junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183

29 Apr

Mothers, Viewed Through the Eyes of their Children

woman

Mother’s Day is just around the corner

How do you feel when you think about your mom? Is it warm and tender or is it something else?

Every child craves a loving and nurturing relationship with the person who carried them in her womb and gave them life. Yet, as no two mothers are alike, we may fit somewhere in the spectrum from almost never to almost always having our needs to be loved and cherished met and satisfied.

If we were truly blessed, we grew up feeling treasured, respected, and adored. We knew we could come to our parents, and for the purposes of this article, our moms, for anything and she was always there for us. She listened, she dried our tears, offered encouragement, and was our champion along the path.

Yet many people had a mother who was unable to go beyond her own wounds to show affection and may have unwittingly projected her fear and anger onto her children instead. Children do not know that the way they are treated has nothing to do with them. They only know how painful it to be ignored or ridiculed or something else that causes hurt or shame.

Fast forward to adulthood

If you were one of those children who was left to your own devices to figure out how to feel safe in the world, it’s likely, if you have not healed your heartbreak, you could still be harbouring feelings of regret, hurt and confusion. You may feel angry and tired, depressed or empty. And you may be projecting those unhealed wounds onto your own children or in other relationships in your life. I hope not, but you will know if this rings true for you.

There is a strong correlation between the way we feel about ourselves and behave in the world and the way we were raised.

Choose change before the universe chooses it for you!

Sometimes, it’s not until life becomes unbearable that we either open ourselves up to change, or in many cases, life circumstances force us to. I know that was certainly true for me. After being in psychiatric hospitals time and again because of circumstances related to my bi-polar illness, I decided not to let that spoil my life. Specifically, I did not want the labels attached to my name to identify who I am. I knew I would have to re-write that story of mental illness if I were to go on and have a meaningful, productive life.

What it could cost not to change

It was my desperate need to stop the drama, my willingness to reach out, and my earnest wish to heal the pain from the past, no matter what that took, that brought me to the teachers that helped me transform my life in healthy ways. I instinctively knew what it would cost me if I didn’t do whatever it took to turn things around. It was simple, really. I saw myself remaining in unhealthy relationships, making poor choices, being in and out of psychiatric wards, having to start all over again, feeling hopeless and unworthy of love.

Thankfully, I listened to the voice of my inner spirit, even though it was only a whisper, and even though my ego was loud and enticing. I chose a path of inner peace. And when I stumble and fall, I know how to find my way back. I simply brush myself off and keep going, but with more insight in my toolkit.

Living a life you love

Today, and for many years, I have been living a life that I love. I also no longer regret the past. Those stories not only shaped me, but offered gifts of strength, insight and wisdom that I couldn’t have learned any other way. This allows me to confidently and compassionately share what I have learned with others.

I am not stating that it was a picnic climbing the ladder. It was bloody hard at times. I wanted to give up and did many times. The hardest story to find peace with was the one with my mother.

Back to mothers

My mother, Minnie, and me at my sister Barbara's wedding in 1991.
My mother, Minnie, and me at my sister Barbara’s wedding in 1991.

I know my mother loved me. She showed me time and time again with hugs and kisses, with loving talks and was my number one champion when my bi-polar illness took hold. Unfortunately, she also shared my illness but was undiagnosed. So I grew up in a home where we never knew if mom was going to be in one of her loving moods or raging ones.

In my path of healing, I forgave my mother long ago. In fact, I love her to pieces and tell her so often, even though she passed away seven years ago. I was able to remove the label and role of “mother” and see her as a woman on her own path, often a heartbreaking one, and she did not have the know-how to make it better. That still saddens me. It hurts me to the core. She was an amazing woman, but she just didn’t know it. Her insecurities, which she used as ammunition sometimes, simply didn’t allow her to go beyond the camouflage of comfort she hid behind.

I feel like telling again, right now. Mom, if you can hear me from Heaven, I love you to the moon and back and I pray that you are at peace.

