Sound Mind: A Celebration of Mindfulness and Mental Health through Fiction, Memoir, and Music

When: Thursday, March 28, 7:30–9:30 PM

Where: Room 1050, Earth Sciences Centre, 33 Willcocks St., University of Toronto

Important notice: This month’s program meeting will take place on Thursday, March 28, not on our usual date of the fourth Tuesday of the month. Please mark your calendars. The location is also different this month as we’re meeting at the University of Toronto (UofT). We’ll return to the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) Spadina for our April 23 meeting on poetry editing.

Graphic with photos of three speakers at March 28 program meeting titled "Sound Mind: A Celebration of Mindfulness and Mental Health through Fiction, Memoir, and Music"

Sound Mind: A Celebration of Mindfulness and Mental Health through Fiction, Memoir, and Music is geared to helping cultural producers across a variety of fields (including writers, editors, visual artists, and musicians) learn about mental health challenges and adopt new strategies for wellness, mindfulness, and creativity. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a mindfulness session at the beginning and end of this event.

This special event is a joint production of Editors Toronto; Canadian Authors–Toronto; and the Creative Writing Program at the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto.

Our featured guests this month are Ranjini George, Rebecca Higgins, and Erika Nielsen.

Photo of Ranjini George by Fred Loek for Mississauga News
Photo of Ranjini George by Fred Loek for Mississauga News

Well-known Toronto mindfulness expert Ranjini George will open the event with an introduction to the practice of mindfulness as a way of cultivating well-being. She’ll address the specific needs of freelance editors and writers who find themselves alternating between too little work and too much work, or juggling multiple projects with overlapping deadlines. Ranjini will also talk about the power of stories as a means of healing, referencing her 2016 book, Through My Mother’s Window: Emirati Women Tell their Stories and Recipes.

Photo of Rebecca Higgins by Hayley Andoff
Photo of Rebecca Higgins by Hayley Andoff

Next, we’ll hear from Toronto author Rebecca Higgins, who will speak about the intersections between her 2018 debut collection of short fiction, The Colours of Birds (Tightrope Books), and her activities as a mental health educator. Rebecca will do a reading; share insights from her mental health work; and discuss her journey through the writing process, from first draft to a published book.

Photo of Erika Nielsen by Shayne Gray Photography
Photo of Erika Nielsen by Shayne Gray Photography

Lastly, we’ll hear from concert cellist and debut author Erika Nielsen about what it was like to be diagnosed with bipolar illness just as she was hitting her stride as a professional musician. Drawing from her newly published memoir, Sound Mind: My Bipolar Journey from Chaos to Composure (Trigger Press, 2019), Erika will talk about the wellness strategies and regimens she has used to walk herself back to a place of balance and stability. She will discuss some of the obstacles and challenges she faced in writing her memoir and why she felt she had to write her story. In a special addition to the evening’s celebration, Erika will also perform on cello.

All three speakers will take questions during a Q&A.

This event will include a raffle with prizes relevant to the evening’s theme. Prize details will be released through the event website as they become available. All raffle proceeds will support emerging writers through the Creative Writing Bursary at the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto.

Raffle tickets are $2 each, $5/three, or $10/seven, and can be purchased on the event website and at the venue. Raffle winners must be present at the event or be represented by someone who holds their ticket to claim their prize.

Ticket information:


This event is FREE for members of Editors Canada; members of the Canadian Authors Association; and students, faculty, and staff in the Creative Writing Program at the School of Continuing Studies. (Your association or department will send you an ACCESS CODE by email, along with directions for how to use it to access your free tickets.)

$10 for non-members, and $5 for non-member students in all other programs.

This event also includes a Pay-What-You-Can (PWYC) rate for non-members. We ask for a $2 minimum, online or at the door.

