Monday, January 12, 2009

Journal for Peace

I adore the band The Nields and this comes from Nerissa:

Journal For Peace

In these interesting (I'm thinking positively) economic times, many of us feel more than ever that we could use some support. I know that's true for me, which is why I surround myself with people who are as eager to tell on themselves as I am, and by that I mean: people willing to say, "Here's what I'm afraid of" and not be judged for saying so. The zeitgeist of the times is all about scarcity; we've just learned that consumer spending is at its lowest ebb in over half a century. And we also know that when we think we don't have enough, we humans begin to behave strangely: we hoard, we worry, we become less generous. And what we need, paradoxically, is to behave as though we have everything we need right here, right now. When we come from a place of equanimity and gratitude, we open ourselves up to the miracles that are all around us. I know you already know this, but this might just be the best time in your life.

In this 10 week program, weaving modern day psychology with concepts from Buddhism, Christianity, Yoga and 12 Step Spirituality, we'll be discussing and working on the following themes:
-Mind/Body connection
-Articulating and achieving our desires
-Articulating and living our life's mission
-Exploring our spirituality
-Boundaries in relationships and also around food and money
-Working on our personal road maps (where we came from)
-Exquisite self-care: treats, feasts, personalized delights (where we're headed)
-Writing (of course) as a means of liberation
-Radical peace-making

Also, in these interesting economic times, we all want a bargain. So here's what we're proposing here at Symbols & Cymbals Life Composition, my grand corporation of one:
• You get some life coaching with a clear target: making peace with fear, be it financial, social, personal, professional. Another way of saying this is "Making Peace With What Is."
• You get it at almost 1/3 the price (10 weeks for $300 instead of 1 month for $300)
• You get the wisdom of a group of fellow travelers and not just yours truly
• You get to do the work--because you'll be showing up for your weekly call in the presence of others, peer pressure will insure that you will actually do that exercise, take that quiet time, commit to that goal.

We will be meeting weekly on the phone (bridge line, conference call) for a fifty minute hour (another bargain—sessions are usually a half-hour). Each week, we'll explore a different issue, share what we learned in the previous week, have an opportunity to be coached, talk about what is working, what is not working. At the beginning, each of us will identify an area in our lives where we want to make peace (or areas) and work mindfully on that specific area for the duration of the program. I will always give homework, which will often consist of writing. If appropriate, we might share writing online before or after meetings.

Right now, I have two spots open, depending on what would be most convenient for participants: Wednesday afternoons from 3-3:50 or Friday afternoons either at 3 or 4. I'd like to start the group the first week of February and meet through the end of April. My thought about the group is that it would be no fewer than four and no more than 8. If I get, say 10 responses, I would do two groups instead of one. We will be very structured with set time for each person to share. There would be no cross talk, though if someone wanted feedback, she could ask for it. We'd set some ground rules about feedback, too.

To sign up, email To secure your spot for the class, go here.

I hope to be working with you soon!

Prevention Action Change

Prevention. Action. Change.
Building Skills to End Violence

In addition to our ongoing work in collaboration with area service providers and lunch-n-learns for businesses, Prevention. Action. Change. is offering public classes for women, mothers and daughters (ages 9 to 12 and 14 and up) and kids all over the Portland area this winter.

Check them out to find the
best fit for you and your family.

Saturday January 24th - Women's Self Defense Intensive
Noon to 5pm at Full Circle Synergy - 500 Forest Avenue
cost: sliding scale $25 to $50
to register: email

Saturday February 7th - Mothers and Girls (ages 9 to 12)
11am to 4pm at the Portland YMCA
cost: $15 family members, $45 non members
to register: call 874-1111 or visit

Mondays March 2nd through April 13 - Children's Safety Class
(ages 8 to 12)
4 to 5pm at the Portland YMCA
to register: call 874-1111 or visit

Thursdays March 5th and 12th - Mothers and Girls ages 14 and up
6 to 8 pm at Maine Medical Center East Tower LRC (22 Bramhall St.)
to register: contact the Maine Learning Resource Centers

Look forward seeing you in class!

If you are interested in our work with adults and youth in supported living, drug and alcohol recovery programs, and with survivors of violence, give us a call at
(207) 232-0484.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

MLK day events 2009

The Portland Press Herald has a list of a few events happening around Portland in honor of MLK Jr. Day, and UNE is offering some interesting looking speakers as well.

Bowdoin offers an annual children's program in honor of Dr. King at the Bowdoin Library at 10:00 am.

There is also a movement to engage people in MLK day as a Day of Service (President Elect Obama has called on people to serve, as well). Some service opportunities in the Portland area are posted here

I'm curious how others will use MLK day?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Middle School offerings from the Telling Room

Announcing three new and exciting workshops from The Telling Room!

Please find three printable pdf files attached to share with whomever might be interested.
To register or for more information, please contact us at 774-6064 or email

On the Street: Writing and Photography
Grades 6 ?12
Thursdays, February 5th, 12th, 26th, March 5th, 12th, 19th
3:30 ? 5:00 p.m.
Taught by The Telling Room Staff, guest authors, and photographers.
What's the word on the street? How do we talk about the streets and neighborhoods that we walk through every day? Using The Telling Room's digital cameras and our notepads we will explore the streets in search of the stories, real and invented, that are on every corner. We'll learn about framing a picture and how images and words together can create a powerful narrative. This workshop is connected to our yearlong project, "On the Streets Where You Live." Participation in these workshops may produce work that we will publish or make available to the public, with permission of the student artists.