Your turn

Folks, soon it will be Mother’s Day. Let your mom know how much you love her. If she wasn’t or isn’t the kind of mom you would have asked for, take the high road anyway. She deserves more love, not less. And so do you. Find it in your heart to forgive her for any transgressions and make this the happiest Mother’s day you have had up until now.

Writing Prompt

What words of love would you want to tell your mother today? And if you don’t feel loving toward her, write a pretend dialogue between you and your mom. Tell her everything you have always wanted to say. Imagine her listening to you in a way that she never has before, and that she answers you through the wisdom of her Higher Self, the part of her that loves you unconditionally.

Feature Stories

Today I am featuring two women whose stories are in my book, Re-Write Your Life. You will be touched as you read the stories of their inner journeys with their mothers in the most poignant, real, and beautiful ways.

quillThe Legacy,
by Judy McIllmoyl

When I heard of our topic for this writing, I knew I had to write of you. I don’t even know your name. My eyes have never been blessed by the sight of your face. I long to know you—a longing deeper perhaps than I have an understanding of. You are my link to the past. To the love that brought me into being. You have a legacy that I will never know. What made you dance with joy? What were you most passionate about? What did you fear most, in the depths of your despair? When you awakened in the morning what were your first thoughts? When you caught your reflection in a shop window, did you ever catch your breath and think of me?

Many years went by when I did not let my thoughts come to rest on you. That wasn’t allowed. Everything was as it should be. I was with parents who loved me. Enough said. But was it enough? While never given permission to mourn the loss of the living you, you were lost to me. Where were you when I was so alone and so afraid? Is my fear your legacy to me? Is it my gifts, my deep love for nature and all things delicate and tender and easily broken?

As time leaves its etchings on me, I look in my eyes and wonder who you are. I do long to know you…as one soul knows another; not by name or even a shared past, but by an honouring of each other’s presence here on earth. You gave me life. I was once a part of you and I still am; as you are still a part of me, even though I don’t even know your name.

quillMasks, by Sharon Pocock

I step out of the shower and do the things that women do. Towel dry, moisturize, put products in my hair that promise the Hollywood look and god knows it could do with a little help. Wash my face, then comes toner and more moisturizer. Do I really believe I need a separate cream or gel for under my eyes? I’ve no idea but the package was cute and the jar looks elegant on the washstand, promising its own patented fountain of youth. I dry my hair and then the real work begins.

Concealer, just a touch under the eyes and hey, if I need it there, it kind of suggests the eye cream is the snake oil I always suspected. A little foundation, not all over, just on the bits that need it. Hmm, maybe it should be all over. A little eyeliner, maybe olive, or grey, or burgundy, or black if I’m in a Dusty Springfield mood. A little blush, just a touch, a suggestion of heat and then the final touch – lipstick. When I was younger it was bold colours, making a statement in a too pale face, but now in my more somber, if not more sober years, I’m safe in natural, and taupe, and suede and all the other names the marketing men created to mean the same shade of dull. It’s taken me years to hone these skills. To know which colour to hide behind, what creates the desired mask of the moment. But it wasn’t always the case.

I think back to a small, shy girl, tongue-tied in the face of boys. More at home on horseback than at a teenage party. I didn’t know the code words. Couldn’t crack the body language and the secret handshakes that make the closed world of a popular teenager go round. I remember standing, self-conscious in a pair of sage green dungarees that I’d coveted for the longest time. I thought I was the bee’s knees. I thought I was the kick. I walked into the party and thought that I would die.

The room was wall to wall with tight jeans and tighter tops. With hair styled within an inch of its life and lipstick in every rainbow colour. I stood there in my token flash of blue eyeshadow, clutching at my coke and wondering if I could pluck up the nerve to speak to the boy I liked. Finally I took my courage in both hands and made the move and he smiled and talked about our homework and then he walked away, leaving me stranded in the middle of the floor. I know that people watched and people whispered and probably laughed, but I didn’t hear them as I stood frozen, locked in my own humiliation. But I didn’t blame him. He was a teenage boy and that’s how they were. I blamed you.

