted in every election. His perspectives and work ethic aligned more with Conservative party policies, but his gratitude overruled party lines. Out of gratitude to the Prime Minister who made it possible for Mennonites to come to Canada, he always voted Liberal.

Remembrance Day is a special day to honor those who made it possible for me to live in this land of peace, freedom, and opportunity, but I remember their sacrifice every day. With each step, I breathe a prayer of gratitude.

May we never forget.

Preview the Prologue and Chapter 1 of Crash Landing—a memoir exploring how the experiences of my ancestors shaped me.

Photo on Visual Hunt

Related articles: Remembrance Day 2016: Remembering Isn’t Enough

Special Announcement—Goodreads Giveaway of Crash Landing is Now Live!

Thanks for being a loyal blog subscriber. I wanted you to be the first to know that the Goodreads Giveaway for 10 autographed print copies of Crash Landing is now live!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Crash Landing by Liz Jansen

Crash Landing

by Liz Jansen

Giveaway ends November 27, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


The offer is open to anyone in Canada and the United States.
Please forward this invitation to your book-lover friends, especially if they are fans of memoir, motorcycles, or adventure.
I so appreciate your shares and love in spreading the word!
Thank you!

Finding Calm When Quitting is Not an Option

by Liz Jansen

quitting is not an optionIt was a two-part challenge. First came a day of riding big-rig-dense Interstate 20 across Texas during autumn storms. The second, heralded by foreboding skies, came the next day and took the first day’s lessons to a new level. My goal was to reach my friends’ home in northern Georgia ahead of the outer rain bands of a hurricane blasting the coastline 300 miles south. Little did I know how remarkable the final two hours of that 640 mile/1,000 km ride would be.

Showers that started gently, intensified as darkness fell. At least the previous day’s storms had been in daylight.I debated stopping for the night but there was nowhere convenient and I was so close to my destination. I could manage a little rain. Soon I was past the point of no return.

Heavy rain and darkness shrouded me as I turned north through unlit secondary highways of western Georgia. Raindrops found their way inside my helmet visor and dotted my glasses. When I lifted my visor to clear the fogging, they pelted my face but it gave me better visibility than trying to see through three watery lenses (glasses, inner, and outer visor).

For two intense hours, I stayed on the road by following my GPS and the tail lights (sometimes far) in front of me. Once when there were none, I waved someone to pass me so I could follow them. I couldn’t see well enough to do anything else—like pull off the road. Judging by the torrents falling from the sky and the deluges that covered me from oncoming vehicles, there was a lot of water on the road. I prayed I wouldn’t hydroplane.

I remembered the lessons of the day before (10 Tips for Being in the Flow Through Life’s Storms). I thought of Leslie Porterfield’s words when I interviewed her for Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment. During her racing career, Leslie broke numerous land speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats. She described three tactics—staying focused, mastering fear, and not letting panic set in—as key strategies for success (and survival).

Although I felt little fear, my senses were on high alert. I prayed for focus and good judgment. I had no choice but to trust my skills, intuition, and my Higher Power, knowing that no matter what the outcome, it was for my greatest good. Letting thoughts of failure intervene served no useful purpose. I envisioned my heart-family (and dinner) waiting for me, and pulling into their garage.

I relaxed into the moment and trusted. Like the day before, a sense of peace and a deep inner quietness permeated the darkness. It’s the best possible place to act from when everything looks black. I maintained a steady throttle, trained my eyes on the tail lights, and kept splashing down the road. Trudy’s (my Triumph Tiger) road-handling skills were impeccable.

Storms always pass. Fighting them and thinking about how we’re suffering creates conflict and stress. Letting go of those thoughts brings us into the now and that place of peace. From that calm center, it’s easier to find and use the guides and resources that are always at hand, focus on where we’re going, and keep moving forward.

Photo credit: mmartinsson on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The Awe of Travel and Mystery of Life

by Liz Jansen

mystery of lifeAccording to the calendar, this year’s road trip, at just over five weeks, was the shortest extended (more than three week) journey I’ve taken. That didn’t diminish the intensity or the insights.

