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30 May

Re-Write to Reignite Your Life

How to move from Shame, Blame, and Victimhood to Enlightenment

Contant Junie Swadron

This is the introduction to a book I’m writing now, Re-Write to Reignite Your Life (working title).

When I published my first book, Re-Write Your Life: A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Our Lives, in 2009, I didn’t dare talk about the one thing that I was too ashamed to talk about. I’m going to talk about it now, even though there’s a part of me that still cringes to share this, as I’ve moved so far away from those times.

Still, I’m not going to skirt the issue. I will not write around it in order for it to sound pretty and poetic, because it was not. And the reason I am writing this at all is to help you go forward in your life if you have ever considered taking your life, have ever gone so far as to attempt it, have lost a family member or friend because of suicide, and/or you have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

If that is you, and you are carrying feelings of guilt, shame, blame, or feeling like a victim of circumstance, this book is intended to catapult you forward to a place where you can choose your own label — such as healthy, empowered, happy, forward-thinker, resilient, resourceful, and an inspiration to others. That’s right — no matter how bad it may feel right now, this book can be an elixir for your freedom. Freedom to come home to yourself.

Let’s get started, because that’s the plan. The plan is to motivate you to become the best you that you can be. And I know how to do it. Not just because I am a counsellor, but because I have lived on both sides of the couch. A younger version of me could often be found moving through a series of revolving doors, in and out of mental institutions — until one day, that version of me ended. A new door opened and I walked through it to become a secure, happy, well adjusted, mature woman, who absolutely cherishes life.

Here’s my story [content warning: suicide attempt]

I began writing my very first book, Re-Write Your Life, in a psychiatric ward after an attempted suicide. It was my 5th attempt. This one was the most severe. I was in a coma for five days, which I was not expected to awaken from. But when I did, I awoke into a state of grace, the likes of which I had never known before, only read about. There was no logical explanation for it. It was as though someone else had entered my body and psyche. There was no resemblance to the person I had been before, swallowing over 100 pills — approximately half of which were prescription sleeping pills, Zopiclone. It was another miracle, in a lifetime of miracles. I am obviously meant to be here. And you will never find anyone more grateful for that privilege than me.

At the time, I hadn’t taken any meds for about a year, as I was trying a natural product that helped others with bi-polar illness. My psychiatrist said she would not treat me if I went off my meds, so I continued to have my prescriptions filled in case she found out. I was so afraid of losing her, even though she only spent about 15 minutes with me every month or two. Still, I needed someone in the medical field who knew me. So, I continued to take the supplements and kept the vials of medicine tucked away in a drawer with no intention of ever taking them. Certainly not in fistfuls.

For many months after I began taking the supplements, I was feeling better than I had felt for as long as I could recall. I even slept without sleeping medication, which I had been taking for years.

Then one day, all that came crashing down. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Anxiety was setting in with lightning speed, followed by crippling depression. The torture chamber of my mind was in full gear again and I couldn’t turn it off. I thought about ending my life every day.

The day I decided to finally do it, many months after trying to hang on with no escape from the torment, I played a game with myself.

Could writing save my life?

A creative writing course that I had registered for a month prior was happening that night. I thought that since writing was something I always loved to do, maybe if I sat in someone else’s class, I could get inspired, and that maybe writing would save my life. It used to, but I hadn’t written in many months. Nothing was coming out. Every time I tried, I was riddled with anxiety and would quit after half a sentence. The course was starting at 7 pm. I knew that if I left the house even by ten minutes to seven, I’d be on time, as it was being held at a community centre just around the corner.

As the day went on, my anxiety levels were hitting the roof. By 6:30, my heart was pumping so hard in my chest I thought I’d have a heart attack. I could hardly breathe. Still, I kept telling myself that I should go to the writing class. It was Last Chance Saloon, and I knew it.

“Do it, Junie, just get out the door. You must! You must or you’ll die! Please, just go!”

The part of me that wanted to live so badly was desperate and pleading with the part of me who had given up. I watched the clock move from 6:30 to 6:40 to 6:50 to 7:00, and I knew then that all hope was gone. That was the last chance, and I had let it go by.

In that state of mind, nothing is logical, nothing is rational, and the brain is not functional. I had run out of tools. And I knew from years of experience, that when it hits that level of clinical depression, the brain has a mind of its own, and nothing I can do will stop it. I had no desire to call anyone. Nor had I in any of my prior suicide attempts.

From 7:00 pm until midnight, I paced the floor. I cried. I screamed. I wrote a suicide note begging God’s forgiveness, as well as forgiveness from my one remaining sister, Lorraine, my niece Rachel, and the many friends that loved me. I asked for someone to please look after Joey and Jakie, my beloved budgies, and begged them not to separate them or they would surely die.

Next, I meticulously gathered the cheques that I had received from students who had paid me in advance for upcoming workshops that I knew I wouldn’t be delivering. I sat them next to my suicide note, asking that someone please get in touch with about thirty people and tell them the workshops had been cancelled.  Then I methodically opened the lids to all the plastic vials containing an assortment of over one hundred prescription drugs. Next I poured water into five tall glasses, lined them up on the counter, and began to swallow them by the handful.

In a prior suicide attempt using approximately the same method, I had felt a physical tug of energy pulling me back from the kitchen counter. That tug had me racing to the bathroom to empty every vial down the toilet. Not this time. The force for good was there all right, and it was strong. It actually knocked me back on my heels. I could hardly believe how strong it was. But I fought it and I succeeded. That’s the last thing I remember.

