Finding Your Life’s Work: Not By Lightning, But Conversing With Our Callings

Most of us experience lightning strikes – moments when there’s a flash, and what we’re supposed to be becomes illuminated like the night sky – at some points in our lives, but we can’t depend on where, when, and even if that will happen.

What we can do is treat our discussion with our callings – for our work as well as for other parts of our lives – as a lifelong conversation, sometimes over tea in a lovely castle filled with antiques, and sometimes while driving our car through fog late at night, knowing that we will only be able to see where we’re going by going.

The Your Right Livelihood Training with Laura Packer and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg offers you ways to listen to what questions, longings, resentments or joys keep occur to you about your work, look toward the signs and wonders that guide you, and engage with your big hunches, questions, and leanings at this moment to find your way forward. You can also find out more and get a taste of how we work with people at the Life & Livelihood Group Coaching sessions April 22, June 14, or Aug. 11 — more here.

The training begins with a soulful retreat Oct. 28-30 (leading up to the Power of Words conference) at the ElDorado Hotel & Spa in beautiful Santa Fe. It continues on with a 10-week online class, weekly video-conferences with guest teachers including Gregg Levoy and Heather Forest, one-on-one coaching with Laura and Caryn, and extensive resources and supports for making your dreams come true. Read testimonials from last year’s group here. 

Poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “I learn by going where I have to go,” and likewise, we learn where we’re being led as well as what we have to say to that calling by dialogue throughout our lives.

What’s right for one stage in our life will likely change over time, so by listening and speaking – asking questions, testing out ideas, thinking and feeling our way toward clarity – we will be able to continually use this conversation as a flashlight leading us forward.

Have questions?  Learn more about Your Right Livelihood here, and if you’d like to book a discovery call with us, please email Laura or Caryn.

Photo by Stephen Locke, used with permission.

Purposeful Memoir and a Thriving Future — Jennifer Browdy

Jennifer Browdy, who is teaching “The Elemental Journal of Purposeful Memoir” as an online class for the TLA Network starting March 18, recently wrote a marvelous essay, “Purposeful Memoir as a Path to a Thriving Future,” published in The Artful Mind.

You can read Jennifer’s essay about how we can make the world a little better through telling our story in this precious time here.

To learn more about Jennifer’s class, please visit her class description here.

Don’t Miss “Your Memoir as Monologue” with Kelly DuMar!

Kelly DuMar is teaching an online six-week workshop, Your Memoir as Monologue: Writing Monologues for Healing and Transformation, starting January 15, 2020. Kelly is a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over fifteen years. She founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 13th year and she teaches the weeklong Play Lab at the International Women’s Writing Guild Annual Conference. Her plays have been performed around the US and beyond and are published by dramatic publishers. Here’s a short interview with her on this class:

What inspired me to teach this class?

I love monologues. Listening to them, helping others write them, and writing them myself. First person narratives are gripping invitations to audiences, particularly when they present a dramatic journey, and moments of survival of someone – a person, a character – who has enlisted my compassion and concern

Don’t you love the invitation to enchantment? The theatre, darkened, the stage lit. Whether I’m in the audience or the playwright, I’m involved and transported by possibility. The theatrical question, What if. . . is an invitation to be enlightened, and changed through storytelling.

I love helping writers tell powerful stories on the stage – particularly those whose voices and stories have been unheard, silenced, trivialized or marginalized. Thirteen years ago, I founded a play festival, Our Voices, for new and experienced women playwrights to have a uniquely supportive place to develop their stories for the stage. Our Voices is an all day play lab that has supported nearly 150 women playwrights to develop plays with actors and directors. I love how one participant describes her experience in Our Voices, because she nails why writing monologues based on life experience can be so validating:

“Writing is my solace and joy, coming to me in bursts of laughter or darkness.  I have stories to tell yet, at times, I shrink from sharing, doubting my own voice.  Through more workshops and conversation, I hope to strengthen that confidence in my point of view and reinvigorate the process to write the things I don’t yet dare to consider.”

How is writing for the page different from writing for the stage?

Collaboration with other artists is illuminating, joyful, and challenging – and writing for the stage requires it. Sitting day to day at one’s desk can be lonely. But writing for the stage invites us into a theatre – a rehearsal, into a relationship with actors, directors, and audiences. Here’s what an Our Voices participant shared about writing for the stage: “One of the things I love most about writing plays is the possibility of witnessing one’s words and dramatic vision come alive on stage.”