My intent was to get out on the open road and for head-clearing time. It marked the transition from the concentrated work of writing, editing, and preparing Crash Landing for publication, and opening myself for whatever comes next.

The two halves of the journey were very different, almost as if balancing female and male energy. Moderate daily distances (230 miles/360 km daily avg.), almost all on secondary highways, characterized my trip west. The landscape under me transformed from industrial Michigan to prairies, heavy with crops, the majestic Rocky Mountains, the expansive high Great Basin desert and finally, the Sierra Nevada range, before arriving at my destination in California’s Central Valley. Most of the time, I rode under clear blue skies that mirrored the expansiveness my spirit thrived on.

Many magical moments occurred during the trip, from chatting with strangers who shared my path, spontaneous insights that hit like lightning, both on and off the bike, and absorbing the energy of the land I traversed.

To experience them best, I had to let go of my own expectations. I’d pictured doing more “work” from the road, especially preparing for the launch of Crash Landing. It only took three days for me to realize I had to revise my perspective. I had neither the time, energy, or inclination to pull out my laptop and write after I’d ridden three hundred miles, set up camp, and arrange dinner.

While I’ve always known that riding across the open country delivers freedom and inspires creativity, I discovered that best happens when I let go. It’s not easy. I’d set an intention for the day to rehearse my HU presentation, or decide what to blog about. Then I’d catch myself, having gone miles without taking in the beauty around me.

That’s when I realized the ride itself was my primary “job,” and not separate from the rest of my life. Letting the day unfold without trying to control it and surrendering to beauty of the present opened space for those magical experiences I couldn’t have planned.

The ride east gave me more opportunity to put my new awareness into practice. It started out serenely enough, but then the weather became tempestuous, stormy and rainy. Weighing my choices, I decided to push through to my friends’ home and safe harbor in Georgia (370 miles/600 km daily avg.). I crossed the south on Interstates and their relentless truck traffic. Even in this chaos, I experienced serenity, but only after I reassured the nervous voices in my head. While it was beyond my comfort zone, (many times I pictured Trudy in one of those semis and me riding up front in the cab) I could still ride safely, and knew my best option was to push through, and trust my skills and intuition.

Although the weather—alternatively heat, rain, wind, and cold—was physically demanding and I arrived at my home tired, I was also more energized than ever.

When I mapped my route, I was incredulous at how much distance I’d covered, yet that path just shows miles on a map. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of where I’ve been.

Pushing our comfort zone, however that happens, is transformative and empowering. It calls to a deeper place within us and makes us draw on strengths that emerge only when they’re tested. Letting go and watching events unfold demonstrates the mystery of life’s journey.





3 Profound Lessons from the McDonald Observatory

by Liz Jansen

McDonald ObservatoryMy recent trip east from Los Angeles to Atlanta became a race against time, aiming to reach safe harbor in Georgia ahead of Hurricane Michael. The relatively leisurely pace I envisioned was tossed to the wind as I followed Interstate 10 across California and Arizona into Texas. I could not, however, pass by Fort Davis, Texas without stopping for a tour at the McDonald Observatory.

According to their website, this research unit of The University of Texas is one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, public education, and outreach.

For three weeks I’d connected with the energy of the land as I traveled west across plains, over mountains, and along valleys paralleling the Pacific. A visit to the observatory offered time to gaze skyward and connect with the heavens.

Powerful telescopes sit atop Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes under some of the darkest skies in the continental USA.  Astronomers train their lens skyward, searching for planets, exploding stars, and black holes. Soon they’ll begin a project to better understand of dark energy.

We’re part of the same system, bound by the same universal laws, so it’s not surprising that in addition to the telescopes teaching me about stars, they taught me about myself.

3 Profound Lessons from the McDonald Observatory

Clouds Block Awareness

As powerful and state-of-the-art as these telescopes are, a cloud floating across the viewing area blocks the connection with the universe. If rain threatens, the viewing window closes, which stops data collection and the decoding of light transmission.

