12 Oct

A RAW AND DEEPLY HONEST RESPONSE TO THE WAR IN ISRAEL

A RAW AND DEEPLY HONEST RESPONSE
TO THE WAR IN ISRAEL

Content Warning: This blog post delves into sensitive topics like mental health, suicide, eating disorders, sexual and religious violence, religious conflicts, and war. Please read with discretion and with self-care in mind.

Dear Friends,

This is what poured out of me on October 8th at 3:45 a.m., the morning after hearing that Israel was at War. It has a lot of personal information about me – my relationship with Israel, my relationship with all people, and my firm commitment to participate as a humanitarian in my mission for peace. It is my intention that what comes from my heart is delivered directly into your heart as well and that together we can unite to build a world of peace, love, and harmony, instead of divisiveness and polarization.

This is my invitation to join me and other peace-makers in the world to unite in the power of Love. In the power of Goodness, Compassion, and in the likeness of God. And let us remember that Love is not passive. Love is a verb. It means taking positive action in whatever ways your heart calls you to act. Perhaps it’s simply calling one person today to tell them that you love them or just being still while actively praying for peace for all peoples. All acts of love are worthy and their ripple effects can move mountains.

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
There is a field. I’ll meet you there
.

~ Rumi

Saturday, October 7th, 2023

SHOCKING NEWS “ISRAEL IS AT WAR” 3:45 a.m.

When my friend sent me an email saying she was praying for everyone in Israel, I wondered what she was talking about. I Googled, I read, I watched, and I was horrified. I contacted my beloved niece, Rachel, to find out if her children who live there are safe. She said that they were in the north and yes, they were safe. I can’t help wondering, is anyone safe in that country? Is anyone safe anywhere?

The world has gone crazy. I don’t usually pay attention to the news – not in an active way. I am informed about it from some of my friends who have their eyes on the pulse and are actively involved. My sensitive nervous system keeps me traumatized after one newsreel. Yet today, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from clicking on the video of the Hamas terrorist attacks and now I can’t sleep. I can’t get the images out of my mind. Nor what I’ve been reading ever since.

Thank God I received Marianne Williamson’s and Maria Shriver’s Facebook posts – voices of sanity, acknowledging the despair, grief and horror I feel within my own soul. Their grief and horror is my grief and horror – it’s our collective grief for humanity. And it’s OK to weep beyond politics, beyond right and wrong, but instead for the hearts of every human being affected by the atrocities of war. As well as each and every human being who is walking around not knowing where to turn and asking, pleading to know what is going on with our planet, who can we trust, and where do we go from here. And how can those of us who have made it our life’s work to uphold the light, to be the eye in the storm, to find and spread peace in the chaos, do it? How do I do it when I am crumbling from the horror, shame, shock, and disgrace of it all?

I remember only too well the brutal surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur in 1973 and then, only a few weeks later, I was walking the streets of The Holy Land. For many years since then, I’ve questioned how far that country has moved from a holy land to where power and control are the gods some of the politicians worship. I was 24 years old when I agreed to volunteer on a kibbutz in whatever capacity they needed me. That was exactly 50 years ago!

I had been in Israel a few years prior to that. I travelled there because I wasn’t ready to come home from London where I had been living for six months. It was here that I experienced the demise of my friendship with my very best friend who I met in grade 2. When Suki and I had originally made our plans to travel Europe together, it was with great excitement and promise. We started dreaming about it when we were in our young teens. Our prime motivation was to get away from the dysfunction and turmoil in our homes. Well, that was my main motivation. The fact that I was, and still am, an adventurer at heart made it even more appealing.

We set out in mid-September of 1969 on a student ship to sail across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Southampton, England. That was to be our first stop on our adventure throughout Europe. That didn’t happen. One month before leaving, I was brutally raped by a stranger who I met in Yorkville, Toronto. Just prior to that I ended my engagement to Freddy. And then it got even worse. My very best friend and I had our first and only fight since we met as children and still hadn’t resolved it by the time we stepped upon the ship that was going to take us far away from home. The tension grew and we never got beyond it. We parted ways in London seven months later.

