Circling Up at Women Writing for (a) Change: New Classes, Fall Fun

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Hello, Women Writers and Friends!
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Happy Labor Day!  With school back in session and fall right around the corner, we’re planning exciting things here at Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville!
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New Classes this Fall

draft_lens17279251module145724101photo_1294526004shape-collage-onlineFirst of all, I’m SO excited that, due to the great response we’ve had to our Spring and Fall Series, I’m adding two new classes this fall:  “Writing with Art + Soul,” and “Maintain Your Writer’s Shape.” These classes are based on classes currently running at the Cincinnati School, so I know they will be wildly successful.

Here’s the scoop.  “Writing with Art + Soul,” is a 6-class series combining collage plus writing (inspired by the SoulCollage® process). Or, just want to “drop in” sometime?  You can sign up for the fast-paced, one-hour  drop-in “Maintain Your Writer’s Shape” classes. You’ll get your writing whipped into shape in no time! Classes are on alternate Fridays over lunch. Check out our Meetup site for all the details and to register.

In the meantime, we just had our Fall Sampler last week, with a full class of 13 wonderful women writers.  See the photos here:  FB.  We had a great session.  And, we’ll be cranking up with our Fall Series: The Heroines Journey, starting September 10.  (We’re full now, but, you can sign up for the waiting list.)

Circle Up to Celebrate Women!

10612784_544092995719915_7456304977966831478_nWe’ve been out and about, celebrating women’s voices.  In fact, seven of us Women Writers attended The Circle at the Alhambra on Monday, August 25.  This special presentation, brought to Jacksonville as a benefit for Generation W, focuses on how a group of women circled up to support each other.  That’s right up our alley!  It was great.  See the photos on FB here.
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We were also well-represented at the Women’s Center of Jacksonville’s 19th Annual Celebration Gala on August 22, with five Women Writers attending to support the important work of the Center: Improving the lives of women here in Jacksonville.  Check new photos on FB. Michelle Deluca, Meg Rohal, Jody Kamens, Cheryl Anthony and myself were there.
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Outreach Efforts: The Circle is Spreading! 

Women Renewed
We’re excited to be back at the Women’s Center this fall to facilitate more writing circles through the Women Renewed program, serving formerly incarcerated women who are trying to find employment on the outside.  A shout-out goes to Phenessa Harris, Gillian Ticehurst, Carrie Fuentes and Kenyatta for supporting these circles at the Women’s Center.  They are doing good work!
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Policy Center for Girls
We’re also pleased we’ll be conducting a circle for the Girls Council of the Dolores Barr Weaver Policy Center for Girls in September.  The Girls Council members, selected from photo-4various agencies around the city, will participate in a writing circle as well as learn how Conscious Feminine Leadership principles can apply to their work together.  The Girl’s Council is a leadership group empowering girls here in Jacksonville.
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Incarcerated Women
Last week I also met with Nancy Laughter at the Community Transition Center (for the downtown jail) to see how our writing circles and other women’s support groups I’m connected to may be able to enhance programs they are currently offering inside.  I am hopeful I can bring new resources to that community.
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Business Communicators
On the business side, I met recently with Cynthia Weiss in the Public Relations office at The Mayo Clinic, and we discussed workshop opportunities for the local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, including a class called “Writing as a Tool of Conscious Leadership” (working title).  I love it!  I plan to start working on that curriculum ASAP!
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Women’s Services Coalition
On August 26, I attended “Trapped in the Triangle” at the WJCT Community Room. This event was sponsored by the Women’s Services Coalition of Northeast Florida, (promo story starts at 27:30) and focuses on how addiction, mental health and abuse manifests in our community of women.  I’m fired up after hearing these presentations!  BTW, one of the panelists was Cheryl Anthony, a member of our writing community.
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Join the Circle!

WeCanDoItPoster1OK.  I must stop now.
Hope I see you at the Fall Series or one of the new classes this fall.
You can register here now:  “Writing with Art + Soul,” and “Maintain Your Writer’s Shape”
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As I said to my daughter the other night — right before she started her new classes as a sophomore at FSU: “It’s a new page, new chapter.”
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I’m looking forward to experiencing it with you, here in the growing community of Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville.

This Summer: Ukuleles, Beyond Bars, and (new!) Our Writing

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Gather the women; save the world. — Jean Shinoda Bolen

It’s been a busy spring and summer for Women Writing for (a) Change here in Jacksonville.  We finished up our Spring Series in early May, held our first Public ReadAround mid-May, and began our Summer Series at the Women’s Center in early June.

