Workshops & Teaching
There is great power in the stories that we carry. These workshops are designed to help you discover the power that waits within your hidden stories and your unique writer’s voice. You will experience what it is like to write fluidly, from a place of safety, and trust. The exercises let you dive deep and write beautiful and well-crafted stories from the very first class.
To request information about upcoming workshops or to attend the June 17 introductory class in Los Angeles please contact me by email.
In addition to ongoing classes in Los Angeles I travel to bring workshops in The Power of Our Stories to communities, healthcare settings, and private gatherings throughout the country.
The stories that we write in community hold truths that can heal and inspire us—and connect us to ourselves and each other in ways we all long for and need...
The Power of Our Stories
“At The Power of Our Stories our teens and adults find the courage to express themselves through the written and spoken word. Jackie helps everyone feel a sense of belonging, mastery independence, and generosity.”
- Michael Folsom, MFT, Huntington Beach Union High School District, Southern California Indian Center, Inc.
“Thank you to every single person in this group. You have all touched my soul, and that has been such a rare privilege. This workshop gives so much to each of us. There is a climate in the room that enables us to write and believe in ourselves and each other.”
- A physician/participant
Writing & Healing
“Jackie’s workshops reach deeply into people’s lives to produce healing. Her humanity and balance make her ideal for workshops in a healthcare setting.”
- Ping Ho, Founder and Director, of UCLArts and Healing
“You are an incredible blessing—a light in a world where things can be so challenging. We want to support you as you bring this wonderful approach to the world.”
- Dr. Gail Murdock
Founder, USC Center of Psychosocial Excellence
Keck School of Medicine Department of Neurology
“This class offers us a place of security. Thank you for letting us share the inner part of our being that the world will not hear. This gives me courage.”
“Immediate stress relief through creative expression.”
- Andrea Bardach, USC Center for Work and Family Life
Workshops For Writers
“A secular temple to clarity and good writing.”
- Nicole Galland
Author I, Iago, The Fool’s Tale, Revenge of the Rose
"Like walking through a doorway to your innermost self."
- Kim Sutherland Educational Therapist
Dr. Matt Polacheck, Answers For the Family podcast interview
Dr. Emmett Miller podcast interview
The Music of Language
January 5, 2012
by Jackie Parker
I had been asked to teach a writing workshop for a group of women and their teenage daughters who lived within blocks of each other in Alhambra California, a city of 80,000 eight miles from downtown Los Angeles. Alhambra is the birthplace of the painter Norman Rockwell whose scenes of everyday American life graced the covers of the Saturday Evening Post magazine for forty years. Many of these women were first generation Americans: Mexican, Filipino, Korean, who, by any standards had achieved a great deal. One had begun selling hotdogs at Dodger games. She now owned several properties, another was a nursing supervisor in a large hospital, another a social worker with a Master’s Degree in family counseling. They had worked and studied their way to impressive positions, bought homes, raised families, lived in a manner far exceeding their parents’ dreams for them.
But it seemed that they were having trouble getting along with their teenage daughters, and one of the women, who was enrolled in a workshop of mine, thought that by writing together they would find a way to create meaningful connections and a basis for understanding each other as women. The daughters, who had known each other since they were toddlers, had agreed to give it a try.
As I sat down in the comfortable living room and looked around at the fourteen of them—I was apprehensive and yet excited to see what would happen in the next two hours. The truth was I had no idea what I was going to ask them to write about, and no idea whether this group would end in disaster or triumph. I rarely prepare a topic before meeting a group, feeling out the needs of the people in the room by listening to what they write in the first exercise: a five minute free-writing that elicits results I still don’t understand after fifteen years of doing this work. People open up to aspects of themselves that are moving and deep and true, as if those truths are standing behind a door waiting to be invited into the room. But would teen-age girls risk writing their truths with their mothers right there? Would their mothers risk revealing themselves to their girls?
I had asked everyone to leave their phones and connective devices in another room and one of the girls said she felt really strange. Even stranger when we began simply by sitting in quiet together, breathing in silence for five minutes. A few of the girls laughed nervously. Some of them squirmed. I held the quiet like a cloak, spreading it out over the fidgets and giggles as they settled in. Sometimes just five minutes of silence in a room can shift moods and connect us to the inner life that we hunger for and often fear, but that we must work consciously to give to ourselves these days because so much that is rich waits for us there.
Just before the writing began one of the women asked if she could write in her native language. “Of course,” I said, off handedly. “Write in whatever language feels right for you.” She was the first person to read that day. “I know you won’t understand what I’m saying but I had to write this.” she began.
I had never heard Filipino spoken at such length. And no one but her daughter could follow the story. And yet, as she read, haltingly at first, and then musically, her words rising into a rhythm and meaning we could sense but not quite know, something happened to us all. I looked around the room and there were tears in the eyes of many of the women and girls. Simply hearing the language had moved us. Was it possible that we had gleaned their meaning as well? “Could you read it again?” everyone urged once she had finished. How beautiful was her first language. It was a privilege to listen, we all agreed. A privilege just to hear. Then she translated her story to us. “It’s a letter to my mother,” she said. “I’m apologizing to her. She had wanted me to become a doctor, but I failed. I failed her. All I was able to do was become a nurse. I have never spoken these words to anyone. I don’t even think I have ever really let myself feel them.”
Her daughter got up from her chair and embraced her. The tissues were passed around the room. We heard many deep and wise stories that day, in Spanish and Korean, in English, as well. It was a day of profound connection on many levels, far exceeding my goals for the group. It was a day that changed my teaching. Now wherever I go I remind people that they may write in any language they choose. And roomfuls of people are graced with the music of languages they might never have heard. And if not the language, then the stories that arise from the experiences that are held in the quintessential American experience: our immigrant selves. There are 92 languages spoken in the City of Los Angeles. One day, I want to have heard stories in them all.