14 Apr

Frances Litman, The Woman Behind The Scenes


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

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

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

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

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

So, Who Is This Extraordinary Woman
Behind The Scenes?

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

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

She has won over 25 awards in various professional competitions.

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

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

How I Have Come To Know Frances

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

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

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

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

From Good to Better To Best!

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


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

No Pipedreams for Us

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

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

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


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

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

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

Room 8. Bonus – It has an ocean view!

Here is a link to the festival website for Saturday.

Can’t wait to see you there!


All Blessings,



Two ideas and two writing prompts

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

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

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

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

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

Please share my website with your friends!
06 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talking to myself

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

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

Taking ourselves less seriously

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing Prompt

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

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

All blessings,

Please share my website with your friends!
01 Apr

A Story, a Passion, a Choice

child typist

I’m giving up writing. Just kidding!

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

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

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

crazy chicken

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

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

Seriously? Just a Story?

I was at a restaurant the other day and while waiting to be served, I heard part of a conversation at the next table. It went something like this:

Him: “Jodi, get serious; you’re not going to tell them that, are you?”

Her:  “Well, why not? It’s the truth.”

Him: “Seriously, what’s the truth anyway? It’s only a story!”

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

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

The Chicken and the Egg

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

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

A Turning Point

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

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

Him:  “Hmm. Which book?”

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

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

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

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

Me: (Starting to shrivel) “Um, No.”

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Your Story?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing Prompt

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

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

All blessings,

Please share my website with your friends!
26 Mar

Prayer, Grace, and Gratitude—A Celebration


[The image of the beautiful heart wave above was sent to me by good friend Linda Rauch just as I was about to post this story on the blog. Linda and Chana (the subject of this story) happen to be the very best of friends. Talk about divine timing!]

Hannah-rainIn recent issues of Musings from Junie, I have been featuring people I have wanted to honour because they have triumphed over some of life’s hardest hurdles. The first was Lawrence Cooper, who literally went from agony to ecstasy in his life as a bi-sexual man. Next I featured Judith Rockert who survived the suicide of her talented son, Mitch, who suffered with schizophrenia for many years before taking his life.

The story I bring to you today affects me personally, and I dedicate this story to the Saffer-Spiro family: Rachel, David, Ariel, Chana, Jacob, and Shawndra—my beautiful family.

On Tuesday of this week, March 22, 2016, we received the best news ever: my 18-year old great-niece Chana (many of my friends know her as Hannah) was found to be cancer free! And it is attributed to the unmistakable power of prayer and the grace of Hashem (G-d). And for this, we are eternally and humbly grateful.

Chana is the kind of person who easily makes friends everywhere she goes—and beyond that, she has a light in her that lights up the world.

Ariel & Chana



It’s not only because she is my great-niece that I say this, it is because it is true and is the opinion, I believe, of everyone she has ever met.


Chanalah, I honour you today, and I congratulate you on your victory! Nothing could make me happier than this news—other than to be there in person to give you the biggest hug in the world. I am so very proud of what you have accomplished throughout your illness. In spite of facing the most difficult time a person could ever endure, not knowing what your future would bring, you have inspired countless people around the world. You gave purpose and meaning to your illness. You chose to make it something that could bring goodness and beauty into the lives of others. Kol ha’kavod! Well done!

Rachel & David

Today, I am also recognizing the whole family. Especially, my beautiful niece Rachel, Chana’s Mom.

Rachel’s strength, love, wisdom, faith, humour, and the ability to stay strong and positive—as well as real—during this time of fear and uncertainty, is truly remarkable—beyond outstanding! It is what can only be described as a mother’s love in the truest meaning of these words. And it didn’t begin with Chana’s illness. It began with the birth of her first child and continued with ever deepening devotion with the three that came afterward. Ariel, graduating university this year, then Chana, Jacob, 15 and Shawny (Shawndra), who just turned 11 on February 16th.

And together with David, Rachel’s husband, a most dedicated, world class dad, they have created a homestead for their family founded on a bedrock of love. The above pictures of the family were taken at Jacob’s Bar Mitzvah two years ago.

Let me share some of the back story with you!


This is me holding Chana 17 years ago. The photo was taken at my beautiful late sister Barbara’s (Rachel’s Mom) home in Toronto in 1998.

Barbara honoured me (which she always did) with a beautiful good-bye pool party the day before my 3,000 mile road trip to my new home, Vancouver!

When I pulled up to her house to say goodbye, a ladybug landed on the windshield. That ladybug became the story of miracles yet to come—especially the night she tragically passed away. I will share the story with you in a future newsletter.


Junie & Barbara with ladybug











Fast forward to Chana at age 15



Here we are in front of her house before she went off to Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhist meditation and mindfulness retreat. While her friends were shopping at the mall, she was sitting somewhere in a lotus position! That girl has always been on a spiritual path seeking out the goodness in humanity and giving it back 100-fold.





Victoria visit May 2015












Chana didn’t just arrive by herself when she came to visit me. She brought with her 30 pounds of cheese! A few days before her flight, she called me to say, “Oh, by the way, Auntie Junie, I’m coming with 30 pounds of kosher chesse. I hope that’s OK.” “Seriously,” I asked? Isn’t that the size of a small child?” She explained that she was delivering it to Rabbi Kaplan in Victoria. (Don’t ask about where I kept it in the meantime!) Anyway, the good news is that it was converted into yummy cheese blintzes and an array of other goodies that we feasted on for the Jewish Holiday, Shavuot.

Chana’s visit began with her koshering my kitchen. She was a great teacher, explaining all the while the reasons things are done. I figured it was a fair exchange since she was doing the majority (okay all) of the cooking.






















Above (left) we are about to have a delicious Shabbat dinner with friends.

I loved every precious moment we shared on her visit to Victoria. Above (right) we were picnicking and painting rocks at Beacon Hill Park.

Chana returned to Toronto at the beginning of June to spend the summer with her family, then she was off to Jerusalem—a long awaited dream, to begin her first year of university.

And this is where her life took a turn no one would have ever suspected in a million years! It was also where her true hero’s journey began!

Jerusalem—a dreadful diagnosis

jerusalemOnly two weeks after arriving in the Holy Land, she was diagnosed with cancer and her world as she knew it began falling apart. Rachel flew out immediately to bring her daughter home, a home they had just moved into two weeks earlier, still filled with unpacked boxes while they were getting the other three children settled in school. Suddenly this unexpected dread was brought into their lives.


Chana with her big sister Ariel, who is looking at her adoringly

Doctors, hospitals, treatments, fear, muddled with hope and always uncertainty flooded their home. Yet, this is what I experienced when I went to visit them in November, two months after the diagnosis. I am about to quote myself (ha ha) from a blog post I wrote while I was there. You can read the whole thing here.

“… in spite of the gravity of the situation, this is not a depressing household. Instead, it is light and love, laughter and tears that make up the day-to-day life under this roof. I can’t say it is life as usual, because of course there is an underlying fear of the unknown. People’s  nerves are frayed and it can also be messy at times.

Junie with kids
Me with my darling great-nephew and -nieces. Jacob makes a rare appearance for a photo.

But let me tell you what else exists here: The house is filled with kids and their friends coming to visit or staying for dinner or a sleep-over.

There are relatives and rabbis, neighbours and friends dropping by to share their love and support. I have been delighting in 10-year-old Shawndra’s natural theatrical storytelling talents, and admiring 15-year-old Jacob for his humility, even though he is knowledgeable and wise beyond his years. I love my neighbourhood walks with Sprout, their gentle collie-terrier.

Sometimes after a long day, we’ve all cuddled on the couch to watch a movie and laughed a lot at the funny parts. Ariel, the oldest, has been coming home from Queen’s University on weekends and what a joy it is to see how all the kids gather around her, smothering her with hugs and kisses. That’s my favourite part—witnessing the demonstrative expressions of love and affection that are simply natural to this family.

Sisters, best friends
Sisters, best friends

And Hannah—well, even with an uncertain future, even though her magnificent waist-long, thick black hair has been shaved off, she continues to be a shining light and inspiration for everyone who meets her. Her faith has not wavered; her thirst for knowledge and passion for life are as fierce as ever.”




Shawny & Sprout the dog


Shawnny and Sprout! I loved taking Sprout for walks during my visit. It was the walking meditation I needed.




short hair
The day Chana had her hair cut short; still managing to smile.

In December, Chana had her first surgery and they waited for the results, praying to hear that everything was clear. Their life could begin to go back to normal.

They did not get the news they were praying for. The doctors explained that in order to be as certain as they could be that the cancer cells were gone, radiation was recommended.

They were crushed. Not only did they seek a second opinion, they considered alternative treatments as well as flying to New York to a top oncologist. The answer pointed in the same direction: proceed with radiation.

A “god wink”: in the midst of fear an angel of hope and promise appeared

Junie-rainbowRachel was sitting in the living room beside herself with worry when the doorbell rang. It was a friend, a rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife), who was in the neighbourhood and decided, on the spur of the moment, to drop in.

Rachel told her the latest news and could not contain her tears. The rebbetzin comforted her and told her that this was the time to increase their prayers even more. She told Rachel that Chana was to hold a conference call and request prayers from relatives and friends and friends of friends everywhere; and to put it on Facebook. Rachel didn’t even know what a conference call was. But Chana did and in no time at all, it went viral!

dear-friendsHow Chana used these calls is truly remarkable!

