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29 Jul

UNABASHED JOY!

This week-end I gave myself the greatest gift I could imagine!

I flew to Kelowna to be with my dearest friend of 26 years, Darlene McKee.  She was visiting and helping out her daughter, Aislinn, who just had her fourth child.

I have known “Aisy” since she was 10 years old and we have had a loving bond from the day we met.   What a thrill it was to be with her again and meet her family for the first time.

Oh my gosh!  It was everything I could imagine and more. I experienced the indescribable sense of love and joy that comes with being part of a loving family and being literally in the arms of babes!

Those precious children – Dhruba, who turned six the day I arrived; Prema, 4, and Kalyani, 2 – filled me with hugs and kisses, cuddles and giggles the entire time. And then there was Rasaraj, a 4-week-old baby. Can there anything be anything more wonderful than holding a new born in your arms?

All of this joy came to me on the wake of Robby Holly’s sudden death.  It was a welcoming salve as well as the best reminder in the world. Simply, that life is so dear and precious. And even in sorrow, there can be so much joy!

If you are feeling out of sorts today, what is one thing you can do for yourself that will put a smile on your face?

Perhaps it’s simply visiting a playground. No doubt the children’s laughter will fill you up from the inside out.

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©Copyright Artist: Prema O’Grady (4 years old)

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24 Jul

The Price We Pay for Wearing A Mask

pic. of Robby Holly

When someone we love takes their life and the people closest to him or her have no idea that they were even suffering, it is a double tragedy!

Robby Holly, a well loved man in our community took his life just over a week ago and because he was hiding how deeply he was suffering, no-one was able to help him.

Two years ago I was interviewed by Marina Ormes about wearing masks and the price we pay for wearing them. Click here for the interview titled, “Authenticity and the Price We Pay for Wearing A Mask!”

Please listen to it because it could possibly save your life or that of a loved one. And please send it to anybody you know who may benefit by it.

On Sunday, July 19th, 2015 I attended a vigil in Beacon Hill Park for a gentle and kind man named Robby Holly.

As I mentioned above, when Robby took his life it was a shock to everyone who knew him – including the people who were his closest friends. Although I didn’t know Robby well, I did know him to be a kind, gentle soul and like a brother to many.

There was a big surprise party last month for his 59th birthday –followed with dinners, gatherings with friends and other outings. Then one day he just didn’t show up for work. Nor the next day or the next and then he was found dead. No-one could believe it!  Firstly, because he didn’t show it and secondly, because he never reached out to tell anyone he was in such despair.

How often do we not show what we are really feeling?  How often do we wear a ‘have it all together’ persona to mask our pain? We tell people we are fine or even if we tell them that we are feeling sad or anxious or depressed, we won’t mention the severity of it – that we are scared, even having suicidal thoughts – or worse – we have a plan.  We simply do not reach out.

Robby did not know how to remove the masks so that people could see his torment. It’s an impossible place to be.  It’s shame based and most of us who carry these feelings don’t want to show how bad it is.  We want be seen as having our “shit together.” I think the most prevalent reason for this is because we think people will consider us needy – a burden and will leave us if we show our vulnerability.

There were about 35 of us that gathered on short notice to honour Robby’s life in Beacon Hill Park. Once seated on the grass, we passed the talking stick, and each of us spoke from the rawness we were feeling. We removed the masks we typically wear for social occasions and shared from our hearts how we were affected by Robby’s choice to end his life.

What struck me was how personal this was for so many of us  – having either tried to take our own life or that we have had a close friend, spouse or family member who did.

It seemed like every person who spoke, whether or not they tried to end their lives, have at some time gone through the dark night of the soul and felt alone and very frightened. I think the biggest message that came in loud and strong among us was that we must do whatever it takes and reach out to someone.  I know how hard reaching out can be – but I urge everyone reading this – that if you are suffering – tell a friend – tell a loved one – call a help line. Please don’t choose to be alone.

On Sunday we came together as a community, even though some of us had never met before.  But no matter how close we were to Robby or to one-another, we bonded in that sacred circle and we intend to keep the bond alive.  We know it can literally save our lives or the life of a friend. Perhaps this is the biggest gift Robby inadvertently gave us.

As a society, isn’t it time for us to tear off the deceptive masks that turn us into robots – mere shadows of ourselves? Loneliness and isolation are the ultimate cause of our suffering and staying there perpetuates it.  We do NOT need to suffer in silence.

I urge you – as a person who has gone as far down the rabbit hole as anyone can go,  please – put aside the shame, the fear or whatever it is that stops you from reaching out and find someone to talk to. Be courageous enough to save your own precious life. Even if things seem hopeless right now, circumstances do change. It takes a lot of faith at a time of deep despair to believe that but sometimes it just takes one step that could make all the difference in the world.  It’s not a small step. It’s a huge, courageous leap to punch in 10 numbers on a phone…but it could save your life and the heartbreak of everyone who loves you.

Also, you do not need to wait until things are in a critical state. When you are well – call together a group of friends and begin a conversation to discuss what to do if anyone of you are going through a tough time. Dare to be honest about what you need and honest about what you are able to give.

I know most of us are busy with our own crazy long to-do lists and it’s a legitimate concern about putting one more thing on our plate. But that’s the beauty of coming together as a community, a group of friends or family members. No one person has to do it all. Caregiving and duties can be dispersed.  Someone can prepare meals, we can drive someone to their appointments; someone can take their loved one for a walk in nature, pop in a dvd – watch a movie together or simply sit quietly and hold your loved one’s hand. And if you don’t know what to do, ask, “what do you need?”

We all need each other; we all want to feel needed and there is no shame in that. In fact it’s a beautiful thing to give and to be open to receive. If you notice a friend in need – please reach out because they can’t always do it themselves.  And don’t wait for someone else to take the lead.  It may be too late.

I’m going to ask for your help right now. Please take a moment to respond to this post, listen to the interview on the cost of wearing a mask and share your own stories.

Dont forget to CLICK HERE for my interview with Marina Ormes on wearing a mask.

Writing is my go-to resource. It can be a life-saver.as our wisdom is within us.

Here are 3 writing prompts that you can write from to learn your deeper truth.

1. Sometimes I wear a mask to protect me from…

2. The price I pay for wearing a mask is…

3. I am willing to…

Set a timer for 20 minutes and write. Be sure to share it with a loved one, therapist or someone you trust.

Or place it right here in the comments box. Your comments could easily be the salve that brings hope and relief to someone in despair.

Finally,

There is a program I facilitate at the BC Schizophrenia Society in Victoria called WRAP.  It stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It is an evidence based program designed for anyone in need – not just someone with a mental illness – to get well and stay well. Part of that program is about putting together a support team for times of crisis.

WRAP is now in many countries in the world and you can find out more about it here: http://www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/. If you are in Victoria, BC you can contact:  http://bcssvictoria.ca/

Love and gratitude,

Junie

 

 

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02 Jan

HAPPY NEW YEAR…Musings From Salt Spring Island

HAPPY NEW YEAR! MUSINGS FROM SALT SPRING ISLAND

JANUARY 1, 2015

May every one of your hearts’ desires come to you this year

in the form of miracles and blessings beyond your wildest dreams.

fireplace-sm

 

I am very proud of this beautiful fire. I know it looks like the simulated kind  you download as a screen saver which even comes with crackling sounds. But I assure you, it is not. This is a real one in a real fire place in this real house tucked in the woods where I have been cat sitting for almost two weeks now. Just days before I was invited here, I was earnestly asking The Universe to help slow down. Then, I received an email from a friend telling me about this opportunity on this majestic island, only a ferry ride from where I live, to nestle in with Rasta, a wise, gentle, old cat. Once again, I thanked The Universe for answering my prayers.

rasta-sm

I was literally handed a piece of heaven but it soon became apparent it was up to me to do the rest. I was transported effortlessly onto a paradisiacal island but things didn’t miraculously slow down.   It’s okay though…I awoke the next morning – Jan. 2nd – when I’m actually posting this – with the miracle that came through for me – which reminded me of one of my favourite songs.  You can listen to it now if you are a curious and impulsive type, or you can read on, save the best for last as a yummy dessert OR you can have it as an appetizer AND for dessert. This is an abundant universe.  Johnny Nash “I Can See Clearly Now”  
 

Yes, tranquility and silence prevail here but as is typical, I forgot how to remove my running shoes. I arrived here as driven as ever setting out to tackle the many projects I brought with me. I simply transferred overwhelm from my house in the city to this one in the country.

Two days ago, my dear friend, Debora Seidman, also a writer and writing coach in Taos, New Mexico, http://www.deboraseidman.com/ said to me, “Junie, do you ever take a day off?” This question was born out of my lament on how much I had hoped to accomplish but was letting myself down. And beyond that, I was upset that I would be letting another person down – someone who I told I would have completed a book during my time away. It felt so do-able since he gave me a very simple formula to follow. And it will be. Just not now, it seems.

That question, “Junie, do you ever take a day off?” stopped me dead in my tracks. Perhaps better said, stopped me “alive” in my tracks. I suddenly became alive to the fact that the answer to that was “No. No, in fact, I do not ever take a day off!” Good grief, is that true? Yes. Embarrassingly, it is.

On days that I have social engagements and other non-related work activities, inevitably, I will find myself at my computer at some point before collapsing into bed, driving out another idea for a client or a workshop or a book or something else. Or a thank you note I forgot to send. Then back to the computer to send it.

Yes, that question, posed in the midst of madness, offered me an Ah-ha moment one more time. No, of course it is not the first time I have asked for guidance to step off the hamster wheel. And it wouldn’t be the first time I have been shown myriad ways of how to do it. Nor would it be the first time I am choosing to do it. But I am stating my intention out loud. I am choosing to walk off the frenetic train that never stays in a station long enough to enjoy the view.

Do I really need another course, another book, another webinar, seminar, workshop, guru or anything else to tell me what I know to be the truth? And simply put, God is in the details. When I truly surrender my will to God’s will, ALL will be done. It will be done at the right time and in the right order. I know this stuff. I’ve seen proof again and again.

Sometimes I am a slow learner. Or, like most of us, it’s returning to what we have learned when we forget it. But I am currently asking myself, how many more times do I need to be reminded to meditate, come back to the moment, take breaks, listen to the wee small voice inside, dance as if no-one is watching, be kind to my inner child, do self-nurturing things, live in gratitude, be kind, love others as I would want to be loved, listen to the sound of the babbling brook?

At some point we all must lay down our resistance and surrender to the higher truth. This is my moment. Another one of many – but I will allow for my humanness and try not to judge. Instead I offer compassion for the child in me that felt she had to accomplish great things in order to be loved.

Oh, there are many stories that have been running me – but I’m the “Re-Write Your Life” girl. I am ready to release those stories, forgive myself and anyone associated with them for what those stories caused me to believe about myself. Today I am choosing to let all of that go. With love.

One of the awesome things I did over these past few days was let go of hundreds of photographs and pages from journals that were no longer relevant. Photos of old lovers and friends that I was ready to release.

While the photos burned into flames and became ashes, I thanked every person in every one. I thanked them for the part they played in my life. For the good times and the times that were heart breaking. I gave my forgiveness and I asked for their forgiveness in return. I blessed and released each one.

And as I read journal entries, the same. I realized the only moments I want to live are the ones I am living now. What I wrote then was relevant then. As perceptions changed, so did the story I attached to it.

So, it’s New Year’s Day. I am alone with a precious cat on my lap and at this moment the sun is shining through the trees . It’s time to go for a walk. And I shall contemplate the word written in The Course in Miracles, “Do nothing and all gets done.” Simply put, when I let go and truly listen, I am led.

the-gap-bowen-island

Today I am choosing to listen. Today I have but one main intention for this new year and that is to surrender my will to Divine Intelligence that is always there and always willing to guide me when I let go of my frenetic busyness. Oh, I have dreams and desires and if they show up, then they were meant for me. Just as this solitary re-treat showed up. It still required a certain consciousness to make it into something meaningful.

Perhaps it was the prayer that I said in earnest to help me slow down. And then, by way of an important question that came from my dear friend, Debora, the penny dropped. Had it not, this paradisiacal setting would just be a different location to be busy.

Now I am going to go out and say hello to nature. The trees and the sky and the ocean are calling and so are my songs of praise and gratitude. I am truly so grateful to be alive and grateful for the gift of friends and family and loved ones near and far. Oh, to have this life. This precious, miraculous life. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You!

Later Okay… God really does have a sense of humour.   Today, as with all days, I took a different route on my walk around the island. And look where I was guided?   If that’s not a sign (on a sign) that God is listening – or is it that I’m listening – or are we One and The Same that is listening?   Whatever – It’s a definite sign and I’m taking heed!

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Later Still.  Next morning…Jan. 2nd I awoke this morning remembering the awesome tools that helped me to focus, stay grounded and balanced. I bought the program, it was working but then stopped applying it. Yup, I fell off the wagon, but that’s not a problem. I’m back on it now with Tom Evan’s  Living Timefully programme – which is time management with mindfulness at its core.

If you are anything like me and have been rushing around in overwhelm trying to complete the never ending to do list – (which Tom reframed as a To Love List where we put more of what we love to do into each day while getting everything done, then please join me.  You can find the information here.

http://www.tomevans.co/ecourses/living-timefully/

livingTimefullyLogoWhite-FP-325

Now, as promised: Dessert!

Johnny Nash “I Can See Clearly Now”

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05 Dec

DYNAMIC BALANCE

 

workplay

  Dynamic Balance

Scroll down to listen to my talk after this brief introduction:

Yesterday, I wrote a blog about saying no to the world in order to say yes to me.

What is showing up today, after surrendering my addiction to work is that anything less than a full pull back in activities will not serve me. I am being led to take an inward journey and am so grateful to finally stop and heed the call.

Yesterday morning something totally unexpected happened. It occurred before I made the decision to cancel  my workshop, Don`t Retire. Re-Wire and Refire on Dec. 13th. It happened as I was driving to an 8 a.m. dentist appointment. This was before my walk along the ocean amidst gray skies and before my coaching session with Leslie. But I think it influenced my decision to step back.