How to book your ticket(s):

  • Visit the event site, and click on the blue GET TICKETS button.
  • Select your ticket type (e.g., EDITORS CANADA MEMBER and/or GENERAL ADMISSION if you are buying a ticket for a non-member) from the menu of ticket types.
  • If you don’t see your ticket type, but you have an access code, click on HAVE AN ACCESS CODE? (in small light-blue letters at the bottom of the screen) and enter the access code.
  • Click on UNLOCK TICKET. The correct ticket type should now be visible.
  • In the drop down menu to the right of the ticket type, select the number of tickets you want. Free tickets are limited to one per person, whereas non-members can buy unlimited General Admission tickets (the venue seats 400!).
  • Click on the blue CONTINUE button at the bottom of the page.
  • In the dialogue box that appears, enter your full name and email address.
  • Below that, select the option that describes you (e.g., Editors Canada member, Authors–Toronto member, etc.).
  • Follow any prompts to pay for your tickets or raffle tickets.
  • Click the blue REGISTER button.
  • You should receive a confirmation message.
  • Your ticket will be sent to you by email. Please check your spam or junk folder if you do not see your ticket in your inbox.
  • You may print your ticket or check in at the event by showing the digital ticket on your phone or other device.

Please be sure to check in and present your print or digital ticket to a greeter at the event. This will help us keep track of attendance in relation to ticket sales.

Problems booking?  Contact programs chair Lee Parpart at [email protected].

More about our panellists:

Ranjini George holds a PhD in English (Northern Illinois University, DeKalb), an MA in English (St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi), and an MFA in Creative Writing (University of British Columbia, Vancouver). She won first place in Canada’s inaugural Coffee Shop Author Contest for her travel memoir, a work-in-progress called Miracle of Flowers. For 13 years, she was a professor of English at Zayed University, Dubai, where she ran the Teaching with the Mind of Mindfulness series. She currently teaches a meditation and writing course and another called Pilgrimage to the Sacred Feminine in the Creative Writing Program, School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto. Her 2016 book Through My Mother’s Window was published in Dubai. She can be contacted via her Facebook page

Rebecca Higgins is a mental health educator and writer based in Toronto. She has worked in social and community services for 18 years, specializing in mental health education since 2010, after her own experiences with depression led her to change her professional focus. Rebecca designs and delivers independent workshop sessions for groups and conferences, and she facilitates workshops on behalf of the Canadian Mental Health Association. Visit for more information about her mental health work. A graduate of the University of Toronto (BA), Ottawa’s Carleton University (MSW), and Humber College’s School for Writers in Toronto, Rebecca has published stories in such publications as The Toronto Star and The Antigonish Review. Her debut collection, The Colours of Birds, was published by Tightrope Books in 2018. Find her at

Toronto-based cellist Erika Nielsen has a multi-faceted career as a chamber musician, collaborative artist, orchestral player, and educator. Her musicianship spans baroque and classical traditions to contemporary and popular genres. She has performed with artists such as Kanye West and Johnny Reid, and she is a graduate of The Glenn Gould School in Toronto and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Erika is a blog contributor to and the author of the mental health blog She published her first book, the memoir and wellness guide Sound Mind: My Bipolar Journey from Chaos to Composure, with Trigger Press in 2019. A passionate educator, Erika maintains a busy private studio and is on faculty at National Music Camp of Canada. She is also a visual artist. Learn more at

Program details

Doors will open at 7:10 PM promptly. Please arrive early to get a good seat.

7:30 PM Introductions

7:45 PM Ranjini George leads a mindfulness session geared to writers, editors, and artists

8 PM Rebecca Higgins talks about her work as a mental health educator and reads from her book of short stories, The Colours of Birds

8:20 PM Concert cellist Erika Nielsen shares (through music, words, and visual art) how she walked herself back to stability and a thriving music career after a diagnosis of bipolar illness, as told in her new memoir and wellness guide, Sound Mind: My Bipolar Journey from Chaos to Composure

8:55 PM Ranjini George closes the event with a mindfulness session

9:10 PM Raffle

9:20 PM Book sale and signings


Room 1050 of the Earth Sciences Centre at UofT seats 400 people and is fully accessible. Details about the venue are available here.

Anyone with specific questions about the accessibility features of this venue is invited to email the Editors Toronto programs chair at [email protected].

Privacy and media coverage

Portions of this program will be videotaped. Please let us know ahead of time if you wish to avoid appearing on camera, by emailing the programs chair at [email protected].

Thank you for your interest! We look forward to seeing you.

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