Every night from that day until this one, except for Shabbat, Chana has held a conference call where people have been calling in from many parts of the world. Not only was she asking for prayers (which everyone recites together), she has been giving inspiring talks, often reciting passages from the Torah. But beyond that, Chana has used her illness an opportunity for people to do mitzvot (good deeds). And that is exactly what has been happening.

I’ve quoted some of her wisdom throughout this post (she calls herself Chana and her Hebrew name is Chana bas Rachel Leah).


Chana with her dad

Chana with her dad. He is so happy she is inspiring good deeds at a time like this.




And look at the joy it’s giving her! We’ve been told that the joy is in the giving. Is there any question?



kissbubbyHere are Chana and her cousin kissing her bubby, David’s Mom, at her 90th birthday party (the day I arrived). She has been a rock in Chana’s recovery. Having survived the holocaust, she holds an inner conviction of faith and strength which has been helping her beloved family throughout.












love and support


















When Chana visited me last spring, she painted the picture below and gave it to me as a gift: “Ki l’olam chasado”. It means “His Kindness is Forever”.

Let us learn from Chana’s wisdom

What good deeds and acts of kindness can we offer each day to everyone we know or meet for the first time such as a shop keeper, or even someone we pass by on the street? Hmm, pass by? Don’t pass him or her by without a smile. J And do not forget yourself in the equation!

Continue to pray please!

So…back to today! A call for continued prayer—for Chana to be healthy and vibrant and living her life to the fullest! And that each of her future medical examinations will confirm that she continues to be cancer free. Baruch Hashem. Amen.

Let the fun and games resume!
Let the fun and games resume!

And finally, Chana—here is how Rabbi Kaplan has honoured you—besides constant prayer from the congregation: you have inspired goodness at his school in Victoria:

The children have made a video about their good works on your behalf.

Yes, my darling, Chanalah, you are truly one of G-d’s special angels, and I adore you!



Writing Prompt

Some of my most favourite memories of acts of kindness I have received are. . .

Some of the most favourite memories of acts of kindness I have given are. . .

Please share my website with your friends!
17 Mar

God Winks—When We’re Ready to Receive

Thank you!

“THANK YOU” does not come close to expressing the gratitude I feel for everyone who has shown me so much kindness and generosity in the past week since I wrote about my vision problem, the cost of the treatment, and my GoFundMe campaign. Your financial contributions and/or notes of love have uplifted me in ways I can’t even express. Bless You!

And now it’s YOUR TURN to receive. And it comes from your very own creativity. Your gifts to the world.

Creative expression is what makes our spirits soar. It is innately who we are; we are creative beings. We are born with the gift of imagination.

Doing one’s art often transforms suffering into beauty. It prevents a person from dying with their song still inside them. When we lose our impulse to create, whether it is painting, writing musical scores, designing landscaped gardens, writing our book, photography, whatever our talent is, something inside of us slowly begins to die.

When we get it back, we soar! Life has new meaning and purpose. We are in the flow of Life and Love. And all is as it was meant to be.

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

Getting in the flow is as easy as ABC

So how do we get back into the flow of life, and honour our heart’s promise, when we may not know where to begin?

It’s a simple A, B, C formula (simpler than we think):

A. Sit quietly and with deep sincerity, ask the angels, God, Universal Intelligence, Spirit—whatever you wish to call that which grows the flowers and births all life—“Please show me the way. What do I need to know in order to take my next steps?”

Hold the intention to receive clarity about your next steps and expect to get it.

B. Stay awake for signs that will point the way.

Open to receive unexpected messages from books, people, events, signposts. There are no limits to where guidance will come from.

C. Follow the guidance you are given.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” —Goethe

Each step, no matter how small, could lead you to magical opportunities. Serendipity isn’t a miracle. It is within the natural order of Life.

“God Winks”, as I like to call them, are universal gifts to us that are available everywhere and at all times. Say YES to yourself and watch the God Winks show up in places you would never have thought to look!

What if it’s a book?

Do you have a creative impulse to write a book? Is it serendipitous that you’re reading this now? Only you will know the truth of this.

Has anyone ever said to you…

“I think you should write a book.”

And you said, “Me? I don’t think so.”

Yet it sparks something in you that resonates deeply but you brush it aside. Or perhaps it has been a secret desire you have had for years but you don’t know how or where to begin. Maybe you are already in the midst of writing a book, blog, play or short story, but can’t seem to stay focused, so you stop.

Check out these two scenarios:

Scenario #1

You want to write a book

You don’t know how or where to begin

You don’t think you are good enough

There are things you know about and care about

You are hesitant to say them out loud

You are afraid of what people might think or say

There are other reasons too

You begin to shrink

You stop

Your dream ENDS here.

Scenario #2

You want to write a book

You don’t know how or where to begin

There are things you know and care about

You are hesitant to say them out loud

You are afraid of what people might think or say

There are other reasons too

Still, you say to yourself, “I am willing to feel the discomfort,

put my fears aside and GO FOR IT.”

Your dream BEGINS here.

It is here that you will step into the magic of Universal Mind and Flow. You will no longer be burdened by whatever kept you stuck. Instead you will be doing what you have dreamed of, and as you move toward your life’s purpose, you move toward your divinity. And this is the gift you give yourself, by answering the call of your creative impulse, your heart’s promise.

“As we move toward our creativity, we move toward our Divinity.”
—Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

I have successfully coached many individuals to move from writer to author. In the process, they have also found their authentic voices which, in many cases, had been silenced for years.

Author Support Group

Starting April 13th, 2016. Join now!

Wednesday evenings, 6:15 – 8:45 pm

8 Weeks, April 13 – June 1

“I had the opportunity to attend Junie Swadron’s Author Support Group earlier this year. My manuscript, Julia’s Secret, had been stuck in a drawer for a couple of years at that time. I received amazing support and guidance from Junie and from the group. Junie is a wonderful facilitator—honest and heartfelt. The sessions were full of fun and extremely encouraging. Julia’s Secret is now finished and just waiting for the illustrations! My blog is out there too. The Author Support Group was a brilliant kick starter. I recommend it 100%—with all my heart.” —Anne Sture

Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss your writing dreams, and after our call I’ll send you my preliminary Author’s Questionnaire to really get you excited about moving forward with your project!

Limited space; register now. Early bird price ends March 23rd. Read more and register here.

Writing Prompt

Today, I am ready to commit to my heart’s desires. I am choosing…


Today I am not ready to commit to my hearts desires. I am choosing…

Both prompts are valid. Whatever applies to you is rich grist for the mill. Perhaps the second prompt will lead to the first one. I’m dyslexic. I love to reverse orders!


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

All blessings,

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11 Mar

Despair + Journaling = Alchemy + Transformation

you make a difference!

This week I had an experience that demonstrates the truth of my statement, The sweet whisperings of your soul meet you on the page and something shifts. You begin to stand taller and one day you notice that your voice on the page has become your voice in the world.

A realization

On Tuesday, I woke before dawn consumed with angst. It had to do with something I had been hiding for years, which was connected to feelings of unworthiness. I didn’t know I felt that way—at least on such a big scale—until I was diagnosed with a severe vision problem about a month ago (which is treatable, thank goodness, but the cost of the treatment is thousands of dollars). The condition is described as: Convergence Insufficiency, Binocular Dysfunction, and Visual Processing Deficits.

I had been hiding my inability to read properly since my childhood; the realization that I actually have a vision problem began just last month when I was directed to a TED Talk presentation by Dr. Cam McCrodan, an optometrist here in Victoria, BC, who specializes in treatment of visual dysfunction. As I watched him, I wept because almost everything he said described me to a T!

Sharing a secret

I shared my “secret” about my reading problems and the news of my diagnosis and proposed costly treatment with my dear friend Frances, and she said, “Oh, Junie, this is a perfect opportunity to do crowd funding.” We were at a restaurant having dinner. Suddenly, I started feeling queasy. She went on to say that asking friends and acquaintances to contribute to a crowd funding campaign was the perfect solution to the cost of treatment, and a worthy cause. The queasiness bought prime real estate inside me and settled into every cell of my being—especially after another dear friend Teya had the crowd-funding site up a few days later! When she told me she had done it, I freaked out! “What? I never said to put it up!”

How was she to know that I had been sitting with the shame, fear, and guilt that had continued to natter at me since my dinner with Frances? After waking up in that same dark place Tuesday morning, I grabbed my journal and, as usual, it didn’t fail me.

Confiding in my journal

After pages of seemingly going nowhere, eventually I found myself directly inside a little girl’s psyche with all of her guilt, pain, and shame. I kept my pen moving and then found myself inside the source of the pain, exactly when and where I was when I adopted the belief that I wasn’t deserving. I wrote and I wept and eventually came into a clearing: a meadow of beautiful spring flowers, a gentle breeze caressing my wounds, and songbirds singing love songs above me. And in this sacred setting, I forgave my parents and all of those who contributed to that little girl’s pain where she thought she wasn’t good enough. I offered them my love and it came back to me one-hundred-fold.

By the time I put my pen down, I was singing—literally! I was one of those songbirds singing out my love. And I knew that I could go ahead with the crowd funding. If people judged me, I would still be okay. It would be an invitation to peel away another layer of ego that holds me hostage whenever I take seriously what I perceive others are thinking about me.

Three miracles

And that was just the beginning of my day! Before I walked out of my house to go to my team meeting at the Schizophrenia Society at noon, three more miracles occured!