It was all too much for me but there was no way I was going back to Toronto alone, depressed, and so very frightened. I went to Israel instead, hoping that having another focus while working on a kibbutz and honouring my Jewish faith would help me with the grief, shame and pain I was consumed with every day.

Instead, it turned to heightened anxiety which turned into clinical depression which turned into catatonia, and then, in my deep despair I made a suicide attempt and the people at the kibbutz sent me home.

My parents walked right past me at the airport. They didn’t recognize me. I had gained 60 pounds. I left Toronto weighing 110. I was now 170 pounds only a year later. I turned to food for instant comfort and as the pounds on my body escalated so did my depression and self-hatred. The people on the kibbutz were wonderful to me. They could see how unhappy I was and tried their best to comfort me…until it was too late. I left the kerosene heater on in my room during a thunderstorm while my roommates were away, completely aware of the danger. When they found me unconscious, they put me on a plane home the next day.

I always knew I’d come back to Israel to return the kindness and to explore the land, and so when the Yom Kippur war broke out, I attended a meeting at the Zionist Centre in Toronto where they were adamantly asking for volunteers to go and work on the kibbutzim because all the men and women in the military were fighting the war – even those in reserves were deployed. I didn’t think twice. I signed up. It was the only time I ever saw my father cry. Now, four years after my first experience when I was hopelessly depressed and suicidal, now I was stable. I was at University and I felt like I had a promising future. I knew that the university would be there when I returned. Now I was going to go help where my heart was being called.

Fast forward to today. Israel is at war. I was with two friends tonight for Thanksgiving dinner. I was the informant about what happened this morning. Neither of them had heard the news. Mayim has many relatives who survived the holocaust living in Israel. I have friends and family living there too.

Recently I felt chastised by some people because I am not involved in politics the way they are. They are actively involved and I highly respect them. I am on the front lines in my own way. Trying to uphold the Light and offering my gifts of service and healing in my thirty year career as as psychologist and mental health advocate as well as in my personal life with whomever shows up in front of me. It doesn’t take much to know where to offer our compassionate hearts.

One thing that has had me at war within my own soul for many years now has been the way the Israeli government has been treating the Palestinians. I simply cannot get behind it. An eye for an eye instead of recognizing that both sides are made up of human beings just trying to live their life in peace and harmony.

When I was living there during the Yom Kippur War, there was a terrorist attack on a children’s school in Kiryat Shmona. Eighteen people were killed, both children and teachers.

After that, in the wake of the current war, the country put out a referendum about the death penalty for any captured terrorists. There was an overriding NO – even though a majority of the settlers of the State of Israel were survivors of the Holocaust, even though thousands of deaths happened during the current war, the majority of the country denounced Capital Punishment. It is a very different climate today.

I have family and friends who live in Israel and I have a strong visceral love affair with that country and my people. I want Israel to survive and thrive with all my heart and soul and that includes all citizens of Israel. That means that I also want the innocent people of Palestine to not just survive but thrive in peace and harmony. To be free to come and go and for the two nations to live side-by-side in peace. Historically they did.  No one wins in war. They never have and they never will. Never.

Decades ago as a young woman, had I been visiting an Arab country while I was clinically depressed and they were the ones who treated me with kindness and then later were reaching out for help, I wouldn’t have hesitated. I would have gone there. Dare I say that out loud? Will I be chastised, even ostracized by my Jewish friends, my family, and all Zionists worldwide? Dare I speak up? Trust me, I am doing it but I am also afraid of losing the love and respect from people I deeply love and care about. Yet, in being in integrity with myself, I am called to speak out and face any consequences that come as a result of it.

