junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183

27 May

When Silence Isn’t Golden

radiance

Cathy DenisonCatherine Denison is delightful woman who is currently participating in my Author Support program.

I met Cathy a few years ago at an event in Victoria. I gravitated to her right away because she has a sense of calm about her. She also radiates grace, dignity, and beauty. Before long I was also struck by her humility and deep wisdom.
 
I invited Cathy to share her story of triumph over pain in today’s issue of Re-Write Your Life. Cathy’s story is one many of us can relate to. Early in life, not wanting to rock the boat, she chose to please others rather than share what she was really feeling. Today she is in the process of reclaiming her lost voice and the lessons she has learned along the way will both inspire and uplift you.

Harriet the magic Speckled Sussex hen
Harriet the magic Speckled Sussex hen

Oh, and by the way, Cathy has just submitted a children’s story/picture book called Abby and Harriet the Magic Hen Find a Miracle to CANSCAIP writing contest in Toronto. The stories of the winners are submitted to three publishers. Wish her luck!

 
 
 
 

Here is Catherine’s story in her own words:

I hear so often in mainstream spirituality that we need to drop our personal stories in order to transcend to non-dual Oneness. I have a different take on this. It’s my feeling that we are called to embrace the tangible intangibility of both oneness and duality at the same time because we are all unique sparks of the divine. So it makes no sense to me to deny my uniqueness but rather to feel and express it so I can grow and evolve.

That’s where my personal story comes in. It is an expression of my unique, karmic, evolutionary journey of who I am. How could we experience anything on this earth plane without the relativity of this and that? For me, the journey is about releasing identification with our stories so that we can transcend beyond to the One Absolute Presence in everything—beyond all identity and attachment.

The One is in everything but is not those things. For much of my life, I held an unconscious belief that the way to union with the divine was to deny my feelings and emotions and think only positive thoughts, in effect wrapping myself up in a false love/light bubble, denying the vulnerability of my soul. My purpose here is to grow, evolve, express, and release identifying with my story, so that I can return home to my true essence: pure light. The only way out of pain is through it, where we find the doorway into the light.

Alone in the hospital

I was stricken with polio in 1953 at the age of six in a large epidemic in Toronto. I spent long days and weeks alone in a room at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. No visitors were allowed, not even family. I was aware of losing strength in my legs. I attempted to get out of bed one day and went crashing down to the floor. I don’t know how long I lay there wondering why I couldn’t walk. The nurses were run off their feet and often couldn’t come when I called.

Eventually I was transferred to a children’s ward at Thistletown Hospital in the west end of Toronto. This was a time of great flux for my family. My father had just left his job with the federal government in Newfoundland to start up a private company in Montreal with a partner. He had a large family to support. My mother and I, along with my four brothers and sisters, were staying with relatives in Toronto while my father established his company and bought a house. Toronto was my family’s home base.

While I was in the hospital, my mother and siblings moved permanently to Montreal to join my father. I was permitted to have visitors at Thistletown Hospital. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles visited me continually in my family’s absence. They were not permitted to enter the ward, however. Instead, they stood outside and waved and talked to me through the screened windows at the end of the room. I remember my grandmother smiling and waving as she showed me a green balloon man with cardboard feet.

Coming home and fitting in

I was discharged from the hospital in December of 1953 using a brace and crutches to walk. I had regained the strength in my left leg, but my right leg was mostly paralyzed. My grandparents travelled with me by train to Montreal where I joined my family. One of my earliest memories after arriving home is drying the dishes as my mother washed them. She was determined that I would lead as normal a life as possible. To that end, she took on the nuns at the local Catholic school, insisting that they accept me. At that time in Quebec, “crippled” children were isolated in separate schools. Eventually, the nuns relented, and I began grade one in December of 1953.

My classmates were like angels. That’s how I experienced their energy. They accepted me fully and treated me as an equal with kindness and respect. I was the only child with a disability in the school. I made good friends. I thrived in school. In grade eleven, I was elected as President of the Student Council.

Throughout my childhood, I was hospitalized in the Montreal Children’s Hospital for major surgeries to my right foot, leg, and hip. I endured a lot of physical pain and time away from my friends and family. As strange as it may sound, I enjoyed being in the hospital, apart from the surgeries and pain. The doctors and nurses were kind, and I made friends with the other children. We used to have wheelchair races in the hallways. It felt like a second home to me.

I am grateful to my mother for encouraging independence, strength, and determination in me. She wanted me to fit into mainstream society. As time went on though, I feel my parents began to deny my disability. I was so anxious to fit in that I never complained or discussed how I felt. It was easy for people to assume that I had it made.