This past October I gave a talk that was called, Dynamic Balance, which I taped on my Smartphone. Suddenly, while listening Leonard Cohen on my device, the song stopped and my talk just started playing! Do not ask me how. I have stopped trying to figure these things out but I still shake my head in total wonderment.

As I listened to the talk, I could hardly believe that I had written it. I do remember that I was still writing it the night before and the morning of! I also remember getting a standing ovation. But you see, this is the thing. I AM able to get things done and get them done well, but typically it`s at the last minute and I wear myself out. And what`s worse is that sometimes I do not retain the memory of it because I move straight onto the next thing!

This is not easy to admit but I have to in order to meet it full on. In fact, I didn’t even consider what I do an addiction  until my friend Linda brought it up the other day. And the penny dropped. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any 12 step programs for workaholics. I mean seriously, when would they have time to show up!

Oh my, I just said that tongue and cheek, but I decided to Google it just now and lo and behold – there IS a twelve step program. That’s awesome! I don’t have to go this alone. I have my work cut out for me.  Hmmm.  Maybe that word needs to be replaced with, I have my studies cut out for me. That’s a little more tenable.  Whatever it is, I’m happy to have the support. Very happy. I’ve never been in a 12-step program and I know how successful they have been for many others I know personally and certainly professionally.

So, wish me luck. I’m off on a new adventure to find true balance in my life. It’s a process. I know I will want to keep you posted but if that is just more work…you may not hear for me for awhile.

In the meantime, I would like to share my talk with you: Dynamic Balance

(mp3 audio)

Also, at the end of the talk, I play a beautiful song by Shaina Noll, and you can hear the audience singing along.

I hope you will play it for yourself and take the words she sings into your heart.

How Can Anyone Ever Tell You, You are Anything Less Than Beautiful

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrhl6Z8q91g

Thank you for listening or reading my blog.

I welcome your comments.

Not just about the talk. If you are like me and also have challenges with overwhelm due to overworking

feel free to post them here. Let’s  have an open dialogue to help one another.

All blessings,

Junie

Dynamic Balance

October 19, 2024 Harvest Time

 

Good morning,

The theme this month is DYNAMIC BALANCE – And today`s topic is THE HARVEST

So…it`s autumn. It’s the time of year when the seeds that we planted in the springtime bear the fruit that we harvest now. And in fact, we`re always harvesting the seeds that we sow.

We see evidence of this in our lives again and again. And when we sow love, peace, kindness and joy we receive their blessings in return. Conversely when we sow anger, jealousy, blame and fear we reap the blessings of these as well.

You may say, excuse me … what blessings could possibly be found in anger, jealousy, blame and fear? And I will say to you, The blessings of awareness, forgiveness, growth, and liberation … that eventually come to all of us…when we are ready. And sometimes, until we are ready, we repeat those patterns again and again.

We’ve all heard the expression, would you rather be right or would you rather be happy.

Of course we would rather be happy.

But then again, don’t we want to be right AND want to be happy? Happy that we are right and that the other person finally gets it. And then we are really happy!

I know. I’ve been there.

In the past – and even sometimes still, when I have felt misunderstood, I felt I need to argue my point, defend myself – do everything I could to make the other person know what I meant– that I never mean ill-harm –and they are misinterpreting me. And if they realized I was being sincere, then i could be happy.

The problem was, when they didn’t get what I meant, I’d keep on badgering them with my explanations – defending myself –at the root of it – just wanting to be heard, a deep need to be understood. And above all, meaning to do no harm. Yet my exhaustive approach of over-explaining, would inevitably make matters worse for both of us.

These days, I try to listen more and defend less. What really matters to me is the energy I bring forth in my communications with others.

I have become more conscious – wanting to be authentic rather than impose my need to be liked or needing to please or making my voice and opinion so important that I am dismissing someone else’s. Communication is a delicate balance and it becomes a dynamic balance, I feel, when all parties feel fully seen and heard.

When we truly listen. When we pause and rest inside another person’s words – not needing to jump in with our own. Knowing that what they are saying is of equal value and their stance, even if it not something that resonates true for us, is still worthy of hearing and responding to in a kind and respectful manner.

Jeff Richardson, in his book “Personal Creativity and Writing,” put it this way:   “Can you remember a time when you were heard without interruption, distraction or judgment, where the quality of the other person’s attention was so complete it seemed you could feel it? Whether that person actually said anything “important” or not, if the quality of their attention was true, there was a magic and a power whereby you knew you had been touched, even transformed in a subtle and powerful way. The respect and trust of others given in silence as well as speech or presence, create building blocks of confidence and motivation.”

Over the years in the writing workshops I deliver, I have heard students comment on countless occasions that equally important as the writing is in sharing it out loud – they need to know that what they have just written will be received in a safe, non-judgmental fully supportive manner. It is in this way, they learn that their voice matters, and in time, something shifts, they strengthen. They begin to stand taller. And one day, they notice that their voice on the page has become their voice in the world

But on the outside of these safe circles, in every day life, in environments that do not support us in this way, how do we get there? If we fear that speaking our truth may inadvertently offend someone and we may be criticized, possibly even ostracized by it, do we risk saying anything at all?

For almost 2 decades I have worked as a psychotherapist, speaker, writer and workshop facilitator. I have a website. I have published a book. My voice goes far and wide.

And I can’t tell you how often, still, I shake my head and I ponder, really? Is this really me? Is the same person who spent more days and months that I care to remember unable to get out of my bed, terrified to go outside or cowering in a hospital psychiatric ward afraid of life – even enough to want to leave my precious LIFE behind.

For   years I identified with my mental illness. I remember a psychiatrist when I was twenty years old and catatonic after some harrowing experiences, telling my frightened parents, that here was nothing more they could do for me.

He said that I probably used a lot of drugs while I was away in Europe and that there’s no telling if I’ll ever come out of it. He went on to tell them that I may have damaged my brain cells irreparably. He said he was sorry but they could take me home now. I knew he was lying. I never did drugs. I couldn’t defend myself then. There was a veil between me and them. I had no language. I couldn’t talk. I could hear but I couldn’t speak. But I could go home! That was all that mattered. I was never so happy in my life. I was also never so terrified. I was just condemned to a living death – to be this way forever.

Most of us have our own story where something happened and because of it, we were left feeling disempowered, vulnerable and possibly afraid to speak. And even though we may go on and have successful careers and the like, that frightened part of us may still running the show in certain relationships and elsewhere.

So yes, I don’t take for granted this me that has found her voice. Instead I wonder, how did this happen? Where did the shy, frightened little girl with virtually no self-esteem go, the one who has lived inside of me most of my life? How did I get here from there?

Well, to tell you the truth, she is still here, but thankfully, she’s mostly less afraid. And when she is, and when I am awake enough to notice and not tell her to just get a hold of herself, I summon up all the compassion I can muster to ease her aching heart because more than anything else, she deserves that. She deserves to be listened to. to be loved.

For too many years I ignored her and there was no balance – dynamic or otherwise. There was just a deafening belief that I was inherently flawed with little hope to change that.

But I did change that. I worked at it because I couldn’t continue to let my spirit die. Instead I tried to reach for the truth in what my mother often told me. Honey, she said, as long as there is life, there is hope. Know this. Please don’t give up. My mom was my champion in times like this. And little by little I realized it WAS true and that my past didn’t have to equal my future. Unless it was to harvest the good stuff.

The resourceful stuff – The part that no matter what has happened to me, I am still here to tell the story. How awesome is that! The good story. The survivor story.

And that’s not just me. That’s all of us. You me, we have survived even the things we probably never thought we could have. That we are stronger than we thought. How often do we tell THAT story though. Our success story…Not even necessarily to others. To ourselves. How often do we flood our minds with the pain of the past…instead of noticing how far we’ve come, we lament on our mistakes and how far we have yet to go.

But what if we really took stock of what our gifts and our strengths– the tools we have in our rescue kit that allow us to get from A to B when we fear there is a treacherous cavern in-between.

For me, writing has often been my way through. But why? Why does it work? There is something about the writing process itself that when I am able to surrender into it, I move underneath my critical mind to a silent place, just allowing my words to flow through me and tap into something greater than my small self. And it is here I am given clarity and wisdom. I can’t tell you how often I start off in fear and shed layers of pain onto the pages and through some kind of alchemy find myself safely on the other side of the riverbank, where newfound hope resides. Somehow, for me, when I am writing, I am aware that I am not alone…There is an omnipotent energy that is holding me.

But this is my way. And not necessarily yours. There are myriad ways to find that quiet centre that resides within our very own precious heart. The home of our Beloved – our Wise Self – the Candle in the wind…the flame that never ever, ever goes out. And maybe you reach it in meditation or a mindful walk on the breach or in the forest – somewhere your spirit feels at home.

Perhaps it’s an art from that brings you alive – painting, singing, dance. Planting your garden.

Whatever it is, I say, let’s listen to its whisper, follow it and let its love enfold us.

Because when we do, we are then given the opportunity to be transformed. Have you ever had a flash of knowing – a gut feeling a an aha moment – where nothing in your outside world has visibly changed but your perception of it has, and everything looks different and you can rest here. Or jump for joy here. I feel that with every opportunity we can to go quiet and listen to the calling of our inner voice, we are making the most authentic choice of our life. Because it is here where we get to move into the mystery of our soul’s longing and LIFE will meet us at every station along the way.

It is said that when we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity. And there are countless angels waiting in the wings ready to show us the way. We are never alone. As well, there’s a whole tribe, an energetic movement of real people, like you and me who are not willing to settle for anything less than a life of meaning, of service, of love.

And as we know from our peace song…the one that enfolds us at the end of our service every week – as we sing to the heavens…let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

We can indeed let peace and love, kindness and joy begin with us. And when we do, it’s impossible to keep it to ourselves.

It’s infectious. When a gifted artist performs before us – like Pauline did for us last night –we can`t help but offer a thunderous applause in return.

It’s human nature…born of our Divine nature, to spread the love and joy and laughter.

To pay it forward. To give of our gifts. Hugely, lovingly, heartfully. But here`s the key.

First we must give them to ourselves. We don`t have to go searching for them. Or think we have to earn them first. They are intrinsically who are.

We just need to look into our very own eyes, the window of our soul to recognize who we are. And then when we look into another person’s eyes, we see the window to their soul.

And we know that we, they are nothing less than beautiful. We are whole, complete and loveable just the way we are.

 

Here again is the song I played at the end.

I hope you will play it for yourself and take the words she sings straight into your heart.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrhl6Z8q91g

 

Your comments are always welcome.

All blessings,

Junie

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04 Dec

I SAID NO IN ORDER TO SAY YES TO ME.

WHEN SAYING NO BRINGS RELIEF

THEN YOU KNOW YOU HAVE MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE

The beauty of silence is that it allows us to listen, hear and reflect on what is really true.

After my morning walk, I had a session with a wise woman who also happens to be my coach, Leslie Bixler.  Leslie has a way of cutting through the extraneous in order to access the window to my soul.

Forefront on my mind today and for many days is the fatigue I am feeling. Once again, I am pouncing into a state of overwhelm that can develop, when I am not careful, into anxiety leading to depression.

After a bit of back and forth, Leslie touched on the question I have been pondering about my latest commitment – A workshop about to take place in 9 days that I am not prepared for. Oh, I could get prepared. In fact, it would probably turn out being fabulous. But at what cost?

“Junie, what if you didn’t do it”, she asked?  Instead of shrieking, “But I promised!,” I could feel an overriding sense of peace wash over me. I knew my answer.  Now I had to deal with the guilt that accompanied it. How would I tell everyone who has registered or was considering it that I’m not doing it now?  Leslie simply said, with the truth. And I didn’t have to explain.

This is when I found myself in front of my computer typing the words you are reading.

Unwittingly, it is turning out to be an explanation and I am okay with it because I am sharing my truth. And the plain simple truth is, I’m weary. And as much as I do not like to disappoint others, I am taking care of myself.  And writing this to you is also taking care of me. Why? Because I have come to know that it isn’t just freeing for me, it is liberating for the many who also feel like I do. And these days, let’s face it, many of us are running on empty.  So perhaps this blog can be a healing salve for you too.

It’s about remembering we are always at choice. It’s taking a pause to question what part of us is making our decisions.  Is it our wise self or the self that just doesn’t even hear anymore. What wise self? Possibly its messages are being drowned out in the never ending have to’s.

As anyone who knows me well would agree, more often than not, I live in overdrive. I push past my comfort zones, taking on more than I ‘should’ and as a result leave little time for nurturing  the parts of me that crave to be nurtured.

So, today, as much as it is not in my nature to say no to something I have already said yes to, especially an event that I am putting on, I am consciously choosing to say ‘no’.  I am choosing to respect my energy levels and postpone it – or simply come back to it down the road and check in and see if it’s the right fit. I don’t need to know right now. All I know in this moment is that my workshop,  Do not Retire.  Rewire and Refire  that was going to take place at the Church of Truth on December 13th will not be happening.

For now it is one moment at a time as I tentatively breathe into the places that yearn to be healed. I know I need to slow down. I have known this forever, it seems. Will I learn it this time or will it be like other times that my ‘sense of duty’  takes over. In truth, I don’t believe it is that.

In truth, it is that I sincerely  love what I do so it is easy to become passionate about it. I love connecting deeply with others; I love sharing from our hearts.  It keeps me renewed. And ‘revved.’ And that’s the challenge of an artistic soul in a bi-polar body.(that’s a different story).  Luckily, for many years now I have been able to ‘catch myself’ when I’m taking on too much. I think the problem has been that I don’t learn, after I have taken time to recoup, to not do it all over again.

A long time ago at another juncture when I was needing to slow down, I placed a picture of a snail on my bathroom mirror to remind me that slow and steady will get me there.  Ask me if I have even noticed if it is still there? Give me a moment please; I need to go see.  Yes, indeed, it’s still there. I just stopped seeing it.

snail

Today was obviously the day to take stock again. To notice the smile on this particular snail’s face. Today, after a walk along the ocean shores under gray skies and billowing clouds and a silence that held me in my melancholy, I could feel somehow that something was shifting. I didn’t know what. I just sensed that all was well.

