This week-end I gave myself the greatest gift I could imagine!
I flew to Kelowna to be with my dearest friend of 26 years, Darlene McKee. She was visiting and helping out her daughter, Aislinn, who just had her fourth child.
I have known “Aisy” since she was 10 years old and we have had a loving bond from the day we met. What a thrill it was to be with her again and meet her family for the first time.
Oh my gosh! It was everything I could imagine and more. I experienced the indescribable sense of love and joy that comes with being part of a loving family and being literally in the arms of babes!
Those precious children – Dhruba, who turned six the day I arrived; Prema, 4, and Kalyani, 2 – filled me with hugs and kisses, cuddles and giggles the entire time. And then there was Rasaraj, a 4-week-old baby. Can there anything be anything more wonderful than holding a new born in your arms?
All of this joy came to me on the wake of Robby Holly’s sudden death. It was a welcoming salve as well as the best reminder in the world. Simply, that life is so dear and precious. And even in sorrow, there can be so much joy!
If you are feeling out of sorts today, what is one thing you can do for yourself that will put a smile on your face?
Perhaps it’s simply visiting a playground. No doubt the children’s laughter will fill you up from the inside out.
May every one of your hearts’ desires come to you this year
in the form of miracles and blessings beyond your wildest dreams.
I am very proud of this beautiful fire. I know it looks like the simulated kind you download as a screen saver which even comes with crackling sounds. But I assure you, it is not. This is a real one in a real fire place in this real house tucked in the woods where I have been cat sitting for almost two weeks now. Just days before I was invited here, I was earnestly asking The Universe to help slow down. Then, I received an email from a friend telling me about this opportunity on this majestic island, only a ferry ride from where I live, to nestle in with Rasta, a wise, gentle, old cat. Once again, I thanked The Universe for answering my prayers.
I was literally handed a piece of heaven but it soon became apparent it was up to me to do the rest. I was transported effortlessly onto a paradisiacal island but things didn’t miraculously slow down. It’s okay though…I awoke the next morning – Jan. 2nd – when I’m actually posting this – with the miracle that came through for me – which reminded me of one of my favourite songs. You can listen to it now if you are a curious and impulsive type, or you can read on, save the best for last as a yummy dessert OR you can have it as an appetizer AND for dessert. This is an abundant universe. Johnny Nash “I Can See Clearly Now”
Yes, tranquility and silence prevail here but as is typical, I forgot how to remove my running shoes. I arrived here as driven as ever setting out to tackle the many projects I brought with me. I simply transferred overwhelm from my house in the city to this one in the country.
Two days ago, my dear friend, Debora Seidman, also a writer and writing coach in Taos, New Mexico, http://www.deboraseidman.com/ said to me, “Junie, do you ever take a day off?” This question was born out of my lament on how much I had hoped to accomplish but was letting myself down. And beyond that, I was upset that I would be letting another person down – someone who I told I would have completed a book during my time away. It felt so do-able since he gave me a very simple formula to follow. And it will be. Just not now, it seems.
That question, “Junie, do you ever take a day off?” stopped me dead in my tracks. Perhaps better said, stopped me “alive” in my tracks. I suddenly became alive to the fact that the answer to that was “No. No, in fact, I do not ever take a day off!” Good grief, is that true? Yes. Embarrassingly, it is.
On days that I have social engagements and other non-related work activities, inevitably, I will find myself at my computer at some point before collapsing into bed, driving out another idea for a client or a workshop or a book or something else. Or a thank you note I forgot to send. Then back to the computer to send it.
Yes, that question, posed in the midst of madness, offered me an Ah-ha moment one more time. No, of course it is not the first time I have asked for guidance to step off the hamster wheel. And it wouldn’t be the first time I have been shown myriad ways of how to do it. Nor would it be the first time I am choosing to do it. But I am stating my intention out loud. I am choosing to walk off the frenetic train that never stays in a station long enough to enjoy the view.
Do I really need another course, another book, another webinar, seminar, workshop, guru or anything else to tell me what I know to be the truth? And simply put, God is in the details. When I truly surrender my will to God’s will, ALL will be done. It will be done at the right time and in the right order. I know this stuff. I’ve seen proof again and again.
Sometimes I am a slow learner. Or, like most of us, it’s returning to what we have learned when we forget it. But I am currently asking myself, how many more times do I need to be reminded to meditate, come back to the moment, take breaks, listen to the wee small voice inside, dance as if no-one is watching, be kind to my inner child, do self-nurturing things, live in gratitude, be kind, love others as I would want to be loved, listen to the sound of the babbling brook?
At some point we all must lay down our resistance and surrender to the higher truth. This is my moment. Another one of many – but I will allow for my humanness and try not to judge. Instead I offer compassion for the child in me that felt she had to accomplish great things in order to be loved.
Oh, there are many stories that have been running me – but I’m the “Re-Write Your Life” girl. I am ready to release those stories, forgive myself and anyone associated with them for what those stories caused me to believe about myself. Today I am choosing to let all of that go. With love.
One of the awesome things I did over these past few days was let go of hundreds of photographs and pages from journals that were no longer relevant. Photos of old lovers and friends that I was ready to release.
While the photos burned into flames and became ashes, I thanked every person in every one. I thanked them for the part they played in my life. For the good times and the times that were heart breaking. I gave my forgiveness and I asked for their forgiveness in return. I blessed and released each one.
And as I read journal entries, the same. I realized the only moments I want to live are the ones I am living now. What I wrote then was relevant then. As perceptions changed, so did the story I attached to it.
So, it’s New Year’s Day. I am alone with a precious cat on my lap and at this moment the sun is shining through the trees . It’s time to go for a walk. And I shall contemplate the word written in The Course in Miracles, “Do nothing and all gets done.” Simply put, when I let go and truly listen, I am led.
Today I am choosing to listen. Today I have but one main intention for this new year and that is to surrender my will to Divine Intelligence that is always there and always willing to guide me when I let go of my frenetic busyness. Oh, I have dreams and desires and if they show up, then they were meant for me. Just as this solitary re-treat showed up. It still required a certain consciousness to make it into something meaningful.
Perhaps it was the prayer that I said in earnest to help me slow down. And then, by way of an important question that came from my dear friend, Debora, the penny dropped. Had it not, this paradisiacal setting would just be a different location to be busy.
