Art as a Spiritual Practice

Sue Sneddon approaches art as a spiritual practice. That’s why anyone who takes one of her workshops can feel safe trying something new and embracing the joy of creation. We’re so thrilled to spend two weekends every February at the coast, on beautiful Emerald Isle, playing with water colors, pastels, and acrylics, under Sue’s gentle guidance. Many would-be artists start with the beginners’ “Finding Your Medium” workshop and come back again and again for “Making Your Art.”

While getting inspiration from the natural beauty of the beach, everyone gets to stay cozy in a lovely modern beach house. We are deeply grateful to Julia Batten Wax and Emerald Isle Realty for their hospitality and for helping make the workshops possible.

Here are a few photos from this year’s workshops and several participants’ reflections. Won’t you join us next year?

         

I am art-phobic. Have been as long as I can remember. Sue kept telling me that I could do a little art. I finally gave in and asked her to teach me something that wouldn’t make me feel bad about myself. She handed me a sheet of black construction paper and sat me down in front of a huge supply of pastels. She gave me some pointers and there I went. Some colors went on the paper and I had fun and made two tiny pieces of art that make me feel good! Sue is brilliant! — Amy


Always enjoy being on Emerald Isle with Sue Sneddon for the art workshop. This year I painted a watercolor and gouache of a lighthouse, on which Sue helped me with the details. I also enjoyed spending time using acrylics and oil pastels. The beach was a fabulous place for inspiration and rejuvenation as we made art. — Amelia

As always, I so appreciated the opportunity to immerse myself in art over this weekend with Sue. When I’m there, I have (or is it take?) the time to notice the variety of colors in the sky at sunrise, the shadows of the dock pilings on the water — all of the beauty that is always around, but I rarely really notice. I had a few pieces that I’d been storing in the back of my brain to do at the beach… and having the protected time and space to do them is always so special. 
I have even, for the first time in my life, marked out some time and space to do art on a regular basis back at home!
 — Betsy

The Finding Your Medium workshop with Sue Sneddon is a fun and inspired way to learn about all the ways you can make art. Sue shares many different art mediums one at a time and you have an opportunity to try them all and discover which one makes you happy, maybe all of them. She is an attentive and encouraging teacher who really gets to know you so she can help you lose yourself in the process no matter how much or how little experience you have had making art.
 — BJ

 

 

A Tribute to Anita McLeod

In early January we lost a beloved member of the RCWMS community to cancer. Anita McLeod, RN, BSN, was a retired nurse and health educator in Durham, NC, a courageous trailblazer who will be sorely missed. During the twenty years of her association with Resource Center  she led many workshops on women’s spirituality, founded and led the Elder Women’s Project, and chaired the RCWMS Board of Trustees. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support this community has shown in the many donations you have given to RCWMS in her memory. Thank you for helping us carry on her legacy.

Here we want to share with you the remarks delivered by RCWMS director, Jeanette Stokes, at the celebration of Anita’s life, which took place on January 16, 2017.

My job is to explain what Anita was doing when she was not with her family.

The poet Mary Oliver has written:

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world. (“When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver)

Last week, in looking for pictures of Anita—on my phone, on my computer, and in old photo albums at our office—I was overwhelmed by what I found. As we know, Anita was bright, beautiful, and funny. There she was laughing, leading, and loving people, but what surprised me was that she was also ubiquitous. She was always there.

I met Anita 20 years ago in a yearlong class on women and spirituality at Duke Divinity School. Several of you were in that class. In the next few years after that, Anita and I taught a course for Duke Continuing Education on the same topic: women and spirituality. And after that, she began to design and lead circles, classes, and retreats of her own for the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, which I direct.

As I looked at pictures of Anita, I noticed that without calling attention to herself, she was always there. She joined our board of trustees and eventually served as the chair of the board. She came to book readings, lectures, and workshops other people led. She was central to our 25th Anniversary celebration in 2002 and to our exhibition a few years later called “Art and the Feminine Divine.”

