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16 Jun

Medical Assistance in Dying: Love and Wisdom at the End of Life

Judith Rockert, with David and me behind herHave you ever had a friend that, without them in your life, your life simply would not be the same?

A friend whose unconditional love, wisdom, compassion, humour, kindness, along with the ability to be real at all times, is enough to make you weep with the kind of gratitude that goes far beyond words?

For me, that person is Judith Rockert. Judith and I have known each other for over 40 years!

Last month she called to tell me that the doctors told her she has a short time to live.

That was enough for me to fly the 3,000 miles from Victoria to Toronto to be with her.

What I didn’t know was that she has a death date. She has chosen M.A.I.D. (Medical Assistance in Dying).

On June 27, 2022, Judith will take her last breath. It’s hard to wrap my head, and especially my heart, around this.

Here is our interview, recorded on June 12, 2022:

This is my first experience with someone who has chosen assisted dying, and what is remarkable to me is that if you were to meet Judith, or even talk to her on the telephone, she is one of the most positive, upbeat, incredibly optimistic people you would ever meet.

She told me, “Junie, I’m not afraid of dying. I’m going onto my next adventure.

I’m afraid of living in a body that is rapidly breaking down, and — God forbid — it would be up to my family to have to take care of me.”

Junie and Judith

Judith and I speak often, and every time, she is the one who uplifts me! I ask her, “Judith, how are you today?”

Without a moment’s hesitation she replies, “I am in escalating bliss!”

Then she’ll go on to tell me about her day and who came to see her and the incredible gift she has been given to have such rich visits and conversations that are straight from the heart with the people she loves and who love her.

I know all about that. We have had so many of those precious exchanges. And whenever my mental health challenges reared their ugly head, Judith was my champion, my lifeline.

Judith knows a lot about that. Her beautiful son, Mitch, who suffered with schizophrenia, took his life many years ago. You can read Judith’s story about Mitch on my blog.

Even with that — even with the unthinkable grief that a parent endures in the face of losing their child, Judith chose LIFE.

She found ways to re-frame and re-write the story, focusing on the incredible gift of having Mitch in her life as long as she did — a man of great beauty, artistry, love, and kindness. Well, they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

One day, every one of us will be saying our final good-bye

LIFE IS PRECIOUS.
EVERY BREATH IS PRECIOUS.

Choose to live the best life you have, and let your love be your everlasting legacy.

 

These pictures are the tombstones of my mom and dad, Minnie and Jimmy Swadron, and my sister, Barbara Freedman. I was able to visit them at the cemetery during my trip to Toronto.

What I wouldn’t do to hug them today! Be sure to tell everyone you love that you love them while you can. And know that You Are Deeply Loved in Return.

We can choose how we are going to live our lives

Judith enthusiastically said “Yes” to this interview. She has the wisdom of the ages, and I know that this interview will inspire countless people with her legacy of love.

We can re-write the stories we are telling ourselves — even if it’s just before our last day on this earth.

None of us know how long we are going to live (unless we have chosen MAID, like Judith), so why don’t we just take the high road now and make our lives magnificent?

All blessings,
Junie

PS — If you did not see this interview with my beautiful fiancé David talking to my dear soul sister, Pat Sheveland, about the unexplainable gifts that came from beyond the veil after the death of his beloved daughter Cat, watch now and be inspired.

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09 May

How To Write A Book

Do you want to learn how to write a book?

I can show you how, and work alongside you as you do it! I have a few seats left in my fast-approaching author mentorship program; the course starts on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. There’s still time, but don’t delay!

About the Author Mentorship Program:
📚 Are you ready to write your book but don’t know where to begin?
📚 Are you a business leader or coach wanting to make a difference in the world?
📚 Are you ready to write your memoir?

This comprehensive 10-week program will give you everything you need to accomplish your dream of writing your book!
📚 Ten weekly 2-hour group Zoom calls
📚 One-on-one coaching
📚 Publishing opportunity
📚 Free publicity — the opportunity to have an exclusive VIP Interview on The Soul Connection Podcast
📚 Private discussion group to share your writing process

Does this interest you?

If so, click this link to learn more and apply! 

Your Life Matters! 8 Simple Steps to Writing Your Story

Do you want to write your book but don’t know where to begin?

Let me guess: You get excited about the thought of writing your life stories, but then, a voice inside your head stops you cold, saying things like, “Who would read it? What could I possibly teach others? Besides, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start.”