One, I picked up one of Wayne Dyer’s books and opened it randomly to a page titled, Money and Self-Esteem! Seriously?! How DOES that work? Anyway, it spoke and affirmed of all the things I had just been writing about.

After that I sat in silence for about 20 minutes feeling love pour into me and out of me, and then the phone rang. It was the supervisor of a company where I had stopped services about a year ago, but they had still been charging me a monthly fee. It was my error, as I hadn’t cancelled my plan in the way they had specified because I didn’t read the directions properly. Without a moment’s hesitation, she told me she was going to refund me the money. Two days earlier an employee of the company had told me that a refund wasn’t possible because I hadn’t followed the company’s policy! I literally cried in gratitude with this offer of a refund.

Next came the third miracle: feeling that I AM deserving and that it’s okay to be me just the way I am, I went to my phone and made a video of myself honouring my sisters around the world for International Women’s Day. The day before I would have been mortified to put a video of myself on Facebook without make-up and looking less than svelte dahling!

The equation

What started the ball rolling on this sense of joy and freedom and these miracles was this simple equation: Despair + Journaling = Alchemy & Transformation

How does that work? Because you get to tell your truth. All of it! No one else but you and the page. No one there to correct your writing or have an opinion about it. Just you, a pen, and some paper.

Well, there is one other secret ingredient that sneaks in there when we allow it, when we aren’t judging what we write. God. The Universe. Universal Intelligence. Love . . . name it what you will. But I guarantee you that It is always with you in ways you could never imagine!

Writing Exercise

Today, commit to writing in your journal about something that has been niggling at you, something that has been keeping you in guilt, shame, unworthiness, self-doubt, even self-loathing. Write deeply into your truth. Don’t hold back. Let your heart spill onto the pages until you find that you are no longer a person writing, but an energy moving through space and time, and when you awaken from this writing reverie, you will be someone other that who you were when you first began.

Writing Prompt

“What I never wanted to say was… ”

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

All blessings,

P.S. More miracles … I just went downstairs to the laundry room and what was on the table? A card saying, “You Make a Difference”! Thank you for the difference you make in my life. Love this day, and go out and make a difference. Love yourself and let that love shine into everyone and everything you think, see, and do!


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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 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.


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,

Please share my website with your friends!
26 Feb

Introducing Author Lawrence Cooper!


I am beginning to feature heroes and heroines on my blog—everyday people who have undergone heartbreaking, soul-crushing challenges, and are now on the other side of them.

Even though they weren’t sure how they were going to get there, they did. They found that they have more strength and resilience than they ever thought possible and now wish to share their experiences so that others in similar circumstances can learn and grow from the lessons they have learned along the way.

Are you ready to share your hero or heroine story? If so, just tell me what your story is about and I’ll be in touch for sure!

Today I am proud to feature Brand New Author, LAWRENCE JW COOPER!

Lawrence is one of my most recent book coaching clients and his beautiful book, Bi: A Bisexual Man’s Transformational Journey from Agony to Ecstasy has now been published! He is a master of prose and poetry, a man called to enlightenment, born from the utmost depths of despair as a wise man, shaman of the heart.

Here Lawrence gives you a glimpse into the transformation that led to the writing of his book:

Bi: From Agony to Ecstasy
by Lawrence JW Cooper

My life was in ruins. My gender issues that I had tried so hard to conceal had blown up in my face. My wife of 33 years divorced me, I was forced to take an early retirement from my career as a psychologist, and I went into a deep dark depression. I was admitted into an eighteen-week program for depression, anxiety disorder, and a personality disorder with gender identification issues. I was placed on heavy medication, and developed some coping skills. But drugs and therapy of the mind were useless; I needed to heal my soul.

Personality Disorder

Black clouds have appeared on the horizon again,

Blocking out the warm rays of the morning sun.

There is no clarity again today,

Just the knowledge that there can never be a reason

That can be believed.

There can never be hope

That can be realized.

There can never be faith

In anything without a foundation.

There can never be peace;

There can never be love.

There is only myself,

With no sense of who I am,

And no idea of where to go.



After therapy, I sold or gave away everything I had, settled into a small mountain village in Costa Rica, and started a ten-year process of deep inner healing. I gradually peeled away the layers of the onion of pain. With the help of my reborn spirit, I was able to toss out all the medication and enter into a peaceful state within my own soul. This eventually led to a series of spiritual strategies and insights that have carried me here, to this contended place, where I am at peace with myself and my gender. I have experienced a spiritual awakening that has given me a deep heart based peace, and a spiritual joy that is now at the core of my being. I learned to love myself which, in turn, set me free to experience true love for the first time. I now live a life of bliss with an amazing woman who accepts my gender issues and loves me just the way I am. When we have issues we resolve them and use these moments to learn and grow as a couple and as individuals.

Throughout this healing process, I journaled my path from agony to ecstasy in poetry. At the urging of my wife I compiled this book of feelings through poetry, added personal stories from my journey in prose, and tossed in psychological and spiritual insights in essays from my present views as a conscious psychologist.

But I was still not sure I wanted to share these deeply intimate feelings; that’s when I decided to engage in a one to one coaching program with Junie. That is when I found my voice and realized that I have a message that needs to be told. We explored the area of the target audience. The original hope was that it may be of help to other bisexual men and their families. But the view and the work itself have evolved into much more than that.

This is above all a one-man journey, not only to peace, but to ecstasy. This is about my discovery of the divine nature of my inner soul and the great capacity of my heart to love my Self and the people around me. This is a book of spiritual conquest of the shadows of my human experience. I share this collection of feelings and insights with you in the hope that together we may transcend the shadows of this world and be the creatures of light that we are truly meant to be.

The Voice of Love

There is a new voice,

The voice of a Spirit Divine,

Telling me I need to throw off these chains,

And run wild before the wind.

It implores me to open my Self up

To everything I have feared,

To explore the depths of the forbidden,

And to learn to desire the undesirable,

So that I may experience the excitement of the unknown,

And stir my consciousness with arousal and yearning,

Until my soul is empowered to melt opposites into oneness,

And my heart has been set free to teach chaos how to dance.


Writing Prompt

Write about a time that you were stronger than you thought. Begin with: I never thought I could do it, never thought I would see the light of day again until…

Author Support Group

Are You Ready to Write Your Book? Sure? Not Sure? Let’s Talk! I’ll be offering an Author Support Group this spring, on Wednesday evenings for eight weeks beginning April 13th. Your dream begins here. And you won’t have to do it alone! It will be my joy and privilege to guide you right to the finish line, either one-on-one or as part of the group. Read all the details here.

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

All blessings,

Please share my website with your friends!
17 Feb

Present Moment. Beautiful Moment.

I almost always have the intention to get up early in the morning and go for a walk before I do ANYTHING else, including showering—lest I be tempted to check my emails or engage in some other time-squandering activity. “No,” I tell myself. “Just get up, brush your teeth (that one’s non-negotiable), and throw on your jeans and a sweatshirt—any one will do—and go.”

Then morning comes, it’s semi-dark outside, and the warmth of my bed and comforter often seduce me back to dreamtime. Today was no exception except that my brain started ruminating on the refrain in Rumi’s poem, Don’t Go Back to Sleep:

The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!

The words were relentlessly insistent. I sat up, turned on my night lamp and noticed the book I had taken down from my bookshelf last night and placed there called Writing the Sacred: A Psalm-Inspired Path to appreciating and writing Sacred Poetry, by Ray McGinnis (which I highly recommend). I opened it randomly to a page that read:

“I wake up and a new day has begun. There is air to breathe…daylight. The earth is renewing itself with sunshine; or watering grass, gardens, and vegetation with rain. Birds sing; waves lap upon the shore. The earth pulsates with life.

…Most of us have a place we like to go that we call sanctuary; a place that is restful, healing, beautiful and revitalizing. I have a number of these places. One is close by, requiring only that I step outside my front door. There I can view the wonders of English Bay, walk along the seawall, listen to the waves crash along the shore, hear seabirds, and smell the salt in the air.

I have a route that usually includes Vancouver’s Lost Lagoon. On my way, I encounter raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, skunk, occasionally a coyote or beaver, swans, geese and other waterfowl.

When some people begin their day with the news, I begin it with a fresh encounter with the natural environment outside my home.”

Okay, this is no accident that Don’t Go Back to Sleep is echoing in my ears and this book and these passages await me. The book has 219 pages and I open it here? No accident.

And an even bigger coincidence (of course, there is no such thing), Ray is writing about a place I once lived, and the walk he takes is the same one I took almost daily and coveted—and it was also a stone’s throw from English Bay and Lost Lagoon. But that’s not all:

Just last night I answered an email from a woman who is receiving coaching from me to write her book. She said that she has been feeling depressed lately and is far behind in her work and is not motivated to write. She’s also in Vancouver and won’t be back until Thursday. “Can we hold off for now?” she asked. In my reply I let her know that our process is about nurturance and not pressure. Among some comforting words I offered her, I suggested she take time between business meetings to walk along the beaches of English Bay and Lost Lagoon! The very words that were on the pages meant for me this morning!

Canada Geese 200This was too obvious a message to ignore. It was stronger than a shake or tap on the shoulder whispering, “Junie, time to get up.” No, this was a message that was clearer than clear. And within minutes I was out the door.

