Let the river take me: Learnings from facilitating an at-risk group

I originally wrote this article for Chrysalis, The Journal of Transformative Language Arts (which is currently under maintenance), April 2016 

 

Let the river take me,  a compilation poem

Let the river take me —

Even when it hurts, it breathes with the joy of laughter, undulating.

I choke on life, I’m really here in the world.

I keep trying. I am a survivor.

Manipulate the truth; truth to be heard.

The road to hell is as slow as molasses.

Sometimes it feels like a web of pointlessness — all shit.

I keep trying. I am a survivor.

Let the river take me, to be free.

I’ve come to acknowledge that… my life has been heavily influenced by broken relationships, terrors of my past bad influences or bad teachings from my childhood. Breaking free of the twisted mold of my childhood is no easy task. Knowing, acknowledging, and a desire for change is a beginning. – Grant, “Write to Recover” participant

I can’t deny it: I’ve lived a sheltered existence. I have seen only glimpses of the tougher sides of life – a couple screaming at each other as they walk down my street, an addict sitting in a car on my corner before the dealer’s house was busted, the child at the street fair asking for more free cotton candy because she’s hasn’t eaten all day. 

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Hear myself out

This is one poem in a series from the “Write to Recover” group I facilitate. I put them together from phrases that resonate with me while participants read, adding nothing but punctuation and the occasional conjunction. This one is comprised of the words of four participants who were writing on the theme, “Your own voice.

Distractions of the necessary,

Ants scurrying around the concrete of life.

 

But I am not spineless;

My spirit can fly.

A shimmer of aliveness,

Fresh,

Like a baby carries a big lot of love.

 

I remain quiet

To protect my being,

The true essence of me;

This gnarly mess–

My very “I am” self,

A fresh flowing fearless frequency.

 

Sit gently like

A grain of sand in time — rock time

To hear myself out,

Another human hand holding hope, and

Nurture lovingly and meaningfully

Because I am real and worthy of love.

I am alive and not ashes in the ground

This the ninth in a series of poems from the “Write to Recover” group I facilitate. I put them together from phrases that resonate with me while participants read. I add nothing but punctuation and the occasional conjunction. This one is comprised of the words of four participants who were writing on the prompt, “To move forward I must…

I have many lessons to learn;
Unlearn things that don’t work,
The too many “shoulds,”
The crazy thinking as a child that has settled
On my shoulders and my heart.

I only get in my way,
A little boy lost in a big wood.
Everything’s discombobulated, but
One step at a time I will move forward.

I have overcome what could have destroyed me —
I am alive and not ashes in the ground!

I have to be upbeat to keep up
And there will be some hellos and some goodbyes.
But I’m able to walk straight,
Leaving the ill-fated voices behind.

I’m the flower lady,
Blooming everywhere.
I have learned to be happy,
The peace I have been looking for…

Never forget me.

I simply decided to live

This the fifth in a series of poems from the “Write to Recover” group I facilitate. I put them together from phrases that resonate with me while participants read. I add nothing but punctuation and the occasional conjunction. This one is comprised of the words of five participants.

bricks

Sometimes the way is right in front of you.

Dancing fool that I am,

Breaking down a wall

To feel OK with myself;

Scraping away the negative words

I learn my own true vision.

~
I came from another planet named womb,

A learning person

With fear of being whole.

~
But fear can motivate,

And I simply decided to live!

~
Aware of a new life, I’ve been given time

Tick tock…

Constant contact with God,

No stop signs in sight.

I feel whole now, whole when connected.

~
Yes, I can:

Make my world bright and colorful;

Elaborate my need to be on this planet;

Remove the hate.

~
Paint my life in print —

My beautiful creation,

I will see it through.

Respect me in my uniqueness

Because now it is time to rest.


W.O.R.D.S.: Feminine (or Mother’s calling)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

klimt mother childFeeling something’s deeply wrong

Equality and equity are words they say, but

My body knows the wound of centuries,

Ingrained in the soul of every woman who has ever been called “bitch” or hysterical for

Nothing more than speaking her heart’s song or acting with her

Intuition, her gnosis, her body’s knowing.

No, this wound is deep and it gapes open at times, crying out for balm.

Express the rage. Create! Until we can all shout and cradle the swallowed words of our grandmothers.

~

Expressive writing — expressing the emotions, the body’s feelings, flowing from the unconscious — to my understanding, is a way to tap into the culturally suppressed side of our psyche, which can be symbolized by the “feminine,” that which is archetypically the nurturer, empowerer, and collaborator  in both females and males.