I have felt into the truth that is freeing me.  I am saying yes to me even though it may mean disappointing others. What Leslie asked me is no different what I may have asked my own clients. “What if you said  no?”

Now I get to  be the teacher that takes the time to learn what I am teaching. And to  practice what I am learning. To walk my talk.  Doctor, heal thyself!

One way I will be filling my well is  by putting pen to paper which is truly soul food for me. I will resume writing the books that are have been patiently waiting to be birthed.

It will also be putting the content of what I have been teaching for two decades into online programs. This is not work. It will be a delight because it involves creativity and writing and a welcoming learning curve.

This means I may be unplugging for awhile as I welcome in the “what’s next” that comes from  inspiration and not ‘must do’s’.

THIS may be the most important lesson that I would have been offering  on Dec. 13th anyway

Don’t Retire – to me means … don’t resign. Don’t think that coming to retirement age means the best years are over. They are not. Every day is a gift and as long as there is life in us, is up to us to find the gifts of which there are many.

Re-wire to me means  – rewiring  our mindset to honour the truth of who we truly are. Being willing to be still and silent in order to hear our inner wisdom speak to us. For us to take heed if its messages and move into the flow of life.

Refire  This is about fanning the flames of authenticity to live our lives in the way that  truly serves us best. That will give us the most heart, the most meaning and the most fulfillment.

Right now, my refiring is honouring that truth that says, “It’s okay to STOP, Junie. It’s okay to BE STILL and simply BE. ALL is well in your world.”

I wish you every blessing for the holidays.

Remember to stop, breathe and be still.  

And don’t ever forget to Dance!

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25 Nov

RE-WRITE YOUR LIFE IN RETIREMENT

Forever Young

young-st

Today, on my morning walk after my interview with Tom Evans on the subject of Re-Write Your Life in Retirement –
where I borrowed the words of my colleague and friend, Dr. Melba Burns, who will soon be releasing her book ” Don’t Retire – REfire! “, I was thinking about our conversation.  Specifically, I was thinking about what my mother had said to me many years ago.
She said, “Junie, you are never old when you are happy.”
I wondered if my mom would be forever young in Heaven. At that very moment I looked up and…
Well, I guess I got my answer!
You can watch my interview with Tom here

 

Watch for the soon to be released book, Don’t Retire – REfire by Dr. Melba Burns.  

The Re-Write Your Life Support Group is now in development.

 

REQUESTING YOUR ASSISTANCE
I would love to hear from you – what your experiences with retirement or soon to retire are.
Are you moving or have you moved into this phase in your life with grace and ease
or are there or were there challenges, conflicts, uncertainties that came with retirement.
Perhaps it is the first time in countless generations that these question have even been asked.
After the traditional work was over, Retirement it was considered the last frontier.
It is hardly that any more but it’s not something we have been born
 This is why your voice is critical to the conversation.
As I develop my program, I would truly appreciate any comments you have
so I can make my material fully relevant.
Thank you kindly!
Junie
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04 Nov

RE-IGNITE YOUR PASSION, PURPOSE, AND HIGHEST POTENTIAL

5 Steps to Learning How to Live Your Love Out Loud

Have you ever had a dream, a deep desire to have something, or do something or simply to live in a way that you believe would truly fulfil you?

Do you still have that dream?  Did it come true?    Are you living your life the way you imagined?   I hope so.   But if not, what happened?

Did you imagine your dream to be too far out of reach, too many road blocks such as time constraints, past history, unsupportive relationships, parent’s expectations, not enough money, or lack the right education?

Or perhaps you said to yourself, those kinds of dreams happen to other people, not me.  And you remember someone’s voice saying to you, “Stop day dreaming and get to work.”  So you tuck away your beautiful dreams and walk towards a safer path, a less complicated one, the one with fewer risks.  The one that offers stability and security.  At least that’s what they told you.  And your life is okay, you’ve acquired lots of “things” but then one day, maybe long into the future even, you realize something is missing. Something big. And you know it and if you are lucky, there will be a time that you can no longer ignore what you know.

And this is the best news of all. At this juncture you have the opportunity to leap into a brand new future – one that fills you up from the inside. At this crossroad, if you say YES! and I hope you do, you will be making the most authentic choice of your life. It is here where you get to move into the mystery of your soul’s longing and LIFE will meet you at every station along the way.

It is said that when we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity. And there are countless angels waiting in the wings ready to show us the way.  We are never alone. As well, there’s a whole tribe of humanity, an energetic movement of real people, like you and me who are not willing to settle for anything less than a life of meaning, of service, of love.

If you are ready to say a full-hearted YES!, then here are FIVE TIPS, that when you implement them, you will ignite your true inner passion. You will co-create the outer experiences that will bring about the dreams you now dare to live out loud.

YOU:  YES! I AM READY!

ME:  AWESOME! HIGH FIVE!

Exclusively Mine by Custom Design

Vision It, Write It, Believe It, Receive It!

Then, remember to say, “Thank You”

    and you can  expect a God-Wink In return 🙂 

TIP # 1.

Set An Intention To Let Go Of Your Limiting Beliefs.

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

Say a final farewell to all critical, insipid voices that tell you that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The voice that when I tell you, “Yes, in fact, you can have your cake and eat it too,” that voice (not your true voice) replies with,

“Are you kidding? It’s crazy to start something brand new at my age. Do you know how old I will be by the time I finish my degree, learn to play a piano well or start a new career?”

And I will say to “that” voice, “Yes, I do know. The same age you will be if you don’t.”

HomePlay

Set your timer and write for 15 minutes starting with this opening line:

I am choosing to let go of the voices that have been keeping me small and afraid.  What really matters now is.

TIP # 2:

DEVELOP A SINCERE ATTITUDE OF DEEP GRATITUDE.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder

Be thankful for EVERYTHING you have right now. The first spiritual law of abundance is to give thanks

HomePlay

Buy yourself a special notebook and name it your gratitude journal. Every night before you go to bed, write 5 things for which you are grateful.

This sets evokes a new mind set; not only will you start to truly appreciate all that you have in your life, you will set up the conditions to notice them when they arrive…and the more you notice and inwardly say, ‘thank you’, the more gifts the universe will bestow upon you.

On days when you are so weary, that the most you are grateful for is that you can turn over and go to sleep, first read a couple of pages in your gratitude journal. Then count your blessings as you enter dreamtime.

TIP # 3

Examine What Is Underneath the “Why”

of Your Biggest Hopes And Aspirations.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

What drives you more than anything else to go forward toward your dreams? When you think about your vision, what is it about it that makes your spirit soar?

Does your passion keep you up at night? Are you insanely excited about it?

And beyond that, what is it about this gift that motivates you to bring it to the world?  What do you love about it?  In what ways will your life change if you fully agree to live your love out loud?

HomePlay

Set your timer and write for 15 minutes starting with this opening line:

I know why I love this dream. I know why I covet it so. I…

TIP # 4

Take the Best from The Best

“Alice laughed. There’s no use trying, she said. One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had as much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”-Lewis Carrol

Think about it for a moment, what would be the point of holding on to doubt?  Now it’s time to suspend ALL disbelief and learn from the greats. Those men and women who no matter what their obstacles, they surpassed them only to become  leaders in their field, in their community, in their life!  And you can too! And you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

HomePlay

Go to the library and find books about people who have had similar visions to your own and are living it or have lived it (if they have passed) in the most wondrous ways.

Bring these books home and cover you coffee table with them. Read their stories. Learn how they got to where they did. What did they have to do to overcome obstacles they faced?  How did they stay focused?  What kept them going?

Notice as you are reading about their path, how inspired you are becoming. And realize that YOU can be that for others.  Your stepping up to the plate and living your passion could be the saving grace for countless others.

NOW is it worth taking action? You bet it is!

TIP # 5:

Unleash Your Passion, Purpose and Highest Potential!

Welcome to First Class! EnJOY Your Flight.

Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” Thomas Jefferson

At this stage, you are ready to pull out all the stops!  Only Green Lights Ahead.  All The Way To The Top!

HomePlay

In this exercise you are going to Re-ignite Your Passion, Purpose and Highest Potential.  And here is the key – write them everything as though it were happening right now. Not in the future, but now. Write in first person, present tense. Bring it fully into the Now. Make it real. Get excited about it. Passionate about it. Experience your dream in every living cell of your being. Be bold!  Name It  and Claim It. Put on your designer hat and travel first class.

Then let go. Give it over to the universe, knowing all is unfolding exactly the way it should.

BONUS TIP:

DON’T STOP!

If you have set your timer for 15 minutes and you want to quit writing before that time, put two lines that look like this // on your page and keep going. Even if you have to repeat the same thing several times, it will shift. Almost always, what you write after you thought you were ready to stop will carry the most profound insights and wisdom of all.

Dare to dream your biggest dreams, and may The Universe Bless Every One!

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14 Aug

ROBIN WILLIAMS – DEATH BY SUICIDE

There But For The Grace of God Go I

This song, “Calling All Angels” by Jane Siberry & KD Lang  is appropriate for what I am about to say.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRUErh47sao

I can’t imagine one person who has heard about Robin Williams’ death who hasn’t been shocked and devastated. I am one of them. I have taken it hard.

As most of you know, I live with bi-polar illness. I was diagnosed when I was 20 years old. I ‘came out’ when I was 50 years old. It was too freakin’ scary to do it before then. It was terrifying even then. After all, I had a private psychotherapy practice, worked as a mental health worker in a group home and gave educational talks in corporations about mental health in the workplace sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association. How could I “come out of the closet” and expect my career to survive. How could “I” expect to survive?

I had just come out of a hospital after another clinical depression. The phones were ringing. People were wanting to come to my new workshops. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lie any more. I couldn’t go back to pretending all was well with me when I had spent the last month in a psych ward.

Instead I wrote “Madness, Masks and Miracles” – (See link below)  a play about the dark night of the soul that everyone on earth experiences at least once in their life. I wrote about the masks we wear to disguise the pain…(who would ever have known of the unspeakable burden that Robin Williams was carrying?) Many of us have learned to have a public facade that can fool the masses. And finally, my play was about the Miracles, that allow us to take off our masks and be who we really are.

I am one of the lucky ones. I count my blessings. I have had numerous suicide attempts. I can’t describe to you or anyone what I have come to call, “the torture chamber of the mind”. Thank God, for the past 8 years I have been well. Really well.

I’ve had my moments of unrest, sadness, overwhelm. I have never even come close to having suicidal thoughts. I don’t believe I ever will again. The last attempt led me to a near death experience and I woke up in a state of grace and I have never looked back.

I am inspired right now to tell this story. A story I have NEVER told in public. The people close to me know it. I have always been too ashamed to tell it. Me – the one who ‘came out of the closet’ all those years ago standing on stage at the Vancouver Conference Centre in front of 400 doctors and mental health workers at the International World Assembly for Mental Health – a convention that happened to be in Vancouver when we just started staging the play. They heard of us. They asked us to perform it for them. It was the worst experience I have ever encountered. It was also the best experience as it allowed me to speak my truth – in spite of the terror of being criticized, ostracized, marginalized and hospitalized – one more time.

Then just 8 years ago – which also feels like light years ago – I ‘woke up’ in what I described earlier as a state of grace. But the story that preceded it was not pretty. Few people know about it. Today, I came to the computer to do something else. Instead my fingers are flying off the keyboard telling this story – one I was always too ashamed to tell.

Bi-Polar Illness and every other mental illness has many shapes and sizes. It is not a cookie cutter disease as some people may think. Oh, look, she’s really depressed. Oh look, she’s wildly out of control. There are so many layers. Oh so many! And the sufferer of these illnesses and their family, friends and caregivers suffer right along with them.

When I was a young girl, and up until recently, NO-ONE spoke about their mental illness especially in public. The stigma and shame was so unbearably powerful, no-one dared. Hey, I didn’t dare until I was 50! Today, and for several years now, public figures are talking freely about their diagnosis, their pain and suffering. It’s talked about more in the media now than ever – at least here in North America. Still, there is a long way to go. And it is people who do speak out that make it safe for others to do the same.

I have been speaking out for a long time now. It doesn’t mean I am comfortable about it. The fear of being judged is always there. Even a couple of weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook that referred to my mental health challenges. I got absolutely no response. A few days earlier I wrote a funny story about getting married and I got upwards of 80 likes and comments. Yet there were no comments when I mentioned my illness. I felt judged and ashamed and removed it from Facebook.

And here I am again coming out even more. Admitting my suicide attempts. Am I crazy to do this? Apparently I am crazy. Or am I not crazy? Am I wise or am I just a person who knows only too well, the dangers of secrets, denial, self-loathing and hiding in shame? Whatever I may be, all I know is that my fingers are flying off the keyboard and I know I am not manic. I am being propelled by an inner voice, an energy that says…. “ there is nothing to hide, Junie. You didn’t do anything wrong”. Funny how often I still think that.

In 2009 I was raced by ambulance to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria with hardly a pulse. I swallowed over 100 prescribed pills. I did not intend to come back. I needed to get out of what I have called, ‘the torture chamber of my mind’ a relentless diatribe in my brain, obsessive, cruel, heart-crushing thoughts of guilt and suicidal idiation – and a body riddled with anxiety and a foreboding that never went away. Month after month after month, after month and  I couldn’t bear it any longer.

So I swallowed 100 pills. It was terrifying. I did not want to die. I love life – as strange as that may seem. I just wanted out of this body, this mind, this pain that wouldn’t go away … something that no-one could see because I have honed the disguise so well. I could even go to work. I could even hear and respond to people in a way that no-one would have guessed I was suffering. But I new and I knew I could not hide it any longer. So I wrote letters to the people I loved gulping down tears and then emptied out dozens of vials filled with prescription drugs and I swallowed them all. I was  sobbing so loud I was sure neighbours could hear me but I couldn’t stop.  I apologized to God and to every family member, to the friends who loved me, to the clients who depended on me, to my pets – to the world. And I did it anyway. Once again – as in earlier attempts, I called no-one. I didn’t call an emergency line. I was just wanted out because I didn’t believe anyone could help me. I had lost every ounce of hope that I would ever be able to be well again.