With Your Life Matters! Junie Swadron has written a book about human transformation, and she uses her reader’s pen and life story to accomplish this evolutionary task. As an author, psychotherapist, and writing coach, Junie Swadron has guided writers and authors to write their life stories for more than thirty years. Her books, Re-Write Your Life: A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Our Lives and Write Where You Are, have helped thousands of writers move through fear and writer’s block.

Wendy Kenny was one of the students in the last mentorship program, she and many others are now published authors!

“At first I was not really sure about this workshop but in the end I am happy to have been a part of it. Thank you for opening your home and heart to us. You provided a safe environment and encouraged us—no judgments, but truths. You helped me to believe that I have a story and that it is worth writing down—especially because of the healing that it has brought me. In your sharing it shows how courageous and strong you have been on your journey and that overflowed during our time together. Blessings to you.” —Wendy Kenny

Click here to learn more about how in just 10 weeks you will have written your first book with my expertise!

Your life matters, and your life stories matter too!

Junie SwadronAre you an entrepreneur with a great product, service, and brand? You need to get it out there in the world with your book! There’s nothing like having a published book to give you credibility.

How do you want to write your life stories? You could approach your project chronologically, from birth to where you are today, with all the wisdom you have gleaned along the way. Or, you could organize around themes—travel experiences, career, marriage, and children, spirituality, illness, times you were stronger than you thought, transitions and crossroads, teachers and mentors—it can all be done.

The main thing is that Your Life Matters and that you find a way to honour your life so that you can see how every story you have ever lived has come wrapped in gifts and lessons, ready to be transformed and integrated. I can show you how to write your book from the most empowered, joyous place within you so that you’ll be proud to celebrate your legacy out loud—with family and friends or with a wider audience at your book launch!

In Your Life Matters! Author Mentorship Program, you will learn how to:

📚 Inspire others with the wisdom you’ve attained in your lifetime

📚 Achieve your life-long dream of writing your memoir or sharing your entrepreneurial knowledge

📚 Bust through your blocks and write with confidence and ease with eight easy steps

📚 Free yourself from your painful past at last by unleashing your authentic voice

📚 Allow the hard lessons life has given you to become your greatest gifts

We all have fears around writing our stories, but we need to acknowledge that our life is the most important one of all and that the stories we want to tell are worthy.

The intention is that once you learn all the reasons why you CAN write your book, you’ll be saying an absolute YES to joining a group of committed upcoming authors in my Your Life Matters! Author Mentorship Program and writing your book. Apply now, and I’ll see you very soon! Course starts Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

 

“Junie brings her enormous heart and ignited spirit to each lesson, as well as to each and every person. She is a creative wellspring, inspired and supportive, and that all comes through. Thank you Junie for sharing your gifts and experience with us!” —Patricia Campbell

 

“I deeply appreciate the way Junie encourages her students to be comfortable and fearless at the same time. I found that I could go further than I’d expected in my writing, and this course inspired me to continue to work at this craft. I hope to take more courses with Junie in the future!” —Melanie Cook

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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.

🌟  🌟  🌟

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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18 Nov

Poetic Reflections on the Dynamics of Change

hands reaching through the vailThis is a talk I gave at the Church of Truth in Victoria, BC on November 17, 2019

To Introduce the Topic of the Dynamics of Change; I’d like to recite this Ojibway Prayer

Grandfather,
Look at our brokenness.
We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.
We know that we are the ones
Who are divided
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk in the Sacred way.
Grandfather,
Sacred One,
Teach us love, compassion, and honour
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.

Today’s topic is poetic reflections on the dynamics of change

We’re looking at poems about memories and how writing is instrumental in integrating the dynamics of change.

So, what about memories? William Standford wrote this. It’s called:

You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along the shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life —

what can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

Your Life Circumstances as Poetry

We can all read the poetry of Rumi or Hafiz, David Whyte and Mary Oliver, or in this case, William Stanford, and have our hearts lifted to the heavens by the simple weaving of their words.

But what if the harshest circumstances of your life were also considered poetry? Poetry in motion. Events, when funnelled through the Heart of Awareness become the alchemy of Grace leading you to transformation, leaving you triumphant — a Phoenix rising ever upwards from its own ashes, the dynamics of change. Poetry in motion.