It was cold and wet but that didn’t stop me. I walked down the street four blocks and was in Victoria’s answer to Stanley Park—Beacon Hill Park, which is lush and vibrating with new life: daffodils and crocuses are lifting their colourful heads in joy, the peacocks, ducks and geese are swimming, diving, flying, and walking upon the earth, in the pools, and in the fountains. The soft rain is leaving glass bubbles on the tips of leaves and in puddles on the pavement. Even the gray sky has a silver lining running through it this morning. And I can’t forget to mention the magnificent cherry blossoms that are showing off their pinkness in mid-February. In Canada! Seriously!

Oh my… Thank you Rumi and thank you Ray McGinnis. And to you, I say, don’t go back to sleep. No matter where you live, there are sounds and sights and smells that only come in the morning to wake us up in ways that nothing else can. This is what awaited me… just beyond my doorstep:



Writing Prompt

Don’t go back to sleep. Set your alarm for 6:30 a.m. and go for a 45-minute walk, taking your journal with you. Walk with all your senses awake: breathing in the air, notice what you see up close and in the distance. Are you warm enough? Are there other people on their way to work? Are you strolling city streets or pausing in nature? What sounds do you hear? When your senses are full, take yourself to a neighbourhood coffee shop, order a latte, take out your journal and fill the pages with your fresh memory of visceral and sensual delights.

Blessings to you,

P.S. If you live in Victoria and you want to join me for a silent mindfulness walk and a chatty coffee afterwards… email me at junie@junieswadron.com. I’d love an early morning walking buddy to tell me, “Don’t go back to sleep. Don’t go back to sleep.”

As always, please leave comments below and/or join us in our private Facebook group, Junie’s Writing Sanctuary.

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11 Feb

Valentine’s Day is for Everyone!

Will you be my Valentine?VALENTINES - to me you are perfect

Hallmark and consumerism have made Valentine’s Day into a special occasion for people in loving relationships. But what if you’re single? Do you feel left out? Or what if you’re in a relationship but it’s not feeling particularly loving these days? Do you just wish this day would hurry up and pass? Or, maybe you’re in a fabulous relationship and your love for one another isn’t much different on February 14th than on any other day.

Well, no matter what the day signifies for you, here’s a great recipe, with love that is guaranteed to put a smile in your heart every day! In fact, I think Hallmark would be wise to start making cards that say something like this:

squirrelsHappy Valentine’s Day To My Best Friend and lover, the person who I am learning to adore more than anyone else in the whole wide world, the one who has been with me through thick and thin, no matter what. She (or he) knows exactly what I need when no one else does. I have to admit, she hasn’t ALWAYS treated me as well as I deserve to be treated—in fact, sometimes has been out and out nasty. She has said things that have hurt me. Things she would never say to anyone else! However, I am ready and willing to forgive her and today I am declaring my true love and appreciation in ways I never have before because in spite of her shortcomings, she is amazing!

Valentine’s Day is a fitting time to start my declaration and one that I intend to commit to the best I can. It may not be easy because I’ve held onto so many judgments of her but I want to stop that critical way of being. So I am reaching out to The Universe for guidance because in truth, she really deserves my unconditional love and compassion more than anyone else I know.

love you - envelope with heartsIt may not always look like flowers, candlelit dinners, or days at the spa. But I can start with small things. Well, actually, why not flowers? Fresh flowers always lift her spirits and as I imagine the smile on her face when I give them to her—well, she’s irresistible! I intend to put a smile on her face far more often because when she is happy, she simply radiates light. She becomes a love magnet putting smiles on other people’s faces everywhere she goes!

She has been so brave and has overcome so many challenges. She hurts easily—and well, I just haven’t listened to her as well as I could have. She has such a beautiful heart and I’m going to write her a Valentine love letter and tell her so. I’m going to read it to her out loud and I hope that she will keep it somewhere safe and read it over and over again whenever she forgets how loved she is. And I recommend you do the same for your true love.

Two Writing Prompts

1. Write a letter to the one who deserves your love and compassion more than anyone else. The one I have been writing about! By now, have you figured out that it is YOU! Yes, YOU! Write the most beautiful, heart-felt letter to yourself, put it in an envelope, and drop it in the mail. You will more than likely forget that you did and when it comes, it will be the best gift in the whole wide world! And don’t be surprised if it arrives on a day that you need to read it the most. In the meantime, buy yourself some beautiful flowers and stick a little card on them from the florist shop that says, I LOVE YOU!

budgies 2. Write a love letter to someone else you really appreciate who makes your heart sing and tell them all the reasons why. Don’t hold back. Go for the gusto!

Caveat: Please do the writing exercises in the order listed. This is a matter of putting your oxygen mask on first and Letting Your Love Light Shine for yourself! Then it radiates out naturally to the world. Just imagine—the love you give yourself passes on to the next person and the next, creating a ripple effect that contributes to the critical mass of a more compassionate, loving planet! I’d say that’s pretty irresistible win-win motivation! Love for one and all!

Meet Joey and Madeleine, my adorable budgies. From the moment they met, they were each other’s Valentines. You couldn’t put a toothpick between them and it’s never changed! Joey’s the one getting his head massaged. They do take turns though. S w e e t ! … Oops! Make that T w e e t !

Please leave your comments below or join us in our private Facebook group, Junie’s Writing Sanctuary.

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05 Feb

Uncovering Treasure Troves


For the past two weeks I have been shuffling, sorting, and grazing through files—clearing out the old to make way for the new. I would love to tell you that I’ve had an easy go of it; however, when you let things slip as long as I have, there’s nothing easy about it.

I imagine most people in business for themselves have a folder or two called “filing”. Perhaps in some cases they are folders with files bursting at the seams, calling out for attention. Mine must have started out that way but I confess, I can’t remember when they went from a symptom worth noting to a chronic condition setting me into a helpless frenzy wishing there was an emergency paper clutter control phone number I could call. “Ahh, here it is. 211”

Man on line: “Hello, Paper Clutter Emergency Control. Can I help you?”

“Oh, yes, yes, pleeeze! I am being asphyxiated. You see, sir…” You get the picture. No such luck! No such number!

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In my case it was desperation that brought about the perfect solution to my problem and briefly threw me into the category of “genius”! You see, I have a beautiful wicker basket. It’s very large and very deep. It used to house linens and pillows. Well, unbeknownst to them, it was moving day! They got relocated to the linen closet, allowing me to dump umpteen files and loose papers into their old home—a most versatile basket indeed. That was a happy day to be sure! The papers were off my desk, out of sight, and, because they all disappeared into the basket, I could pretend there were just a few things to sort.

pile-of-paperBut then came that day. THAT DAY! The inevitable day that forced me out of my make-believe state as the tipping point hit. One little paper, and boom… instead of going into the basket, it fell off the top of the heap and onto the floor. For a moment my denial buddy came to visit, convincing me that none of this has anything to do with me. The basket had shrunk! It was flawed! If I had been able to find the receipt under the piles, I would have asked to get my money back. Instead, I put a teddy bear on top of the pile to still my anxiety and swallowed down a chocolate bar for quicker results.

Fast forward to today. MOST of the files have been neatly stored away in brand new file folders with tabs that say what’s in them and each has a happy new home. The filing cabinet that houses them is feeling quite smug, since most of the old, outdated files have been shredded and tossed, replaced by feng shui heaven.

Finally, we get to the title of this blogpost, Uncovering Treasure Troves. The joy of actually doing all this sorting, shuffling, and grazing is finding the amazing treasures we unearth from our very own home, garage, basement, attic, filing cabinet… or wicker basket.

It was my intention to tell you about some of my amazing finds, which probably would have been far more interesting than sorting papers. However, I wrote this, which was obviously forefront in my mind. It is what inevitably happens in stream of consciousness writing. I followed my own rules today and just let my writing take me where it would. I let it have its way with me. I hope you don’t mind.

But in keeping with the title, I’ll share one or two treasures:

Among the many treasures was a beautiful letter I received from my late sister Barbara, dated August 15th, 2005 complimenting me on a talk I had given, ending with, “Gotta run as I just came into the office and I have our year-end to get ready for the accountants. Year-end, month-end, week-end. It never ends!” She was as funny as she was loving and I miss her every day! It was wonderful to find this treasure!

I also found some writing from my dear friend, Deborah Millar, who I wrote a blog about. Deborah, a world-renowned singing coach, was hoping to compile her works into a book and, unfortunately, she passed away from cancer before she had the chance. I have many of her writings because I was mentoring her through the process during that time. Her writing was as stunning and beautiful as her heart. What a shame she did not live to see her dream to fruition. Read the story I wrote about my love for her.

Two weeks ago I facilitated a retreat called, Unleash Your Passion, Creativity, and Highest Potential. Soon you will be able to see a video montage of that day that my dear friend and videographer, Jeremy Vargas, is putting the finishing touches to.

But what I want to say about that workshop is that it was about bringing your talent, your voice, your precious heart-desires into the world. Having just re-read Deborah’s works and the tragedy that befell her—and so young! PLEASE… don’t leave this planet with your song still inside you!

Do WHATEVER it takes to make it happen. What can you do today? Not tomorrow or the day after. Today. What treasures are still hiding in your heart waiting to see the light? Perhaps it’s singing or performing. Perhaps it’s the next chapter in a book you are writing. Perhaps it’s the next and most fabulous chapter of your life to date!

