I would like to share an important story with you.
I live in an apartment on a peaceful street and the building I live in is filled with many friendly people.
Not long ago, on a different Christmas Eve, I suddenly heard loud voices outside my door. I was startled as it was the first time I ever encountered that.
I opened the door and the neighbour’s door across the hall was ajar but open wide enough for me to see in. The young man and woman who lived there, who I had not met as they had only recently moved in, were shouting and throwing things. Then I watched him punch her. She punched back.
I ran down two flights of stairs to the manager’s apartment and told her what was going on. She came out as fast as she could. In the meantime my neighbours slammed their door shut. Frightening screams were heard into the hallway.
We knocked and they wouldn’t answer. The shouting continued. We knocked louder. Finally, they opened the door and the manager, in a loud voice said, ,“Stop this immediately or I will call the police! They paid no attention.
At that moment I was inspired to walk into my apartment and get a candle. I opened a cabinet containing special treasures and chose a beautiful white candle. I lit it and walked into their living room.
In the middle of the chaos, with loving backbone, I declared, “Hey guys, this is Christmas Eve and this is a candle of peace. How about a time out?”
They were stunned. In the pause, I walked over to the man and offered him the candle. I caught him off guard. He glared at me but he took it. He held it awkwardly.
Then I said, “Would you like a hug?” He was shocked. He stood there looking at me with a frozen expression on his face. I looked back with all the compassion and love I could muster. Then, quietly, in almost a whisper he said, “Okay.”
I stepped closer and hugged him and he began to weep. His hands that a moment ago were formed as fists, hung limply at his sides while I, a total stranger, tried to comfort him. I looked over and Liza was already holding and consoling the woman. I think we were all crying at that point!
After a few moments, the man left my embrace and walked over to his partner, took her in his arms and said, “I’m sorry. I am truly sorry” “Me too,” she answered.
We left and quietly closed the door behind us. Then Liza gave me a silent embrace that spoke volumes. I went back to my apartment, lit a candle for myself and said, “Thank you, God.”.
I will never forget that night. The night I heard a message to go get a candle and that I didn’t think twice. If I had, I doubt if I would have had the courage to go into the middle of a physical fight and try to break it up.
I have no experience with that. But I do have experience with what love can do. I know that love can cause men and women to put down their weapons and go home. Both figuratively and literally. Home to their hearts and home away from the battle fields of insanity.
WE ALL KNOW BEYOND ANYTHING ELSE,
THAT LOVE DONS MIRACLES.
Let us try to remember that a simple candle delivered with love can melt away the insanity of divisiveness.
If there are people in your life that you are feeling anger towards, separate from, I invite you to do a lovely ritual that can heal the wounds and close the gap.
In so doing, you will step into a brand new year with the courage and wisdom to lay down your weapons of self-destruction – fear, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness and choices that are not nourishing to your soul.
Here’s the recipe.
Ingredients: A Journal, A Pen, An Open Heart and a Willingness to Receive
Directions: Gingerly blend the ingredients together in this order:
1. Give yourself some time of quiet.
2. Light a candle.
3. Have your journal handy.
4. Write a letter to The Universe. Let it be your prayer.
5. Ask for what you need to find peace, tranquility and love in your relationships and with yourself.
6. Ask for guidance to melt away everything unlike Love. Such as regrets, guilt, depression, anger, fear,and unworthiness.
7. Listen with reverence and an open heart to the wisdom that will be revealed to you on the page.
God and the angels are listening to every prayer. Every word. Every wish. It is we who come and go.
They are always here waiting in the wings to guide us and love us back to who we truly are, have always been and shall always be – Children of The Universe – loving, gentle, beautiful and remarkable spiritual beings having a human experience.
And when we take this in and embody who we truly are, our light will shine through us and into the lives of others who are still afraid.
And this is how we shall restore the earth.
When we awaken and treat ourselves and each other with kindness, we also make choices to love and protect our beautiful land, sky and seas and all the creatures who live there.
It takes huge courage to be human. We didn’t come here with a manual. At least not an obvious one. And we wont find it on the outside until we find it first on the inside.