Perhaps by now you have come to expect the trickster lurking around every corner. God’s secret design to mould us humans into a poetic mosaic featuring all possibilities. Divinity showing off its finest attire. Forcing us to traverse and transcend as we forge through parched deserts and darkened forests, swamps and jungles of heartbreak and grief, loss and fear until we awaken upon sparkling waters and coral colour beaches leading to abundant meadows of dancing wildflowers kissed by sunbeams drizzling through raindrops that transform into rainbows. God’s glorious archway of effervescent colours offering us The Sacred Promise. A Promise Of Hope. A Promise of Coming Home while walking right here upon our Earth.

Yes, Perfect Poetry in Motion.

I had never thought of us that way until I was invited to do this talk, but as I considered it, it makes perfect sense. After all, as God’s Children — and even more — inhabiting the spark of God within us — we are that! The absolute poetry of God. At our core, we are creative, expansive, exquisite beings of Light and when we tap into that aspect of us, the purest poetry is born, birthed in a million forms, just as we are billions of people and among billions of species on this planet, each a different expression of God’s creation, one part of the vast tapestry of the One Mind. The One Heart.

And those of us of the human kind, when we fall away from our connection to our Divinity, well, the Trickster moves in to get our attention. True? So that we can grow from and out of the inevitable painful set of circumstances that are delivered to us, reflecting on the dynamics of change, only to lead us back home to the Garden once again, to The One Heart of Creation — The One Heart of God.

As Rumi so stunningly penned, “Come even if you have broken your vow a thousand times, come, yet again, come, come. Come, come again, whoever you are, come.”

Yes, the invitation is to move beyond the sorrow and back to pillars of joy! Our true natural state. Come, come back again. Even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.

Rumi also wrote:

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”

One of the greatest sorrows that entered my door at the tender age of 20 is written up in a short passage from my first book, published 10 years ago, called, Re-Write Your Life — A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Story of Our Lives.

Re-Write Your Life, Chapter 2, p. 9: “One day my mother sat me down . . . ”

I would like you now to listen to a poem that no one can recite better than the author himself — David Whyte. This is Sweet Darkness!

Now, I’d like to read you a poem I wrote which emerged from darkness, giving me a horizon further than I knew I could see. It was in the darkness that became the sweet confinement of my aloneness where I truly learned that anything or anyone that does not bring me alive was too dark for me. Through the dynamics of change, this poems emerged on the page:

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.

Transforming Grief to Joy, Scarcity to Abundance, and Fear to Love

The beauty of being human is that we are the only ones on the planet that can actually change our states of being through our intentions and our actions. Using the dynamics of change; we can transform grief to joy, scarcity to abundance, and fear to love. Other life forms can only respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Knowing that we have been given this gift by The Universe, this absolute privilege — our gift back is to change our state, to move from sadness to joy, and to intend to live a fully, loving, joy-filled, loved-filled magnificent life!

And now for another of the world’s greatest poets and musical geniuses, listen to this song by Leonard Cohen: Anthem.

My way through has always been writing. It brings me out of despair into a place of hope, into the place of all possibilities. It’s bizarre. I know that writing does that for me — yet even today, there are times that it’s not the first thing I go to in order to move through a challenge. Sometimes, it’s the fridge to toast another bagel. Or two!

I know I’m not alone. We all have our drug of choice. Me, I can’t help it. I’m Jewish. So it’s not my fault. When I was born, my mother, being a good Jewish mother, threw a dozen bagels into the blender and fed it to me as pablum. When I was teething she’d shove a whole bagel into my mouth — usually pumpernickel — until they came out with lox and cream cheese, my fave.

So, now you know why bagels are the number one comfort food for Jews across the planet! But me, I like to find ways to improve my bad habits, through the dynamics of change, so I went to a 12 step program for bagel addiction and — I thought I was at synagogue! There wasn’t one Christian or even a Muslim in the room! I have a strong suspicion that the person who set up this particular meeting place, also a bagel addict like me really doesn’t want to quit. And she doesn’t want us to either. All our meetings take place in the room above Mount Royal Bagels with the waft of sesame, pumpernickel, lox and cream cheese and everything bagels — moving through the floorboards and into each of our olfactory senses — throughout the entire meeting. So, you can hardly hold it against us when we relapse after every meeting. What can we do? Nu?

Putting Humour and Poetry Together with Music

Anyway, writing . . . poetry . . . poetry in motion. Song lyrics are definitely poetry in motion. And humour and poetry put together into song can be a spectacular way of movin’ and groovin’ out of the blues! We all know the truth of this. Put on a favourite dance tune and within seconds your body can’t sit still. Right?

