Category Archives: ukulele

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!

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.”

What’s MY Passion?

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Part Two of Three

So, if my friend Evan, at 10 years old, already knows his passion, it begs the question: What’s MY passion?
Let’s see.

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The bluebird appears on the old nest box.

Yes, I also love gardening.
And bird-watching.
And ballroom dancing
And singing on my ukulele.
And of course, I love writing, especially women writing, especially Women Writing for (a) Change.

But, if I had to say it in one word, my current passion is, “change.” That’s pretty funny, since it’s also the thing I fear the most!

Example: About 10 years ago, my family and I were rafting on the Nantahala in North Carolina. (Of course, the river is a great metaphor for change.)  In the photo snapped at the end, the look on my face as we are about to descend into white water is pretty much pure terror.  BUT I made it through.  And since then, I’ve learned to love the tumult, knowing there is smooth water just around the bend.

I do love to see how things evolve, and grow, and shift, and transform.

In fact, I now believe passionately that change is necessary, and that it begins, first and foremost, with ME. If I want to change the world, all I have to do is make one small, tiny shift, and that changes everything. Here’s what I do know about chemistry, dear Evan: If you change one variable, the entire composition changes and creates something new.

It’s alchemy.
It’s magic.
It’s a miracle.

Like the way my garden is currently transitioning, from winter brown to bright green.
Like the way my son is transitioning, from “car pool kid” to “new driver.”
Like the way my daughter is transitioning, from high school student to college student.

I’m not sure how it’s all going to turn out, and I am even biting my nails a bit as I look ahead to the tumult. Nonetheless, I am passionately glad to be in the middle of it.

Next entry: Inspired by PechaKucha Night in Jacksonville: What’s THEIR Passion?

Claiming our voices, as individuals, as a nation

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Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. — Rumi

Claiming Her Voice Again

IMG_4677Last week I was thrilled to rediscover Elizabeth Cotten, a woman who wrote her signature song at age 11, taught herself to play the banjo and guitar left-handed, and then put down her instrument for decades…until she became a part of the Seeger Family, and was inspired by their music. She took up her instrument, and her voice, once again, and began a new career.

I heard her singing Freight Train 20 years ago on a radio station and instantly loved it.  This past weekend, while I was playing in a bluegrass jam in New York City with my sister, someone played it again, and I was inspired.  When I got home, I learned how to play it on my ukulele!

Here’s to women that claim their voice and their talent, even if it takes a lifetime.

Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43-UUeCa6Jw

Journal Prompt: Martin Luther King said, “There comes a time when silence becomes a betrayal.” When have you been silent and betrayed yourself or others?  How did you learn to speak — or sing — or play your instrument — again?

“Now You Sing It!” — Pete Seeger

IMG_4647It turns out that Elizabeth Cotten worked for Pete Seeger’s stepmother and father, and was inspired by their music.  As I read the articles about Pete  in The New York Times last week, one headline really caught my attention: Pete Seeger: A Folk Revivalist Who Used His Voice to Bring Out a Nation’s.”

Although Pete was a fabulous musician and enjoyed performing, it seems that what he liked to do best was to not only capture the songs and stories of the past and bring them alive in the present, but also, and most importantly, to teach those songs to others and encourage them to sing.  It was  singing WITH people, not FOR people, that gave him his greatest thrill.  And, he taught us, as a nation, how to stand up to injustice when he sang the songs that helped raise our consciousness about what was wrong, and right, about our country.

Pete’s Local Connection

IMG_4648While Pete’s stepmother was also a musician, it was his mother that apparently first taught him to love and appreciate music.  Pete’s mother actually attended church here in Jacksonville, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville, and Pete himself performed there.  He gave the church a signed copy of his autobiography, in honor of his mother, and I saw it after the service last week.  It had an inscription, his signature, and a pen drawing of a banjo.

Journal Prompt: What makes you sing? How can you use music to bring out your own voice? And how can you share your voice with others?

Happy writing, and singing.