And when we do, our outside world will reflect it back to us with unlimited gifts from Heaven. More than we could possibly imagine.
Heaven is simply waiting for us to say, “Bring it on!”
Scroll down to listen to my talk after this brief introduction:
Yesterday, I wrote a blog about saying no to the world in order to say yes to me.
What is showing up today, after surrendering my addiction to work is that anything less than a full pull back in activities will not serve me. I am being led to take an inward journey and am so grateful to finally stop and heed the call.
Yesterday morning something totally unexpected happened. It occurred before I made the decision to cancel my workshop, Don`t Retire. Re-Wire and Refire on Dec. 13th. It happened as I was driving to an 8 a.m. dentist appointment. This was before my walk along the ocean amidst gray skies and before my coaching session with Leslie. But I think it influenced my decision to step back.
This past October I gave a talk that was called, Dynamic Balance, which I taped on my Smartphone. Suddenly, while listening Leonard Cohen on my device, the song stopped and my talk just started playing! Do not ask me how. I have stopped trying to figure these things out but I still shake my head in total wonderment.
As I listened to the talk, I could hardly believe that I had written it. I do remember that I was still writing it the night before and the morning of! I also remember getting a standing ovation. But you see, this is the thing. I AM able to get things done and get them done well, but typically it`s at the last minute and I wear myself out. And what`s worse is that sometimes I do not retain the memory of it because I move straight onto the next thing!
This is not easy to admit but I have to in order to meet it full on. In fact, I didn’t even consider what I do an addiction until my friend Linda brought it up the other day. And the penny dropped. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any 12 step programs for workaholics. I mean seriously, when would they have time to show up!
Oh my, I just said that tongue and cheek, but I decided to Google it just now and lo and behold – there IS a twelve step program. That’s awesome! I don’t have to go this alone. I have my work cut out for me. Hmmm. Maybe that word needs to be replaced with, I have my studies cut out for me. That’s a little more tenable. Whatever it is, I’m happy to have the support. Very happy. I’ve never been in a 12-step program and I know how successful they have been for many others I know personally and certainly professionally.
So, wish me luck. I’m off on a new adventure to find true balance in my life. It’s a process. I know I will want to keep you posted but if that is just more work…you may not hear for me for awhile.
In the meantime, I would like to share my talk with you: Dynamic Balance
Also, at the end of the talk, I play a beautiful song by Shaina Noll, and you can hear the audience singing along.
I hope you will play it for yourself and take the words she sings into your heart.
How Can Anyone Ever Tell You, You are Anything Less Than Beautiful
Not just about the talk. If you are like me and also have challenges with overwhelm due to overworking
feel free to post them here. Let’s have an open dialogue to help one another.
October 19, 2024 Harvest Time
The theme this month is DYNAMIC BALANCE – And today`s topic is THE HARVEST
So…it`s autumn. It’s the time of year when the seeds that we planted in the springtime bear the fruit that we harvest now. And in fact, we`re always harvesting the seeds that we sow.
We see evidence of this in our lives again and again. And when we sow love, peace, kindness and joy we receive their blessings in return. Conversely when we sow anger, jealousy, blame and fear we reap the blessings of these as well.
You may say, excuse me … what blessings could possibly be found in anger, jealousy, blame and fear? And I will say to you, The blessings of awareness, forgiveness, growth, and liberation … that eventually come to all of us…when we are ready. And sometimes, until we are ready, we repeat those patterns again and again.
We’ve all heard the expression, would you rather be right or would you rather be happy.
Of course we would rather be happy.
But then again, don’t we want to be right AND want to be happy? Happy that we are right and that the other person finally gets it. And then we are really happy!
I know. I’ve been there.
In the past – and even sometimes still, when I have felt misunderstood, I felt I need to argue my point, defend myself – do everything I could to make the other person know what I meant– that I never mean ill-harm –and they are misinterpreting me. And if they realized I was being sincere, then i could be happy.