Anita’s way of being in the world was a perfect match for the vision of the Resource Center.  We are in the business of empowering women to weave feminism and spirituality into a vision of justice in the world. That is what Anita was about. She supported the Resource Center and the Resource Center supported her. We provided the platform or stage on which she could do what she loved most—teach and lead and empower others. And she did it brilliantly.

She was the group leader I trusted the most. I was confident that she could handle anyone or anything that might come up. After working in the diet program, with surly, hungry clients, a few upset women in a small group were not going to scare Anita McLeod.

When I counted up the number of events Anita had either initiated or led for us over the last 15 years, the list kept getting longer and longer. Fifty events. She led or organized fifty events for us. She was always there.

Anita embodied feminist principles in her leadership style by trusting groups of women to learn from and teach one another without her having to be the teacher who told participants everything they needed to know. She trusted the groups more than the “experts.”

She invented classes, workshops, and ongoing groups on topics she wanted to learn more about. She began with Menopause and moved on to: Mothers and Daughters, Women Over 60, Wise Choices, intergenerational writing workshops, workshops about the natural world such as When Grandmothers Speak the Earth Will Heal, and finally, End of Life Issues and Befriending Death.

The last ones make me wonder. Did she know? Did she have some inkling that the coins left in her purse were numbered? Did she know that she needed to befriend the end of life? We will never know, but what she taught and learned served her well. She approached these last two months with an open heart and with her insatiable curiosity. And she was not afraid.

But now she is gone. Or is she? The poet Kahlil Gibran has written:

Close your eyes and you will see me among you now and always. Go back to your homes and you will find there what death could not take away from you and from me.

In the last months of her life, when reflecting on what she was learning in her dying, she said, “I don’t know how to explain it, but this is not about me! This is for the world. Please don’t let them make this only about me.”

So, if this is not just about Anita but is also about us, what would Anita want for us to do now? I think that with the prophet she would want us to do justice, to love kindness, and to be decent companions for all the creatures of the world.  

In December, she wrote her last email to the RCWMS mailing list. She said:

“The Divine Feminine is with us as lover and warrior. She is calling elder women to stand up for the precious earth and water and creatures. For ourselves. For our children.”

I think Anita would want us to walk in the woods, to keep our friends and loved ones close, to march in Raleigh and in Washington, and to speak up on behalf of vulnerable people, vulnerable creatures, and the earth.

In order to do that, we are going to have to resist some pretty strong forces in this country. I’ve been saying I’ve never been an obstructionist before, but in the current political climate, I think I’m going to enjoy being one. And I’m certain Anita will be right there: resisting, rejoicing, and cheering us on.

RCWMS and the Women’s March

I handed my phone to a tall person who was standing nearby and asked him to take a picture of my friends and me. We had ridden the biodiesel bus together from Durham to Raleigh for the Women’s March on Raleigh. As our bus pulled into downtown, we saw cars and people streaming in from every direction. It was the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, and progressive people all over the world were mad. When we got out of our bus and joined the crowd of 17-20,000 people assembled on Fayetteville Street, we found ourselves in a sea of humanity. Men, women, children, and babies—like eleven-month-old Frieda in our small group, riding along with her mother. There were so many of us that it took almost forty-five minutes for those of us in the middle of the crowd to start moving after the folks in front began the six-block walk to Moore Square. In the photo you can see our small group, including my longtime friend, BJ, and three colleagues in their 30s—Jenny, Andrea, and Frieda’s mother Rebecca. Other RCWMS volunteers and board members were scattered through the marching throng. All morning, I kept asking other women my age or older, “Did you think we would be doing this again after so many years?”

This march came forty-eight years after the student protests against the Vietnam war that took place during my freshman year of college; forty-four years after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in our land; and thirty-five years after the last big North Carolina march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Women’s March on Raleigh emerged as a sister march to the Women’s March on Washington DC. The DC march’s mission statement reads:

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families–recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.  