Public ReadAround at Coast Occasions in Jax Beach

Public ReadAround at Coastal Occasions in Jax Beach

In the mix of all that, I presented a workshop at the National Association of Poetry Therapy in Scottsdale called Song of the Soul, which I repeated in Austin on June 5 and will conduct again in New York City in August. (My ukulele plays a key role.)

Plus, we also held our first ever Feed Your Creative Soul Art and Writing Retreat at the Evervess Studio in May, mixing art and writing, a little dance, and even some delicious organic food from Down to Earth Farm here in Jax.  Maybe you heard our promo spot on NPR’s Morning Edition?  If not, listen to it on our media page here.

Feed Your Creative Soul Retreat

Feed Your Creative Soul Retreat

Speaking of publicity, it was fun to get another article published on us, this time in Jacksonville Magazine (here’s the link). Also had fun presenting on compassion for PechaKucha Night in St. Augustine on May 14.

I’ve got one more session planned for the Summer Series at the Women’s Center, in which I’m writing with the formerly incarcerated women of the Women Renewed program. They are getting training and finding employment to transition to self-sufficiency “beyond bars,” in the outside world. (Thanks so much to all of you who have funded our effort with the GoFundMe campaign!

This is a magical, miraculous experience, let me tell you.  I am so amazed by the tenderness, the thoughtfulness, the poetry of these women.  Whatever assumptions I may have had going into this (and I tried not to have any) have been shattered.  They so totally and completely GET it.  And their writing ROCKS.

In fact, we’re going to have a “private” ReadAround at the Women’s Center next week, after we finish our last session Monday. So watch for some posts on that, I hope.

Collage from the Women Renewed Series at the Women's Center.

Collage from the Women Renewed Series at the Women’s Center.

I was especially thrilled because my daughter, Camille, has been able to assist me at several of these circles, which has been good for her and for me.  She can see what I’m doing and get exposure to a world that she has not seen up close before.  This is good for everyone.

Not to mention, I finished two videos on The Conscious Feminine and posted to the media page on our site.  Check them out here; I’d love your feedback.  I also decided recently to become the Regional Coordinator for Gather The Women, an international group of women who are holding sacred circles to promote peace and prosperity for all, based on the book The Millionth Circle by Jean Shinoda Bolen.  I’ll be holding a regional event in March 2015 in honor of  National Women’s History Month.  More to come on all of that.

I am looking forward to our Fall Series starting September 10, 2014, for which we actually only have a couple spots left.  Register by August 1 for the Early Bird Rate of $300.  You can register here.  You can also sign up for the Fall Sampler on Wednesday, August 27, which should be a lot of fun.  Register for that here.

Manatee musings (image credit Wikipedia)

Manatee musings (image credit Wikipedia)

But the MOST TIMELY reason I’m writing is because I wanted to encourage you to check out a NEW page of our website, which is called Our Writing, in which we feature some of the women writers who have participated in our circles.  Check out “You Found Me” (tender and lovely) and Naturally Curly Hair” (hilarious).  I guarantee you will enjoy them.

I hope all of you are enjoying a slightly slower pace this summer.  After a spate of travel, I myself spent the last couple days in my garden, catching up on mulching and weeding and filling up all of my bird feeders.  The bluebirds have built a nest in my new bluebird box, and the eggs have hatched! I’m thrilled to rest and enjoy the haze of summer as I sit on my garden bench and dream of new ideas and more circles of Women Writing for (a) Change.

Peace to all of you.
Jennifer

p.s. check out more info and stories on our new Facebook Page!  And please “like” us if you want regular updates.

Conscious Feminine Leadership

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Part Two of a Two-Part Series on The Conscious Feminine

I hear talk these days of “Conscious Leadership,” at least on the web.  Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But I think we need more than “Conscious Leadership” to save the world.  I think we need “Conscious Feminine Leadership.”

I recently posted my views on the Conscious Feminine. As a follow up, here’s a talk on Conscious Feminine Leadership that I also gave at my church. These are my views only.  Take what you like, and leave the rest.

I do invite you, however, to share your ideas on this.  Please consider posting one “gift” and one “challenge” based on what you heard.  Below the video, I’ve posted the responses the congregation gave after the service. I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Spoiler alert: I do call out the system that has created the Angela Coreys of this world.  I feel obliged to speak my voice.  Please consider adding yours.

