Right Livelihood: In Search of Runes-Part 4

by Carol Thompson

Editor’s note: This is part 4 of an ongoing, 5 part blog chronicling the author’s journey with TLA.

Why me?

My family of origin was a quiet one. An average dinner meal looked like this: My father sat at one end of the table with my mother at the other end. My sister, Susan (one year older than me) and I sat on one side and brother Jon (5 years younger) was across from us. The meal was usually tasteless and dull, meatloaf, instant white rice and mushy vegetables from a can (remember the mix of lima beans, corn, green beans and little pieces of red pimento that nobody ever ate?). There was no lively chatter, no “how was your day?” recap, and if anyone did speak during the meal (…finish your milk, stop kicking your sister, what’s for dessert?…), my father would get mad (blow up) and some sort of chaos ensued.

It took many years of investigating the lives of my family, my parents and my grandparents before I became fully aware of why silence was preferable to bringing up any subject that could even be remotely construed as painful. Between some of the most horrific events that could befall a human being (the death of my father’s mother in childbirth, a suicide, the family secret of incest, untreated PTSD from fighting the Japs in the South Pacific, mental illness treated with electro-shock therapy, Parkinson’s Disease and kidney failure, it seemed like there just wasn’t any uplifting conversation that could bring joy to the dinner table. So, we just ate, drank and politely asked whether we could be excused.

I eventually learned to talk on my own and through the aid of teachers, friends, associates at work and an occasional therapist. I was an avid reader and writer of journals. By the time I was “grown up”, I found education held the key to finding out about words and how best to use them. One of the most valuable lessons that I learned from my parents was “how not to be”. Thankfully, I was blessed with a great sense of humor, a limitless imagination and the courage to try just about anything.

During the summer of 2016, I was living in California, part way through my Transformative Language Arts certificate program. In order to complete my studies, I needed to attend one conference and saw that the yearly Power of Words event was being held at Ferry Beach Park in Saco, Maine. My parents lived in Saco for 20 years (moving there after I left home in 1969), and they were both buried in the big cemetery at the center of town. I hadn’t visited their graves in a long time, so this seemed to be one good incentive to make a cross-country trip and attend the conference!

By this time I had already become invested in studying runes and was hoping to find a way to transform my “hobby” into a “profession”, so the workshops I attended had a lot to do with paving the driveway toward my future goal of finding “Right Livelihood”. I learned about “Laughter, Breath and Joy: Communal Communication”, “Your Livelihood is a Road Trip, Your Life Is the Terrain”, and, “The Values of the Future Through Storytelling”, facilitated by Doug Lipman. It was during Doug’s workshop that I found a great metaphoric vision for one of the key parts of my runic education – the Rubber Duckie Race – and how it could be used as a tool for storytelling.

The Rubber Duckie Race is used as a fundraising event where people pay money and are given temporary custody of a cute little yellow rubber duck. The race is held in a flowing river where all of the ducks are held captive behind a floating barrier. There are hundreds of identical ducks, with their unique number painted on their bottoms, crowded together, bumping each other gently, some facing forward and some backwards, waiting for the starting gun to fire. The future is filled with dangers: rapids, rocks, shallows, widow-maker tree limbs, sandbars, traffic jams, and swirling eddies, and when the barrier goes up, it’s the luck of the draw and the survival of the fastest as a stampede of floating little yellow bodies surges forward from the starting gate.

The spectators on the shoreline can participate in the race in several ways: they can hoot and holler, they can jump in the water and create waves to help break up a log-jam, and they can even blow on a duck in the hope of changing its speed or direction. But, and the rules are firm on this matter, they can never pick up or ever touch a duck.

And it was those rules that helped me with looking at my Rune Mastery in a different way. Doug said that physically touching, or externally directing someone’s values (their space) was against the rules. I was glad to see a definitive rule, and saw how I needed to avoid a direct, hands-on approach. I could see how making waves could eventually influence one’s direction, perhaps imperceptibly at first. By simply being a participant, by listening to someone else’s story, I am “blowing on” their values and experiences, subtly reinforcing certain values and increasing the likelihood that those values will move in a particular direction. Over time I could change the course of a whole fleet of ducks.

After the conference was over and my mind had absorbed a richness of knowledge, after I stopped by and paid a visit to my parents, and once I had a chance to pull together all of the new information that would carry me on to my next incarnation, I was glad that the runes had chosen me, and felt my calling stronger than ever.