Grace

Later, an acquaintance who lived in the same building told me that she was worried about me because she knew I had been depressed. She hadn’t seen me around in a while and decided to visit. When there was no answer at my door, she went to get her key (she used to feed my budgies when I went away), and found me on the kitchen floor. When the ambulance arrived, they had to revive me, but I slipped in to a coma and was not expected to live. Gratefully, I did not die as the doctors expected I would. Not only were they stunned that I didn’t die, they were equally astonished that I had no brain damage or organ damage. Instead, what I did have was the deepest humility I had ever known. The deepest gratitude I had ever felt. And I was the most alive and awake I had ever been.

It was in this state of mind I began to write my book, Re-Write Your Life, that was published nine months later. When I awoke, they pulled out the tubes and apparatus that had kept me alive during my coma and transferred me to the psychiatric ward (which, from the state I was now in, felt like an ashram), and two days later I started to write my book.

I remained in this heightened state of awareness, and all I could feel was love for everyone and everything. I did not think I was Jesus, going from person to person, blessing everyone. From my seat in the large common room, I observed the other patients around me, all beautiful souls, suffering, lost and in turmoil — just like I had been, before I “woke up” after five days in a coma. As I looked around, I had nothing but compassion for the patients and 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 knew existed.

This book is not about trying to take my life away. It is about the indelible human spirit. It is about the ability of our species to fall down and get up again. It’s about how I’ve fallen so many times, and so many times I have gotten up or have been helped up in ways that are unexplainable.

This book is about miracles and hope, and it’s about writing and honouring the stories I have lived and telling them as truthfully as I remember them. I will write from the woman I am today, conveying the gifts and lessons that these stories have offered me. How they protected me or enlightened me. How, through trial and error again and again, I was eventually propped up high enough to see another vista, one filled with light and love, hope and confidence instead of fear, uncertainty, and sacrifice.

Yes, in these pages I dare to tell the truth I have been too ashamed to tell before.

Shame and healing

One of the symptoms of surviving a suicide attempt is shame — deep enduring shame. The kind that torments the soul. The kind that keeps you awake all night long. Not only did you not escape a tortured mind that caused you to take the steps to a final exit, you also endure the shame of facing your loved ones who were devastated by your actions.

The “symptoms” that are missing, however, are compassion, love, tenderness, kindness, towards the you who was so tormented that you felt you had no other choice.

And yes, if you survived, there is a gift even here. Not a gift wrapped in a pretty bow. My gift came in the survival — the ability to tell this story, because now I can offer that compassion to myself and I know that in telling it, it will serve every single person who has ever tried to commit suicide and to those who have gone to those places where they just wanted to die. Perhaps it’s even you. Then this book is absolutely for you.

It will also shed light on a topic that is too frightening to discuss in most circles, and hopefully give some understanding to those who have been affected by a loved one’s suicide or an attempt to end their life.

Re-Write to Reignite Your Life is not all about topics as desperate as this. But let’s face it – doesn’t everyone go through a dark night of the soul where we feel lost and frightened, adrift at sea, and don’t know how we will ever find a safe shore?

We have. All of us have. If you are reading this, acknowledge that. Let in the truth that somehow you found the strength to overcome tremendous upheavals, and here you are, at a crossroads, ready to put more pain-driven stories to rest in a healthy way.

We don’t heal the stories of our lives all at once. Even me. I lived in a state of grace for almost a year, where I simply felt love and gave love unconditionally. Where life was virtually guiding my every step. Synchronicities were the norm. I thought of something or someone and he, she, or it would appear in physical form.

I wish I could claim that that state has lasted until this day, but it hasn’t. As I re-emerged into the world, challenges surfaced, and I didn’t have the ease and grace that I had become accustomed to. However, I did have tools, and was fiercely determined to use them, no matter what. No matter what, I was committed to finding my way back to the gate, the open gate that has always welcomed me in, as I welcome you in now, dear reader. Welcome to my story, which is a universal story. The details will be different from yours, as I am not living your life, and you are not living mine. But with certainty, we can say we’ve all “suffered” on this planet.

When people die, when illness hits, when you lose your job, or you find out your partner is cheating (the list goes on and on), there is suffering. But you know what? There doesn’t have to be. Not at all. We can face the most gut-wrenching circumstances and still make room to bask in the glory of a magnificent early morning sunrise. And that is the spirit in which this book is written.

As you read through each story, you can say, “Wow! She survived that!” And if you do, I will be the first to say, not only have I survived horrific events, I am a victorious thriver of circumstances and you can be too! And it doesn’t need to take you as long as it took me.

For over 50 years of my life, I didn’t have the courage to talk about my diagnosis of mental illness or what was defined by the authorities as my mental illness. I was convinced that every single pathological diagnosis they gave me was true. After all, they were doctors, and they had the DSMI, II, III, IV, and V manuals to show me the evidence that there was something inherently wrong with me, and that it would likely always be that way. In fact, the doctors said, there are articles in medical journals that will state that it only gets worse with age, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Well, I dare to differ. And I’m hardly alone on this. At 72 years young, I’ve never felt more well-adjusted, balanced, happier, or inspired about my life as I do now.