The DC march, like the one in Raleigh, drew many more participants than organizers expected. Organizers anticipated 200,000, but the DC crowd numbered at least 450,000. In addition, over 3,000,000 people around the US participated in over 500 locations. They were joined by hundreds of thousands more, with demonstrations on every continent. Together we were speaking up for women’s rights and protesting the new administration’s agenda on so many fronts: their cabinet appointments, their promise to repeal Obamacare, our desire to protect LGBTQ people, immigrants, public education, workers rights, and a woman’s rights to choose.

This was baby Frieda’s first march. We suspect it will not be her last.

Turning Points

Last fall, a group of women whose ages spanned six decades gathered every Monday evening for four weeks to write, explore, and share in a safe and supportive community. Out of these gatherings came a booklet of deeply personal and moving poems and essays. Below is one of the short essays featured in this collection. To read more, email rcwmsnc@aol.com to order your copy of the Turning Points booklet for $5.00.

If this type of experience sounds appealing to you, consider signing up for Seasons of Our Lives, another intergenerational writing workshop RCWMS is offering this October. Contact rcwmsnc@aol.com for more information. Let us know what you think in the comments!

-Rebecca Welper

Pregnant
by S. age 40

I have had three pregnancies. Each was so distinct, from the symptoms and complications to my emotional response.

The first time, it all seemed to come fairly easily. We were ready, we’d planned and hoped, and taken the right classes. Our baby was small but mighty and made her way into the world through a C-section, because, despite my best efforts, from the traditional to acupuncture needles in my toes, she wouldn’t turn around. So, three weeks early, angry, skinny, and precious, she came into our lives.

Three and a half years later, after much anticipation, my second pregnancy was utterly uneventful. The boy was head down, developing nicely. He was fine, but I was exhausted.  This time, being pregnant while keeping up with work and a three year old left me ready for him to come on out and join us. My labor was stunning and fast, and although he was “on time,” we couldn’t keep up. I was relieved that I didn’t deliver on the highway. Twenty minutes after arriving at the hospital, he joined us, tumbling toward the center of the universe amidst blood and screams and complete disbelief on our part. He was a little small, (but) perfect, and very real, despite our incredulity.

My third pregnancy came as a deep blow to my gut, panic and tears and a complete fraying of all my edges. I spent a week talking and weeping with my husband, trusted midwives, and closest girlfriends. I imagined and researched the size of an embryo at five weeks. I drew a little dot in my journal. I felt connected to a relatively silent sisterhood across time and space that faced this same reality. I called to make the appointment for a medical abortion.

Between the time of the phone call and my scheduled appointment, still wracked with raw nerves and bewilderment, I miscarried. I relied on the same allies and loved ones as before.  I felt the loss, but I also felt powerful relief that my body had ended this early pregnancy… gratitude that my body was aligning with my spirit.

Reading Race

A couple of years ago a small group of us at RCWMS took up Ta-Nehisi Coates’ challenge to followers of his blog at The Atlantic to read and discuss Michelle Alexander’s magisterial book on mass incarceration, The New Jim Crow. (You can read a brief review on our Words and Spirit blog: wordsandspirit.tumblr.com) The discussions about the book made us want to further explore how racism and white supremacy have profoundly undermined our ability to between-the-world-and-me-940x540imagine and move towards the world we want to create. For our second book we took on Coates’ brilliant and moving letter to his son, Between the World and Me. In this book Coates eloquently describes what it is like to live in America, in Baltimore particularly, in a Black body. He insists on the centrality of embodiment to the Black experience. He also introduces us to the notion of people who “believe themselves to be white,” a phrase that he borrowed from James Baldwin. Throughout our subsequent reading we have continued to explore the implications of this provocative phrase.

Our conversations about these two books helped to deepen our understanding of these vital QzoVQE1issues, but also showed us how much more we have to learn. So we invited a few more people to join us and kept going. During this past winter and early spring we read three books that focus primarily on the Black experience: Citizen, by Claudia Rankine (also with a Words and Spirit review); Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; and Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson.