A neighbour who knew I was depressed and had my keys to feed my budgies when I went away, checked in on me. I was told she found me on the floor in the kitchen where I had swallowed the pills. She called the ambulance, I was raced to the hospital but I was already in a coma which lingered for 3 days and nights. Then miraculously, on the fourth day I just opened my eyes and started talking. I felt better than I could ever remember.  The doctors were stunned. Not only were they convinced I would not survive – they were certain if I did, I would have irreparable brain and organ damage. I had neither. Physically, I was well. Mentally, I was what I can only call “in a state of grace” They removed all the tubes and wires from my body and transferred me to Eric Martin Pavillion.- the psychiatric hospital in the city. To me it was an ashram.

No, I did not think I was Jesus, going from person to person blessing everyone. I was simply seeing the dozens of men and women in that big room, all beautiful souls, suffering, lost and in turmoil – just like I had been before I ‘woke up’. I had nothing but compassion for them as well as the for the staff. I could see their frustration and their own suffering and how they were trying so hard to do their best. During this time of observation, I felt grounded, centred and at peace in a way I never had before.

Two days after coming out of coma, I asked a friend of mine to bring me my computer. I knew it was time to write my book. How was that possible? For the past six months or longer I could not even string a sentence together. Even writing an email caused unbearable anxiety. And for me, usually it is writing that does save my life. Writing brings me to the other side of my suffering where the light gets in. And I’ve been teaching this for about 20 years! Before my suicide attempt that was virtually impossible. There were no words. There was no light.

Now, something inside of me said, you must have your computer. It was brought to me and within 9 months, my book, “Re-Write Your Life, A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Your Life was completed and published. (See link below)

From not being able to write, my words were flowing out of me with passion  and I was loving every moment of it.  Why passion? Because I knew, only too well, from both sides of the couch that it is only in re-writing our painful stories that we find peace. That hanging onto the past – in shame and blame and resentments, grief, sorrow and unforgiveness, will never lead to happiness. It only keeps us stuck. Paralyzed. Grandiose. Depressed, needing to be right – at any cost. It keeps us anywhere but in our hearts.

I knew beyond any doubt – having almost died – that life is precious…oh so precious. And it is not a dress rehearsal. It’s real. The years go by. We grow older. And we will die one day and, my God, if I could help even one person find a way to live life in peace and in joy and to let go of the past and celebrate their life journey instead – nothing was going to stop me. I was going to write and publish that book. I knew this was the most important work I had done up until that time. I had re-written many of my stories already. Now, from this blessed state, I wrote with an inner conviction of truth that would free not only me others who were drawn to its message.

I still live by it. Yet even now, in this very moment, as I sit in front of this computer, the conviction of speaking my truth out loud is still there, but so is the fear of being judged. I’m not sure if that will ever go away. But how could I even think of that stopping me? I am alive. Robin Williams is not. Nor are countless millions of others across our planet who have ended their lives and possibly as many still who are on the brink as I write this. How could I not speak up? How can we not? Together, as one human family, speak up and out – hold each others hands – stop judging and find our way back to our tender hearts.

Robin Williams, a brilliant, beautiful, courageous man who brought joy and laughter into the lives of countless people is dead. Dead by suicide.

I happened to be at movie on Monday ironically held at Eric Martin – the mental hospital I was hospitalized in – where they play brilliant movies and the like. Monday night I was there to watch the documentary, “Of Two Minds” which was riveting. A stunning depiction of several people living with bi-polar illness. It was sad, funny in parts, and oh so very, very real. But my friend, who I was saving a seat for, sat down and told me the news about Robin Williams. I had to leave the theatre and go to the bathroom because I started to cry. Once I was in the bathroom, in a lone cubical, I allowed myself to sob. . In the most sad and ironic way, it is in his death that I am given the courage to come out once again –to come out of the closet about my own attempted suicides. I am hoping in doing so, I will be able to let go of some of the guilt and shame that I did that. I am doing my best to reach into my heart and offer myself compassion for the states of terror and hopelessness that drove me to want to end my life. To reassure myself that I didn’t do anything to purposely cause pain and suffering to others. If I or anyone else who is at that critical place could make a rational choice to do it differently, to find a magical cure to be well again and not hurt themselves or the people who love them and they love too – oh, if only. If only.

Since the last attempt I have been living in deep gratitude and deep humility. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not remember to thank God. Why me? Why was my life spared and not his? Not countless others? I don’t know. I only know I am here. And I am here to make a difference in whatever ways I can. And one of the ways, I sense, is in writing this and sharing it out loud with you. And tomorrow and the day after that, it will hopefully be with words and deeds of kindness for whoever shows up on my path.

And that’s what we can all do. We can’t all be writers or social activists on the front lines. But we can offer gifts of kindness – first to ourselves – nurture ourselves into healthy minds and bodies and spread the kindness to every living being we meet.

I work part-time at the BC Schizophrenia Society, Victoria as a peer supporter and a trained facilitator of a brilliant program called W.R.A.P. that stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It is clinically proven to help people get well and stay well. There are many other amazing programs offered there – support groups for every kind of diagnosis and for the families of same.

Thousands of people go through these programs and are getting well. We provide services that bring hope, compassion, friendship and we give tools to everyone who reaches out. All of us who work there have a lived experience. We all have our challenges, it’s true. We also know the power of helping another who may be in worse shape than ourselves. And we never know where this one act of kindness can lead. Perhaps enough, in some cases, to motivate a person to find their inner strength and eventually pass the torch to someone in their own family or community and on it goes.  All our services are free for those who require them.

We have  the most amazing boss, Hazel Meredith, the Executive Director.   She works tirelessly to make certain that our services continue.  For quite awhile now, as funds are continually being cut, it not always a given.

I am reaching out to you, if you are reading this…I don’t know what to say – other than if you are in Victoria and are moved to volunteer your time and gifts or feel inspired to donate to our non-profit organization – then I invite you to act on your inspiration. Or do it in your own community. Let us all lend a helping hand to one another.

I will leave you with this song from the Young Bloods recorded in 1967.

Listen and watch here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbrn9eXEKWk

Below are some links for services and programs that I just wrote about including Madness Masks and Miracles & Re-Write Your Life.

May each of you be well. May you find love and peace and joy wherever you go. Reach in and reach out. There will ALWAYS be someone to reach back.

 I  Welcome Your Comments

BC Schizophrenia Society, Victoria Branch http://bcssvictoria.ca/   Any size donation would be so welcomed and appreciated.

Re-Write Your Life – A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Our Lives – Book https://junieswadron.com/products-and-services/re-write-your-life-book/

Re-Write Your Life – Workshop https://junieswadron.com/workshops/re-write-your-life/

Madness, Masks and Miracles – the play I wrote to dispel myths and stigmas about mental illness https://junieswadron.com/mental-health/madness-masks-and-miracles/

The Academy for Creative and Healing Arts for People With Mental Health Challenges – my initiative to have a centre where creative expression changes mental illness to mental health   https://junieswadron.com/mental-health/academy-for-creative-and-healing-arts-for-people-with-mental-health-challenges/

WRAP – Wellness Recovery Action Plan   http://www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/

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12 Aug

Davida – If You Only Knew…

davidapaintingsm

A painting that my friend Davida created as a gift for my 40th birthday.

Happy Birth Day Davida. Baruch Hashem

The following letter, another among the many that I am writing for my new book,
If You Only Knew…A Book of Letters is dedicated to Davida Hoyos. She was my friend for over two decades.
Today, August 11th would have been her birthday and it is fitting that I honour her today although I wrote this some time ago. It remained in a drawer with much of my other writings. Today I am removing it from that drawer and onto this public forum to share my love for her out loud.

Davida, if you only knew…

If you were still alive, today would be your birthday. And more than likely, we would be celebrating it in the one of the many ways that you love to celebrate. You were the ‘quintessential Leo. ”You loved bravado, good taste and a good party!

One of my favourite parties was when you asked everyone to bring you something that represented something we loved.

I made you the Cat Jam Jazz/Blues Band set on a two-tiered cardboard box that I painted purple. It was equipped with a mirrored dance floor with dancers and musicians – all cats, of course – and made with pipe cleaners and it was the most fun project I had ever worked on! I mean, it did represent things I loved and continue to love – music, dance, and cats!

And how I loved you for as long as our friendship was alive…and still.

So many things I wanted to tell you. I hope you can hear me now.

What was buried so deeply in a protective bolder so that I wouldn’t shatter into rock, then crumble into sand, erupted last night in a shocking blast of dynamite. There is no protective cover now –I come to you raw – my soul fully exposed…and in memory I see you there when you opened your door as you had for two decades of our lives always dressed to the nines –larger than life – all 5 foot ten of you and your flaming red hair wild and our hugs which sometimes felt more like a visits, just as often got cut short by the excitement of what we were about to share…. the latest news coupled with gossip and giggles, disappointments and tears as we cared and we shared and paired as no other in our lives at that time. And even with daily visits when we lived in the same building or the most – weekly visits when we didn’t’, we came to each other brand new every time. And then the day came that I dreaded, the day I had to tell you my news that I was moving to the west coast – to the place my soul longed to be for 30 years – and I watched as your face went pale as you attempted a smile and told me how happy you were for me. And although you may have been, it was just too damn hard for you…not again…not again…too many endings to bear.

You couldn’t stand the pain of another person you loved leaving you. You chose your few friends carefully and with any perceived threat you would leave them before they could leave you. So you withdrew from me…and then withdrew even more and you built walls to protect your heart which left my heart broken so deep in despair that eventually I copied you and built my own walls to cover a loss that no words could comfort.

And then Carla’s call one week ago. 5:30 in the morning. Sorry to wake you. June, but I knew you would want to know. Davida died yesterday morning. And I shrieked NO! And I hung up the phone with tears streaming down my face and grabbed my journal and madly scribbled 22 pages of heartbreak. But it wasn’t enough – there was more. I was driven now, the damn had burst. The rock was now sand and before it was swallowed by the sea, I had to embody it all. You, me, us… So I found the file that carried the remnants of our life – almost too heavy to carry filled with all the cards and letters and poetry and paintings that I could never throw out and even though it split my heart open to be with all these memories that spoke our story of love – a love that was supposed to last forever no matter where our geography took us, I needed to remember every one. I needed to get drunk on your essence. So what I always wanted to tell you Davida, is deep inside I always missed you and I do still.

So here we are meeting again.. a meeting beyond the veil. But it’s a transparent veil and I can see your eyes. I can almost touch you.

You know, I looked at your painting the other night before I went to bed. It has been hanging on my wall since I moved here 3 years ago and has hung in every home I’ve ever lived since you gave it to me for my 40th birthday – 21 years after we met. And I looked at it that night as though I was looking at it for the very first time…and it was curious. I wondered if I should still keep it there. Maybe I should take it down. After all, you weren’t in my life any more. The friendship was long over. But as I stood there taking in the brilliant colours of every flower on the canvas, so vivid you could almost smell their fragrance and the monarch butterfly finding its’ nectar in the calla lily, a sadness washed over me…but also a love so pure that I knew I couldn’t and I wouldn’t take it down.

We haven’t spoken in about 4 years – no it’s probably been 7 or 8 but I want to lie … I want to believe that it never happened at all. That we spoke every day. That you did wish me well, that you withstood the geographical distance between us and you changed your adamant refusal to use email and so we would, and we’d talk on the phone and you’d come to visit me and I’d show you what drew me to this wonderous land and I’d make you my first priority on every return to Toronto. And we’d still be holding hands across the miles…to this very day…or at least ‘til the day you died. And now you left me. You left me. As long as I knew you were alive, there was always a tinge of hope that we’d find our way back to one another. You were not just my friend, you were my mentor. I could never repay you for what you taught me.

I was only 28. You were 30 when we met in Montreal and I have to admit I was intimidated by you. Intimidated by your worldliness, your stately beauty, self-assurance, intellect, sophistication, passion for theatre and painting and Judaism and your poetry…oh yes, your poetry…which is what bound us together in the first place. We began to meet regularly and read each other our poetry. Mine always felt insignificant compared to yours. Yours were filled with stunning imagery, metaphor, never superfluous. You used words I had never heard of but I knew what they meant because my heart understood.

And somehow my poetry moved you…or perhaps it was my ability to be vulnerable and opening my heart on the page, not in a sophisticated way, but in a real way that made you love me. Your poetry became your medicine as you blasted through your world in a flurry of activity, at the hub of the Montreal’s largest cultural events.

You immersed yourself so completely so you wouldn’t feel the unspeakable loss of Leo’s death. It happened only a year before I met you but it took months before you told me the details. Until then you assumed the Jacqueline Kennedy stance of holding your head high, dignified. You put a padlock on the part of your heart that died the day that he did.

There you were, on vacation in Mexico with your best friends, celebrating your 6th anniversary when suddenly he keeled over on the dance floor and was dead by the time he hit the ground. A brain amorism. Six months later your other beloved best friend died, your father. The man you worshipped. The man who taught you the richness of life. The one with whom you shared Torah and philosophy and literature and politics. The one who instilled in you a love and thirst for knowledge where learning became as essential as breathing. And you brought this learning to your students for 30 years.

Davida’s place. The place for kids to come after school to work on the subjects they couldn’t pass. The students that the teachers and parents and psychologists believed would never know academic achievement having failed year after year. But not you. You threw away all the so called professional reports and found the soul of every child and loved them back to life. Little by little they began to stand taller and their grades improved until they aced them and went on to university. That wasn’t a one-time deal. That was the norm. And it wasn’t just the kids. It was me too. Without your encouragement, love, mentorship and tutelage, I would never have gone back to school. You saw my intelligence and ability when I could not. You told me I was an excellent writer when you read my papers and you were not one to compliment when it came to academics unless it was deserved. And you guided me to the halls of York University and your joy was unsurpassed with each of my successes.

Even after you told me that our friendship was over and to please stop calling you, I couldn’t. So I sent you a video of my play, Madness, Masks and Miracles and you wrote me a letter that praised the writing, the performance, the brilliance of it, and your words meant more to me than any other accolades I received.