I will also tell you; it doesn’t come with age. It comes with knowing what works, what doesn’t, and choosing every day to use the tools that will keep you in charge of your mental health. Tools, that with practice and time, bring about confidence, stability and resiliency.

I can’t believe the same person who was put in straight jackets, screaming, begging, and pleading for them not to drug me, or the same person who suffered numerous bouts of non-stop unbearable anxiety and depression that caused me to try to end my life is the same person who inhabits my body today. How is that possible? There is nothing in my life today that even remotely resembles the person I described at the top of this paragraph.

How Re-Write to Reignite Your Life can help you and your loved ones

As you read this book [once it’s published], you’ll learn how I moved from a life of chaos, to becoming a whole, happy human being on a spiritual path toward enlightenment. I am a spiritual being currently having a human incarnation that is sometimes fraught with challenges, yet have found great strength, resilience, and peace along my healing journey.

I am here to inspire the joy of a sunrise in you, the delight in a baby’s first steps, the warmth of your hands wrapped around a steeping cup of tea, and the ability to belt out the next song on the radio that frees you from your chair as you dance around the kitchen with passion.

Beyond that, I’ll offer you tools that will bring you from a perceived state of brokenness to the wholeness of who are – who you always were and always will be. It is here, beyond all else, that I extend my hand to you, along with my 72 years on the planet, to give you everything I have personally come to know will inspire the desire to take one more step. And then the next, and the next, that will indeed lead you to live the most meaningful, beautiful love-filled life.

Even if you don’t believe me now, please suspend judgment and just keep reading. If I can do it, you can too. Now, take my hand and let us walk this messy, and yet, oh so beautiful path together. You will see, you are not alone. There is a huge tribe of us walking the planet today that are ready to come out of the darkness of their diagnosis and prognosis and into the light of what is possible.

We are all at different places in our evolution. Some are still so scared to speak out, or even believe that something else awaits them. Others have followed this path that I’ve been teaching in both my psychotherapy practice and my book-writing mentorship courses for decades, have found their voice and their power, and are light years ahead of where they started. You are somewhere on that continuum. May my stories inspire and empower you, and may you rest in God’s Love now and always.

All blessings,
Junie


Your next step

Re-Write Your Life: A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Our Lives, is based on my 8-week program that has changed thousands of lives for the better. You can heal and transform the stories of your life with my guidance, through meditation and writing. Learn more about the Re-Write Your Life program here.


Note: In April 2021 I was a featured speaker on the Suicide Prevention Summit with Jackie Simmons. Jackie has given me permission to share this interview far and wide because of the good it can do to prevent suicide. You can access my interview here.

If you feel that what I’m sharing with you today would help someone you know, please pass this on to them.

Jackie Simmons, my host for the above interview, has a great TEDx talk titled, “Have ‘The Talk’ to Stop Teen Suicide.” Please watch Jackie’s talk, comment on it if you’re moved to, and share it. In her talk, Jackie shares the shocking story of her daughter’s many suicide attempts. Today she and her daughter offer training seminars worldwide with their Teen Suicide Prevention Society. Together we’ll save lives.

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10 Mar

Everyone Should Write a Book!

Your Life Matters, by Junie Swadron

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of writing do you teach?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So again, should everyone write a book?

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

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

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

It’s through this evidence that I’ve seen over and over again that I birthed my motto: “Your soul meets you on the page and something shifts. You strengthen, you begin to stand taller, and one day you notice that your voice on the page has become your voice in the world.”

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

🌟  🌟  🌟

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

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

Apply now for the Your Life Matters Author Mentorship Program!

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22 Dec

Love Creates Miracles

My dear friends,

I would like to share a story with you about how love creates miracles.

I used to live in an apartment on a peaceful street, and the building I lived in was filled with many friendly people.

Not long ago, on Christmas Eve, I suddenly heard loud voices outside my door. I was startled, as it was the first time I had ever encountered that.

I opened my apartment 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 as he punched 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 fighting 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 right into their living room.

lit candle

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 had been formed as fists, hung limply at his sides while I, a total stranger, tried to comfort him. I looked over and Liza, the manager, 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 didn’t think twice. If I had, I doubt that I would have had the courage to go into the middle of a physical fight and try to break it up. 

I had 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 CREATES 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 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: Carefully 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. Love creates miracles.

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. Love creates miracles and I have devoted a lot of my work towards helping you all understand that. In my book Your Life Matters, you will be reminded of your inner power as well as 8 steps towards writing your own book. 

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. To operate under the guise that love creates miracles. We didn’t come here with a manual. At least not an obvious one. And we won’t 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! Love creates miracles!”

Happy Holidays, my friends!

Love, Junie

 

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24 Oct

The Secret to Overcoming Resistance

resistance is a sign of love

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

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

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

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

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     4. Will this course be offered again?

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

     5. What if I miss a class?

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

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

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

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

     7. Would you remind me of the details again?

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

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

You’ll also receive:

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

Classes take place weekly on Zoom.

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

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

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

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

All blessings,
Junie

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

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

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31 Oct

Life Stories — Navigating Life When You Feel Troubled

Here’s the first in a series of posts about Life Stories. Yours, Mine, Humanity’s.

Although the circumstances are all different, we share a common thread through it all, and that’s our humanness and our ability to relate. And I wish to make all our stories relatable — through the lens of our hearts even when our minds would have us think differently. In fact, even with those closest to us who are not necessarily on the same page. How often do you watch a movie with your beloved and closest friend and have very different interpretations of what you watched?

