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26 Mar

Prayer, Grace, and Gratitude—A Celebration

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[The image of the beautiful heart wave above was sent to me by good friend Linda Rauch just as I was about to post this story on the blog. Linda and Chana (the subject of this story) happen to be the very best of friends. Talk about divine timing!]

Hannah-rainIn recent issues of Musings from Junie, I have been featuring people I have wanted to honour because they have triumphed over some of life’s hardest hurdles. The first was Lawrence Cooper, who literally went from agony to ecstasy in his life as a bi-sexual man. Next I featured Judith Rockert who survived the suicide of her talented son, Mitch, who suffered with schizophrenia for many years before taking his life.

The story I bring to you today affects me personally, and I dedicate this story to the Saffer-Spiro family: Rachel, David, Ariel, Chana, Jacob, and Shawndra—my beautiful family.

On Tuesday of this week, March 22, 2016, we received the best news ever: my 18-year old great-niece Chana (many of my friends know her as Hannah) was found to be cancer free! And it is attributed to the unmistakable power of prayer and the grace of Hashem (G-d). And for this, we are eternally and humbly grateful.

Chana is the kind of person who easily makes friends everywhere she goes—and beyond that, she has a light in her that lights up the world.

Ariel-Chana
Ariel & Chana

 

Jacob
Jacob

It’s not only because she is my great-niece that I say this, it is because it is true and is the opinion, I believe, of everyone she has ever met.

Shawndra
Shawndra

Chanalah, I honour you today, and I congratulate you on your victory! Nothing could make me happier than this news—other than to be there in person to give you the biggest hug in the world. I am so very proud of what you have accomplished throughout your illness. In spite of facing the most difficult time a person could ever endure, not knowing what your future would bring, you have inspired countless people around the world. You gave purpose and meaning to your illness. You chose to make it something that could bring goodness and beauty into the lives of others. Kol ha’kavod! Well done!

Rachel-David
Rachel & David

Today, I am also recognizing the whole family. Especially, my beautiful niece Rachel, Chana’s Mom.

Rachel’s strength, love, wisdom, faith, humour, and the ability to stay strong and positive—as well as real—during this time of fear and uncertainty, is truly remarkable—beyond outstanding! It is what can only be described as a mother’s love in the truest meaning of these words. And it didn’t begin with Chana’s illness. It began with the birth of her first child and continued with ever deepening devotion with the three that came afterward. Ariel, graduating university this year, then Chana, Jacob, 15 and Shawny (Shawndra), who just turned 11 on February 16th.

And together with David, Rachel’s husband, a most dedicated, world class dad, they have created a homestead for their family founded on a bedrock of love. The above pictures of the family were taken at Jacob’s Bar Mitzvah two years ago.

Let me share some of the back story with you!

Hannah-baby

This is me holding Chana 17 years ago. The photo was taken at my beautiful late sister Barbara’s (Rachel’s Mom) home in Toronto in 1998.

Barbara honoured me (which she always did) with a beautiful good-bye pool party the day before my 3,000 mile road trip to my new home, Vancouver!

When I pulled up to her house to say goodbye, a ladybug landed on the windshield. That ladybug became the story of miracles yet to come—especially the night she tragically passed away. I will share the story with you in a future newsletter.

 

Junie+Barbara
Junie & Barbara with ladybug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast forward to Chana at age 15

Meditation

 

Here we are in front of her house before she went off to Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhist meditation and mindfulness retreat. While her friends were shopping at the mall, she was sitting somewhere in a lotus position! That girl has always been on a spiritual path seeking out the goodness in humanity and giving it back 100-fold.

 

 

 

 

Victoria visit May 2015

suitcase

Hannah-Rabbi-Kaplan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chana didn’t just arrive by herself when she came to visit me. She brought with her 30 pounds of cheese! A few days before her flight, she called me to say, “Oh, by the way, Auntie Junie, I’m coming with 30 pounds of kosher chesse. I hope that’s OK.” “Seriously,” I asked? Isn’t that the size of a small child?” She explained that she was delivering it to Rabbi Kaplan in Victoria. (Don’t ask about where I kept it in the meantime!) Anyway, the good news is that it was converted into yummy cheese blintzes and an array of other goodies that we feasted on for the Jewish Holiday, Shavuot.