Thoughts are often compared to clouds. They form, float through our consciousness, and dissipate. But these thoughts lead to judgments and interfere with our connection to each other, and true self, and the universe.

New Insights Come from Old News

As exciting as it is when astronomers decipher the messages in the light energy that arrives from far away, it’s old news. By the time light from the edge of the universe arrives at the telescope, it’s traveled 46.1 billion light years to tell us about galactic events that happened 13.8 billion years ago. That’s very old news, but the best we’ve got.

As humans, we also operate on old news, except we’re usually unaware of it. Our thoughts and beliefs are based on stories that have been passed down through the generations. They form the basis for life choices. It’s only when we explore and question what we’ve accepted as fact that we begin to see that there are other perspectives. We learn that we’re working with data that served our ancestors, or us, at one time, but is no longer relevant.

Awareness Comes from Darkness

Data from the forefront of research arrives from darkness. Astronomers at the McDonald Observatory collect their information primarily at night as sunlight would damage the telescope’s lenses.

We learn most by exploring our shadows—the parts of ourselves we deny or repress, the wounds where we hide hurt, or the aspects of our self we dislike or disown. As hidden as they may be, these qualities inform our thoughts, choices and beliefs. They draw energy, diverting it from creativity and our search for happiness.

By becoming more aware, we see that maybe things aren’t the way we thought they were. Only through deep exploration of our inner space that we discover these aspects, learn to give them a constructive expression, and free the blockages that keep us from expressing our full potential.

A skilled healer is invaluable in facilitating this process. Contact me if you’re interested in learning more.





10 Tips for Being in the Flow Through (Life’s) Storms

by Liz Jansen

being in the flowThis week I had the unenviable experience of riding through two separate, large storm systems, one on the fringe of a hurricane, as I rode east across the southern U.S.

It wasn’t my preferred manner of travel, or what I’d planned, but life has a way of overriding the best laid plans. In the end, I was trying to arrive at my friends’ place before a hurricane tore through the state.

The storm that enveloped me for 400 miles/640 km across Central Texas brought wind and rain. There was no time for introspection or enjoying the scenery. It was only in retrospect lessons to weather life’s storms—like relationships ending, financial woes, illness, and job loss—emerged.

10 Tips for Being in the Flow Through (Life’s) Storms

  1. Be alert to impending change. A storm usually lets you know it’s on its way and gives you time to prepare. That gives you more options than when you feel blindsided. I could have waited a few days and taken a chance with the weather or cancelled my visit. I weighed the pros, cons, and risks, and decided to go for it. Once you’re committed, there’s no turning back.
  2. Call on your skills. Whatever it is you’re dealing with, you’ll have resources to help you. I have tons of riding experience and moderate riding skills. This was not my first stormy ride, but even when you know what to expect, the reality is unpredictable.
  3. Keep things in perspective. At one point when I’d pulled off to gas up Trudy, I could observe traffic plowing by on the highway. The mist thrown up by vehicles only rose a few feet off the pavement, right where I was riding, but above that it was relatively clear. When we’re in the thick of a storm, it feels all-encompassing and everlasting, but it may resolve sooner than we think.
  4. Avoid getting caught up in other people’s turmoil. They too are navigating the storm they best they can and you have no control over their choices. The steady barrage of semis, added wind turbulence and kicked up a heavy mist. While I couldn’t avoid them, I learned how to position myself around the various profiles to cut the buffeting.
  5. Avoid getting bogged down. The safest speed for me was slightly faster than most trucks. That minimized the number passing me and put me in a better position of control. Falling into a victim role gives away our power and with it our ability to deal with change.
  6. Watch for help. A stranger at a travel plaza, a self-professed weather buff, came over to review the weather radar with me. Together we strategized how best for me to get through the next four hours of travel and stay in the lightest area of the storm.
  7. Respect and consider the needs of others. Everyone we share the literal or metaphoric road with is weathering their own storm. They may not be on a motorcycle but they’re experiencing it in their own way and carrying their own loads.
  8. Look after yourself. It’s important at all times but even more so during upheavals. I took more frequent breaks, and stayed nourished and hydrated. Drying off was out of the question.
  9. Reassure your fear. The most ridiculous thoughts pop up and try to scare you off your path. What if the bike slid out from under me? What if I lost control in the wind (it wasn’t THAT bad), or skidded off the road? I’d ask myself why that would happen. My tires had lots of tread, I’d checked the air pressure that morning, and my load was balanced and well-positioned. I’d increased my buffer zone and the situation wasn’t beyond my skill level. I couldn’t let the “what-ifs” take hold or I would crash.
  10. Trust—your self and your Higher Power. I knew I was guided and cared for. I had the skills, a trusty motorcycle, and could navigate the weather. It wasn’t comfortable, it wasn’t easy, and it tested my abilities to stay focused. As soon as I surrendered to that trust, I experienced serenity, a sense of being in the flow of life, (and traffic) even in the midst of the storm.