So, going back to my earlier years, after many trips in and out of mental institutions, I met lots of people as screwed up as me — and didn’t feel quite as alone. We all had fears and phobias of one sort or another so I simply wrote a poem about it which is now going to be part of a musical I’m writing. My friend David just wrote the tune for it. It’s appropriately named, “The Phobia Song.” I’d like to leave you with this song.

Here is THE PHOBIA SONG, inspired by people everywhere — and all our conditions!

THE PHOBIA SONG
Lyrics by Junie Swadron
Music by David Halliwell

Fear of Dying and Afraid of Life
Fear of Flying and Afraid of Strife
Fear of Losing and Afraid to Win
Christ Almighty — Where do we Begin?

Are we crazy? — No We’re Not
We’re Simply Concerned By What We’ve Got
Fear of Anger — Afraid of Fat
Wars, Chores, and Doors — Imagine That

Claustrophobia, Agora Phobia
Phobias we can’t spell
Pathophobia — Xenophobia
We know em So Well
Hydrophobia — Zoo-o-Phobia
What’s Your Favourite? — Do Tell
Every Day is Crazy
And Life’s a Living Hell

Are We Crazy? — Well Maybe Yes
You Decide — It’s anyone’s Guess
Are We Crazy? — Well Maybe Not
Isn’t it Something Everyone’s Got?

Chorus

Fear of Cats — Afraid of Snakes
Fear of Laughter — For Goodness Sakes
Fear of Getting Old
Or Getting Too Tall

Fear of Waking — or Sleeping In
Fear of Pleasure — Afraid of Sin
Fear of Being Seen
In Your Own Skin

Outro
We’re Not Crazy — We’re Not Crazy
We’re Happy to Tell All Our Friends
We’re Not Crazy — We’re Not Crazy . . . exit stage left!

©️ Junie Swadron and David Halliwell, November 2019

My prayer for you: May you be perfect poetry in motion and co-create a magnificent, safe, loving, peaceful beautiful life of Joy, Peace, Grace, and Harmony!

All blessings,
Junie

Writing Prompt: Your Turn

Is there a story in your life that you could transform? Can you re-write it so that you can benefit from its lessons and feel free to move on? Try your hand at transforming grief to joy, scarcity to abundance, or fear to love. Write your story!

If you like, share your writing in  Junie’s Writing Sanctuary (if you’re not a member yet, just ask to join and I’ll get you in as soon as I can).

Your Life Matters book by Junie Swadron

Want to write your own memoir?

Start by downloading a free digital first chapter of my latest book, Your Life Matters! 8 Simple Steps to Writing Your Story.

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24 Oct

The Secret to Overcoming Resistance

resistance is a sign of love

Your Life Matters Author Mentorship Program
and How to Overcome Resistance with Junie Swadron 

Today I’ve got the answers to Frequently Asked Questions about my Your Life Matters Author Mentorship Program and the topic on how to overcome resistance stood out.

As creative people, we often feel an urge to create and then immediately resist it, whether we know it or not, with thoughts and behaviours that can be summed up as “resistance.” We must overcome resistance to reach our full creative potentials. Steven Pressfield wrote a whole book about resistance!

So, you might notice a trend in the FAQ below. Just know that LOVE wins out over resistance every time if you give it a chance, and that’s what I’m here to provide, along with concrete instructions on how to get your book/project done!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

     1. I don’t have a book in mind, but I do have a niggling urge to do some writing about my life. Is this course for me?

That’s a wonderful place to start! We all have stories inside us, we must overcome resistance and acknowledge that they matter. This course provides the structure, instruction, and encouragement to get your hands moving, and you will discover details on the page (or computer) as you write. Writing on the page is where you explore the work. Don’t be surprised if you discover stories you hadn’t thought of for years!

     2. I’ve been wanting to write my memoir for ages, but I keep putting it off. I think I’m scared. Can you help?

You need to tap into the stories inside you, but there’s an invisible force field called fear. You are not alone! As writers, we need to feel safe in order to create. As soon as you freeze up, that aperture through which your creativity flows closes up. With my unique and proven writing process, we will gently, step by step, get you through you to overcome resistance and into a state of flow. If you have something valuable to say, you need to say it — or it will cause all kinds of trouble — from an expensive chocolate habit to much worse! I will help you master resistance.

If you’re afraid you’re not good enough, or your writing isn’t good enough, yes, I hear you. As I said last week, you’re a human, living on this planet, and that’s good enough. Even if you don’t recognize it, you’ve got worthwhile stories to tell, and YOUR LIFE MATTERS!