Carol ThompsonCarol Thompson moved from the Mad River Valley in Vermont to Benicia, California on Christmas Day, 2014, in order to be close to the marina where her first grandchild and his family live on a 41′ sailboat.  A life-long learner, Carol has a BS in General Studies and holds certificates in Counseling & Human Relations, Non-Profit Management and will soon be certified in Introductory Transformative Language Arts.    Two of her main interests are the study of Runes  and the creation of beautiful miniature succulent gardens.   She has taught Introduction to Runes classes in Vermont, California and New Zealand.  A DNA test confirmed her Scandinavian ancestry.

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Transformative Storytelling For Social Change

Transformative Storytelling For Social Change is an organization that creates digital stories to help create social transformation. Their mission and process is fascinating and I highly recommend checking them out!

“Individual stories have certain strengths—they connect the audience through personal experience.  A limitation of individual stories is that they do not always explain the particular context of the story, or situate the stories in relation to wider political issues.  Collective storytelling often does not have the same emotional resonance found in individual stories, but it is a very good format for situating questions and problems in relation to a context.  Collective storytelling can include elements of individual stories, but can also directly address overarching themes and questions.

Digital stories can be used as a springboard for a participatory video process, and as a way of moving from very personal, individual work, towards a group storytelling project. Central to this shift is a process of reflection and analysis of digital stories by the storytellers themselves.”

Watch Throwing a Rock at the Moon a documentary of this integrated visual storytelling process using visual power analysis:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/81848477″>IDS THROWING A ROCK AT THE MOON</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/mdpinicijative”>MDP Inicijative Doboj</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Right Livelihood – In Search of Runes: Part 2

by Carol Thompson

Editor’s note: This is part 2 of an ongoing, 5 part blog chronicling the author’s journey with TLA.

What shall I be when I grow up?

I am 66 years old and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. One of the main reasons I decided to jump into the Transformative Language Arts program was because the Power of Words has always held great importance to me. I have stacks and stacks of journals safely stored in a couple of boxes in my sister-in-law’s attic in Vermont. When I decided to sell most of my worldly belongings and move to California several years ago, my journals were in the small “must keep” pile. I am hoping to re-visit them some day and write a memoir about the forty-plus years that I lived in the Mad River Valley, a small community of 2500 rugged souls, revisiting the homes I built, renovated, owned or rented, my jobs and the people who became my friends and work-mates, the close relationships I experienced with people (many of them long gone), and the wonderful (and frequently challenging) times spent raising my two daughters, primarily as a single parent.

I believe that if there is ever a “who has had the most jobs” contest, I would be high on the list. I’ve worked for architects, cross country ski centers, caterers, solar power fabricators, Habitat for Humanity and the National Wildlife Federation. I’ve been a house painter, office manager of a small construction company (24 years!), a census taker, bread baker, sign maker, greenhouse laborer and a short-order cook at a ski area. I was the head employee for a kids’ kayak camp, the executive director of a non-profit recreational trails association and the Naturalist Program’s Winter Snowshoe Outings director. I started three different businesses: Valley Community Camp (summer camp), Renewal School (classes in personal growth) and Out Back Tracks (snowshoe/animal tracking outings). I am currently in the process of starting one more new enterprise, called Sticks and Stones. This is the one that will be taking my TLA knowledge and practice and transforming it into my next, newest profession as I become Rune Master, a Teacher of Runes. My study of Runes is a perfect tool for discovering Right Livelihood, and will prove to be a creative means of making a living as well as creating a life and assisting others in their similar quests.

For those of you who do not know about runes, I invite you to google the word and you will come up with a wealth of information. The study of runes has been a continuing project of mine for over twenty years, and their key component is the Power of Words. As I worked my way through the different workshops in the past two years, the final class was actually the first one that most people start with – the Foundations Course – focusing on TLA: in Service, as a Catalyst, as a Right Livelihood, and as a way to put teachings into Action. I found myself appreciating the focus of this class more as a summary and collecting vessel than as a beginning. Each topic of this class provided me with great relevancy as I revisited notes from my other three classes and the one conference as the meat of my education and the Foundations class seemed to be the frosting that provided the skills to put my Plans and Visions into action.

