Kara's Column > CyberCircles
This was a new term to me when I first read it. Several email messages had gone out to various bereaved parents on a discussion group, asking us all to send good vibes and pray for one particular family. As we all posted our good vibes and prayers on the group board, one mom wrote back to say she really felt this modern day form of communication was working, that she could feel the energy of our cybercircle offering up support and strength to the family in need.
Cybercircle. What an interesting evolution in communication!
Then I caught up with a friend who is a healer in her day-life, but a FABULOUS poet in her night-life. She mentioned being so caught up with her daytime work that the writing hadn't been coming very easily nor very often recently. I suggested we start emailing each other with some writings and poems we were each doing. We could give feedback and talk about ideas. And maybe just knowing someone on the other end of the cyberline was expecting a poem -- maybe that would be good motivation.
And so I began thinking about how we can use cybercircles to support us in so many various ways.
Now while it is true that you can run across all kinds of weirdos on the Net, you can also find some amazing people with hearts of gold! That said, I've always taken the cautious route with online groups -- created them myself so I had some input on who's there and who stays and all -- creating space that is as safe as possible.
You can create your own groups thru Yahoo or MSN. You can also easily get into the PHP stuff and find those free plug ins for creating Forum board and whatnot on your website. You are able to set the rules of the group, call for members, do moderation, just keep the energy flowing in a direction that feels supportive and solid for you.
Then again, maybe you don't feel like re-creating the wheel -- there are many awesome groups already out there, just waiting for you to sign up and be an active member. You can find groups for bereaved parents, bereaved grandparents, creating art after loss, altered bookmaking, poetry and more. You can usually join a group, do a quick introduction, and then sit back awhile and read the posts. Go thru the archives and read posts there if you want. That kind of observation will tell you a lot about the group, how it communicates, what functions it is serving, how the moderation works, etc. Once you feel you understand the group dynamics a bit, jump in there and start posting and talking and responding.
These groups are powerful in some ways simply because they are available 24/7!! Friends are awesome. But how many of them can you call at 3 a.m. when you can't sleep, just to share one of your FABULOUS new poems with them?? Right. But with an online group, you can generally find someone or other there 24/7. People are in different time zones. Someone on the East Coast is starting their day, checking emails while the person with insomnia on the West Coast is posting a note, asking for support.
And as with everything, don't just settle for the first group you join. Join, read, post, give it the old college try, but if for some reason it just doesn't *feel* right, then unsubscribe and try another. You may find that you are getting good support by combining your memberships -- posting some poetry for hard critique on one board, posting other poems for sharing of emotion on another board. Or with bereaved parents -- you may belong to one group for loss support, and another group for subsequent pregnancy after loss support. While those things are related, the support you need for grieving is different than the support you might want/need during the subsequent pregnancy. That is okay!
So my exercise for you this month is more about what to do after you've written the poetry or created the art -- or for when grief is too much and is stopping you from creating anything. Check out online groups and forums. See what they are about and figure out which ones feel okay to you. Try posting and talking with people. See if you can find a cybercircle of people who will add to your creative process, who will facilitate your grief journey by helping or just listening or just being there. And then see if the power of cybercircles fits into your own expressive arts process.
You might try a few of these to start:
Try them out, see what happens -- and as always, I'd love to hear from you about how it goes for you!!
Kara L.C. Jones is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where she honed her poetic craft under the mentorship of Jim Daniels. Her poetic and non-fiction works have been included in publications such as New Works Review, PoetsWest, Real Henna, Shared Heart Foundation's "Meant To Be", LightHearts Publication's "Soul Trek", MISSing Angels Newsletter, American Tanka, Mother Tongue Ink's We'Moon, Honored Babies, Cup of Comfort series, and more. Because she refused to give her grief writing over to the control of outside editors and publishers after the death of her son, she and her husband Hawk founded KotaPress in 1999 as a creative outlet for their expressive artworks. She has been facilitating online and in-person workshops for over 10 year, including sessions offered at the International MISS Conferences, WA State Poets Association Burning Word festivals, and Course Bridge.