Six Ways to Find the Work You Love — Read All About It!

Some of our first cohort group in the Right Livelihood Professional Training

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg just published a piece on Medium all about how we can listen to our callings and find our life’s work. You can read it here, and you can learn more about the Right Livelihood Professional Training they’re leading through the TLA Network here. 

Also, please join Caryn with Laura Packer, who together are leading the TLA Right Livelihood Professional Training, for a Life and Livelihood Small Group training on March 23. It’s only $9.99, and you can ask your own burning question about what’s calling to you. Information here.


“Topless in America” and Other Words to Speak to Healing From Cancer

Breast Cancer AwarenessDuring Breast Cancer Awareness month, several pieces have been circulating that speak to the power of words when it comes to deeply engaging with what it means to find a cure and/or healing.

Poet Nikky Finney’s astonishing poem, “Topless in America” tells the story of Paulette Leapheart, who walked topless (after a double mastectomy following her Stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis) with her daughter from Biloxi, Mississippi to Washington, D.C. summit. Listen to Finney read her potent poem and you can also see the poem transcribed here.

“Don’t Think Pink” published in Psychology Today by writer Harriet Lerner (author of The Dance of Anger) succinctly raises questions about how breast cancer prevention is portrayed in teddy bears and pink ribbons here. The TLA Network’s own Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s “Take Down the Bras and Really Work for a Cancer Cure” published in The Huffington Post looks at how the reality of saving lives gets muted into the illusion of saving breasts here.

In poetry and prose, out loud and on the page, these pieces — as well as many others (please share them in comments below) — aim us toward finding greater depth and healing.

Meet International Storyteller for Peace Kiran Singh Sirah

kiranKiran Singh Sirah is now the president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN, a long way and many stories from where his life began as part of a Ugandan Asian refugee family that landed in England after Idi Amin expelled all Ugandan Asians under the threat of execution. In his excellent Tedx Talk Nashville on “Storytelling: A Powerful Peace,” Sirah says,

I was born in England. My mother was born in Kenya. My father was born in India. My brother was born in Uganda. My own family is a mini United Nations, and we’re all storytellers, keeping the old traditions alive, and finding new ones. Stories are always crossing borders. I spent the first part of my career in Scotland, and now I’m here in the U.S.—with my own stories, and the stories I’ve inherited from my family. And there are so many ways to do that, through personal stories, folk tales, pieces of history, and other forms that we haven’t even thought of yet.

He goes on to talk about the power of storytelling to bring us to peace and community across and within borders. Listen to the whole talk here.

Currently in his role with the International Storytelling Center, Sirah organizes events, raises funds, and plans programs to help people around the world “make a difference by discovering, capturing, and sharing their stories.” Learn more about ISC here.

Siran also shares this a free downloadable toolkit with TLAers on  “Telling Stories That Matter: A Toolkit for Exploring Your Potential as a Storyteller.” 

Balancing Work and Play: Sustainable Creativity, Self-Care, and Meaningful Work

creative businessCreating a Sustainable Story: Self-Care, Meaningful Work, and the Business of Creativity” with Laura Packer begins September 14. This six-week online class — do it from wherever you are at any time of the day or night — gives participants practical and soulful ways to learn how, according to Laura, “There are many joyful, sustainable and meaningful ways that we can craft our work and our lives. We can choose our path….Using creative tools, writing exercises, brainstorming and dreaming aloud, this class will help you think about your work in practical terms, will help you develop the language to talk with non-artists about what you do and why they should care, will help you build or expand your support network, will help you plan for sustainable self-care and will help you develop the resources to succeed.” Learn more here about the class, and read what Laura has to say about becoming a self-sustaining writer and storyteller below.

The first time I decided to try to make a life as a self-sustaining writer and storyteller, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought my talent and passion for the art were enough, that the world would recognize my extraordinary nature and flock to me. I was, of course, wrong. No amount of talent and passion will propel a creative person to the forefront of their field. Overnight success usually results from many years of hard work and dedication.pencil-599116_1280

The second time I tried I thought I would apply all of my hard earned lessons about business, dedication, and marketing. I would be organized and focused. I would be a good businessperson. I was. I was so focused on the business part that I forgot about the art and, while work began to come in I’d left myself no time or energy to dedicate to it. I’d forgotten to give myself permission to play in the midst of the administrative tasks of running a business, and play is part of what feeds our creativity and passion. Without the play and self-care the work was no fun and I saw no point in working that hard for something I didn’t love.