I wish to share some snippets of my life and my invitation to you is to see what it evokes in you and tell your story too.

Read what I wrote when I came home from my walk this morning. Listen to the song that it brought to mind. Then write wherever your pen leads you afterwards.

Simply Write Where You Are; I invite you to share your stories at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary (if you’re not a member yet, just ask to join and I’ll get you in as soon as I can).

I was on my morning walk along The Breakwater — a beautiful long pier stretching out into the Pacific Ocean — where only sky and sea remain. At the end of the breakwater there is a lighthouse whose job is to bring sailors safely home to the harbour.

I think about that – as a child wanting to bring those I loved safely home to shore and it is my way still today. Yet, this morning I started walking with a heavy heart because of some current circumstances that have me troubled.

So, not wishing to remain heavy-hearted, I put my hand on my heart and said to my inner child, “Junie, sweetheart, I know you are frightened. I just want you to know that we have survived every fear we have faced and we always find our way home even in stormy seas. We will this time too, darling. I am here for you. You can feel sad. I am holding you tight to my heart. Oh, look! There’s a seagull that landed on the rail right beside us. I think he is carrying a message. I wonder what it is. Do you know, sweetie?”

And I heard a voice inside of me say, “Yes, he came to say, All is well.” All IS WELL!

And that was it. The next moment I was humming one of my favourite songs:

Calypso 
by John Denver

To sail on a dream on a crystal clear ocean
To ride on the crest of a wild raging storm
To work in the service of life and living
In search of the answers to the questions unknown
To be part of the movement and part of the growing
Part of beginning to understand

Aye Calypso the places you’ve been to
The things that you’ve shown us
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit
The men who have served you so long and so well

Like the dolphin who guides you, you bring us beside you
To light up the darkness and show us the way
For though we are strangers in your silent world
To live on the land we must learn from the sea
To be true as the tide and free as a wind swell
Joyful and loving in letting it be

Aye Calypso the places you’ve been to
The things that you’ve shown us
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit
The men who have served you so long and so well

Aye Calypso the places you’ve been to
The things that you’ve shown us
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit
The men who have served you so long and so well

Watch a stunning video of television footage from Jacques Cousteau and listen to John Denver sing it to us:

Writing Prompt:

What do you do to help you navigate life when you feel troubled? If you like, share your writing in  Junie’s Writing Sanctuary (if you’re not a member yet, just ask to join and I’ll get you in as soon as I can).

Your Life Matters, by Junie Swadron

If you wish to share more of your stories in a deeper way, start by downloading a free digital copy of my latest book, Your Life Matters! Learn to Write Your Memoir in 8 Easy Steps.

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29 Mar

Jan Falkowski — writing into forgiveness sets you free

Jan Falkowski speaks about recovery from tragedy through writingA few years ago, Jan Falkowski, a man in his 50s, arrived at my Re-Write Your Life program. He was just starting to come out of a long darkness after the death of his beloved daughter, Jessica.

Jessica was only 19 years old when she died. As a high school graduation gift, Jan’s sister and brother-in-law took Jessica to Australia. After a couple of weeks seeing the sights, Jessica’s aunt and uncle returned to Victoria. Jessica stayed on because her best friend, Erin was flying in to accompany her. They intended to enjoy a summer of adventure before returning to university in the fall.

Erin arrived only to learn that the evening before Jess had been in a serious car accident and was lying in a coma in hospital.

Jess had been at a party. She left with a male friend who, unbeknownst to her, had been drinking excessively. Their car crashed.

Upon hearing the news, Jan caught the next flight to Australia. He arrived at the hospital to find his beloved daughter hooked up to life support machines. He was informed by the doctors that Jess would not likely become conscious again and, even if she did, her brain was damaged beyond repair and it would be a life-less life.

Jan left the hospital and took a long torturous walk. When he returned, he made the unimaginable and unbearable decision to take Jess off life supports and donate her organs to others.

Six years later Jan joined my group . . . six years that he described were filled with rage, hatred, alcoholism and a spirit that had died along with Jess. Guilt pervaded his every day as he had a 13-year-old daughter to take care of.

Sixteen years before this latest tragedy, Jan had lost his wife after a long battle with cancer, leaving him to raise their girls alone.

After attending Re-Write Your Life and applying the principles and receiving the love that is present in a sacred circle from each of the participants, Jan, for the first time in six years, began to feel a sense of hope, of new possibilities.

One day he came to class and read a letter to Nick, the man who was responsible for the death of his daughter. It was a letter of unconditional forgiveness. In this letter he expressed a desire to one day meet, put closure on the pain they were both feeling and move on with their lives.

Within a couple of weeks he put the letter in the post. Nick, still in prison, responded with deep and unabashed gratitude. Since that time there has been a string of letters between them.

How awesome is that?

We can all heal our lives from past wounds. We just need to be willing. And why wouldn’t we be? Our life depends on it.

Tapestry, a CBC Radio program, featured a 20-minute documentary with Theresa O’Leary on Jan’s healing journey back to life.

You can also watch and listen to Jan reading part of this letter on The Daily in an interview with Karen Elgersma.

Read more about Re-Write Your Life.

Check out Re-Write Your Life as a self-paced online course!

 

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04 May

I Love You. I Love You More.