Chana’s visit began with her koshering my kitchen. She was a great teacher, explaining all the while the reasons things are done. I figured it was a fair exchange since she was doing the majority (okay all) of the cooking.

kosher-potHannah-cooking

Hannah-at-table

Hannah-picnic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above (left) we are about to have a delicious Shabbat dinner with friends.

I loved every precious moment we shared on her visit to Victoria. Above (right) we were picnicking and painting rocks at Beacon Hill Park.

Chana returned to Toronto at the beginning of June to spend the summer with her family, then she was off to Jerusalem—a long awaited dream, to begin her first year of university.

And this is where her life took a turn no one would have ever suspected in a million years! It was also where her true hero’s journey began!

Jerusalem—a dreadful diagnosis

jerusalemOnly two weeks after arriving in the Holy Land, she was diagnosed with cancer and her world as she knew it began falling apart. Rachel flew out immediately to bring her daughter home, a home they had just moved into two weeks earlier, still filled with unpacked boxes while they were getting the other three children settled in school. Suddenly this unexpected dread was brought into their lives.

 

Hannah-Ariel
Chana with her big sister Ariel, who is looking at her adoringly

Doctors, hospitals, treatments, fear, muddled with hope and always uncertainty flooded their home. Yet, this is what I experienced when I went to visit them in November, two months after the diagnosis. I am about to quote myself (ha ha) from a blog post I wrote while I was there. You can read the whole thing here.

“… 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.

Junie with kids
Me with my darling great-nephew and -nieces. Jacob makes a rare appearance for a photo.

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.

Sisters, best friends
Sisters, best friends

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.”

 

 

 

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Shawny & Sprout the dog

 

Shawnny and Sprout! I loved taking Sprout for walks during my visit. It was the walking meditation I needed.

 

 

 

short hair
The day Chana had her hair cut short; still managing to smile.

In December, Chana had her first surgery and they waited for the results, praying to hear that everything was clear. Their life could begin to go back to normal.

They did not get the news they were praying for. The doctors explained that in order to be as certain as they could be that the cancer cells were gone, radiation was recommended.

They were crushed. Not only did they seek a second opinion, they considered alternative treatments as well as flying to New York to a top oncologist. The answer pointed in the same direction: proceed with radiation.

A “god wink”: in the midst of fear an angel of hope and promise appeared

Junie-rainbowRachel was sitting in the living room beside herself with worry when the doorbell rang. It was a friend, a rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife), who was in the neighbourhood and decided, on the spur of the moment, to drop in.

Rachel told her the latest news and could not contain her tears. The rebbetzin comforted her and told her that this was the time to increase their prayers even more. She told Rachel that Chana was to hold a conference call and request prayers from relatives and friends and friends of friends everywhere; and to put it on Facebook. Rachel didn’t even know what a conference call was. But Chana did and in no time at all, it went viral!

dear-friendsHow Chana used these calls is truly remarkable!

Every night from that day until this one, except for Shabbat, Chana has held a conference call where people have been calling in from many parts of the world. Not only was she asking for prayers (which everyone recites together), she has been giving inspiring talks, often reciting passages from the Torah. But beyond that, Chana has used her illness an opportunity for people to do mitzvot (good deeds). And that is exactly what has been happening.

I’ve quoted some of her wisdom throughout this post (she calls herself Chana and her Hebrew name is Chana bas Rachel Leah).

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no-hair
Chana with her dad

Chana with her dad. He is so happy she is inspiring good deeds at a time like this.

 

 

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And look at the joy it’s giving her! We’ve been told that the joy is in the giving. Is there any question?

Hannah-Shawndra
Chana & Shawndra

Here is Chana with her little sister, Shawndra, who is auditioning for Canada’s Got Talent (well, maybe one day). She is a natural born actress and keeps us all chuckling with her theatrics and antics! You’d love her!

 

 

kissbubbyHere are Chana and her cousin kissing her bubby, David’s Mom, at her 90th birthday party (the day I arrived). She has been a rock in Chana’s recovery. Having survived the holocaust, she holds an inner conviction of faith and strength which has been helping her beloved family throughout.

 

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capable

love and support

 

 

painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Chana visited me last spring, she painted the picture below and gave it to me as a gift: “Ki l’olam chasado”. It means “His Kindness is Forever”.

Let us learn from Chana’s wisdom

What good deeds and acts of kindness can we offer each day to everyone we know or meet for the first time such as a shop keeper, or even someone we pass by on the street? Hmm, pass by? Don’t pass him or her by without a smile. J And do not forget yourself in the equation!