So Davida, if you were here, and of course you are, with all my heart I thank you. I thank you for the hugs and the love and scrabble games and the picnics and camping trips and the sedar dinners and oh my gosh…I could go on forever, couldn’t I?

And here you are right now beside me. Just as you were the night I stood and looked at your painting. You came to tell me all is forgiven and that you always loved me too.
You came to tell me you are at peace…and there is nothing that I would ever want more for you. I love you, my forever friend.
Shalom.
Baruch ha’shem.

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08 Aug

Lost and Found – A Re-union Worth A Lifetime

Suki-Mr-Vaz-and-me___Summer-2014

Just a little over one year ago, on July 31st, Suki, my very best friend from childhood, met me two days after I arrived in Toronto so we could re-unite and heal the past after 43 years apart.

Before that, on March 31st, Suki’s birthday, I summoned up the courage to request her friendship on Facebook which she accepted within moments of my sending it. Later she told me she had been just thinking of me and was stunned when the Facebook request came in.

Later, when we met in person after all these years apart, the first words out of her mouth after walking and then running into each other’s arms were, “I will never let go of you again.” I melted into those words, and somehow, it just felt ‘home’ again. Like I had just been welcomed home again.

And even though we are 3,000 miles apart, and don’t speak that often and we email even less, the wounds have been healed and the love is eternal. She has given me full permission to tell this story and to post the picture you see above.

No words are adequate to describe how it feels to have this friend back in my life. You will understand more later in an excerpt from my book which I will share here. Going back to last summer, not only was I blessed to see Suki, I was equally blessed to see her father.

Mr. Vaz was like my second dad. I was probably in their house as much as I was in my own. He was kind and gentle and always gave me the feeling that he loved me as much as he did his own children and I adored him.

I knew from my conversations with Suki that he was very, very ill. Her mom had died just months before. Now her dad, who had always been her very best friend, was close to dying and it was indeed a heartbreaking time for her. She told her dad that we were in touch again and that I was coming to Toronto. He wanted to see me and it couldn’t have been more mutual.

Suki took me to see him at his home. He was waiting for us on the sofa and the moment I laid eyes on him, I started to weep. I didn’t realize until that moment how much I had missed him.

I sat down beside him, we hugged and his eyes were also filled with tears. It was a breathtaking moment for us both. We began to talk and even though he was now in his 90’s and in pain, his mind was as sharp as a whip. He insisted on taking us to dinner that night and in spite of ALL odds, he did. He drove us to a Chinese Restaurant where he had already booked reservations and it was truly like old times.

Just two days after I returned to Victoria, Mr. Vaz passed away. It’s hard not to believe, on some level, he waited for me to come. At least that’s the story I want to tell myself.

During my time with Suki in Toronto, we held hands as we walked the streets of our old neighbourhood and reminisced about old times. When we talked about the quarrel that pulled us apart, we both had diametrically opposed memories of it. We didn’t care. We were hardly going to try to win sides at this point. That would have been insanity in my books!

I not only feel I have my best friend back, I have a history of a lifetime restored to me. It was very painful to think of my childhood and teenage years because there were very few memories where Suki was not a part of it.

And now that chapter has been healed.

The following is a passage from my book, Re-Write Your Life which will give you a background to set this story against. It is called, Letting Go.

In it, I called Suki, Lisa to keep her identity hidden. Now it is no longer a secret. Lisa was the name she was going to give to a baby girl, had she had one. Suki could hardly believe I remembered that. We both remembered so much about each other that we ourselves had forgotten.

quill-ink Letting Go – An Excerpt from my book: Re-Write Your Life

 

“…I never used to think myself as a rebel but I suppose in some ways I have been. I did not do what society had expected of me back then. I did not marry out of high school like my sisters did. My best friend and I spoke for years about travelling together long before it was popular for girls to do such things. We were barely 19 and we did it. We flew to New York from Toronto in the early fall of 1970. Then we walked aboard a student ship that sailed 10 days across the Atlantic to Le Havre, France and on to Southampton, England where we docked, got off and stepped into a future that neither of us could have predicted. We intended to be away for a year. It didn’t happen. At least not together.

This was where the biggest letting go of my young life happened…and it took me years and endless tears to finally let go of the pain.

Lisa and I met in grade 2. I don’t remember what it was that initially made me follow her until she finally agreed to be my friend. She did and we became inseparable. We walked to school together every day, did our homework together at night and in those long, hot, Toronto summer’s we hung out with each other in the park behind the apartment buildings where we lived. One summer when I was twelve I was sent to camp and we cried bitter tears in the parting. We wrote to each other every day. We grew into teenagers and double dated.

At 18 Lisa got engaged and so did I. Within a year both of our engagements ended and we decided to make our childhood dream come true. Set out on a travel adventure. It didn’t unfold the way we envisioned it. The following is the way I remembered it, Suki remembered it differently. Once aboard the ship Lisa stopped talking to me. For 10 unbearable days she ignored me. None of my pleading brought her any closer to telling me what was wrong.

In desperation I pretended to have fun with the new friends I was meeting but inside me was an agonizing loneliness. Not until the day we sighted land and were to disembark did Lisa finally let me know what was going on. She was carrying a horrific burden, a dreadful secret that she only felt safe enough to tell me when we got to the other side of the world. (It’s her secret so I’m choosing not to share it.) As she spoke she wept and I held her. We wept together. It was beyond what either of us had any experience with or were prepared for. It was totally outside our comfort zone and neither of us had the tools to know how to handle it.

Within a very short time it brought about the end of our friendship. I returned home from Europe a year later with my first experience of clinical depression. There were many things that preceded and contributed to that crisis, but none that held the weight of despair like losing Lisa’s love.

Letting go of her was among the hardest things I ever had to do. Somewhere in the letting go process I wrote this:

“She enters my thoughts out of nowhere and suddenly I’m consumed by that familiar longing again — a crippling emptiness that has all the scars of a motherless child — vainly searching shadowed street corners for the one who’s never, ever coming back. I suppose I’ll go to my grave with this. Therapy and the years have played their bit in assisting to dull the ache but it comes back anyway. It comes back in torrents and floods and then ebbs away again leaving me like the darkened streets, desolate and bare.

And again someday when I least expect to remember — when I’m doing something menial like ironing a shirt or crossing a street or thinking about buying myself flowers, she’ll return in full life-size form and dimensions, equipped with sounds and tastes and smells and the movie projector is running on automatic and we’re children again, running in the park and giggling over some silly joke or about one of the teachers at school. The secrets. We told each other all our secrets and shared all of our dreams for what we wanted when we grew up. We shared it all. Teenage tears and fears and the excitement over a new boy. And we sang. How we loved to sing! We knew all the words to every song. Nat King Cole’s ‘Smile’ was ours. And we did everything together. Best friends. We were best friends. Blood sisters. Didn’t we cut our index fingers until they bled when we were eight, then rubbed them together and swore an oath to never, ever part. It worked. She lives inside my veins. It’s only in the other world she ceases to exist — the one that shows its face to the others. But the woman-child who lives inside me and peaks out only now and again is the one who remembers and she’s the one who misses you, Lisa. She’s the one who wishes more than anything else in this entire life that you would come back and love her again.”

It has been 2 decades since I wrote that and the pain has long since subsided. I have a flood of loving tenderness when I think of her. Wherever she is, I hope she is happy and fulfilled in her life. As with all experiences, I know they happen to heal and bring us into deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. I understand that if we had had the tools, we would have surpassed the crisis that separated us forever. For many years I blamed her for rejecting me but in truth I did that to myself. I locked myself into a coffin of guilt and hopelessness so it was no wonder I became clinically depressed.

Letting go has been much easier of late. I’ve had the death of both my mother and sister in the past year and a half to help me practice. A spiritual tenet that seems to work for me is to accept what is. To fight against what is only creates suffering and unnecessary drama. I can try to hold on but in this temporal world, nothing stays the same. So it helps to remember I have the conscious choice of how to respond to situations. Do I want peace and contentment or do I want to suffer? If I want to suffer I hold on and fight. If I want peace I can accept what is and see the beauty and perfection in all situations. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel pain or sadness. I do. And then I embrace it and hold compassion for the part of me that is hurting. In the honouring of the pain it dissipates and the letting go process is organic. I don’t make it go away, it just does and I move into a state of well-being.

When I think back of Lisa today, it’s like a very long ago dream but one that had a tremendous impact on my life. I learned early about the bitterness of separation and betrayal. I learned of guilt and anguish and it took years to stop re-enacting the same patterns. Hopefully I have learned enough to pass on what I have learned in a way that can assist in lessoning someone else’s pain.

Wherever you are Lisa, know you are loved. I am grateful for the gift of remembering us all those years ago and acknowledging where I am today. I am at peace. I pray that you are too.”

And I do know she is at peace and we are both at peace with each other.

Thank You hardly describes the gratitude I have in my heart to the Universe for re-uniting us in the senior years of our life.

Addendum

I want to reiterate that the story that I believed all these years was so different than how Suki remembers it. How often do we do that? How many times do we hold onto our stories as ‘The Truth’ when, of course, there could be so many other interpretations. Each of us can occupy the same time and space with the same outer experience yet it will be our inner experience and our personal perceptions that will determine its meaning.

Had I considered this, I would have been able to let go years earlier.

Do you have stories that you haven’t let go of?

Are you still hurting from stories in your past?

Are you finally ready to transform them so that you can be free?

On September 11th, I am launching an 8-Week Re-Write Your Life, A Sacred Path to New Beginnings Workshop Series

See details here https://junieswadron.com/workshops/re-write-your-life/ 

An Invitation to share your inspirational stories:

If you have transformed a painful story from the past that you would like to share, you can send it to me to be included in my blog. We never know when our stories of courage and action can inspire and empower another to move from “I can’t” to, “Yes, I can, and I will!”

 

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09 Jun

A Tribute to Deborah Millar

My latest book is called, If You Only Knew… A Book of Letters

As the title suggests, it is comprised of letters that I am writing to people who have had a profound impact on my life.

This letter is a tribute to woman who was a very close friend of mine. 

Her name was Deborah Millar. She was an internationally acclaimed composer, performer and vocal coach. And an extraordinary woman.

Some of you may have known her. Feel free to post a comment below if you like. 

My dearest Deborah,

I am listening to Ave Maria over the phone that another dear soul, my writing buddy, Debora Seidman, is playing for me from her home in Taos, New Mexico.  Earlier, when I heard her introduction to this song, talking about the divine feminine – about passion and peace and purity…it brought me to these pages.  I leapt from my chair and onto this computer, where I am writing to you, finally… with my heart wide open. Ave Maria is still reverberating throughout my whole being and bringing me to you where you remain alive.  And you greet me here. You are also greeting me with an open heart and beyond that, a tender smile, full acceptance, forgiveness and light. Thank you! Oh, yes, thank you! I have been so burdened for letting you down.

I know that you understood. So perhaps this letter is to myself in some way. A time for self forgiveness – because I only want to remember us the way we were – once we melted away the boundaries of teacher and student and became sisters, dancing this way and that, in this crazy, wonderful, mixed up and mysterious world together.

I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on you.  I would never have known you were an acclaimed composer and vocal coach. How could I have known when you walked into my home on the first day of a new writing circle and introduced yourself to me in an almost apologetic manner? You were not quite sure you should be here. You were not quite sure if you could write – but thought you would like to give it a try.

I felt your humility along with a presence that was captivating. The kind that enfolds a person when they look into the eyes of a wise woman, a shaman, a teacher of the highest order. You carried a presence and a dignity that was both regal and simple at the same time. An impossible mix … yet you were able to hold each with equanimity. Without pretence. Even later, when you were very sick, even when you were the most vulnerable a person can be, you remained noble and gracious.

And on that first night when you wrote from an exercise I offered and then tentatively shared what you had written, the silence that followed was breath taking. It was the kind of silence you experience in a concert hall after a performance of the highest calibre.  That all consuming inhalation when the audience becomes one entity that can no longer hold its breath, and so it explodes into a torrent of thunderous applause. It was like that after you read and I wanted to leap to my feet and give you a standing ovation.  I think we all did. And I probably would have if I was sitting in the circle beside you and not the teacher.

And your writing continued to evoke that same response week after week until you began to trust your own voice on the page in spite of a lifetime of doubt. Children’s stories, poetry, prose, song lyrics and memoir came tumbling out of you in the same way a parched and starving person would grab and clutch a flask of water and then gulp it down. Each piece seemed to be written as though it would be your last.

You were writing as though your life depended on it and it did.   You were writing for your life.

For a long time it was only me who knew the demon you were fighting. I wondered if you were going to share it with the others in our circle. It seemed awkward that you didn’t with the intimacy that was present. I never questioned your choice. I just wondered.  And then one night you arrived late looking disheveled and very pale with make-up that tried to cover a face tormented by pain.  I rose to greet you and hug you and wished that hug could melt away the hopelessness I read in your eyes. You sat down, tried to smile but the mask cracked and you wept and you told the group that you had stage four cancer. That you had just come from seeing the doctor who told you to get your affairs in order.

You courageously tried to summon the brave part of you and declared that you were going to fight just like you had for the last four years. You told us that you weren’t supposed to have lived beyond six months when you got the first prognosis.  But then, in an almost inaudible whisper, you said you weren’t as confident this time.

You continued to come to the group – sometimes having to miss because of the fatigue and nausea from the treatments. But you continued to write. And then write more.

Writing became your devoted spiritual practice.  You were reaching in to find the voice that you privately tucked away in order to survive all those years ago. Buried deep within you were secrets and pain no-one would ever know about once you took your place on the stage as an internationally acclaimed composer, conductor, and performer and voice coach. And on top of that you donned a quick wit and wild sense of humour that could bring the house down equally as you much as when you were performing.

After 16 years of an illustrious career in Europe you returned home to Victoria to make your name here.

Of course, I tell myself you moved back so we could meet. How else could I have met you?  And had I not, it would have been a terrible loss in my life – to not know one who loves as deeply as you.

