Category Archives: journalism

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

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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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.