 

Gifts Challenges
Circle round [at the end] Not going for profit
To use the word “allow” in my leadership work To continue to “allow” both for myself and others
Tolerance Give it a wider voice
Forgiveness is a gift Letting go is a challenge
Base goals on “values”
Enoughedness Enoughedness
Gift and challenge is the same.  As a manager in a place constantly “evaluating,” to make the time to share freely and without judgement the beautiful gifts I see in each of my employees. Gift and challenge is the same.  As a manager in a place constantly “evaluating,” to make the time to share freely and without judgement the beautiful gifts I see in each of my employees.
The greatest gift is love.
Heart disease is a woman’s biggest killer.  Be Vegan. Reduce risk.  vegan.com
Allowing depth, diversity — not having to be uni-dimensional To not create sameness in the effort to create equality 
The view of the beautiful quilt is a gift. Challenge is trying to sing new and difficult song.
The topic. No Fear. [heart symbol] Inertia. Status quo.
Perspective Perspective
Celebrating enoughedness. Listening. Sitting down.  Thanks…Carlos.
My daughter will enter a more enlightened world. Significant challenges ahead.
Standing for ourselves. Standing for ourselves.
My ears to listen. To do a sit down with a woman in my life.
Love and fellowship. Sustaining focus and motivation.
The feeling of love. Going up to say my grandfather is dying.
Pleased that Melody is running and you are dancing.
The idea of leading from the inside out. The general concept of standing up for “feminine” in a male-dominated world
Having people like you. Being a man in a man’s world.
Compacting one’s thoughts.
Balance: Dearest subject to me! Having my parents-in-law with us today.  I know they have different view.
Harmony: The balance of the notes in our lives organized to provide beauty Appreciate all of the notes because without all it is just noise.

She preached good posture

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‘Heard last night’ at the Women’s Center

Woman Renewed collage project

Women Renewed collage project

I’ve held several circles at the Women’s Center of Jacksonville so far this summer for the Women Renewed program participants.  These are formerly incarcerated women who are finding hope and new life through this program, which gives them coping skills and  employment opportunities.

One thing I’ve learned from this work is, for women to stay out of jail, they need three things: a job, support, and their GED.  The Women’s Center helps them with all three. Thank you, to those of you who have contributed to the fund that allows me to do this work with them, which I hope is giving them additional skills of self-awareness to help them make this transition.

Our theme for this series is, The Heroine’s Journey, based on the book by the same name. It’s about our spiritual journey as we move away from our mothers and away from our feminine self, experience pain and suffering as a result, and then come back Home again.

I’m struck, when I hold the circle, by how quickly they “get it.”  That they notice, and appreciate, the sacredness of the circle, and quickly settle into it.

Below are two found poems they agreed I could publish.

The first is to the prompt, “What do I want to keep that my mother (or grandmother) passed on to me?”

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She Preached Good Posture

She preached good posture.
I can’t let her go.

She sewed my cheerleading outfit.
I can’t let her go.

Being complete is to be whole.
I can’t let her go.

I am needed. I have a job to do.
I can’t let her go.

The love my mother had.
I can’t let her go.

The long suffering my mother endured.
I can’t let her go.

The ability to know when to be a woman.
I can’t let her go.

She had a very kind heart.
I can’t let her go.

I lost the mom I once knew.
I can’t let her go.

I was fortunate to have a second mother.
I can’t let her go.

I can’t separate myself from my mother. I’m her baby.
I can’t let her go.

— Found poem, Women Renewed participants, May 27, 2014

Last week, we read the Poem, She Let Go, by Rev Rose Safire.  Read the full poem here. Then we wrote to the prompt, “What do I want to let go of?”

Here’s what I heard:

New Page, New Journey

New page, new journey.
No, no, no, not a new chapter, a new book of life.

Can’t stop, won’t stop.
You can feel that breeze again.

I can see the moon and the stars at night.
I have let that day go.

I’m surprised I have the patience for this.
I won’t give up for anything.

I’m not in this room right now.
The anxiety of the feeling that I may be violated.

I know that God has me.
Trouble is so easy to get into, and so difficult to get out of.

Letting go is not an easy thing to do.
Sometimes you gotta lose to win again.

You gotta take a leap of faith;
Listen to your inner self.

— Found poem, Women Renewed participants, June 2, 2014

 

A Call for the Conscious Feminine

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Part One of two posts on The Conscious Feminine

I Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned

So goes the old gospel hymn, which Mahalia Jackson sang at the March on Washington, 50 years ago.

photoAnd so goes the Feminine in our society, as I’ve seen it: ‘Buked, and Scorned. At least, that’s been my experience, especially as I’ve moved into the business world. That’s what I see as we continue to plunder the Earth in the name of corporate profits, the military-industrial complex, and “progress.”

Here’s the first of two sermons I wrote, as a call to bring the Conscious Feminine back into our world and save the planet — and us — from destruction.  You can watch the video here.

Awakening the Conscious Feminine in Today’s World

I invite your comments.  Perhaps you could list one gift, and one challenge, that you got from watching this video.