By the third time I decided to try to make a go as an independent creative person, I’d done some serious thinking about what I’d learned. The first time I forgot that I needed more than just passion. The second time I forgot that the passion was integral. How could I balance the need for creative nourishment with the demands of running a business?

Over the years I’ve learned that it’s come down to a few basic principles.

  • Self-care is essential.
  • Planning is as essential and can be as creative as anything else I do.
  • I deserve a living wage. I don’t have to be a starving artist.
  • Even the administrative tasks I dislike can be broken down into manageable chunks.
  • It is far more profitable to operate from a mindset of abundance in all things than to assume scarcity. There is enough.
  • I don’t need to work in isolation. Community is sustaining.
  • At the same time, I deserve the time and space to do my work.

I am delighted to share what I’ve learned with the TLAN community. While we all will make many mistakes in this life and through the course of our work, there’s no reason for you to make the same mistakes I did. Creating a Sustainable Story: Self-Care, Meaningful Work and the Business of Creativity offers you a chance to develop sustainable practices for meaningful work, creativity, reducing isolation and functional income.

Through a variety of creative exercises (including writing, simple arts and other explorations) we will look at the intersections between our creative lives and the practical habits we need to make those lives sustainable. In a safe, collaborative and supportive environment we will develop toolkits that will keep us whole as we move deeper in the artistic life.

Laura Packer is a performing storyteller, writer, coach and communications consultant with for- and non-profit laura packerbusinesses. She has been a self-supporting practitioner for almost a decade. She has told stories for adults and families in venues as varied as festivals, universities, hospices, retreats, on the streets, fringe festivals and more. Her writing has been published in a variety of print and online publications and she was a featured speaker at the 2012 Ciudad de las Ideas festival in Puebla, Mexico. Laura has worked with organizations ranging from NASA to 4-person non-profits. She helps organizations and the people involved understand the strengths and weaknesses of stories they tell internally and externally; develop appropriate brand stories; works with employees to create a more empowering workplace and helps craft a variety of media to tell those stories to wide audiences. Laura also coaches storytellers, writers, executives, , teenagers, marketers and others in their own stories and for public speaking. She loves applying artistic and creative tools to the practical and prosaic, and thinks solving problems in new ways can actually be a lot of fun.

Callid Keefe-Perry Reflects on Service, Change, and New Vision

maxresdefaultFrom 2009 – 2013, Callid Keefe-Perry served as coordinator of the TLA Network, transitioning in 2013 to chair the TLA Network Council, our leadership group. In the last year, Callid has worked closely with the council on strategic planning and on training our new chair, Emilee Baum. Here he shares his thoughts about his journal through TLA Network land, and in a beautiful way to transition again, he may be leaving the council, but he’ll also be one of our keynoters at the 2015 Power of Words conference.

On Nov. 1, 2009 my wife Kristina and I began as Coordinators-in-Training under Scott Youmans. Having first been workshop facilitators and panelists in the 2007 Power of Words Conference we were excited to join in forwarding the work of an organization full of folks that seemed to be a welcoming community. We eagerly began to learn of the history of the organization and help where we could. On 2/17/10 we first served as the coordinator of the network on a Council Call. It would be the beginning of years of connection to a powerful and inspiring web of artists, seekers, and agents for change and healing.

In the years that followed things were not always easy. In 2010 I began with a healthy balance in the bank. By 10/23/13, our lowest financial point, we were deep in the red. However, even at that most trying of moments we still held out for some hope and tried to imagine a way forward. Today that same bank account is very healthy again, we have no outstanding debt, and for the first time ever in the history of the organization we have agreed to become the employer of an executive director. But finances are hardly the only ways that things have grown.