Writing monologues for the stage makes the healing power of writing visible, visceral and accessible – not just for the playwright, but the audience as well. People are so amazingly resilient! Writing monologues for the stage is a natural way to find out how resilient you are – and sharing what you write inspires other people to feel hopeful and resilient.

What are some of your favorite dramatic monologues? 

My favorite is definitely Emily Webb’s “Goodbye,” monologue in Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town. What moves me in a dramatic monologue is when a character goes on a compelling emotional journey and takes me with her – she begins in one place and ends in another – she’s more awakened, and so am I.

Watch these Youtube videos of two different performances of the Emily Webb role – the first is from a movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCLHkaHOO80

Here’s the same monologue in a recording of a stage performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmCnzU5uZUY

What can students in this class expect?

We need spaces where we can give ourselves permission to un-silence our deepest truths and most authentic self. In Memoir as Monologue, I facilitate a safe, supportive, healing environment for writers to tap into their deep feelings and beliefs and find the courage and skill to share them for personal growth and craft them for performance. Participants can expect to express ordinary and extraordinary life experiences, and feelings and construct powerful, dramatic stories with universal appeal. Scripts need to be heard as much as they need to be read. We will have at least two LIVE webinars (held on Zoom) where participants will bring their writing to be read aloud and shared.

Kelly DuMar, M.Ed., C.P., is a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over fifteen years. Kelly founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 13th year, and she teaches the weeklongg Play Lab at the International Women’s Writing Guild. Kelly’s award-winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by Brooklyn,HeuerYouth Plays, and Smith & Kraus Audition Anthologies. She’s author of a non-fiction book, Before You Forget: The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, and three poetry and prose chapbooks, girl in tree bark, All These Cures and Tree of the Apple. She’s a certified psychodramatist and a playback theatre artist. Kelly is honored to serve on the board of The International Women’s Writing Guild. You can learn more at kellydumar.com. More on her class is here.

Facilitators for a Better World: Meet Our Teachers & Guest Teachers

“The Art of Facilitation: Roots & Blossoms of Facilitation” with Joy Roulier Sawyer & Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg sets sail Jan. 15 – Feb 25. This online class also includes  video-conferencing (easily done through your phone or computer) with people well-versed in facilitating workshops, classes, meetings, coaching, and other sessions for change, community, and transformation. We are thrilled to interactive sessions with Callid Keefe-Perry, Beatric Briggs, and Marianela Medrano (plus one with Joy; Caryn will do such a session in the other class in this series next summer). Here’s some background on our gifted and experienced guest teachers and main teachers:

Callid Keefe-Perry is an Executive Director of ARC: Arts | Religion | Culture, a traveling minister in the Quaker tradition, and an advocate for the arts as a way of deepening spiritual practice. He has been a public school teacher, co-founder of a community theater, and Coordinator of the TLA Network. He thinks it is OK for people to laugh a lot, that power cedes nothing without demands, and that creativity is a vital quality of adaptive and effective leadership. Callid will share a bit about the field of theopoetics and talk about using different modalities for group facilitation and what is gained by doing so.

Beatrice Briggs helps leaders and organizations co-create conditions that make their meetings worthy of people’s time, talent, and energy. 
 As Director of the International Institute for Facilitation and Change, she has worked in over 30 countries with an change-oriented organizations such as UNICEF, World Wildlife Fund, Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Center for Development Research. A native of the United States, has made Mexico her home since 1998 and is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Marianela Medrano is a Dominican writer, poet and a psychotherapist with a Ph.D in psychology whose practice include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness, and Integral Psychotherapy. The author of numerous poetry books, Medrano’s poetry has been widely published and translated. She is a certified poetry therapist and serves as a mentor/supervisor for the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. Medrano’s Tedx Talk can be found here.

The Art of Facilitation Teachers

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is the founder of Transformative Language Arts and the author of 23 books, including Miriam’s Well, a novel; Everyday Magic, memoir, and Following the Curve, poetry. Her previous work includes Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust and six poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather. Mirriam-Goldberg has facilitated community writing workshops widely since 1992 with diverse populations throughout the Midwest, the U.S., and in Mexico, including people living with serious illness, intergenerational communities, women living in public housing, teens and young adults, and humans at large in big-life transitions. She offers one-on-one coaching on writing and right livelihood. She co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats with Kelley Hunt and the Your Right Livelihood training with Laura Packer. You can find her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Linkedin. Her Patreon campaign to create transformative writing, workshops, and podcasts and offering patrons weekly inspirations is here.