And at first sight I felt a sense of familiarity. I knew immediately our relationship would be more than teacher and student.  And later when the workshop was over and you asked to continue privately, of course, I said yes.  And so you did and began writing with a vengeance – telling stories of your life you never dared to tell before, memories purging out of you about people and events never revealed to another living soul. You were ready and felt safe enough to unburden, sister to sister, friend to friend, soul to soul. In fact, you were willing to tell it all until the suffering of the past would become stories of strength and heroism.

When your body became more and more frail, writing became your prayer, your way to God. And our visits became less about your book, and more about two people needing one another.  For me, it was to give all that I could to a friend whom I loved. For you, it was having me to hold you as you sobbed, when the terror took over…when you knew you had to surrender to this vicious beast that was devouring your body when more than anything else in the world, you wanted to live.  You had to, you said. You needed to leave your legacy…your book…what you now understood. If it were to help even one other person, you said that is all that mattered.

The book took a dramatic shift from teaching people how to sing – a user-friendly, `how to book` about what you have learned about the body and posture, vocal chords and breathing techniques and examples.  It was a book of the heart, daring to tell parts of your own story.  How as a child your own voice was stripped away bit by bit. It was a book about who you were and who you have become.

Your hand couldn’t move fast enough across the page in order to share how vital it was to speak your truth, reclaim your voice, your power, and ultimately your life. It felt like a desperate act. The longing was so great. And that’s how it ended. Sadly, that’s how it ended.

The curtain came down before the last chapter got written. Before the dream was ever realized.

I miss you, my friend. And I need to tell you, finally, I am sorry. I am so sorry for not being able to tell you back then why I couldn’t continue to see you. Why our private lessons had to end while you still needed me so.

The truth was, dear Deborah, I too was dying.  A different kind of death – but a death all the same.  The death of my spirit, my joie de’vivre, of all I knew of life, of friends and laughter and ocean walks and love and of meaningful work.  Instead the curse returned – the unrelenting suicidal ideation, anxiety and crippling depression – what I have come to call the torture chamber of my mind – part of my diagnosis of bi-polar affective disorder. This is when hope feels like the farthest thing from my truth.

Yet, how on earth could I tell you that! You, who were really dying…your body disappearing in front of me…how could I tell you then, that I too was dying in my own way. My dying was filled with shame…the kind that comes from the stigmas around this insidious, crippling disease. I learned at a young age to put on a tight mask so no-one would know I was suffering inside.

But now the mask was crumbling and I couldn’t let you see it. I don’t know what lame excuse I used. I only remember how you gasped, and swallowed tears, trying desperately to understand.

And the only other thing I remember is it split my heart open to tell you that … that it  made me sink into an even larger pit of self loathing – but I swear, Deborah, I didn’t have another ounce of energy to give anyone. I was barely getting myself out of bed then. It couldn’t have been worse timing.

And from that day, until now, even though we would see each other again, the guilt I have carried has been enormous. I know it is time to forgive myself – it is long overdue. I know you have forgiven me.

I just wish we had met as children and were best friends so we could have shared a life time together. But you know…every moment we did share, things we did together, things said and unsaid, were and will always be, precious to me.

Deborah, you made a magnificent impact on this earth. I hope you know that. You were so brave, and beautiful and talented and funny!

And you were such a gift to me. It has taken me this long to write. Is it a year? More?

Here I am typing on the very same computer where you put your fingers when we had our closure on the last day of our sacred writing circle. We were reading out the letters we had written, that expressed our appreciation for one another.

You waited to be last. Then you went to my computer and put on the Leonard Cohen song  “Dance Me To The End of Love”.  When it was over, you said, “Junie, this is my gift for you. This is what you do for us. You write us to the end of love.”

Now I am remembering our last time together. Our walk in Beacon Hill Park. It was a beautiful, glorious day. You told me you weren’t afraid any more. You told me that you had come to peace with your life. That you had been seeing a minister at your church and he has been helping.  I could feel all of that to be true. You truly had a peacefulness about you.  We made a plan to meet again in a few weeks after I returned from California.  You wanted me to come to your house and see Gaston again…your beautiful, fat, regal cat whom you adored.

I called you as soon as I got back to hear your voice, to confirm our meeting. Someone else answered your phone. I asked for you. She said, I’m so sorry to tell you, Deborah transitioned two days ago.  I put down the phone and I wept.

I knew you were looking forward to coaching the Getting Higher Choir at their performance at the Alex Goolden Hall. And I was told later that you did it. In fact, there was a video of that evening. I watched it and it was shocking to see you being held up, supported to get up the few steps onto the stage.  You were so ill. But one tenet you upheld to the very end is that the show must go on. And on it went.

You died the next day.

What a hero. I wonder if you were at your Celebration of Life. I hope so. And maybe it was good you were where you were, because there were no more seats left in the hall! That’s how loved you are! I hope you heard the choir as they lifted up their voices to the heavens to you. I was there and listened to dozens of people who came up and shared their personal adventures of you. Paid their tributes to you. Do you have any idea of how many lives you touched?

What an enormous life you led. How brave you were. How grateful I am to have known you, to have loved you.

Without a doubt in my heart, I know we will see each other again and will continue where we left off holding each other to the end of eternity, to the end of love.

God Bless you.

Junie

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20 Mar

HOW DO YOU SAY GOODBYE TO PARADISE?

Photos of Bowen Island - Featured Images
This photo of Bowen Island is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I awoke here this morning on my beautiful island…for one of the last times. I am feeling the letting go in me and it is painful today. I want to fully embrace the gifts that this island has given me and know how to leave with grace. Change is so quickly upon me now. I must remember that there is goodness waiting beyond here too.. and yet, this island has provided me the healthiest place I could imagine to heal, to rejoice, to dream, to grieve, to create, to hear myself think, to sing and dance out loud and to breathe myself Home again….’

I guess I have come full circle…just as the hippies of the 60’s & 70’s in our idealistic and heart-centred spirit of brotherhood, peace and love welcomed me to this fair land, each of you have done the same 30 years later.

And so it is not only the trees and the earth and the deer and the ocean and the mountains and unprecedented beauty of this island for which I give thanks. And for the ritual weekly walks with Carolyn on the sacred paths of Cape Roger Curtis or the hike to the top of Mt. Gardner with both Paul and Carolyn last week where each of us felt lifted between heaven and earth… It is also the so many, acts of kindness I have received since arriving here.

Last month after the snow fall, Alan de la Plante showed up, upon a moments notice, shovel in hand to dig my guests car out of the snow bank…and when offered genuine thanks, his only comment was, “Hey, no worries – just pay it forward…” These shall be among the memories I shall savor and revere for all my life and only hope that I too can pay it forward.

My experience has been the same at Toastmasters. I have felt welcomed from my very first day even with my sporadic visits. I can now boast to know the true meaning of the word that was chosen by last week’s grammarian… Community. I know what it’s like to be embraced by a place and the people in it.

How DOES one say goodbye to paradise?

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08 Mar

HOW DO YOU SAY GOODBYE TO PARADISE?

HOW DO YOU SAY GOODBYE TO PARADISE?

bowenBowen Island is one of my most cherished places in the world.
The following was written for a Toastmaster’s Meeting when I was leaving Bowen Island – a place I lived temporarily and will love forever.
Toastmaster’s Ice Breaker for March 13, 2002
Thank you Master Toastmaster, Good evening fellow Toastmasters and guests:

How do you say good bye to paradise?
As some of you learned, last week, I will soon be on a journey to Seoul, Korea to join my partner where we will teach English and travel to – at this point, unknown destinations. This isn’t all that new for me as I love adventure and love to travel – it’s just that I didn’t think I’d be doing it this way at this stage of my life for what could be an indefinite period of time.
So this fits into tonight’s theme of new beginnings –and what I wish to tell you about me. However, before we can enter into new beginnings, don’t we need to be complete with what is happening now? And that’s the hard part. Letting go of B.C. – Vancouver, and most recently, Bowen Island and what that has been for me.

It has been almost four years since I packed up my cats and my computer and headed west from Toronto. I was drawn to the west coast most of my life, from my first visit here in 1971 when I hitch-hiked with a friend across the country as a young hippie to visit my first boyfriend, Bo, who had since travelled India, became a bohemian Monk and landed on Texada Island.

Travelling across the prairies and into the Rockies for the first time, in the summer months when the sun cast its light and shadows onto the fields and mountains like a Chagall painting will always remain a highlight of my life. But nothing prepared me for the raw exquisite wilderness of Texada Island, where there were no roads and it took us over 3 hours in a jeep traversing the 20 or so kilometers of dense terrain, and what seemed like deep jungle, with deer running wild and then to finally meet up with my friend nestled upon a beach between two mountains hosting the most magnificent waterfall and breathtaking view of the Gulf Islands and Pacific Ocean. I thought I had landed in paradise. And in fact I had. Only my 20 year old spirit could not fully appreciate the subtleties of meditation and a raw food diet that was being offered to me – so I quickly fled paradise to seek out more adventurous turf and I found myself writing lyrics for a rock band in Vancouver at Oil Can Harry’s.

That summer was the one I would draw back from memory for years and years when I wanted to call up a time of unbridled creativity, synchronicity, and acceptance into community. That was the way I chose to remember it when I brought it up against a background of trying to fit into a traditional system that didn’t seem to have much use for poets and artists of which I wanted to believe I was one.
So for the entire decade of the 70’s I travelled to different cities and countries, appreciating the newness of each experience. And then in the 80’s, driven by traditional values, I set down roots, back in the town of my birth, and remained there for twenty years when the dream came back in full swing…and I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

I remember the day that I decided to move to Vancouver for good. Whilst visiting a friend on one of my numerous visits to the west coast, I found myself standing alone at dawn on Ambleside Beach in West Van and asked the question, “Well, Junie, are you just going to keep dreaming about moving here or are you actually going to do it?” I felt a resounding “YES” flood through my body and I knew in that moment there was no going back. And almost to the day one year later, –I set sail on the 401 in my old 1983 Beamer and parked it in the West End… next to Lost Lagoon and Stanley Park and I have felt home there ever since… up to and including when I discovered Bowen Island in a way that mattered.

I was drawn to this island just two months after arriving in Vancovuer and hearing about the labyrinth on Xenia. And in the pouring rain in November of 1998, my friend Alexi and I walked it and I remembered saying a prayer in my heart to one day know the people who created this beautiful refuge and place of protection. Last summer my prayer was answered. I brought a friend visiting from England to Bowen. We walked the lake and then wandered Xenia, looking for the lodge. Instead our wanderings brought us unwittingly to Angelyn , founder of Xenia, sitting outside her house relaxing and enjoying the sunshine and the quietude. There was an immediate heart connection that has remained ever since.

And just prior to that meeting, my dear friends from T.O, Paul and Carolyn came to Vancouver and the first place my partner Lee and I took them was to Bowen Island for a day trip. They surpassed us and now live on the island permanently and grace us here tonight and always, with their presence.

These trips to Bowen were feeling more and more special and I wanted to find a way to make it more permanent. So I will share with you the most significant and profound experience that truly anchored me here – which also happened last summer.

On July 25th, I performed in a play that I co-wrote called Madness, Masks and Miracles https://junieswadron.com/mental-health/madness-masks-and-miracles/ which was written to help dispel myths and stigmas about mental illness. It’s about the madness I think most of us go through at some time in our lives, the masks we wear to cover it over lest we be ostracized for it and the miracles that let us take off our masks and be real.

The morning of the play, a friend called me and told me the unfortunate news of the death of a Bowenite, Judith Mallet. Some of you may have known her. I never did, but was asked, just days prior to this, if I would visit with her because of the work I do as a psychotherapist, but more than that – because of my own bouts with clinical depression. It never happened. I never got to visit with her.

Angelyn who was in the audience of the play that night, asked if I would speak at Judith’s memorial. I told her that wouldn’t know what to say. Angelyn’s response was perfect. “You don’t need to know right now.”

It resonated with a truth inside of me and so I went. And in mysterious ways that one cannot explain, it was Judith’s death that brought me to Bowen Island that morning and led me to where I have spent the most gracious days since arriving in British Columbia. I saw the bulletin board on the ferry that I had never noticed before, which held the ad for the cottage where I currently live. Her transition from this life and this island signified a beginning of a new life for me.

And now it is my time to say goodbye as it is only a winter rental and a place I have used as a refuge after my 12 hour weekend shifts at a long term care residence for people in the Downtown Eastside. I often arrive on Mondays and feel the stress literally burn off of me as I crossed over the planks of the ferry that put me on this side.

Last September, when I signed the lease, Spring seemed like light years away. And now it is only days…and if I could stop the clock, somehow I would. Yesterday I sent an email to Lee in Seoul. It said,

“Good morning sweetheart…
I awoke here this morning on my beautiful island…for one of the last times. I am feeling the letting go in me and it is painful today. I want to fully embrace the gifts that this island has given me and know how to leave with grace. Change is so quickly upon me now. I must remember that there is goodness waiting beyond here too.. and yet, this island has provided me the healthiest place I could imagine to heal, to rejoice, to dream, to grieve, to create, to hear myself think, to sing and dance out loud and to breathe myself Home again….’

I guess I have come full circle…just as the hippies of the 60’s & 70’s in our idealistic and heart-centred spirit of brotherhood, peace and love welcomed me to this fair land, each of you have done the same 30 years later.

And so it is not only the trees and the earth and the deer and the ocean and the mountains and unprecedented beauty of this island for which I give thanks. And for the ritual weekly walks with Carolyn on the sacred paths of Cape Roger Curtis or the hike to the top of Mt. Gardner with both Paul and Carolyn last week where each of us felt lifted between heaven and earth… It is also the so many, acts of kindness I have received since arriving here.

Last month after the snow fall, Alan de la Plante showed up, upon a moments notice, shovel in hand to dig my guests car out of the snow bank…and when offered genuine thanks, his only comment was, “Hey, no worries – just pay it forward…” These shall be among the memories I shall savor and revere for all my life and only hope that I too can pay it forward.

My experience has been the same at Toastmasters. I have felt welcomed from my very first day even with my sporadic visits. I can now boast to know the true meaning of the word that was chosen by last week’s grammarian… Community. I know what it’s like to be embraced by a place and the people in it.

How DOES one say goodbye to paradise?

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08 Feb

Valentine’s Day is for Everyone!