Mother's Day

Our relationships with our mothers

In last week’s blog post, I wrote about mothers and wanted to give you time to process anything related to your mom that was unresolved before Mother’s Day, which is on Sunday. I hope that you were able to do that.

“Thanks, Junie, I had a healing, loving, virtual chat with my Mom who’s in a care home with advanced Alzheimer’s. I gave her freedom from me to go and be with Dad, her parents, brothers, etc. on the other side. We also shared forgiveness, although I didn’t think of much that I needed to forgive her for.” WG

Another person wrote:

“Thank you Junie. Before last week’s newsletter, I had been thinking – oh, no, another mother’s day is coming up where I have to fake it. I took your writing exercise to heart and I can hardly believe that by the end of it, I was able to see my part in our discord and invited her out to brunch. I feel hopeful that for the first time that there’s a space, an opening and it’s going to be OK. I really want that and I know in her heart, she does too.” LF

In case you missed it, here is the writing prompt I offered:

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

Were you able to do that? What was the outcome? Do you feel more relaxed, healed and at peace around her? Or are you still carrying some hurt and resentment? If so, I highly encourage you to consider re-writing that story so that you are no longer walking around in pain for things that happened in the past. We can’t change what happened, but we can change our attitude toward it.

My sincere wish for you is that you and your mom have a loving, respectful, and honest relationship and that you will celebrate Mother’s Day in a wonderful way!

My story, my truth

My relationship with my mother was as tumultuous as they come. But when it was good, it was the most loving, most engaging, most beautiful love I have ever known. And because I knew how it felt to be loved so deeply, when she withdrew her love, which could happen on a dime, I suffered unbearably. My mom, like me, suffered from bi-polar illness. Unlike me, however, it was never diagnosed, and therefore never treated. So my mom did not have the skills or know-how to make the demons go away. Oh how I wished I could have waved a magic wand and made her demons go away. I wanted that so badly—for her, for me, for my dad, and for Lorraine, Barbara, and Howard, my siblings.

Read on to hear about our mixed up, crazy, profound, and beautiful love. This is an excerpt from my book, Re-Write Your Life. Today, and on this Mother’s Day, I dedicate this story to her, Minnie Swadron.

 

quillI Love You. I Love You More.

by Junie Swadron.

Mom, Mommy, Minnie, Minnie-Mouse, Moth–er! Mimi, Memes, Mindle, Ma, Minerva, Mama.

She was all of the above. Each a different personality. Still, she was my mother. Minnie Swadron. Born in 1919 in the miniscule town of Shaunavan, Saskatchewan; first born child of Romanian immigrants, Joseph and Lily Lazarus.

I remember being at the hospital and holding mom’s hand. She didn’t know I was holding it. Or perhaps she did. Who’s to say what a person in coma knows or feels or perceives? Sometimes I would hold her hand a few inches above the sheets and then let go of it – let it fall. It was an eerie feeling but I did it hoping the sudden drop would wake her up. I wanted so much for her to wake up and smile up at me with her beautiful green eyes.

And yes, there was that day––the day that you did open them mom and you recognized me right away. And you held your hands out to me and I bent down and you kissed my face. You kissed my cheeks, my forehead, my chin, my eyes. There was a desperation to it––an aching, a pleading, a hanging on. A memorizing of every feature: the shape of my eyes, the smell of my hair, the feel of my breath upon your face as you drew me into you. Soul to soul. And I loved you more than ever knowing how much you loved me. No holding back. In those kisses, you gave it all. You kissed me with an aching need to hold on which caused my heart to split open but I understood. I needed to hold on then too. It was a moment of truth. Just us and the love––no-one else in the room. No-one to criticize your love for me. Like T. who was embarrassed by your displays of affection.

I used to be embarrassed too. I hated it when I was in my teens or twenties and even thirties and we would go to the Lawrence Plaza or for walks anywhere and you insisted on holding my hand. I guess it reminded me too much of being a child sitting next to you on the couch watching TV and you would want me to scratch your legs. It used to repulse me. But the queasy feeling left once I moved west and went back for visits. Of course I was middle-aged by then. And last October when I stayed with you after your surgery and you seemed so little and vulnerable, I would have done anything to make you feel better. So I actually heard myself offering to massage your back. I did and as much as you cooed expressions of delight, it was me, I know, who benefited the most.

My mom Minnie
My mom receiving a loving kiss from her grand-daughter Jennifer.

And now you’re gone and I remember those Toronto days traveling the T.T.C. There was snow piled high on the ground when I took the bus from your apartment on Chaplin Crescent to the Scarborough General Hospital. Sometimes there were blizzards as I walked and waited for the bus. I hate being cold but I loved the snow. It held me. It supported me. It reminded me of so many other Toronto winters.

And the times you and I spoke with glee on the phone from our respective homes after the first snowfall, loving the beauty, the stillness, the freshness in the winter sky. We loved so many things like that. Standing on your balcony or mine mid-summer when the thunder storms crashed through the sky and the rain came down in torrents and splashed heavily onto the pavement below. We loved the drama. We even loved the humidity. And I remember when I was a little girl living on Neptune Drive when you took me outside during the rain showers to wash our hair or catch the drops in our mouths. And we’d giggle and dance in the puddles. Those were on the good days. And those are the ones I care to remember for now.