The new soft war against myself

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With Karyl Rivers

With Caryl Rivers

I wrote this after a great night back at the J-School a few weeks ago.

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May 2, 2014

What stories are we writing? Is it the stories of “us” or “unconscious-us?”

“I want to write with depth,” said Peggy, an older professional woman currently getting her master’s at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I met her last night at a J-School reception honoring three of her fellow female student journalists. “I don’t want to write the fast-dash, slap-it-up stories,” she said.

For me, that’s about the Conscious Feminine value of “depth orientation” rather than “action orientation.”

This morning I read a sentence in a book that said, “A typical news broadcast consists of 30 percent ads and 53 percent crime, disaster and war.”

I mean, is this REALLY an accurate account of our world? Is this really the only thing going on?

Last night, I heard the stories of several female journalists who broke open the field, people like Anne O’Hare McCormick, who received one of the first Pulitzers awarded to a female journalist, in the 1930’s. I met Betsy Wade, who years ago helped bring a lawsuit against The New York Times for discrimination against female journalists. I spoke with Caryl Rivers, a J-School grad who recently published a book called, “The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendence is Hurting Women, Men and the Economy.” I enjoyed listening to Gail Collins, my favorite columnist for The New York Times. She does some serious Conscious Feminine “truth-telling” in her columns.

IMG_5997I also was fascinated to hear the stories of two other recent J-School grads: S. Mitra Kalita, ideas editor at Quartz, balancing family and career expectations (“Just once I’d like to get pregnant when I want to get pregnant”), and Danielle Douglas, covering the banking industry for The Washington Post (“Bankers tend to carry a lot of bravado. I had to get comfortable with that.”)

And it was a delight to celebrate this year’s Anne O’Hare McCormick Memorial Fund’s scholarship winners, Patricia Guerra, Julia Harte, and Annie Wu, who are out there telling important real-life stories: the case of a transgender drug addict and Mexican immigrant who wanted to be buried as a woman in her home town in Mexico, the story of an institutional takeover of a university in Istanbul, and the story of gambling addiction in the Chinese community in New York City. Wow! These are fascinating topics and fascinating young women.

It was Julia who told me, when I mentioned The Conscious Feminine, that 99 percent of the world’s wealth is held by men, and just 1 percent is held by women, according to The World Bank.

Wow. That is truth-telling. And stunning. This is a story that needs to be told!

What I’ve come to understand, as a woman, is that it is up to me to tell the truth, to tell my own truth. I no longer need anyone or anything else to do that. I can post anything online and within seconds, it can, in theory, be a story heard round the world. That is an important development.

But some less obvious restrictions remain, most especially, the “soft war” I wage against myself.

Do I value my story?
Do I value myself and my work?
Do I insist on equal pay for equal work, and, am I willing to break away from the established patriarchy to do that if necessary?
Do I tell the stories that need to be told?

I hope so.

IMG_6003I am trying to be more aware of my own internal soft war, in which I accept the unacceptable, buy into values I don’t support, and depend on anyone else to make sure my story is told or my needs are met.

Which is why I’m a woman writing for (a) change. I’m finding out my own story, writing it down, and encouraging others to do it as well. The world needs to hear our stories, but, even more importantly, we need to tell them, for ourselves. The stories about us. The Conscious Feminine stories that will help break the grip of scarcity-thinking in our lives.

As Caryl Rivers quoted in our brief conversation,
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, then what am I?
And if not now, when?”
—Hillel

Today, I am grateful to be a female writer (also supported by the AOM Fund 25 years ago as a J-school student), telling the story of my life, as, I hope, a Conscious Feminine leader.

p.s. I’m also supporting organizations like the Anne O’Hare McCormick fund, so other fabulous female journalists can continue to tell their stories. Please consider making a contribution here.

 

A message from the birds

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Song of the Soul in Scottsdale

I am one who
gets a kick out of squawking loudly
and hasn’t forgotten how to play..

I am one who
jumps into things headlong
and cries out, Why do I doubt? 

I am one who
who flies with buntings
and keeps on singing.

 I am one who
stands on straws hollow, light, yet strong,
and dances to the sails of circling clouds.
 
I am one who
is serene inside the colors that I am,
and mirrors back the truth or lies you tell the world.
 
I am one who
sleeps at night,
and sees both the curve of the planet and the whisker of the mouse.
 
I am one who
spies on cardinals,
and knows that attention is life.
 
I am one who
lives alone and with others,
and flies on the line between fierceness and forgiveness.
 
— Group Poem, Song of the Soul Workshop, Compiled by Jennifer Wolfe
National Association for Poetry Therapy Conference
Scottsdale, Arizona
April 26, 2014