All of my Foundations classes included lively discussions, written and via group chats. I found that one of the most important pieces of these discussions was the establishment of “Ground Rules”. Since my new profession does not include a guide book, I appreciated the rules and will keep them in mind when working with new clients and new groups. When I meet someone for the first time, I will be able to witness them and listen carefully with my full attention. I can assure them that whatever happens during our interaction, they can trust that I will maintain confidentiality and allow them the freedom to experiment with options and interpretations when possible. I have integrated these important words of wisdom into my introduction: “I am not a therapist and sometimes the nature of personal work can open wounds. Please let me know if you would like to contact a professional to turn to if needed.”

One of my personal introductory papers states: “At a time when the written language was used by only a few, runes represented a way to share information verbally and visually. Used as a tool for clarification and illumination, one’s personal story will be brought to light while navigating the path of the runes.” Everyone is different and no two stories are ever the same.

The study and practice of runes combines two main components: Story Telling and Listening. Human relationships depend on the connections that create society and knowing how to interpret the symbols on runic stones is one tool that provides a key that can open the door to self-discovery.

Carol ThompsonCarol Thompson moved from the Mad River Valley in Vermont to Benicia, California on Christmas Day, 2014, in order to be close to the marina where her first grandchild and his family live on a 41′ sailboat.    A life-long learner, Carol has a BS in General Studies and holds certificates in Counseling & Human Relations, Non-Profit Management and will soon be certified in Introductory Transformative Language Arts.    Two of her main interests are the study of Runes  and the creation of beautiful miniature succulent gardens.   She has taught Introduction to Runes classes in Vermont, California and New Zealand.  A DNA test confirmed her Scandinavian ancestry.

Stories with Spirit: Regi Carpenter

Regi Carpenter will be teaching the upcoming online class, Stories with Spirit: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice beginning April 4th.

About the Class:

“At the heart of one’s creativity lies a desire to explore and express the exquisite power of the present experience, feeling, sensation and belief. This class will focus on strengthening and recognizing the intuitive sense of the creative process without judgment or restriction. We’ll play with writing meditations, reflections, and written and spoken word pieces that gently guide us to who we are now, in this moment.

Through writing meditations, personal reflections, readings, videos and on-line shared discussions, we will explore how our creativity brings us into the present by bearing witness to the sacred within one another, the world and ourselves.

We’ll focus on the use of images, metaphors, ritual, voice, and a variety of writing structures to create vivid pieces in and outside of class. Beginning and experienced writers in any genre are welcome!”  

Regi is a phenomenal storyteller whose captivating presence can be felt in this powerful TEDx presentation:

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to connect to the soul of your creativity with an incredible facilitator guiding the way!

Register here

About Regi:

For over twenty years Regi Carpenter has been bringing songs and stories to audiences of all ages throughout the world in school, theaters, libraries, at festivals, conferences and in people’s back yards. An award winning performer, Regi has toured her solo shows and workshops in theaters, festivals and schools, nationally and internationally.

Regi is the youngest daughter in a family that pulsates with contradictions: religious and raucous, tender but terrible, unfortunate yet irrepressible. These tales celebrate the glorious and gut – wrenching lives of four generations of Carpenter s raised on the Saint Lawrence River in Clayton, New York. Tales of underwater tea parties, drowning lessons and drives to the dump give voice to multi-generations of family life in a small river town with an undercurrent.

 

TLA Class Teacher Profile: Jacinta V. White

Jacinta will be teaching the upcoming online class, Becoming Undone: Unpacking Life’s Weight with Writing and Poetry  starting April 4th, 2018.

Jacinta V. White is a published poet and a 2017 recipient of the Duke Energy Regional Artist grant. She has been facilitating group and individual poetry writing sessions — using poetry as healing — for more than 15 years, through her company, The Word Project. Just three years ago, Jacinta launched Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing — an international online journal publishing poetry, creative nonfiction and photography. Knowing from personal experience the healing balm poetry provides, Jacinta is committed to assisting others and expanding the conversation on art and healing.

See Jacinta’s experience with the TLA network’s One City One Prompt series

Read more about Jacinta

About Jacinta’s Upcoming Class: 

Becoming Undone: Unpacking Life’s Weight with Writing and Poetry 

“This class has been designed for and offered to those who feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges or those who feel too stuck to make a plan for something more.

Each week, participants will be given a poem and prompts that will gently guide them in journaling and poetry writing exercises (and optional “supporting exercises” for those who want to go deeper into the work).

