reentry, a house of cards, Pt. 2

You just won’t believe how hard it is for a woman leaving jail and reentering society.

It’s as if the iron bars linger like tenacious shadows, waiting to swoop in if mistakes are made or not enough progress is achieved in short order.

Behind Iron Bars by Leander Starr Tideway

Behind Iron Bars
by Leander Starr Tideway

But let me get much more specific, so you understand what I mean.

If you recall last month,  I told you about the 30-something woman recently released from Chittenden Correctional Facility whom Sarah and I have been meeting with weekly.

I’ll call her Zoe.  (She calls us and other supporters her A Team!)

Anyway, as we sip our unique latte combinations, Zoe updates us on her personal news and seeks advice.  Continue reading

preparing to go

By sgs_1019/Flickr

By sgs_1019/Flickr

The incarcerated women’s writing circle said goodbye last night to one of its most accomplished writers.

JL will transfer from Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in Vermont to an out-of state prison.

The nature of her crime necessitates serving the rest of her sentence in a federal facility.

She won’t learn her departure date until minutes before it’s time to go.

As you’ll see from her moving piece below, leaving one prison facility for another requires a purging of sorts, as an inmate departs with “only the clothes on her back.”

We will miss JL’s infectious smile and insightful words.

We will also recall the great shift that occurred in her heart and mind during the year she graced our writing circle.


Sifting through the papers, the cards, the letters received; all the things I held in my cell as important, things that helped me survive the past year.

And now I watch my hands drop armfuls of memories into the recycling bin as I prepare to move on.

Continue reading

blessings on your way

One of our veteran writers is leaving prison.  NL has served her time and new life awaits.           

She has written faithfully with writinginsideVT since the program began 2-1/2 years ago.  We have witnessed great changes, including her expanding self-awareness and compassion for others.  Sarah and I take a wee bit of credit for introducing NL to the power of writing.  But, it has been her regular discipline of going within to write and reclaim her life that has made the difference.  She would agree.

Through laughter and tears this week, the circle of women-writers offered NL blessings on her way…

I wish for you…bravery, with the acceptance of fear; leven when no one is near; love and family togetherness; everything you deserve, including tenderness.

I want you to take every bit of anger you had while you were in this situation and accept it, putting it to good use for the betterment of your self being.  Accept!  Move forward!

I want to send you off with this mirror (a circle drawn) that shows a beautiful, courageous, wise woman..a compassionate listener..a sturdy anchor.  See yourself as you are–whole, holy, perfect.

Always stop and smell the roses…even the fake ones!

We are hopeful that NL will rejoin our writing circle, now ‘outside’ prison walls.  Blessings on your way, dear one.