Will Create for Love & Money: Your Right Livelihood and TLA – by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

“Will create for love and money” could make for a perfect bumper sticker for many of our cars or a good sign on our front doors. We write, sing, facilitate, coach, collaborate, and work deeply in the arts with others and ourselves because it’s our calling and birthright. Yet what it takes to make a living, find even more of our purpose, or craft the next season of our lives isn’t something that easily fits on a car bumper or front door. Finding our way takes courage, guidance, clarity, and often, help along the way.

Scroll down for special offers for TLAN Members

That’s why, starting many years ago when I first developed TLA, I knew that Right Livelihood, the Buddhist tradition of work that builds our communities and betters our world, was essential. By holding brave spaces for people to share their truest words and name and claim their own visions of healing and transformation, we are doing the work of Tikkun Olam, the Hebrew term for helping repair the broken world. Yet we can only do this work if we find ways to sustain our livelihoods and respect our time and gifts.

The Your Right Livelihood class began as a TLA Network project, then grew from there, having helped dozens of people since 2018 discover their work (whether for livelihood, art, service, or purpose) and how to make that work come true. I’m delighted to be offering our comprehensive class with singer-songwriter and creativity and career transition coach Kathryn Lorenzen Feb. 19 – April 16. The class surrounds you with guidance, support, best resources for your work ahead, and good company for the journey, including:

  • Weekly Zoom discussions, many featuring luminary teachers, such as Gregg Levoy (author of Callings), Yvette-Hyater-Adams (facilitator, writer, consultant), Vi Tran (arts organizer and performer), and Alana Muller (networking expert) to explore the depths and breath of callings, personal strategic planning, networking tailored to you, and finding support and care.
  • Online exploration and writing about our emerging visions as well as the inspiration and nuts-and-bolts resources we need to put them into action, plus visiting podcast teachers sharing their wisdom, including creativity expert Eric Maisel, Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Willmott, singer-songwriter Kelley Hunt, poet and facilitator Marianela Medrano, and others.
  • One-on-one in-depth coaching on how to integrate our dream work into our lives through completing a pick-your-adventure portfolio guide so that you’ll have all you need (such as web copy, funding resources, proposals and descriptions of your work, outreach plans) when you complete the class.

As part of a generous partnership agreement, all TLAN members receive a discount on our class and retreat next October. Additionally, we invite any TLAN member to attend our Sun., Feb. 5 small group coaching session “Will Create for Love and Money” as our guest (7 p.m. CT/ 8 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. MT/ 5 p.m. PT on Sun., Feb. 5). Just email me and we’ll register you.

A number of TLA members have found great gifts and direction in Your Right Livelihood, and you can read their words directly here. We know through our experience how much a strong cohort group, excellent guides, and lots of good resources can help people make the leap into the work they love.

We come by this understanding naturally: Kathryn is a singer-songwriter who found her way into cross-country performing and having her music featured in films, along with her twin calling of coaching hundreds of people through career transition over the years. As a poet and writer, I discovered my twin calling in teaching and facilitation, which, along with writing are how I support my livelihood, do my service, and create my art.

Find out more about the class here, and if you’d like to explore whether this is a good match for you, please click on the “Discovery Call” button to set up a free consultation with us. You can also peruse of “Is Your Right Livelihood Right For You?” page here.

Welcome to 2023 TLAN!

I am overjoyed to begin this year as your new TLAN coordinator and am grateful for your kindness and grace as I transition into this new role. Joining TLAN is especially important now as we frequently witness words evolve and change in our society saturated by incessant information. Thus, I am excited to serve you and the vision of TLAN, and I look forward to what this new year brings…

Like workshops and classes! With your time divided among so many different things, why not dedicate some of it to igniting your passions and nourishing your hopes? This year, TLAN is offering a variety of opportunities sure to benefit you personally, professionally, and communally. Start the year off with one of our January offerings:

  • Pathways To Wholeness: Mindful Writing Toward Momentous Leaps Of Meaning with Marianela Medrano
  • Flash Fiction Forms: Exploring Elements Of Craft Through Archetypes & Metaphors In Dreams, Tarot, & Fairy Tales with Riham Adly
  • This Is Who I Am: Exploring Personal Identity Through Poetry And Art with Angie Ebba
  • What Next? Launching Your Work In The World with Caits Meissner

Click here for more details! And while you are at it, consider joining the TLA Network. Learn more here.

