Tag Archives: expressive writing

Finding Your Tribe

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Find Your Tribe in Our Community this Fall

Not long ago, a friend lamented that she had not yet really found her tribe, and longed for one. I so wanted to “fix” her by suggesting she join Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville. However, I must remember to MYOB (as Ann Landers used to say), and that WWf(a)C might not be for everyone.

However, if YOU are looking for a tribe, and you are OPEN to suggestions … perhaps you might care to join us? Here’s how to know if this community is right (a.k.a., “write”) for you:

  • You have a lot to say, and you need a healthy outlet for saying it
  • You’d like to be heard, without judgement
  • You enjoy writing, but don’t have much of a practice
  • You write all the time, but you don’t have a regular way to get feedback (other than “likes” in your FB feed)
  • You’d enjoy being anchored in a circle of supportive women
  • You’re in transition, and exploring new creative outlets
  • You’re an experienced writer who’d like to be stimulated by new techniques, ideas, resources, and people
  • You’d like to use writing to help you create a more “conscious” life for yourself

Actually, there are hundreds of reason you might enjoy being part of this tribe. So, I cordially invite you to give us a try this fall. We’ve got lots of ways to participate.

For starters, you can “take us for a test drive” during our Sampler class at Unity Plaza on Aug. 31. Or, take the plunge now and sign up for our Fall Series, starting Sept. 7, where we will be focusing on the theme of fiction (and non-fiction) writing techniques. Register here. Seating is limited, so register soon!

Or, if you’ve been through a big transition lately, and live near the beach, you may want to sign up for our 6-week Writing Through Transitions series in Ponte Vedra starting Oct. 13, focusing on using your journal to help you walk through this challenging time. You can register here if you want us to to hold your spot.

Plus, there’s our Art + Soul Retreat on Nov. 5, a one-day workshop where we will write, collage, share our work, and eat — with food catered by Tres Leches. Activities include writing, mixed-media collage, SoulCollage®, and art journal-making. Register here.

Finally, we’re planning a Women’s Open Mic on Nov. 2, a “Write + Hike + Birdwatching” at Guana River State Park, and hopefully a new monthly series at the Downtown Library (more details soon). Plus, save the date of Nov. 12 for the Jax by Jax Literary Festival. We will be actively supporting the Jacksonville writing community again this year.

No matter where you are on your life journey, or what kind of writer you are, we’ve got a place for you in this tribe—if you want one. Our mission is:

  • “To nurture and celebrate the individual voice by facilitating supportive writing circles and by encouraging people to craft more conscious lives through the art of writing and the practices of community.”

We do hope you’ll join us.
—Jennifer Wolfe, owner
Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville

WWF(a)C, Jax, is one of six affiliate sites of the women-led, national organization Women Writing for (a) Change, founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently celebrating its 25th anniversary year.

We Gathered: Journal Conference 2016

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IMG_5990Just back from a rich and deep experience at the 2016 Journal Conference in Asheville, North Carolina, where we celebrated 30 years of journal therapy through the pioneering work of Kay Adams and The Center for Journal Therapy. We also launched the next 30 years of work in this field. The big vision: To make journaling as integral to our health and our community healing as yoga is today.  And we are definitely on our way there.

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Natasha Trethewey

It was a time to meet and celebrate some of the pioneers of this work, including Kay Adams, Peggy Heller of the National Association of Poetry Therapy, Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea of PeerSpirit and The Circle Way, Richard Gold of Pongo Teen Writing, memoir specialist Linda Joy Myers and author Judy Reeves, as well as Pulitzer-Prize winning Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

Beyond that, we experienced fabulous workshops; to name just a few: Writing and Transitions with Leia Francisco; Writing and Neuroplasticity with Deborah Ross and Kay Adams; the new Positive Psychology Strengths Assessment with Edwina Cowdery and Nancy Scherlong, plus sessions on poetry, sacred song-writing, memoir writing, and others. A highlight was a workshop on writing a non-fiction books using journaling techniques to structure your approach, with editor/coach Nancy Evans. Other master journalers presenting were Linda Barnes,  Susan De Wardt,  and Anne-Marie Jobin of Journal Creatif…and many, many more.

People are doing incredible work with journaling around the world, and more is yet to come.  Journaling can jumpstart any writing effort, and can launch anyone’s writing career. Journal therapy also can be used by many professionals to enhance their healing in this world.  Find out more by becoming a member of The Journalverse or taking classes with the TWI Institute.

It’s a community that is changing the world, one journal entry at a time.

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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New Writing Season Begins!

