Photo:  Sarah Gervais

“So, how was the writer’s retreat?”

It seemed to be the question of the week and one that I have had trouble answering for a number of reasons.  First, it really wasn’t a “writer’s retreat,” but that’s how I had described it to most of my peeps as I jetted off to Oregon.  In absence of truly understanding myself what was about to transpire, I classified it as something tangible and familiar.  The reality was something completely different.

I had an inkling that I was in store for a unique experience.   “I might come back a little weird,” I warned Dave as he dropped me at the airport.  It’s a good thing he already thinks I’m a little weird because he sent me on my way with a kiss and a smile. He told me to play nicely with the other kids.   There is a side of me that could have felt patronized, but unbeknownst  at the time, that defense was already starting to melt, a sign of things to come.

It would be wrong for me to tell you that I can’t find my words to describe the time I spent with The Tribe in Manzanita.  Nothing but words and pictures have been looping in my mind for the last week.  Already, some of my talented, prolific and beautiful Tribe members have captured our shared experience in their respective blogs and I have read their accounts over and over, like love letters to my soul.  Yet, I remain hesitant to post my own account or offer too much detail about my personal journey beyond, “It was amazing.”  I don’t want to release too much into the universe for fear of diluting the peace that is currently saturating my soul.

I was right.  I did come back a little weird.  But it was a “good” weird.  As in, it felt weird to feel so good.  A sad reflection, perhaps but all too pervasive among us.

So I don’t have a blow by blow account here – I probably will never post one although bits and pieces will inevitably find their way to these pages over the next year.   I can tell you that the time I spent with these amazing women in Oregon was transcendent for me.

Photo:  Sarah Gervais

Our lives afford us so little space – creative, emotional, spiritual – that we have adapted without protest to constant interruptions, detours and distractions from what really matters.  In Manzanita we had the much needed space to meditate on our lives and our journeys.  But the space alone would not have been enough.  That space needed to be lined with unconditional love and support.  And some how, some way, nine women who did not know one another opened their arms from the first moments together and embraced one another as only the finest of human beings could.  It was nothing short of magical.   We took turns filling that gift of space with our questions, our hopes, and our fears with every tear, every smile, every word acknowledged, respected, and validated along the way.  It is remarkable how clear life becomes when your mind unclutters and your spirit feels safe to travel to places previously deemed inaccessible or off limits.

I could navel gaze without feeling self-indulgent, question my choices without feeling insecure, and listen to others without judgement.  The gifts just kept on coming.

For me I came back with a profound sense that the universe has room for all of us.  (Thank you SJG for these words.)  Translated:  That little voice in my head which says there are enough writers out there doing what I do really needs to shut the f— up.  (See, I haven’t gone completely soft.)

During our time together, we each wrote our own mission statements for life which we can all now recite from memory at gunpoint (right?) Mine:

To embrace the gifts that I have been given
To deliver in a way that only I can
To always seek to resonate with my words and deeds

I know these words will help guide my way and The Tribe will forever be lined along my path (as I will be along theirs) cheering me on.  Never before have I made connections so strong and so fast… and, I’m certain, so lasting.

The Tribe

Photo: Rebecca Murphy

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