Jennifer Wolfe describes herself as a “huge fan of using writing as a therapeutic tool.”
On the website womenwritingjacksonville.com, she describes the purpose of Women Writing for (a) Change, a national organization for which she started a Jacksonville affiliate last year:
“To nurture and celebrate the individual voice by facilitating supportive writing circles and by encouraging people to craft more conscious lives through the art of writing and the practices of community.”
Wolfe has been involved in writing most of her life as a journalist, newspaper reporter (she’s got a masters in journalism from Columbia University) and corporate writer and trainer.
But the need to use writing as personal therapy became a focus for Wolfe after the mother of teenaged children went through a painful divorce about four years ago.
“How do you take the compost in your garden and turn it into roses?” asked Wolfe, who loves metaphors. “... The divorce is an opportunity for all of us to grow and change. I want to turn something that was ugly into something beautiful. Writing was my primary way to do that.”
Having used writing to help transform herself — she keeps a journal and writes a blog (inthegardenofthedivine.com/) — she began looking for ways to use writing to help others make transformations.
She found it in Cincinnati, where one of her sisters lives. In 1991, a former school teacher named Mary Pierce Brosmer founded Women Writing for (a) Change in Cincinnati. In late 2012, Wolfe met with leaders of Women Writing for (a) Change and “instantly knew I wanted to a part of it.”
So she enrolled in the Conscious Feminine Leadership Academy and went through about six weeks of training.
She then returned to Jacksonville and started a Jacksonville affiliate of Women Writing for (a) Change. She conducted several workshops last year. This year, she is offering the core class, weekly meetings that last a semester. There are eight women in her current group but she said she can accommodate up to 15 comfortably.
“The idea is that when you write in community, you develop long-term relationships,” Wolfe said. “... We are using writing as tool for personal transformations.”
Her group including novelists, poets and artists. But the focus of the sessions isn’t on offering writing tips.
“What’s really important is not just writing and speaking,” Wolfe said. “It’s on being heard and valued ... The goal is to get the kind of validation you don’t always get in the outside world.”
A year ago, she took up the ukulele so she could play music with a sister who is professional musician and so she wouldn’t have to answer the question: “When did you stop singing, when did you stop dancing?”
She’s planning to attend the next convention of the National Association of Poetry Therapy.
“It’s not just about me finding and claiming my voice,” she said. “It’s about encouraging others so we can sing together.”
charlie.Patton@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4413