Callid passing on the TLA Network coordinator to Deb Hensley in 2013 at Pendle Hill near Philadelphia

When I came on we didn’t have the ability to update our own website, needing to go through a contractor for every change. Now we not only have an easily updateable site but an integrated membership system with more features possible than we had even considered before. Between then and now we added not only TLA certification, but also Chrysalis, and online classes, neither of which existed when I started. As of tonight we have over 160 active members, a number up from the 87 when I began and far from the 36 we had at our lowest point. Yes, things certainly have changed, and while I’ve been proud to see it happen I can hardly claim personal responsibility.

Outside of the odd late night Power of Words event I can rarely point to moments that something happened specifically because I came to some rescue. I did what I could when I could, but truly, if it were not for the unflagging support and energy of others next to nothing could have been accomplished. Since I began more than 30 people have served as members of the Leadership Council, and many times that more have helped out with things at the Power of Words and in One City One Prompt. I’ve been able to be part of more than 100 Council Conference Calls and graced by the readings of 200 opening and closing Council poems. I’ve been able to develop relationships that I cherish and hope to maintain for years to come.

Kristina Keefe-Perry, and past council member Suzanne Adams holding Kristina and Callid's then-baby (and first TLA baby!) Nahar.

Kristina Keefe-Perry, and past council member Suzanne Adams holding Kristina and Callid’s then-baby (and first TLA baby!) Nahar — all happening at the Power of Words conference at Goddard College in Vermont


Emilee Baum

Ever since the Transformative Language Arts Network grew from Caryn Mirriam-Golderg’s inspired vision, its success has always been a result of those willing to give their time and energy to a project broad in scope and broader in heart. As I found my time increasingly limited I knew I could not see things through to their needs. Luckily, Emilee Baum has found her way to us and so it is with incredible gratitude and hope that I leave you all. In the past 6 years there were months that went by with only 3 or 4 people on Council calls. Now our numbers are greater and you all are about to have a chair with a vision and energy that will be put to great use in the next stage of maturation and focus. I’m grateful to leave this way and with the Network in such great health. Thanks to each of you for your contributions to that, and I look forward to seeing you in August.

Making the Leap into the Work You Love with Scott Youmans

Youmans_2012March_SmallScott Youmans knows his way around Right Livelihood, having left a lucrative career in the corporate world for the work of his heart, which turned out to be its own winding rock trip. He’s also a superb facilitator of helping others find not just their dream work, but how to make their present work richer with meaning and joy. Here’s an interview on his upcoming online class, “Making the Leap into the Work You Love,” which runs June 29 – August 9. Sign up before June 10 for the Summer Buzz sale and save 10%.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: What in your life led you to design and develop this class?

Scott Youmans: Over a decade ago, when I facilitated the first incarnation of Making the Leap into Work You Love, I was in the midst of transitioning out of the corporate world and into something … unknown. I was about to complete my Individualized Master of Arts program at Goddard College with a concentration in Transformative Language Arts, and at the same time leaving my full-time job to start a web consulting business. The thoughts and emotions were swirling: fear and uncertainty, joy and curiosity. What would happen next? How would I make a living doing what I loved on this new path?

In the midst of all of this, the TLA Network had come into being, and we noticed that our members were interested in learning more about the practice of Right Livelihood, and in particular, many of us were asking, “how do I make a living doing what I love?” The Network began to consider how we might create space for practitioners to approach this question. Drawing from the whole of my life experiences, including experiential workshops and my own writing practice, certain threads––poems, exercises, videos––began to tie together to help guide me in exploring answers to this question. It was easy to see how these could serve others on the journey. After a little encouragement from the chair of the Network, I set about building this class to be part of an early Power of Words Conference. It has since become a recurring staple of the Network’s offerings.

CMG: What can people expect from this class?

acrobatic_shadows_croppedSY: At its heart, this class is a journey into one’s self. My hope is that it is a gift, a space for being and becoming, with a focus on career and right livelihood. Each week will have a primary focus and exercise, along with accompanying readings, videos, and activities. The participants will form a community around the course, offering feedback and support, and asking for support in return. The class will begin by examining each participant’s journey by looking at the choices and beliefs that brought us to this place and time. We’ll then begin crafting a vision, informed by our past, and rooted in our heart’s desires. The class will end with specific community-supported steps to advance our vision.

CMG: How does this focus on the leap into the work you love manifest in your own life, art and work over the years?