Last night in my writing group I wrote:

I’m here with you again mom. Sometimes I think I’ve forgotten you because my days get full and I don’t remember to miss you and I’ve gotten used to not calling you every day. Used to it? I don’t know. Buried it is more like it. Sometimes lately when I’ve spoken about you, I talk about how crazy you were when I was a child. I don’t talk about the summer sun shower dances or my teenage years when I’d walk in the door after school and Dick Clarke’s American Bandstand would be blaring from the television set. I’d breathe in the comforting smells of dinner cooking on the stove and then be greeted by a happy you in your hot-pink summer short-shorts and freshly ironed white cotton blouse. I’d toss my books on the table and in two seconds we’d be jiving to Elvis Presley or twisting to Chubby Checkers. And I wouldn’t talk about the numerous times my teen-age friends gathered in our living room to be with you even when I wasn’t home. They came because you offered wisdom or encouragement or simply because you were fun to be with.

No I haven’t been mentioning those times at all. And then it struck me the other day why not. It became as plain as day. Simply put, I don’t have to miss you. I don’t have to yearn for you. For your gentle words. For the unconditional love you have had for me whenever my illness struck. Without fail you’d rally round no matter if we were face to face or oceans apart. Your tenderness caressed me through the phone lines, comforting me with loving words, reminding me how courageous I am, how I’ve beat this time and time again, and how I will this time too. And you’d remind me how many other obstacles I’ve faced and how I fought and won. And you’d talk about the beautiful life I made for myself and my successful therapy practice––how I helped others when I couldn’t see that I was or when none of it had any meaning for me. And you’d remind me of the constant flow of friends I’ve always had who love me to pieces. And you’d talk to me and talk to me and even when I couldn’t imagine there could be any more words left you’d find more to convince me not to give up. You were my champion mom and possibly the reason I’m still on the planet. But the irony was you also passed this hideous illness down to me. Even though you were never formally diagnosed, it was blatantly obvious. But you fought too, mom. You fought too. Differently than me. You locked your doors. You judged and blamed and eventually scared everyone away.

But I don’t want to go there now. Because in my heart, I know you were hurting. And perhaps that was the bond between us from the early days on––well that and the laughter too. All of it. Perhaps in some strange way it’s what kept our hearts intact – beyond the madness when you got too crazy to be around. Or I did. Funny, how we held each other on a pedestal which of course, never lasted. Before long, we were side by side on the floor scraping to help each other up again. And we always did. We did it with laughter, we did it with tears. In the end, we always did it with love.

I still carry you in my heart wherever I go and on some days I miss you fiercely. Whenever I see something beautiful or funny, touching or strange, I imagine you beside me, laughing your infectious laugh or smiling your beautiful smile or making a witty comment or a judgmental one. No doubt if it’s judgmental I’ll give you my ridiculous self-righteous lecture. Inevitably, you’d take a deep drag on your cigarette, look me directly in the eyes and say, ‘Junie, don’t use that therapy voice on me’ and we’d both burst out laughing.

I still have messages from you on my answering machine, mom. In one you say: ‘I miss you, Junie. I miss you honey. That’s what I do, I miss you.’ And I feel your lonely, aching heart. And now it’s my turn. Such irony. But as I type this now, a peace has washed over me. Perhaps it’s because you’re here with me. Yes, I feel you here and yet ironically I sense you telling me that it’s time to let go. Like the vivid dream I had only weeks after you died where you came to me and said, ‘It’s time to let go of me now.’ And I fought with you. I said it was too soon. And I didn’t know if you meant it for my sake or yours or for both of us.

And I am ready to do that. It’s been almost a year since Lorraine called me with the news. It was 8:30 in the morning. I was awake waiting for the call. I knew you had died. Still, I got off the phone and started wailing. Wailing! And when I stopped, all I could remember were the parting words we used in our daily telephone conversations.

‘Bye, mom. I love you.’ And you would always answer. ‘I love you more.’

So good bye, mom. I love you. And you know what? It’s my turn to say it now:

I love you even more.

Writing Prompt

Think of your mom as a woman, apart from her role as your mother. What do you think are or were her hopes and dreams? Do you think she fulfilled some of them? Are there are others she never did? What do you think are some of the most significant things she has taught you? Open yourself to the love in your heart for your mom, the woman who gave you life and begin to write the story of your relationship. Consider giving it to her on Mother’s Day as a beautiful gift or reading it to her even if she has passed away. She will hear you still.

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

All blessings,
Junie

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17 Mar

God Winks—When We’re Ready to Receive

serendipity-clouds
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…

OR

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,
Junie

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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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29 Nov

Belonging

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,
Junie.

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05 Apr

Write Yourself Home One Day Writing Retreat

A Fun & Profound One-Day Writing Retreat

Do you think you can’t write? Well, you can!

Do you think your negative beliefs and attitudes toward writing
can’t change in a few hours? Yes, they can!

Do you think life affirming transformation can’t happen in a day?
Yes, it can!

Come, let me show you how to come home to your heart through the joy
of writing.

Writing has the power to stop time, cut through the extraneous and take us
home to our heart. This absolutely fun experience will engage the writer within
and may surprise you by eliciting prose, poetry, song lyrics or simply stream of
consciousness writing in “no apparent form”. You will learn the fundamentals of
moving past the head and into the heart of writing.

You will be led gently into story and into the soul’s inner landscape where
clarity, creativity, passion, originality and truth are revealed. With
encouragement, safety and the freedom to jump in, you will open to the joy of
where writing can take you.

