Tag Archives: how you can help!

Thank you, 2010 — Welcome, 2011!

graffit of Ganesha, the Hindu Elephant God, beneath a Hindi banner...

Ganesha: Lord of Beginnings, Remover of Obstacles, Patron of Letters...

Good morning & Happy New Year’s Eve!

What a tremendous, educational year 2010 has been! Lots of lessons offered and learned (or, learning). What did 2010 offer you? What will you bring forward with you into 2011 from this year just passing?

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Writing Ourselves Whole can still use your support! There’s this one more day in 2010 to make a tax-deductible financial gift that will support the transformative writing in your communities — thank you immensely to all who have already invested in our work!

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I’ve spent the last several days wrangling with a cold, so I’ve been sleeping a lot and, when awake, watching movies or reading. I’m making my slow way through Rob Brezny’s Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia. This book is reminding me of how I used to aspire to be in the world: full of curiosity, wide-eyed and also skeptical, lots of questions and few answers, aching for beauty and connection with everyone and everything, engaged with my complexities and contradictions, positively uncertain and joyfully observant.

I was writing in my notebook yesterday about how I’ve gotten more connected to having answers. The Knowledge/Information Economy tells us to become an expert on something, to become the go-to person on FB or Twitter or elsewhere about the wingspan of bats or why people collect seashells or how to frame digital photographs or what sex positions most suburban folks struggle with these days — that’s how you Make It. That’s how you’ll Succeed. And so I’ve been trying to figure out how to become an expert on surviving sexual trauma or writing about trauma or writing about sex or an expert on sexuality, period. And then when I run into personal struggles with any of these things (which I do on a regular basis), I feel like a completely failed Expert. How can I claim to teach something, or midwife folks through an experience, that I’m not 100% perfect at myself?

Of course, you can see the perfectionism, the self-sabotage, the voices that say, if you’re not perfect, you’re nothing. (Which means (doesn’t it?) that if you’re just human, you’re worthless.)

I’ve been actively engaged with this, one of my most entrenched inside-editor voices, for quite a few years — tangling with my just-humanness. Just human means stunningly imperfect, means scarred and scared, means I don’t have all the answers, about myself or anyone else. Means I’m a practice: this life is a practice. Every day is a practice.

So this week, with the blessing of a cold that left me with body aches and sore throat, I’ve been on the couch with Rob Brezny, remembering what it’s like to delight in not knowing. Remembering what it’s like to be present with the joy of our imperfections, to be grateful for everything that seems wrong, to take some tremendous comfort in the sheen of fog that covers the windows of our little house in the mornings. Who cares if I need to wear 4 layers, a scarf and hat inside my house? I’ve got all day to make Irish soda bread to feed the cold monster in my belly, have time and a stove with which to whip up a batch of cayenne-cheddar biscuits, will put the stove on low so that my specially-requested french bread will rise.

2010 taught me much about self-care, about receiving help, about saying no and about saying yes, about trusting visions and dreams, about slowing down in order to stretch and grow.

In 2011, I am looking forward to more delight in confusion,  more surprising myself with everyday magic, more attention to/with serendipity — what happens when I simply become an expert at asking questions, or noticing what is? Isn’t that a life-long practice?

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What about a prompt here, beginning with where we started: What are you bringing forward with you from 2010? What lessons will come with you even if there are habits, practices, relationships that you are laying to rest? What visions and wishes do you have for this coming year? Let yourself describe them in great, intricate detail.

A fun writing exercise can be to write yourself a letter from Dec 31, 2011 — describe what happened in the year, how you felt about it, what surprised you! Use as much sensory detail as you can: explain how something smelled or sounded, what it felt like, how it tasted, what it looked like. If you want, you can seal up the letter and set it aside to open at the end of next year: then compare and contrast!

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Thank you for being with me this year — I’m so grateful for this regular opportunity to connect with you! Thank you for all of your powerful, engaged, vulnerable work. Thank you, always, for your words.

How you can support life-changing writing workshops!

Hello and Glad Yule, Writers and Friends!
“I really appreciate and am a bit awed by the amount of support and healing that has happened for me in this room. The level of respect and regard for each writer’s voice is a gift I carry with me into the rest of my life.” anonymous (Write Whole writer)

Through Writing Ourselves Whole, people are restorying their lives. Some writers come to our workshops to reclaim their bodies, their words and their creativity after trauma; some, to find words for their beautiful and complex sexuality. All are empowering themselves through creativity. In 2010, Writing Ourselves Whole provided opportunities for nearly 100 individuals to write and share their stories. I’m deeply grateful to all those who have supported Writing Ourselves Whole’s work to offer safe, confidential and transformative writing groups that allow for deep creative discovery.

In 2010, we held ten 8-week writing workshops and twelve single-session writing groups; we offered workshops in San Francisco, Oakland, and on the East Coast. At the beginning of the year, Writing Ourselves Whole joined Intersection for the Arts’ Incubator, and we have begun to offer a scholarship fund for those in need! This means more full and more diverse workshops, which are always priorities for our sessions.

In order for Writing Ourselves Whole to continue offering writing workshop scholarships and below-market rates for our current and future low-income writers/participants, and meet all of our financial obligations for space rentals and supplies, we need your financial support. Please consider a tax-deductable donation in order for Writing Ourselves Whole to continue.

There are different ways that you can support and invest in the work that Writing Ourselves Whole offers:

  • Full Scholarship: Each $325 donation to our scholarship fund covers the full cost of a writer including: a 8-week workshop session, snacks, drinks and supplies, which are always provided.
  • Make a one-time donation or become a monthly supporter by signing up to donate $500, $325, $150, $50 or $25 per month. These funds will cover our ongoing monthly expenses including partial scholarships, workshop space rent and supplies. Any gift is deeply appreciated and helps us to do this work. No gift is too small!
  • Purchase a gift certificate for any current or aspiring writers on your gift list. Please contact Jen using the form on the Writing Ourselves Whole website. Gift Certificates can be purchased for $250, $100, $50 or any amount, and are a generous way for you to support the poets, storytellers, memoirists and other writers in your life!

To make a secure, tax-deductible, online donation using your debit or credit card, you can visit the Intersection Incubator donations page. Choose ‘Writing Ourselves Whole’ from the drop-down menu next to the question: “Which fiscally sponsored project will benefit from your donation?’ (Writing Ourselves Whole is down near the bottom!)

Thank you for your generosity, your belief, and your support!

Your investment will help us continue offering transformational writing workshops in 2011, both through our regular workshops, Write Whole: Survivors Write, Declaring Our Erotic and Writing the Flood, and through some exciting new developments in the works: workshops in Sacramento, an online offering in conjunction with the TLA Network, and more!

With so much gratitude,

Jen and all of us at Writing Ourselves Whole

P.S. Writing Ourselves Whole has grown beyond just my own two hands. There is an amazing group of volunteers who have joined the team that is Writing Ourselves Whole! Jianda, Lou, Maisha, Renee and Christina: thank you!