The thing is, I have always been someone who embraces all people. I am inclusive – if you are kind, decent and a good person, I want to know you. I do not discriminate by colour, religion, creed or nationality. I spent a good part of the 60’s and 70’s taking part in peace marches and rallies. I do not belong to a synagogue or any other organized religion,  although I was a member of a non-denominational community for many years and it was like a home away from home. They had a leaderless service…where anyone in the community could be the speaker. I spoke there many times and appreciated the warmth, camaraderie, creativity, and companionship I felt. Then Covid happened and no one went anywhere. Soon, I moved out of that area and married a non-Jewish man just 13 months ago who is a steadfast believer in God. We had a banner, that we hung from the chuppah at our wedding that said, “Our Religion is Kindness.” Just for the record, I have also attended the Reform, Conservative and Orthadox synagoes where I live and the rabbis and the congregations are awesome, beautiful people. I stand in solidarity with Israel. I stand in solidarity for all humankind.

Tonight when I came home I was exhausted and fell asleep quickly. I woke up in the middle of the night only to find that David was not in bed beside me. I went into the living room where he was standing by the sofa and next to tears. He said “I can’t believe what’s happening in Israel.” I couldn’t answer. I had no words. We fell into each other’s arms. David was trying to hold back his tears. Me, I simply don’t cry. I wish I did. I wish I could.

In the last two weeks, David and I have been in deep grief because of the deaths of six people close to us who have died. It seemed like everyday someone else we knew died suddenly, either people who were not sick at all, or others who we knew were ill but didn’t think the end of their lives was imminent. Each death has been shocking and after a while I couldn’t rationalize it with the usual jargon, “We all are going to die – and we don’t really die. Our souls live on.” Even if I trust this to be true, it doesn’t mask the pain, grief, and sorrow that comes with the human experience when we lose people we love.

There were many times this past year when I wondered if I would live. The cancer had grown bigger, the pain excruciating, my bowels and digestive system were completely dysregulated and I had no energy to speak of. I got winded even trying to walk up one flight of stairs. I had trips 5 days a week to the cancer clinic for radiation, would come home and flop into bed. The treatments stopped only 2 months ago. I am losing my hair at a rapid rate and my energy levels are tentative at best. Yet, on a very positive note, the cancer is not detected anywhere in my body – what I am experiencing are side effects from the treatment that will eventually all dissapate. Although according to my oncologist – he said, “Junie, you are still not out of the woods. Even though the cancer was localized and the MRI report says ‘no cancer’, it is too soon to tell. There are lymph nodes of concern – even though they are smaller than they were. Don’t start celebrating yet.” He was also the one who told me I might want to consider MAID (Medical Aid in Dying) the very first time I ever met him. Luckily, I do not take his negative attitude as gospel and trust I am healing beautifully. I have also been blessed by the love and my husband, family and friends through this challening time and that goes a very long way!

Yet today, right now, I’m tired, I’m weary and even though I’m the Re-Write Your Life person (who just published my book, Re-Write Your Life II: Peace Awaits You, a week ago),  it may be a while before I re-write the story of the despair and anguish that is coursing through my body because of the unprecedented madness in Israel, Ukraine and Russia, and in the wider world. I know it’s good to feel it. I have no intention of stuffing it. I just wish I could cry.

Today is October 10th. And three days after I wrote the above missive. The last three days have been Thanksgiving here in Canada. David and I acknowledge every day, not just this weekend, how much we have to be thankful for. We never take the beauty of where we live and to be alive, for granted. Nor all the support and friendship and love we both experience from friends and family. We both do our best to bring love and kindness to the world in whatever ways we can and we both stand up for justice for all.

I used to be a court reporter at City Hall for seven years when I lived in Toronto. I was not cut out for that job. It is not my nature to be in an adversarial environment day in and day out. Especially without any say in the matter…simply being told to record verbatim what is being said. I stayed because it paid my tuition at higher learning institutions to become a psychotherapist. Still, I often left the courtroom and wept because of some of the injustices I witnessed within the justice system.

