junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183

04 Dec

The Main Thing is to Write Your Truth

writing-glasses

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,
Junie

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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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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21 May

Musical Heart Feast: Write Where You Are

Wednesday’s Write Where You Are workshop session was absolutely awesome. The homework assignment to the group was to find a favourite piece of music, listen to it, choose a lyric, phrase, chorus or simply breathe in the essence of the song, and write what comes up. In other words, write where you are! I asked the group to also bring the full lyrics and a CD which contained their chosen music, to the next class.

What a beautiful, heartfelt afternoon it was! It seems all of them are, but what other than music could bring us into an instantaneous opening of our hearts?

All participants but one did the homework. The others, after much deliberation, were able to choose a “favourite song” or at least one they resonated with the most at that time.

After our usual settling in meditation, followed by a go-around to give each person a moment to check in about their week, we addressed the musical homework. One at a time, each person played the CD containing the song they chose. As we all listened carefully, some of us had gentle tears, evoked by the lyrics, or the poignant music, that accompanied each song.

When the song ended, the person who brought it in, followed our sacred ritual of making eye contact in silence, with each person in our sacred circle to feel their support and love. Then she or he read what they had written. Wow! That in turn evoked more visceral responses from the rest of us. Then we shared our thoughts and feelings with the writer, always with respect, love and encouragement.

During our initial go-around, one of the members of the group told us he didn’t find time to do the homework. Immediately inspired I told him, “No matter. I have something in mind”.

After everyone had their turn, I said to the gentleman who had not chosen a song to write about, “So, Russ (not his real name), if you were to choose a song right now, what would it be”?

Without a moment’s hesitation, he wistfully answered, “Dave Brubeck, Take Five”.

While moving toward the computer I inquired, “Can you tell us about it”?

He said, “Oh, there are no lyrics”.

A moment later, by way of the invaluable YouTube, we were watching and listening to a 1972 live performance of Dave Brubeck’s Quartet playing Take Five in Greenwich Village, New York City.

I looked over at Russ. His eyes were closed and he looked like he was in bliss. When the song ended, with eyes still closed, he took us into the story of when he was a 14-year-old boy, leaving his home in Prince Rupert to spend the summer with his sister and brother-in-law in Manhattan. He said he never would have known a place with the urbanity of New York City existed. He became immersed in the extremes of the commerce culture of Wall Street and to the Beat Generation of Greenwich Village. He then shared his most outstanding memory. The time, his sister and brother-in-law took him to a smoky blues and jazz club in the heart of Greenwich Village where Dave Brubeck was actually playing, Take Five.

I’ve been considering taking out stocks in Kleenex.

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junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183