The sweet whisperings of your soul meet you on the page and something shifts.
You strengthen. You begin to stand taller and one day you notice that your voice
on the page has become your voice in the world.
For those who have never experienced my 8-week writing workshops called,
Sacred  Writing Circles, also known as “Write Where You Are” or Re-Write Your Life, this will give you an excellent opportunity to be introduced to the experience.

 

“When I arrived here I was completely stuck. I felt self-conscious,
worried, couldn’t even think about reading out loud to the group. By the time I
left at the end of the day, words were pouring onto the paper like years of
uncried tears. I read out loud to the group and felt proud of the things I had
written after it was received so warmly by the group. What a personal
transformation in 1 day!”

Gillian Pierson

Saturday, April 7, 2012
Time:  9:30am – 5pm

Location:

Church of Truth
Community of Conscious Living
111 Superior Street
Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1T3

Cost: $125

SEE YOU THERE!!

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11 Sep

Writing Through the Darkness – Reflections on 9/11

Do you remember where you were?

In my last newsletter, the tip I offered was to buy yourself a special journal.

Today, being the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I’m going to share some personal entries that I wrote in my journal on September 11th, 2001.

I had set that day aside to write an article for Vancouver’s Common Ground magazine. The theme for October was WRITING and the deadline was approaching fast.

I believe what you will read below will demonstrate the reliable and undeniable value of putting pen to paper when your heart is flooded with emotion.

“If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both – you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” –Ray Bradbury

Journal Entry…

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

I woke up with good intentions today to write an article about how writing can be used as a profound therapeutic tool—how it can help us move from pain to catharsis. It’s something I know well. I’ve been using writing to help me work things out since I was given my first diary at age 8. Over four decades ago, journaling wasn’t in vogue like it is today, so I learned of its value through usage. Also, I have been eyewitness to the many transformations borne out of this medium through facilitating creative/cathartic writing groups for over 10 years. I also frequently use it as a relevant tool with my psychotherapy clients. It’s a subject I know well and feel confident to write about. Not today.

Instead I have spent this day like thousands of others—in shock. I woke early this morning—day eleven on my newly acquired piece of paradise—in a cottage set in the spacious woods of Bowen Island and overlooking the gulf islands, mountains and ocean.

In these several days I have watched eagles flying gracefully over my home, herons resting on my dock; earlier today, a hummingbird came to visit my hanging geranium and a bluebird began singing to me from the fir tree next to my bedroom window.

And from this peace and paradise, still I woke with a heavy heart. I wasn’t sure of its origin but knew I needed to connect with someone—someone very close to me. I called my friend Dale who instantly and sensitively revealed to me what was going. I let the tears flow as she described the gruesome details. The very next thing I did was e-mail my partner, who just a week ago, flew to Korea, to take a contract there. I needed to tell him of my horror and how grateful I am that he has landed safely and is not on a plane en route. I spent the rest of the day in silent prayer, grief, fury and questioning God. Why? But I haven’t heard any answers. And so I didn’t come to the computer to write that article, which has a close deadline, and I’m not writing it now—at least not the way I thought I would. Instead I do what I do when I need to release. I write what is there in front of me—I simply tell the truth…

I was on my dock a little while ago. I took a candle and the meditation prayer that was e-mailed to me earlier in the day by the people who put on the Prophet’s Conference. They asked that we join them in a unified prayer—to pray for those who passed on, for their families and friends and for us all upon earth; to pray for those who orchestrated this event, so that they are filled with peace instead of fear and anger and to pray for the politicians—that they act from divine wisdom and not revenge. This is a time to move away from blame and seek to understand cause. Caesar, my black cat and the most affectionate and wise creature I have ever known, followed me down to the dock to bring his energy into the fold. Together we meditated for world peace.

I don’t think I wanted to blame. I wanted to help—to make a contribution to the lives of those who are suffering. Here I am in this incredible God given sanctuary while at the very same time, thousands of people have just died, perhaps are still dying—being buried under rubble—and thousands of families and friends of these people are in grief and disbelief.

I remembered years ago during the Gulf War how isolated I felt—how alone while watching television from my living room and watching bombs flying through the air ready to land on who knows what target. A decade earlier I had spent the year in Israel, arriving there during the Yom Kippur War. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do something now, today. I called people to hold a vigil at my house at sundown. They will arrive shortly. Perhaps our unified prayers will help. They will help me, I know.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

A week has passed since I originally came to my computer to write about writing. I have been unable to until now. I have been involved with my world—walking around numb, anxious, strong, vulnerable, and above all, once again grateful to feel – to be alive. I have been e-mailing back and forth to many friends. I have been the recipient of dozens of e-mails sent by spiritual leaders. Each message holds the same Divine Truth—we must elevate our energy to our highest self at this time—and not be seduced into fear.

And these writings and my own journal have once again, served as my best friend. My partner and I are 15 hours apart and thousands of miles away and we can’t speak in real time very often. My journal is there right now, when I need it—a constant and reliable companion. It plays witness to my tears, remorse, anguish, uncertainly, and to my gratitude. It has seen it all. It judges nothing. How does it work? It works because I tell the truth. It works because I release what needs expression.

Sometimes I think it’s too simple. But then I realize that’s exactly why it’s so powerful. Writing from where we are right now puts us in the state of being authentic, which frees the energy to move. It is liberating to express ourselves. It is a letting go process that allows us to breathe ourselves back home.