Years before that, in the 70’s I lived in Montreal and wrote for a Horoscope magazine. I knew nothing about horoscopes or the zodiac but I could write. So I wrote day-by-day forecasts for each of the 12 signs for each month. I made them up. But I didn’t feel out of integrity because I also took home a pile of letters almost every day from people who were writing into this horoscope magazine. The owners of the publication would open the envelopes and see if there was any money in them (often people would put in a cheque or a twenty dollar bill) and then discard the letters because there were too many to answer. I took it upon myself to take the letters home and write to these people. Some were writing the most awful things that were happening to them and were looking to a fake horoscope magazine to get answers. I was saying, “I don’t care if your moon isn’t in conjunction with Pluto, get out of that abusive relationship.” I was fired about a year later when I refused to implant negativity into the forecasts. I knew about self-fulling prophecy and I wasn’t going to contribute to something potentially harmful even with the boss’s threats to let me go. It was my way of contributing to the right action even if it cost me my job, and it did.

Also, during that time in Montreal, I was living with my French-Canadian boyfriend. It was at the height of the Quebec referendum and my boyfriend and his friends were separatists. I quickly learned that speaking English and being Jewish was not in my favour. I went through a terrible time because I didn’t speak French and was also being discriminated against because I was a Jew. His friends were very political and at the time the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) was the terrorist group who were trying to obliterate Israel. His friends were very knowledgeable about who was doing what to whom and they tried to have a debate with me every time we were together. They had me over a barrel. I didn’t keep track of the up-to-the-minute blow-by-blow disputes. I felt powerless to fight facts. Instead I relied on my heart. Even Michel’s mom gave us a wooden ashtray with a swastika carved on it from a pin or a nail. When I asked him if he thought she was aware of that, he replied that it was probably her who did it. I was experiencing anti-semitism in a big way.

I had already experienced anti-semitism as a child a number of times including seeing my brother come home with a bloody nose time and again from bullies calling him a dirty Jew. There was another incident when I was only a child of eight where I witnessed in horror from the back seat of my mom’s convertible, a French farmer running out of his field in Quebec and slug my mother on the back of her neck while she was getting into the car and scream in French, “Dirty Jew”. We had been parked on his property to go and get an ice cream cone at the variety store up the street. And now I was 27, living in Montreal, and experiencing that kind of prejudice all over again.

So, what did I do in the wake of living with a boyfriend who I truly loved but his friends and family were so against me? I did what my heart encouraged me to do. It wasn’t easy, but I did it anyway. I spoke with every one of Michel’s separatist friends in a way that connected us to our personal humanity. I listened to their stories – of how they felt discriminated against. I listened to how they felt their language and culture were being threatened. I shared that as a Jewish person, I understood very well what discrimination and persecution felt like and I told them I was so sorry about what they were experiencing. Apparently I was the first Jewish person they had ever known on a one-on-one basis. They had prejudice because of what they were taught. When it came down to who we were as people, we began to enjoy camaraderie and true friendship ensued.

It is only when we can remove all the outer masks that hide our true identities that we can come together as One people – all looking for the same things. Underneath our colour, religion, nationalities, occupations etc., each of us wants to be safe, have food in our bellies with food to feed the children, live harmoniously with our neighbours and feel what we do in the world and who we are is beautiful, just because of our birthright.

We are not living that way. We are living in a world filled with conflict, outrageous aggression, fear, racism, discrimination and confusion from the mixed messages delivered by the politicians and the media every day. We learn to distrust seemingly everyone who doesn’t live, think or worship like we do. We are split apart by other people’s values without examining our own. Yet I believe that each of us at our core wants to feel loved and extend love back yet vulnerability makes us feel unsafe…so we make choices that come from ego and not the higher truth of our heart. Our fear often paralyzes us as to what to believe or how to act, so we often do nothing or join forces with people whose messages resonate with our unhealed wounds so we wish to fight back.

