courage

Fierce Females Band Together to Alleviate Winter Blues

By Shawna Kitzman

Does winter last half the year? Sometimes, that’s how it feels.

The dark days that start in early November trigger some internal clock that make me want to get under the covers at 8:30pm. Which is about 15 minutes after we tuck our kids in. Maybe that feeling of exhaustion is due to the rhythms of the season and sun. Maybe it’s a byproduct of my full life. Or both?

I write this as my 2-year old battles my laptop with a foam roller, and my middle daughter narrates an episode of Blue Earth that we’ve seen one too many times, and my oldest daughter chills quietly by my side.

The days may be short, but Jam Program makes the most of them to alleviate winter blues!

In January, we hosted a Jam & Drinks in Hartford to help pull other women out of winter doldrums. Jam & Drinks is a new event, meeting up at local businesses. We were delighted to mingle with old friends and new ladies at Hog River Brewery.

These ladies braved the biting cold to meet one another and share ideas, struggles, and hustles. Also, we served home-made cookies!

Fun fact: Hog River is owned by a couple Joy and Ben Braddock, and we aim to support-female owned local businesses whenever possible.

Speaking of female-owned businesses, our February Jamboree co-hosted with Nomi Ellenson of Boudoir by Nomi was a blast. What was the secret Jam sauce? It might’ve been the creative vibe of her Brooklyn photography studio, her make-up artist Jane, who provided complementary touch-ups, or Nomi’s laid back, pro-woman attitude that set the tone.

We warmed up from the bitter cold with rich conversations and sharing of ideas, while topping off glasses of Cabernet…and whiskey. Cozy!

Next up – and hopefully the farewell to winter event – is our March 10 Moms Demand Action – and Brunch! Jamboree. We’re co-hosting with the fierce lawyer/mom/activist/general delight Kate Martin, founder the Hartford Chapter of Moms Demand Action, and a few great ladies dedicated to making Connecticut safer from gun violence through common sense gun laws. We’ll take a few minutes out from networking to learn about this non-partisan group over coffee, mimosas, and bagels.

Register here if you haven’t yet – tickets are selling so don’t wait too long!

Kate Martin (left), with two of her children, her mom (center), fellow activists and Senator Chris Murphy demonstrate that it takes a village to get things done.

Kate Martin (left), with two of her children, her mom (center), fellow activists and Senator Chris Murphy demonstrate that it takes a village to get things done.

Lastly, check out this interview that Nan Price did with Shawna of Jam Program, for local blog Innovation Destination Hartford. Thanks for featuring us, Nan!

Taking Chances Pays Off for Musician Jen Allen

Guest Post by Jen Allen

As a woman in jazz I often struggled to find my voice and place. Feeling the tension of being a stay at home mom and wanting a career was so uncomfortable. Many years went by and I existed in this tension but I never let myself really go after what I wanted for one reason or another. 

I didn’t even think what I wanted was still possible for me. I’m too old, I'm too far behind, I'm not good enough, and I missed my chance were just a few of the negative phrases I told myself often. 

In the last few years I began to realize that I was trapped in a bad cycle by this way of thinking. I started to slowly take chances. I tried new things here and there but still held on to the cautious way of living. Good things would happen but I still felt stuck. 

Then after my mom passed away last July, I decided that life was too short to care what others thought about me. I let go of the negative self-talk and I began believing that my desires in life were really important. I decided to step out and make the things that I wanted to happen - happen! 

I let go of the negative self-talk and I began believing that my desires in life were really important.

This year I started a house concert series to encourage community and the arts. I also applied for and was accepted to a prestigious composer’s collective, the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. I have also taken my first gig as a leader at a club in NYC - just to name a few! 

Jazz musician Jen Allen, delightful and badass as ever.

Jazz musician Jen Allen, delightful and badass as ever.

All three of these steps were scary but have produced amazing results. The house concerts have been a success, the BMI workshop has had me making new connections and I was chosen one of 9 (from the 40 who were accepted into the program) to have my composition premiered next week, and my single gig in NYC has led to a whole week for my band at Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center in September!

Being a good mom, friend, wife, AND musician is possible with a little vision, will to persevere, good friends to encourage, and a whole lot of faith!