     3. I would be mortified if my husband/parents/children/colleagues read this story. What can I do about that to overcome resistance of relational fear?

The first draft is for your eyes only. You are writing for yourself. There will be plenty of time after that for you to decide what to share.  Your confidentiality will be respected in the course, and in the end, you may decide that your writing is only for you. Or you may decide to share it with a few people or even publish it.

     4. Will this course be offered again?

Yes, I plan to run it again, but I’m not sure when. Also, because this is the first time that this program is being offered in its new online format, this is the lowest the price will ever be. If you are interested in this course, I suggest applying now!

     5. What if I miss a class?

The best part about having the course online is that the video components are being recorded, and will be available to be watched at your leisure. This means that there is no time barrier to prevent your participation in the course.

     6. Money is tight. Do you have a payment plan? 

Yes! There is a payment plan. We can talk about it on our call. By the way, money is never really the issue, nor is time. If it’s a dream that keeps coming back, it is your destiny. If it’s something that someone else told you should do, then it’s probably not.

The process of answering the questions in the application form, followed by a half-hour conversation with me, will help to reveal your own answers to your questions.

     7. Would you remind me of the details again?

Applications are open for Your Life Matters Author Mentorship Program, my online course.

In the course, you’ll get all 10 weeks of the program with specific instructions on how to write your stories/book, weekly 2-hour Zoom coaching calls with hot seat work and break-out rooms for witnessing of your writing, two private 60-minute 1-on-1 calls with me, membership in our private discussion group where you’ll be able to give and receive support with your cohort 24/7.

You’ll also receive:

A publishing package offer, free publicity, and an opportunity to attend the Author Mentorship Bootcamp Retreat!

Classes take place weekly on Zoom.

To see the detailed lesson plans for each week, please see the webpage.

Ready to overcome resistance? Your first step is to click one of the application buttons on this page.

We’ll get on a call where I can answer any other questions you might have.

What’s your story?
Are you ready to write it?
Apply now and tell me all about it!

All blessings,
Junie

“You offer a wonderful balance of kindness and sensitivity. Thank you for helping me silence my critic and to simply write. I am stronger because of you. You had the courage to show your fears and your struggles. You proved to us that we need not fear our challenges but embrace them. I honour the spirit within you that gently urges us on to places we do not go to alone—making us feel safe and special and loved.” — Debbi Jones

“This course has given me the opportunity to revisit experiences of joy and pain and to eventually and gradually realize the deep sacred gift of each person and of each experience in my life. And also to take responsibility for all of the reflections of myself these people and experiences have been. Thank you for providing such a healing, safe space to reveal what has been so difficult to express even in private before.” — Rosemary Anderson

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05 Sep

My Little Red Diary with the Lock and Key

My little red diary, by Junie SwadronThe Creation, Comfort and Healing Induced from Journalling

When I was thirteen years old, I was given a diary for my birthday. I treasured that little red book with its tiny lock and key. It brought me into a private world that no one else was allowed to enter.

Journalling set me on a path of writing and healing that I would never have known about back then. That writing became my panacea—the healing tool that I would use throughout my life that also become the bedrock of my career.

I learned at a young age how important our stories and journalling are, as they not only reflect the life journey we are on, but also the events and circumstances that have shaped us and the decisions we’ve made from the myriad choices available.

Why did we choose this path over that one? And what inspires us to move in the directions we do? It’s complex, and there are so many reasons.

It was my natural curiosity and ability to see and hear what isn’t always obvious to others that brought me to the work I do as both a psychotherapist and writing coach. My greatest joy is to inspire others to live the lives of their dreams.

When you’re afraid and living with anxiety or depression, just walking out the door can be a huge triumph. In my counselling practice, I teach practical tools that foster hope and confidence. As my clients transform the pain of their past, many wish to write about their success.

As a writing mentor, I guide people to find their voice on the page, which eventually becomes their voice in the world—both in their communication with others and through books they write and often publish.

It would be my honour to guide you into having the same kind of confidence while writing your life stories—to find the voice that may have been stolen from you since childhood. To not let nasty voices in your head stop you ever again from following your heart and living your dreams.

I love my work because I get to hear the enthusiasm and joy that comes from people who have worked with me:

“I can do this.”
“I AM a writer.”
“I love what I have written.”
“I can’t believe that just came out of my pen.”
“I feel so much better.”
“I have so much more clarity.”
“I have a direction.”
“My life does matter.”
“I’ve written my story. Yippee!”
Mostly I hear, “Thank you.”