So what do people who do not want to fight do? Who do not want war? Who realize that there is no justification for cruelty to another, ever?

I believe that we need to get beneath the noise of the external world to connect with our internal light. Within each and every one of us is a Light. It may feel minuscule under the chaos, almost imperceptible but it is still there, I assure you. Peace is an inside job and it is up to you and me to take the time, especially now, to be still. To meditate. To pray. To write. To be in nature. To gather with like-minded others to have discussions on how we can make a difference, even to just one other person who is suffering. And to fill our souls with what makes us feel good again. Dance, play with a child, sing at the top of our lungs, can fruit, paint on a canvas and forgive ourselves for whatever we are blaming ourselves for, and then extend forgiveness to others. We need to nourish our souls with that which will sustain us and bring us back to our centres so we can make inspired choices that come from our highest wisdom and be guided to our next steps.

We may not all be out here on the front lines…but we can all speak the truth from our hearts. And none of what I said above is to replace how we feel. It is essential that we feel our feelings all the way. Feel them in a way we can heal them. Don’t repress what you feel. Hug your cat, your partner, your friends. Cry when the tears well up. And say a prayer for humanity. We need each other. The time of the lone wolf is over. May Peace and Truth Prevail. Amen. Pay attention to the peacemakers of the world. Remember that whatever we focus on grows. And we can choose to be traumatized by the newsreels (and I’m not saying we shouldn’t be informed – just make informed choices of where we gather our information and how often in order to honour our own sensitivities) OR we can focus on peace, love, harmony, kindness, compassion, prayer, beauty and God.

HO’OPONO’PONO PRAYER

I Love You

Please forgive me

Thank you

I love you

This morning, I listened to a voice of sanity. It came just at a time I needed to hear it. It was a Global Mediation led by Jason Shurka that was recorded. There were over 100 countries represented. We are not alone. You can watch it here.

Re-Write Your Life II:

Peace Awaits You

How did I know that when I wrote this book that clearly discusses how Peace Awaits Us when we take a committed healing journey, that a war in Israel would break out one week later?

I wish to say thank you to EVERYONE who has supported me on my cancer journey and on my new book launch, making it an Amazon bestseller!

If you haven’t purchased it yet, you can find it here on Amazon. As well, in appreciation of all your love and support I have reduced my $299.00 Re-Write Your Life Home Study Program to $99.00, wanting to make PEACE and Healing accessible to as many people as possible. You can read all about my program here that has helped thousands of others over the past 2 decades overcome fear and pain from the past to live their lives with deep meaning, purpose and passion.

Writing Prompts

  • When I listen to or watch the news and cruelty that is delivered over the airwaves, I feel…
  • What I do to bring myself back to balance is….
  • One thing I can do today to offer peace to myself and another is…
  • When I envision the world living in peace, harmony, creativity, and goodness, this is what it looks like…
Write this last prompt in the first person, present tense as though it is happening now. You can do this together with other friends who wish to envision this with you and read your visions out loud to one another. As stated above, what we focus on expands. Focus on that which feeds your soul, not that that diminishes you. I love you.

If you feel drawn to share your writing, feel free to do so in our warm and welcoming Writing Sanctuary on Facebook. You’ll find a fantastic community of fellow writers eager to cheer you on and celebrate your words.

If you resonate with what I have written in this blog post, please share it far and wide to build our community and to make our voices for peace and harmony for humankind even stronger.

With deep gratitude and blessings,

Junie

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10 Mar

Everyone Should Write a Book!

Your Life Matters, by Junie Swadron

I interviewed myself today! A friend asked me the first question, and I just kept going. This as a writing technique I recommend you all to try — interview yourself! It will help bring you to so the same point I will be making throughout this reading that everyone should write a book.

Junie, you talk a lot about helping people get their books written. Do you think everyone should write a book?

Well, personally, yes, I do think everyone should write a book! But of course, I’m biased! I’ve seen the benefits of the writing process since I was a teenager, when putting my thoughts, fears, successes, failures in my diary gave me an instant inside story to my mind.