Joy Roulier Sawyer is the author of two poetry collections, Tongues of Men and Angels and Lifeguards as well as several nonfiction books. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have been widely published. Joy holds an MA from New York University in Creative Writing and a master’s degree in counseling. Her extensive training and experience as a licensed professional counselor and in poetry/journal therapy gives her special expertise in facilitating expressive writing workshops. Joy was selected by poetry therapy pioneers to revise and update Arleen McCarty Hynes’ groundbreaking textbook, Biblio/Poetry Therapy: The Interactive Process. For over a decade, she’s taught at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop, the largest literary center in the West. Along with her other creative writing and poetry classes, Joy helps facilitate Lighthouses’s Denver Public Library, Arvada Library, and Edgewater Library’s Hard Times workshops, designed for those experiencing homelessness or poverty, as well as the Writing to Be Free program, an outreach for women transitioning out of incarceration. She has also taught at the University of Denver and in the TLA MA program at Goddard College. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

More on this dynamic class right here.

Why We Believe in the Power of Words!

Some of the members of the TLA Network Council, our governing body, share with you why they believe in our organization, the power of words, and why they just contributed to our fundraising campaign. 

Liz with Lisa Chu, Vanita Leatherwood & Rachel Gabriel

I believe in the TLA Network because it supports a diverse membership of practitioners doing important social justice and community healing work in a time that so desperately needs it. As creative change makers, having such a community is vital to our own practice – it inspires, nourishes, and grows us. It keeps us connected and offers opportunities for us to lift our voices up to make meaningful change in the world. ~ Liz Burke-Cravens

Liz with Power of Words keynoters Gregg Levoy and Noa Baum

I believe in the Power of Words because I have both witnessed and experienced the impact of sharing one’s story, as written or spoken word, and being truly “heard.” This is the action that breaks down barriers and builds and supports community. I believe in the TLA Network because it’s an informed and diverse community that welcomes and honors everyone’s stories. ~ Lyn Ford

I believe in the Power of Words because when we name it, we can tame it. And for many who struggle to be heard or to speak their truth, this commitment to putting our passion into words is not simple or easy. When we are finally able to put our anger or anxiety into words, we create power over what makes us feel powerless. It is through this transformation that we find strength and honor and courage to live our truth. ~ Brenda Mangetti

Joe with his wife Jennifer at the Power of Words conference

I believe in the Power of Words because I have seen their effect on countless occasions. Whether by sparking a fire in one’s heart or calming an inferno in one’s mind, the right words, at the right time, can lead to an undeniable change in a person’s life. ~ Joe Maldonaldo

 

Caleb with a friend at the Power of Words conference

I believe in the Power of Words because good words are like good food: they nourish us, warm our hearts, and prepare us for what lies ahead.I believe in the TLA Network because the work of transformation is not something we can do alone. The Network offers so much value to my artistry — to learn, to connect with others, and to discern where my voice is most needed. ~ Caleb Winebrenner

You believe in the power of words to change lives, build communities, and transform our world. With a few clicks, you can help us grow TLA in the world. Thank you so much for contributing whatever you can!

When Someone Truly “Gets” Us: A Letter From One of Our Founders

Dear TLAers,

I fell in love with poetry when I was 14, and it saved my life. It wasn’t just filling up journals that gave me meaning, vitality, and sometimes even joy in a traumatic time, but what happened when good witnesses found me and my writing. Having someone truly “get us” — who we are, what we have to say, and what we’re capable of — is at the heart of Transformative Language Arts and this emerging field, profession, and practice.

Like you, I’ve witnessed the continual miracles TLA brings to our lives. That’s why I’m writing you to ask for your support for the TLA Network today, an organization I helped found with others who resonate with writing, storytelling, theater, and other arts for social and personal transformation. Since we launched in 2005, we’ve become a thriving gathering place for people called to teach, heal, advocate, facilitate, organize, and guide people in our ailing world. 

With Grace Paley at the 2006 Power of Words conference

That’s why I’m writing you to ask for your support for theTLA Network today, an organization I helped found with others who resonate with writing, storytelling, theater, and other arts for social and personal transformation. Since we launched in 2005, we’ve become a thriving gathering place for people called to teach, heal, advocate, facilitate, organize, and guide people in our ailing world. 