Writing Prompt: “Sometimes I think about my natural gifts. Sometimes I keep them a secret. Often I just want to bust loose and take the leap, go for it… but I get scared. Right now, I am willing to listen to the whisperings of my heart. I must. And this is what my heart, my wisdom, my truth, is telling me…”

All blessings,

p.s. Start a conversation! Please leave a comment below or head to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to contribute your thoughts.

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29 Jan

8 Reasons Why Some People Would Rather Do Anything But Write


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 Jan

21-Day Writing Challenge (Part 3)


This is it! The last seven writing prompts of January’s 21-Day Writing Challenge. Congratulations to everyone who took up the challenge, even if it was for a day or two. And it’s never too late to start! All 21 of the writing prompts will be here for you on the blog whenever you need inspiration. As always, please leave a comment below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary.

Set your timer for 20 minutes, put on your sleuth hat, and follow her around that corner.

Today’s idea: grab a book off the shelf, open it to a random page, and copy down the first sentence you see into your journal. Let that sentence be your writing prompt. Write for five minutes, then, as you read over your writing, underline a sentence that speaks to you and let that be the starting sentence for your next five minutes of writing. Continue! Let us know where it takes you…

Day 17: THE FOX
Here is a stanza from the Mary Oliver poem October. Please take it from here:

“One morning, the fox came down the hill, glittering and confident, and didn’t see me—and I thought… “:

(Gabrielle Roth in Sweat Your Prayers). It’s an interesting question Gabrielle Roth poses. Where does it take you?

Everything. Tell us what your name means to you. Some of us like our names; some of us change them. I chose to go from “June” to “Junie” because my mom called me “Junie” when she was in a good mood, and guess what she called me when she wasn’t? Now when people call me “June”, I don’t get upset. My mom loved me even if her tone of voice didn’t always sound warm and fuzzy. Tell us what your name means to you. Also, my last name was Schwadron; we hailed from Austria and five generations of orthodox rabbis. Our family broke the mold!

Here’s a treat. Enjoy the music video “I Choose Love” by Shawn Gallaway, and then, you know the drill… write from wherever it takes you:

We did it! Congratulations! I wish to thank all of you who participated in our 21-Day Writing Challenge. Whether you wrote consistently for 21 days or not, even if this exercise got you writing just a little bit, it has done its job. I celebrate your efforts. The 21st prompt is: Shall we dance?

And that’s a wrap! Remember you can always come over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join us in our private Facebook group to keep the momentum going. All you need to do is request to join and I will open the gates for you. Join the fun, the audacity, the vulnerability, the creativity, the daring and hopefulness, the challenges… everything we writers go through when putting pen to paper.

Writing can be a lonely activity, but not at the Sanctuary. It’s a place to share your writing, your process… to be seen and heard. At the Sanctuary we all show up wherever we are, fledgling or seasoned writer, blocked and frustrated or flowing with personality, creativity, and magic. Let’s interact and be part of a community that writers and all artists crave.

Also, I’d love it if you would leave comments below to let me know how the writing challenge worked for you.

All blessings,


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15 Jan

21-Day Writing Challenge (Part 2)


We are well into the 21-day writing challenge now, at the end of week 2. Below you’ll find the writing prompts for days 8-14. Enjoy, and see you next week! As always, please leave a comment below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary.

Day 8: Time out

What are your favourite ways to keep your cool, stay sane, balanced and healthy when the demands of the day want to take over?

Here’s my entry for Day 8:

It’s hard to believe that we are finished our first week! That we are eight days into our 21-Day Writing Challenge. Wasn’t it just Christmas? Weren’t we just planning the holidays?

Time is so mysterious. There are still 24 hours in each day, yet every week seems to fly by faster than the one before. So much gets packed into one day. Surely there must be more time for time out. Well, not if we don’t make time.

Yesterday, I downloaded Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness bell app onto my smartphone. I have programmed it to ring every hour as a reminder to stop whatever I am doing and B R E A T H E.

There is another thing I have done to honour my time to stop and breathe. I have opened my home every weekday morning from 8:15-9:00 for a silent drop-in morning meditation and writing practice.

It’s something I do most days anyway but I thought how wonderful and rich it would be to experience this practice with others. For me there is nothing like having the energy of a prayerful group filling the spaces we are in. So, on Monday morning, I woke at six o’clock and prepared my living room with candles, lavender in my essential oil diffuser, and soft meditative music. I boiled the kettle for tea in preparation. The doorbell did not ring. No one came. Nor did they on Tuesday, Wednesday, nor today.

It is a joy to notice how far I have come over the years. At one time I would be terribly disappointed that no one showed up. Not now. I love doing this for me. On one hand, it’s a stretch; I would rather linger in bed another hour or so. Yet, having made this commitment, I am motivated to show up, and frankly, making my home warm and lovely, cozying up on the sofa with a candles burning, ready to meditate and write this way, is a wonderful thing to do.

Up until now, my practice was writing in bed in the morning but it didn’t always happen in spite of my best intentions. I’d fall back to sleep and deny myself the most important staple for my daily soul diet: pen and paper.

Opening my home for others to join me is a sure way to inspire me to stay true to my practice. And I would love for you to join me. You will find me on my sofa, sipping tea, pen in hand, devotedly awaiting your arrival.

Day 9: Lover of leaving

Wow, we’re already into week 2! Congratulations to those of you who are still on board. And for all of us, wherever we are in the writing process, let it be OK.

Here’s one of my favourite Rumi quotes:
“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper or lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.”

Write whatever shows up after reading the quote. It could apply to your writing practice or it could be, as I imagine Rumi intended it…a returning to The Beloved.

Day 10: Self love—how can I serve you?

Today, and every day, put your hand on your heart and ask your heart, your beautiful innocence, “How can I serve you?” Then, listen to what the whispers of your heart wish to tell you. This is definitely, for me, a light my candle moment as I take out my journal and pen.

Day 11: Life’s unsuspecting gifts

It’s impossible to live on this earth without undergoing challenges. Some are heart crushing and we wonder how we will ever survive them. But somehow we did. Somehow we were stronger than we thought and hopefully the justice in the pain and despair is the wisdom that came afterward.

What do you consider the most unsuspecting gift you’ve unwrapped (although it didn’t come with a pretty ribbon and bow) from one of your greatest challenges? What did you learn, and have you been able to share your learnings with others who may going through similar struggles?

Day 12: A song of the heart

Is there a special song you have in your heart and when hear it, it brings you back to that person, that event or “the good ol” days? Please tell us all about it.

My favourite song for many years was “Smile”, sung by Nat King Cole. It was the song my best friend Suki and I sang together when were children. Suki and I were inseparable until we were 20 and travelled to Europe together where we had our very first argument ever and it separated us for 43 years. Over the many years we were apart, whenever I heard that song, it made me feel so sad. Now, I can’t stop myself from smiling! I published our story on my blog; if you would like to read more, here it is:

Day 13: City lights

City lights…where does this take you?

Day 14: Home

My friend Tim Morley sent me the following poem today. The poet lives on Whidbey Island near Tim’s home. What does this poem evoke in you? I challenge you to write a poem about home: Your home today, or a home you once lived in. A home that turned out to be a house devoid of the essence of home, or the home that only exists in your heart.

by Judith Adams

It is the resting place from impermanence,
asylum for authentic conversation,
for reconstructing heaven,
for unraveling from the world.
Our pots and the art that moves us
are only the archeologist’s proof of
existence, of how long the
apprenticeship lasts until we surrender.
The tyrannical self tires of the
uncompromising honesty of a true home.
In the end we give away everything
that saps our energy.
At the window the feminine moon
is slowing down, and at the sink
we survive our mistakes, our grief,
our joy, with robust
celebration, the door open,
the kettle on.

Remember to come on over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join us in our private Facebook group and jump into the challenge! All you need to do is request to join and I will open the gates for you. You will see what the others have been writing. Join the fun, the audacity, the vulnerability, the creativity, the daring and hopefulness, the challenges… everything we writers go through when putting pen to paper.

Writing can be a lonely activity, but not at the Sanctuary. It’s a place to share your writing, your process… to be seen and heard. At the Sanctuary we all show up wherever we are, fledgling or seasoned writer, blocked and frustrated or flowing with personality, creativity, and magic. Let’s interact and be part of a community that writers and all artists crave. Let’s come out of the cave where the lone wolf resides.

ALSO, I’d love it if you would leave comments below to let me know how this is working for you.

All blessings,



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06 Jan

21-Day Writing Challenge (Part 1)

Happy New Year! For the next three weeks, my readers get a bonus: not just one writing prompt per week, but seven, as we work our way through the 21-day writing challenge in Junie’s Writing Sanctuary. Please join us at the Sanctuary (our private Facebook group) and jump into the challenge! All you need to do is request to join and I will open the gates for you. Or, scroll through the first seven days below and find something that gets you writing. I’d love it if you’d leave comments below to let me know how this works for you.

Day 1: January 1, 2016

As you enter this brand new year, I thought I would begin by offering you four questions. This is a favourite exercise of mine; it can help us become crystal clear about how we want to bring writing into our hearts and lives this year.

Write each of the following four questions down and answer each question ten times. Take the time to listen deeply and write down what you hear. If the same answer comes up for you more than once, it just means that it is indeed important to you.

Although these questions may seem straightforward, your answers may surprise you:

Regarding writing, what do I want?
Regarding writing, what do I need?
Regarding writing, what do I fear?
Regarding writing, what do I hope for?