I attended school dances when I was a teenager. Mostly, I sat on the sidelines since I couldn’t dance. I remember leaving the dance alone one night. Tears streamed down my face as I walked home in the dark. I felt like a misfit. I was careful to wipe away my tears before entering my house. At this point in time, my parents were not happily married. I didn’t want to give them any more reasons for being unhappy.

Succeeding at life

After graduating from high school, I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree. I returned to school off and on throughout my life to further my education, and I made several career changes. I worked in clerical positions, as a Health Record Administrator in hospitals, in marketing and public relations for not-for-profit organizations, and finally in the field of vocational rehabilitation, helping persons with disabilities find suitable work.

When I initially graduated from university at the age of twenty, I obtained my first job at Pitney-Bowes in Toronto where I made many new friends. I rented a home with three other girls. We partied hard and had good times. At the age of twenty-three, I travelled through Europe with one of my roommates. My boyfriend had returned to his home in London, England, after working in Canada, so I visited him there. He left me for a prior girlfriend. I dated a Jewish boy throughout university. When we decided to marry, his mother expressed a strong concern about my disability. Could I have children, she asked? I said I could. Would I convert to Judaism? I could sense my boyfriend’s commitment was waning. I wasn’t prepared to convert, so we went our separate ways.

I married my current husband when I was twenty-four years old. His mother didn’t approve. She was unhappy that he was marrying a woman with a disability and refused to attend our wedding. We’ve been married for 44 years and have two beautiful children, a son and a daughter. My mother-in-law has come to love me over the years.

Feelings finding their way to the surface

Looking back at my outer accomplishments, it seems that my life has gone pretty well. I remember feeling proud in my 30s that I hadn’t shed a tear in years. I thought of myself as strong and resilient. It all began to unravel in my late thirties. Out of the blue, the tears would flow. I had no idea why. I sought counselling. That’s when I learned about how disconnected I was to my feelings. I would not allow myself to feel any negative emotions. My denial ran deep. I wasn’t able to express honestly how I felt about most things. It’s been a long journey since then about learning to accept and express the vulnerability of my soul.

Gradually, I came to realize that I disassociated myself from my fear, loneliness, and sense of abandonment and betrayal when I was hospitalized with polio at age six. When I was discharged from the hospital and reunited with my family, no one asked how I felt about my disability then or anytime while growing up. That was the way it was back then. We know so much more now.

A renewed sense of unity

So what’s it all about, Alfie, as the song goes? What’s the deeper meaning behind what I’ve experienced? I had a spiritual epiphany when I was eight or nine years old. As I lay on my back in the snow at the bottom of a toboggan hill, gazing up at the sky, I felt as though I was part of everything, not separate. I had a strong, inner knowing that my home was elsewhere in the stars and that I would return home one day. I lost this sense of unity as I grew older and got caught up the drama around me. But the memory stayed with me about what’s possible. I have renewed this sense of unity. It is a wondrous thing to pay attention to how the benevolent Universe constantly speaks to us through signs and synchronicity, lighting the path forward. And if we pay attention, it makes our journeys truly magical.

What I have to come to feel in my heart is this: All I see in the outer world is a reflection of my inner consciousness, both individually (the reality I myself create) and as part of the collective consciousness (what I co-create with others). I’m not a victim of circumstances. I am the creator. As part of my karmic journey, I chose to disempower myself physically in this lifetime by taking on a physical disability, and emotionally by disconnecting from my feelings. I sense past lifetimes and feel that I abused my power down through the eons and that I’ve come to atone for that in this lifetime (atone = at one). My guilt and sorrow built my disability. My karmic journey here is about releasing identification with those feelings by diving into them and feeling them fully without judgment, becoming the One in them.

I have become conscious over time of a conditioned pattern I carried from past lifetimes into this incarnation, a pattern of feeling abandoned and betrayed. I re-created this unconscious, conditioned belief when I was six years old and felt abandoned in the hospital. That experience was a reflection of my inner consciousness.

I’ve repeated this pattern of abandonment and betrayal throughout my life. I am now conscious of it, however, so I am transforming it. I’m feeling into the pain behind this conditioned belief and expressing it in order to let it go. Whenever I recreate the pattern, the outer mirror is inviting me to go deeper into feeling it, expressing it, and releasing it.

I know it’s possible to transform inner consciousness. I know because the mirror of my outer reality changes when my inner consciousness changes. With regard to that, I am greatly inspired by Bruce Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief. Bruce is an environmental biologist. His research is fascinating. I feel there is always a deeper meaning behind everything we experience, behind everything we see in the outer mirror, and we can ascertain the deeper meaning if we pay attention.