I blamed you for not teaching me the language, not teaching me the code I would need to open this new door. I blamed you for not talking about lipstick and blush, powder and eyeliner. I blamed you for letting me think that my prized dungarees were suitable armour for a teenage party. I blamed you for all these things – for not giving me the weapons I needed to survive in shark infested waters. I was your daughter and you were my mum and I loved you so much, but I blamed you for not helping me become a woman. For not helping me understand.

I made so many mistakes in those black years; fell over my feet in so many ways. I look back and shiver and think of the deep pools I almost drowned in – putting myself in positions where the worst might have happened because I didn’t understand the subtext.

That was then and I grieve for the skinny girl, so unsure in her own skin, desperate to understand and be understood. Desperate for entrée into this adult world of sophistication and sexual knowledge. But this is now and I finally see the girl for what she was. And I see you in the same blinding light.

I was fifteen when he went away and you were drowning, clutching at straws to keep you afloat and I was your anchor in that long turbulent year. Your love had turned his back and found new pastures and my brother didn’t want to know. What nineteen-year-old boy wants to admit that the father he worshipped had feet of clay? So he withdrew into the strange dark world that teenage boys inhabit and left us two to cope.

We floated in our homemade life raft, keeping each other warm. I cooked and cleaned and I shopped and played housekeeper and counsellor and nursemaid. And by default you became the child in that time and I became the adult. I put away childish things and entered the adult world. The year passed and after more false starts than I can count, he came back, cap in hand and you finally smiled again. But I continued to cook and shop and be your sounding board because I was now an equal in your eyes.

Looking back, that was the root of the problem. In that long year I grew up, concentrating on the mundane struggle of getting through the day. At the end I had crossed the Rubicon and couldn’t cross back. My childhood, my teenage years of growth and learning and experimentation had gone—disappeared without ever really being explored, every unanswered question buried in a shallow grave with a sprig of rue on top.

I couldn’t go back, so I walked forward into life, ill-equipped to deal with the nuances of this strange, new world. But it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t realize that I hadn’t asked the questions. You’d been lost and I bridged the gap and when you looked again you saw a woman, an adult and I allowed you the deception.

So I stand here and look in the mirror. Picking up cleanser and tissues I start to wipe away the mask. Stroke by stroke, bit by bit, the walls come down and then tissue is dirty with beige and red and black. I stand and stare into the mirror, my face clean and bare and finally, I see myself with all my flaws and faults and I’m happy with the reflection. And as I look, I see you too. I finally see the person—not the mother or the wife, but I see the woman, with all your fears and insecurities and joys. I see you and know you did the best you could and I don’t blame you anymore.

 

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

All blessings,
Junie

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22 Apr

From Mental Institutions to Becoming A Remarkable Gift to the Planet

andrea-paquette

Dear friends,

This week it is my joy and privilege to feature Andrea Paquette, most often referred to as Bipolar Babe. If you live in Victoria and you travel in the mental health circles, you will have undoubtedly come upon her name, especially in the fields of youth, mental health, and recovery.

Andrea and I bipolar babesmet about seven years ago when a mutual friend suggested we meet. I invited Andrea to my home and we shared some of our “war stories” from earlier years from the perspective of self-compassion with an exclamation of “Good for us, look how far we’ve come!”

Together we watched the DVD of my play, Madness, Masks and Miracles, a play to dispel myths and stigmas about mental illness, and immediately shared an unspoken agreement to become friends.

Soon thereafter, Andrea joined my 10-week Re-Write Your Life workshop, and currently she is engaging in my one-to-one author mentorship program. She is writing the stories that shaped her, some of which have never been publicly told.

Her soon-to-be-published book demonstrates her profound transformation from harrowing experiences which threatened her life, hospitalizations as a result of psychosis, and depression leading to wanting to die and making a serious suicide attempt, to becoming a genuine heroine and gift to the planet.

In spite of her painful (to say the least) past, Andrea is an award winning mental health activist, educator, facilitator, writer, speaker, and—Executive Director of the charity she founded, the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia.

