at the crossroads


‘Hecate’ by Claudia Olivos,

For the past six weeks, I participated in an on-line course with Mary Pierce Brosmer about making meaning of our post-election world. Accordingly, I suspended my plan for a multi-part ‘divided we fall’ series here. Instead, I have spent the intervening weeks reading a wide range of texts including but not limited to John McCain’s February 17th remarks at the Munich Security Conference; selections from Leonard Cruz and Steven Buser’s A Clear and Present Danger, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark, and Ken Wilber’s Trump and a Post-Truth World, among others.

We spent six weeks reading, sharing remarkably relevant poems written long since, writing and sharing our words, discussing, questioning, opening our hearts to difference and our minds to ‘what next.’ During this same six weeks, I traveled twice to southwestern PA to be with my sister in her final days; welcomed my third grandchild into a family filled with February birthdays; and sat with several of ‘my’ prison writers through unimaginable trauma and personal tragedy.

Clearly, this has been a time rich with change on so many levels, transformations both anticipated and not. Above all, it has been a time to open up, expand information sources, broaden opinions and challenge my role in the larger world. While a continuing work in progress, I did not want to remain silent any longer on this page. As a result, I share here my final writing for that life-questioning course of words and ideas – and intentions for going forward. Next time I will return to ‘divided we fall – 2.’

Thank you for reading. And as always, I welcome – no, encourage! – your thoughtful responses to what you read here.

That November crossroads stemmed from the tangle of tarnished truths
but I was slow to go there, lost as I was in the thicket of win-lose
when the multi-faceted is what I believe. Now we are offered
loyalty or disdain, history or ignorance, hope or despair.

How can this be our only choice? We have arrived at a crossroads
of morality. And though multiply manifest, it is the voice
of truth that must prevail, the voice of compassion
for us all – earth, sea, sky, collective spirit and soul.

I knew the night birth and death converged that we are in
for deep transformation, needing not to ‘get over’ or past
but to spell truth – yours, mine, ours. A time to speak out
past the divide and into the void, to speak without ceasing.

Thus am I pulled to provide all that I can – insight
and light to help guide the lost from personal hells,
reunite torn-apart mothers with daughters, guarding
ground and reason until mutual respect shall

in deed reign, parting the darkness of derision and disgust.
We must persevere until light seeps through every crack,
shattering false divisions to reveal the common bedrock
of our shared humanity.
swb (c) 2017

Mary Pierce Brosmer: Feeding the Roots


… we live on the edge of people’s understanding and on the edge of millennia of misunderstanding what lies at the root of all the damage we have done to one another and to the planet: the denigration of the feminine. Mary Pierce Brosmer: Feeding the Roots.

credit - unicorniodedeusa

credit – unicorniodedeusa

common sense for integrating shadow

Credit: creepypasta

Credit: creepypasta

from Mary Pierce Brosmer, founder of Women Writing for (a) Change(TM). This is part of a draft of the second chapter of her book with the working title Uncommon Sense: Leadership Lessons from the Heartland. The chapters are organized and being written seasonally, with liturgical and poetic overlay. The street paper, Article 25, published the whole chapter to date in its current issue.

Primer:  Common Sense Practices for Integrating Shadow
1.  Deal with your own shadow on a regular basis before attempting this work with those for whom you have responsibility.  I don’t care how busy you are. Stop. Write your personal versions of the prompts you’ll ask your staff to respond to. This writing is to keep you honest and grounded. You don’t share the private writing  with them, but when you  are in group sessions, you must write, and you must share, or it is an abuse of your positional power
2.  Enter this kind of work with the understanding that it’s relational, dynamic, and must never descend to pro forma, rote, or uninspired.  Allow it to be both steady and allow it to evolve or it will become just one more dog and pony show.
3.  Gather your staff or community on a regular basis, NOT just when there is a crisis, or when you have the energy for listening to them, or have just come back from a seminar filled with new ideas you want to suddenly implement. The practices I’m describing leverage the collective intelligence of a group. Continue reading

happy birthday, women writing for (a) change!

It has been my intention to post something each Friday relating to the conscious feminine. My introduction to that concept – as a practice in paradoxical living, as a path to claiming my own feminine nature, as a parental model for child-bearing – started two decades back with Women Writing for (a) Change. It seems fitting to devote today’s post to this incredible entity on her 21st birthday.

In a letter just-penned to my writing sisters, I wrote: “Tomorrow you all will gather to celebrate the maturity of Women Writing for (a) Change, without which I can no more imagine my life than without my children.

We each have our own story of how we came to be part of this sisterhood; what it has meant to our individual journey; how it has impacted the lives with which we intersect and interact; where we are with it now in our own life. I imagine you all sharing some of these stories as you gather in Cincinnati tomorrow to celebrate the coming –of – age of the unfolded and manifested vision-turned-movement that started with Mary Pierce Brosmer; and has evolved into recognizable offspring across the country. Continue reading

integrating the feminine


My mentor, Mary Pierce Brosmer – author, fearless feminist, wise leader, founder of Women Writing for (a) Change, and long-time friend – is embarking on her own conscious feminine experiment. I offer here a link describing in part a new course she will be teaching in Cincinnati: ‘ a Co-ED apprenticeship in the integration of the feminine into organizational life.’  Perhaps these ‘what-if’s’ will spark discussion here as well, online or in our own writing circles.

What if I said “leader” and it evoked an image of someone who always kept sight of: What’s in the middle? What are we gathered here to give life to? 
What if she told her own stories and made space for yours? and asked, “What can we make of this?” rather than “Whose fault is it?” 
What if she didn’t privilege some stories over others for the sake of political correctness or the need to appear cool or in the know? 
What if she had the courage to ask, “What’s going on in the room right now? What isn’t being said? What am I feeling? What are others feeling?” 
What if she spent time and energy creating spaces for people to generate meaning, to learn to take risks, to tell the truth, to make commitments? 
What if she were courageous enough to integrate life-giving and soulful tools into his practice – circles, silence, flowers, poetry, stories, knowing that it might expose him to ridicule, knowing that it would expose her to ridicule (if the leader is a woman)? 

What if she had enough integrity and imagination to connect measurement with meaning, innovation with tradition, growth with periods of rest (knowing, all the while, that the culture reveres and rewards disconnection, “pure genius” “scholarship”)?