The ultimate invitation from the Universe is to return home to the pure light that we are, our true essence. As we dissolve our emotional blockages and light up ourselves, we light the way for others. My journey homeward continues. My deep gratitude goes out to Junie Swadron for this opportunity to share a bit of my journey with you.

Writing Prompt

Write about a time when silence was not golden for you. Where hiding out was not working. Perhaps it’s now. Write whatever you need to say and hopefully, in not too long, your voice on the page will become your strength and confidence to share with whomever you need to. If it is something from the past, imagine that you spoke your truth. Write about the road you didn’t take . . . and how it feels now to express yourself fully.

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

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20 May

Living Well, Loving Well, and Letting Go

letting go

Re-Writing a Story of Grief in Just One Day

On Wednesday, I put out a Facebook post asking for unconditional love because it was the first day in as long as I could remember where I didn’t want to get out of bed and face the day.

The outpouring of love and kindness I received was beyond what I could have ever imagined. I learned again that the energy of love, prayer, and kindness travels unseen from the hearts of those who send it directly into the hearts of those who are ready to receive these blessings.

My heart was fully open and receptive and I am blessed beyond measure. My well of gratitude knows no bounds. Here are some of the things I was reminded of and I hope they will, in turn, serve you.

First, it was essential to take the day off for my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Mental — I gave my mind a mental break by choosing not to engage in the dozens of projects I have on the go. When thoughts of ‘must do’ came up, I consciously replaced them with ‘not now. I will come back, I promise.’ Acknowledging that I will return to those tasks allowed my critical mind to feel reassured and to soften. I gave that part of me (my ego) an official break as well. It didn’t need to stand on guard endlessly reminding me that this and that are awaiting my attention.

Emotional — My heart was heaving with grief and sorrow. The sudden passing of my dear friend, Joseph Martin, triggered anguish that has been sitting in my cells seemingly forever. I was feeling grief not only about those who have passed, but also about the dangers threatening our world today, from a man like Donald Trump who disrespects everything that upholds truth and justice and equality, to the state of our beloved Mother Earth, the air, waters, the animal kingdom, our plants, our inhumanity towards one another, wars that don’t end. I found myself ruminating on the lyrics to Where Have All the Flowers Gone? My heart felt like it was being split open as I recited the Ho-‘opono’pono prayer, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

I also let the tears fall freely as different people appeared sporadically throughout the day on the screen of my mind. Some have left the earth plane, some have left because of disputes, family members who I thought would be the closest have been the furthest away, and others have left and never told me why. The last two were the catalyst for my deepest sense of heartbreak, triggering memories of abandonment from my earliest days.

As each memory arose, or even when it was simply a felt sense with no memory attached, I offered up what I, myself, was asking for—unconditional love. I also wrote a letter of apology to someone whose heart I hurt last week through hurried, unconscious behaviour. I asked Joseph’s spirit before I went to sleep the night before to write the letter for me. I know he would have done so with a full and open heart. I listened and the words spilled onto the pages of my journal which I transcribed verbatim into an email which evoked a heart-felt response in return.

My day and night ran the gambit of love and fear. Of aloneness and yearning, intermingled with acceptance, gratitude, and long sought out peace.

Physical — I allowed my body to rest. To meditate. To sleep. To eat comfort food. To listen to soothing music. To walk to the beach in the early evening without my phone. I felt blissfully at peace as I sat upon the rocks allowing the ocean winds and waves to cleanse and heal the melancholy that inhabited my body and mind.

I had an instinct to take my gaze away from the mesmerizing sway of the waves and look up. Directly above me was an eagle swooping unusually close. I felt like he was waiting for me to notice him and when I did, he soared and circled above me for a very long time. I was captivated by this gift, this miracle, this totem of freedom that came into my life at this exact moment. I laughed out loud and gleefully shouted out, ‘Thank You. Thank You! Namaste! Thank You’.

Then, I practically skipped home, stopping only once along the way to buy epsom salts to add to my long, luxurious bath of lavender. I settled for popcorn and a movie instead. Go figure! Then, just before turning out the light, I read another chapter, from Wayne Dyer’s book, I Can See Clearly Now. The book I have been savouring since he died.