  • Andrea is the named 2015 Courage To Come Back Award Winner in the category of Mental Health given by Coast Mental Health
  • She won the 2013 Mel Cooper Citizen of the Year in Victoria Award
  • She is also the Winner of the 2013 Award for Mentorship from the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, DC.

Andrea was born to a mother with a kind and gentle nature but her bipolar illness caused out of control behaviour which resulted in frequent hospitalizations. Her parents separated when she was only eight, and she was also separated from her best friend (her sister). Andrea went to live with her father and her sister stayed with her mom.

In her teens, she dropped out of school, did drugs, drank alcohol daily, and hung out with a criminal crowd. After just one too many harrowing experiences, she decided to turn her life around.

She moved to BC from Ontario and attended the University of Victoria on a scholarship and immediately fell in love with political science. By age 25, she was approached by a federal party to run for nomination for Member of Parliament. Although she lost, the taste of politics gave her the impetus to sell everything she owned and drive to Ottawa in her 1996 Neon, hoping to become an MP’s assistant.

From Hope to Devastation

It was then that everything came crashing down. Her bipolar illness started to manifest itself. First as hypo-mania, which included a crushing psychosis leading to unrelenting depression.

In her hypo-manic state, Andrea wrote an election strategy: a 33-page document that poised her to be the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Her illness escalated to a higher stage of mania and psychosis and after a series of painful events she was admitted to the psychiatric ward in Ottawa. After her release, she had no money, job, or friends, and her roommates kicked her out. Even her political contacts failed to answer her pleas for help.

“We treat broken minds and broken bones differently in our society.”

She felt stigmatized. She felt that if she had had a physical ailment, she would have been able to get help and compassion from others. Andrea often shares that “We treat broken minds and broken bones differently in our society.”

Although she was finally able to rent a room in a home with kind people who made her dinners and was eventually able to get work, she was paranoid now and stopped taking her meds. She left Ottawa feeling broken.

Back in BC, she suffered the other pole of the disease — severe depression and anxiety. Andrea could not even pick out food in a grocery store, and the smallest chores and tasks such as taking a shower felt like building her own house. During one of her darkest days, she attempted suicide. This hospital admission brought her face to face with a caring psychiatrist who helped her apply a new regime of wellness.

Andrea chose to teach in South Korea for two years and upon her return she secured a job with the BC government and made a decision to better her life in every way possible.

The first time she was invited to speak to a group about having bipolar disorder, she realized that she did not have to be ashamed and it became her mission in life to share her story to help others.

bipolarBipolar Disorder Society
of British Columbia

Andrea launched her blog and the Bipolar Babes website, which gives people a place to connect, find valuable information and support.

She is now the Executive Director of the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia and speaks to students, non-profits, doctors, businesses, and other groups on a regular basis. She shares her personal story of struggle and triumph since her diagnosis in 2005.

Andrea is passionate about educating today’s youth on the stigma surrounding mental health and additional societal stigmas that negatively affect people’s perceptions of themselves and others.

In five short years, this extraordinary woman has presented her story at over 150 schools, workplaces,community organizations and events, reaching more than 12,000 people.

Stigma-Free Zone Superheroes
in Greater Vancouver

stigma-free-zone
In January 2016, Andrea launched a new and exciting Classroom Presentations Program called the “Stigma-Free Zone Superheroes” in Greater Vancouver with the collaboration of co-founder Dave Richardson, President, Octaform Systems Inc.

As mentioned earlier, Andrea hired me as her writing coach, excited to share her personal memoirs, including some of the most intimate details of her life.

No Matter What Our Challenges,
We Can All Live Extraordinary Lives

In her powerful message, she encapsulates that “No matter what our challenges, we can all live extraordinary lives.”

If anyone can live up to that truth and be a mentor for all people affected by mental illness, it’s my special friend, Andrea Paquette.

Andrea, bless you for your extraordinary contributions to the world.