Now I am going to go out and say hello to nature. The trees and the sky and the ocean are calling and so are my songs of praise and gratitude. I am truly so grateful to be alive and grateful for the gift of friends and family and loved ones near and far. Oh, to have this life. This precious, miraculous life. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You!
Later Okay… God really does have a sense of humour. Today, as with all days, I took a different route on my walk around the island. And look where I was guided? If that’s not a sign (on a sign) that God is listening – or is it that I’m listening – or are we One and The Same that is listening? Whatever – It’s a definite sign and I’m taking heed!
Later Still. Next morning…Jan. 2ndI awoke this morning remembering the awesome tools that helped me to focus, stay grounded and balanced. I bought the program, it was working but then stopped applying it. Yup, I fell off the wagon, but that’s not a problem. I’m back on it now with Tom Evan’s Living Timefully programme – which is time management with mindfulness at its core.
If you are anything like me and have been rushing around in overwhelm trying to complete the never ending to do list – (which Tom reframed as a To Love List where we put more of what we love to do into each day while getting everything done, then please join me. You can find the information here.
I would like to share an important story with you.
I live in an apartment on a peaceful street and the building I live in is filled with many friendly people.
Not long ago, on a different Christmas Eve, I suddenly heard loud voices outside my door. I was startled as it was the first time I ever encountered that.
I opened the door and the neighbour’s door across the hall was ajar but open wide enough for me to see in. 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 I watched him punch her. She punched back.
I ran down two flights of stairs to the manager’s apartment and told her what was going on. She came out as fast as she could. In the meantime my neighbours slammed their door shut. Frightening screams were heard into the hallway.
We knocked and they wouldn’t answer. The shouting continued. We knocked louder. Finally, they opened the door and the manager, in a loud voice said, ,“Stop this immediately or I will call the police! They paid no attention.
At that moment I was inspired to walk into my apartment and get a candle. I opened a cabinet containing special treasures and chose a beautiful white candle. I lit it and walked into their living room.
In the middle of the chaos, with loving backbone, I declared, “Hey guys, this is Christmas Eve and this is a candle of peace. How about a time out?”
They were stunned. In the pause, I walked over to the man and offered him the candle. I caught him off guard. He glared at me but he took it. He held it awkwardly.
Then I said, “Would you like a hug?” He was shocked. He stood there looking at me with a frozen expression on his face. I looked back with all the compassion and love I could muster. Then, quietly, in almost a whisper he said, “Okay.”
I stepped closer and hugged him and he began to weep. His hands that a moment ago were formed as fists, hung limply at his sides while I, a total stranger, tried to comfort him. I looked over and Liza was already holding and consoling the woman. I think we were all crying at that point!
After a few moments, the man left my embrace and walked over to his partner, took her in his arms and said, “I’m sorry. I am truly sorry” “Me too,” she answered.
We left and quietly closed the door behind us. Then Liza gave me a silent embrace that spoke volumes. I went back to my apartment, lit a candle for myself and said, “Thank you, God.”.
I will never forget that night. The night I heard a message to go get a candle and that I didn’t think twice. If I had, I doubt if I would have had the courage to go into the middle of a physical fight and try to break it up.
I have no experience with that. But I do have experience with what love can do. I know that love can cause men and women to put down their weapons and go home. Both figuratively and literally. Home to their hearts and home away from the battle fields of insanity.
WE ALL KNOW BEYOND ANYTHING ELSE,
THAT LOVE DONS MIRACLES.
Let us try to remember that a simple candle delivered with love can melt away the insanity of divisiveness.
If there are people in your life that you are feeling anger towards, separate from, I invite you to do a lovely ritual that can heal the wounds and close the gap.
In so doing, you will step into a brand new year with the courage and wisdom to lay down your weapons of self-destruction – fear, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness and choices that are not nourishing to your soul.
Here’s the recipe.
Ingredients: A Journal, A Pen, An Open Heart and a Willingness to Receive
Directions: Gingerly blend the ingredients together in this order:
1. Give yourself some time of quiet.
2. Light a candle.
3. Have your journal handy.
4. Write a letter to The Universe. Let it be your prayer.
5. Ask for what you need to find peace, tranquility and love in your relationships and with yourself.
6. Ask for guidance to melt away everything unlike Love. Such as regrets, guilt, depression, anger, fear,and unworthiness.
7. Listen with reverence and an open heart to the wisdom that will be revealed to you on the page.
God and the angels are listening to every prayer. Every word. Every wish. It is we who come and go.
They are always here waiting in the wings to guide us and love us back to who we truly are, have always been and shall always be – Children of The Universe – loving, gentle, beautiful and remarkable spiritual beings having a human experience.
And when we take this in and embody who we truly are, our light will shine through us and into the lives of others who are still afraid.
And this is how we shall restore the earth.
When we awaken and treat ourselves and each other with kindness, we also make choices to love and protect our beautiful land, sky and seas and all the creatures who live there.
It takes huge courage to be human. We didn’t come here with a manual. At least not an obvious one. And we wont find it on the outside until we find it first on the inside.
And when we do, our outside world will reflect it back to us with unlimited gifts from Heaven. More than we could possibly imagine.
Heaven is simply waiting for us to say, “Bring it on!”
Scroll down to listen to my talk after this brief introduction:
Yesterday, I wrote a blog about saying no to the world in order to say yes to me.
What is showing up today, after surrendering my addiction to work is that anything less than a full pull back in activities will not serve me. I am being led to take an inward journey and am so grateful to finally stop and heed the call.
Yesterday morning something totally unexpected happened. It occurred before I made the decision to cancel my workshop, Don`t Retire. Re-Wire and Refire on Dec. 13th. It happened as I was driving to an 8 a.m. dentist appointment. This was before my walk along the ocean amidst gray skies and before my coaching session with Leslie. But I think it influenced my decision to step back.
This past October I gave a talk that was called, Dynamic Balance, which I taped on my Smartphone. Suddenly, while listening Leonard Cohen on my device, the song stopped and my talk just started playing! Do not ask me how. I have stopped trying to figure these things out but I still shake my head in total wonderment.
