junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183

29 Nov

Belonging

B e l o n g i n g

Today’s story and writing prompt are centred on a personal situation. I hope you will enjoy them and write from wherever my story takes you.

Currently I am in Toronto, the place of my birth, which I left in June 1998 to follow my life-long dream of moving to the west coast, where I still reside. I have come back to Toronto many times over the years and I have always loved it—except after my sister Barbara died, and then my mom, nine months later, about eight years ago.

In 2013, I went back for two months and I could not describe my visit in any other terms than a full-on love-fest! First, I had eight luxurious weeks to reunite with loved ones instead of trying to fit everyone into a week or two and go home tired and frazzled. Within that time, family and friends that spanned a lifetime seemed to be coming out of the woodwork to spend quality time with me. I returned to Victoria feeling nourished, nurtured, and full.

This time it is not that kind of visit. I am here because two family members are very ill. One is my sister’s husband of over 50 years, and the other is my niece’s young 18-year-old daughter Hannah who was diagnosed with cancer just over one month ago. She was in Jerusalem at the time, starting her first year at university. I anticipated a depressing time before I got here, but it is not the case. Sad—oh my, yes. Unbearably so sometimes. But what I want to say is that I am learning so much about resiliency, strength, and love.

My sister is a very loving, caring woman, and yet our relationship hardly ever consists of long conversations and the sharing of memories. I am pretty much an open book, whereas Lorraine is very quiet and private. She was my best friend when I was growing up. She is 9 ½ years older than me; I was her baby sister and she couldn’t have loved me more had she given birth to me herself. The deep bond we share has never wavered, in spite of our differences. With her, I have learned about the kind of comfort that is present in silence when true love is present. Although this is one of the hardest times in her life, simply being in her presence, spending quiet time together, is rich and intimate for both of us.

I am staying with my niece and her family. Rachel and her husband David have four children. It is shocking that their 18-year-old has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. Yet, in spite of the gravity of the situation, this is not a depressing household. Instead, it is light and love, laughter and tears that make up the day-to-day life under this roof. I can’t say it is life as usual, because of course there is an underlying fear of the unknown. People’s nerves are frayed and it can also be messy at times.

But let me tell you what else exists here: The house is filled with kids and their friends coming to visit or staying for dinner or a sleep-over. There are relatives and rabbis, neighbours and friends dropping by to share their love and support. I have been delighting in 10-year-old Shawndra’s natural theatrical storytelling talents, and admiring 15-year-old Jacob for his humility, even though he is knowledgeable and wise beyond his years. I love my neighbourhood walks with Sprout, their gentle collie-terrier. Sometimes after a long day, we’ve all cuddled on the couch to watch a movie and laughed a lot at the funny parts. Ariel, the oldest, has been coming home from Queen’s University on weekends and what a joy it is to see how all the kids gather around her, smothering her with hugs and kisses. That’s my favourite part—witnessing the demonstrative expressions of love and affection that are simply natural to this family.

On Shabbat we sang songs, discussed Talmud and philosophy, literature, and music. We’ve sipped lattes together at the Second Cup around the corner. I am probably coming home carrying ten extra pounds (no joke) thanks to Rachel’s incredible culinary skills!

And occasionally, when time has permitted, when Rachel hasn’t been driving her kids to and from extracurricular activities, dentist appointments, and Hebrew studies, we’ve been able to sit down and have meaningful talks about what’s going on.

And Hannah—well, even with an uncertain future, even though her magnificent waist-long, thick black hair has been shaved off, she continues to be a shining light and inspiration for everyone who meets her. Her faith has not wavered; her thirst for knowledge and passion for life are as fierce as ever.

So what am I learning here? I am learning what it looks like to be part of such a family. To be able to give my love in whatever ways are needed which is all I want to do. I am learning how to be in a situation like this and be part of a home that is spirited, resilient, loving and real! Perhaps what I am learning the most is how much family means to me. And I am finally beginning to take in how much I mean to them. What a privilege it is to be here at such a time! I love and I am loved.

In two days I will be back in Victoria. Back to work. Back to my single, independent life. I wonder where my journal entries will take me next. What insights and wisdom will show themselves on the page? And now… I would like to see yours.

Please WRITE WHERE YOU ARE. That’s the prompt—today’s only writing prompt. After reading this story, where does it take you? What thoughts or feelings arise as you read it? If you need a lead in, perhaps you can use: “After reading about Junie’s visit to Toronto, I…”

Today’s Writing Tip

Don’t think! When you think, you’re judging, editing, and planning what to say next. Creative writing asks you to step aside and allow your pen to reveal what your heart and mind wish to say. Writing is about listening. You learn to become a conduit, taking dictation from an inspired place within you. Marion Woodman, in an interview in Common Boundary said, “After much thought, I realized the trouble I had writing that bleak Friday afternoon was due to my approach. I was trying to analyze, trying to explain rationally. I was failing miserably because I was approaching the task through my head. I had to drop into my belly.”