Again, thank you for welcoming me to TLAN! Please do not hesitate to contact me with any thoughts, questions, or general chit-chat at tlan.coordinator@gmail.com.

Wishing you all the best,

Chad

Winter Sale on TLA Network 2023 Classes: Now through December 31!

Save 20% off the regular fee on each of these New Year’s offerings – three amazing classes taught by a trio of transformative language artists, plus a brand new weekend retreat with master teacher Caits Meissner and a wonderful weekend retreat with TLAN favorite Jennifer Browdy.

Marianela Medrano will be teaching Pathways to Wholeness: Mindful Writing Toward Momentous Leaps of Meaning for the Network in January 2023.

Medrano is a Dominican writer, poet, and psychotherapist, with aPh.D. in psychology, whose practice includes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness, Transpersonal & Integral Psychotherapy. Medrano has extensive training in Mindfulness Based-Stress Reduction with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli, and Mindful Eating with Jan Chozen-Bays and Char Wilkins. She has taught at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, now Sophia University, in Palo Alto, California, and as a visiting scholar at Goddard College.

Her work as a poetry therapist was recognized with an outstanding award from the National Association for Poetry Therapy. in 2007. She is also a mentor/supervisor for the International Federation of Biblio/Poetry Therapy.

Through the Palabra Training Center, she offers on-site and remote programs for individuals and groups in poetry therapy, applying literature and psychology to help participants forge their own paths to wholeness. She also presents, with poet Annie Finch, Woman, Poetry, and Spirituality at the Garrison Institute. Her Four Pathways to Wholeness workshop has been presented at the Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Studies World Conference in Seville, Spain in 2017, the National Association for Poetry Therapy Annual Conference, and the Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, India.

Her individual publications include: Oficio de Vivir (Buho,1986), Los Alegres Ojos de la Tristeza (Buho,1987), Regando Esencias/ The Scent of Waiting(Alcance,1998), Curada de Espantos (Torremozas, 2002), Diosas de la Yuca, (Torremozas, 2011), Prietica (Alfaguara, 2013).  Rooting (Owlfeather Collective, 2017). Her poetry has been translated into Italian and French. In 2015 she did a TEDTALK at Ursuline College.

Riham Adly is an award-winning flash fiction writer from Giza, Egypt. Adly will be teaching Flash Fiction Forms: Exploring Elements of Craft Through Archetypes & Metaphors in Dreams, Tarot, & Fairy Tales for the Network in early 2023.

In 2013 Adly’s story, “The Darker Side of the Moon” won the MAKAN award. She was short-listed several times for the Strand International Flash Fiction Contest. Riham is a Best of the NET and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work is included in the “Best Micro-fiction 2020” anthology. Her flash fiction has appeared in over fifty journals such as Litro Magazine, Lost Balloon, The Flash Flood, Bending Genres, The Citron Review, The Sunlight Press, Flash Fiction Magazine, Menacing Hedge, Flash Frontier, Flash Back, Ellipsis Zine, Okay Donkey, and New Flash Fiction Review among others.  Riham has worked as an assistant editor in 101 words magazine and as a first reader in Vestal Review magazine. Riham is the founder of the “Let’s Write Short Stories” and “ Let’s Write That Novel” in Egypt. She has taught creative writing all over Cairo for over five years with the goal of mentoring and empowering aspiring writers in her region.  Riham’s flash fiction collection “Love is Make-Believe” was released and published in November 2021 by Clarendon House Publications in the UK.

Angie Ebba will be teaching This is Who I Am: Exploring Personal Identity through Poetry and Art this coming January.