Spiritual — Every breath, every thought, word, and action is spiritual, is it not? How can it not be since the omnipotent and omniscient presence of Love is always here? God is present in the pain and the glory. I knew I was being held in the arms a divine presence while I cried out my tears, just as I knew God’s hand was at play when the eagle soared above me, inviting me to hop on his wings of freedom. In fact, a part of me has always known I am never alone and never have been.

A perceived sense of separation is part of human existential yearning to go back to the garden. I have felt since I was a young child that the earth was not my real home. But I also know now what a privilege it is to dance on top of the earth and there’s no place I’d rather be.

In Summary

In summary, I can say that I am happy I was able to reach out on Facebook and tell my truth. It took a lot of courage, I must say, to have reached out publicly in that way.

I also believe even if I hadn’t reached out, reaching inside, asking God (or whatever name you wish to give that which gave us Life) for guidance, or calling a friend, or reaching for that one book that is a touchstone to our spirit—that can be the salve we need to heal our melancholy.

There so many ways to look after ourselves. And it’s essential that we do. Please see the writing exercise at the bottom of the page and tell us what yours are.

I am reminded that feelings come and go. That nothing stays the same. And that I need not be alarmed when they come up in wells and swells so deep and I wonder, ‘how can this be? Haven’t I dealt with this many times before? ’ And the answer is, ‘Yes, I have’. And this is simply another layer and it doesn’t take days, weeks, or months to process. It moves through so much faster when I just honour what is and let go.

How well did you love, how well did you live, how well did you learn to let go?

I have a tapestry hanging in my hallway. Embroidered upon it are these words, ‘In the end, what matters most is, how well did you love, how well did you live, how well did you learn to let go?’ On Wednesday, I did it all. I just need to remember to repeat it on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and every day, to the best of my ability. One precious day at a time.

Thank you for sharing in my journey. May you have the most awesome day and for all the days and nights that follow, may you be blessed. Love, Junie.

Re-Write Your Life

Most of the time it’s better to let people say things in their own words rather than trying to paraphrase and explain.

Please watch these videos to learn about the profound transformations that completely liberated these people as a result of participating in my Re-Write Your Life signature program.

You will hear Jan Falkowski share his riveting story of how he went from blind rage to being able to fully forgive the man who caused the car accident where his daughter was killed.

Next watch Annie Lavack as she talks about her fears and insecurities of not knowing what she wanted to do in her life. She states that it was the processes that she learned in Re-Write Your Life that enabled her to reclaim her voice. Today she is the Minister of the Centre for Inspired Living in Victoria.

The next video that Shaw TV filmed some years ago will show you what happens in a real group setting.

The program hasn’t changed, nor have the results. What has changed are the people who have made the commitment to go forward with their life in this way.

After watching the videos, take some time, then ask inside whether you too are ready to re-write the painful storms of the past and make peace with them. Every story, no matter how painful, can become the elixir of healing, transformation, and ultimately joy!

Above: Jan Falkowski’s experience with Re-Write Your Life

Above: Annie Lavack’s experience with Re-Write Your Life

Above: Shaw TV’s The Daily visited a Re-Write Your Life class
and interviewed participants

Junie's book, Re-Write Your LifeRe-Write Your Life

An 8-Week Workshop That Will Transform
Your Life

Early Bird Price extended to Monday, May 23rd!
Wednesday evenings 6:15 – 8:45 pm
NEW: Beginning June 8th
8 Weeks
Investment: $395
Early Bird: $345

Book included!

Find more information and registration here.

Writing Exercise

Write a list, or better still, draw a mind map, about the different ways you do or can take care of yourself when you are feeling sad, lonely, loss, grief, or despair. Then write about a time you did take action using one or more of these tools and what the outcome was. I just wrote about mine. Your turn!

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

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13 May

One Can Never Consent to Creep When One Feels an Impulse to Soar (Helen Keller)

Teya-Danel-Bastion-Square
Teya Danel at Bastion Square Public Market selling her jewelry.

Teya Danel’s Story

I met Teya in 2005. It was approximately one year after her close to fatal car crash where she’d had to learn to walk all over again, something the doctors weren’t sure she’d be able to do.

What I can tell you for certain about Teya is: don’t ever tell her there is something she can’t do. She’ll say, “Oh yeah, watch me!” And seriously, you should watch her. On a dance floor! It didn’t take long after she started walking again that she was dancing. This woman has an indomitable spirit stemming, no doubt, from her Francophone roots. I’d even go as far as saying she has an obsession to be healthy and happy and her joie de vivre is infectious.

This is what she said about that time.

“Totally committed to regaining full use of my hand and body, I found the creative process of making jewelry to be a very effective tool on my healing journey. My heartfelt desire is to inspire other people to never give up and use their own personal artistic expressions as a medium for their own healing and recovery!”