Memory Prompt

Write about a time in your life that you knew you had to change the circumstances you were in because it was too painful or too destructive to stay where you were. The idea of making a change scared you but you did it anyway. What did you do to turn the circumstances around? Looking back at it from distance, what did this time in your life teach you about yourself? Describe the details.

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

All blessings,
Junie

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14 Apr

Frances Litman, The Woman Behind The Scenes

Frances

For some time now, I have been featuring incredible people in my weekly newsletter who I consider to be heroes and heroines of our time. People who have overcome major challenges and in doing so have become teachers and mentors for humanity.

Today is no exception. If you live on Vancouver Island, especially in Victoria, it would be most unusual for you not to have heard about the 5th Annual Creatively United for the Planet festival that everyone is talking about.

It’s an Earth Week Festival in support of more than two dozen NGOs and charities. In fact, it begins today, Friday, April 15th! Click here to find out about all the amazing programs, speakers, musicians, events that are happening!

But first, read the back story about Frances Litman, the visionary and founder who birthed what has become one of North America’s largest events of its kind.

Why have thousands of people been flocking to it every year? Because it showcases and celebrates the important work that people are doing to ensure where we live, work, eat, play and study remains beautiful, vibrant, healthy and resilient. And thankfully, more and more people care about that! And they are showing up learn more and find out how to get involved.

So, Who Is This Extraordinary Woman
Behind The Scenes?

Let me tell you what I know. Frances was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Far from it! But that is not what I will focus on. Instead I would like to honour what this amazing woman has achieved in spite of her painful beginnings. How she held tight to what she believed was possible—how life, and the world at large, could be beautiful even though her outer world, for many years, did not reflect that.

It is her determined nature and the loving fabric of her being that causes her to become unstoppable when it comes to making a positive difference. She doesn’t just hope and pray for a beautiful, sustainable, world, where men, women, children as well as the seas, sky, and land are protected. No, she turns her visions into reality again and again.

She has won over 25 awards in various professional competitions.

Many of you know that last year she passionately ran for the Green Party, joining her mentor, MP Elizabeth May, one of the world’s most influential women, environmentalist, author, and activist whose values align entirely with the heart of Frances.

I could never say all there is to say about my friend, but if you want to be blown away—and I mean it—take a look at her internationally award-winning photographs.

How I Have Come To Know Frances

I couldn’t remember when or where we first met, but she reminded me that it was at a talk I gave about eight years ago. I soon became aware that she was a journalist for the Times Columnist and an award-winning photographer. Although, when you meet her you wouldn’t know any of that, because she is humble and her focus is on the other, not herself.

To me, she is a natural mentor, role model and inspiration to countless people, for no matter what the circumstances, she will find a way of turning lemons into lemonade.

Although Frances and I did not become close friends over the years, our paths often crossed through common social circles and attending many of the same events.

And here is what I experienced each time we met, without exception. I was greeted by a passionate, wise, gentle and kind woman with a genuine smile and heart of gold. You also knew when she spoke with you, even briefly, she was fully present. She is one of those people, who after spending time together, no matter how long the encounter, you always leave feeling better than when you first arrived!  She just oozes good stuff, that’s what can I tell you!

From Good to Better To Best!

I can also tell you that I am thrilled that our ‘informal’ friendship has taken a turn. We have been enjoying an ever deepening encounter of the best kind. It began when she, Maggie Reidy, another magnificent “new” friend, (although it feels we’ve known each other forever), and I, sat down to talk about entering a business relationship together. It is our intention to take our collective gifts and talents into the world to inspire peace, beauty, empowerment and love via workshops, retreats, podcasts, TV . . . and on and on it goes.

bracelets

Maggie brought each us bracelets from her recent trip to Maui, symbolizing our friendship and united vision for humanity and the planet.

No Pipedreams for Us

Not only is Frances not one for pipedreams—neither are Maggie or I. All of us, in our own right, have been climbing the mountains that are worth climbing, for the betterment of ourselves and humanity. And as a team? Wow! It’s currently beyond our imagination where it will lead us. All we know is that we have been divinely guided and feel blessed by this union.