As I listened to the talk, I could hardly believe that I had written it. I do remember that I was still writing it the night before and the morning of! I also remember getting a standing ovation. But you see, this is the thing. I AM able to get things done and get them done well, but typically it`s at the last minute and I wear myself out. And what`s worse is that sometimes I do not retain the memory of it because I move straight onto the next thing!
This is not easy to admit but I have to in order to meet it full on. In fact, I didn’t even consider what I do an addiction until my friend Linda brought it up the other day. And the penny dropped. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any 12 step programs for workaholics. I mean seriously, when would they have time to show up!
Oh my, I just said that tongue and cheek, but I decided to Google it just now and lo and behold – there IS a twelve step program. That’s awesome! I don’t have to go this alone. I have my work cut out for me. Hmmm. Maybe that word needs to be replaced with, I have my studies cut out for me. That’s a little more tenable. Whatever it is, I’m happy to have the support. Very happy. I’ve never been in a 12-step program and I know how successful they have been for many others I know personally and certainly professionally.
So, wish me luck. I’m off on a new adventure to find true balance in my life. It’s a process. I know I will want to keep you posted but if that is just more work…you may not hear for me for awhile.
In the meantime, I would like to share my talk with you: Dynamic Balance
Also, at the end of the talk, I play a beautiful song by Shaina Noll, and you can hear the audience singing along.
I hope you will play it for yourself and take the words she sings into your heart.
How Can Anyone Ever Tell You, You are Anything Less Than Beautiful
Not just about the talk. If you are like me and also have challenges with overwhelm due to overworking
feel free to post them here. Let’s have an open dialogue to help one another.
October 19, 2024 Harvest Time
The theme this month is DYNAMIC BALANCE – And today`s topic is THE HARVEST
So…it`s autumn. It’s the time of year when the seeds that we planted in the springtime bear the fruit that we harvest now. And in fact, we`re always harvesting the seeds that we sow.
We see evidence of this in our lives again and again. And when we sow love, peace, kindness and joy we receive their blessings in return. Conversely when we sow anger, jealousy, blame and fear we reap the blessings of these as well.
You may say, excuse me … what blessings could possibly be found in anger, jealousy, blame and fear? And I will say to you, The blessings of awareness, forgiveness, growth, and liberation … that eventually come to all of us…when we are ready. And sometimes, until we are ready, we repeat those patterns again and again.
We’ve all heard the expression, would you rather be right or would you rather be happy.
Of course we would rather be happy.
But then again, don’t we want to be right AND want to be happy? Happy that we are right and that the other person finally gets it. And then we are really happy!
I know. I’ve been there.
In the past – and even sometimes still, when I have felt misunderstood, I felt I need to argue my point, defend myself – do everything I could to make the other person know what I meant– that I never mean ill-harm –and they are misinterpreting me. And if they realized I was being sincere, then i could be happy.
The problem was, when they didn’t get what I meant, I’d keep on badgering them with my explanations – defending myself –at the root of it – just wanting to be heard, a deep need to be understood. And above all, meaning to do no harm. Yet my exhaustive approach of over-explaining, would inevitably make matters worse for both of us.
These days, I try to listen more and defend less. What really matters to me is the energy I bring forth in my communications with others.
I have become more conscious – wanting to be authentic rather than impose my need to be liked or needing to please or making my voice and opinion so important that I am dismissing someone else’s. Communication is a delicate balance and it becomes a dynamic balance, I feel, when all parties feel fully seen and heard.
When we truly listen. When we pause and rest inside another person’s words – not needing to jump in with our own. Knowing that what they are saying is of equal value and their stance, even if it not something that resonates true for us, is still worthy of hearing and responding to in a kind and respectful manner.
Jeff Richardson, in his book “Personal Creativity and Writing,” put it this way: “Can you remember a time when you were heard without interruption, distraction or judgment, where the quality of the other person’s attention was so complete it seemed you could feel it? Whether that person actually said anything “important” or not, if the quality of their attention was true, there was a magic and a power whereby you knew you had been touched, even transformed in a subtle and powerful way. The respect and trust of others given in silence as well as speech or presence, create building blocks of confidence and motivation.”
Over the years in the writing workshops I deliver, I have heard students comment on countless occasions that equally important as the writing is in sharing it out loud – they need to know that what they have just written will be received in a safe, non-judgmental fully supportive manner. It is in this way, they learn that their voice matters, and in time, something shifts, they strengthen. They begin to stand taller. And one day, they notice that their voice on the page has become their voice in the world
But on the outside of these safe circles, in every day life, in environments that do not support us in this way, how do we get there? If we fear that speaking our truth may inadvertently offend someone and we may be criticized, possibly even ostracized by it, do we risk saying anything at all?
For almost 2 decades I have worked as a psychotherapist, speaker, writer and workshop facilitator. I have a website. I have published a book. My voice goes far and wide.
And I can’t tell you how often, still, I shake my head and I ponder, really? Is this really me? Is the same person who spent more days and months that I care to remember unable to get out of my bed, terrified to go outside or cowering in a hospital psychiatric ward afraid of life – even enough to want to leave my precious LIFE behind.
For years I identified with my mental illness. I remember a psychiatrist when I was twenty years old and catatonic after some harrowing experiences, telling my frightened parents, that here was nothing more they could do for me.
He said that I probably used a lot of drugs while I was away in Europe and that there’s no telling if I’ll ever come out of it. He went on to tell them that I may have damaged my brain cells irreparably. He said he was sorry but they could take me home now. I knew he was lying. I never did drugs. I couldn’t defend myself then. There was a veil between me and them. I had no language. I couldn’t talk. I could hear but I couldn’t speak. But I could go home! That was all that mattered. I was never so happy in my life. I was also never so terrified. I was just condemned to a living death – to be this way forever.
Most of us have our own story where something happened and because of it, we were left feeling disempowered, vulnerable and possibly afraid to speak. And even though we may go on and have successful careers and the like, that frightened part of us may still running the show in certain relationships and elsewhere.
So yes, I don’t take for granted this me that has found her voice. Instead I wonder, how did this happen? Where did the shy, frightened little girl with virtually no self-esteem go, the one who has lived inside of me most of my life? How did I get here from there?