If you have any questions, be sure to ask me and feel free to share your answers below or comment about how the process worked for you.

Day 2: Don’t go back to sleep

Did you remember to create a sacred writing space, one that beckons and seduces you into the parlour of your muse? Did you light a candle, are you playing soft music or do you simply reach for your pen and your journal, your eyes still sticky with slumber, knowing no matter what, the magic is about to begin?

Today’s prompt is from Rumi: “The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell. Don’t go back to sleep.”

When I read this, I thought it would be a good thing for me to frame on my wall for its literal meaning.

How often I have wanted to rise early in the morning and walk along the rocks and sand on Dallas Road beach but I do not. Even when I am conscious enough to have that thought float through my mind, even though I know how much I would benefit from the secrets I’d be told by the breezes and the sea lions gracefully swimming by, I am seduced by the warmth of my bed, its down comforter and another invitation to dreamtime.

Where do Rumi’s words take you? Set your timer for 20 minutes and feel free to share your process or what you have written.

Day 3: Are you feeling reticent?

Are you still feeling reticent about starting the challenge? Do you feel that if you didn’t start on Day 1, it’s too late? Well, please let me help you lay down your burdens of self-doubt and recrimination.

Even if you are reading this on day 5 or 9 or 15, it’s still not too late. It’s not too late until we’ve taken our last breath!

So I invite you, wherever you are, to jump in or simply tiptoe in. Just start from wherever you are.

Think of a time when you made a commitment to something you wanted to have happen. You weren’t sure how you were going to stay the course. There were circumstances, obstacles, hardships that showed up which made it almost impossible for you to continue, but you did. You did it!

Remember that time and begin to write about it. Bring in all the details. Remember, one of the first rules in writing is show us, don’t tell us. So describe the circumstances.

Where were you? Do you remember the year? What was it you wanted so much you could almost taste it? What was happening in your life at the time? What made you feel so passionate about it? Were there people there who were supporting you? Who were they? What was their role and their relationship to you?

Maybe there were naysayers, wet blankets, the people who said, “Forget it. It’s impossible. Or, it’s impractical or…” Who were they? How did you deal with it? Describe the challenges you faced? How did you manage? What strengths did you draw on? Bring in your feelings, your fears. No holding back. And write what it was like for you when you stepped over the finish line. Then write how it feels for you as you recall that story today. Have fun!

Here is one of my favourite passages written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

The Power of Commitment
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth—the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans—the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events, issues and decisions, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed, would have come their way… Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now…”

Day 4: Write from “I Am Divine Mystery”

Today I decided to pull a card from a deck called “I Am Divine—Affirming Our Divine Nature in Everyday Life” created by Barbara Burke Luminous Creations. The card says, “I Am Divine Mystery. If you receive this card today you are being invited into a very powerful space, that of Divine Mystery. Being in the mystery allows for limitless possibilities. Allow yourself to be open to total surrender and know that in that place is where you access your true power.”

As always, set your timer for 20 minutes and write where this passage takes you.

Day 5: A handwritten letter of love

Are you old enough to remember when writing letters was what we did in order to communicate with friends and lovers far away? Emails? Skype? Texts? Excuse me? There weren’t men on the moon yet either! Well, just.

For me, letter writing was a sacred ritual that spawned intimacy and connection. I took the time to carefully craft each letter from my heart. As I wrote I could almost feel that person sitting beside me, and my heart opened even more. It felt private and beautiful.

The sweetness didn’t stop after placing the letter in the post box. No, after that came the fantasy of my dear one opening my letter and being moved by it, possibly even enchanted. Next was the wait. The delicious anticipation followed by the immeasurable joy of receiving his or her letter in return.

Today’s writing challenge is to write a special handwritten letter to a certain loved one who you know would absolutely adore receiving such a gift. One letter, one envelope and one stamp, from your heart to their heart that becomes a sacred keepsake forever more.

Please share your process with us. Or, if you like, write us too about a particular letter you once wrote or that you received that is still a precious memory.

Day 6: Your sacred self

Imagine that you are a baby kissing yourself in the mirror, and beside you sit the sacred scrolls, written through your pure heart. What does your unfettered heart of love say? As always, please share.

Day 7: “I remember…”

This is one of my favourite writing prompts, as we never know what is going to show up. Of all the gazillion experiences we have had over our lifetimes, what will the pen reveal when we give ourselves over to 20 minutes of “I remember…”? Have fun and please share!

Remember to come on over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join us in our private Facebook group and jump into the challenge! All you need to do is request to join and I will open the gates for you. You will see what the others have been writing. Join the fun, the audacity, the vulnerability, the creativity, the daring and hopefulness, the challenges… everything we writers go through when putting pen to paper.

Writing can be a lonely activity, but not at the Sanctuary. It’s a place to share your writing, your process… to be seen and heard. At the Sanctuary we all show up wherever we are, fledgling or seasoned writer, blocked and frustrated or flowing with personality, creativity, and magic. Let’s interact and be part of a community that writers and all artists crave. Let’s come out of the cave where the lone wolf resides.

ALSO, I’d love it if you would leave comments below to let me know how this is working for you.

All blessings,

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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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22 Dec

From the Darkness to the Light


More than any other holiday, Christmas is the one that is celebrated the most in hundreds of countries around the world. In the country where I live, Canada, December 25th is a mixed bag. On one hand, it is the time of remembering the birth of Christ and all that stands for—peace, love, forgiveness, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, good tidings, family gatherings, turkey dinners, gift giving, Midnight Mass, carolling, decorating trees, and putting up Christmas lights to herald the season.

But more often than not, this is not the case. I heard on the radio the other day that in Bethlehem pilgrims are gathering, but on every street corner and on top of buildings there are armed soldiers to ensure the peace. Local people do not go out at this time. The streets are too dangerous.

And here on the North American continent Christmas can be a time of madness, stress, depression, and a yearning for what Christmas is meant to symbolize. This is especially true when money is scarce and it’s difficult to buy gifts for the people you love, or when family gatherings are something that “other people” do, but you don’t. Perhaps your family members are far away from each other and haven’t been under one roof for years. Or perhaps they live in close proximity but your relationships are dysfunctional or estranged. Christmas time may mean putting on a lot of false smiles and wishing in your heart that things were different.

Also, the darkness at this time of year is a huge factor contributing to S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Depression and loneliness reign higher during this time of year than at any other. If this is true for you, I suggest you reach out to at least one person. Please do not isolate yourself. Why not volunteer at one of the food banks or dinners that are put on for the homeless by the Salvation Army or other agencies? Sometimes nothing lifts our spirits more than helping others.

Last year I had a wonderful gift at Christmas. I live in a small apartment on a peaceful street and the building I live in is filled with many friendly people. On Christmas Eve I heard loud voices outside my door. This was quite startling as it was the first time I ever encountered that. I opened my door and saw an open door to the apartment directly across the hall. The young man and woman who lived there, who I had not met as they had only recently moved in, were shouting and throwing things. Then they punched one another. It was serious. I immediately ran to the property manager’s apartment and told her what was going on. In the meantime the couple slammed their door shut. We knocked and they wouldn’t answer. The shouting continued. We knocked louder. They finally opened the door and the manager said, “Stop this immediately or I will call the police.”

At that moment I was inspired to go into my apartment and get a candle. I found a beautiful white candle and lit it and walked into their living room. In the middle of the chaos, I said, “Hey guys, this is Christmas Eve and this is a candle of peace. How ‘bout a time out?” They seemed stunned. In the pause, I offered the man the candle. I caught him off guard and he took it. He held it awkwardly. Then I said, “Would you like a hug?” Again he looked stunned but quietly, in almost a whisper he said, “Yes.” I immediately hugged him and he began to cry. He simply wept as I, a total stranger, held him. At the same time, my manager was hugging the woman. An aura of love and peace enveloped their living room. After a few moments, the man left my embrace and walked over to his partner and took her in his arms. We quietly left.

Now this is what I call a Christmas story! The kind I trust and believe in—and we don’t have to wait for Christmas. I believe in the indomitable human spirit, the one that seeks out kindness. I was inspired to get the candle. If I had stopped to think about it, I probably wouldn’t have done what I did. I don’t believe I would have gone into the middle of a physical fight and try to break it up. I didn’t “try” to do anything. I just acted as I felt directed to in the moment and a miracle took place. It was Divine Inspiration that led me to take that action, which melted the fury that was taking place between two people. A small gesture of love goes a long, long way.

Writing Prompt 1

What does Christmas or the holiday season mean to you? Write about some of your favourite memories. Write into your truth—if it’s joy, sadness, madness or something else.

Writing Prompt 2

Write what you envision a peaceful, joyful holiday would look like. Write about it in first person, present tense as though it were happening right now. See it on the screen of your mind, bringing in all the details of how you would like it to be. See it, feel it; smell, taste and touch it. Get excited about it. This is a method of intending something in order to make it real in your mind. Remember this is about “Re-Writing Your Life”. You can re-write your script for the holidays by focusing on your highest vision. At the end of this exercise, surrender it and let it go.

Writing Tip

Buy yourself a fabulous journal for Christmas and commit to writing in it every day. Let it become your 2016 spiritual practice, a meditation on the page to express your authentic voice and creativity. A related tip: You may want to do what I do. I buy 8 1/2 X 11 notebooks (much less expensive than ready-made journals) and I choose wonderful pictures from magazines and old calendars that I have collected over time to paste on the front and the back covers. Voila! A beautiful, personalized journal that I love!

