grateful days

VI holiday card

artwork by assistant victoria irwin from 11/19/15 group

We have so much to be thankful for, even though it may not always appear thus. Both inside and out, for instance, this year has brought an abundance of support for writing inside VT.

Our first-ever individual appeal has almost hit its target of $6000 toward our annual operating expenses, the balance of which will be sought in grants. We are so very grateful for your belief in our work and your financial support to continue it into our seventh year.

We have added an advisory board of seven wise and thoughtful women who bring a breadth and depth of experience and passion to guiding us forward.

We have increased our facilitation team by two assistants and a guest facilitator.

Most of all, we have managed to continue to hold weekly writing groups inside Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, VT — despite a hiatus in funding support and several personal issues that have taken some of us out of the picture for periods of time this fall.

Inside, the inmates have continued to produce soul-searching writing and artwork; and are even contemplating a new book of their work. It seems everywhere leaders are emerging and creativity is blossoming.

May the coming year bring its own abundance and unity to you, in your heart, your life, your work and your world community.

one woman’s truth . . .

During last Thursday’s inside writing group, in response to the prompt ‘what is your truth,’ two very different writings emerged. I put these side by side here because together they illustrate the struggle women go through day in and out to find the light even when they are dragged down and through the deepest dark.  Some days go better than others, as for all of us. On the other hand, there is a definite downward slide in attitude and energy for change as serial returns to prison mount along with the charges. The door has revolved one time too many for SS; for MG, there still gleams hope for a real future. Both are these women’s truth as of Thursday October 18, 2012.

Heart cracked. Split. Old. Dead. Self-inflicted wounds. Run deep. Life’s marks left in the sand. Every groove represents life’s struggles. Hazy cloudy forgetful. Can’t remember how I got there. Dismay. My burdens buried deep within the channel. Hidden in the cracks. My channels carry secrets and lies no one should know.

My cracks hold truths that are decaying my head from inside out. My years are young but my heart is old. If you counted all the rings, that’s the lifetimes my heart has seen. Pain in every ridge. It’s amazing it’s still whole. It loves a little less. I thought age and pain would allow me to love. But truth is my heart no longer pumps love, but pumps hate instead. It’s not red and warm. It’s not a cozy place to be. It’s grey, cold and ugly. Filled with lifetimes of truth. Filled with history, filled with past. It is no longer light with life. But heavy with death. – SS

*    *    *

I love to fish. I could sit out on the lake for hours on end with a line in the water in the blistering sun, watching and waiting for what is bound to come next. And to be able to spend this quality time with other people who share the same passion as you is exhilarating. Always looking over to your neighbor seeing what they have managed to take from the deep vast with only a hook and line.

And as the circle of life lives on, the natural beauty of the earth protrudes to the surfacing as the sky sings its lullabyes and puts the sun to rest. The creatures that belong to it nestle in their quiet dens preparing for the following day. Hoping for a better future and a better life. Reflecting on how things could’ve been and predicting how they might turn out. It’s all an endless process. The only thing you can do is make the moment you’re in bring a smile to your face. – MG