Well, to tell you the truth, she is still here, but thankfully, she’s mostly less afraid. And when she is, and when I am awake enough to notice and not tell her to just get a hold of herself, I summon up all the compassion I can muster to ease her aching heart because more than anything else, she deserves that. She deserves to be listened to. to be loved.
For too many years I ignored her and there was no balance – dynamic or otherwise. There was just a deafening belief that I was inherently flawed with little hope to change that.
But I did change that. I worked at it because I couldn’t continue to let my spirit die. Instead I tried to reach for the truth in what my mother often told me. Honey, she said, as long as there is life, there is hope. Know this. Please don’t give up. My mom was my champion in times like this. And little by little I realized it WAS true and that my past didn’t have to equal my future. Unless it was to harvest the good stuff.
The resourceful stuff – The part that no matter what has happened to me, I am still here to tell the story. How awesome is that! The good story. The survivor story.
And that’s not just me. That’s all of us. You me, we have survived even the things we probably never thought we could have. That we are stronger than we thought. How often do we tell THAT story though. Our success story…Not even necessarily to others. To ourselves. How often do we flood our minds with the pain of the past…instead of noticing how far we’ve come, we lament on our mistakes and how far we have yet to go.
But what if we really took stock of what our gifts and our strengths– the tools we have in our rescue kit that allow us to get from A to B when we fear there is a treacherous cavern in-between.
For me, writing has often been my way through. But why? Why does it work? There is something about the writing process itself that when I am able to surrender into it, I move underneath my critical mind to a silent place, just allowing my words to flow through me and tap into something greater than my small self. And it is here I am given clarity and wisdom. I can’t tell you how often I start off in fear and shed layers of pain onto the pages and through some kind of alchemy find myself safely on the other side of the riverbank, where newfound hope resides. Somehow, for me, when I am writing, I am aware that I am not alone…There is an omnipotent energy that is holding me.
But this is my way. And not necessarily yours. There are myriad ways to find that quiet centre that resides within our very own precious heart. The home of our Beloved – our Wise Self – the Candle in the wind…the flame that never ever, ever goes out. And maybe you reach it in meditation or a mindful walk on the breach or in the forest – somewhere your spirit feels at home.
Perhaps it’s an art from that brings you alive – painting, singing, dance. Planting your garden.
Whatever it is, I say, let’s listen to its whisper, follow it and let its love enfold us.
Because when we do, we are then given the opportunity to be transformed. Have you ever had a flash of knowing – a gut feeling a an aha moment – where nothing in your outside world has visibly changed but your perception of it has, and everything looks different and you can rest here. Or jump for joy here. I feel that with every opportunity we can to go quiet and listen to the calling of our inner voice, we are making the most authentic choice of our life. Because it is here where we get to move into the mystery of our soul’s longing and LIFE will meet us at every station along the way.
It is said that when we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity. And there are countless angels waiting in the wings ready to show us the way. We are never alone. As well, there’s a whole tribe, an energetic movement of real people, like you and me who are not willing to settle for anything less than a life of meaning, of service, of love.
And as we know from our peace song…the one that enfolds us at the end of our service every week – as we sing to the heavens…let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
We can indeed let peace and love, kindness and joy begin with us. And when we do, it’s impossible to keep it to ourselves.
It’s infectious. When a gifted artist performs before us – like Pauline did for us last night –we can`t help but offer a thunderous applause in return.
It’s human nature…born of our Divine nature, to spread the love and joy and laughter.
To pay it forward. To give of our gifts. Hugely, lovingly, heartfully. But here`s the key.
First we must give them to ourselves. We don`t have to go searching for them. Or think we have to earn them first. They are intrinsically who are.
We just need to look into our very own eyes, the window of our soul to recognize who we are. And then when we look into another person’s eyes, we see the window to their soul.
And we know that we, they are nothing less than beautiful. We are whole, complete and loveable just the way we are.
Here again is the song I played at the end.
I hope you will play it for yourself and take the words she sings straight into your heart.
The beauty of silence is that it allows us to listen, hear and reflect on what is really true.
After my morning walk, I had a session with a wise woman who also happens to be my coach, Leslie Bixler. Leslie has a way of cutting through the extraneous in order to access the window to my soul.
Forefront on my mind today and for many days is the fatigue I am feeling. Once again, I am pouncing into a state of overwhelm that can develop, when I am not careful, into anxiety leading to depression.
After a bit of back and forth, Leslie touched on the question I have been pondering about my latest commitment – A workshop about to take place in 9 days that I am not prepared for. Oh, I could get prepared. In fact, it would probably turn out being fabulous. But at what cost?
“Junie, what if you didn’t do it”, she asked? Instead of shrieking, “But I promised!,” I could feel an overriding sense of peace wash over me. I knew my answer. Now I had to deal with the guilt that accompanied it. How would I tell everyone who has registered or was considering it that I’m not doing it now? Leslie simply said, with the truth. And I didn’t have to explain.
This is when I found myself in front of my computer typing the words you are reading.
Unwittingly, it is turning out to be an explanation and I am okay with it because I am sharing my truth. And the plain simple truth is, I’m weary. And as much as I do not like to disappoint others, I am taking care of myself. And writing this to you is also taking care of me. Why? Because I have come to know that it isn’t just freeing for me, it is liberating for the many who also feel like I do. And these days, let’s face it, many of us are running on empty. So perhaps this blog can be a healing salve for you too.
It’s about remembering we are always at choice. It’s taking a pause to question what part of us is making our decisions. Is it our wise self or the self that just doesn’t even hear anymore. What wise self? Possibly its messages are being drowned out in the never ending have to’s.
As anyone who knows me well would agree, more often than not, I live in overdrive. I push past my comfort zones, taking on more than I ‘should’ and as a result leave little time for nurturing the parts of me that crave to be nurtured.
So, today, as much as it is not in my nature to say no to something I have already said yes to, especially an event that I am putting on, I am consciously choosing to say ‘no’. I am choosing to respect my energy levels and postpone it – or simply come back to it down the road and check in and see if it’s the right fit. I don’t need to know right now. All I know in this moment is that my workshop, Do not Retire. Rewire and Refire that was going to take place at the Church of Truth on December 13th will not be happening.
For now it is one moment at a time as I tentatively breathe into the places that yearn to be healed. I know I need to slow down. I have known this forever, it seems. Will I learn it this time or will it be like other times that my ‘sense of duty’ takes over. In truth, I don’t believe it is that.
