Tag Archives: Conscious

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.”

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.

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.