I could see how my mind travelled — how fears were followed to their origins, the dots were connecting of how this event led to that seemingly unrelated one, and I would watch nightmares morph into my best poetry in my morning writings.

Later Julia Cameron, in her famous book, The Artist’s Way, coined the term “Morning Pages,” and millions of people across the planet found out first hand just how powerful a daily writing practice can be.

What kind of writing do you teach?

I teach stream of consciousness writing — the kind where you just “let the writing do the writing,” where you’re not judging and planning and critiquing what you want to say. This kind of writing allows you to access the unconscious mind, and you begin to truly know yourself.

When I write, I feel that there is a benevolent presence sitting beside me, guiding my hand across the page or keyboard. I can’t explain it, but the words just come tumbling out of my fingers from a source I can only call God, words I cannot seem to reach otherwise. They release the muse out of her secret kingdom to alchemize ideas into creative offerings that flow out in myriad ways. Sometimes it’s poetry, sometimes, prose, books, song lyrics, stage plays, short stories . . . Who wouldn’t want access to all that goodness?

But people aren’t always able to discover this on their own if they’ve had their writing or anything else criticized as kids — when they were putting their best efforts onto the page and a teacher red-penned everything:“You should have said it this way.” “You spelled that wrong.” “That idea is impossible, why would you say that?” and then their own mind tightened the grip from there.

That person probably never wants to write again, or they become mute. Or if they do ever summon the courage to write, they often judge it as being awful before it even hits the page, or they mutilate it with their harsh opinions afterwards.

How does the process work when you’re helping people write their books, or their stories?

I firmly believe that everyone should write a book. The 8-step process is where you learn to let go of all those critical voices and keep your hand moving across the page. Sure, there are techniques to employ later when crafting a piece, but the most profound writing comes when you step out of the way and allow what’s been meaning to come out to simply come out. To let your true authentic voice have its say before you cover it over with what you think would be socially acceptable to some random critic in your head to whom you are still giving away your power.

For 20 years, students who come to my Sunday writing circles – who have been afraid to write for eons — cannot believe what comes out of them from one twenty-minute writing prompt. With genuine bewilderment, they declare, “Where on earth did that come from?” “I didn’t even know I felt that way, I am amazed!” “I just got the biggest aha!” . . . and on and on it goes. They genuinely like or even love what they wrote — and I get the biggest joy of all, witnessing a new writer emerge.

So again, should everyone write a book?

If they want to know their mind, they should. If they want to understand their relationships and bring clarity to their life stories, they should. If they want to find out how creative they are, they should. And most important of all, if they harbour a dream to write a book, and the dream doesn’t go away, then of course they should, because it’s their soul’s calling.

Also, if they have people telling them for years that they should write a book, and it resonates true for them, then it behooves them to honour that truth instead of laughing it off, only to regret years later that they never did it. The worst is, dare I say, that they are on their deathbed, when it’s too late to mend any regrets.

I adore working with my book writing clients because even though they may have fears and resistance going on, they do it anyway — and before long, their fears are channelled into writings that go out in the world, and the next thing I know, they’re offering me an autographed copy of their published book!

It’s through this evidence that I’ve seen over and over again that I birthed my motto: “Your soul meets 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.”

Finally, there are countless rewards in writing a book! That’s why I wrote one called Your Life Matters – 8 Simple Steps to Writing Your Story. And that book, my dear, will tell you all the reasons why one should write their own.

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PS — If you haven’t yet read Your Life Matters – 8 Simple Steps to Writing Your Story, you can easily get yourself a copy at your favourite online bookstore (links at the bottom of this page). And if reading the book makes you want to get coaching from me to give you a boost and get your book written now, well, your timing is great, because my coaching program, Your Life Matters Author Mentorship Program, is open for enrolment right now!