The problem was, when they didn’t get what I meant, I’d keep on badgering them with my explanations – defending myself –at the root of it – just wanting to be heard, a deep need to be understood. And above all, meaning to do no harm. Yet my exhaustive approach of over-explaining, would inevitably make matters worse for both of us.
These days, I try to listen more and defend less. What really matters to me is the energy I bring forth in my communications with others.
I have become more conscious – wanting to be authentic rather than impose my need to be liked or needing to please or making my voice and opinion so important that I am dismissing someone else’s. Communication is a delicate balance and it becomes a dynamic balance, I feel, when all parties feel fully seen and heard.
When we truly listen. When we pause and rest inside another person’s words – not needing to jump in with our own. Knowing that what they are saying is of equal value and their stance, even if it not something that resonates true for us, is still worthy of hearing and responding to in a kind and respectful manner.
Jeff Richardson, in his book “Personal Creativity and Writing,” put it this way: “Can you remember a time when you were heard without interruption, distraction or judgment, where the quality of the other person’s attention was so complete it seemed you could feel it? Whether that person actually said anything “important” or not, if the quality of their attention was true, there was a magic and a power whereby you knew you had been touched, even transformed in a subtle and powerful way. The respect and trust of others given in silence as well as speech or presence, create building blocks of confidence and motivation.”
Over the years in the writing workshops I deliver, I have heard students comment on countless occasions that equally important as the writing is in sharing it out loud – they need to know that what they have just written will be received in a safe, non-judgmental fully supportive manner. It is in this way, they learn that their voice matters, and in time, something shifts, they strengthen. They begin to stand taller. And one day, they notice that their voice on the page has become their voice in the world
But on the outside of these safe circles, in every day life, in environments that do not support us in this way, how do we get there? If we fear that speaking our truth may inadvertently offend someone and we may be criticized, possibly even ostracized by it, do we risk saying anything at all?
For almost 2 decades I have worked as a psychotherapist, speaker, writer and workshop facilitator. I have a website. I have published a book. My voice goes far and wide.
And I can’t tell you how often, still, I shake my head and I ponder, really? Is this really me? Is the same person who spent more days and months that I care to remember unable to get out of my bed, terrified to go outside or cowering in a hospital psychiatric ward afraid of life – even enough to want to leave my precious LIFE behind.
For years I identified with my mental illness. I remember a psychiatrist when I was twenty years old and catatonic after some harrowing experiences, telling my frightened parents, that here was nothing more they could do for me.
He said that I probably used a lot of drugs while I was away in Europe and that there’s no telling if I’ll ever come out of it. He went on to tell them that I may have damaged my brain cells irreparably. He said he was sorry but they could take me home now. I knew he was lying. I never did drugs. I couldn’t defend myself then. There was a veil between me and them. I had no language. I couldn’t talk. I could hear but I couldn’t speak. But I could go home! That was all that mattered. I was never so happy in my life. I was also never so terrified. I was just condemned to a living death – to be this way forever.
Most of us have our own story where something happened and because of it, we were left feeling disempowered, vulnerable and possibly afraid to speak. And even though we may go on and have successful careers and the like, that frightened part of us may still running the show in certain relationships and elsewhere.
So yes, I don’t take for granted this me that has found her voice. Instead I wonder, how did this happen? Where did the shy, frightened little girl with virtually no self-esteem go, the one who has lived inside of me most of my life? How did I get here from there?
Well, to tell you the truth, she is still here, but thankfully, she’s mostly less afraid. And when she is, and when I am awake enough to notice and not tell her to just get a hold of herself, I summon up all the compassion I can muster to ease her aching heart because more than anything else, she deserves that. She deserves to be listened to. to be loved.
For too many years I ignored her and there was no balance – dynamic or otherwise. There was just a deafening belief that I was inherently flawed with little hope to change that.
But I did change that. I worked at it because I couldn’t continue to let my spirit die. Instead I tried to reach for the truth in what my mother often told me. Honey, she said, as long as there is life, there is hope. Know this. Please don’t give up. My mom was my champion in times like this. And little by little I realized it WAS true and that my past didn’t have to equal my future. Unless it was to harvest the good stuff.