Continue to pray please!

So…back to today! A call for continued prayer—for Chana to be healthy and vibrant and living her life to the fullest! And that each of her future medical examinations will confirm that she continues to be cancer free. Baruch Hashem. Amen.

Let the fun and games resume!
Let the fun and games resume!

And finally, Chana—here is how Rabbi Kaplan has honoured you—besides constant prayer from the congregation: you have inspired goodness at his school in Victoria:

The children have made a video about their good works on your behalf.

Yes, my darling, Chanalah, you are truly one of G-d’s special angels, and I adore you!

 

Hannah-heron

Writing Prompt

Some of my most favourite memories of acts of kindness I have received are. . .

Some of the most favourite memories of acts of kindness I have given are. . .

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17 Mar

God Winks—When We’re Ready to Receive

serendipity-clouds
Thank you!

“THANK YOU” does not come close to expressing the gratitude I feel for everyone who has shown me so much kindness and generosity in the past week since I wrote about my vision problem, the cost of the treatment, and my GoFundMe campaign. Your financial contributions and/or notes of love have uplifted me in ways I can’t even express. Bless You!

And now it’s YOUR TURN to receive. And it comes from your very own creativity. Your gifts to the world.

Creative expression is what makes our spirits soar. It is innately who we are; we are creative beings. We are born with the gift of imagination.

Doing one’s art often transforms suffering into beauty. It prevents a person from dying with their song still inside them. When we lose our impulse to create, whether it is painting, writing musical scores, designing landscaped gardens, writing our book, photography, whatever our talent is, something inside of us slowly begins to die.

When we get it back, we soar! Life has new meaning and purpose. We are in the flow of Life and Love. And all is as it was meant to be.

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
—Helen Keller

Getting in the flow is as easy as ABC

So how do we get back into the flow of life, and honour our heart’s promise, when we may not know where to begin?

It’s a simple A, B, C formula (simpler than we think):

A. Sit quietly and with deep sincerity, ask the angels, God, Universal Intelligence, Spirit—whatever you wish to call that which grows the flowers and births all life—“Please show me the way. What do I need to know in order to take my next steps?”

Hold the intention to receive clarity about your next steps and expect to get it.

B. Stay awake for signs that will point the way.

Open to receive unexpected messages from books, people, events, signposts. There are no limits to where guidance will come from.

C. Follow the guidance you are given.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” —Goethe

Each step, no matter how small, could lead you to magical opportunities. Serendipity isn’t a miracle. It is within the natural order of Life.

“God Winks”, as I like to call them, are universal gifts to us that are available everywhere and at all times. Say YES to yourself and watch the God Winks show up in places you would never have thought to look!

What if it’s a book?

Do you have a creative impulse to write a book? Is it serendipitous that you’re reading this now? Only you will know the truth of this.

Has anyone ever said to you…

“I think you should write a book.”

And you said, “Me? I don’t think so.”

Yet it sparks something in you that resonates deeply but you brush it aside. Or perhaps it has been a secret desire you have had for years but you don’t know how or where to begin. Maybe you are already in the midst of writing a book, blog, play or short story, but can’t seem to stay focused, so you stop.

Check out these two scenarios:

Scenario #1

You want to write a book

You don’t know how or where to begin

You don’t think you are good enough

There are things you know about and care about

You are hesitant to say them out loud

You are afraid of what people might think or say

There are other reasons too

You begin to shrink

You stop

Your dream ENDS here.

Scenario #2

You want to write a book

You don’t know how or where to begin

There are things you know and care about

You are hesitant to say them out loud

You are afraid of what people might think or say

There are other reasons too

Still, you say to yourself, “I am willing to feel the discomfort,

put my fears aside and GO FOR IT.”

Your dream BEGINS here.

It is here that you will step into the magic of Universal Mind and Flow. You will no longer be burdened by whatever kept you stuck. Instead you will be doing what you have dreamed of, and as you move toward your life’s purpose, you move toward your divinity. And this is the gift you give yourself, by answering the call of your creative impulse, your heart’s promise.

“As we move toward our creativity, we move toward our Divinity.”
—Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

I have successfully coached many individuals to move from writer to author. In the process, they have also found their authentic voices which, in many cases, had been silenced for years.

Author Support Group

Starting April 13th, 2016. Join now!