SY: That word, leap, has a certain ring to it in my mind. When I first left my job in the corporate world, I imagined myself leaping off of a spinning carousel. I had a belief that the carousel was built by someone else, that it was spinning too fast to see any other path, and that I had to stay on it for survival. Leaping off of the carousel meant leaving the security of a full time job with benefits, it meant leaving a career path that seemed inevitable.

Since leaping, both professionally and in offering this class, I think I’ve been able to hold onto the possibility of finding a way to be in the world that allows me to share my gifts in a healthy and fulfilling way. By holding on to this possibility, I haven’t really stopped leaping. I continue to find enjoyable ways of earning a living that meet my needs in that moment.

Not everyone has a job that they love. I know many people whose jobs merely facilitate their passions, whether it’s their family, a hobby, or a side business. In many cases, to fully leap into this other hobby or side business may not be healthy, but it may one day be sustainable. Often, these extracurricular professions provide the joy and satisfaction that can sustain someone through their workday worlds.

Primarily, this focus means that I keep the idea of “work I love” present in my heart. I use it both to seek the work that I love, and to make the work that I’m doing loveable, or worthy of love. How I show-up at work, the tone I set, the language I use, impacts both my job and the work environment of everyone around me. If I make my job one that I love, then perhaps those around me will be able to better love their jobs too.

One of the ways this focus has manifest in my life has been though my most recent job change and move. There was a time when I recognized that my current job wasn’t as healthy for me as I wanted it to be. For example, I worked alone at home and I missed having daily in-person connections with my co-workers. From this realization I began to imagine and to write about ways I could earn a living using all of my gifts. I created an elaborate plan––we’ll call it “Plan A”––to transition into Unitarian Universalist Ministry. It would take six years of part-time education along with internships and credentialing while I continued working. A year into this plan, I was laid off, disrupting everything and creating an immediate need for income. Now, I also had Plan B, which involved a degree and credentialing in the field of Marriage and Family Counseling, and Plan C, which was to work for a company where I could combine my technology skills and my spiritual path. The layoff forced me to look again for companies that matched Plan C, and this time, within a month I found a job with a company whose mission is to disseminate spiritual wisdom. No extra degree needed. No additional credentialing. From this experience, I learned to not overcomplicate things. Sometimes holding on to a vision means letting it go. You might just find that you get something better than you could have imagined.

Learn more about Scott’s upcoming class here, and consider registering by June 10 to save 10%.

Coming Home to Body, Earth, and Time: Writing From Where We Live with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

vistaI’m delighted to be offering an online class about writing from where we live, from our bodies to the cosmos, as part of the Transformative Language Arts Network. Since I usually interview teachers about their upcoming classes, here I am interviewing myself about the details and impetus behind “Coming Home to Body, Earth and Time: Writing from Where We Live,” which runs from June 29 – Aug. 9, all online, so you can engage with the class from anywhere at anytime. Register by June 10 to take advantage of the Summer Buzz sale, and save 10% on the class (and all other upcoming class this summer and early fall).

Caryn-the-Interviewer: So Caryn, and by the way, I love the way you spell your name, what led you to develop this class?

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: Thanks, Caryn, and yes, I like the spelling too. My mom found it in a novel she was reading when pregnant with me. As for the class, I’ve been grappling with what it means to live in a body and in a place forever, it seems, and some years back, it became very apparent to me how our bodies are our most local address. Where I live sparks a great deal of my writing and my understanding of how seasonal tilts around us speak to seasonal tilts within us. So I wanted to offer others gateways into exploring what inspiration, ideas, breakthroughs and meanings we can find by sinking our roots further into where we live, starting with the body, and rippling out to explore the home, watershed, ecoregion, earth and cosmos.

CtI: Interesting, and you know, my mom found the spelling of my name in a novel too when she was pregnant. So what can people expect in this class?August2505 026

CMG: Each week will include ample writing prompts and discussion about ways to engage with embodied writing that truly homes in on where we live and who we are, so it’s very much an exploration of how we name and claim ourselves, and what stories we tell ourselves and are told by our culture about, based on where we are, who we’re supposed to be.  A lot of the writing prompts are aimed toward greater liberation and awareness, which obviously go hand-in-hand. For example, in week three, we’ll look at watershed moments in our lives — moments that changed everything for us or at least one big thing — and from those moments, what greater possibilities opened out as well as what stories ended or very much changed. By honoring how our narratives have shaped our lives, including what stories we needed to hold tight to as scaffolding to get to the next place, we can cultivate greater freedom to change what no longer serves us.