The resourceful stuff – The part that no matter what has happened to me, I am still here to tell the story. How awesome is that! The good story. The survivor story.
And that’s not just me. That’s all of us. You me, we have survived even the things we probably never thought we could have. That we are stronger than we thought. How often do we tell THAT story though. Our success story…Not even necessarily to others. To ourselves. How often do we flood our minds with the pain of the past…instead of noticing how far we’ve come, we lament on our mistakes and how far we have yet to go.
But what if we really took stock of what our gifts and our strengths– the tools we have in our rescue kit that allow us to get from A to B when we fear there is a treacherous cavern in-between.
For me, writing has often been my way through. But why? Why does it work? There is something about the writing process itself that when I am able to surrender into it, I move underneath my critical mind to a silent place, just allowing my words to flow through me and tap into something greater than my small self. And it is here I am given clarity and wisdom. I can’t tell you how often I start off in fear and shed layers of pain onto the pages and through some kind of alchemy find myself safely on the other side of the riverbank, where newfound hope resides. Somehow, for me, when I am writing, I am aware that I am not alone…There is an omnipotent energy that is holding me.
But this is my way. And not necessarily yours. There are myriad ways to find that quiet centre that resides within our very own precious heart. The home of our Beloved – our Wise Self – the Candle in the wind…the flame that never ever, ever goes out. And maybe you reach it in meditation or a mindful walk on the breach or in the forest – somewhere your spirit feels at home.
Perhaps it’s an art from that brings you alive – painting, singing, dance. Planting your garden.
Whatever it is, I say, let’s listen to its whisper, follow it and let its love enfold us.
Because when we do, we are then given the opportunity to be transformed. Have you ever had a flash of knowing – a gut feeling a an aha moment – where nothing in your outside world has visibly changed but your perception of it has, and everything looks different and you can rest here. Or jump for joy here. I feel that with every opportunity we can to go quiet and listen to the calling of our inner voice, we are making the most authentic choice of our life. Because it is here where we get to move into the mystery of our soul’s longing and LIFE will meet us at every station along the way.
It is said that when we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity. And there are countless angels waiting in the wings ready to show us the way. We are never alone. As well, there’s a whole tribe, an energetic movement of real people, like you and me who are not willing to settle for anything less than a life of meaning, of service, of love.
And as we know from our peace song…the one that enfolds us at the end of our service every week – as we sing to the heavens…let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
We can indeed let peace and love, kindness and joy begin with us. And when we do, it’s impossible to keep it to ourselves.
It’s infectious. When a gifted artist performs before us – like Pauline did for us last night –we can`t help but offer a thunderous applause in return.
It’s human nature…born of our Divine nature, to spread the love and joy and laughter.
To pay it forward. To give of our gifts. Hugely, lovingly, heartfully. But here`s the key.
First we must give them to ourselves. We don`t have to go searching for them. Or think we have to earn them first. They are intrinsically who are.
We just need to look into our very own eyes, the window of our soul to recognize who we are. And then when we look into another person’s eyes, we see the window to their soul.
And we know that we, they are nothing less than beautiful. We are whole, complete and loveable just the way we are.
Here again is the song I played at the end.
I hope you will play it for yourself and take the words she sings straight into your heart.
The beauty of silence is that it allows us to listen, hear and reflect on what is really true.
After my morning walk, I had a session with a wise woman who also happens to be my coach, Leslie Bixler. Leslie has a way of cutting through the extraneous in order to access the window to my soul.
Forefront on my mind today and for many days is the fatigue I am feeling. Once again, I am pouncing into a state of overwhelm that can develop, when I am not careful, into anxiety leading to depression.
After a bit of back and forth, Leslie touched on the question I have been pondering about my latest commitment – A workshop about to take place in 9 days that I am not prepared for. Oh, I could get prepared. In fact, it would probably turn out being fabulous. But at what cost?
“Junie, what if you didn’t do it”, she asked? Instead of shrieking, “But I promised!,” I could feel an overriding sense of peace wash over me. I knew my answer. Now I had to deal with the guilt that accompanied it. How would I tell everyone who has registered or was considering it that I’m not doing it now? Leslie simply said, with the truth. And I didn’t have to explain.