We start on April 6, 2021, and we run for 10 weeks. It’s online, with live coaching calls so that you can get my eyes on your book, and encouragement from a small group of people all working towards the same goals. Why not get your application in now and we can talk about it?

Apply now for the Your Life Matters Author Mentorship Program!

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29 Jan

8 Reasons Why Some People Would Rather Do Anything But Write

frustrated-boy

Let me ask you something. It might sound strange coming from me, but do you hate writing? Does the mere thought of it make you cringe? Do you ever wonder how it is that so many people seem to actually enjoy the process? They talk about their journals as if they’re the Holy Grail! Do you ask yourself, what do they actually get from it and if it’s so great, why is it so distasteful to you? If so, you’re not alone! Here are 8 reasons why some people would rather do anything but write:

Reason #1: Shame

One of the most common reasons is because they were shamed in school. Their essays or short stories got marked up with red pens—they weren’t in the right order, their grammar was poor, and so on. They learned that in order to write, they had to do it perfectly. Imagine toddlers saying their first words and being criticized for not pronouncing them correctly! Yes it’s ludicrous, but that’s what happens to children when they write their imaginative stories for the first time and they get ripped to shreds. Mark Twain said, “If we taught our children to speak the way we teach them to write, everyone would stutter.” Many adults are still plagued with shame from their youth for not doing it right.

Writing Exercise

If you have had an experience like that, throw out the rules and write about it. Write an angry blaming letter to the teacher or whoever it was that put you down. Get it out of your system. You are not what that person said about you. Feel compassion for your younger self and let her/him have their day in court! Let go of perfection and go for the jugular! Don’t be surprised at what might get released in this one piece. Note: this letter is not to be sent!

Reason #2: Afraid of thoughts and feelings

Everyone judges themselves and others. Often the judgment comes from those described above who shamed us in the first place, and we end up thinking we can never do anything write. Oops, I meant “right.” See? Judging ourselves is the biggest crippler in our lives. “How can I think that? It’s not nice of me.”

While writing, if we’re afraid of our angry, less-than-loving thoughts, we’ll want to cover them over with flowery words, make it sound pretty and poetic. We may succeed. It may sound poetic. But it won’t be authentic and we won’t reach the deeper parts of us that want a voice. That part may be angry, frustrated and rebellious or somewhere between bored and apathetic because of our betrayal of her/him. Whatever s/he is, there’s deeper energy inside awaiting expression. Follow it compassionately. This is what the page is for.

Writing Prompt

Right now I am feeling….

Reason #3: Afraid someone will discover what they wrote and read it

This can be a legitimate fear when you’re writing a journal or anything else you’ve written. You want to protect its sacredness. Our writings are our babies. Protecting them is protecting your most innocent, creative voice. Besides, if you think someone may be reading what you’ve written, it will inhibit what you write. In your journals you can write on the front page, “Please do not read this. Put it down. It is personal.” Or, if you prefer, write, “Read at your own risk!”

Don’t leave your writing on your coffee table. If you do, you might as well surrender to the fact that it’s probably going to happen. And if it does, can you really blame that person? After all, you’ve opened up the temptation. Of course you can share it with whomever you like. But here’s the key: Be discerning. You don’t want to share it with someone whose approval you’re looking for. Share your fledgling pieces with people whom you trust and who support you.

Writing Tip

Do not leave your journal on the coffee table!

Reason #4: Can’t spell, don’t know proper grammar and punctuation

An amazing number of people won’t write because they’re not good spellers and feel embarrassed and feel the same way about punctuation, grammar and style. Stream of conscious thought doesn’t care if you can’t spell, you don’t use grammatically correct speech or punctuation. Or use any punctuation at all. Me bee in countree hole bunch long time. I bet you understood that. Do I really care if it’s not written well or it’s got a bunch of spelling mistakes? No, I don’t. And I don’t want you to either. Not during the creative process. Find an editor later. Creativity demands that you do not try to stop it with rules. Kids paint outside the lines. We get to write outside the margins if you know what I mean.