In truth, it is that I sincerely love what I do so it is easy to become passionate about it. I love connecting deeply with others; I love sharing from our hearts. It keeps me renewed. And ‘revved.’ And that’s the challenge of an artistic soul in a bi-polar body.(that’s a different story). Luckily, for many years now I have been able to ‘catch myself’ when I’m taking on too much. I think the problem has been that I don’t learn, after I have taken time to recoup, to not do it all over again.
A long time ago at another juncture when I was needing to slow down, I placed a picture of a snail on my bathroom mirror to remind me that slow and steady will get me there. Ask me if I have even noticed if it is still there? Give me a moment please; I need to go see. Yes, indeed, it’s still there. I just stopped seeing it.
Today was obviously the day to take stock again. To notice the smile on this particular snail’s face. Today, after a walk along the ocean shores under gray skies and billowing clouds and a silence that held me in my melancholy, I could feel somehow that something was shifting. I didn’t know what. I just sensed that all was well.
I have felt into the truth that is freeing me. I am saying yes to me even though it may mean disappointing others. What Leslie asked me is no different what I may have asked my own clients. “What if you said no?”
Now I get to be the teacher that takes the time to learn what I am teaching. And to practice what I am learning. To walk my talk. Doctor, heal thyself!
One way I will be filling my well is by putting pen to paper which is truly soul food for me. I will resume writing the books that are have been patiently waiting to be birthed.
It will also be putting the content of what I have been teaching for two decades into online programs. This is not work. It will be a delight because it involves creativity and writing and a welcoming learning curve.
This means I may be unplugging for awhile as I welcome in the “what’s next” that comes from inspiration and not ‘must do’s’.
THIS may be the most important lesson that I would have been offering on Dec. 13th anyway
Don’t Retire – to me means … don’t resign. Don’t think that coming to retirement age means the best years are over. They are not. Every day is a gift and as long as there is life in us, is up to us to find the gifts of which there are many.
Re-wire to me means – rewiring our mindset to honour the truth of who we truly are. Being willing to be still and silent in order to hear our inner wisdom speak to us. For us to take heed if its messages and move into the flow of life.
Refire This is about fanning the flames of authenticity to live our lives in the way that truly serves us best. That will give us the most heart, the most meaning and the most fulfillment.
Right now, my refiring is honouring that truth that says, “It’s okay to STOP, Junie. It’s okay to BE STILL and simply BE. ALL is well in your world.”
5 Steps to Learning How to Live Your Love Out Loud
Have you ever had a dream, a deep desire to have something, or do something or simply to live in a way that you believe would truly fulfil you?
Do you still have that dream? Did it come true? Are you living your life the way you imagined? I hope so. But if not, what happened?
Did you imagine your dream to be too far out of reach, too many road blocks such as time constraints, past history, unsupportive relationships, parent’s expectations, not enough money, or lack the right education?
Or perhaps you said to yourself, those kinds of dreams happen to other people, not me. And you remember someone’s voice saying to you, “Stop day dreaming and get to work.” So you tuck away your beautiful dreams and walk towards a safer path, a less complicated one, the one with fewer risks. The one that offers stability and security. At least that’s what they told you. And your life is okay, you’ve acquired lots of “things” but then one day, maybe long into the future even, you realize something is missing. Something big. And you know it and if you are lucky, there will be a time that you can no longer ignore what you know.
And this is the best news of all. At this juncture you have the opportunity to leap into a brand new future – one that fills you up from the inside. At this crossroad, if you say YES! and I hope you do, you will be making the most authentic choice of your life. It is here where you get to move into the mystery of your soul’s longing and LIFE will meet you at every station along the way.
It is said that when we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity. And there are countless angels waiting in the wings ready to show us the way. We are never alone. As well, there’s a whole tribe of humanity, an energetic movement of real people, like you and me who are not willing to settle for anything less than a life of meaning, of service, of love.
If you are ready to say a full-hearted YES!, then here are FIVE TIPS, that when you implement them, you will ignite your true inner passion. You will co-create the outer experiences that will bring about the dreams you now dare to live out loud.
YOU: YES! I AM READY!
ME: AWESOME! HIGH FIVE!
Exclusively Mine by Custom Design
Vision It, Write It, Believe It, Receive It!
Then, remember to say, “Thank You”
and you can expect a God-Wink In return 🙂
TIP # 1.
Set An Intention To Let Go Of Your Limiting Beliefs.
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar”. Helen Keller
Say a final farewell to all critical, insipid voices that tell you that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The voice that when I tell you, “Yes, in fact, you can have your cake and eat it too,” that voice (not your true voice) replies with,
“Are you kidding? It’s crazy to start something brand new at my age. Do you know how old I will be by the time I finish my degree, learn to play a piano well or start a new career?”
And I will say to “that” voice, “Yes, I do know. The same age you will be if you don’t.”
Set your timer and write for 15 minutes starting with this opening line:
I am choosing to let go of the voices that have been keeping me small and afraid. What really matters now is.
TIP # 2:
DEVELOP A SINCERE ATTITUDE OF DEEP GRATITUDE.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
Be thankful for EVERYTHING you have right now. The first spiritual law of abundance is to give thanks
Buy yourself a special notebook and name it your gratitude journal. Every night before you go to bed, write 5 things for which you are grateful.
This sets evokes a new mind set; not only will you start to truly appreciate all that you have in your life, you will set up the conditions to notice them when they arrive…and the more you notice and inwardly say, ‘thank you’, the more gifts the universe will bestow upon you.
On days when you are so weary, that the most you are grateful for is that you can turn over and go to sleep, first read a couple of pages in your gratitude journal. Then count your blessings as you enter dreamtime.
TIP # 3
Examine What Is Underneath the “Why”
of Your Biggest Hopes And Aspirations.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
What drives you more than anything else to go forward toward your dreams? When you think about your vision, what is it about it that makes your spirit soar?
Does your passion keep you up at night? Are you insanely excited about it?
And beyond that, what is it about this gift that motivates you to bring it to the world? What do you love about it? In what ways will your life change if you fully agree to live your love out loud?
