Judith Barnett was incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility for almost 30 years, where she became a leader in the LiT-uPP community. She is now free on parole. See more of Judith’s story below.
Hal Zina Bennett, Ph.D. is the author of Write From the Heart, The Lens of Perception, and 12 other books on creativity, personal growth, and education. With a background in psychology and holistic health sciences, he is the co-author of several pioneering books on wellness, including The Well Body Book, with Mike Samuels, MD, and The Holotropic Mind, with Stanislav Grof, MD. He has helped over 150 authors develop successful books, including national bestsellers. Hal wrote the foreword to The Lioness Tale and is a long time supporter of the LiT-uPP prison program.
Deb Marois: Converge is dedicated to creating social change and improved health. As an organizational and community development consultant, Principal Deb Marois supports vital local, statewide, and regional community improvement efforts. These are spearheaded by coalitions, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, philanthropists, educators and neighborhood advocates. She specializes in facilitating collaborative planning projects and offers expertise in asset-based community development and civic engagement; participatory strategic planning; consensus decision making; conflict resolution; and qualitative research.
Christine Stewart Price is a teacher and ongoing student of Gestalt Awareness Practice. This approach to expanding awareness is derived from the work of Fritz Perls, influenced by Buddhist practice and developed in partnership with the late Richard Price, co-founder of Esalen Institute. Chris was a teacher at Esalen for 40 years and is currently co-director of Tribal Ground Circle, a community-centered program near Santa Cruz, CA, which is focused on gestalt practice. She teaches GAP workshops in Japan and Europe and is a regular guest teacher in the LiT-uPP prison program at the Central California Women’s Facility.
Dennis Rivers is a writer, teacher, publisher and peace activist now in the San Francisco Bay area. He edits several large peace, ecology and communication skills web sites, including Liberation Theologies and newconversations.net. He is instrumental in the ongoing development of the Skyline Harvest websites.
Sharon Terry is a health advocate in Washington, D.C. She co-founded PXE International when her children were diagnosed with pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) in 1994. In 2009, she was elected an Ashoka Fellow for her entrepreneurial work in engagement and the development of interventions for genetic conditions.
I was nearly twenty years into my prison term when LiT-uPP arrived at Central California Women’s Facility. My sentence: life without the possibility of parole. My hopes for the future: none. My atttitude: with this sentence, why would I be interested in any transformational or self-help programs? However, for various different reasons, I tried it anyhow. What happened next: it changed my life.
A little background: I was in my early 60’s when Diane Pendola arrived at the prison with her powerful little book. I came from Michigan, was fortunate to have a solid educational background, and had a wonderful family. Being arrested changed all that and I found the legal system to be both unfair and destructive. While I was active in my prison community, mainly as an inmate advocate, I did not participate in any self-help programs.
I stayed and listened to what Diane had to say. I gave it a chance, learned about the Enneagram and Gestalt Awareness Practice, surrendered to the joy of meditation and allowed The Lioness Tale to move me in a profound and forever way. Upon graduation from the first group, I chose to go on to an advanced study and then to training to facilitate my own groups. LiT-uPP became my everything, my focus, my motivation to get through another day, another year. I was honored to have been able to facilitate so many circles and to reach all those wonderful women in such a meaningful way.
And then: a miracle parole — unexpected freedom. Now, from the outside, I know it is time to take this program to other prisons, maybe jails, or recovery facilities. I’m hoping to be part of spreading the joys of forgiveness and lovingkindness to others.