Sink into your words! Join our June 23 Retreat in the East Bay hills…

photo of narrow wooden deck, looking out over trees and mt tamalpais

(view from our writing room out to Mt. Tam)

Meridian Writers
 an all-day writing retreat!
Sunday, June 23, 10:30am-5:30pm.
(Light breakfast from 9:45-10:30am)
Lunch provided.

Open to all writers, regardless of writing experience or previous participation in Meridian Writers.

Location: Private home in the East Bay

photo of clouds over El Cerrito, rainbow emerging from the bay

Treat yourself to a day of good writing, good food, and good community!

For this day-long writing retreat, we gather for coffee or tea and some home-baked breakfast, and then write through the rest of the morning. After a break for lunch, we dive back into our work through the afternoon, and we close by 5:30pm.

You’ll leave the retreat with: a rich body of new creative writing; feedback about what’s already strong and powerful in your new writing; and inspiration to keep on writing.

photo of brown dog lying on a wooden deck next to table and chairs, looking out over eucalyptus grove

(Sophie enjoying the deck)

Give yourself a day to write in a beautiful, quiet space with views overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The fee for day-long retreats is $200; a $100 non-refundable deposit will secure your registration.

Spaces are limited: Please let me know if you’d like more information or would like to register! Write to me at jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org; visit writingourselveswhole.org for more info about our workshops or methods.

Writing the Flood meets Saturday, May 18!

photo of notebooks and a cup full of pens on a table in front of an inviting couchWriting the Flood
Open the gates and let your writing voice flow
Third Saturday of every month

The next Flood Write meets May 18, 1-4:30pm
Come write with us!

Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long. This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $75 (sliding scale available). Spaces limited to 10 writers.

No previous writing experience necessary!

UPDATE! Writing the Flood will meet in downtown San Francisco, close to BART and MUNI lines. Pre-registration is required — please write to Jen with questions or to register.

Can’t make it this month? Mark your calendars: The June Writing the Flood will meet on 6/15.

About your facilitator: Jen Cross is a widely-published freelance writer. She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University, has led writing workshops since 2002, and writes with folks about trauma, sexuality, and so much more.

Writing the Flood meets this Saturday, April 20!

photo of a sheet of water falling over rocks
Writing the Flood

Open the gates and let your writing voice flow
Third Saturday of every month

The next Flood Write meets April 20, 1-4:30pm
Come write with us!

Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long. This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $75 (sliding scale available). Spaces limited to 10 writers.

No previous writing experience necessary! Workshops held in downtown Oakland in an accessible space, close to BART and AC Transit lines. Pre-registration is required — please write to Jen with questions or to register.

Can’t make it this month? Mark your calendars: The next Flood Write meets on May 18.

About your facilitator: Jen Cross is a widely-published freelance writer. She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University, has led writing workshops since 2002, and writes with folks about trauma, sexuality, and so much more.

Your words are waiting: Join us for Meridian or Dive Deep…

Stencil graffiti -- insert your life story hereHello writers & writers-to-be!

We’ve had a bit of a break while I’ve been away, but I’m looking forward to gathering with our local bay area writers again! Our Wednesday morning writing group, Meridian Writers, will open to new writers in April, and our second Dive Deep trimester begins in May. Read on for more details, and let me know if you can join us!

~Meridian Writers
A general-topic group open to all writers!
8 Wednesday mornings, 9:30am-12:00pm, beginning April 24

o *Meridian Writers* invites you to join a community of writers who are connecting more deeply with their writing practice. Find your center and write your story. Coffee and/or tea will be provided, as well as light snacks (sometimes even including homemade bread). At the end of our eight weeks together, you will have a new creative community, and a strong body of new writing. Spaces are limited to 9 writers per workshop session. Fee: $450.

~ Dive Deep
An advanced, manuscript-centered workgroup
Second 2019 cohort opens to new members in May!

o The *Dive Deep* workgroup is for those who have delved into (or are ready to commit to) the deep dive of a large writing project, such as a novel, memoir, or poetry collection. Though writing is a solitary pursuit, no writer has ever completed a long work alone: Divers meet three times per month for writing, project check-in and accountability, feedback, coaching and peer support. This group can help you meet your writing goal, and provide community and encouragement as you go deep into a writing project. The fee is $250/month, with a four-month commitment required; the group will remain closed for those four months, in order to give Divers the opportunity to set long-term goals in an established and supportive community.

Join us!

No previous writing experience necessary! All groups meet near BART station and other public transportation options. Spaces are still available, though limited, and pre-registration is required! 

Questions or concerns? Write to me at jennifer(at)writingourselveswhole.org.