As we spill onto the pages what is pertinent in the moment, neither embellishing, nor denying, simply stating it the way it is, we free ourselves from confusion and false voices. We may be flooded with emotion as we impart our truth onto the page—sadness, grief, rage, excitement, love, joy. Allow it all to unfold, to gently come forth. Don’t force it—it’s there. You needn’t strive—it’s there. Just allow the words to come. Don’t judge. Don’t go into your head and say this sounds too awful, this doesn’t make sense, what if someone sees it; just write. Edit later if you must. But for now, just be kind to yourself and do not stop the flow. Do it that way and you’ll be astounded by the results. It’s the energy of now that carries the might. Even when you’re writing about something that happened twenty years ago—it’s your relationship to it at this very moment that matters. And your writing will show you what matters even when you yourself are not sure because the truth will always emerge as you ask your ego to step out of the way.

I believe each of us needs a private place where we can express ourselves without censorship, without judgment, without someone telling us it’s wrong, impolite, unforgiving or anything else. Each of us needs somewhere to state our truth at any given moment and know it’s completely safe to do so. And to express the written word without fear of doing it wrong—a place to put all the old grammar books away.

Still the most common element I have seen over the years in my writing classes is the lack of confidence people have in themselves. Their fear of doing it wrong and saying it wrong surfaces again and again. They qualify their writing.—“Well, I was tired, so I don’t really think it’s very good.” “I was confused and…” or “I had a terrible day today and…” Then they are encouraged to read it anyway, and are often astounded by what they wrote. So if you find yourself criticizing yourself, don’t get discouraged. It’s normal. Just keep your pen moving across the page. Eventually you won’t care if it’s good or bad, right or wrong, you will just write. You will stop being attached to the outcome. You simply write. And that’s when it becomes a meditation. That’s when it becomes a way of life. That’s when it becomes as natural as getting up and brushing your teeth. And when writing is that for you, you will notice a shift in your life. You will notice that things are working out better. You will observe that the voice on the page becomes your voice in the world. Even if you change your mind about what you say a few days later and a new truth emerges, that’s okay. In fact, that’s what happens when we write from our authenticity. The truth sets us free. We move the energy around instead of staying stuck in it. We find a healthier, newer way to relate to the situation. Clarity emerges. Life energy emerges. Strength, confidence and self-love emerge and as you continue to write, you will begin to achieve things that you never thought possible. Your journals can and will be the starting-off point to poems, plays, song lyrics whatever. But mostly you will have your voice. And that… is worth every word.”

And ten years later, my journal is still my best friend. I never know what will emerge on the page. But what I do know is when I allow myself to go naked, my soul feels reborn.

Please do not miss the opportunity of joining me and like-minded others on Saturday September 17th, for a fabulous one-day writing retreat! BY DONATION.

More info at
Write Yourself Home

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29 Aug

Time for New Beginnings

Once again it’s almost fall and time for brand new beginnings.

I remember when I was a young teen in Toronto, the summer holidays seemed long and the hot, humid days felt almost interminable. My friends and I hung out in the park under the shade of the chestnut trees listening to our transistor radios. Later we’d check out the latest LPs or 45s—am I’m dating myself or what!—at Tommy Common’s Record Store and then we were off to Puppy Palace on Bathurst Street for cherry cokes and root beer. Oh how innocent we were!

Eventually summer came to an end and the day after Labour Day was the first day of school.

My most exciting memory of returning to school was when I had graduated from Public School to Junior High School. Instead of one classroom and one teacher all day long, we changed classes every 40 minutes and had different teachers for every subject. We were even given our very own lockers. Now that was cool!

I did very well that year. The best subject for me was English composition. I loved writing creative stories and I was lucky enough to have a teacher, Miss Gola, who encouraged me. She was one of the first teachers ever who complimented me on my writing and made me feel as though I could write. She gave me the confidence to keep exploring this medium which set me on a writing path that I could never have known back then.

Many people have not been so lucky. They had teachers who criticized their creative efforts, destroying their belief that they could ever write. Did you know that Mark Twain said, “If we taught our children to speak the way we teach them to write, everyone would stutter”. How painfully true that is. I hope today teachers help inspire and nurture the creative process in their students.

For 20 years now I have had the privilege of being a “Miss Gola” to countless people. Some were disheartened early in life and had let their creative dreams die in those darkened classrooms. I live in gratitude for having the privilege of watching people’s lives transform while they re-discover their voice on the page and their voice on the page soon becomes their voice in the world.

May this fall and all your new beginnings be blessed with the innocence, wonder and joyous spirit of a young child. Dare to explore wherever your heart leads you.

All blessings,
Junie

 

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14 Jul

Ready To Transform Your Life?

Have you ever considered writing your life stories but then have stopped yourself because there are things you’d just rather not remember let alone write about?

What if there was a way of returning to those same stories that when you thought of them, you felt empowered rather than disturbed? A way that would transform how you felt about yourself as well as certain people and events from your past?

Read More

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01 Jul

Julia Cameron Live

For many years I have been a student and teacher of Julia Cameron’s life-changing book, The Artist’s Way. If you are not already familiar with The Artist’s Way please read on because you are in for a major treat. If you already know of it and even if you have worked through the 12 chapters, you might not know that Julia is now offering something new and very special. Continue Reading

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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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