Storms help us grow. We don’t chose them and can’t control them but when they arrive, we must deal with them. How we weather one, determines how prepared we are for the next.

Photo on VisualHunt

Goodbye California and a Special Offer

by Liz Jansen

goodbye californiaAfter making my way across the country, I stalled for a week in northern at the Horizons Unlimited travelers’ event, then visiting with friends in southern California. Today I’m back on the road, heading east to Georgia, planning to arrive there on the 12th.

The weather in LA tried to lull me into a false sense of security. The warm, sunny climate is a stark contrast to the cool temps and rain that have been hanging around southern Ontario. As hard as it is to leave, I have to keep the weather in mind and arrive home before it gets even colder—and snowy.

The riding has been amazing, and so have the friends—old and new—I’ve spent time with along the way. Trudy’s received an oil change, new sprockets and a chain. We’re both reenergized and ready for the next act.

Today, it was imperative that I be on the road. It’s exactly a year since Dad passed, and I miss him dearly. Riding across the open landscape gives me time to honor his memory and celebrate his life. He loved the wide open spaces and I know he’s with me. “I trust,” were the last words I remember from him as he lay in surrender, a poignant reminder of what’s important as I go through my life’s journey.

More Crash Landing Blurbs and an Offer

Here are a few more endorsements from early reviewers.

“Made me want to hop on a motorcycle and travel not only ‘cross country but deep into my own spirit.” Joan Dempsey, award-winning author of This Is How It Begins.

“This is today’s version of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance if the book had been written by a sixty-year old woman with a bladder infection who had a great knack for crashing. Liz Jansen isn’t your typical rider, nor is this your typical self help book. Jansen will do whatever it takes to heal herself, and the result is compelling, startling, and fun.” Alexandra Shimo, author of Invisible North

“In a time when many seek adventure in unfamiliar corners of the world, Jansen proves “coming home” is more than just a destination—it’s about unveiling the ancestral influences that echo through time and highlight the generational and personal crossroads that lead to who we are today. You’ll relate to every mile of Liz’s journey.” Susan Johnson, Horizons Unlimited

Now it’s your turn! I’d really appreciate your help in marketing Crash Landing. I’m looking for readers who are interested in a free advance copy of Crash Landing, in exchange for posting a review on sites like Amazon and Goodreads the day it goes live (Dec. 6) (or within a couple of days). I’ll send you the links. If you can commit to that, please respond in the comments below. The first ten people to do so will get a copy! Thank you!

If you’d like to be the first to know about upcoming offers and events, respond in the comments below.


NOTE: Wow! Thank you!! We have (more than) our 10!  I’ll respond individually below! Watch for more offers! 

Announcing Crash Landing Launch & Welcoming the New!

by Liz Jansen

This week’s post comes to you from the Horizons Unlimited travelers’ event in Mariposa, California. I’ve been awed by the ever-changing and stupendous natural beauty as I’ve traveled across the country. It’s the perfect way to cap the first leg of a remarkable road trip across the country—gathering with friends old and new, and sharing camaraderie, stories, and more stories with like-minded others!

Even more monumental, is the news that Crash Landing will be published and available on December 6!! You’ll be hearing more about it in the coming weeks, but for now, I’d like to share a few blurbs, which will give you a glimpse into what its pages tell.