Ebba is a queer disabled writer, educator, and performer who has taught writing workshops and performed across the United States. She has poetry published in Closet Cases, Queering Sexual Violence, and several literary magazines. She’s also a published essayist with a focus on writing about health and disability, body positivity, and relationships. Angie teaches poetry and writing online and in person. Angie believes strongly in the power of words to help us gain a better understanding of ourselves, to build connections and community, and to make personal and social change. Angie can be found online at rebelonpage.com.

Caits Meissner is running a very special offering for the Network in late January – don’t miss her weekend workshop (space is limited), What Next? Launching Your Work in the World. Meissner is the author of the illustrated hybrid poetry book Let It Die Hungry (The Operating System, 2016), and The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You (Well&Often, 2012), co-written with poet Tishon Woolcock. The recipient of multiple artist residencies and fellowships, including the BOAAT Writers Retreat and The Pan-African Literary Forum, Caits is widely published in literary journals including The Literary Review, Narrative, Adroit, Drunken Boat and The Offing. She has taught, consulted, and co-created extensively for over 15 years across a wide spectrum of communities, with a special focus on imprisoned people, women, and youth. Caits holds a BFA in Communication Design from Pratt Institute, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York. She currently serves as the Prison and Justice Writing Program Manager at PEN America.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, PhD is the founder of Transformative Language Arts, the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 24 books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected PoemsMiriam’s Well, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body. A beloved writing workshop facilitator and writing and Right Livelihood coach, she offers writing workshops widely, particularly for people living with serious illness, adults in transition, humans looking for greater connection with the earth, and poets and writers seeking their most courageous voice on the page and in their lives. She loves life-giving collaborations, including YourRightLivelihood.com with Kathryn Lorenzen, Bravevoice.com with Kelley Hunt, and TheArtofFacilitation.net with Joy Roulier Sawyer. She offers weekly “Care Packages for a Creative Life” through her Patreon page, and her long-time blog, “Everyday Magic” at CarynMirriamGoldberg.com.

Born hard-wired to make something (in art, music, and especially writing), Caryn’s long-time callings include writing as a spiritual and ecological path, yoga, cultivating a loving marriage, family, and community, and helping herself and others make and take leaps into the miraculous work of their lives. For over three decades, Caryn has worked with many arts and ecological/bioregional not-for-profit organizations as a grant-writer, fundraiser, staff or board member, and consultant on collaborative and community arts, group process, and better meetings. She lives in the country on land she and her husband, ecological writer Ken Lassman, have put in a conservation reserve and are restoring as prairie and woodlands.

Jennifer Browdy PhD is a professor of comparative literature and media arts at Bard College/Simon’s Rock and the Bard Open Society University Network. She coined the term “purposeful memoir” in her award-winning writer’s guides, Purposeful Memoir as a Quest for a Thriving Future (2022 Nautilus Gold Award) and The Elemental Journey of Purposeful Memoir: A Writer’s Companion (2017 Nautilus Silver Award). Her memoir, What I Forgot …And Why I Remembered, was one of six memoir finalists for the 2018 International Book Awards. The editor of three anthologies of global women’s writing and the online magazine Fired Up! Creative Expression for Challenging Times, she offers workshops in purposeful memoir along with coaching, manuscript review and publishing services at Green Fire Press. She is also the co-founder and host of the online community for writers, Birth Your Truest Story.

A Workshop on Making A Living From TLA

Join us in early December when TLA Network founder, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, and her colleague Kathryn Lorenzen offer an intimate, two-hour workshop focused on supporting you to make a living from the transformative language arts. Register now for Your Calling, Your Livelihood, Your Life: Making a Living from TLA, offered on Saturday, December 3, 2022.

Transformative Language Arts can be your way to make a living, follow your calling, and fill your life with meaning, connection, and even joy. You’ll write and map what’s calling at large and in particular, how to focus in on what the timing is right for now, and what next steps to consider. You’ll also explore what self-care and a community ethic of supporting each other can look like for you and yours. Finally, there will be time to talk about your questions and possibilities.