Rankine, a poet, presents essays and prose poems that are part memoir and part social commentary, including an eye-opening essay on the gender and racially-tinged politics around Serena Williams. The words are complemented by stunning artwork; the whole book is a work of art.

In Americanah we follow the journey of Ifemelu, a young woman who travels to America from her home in Nigeria to attend college. Through Ifemelu, and Adichie’s beautiful prose, we get an intimate portrait of what it is like to encounter America’s racial complexity as an African immigrant. And via Ifemelu’s blog posts we get a pointed commentary on race in America.

The third book, Just Mercy, documents the recent history of the death penalty and the work of the Equal Justice Initiative that Stevenson founded in Montgomery, Alabama. In the book Stevenson intersperses chapters tracing the case of falsely-accused death row inmate Walter McMillian with other chapters outlining the larger politics and issues surrounding the death penalty.

In the past couple of months we have been focusing on whiteness. We started with Jennifer Harvey’s Dear White Christians, a book that makes a compelling argument that churches, and by extension other institutions, make a fatal error when they focus their anti-racism efforts on the laudable goal of reconciliation. Harvey argues that before there can be any hope of reconciliation, we must do the slow and arduous work of confronting the white supremacy that permeates our society. She calls for repentance and a “reparations paradigm,” building on the work of the Black Power movement and its challenge to white-dominated churches.

Most recently we discussed Dog Whistle Politics by Ian Haney López, which traces the use of thinly veiled racist language in presidential campaigns since the days of George Wallace and Barry Goldwater. He makes the compelling case that dog whistling (using racially charged images such as “welfare queens,” and racially coded language such as the war on drugs or being “tough on crime”) has made possible the unraveling of middle-class prosperity through the deliberate actions of those who would shape the world to their own advantage. Not to mention its devastating impact on people of color.

Our conversations have opened our eyes, taught us many things, and helped us to understand how much more we have to learn. After a summer-long hiatus, we will resume in the fall.

Marcy Litle is a member of the board of trustees of RCWMS.

Tea Gatherings Featured on UNC-TV

RCWMS Executive Director Jeanette Stokes was included in UNC-TV’s Our State feature on Japanese tea gatherings and the Asiatic Arboretum at Duke Gardens. RCWMS hosts a tea gathering each year in the spring. You can watch this lovely 8 minute video here:

Hand Wringing and Reckoning

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 RCWMS Essay Contest. The theme was “Experiencing White Supremacy.” The first place winner is Danyelle O’Hara of St. Paul, MN, for “Hand Wringing and Reckoning,” which first appeared in our March newsletter, and is republished below. Second place goes to Karen Erlichman of Pacifica, CA for “Layers of White Privilege.” Many thanks to this year’s judges: Marcy Litle, Marcia Rego, and Rebecca Welper. The judges report that they were touched by the thoughtful honesty expressed by all the writers as they tackled this challenging subject. We send our thanks to all who entered our contest!

Hand Wringing and Reckoning
by Danyelle O’Hara

Recently, I was involved in completing a large collaborative report. I edited the full document after coordinating multiple partners to make their contributions. When the product was signed, sealed, and delivered to its final destination, my supervising colleague sent an email to all parties involved in the project thanking them for their contributions. He did not thank or recognize me—publicly or privately—for the key roles I played in producing the report.

I noted the oversight, but I don’t think my colleague did until one of his email recipients sent a “reply all” thanking me. Awkward. Even more awkward was when my colleague made an ineffectual attempt to recover himself by hitting “reply all” to the previous message echoing the thanks to me. If we’d been in a conference room together, I would have crawled under the table.

This kind of thing happens all the time doesn’t it? Spouses, family members, friends, and colleagues—we all sometimes fail to thank the people who do the most.