You never know who is going to read your writing and say, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Your voice is just waiting to move from the page to the world, where the Universe takes care of the rest. Your job is to simply write. Mine is to guide you.

If you’d like to discuss 1:1 book coaching with me, book your 60-minute free consultation here.

I’ll soon be launching Your Life Matters, my new Author Mentorship Program for people who have worked with me in the past. Please let me know if you’re interested at yourlifematters@junieswadron.com. If you haven’t written with me yet, there’s no need to feel left out! Come to Sunday Sacred Writing Circle. It counts! And it’s amazing.

Here’s the link to register for Sunday Sacred Writing Circle.

You’re also invited to join Junie’s Writing Sanctuary on Facebook if you haven’t already, where we will be continuing the conversation.

All blessings,
Junie

Your Life Matters by Junie SwadronPS — The story about the little red diary is an excerpt from my book, Your Life Matters! 8 Simple Steps to Writing Your Story

Want more?

Download a free digital copy of Your Life Matters right here: www.junieswadron.com/memoir

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08 Jul

Carlie Kilduff—a woman on a mission

Carlie-Kilduff-600
Carlie Kilduff

It gives me tremendous joy to introduce you to Carlie Kilduff. Some of us have the privilege of meeting someone and immediately knowing that we’ve met a friend for life. That’s how it was for Carlie and me. Carlie is a spoken word artist, and my friends thought she would be a perfect fit for my fundraising event, Eyes On Talent. They couldn’t have been more spot on!

Carlie not only agreed to perform spoken word, but as an event organizer, she offered to help me bring the details of the evening together. It would take me too long to describe the heart and soul of this woman and her brilliance as an organizer (and former high school teacher). I simply know is how blessed I am to have met her and call her my friend. Here now is her story:

The Class

I had no idea what was in store when I first met them. They were a group of rowdy, unruly grade nine students with a reputation for sending teachers on stress leave. Some of their teachers were referring to them as “The Sweat Hounds” but I call them “The Class”.

I was not supposed to join the roster of teachers assigned to them in September 2011, but with a sudden change of fate I found myself welcoming them into my classroom a few days into the new school year. I was supposed to teach Social Studies, but since I had never taught this subject before, I begged to have it changed. I did not want to add the stress of a new subject to an extremely challenging class. I was granted the opportunity to teach English. I had never taught English either, but since I loved to read and write, I was much more keen to accept this mission.

It could not have come at a worse time in my life. Hard stories from some of my family members were spiralling out of control, I had just landed back to work after two years of leave from the birth of my first son, and I was trying to conceive my second child with some difficulty (no wonder why!). The way that I had always prided myself on perfectly planning and staying on top of every little detail was being chipped away day by day. Looking back, it was my “perfect storm” and many great and amazing things have followed.

The bell rang that morning and I braced myself as the class came bursting through my door. There was an energy about them, alerting me that I’d better pay attention. In my years of teaching, I had worked with some very tricky students and classes, but this was a whole new level. They trickled in, a slow parade of teenage hormones and the smell of Axe cologne.

One girl in particular seemed to be in charge so I watched her intently. She pulled a desk out of the lines that I had arranged and placed it beside her friend’s desk, right at the back corner, and threw her legs up on top of the desks with purpose, placing her head down in her arms with a look that said: “Go ahead and try me.” I was familiar with students trying to make hard-core first impressions before but every one of them had previously taken a step back when I approached them with kind firmness and gave them a cue of my expectations. Not this girl.

When I asked her to separate the desks and sit up properly, with full respect and gentle guidance, she said: “No!” The show was on and a few eyes and ears perked up as I had to quickly adjust my strategy, trying to offer her a doorway out of our confrontation, by suggesting that perhaps she was not understanding that I was serious and would have to send her to the office if she did not cooperate with me, making for an unnecessary first experience together. She very slowly and reluctantly did as I had asked, with every ounce of resistance and attitude she could possibly muster while still towing the line. I knew at once that this was going to be a gruelling hour.

The Call

It was a few weeks before I was able to teach a full lesson with the class. Managing their behaviour was a massive job, and keeping them emotionally and physically safe was a priority beyond curriculum. This also fell in the midst of terrible conditions due to teacher job action. Teachers and administrators were not communicating functionally, making everything much more difficult.

This was a class full of high needs. On paper there were far too many with various learning and behaviour challenges, but in reality, there were only three or four out of thirty who would be classified as “typical” and who seemed keen and ready to learn. Poor kids. All of them.