This wonderful workshop is sliding scale and has been offered as a fundraiser for the Network – your generosity will make a difference!

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, PhD, is the founder of Transformative Language Arts, author or editor of 24 books of poetry, fiction, memoir, and more, and with Kathryn Lorenzen, she leads Your Right Livelihood: The Work Art and Service You Love (YourRightLivelihood.com). A long-time community workshop facilitator and coach, she makes her living working with many communities and individuals, giving talks and readings, and collaborating with other Transformative Language Artists. Her other projects include Art of Facilitation classes with Joy Roulier Sawyer and Brave Voice writing and singing retreats with Kelley Hunt. More and her blog at CarynMirriamGoldberg.com

Kathryn Lorenzen is a career coach, creativity coach, songwriter, and poet. Her songs have appeared in feature films and TV series, and she writes for both self-expression and social change. With an earlier career in copywriting and marketing communications, she is now a career coach to freelance writers and artists seeking livelihood in support of their art. Kathryn now partners with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg as co-leader of Your Right Livelihood (YourRightLivelihood.com), and you can find more about Kathryn at KathrynLorenzen.com.

Re-Visioning TLA in the World: A Community Conversation

Please join us for a community conversation on Sunday, December 4, 2022, about what comes next for the Transformative Language Arts Network. All are welcome!

Re-Visioning TLA in the World: A Community Conversation will be led by TLAN founder Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and members of our board of directors. 

We invite you to a conversation about reimagining and re-envisioning the future of TLAN. Consider how you might be involved, in whatever big or small ways that are possible for you. 

Register for Re-Visioning TLA in the World: A Community Conversation. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place online via Zoom. A Zoom link will be sent to all registrants the day before the event. 

As always, at this moment, we are reminded of the power of words, especially in this time of rising challenges to democracy, attacks on our beloved BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities, political turmoil, and war and the climate crisis. 

We honor the poets, journalists, writers, novelists, songwriters, playwrights, and other wordsmiths who risk their very lives to speak truth to power around the world. Your voices matter, your words have power, and together, we can effect meaningful change by listening deeply to each other’s stories, and speaking our truths.

We invite you to join us. 

To the power of words,  

Hanne Weedon
Managing Director

Note to Self: A guest post by TLAF Certificate Graduate Sharon Bippus

Editor’s note: Sharon is a graduate of the Transformative Language Arts Foundations Certificate program. This blog post is the final of five reflection posts she submitted as part of the certificate requirements.

Note to self: You got this!

In the course Changing the World with Words [to be offered again in 2023], Joanna Tebbs Young asked us to think about how we would apply the lessons we learn in the TLAN program to our individual lives and our work in the future. That prompt provided me an opportunity to consider the next chapter in my life.

As an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) teacher, I have spent almost three decades in the classroom working with English language learners. I have taught teenagers in middle and high school, and I currently work with adults at a community college. I have also had the privilege of teaching in other countries – summer programs in Slovakia and China and two years in Russia as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I have become very comfortable in the role of “ESOL teacher.” The classroom has provided a safe space to learn and to grow. It is a place to find one’s voice, and not just for my students. Being an ESOL teacher has helped me find my voice too.

I don’t remember exactly when I realized this, but I slowly started noticing that the advice I was giving to my students was actually advice that I needed to hear as well. The quotation from Richard Bach that I had heard years ago was finally beginning to make sense:

“We teach best what we most need to learn.”

For example, I often tell my students, “It’s OK to make mistakes.  It’s NORMAL to make mistakes. That’s how you learn.”

Note to self: How often has perfectionism or doubt held you back?

Or another of my favorites, “If you don’t know something, ask a question. Don’t be afraid to ask because someone else probably has that same question.”

Note to self: It’s OK to ask for help. Thinking you have to do everything by yourself might just be a trauma response.

The list goes on.

“Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t know what the other person’s background is. Maybe that other person has spent more time studying English than you have, or maybe that person speaks English very well but has terrible grades in writing. Just focus on yourself and the progress that you have made.”