Set your timer and write for 15 minutes starting with this opening line:
I know why I love this dream. I know why I covet it so. I…
TIP # 4
Take the Best from The Best
“Alice laughed. There’s no use trying, she said. One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t had as much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”-Lewis Carrol
Think about it for a moment, what would be the point of holding on to doubt? Now it’s time to suspend ALL disbelief and learn from the greats. Those men and women who no matter what their obstacles, they surpassed them only to become leaders in their field, in their community, in their life! And you can too! And you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.
Go to the library and find books about people who have had similar visions to your own and are living it or have lived it (if they have passed) in the most wondrous ways.
Bring these books home and cover you coffee table with them. Read their stories. Learn how they got to where they did. What did they have to do to overcome obstacles they faced? How did they stay focused? What kept them going?
Notice as you are reading about their path, how inspired you are becoming. And realize that YOU can be that for others. Your stepping up to the plate and living your passion could be the saving grace for countless others.
NOW is it worth taking action? You bet it is!
TIP # 5:
Unleash Your Passion, Purpose and Highest Potential!
Welcome to First Class! EnJOY Your Flight.
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” Thomas Jefferson
At this stage, you are ready to pull out all the stops! Only Green Lights Ahead. All The Way To The Top!
In this exercise you are going to Re-ignite Your Passion, Purpose and Highest Potential. And here is the key – write them everything as though it were happening right now. Not in the future, but now. Write in first person, present tense. Bring it fully into the Now. Make it real. Get excited about it. Passionate about it. Experience your dream in every living cell of your being. Be bold! Name It and Claim It. Put on your designer hat and travel first class.
Then let go. Give it over to the universe, knowing all is unfolding exactly the way it should.
If you have set your timer for 15 minutes and you want to quit writing before that time, put two lines that look like this // on your page and keep going. Even if you have to repeat the same thing several times, it will shift. Almost always, what you write after you thought you were ready to stop will carry the most profound insights and wisdom of all.
Dare to dream your biggest dreams, and may The Universe Bless Every One!
I can’t imagine one person who has heard about Robin Williams’ death who hasn’t been shocked and devastated. I am one of them. I have taken it hard.
As most of you know, I live with bi-polar illness. I was diagnosed when I was 20 years old. I ‘came out’ when I was 50 years old. It was too freakin’ scary to do it before then. It was terrifying even then. After all, I had a private psychotherapy practice, worked as a mental health worker in a group home and gave educational talks in corporations about mental health in the workplace sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association. How could I “come out of the closet” and expect my career to survive. How could “I” expect to survive?
I had just come out of a hospital after another clinical depression. The phones were ringing. People were wanting to come to my new workshops. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lie any more. I couldn’t go back to pretending all was well with me when I had spent the last month in a psych ward.
Instead I wrote “Madness, Masks and Miracles” – (See link below) a play about the dark night of the soul that everyone on earth experiences at least once in their life. I wrote about the masks we wear to disguise the pain…(who would ever have known of the unspeakable burden that Robin Williams was carrying?) Many of us have learned to have a public facade that can fool the masses. And finally, my play was about the Miracles, that allow us to take off our masks and be who we really are.
I am one of the lucky ones. I count my blessings. I have had numerous suicide attempts. I can’t describe to you or anyone what I have come to call, “the torture chamber of the mind”. Thank God, for the past 8 years I have been well. Really well.
I’ve had my moments of unrest, sadness, overwhelm. I have never even come close to having suicidal thoughts. I don’t believe I ever will again. The last attempt led me to a near death experience and I woke up in a state of grace and I have never looked back.
I am inspired right now to tell this story. A story I have NEVER told in public. The people close to me know it. I have always been too ashamed to tell it. Me – the one who ‘came out of the closet’ all those years ago standing on stage at the Vancouver Conference Centre in front of 400 doctors and mental health workers at the International World Assembly for Mental Health – a convention that happened to be in Vancouver when we just started staging the play. They heard of us. They asked us to perform it for them. It was the worst experience I have ever encountered. It was also the best experience as it allowed me to speak my truth – in spite of the terror of being criticized, ostracized, marginalized and hospitalized – one more time.
Then just 8 years ago – which also feels like light years ago – I ‘woke up’ in what I described earlier as a state of grace. But the story that preceded it was not pretty. Few people know about it. Today, I came to the computer to do something else. Instead my fingers are flying off the keyboard telling this story – one I was always too ashamed to tell.
Bi-Polar Illness and every other mental illness has many shapes and sizes. It is not a cookie cutter disease as some people may think. Oh, look, she’s really depressed. Oh look, she’s wildly out of control. There are so many layers. Oh so many! And the sufferer of these illnesses and their family, friends and caregivers suffer right along with them.
When I was a young girl, and up until recently, NO-ONE spoke about their mental illness especially in public. The stigma and shame was so unbearably powerful, no-one dared. Hey, I didn’t dare until I was 50! Today, and for several years now, public figures are talking freely about their diagnosis, their pain and suffering. It’s talked about more in the media now than ever – at least here in North America. Still, there is a long way to go. And it is people who do speak out that make it safe for others to do the same.
I have been speaking out for a long time now. It doesn’t mean I am comfortable about it. The fear of being judged is always there. Even a couple of weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook that referred to my mental health challenges. I got absolutely no response. A few days earlier I wrote a funny story about getting married and I got upwards of 80 likes and comments. Yet there were no comments when I mentioned my illness. I felt judged and ashamed and removed it from Facebook.
And here I am again coming out even more. Admitting my suicide attempts. Am I crazy to do this? Apparently I am crazy. Or am I not crazy? Am I wise or am I just a person who knows only too well, the dangers of secrets, denial, self-loathing and hiding in shame? Whatever I may be, all I know is that my fingers are flying off the keyboard and I know I am not manic. I am being propelled by an inner voice, an energy that says…. “ there is nothing to hide, Junie. You didn’t do anything wrong”. Funny how often I still think that.
In 2009 I was raced by ambulance to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria with hardly a pulse. I swallowed over 100 prescribed pills. I did not intend to come back. I needed to get out of what I have called, ‘the torture chamber of my mind’ a relentless diatribe in my brain, obsessive, cruel, heart-crushing thoughts of guilt and suicidal idiation – and a body riddled with anxiety and a foreboding that never went away. Month after month after month, after month and I couldn’t bear it any longer.