By using creativity of writing, participants will begin to identify what weight needs to be unpacked and how, and begin to re-pack what is most important and meaningful to them.

This series is designed for those who are wanting to work through what “weight” might be holding them from living a fuller life. Those who feel stressed out and in need of clarity. Those who are burden and are looking for a place (internally) to process life (external) demands and to “find” themselves. And, ideally, those who are willing to go a beyond the surface and dig deeper into the balance and changes their life needs in order to live a life they were created to live.”

Register for Jacinta’s class here

jacinta

 

 

Call for Proposals

The Power of Words Conference is now accepting proposals for the 2018 Power of Words Conference! All you need to do is:

  1. Read the information below carefully
  2. Use the following form to submit your proposal by March 15, 2018
  3. Email your CV/resume to the director@tlanetwork.org

DEADLINE for submission: March 15, 2018

The 15th Annual Power of Words Conference will be held October 12-14th, 2018 at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, and we are seeking your session proposals!

This powerful conference brings together writers, storytellers, performers, musicians, educators, activists, healers, health professionals, community leaders, and more. Together we explore the written, spoken, and sung word, seeking to find how it can bring liberation, celebration, and transformation to individuals and communities.

We invite your proposals for experiential, didactic, and/or performance-based sessions that focus on writing, storytelling, drama, film, songwriting, and other forms of Transformative Language Arts (TLA).

We encourage proposals from people of color, low-income people, people with disabilities, queer-identified people, and people of transgender and/or gender-non-conforming experience.

Submit you proposal here

What Can Storytelling Teach Us About Creating Connection? with Doug Lipman

Can storytelling help us be open and empathetic? Can it be an avenue to rapport? If so, how? Doug Lipman reveals three connection-building strategies hidden in storytelling—and simple ways to unlock each of them.

About Doug Lipman: In 1970, Doug Lipman was a discouraged teacher of highly resistant adolescents. One day he happened to tell them a story, and for the first time they softened. Since then, he has spent his life using storytelling for transformation—and helping others use storytelling’s connective power in any walk of life. Lipman literally wrote the book on coaching storytellers: “The Storytelling Coach.” He has coached executives, professionals and performing artists in Asia, Europe, Canada and the US, including at the World Bank, Microsoft, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and the United Way. In 2017 Lipman was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for “sustained and exemplary contributions to storytelling in North America.”

“Good” and “bad” are incomplete stories we tell ourselves with Heather Lanier

Heather Lanier’s daughter Fiona has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a genetic condition that results in developmental delays — but that doesn’t make her tragic, angelic or any of the other stereotypes about kids like her. In this talk about the beautiful, complicated, joyful and hard journey of raising a rare girl, Lanier questions our assumptions about what makes a life “good” or “bad,” challenging us to stop fixating on solutions for whatever we deem not normal, and instead to take life as it comes.

 

You’re Already a Successful Grant Writer

by Diane Silver

Editor’s note: Diane will be teaching her online class, Funding Transformation: Grant Writing for Storytellers, Writers, Artists, Educators & Activists beginning February 21st! Here is a wonderful blog post she has written about grant writing! 


“I don’t know about you, but the thought of writing a grant proposal, especially to fund my own work, makes my stomach knot. My first thoughts are of my inadequacies: I haven’t done enough, accomplished enough, won enough awards, or even been creative enough. And yet, the most surprising thing I learned when I unexpectedly got a job in philanthropy was that we creative folk already possess all the skills we need to win grants.

My sojourn into the world of philanthropy occurred quite by accident more than 20 years ago. My spouse died of cancer, and I suddenly had to raise our 7-year-old son on nothing more than a freelance writer’s income. With my son’s security at stake, I sought a job, any job, and found myself taking a position at a $1 billion foundation. Through the next 13 years I learned far more than I ever imagined about how fundraising works. At times I felt like a spy—not many writers get to hobnob with millionaires and philanthropists. I learned how they think, and what they seek. After my son graduated and launched himself into life, I went back to freelance writing, only now I included grant writing in my toolbox.

Through all of this I learned that the skills of a great grant writer are the same as the skills that all creative folk, independent educators, and activists must acquire to succeed. To both create and sell our work we must:

  • Be Thorough.
  • Be Aware.
  • Be Persistent.