Note to self: Remember Anne Lamott’s wise words, “Never compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides.”

“Trust yourself. Your first instinct may not be correct 100% of the time, but it’s usually pretty good.”

Note to self: Stop doubting yourself. Do not allow your inner critic to have the final say.

“Baby steps. You are not going to master the English language in one semester or one year. It takes time.”

Note to self: It’s OK to be a beginner and to start learning something new, but be patient with yourself. You won’t become an accomplished writer or artist or fill-in-the-blank overnight. Keep trying!

“You have to practice in the real world. It’s great to participate in class, but you also have to step outside of your comfort zone at some point.”

Note to self: People won’t always understand you, even if you speak the same language, and it is not your job to change their minds. Get out there and go for what you want!

By offering this advice to my students, I have tried to make my classroom a safe container, a place of belonging and acceptance, because that is something that I lacked in my early years. I never felt like I fit in anywhere, but finally as an ESOL teacher, I felt like I belonged. Now, as I think about moving on to the next chapter in my life after being “the ESOL teacher” for so long, I worry that I will lose that sense of belonging. Will I be able to find my new niche?  Will I lose my voice and my confidence?

Note to self: If you are still in doubt, reread this essay. You’ve got this.

Sharon Bippus, PhD, is an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) instructor who finds inspiration in the intersection of creativity, mystery, and synchronicity. As an undergraduate, she was awarded two scholarships to study in Germany which fueled her desire to learn more about the diverse world we live in. Since that time, she has taught English in Slovakia and China and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Russia. She currently teaches ESOL at a community college in the suburbs of Houston, Texas where she works with students from all over the world. In her free time, she enjoys mixed media, collage, and photography and has received training in trauma-informed expressive arts and nature-based therapeutic practices. She is a SoulCollage® facilitator, a Veriditas-trained labyrinth facilitator, and a student in the Haden Institute’s Dream Work Program.

Photo: Pixabay

(5/5)

Changing Myself with Words: A guest post by TLAF Certificate Graduate Sharon Bippus

Editor’s note: Sharon is a graduate of the Transformative Language Arts Foundations Certificate program. This blog post is one of five reflection posts she submitted as part of the certificate requirements.

As an adult, I know I can rewrite my story.

Changing the World with Words is one of the required courses [to be offered again in 2023] in the Transformative Language Arts Foundations certification program. In my opinion, it brings to mind the famous quotation erroneously attributed to Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Apparently, this is actually a paraphrase of a longer idea that Gandhi expressed:

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.

In this vein, I wonder if a better name for the TLAN course would be “Changing Myself with Words.” It seems a slightly easier place to begin before I actually tackle the reformation of the entire world.

In an interview I heard last year, the Irish poet Padraig O’Tuama discussed the healing effects of writing poetry to a younger version of himself who had undergone a severe trauma. He stated:

There’s something so redeeming for me all these years later to be able to speak that poem back to that frightened 18-year-old…somehow eventually to have recovered the capacity to be able to say something back. It doesn’t undo it, but it’s enough. I can somehow feel like I’m able to have a conversation between the me then and the me now. That is enough, and I can examine it.

Like O’Tuama, I have the ability to use my words to examine my past. Through my words, I have the power to write my own narrative and develop a new story for myself. For me, that change in perspective began after attending the first day of Changing the World with Words. When we met on Zoom, we were given five sentence stems to use as we introduced ourselves to our new classmates. One of the prompts seemed innocent enough:

When I was a kid, I wanted to be…

From my perspective, the other participants must have spent a few enjoyable minutes reminiscing about their favorite childhood memories and games – playing dress up, playing with imaginary friends, playing outside with the neighborhood kids – because the answers they shared were exciting and diverse. One wanted to be a dentist, another a potter. There was a teacher, a welder, and an actress. Most people listed multiple future professions and abilities – so many choices that revealed great imagination and inspiration.

My response was, “When I was a kid, I didn’t know what I wanted to be.”