You can find Teya at Victoria’s Bastion Square Public Market from May to September where she has been a jewelry artisan for the past seven years. Look for the woman with the big infectious smile standing behind her booth called, Dangles—Simply Elegant Jewelry. And tell her Junie sent you!

Here is Teya’s story about how she did whatever it took to walk, be productive, continue being an amazing single mom, and change her career from massage therapist to jewelry maker:

quillAn Almost Fatal Car Crash That Changed My Life Forever

by Teya Danel (excerpted from Junie Swadron’s book, Re-Write Your Life)

I’m floating in space and all of a sudden find myself in a restaurant I worked in. Everything is twilight and surreal. I step into the restaurant and see one of my former coworkers. There is a sudden understanding that I cannot possibly be there physically. I see lots of flashes of bright light and they seem to swirl and twirl around me moving in and out of consciousness. Where am I? What is this place? I drift back into unconsciousness.

My eyes are closed and I start to stir slowly. Again, where am I? Everything is hazy and I can’t move my body. A sudden paralyzing fear hits me: Oh my GOD, I think to myself, where’s Daved? What’s happened to him? Is he alive? My heart is aching and beating hard. I become full of apprehension. I vaguely remember him being with me but cannot place my finger on it.

The realization that something really terrible has happened slowly enters my mind. As I open my eyes the first thing I see is a railing on the side of my bed with a photo of my eight-year-old boy taped onto it. He is sitting in a hospital bed surrounded by my relatives and I see a big smile on his face. Huge relief flows through my body. He’s okay. He made it. I take a deep breath and I start to cry with relief and gratefulness—he’s okay, we’re okay. I’m still here. Where exactly is here? Where am I? I look down my body and I see contraptions on my legs. My whole body feels numb and I recognize that I’m in a hospital and I’m sensing I had a car accident. I wonder how long I’ve been here. I can hardly believe the state I’m in.

It’s August 6, 2004 and I’ trying to make sense of my condition. All I know is that I’m lying in a hospital bed just about broken to pieces and very high on morphine. I’m in very rough shape and my face is all swollen and I look like death warmed over. Thank God for modern technology and pain relieving drugs. I can’t imagine what kind of pain I would be in if I could feel my body.

I learn that I’ve had a very close call and in fact, it is a miracle that I’m still here. I’ve just been through a 14-hour tandem operation with surgeons working on saving both my legs and my left arm. There is so much damage that they can’t deal with it all at once. More surgery is scheduled. I’m in ICU and fade in and out of consciousness. It turns out that there are multiple breakages in both my legs. They went through the floorboards of my car and my right leg is off by 10 degrees. My left elbow has splintered like chicken bones, a number of ribs on my right side have been broken and the right side of my face, which hit the steering wheel, is caved in and black and blue. I’m lucky that I still have my eye.

I find out later that on my way to Nanaimo to pick up my older son, I went through an intersection, up and over an island and straight into a post that scrunched my car on the driver’s side. Much later when I get to see the pictures, I can hardly believe that I’ve come out of there alive. I’ll never really know what happened that afternoon; I have no memory of it whatsoever. In fact all I can remember is leaving the house. The rest is blank.

But there I was sprawled over the steering wheel in deep shock and not even conscious. However, the mothering bond is so incredibly powerful that even in the midst of such incredible trauma, I managed to somehow inform the police that I have a 14-year-old son arriving at the ferry terminal. Don’t ask me how I do that. I ask him a year later about his experience that day and he tells me that when he heard his name on the speaker at the ferry he intuitively knew something was terribly wrong. The policewoman takes him to the hospital in Nanaimo where he sees me and his brother in pretty bad shape. I’m screaming and have not stopped since they pulled me out of the car. I can imagine how horrifying it is for a young 14-year-old to witness his mother and brother in such an unbelievable condition.

He ends up being taken under the wings of a woman who runs a volunteer organization called Victims Services, which I’ve never even heard of. When I hear the story of his journey I say a prayer of thanks to that woman who took my son home with her, gave him a bed that night and money the next morning so he could board the ferry back to his father who is here in Canada to enjoy a holiday on the Sunshine Coast.

Meanwhile, back in the hospital, my sister Mona comes to visit every single day. She takes good care of me. She makes sure I’m comfortable and washes my hair every few days in a special little basin that sits snuggly under my head. Having lived in Vancouver, I still have a good number of friends there and they start to file in and offer support in whatever ways they can. My adopted mom luckily lives only a few blocks from the hospital and she visits me almost daily. Having my friends and family around me offers me much comfort, courage and hope that I’ll make it through all this.