Each week will also include a visiting writer via his/her writings, interviews, and a little essay I share about the writer, and these writers span genres, such as essayist David Abram, novelist Barbara Kingslover, singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, and poet William Stafford. We’ll also have a short discussion on the craft of writing powerfully since we can best understand and evoke the places we are when our images are vivid, our rhythms strong, and our stories evocative.

CtI: You’re someone who writes in many genres. Would you say “writing from where you live” is evident in all your own writing?

13217411_10103624025251309_7965765541683291477_oCMG: Good question, Caryn, and of course, as with most things, the answer is “it depends.” I’m very focused on the physical place of where I live and travel because I find such sustenance from where I am at this very moment, particularly the living earth. Right now, I’m writing answers to your questions from my front porch, and I live in the country with an up-close view of Osage Orange and ceder trees filled with songbirds broadcasting their love and fight songs. Most of my poetry, if not all, finds grounding in images of place, but then again, just about all poetry uses images, and images always evoke the senses: what we can see, touch, taste, hear and smell. Plus, I see the poem as a house of its own that readers enter, find a good sofa to lie down on, and then spend a little time in, listening to the voices of this place. My two memoirs, The Sky Begins at Your Feet: A Memoir of Cancer, Community and Coming Home to the Body, and Poem on the Range: A Poet Laureate’s Love Song to Kansas are both very place-focused, and Sky is also speaking from the place of the body in a time of great change. My novel, The Divorce Girl, and novel to be published next year, Miriam’s Well, are stories in which the protagonist is shaped and infused by her place — where she lives and travels, and how her internal landscape shifts as well.

Yet what draws me to this class isn’t just what I write but more so, what I live. As a longtime bioregionalist — someone who keep learning how to live from where I live — I see the body, the landscape, and the night sky as well as the shifting eco-community of what David Abram calls the “more-than-human” species among us as continually showing me the way through the crazy losses and wild joys of this beautiful life.

CtI: Thanks, Caryn, and it’s interesting that you’re writing from a porch with a view of those trees and birds because I’m on a porch with the same view. Maybe we should meet up sometime for tea.

Laura Packer on “The Telling Life: I Am the Wicked Queen, the Cursing Fairy”

11219390_10153734314100879_7028738415293992874_nMaking a living through the arts is a way to, among living your passion, bump right against whatever doubts and fears you have about what you’re doing, how you get to earn your livelihood (or not), and the whole shebang of living your calling. Thanks to Laura Packer for writing about something we don’t often talk about in her new blog post, “The Telling Life: I Am the Wicked Queen, the Cursing Fairy.” Laura writes,

I know I’m not the only storyteller artist human being to feel this way. The old stories tell me that, because there are so many characters who struggle with feeling left behind or worthless. But the old stories don’t offer me a roadmap of a way out of these feelings; they tell me only that acting on them is evil. I remind myself that I still have worth even if I feel petty things. I do my best to not stifle others as I was stifled. I work to remain generous with my time, my mentorship, my leadership, my talent. But some days it’s not easy and all I want is to have my mirror tell me that yes, I am still fair.

Read more here, and check out Laura’s life-giving blog to any of us in transformative language arts.

Gathering Courage with Thandiwe Shiphrah

IMG_0332-300x225Starting March 28 (for six weeks onward), Thandiwe Shiphrah will offer her class, “Gathering Courage: Still-doing, Big Journaling, and Other (Not So Scary) Ways to Begin Accommodating the Soul” as an online class through the TLA Network. She writes of the class, “Each session presents a nourishing opportunity to honor who you are and what you value, to acknowledge and share your unique talents, and to make a commitment to your creativity. This is a time for dreaming, writing, setting intentions, planning, shifting, rethinking (as in changing direction) or getting your nerve up in preparation for taking leaps or stepping out on faith. Ideal for artists, writers, activists, innovators and entrepreneurs in any field.” Listen to what else she has to say about this class, gathering courage, and living more in tune with the soul.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: You call this class, “Gathering Courage: Still-Doing, Big Journaling and Other (Not So Scary) Ways to Begin to Accommodate the Soul,” which is like a poem unto itself. What does gathering courage look like to you, how does it relate to living more soulfully, and how do you see the value and benefits of accommodating the soul”?