Wednesday evenings, 6:15 – 8:45 pm

8 Weeks, April 13 – June 1

“I had the opportunity to attend Junie Swadron’s Author Support Group earlier this year. My manuscript, Julia’s Secret, had been stuck in a drawer for a couple of years at that time. I received amazing support and guidance from Junie and from the group. Junie is a wonderful facilitator—honest and heartfelt. The sessions were full of fun and extremely encouraging. Julia’s Secret is now finished and just waiting for the illustrations! My blog is out there too. The Author Support Group was a brilliant kick starter. I recommend it 100%—with all my heart.” —Anne Sture

Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss your writing dreams, and after our call I’ll send you my preliminary Author’s Questionnaire to really get you excited about moving forward with your project!

Limited space; register now. Early bird price ends March 23rd. Read more and register here.

Writing Prompt

Today, I am ready to commit to my heart’s desires. I am choosing…

OR

Today I am not ready to commit to my hearts desires. I am choosing…

Both prompts are valid. Whatever applies to you is rich grist for the mill. Perhaps the second prompt will lead to the first one. I’m dyslexic. I love to reverse orders!

 

As always, please leave a comment below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join the conversation.

All blessings,
Junie

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11 Mar

Despair + Journaling = Alchemy + Transformation

you make a difference!

This week I had an experience that demonstrates the truth of my statement, The sweet whisperings of your soul meet you on the page and something shifts. You begin to stand taller and one day you notice that your voice on the page has become your voice in the world.

A realization

On Tuesday, I woke before dawn consumed with angst. It had to do with something I had been hiding for years, which was connected to feelings of unworthiness. I didn’t know I felt that way—at least on such a big scale—until I was diagnosed with a severe vision problem about a month ago (which is treatable, thank goodness, but the cost of the treatment is thousands of dollars). The condition is described as: Convergence Insufficiency, Binocular Dysfunction, and Visual Processing Deficits.

I had been hiding my inability to read properly since my childhood; the realization that I actually have a vision problem began just last month when I was directed to a TED Talk presentation by Dr. Cam McCrodan, an optometrist here in Victoria, BC, who specializes in treatment of visual dysfunction. As I watched him, I wept because almost everything he said described me to a T!

Sharing a secret

I shared my “secret” about my reading problems and the news of my diagnosis and proposed costly treatment with my dear friend Frances, and she said, “Oh, Junie, this is a perfect opportunity to do crowd funding.” We were at a restaurant having dinner. Suddenly, I started feeling queasy. She went on to say that asking friends and acquaintances to contribute to a crowd funding campaign was the perfect solution to the cost of treatment, and a worthy cause. The queasiness bought prime real estate inside me and settled into every cell of my being—especially after another dear friend Teya had the crowd-funding site up a few days later! When she told me she had done it, I freaked out! “What? I never said to put it up!”

How was she to know that I had been sitting with the shame, fear, and guilt that had continued to natter at me since my dinner with Frances? After waking up in that same dark place Tuesday morning, I grabbed my journal and, as usual, it didn’t fail me.

Confiding in my journal

After pages of seemingly going nowhere, eventually I found myself directly inside a little girl’s psyche with all of her guilt, pain, and shame. I kept my pen moving and then found myself inside the source of the pain, exactly when and where I was when I adopted the belief that I wasn’t deserving. I wrote and I wept and eventually came into a clearing: a meadow of beautiful spring flowers, a gentle breeze caressing my wounds, and songbirds singing love songs above me. And in this sacred setting, I forgave my parents and all of those who contributed to that little girl’s pain where she thought she wasn’t good enough. I offered them my love and it came back to me one-hundred-fold.

By the time I put my pen down, I was singing—literally! I was one of those songbirds singing out my love. And I knew that I could go ahead with the crowd funding. If people judged me, I would still be okay. It would be an invitation to peel away another layer of ego that holds me hostage whenever I take seriously what I perceive others are thinking about me.

Three miracles

And that was just the beginning of my day! Before I walked out of my house to go to my team meeting at the Schizophrenia Society at noon, three more miracles occured!

One, I picked up one of Wayne Dyer’s books and opened it randomly to a page titled, Money and Self-Esteem! Seriously?! How DOES that work? Anyway, it spoke and affirmed of all the things I had just been writing about.

After that I sat in silence for about 20 minutes feeling love pour into me and out of me, and then the phone rang. It was the supervisor of a company where I had stopped services about a year ago, but they had still been charging me a monthly fee. It was my error, as I hadn’t cancelled my plan in the way they had specified because I didn’t read the directions properly. Without a moment’s hesitation, she told me she was going to refund me the money. Two days earlier an employee of the company had told me that a refund wasn’t possible because I hadn’t followed the company’s policy! I literally cried in gratitude with this offer of a refund.