Will I ever lead a normal life again? Will I ever walk? I cannot even bend the middle finger of my left hand and am unable to feed myself easily as my one hand does not reach my face. I was born a left-handed and learned, with my grandmother’s prompting, to write with my right hand in the days when it was not proper to use the left hand. Anyway, I’m grateful for my ambidextrous skills now, because I’m going to need them to feed myself. It’s about the only thing I can do for myself at this time. Being unable to take care of my basic needs is quite humbling, to say the least.

I feel a very strong sense of determination and commitment to do whatever I need to get back my life and heal my body. I believe that I can and I hold on to that thought with all my heart and soul, even though a small part of me has huge doubts given the nature and extent of my injuries. The mere thought of spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair is completely overwhelming. I begin the long journey of rehabilitation and healing and there are no guarantees being offered as to what the outcome will be.

I end up spending a month in Vancouver General, and when I am well enough to make the journey I ask to be transferred back to Victoria where the Royal Jubilee Hospital will be my home for the next two months. The surgeon who is taking over my case, a fine man by the name of Michael O’Neill, informs me upon arrival that I’m a very lucky woman. He says to me “not that long ago, you wouldn’t have made it” and I know in my heart that that is the truth. As I lie in my bed, day in and day out, I am astounded at how strong and grounded I feel. I can barely move and yet I feel totally powerful instead of powerless, which one would kind of expect, given my circumstances. My spirit is strong and my will to live and heal is just as strong. I make peace with my situation, totally surrender to it and accept what is.

Every day I get better and better. Even the pain and the long sleepless nights seem somehow manageable. As I start to get stronger I learn to shuffle my butt slowly as I inch my away across my bed and into my electric wheelchair, which offers much me mobility and a change of scenery.

Every day I am working out in the rehab section of the ward named RP2. I remember being taken into the rehab section one day and with the help of three therapists I was able to grab onto a pole and stand up on my good leg. My right leg was damaged the most and I’ve been told that I cannot put any weight on it for at least three months. So here I am standing on one leg, holding onto the pole and having a realization that there is yet some hope for me to walk. Before too long I graduate to a walker and make great progress, one day at a time. I come to realize how much of my daily life I’d taken for granted and in my present state, I truly begin to appreciate every small thing that I can accomplish on my own. You have no idea how humbling it is to have to have your bum wiped for six weeks—to not even be able to take care of the basics.

I’ve learned that out of so much adversity, so many gifts have come. The biggest one being a deepening of the bond between my sister and I. I learned, big time, not to sweat the small stuff and to be grateful every day for my life and my healing abilities. I know now that I’m going to be okay. I can see that I am an inspiration to many of my friends and acquaintances. They tell me they feel strengthened by my courage. I acknowledge myself for having reclaimed my life and my body.

Now, 3 ½ years later, I’m waiting for my last small surgery, which is an implant in my face and after that, it’s clear sailing. I am astounded by the progress I’ve made and pretty soon you won’t even be able to tell that I had a broken body. I will never look at a disabled person in a wheelchair or scooter ever again in the same way. I’ve been there done that, and my compassion and love for people has taken on a whole new dimension.

I am free and standing tall and so very thankful for who I am. I know in my heart that sharing my experience will help a lot of people. I really believe there are no accidents in life. I was meant to have this experience, to get through it and learn so much from it. It has been a huge gift, the importance of which I am only now able to even fathom. I see life very differently now and have learned to never, ever again take anything in my life for granted. I am excited and await all the new adventures that are coming my way with great anticipation and joy. I have a new appreciation for life and intend on living it to the fullest from now on.

Writing Prompt

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

What does this quote from Helen Keller conjure up in you?

 

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

All blessings,
Junie

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04 May

I Love You. I Love You More.

Mother's Day

Our relationships with our mothers

In last week’s blog post, I wrote about mothers and wanted to give you time to process anything related to your mom that was unresolved before Mother’s Day, which is on Sunday. I hope that you were able to do that.

“Thanks, Junie, I had a healing, loving, virtual chat with my Mom who’s in a care home with advanced Alzheimer’s. I gave her freedom from me to go and be with Dad, her parents, brothers, etc. on the other side. We also shared forgiveness, although I didn’t think of much that I needed to forgive her for.” WG

Another person wrote:

“Thank you Junie. Before last week’s newsletter, I had been thinking – oh, no, another mother’s day is coming up where I have to fake it. I took your writing exercise to heart and I can hardly believe that by the end of it, I was able to see my part in our discord and invited her out to brunch. I feel hopeful that for the first time that there’s a space, an opening and it’s going to be OK. I really want that and I know in her heart, she does too.” LF

In case you missed it, here is the writing prompt I offered:

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.

