A Marriage of Spiritual Memoir & Community Workshops: Suzanne Adams

>When Suzanne Adams started IMA’s Transformative Language Arts concentration, she was already changing her life as a freelance writer and suburban stay-at-home Houston mother in a household of males. While she didn’t know what she was shifting toward, she had a sense that this change involved creative writing, community work, and spiritual growth.

She soon herself immersed in writing as a spiritual practice, studying spiritual autobiography, and TLA as a tool for social change and personal growth for girls. One faculty member with an evangelical Christian background suggested Suzanne explore healing stories within the framework of Christianity; another faculty member, who specialized in feminism, prompted Suzanne to write about feminist theology and mythology. Another faculty member’s expertise in workshop facilitation was invaluable in furthering Suzanne’s goal of offering expressive writing workshops in the community. By the end of her studies, she wrote Reclaiming the Lost, a powerful body of essays on spiritual questioning and questing, writing as a calling, and how her changes catalyzed profound changes in her marriage. Accompanying the memoir was a study of mythology, theology, history, literature, sociology and psychology as it related to her topic; and a practicum focused on expressive writing for teenage girls. The writing especially allowed her to write herself into voice, identity, and stronger connections with her family, female divinity, and the wild.

Since graduation, Suzanne was admitted into the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, where she found strong encouragement to revise the essay collection toward a memoir about how one spouse’s spiritual development can actually strengthen, and not necessarily, tear apart a marriage. She found even more support from her husband who, after reading her essays, even ones that weren’t very flattering of him and their relationship, said to her, “This is your story, and I think you’ve written it in such a way that would help others, and I encourage you to continue this work.” Suzanne says that his response, “helped us to work for more transformation along the way.” She soon starts working with Farnoosh Moshiri through Moshiri’s Studio 16, a highly competitive writing workshop. She’s also presenting “The Sacred Knowledge of Myth,” a workshop at the Power of Words conference at Goddard College Sept. 3-7, organized by the TLA Network.

She also started leading workshops in her community. “It’s All About You,” a workshop fostering empowerment, self-discovery and self-esteem for middle school girls, that she first piloted as her TLA practicum at Goddard, is now on its feet at a Houston area middle school as a project of ARTreach, a local grassroots arts organization. Adams is in the middle of facilitating two 90-minute sessions twice a week for five weeks, helping girls negotiate media influences, discover their voices and visions and dismantle damaging messages through writing and art exercises and discussions.

Suzanne found her time at Goddard turbo-charged her quest to write and seek spiritual connection. “When I finally got there, that (being at Goddard) was the biggest catalyst of all. I was taking little baby steps up until that point, and the transformation that came propelled me full-speed ahead,” Suzanne explains.

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This entry was posted in Community Building, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies, Spiritual Memoir, Spirituality & Religion, Transformative Language Arts, Workshops and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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