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“What you seek is seeking you.”
— Rumi

NEW YEAR’S POEM
i am running into a new year

i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen and
twenty-six and thirty-six
even forty-six but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me

                       —Lucille Clifton

WRITING PROMPT: I am running into a new year and…

Just a few spots left for Spring Classes!

We All Have A Dream
What’s your writing dream? Perhaps our Spring Series will help you realize it. We still have a few spots left for the series starting Wednesday, January 20! And Art + Soul starts Jan. 30!

“I don’t think everyone wants to create the great American novel, but we all have a dream of telling our stories-of realizing what we think, feel, and see before we die. Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.”
― Natalie Goldberg,
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Register here.

 

SoulCollage® Comes to Unity Plaza

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soulcollage-012What part of your soul is saying “give me life?”

SoulCollage® is a creative tool for artful self-expression. It was developed by psychotherapist and author Seena B. Frost, M. Div., M.A, in the 1980’s. Ms. Frost studied theology at Yale Divinity School and received a Master’s degree in psychology from Santa Cruz University.  Her blend of spirituality, psychotherapy and creativity continues to grow world-wide.

In this 6-week series, trained facilitators will teach you to use and enjoy this process of personal growth.  Using the SoulCollage® methods, each person creates a personal deck of collaged cards using index cards, glue, scissors and magazine images. SoulCollage® is a creative process that is truly accessible to everyone, even people who believe they have no artistic ability.

WHEN: Starts Sunday, Oct. 25, though Dec. 6 , for six weeks (skipping Thanksgiving),
TIME: Sunday afternoons, 2-5 p.m.
WHERE: Unity Plaza Community Room
WHO: Jennifer Wolfe and Stephanie Durham, co-facilitators
REGISTER NOW: On Meetup

As your deck grows, your cards begin to guide you through self-exploration and self-acceptance.  Using  imagery, imagination and intuition you learn to access the wisdom and wonders that lie within you as you create your personal deck of cards.  These cards are designed to give a voice to our inner thoughts, dreams and experiences while also honoring your deepest self…a visual narrative of your own unique story.  This  practice  honors  every step of your personal  journey.

This class is being offered as a joint venture by Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville, and  Hope at Hand, Inc.  Hope at Hand is a local nonprofit that provides art and poetry therapy to vulnerable and at-risk youth populations in North Florida.  Participating in this class will directly support the community missions of both Hope at Hand and Women Writing for (a) Change.

Discover your wisdom, change your world!

Support our ‘Beloved Community’

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1794571_405495376278257_7756953264744044148_nDo join us! It’s our twice-annual Public ReadAround, in which the women writers from this past semester choose one piece to read out loud to the larger community.  Friends, family, and all other interested folks are cordially invited to join us as we hear the women raise their voices and tell their stories, in the brand new community room at Unity Plaza!  The ReadAround will run from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 16.  Register here (on Meetup) or here (on EventBrite).

A Silent Auction will support our Scholarship Fund to sponsor a seat in our regular circles or our outreach programs.  Currently we are offering writing circles to female inmates at the Community Transition Center, among other programs.  Here’s a small sample of what they are writing about:

When Have You Loved Wide Open?

When I had my two sons, A. and D., is when I learned to truly love wide open. Holding them in my arms after they were born has been the two proudest moments in my life. I grabbed onto them and never wanted to let go. They are the most precious things in my life. No matter where life may take them, I will always be proud of them and love them. Children are a blessing from God. I love them unconditionally and nothing could change that. If we only get to love wide open once in our life, we should feel blessed to have had that chance. It takes a lot for me to trust and to love someone, but with my boys it came naturally. It’s a love like I’ve never known before. A love that comes so easily. A love that is so pure and true. I couldn’t ask for a better gift than a child’s love: The way they look up at you and smile, or their little hands being held up in the air for you to pick them up and hold them, or a simple “Mommy, I love you.” I remember rocking my boys to sleep until they were 4 years old. I never wanted to put them to bed. I wanted to hold them all night. They may be 19 and 21 now, but they are still my babies. And I’ll never let go. They are my reasons for living and what keeps me going. I thank God for them every day. They are my two most precious gifts in life.

—T.F.,  based on a prompt from Marge Piercy’s poem, “To Have Without Holding”

We’ll hear more stories like these, plus we’ll be able to peek at the Collage Books assembled by participants in our Art + Soul Series. All semester, we’ve been writing to the theme of “Cultivating our Inner Garden,” and the resulting words and artwork have been both beautiful and inspiring.

Do join us to support these writers and perhaps to consider how you might want to become part of what Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as our “beloved community.”

To Have Without Holding

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch ; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

— Marge Piercy

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.”