No matter where they sat, it was always at risk of fights breaking out and I would have line-ups of students saying that they must be moved because they could not sit near so-and-so or so-and-so. There was not enough space to hide the dysfunction and damage. When I dug into their family stories I was horrified to learn what had shaped them. Collectively, as a class being together for many years in the school, they had encouraged several teachers to leave them due to stress. Individually, they were a motley crew of horrendous pain stories.

It all made sense even if it was overwhelming. Since my life was a series of pieces falling apart at this time already, I was finding my own health and well-being to be on a slippery downhill slope. I had been diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder in my early twenties. I had been on medications for many years, weaned off, was back on, and was off again when working with the class. Since I was trying to conceive a baby, I did not want to get back on medications or I would have to postpone the conception, seeing as it would be developmentally damaging for a fetus.

I was riding a tight line. I was keeping careful watch on my own health and professionalism. The stress was beyond anything I had ever experienced. I had always kept up with a busy lifestyle very well, being highly organized and hardworking, but the seams were falling apart and there was nothing I could do about it.

As this was happening, a small voice seemed to assure me that it was alright. I found a calm place in the storm and began to hang out there. It wanted to tell me some very important things. Letting the outside loosen, I was able to dive into this new space and it was here that I began to investigate what these students needed from me and how I could possibly give it to them.

It was a call for self-love, for compassion and nurturing in ways I had never known in my own life. This was the missing piece. There was a form of love that they needed, and school had been far too busy and preoccupied to offer it to them. Life in general does not teach us about this kind of love. Excited to have put my finger on it, I found myself at a loss for how to bring them this love, since I was also without it.

My mission from that point became one of learning how to love myself in this way so that I could love them and teach them to love themselves.

Fast Forward

Things in the classroom radically changed and we made some serious transformations. It was surreal in many ways. Young lives were deeply touched but none more than mine. This was the defining moment of my life.

After some forward movement with the class, I had calmed down enough to conceive my second son, and with a tiny growing life in my womb, I was aware that my health was still at risk, so I had to make a tough decision to reduce my teaching load before taking maternity leave. Sadly, I had to say good-bye to the class. I had avoided it as long as I could because I did not want them to think that they had scared me away, I wanted them to know that everything we had been through together was real and true, and most of all, I loved them.

There were many tears as I wrapped up with the class. I continued teaching part-time until taking my leave to prepare for the birth of my son. My pregnancy had been hard and I needed some rest and self-care.

My beautiful son was born on June 20, 2012, making me a momma for the second time. Rather than experiencing post-partum depression like I did after my first birth, I hit the ground running. Something had touched me to the core. I was a new creation, and I had work to do.

Carlie Now

Many amazing stories have come from and through the class. It has been a mixed bag of emotions and stories. Since working with and learning to love them and myself, I have embarked on a journey of self-discovery and self-healing. I have transformed from the inside out. This is a process still underway . . . it never ends!

I have resigned from teaching and am now offering spoken word poetry shows at local coffee shops in Victoria. I share powerful and passionate messages of love, joy, peace, healing, shifting world, and self-value. My work is deep, moving, and electric. Many people have connected with it and lives are being changed.

I encourage you to find my videos on YouTube (go to YouTube and type in my name). Please take the time to watch. If you like what you see, will you please help me spread them far and wide through your social media networks and word of mouth? This is not a business, but rather it is a ministry of the heart. I am a truth seeker and speaker. Our world is starving for truth but many are reluctant, and so I need all the help I can get in connecting these messages, delivered so beautifully through my spoken word poems, with those who need to hear them. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Carlie to Come

I have sensed a change of direction, or a deepening of mission for a long time. My show series has come to an end for the summer. I plan to do some busking downtown for fun and when September rolls around, I will begin anew. I am not sure exactly what is to come, but I can feel it creating within me. I will continue to share my spoken word poetry, but I see myself doing more speaking and advocating. I will be calling myself a Spiritual Health Educator and Advocate. I feel called to take on some very gritty topics like “The Voice of Depression and Suicide”, “Reconciliation with Religion”, and “This Game’s Not Fun” (about bullying).

We are always becoming. We are grown from the moments that we experience. I am forever grateful for the class and all that has come from them and the messy lessons they have taught me. Now, everybody who is touched by my work has been blessed by the class!

Be sure to watch Carlie’s Spoken Word Performance, Beauty Redefined:

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

All blessings,

Junie

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29 Apr

Mothers, Viewed Through the Eyes of their Children

woman

Mother’s Day is just around the corner

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

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

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

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

Fast forward to adulthood

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

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

Choose change before the universe chooses it for you!