Thandiwe Shiphrah: Gathering courage is about cultivating and sustaining positive energy around one’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations and acting in small ways that bring joy and fulfillment. I think of it as getting your nerve up to do the big thing that scares you. Gathering courage emboldens you to live more soulfully because it helps you gain clarity about what you want to do and about how your talents and skills would be best utilized to accomplish goals and objectives. It is also about discovering what’s been holding you back and developing strategies for “ease dropping on your brain” so that you can correct ideas, attitudes, and beliefs that keep you from living life fully.

CMG: When did, to take a topic from your class, “the call to create” come to you, and how are you conversing with that calling these days? Did you grow up making art, and how has that evolved over time?

TS: When I was growing up, I made art all the time. I just didn’t call myself an artist. I wrote my first poem in elementary school and I performed in school plays all through middle school and high school. I also dabbled in portraiture by making charcoal and pastel drawings of my friends and family members. One early call to create came in the late 80s when I wrote and produced my first poem play. Later, I co-founded an ongoing performance group called The Word Up Poetry Ensemble. We performed in community-based settings (churches, community centers, schools) and our shows typically featured a combination of original works by the 7 group members – we were all budding poets and/or musicians – and works by famous African American writers such as James Weldon Johnson and Maya Angelou. I loved interpreting other people’s poetry and I loved performing as a group. These days I am delving deeper into poetry’s capacity to inspire creativity in other disciplines, an area I’ve been exploring for more than a decade. I recently collaborated with a group of women engineers and we are looking at ways that poem-making and storytelling can inspire creativity in engineering and encourage more women and girls to enter STEM fields. 

My artistic practice has evolved over the years to encompass writing for print as well WaddeyPattersonWCPoetas performance, creating visual art exhibits and installations, composing “audio collages” with my husband, musician/composer Daniel Arite,  and developing and implementing community arts programs in partnership with churches and non-profit arts organizations.  Last year, in my capacity as director of literary arts and community engagement at Nashville’s Global Education Center, I co-produced a city-wide conversation on the healing aspects of the arts that included local and internationally known writers and healing arts practitioners. It was a tremendous creative challenge and very rewarding (see here).

CMG: When I met you at the Power of Words conference many years ago, you were already a powerful and meaningful long-time multidisciplinary artist who wove together the arts, health and healing, and community. In a world where we’re supposed to choose one vocation and/or avocation to be or do, what led you to be and do many?

TS: I see myself as engaged in only one vocation: I am an artist. Because I grew up drawing, acting, and writing, I never felt like I had to choose one way to express myself artistically nor have I found a compelling reason to limit my art to one subject matter or field of study. I believe the arts can inform and enrich all aspects of our lives and my tendency to work across disciplines stems from this belief, as do my explorations into the restorative and community building aspects of art making. I enjoy finding creative ways to highlight how the arts — particularly poetry—can be used for personal development and social transformation. This leads me in a lot of different directions.

CMG: You talk about “deeper listening” as part of this class. How can people cultivate a greater capacity to hear themselves and the world?

TS: The practice that I call Still Doing is a combination of self-inquiry and reflection that involves listening and responding to specific music as a means of getting in touch with our feelings and deepest desires.  If you engage in Still Doing consistently, you will begin to feel more connected to yourself and to the world.  Meditating on qualities such as joy, grace, gratitude can also bring about a greater degree of self-awareness.

CMG: What can people expect to experience in “Gathering Courage”?

TS: People can expect to be simultaneously challenged and encouraged by the assignments and journal exercises. They will come to a greater appreciation for their life learnings and they will develop more confidence in their creative capacities. They will feel inspired to create opportunities to draw from their experiences and use their unique talents and skills. And they will have fun!

