Tag Archives: women writing for (a) change

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.

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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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

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.

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.

Conscious Feminine Leadership

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Part Two of a Two-Part Series on The Conscious Feminine

I hear talk these days of “Conscious Leadership,” at least on the web.  Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But I think we need more than “Conscious Leadership” to save the world.  I think we need “Conscious Feminine Leadership.”

I recently posted my views on the Conscious Feminine. As a follow up, here’s a talk on Conscious Feminine Leadership that I also gave at my church. These are my views only.  Take what you like, and leave the rest.

I do invite you, however, to share your ideas on this.  Please consider posting one “gift” and one “challenge” based on what you heard.  Below the video, I’ve posted the responses the congregation gave after the service. I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Spoiler alert: I do call out the system that has created the Angela Coreys of this world.  I feel obliged to speak my voice.  Please consider adding yours.

 

Gifts Challenges
Circle round [at the end] Not going for profit
To use the word “allow” in my leadership work To continue to “allow” both for myself and others
Tolerance Give it a wider voice
Forgiveness is a gift Letting go is a challenge
Base goals on “values”
Enoughedness Enoughedness
Gift and challenge is the same.  As a manager in a place constantly “evaluating,” to make the time to share freely and without judgement the beautiful gifts I see in each of my employees. Gift and challenge is the same.  As a manager in a place constantly “evaluating,” to make the time to share freely and without judgement the beautiful gifts I see in each of my employees.
The greatest gift is love.
Heart disease is a woman’s biggest killer.  Be Vegan. Reduce risk.  vegan.com
Allowing depth, diversity — not having to be uni-dimensional To not create sameness in the effort to create equality 
The view of the beautiful quilt is a gift. Challenge is trying to sing new and difficult song.
The topic. No Fear. [heart symbol] Inertia. Status quo.
Perspective Perspective
Celebrating enoughedness. Listening. Sitting down.  Thanks…Carlos.
My daughter will enter a more enlightened world. Significant challenges ahead.
Standing for ourselves. Standing for ourselves.
My ears to listen. To do a sit down with a woman in my life.
Love and fellowship. Sustaining focus and motivation.
The feeling of love. Going up to say my grandfather is dying.
Pleased that Melody is running and you are dancing.
The idea of leading from the inside out. The general concept of standing up for “feminine” in a male-dominated world
Having people like you. Being a man in a man’s world.
Compacting one’s thoughts.
Balance: Dearest subject to me! Having my parents-in-law with us today.  I know they have different view.
Harmony: The balance of the notes in our lives organized to provide beauty Appreciate all of the notes because without all it is just noise.

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.