This type of writing, then, can be considered a form of self-mothering. It is a way to care for our inner child.

The following is an excerpt from my Masters’ thesis that explains this further:

I believe it is the suppressed “feminine” voice of the psyche, that which yearns for connection and affiliation with nature, others, and self, which has been held down by fear in order to keep hierarchy in place.

Releasing this “feminine” aspect through writing gives voice to the other half of our psyche and to our natural selves, our actualized self and helps bring us into balance.

Like a mother builds up her children, we can write to vanquish the fear, to build self-confidence—to empower ourselves—so we can empower others.

Through writing we can enter whole, balanced, meditative states that increase “flow” and feelings of connectedness.

When we write we are fostering our own psychic growth towards self-actualization which paradoxically connects us to ALL through understanding and compassion for our shared human-ness.

Prompt: I feel the feminine wound…

~~~
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

W.O.R.D.S.: A new project

maa-saraswati

Saraswati, Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts (including writing) and science.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saraswati)

Can I tell you how much I miss blogging? When I began this strange – as I saw it at the time – new form of writing over five years ago, I was quickly (as in, instantly) hooked. I loved the freedom of my own forum, the informality, the brevity, and above all, that lovely button that says “publish.”

Click! Yes, I’m published. Click! Published again. Click, Click. Click.

I’ve never really been concerned that my readership is low, I truly write for myself (but that doesn’t mean I don’t check my statistics page like a hawk and get all excited when someone comments). I love the tippity-tap of my thoughts manifesting on screen, the words a reflection of my inner knowledge that many times I did not know I knew.

I didn’t blog much while I was in grad school and even less now that I am back in the “real” world learning to make a living doing what I love. But it has become very clear to me that part of what I love IS blogging.

And I have so many things I want to share from my graduate research and memoir-writing.* So many things from that experience that I still need to process. So many words I have still inside me.

It is as a storyteller-writer-scholar, I want to introduce a new blogging project. Through it I will look at women’s studies, myth, psychology, spirituality, embodiment, goddess-consciousness, creativity, and of course, transformational/expressive writing.

And I am giving myself self-inflcited -imposed deadlines. If I am to do what I love successfully, I must have deadlines. As my friend, author Burnham Holmes said yesterday in his presentation at the Horace Greeley Writers’ Symposium: Deadlines are your friends.

So, introducing…

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions. Including writing prompts. Starting next week.

~~~

*Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice

Trust the Process (pt 13): Seeing the End of the Road

Cor... get a bus through there!On August 16th, 2010 I wrote my first Trust the Process post. It was the beginning of my graduate school journey. Tomorrow I begin the end.

My last semester. The one when I pull together everything I have learned over the past three semesters into one piece of writing (well, two, actually) so it can bound in a black jacket and placed on a shelf in a dark room on the ground floor of Goddard College’s library.

Will a future student reading my introduction feel the intensity of the explosions that were blasting my worldview to smithereens my first semester? Will she press her temples while browsing my memoir, feeling the anguish of my second semester when I lost my way trying to find something without which I finally realized was within? Will he feel the high of multiple a-ha! moments as he reads my process paper? While photocopying my bibliography, will she feel the hot tears of frustration and mental exhaustion? Glancing over my curriculum, will they know what my students taught me about true wisdom?

No, they can’t know. They won’t feel every pinnacle and every dungeon of emotion I experienced while pursuing this degree. What they will see is another binder, another thesis of another faceless former student. They might read in my words that the experience changed my life, but they won’t know.

They won’t really know what a Goddard education is until their own work is bound up there on the shelf. They won’t know that it is a journey that takes you deeper into your soul than you thought possible. It tears apart your preconceived ideas, gives you more questions than answers and opens your eyes to the beauty of mystery. It is painful and it is beautiful and it is freeing. It is not merely an education, it is life quest that teaches you to think and to be awesome, and to do it with more courage than you thought possible.

I questioned at the beginning whether I truly needed a Master’s degree to have a career in my field. I am a writer and a facilitator, and no, I don’t need this degree to do those things well. But what I did need was the push to dig deep, to think deep, to learn hard, and to connect some very big dots so I could begin to heal my wounds. I needed to experience what I was learning, not just parrot what I was told as I had been taught my whole life to do.

I had to learn to know what I know.

And now comes the final piece: Writing it down so I can find out what it is I know. To connect what I feel to what I’ve learned. To see my new voice – my new self – on the page. And I can’t wait.