I was embarrassed when I read that sentence aloud. I was the only one in the group without a dream or an imagination. What did I do as a child? I read. I watched TV. I drew pictures and floorplans. In middle school, I took sewing lessons in Home Ec. But most of all, I kept to myself. I had learned at a young age that to reveal any personal information was to open myself to ridicule. Today, as I look at the list of the activities I enjoyed as a young person, I realize that I could have fantasized about being a writer, an actress, an artist, an architect, or a fashion designer, but I don’t recall ever having those thoughts. It’s hard to imagine a future when you’re busy simply surviving each day.

Now, as an adult, I know that I can rewrite my story. I can acknowledge what that little girl wanted to be. She wanted to be held in a warm embrace. She wanted to be encouraged. She wanted to be seen and heard. She wanted to feel valued and accepted. She wanted to know that someone supported her.

She wanted to hear the words “I love you.”

I can’t change the past, but I can use my words to reassure that little girl. I can offer that innocent child-that-I-was compassion and tenderness. I can use my words to work through issues and to achieve clarity, and in turn, the woman that I am now can dream of changing the world one day.

Sharon Bippus, PhD, is an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) instructor who finds inspiration in the intersection of creativity, mystery, and synchronicity. As an undergraduate, she was awarded two scholarships to study in Germany which fueled her desire to learn more about the diverse world we live in. Since that time, she has taught English in Slovakia and China and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Russia. She currently teaches ESOL at a community college in the suburbs of Houston, Texas where she works with students from all over the world. In her free time, she enjoys mixed media, collage, and photography and has received training in trauma-informed expressive arts and nature-based therapeutic practices. She is a SoulCollage® facilitator, a Veriditas-trained labyrinth facilitator, and a student in the Haden Institute’s Dream Work Program.

Photo: Pixabay

(4/5)

Join Us for an Evening of Transformative Monologues!

Presenting a showcase of recent work created by Kelly DuMar’s TLA Network class, Your Memoir as Monologue.  We hope you will join us tomorrow, Wednesday, October 12, 2022, from 7-8:30PM EST.

In writing monologues for the stage, a story begins as words on the page. The next stage of development is to have the monologue performed by an actor in front of an audience. In this monologue showcase, class participants who have been developing monologues over six weeks will have the chance to see their writing performed by an actor for an audience––you.

Stella Adler called theater the “seeing place”––the place we come to see the truth about our lives and social situation. Oscar Wilde called theater “the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” And August Wilson was, “fascinated by the idea of an audience as a community of people who gather willingly to bear witness.” We invite you, our audience, to share in making dynamic theater with us, by being present for this showcase of brand new stage monologues. This intimate and powerful experience will present writing by class participants––read by actors––is part of the critical page-to-stage development process that all new plays need. Please join us, and share the vitality of your presence and your witness as our much-appreciated audience.

The show is free and open to the public – although donations are always welcome! – and will take place via the online video conferencing platform Zoom. A link to the show will be sent out the day of the event.


About the Director
Kelly DuMar, M.Ed. 
 is a poet, playwright, and workshop leader who generates enlivening writing experiences for new and experienced writers. Author of three poetry collections, girl in tree barkTree of the Apple, and All These Cures, Kelly is also author of Before You Forget— The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children. Kelly’s award winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by dramatic publishers. She founded and produced the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College for twelve years, and she is a past president of Playwright’s Platform, Boston. For the past seven years, Kelly has led the week-long Play Lab Intensive at the annual conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild. Kelly is a certified psychodramatist, former psychotherapist, and Fellow in the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. Currently, Kelly serves on the board & faculty of Transformative Language Arts Network.  You can learn more about Kelly at www.kellydumar.com.

About the Actors



Jamila Capitman, MA. is a Staff Counselor at Simmons University, a Youth Development Specialist and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant with VISIONS Inc., Jamila is the former Director of Multicultural Student programming at Milton Academy and was an educator in the Boston Public Schools. Jamila is an actress, playwright, and producer/director, with a Master’s degree in Drama Therapy from Lesley University who works on various creative independent projects that center her passions for beauty, justice, and transformative healing.