Will you be my Valentine?

Come Celebrate Your Heart, Your Spirit and Your Love

on Sunday, February 10th from 2:30 – 5:30

By Feb. 14th, You Will Be A

Valentine Love-Magnet

$39.00 – Must Register because Space is Limited!

Call 250 – 385-2205

How do YOU feel about Valentine’s Day?

Do you celebrate it?

Do you detest it, hoping the day will soon be over?

Are you indifferent?

Well, indifferent, in favor or not, it’s here and Hallmark and consumerism have made Valentine’s Day into a Billion Dollar Day with cards, chocolates, flowers and jewelry for lovers across the world.

Yes, Valentine’s Day, no matter how it’s celebrated – isn’t lost for those in love.

But what if you’re single, or widowed or divorced? Do you feel left out? Or what if you’re in a relationship but it’s not feeling particularly loving these days? Do you just wish this day would hurry up and pass?

And where did this tradition come from in the first place?

Well, the history of Valentine’s Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. However, one legend that I like, goes like this – That sometime in the 3rd Century in Rome was a fierce and brutal emperor named Claudius the II. Claudius wanted to grow his army and he was having trouble getting married men to enlist. They were opposed to leaving their homes and going to war. Claudius, believed there was no room for sentimentally – he knew what it cost him in his personal life and on the battlefield. So he decided that single men would make better soldiers. So in keeping with his objective to have a prolific army of unattached, healthy young men, it only stands to reason that abolishing marriage would be the logical solution. So, he did.

He made a decree across the land forbidding men and women to enter into a marriage contract. Now smug and delighted with his seemingly brilliant solution, he went about building a large, fierce and obedient army.

Now, somewhere in the land, lived this kind and loving priest whose name of course, was, Valentine. Valentine believed in love, marriage, romance and holy blessed relationships. He saw Claudius’s law as preposterous and hideous and continued to marry couples in secret.

It’s not mentioned how long he managed to stay underground and do this, but one dark day, he was caught and thrown into prison and sentenced to death.

He seemed to take his fate fairly well, summoning up the love inside of him – knowing who he was – and pleased that he was able to use his life for what he truly believed in – and even helped to smuggle his newlyweds out of the country, where they’d be safe. And now, while in prison, waiting for the date of his execution, he received untold numbers of letters daily from people far and wide thanking him for believing in love and expressing their deep sorrow for his fate. Even one of the prison guards, obviously one with a gentle heart, allowed his daughter to come and visit with him regularly. Then it was told that on the day he was to die, which happened to be February 14th, of course, Valentine wrote a card thanking this young woman for her belief in love and for helping him to keep his own spirits up and then he signed it, “Love, from Your Valentine.”

Now, it’s understandable why we celebrate – over 2,000 years later, Valentine’s Day. It’s a tribute to continue to celebrate and honour the man who became a martyr and later a Saint – for his life and his message, which was to keep love alive. They may have killed the man, but they didn’t kill his spirit. And they never will, not just because the card and flower industries that support it won’t let it die – that may be one reason – on the surface — but I choose to believe it’s because of the deepening meaning from whence it came — and that is – that love can never die.

How can it when it’s inherently who we are! When we strip down beyond the layers of doubt, suspicion and beyond the layers of sadness, depression or lack of this or lack of that – all names for F.E.A.R. –under it all, we have our true divine nature– our spiritual nature – and that, unquestionably is LOVE.

Valentine’s Day helped me move beyond those fear words and beliefs that my mind sometimes loves to play with – the part that judges how I’ve handled certain relationships and their outcomes and move instead into the gentler places of myself – to feel and express those ones inwardly and out loud. The loving part of me! The loving Junie.

I have to say, there have been many years I’ve spent Valentine’s Day with a loving partner. In some cases, my partner would poo-poo V-Day because he took the stand that love is to be expressed every day – not when Hallmark says so. Me – being the unrelenting romantic that I am, would derive much joy filling his cup with home-made cards and bought ones and flowers and dinners and tons of affection – which of course, heightened our love even more. I’ve also had boyfriends who were as romantic as me and it was an equal loving exchange. And I have also been alone and miserable on V-Day or alone and feeling fabulous. I’ve experienced all of it.

My invitation to you is to make Valentine’s Day 2013 – no matter what your stand – with or without a partner – an opportunity to turn up your love!

Want to know a great way to begin? Write the most loving Valentine you can imagine. The kind that YOU would love to RECEIVE.

And here’s the catch…Write it to YOURSELF!

Kind of like this: Dearest Junie (substitute your own name – unless you want to write me one too:And keep going.

Write a love letter to yourself whereYOU are your own best friend, your own best lover.

At the same time, think of people in your life who put a smile on your face and send write them a card or note too.  

When you’re done, put them in an addressed envelope, including your own, put the stamps on, walk to the mailbox, look at every card, think of the person you are sending it to, blow them a kiss and send them on their way!  Trust me, it will make you feel like a million bucks.

And from me to you, my friend, may I be the first to say,

Will You Be My Valentine?

Love and only Love,

Junie

 

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08 Jan

Poem and Prayers for 2013

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed

when you listen to the news

and the reporters are broadcasting all

the despair that is happening in the world

I do!

Luckily, a friend sent me the solution and it’s just too groovy not to share.

Groovy? Yes! – No other word would do!

After you watch it, make sure you come back and read my poem and prayer and consider writing your own. Let’s create a poem prayer blog for the earth and for ourselves for 2013.

YouTube Video

 

BREATHING POSSIBILITIES

You can talk about yesterday
or talk about tomorrow
You can talk about the falling dollar
talk about your sorrow
You can talk about chemicals
and how they’re poisoning the earth
You can talk about how bad it is
and how it’s getting worse

Or you can take this moment
and softly close your eyes
Breathe a breath from deep within
and do not compromise
Take another and then another
and in the stillness feel
The wonder of this moment –
can this too be real?

Stay within the silence
and notice what you hear
Listen with your heart
and watch your fears all disappear

For in this very moment
a miracle is due
If you listen with your heart
there will be a message just for you.

A child is being born right now;
can you hear the sound of life
In a little church just down the way
vows are being made as man and wife

Somewhere on a hilltop
a traveler has found her way
And the dew upon the morning grass
has welcomed a brand new day.

Stay within this moment
for the miracle is here
There’s nothing that you need to do
nothing but be sincere

Life is bursting forth in every breath
And in the stillness find
A place to love, a place to join
with every heart and mind.

Rejoice for in this moment
you can send blessings near and far
Rejoice for in this moment
you are a living star
And every time you feel afraid
and wonder what to do
Come back to this one moment
and know the miracle is you.

Wishes and Prayers for 2013:

My Prayers For Humanity

I pray for unprecedented peace upon our planet. That the people of war put down their guns and go home.
I pray for conscious leadership and release from war. That the olive branch is extended to our brothers and sisters everywhere.
I pray for collective honouring of all beings through inspired voices of community
I pray for equitable redistribution of living resources and prosperity as our collective birth right.
I pray we hold each other in compassion and love.

A PRAYER OF INTENTION FOR MYSELF:

To live with gratitude

To maintain my sense of humour

To listen with kindness; to act with love

To live by inspiration and not in have-to’s and should’s

To let go of the past and all that no longer serves me

To offer my gifts with love and joy

And Always Remember to Dance!

The Ho’oponopono Prayer:

This is a very potent Hawaiian Prayer

to be used for yourself and humanity

I’m Sorry

Please Forgive Me

I Love You

Thank you

Happy New Year. God Bless You and
May All Your Dreams and Prayers Come True! 

Love, Junie

 

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12 Jul

Series of drop-in writing circles

DEAR FRIENDS! 


EXCITING NEWS!  I am offering Summer Drop-In Writing Circles 


My new repertoire includes an array of creative modalities such as music, movement, collage, field trips and theatre games which will bring you deeper into your writing experience.  


You will bring your insights and new awareness from these creative experiences into your writing.  The writing – in any form – prose, poetry, memoir, etc. can be enjoyed independently or applied to works already in progress. 


On Tuesdays, visual artist and facilitator, Susanne Dannenberg will be joining us. She will be bringing some of her inspiring collage materials to take us deeper on our creative journey. 

More info on Susanne, her art and workshops can be found at:  www.artaccess.ca


Fees $20 per session or $95.00 for a series of 10.  


We offer a sliding scale discount from there down to $12 per session as needed.  Plus please bring a toonie on Tuesdays for art supplies.


Come on any of these days below, but space is limited to eight people so please call or email me to secure your spot.


Sessions will begin the week of July 23th, on the following days and times:

Day Time
Monday 2:30 – 5:00
Tuesday 2:30 – 5:00
Wednesday 10:30 – 1:00
Thursday 6:30 – 9:00

Give yourself the gift of this creative writing smorgasbord where you will

be encouraged to colour outside the lines. Crayons Provided!  J


We are looking forward to having you join us.

 

Junie

250-385-2205   junieswadron@gmail.com


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12 Jun

Please Join me on Cortes Island

 

Summer Soul-stice Weekend Writing Retreat
June 21st – 25th 2012

Thursday, June 21st 7 p.m.

Junie reading from my book  RE-WRITE YOUR LIFE A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Our Lives

Location: Pioneer Room at Manson’s Hall

Cost: FREE

Workshop Location: Diane and Andrew’s Place 1051 Seaford Road in Manson’s

Workshop

Re-Write Your Life

For full details Click Here

Friday June 22nd – 6:30 – 9:30

Saturday, June 23rd – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sliding Scale – $90.00 – $200.00

Workshop

Author Support Group

with Special Guest Speaker Julie Salisbury of Influence Publishing

Sunday, June 24th – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Full details Click Here

Julie Salisbury will be speaking about how to get your book published and
answering all your questions about the next step.www.influencepublishing.com

Sliding Scale $75.00 – $150.00

Special Package Price for Friday, Saturday & Sunday $150.00- $325.00

Private Coaching & Divination Readings

Monday, June 25th by appointment only

For More Information about All Courses, Coaching and Divination Readings

OR Call Diane on Cortez 250-935-6647

http://www.cortesisland.com/tideline/

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11 Jun

DANCE & STOMP OUT STIGMA PARTY for Mental Health!

Saturday, June 30th , 2012
Church of Truth 111 Superior St. James Bay Victoria

FUN – D – RAISER

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
– Helen Keller-

Academy for creative and healing arts for people with metnal challenges

Creativity is the opening for the human heart to meld pain and anguish then convert it into brilliant works of art. When we lose our impulse to create, something inside us slowly begins to die. People with mental health challenges often lose this part of them when their illness takes hold.

Mine did for many years. I was diagnosed with bi-polar illness when I was 19. You can read part of my story if you click here.

Please join the hundreds already on board in Victoria to create our Vision of a Healing Centre where we use creativity to transform Mental ”Illness” into Mental HEALTH!

JUNE 30TH, 2012
CHURCH OF TRUTH

6:45 Doors Open
7:00 Stimulating conversation with Junie Swadron about ACHA
and guest speakers: Bi-Polar Babe Andrea Paquette and Blair Finnie, Organizer of The Mental Health Freedom Conference
8:15 Dance The Night Away

Tell Everyone You Know! – Best Party In Town!
Tweet It! FaceBook It! Shout if from the Rooftops!

LETS DANCE & STOMP OUT STIGMA ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS FOR GOOD!

Suggested Donation $18.00 or whatever you can afford
In Hebrew, the number 18 means Life

L`Chaim – To Life!

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia  AND towards establishing The Academy for Creative and Healing Arts for People with Mental Health Challenges

Click here to learn more about A.C.H.A.

Madness, Masks and Miracles

A Play to Dispel Myths and Stigmas

about Mental Illness

Co-written by June Swadron and Victoria Maxwell

DVD of the Premiere Performance of
MADNESS, MASKS & MIRACLES

for The World Assembly for Mental Health
at The Vancouver Conference Centre

IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!

DVD

Track 1: Junie’s Story – with Brock Tully Hosting
Track 2 – Live Performance of Madness, Masks and Miracles
Track 3 – Talk Back – (conversation) with the audience

$39.00

(special evening price – regularly $49.00 + $10.00 shipping)

Copies available for purchase at June 30th Dance & Stomp Out Stigma Party …and you won`t have to pay shipping charges!

 

For more information about the play Click Here

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05 Apr

Write Yourself Home One Day Writing Retreat

A Fun & Profound One-Day Writing Retreat

Do you think you can’t write? Well, you can!

Do you think your negative beliefs and attitudes toward writing
can’t change in a few hours? Yes, they can!

Do you think life affirming transformation can’t happen in a day?
Yes, it can!

Come, let me show you how to come home to your heart through the joy
of writing.

Writing has the power to stop time, cut through the extraneous and take us
home to our heart. This absolutely fun experience will engage the writer within
and may surprise you by eliciting prose, poetry, song lyrics or simply stream of
consciousness writing in “no apparent form”. You will learn the fundamentals of
moving past the head and into the heart of writing.

You will be led gently into story and into the soul’s inner landscape where
clarity, creativity, passion, originality and truth are revealed. With
encouragement, safety and the freedom to jump in, you will open to the joy of
where writing can take you.

The sweet whisperings of your soul meet you on the page and something shifts.
You strengthen. You begin to stand taller and one day you notice that your voice
on the page has become your voice in the world.
For those who have never experienced my 8-week writing workshops called,
Sacred  Writing Circles, also known as “Write Where You Are” or Re-Write Your Life, this will give you an excellent opportunity to be introduced to the experience.

 

“When I arrived here I was completely stuck. I felt self-conscious,
worried, couldn’t even think about reading out loud to the group. By the time I
left at the end of the day, words were pouring onto the paper like years of
uncried tears. I read out loud to the group and felt proud of the things I had
written after it was received so warmly by the group. What a personal
transformation in 1 day!”

Gillian Pierson

Saturday, April 7, 2012
Time:  9:30am – 5pm

Location:

Church of Truth
Community of Conscious Living
111 Superior Street
Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1T3

Cost: $125

SEE YOU THERE!!

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29 Dec

2012 – BRAND NEW BEGINNINGS AND YOU!

