Hi! I’m Jordana Chana Mayim! Welcome to my website!
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I'll tell you a little about me, the lovely curly-haired woman on the button you just clicked.
This is me in a purple dress. (Purple's my favorite color.)
And this is me at my friends' house in Italy with a SUPER yummy bowl of pasta:
And THIS is one of the coolest fish I have ever met:
He lives in Baltimore. He doesn’t swim like any of the other fish. He has trouble moving one of his fins, but he just keeps swimming.
I grew up in a little town just outside of Philadelphia longing to leave it and see the world. I also grew up with a pencil forever in my hand and the knowledge that I would one day be a writer. Here are the first two books I ever wrote when I was six:
As you can see from the sides of the books, I loved staples almost as much as I loved writing.
I once read this sentence on an exquisite card with a photograph of a woman gazing at mountains in the distance: Dream, but do.
Until I was 27, I pretty much just dreamed. I worked boring jobs (the worst was proofreading phonebooks…even loading a big fat armchair from the lobby onto the elevator and lugging it up to my cubicle didn’t get me fired), hung around the travel section in bookstores, and wrote about 100,000 pages in journals that ultimately provided a very satisfying meal for a paper shredder. I also did my best to deal with a clinical depression that had plagued me since childhood. (Eventually I beat it. If any of you readers out there are struggling with depression, please know: if I can get better from it, you can too. You are NOT alone, even though you may sometimes feel that you are. Hold on. It DOES get better. In the meantime: “Whenever you feel like giving up, remember why you held on so long in the first place.”)
When I was 27, something happened that changed my life and my writing forever. I volunteered to teach ESOL, English to Speakers of Other Languages, to immigrants and refugees in Philadelphia. I had the honor and privilege of meeting the most amazing people from all over the world. I taught them English, and they taught me a better way to see and a better way to be. Their bravery helped me find my own. Their generosity opened my heart. Their kindness lit up my darkness. And teaching ESOL became my job, as well as one of the greatest blessings in my life.
Teaching later took me to Spain.
I arrived with no papers and no plans beyond taking a month-long teaching course. But I hoped that I'd stick around much longer than that.
I did. Four years, a few more countries, and many adventures later, I moved back to the U.S., got a master's degree in education in Boston, and donned the coolest Halloween costume ever: Harriet Potter, Harry's long lost twin sister.
After a return to Philadelphia and a few years spent living like a recluse to finish writing my books, I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of backpacking around the world. That's what I'm currently doing, but with a suitcase instead of a backpack.
I share Zerah and Nikolas cards everywhere I go
and sometimes leave my books in parks and gardens.
Other stuff I'm doing now: teaching online (under my given name, Jennifer Helfand; Jordana Chana Mayim is my super cool pen name); volunteering; meeting up with old friends and making new ones; writing blog posts and new books; figuring out a way to eventually settle down in Spain; having the tremendous good fortune to be constantly reminded of the kindness, beauty, and love we are all capable of adding to this world.
Thank you for reading my work! I hope our paths cross again soon and I can share more stories with you!