  • We offer classes to help us amplify our voices and clarify our visions through writing, storytelling, theater, and other arts. 
  • Our 17th annual Power of Words conference, featuring Joy Harjo, will bring us together to learn from each other and find greater ways to sustain our work and ourselves. 
  • The TLA Foundations certification is a deep immersion into TLA theory and practice. 
  • Your Right Livelihood, an intensive training, helps people in the arts, healing arts and social change arts find ways to make a living and a difference. 
  • Our blog and creative, professional journal, Chrysalis, give us a forum to share our experiences, art, and scholarship. 

In the last year, we’ve leapt forward with a wonderful half-time managing director, Hanne Weedon. We’ve strengthened our council, the governing body for TLAN, through the leadership of Liz Burke-Cravens. Many of us feel like we’re on the cusp of significant growth at a time when it’s even more important for people to use their voices for positive change, including how the arts can bridge polarized communities.

Your contribution can bolster scholarships for our conference, classes, trainings, and provide general support for us to grow our capacity to do good in the world. Please also consider, if you haven’t already, renewing your membership or joining us. You can contribute easily and quickly right here.

Wishing us all the power of words for a better world,

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

P.S. If you have a birthday coming up and you’re on Facebook, how about birthday fundraiser for TLAN (we’re part of the Network for Good organizations)? 

The Power of Words Next Fall With Joy Harjo: Register Now!

Please join us October 30 – November 1, 2020, in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the 17th annual Power of Words Conference: Transformation, Liberation and Celebration Through the Spoken, Written, and Sung Word.  

We are thrilled to have U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo as conference keynoter for our 17th annual conference. We’re also delighted to be going to the Eldorado Hotel & Spa, in the heart of Santa Fe.

Jump in now to catch our Super early bird registration ($45 off the regular conference fee!), which runs through January 31, 2020. The Eldorado, a beautiful hotel and spa in the heart of Santa Fe, is offering us a rate of $139/night is both for singles and doubles, so if you wish to share a room, your lodging costs would be half that amount. Please note that we’ll soon have a roommate-matching site to help facilitate finding a roommate too.

Our conference fee is a modest increase over the 2019 registration fee, but it will look to be higher because it includes all meals, refreshments, and facilities fees (which were previously part of the meals and lodging package).

Discover and share more of your voice with workshops, performances, talking circles, celebration and more, featuring writers, storytellers, performers, musicians, community leaders, activists, educators, and health professionals. 

Learn more about the conference here!

The TLA Network depends on the generosity of you and others like you – consider supporting our work by making an end-of-the-year donation to the Transformative Language Arts Network!  

Please Help the TLA Network Grow! – A Letter From Liz and Hanne

Dear TLA friends and members,

Thank you for being part of the Transformative Language Arts Network. Our network continues to grow, and we are delighted to be building community with you – one of the powerhouse poets, writers, word-smiths, spoken word artists, storytellers, and deeply engaged community activists, health professionals, educators and others who make up our incredible network!

We write to ask you to consider making a contribution to support the work of the TLA Network, a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.

Your contribution will go far in helping us expand our reach, and build on our Power of Words conference, online classes, Chrysalis: A Journal of TLA, and blog to offer all kinds of communities ways to amplify voices and visions for a better world.

The TLA Network serves as a supportive community of thoughtful and engaged practitioners, activists, health professionals, educators, and community leaders dedicated to making the world a better place. In these times, finding our voice, sharing our words, and pulling people together to effect change through the power of words is especially essential. With the rise of corporate-controlled media and the increasingly fractured world of social media, it is crucial that our work and our voices find solid purchase, that we develop new audiences, and that our words continue to serve as invaluable calls to action.

TLAN is also on the cusp of greater reach and effectiveness than ever before with a renewed vision, a new director, and our delight in featuring U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo as our keynoter at our next Power of Words conference, October 30 – November 1, 2020, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

At our recent Power of Words conference this past September, in Phoenix, Arizona, we met many amazing TLA Network members who eagerly shared what a difference the TLA Network and our conference make in their lives. In the short time since we started our roles as TLA Network Chair and Managing Director, we have witnessed how many dozens of people find greater meaning, vitality, and connection through our vibrant online classes, the Your Right Livelihood training, and our TLA Foundations certification.

We imagine you’ve experienced your own stories: friendships forged, collaborations created, and enormous good work enacted. People leave our conference, classes, and trainings feeling reconnected, rejuvenated, energized — inspired to continue doing powerful work that changes the world.

