Guest article by Jules’ student Usha Mayani

My name is Usha Mayani. I was born and raised in Panama. A small country in Central America squeezed between Costa Rica and Colombia. The location must seem pretty Banana Republic I’m sure. The fact of the matter is that it is. Or at least it is to me. You see I grew up with a sense of isolation. Remote was my normal. I thought the whole of this world lived as I did. In an insulated controlled environment. As the years passed a thought crept in. At first, I didn’t pay attention but it grew until I could no longer ignore it. What if isolation was a state of mind? It occurred to me that even if I were living in the middle Time Square, my residence would be in a distant far off corner of my secluded reality.

How can I live in such desolation for the rest of my life, I wondered. But as it so happens, once you see something, you can never un-see it. I saw that my sense of isolation pointed to something deeper. At the time, I didn’t know what it was. All I knew is that I aware of being in the murkiness of the unknown. Unbeknownst to me, the journey had begun. Much like The Journey of Mary Oliver, I would be relentless in my desire to leave the past behind. I would be relentless in my desire to be unstuck. I would be relentless in my desire to experience life out of a locked box. I would be relentless in my quest to live and be seen in the full expression of my being. The years of bleak existence had prepared me for this journey. A journey that would be as much inward as it would be outward. I would explode on to the mammoth size stage of the world and it would all be birthed from isolation. Relentless isolation.

I had been writing for at least 10 years before I would admit to myself that I wished to be called a writer. I was afraid of not being good enough. Of not measuring up to the great ones, the great ones? Who the hell were they anyway?

I didn’t know but for some reason, they were in my head. I was afraid until I felt an overwhelming urge to dive into more of the muddy unknown. Unsure if I would survive the fall, I flung myself off the cliff anyway. I took a leap of faith. I signed up for Jules Swales, Online Method Writing Program. It seemed like the perfect fit for my isolated state of mind. I love being at home. I love to observe the world from my dining/writing table. An online writing program seemed like a brilliant way to nail shut my lonesome coffin-like existence.

Then I met Jules, via the Internet of course. And what I experienced from day one of the online class was myself immersed in a community of people. People who wanted to become writers or if the already were, they wanted to become better writers. People who were afraid and unsure of how to write themselves on to the page. People from all walks of life spread across the globe in different countries and time zones. A vibrant tribe connected via Zoom in an interactive experience of learning the art of good writing from Jules. She says we learn from each other but the God’s honest truth is that we learn from her.

Jules is a phenomenal writer, teacher, writing coach, poet, and mentor. She has the unique ability to make space for creativity to flourish. This program is more than a method that teaches you to write, your otherwise boring story, in an interesting and compelling way. It is more than just a writing program. It is an invitation to the hidden writer in all of us. An invitation to discover the buried treasures tucked away in the memory of our lives. An invitation to experience first hand the creativity that lives in all of us. Under the careful guidance of Jules, creative genius will come alive through you, the unexpected writer. Guaranteed.

A year into my continued writing experience with Jules Swales, I can say that having her as my writing coach and mentor is a gift. A gift that doesn’t stop giving. All this, from the comfort of my living room in a country, wedged between Costa Rica and Colombia. Panama.

Writer writing at her dining table in Panama


Usha Mayani

Usha Mayani

Usha is a visionary and entrepreneur with 30+ years of business experience in Panama’s burgeoning capital, Panama City, and in the Colon Free Zone (CFZ), the largest duty-free zone in the Western Hemisphere. As the 2nd female president of the Free Zone Business Association (2016-2018), Usha Mayani led the effort to protect free trade between Panama and other countries at a time when trade partners like Colombia were blocking imports despite commercial treaties. Established in 1948, the CFZ continues to be a pillar of the country’s growing economy and a living, breathing monument to the contribution of immigrant families like the Mayani’s.

In 2017, El Economista Magazine ranked Usha Mayani as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Panama” and in 2018 the Panamanian Association of Business Executives recognized her with its Outstanding Woman of the Year award. Usha Mayani has made numerous appearances on national news and business programs.