What also almost always happens for me, a life-long African American woman, when I am on the receiving end of such an experience with a white person in a position of authority, is a chain of events. First, a rush of shame. Indignation and anger invariably come later, but the raw immediate emotion is shame. Next, an almost uncontrollable impulse to assuage the feelings of the person who has slighted me. Mindboggling, but I’m telling this like it is: I take responsibility for ensuring that a person who has forgotten me, ignored me, dissed me, etc. doesn’t feel badly for their behavior.

This time, though, I made a conscious decision to respond differently.

I didn’t count the number of times following the awkward emails that my colleague lauded my excellent work on the report. It came up in every follow-up email and phone contact we had. I felt badly about my colleague’s omission, to be sure, but much more strongly, I felt a resolve to not involve myself in making him feel okay about his shoddy treatment of me. Not rush to his rescue and deliver what he needed from me in the wake of his omission: to know that he wasn’t as bad as his behavior indicated he was. And maybe he wasn’t. But I chose to let him determine that for himself. White people often want me to bail them out of their bad behavior, and I usually do it because I’m conditioned to and because it gets me the response I seek—to be the well-liked and approved-of Negro.

Being a well-liked, approved-of Negro is a painful and ironic requirement in my liberal, nonprofit, philanthropic, social justice, do-gooding, down-with-the-people, challenging oppression, and dismantling racism world. Although we like to talk about “the revolution,” reality is that funding for it comes from mostly white pockets and my standing in the field depends largely on approval from those people. Not always, but often. People of color carry all kinds of burdens for liberal white people to make them feel good about who they are and their place in the world. We carry those burdens because there could be consequences if we don’t. My professional well-being is largely tied to rewards available to me if and when I do my part to uphold the world as my liberal white colleagues want to see it.

I find myself wondering what W.E.B. Dubois would call this particular burden. There’s something reminiscent of the term Dubois dubbed “Double Consciousness,” where black people know what white people are thinking almost as well as we know what we are thinking. This was imperative during slavery to save one’s black ass, literally. The parallel today, because power and resources are so often controlled by white people, is about saving my job, or maintaining access to white-controlled opportunities. I have to know the white mind in order to navigate the realities they have framed and the resources they control.

The rescuing burden I am talking about is related to Double Consciousness, but it’s not the same. It’s still about staying a couple of steps ahead in order to stay in the good graces, but it’s also about covering and protecting the white ass when it is bared to me. Not only am I undermined, not only do I forgive the poor behavior, but I then make sure the liberal perpetrator doesn’t feel badly for their bad behavior. I do this because the perpetrator feeling badly for their behavior would indicate that they had, indeed, behaved badly. And that does not correspond with the masquerade that they are liberal and progressive and down with dismantling oppression. That they don’t perpetuate the oppression they say they seek to dismantle as easily as they breathe. Or do they? They shouldn’t be made to contemplate that possibility. That’s my job, to make sure they don’t have to.

What I’m talking about here might be unique to the nonprofit, activist, socially progressive world, where white people see themselves as beyond racism. Their image of themselves is as of allies, helpers, people who are making the world better—the good guys. When that image is called into question, it’s a crisis because there’s a whole career, public persona, discourse, and sense of self at stake. It’s obviously a fantasy, but just as obviously, it is where so many people live in terms of self-awareness. One of my roles as a woman of color, if I want to continue reaping the rewards of access to opportunities, is to do my part to make sure this self-image remains intact.

So what happens when I choose not to play the game? What happens when I decide not to rush in and assure my colleague that it’s okay he failed to acknowledge me; assure him that no one even noticed, and if they did, they knew it was unintentional; make it clear that it wasn’t just me who produced the report, there were a lot of people involved; remind him that we all make mistakes and in the realm of mistakes that could be made, this one was pretty minor? In short, what happens when I don’t rush in and hold him while he reassembles his image of himself? I think we go into free fall. We don’t know how to be; there is nothing to uphold the structure, and my colleague has to be with himself and whatever his omission of me means. And I have to be with the possibility that I’ve moved off the preferred list onto the shit list.