So I swallowed 100 pills. It was terrifying. I did not want to die. I love life – as strange as that may seem. I just wanted out of this body, this mind, this pain that wouldn’t go away … something that no-one could see because I have honed the disguise so well. I could even go to work. I could even hear and respond to people in a way that no-one would have guessed I was suffering. But I new and I knew I could not hide it any longer. So I wrote letters to the people I loved gulping down tears and then emptied out dozens of vials filled with prescription drugs and I swallowed them all. I was sobbing so loud I was sure neighbours could hear me but I couldn’t stop. I apologized to God and to every family member, to the friends who loved me, to the clients who depended on me, to my pets – to the world. And I did it anyway. Once again – as in earlier attempts, I called no-one. I didn’t call an emergency line. I was just wanted out because I didn’t believe anyone could help me. I had lost every ounce of hope that I would ever be able to be well again.
A neighbour who knew I was depressed and had my keys to feed my budgies when I went away, checked in on me. I was told she found me on the floor in the kitchen where I had swallowed the pills. She called the ambulance, I was raced to the hospital but I was already in a coma which lingered for 3 days and nights. Then miraculously, on the fourth day I just opened my eyes and started talking. I felt better than I could ever remember. The doctors were stunned. Not only were they convinced I would not survive – they were certain if I did, I would have irreparable brain and organ damage. I had neither. Physically, I was well. Mentally, I was what I can only call “in a state of grace” They removed all the tubes and wires from my body and transferred me to Eric Martin Pavillion.- the psychiatric hospital in the city. To me it was an ashram.
No, I did not think I was Jesus, going from person to person blessing everyone. I was simply seeing the dozens of men and women in that big room, all beautiful souls, suffering, lost and in turmoil – just like I had been before I ‘woke up’. I had nothing but compassion for them as well as the for the staff. I could see their frustration and their own suffering and how they were trying so hard to do their best. During this time of observation, I felt grounded, centred and at peace in a way I never had before.
Two days after coming out of coma, I asked a friend of mine to bring me my computer. I knew it was time to write my book. How was that possible? For the past six months or longer I could not even string a sentence together. Even writing an email caused unbearable anxiety. And for me, usually it is writing that does save my life. Writing brings me to the other side of my suffering where the light gets in. And I’ve been teaching this for about 20 years! Before my suicide attempt that was virtually impossible. There were no words. There was no light.
Now, something inside of me said, you must have your computer. It was brought to me and within 9 months, my book, “Re-Write Your Life, A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Your Life was completed and published. (See link below)
From not being able to write, my words were flowing out of me with passion and I was loving every moment of it. Why passion? Because I knew, only too well, from both sides of the couch that it is only in re-writing our painful stories that we find peace. That hanging onto the past – in shame and blame and resentments, grief, sorrow and unforgiveness, will never lead to happiness. It only keeps us stuck. Paralyzed. Grandiose. Depressed, needing to be right – at any cost. It keeps us anywhere but in our hearts.
I knew beyond any doubt – having almost died – that life is precious…oh so precious. And it is not a dress rehearsal. It’s real. The years go by. We grow older. And we will die one day and, my God, if I could help even one person find a way to live life in peace and in joy and to let go of the past and celebrate their life journey instead – nothing was going to stop me. I was going to write and publish that book. I knew this was the most important work I had done up until that time. I had re-written many of my stories already. Now, from this blessed state, I wrote with an inner conviction of truth that would free not only me others who were drawn to its message.
I still live by it. Yet even now, in this very moment, as I sit in front of this computer, the conviction of speaking my truth out loud is still there, but so is the fear of being judged. I’m not sure if that will ever go away. But how could I even think of that stopping me? I am alive. Robin Williams is not. Nor are countless millions of others across our planet who have ended their lives and possibly as many still who are on the brink as I write this. How could I not speak up? How can we not? Together, as one human family, speak up and out – hold each others hands – stop judging and find our way back to our tender hearts.
Robin Williams, a brilliant, beautiful, courageous man who brought joy and laughter into the lives of countless people is dead. Dead by suicide.
I happened to be at movie on Monday ironically held at Eric Martin – the mental hospital I was hospitalized in – where they play brilliant movies and the like. Monday night I was there to watch the documentary, “Of Two Minds” which was riveting. A stunning depiction of several people living with bi-polar illness. It was sad, funny in parts, and oh so very, very real. But my friend, who I was saving a seat for, sat down and told me the news about Robin Williams. I had to leave the theatre and go to the bathroom because I started to cry. Once I was in the bathroom, in a lone cubical, I allowed myself to sob. . In the most sad and ironic way, it is in his death that I am given the courage to come out once again –to come out of the closet about my own attempted suicides. I am hoping in doing so, I will be able to let go of some of the guilt and shame that I did that. I am doing my best to reach into my heart and offer myself compassion for the states of terror and hopelessness that drove me to want to end my life. To reassure myself that I didn’t do anything to purposely cause pain and suffering to others. If I or anyone else who is at that critical place could make a rational choice to do it differently, to find a magical cure to be well again and not hurt themselves or the people who love them and they love too – oh, if only. If only.
Since the last attempt I have been living in deep gratitude and deep humility. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not remember to thank God. Why me? Why was my life spared and not his? Not countless others? I don’t know. I only know I am here. And I am here to make a difference in whatever ways I can. And one of the ways, I sense, is in writing this and sharing it out loud with you. And tomorrow and the day after that, it will hopefully be with words and deeds of kindness for whoever shows up on my path.
And that’s what we can all do. We can’t all be writers or social activists on the front lines. But we can offer gifts of kindness – first to ourselves – nurture ourselves into healthy minds and bodies and spread the kindness to every living being we meet.
I work part-time at the BC Schizophrenia Society, Victoria as a peer supporter and a trained facilitator of a brilliant program called W.R.A.P. that stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It is clinically proven to help people get well and stay well. There are many other amazing programs offered there – support groups for every kind of diagnosis and for the families of same.