To share your writing, please leave a comment below or head over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary, our private Facebook group. It is not a place for criticism. Instead it is a safe sanctuary where what you write is held in the highest regard. It does not need to be polished. It’s a place where we can express our creativity as well as lay our hearts on the page with our words. See you there!

All blessings,
Junie.

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21 Nov

Get off the treadmill and b r e a t h e

welcome-forest

I often hear people talk about being in overwhelm. There is an urgency to get things done. It’s all about do-ing. Our to-do lists are endless, and too often, that which feeds our soul ends up last on the list. More often than I would like to admit, I fall into that category. I forget that I am just one person when I am trying to do it all.

If this also describes you, how would you like to join me in a self-honouring practice? Let’s move toward 2016 by stepping off the treadmill and feeding our souls with what is precious to us.

For me, rather than leaping out of bed to the first ‘to do’ of the day, I envision myself beginning each morning in quiet reflection. Whether it is meditation, reading passages from books that inspire me, journal writing, or a walk in nature—by practising quiet reflection I will be giving myself the greatest gift I could receive.

By filling my soul’s longing for connection with the Divine, I enter my day with renewed vitality and an open heart, receptive to my surroundings and all who become part of the day’s tapestry.

Today’s writing prompt

Please write in first-person present tense for 20 minutes: “It is X a.m. and I am awake. I gently sit up and…”

Example: Here’s mine:

It is 7 a.m. and I am awake. I gently sit up, reach for Marianne Williamson’s Book, Illuminata: A Return to Prayer and open it to page 78. And I read:

Dear God, I give this day to You.

May my mind stay centered on the things of spirit.
May I not be tempted to stray from love.

As I begin the day, I open to receive You.
Please enter where You already abide.

May my mind and heart be pure and true, and
may I not deviate from the things of goodness.

May I see the love and innocence in all mankind,
behind the masks we all wear and the illusions
of this worldly plane.

I surrender to You my doings this day. I ask only
that they serve You and the healing of the world.

May I bring Your love and goodness with me,
to give unto others wherever I go.

Make me the person You world have me be.
Direct my footsteps, and show me what You would have me do.

Make the world a safer, more beautiful place.
Bless all your creatures.

Heal us all, and use me, dear Lord, that I might
know the joy of being used by You. Amen.
Now over to you. For 20 minutes, follow this prompt: “It is [time] a.m. and I am awake. I gently sit up and…”

After writing, please leave a comment below. Tell me what things you do to make your life more relaxed, saner, more peaceful. How do you get off your treadmill and breathe?

p.s. Have you seen Junie’s Writing Sanctuary? Most of you reading this have an interest in writing. If that is so, you will love this. I have set it up as a private interactive sanctuary where you can offer your writing—poetry, prose, musings, thoughts, and questions. It is not a place for criticism. Instead it is a safe sanctuary where what you write is held in the highest regard. It does not need to be polished. It’s a place where we can express our creativity as well as lay our hearts on the page with our words. See you there!

All blessings,
Junie.

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11 Nov

Remembrance Day Writing Prompt and Tip

As promised, here is today’s writing prompt: “I Remember…”

Today is Remembrance Day. What does Remembrance Day signify for you? When you think of this day, what comes to mind? Is it soldiers, poppies, Flanders fields…?

The “I remember” prompt is borrowed from Natalie Goldberg’s famous book, Writing Down the Bones.

Tip: buy, borrow, or steal that book – it’s amazing! Okay…don’t steal it. Come to my house and I’ll lend it to you. Somehow pick it up. You’ll LOVE IT. It’s the book that got me started as a writing coach.

In-Flanders-FieldsPlease leave your comments below, OR … head over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary on Facebook for fledgling and seasoned writers (you don’t even have to ask to become a member. Just join and… the golden gates will soon be opened!).

Why am I offering a FB group for writers and why would you want to belong to it? So that you have a place to ask questions, write your stories, and share with others. I want to make this YOUR online writing sanctuary…to play with other writers.

Do you have writer friends? If you took last week’s writing tip to heart, you now have a writing buddy. Make sure you send them to my website, encourage them to opt in to receive my e-newsletter, and join Junie’s Writing Sanctuary. Please send your friends over to join us!

Blessings,
Junie

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10 Nov

Welcome!

You’ll find a wealth of stories here from my Re-Write Your Life series, featuring people who have gone through difficult times and, through their own processes of healing, have come to a place of peace, joy and contribution. You’ll also find writing prompts and tips related to transforming our life stories. And the truth is I would LOVE to know what you are up to as well. I would welcome a note from you telling me how you are. Please email me (junie@junieswadron.com), join our private Facebook group Junie’s Writing Sanctuary, or leave your comments below.

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junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183