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A Practice in Letting Go

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In our final class together yesterday, I shared this poem with my students at Lockhart prison. Having graduated from the Level 1 Talk to Me class last week, the women this week are moving on to Level 2 Discovery, which is taught by other facilitators at Truth Be Told. This transition requires taking a risk, to accept the invitation of joining a larger community of women in Truth Be Told classes who are also embarking on a journey of self-discovery. They are upping the stakes, learning who they are when the bull is stripped away, when they stop pointing fingers, when they own their stories — the horrifying, the regrettable, the beautiful, all of it.

3564681675_08fd97a73e_zThey are discovering that they have a voice.

They are seeing themselves and others with new eyes. They are continuing to practice the tools of community building, communication, caring for self and creativity.

Like many semesters before, I hold hope in my heart for each woman; their faces — young and old, of every race — will not soon be forgotten. They are the faces of mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, your neighbors.

I must remind myself, time and time again: This is where I let go.

Their future is theirs to live, theirs to save.

The Journey
By Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

About katieford

I am the executive director of Truth Be Told ( and the program director of the Healing Trauma launch at Lockhart Women's Correctional Facility (

4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Saving Yourself | Just Write Away

  2. Ahhhh, Katie: You’ve done it again! You’ve given us something to hang onto…something so personal and relevant, so easy to do and so hard to do at the same time, so obvious in the light, so hidden in our darkness, so positive and necessary while frightening to even consider; we are looking at CHANGE, and the promise of fulfillment. God, help us hear the new voice! TBT Love to you, Katie…..Tina Dayton (aka GiGi)

    • Gigi, you are so right that Katie has brought light to the darkness. Truth Be Told is so blessed to have graduates, like you, and facilitators to enlighten us. It’s a community of amazing women, making a difference in the world. Gigi, it was delightful to see your comment.

    • What a sweet surprise to hear from you, Gigi. And your words are so eloquently stated. Thank you for taking the time to let me know how my writing affected you. Big hugs and lots of respect, K


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