Please let us know how this works for you by leaving a comment below.

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12 Dec

It’s Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood!

Today’s story is about accessing the kid in us—the one who keeps us honest, and we know the truth shall set us free if we would only give it a chance. Many years ago I had a deep yearning for something but I didn’t quite know what it was. I knew there was a lack in my life but couldn’t figure it out because on the outside I was doing all the “right” things.

It was not tangible. I had a felt sense that it had to do with what I was like when I was very little. It was an energy inside me that was unencumbered and free. I remembered the summers when I was a small child and could hardly wait to play outside because of the new discoveries I found every day in the field just beyond the apartment building where I grew up.

I would lie back in the tall grasses looking up at the sky and be totally mesmerized. I loved watching the cloud formations turning from prehistoric animals into human faces and angels with billowy wings. Or I’d turn my attention to the ground and be very quiet and still in order to watch the praying mantises. I really thought they were praying!

Or I’d skip past my best friend Suki’s house to the creek and watch the tadpoles and baby frogs. I’d make up stories and write songs and sing them to my pretend friends, and sometimes real friends, and it was the quality of this time that I was missing so fervently in my life as an adult. It was like an ancient dream had died with growing up. Where did my innocence, spontaneity, and favourite pastime—daydreaming, go?

Of course, it got replaced with schedules and responsibilities and “important things”. But what can be more important than play, than leisure time, and stopping long enough to experience and appreciate what’s actually in front of us in each moment? I realized that I had conformed and bought into society’s expectations of me and in doing so pretty much lost my playful, fun-loving inner child who cracks me up when I let her.

Back then I came up with an idea and approached my friend Janice, who I believed would help me. If I was having so much pain around the lack of spontaneity, joy, creativity and fun in my life, there must be others just like me also wishing to find a way to bring it back. Sure enough, she loved my idea and we went about creating Re-awaken Your Sleeping Child, a play shop for adults. I was right. There was indeed a big need for it. People kept signing up. It was a definite hit!

I don’t believe that need has changed. Perhaps there’s an even bigger need than ever with so many of us stretched to the limit every day with those important to-dos which all but eliminate leisure and play. I know this need in me has never waned. Do I always give myself time to kick back and have fun? Embarrassingly the answer is “no”. If I did, I guess it wouldn’t be a need. But my motto is: if you fall down, you get up. So, this is one of those times I’m acknowledging my need to play is on the FRONT burner.

In last week’s Sunday Afternoon Sacred Writing Circle, I wrote about tossing in the towel of responsibility and hangin’ loose. It was a very passionate piece that even had me surprised. It bought me relief and freedom and that truth set me free. Last night, in the dark winter cold and blustery winds, I threw on my warm winter jacket, hat and mitts and set out to experience the exuberance of a wild sea. Fully inspired, I continued walking around the neighbourhood enjoying the holiday flavour of houses alight with Santas and reindeer, or peering in windows to see the lit up Christmas trees, tinsel and bobbles.

Then I remembered how fabulous the magical coloured lights and ornaments that line Government Street are so I marched right downtown to see them up close, returning home some two hours later, feeling exhilarated. My little kid thought she had died and gone to heaven. Why would that be with something so simple? Because I just don’t let her have her way when it’s cold and dark all that often. I clearly need to renegotiate the hierarchy of decision-making. There’s no question she has much more sense than I do! And it takes so little to please her.

I had simply said “Yes!” instead of, “No, it’s too cold. It’s dark. You’re tired. Watch a movie, go to bed early.” Instead, I listened to the kid in me who wasn’t tired at all. She was ready for adventure and it turned into a magical night of simple, easy fun.

Are you ready to listen to the inner promptings of your inner child? I invite you to take a one-minute break right now. Be still and listen. What is he or she asking for? This is the voice of your innocence, creativity, spontaneity, and intuition, the one who will never steer us wrong. I’m re-committing to letting this voice steer my ship from now on. I only know this: when I let go of control, when I listen and am led, I am moving with the flow of The Universe. And what could be better than that?

Writing Tip

Mind Mapping with Flare: Gather a bunch of coloured markers and create a mind-map. Give it this title: “Things the Child in Me Loves to Do.” In the middle of the page, draw a circle and write the name you were called when you were a child. Then start creating spokes off that circle of all the things that little kid loves to do or used to but hasn’t for a very long time. Make it colourful. Have fun! When you’re finished, tape it to your fridge like you do for kids’ drawings. This one’s yours and should be front and centre where you can see it often. Then, choose one of those things each week and just do it. You can say, “Little Junie said so.”

Writing Prompt

After you have gone on your first play date (which could also include a bubble bath, candles and soft music), use this prompt: “I feel—choose one of the following adjectives or better yet, name your own—alive, elated, fantastic, happy, at peace, mellow, rejuvenatednow that I…” Be sure to show all the sensual details of your experience. The first rule of writing is to show us, don’t tell us.

Please scroll down and write a comment. Tell us what you did and give us ideas we can add to our own!

You can always head over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary and share your stories there too. You will inspire us all! Thank you.

All blessings,

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04 Dec

The Main Thing is to Write Your Truth


Last Sunday I posted a story called “Belonging” where I spoke about my family visit to Toronto and what I was learning from it. I was amazed by the amount of feedback that I received as a result.

Many people thanked me for what I wrote, and told me that the story moved them. As well, I received responses from people who were thoroughly upset. The discussion of belonging brought up pain and feelings of rejection for them. One person wrote that as soon as she realized she would never belong to a family that cared, she stopped trying. Another said “Belonging, belong, or belonged is treacherous, dangerous, fearful, dark, suicidal and pessimistic.” Then she went into great detail as to why this was so for her.

The best thing about all of this for me is it got people writing, and I told them so. Some loved what I wrote, some hated it, but it provoked them to write back—to share their passionate truth of how it was for them. Those who were clearly distraught didn’t become passive and they didn’t stuff it somewhere. They didn’t say to themselves, “Junie’s got this great family she’s part of and I don’t” and leave it there. No, they got their feelings out on paper and that’s what these newsletters, blogposts, and Junie’s Writing Sanctuary are all about.

You do not have to agree with me. Just be honest. That’s the best thing you can do for yourself and this is the forum where you can do it. In my writing series, Write Where You Are, I always tell my students that if they don’t like a subject or a writing prompt that I give them, don’t let it stop them from writing. Instead, use the energy they are feeling inside and write with all their senses fully awake and alive.

Simply tell the truth. Go for the gusto! Say, “This topic sucks. I hate it. It’s stupid, it reminds me of ….” and off you go to what it reminds you of.

Three years ago, in my Write Yourself Home retreat, I gave a prompt about waiting. Everyone was writing away except for this one woman. Afterwards, when we went around the circle and people were sharing what they wrote, she stated in a growly voice. “I didn’t write. I don’t do waiting anymore, OK?!”

For me, that was a great teaching moment. If she had taken her anger and expressed it on the page, she would not have been stewing and staying stuck. Imagine if she had written, with fury, “I don’t do waiting! I refuse to wait ever again! I wasted 12 long years of my life waiting for him to ….” Do you see where I’m going with this?

Writing Tip

Are you angry with someone at the moment? Here is a safe, effective solution that will allow you to have your voice and move the anger out of your body. Write that person an angry, blaming, uncensored letter on paper —THAT YOU NEVER SEND — (Do NOT write it on the computer and especially not in an e-mail where you might be tempted to send it). Writing with pen and paper allows what you are thinking and feeling to be a visceral experience. Your whole body becomes involved. State everything that you want to say to this person. No holding back. If, as you write, you start remembering other people or times in your life that remind you of him or her or the situation, keep your hand moving. You are probably getting closer to a deeper truth. Writing authentically will shift the energy and you will feel better.

You may not feel better the moment you put down your pen. You may feel spent afterwards. I suggest you go out for a walk. Get some fresh air or put on some music and move your body. But I promise you, you WILL feel better. Also, the next time you speak with this person, you will be able to do it from much more steady, grounded place. You will have new awareness and deeper insights. You will probably be received much better than had you spoken to this person before you wrote the letter. Or, don’t be surprised if you don’t have to say anything at all. Writing it out was all you needed.

I would like to share with you a life-changing example of what happened when Jan, one of my students, wrote a letter to the man who caused the car accident where his daughter was killed. The transformation came as a result of expressing honest rage onto the page where it wouldn’t hurt anyone and how that truth set him free for life! This is a fine example of what I mean when I say, “Your voice on the page will become your voice in the world”.
Watch this video where Jan tells his story.

Writing Prompt

Use pen and paper: “I am so angry about …”
Please let me know how the process is for you. You can reply to this e-mail, or, if you care to share your process with the rest of us, go on over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary and, after giving it a day or two, tell us what you experienced by writing your angry letter.

Are you in Victoria? Join us for our Sunday Afternoon Sacred Writing Circle. It’s three hours of writing and sharing—a three-hour love-fest on and off the page!

Private Coaching Over Phone or Skype

If you would rather not write in a group or are not in Victoria, no worries. You will receive the same fabulous results over the phone or on Skype!

coaching over the phone

All blessings,

P.S. If you have friends who you think would enjoy receiving my weekly stories, writing tips and prompts, please send them to my website so they can sign up for free: www.junieswadron.com.