Thousands of people go through these programs and are getting well. We provide services that bring hope, compassion, friendship and we give tools to everyone who reaches out. All of us who work there have a lived experience. We all have our challenges, it’s true. We also know the power of helping another who may be in worse shape than ourselves. And we never know where this one act of kindness can lead. Perhaps enough, in some cases, to motivate a person to find their inner strength and eventually pass the torch to someone in their own family or community and on it goes. All our services are free for those who require them.
We have the most amazing boss, Hazel Meredith, the Executive Director. She works tirelessly to make certain that our services continue. For quite awhile now, as funds are continually being cut, it not always a given.
I am reaching out to you, if you are reading this…I don’t know what to say – other than if you are in Victoria and are moved to volunteer your time and gifts or feel inspired to donate to our non-profit organization – then I invite you to act on your inspiration. Or do it in your own community. Let us all lend a helping hand to one another.
I will leave you with this song from the Young Bloods recorded in 1967.
Creativity is the opening for the human heart to meld pain and anguish then convert it into brilliant works of art. When we lose our impulse to create, something inside us slowly begins to die. People with mental health challenges often lose this part of them when their illness takes hold.
Mine did for many years. I was diagnosed with bi-polar illness when I was 19. You can read part of my story if you click here.
Please join the hundreds already on board in Victoria to create our Vision of a Healing Centre where we use creativity to transform Mental ”Illness” into Mental HEALTH!
JUNE 30TH, 2012
CHURCH OF TRUTH
6:45 Doors Open
7:00 Stimulating conversation with Junie Swadron about ACHA
and guest speakers: Bi-Polar Babe Andrea Paquette and Blair Finnie, Organizer of The Mental Health Freedom Conference
8:15 Dance The Night Away
Tell Everyone You Know! – Best Party In Town!
Tweet It! FaceBook It! Shout if from the Rooftops!
LETS DANCE & STOMP OUT STIGMA ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS FOR GOOD!
Suggested Donation $18.00 or whatever you can afford
In Hebrew, the number 18 means Life
Welcome to the dawning of 2012 – the end of the Mayan calendar, a time of new global beginnings. Some talk about it as a time of ascended consciousness – a time where humanity is being called to wake up to how precious our planet and each of its inhabitants are to take responsible action to restore balance, harmony and equality.
Some fear we will see more wars, planetary catastrophes and the ending of political and social structures as we know them. They question what that could mean to them personally, to their families and communities.
Others are excited about new possibilities and potentialities of a more humane world and the unlimited creative opportunities that can come as a result of auspicious imminent change.
One thing is for certain, no-one really knows what is to come. Uncertainty has been said to be one of the greatest causes for people to become fearful. Yet there is a way of reframing uncertainty that, when we apply it, we see within its very framework the seeds of safety and a sense of all being as it should be.
It is when we allow the mystery of life to unfold and watch it as a child might with curiousity and wonder that we feel more at peace. From this place, rather than getting caught up by “the news of the day” that seduces us into fear, we take our direction from our inner compass that guides us safely to our next step. A compass that shines light on compassion, understanding and optimistic outcomes.
This is a big leap for people who are used to making decisions on the spot, often knee-jerk reactions to life’s circumstances, rather than observing, reflecting and then responding with discernment.
Although our ego likes to trick us into believing it knows the answer and wants to take control, peace ultimately comes from surrender, letting go and allowing God or Universal Intelligence to be our guide. Every moment is an opportunity to remember to breathe, be still and ask inside for guidance.
I know when I do this, a peace washes over me. My challenge doesn’t come from not believing it will help, it comes from not remembering to do it. One way that helps me is to include this surrender in my morning journaling practice. When I do, I often feel an immediate tingling course through my body telling me I am being heard … and I give thanks.
TIPS FOR TODAY
GET OFF THE TREADMILL AND B R E A T H E
I often hear people talk about being in overwhelm. There is an urgency to get things done. It’s all about do-ing. The lists are endless and often that which feeds our soul is last on the list. More often than I would like to admit, I fall into that category. I forget I am just one person when I am trying to “do it all.”
If this also describes you, would you like to join me in a self-honouring practice? If so, let’s begin 2012 by stepping off the treadmill and feeding our souls with what is precious to us.
For me, rather than leaping out of bed to the first “to do” of the day, I envision myself beginning each morning in quiet reflection. Whether it be meditation, reading passages from books that inspire me, journal writing or a walk in nature, doing this will be giving myself the greatest gift I could receive. By filling my soul’s longing for connection with the Divine, I enter my day with renewed vitality and an open heart, receptive to my surroundings and all who become part of the day’s tapestry.
Why don’t we do this together. Apparently it takes 21 days to create a habit. Would you like to take up a 21-day challenge of beginning each day with an hour of spiritual practice? Write me in the comment section below and let me know how you are doing.
CREATIVE EXPRESSION – SAY YES!
2012 is a blank slate ready to be filled by your highest dreams and aspirations.
What could possibly be a better time than now to listen to your hearts desires, to feed the yearnings of your soul?
Whatever it is, just SAY YES!
“Eat. Drink. Sleep. Write. Repeat. OR
Or Eat. Drink Sleep. Sing, Dance, Paint, Join a club, Create Music, Repeat.
Whatever feeds your creative impulse, follow it. And repeat! Make it part of your lifestyle. Be like that curious, adventurous and free spirited child. Spread out those toys across the floor. See what they look like upside down, sideways and coloured right off the page! Oh, you have work to do, you say? Can’t put those crayons down? Oh well. ?
…However…Perhaps you are one of these people who have an abundance of energy and creative projects in mind but too many options keep you from doing any of them. OR perhaps you have lost sight of your creative aspirations.
For those of you who need to focus and those who have lost touch with your creative dreams, UNLEASH YOUR PASSION, CREATIVITY AND HIGHEST POTENTIAL is a set of 3 meditations on one CD that will help bring your creative dreams alive and set you on a new course of action. Available here
“I thought I had lost my dreams after my husband died. Since listening to June’s meditations on a regular basis, I have a new found sense of well-being inside me and I have begun painting again … something I thought I lost decades ago.”
Are you ready to dream big and watch your dreams become manifest? I am!
ACHA – ACADEMY FOR CREATIVE AND HEALING ARTS!
The premiere showing of Madness, Masks and Miracles at the Victoria Truth Centre on December 11th was a brilliant success. Thank you to the volunteers who made it possible and to Sally Glover who hosted the event.