Our business meetings are hardly traditional. We begin with prayer and intention, followed by what’s happening in our lives. Then we laugh A LOT, dance around in my living room, eat healthy, yummy food, and scribe ideas onto the whiteboard as if there’s no tomorrow! And at the end of our meeting, we shake our heads and say, “Seriously? We got all that done in an hour when the rest of the time we were just having fun?” Maggie’s got a play list to die for! Make that “To Live For!” That’s what can happen when you aren’t doing it alone, with conscious collaboration, with respect and kindness, with untied values and vision. And well, when you are all pretty zany to begin with!

It was Frances’s birthday on Tuesday (April 12th). Maggie and I decided to give her a wee surprise party. Just the three of us (oh, and Matt Kahn dropped in a little later). Do we know how to have fun or what?

party

Creatively United for The Planet. Saturday, April 16th. Come and “Claim Your Gift”

Be sure to Claim Your Gift from Maggie and me at our debut workshop this Saturday from 1:30 – 3 pm.

Location: Royal Bay Secondary, Room 8, 3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way, Colwood.

Room 8. Bonus – It has an ocean view!

Here is a link to the festival website for Saturday.

Can’t wait to see you there!

 

All Blessings,

Junie

p.s.

Two ideas and two writing prompts

1. Sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due! Who do you know in your life that inspires you? That makes you feel good? That makes you want to do things that are wonderful? Why not tell them so—through a phone call, an email, or a surprise visit? Do it.

Writing prompt: Today, when I think of . . . my heart expands. Today I want to tell her/him that . . .

2. Are you carrying a vision of something that you are passionate about but don’t know where to begin? I bet there are others just like you who share that passion. And guess what? You don’t have to go it alone. In fact, it’s way more fun when you do it with people who share your ideals. Consult good ol’ Mr. Google and see who in your city might be doing similar things. Contact them . . . and let me know how it goes!

Writing prompt: I am passionate about . . . and would love to come together with others to make it happen. When I think about that,I feel…

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

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06 Apr

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change (Wayne Dyer)

Below is an excerpt from my book,
Re-Write Your Life:

Re-Write Your Life bookIt was written over 6 years ago and it’s about what happens when the symptoms of my bi-polar illness kick in. Luckily, since the time of writing, the poem you see at the end has become truer for me.

I see the value in all of it, and these days I can quickly turn things around . . . by simply not sweating the small stuff, loving what arises in me, and using my newest tool—a free app called Mindfulness Bell (Thich Nhat Hanh).

It rings periodically and when it does, I put my hand on my heart and tell that little girl in me, “I love you, Junie”.She’s becoming quite accustomed to hearing it and becomes really insistent when she doesn’t hear it enough! I invite you to download this app and join the “I Love Myself Revolution”. After all, the more we can do this for ourselves, the more it spills over to everyone else!

Here’s my story (and I’m probably not sticking to it)!

I have lost count of the times when I couldn’t feel my heart—neither to love myself, another, or especially to receive love. I also couldn’t understand how someone could love me when I felt like I was giving nothing back—those times when despair and hopelessness crippled my days and nights. Such is the peril of bi-polar affective disorder. And sometimes that’s what frightens me the most.

The fact that even when I’m well and I believe the anxiety and debilitating depressions won’t return, they still do. I used to be smug because years could go by without an episode and I would think I was out of the woods. But then, seemingly without warning, the old foreboding would show up. I’d wake up with it. It’s a frightening and shameful place to be when I come from the philosophical outlook that I create my own reality . . . create it by the thoughts I think.

Talking to myself

So believe me when I say, that in those times, I talk to myself overtime to re-create the positive ones but sometimes in vain. Both my ego and my brain chemistry have their own force and often win out. During those times I even forget that my soul has chosen this experience before I incarnated in order to assist me in my spiritual evolution. Instead, at best I am grasping at the tools I have honed just to get me through another day, minute by minute.