Grades 6 - 12
Wednesdays, Feb 4th, 11th, 25th, March 4th
3:00 ? 5:00 p.m.
Join local singer-songwriter Emilia Dahlin and hip-hop artist Sontiago in this four-week song writing workshop and hear your own words turn into actual song lyrics. Ever wondered how words transfer from the brain, to the paper, to the radio airwaves? Haven't you always wondered how your favorite artists came up with such catchy lines? You'll take part in creating an original song and watching it come to life. Learn how melodies, verses, and choruses develop into a final product.
This workshop is connected to our yearlong project, "On the Streets Where You Live." Participation in these workshops may produce work that we will publish or make available to the public, with permission of the student artists.

Documentary Shorts: Filming the Old Port
Tuesdays, 3:00-5 pm. February 3rd, 10th, 24th, and March 3rd, and 10th.
Grades 7 - 12
Come along with local filmmakers Cecily Pingree and Brooke Brewer and turn video cameras on the wharves and streets off Commercial Street. Interview the shopkeepers and personalities of the Old Port as you choose how to frame scenes of this important Portland downtown neighborhood.
This workshop is connected to our yearlong project, "On the Streets Where You Live." Participation in these workshops may produce work that we will publish or make available to the public, with permission of the student artists.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Women's Activism Internationally

“Women’s Rights and Women’s Activism: An

International Perspective”

A Panel Presentation featuring:

Debra Schultz

Historian and Human Rights Consultant

Jael Silliman

Women’s Rights Program Officer

The Ford Foundation

Shalom Odokara

Executive Director

Women in Need Industries

Wednesday, January 21

7:30 pm

Muskie Archives

Sponsored by the Harward Center for Community Partnerships - Bates College

This is the second presentation in the Civic Forum series,

“Maine in a Transnational World.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A bit more on preteens and sexuality

Sharon Lamb has a great essay about the dilemma of theorizing and socializing sexuality... here is the cite: The 'Right' Sexuality for Girls. By: Lamb, Sharon, Chronicle of Higher Education, 00095982, 6/27/2008, Vol. 54, Issue 42

and the last bit :

The problem is that frequently when a girl looks inside, she finds a packaged version of teenage sexuality. For example, she can end up concluding that she wants to be swept away by love. Replacing the image of the powerful, sexually active female (the "bad" girl) with the image of the old-fashioned female longing for romance (the "good" girl) does not show more authenticity. Rather, it shows that our culture presents just a few ways for women to be sexual. The opposition between the two images reinforces age-old sexism and even suggests that shame about sexuality is connected with wild-girl bravado. Thus seeking romance has problems, but so does empowerment as a wild girl: Teenage girls behave in all sorts of self-destructive ways in the name of love as well as desire.

An additional difficulty with empowerment is that it is self-centered for girls to look within to discover themselves and their true desires. Once a partner is no longer needed to look, approve, admire, or sexualize, a girl's sexuality is disconnected from her interpersonal relationships. Instead of urging girls to look within, researchers might do better to recommend the goal of mutuality with a partner: mutual respect, pleasure, excitement, and interest. Choosing to give as well as to receive, to please someone else as well as being pleased, is not only a realistic aim; it would also reinforce the idea that a good sexual relationship should meet the same standards as other good relationships.

When we tell teens about the kind of sexuality we hope will be theirs, we ought to be careful to guide them toward something that is achievable. For instance, turning away from the subject/object dichotomy and the notion of authentic desire might lead teens and adults to develop ways of being sexual that are more individualized and satisfying than simply accepting what the culture and the media think is sexy, or an idealized alternative. And an emphasis on mutuality could redefine shame, attaching it to the mistreatment of others rather than to the violation of social expectations.

Teenagers will always have their own definitions -- both idealized and realistic -- of good sex. But if researchers can show them achievable goals that include fairness and mutuality, we may be able to help young people form relationships that help them and their partners flourish.

Twilight, Parental Intervention, and Other Musings

Twilight was under may radar until a friend shared the recent Caitlin Flanagan article with me on girls and a reading life (in the Atlantic Monthly). Flanagan waxed enthusiastic about Twilight but provided enough clues about the books to raise some red flags for me. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Grace declared that they were probably too old for her and she'd spoil them if she read them now. In the next sentence, though, she shared that a friend and trusted advisor thinks they are almost as good as Harry Potter. Clearly, this kind of book looms in my near future.

provides a great commentary on Twilight and the back-and-forth in the comments helps me clarify my concerns. On one level, Twilight simply represents preteens entry into erotic literature, and my knee-jerk desire to keep my baby a child for a bit longer is natural, and fine, but unsustainable over the long run. The second level is the kind of eroticism presented - and raises all sorts of questions about how to be a sex-positive but cautionary kind of mom in the 21st century. The idea that girls will first learn about sexuality through books is old -- I've been reminiscing about my own 8th grade read of Forever quite a bit since this topic has come up -- but that sexuality is still presented in such a male-dominated, fear-mongering way makes me sad -- and seems to be an extension of the corporate domination of gender in childhood (so well explicated in Packaging Girlhood).

And yet -- cool young girls that I respect like the books a lot, so is it a generation gap speaking to criticize them in this way?

Are there other good books that we could be putting on our shelves as a way to at least offer more than one way of thinking about romance, sex and sexuality for our kids?

The Washington Post review "Love Bites" offers a synopsis and similar criticism about the gendered representations and relations of the characters