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29 Nov


B e l o n g i n g

Today’s story and writing prompt are centred on a personal situation. I hope you will enjoy them and write from wherever my story takes you.

Currently I am in Toronto, the place of my birth, which I left in June 1998 to follow my life-long dream of moving to the west coast, where I still reside. I have come back to Toronto many times over the years and I have always loved it—except after my sister Barbara died, and then my mom, nine months later, about eight years ago.

In 2013, I went back for two months and I could not describe my visit in any other terms than a full-on love-fest! First, I had eight luxurious weeks to reunite with loved ones instead of trying to fit everyone into a week or two and go home tired and frazzled. Within that time, family and friends that spanned a lifetime seemed to be coming out of the woodwork to spend quality time with me. I returned to Victoria feeling nourished, nurtured, and full.

This time it is not that kind of visit. I am here because two family members are very ill. One is my sister’s husband of over 50 years, and the other is my niece’s young 18-year-old daughter Hannah who was diagnosed with cancer just over one month ago. She was in Jerusalem at the time, starting her first year at university. I anticipated a depressing time before I got here, but it is not the case. Sad—oh my, yes. Unbearably so sometimes. But what I want to say is that I am learning so much about resiliency, strength, and love.

My sister is a very loving, caring woman, and yet our relationship hardly ever consists of long conversations and the sharing of memories. I am pretty much an open book, whereas Lorraine is very quiet and private. She was my best friend when I was growing up. She is 9 ½ years older than me; I was her baby sister and she couldn’t have loved me more had she given birth to me herself. The deep bond we share has never wavered, in spite of our differences. With her, I have learned about the kind of comfort that is present in silence when true love is present. Although this is one of the hardest times in her life, simply being in her presence, spending quiet time together, is rich and intimate for both of us.

I am staying with my niece and her family. Rachel and her husband David have four children. It is shocking that their 18-year-old has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. Yet, in spite of the gravity of the situation, this is not a depressing household. Instead, it is light and love, laughter and tears that make up the day-to-day life under this roof. I can’t say it is life as usual, because of course there is an underlying fear of the unknown. People’s nerves are frayed and it can also be messy at times.

But let me tell you what else exists here: The house is filled with kids and their friends coming to visit or staying for dinner or a sleep-over. There are relatives and rabbis, neighbours and friends dropping by to share their love and support. I have been delighting in 10-year-old Shawndra’s natural theatrical storytelling talents, and admiring 15-year-old Jacob for his humility, even though he is knowledgeable and wise beyond his years. I love my neighbourhood walks with Sprout, their gentle collie-terrier. Sometimes after a long day, we’ve all cuddled on the couch to watch a movie and laughed a lot at the funny parts. Ariel, the oldest, has been coming home from Queen’s University on weekends and what a joy it is to see how all the kids gather around her, smothering her with hugs and kisses. That’s my favourite part—witnessing the demonstrative expressions of love and affection that are simply natural to this family.

On Shabbat we sang songs, discussed Talmud and philosophy, literature, and music. We’ve sipped lattes together at the Second Cup around the corner. I am probably coming home carrying ten extra pounds (no joke) thanks to Rachel’s incredible culinary skills!

And occasionally, when time has permitted, when Rachel hasn’t been driving her kids to and from extracurricular activities, dentist appointments, and Hebrew studies, we’ve been able to sit down and have meaningful talks about what’s going on.

And Hannah—well, even with an uncertain future, even though her magnificent waist-long, thick black hair has been shaved off, she continues to be a shining light and inspiration for everyone who meets her. Her faith has not wavered; her thirst for knowledge and passion for life are as fierce as ever.

So what am I learning here? I am learning what it looks like to be part of such a family. To be able to give my love in whatever ways are needed which is all I want to do. I am learning how to be in a situation like this and be part of a home that is spirited, resilient, loving and real! Perhaps what I am learning the most is how much family means to me. And I am finally beginning to take in how much I mean to them. What a privilege it is to be here at such a time! I love and I am loved.

In two days I will be back in Victoria. Back to work. Back to my single, independent life. I wonder where my journal entries will take me next. What insights and wisdom will show themselves on the page? And now… I would like to see yours.

Please WRITE WHERE YOU ARE. That’s the prompt—today’s only writing prompt. After reading this story, where does it take you? What thoughts or feelings arise as you read it? If you need a lead in, perhaps you can use: “After reading about Junie’s visit to Toronto, I…”

Today’s Writing Tip

Don’t think! When you think, you’re judging, editing, and planning what to say next. Creative writing asks you to step aside and allow your pen to reveal what your heart and mind wish to say. Writing is about listening. You learn to become a conduit, taking dictation from an inspired place within you. Marion Woodman, in an interview in Common Boundary said, “After much thought, I realized the trouble I had writing that bleak Friday afternoon was due to my approach. I was trying to analyze, trying to explain rationally. I was failing miserably because I was approaching the task through my head. I had to drop into my belly.”

To share your writing, please leave a comment below or head over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary, our private Facebook group. It is not a place for criticism. Instead it is a safe sanctuary where what you write is held in the highest regard. It does not need to be polished. It’s a place where we can express our creativity as well as lay our hearts on the page with our words. See you there!

All blessings,

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21 Nov

Get off the treadmill and b r e a t h e


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

If this also describes you, how would you like to join me in a self-honouring practice? Let’s move toward 2016 by stepping off the treadmill and feeding our souls with what is precious to us.

For me, rather than leaping out of bed to the first ‘to do’ of the day, I envision myself beginning each morning in quiet reflection. Whether it is meditation, reading passages from books that inspire me, journal writing, or a walk in nature—by practising quiet reflection I will be giving myself the greatest gift I could receive.

By filling my soul’s longing for connection with the Divine, I enter my day with renewed vitality and an open heart, receptive to my surroundings and all who become part of the day’s tapestry.

Today’s writing prompt

Please write in first-person present tense for 20 minutes: “It is X a.m. and I am awake. I gently sit up and…”

Example: Here’s mine:

It is 7 a.m. and I am awake. I gently sit up, reach for Marianne Williamson’s Book, Illuminata: A Return to Prayer and open it to page 78. And I read:

Dear God, I give this day to You.

May my mind stay centered on the things of spirit.
May I not be tempted to stray from love.

As I begin the day, I open to receive You.
Please enter where You already abide.

May my mind and heart be pure and true, and
may I not deviate from the things of goodness.

May I see the love and innocence in all mankind,
behind the masks we all wear and the illusions
of this worldly plane.

I surrender to You my doings this day. I ask only
that they serve You and the healing of the world.

May I bring Your love and goodness with me,
to give unto others wherever I go.

Make me the person You world have me be.
Direct my footsteps, and show me what You would have me do.

Make the world a safer, more beautiful place.
Bless all your creatures.

Heal us all, and use me, dear Lord, that I might
know the joy of being used by You. Amen.
Now over to you. For 20 minutes, follow this prompt: “It is [time] a.m. and I am awake. I gently sit up and…”

After writing, please leave a comment below. Tell me what things you do to make your life more relaxed, saner, more peaceful. How do you get off your treadmill and breathe?

p.s. Have you seen Junie’s Writing Sanctuary? Most of you reading this have an interest in writing. If that is so, you will love this. I have set it up as a private interactive sanctuary where you can offer your writing—poetry, prose, musings, thoughts, and questions. It is not a place for criticism. Instead it is a safe sanctuary where what you write is held in the highest regard. It does not need to be polished. It’s a place where we can express our creativity as well as lay our hearts on the page with our words. See you there!

All blessings,

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11 Nov

Remembrance Day Writing Prompt and Tip

As promised, here is today’s writing prompt: “I Remember…”

Today is Remembrance Day. What does Remembrance Day signify for you? When you think of this day, what comes to mind? Is it soldiers, poppies, Flanders fields…?

The “I remember” prompt is borrowed from Natalie Goldberg’s famous book, Writing Down the Bones.

Tip: buy, borrow, or steal that book – it’s amazing! Okay…don’t steal it. Come to my house and I’ll lend it to you. Somehow pick it up. You’ll LOVE IT. It’s the book that got me started as a writing coach.

In-Flanders-FieldsPlease leave your comments below, OR … head over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary on Facebook for fledgling and seasoned writers (you don’t even have to ask to become a member. Just join and… the golden gates will soon be opened!).

Why am I offering a FB group for writers and why would you want to belong to it? So that you have a place to ask questions, write your stories, and share with others. I want to make this YOUR online writing sanctuary…to play with other writers.

Do you have writer friends? If you took last week’s writing tip to heart, you now have a writing buddy. Make sure you send them to my website, encourage them to opt in to receive my e-newsletter, and join Junie’s Writing Sanctuary. Please send your friends over to join us!


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08 Jan

Poem and Prayers for 2013

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed

when you listen to the news

and the reporters are broadcasting all

the despair that is happening in the world

I do!

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

Groovy? Yes! – No other word would do!

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

YouTube Video



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishes and Prayers for 2013:

My Prayers For Humanity

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


To live with gratitude

To maintain my sense of humour

To listen with kindness; to act with love

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

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

To offer my gifts with love and joy

And Always Remember to Dance!

The Ho’oponopono Prayer:

This is a very potent Hawaiian Prayer

to be used for yourself and humanity

I’m Sorry

Please Forgive Me

I Love You

Thank you

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

Love, Junie


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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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