Some months ago, a commentator on NPR, self-identified as a black man, talked about being out with a couple of friends one evening in Baltimore after the civil unrest there. The fact that this guy is on NPR and the way he talks suggests that he’s had a certain kind of education. He’s a freshly scrubbed, well-educated, possibly middle class man. And you assume he keeps company with similar kinds of guys. So, three of these freshly scrubbed guys out one evening in Baltimore. A white police officer comes and tells them to move along. The police officer then makes reference to the fact that he smells something illegal and implies that it is coming from these men. The men are perplexed because this is not what they are about and soon thereafter it becomes clear that the smells are coming from someone else, a white guy. After everything is sorted out, the police officer says something along the lines of, “Hey guys, sorry about that. You know how it is, right?”

The three men let their silence communicate to the officer, “No, we don’t know.” In the NPR piece, the commentator talked about how he chose not to take on his regular “job” of rescuing the well-meaning white police officer out of his racist blunder. The commentator talked about that moment of what I call “free fall”—that moment when no one knows what to do because we are so unfamiliar with the situation and there is no recognizable social scaffolding to hold onto. The commentator saw the moment and chose not to be the good Negro, not to cover the well-meaning racist white person’s ass. He chose dignity for himself and responsibility for the white police officer.

The commentator decided not to perpetuate the cycle of oppression that day. The cycle of white liberal racism that has white people continuing to step on people of colors’ necks and expecting us to make them feel okay about it. The cycle that has people of color explaining that we understand and reassuring white people who commit acts of racism that they’re not so bad, they’re not like those real racist people.

He didn’t. And I didn’t with my colleague because, really, how is that cycle any different from any we’ve been whirling in for the past five centuries?

I let my colleague do his hand wringing and flustering. I let him send his emails and make his protestations. I said nothing. I had nothing to say. I didn’t understand, so why say I did? Rather, I let my colleague reckon with himself. I don’t know if he did, but at least I didn’t have a hand in robbing him of the opportunity. And in robbing me of my dignity.

Danyelle O’Hara works with nonprofits and foundations on issues related to land, natural resources, and rural people. In the rest of her life, she is a mom to two amazing children, a partner to their wonderful father, and a writer when the spirit moves her. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

End of Year Update

Interfaith 2015 altarThis fall was so busy, we barely had time to catch our breath, much less catch anyone up on what we’ve been up to! We hosted five separate writing workshops (several lasting over multiple sessions), the second annual “Herons Walk on Water’s Edge” (an intergenerational eco-spiritual retreat), programs for Elder Women, book readings and discussion groups, and of course the inspiring fourth annual “Homegrown: NC Women’s Preaching Festival.”

This fall we also received generous funding from the Kalliopeia Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, to support our current programs and expand programs for younger women, LGBTQ individuals, and racial justice. We’re very excited about sharing more about these new plans as they continue to develop.

Just before the winter solstice, we celebrated our 21st “Annual Interfaith Celebration for 12360246_10153176442887466_3165758883176770399_nCommunity, Spirit and Change.” Those who gathered felt a sense of connection and gratitude as we sang and shared stories and rituals from various traditions. We spoke of sorrows of the past year and hopes for the coming year. As a country we’d been reeling from tragic events around the globe and nation, but this gathering reminded us not to react with fear toward people of other races and religions. Instead, we joined together to build interfaith bridges.

We are so grateful to have spent such a creative, enlivening, and connecting year with all of you who have attended programs, read the newsletter, dropped by the office, and made donations to support this work. May 2016 bring even more deepening, exploration, and growth!

Maura Wolf May 2015 East Coast Book Tour: What Matters Most

Maura reading croppedAt the end of May, Maura Wolf will be touring the East Coast for intimate and lively readings from her new book What Matters Most: Everyday Leadership at Home, at Work, and in the World.

About the Book
What matters most today? In the midst of striving for success and reaching for fulfillment, how do we deal with the issues that emerge in our day-to-day experiences? In What Matters Most, Maura Wolf uses forty-two vignettes from her own life to find meaning in the ordinary. She presents specific practices and asks intriguing questions, inspiring readers to consider the choices they make every day.