This is when I found myself in front of my computer typing the words you are reading.
Unwittingly, it is turning out to be an explanation and I am okay with it because I am sharing my truth. And the plain simple truth is, I’m weary. And as much as I do not like to disappoint others, I am taking care of myself. And writing this to you is also taking care of me. Why? Because I have come to know that it isn’t just freeing for me, it is liberating for the many who also feel like I do. And these days, let’s face it, many of us are running on empty. So perhaps this blog can be a healing salve for you too.
It’s about remembering we are always at choice. It’s taking a pause to question what part of us is making our decisions. Is it our wise self or the self that just doesn’t even hear anymore. What wise self? Possibly its messages are being drowned out in the never ending have to’s.
As anyone who knows me well would agree, more often than not, I live in overdrive. I push past my comfort zones, taking on more than I ‘should’ and as a result leave little time for nurturing the parts of me that crave to be nurtured.
So, today, as much as it is not in my nature to say no to something I have already said yes to, especially an event that I am putting on, I am consciously choosing to say ‘no’. I am choosing to respect my energy levels and postpone it – or simply come back to it down the road and check in and see if it’s the right fit. I don’t need to know right now. All I know in this moment is that my workshop, Do not Retire. Rewire and Refire that was going to take place at the Church of Truth on December 13th will not be happening.
For now it is one moment at a time as I tentatively breathe into the places that yearn to be healed. I know I need to slow down. I have known this forever, it seems. Will I learn it this time or will it be like other times that my ‘sense of duty’ takes over. In truth, I don’t believe it is that.
In truth, it is that I sincerely love what I do so it is easy to become passionate about it. I love connecting deeply with others; I love sharing from our hearts. It keeps me renewed. And ‘revved.’ And that’s the challenge of an artistic soul in a bi-polar body.(that’s a different story). Luckily, for many years now I have been able to ‘catch myself’ when I’m taking on too much. I think the problem has been that I don’t learn, after I have taken time to recoup, to not do it all over again.
A long time ago at another juncture when I was needing to slow down, I placed a picture of a snail on my bathroom mirror to remind me that slow and steady will get me there. Ask me if I have even noticed if it is still there? Give me a moment please; I need to go see. Yes, indeed, it’s still there. I just stopped seeing it.
Today was obviously the day to take stock again. To notice the smile on this particular snail’s face. Today, after a walk along the ocean shores under gray skies and billowing clouds and a silence that held me in my melancholy, I could feel somehow that something was shifting. I didn’t know what. I just sensed that all was well.
I have felt into the truth that is freeing me. I am saying yes to me even though it may mean disappointing others. What Leslie asked me is no different what I may have asked my own clients. “What if you said no?”
Now I get to be the teacher that takes the time to learn what I am teaching. And to practice what I am learning. To walk my talk. Doctor, heal thyself!
One way I will be filling my well is by putting pen to paper which is truly soul food for me. I will resume writing the books that are have been patiently waiting to be birthed.
It will also be putting the content of what I have been teaching for two decades into online programs. This is not work. It will be a delight because it involves creativity and writing and a welcoming learning curve.
This means I may be unplugging for awhile as I welcome in the “what’s next” that comes from inspiration and not ‘must do’s’.
THIS may be the most important lesson that I would have been offering on Dec. 13th anyway
Don’t Retire – to me means … don’t resign. Don’t think that coming to retirement age means the best years are over. They are not. Every day is a gift and as long as there is life in us, is up to us to find the gifts of which there are many.
Re-wire to me means – rewiring our mindset to honour the truth of who we truly are. Being willing to be still and silent in order to hear our inner wisdom speak to us. For us to take heed if its messages and move into the flow of life.
Refire This is about fanning the flames of authenticity to live our lives in the way that truly serves us best. That will give us the most heart, the most meaning and the most fulfillment.
Right now, my refiring is honouring that truth that says, “It’s okay to STOP, Junie. It’s okay to BE STILL and simply BE. ALL is well in your world.”