Tag Archives: Women’s Center

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.

She preached good posture

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‘Heard last night’ at the Women’s Center

Woman Renewed collage project

Women Renewed collage project

I’ve held several circles at the Women’s Center of Jacksonville so far this summer for the Women Renewed program participants.  These are formerly incarcerated women who are finding hope and new life through this program, which gives them coping skills and  employment opportunities.

One thing I’ve learned from this work is, for women to stay out of jail, they need three things: a job, support, and their GED.  The Women’s Center helps them with all three. Thank you, to those of you who have contributed to the fund that allows me to do this work with them, which I hope is giving them additional skills of self-awareness to help them make this transition.

Our theme for this series is, The Heroine’s Journey, based on the book by the same name. It’s about our spiritual journey as we move away from our mothers and away from our feminine self, experience pain and suffering as a result, and then come back Home again.

I’m struck, when I hold the circle, by how quickly they “get it.”  That they notice, and appreciate, the sacredness of the circle, and quickly settle into it.

Below are two found poems they agreed I could publish.

The first is to the prompt, “What do I want to keep that my mother (or grandmother) passed on to me?”

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She Preached Good Posture

She preached good posture.
I can’t let her go.

She sewed my cheerleading outfit.
I can’t let her go.

Being complete is to be whole.
I can’t let her go.

I am needed. I have a job to do.
I can’t let her go.

The love my mother had.
I can’t let her go.

The long suffering my mother endured.
I can’t let her go.

The ability to know when to be a woman.
I can’t let her go.

She had a very kind heart.
I can’t let her go.

I lost the mom I once knew.
I can’t let her go.

I was fortunate to have a second mother.
I can’t let her go.

I can’t separate myself from my mother. I’m her baby.
I can’t let her go.

— Found poem, Women Renewed participants, May 27, 2014

Last week, we read the Poem, She Let Go, by Rev Rose Safire.  Read the full poem here. Then we wrote to the prompt, “What do I want to let go of?”

Here’s what I heard:

New Page, New Journey

New page, new journey.
No, no, no, not a new chapter, a new book of life.

Can’t stop, won’t stop.
You can feel that breeze again.

I can see the moon and the stars at night.
I have let that day go.

I’m surprised I have the patience for this.
I won’t give up for anything.

I’m not in this room right now.
The anxiety of the feeling that I may be violated.

I know that God has me.
Trouble is so easy to get into, and so difficult to get out of.

Letting go is not an easy thing to do.
Sometimes you gotta lose to win again.

You gotta take a leap of faith;
Listen to your inner self.

— Found poem, Women Renewed participants, June 2, 2014