You can’t create without being thorough. Learning and honing your craft requires an attention to detail that is every bit as exacting as an engineer’s. Creating an effective story, a novel, a poem, a workshop, or even a political campaign requires intensity. The same is true of writing a successful grant. You have to focus intently on what funders want, and you have to follow every one of their picky rules.

Awareness is also important for creative sorts and grant writers. To succeed as artists we must pay attention to our audience. We can’t reach the folks we want to reach unless we know who they are and how they perceive the world. The same is true in grant writing. You have to pay attention to your audience, which in this case is the foundation or governmental agency that is awarding the grant you want. Luckily, we creative sorts already have a well-honed knack for paying attention to our audience.

Even more important than thoroughness or awareness is persistence. There isn’t a single creative soul on this planet who has succeeded without being persistent. It takes persistence to learn our craft. It takes persistence to sell our work and make even a few dollars. Taking “no” for an answer is simply not an option in our line of work. The same is true in grant writing. If one funder rejects you, try another. If a funder turned you down for a particular grant, try again for the same grant program if the funder allows it, or apply for another kind of grant the funder offers. In grant writing as in creative work, the persistent succeed.

I am so thrilled to be teaching a grant writing class for the Transformative Language Arts Network. Funding Transformation: Grant Writing for Storytellers, Writers, Educators, and Activists begins February 21. Join us!”

Learn more about Diane here

Funding Transformation: An Interview with Diane Silver

Diane Silver will be teaching her class, Funding Transformation: Grant Writing for Storytellers, Writers, Artists, Educators, & Activists beginning February 21st. Here is a short interview with Diane about her upcoming class:

TLA Network(TLA): How did you discover, learn about and experience the topic that you’ll be teaching?

Diane Silver (DS) My sojourn into the world of philanthropy occurred quite by accident more than 20 years ago. My spouse died of cancer, and I suddenly had to raise our 7-year-old son on nothing more than a freelance writer’s income. With my son’s security at stake, I sought a job, any job, and found myself taking a position at a $1 billion foundation. Through the next 13 years I learned far more than I ever imagined about how fundraising works. At times I felt like a spy—not many writers get to hobnob with millionaires and philanthropists. I learned how they think, and what they seek. After my son graduated and launched himself into life, I went back to freelance writing, only now I included grant writing in my toolbox.

TLA: What can students in this class expect?

DS: My mission in this class is to enable every student to find a grant to apply for and to complete (or come close to completing) the first draft of a grant proposal.I also hope you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to writing a proposal. I’ll provide you with resources to help you find the right grant for you, and to understand the grant writing process and how to best write a successful proposal. Students will do a few very brief exercises to help them get a sense of where they’re going, and then they will work through writing their own proposals. We’ll post our work on class forums and provide support and feedback to each other. I’ll guide and also provide feedback. By the way, if you’ve already got a grant in mind that you want to seek, that’s fantastic! You can work on that proposal for the class.

TLA: Why might this class be important at this time in the world?

DS: The world needs to hear our voices, yet we can’t put the time into doing our work unless we have the funding we need to support our work. We all need to eat, right? My fervent hope is that this class will provide students with the foundation they need to launch themselves into a more secure financial future.

TLA: Is there anything else about the class you would like share?

DS: Writing a grant proposal can be downright scary. It can feel like we’re sending ourselves out into the world naked to be judged. That’s why one of my top priorities for this class is for all of us to be gentle as well as honest in our feedback and interactions with each other. We are here to enable each other to succeed. We are NOT competing. There is more than enough money out there for all of us.

About the Teacher

A poet, journalist, and political activist, Diane Silver often pays her mortgage by working as a grant-writer and in fundraising (known as “development” to fundraising insiders). In her career, Diane has helped two universities raise hundreds of millions of dollars and written proposals that have won funding for a variety of clients. Her online course, Grant Writing and Fundraising Communications, and her fundraising writing win high praise.

“Diane Silver is the most talented development writer I’ve known in more than 20 years of work,” says Geni Holmes Greiner, executive director of university events for Wake Forest University, and formerly with The Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

Diane’s most recent creative work is a four-volume series of poetry called Your Daily Shot of Hope. (Meditations for an Age of Despair, published in January 2017; Meditations for Awakening, coming July 2017; Meditations for Transformation, September 2017; Meditations for Joy, November 2017.)

Sign up for Diane’s class here