Writing the Flood gathers again this Saturday, February 16!

Comfy blue couch in front of a bright orange wall; on the wall hangs a painting of three hummingbirds
Writing the Flood

Open the gates and let your writing voice flow
Third Saturday of every month

The next Flood Write meets February 16, 1-4:30pm
Come write with us!

Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long. This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $75 (sliding scale available). Spaces limited to 10 writers.

No previous writing experience necessary! Workshops held in downtown Oakland in an accessible space, close to BART and AC Transit lines. Pre-registration is required — please write to Jen with questions or to register.

Can’t make it this month? Mark your calendars: There’s no Flood Write in March, but join us in April on 4/20.

About your facilitator: Jen Cross is a widely-published freelance writer. She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University, has led writing workshops since 2002, and writes with folks about trauma, sexuality, and so much more.

Writing the Flood meets this Saturday, Jan 12!

photo of notebooks and a cup full of pens on a table in front of an inviting couchWriting the Flood
Open the gates and let your writing voice flow
Third Saturday of every month (except where otherwise noted, like this month!)

The first Flood Write of 2019 meets January 12, 1-4:30pm
Come write with us!

Step into that resolution you made to return to your words!

Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long. This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $75 (sliding scale available). Spaces limited to 10 writers.

No previous writing experience necessary! Workshops held in downtown Oakland in an accessible space, close to BART and AC Transit lines. Pre-registration is required — please write to Jen with questions or to register.

Can’t make it this month? Mark your calendars: The February Writing the Flood will meet on 2/16.

About your facilitator: Jen Cross is a widely-published freelance writer. She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University, has led writing workshops since 2002, and writes with folks about trauma, sexuality, and so much more.

Inaugural Fierce Hunger meets this Saturday – Fragmented and Whole

graffiti of a multicolored hummingbird, found on a mailbox in Oakland
Fierce Hunger: A writing circle for survivors of sexual trauma

Survivors writing at the intersection of trauma and desire
Meets the first Saturday of every month

The inaugural Fierce Hunger circle meets this Saturday, Jan 5, 12:00-5:00pm
Come write with us!

What are you hungry for?

Fierce Hunger writing circles are opportunities for trauma survivors to claim our creative appetites! At the intersection of desire and trauma, hunger can take many forms. Many of us were trained to starve ourselves in a variety of ways: we are starved for the food we most want to taste, for the creative expression we want to release, for the sexual and sensory experiences that sing in our bellies and hands. Join us, pick up the pen, and share your fiercely hungry stories.

These monthly circles will be themed, and exercises will lean toward that theme, though every writer is always invited to write whatever they are drawn to write.

January’s theme is Fragmented and Whole:
Unfolding our understanding of wholeness and healing: When we say “writing ourselves whole,” we mean writing into all of our parts, our many selves, the places we feel can never come together again…

Circles are open to survivors of sexual trauma.

We meet in downtown Oakland in a comfortable, accessible, and private space, just a block from the 12th St. BART station and other public transportation options.

The fee for each Fierce Hunger writing circle is $150; if you are interested in attending multiple circles, you may want to purchase a block of groups (called a meal plan) for a discounted rate.

No previous writing experience necessary! Pre-registration is required — please write to Jen with questions or to register.

Can’t make it this month? Mark your calendars: The February Fierce Hunger circle will meet on 2/2.

About your facilitator: Jen Cross is a widely-published freelance writer. She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University, has led writing workshops since 2002, and writes with folks about trauma, sexuality, and so much more.

New offering for 2019: Fierce Hunger – Monthly survivors writing circles!

graffiti of a multicolored hummingbird, found on a mailbox in Oakland
Fierce Hunger: Survivors writing
at the intersection of trauma and desire
Themed writing sessions every first Saturday of the month, 12-5pm

What you are hungry for? At the intersection of desire and trauma, hunger can take many forms. So many of us are trained to starve ourselves. We are starved for the food we most want to taste, for the creative expression we want to release, for the sexual and sensory experiences that sing in our bellies and hands.

Join us, pick up the pen, and share your fiercely hungry stories. These monthly circles will be themed, and exercises will lean toward that theme, though every writer is always invited to write whatever they are drawn to write.

Open to all survivors of sexual trauma; a al carte, each session is $150 (discounts available to those who register for a meal plan ); limited to 9 writers. Contact Jen with questions or to register.


