INSPIRING PEOPLE: Janet Baltzersen

When Janet walks into a room, it changes. This is true on several levels. First, it becomes a more fun place because her presence brings joy and beauty and laughter. It also often literally changes because she does interior decoration and redesign as a business.

Years ago, she asked, “Is there something wrong with me if I’m waiting in a doctor’s office and I end up rearranging all the magazines on the racks?” Obviously not, since that impulse to improve spaces has led to a successful business that she enjoys immensely.

People rave at the transformation Janet brings to their rooms, sometimes only with a few hundred dollars and the clever rearrangement of their existing furniture and accessories. Some of the more fun comments I’ve heard include:

“I finally feel like a grownup.”

“I never used to have people over and now I do it all the time.”

“I gasped when I walked in the door…”

“When I opened the door to my newly designed room, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders…”

I’m always fascinated with how people’s strengths come out in the work they do. Janet really cares about people; she wants to improve the quality of their lives. The improvement of their physical surroundings is just the beginning.

She manages the Children’s Center at the University of Mount St Joseph with such love, professionalism and creativity that it was awarded five starts, and she was given the Elizabeth Seaton Mission Award in 2018.

She is a devoted mother of three and has blessed her kids, grandson and extended family with a beautiful home and garden and a special touch to every family celebration. Her personality has that rare combination of true kindness and a wickedly funny sense of humor that makes her the person you want to sit next to at the party.

Janet is one of those people given to us to bring joy, hope and renewal. Anyone who has know or worked with her is richer for it.

Find her work at rustyfigredesign.com, and on instagram.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Jocelyn Sluka

Jocelyn Sluka is a fabulous actress and a wonderful friend. For years we have travelled together with Friends of the Groom Theater Company, and there is not a gig we’ve done (out of hundreds) when she has not been kind and professional off stage, and nailed her characters perfectly onstage.

She doesn’t just act; like Meryl Streep on screen, she channels characters on stage. In one show alone (The Case of the Missiong Bodies) she plays a luscious femme fatale, a scrappy street kid, and a godfather knockoff. I never get tired of it; after all these years I still peek around the curtain in rehearsal to watch her transform.

It’s not just talent that lets someone play an adoring mother, a bag lady or a burnt-out heroin user with five husbands, all with equal conviction. It’s empathy. Jocey feels for people; she gets them from their own perspective.

I don’t know anyone who has forgiven more. I don’t know anyone who has stayed more faithful to God, in joy and in suffering. I don’t know anyone who’s more fun to travel with, which is a good thing because we have sstayed together in homes and hotel rooms all over the country and overseas for three decades.

When she was a young actress she heard a clear call from God to leave Hollywood and devote herself to theater that embodied the love of God. How superbly she has done this, how faithfully and cheerfully. I think when she gets to heaven, there will be a long standing ovation.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Carolyn Ison

Many people are beautiful to look at, but some also create beauty wherever they go. That is what Carolyn Ison does. People have always been drawn to her lovely, calm demeanour, her snow-white looks and captivating eyes, her kindness and grace.

Her work has always involved an extension of that beauty. She is a painter, and her pictures have the same magnetic, soothing quality that she does. All the homes and gardens she has ever lived in are little oases.

I have beneffitted greatly from these qualities, because I am her daughter. There is not a domestic image in my memory that is not picturesque. There was never a holiday that did not have a delightfully set table. My home is filled with paintings that give me joy.

Love can only be given away after it has been breathed into us. I am so grateful to have been loved by this beautiful woman. Her care for people and cultivation of beauty was a gift she passed on to her daughters, and we are so much richer for it.