Franci DuMar is a member of the playback theatre troupe, True Story Theater, in Arlington, MA. She has trained, performed, taught and conducted playback theatre in a wide variety of community and therapeutic settings over the past ten years. She has a Master’s Degree in Expressive Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, in drama therapy and mental health counseling. She lives in the Boston Area.



Tonya Quillen is an Actor, Licensed Psychotherapist, Trainer of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy, Clinical Supervisor, and an Executive Leadership Coach. Prior to pursuing her career as a Psychotherapist, Tonya performed professionally for many years. She graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy where she double majored in Theatre and Voice and then continued her studies at Florida State University. After completing graduate school and training as a Psychodramatist, Tonya co-founded a Playback Theatre troupe where she served as Artistic Director, Conductor, Actor and Musician. Tonya also develops scenarios and enacts characters in role-training workshops for law enforcement officers, threat assessment professionals, and security operations personnel to provide them with the experience needed to effectively interact with, and interview, persons of interest.



Elizabeth Rose spent a considerable part of her life as an actor, both in film and industrial work along with local theater in Massachusetts. In addition, Elizabeth has written both screenplays and theatrical works as well as a popular blog that captures the life of a midlife woman. She works as an editor supporting other writers, and as a mediator, helping couples end their marriages while sustaining their families. She also works with couples who choose to stay together and want to explore new ways to communicate and strengthen their relationship. She is a Mother, Partner, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Dog and Cat lover. Elizabeth lives in Ojai with her husband, spirit cat and soul dog. 

Healing, One Letter at a Time: A guest post by TLAF Certificate student Sharon Bippus

Editor’s note: Sharon is a student in the Transformative Language Arts Foundations Certificate program. This blog post is one of five reflection posts she will be submitting as part of the certificate requirements.

I have always loved children’s literature – the illustrations, the simplicity of the language, the uplifting stories. So imagine my surprise when I was triggered by a picture book as I was browsing in a bookstore in my hometown of Houston, Texas in the fall of 2018. I was still carrying that anger when I sat down at a restaurant a short time later. As I waited for my food, I wrote the following on Facebook:

I went to Barnes and Noble this afternoon, and I saw a new children’s picture book called H is for Harvey. It contains sentences such as “H is for hurricane blah, blah, blah” and “H is for hope blah, blah, blah.” The very last sentence is “H is for happy.” Apparently, the home of the author of this book didn’t flood and has her happy, normal life back. How nice! So I’m going to write my own Hurricane Harvey book. It’s called P is for Post-Traumatic Stress. I was playing with that idea as I went across the street to have linner (too late for lunch, too early for dinner) at La Madeleine. When the cashier gave me the “P” spoon, I knew it was a sign! I’ll be posting the story in the comments below…

While not appropriate for a children’s book, what followed was an outpouring of my grief, anger, and confusion.

  • P is for panic, what you feel when you know for certain that your house is going to flood.
  • P is for patience, something that you lose.
  • P is for privacy, something else that you lose.
  • P is for pain, something that you feel a lot of.
  • P is for psychiatric, the kind of help you need now.
  • P is for puppy, like the one who lives in #187 and was able to enter #190 and pee on the floor because we no longer have any walls dividing us.
  • P is for paper plates, what you have to use because all of your dishes are packed away.
  • P is for pessimism because it’s been over a year and your house still hasn’t been repaired.
  • P is for property value, something that has gone down about 35%.
  • P is for plummet, what happens to your energy level.
  • P is for pregnant because one of my former students had a baby since Harvey. He and his wife actually produced a living, breathing human being faster than my house could be repaired.
  • P is for pray, the only thing I can do at this point.

Now I am writing the sequel to this story. It is mid-August of 2022, and the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey is approaching. I’ve been thinking about how to commemorate this event that turned my life upside down on August 29, 2017, and I realize that now I can find comfort in the letter “C.” The book I would write today is called C is for Complex PTSD.