Next came the third miracle: feeling that I AM deserving and that it’s okay to be me just the way I am, I went to my phone and made a video of myself honouring my sisters around the world for International Women’s Day. The day before I would have been mortified to put a video of myself on Facebook without make-up and looking less than svelte dahling!

The equation

What started the ball rolling on this sense of joy and freedom and these miracles was this simple equation: Despair + Journaling = Alchemy & Transformation

How does that work? Because you get to tell your truth. All of it! No one else but you and the page. No one there to correct your writing or have an opinion about it. Just you, a pen, and some paper.

Well, there is one other secret ingredient that sneaks in there when we allow it, when we aren’t judging what we write. God. The Universe. Universal Intelligence. Love . . . name it what you will. But I guarantee you that It is always with you in ways you could never imagine!

Writing Exercise

Today, commit to writing in your journal about something that has been niggling at you, something that has been keeping you in guilt, shame, unworthiness, self-doubt, even self-loathing. Write deeply into your truth. Don’t hold back. Let your heart spill onto the pages until you find that you are no longer a person writing, but an energy moving through space and time, and when you awaken from this writing reverie, you will be someone other that who you were when you first began.

Writing Prompt

“What I never wanted to say was… ”

As always, please leave a comment below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join the conversation.

All blessings,
Junie

P.S. More miracles … I just went downstairs to the laundry room and what was on the table? A card saying, “You Make a Difference”! Thank you for the difference you make in my life. Love this day, and go out and make a difference. Love yourself and let that love shine into everyone and everything you think, see, and do!

 

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03 Mar

Mitch Rockert: 1957 – 1983

mitch-self-portrait
Self-portrait by Mitch Rockert

This is the second in a series, featuring people who have gone through difficult times and, through their own processes of healing, have come to a place of peace. Unless we are people like Eckhart Tolle or Byron Katie who have had spontaneous awakenings, it can take a very long time… and yet with perseverance and grace, we are healed.

This week I am proud to feature a dear friend of mine, Judith Rockert. I met Judith approximately twenty years ago in Toronto and there was an instant camaraderie. Not long after we met, she learned of my bouts of deep depression, the revolving-door hospitalizations, and became a rock for me.

Unfortunately, she had had plenty of experience as a caregiver for someone with mental illness—her very own precious and truly gifted son Mitch, who lived with schizophrenia. Mitch took his life some years before I met Judith. Judith is a hero to me. Below is Mitch’s story told in Judith’s words. In addition there is an audio-file you can listen to, starting with a recording of Mitch playing music with friends.

In November 2015 when I was visiting Toronto, Judith took me to see Mitch’s artwork in the gallery where it is now permanently housed, and I had the privilege of having Judith share the stories that went with each piece.

If you have a story you’d like to share with us, please tell me about it or leave a comment below.

 

Mitch Rockert: 1957 – 1983

by Judith Rockert

fragmented-face
Fragmented Face sculpture by Mitch

Much of the 25 years of my son Mitch’s life were a living nightmare for him and all of us who dearly loved him. He was conscious, warm and loving, funny, handsome, tender and charismatic. He was brilliant, a talented musician, a creative artist and he also had paranoid schizophrenia with severe psychotic bouts. He was in pain with no relief in sight. He was a spectacular person with deep insight into his condition.

It was the dark ages of mental illness. Very little was known or explained, there were poor medical facilities for people like him, and terrible communication between doctors and families. In these times, secrecy was standard, and people hesitated to discuss suicide for fear of triggering another attempt—and there were many. Meds were riddled with side effects that were unmanageable.

In Canada, there were no locked facilities and the professionals clearly indicated that if Mitch wasn’t confined, he would surely take his life. Keeping him alive until after he turned 30 was the goal, as apparently the illness becomes a washed-down version after that. I was determined to find answers, doctors who could help us—I committed to leaving NO stone unturned.

I found a hospital in Connecticut that met our prerequisites, and he was admitted in 1978, remaining there for 4 years. Following his return to Toronto, he took his life in a subway in April of 1983 at the age of 25.

Mitch looking his best
Mitch looking his best

How did I cope? Those were gut-wrenching days for me. I was the owner of a travel business that was very demanding. In some ways, it probably saved me, occupying my mind with something other than mental illness.