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

What it could cost not to change

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

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

Living a life you love

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

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

Back to mothers

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

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

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

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

Your turn

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

Writing Prompt

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

Feature Stories

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

quillThe Legacy,
by Judy McIllmoyl

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

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

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

quillMasks, by Sharon Pocock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

All blessings,
Junie

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03 Mar

Mitch Rockert: 1957 – 1983

Self-portrait by Mitch Rockert

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

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

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

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

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

Mitch Rockert: 1957 – 1983

by Judith Rockert

fragmented-face
Fragmented Face sculpture by Mitch

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

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

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

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

Mitch looking his best
Mitch looking his best

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

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

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

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

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

Judith speaking at Mitch’s art opening

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

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

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

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

Years later, I wrote this poem:

The open window frames the midnight sky.

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

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

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

Gone are the incarcerations and confinements that bound your soul.

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

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

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

Gainey Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona | Winter 1992

Mitch’s Art Exhibit Opening

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

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

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


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

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

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

All blessings,
Junie

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28 Dec

2016: Finding Your Key to the Kingdom of Self-Love

love-rA brand new year is approaching, the holiday rush is over, you are alone with your thoughts and begin to reflect upon the past year. You think about your successes, those things you had set out to accomplish, and you did them. You think about the things you wished to accomplish but did not. Ask yourself, do I put more weight on what I was able to achieve, or on what I wish I had achieved? Rather than get upset by what didn’t happen, know you have not failed. YOU ARE ENOUGH JUST AS YOU ARE.

Let’s commit to making 2016 the year we stop judging ourselves. Let this be the year that we put our hands over our hearts and commit to loving ourselves more than we ever have before. Would we not treat a child in who is hurting with compassion and love? Let us give more love, not less, to the parts of ourselves that are lying awake at night anxious and worried.

Let us stop the barrage of judgments, criticisms, the ‘not good enough’ statements. Instead, let this be our New Year’s resolution—a resolution for each and every day, to feed our tender hearts with reverent kindness.

One of the best ways I know to do this is simply by being honest with ourselves. Instead of slapping down a whole bunch of affirmations for the New Year that do not ring true, bring yourself back into this moment instead and write down what is true.

Let writing become your meditation—a place to rest your heart on the page with your words, your truth, your hopes and dreams. It is private. You do not need to censor yourself or please someone else. Let writing be your key to the kingdom of self-love. Your journal is as close as a hand’s reach away, ready to reveal the deepest insights and wisdom you could ever ask for, possibly even the seeds of a book in you that is gestating there, ready to be birthed. Dream your biggest dreams and may the universe bless every one!

Writing Prompt 
Take an hour alone. Light a candle and set an atmosphere of serenity and beauty. Write a letter to Your Higher Self, God, your Guardian Angel, The Universe. Say everything that’s on your mind and in your heart. Next, write a letter back from that deity or your Guardian Angel, or Higher Self. Don’t engage your monkey mind and start to think that you’re making it up. Simply listen, breathe and allow. Know that your words have been heard and that you are being responded to with love and grace. Know that you are loved beyond measure.

Writing Tip
Yesterday, in my Sunday Afternoon Sacred Writing Circle, we were writing about living our highest vision. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote: “I always knew, even as a child, that somehow I was protected. When I was given my first diary at the age of eleven, it wasn’t just a place to write down my thoughts, it was a place to commune with God. On the pages I have always been met with an omnipotent presence ready to love my tender heart.”

As you write in your journal, allow whatever you believe is All-Loving to be present with you as you write. Perhaps God is not a word you would use. Maybe it is Universal Intelligence, your Guardian Angel, The Beloved, Nature. Or perhaps it is someone you know who loves you unconditionally. Imagine as you write that that deity or person is with you as a benevolent witness, cascading you with compassion and love.

How did this work for you? Please leave your comments below, or join and contribute to our private Facebook group, Junie’s Writing Sanctuary.

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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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02 Apr

Welcome

My name is June Swadron. Please make yourself comfortable and have a leisurely look around while I introduce myself to you through some of the services and workshops I offer. It is my hope that everyone who visits me here benefits in some way. Either by deciding to call for a private counseling/coaching session, registering for one of my many workshops, or simply by having a sense of well-being while browsing through these on-line pages.

May your day be blessed with peace, kindness and joy.

Namaste,
June

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