“Maura Wolf is as thoughtful and earnest on the page as she is in conversation. Here’s a book for anyone who has ever longed for purpose and clarity and greater meaning in every day.” — Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place, Lift, and Glitter and Glue

About the Author
Maura Wolf has spent her adult life being curious about how people and groups can change for the better. She brings this curiosity to her teaching, consulting, and coaching work as well as to her home life. Currently, she teaches leadership at Saint Mary’s College of California and coaches people through Inbalance Coaching. She lives with her husband, son, and daughter outside San Francisco.

Click here to order What Matters Most from RCWMS.

Find the reading closest to you:

Princeton, NJ
Wednesday, May 27, 7-8:30pm
Home of Diane & Bobby Hackett
Click HERE to RSVP.
Please join us for an informal, fun evening of conversation and reading with Maura Wolf, author and leadership coach from San Francisco. Short stories will be read and guests will be invited to do their own reflection and storytelling on themes like Getting on the Balcony, Presence and Working with Conflict.
Feel free to bring a friend.

Washington, DC
Thursday, May 28, 6:30-8pm
Home of Ann Zim
Click HERE to RSVP.
Come enjoy a casual evening of conversation, reflection and connection with San Francisco-based author, Maura Wolf.  Maura will share stories on topics like – Getting on the Balcony, Working with Conflict and Transitions – and invite guests to share some stories of their own.  The crowd with be a rich mix of interesting people.

University of Richmond
Saturday, May 30, 2:30pm
Tyler Haynes Commons, Room 305
As part of the alumni weekend activities, alumni and guests are invited to join Maura Wolf, W’90, for a special interactive reading and signing of her book, What Matters Most: Everyday Leadership at Home, at Work, and in the World.
Advance registration is requested: https://uronline.net/rw15/alumni/non-reunion

Durham, NC
Sunday, May 31, 2pm
Okun/Stern loft
Click HERE to RSVP.
Join Julia Scatliff-O’Grady in a lively conversation with author Maura Wolf, who will read from her new book, What Matters Most: Everyday Leadership at Home, at Work and in the World. We will take on issues such as what gets in the way of living out our deepest values, how we use storytelling to get to deeper wisdom, and what we want to remember in the present moment. We anticipate a lively and meaningful dialogue.

 

A Writing Quilt

At RCWMS, we love providing time and space for women to be creative together. One of the ways we’ve done this is by sponsoring weeklong writing retreats at Pelican House at Trinity Center, Emerald Isle, NC. For over a decade, women have been nourished by quiet days of writing and evenings of community sharing. While we are always happy welcoming new writers, some participants return year after year.

We also love new projects that are inspired and cross-fertilized by our time together. An example of this is the recently completed quilt that Marcia Rego got the idea to create after several visits to Pelican House. A woman of many talents, Marcia is originally from Brazil, has a PhD in anthropology, and teaches in the Thompson writing program at Duke. In her spare time, Marcia creates beautiful and meaningful quilts. This is what she wrote about the project before heading to the beach again at the beginning of May:

“I’ve been to the Pelican House retreat four times (and going to my fifth one), and every time I go, I bring a quilt project to work on in the evenings, during “share” time. Last time I was there, it occurred to me that it might be a cool idea to gather pieces of clothing from all the women writers who go to the retreat. I got lots of fabric in the mail, from people I haven’t even met – so that was really cool. It took me a while to get started because I had a busy semester, but I had fun trying to figure out what to do with such different (and often clashing) colors and patterns.”

Well, she certainly figured it out! Despite the wide range of fabrics provided by previous Pelican House writers, Marcia was able to piece them together into a beautiful design. You can observe her process in a delightful time-lapse video that Marcia’s husband, Hermes, created. And consider joining us on a future week of quiet and writing at the beach. You never know what might come of it!

Rebecca Welper has an MFA in playwriting and teaches writing workshops at RCWMS.