Right now I’m in one of my good places. A place where optimism reigns high. I am loving my work, my friends, my choir, my writing, my pets, my just-about-everything. For the majority of this calendar year I have felt grounded, relaxed, happy, motivated, confident and in good spirits. My groups and therapy clients help to ground me and keep me honest and sane. I love what I do. I believe I am living my life’s purpose. I’m in one of those places where I am filled with gratitude for being so abundantly blessed.

Taking ourselves less seriously

It’s during times like this that I take myself less seriously and can relate to a poem I wrote years ago. I wrote it to help me through one of those dark times and it became a song that was performed in Madness, Masks and Miracles. I thought about all the phobias and fears that we all seem to have—me, my clients—the world! As much as I honour and respect the feelings that come up for me and others when the fear and panic takes over, from this perspective, you just have to laugh!

Phobia Song
Fear of dying and afraid of life
Fear of flying and afraid of strife
Fear of losing and afraid to win
Goodness-gracious where does one begin!

Claustrophobia, agoraphobia and phobias we can’t spell
Pathophobia, xenophobia, hydrophobia, zoophobia
We know ‘em well.
Now what would Freud or Jung say
If they were in this room
Their likely fear would be to get out of here
In case they caught the gloom!

Are we crazy; no we’re not,
We’re simply concerned by what we’ve got
Fear of hunger, afraid of fat
Fear of wars, chores and doors
Can you imagine that!

Fear of Satan and afraid of God
Is there anything here we’re not afraid of?
Between our birth and dying,
We have so much to fear
Was God, do you think, in His right mind
To ever have put us here!

Fear of cats and afraid of snakes
Fear of laughter for goodness sakes
Fear of aging or growing too tall
Face it. If it’s not worth fearing, is it worth it at all?

Afraid of getting out of bed, a fear of eternal sin
Afraid of germs afraid of worms, afraid of your own kin!
Afraid of black, afraid of white, afraid of in-between
Afraid of going out alone, afraid of being seen

Are we crazy, well maybe yes
You decide. It’s anyone’s guess
Are we crazy, well maybe not
Isn’t it something that everyone’s got?

Writing Prompt

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” (Wayne Dyer). Write about a time that this was true for you—or is there something happening in your life today that you can look at differently? (In other words, re-write that life story)

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

All blessings,
Junie

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01 Apr

A Story, a Passion, a Choice

child typist

I’m giving up writing. Just kidding!

Okay, it’s no surprise to anyone that I love to write and no, I’m not stopping anytime soon.

And here’s why (they’re Ray Bradbury’s words, but only because he said them first! Or maybe I did, but he took the credit. So I’ll stick with his story so he doesn’t sue me):

“You must stay drunk on writing
so that reality cannot destroy you!”

crazy chicken

I am one of the lucky ones who discovered not the frivolity, but the necessity of writing in a journal right from the get-go, because I truly did think that reality might destroy me. As a child, writing in my diary gave me an outlet. It provided me with a safe place to lay my head down on the page with my words. That’s how it felt as an 11-year-old whose voice was silenced, and I came to learn that my voice on the page eventually became my voice in the world. It led me to be who I am today—because I could be true to myself. I didn’t have to please anyone on the page, just say it the way it feels and let it go . . .

Journalling nurtures me when I am afraid. It lets me say anything I want and as many times as I want and it doesn’t get mad and say things, like, “Stop boring me, do you know how many times you’ve told that story? It’s just a story!”

Seriously? Just a Story?

I was at a restaurant the other day and while waiting to be served, I heard part of a conversation at the next table. It went something like this:
 
Him: “Jodi, get serious; you’re not going to tell them that, are you?”
 
Her:  “Well, why not? It’s the truth.”
 
Him: “Seriously, what’s the truth anyway? It’s only a story!”
 
Her:  “But it’s my story. Don’t you think that’s important?”
 