Writing Exercise

Deliberately write a few sentences with bad grammar, spell things wrong even when you can spell them right and at the end of it, have a good laugh. It’s not that serious, right? Remember that during the creative process. Laugh when you can’t spell something instead of judging it. Your judge will throw away the pen and you’ll inevitably go find a donut to munch on.

Reason #5: Afraid if they put it in writing, they’re bound by it

There’s always been an aura around the written word. It’s like a law or contract that can’t be changed. “Gee, I wrote it this way so how can I say it that way now?” Well, you can. That’s poetic license. It’s also being human. We change our thoughts, our minds, our perceptions as we learn and grow. You can write something and stand by it today and change it tomorrow if it no longer resonates with your truth.

The irony is, as soon as we write the truth of where we are in the moment, the energy shifts and allows for another truth to seep in. We’re not frozen in our fury, for example. Most often once we’ve spilled it all onto the pages, we hit a deeper emotion—hurt, for example. We discover that under the rage lies a hurt inner child who hasn’t had his or her needs met. With this awareness we can then do some nurturing—we can write ourselves a love letter. Sometimes this process takes several days. You may just need to stay with the anger for a while. Write it out and let it rest on the page. Read it out loud so you can feel the full impact of your feelings. Then go do something physical. Go for a walk. Turn on some up-beat music, dance. Exercise. Breathe. Get the endorphins flowing. And feel proud that you have released what you’ve been wanting to say for weeks!

Writing Tip

Allow your writing to teach you things. Learn as you write. Grow as you learn. Let it be a progression, not a fact. There is an endless well of wisdom that can come to us from invisible places that the pen just seems to know how to locate. Nothing’s written in stone. And if it is, eventually someone will pick up the stone and skip it in the water and something new will get invented in its place. It’s called creativity, imagination, and freedom!

Reason # 6: Don’t know what to say—afraid of the blank page

Sometimes not knowing where to begin can seem like an insurmountable task. Just begin to write where you are. Describe where you are, your environment, the colours, the sounds, the people, or lack of them, and let this be a beginning. Or give your editor a voice: if it’s saying “I don’t have anything to say…” write that. Write it again and again. Eventually it will change. Stay with it and stay focussed on your intention. At the same time keep your hand moving across the page.

Writing Prompt

The last time I had nothing to say, I…

Reason #7: Afraid of what you might learn about yourself

Writing takes you into the deeper recesses of your mind, turning over the soil of the unconscious and bringing light to what’s been buried for a long time. If there are things you don’t want to face, don’t want to deal with, you will avoid writing about them because the truth usually surfaces and makes you look at it. Don’t be afraid. Be curious instead. When you stay with it and write to the other side, you will gain clarity, answers, healing and release.

Writing Exercise

What I want you to know about me is… (you are writing this to yourself… it’s about you getting to know yourself) ☺

Reason #8: Competition

You’re afraid to do anything because you’re always comparing yourself to others. You’ll never get the novel, play, article, song published. “So and so graduated at the same time as me and they’re already way ahead and even famous. It’s stupid to even bother.” Comparing ourselves is very damaging because it stops us from moving forward. We ask ourselves the wrong questions, and so we get the wrong answers. We say, “How come she can do it?” or say, “No wonder he’s successful; he has a rich father”, instead of asking ourselves, “What are my goals and what can I do today towards them?”

Writing Exercise & Tip

Take one writing project that you have on the go—or want to have—and get to it! There are no tricks. Just roll up your sleeves and write. Once you have started, you will know the sheer joy of moving forward and it will motivate you to come back tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. And when you get stuck, write your truth about it in your journal. It will free you and you’ll be able to continue.

If you haven’t been writing and the above reasons don’t apply to you, or you have other reasons why you are stuck, please tell us your reasons below. If I can help you find a solution, and it’s likely that I will, you’ll be writing again in no time!

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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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