Stories change us. Liz Jansen’s story is both an adventure and a mesmerizing process of excavating the meaning, messages, and magic embedded in our everyday lives. Her journey is an invitation to be awake to the story our lives and the lives of our ancestors is telling. And that kind of story heals the heart.” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer, author of The Invitation

“Liz Jansen brings a rich vitality to several generations of ordinary people who become extraordinary through her painstaking research and beautiful writing. The Ancestor Trail is a journey with a difference: part road trip, part spiritual exploration, and part self-discovery, it answers questions that lie within all of us. I’m so glad she was able to overcome its many challenges to close the circle and tell this story.” Mark Richardson, author of Zen and Now, editor of Canada Moto Guide 

“Warning! Crash Landing is an emotional tour-de-force that may drive you to explore your own Ancestral Trail. BYO vehicle, baggage, and spirit guides! Jansen’s meticulously-researched historical account of her Mennonite grandparents’ exodus from Bolshevik Russia to the farmlands of Canada is a captivating journey through history and its effect on generations to come. Crash Landing demonstrates the power, drive, and generosity of the traveler and those she encounters to pass through any obstacles on a healing journey.” Carla King, author of American Borders

I intended to be here in Mariposa four years ago, on my way to Central and South America. As you know, life changed and my plans evaporated. Writing Crash Landing is done. Being here now is symbolic of the completion of an amazing cycle and the beginning of something new. I can’t think of a better preparation for releasing my book and accepting whatever comes next than to be on this road trip.

More to come about the launch—and the book—in the coming weeks!

Moving Down the Road — With All it Brings

by Liz Jansen

moving down the roadFive days into another road trip and I’m settled in to the uncertainty and unpredictability of life on the road.

Thinking I could get 650 km/400 miles behind me the first day, I made a reservation at a KOA in Millbury, Indiana. Last minute preparations meant I got a late start. I took Interstates, to make distance and get through Michigan’s automotive country. Riding at 75 mph, dodging semis, was not pleasurable, nor was the industrial landscape.

The tranquil-looking tent-site was misleading. Out of sight less than a stone’s throw away, was a gully, through which ran a busy State Road. What I didn’t see until the morning was that the very tired KOA property backed onto intersection of two busy semi-carrying roads. In a fascinating juxtaposition, the clop, clop, clop of horses pulling buggies along the shoulder, tried to counterbalance the frenzy.

Was the day’s energy mirroring back the energy I was projecting? Did I need such a frenetic reminder? Likely—to both. It was the first day of a new way of being. I haven’t worked from the road in quite some time and any change is unsettling, even when it’s eagerly anticipated.

I’ve adopted a more reasonable pace of approximately 400 km/260 miles a day. That leaves time for delays like Tuesday’s severe storm—waited out in a gas station, stopping to rest in small-town squares, or cooling off in little libraries while I tend to other business.

Riding reminds me of my spirit and humanness—and invigorates both. The beauty and energy of the land, trees, sky, and rivers fills me with peace and gratitude. For four days, I’ve ridden secondary highways through small towns, vast cornfields, and pastureland. It’s an intimate glimpse into everyday life of real people living life the best they know how. Contrary to the factory-scapes of day one, mass producing stuff, much of which we don’t need, it’s grounding being on the land that grows our food, watching the harvest, seeing the massive trucks that transport it to the next step (even when I have to duck flying corn cobs) on the way to our table—a very real reminder of our humanness.

Not surprisingly I overestimated how much “work” I could get done on the road. It used to frustrate me; now I recognize the familiar voice that’s driving me to ride further, keep pushing, and get more done. Change makes that voice louder. As in the rest of my life, I’m learning to practice mindfulness whatever I’m doing. I’ve realized that being on the road, remaining in a state of surrender and acceptance even when things don’t go as I think they should, is my “work” just as much as the other projects I’m involved with.

I’m moving down the road. The mountains, and all their wisdom, await.

Photo credit: Nicholas_T on Visualhunt.com / CC BY