 

2019 Fierce Hunger circle themes:

January 5Fragmented and Whole

  • Unfolding our understanding of wholeness and healing: When we say “writing ourselves whole,” we mean writing into all of our parts, our many selves, the places we feel can never come together again…

February 2Claiming our Desire

  • Desire takes so many forms – erotic, sensual, creative… by writing into our desire, we discover, we name, we risk allowing ourselves to want…

March 2Telling it Slant

  • Sometimes we have to approach our tenderest stories from another angle…

(No meeting in April)

May 4Famished

  • What happens when we who are trained to starve ourselves give name to our cravings and begin to seek them out?…

June 1Queering our Survival

  • Nothing about our survival is on the straight and narrow…

July 6We Do Not Have to Be Good

  • We are the”Wild Geese” from Mary Oliver’s poem; when we who were trained to be good girls (no matter our gender) – quiet, obedient, keeping the secrets of others – begin to raise our voices, the world shifts on its axis, and we feel our wings unfurl…

(No meeting in August)

September 7Embodied Words

  • Writing can be a way to gently re-engage with our bodies, from which many of us have worked for years, even decades, to separate ourselves…

October 5Writing Our Rage

  • Many of us were trained away from our anger, taught to turn it in on ourselves; our rage is a powerful energetic force, and can drive extraordinary writing…

November 2Intersections of our Survival

  • None of us are survivors of sexual violence only – we are also gendered, raced, variously abled, of different means, differently educated… and these aspects of ourselves come together and inform the way we live in the aftermath of our trauma…

December 7Ceremonies & Gratitudes

  • How do we honor all that we have been through, the many ways strategies we have used to survive? How do we show gratitude to the tools that no longer serve us (though they got us to where we are)? How do we write gratitude to these bodies, the genius of our resistance, our communities, all those who give us permission to survive?…

 

Meal Plans!

Meal plans let you eat more for less! 

breakfast: 3 sessions for $350 (a $100 discount)

brunch: 6 sessions for $650 (a $250 discount)

feast: all 10 sessions for $1000 (a $500 discount)


Join us for one or a few or all of these opportunities to write into, honor, grieve, celebrate, maybe even sate, the fierce hungers we carry as survivors…   

Register for Odyssey; Join a group to heal, or to develop your intuition or spiritual practice!

Here are a few announcements that have arrived in my inbox recently, and I wanted to make sure to pass them on to you! The first, Odyssey, is a writing workshop open to writers from all over the world; the other three are Bay-Area-local offerings…

1) Apply for Odyssey: For writers of fantasy, SF, and horror

Now in its 24thyear, the Odyssey Writing Workshop is widely considered one of the top programs in the world for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Acclaimed authors, editors and agents serve as guest lecturers, and 59% of graduates have gone on to be professionally published.  

Odyssey 2019 will run June 3-July 12, at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire.  

Odyssey combines advanced lectures, in-depth feedback, and one-on-one guidance for maximum impact.  Class meets for over 4 ½ hours, 5 days a week, and students use afternoons, evenings, and weekends to write, critique each other’s work, and complete other class assignments.  Graduates commonly say they worked harder at Odyssey than they ever have, and they learned more in six weeks at Odyssey than in years earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in creative writing.  

The early action application deadline for this summer’s Odyssey is JANUARY 31, and the regular application deadline is APRIL 1. All applicants receive feedback on their writing sample. Financial aid is available. 

Instructors include Odyssey founder Jeanne Cavelos, bestselling authors Holly Black and Sara King, award-winning authors Nisi Shawl and Fran Wilde; highly praised author/editor Paul Witcover, and award-winning editor/publisher Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld Magazine.  We’ll also have agent Joshua Bilmes, president of the renowned JABberwocky Literary Agency, and award-winning editor/publisher Scott H. Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skiesas virtual guests via Skype. 

Visit odysseyworkshop.org to learn more!

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2) Feminist Wicca Training begins February 9, 2019

Year and a Day apprenticeship for women: Developing your early-based spiritual practice – with Carolyn Hunt

Group starting on February 9, 2019
Second Saturday each month plus Solstice, Equinox, and Cross-Quarter rituals.In this Apprenticeship, we experience the Wheel of the Year—the planting, growth, and harvest of our dreams, desires, and aspirations. We tune into the mysticism of Nature and the Goddess, align with the divinity of our own beings, and expand our compassionate political consciousness in a workshop format. 

Prerequisites: 
1. Introduction to Feminist Wicca class or comparable education/experience (familiarity with ethics and women’s circles), 2. Maturity level conducive to intensive spiritual growth, and, 3. Commitment to pursue a Feminist Wiccan path.

To Register: email info@carolynhuntrituals.com to schedule a 30-minute phone call to assess whether our working together is a match!

Visit carolynhuntrituals.com for more information!

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3) Openings in a new therapy group for queer folks:

Ellen Morrison, LCSW, is starting a therapy group for people who identify as Queer (self-identified/LGBQQ-T+GE+2S-IA).
 