We ask you to contribute toward any of the following:

  • Scholarships for the Power of Words conference so that we can widen the circle to include more folks who are economically disadvantaged, more young people and people of color, those living with disabilities, and others on the margins who have something vital to say and share,
  • Scholarships for our online classes and to support people immersing themselves in right livelihood training,
  • Helping underwrite some of our keynoters, including Joy Harjo, for the 2020 Power of Words conference,
  • Website re-design to better communicate the scope of our work and depth of our vision, or
  • General operating expenses so that we can expand our capacity to reach more who would benefit from the power of words in their lives and communities.

To the power of words,

Hanne Weedon, Managing Director                                     Liz Burke-Cravens, Council Chair

“What Do You Love About Facilitation?” – A Conversation with Joy Roulier Sawyer & Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Listen to Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Joy Roulier Sawyer talk about how they came to love what can happen when we discover and share our truth in workshops, meetings, and other sessions. For Joy, it started with leading workshops for students at Columbine High School in Colorado after the 1999 shooting, and Caryn found her facilitation legs leading large meetings for people of many backgrounds fighting against a highway that would have impacted the environment, history, and even native American burial mounds.

You can see their upcoming class at www.tlanetwork.org/event-3567618 for more details.

Your Casting Call: A Comic Monologue — By Kelly Dumar

I’ve written for the stage, and held auditions as a playwright or director, and made difficult casting choices. But I’ve never experienced the thrill, the risk, the humiliation or the anxiety of an audition from inside the actor’s skin. When my youngest daughter discovered a talent and passion for acting in elementary school, I began to understand the actor’s experience of prepping for and going through with an audition. As a stage mom, I witnessed the emotional roller coaster, the hopes, wishes, dreams of success and inevitable failures. I waited on the sidelines, or, if the audition was a play for school, I waited at home, anxiously, for news of whether she had been cast–or not, for a much hoped for part. And, many times she was cast. And, just as many, she wasn’t.

When I began writing the series of monologues for my character, ENVIA! A One-Woman Show, the first scene I imagined was ENVIA! taking charge of an audition after a series of frustrating failures to be cast. It’s a comic monologue I’ll share with you now for the fun of it. I’m teaching “Your Memoir As Monologue” online in January for the Transformative Language Arts Network, and just want to share the fun of writing a comic monologue, inspired by life. ENVIA!, and her many monologues, have been performed and produced by many talented actresses, and all of them have put their own unique spin on this monologue–inspired by their own trials and joys of handling auditions over the years.

My daughter Franci, has, also had the opportunity to perform “Your Casting Call,” and I felt a great sense of satisfaction watching her on stage having the last word.

YOUR CASTING CALL
A monologue by Kelly DuMar

SETUP: An actress ENTERS, as if preparing for an audition, on a bare stage, dressed as The Goddess of Illusion

ENVIA!
(CLEARING HER THROAT, ADJUSTING HER COSTUME, CLOSING HER EYES, PUTTING HER TWO HANDS UP WITH PINKY &  POINTER FINGER TOUCHING AND TAKING A BEAT OR TWO IN THIS POSE. DEEP CLEANSING BREATH, OPENING HER EYES)

Hello! My agent may have led you to believe I’m here to audition, but I’m not here to meet your casting requirements – I’m here to shatter them!  My intention is to inspire your deepest, most authentic, creative response to me.  Oh! By the way, my monologue doesn’t require nudity, but it may inspire it, so, you’re free to remove as much clothing as you choose. . . my name? E-N-V-I-A! That’s all caps – My last name is the exclamation point! Aries is my star sign and Spontaneity and Creativity leapt into alignment the moment I was conceived!  Wherever I go – whomever I meet – here I am! And I am always evolving.  You will love me or loathe me but you will not beat my innate talent into compliance with your incomprehensible expectations and then reject me for my lack of originality!  I’m sorry – I didn’t mean for that to sound jaded.  I may be receptive to having an experience with you – if we are able to co-create a medium of mutual expression that sustains our integrity as artists and human beings.
(Her stomach growls)
I may also be receptive to an offer of a protein shake. Do you mind if I ask if you got enough sleep last night?  Are you open to feedback?  It’s just that you would have made a better impression on me today if you had gotten a good night’s sleep. Perhaps you were dreaming of me – And, if that’s the case, well, whatever you do – don’t stop!
(She gets ready to leave)
I don’t do call backs. If I’m interested, I’ll follow up.  No worries – I’ve got your number

END OF SCENE

Here are some links to my published plays and monologues where you can learn more about my writing for the stage.


All text and photos ©KelllyDuMar. Do not use or reproduce without permission. For permission to perform the monologue, contact Kelly DuMar at kellydumar@kellydumar.com.