While there are similarities, Complex PTSD differs from PTSD. A simple definition is that Complex PTSD refers to an accumulation of traumatic events that usually occurs in childhood whereas PTSD is the result of a single event. What I didn’t understand at the time is that I was reliving the emotional trauma of my childhood through the events that surrounded Hurricane Harvey.

With this knowledge, I am writing a new story:

  • C is for clarity, what I have gained since learning about Complex PTSD.
  • C is for cathartic, the releasing of grief through the infinite number of tears I have cried.
  • C is for compassion, what I need to give to my inner child.
  • C is for curiosity, the ability to stay open and continue learning.
  • C is for consistently, the way I need to show up for myself day after day.
  • C is for my creative practice, one of the ways that I heal.
  • C is for change, what I am doing with my life and my outlook.
  • C is for connection, the healing relationships I forge with people, nature, and myself.
  • C is for care, specifically self-care, actively taking steps that contribute to my well-being.
  • C is for calm, what happens after the storm passes.
  • C is for the courage to heal myself.
  • C is for the commitment to live my best life.

C is also for closure which I will commence by returning to the letter “P.” This particular “P” was a gift from a friend who added it to my Facebook post back in 2018:

P is for permission, permission to own my feelings and permission to express myself.

Sharon Bippus, PhD, is an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) instructor who finds inspiration in the intersection of creativity, mystery, and synchronicity. As an undergraduate, she was awarded two scholarships to study in Germany which fueled her desire to learn more about the diverse world we live in. Since that time, she has taught English in Slovakia and China and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Russia. She currently teaches ESOL at a community college in the suburbs of Houston, Texas where she works with students from all over the world. In her free time, she enjoys mixed media, collage, and photography and has received training in trauma-informed expressive arts and nature-based therapeutic practices. She is a SoulCollage® facilitator, a Veriditas-trained labyrinth facilitator, and a student in the Haden Institute’s Dream Work Program.

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Spotlight on the Teacher: Riham Adly

We re delighted to welcome Riham Adly back to teach for the TLA Network this fall, with Dreams, Fairytales, and the Tarot: Exploring Self using Flash Fiction Forms. The class runs from November 2 – December 14, 2022, and the early bird rate for the class ends in mid-October.

Riham is an award-winning fiction writer and editor from Giza, Egypt. In 2013 her story “The Darker Side of the Moon” won the MAKAN award. In 2019 she was long-listed in Brilliant Flash Fiction’s food-themed contest and in 2020 her story “How to Tell a Story from the Heart in Proper Time” was a winner and was included in the 2020 Best Micro-Fiction Anthology. In 2022 her story “Two Peas in a Pod” won second place in the Strand International Flash Fiction Contest.

Riham was nominated for the Pushcart in 2019 and was nominated for Best of the Net in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Her flash fiction has appeared in over sixty journals such as Litro Magazine, Lost Balloon, The Flash Flood, Bending Genres, The Citron Review, The Sunlight Press, Flash Fiction Magazine, Menacing Hedge, Flash Frontier, Flash Back, Ellipsis Zine, Okay Donkey, and New Flash Fiction Review among others.

Riham’s was the first female from Africa and the Middle East to have a debut flash fiction collection published in English. Her collection “Love is Make-Believe” was published in November 2021 by Clarendon House publications in the U.K.

Riham has worked as an assistant editor in 101 words magazine and as a first reader in Vestal Review magazine. She’s worked as a writing coach and developmental editor accepting mainly manuscripts by local writers for whom English is their second language.

Riham offers her signature workshops “ Flash Fiction: Writing From the Subconscious” and “ Flash Fiction: Writing From Where We Dream” through various platforms, including the TLA Network. She is also the founder of “ Riham’s Cairo Book Club” and the “Let’s Write Short Stories” workshops in Egypt.

Along with Riham’supcoming TLA Network class, Dreams, Fairytales, and the Tarot: Exploring Self using Flash Fiction Forms, Riham will be hosting a flash fiction Open Mic showcase for the TLA Network, on September 15, 2022. The event is free and open to the public and all are welcome – we hope you will consider sharing your own flash fiction work, too!