Category Archives: change

Finding Your Poetic Voice

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IMG_4312.PNGPlease join us for our Spring Series as we help you Find Your Poetic Voice here at Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville.

In this series, we’ll explore how poetry and poetic techniques can enrich your writing, infusing it with new ideas and themes…whether you write actual poems or just get more poetic in your daily writing practice. We’ll look at a selection of rich, juicy poems and see how they might inspire our creative process.

Our guest poet (from afar) will be Alexa Mergen, poet, journalist, teacher, and yoga practitioner. You’ll have a chance to meet her when she visits Jacksonville April 21-23, all the way from Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. She will consult with us on our curriculum.

The Spring Series meets weekly on Wednesday nights for 12 weeks, from January 25 through April 12, 2017.

WHEN: starting January 25, 2016, 6:30-9 p.m., through April 12.
WHERE: Riverside (1610 Osceola Street, 32204)
CLASS SIZE: Limited to 10 spaces.
FEE: $300 for the series (non-refundable unless cancelled two weeks before class); deposit of $75, balance due by first class.
REGISTER:  You can register right here!  Spaces are limited.

Curious but want a closer look first?  Please attend our Sampler on January 18 at 6 p.m. It’s a great way to find out what we’re all about!  Just register right here.  We’d love to have you.

You don’t have to be a professional writer to join in. Come by and learn more about the amazing process used by thousands of women across the country to express their authentic selves through writing and community-building. We’ll use prompts, poetry and prose to practice many different writing techniques.

“A circle of women may be the most powerful force known to humanity. If you have one, embrace it. If you need one, seek it. If you find one, for the love of all that is good and holy, Dive in. Hold on. Love it up. Get naked. Let them see you. Let them hold you. Let your reluctant tears fall. Let yourself rise fierce and love great. You will be changed. The very fabric of your Being will be altered by this. If you allow it. Please, allow it.” — Unknown

Join Us for Our Public ReadAround!

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img_3075It’s stories women need. Stories give us hope, a little guidance,
and a lot of bravery.
Sue Monk Kidd

Public ReadAround

Please join us as we broaden our circle to include our women friends, colleagues, and family  members. Once each semester, class members of Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville,  believing that “writing is not a performance, but a generosity” invite you to hear what we’ve been writing. Come enjoy an afternoon of delectable stories, poems, music, and refreshments.

What: Public ReadAround
When: Sunday, Dec. 4, from 2-4 p.m.
Where: Unity Plaza Community Room, 220 Riverside Avenue
Register: Register here

“Story creates an atmosphere in which truth becomes discernible as pattern.
When truth is told through the imaginative patterns of stories and poems,
we have a chance to be caught up and rewoven
into truth’s own designs.”
—Parker Palmer

Next Sampler Class

What: Finding Your Poetic Voice
When: Wednesday, Jan. 18, 6-8 p.m.
Where: Unity Plaza Community Room, 220 Riverside Avenue
Register: Register here

Come spend a Wednesday evening in the company of interesting women in a relaxed and safe atmosphere. All are welcome. No writing experience necessary.

Read our Latest Newsletter

You can find out more about what we’re doing right here!

Writing + Everything = Good

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IMG_5870We’ve had so much fun this spring celebrating this beautiful time of year with writing combined with most everything else (collage, poetry, hiking) to create powerful experiences for women (and a few men) writers.

Just happened: Our annual Write + Hike, which included a potluck to make this a Write + Hike + Eat at Down to Earth Farm on the westside of Jacksonville.  Eighteen writers gathered on this beautiful organic farm run by Brian Lapinski, where we were treated to a farm tour including turkeys, chickens, pigs, and of course, rows upon rows of beautiful organic vegetables and flowers.

After a fascinating tour, we gathered in the woods for a special circle to learn techniques for writing in nature and on our summer travels, using all our senses.  We began with an edible flower (nasturtium), a Tibetan bell, and a painted rock, and conjured up memories from showering with free-roaming pigs to eating a first oyster.  We finished up with a delicious potluck and were recharged to go out into the world again.  Here’s a short video and a few pictures just to show how delightful it all was.  Thanks to everyone who attended and to Brian for hosting.

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With Spring Classes Underway, New Flowers are Blooming

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IMG_3620I’m so excited about my Carolina jasmine!  It’s quite beautiful, flowering and spreading all over my backyard pergola.

I’ve waited a long time for this.

The garden adage for growing vines is, first year sleep, second year creep, third year leap.  Or, for all plants: first year SLOW, second year GROW, and third year SHOW. Which is exactly what’s happening out there!

The first year of my new backyard garden, the vines barely rose up the side of one post.  The next year, they reached further, but they didn’t cover overhead.  The third year, they finally started to cover the pergola.

Today, the vines hold a very generous sprinkling of yellow flowers, which I just love.  It’s a reminder to me of spirit, of sunshine, and of warmth.  What’s extra nice is that the Carolina jasmine is native to this area, so I know it’s in its rightful place.

Which is how I’m starting to feel about Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville.

I think I’ve been through the “slow” stage, as I gathered my certifications and gained clarity about what I really wanted to do with my life. Last year, which was the first year we were open for business, I tried to focus on one thing at a time, do that well, and not get too far ahead of myself!  (“Sloooow down,” my mentor Diane likes to say. “Sloooooow down!”)

600_433138024Now that we’re in the second year, I can take some of the lessons learned and add them, like fertilizer, to the roots of my business, working toward “deep and concentrated” rather than “wide and shallow.”  It’s not easy, actually.  In my eagerness, my passion, my enthusiasm, I want to go here, there, and everywhere, holding circles and “spreading the joy.” I have vision, and I have fire, as another mentor, Beth, likes to say.

