Everyday Orinda – May 2023


We Must. We Must. We Must Increase Our Daughters’ Self-Esteem

    True confessions from an empty-nester: Ignoring better judgment, I frequently overscheduled my three daughters well into their high school years. Partially for the “street angels, home devils” syndrome and partially to reorchestrate my childhood, incorporating the activities my mom would never spend money for. Most importantly it was to pry them from the almighty screen. Even before smartphones, TikTok and social media, this was an issue.
    To combat endless over-scheduling vs screen time, I suggest a local hidden gem: The Intuitive Writing Project (TIWP), a writing-based empowerment program for girls and gender-expansive youth.
    While TIWP classes could be considered a “scheduled activity,” they also serve as a soothing, therapeutic balm. They are designed to recognize and share students’ unique, hidden gifts of observation and to enable them to create and mentally unleash, without judgment, in a well-trained and supportive environment.
    Anybody cook with the Instant Pot? Visualize the forceful blast of steam as the pressure release valve is flipped. This is your daughter’s central nervous system, as she develops a critical, lifelong coping mechanism for her madcap, stress-laden journey through modern adolescence.
    Like my precious morning coffee, TIWP classes “lift you up and calm you down” at the same time. The variety of guided writing sessions are geared toward small groups of girls ages 8-18. Sessions for female adults are also offered and I’m excited to share that I will soon be participating.
    These classes in no way resemble an English assignment. TIWP is not graded, no analysis of sentence structure or correct usage of an Oxford comma. More like pouring out the most delicious parts of your soul; thick, rich syrup over a stack of buttermilk pancakes. Or vomiting, depending on how the week went. It’s how a young female gradually begins to answer the perplexing question, “Who am I, anyway?”
    Elizabeth Perlman, who birthed and nurtured TIWP in 2013, devised an effective routine for simultaneously strengthening brain muscles while emptying the lint trap of toxic social pressure and anxiety. The Amherst Writing method is employed, where participants are supported rather than critiqued. Surrounded with positivity and cushioned in a safe, encouraging environment, girls are heard. They learn to treasure and trust the sound of their own voice.
    Five emerging Lamorindans make up the TIWP Youth Advisory Board: Miramonte senior Reagan Kaelle and collegians Caroline Hesby, Julia Lima, Maxine Pollock and Sarah Inouye. Orindans Praveen Singh, Janet Moga and Jodi Kaelle serve on the Board of Directors.
    Perlman created the program she wished she had when she was a teen.
    “Finding your voice and practicing how to express it is the creative antidote to a social media culture,” she said.
    There remains much more to share about this treasure for young women and gender expansive youth in our community.
    Visit www.intuitivewritingproject.org to check out the class offerings. Whether adult or adolescent, summer is the perfect time to take a plunge into your own head space.

Mimi Bommarito can be reached at editor@theorindanews.com.

(Courtesy of Intuitive Writing Project)
Lamorinda youth from TIWP’s (The Intuitive Writing Project) Senior Writing Anthology class. At the close of this session, these emerging young writers from the Class of 2022, created an anthology of their own poetry or writing. (L-R) back row, Louisa Perry-Picciotto, Viviana Sanchez, Ava Choudry, Zoe Moga, Erin Hambidge, Aly Kirke, Caroline Hesby and Josslyn Grover, (L-R) middle row, Riley Faust, Elana Tamagno, Emma Wong, Zara Quiter, Katerina Bonderud and Sol Dente. (L-R) lying down, Ben Johnson and Maya Petzoldt.

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