Thandiwe Shiphrah is a multidisciplinary artist, an independent curator of community arts programs, and a writer and producer of performance events. For the past 25 years, she has been passionately exploring the link between the arts, personal life enrichment, and healthy community development, with a focus on cross-cultural communication and social inclusion of marginalized groups. Her poetry and mixed-media art have appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, and magazines. For more information, watch this video of Thandiwe.

See more here.  Facebook page for this event is here.

Chrysalis: A Journal of TLA Welcomes Your Creations Now!

UntitledChrysalis: The Journal of Transformative Language Arts is seeking submissions for its third annual issue with a deadline of April 1, 2016. Examples of submissions include, but are not limited to, written pieces that fall into the categories:

Editor Amber Ellis in action with some of her family

Amber Ellis in action with some of her family

  • Creative piece (like poetry, a chapter or introduction of a longer book, or a play) and an accompanying process paper (a few pages about how the writing of this piece was transformative to the author or to the community at large);
  • A narrative account of TLA out in the world (like a review of an open mic you hosted, or a writing workshop you ran, or an account of working with a group of teens using slam poetry, or traveling around the world singing political and philosophical songs);
  • Or a theoretical essay expanding or zeroing in on

For the first time, we are thrilled to announce that we will be taking video clips and MP3 submissions (like spoken word videos, songs, storytelling on stage) that will fall into the creative piece category. These should be accompanied by a process paper as well.


Editors Sandy Henneberger and Lisa McIvor

Finally, we also seek a book review of a newly published (within the past 5 years) book having to do with the art of using language for transformative purposes (which could be a book about writing, public performance, workshop facilitation, a singer-songwriter memoir, etc).

Chrysalis is edited by Amber Ellis, Lisa McIvor, and Sandy Henneberger with help from Sarah Williams-Devereux and many other TLAers. If you’d like to volunteer to be a reader for the journal, please email Amber at


About Our Editors:
Amber Ellis is a graduate of Goddard’s IMA-TLA program, an avid reader, the managing editor of Chrysalis journal, facilitates writing workshops for seniors, teaches reading and writing to children, and is the mother of four raucous, book-loving children. She still writes mornings, sometimes only one sentence a day, but persists! Dreams of publishing the three books-in-progress keep her going, and she actively participates in the Writing Mothers’ Workshop, which she created as a part of her TLA practicum over four years ago. The workshop fulfills her vision of public outreach for mothers (therefore breaking down cultural barriers to community building and connection, eliminating isolating feelings) by hosting a series of Mothers’ Open Mic (M.O.M.) events in the North Shore of Boston, by mothers, for mothers. This type of open, public sharing of voice and celebrating mothers’ special role and place in American society is a highlight in her life. Otherwise, Amber might go crazy from child-rearing.


Lisa McIvor is a poet from Washington State and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2011. She went on to earn her MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard in 2014. Lisa has been a home health nurse for the past thirty years with Provail, formerly known as United Cerebral Palsy Association, and has facilitated a writer’s circle for individuals living with the challenges of cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury with Provail’s art program, Artistry Incorporated, for the past four years. The participants in this workshop have composed two books of poetry and have performed their work at an open mic with the use of assistive technology at Provail’s annual art show. Lisa continues writing her own poetry which has been published in literary journals including Hurricane Alice, Red Hawk Review, Bellowing Ark and The Madison Review. Her first chapbook of poems, How the Sky Became a Child, has been accepted by Tebot Bach for publication for publication later this year. She has also begun collaborating with her writing partner, Rob DiLillo, a teacher and writing coach, in the writing of a mystery novel that takes place in the San Juan Islands. This will be her second year in co-editing the TLA Network’s Chrysalis Journal. She lives in Seattle and shares a home with her father and her cat, Lily.

Sandy Henneberger is a poet and writer who also serves on the TLA Network Council.  A former teacher of college level writing and English classes, Sandy is a writer and Speech Therapist.   Several years ago, she attended healing and writing classes in a local hospital, and her life changed again.  She graduated from Goddard’s IMA-TLA program in 2014 and is an editor of Chrysalis Journal.   Currently she is working on publishing a chapbook of poems, and also working on a novel.
Deadline for submission to Chrysalis Journal is April 1, 2016 for publication September 2016