Were you able to do that? What was the outcome? Do you feel more relaxed, healed and at peace around her? Or are you still carrying some hurt and resentment? If so, I highly encourage you to consider re-writing that story so that you are no longer walking around in pain for things that happened in the past. We can’t change what happened, but we can change our attitude toward it.

My sincere wish for you is that you and your mom have a loving, respectful, and honest relationship and that you will celebrate Mother’s Day in a wonderful way!

My story, my truth

My relationship with my mother was as tumultuous as they come. But when it was good, it was the most loving, most engaging, most beautiful love I have ever known. And because I knew how it felt to be loved so deeply, when she withdrew her love, which could happen on a dime, I suffered unbearably. My mom, like me, suffered from bi-polar illness. Unlike me, however, it was never diagnosed, and therefore never treated. So my mom did not have the skills or know-how to make the demons go away. Oh how I wished I could have waved a magic wand and made her demons go away. I wanted that so badly—for her, for me, for my dad, and for Lorraine, Barbara, and Howard, my siblings.

Read on to hear about our mixed up, crazy, profound, and beautiful love. This is an excerpt from my book, Re-Write Your Life. Today, and on this Mother’s Day, I dedicate this story to her, Minnie Swadron.

 

quillI Love You. I Love You More.

by Junie Swadron.

Mom, Mommy, Minnie, Minnie-Mouse, Moth–er! Mimi, Memes, Mindle, Ma, Minerva, Mama.

She was all of the above. Each a different personality. Still, she was my mother. Minnie Swadron. Born in 1919 in the miniscule town of Shaunavan, Saskatchewan; first born child of Romanian immigrants, Joseph and Lily Lazarus.

I remember being at the hospital and holding mom’s hand. She didn’t know I was holding it. Or perhaps she did. Who’s to say what a person in coma knows or feels or perceives? Sometimes I would hold her hand a few inches above the sheets and then let go of it – let it fall. It was an eerie feeling but I did it hoping the sudden drop would wake her up. I wanted so much for her to wake up and smile up at me with her beautiful green eyes.

And yes, there was that day––the day that you did open them mom and you recognized me right away. And you held your hands out to me and I bent down and you kissed my face. You kissed my cheeks, my forehead, my chin, my eyes. There was a desperation to it––an aching, a pleading, a hanging on. A memorizing of every feature: the shape of my eyes, the smell of my hair, the feel of my breath upon your face as you drew me into you. Soul to soul. And I loved you more than ever knowing how much you loved me. No holding back. In those kisses, you gave it all. You kissed me with an aching need to hold on which caused my heart to split open but I understood. I needed to hold on then too. It was a moment of truth. Just us and the love––no-one else in the room. No-one to criticize your love for me. Like T. who was embarrassed by your displays of affection.

I used to be embarrassed too. I hated it when I was in my teens or twenties and even thirties and we would go to the Lawrence Plaza or for walks anywhere and you insisted on holding my hand. I guess it reminded me too much of being a child sitting next to you on the couch watching TV and you would want me to scratch your legs. It used to repulse me. But the queasy feeling left once I moved west and went back for visits. Of course I was middle-aged by then. And last October when I stayed with you after your surgery and you seemed so little and vulnerable, I would have done anything to make you feel better. So I actually heard myself offering to massage your back. I did and as much as you cooed expressions of delight, it was me, I know, who benefited the most.

My mom Minnie
My mom receiving a loving kiss from her grand-daughter Jennifer.

And now you’re gone and I remember those Toronto days traveling the T.T.C. There was snow piled high on the ground when I took the bus from your apartment on Chaplin Crescent to the Scarborough General Hospital. Sometimes there were blizzards as I walked and waited for the bus. I hate being cold but I loved the snow. It held me. It supported me. It reminded me of so many other Toronto winters.

And the times you and I spoke with glee on the phone from our respective homes after the first snowfall, loving the beauty, the stillness, the freshness in the winter sky. We loved so many things like that. Standing on your balcony or mine mid-summer when the thunder storms crashed through the sky and the rain came down in torrents and splashed heavily onto the pavement below. We loved the drama. We even loved the humidity. And I remember when I was a little girl living on Neptune Drive when you took me outside during the rain showers to wash our hair or catch the drops in our mouths. And we’d giggle and dance in the puddles. Those were on the good days. And those are the ones I care to remember for now.