The waiter came to take my order. I couldn’t continue to eavesdrop, darn!  But it sure got me thinking: Aren’t we all telling stories all the time? I’ll bet that as soon as Jodi said she was going to tell her story, her friend was running a story in his own head that might have gone something like: “Oh, no. I’m trying to warn her. Can’t she see the trouble it’s going to get her into? Even if it is the truth, why be that honest?” At the same time, she could be running a story such as, “Why can’t he ever support me?” And aren’t I making up a story as well? Of course I am!  How could I possibly know what was going through their heads, but there I was creating a story anyhow.

Don’t we all do that? And some of us love to write them down (maybe not the stories of the people at the next table!). But then again, isn’t that what good fiction is all about? Extracting it from real life and then adding our own take?

The Chicken and the Egg

As far back as I can remember, I have been curious about people’s stories, and for over two decades I have been helping people write their own. Maybe this is a story about the chicken and the egg. Is it because I needed to write that I got interested in people’s stories? Or is it because of people’s stories—including the ones in my family that I wasn’t supposed to tell—that got me interested writing? Or is it simply my nature to be curious?

So, yes, it’s true that I started writing as a young girl, but you may not know what inspired me to offer writing classes at the same time I became a psychotherapist. This is a fun story! It started when I read a book that had me captivated because I related to everything the author was saying. So much so that it could have been me saying the very same things. It was one of those aha moments that you can’t ignore.

A Turning Point

Some days later, I went to see my psychiatrist. He was smart, kind, forthright, and a down to earth, cool guy (they should have cloned him). He was also a bit quirky, which I liked. He doodled mandalas while listening to me. Perhaps it helped him listen better. Who knows, but those mandalas were the best I’ve ever seen. I could hardly wait to tell him what I had been thinking about!

Me: “I just read this great book about writing and I believe I can teach writing courses.”

Him:  “Hmm. Which book?”

Me: “It’s by Natalie Goldberg and it’s called Writing Down the Bones.

Him: “So, what makes you think you can suddenly start teaching writing courses?”

Me: “Because she writes the same way I do and teaches a method I have naturally used all my life but couldn’t have named it until now.”

Him: “Have you ever done that before? Do you have credentials?”

Me: (Starting to shrivel) “Um, No.”

Him: “Don’t you think that would take one hell of a lot of chutzpah?”

Me: (Stopped breathing. Code blue alert! Desperate for his approval. Final dying words.) “Yeah, I guess so. It was a stupid idea.”

Him: (With a wink and a big smile) “Why would you say it was stupid? If you feel that strongly about it, then you must do it! When do you plan to start?”

Me: (Catching my breath, jumping up to kiss him. Okay, maybe not, but I could have.) “Thank you!  Thank you!” (In my mind: smooch, smooch. Also in my mind: “Your sense of humour almost killed me, doc!”)

From that day to this one, assisting people to find confidence in their writing voice is one of my greatest passions! Sometimes, we do need someone else to put a positive mirror in front of our face in order for us to say YES! to ourselves!

What’s Your Story?

What are you doing today that you are passionate about? What got you started? There must be a wonderful story to tell about that. Maybe you can share it with your family tonight around the dinner table. Or with a friend over coffee. Or write about it from where you are today. What circumstances did life put in front of you so that it aligned with your values and your truth?

Or, is there something that you used to be passionate about years ago but you left it behind somewhere? Every now and again does the memory of it surface, and if it could talk, might it be saying, “Hey, what about me? Where did you go? Come back!” And your tummy aches a bit and your heart hurts because you let it go.

It’s never too late! Opportunities are vast. Just open yourself up to be living the life you love and start living that right now. Don’t wait for a life purpose to show up. Your path is already here. You are on a path. In other words, do the things you love to do and be the person you want to be now.

Become the innocent child, ready to explore life with brand new eyes. Get up each morning saying “Thank you for a brand new day” and open yourself to the possibility of beautiful things to unfold.

And remember, you are awesome! You are unique. You have so much to offer. So pull out the stops. Be bold and say “Yes” to Life!

And if I were sitting across from you right now, I’d be emulating that shrink from so many years ago. I’d be doodling Mandalas and telling you to GO FOR IT!

Writing Prompt

Today I am saying YES to myself and that means . . .

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