Welcome to the dawning of 2012 – the end of the Mayan calendar, a time of new global beginnings. Some talk about it as a time of ascended consciousness – a time where humanity is being called to wake up to how precious our planet and each of its inhabitants are to take responsible action to restore balance, harmony and equality.

Some fear we will see more wars, planetary catastrophes and the ending of political and social structures as we know them. They question what that could mean to them personally, to their families and communities.

Others are excited about new possibilities and potentialities of a more humane world and the unlimited creative opportunities that can come as a result of auspicious imminent change.

One thing is for certain, no-one really knows what is to come. Uncertainty has been said to be one of the greatest causes for people to become fearful. Yet there is a way of reframing uncertainty that, when we apply it, we see within its very framework the seeds of safety and a sense of all being as it should be.

It is when we allow the mystery of life to unfold and watch it as a child might with curiousity and wonder that we feel more at peace. From this place, rather than getting caught up by “the news of the day” that seduces us into fear, we take our direction from our inner compass that guides us safely to our next step. A compass that shines light on compassion, understanding and optimistic outcomes.

This is a big leap for people who are used to making decisions on the spot, often knee-jerk reactions to life’s circumstances, rather than observing, reflecting and then responding with discernment.

Although our ego likes to trick us into believing it knows the answer and wants to take control, peace ultimately comes from surrender, letting go and allowing God or Universal Intelligence to be our guide. Every moment is an opportunity to remember to breathe, be still and ask inside for guidance.

I know when I do this, a peace washes over me. My challenge doesn’t come from not believing it will help, it comes from not remembering to do it. One way that helps me is to include this surrender in my morning journaling practice. When I do, I often feel an immediate tingling course through my body telling me I am being heard … and I give thanks.

TIPS FOR TODAY
GET OFF THE TREADMILL AND B R E A T H E

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

If this also describes you, would you like to join me in a self-honouring practice? If so, let’s begin 2012 by stepping off the treadmill and feeding our souls with what is precious to us.

For me, rather than leaping out of bed to the first “to do” of the day, I envision myself beginning each morning in quiet reflection. Whether it be meditation, reading passages from books that inspire me, journal writing or a walk in nature, doing this will be giving myself the greatest gift I could receive. By filling my soul’s longing for connection with the Divine, I enter my day with renewed vitality and an open heart, receptive to my surroundings and all who become part of the day’s tapestry.

Why don’t we do this together. Apparently it takes 21 days to create a habit. Would you like to take up a 21-day challenge of beginning each day with an hour of spiritual practice? Write me in the comment section below and let me know how you are doing.

CREATIVE EXPRESSION – SAY YES!

2012 is a blank slate ready to be filled by your highest dreams and aspirations.
What could possibly be a better time than now to listen to your hearts desires, to feed the yearnings of your soul?

Whatever it is, just SAY YES!

“Eat. Drink. Sleep. Write. Repeat. OR
Or Eat. Drink Sleep. Sing, Dance, Paint, Join a club, Create Music, Repeat.

Whatever feeds your creative impulse, follow it. And repeat! Make it part of your lifestyle. Be like that curious, adventurous and free spirited child. Spread out those toys across the floor. See what they look like upside down, sideways and coloured right off the page! Oh, you have work to do, you say? Can’t put those crayons down? Oh well. ?

…However…Perhaps you are one of these people who have an abundance of energy and creative projects in mind but too many options keep you from doing any of them. OR perhaps you have lost sight of your creative aspirations.

For those of you who need to focus and those who have lost touch with your creative dreams, UNLEASH YOUR PASSION, CREATIVITY AND HIGHEST POTENTIAL is a set of 3 meditations on one CD that will help bring your creative dreams alive and set you on a new course of action. Available here

“I thought I had lost my dreams after my husband died. Since listening to June’s meditations on a regular basis, I have a new found sense of well-being inside me and I have begun painting again … something I thought I lost decades ago.”
Mary Chambers

Are you ready to dream big and watch your dreams become manifest? I am!

ACHA – ACADEMY FOR CREATIVE AND HEALING ARTS!

The premiere showing of Madness, Masks and Miracles at the Victoria Truth Centre on December 11th was a brilliant success. Thank you to the volunteers who made it possible and to Sally Glover who hosted the event.

There was a full house and it was the first public discussion about ACHA – Academy for Creative and Healing Arts.

This is my dream! My Vision. Please join the hundreds who are already dreaming it with me. Let’s make it thousands and make this dream a 2012 Reality. A Dream Whose Time Has Come!

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21 Nov

Creativity Transforms Mental Illness into Mental Health

Victoria Premiere Screening of Madness, Masks and Miracles
followed by a discussion

Sunday, December 11, 2011 6:45 p.m.
Truth Centre, 1201 Fort Street, Victoria, BC

Join June Swadron, Victoria writer, actor, playwright, psychotherapist and author of Re-Write Your Life, in an evening of exploring the link between creative expression and wellness for people living with a mental illness. Continue Reading

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11 Sep

Writing Through the Darkness – Reflections on 9/11

Do you remember where you were?

In my last newsletter, the tip I offered was to buy yourself a special journal.

Today, being the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I’m going to share some personal entries that I wrote in my journal on September 11th, 2001.

I had set that day aside to write an article for Vancouver’s Common Ground magazine. The theme for October was WRITING and the deadline was approaching fast.

I believe what you will read below will demonstrate the reliable and undeniable value of putting pen to paper when your heart is flooded with emotion.

“If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both – you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” –Ray Bradbury

Journal Entry…

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

I woke up with good intentions today to write an article about how writing can be used as a profound therapeutic tool—how it can help us move from pain to catharsis. It’s something I know well. I’ve been using writing to help me work things out since I was given my first diary at age 8. Over four decades ago, journaling wasn’t in vogue like it is today, so I learned of its value through usage. Also, I have been eyewitness to the many transformations borne out of this medium through facilitating creative/cathartic writing groups for over 10 years. I also frequently use it as a relevant tool with my psychotherapy clients. It’s a subject I know well and feel confident to write about. Not today.

Instead I have spent this day like thousands of others—in shock. I woke early this morning—day eleven on my newly acquired piece of paradise—in a cottage set in the spacious woods of Bowen Island and overlooking the gulf islands, mountains and ocean.

In these several days I have watched eagles flying gracefully over my home, herons resting on my dock; earlier today, a hummingbird came to visit my hanging geranium and a bluebird began singing to me from the fir tree next to my bedroom window.

And from this peace and paradise, still I woke with a heavy heart. I wasn’t sure of its origin but knew I needed to connect with someone—someone very close to me. I called my friend Dale who instantly and sensitively revealed to me what was going. I let the tears flow as she described the gruesome details. The very next thing I did was e-mail my partner, who just a week ago, flew to Korea, to take a contract there. I needed to tell him of my horror and how grateful I am that he has landed safely and is not on a plane en route. I spent the rest of the day in silent prayer, grief, fury and questioning God. Why? But I haven’t heard any answers. And so I didn’t come to the computer to write that article, which has a close deadline, and I’m not writing it now—at least not the way I thought I would. Instead I do what I do when I need to release. I write what is there in front of me—I simply tell the truth…

I was on my dock a little while ago. I took a candle and the meditation prayer that was e-mailed to me earlier in the day by the people who put on the Prophet’s Conference. They asked that we join them in a unified prayer—to pray for those who passed on, for their families and friends and for us all upon earth; to pray for those who orchestrated this event, so that they are filled with peace instead of fear and anger and to pray for the politicians—that they act from divine wisdom and not revenge. This is a time to move away from blame and seek to understand cause. Caesar, my black cat and the most affectionate and wise creature I have ever known, followed me down to the dock to bring his energy into the fold. Together we meditated for world peace.

I don’t think I wanted to blame. I wanted to help—to make a contribution to the lives of those who are suffering. Here I am in this incredible God given sanctuary while at the very same time, thousands of people have just died, perhaps are still dying—being buried under rubble—and thousands of families and friends of these people are in grief and disbelief.

I remembered years ago during the Gulf War how isolated I felt—how alone while watching television from my living room and watching bombs flying through the air ready to land on who knows what target. A decade earlier I had spent the year in Israel, arriving there during the Yom Kippur War. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do something now, today. I called people to hold a vigil at my house at sundown. They will arrive shortly. Perhaps our unified prayers will help. They will help me, I know.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

A week has passed since I originally came to my computer to write about writing. I have been unable to until now. I have been involved with my world—walking around numb, anxious, strong, vulnerable, and above all, once again grateful to feel – to be alive. I have been e-mailing back and forth to many friends. I have been the recipient of dozens of e-mails sent by spiritual leaders. Each message holds the same Divine Truth—we must elevate our energy to our highest self at this time—and not be seduced into fear.

And these writings and my own journal have once again, served as my best friend. My partner and I are 15 hours apart and thousands of miles away and we can’t speak in real time very often. My journal is there right now, when I need it—a constant and reliable companion. It plays witness to my tears, remorse, anguish, uncertainly, and to my gratitude. It has seen it all. It judges nothing. How does it work? It works because I tell the truth. It works because I release what needs expression.

Sometimes I think it’s too simple. But then I realize that’s exactly why it’s so powerful. Writing from where we are right now puts us in the state of being authentic, which frees the energy to move. It is liberating to express ourselves. It is a letting go process that allows us to breathe ourselves back home.

As we spill onto the pages what is pertinent in the moment, neither embellishing, nor denying, simply stating it the way it is, we free ourselves from confusion and false voices. We may be flooded with emotion as we impart our truth onto the page—sadness, grief, rage, excitement, love, joy. Allow it all to unfold, to gently come forth. Don’t force it—it’s there. You needn’t strive—it’s there. Just allow the words to come. Don’t judge. Don’t go into your head and say this sounds too awful, this doesn’t make sense, what if someone sees it; just write. Edit later if you must. But for now, just be kind to yourself and do not stop the flow. Do it that way and you’ll be astounded by the results. It’s the energy of now that carries the might. Even when you’re writing about something that happened twenty years ago—it’s your relationship to it at this very moment that matters. And your writing will show you what matters even when you yourself are not sure because the truth will always emerge as you ask your ego to step out of the way.

I believe each of us needs a private place where we can express ourselves without censorship, without judgment, without someone telling us it’s wrong, impolite, unforgiving or anything else. Each of us needs somewhere to state our truth at any given moment and know it’s completely safe to do so. And to express the written word without fear of doing it wrong—a place to put all the old grammar books away.

Still the most common element I have seen over the years in my writing classes is the lack of confidence people have in themselves. Their fear of doing it wrong and saying it wrong surfaces again and again. They qualify their writing.—“Well, I was tired, so I don’t really think it’s very good.” “I was confused and…” or “I had a terrible day today and…” Then they are encouraged to read it anyway, and are often astounded by what they wrote. So if you find yourself criticizing yourself, don’t get discouraged. It’s normal. Just keep your pen moving across the page. Eventually you won’t care if it’s good or bad, right or wrong, you will just write. You will stop being attached to the outcome. You simply write. And that’s when it becomes a meditation. That’s when it becomes a way of life. That’s when it becomes as natural as getting up and brushing your teeth. And when writing is that for you, you will notice a shift in your life. You will notice that things are working out better. You will observe that the voice on the page becomes your voice in the world. Even if you change your mind about what you say a few days later and a new truth emerges, that’s okay. In fact, that’s what happens when we write from our authenticity. The truth sets us free. We move the energy around instead of staying stuck in it. We find a healthier, newer way to relate to the situation. Clarity emerges. Life energy emerges. Strength, confidence and self-love emerge and as you continue to write, you will begin to achieve things that you never thought possible. Your journals can and will be the starting-off point to poems, plays, song lyrics whatever. But mostly you will have your voice. And that… is worth every word.”

And ten years later, my journal is still my best friend. I never know what will emerge on the page. But what I do know is when I allow myself to go naked, my soul feels reborn.

Please do not miss the opportunity of joining me and like-minded others on Saturday September 17th, for a fabulous one-day writing retreat! BY DONATION.

More info at
Write Yourself Home

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29 Aug

Time for New Beginnings

Once again it’s almost fall and time for brand new beginnings.

I remember when I was a young teen in Toronto, the summer holidays seemed long and the hot, humid days felt almost interminable. My friends and I hung out in the park under the shade of the chestnut trees listening to our transistor radios. Later we’d check out the latest LPs or 45s—am I’m dating myself or what!—at Tommy Common’s Record Store and then we were off to Puppy Palace on Bathurst Street for cherry cokes and root beer. Oh how innocent we were!

Eventually summer came to an end and the day after Labour Day was the first day of school.

My most exciting memory of returning to school was when I had graduated from Public School to Junior High School. Instead of one classroom and one teacher all day long, we changed classes every 40 minutes and had different teachers for every subject. We were even given our very own lockers. Now that was cool!

I did very well that year. The best subject for me was English composition. I loved writing creative stories and I was lucky enough to have a teacher, Miss Gola, who encouraged me. She was one of the first teachers ever who complimented me on my writing and made me feel as though I could write. She gave me the confidence to keep exploring this medium which set me on a writing path that I could never have known back then.

Many people have not been so lucky. They had teachers who criticized their creative efforts, destroying their belief that they could ever write. Did you know that Mark Twain said, “If we taught our children to speak the way we teach them to write, everyone would stutter”. How painfully true that is. I hope today teachers help inspire and nurture the creative process in their students.

For 20 years now I have had the privilege of being a “Miss Gola” to countless people. Some were disheartened early in life and had let their creative dreams die in those darkened classrooms. I live in gratitude for having the privilege of watching people’s lives transform while they re-discover their voice on the page and their voice on the page soon becomes their voice in the world.

May this fall and all your new beginnings be blessed with the innocence, wonder and joyous spirit of a young child. Dare to explore wherever your heart leads you.

All blessings,
Junie

 

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14 Jul

Ready To Transform Your Life?

Have you ever considered writing your life stories but then have stopped yourself because there are things you’d just rather not remember let alone write about?

What if there was a way of returning to those same stories that when you thought of them, you felt empowered rather than disturbed? A way that would transform how you felt about yourself as well as certain people and events from your past?

Read More

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