I believe that inside each of us there is a living well; the fount of our spirit. It is the place where your unique power is stored. It is where you will find your sense of self, your creative energy, your trust, instincts, your smiles, your tears, your truth, your hope, your dreams, your power, your "Yes!".
But sometimes we have trouble getting there.
"We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves"
- Audre Lorde
As a writer, survivor, and person eager to live within the verve of life, I know that where there is a capacity to feel there is opportunity for hope and change. My first step toward myself (and my "Yes"within!) began with poetry. During my youth, my summers were spent in a small Florida town with my maternal great grandmother and great aunts. The weeping trees, the smell of the orange groves and the interactions of the people in the community fascinated me. Evenings were spent lounging on the porch swing, writing in my diary. That experience was one of the many things that lead me to my work in Transformative Language Arts.
I believe that the arts create a pathway to the yes within. Poetry is the medium I most often turn to. The arts can re- cord experience or beauty. The arts are available to everyone as creator or participant, giving us an opportunity to learn, feel, connect, rebel and grow. The focus of writing for well being is self expression and growth. Poetry, including the poetry of our life stories, can help us to reflect, reclaim, refuel and restart. All of these things are possible on a personal and systemic level. All of these ingredients working in unison make the arts a healing practice, political, a transformative art and a great tool towards action.
I look forward to sharing the transformative power of creativity with you!
Vanita Leatherwood, M.A., TLA
The Yes Within Director
Vanita Leatherwood, M.A. has over 35 years of experience in facilitating wellness and community education programming. Venues include the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, Project Excel, PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, the Linkages to Learning Program, the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, The Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC., Stepping Stones shelter, the Metropolitan Center for Assault Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Howard County, numerous faith communities, group homes, schools and universities through out the east coast.
Vanita served on the DC Safe and Drug Free Schools Advisory Council and The District of Columbia Public School system honored her for her educational initiatives. In 1993, she was honored by Mount Saint Mary’s College for her commitment to the education and motivation of students as founder of the Pathways: Attitudes and Aptitudes Program.
A poet and storyteller, Vanita’s work can be found in magazines and anthologies such as Pegasus, The Sheet, Motherwit, A Starlight Night and Trivia: Voices of Feminism and her book of poetry, Scratching the Itch and Other Natural Tendencies.
Vanita uses the modalities known as Transformative Language Arts (TLA) and Poetry Therapy. Both TLA and Poetry Therapy tap into the power of language, symbol and story to foster personal and social change. Vanita is a member of the Transformative Language Arts Network, and the National Association of Poetry Therapists.
Vanita enjoys working with individuals, couples and groups specializing in issues related to personal discovery and growth, healing from trauma, self-care, stress management, sexual orientation, creativity cultivation, life transitions and family dynamics.
She is the Director of Community Engagement at HopeWorks of Howard County where her work includes facilitating poetry therapy and TLA private sessions and workshops for survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence.
Vanita works in private practice and offers workshops at the Restorative Counseling and Wellness Center (RCWC) in Ellicott City, MD. To schedule an appointment call RCWC at (410) 884 - 9200 or email . For a schedule of in-person workshops visit: the Restorative Counseling and Wellness Center website.