In other ways, my physical being was breaking down. I experienced huge weight gain, crying and sobbing daily in emotional pain, hiding from those that didn’t ‘get it’, trying to keep the family together, keeping the peace between our staff and my business partner, whose morals and values were the polar opposite of mine, and always wearing a mask to the outside world. I lived a pretense.

Mitch-pianoQuite apart from the issues of psychiatrists, hospitals, electric shock therapy and anti psychotic drugs, I came to realize that the rest of my life was toxic. I was pulled in many directions and needed a warm heart and arm around me. Both eluded me. There was no refuge.

I was really alone and from that I learned to be strong within myself. I discovered that I had whatever I needed inside of me. I was my light—my light was in me. I was my strength; my strength was in me. I relied on my own resources for comfort and sustenance. I found my power.

I also think that having a fatal food allergy has strengthened my core. I must be vigilant daily in my food intake whether I’m cooking for myself or eating in a trusted restaurant. My very life rests in my hands so I’ve grown strong within myself. I’m very outgoing, well-travelled, and love people, so I bond with others easily and am interested in their lives.

During those years, I connected with two psychotherapist friends that I could talk to. It was a great relief to speak openly about Mitch’s condition and the heartache caused by the chaos of mental illness.

Judith speaking at Mitch's art opening
Judith speaking at Mitch’s art opening

For those of you facing a mental illness diagnosis of a loved one today, the dark ages have morphed into the light. There are now better drugs, improved medical facilities, better communication between families and doctors, and a host of supportive services available. An openness and acceptance have evolved where only hiding and shame existed.

Search out every resource and give some of them a try. Some will fit with your story and others will not. But know that hope is here where there was a vacuum in Mitch’s time. I encourage you to search, to find a new piece… something you didn’t know before; something that will help you and your loved one. My open heart wishes you many insights on your journey.

After Mitch’s death, I sought advice and guidance and when I was ready, there was a divorce, saying goodbye to the business I’d nurtured, and finally a knowing that Mitch had achieved the success he was so driven to accomplish—taking his life and ending the pain for which there was no other answer.

Years later, I wrote this poem:

The open window frames the midnight sky.

A sliver of a silver moon hangs suspended, keeping company with a myriad of stars.

Translucent clouds appear as if by palate, brushed here and there amongst the heavens.

During this tranquil moment, I think of you Mitch, a spirit free of pain, having paid your karmic debt while here on earth.

Gone are the incarcerations and confinements that bound your soul.

Your purity and goodness transcends the higher plane you now call home.

My heart is full of maternal love for who you were; for the legacy and life awakening lessons you left behind.

There is great peace in knowing you are finally free~~~and so am I.

Gainey Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona | Winter 1992

Mitch’s Art Exhibit Opening

MitchArtExhibit3Several years ago, I was looking for a permanent place for Mitch’s paintings to be displayed. A friend introduced me to Dr. Nehama Baum, the Director of the MukiBaum Accessibility Centre in Toronto. Dr. Baum opened her arms to the idea of being a home to Mitch’s some thirty pieces of artwork. She suggested an opening night to introduce his work. She is a maverick in this field; a woman of great wisdom and experience. Using Dr. Baum’s person-centred Multi-Focal Approach, the Centre provides services, treatments, and opportunities to people with complex autism and other developmental, and/or neurological sensory disabilities.

Below is a recording of the art exhibit opening (wait 10 seconds for the sound to start). You’ll hear Mitch playing guitar and bass on two songs. He and some friends recorded the songs in Connecticut a few months before he died.

There were several speakers that evening: Bob, a cousin, spoke of his connection to Mitch and their shared love of the outdoors, Dr. John spoke of his work with the brain, Dr. Baum spoke of the dream every parent has for their child, and I spoke of Mitch, his life and his death.


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Instead of offering a writing prompt this week, I would like to put this to you: if you are a parent, friend, or caregiver of a person with a mental health challenge, or are someone with a lived experience of mental illness, it would be wonderful to receive your comments. You can leave a comment for Judith or share your own journey below.

For myself, as a woman with bi-polar illness, diagnosed at the age of 19, I can say that today there is so much more hope. I am blessed to work part-time at BC Schizophrenia Society in Victoria and there are wonderful programs that are life changing and are also free of charge. You can see what we offer here.

As always, please leave a comment below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join the conversation.

All blessings,
Junie

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junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183