But I am also guided by what we at WWf(a)C like to call the Conscious Feminine, a leadership style that takes a long view, and cautions against unlimited growth and reckless speed.

Enough is enough.
When I go slow, I go fast.
Easy does it.

These are all adages that keep my entrepreneurial garden healthy. I have other garden wisdom to guide me, such as, “Plant it and it shall grow.”

So let me sprinkle a few more seeds, soon to blossom into full-blown events (UNF Hike, or Open Mic Night) that will create new gardens of words, of wonder, of consciousness, right here in Jacksonville.  These gardens will give life to the stories, and talent, that are native to our region.

open mic flyer 3 VI’m not trying to plant too much.

Just enough.

Because this much I know is true: Women’s stories are valuable. Women’s wisdom is needed. Conscious women’s leadership is part of a cure for what ails this world.

That’s what we’re cultivating.

Here.
In the garden called, “Women Writing for (a) Change.”

The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Register Now for Spring Classes!

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IMG_3135I was intrigued when I saw a robin on my front lawn this morning.  I’d seen a flock of them on New Year’s Day, gliding skillfully across a crisp blue sky.  But when one showed up practically at my front door today, I thought it might have a special message for me.  So I looked up the symbolism for robins in my animal totem book.

Yep.  Important message!  Here’s what it said: “This wonderful bird is a traditional herald of spring.”  Perfect! That aligns with the theme for our Spring Series: “Cultivating Your Inner Garden.”

It looks like a robin will be our guide!

The book went on to say, “When a robin comes into your life, you can expect new growth to occur in every area of your life.  Its cheery song reflects a need to sing your own song … if you wish to experience that growth.” Wow! Sounds like developing your writer’s voice to me.

Finally, it said that the powder-blue color of the robin’s egg is associated with the throat, and the power of using your voice creatively. It reflects “the innate ability of those with this totem to create new growth in their life.” In other words, each of us has IMG_3122the power to transform ourselves, and the robin will show you the way. (Just like the robin that guided Mary’s transformation in The Secret Garden!)

So, all you Women Writers out there, I do hope that I will see you  in the circle this spring as we continue on our personal writing journeys.  I cordially invite you to come and enjoy our curriculum, which will include creative writing craft and plenty of inspiration and structure to strengthen your writing practice in 2015. (BTW, guys are invited to attend our Hike + Write event at UNF on March 7!)

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

The robin also reminds me that the early bird gets the worm, right?  Some folks have already signed up for our Spring Series, which starts on January 21. That’s great!  Please sign up today to save a spot for yourself! 

Enjoy art and writing? You can also register for our Art + Soul Series, on alternate Saturdays from 10-12 for six weeks, starting January 31. This wonderful course will also focus on cultivating our inner garden, and promises to be a rich and fruitful series. What the heck, sign up for both! 🙂

Not sure yet, and want to know more?  Come to our Spring Sampler on January 14! You’ll get to see why a Women Writing for (a) Change writing circle is a magical place to both develop and challenge your writing practice.

draft_lens17279251module145724101photo_1294526004shape-collage-onlineTo register, please just click HERE for the Spring Series and HERE for the Art + Soul Series.  Or, sign up for the Sampler right HERE.  I’m sticking with 12 spots in each class, so please register as soon as you can to hold your spot. And do encourage your friends and fellow writers to attend as well! 

A Wonder-filled First Year!

What an exciting first year for Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville!  I cannot tell you how grateful I am to everyone who has a part of it. Working in this community this past year has changed my life in remarkable ways.  I especially appreciate our writers and their stories, courage, and transformation.  I am also grateful for the support of the Jacksonville community, and the larger national circle of Women Writing for (a) Change, from my mentors to my fellow facilitators. They have each given generously to help me launch Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville, in 2014.  For a photo retrospective, check out the photo collection on our FB page. (And “Like” us if you haven’t already!)

UNF Write + HikeSuccessful Fall Public ReadAround 

Our Public ReadAround in December on the beautiful grounds of the UU Church of Jacksonville was very successful, with women writers well-represented in words and collage art and even song.  We also supported Rethreaded with brisk sales of their products, and raised $390 toward our outreach efforts this coming year.  Thank you to everyone who helped, from our donors to our attendees and supporters to, of course, our women writers.

Big Plans for 2014

I’m looking forward to what 2015 has in store for us! Just a few of the activities in the works are:

  • A January presentation to the American Legion to help raise funds for our Pilot Project for Women Veterans (email me if you’d like to donate or get involved);
  • Communications and volunteer support for the Generation Works program on February 7 with Donna Orender (email me if you’d like to help)
  • Our first “Write Around the Corner” event at UNF for a “Write + Hike” (register HERE now if you’d like to attend! Spots are filling fast!)  This is a joint venture with the Sierra Club; men are welcome.
  • A joint venture with the Downtown Library during Artwalk in March to showcase women writers (email me if you’d like to participate);
  • More outreach programs with the DBW Policy Center for Girls, incarcerated women at the Community Transition Center, and Bosom Buddies at the Women’s Center;
  • A possible joint venture with the UNF Women’s Center and the UNF Writing Center to bring our writing practices to UNF.
  • Much, much more!  (OK, not too much more, just the unplanned stuff that I’m staying open to.)

I hope to see you in one of our writing circles in 2015, and I look forward to growth and transformation as our robin guide shows us the way!

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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.

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