Last night in my writing group I wrote:

I’m here with you again mom. Sometimes I think I’ve forgotten you because my days get full and I don’t remember to miss you and I’ve gotten used to not calling you every day. Used to it? I don’t know. Buried it is more like it. Sometimes lately when I’ve spoken about you, I talk about how crazy you were when I was a child. I don’t talk about the summer sun shower dances or my teenage years when I’d walk in the door after school and Dick Clarke’s American Bandstand would be blaring from the television set. I’d breathe in the comforting smells of dinner cooking on the stove and then be greeted by a happy you in your hot-pink summer short-shorts and freshly ironed white cotton blouse. I’d toss my books on the table and in two seconds we’d be jiving to Elvis Presley or twisting to Chubby Checkers. And I wouldn’t talk about the numerous times my teen-age friends gathered in our living room to be with you even when I wasn’t home. They came because you offered wisdom or encouragement or simply because you were fun to be with.

No I haven’t been mentioning those times at all. And then it struck me the other day why not. It became as plain as day. Simply put, I don’t have to miss you. I don’t have to yearn for you. For your gentle words. For the unconditional love you have had for me whenever my illness struck. Without fail you’d rally round no matter if we were face to face or oceans apart. Your tenderness caressed me through the phone lines, comforting me with loving words, reminding me how courageous I am, how I’ve beat this time and time again, and how I will this time too. And you’d remind me how many other obstacles I’ve faced and how I fought and won. And you’d talk about the beautiful life I made for myself and my successful therapy practice––how I helped others when I couldn’t see that I was or when none of it had any meaning for me. And you’d remind me of the constant flow of friends I’ve always had who love me to pieces. And you’d talk to me and talk to me and even when I couldn’t imagine there could be any more words left you’d find more to convince me not to give up. You were my champion mom and possibly the reason I’m still on the planet. But the irony was you also passed this hideous illness down to me. Even though you were never formally diagnosed, it was blatantly obvious. But you fought too, mom. You fought too. Differently than me. You locked your doors. You judged and blamed and eventually scared everyone away.

But I don’t want to go there now. Because in my heart, I know you were hurting. And perhaps that was the bond between us from the early days on––well that and the laughter too. All of it. Perhaps in some strange way it’s what kept our hearts intact – beyond the madness when you got too crazy to be around. Or I did. Funny, how we held each other on a pedestal which of course, never lasted. Before long, we were side by side on the floor scraping to help each other up again. And we always did. We did it with laughter, we did it with tears. In the end, we always did it with love.

I still carry you in my heart wherever I go and on some days I miss you fiercely. Whenever I see something beautiful or funny, touching or strange, I imagine you beside me, laughing your infectious laugh or smiling your beautiful smile or making a witty comment or a judgmental one. No doubt if it’s judgmental I’ll give you my ridiculous self-righteous lecture. Inevitably, you’d take a deep drag on your cigarette, look me directly in the eyes and say, ‘Junie, don’t use that therapy voice on me’ and we’d both burst out laughing.

I still have messages from you on my answering machine, mom. In one you say: ‘I miss you, Junie. I miss you honey. That’s what I do, I miss you.’ And I feel your lonely, aching heart. And now it’s my turn. Such irony. But as I type this now, a peace has washed over me. Perhaps it’s because you’re here with me. Yes, I feel you here and yet ironically I sense you telling me that it’s time to let go. Like the vivid dream I had only weeks after you died where you came to me and said, ‘It’s time to let go of me now.’ And I fought with you. I said it was too soon. And I didn’t know if you meant it for my sake or yours or for both of us.

And I am ready to do that. It’s been almost a year since Lorraine called me with the news. It was 8:30 in the morning. I was awake waiting for the call. I knew you had died. Still, I got off the phone and started wailing. Wailing! And when I stopped, all I could remember were the parting words we used in our daily telephone conversations.

‘Bye, mom. I love you.’ And you would always answer. ‘I love you more.’

So good bye, mom. I love you. And you know what? It’s my turn to say it now:

I love you even more.

Writing Prompt

Think of your mom as a woman, apart from her role as your mother. What do you think are or were her hopes and dreams? Do you think she fulfilled some of them? Are there are others she never did? What do you think are some of the most significant things she has taught you? Open yourself to the love in your heart for your mom, the woman who gave you life and begin to write the story of your relationship. Consider giving it to her on Mother’s Day as a beautiful gift or reading it to her even if she has passed away. She will hear you still.

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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junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183