A dynamic place for problem solving, healing and empowerment, this weekly group is designed for 6 people to support each other in exploring and resolving issues they are facing. 
 
Group members will:

  • Learn a cooperative process helpful to relationship building, problem solving and healing;
  • Get support challenging limitations and internalized oppression so as to grow steadily toward their goals;
  • Interrupt experiences of isolation;
  • Use creative arts and somatic wisdom, as well as, talk therapy, in the sharing of our lives, practicing skills and learning from both the groups shared experience and diversity. 

This group can be an adjunct to current work in 1:1 therapy or a therapy in of itself.
 
Time: Wednesdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Length: This is an on-going group; new members join as people leave group.
Cost: sliding scale $200-150/month
Where: Berkeley on San Pablo near Gilman and North Berkeley Bart

Learn more at www.ellenfmorrison.com

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4) Trust your truth: An intensive workshop series to develop your intuitive and psychic wisdom, led by Sade Gryffin

Join Sade Gryffin for this fun and intensive seven week workshop series, to develop your innate Intuitive and Psychic wisdom.

What can I expect in the workshop?
The workshop is based in meditation practice. The meditations incorporate guided intuitive energy healings, both seated and in movement, to clear your subtle body (aura and energy centers) of blocked energy.

You will learn powerful practical tools and techniques to:

  • Relieve stress and anxiety
  • Increase self-confidence and self-acceptance
  • Feel grounded and at home in your body
  • Create and maintain healthy boundaries
  • Release old worn out patterns and habits
  • Gain clarity of mind
  • Heal relationships with people, money, and life path
  • Align with your authentic self, and manifest your desires

Time and datesThis workshop runs for 7 weeks, Jan 13th – Feb 24th 2019 Sundays- 9:30 am – 11am; each class is 90 minutes
Venue: Temescal Arts Center Oakland, 511 48th St, Oakland, CA

Investment for full Seven week workshop series: Early bird $360 (before Jan 1st 2019); Regular price $420 (Payment in full or 50% deposit due when you registered.)

Visit cariadhealing.com to learn more or to register!

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We love our writerly, creative, healing community! Connect with these brilliant folks to learn more about their offerings…

<3

 

grateful that you are in this world

Image: colorful birds sitting on a wire, over the words Gratitude is a funny, complicated, and sometimes difficult thing. 

Thanksgiving can be a challenge for many reasons (not least of which the fact that the story many of us are told about the holiday — that it’s to honor the native peoples of the Americas, who kept the pilgrims/first colonizers from starving to death after settling here — wildly sanitizes and white-washes the true history of European peoples on this continent).

We are told this is a day to be with family– the message is everywhere around us, on television, on social media. But what happens when time with family is toxic for us, or harmful, or just leaves us feeling depressed and sad?

We are reminded regularly, whether we want to be or not, that we should be grateful. We should keep gratitude journals, keep a gratitude practice, that gratitude will help us heal. There are times when that sort of practice works for us. But there are also days when we don’t feel grateful at all — when we just feel grief and loss, and then we feel worse about ourselves because we’re not being grateful, and therefore we are inhibiting our own healing somehow.

In my experience, gratitude can be a generosity we offer ourselves and others, but not so much when it feels forced or demanded.

So I just want to invite you to be easy with yourself today (the same as every day). My hope is that you’re with the sort of family — chosen or blood — that brings you joy, allows you to feel a kind of comfort in your skin.  If you are spending this day alone, may it be time that rejuvenates and brings you peace. If you are working, know that many are grateful for your labor, whether they say it to you or not.

I am grateful that you are here in this world, that you are making it through, that you share your story with your notebook and maybe with your community, too. I am grateful for dogs and music and poetry today. I am grateful that my sister and I made it through, and continue making it through every time we get together and keep rebuilding a relationship that got so profoundly damaged. 

Gratitude is never simple or easy, I think, and that’s one of the reasons I appreciate the WS Merwin poem, “Thanks,” that I share with my workshops every year (and have pasted down below). I am never sure whether this is a hopeful or despairing poem, and maybe it’s both. I dunno — reading it always leaves me with a feeling of humanness, I guess: ridiculous, flawed, reaching, aching. We go on saying thank you even when things are so painful and we have suffered so much, not because we’re stupid or because we’re mindless, but because we are alive and in the struggle of living and loving.

Thanks
W. S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

(From Migration: New & Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005). )

One more time — be easy with you today, ok? And if you find some time for some words today, so much the better. Thanks for all the magnificent ways you are you, and for all the ways (visible and invisible) that you appreciate and honor those around you, today and every day.