Posts Tagged "retreat"

First retreat of 2017

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in Components of other posts | 0 comments

It’s funny that I started doing these last fall–near the end of the year, as the season started waning. It became a pivotal point of change for me. Spring often feels like that, but in more of a re-awakening sense. That was certainly the case this year. As my life has grown increasingly hectic over the last several years, this disconnect from society has become necessary for me. An escape into the forest of any kind is refreshing when I’m feeling overwhelmed, but a complete 24-hour unplug and hideaway seems to wipe the slate clean altogether. This spring in particular was an important time to unplug because I was about to embark on a crowdfunding journey for Mushroom and Anchovy, and I knew I’d need to take this time to gather the energy to see it through. I’m not going to say much about this one, as it’s already taken me nearly two months to get to this point. I went on my retreat during May 25th, 2017, and am now at the point that I’m looking toward the late September retreat already! But regardless, I worked on lots of different things, I wrote some new things and planned others. I gathered images that will be used for a project I began to flesh out at the last Retreat. I stayed in Chignecto North this time–again in an Otentik–in my attempt to squirrel myself away for a brief time. While I preferred Point Wolfe overall, I made some interesting travels and discoveries that wouldn’t have been possible had I not stayed in Chignecto. More on that later! I started my daylong journey as all May experiences should: by admiring the new growth and vegetation the world had managed to bring forth during the short window of time that is spring. My favourite discovery was the triad of burgundy trilliums I found on my way through the campground. I crossed the road and went to Chignecto South, having spent a lot of time travelling through that campground during my youth. I remember a summer with my now-husband, walking through those woods with him while we talked. I camped there with Girl Guides, and, two summers ago, went to a star-gazing event with my father in the picnic area there. I have a picture of myself with the staff of the Corn Crib in that same picnic area when I was pregnant with Amelia. Dad and I spent winters cross-country skiing in the backwoods when I was a child. Being in such close proximity to this campground seemed to call to me, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I found a lot more than I planned. I followed through a few side-paths and entered onto what looked to be a long-forgotten campground. I called it the Campground Graveyard. Too cool. Broken-down and destroyed water taps, picnic tables, and overgrown paths. And then… this little guy. He was so calm and docile that I thought he was dead. A gentle nudge proved otherwise. I got right up in his face and he didn’t even mind–it seemed he was about to shed his skin. After over 2 hours of journeying in this area, it was time to go back and have some supper. I built a fire and relaxed for a bit… after writing a few pages worth of notes, of course.   The next morning was pretty rainy, as late May tends to be, but I still had gotten a great experience out of it all. It gave me the opportunity to stay in and work on a couple of projects I’d been neglecting… some art projects, most namely. I’ve heard from a good friend of mine who’s doing her own Unicorn Cave-style retreat, and I sincerely am looking forward to the early fall, when I’ll embark on my next one. My husband believes these are so beneficial to me that I should be going on one a month–I’m hoping to get to that point, one day! Maybe quarterly will be a good bridge goal. Have you done any retreats like this, yourself? Are...

Read More

(Re)treat Yourself

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 in Life in Writing | 1 comment

I mentioned a few posts ago about how much I miss spending time in the forest and what an important recharge it is for me. That period of time–early September–became a turning point for me. The downward spiral I have been suffering from a period of heavy depression for a good part of this year. Essentially, it began and April and only started to taper off in August, and I didn’t even really realize it until I started feeling better and more like myself again. Most days, I could just do the bare essentials of taking care of my daughter–taking care of myself was hardly a part of the equation. I haven’t even done any meal prep since May. I haven’t posted much in this blog all year. I can’t say what brought me out of it, but I remember walking to the library in early August to talk to some kids about writing and being a writer, and it hit me that I actually felt like myself. I hadn’t felt that way for awhile. It hurt a bit. But I felt something else, too–the drive to continue on this route. I don’t even remember feeling awful, but I don’t really remember June or July at all, so that might be telling enough. In late August into September, for about two weeks, my back went out. I was finally starting to feel better mentally and my body decided to betray me! So I had a meltdown. I remember sitting on the living room floor sobbing about what a terrible mother I was because I couldn’t move (?!). I spent some valuable recharge time in Alma that week, hobbling through the forest as best I could. And then, two weeks later when I was feeling better, I started thinking about what I could do to spend more time in the woods. I had spoken to my therapist about it as well and she talked about finding strategies to take that feeling of being in the woods with me. Being in the woods is beneficial for many people, which explains why I feel so good when I’m there. The next steps I spent a whole week out and about with my daughter. We’d wake up at the crack of dawn, as we always did, but we’d eat our breakfast and then go out almost immediately. There’s a lovely little playground that’s very toddler-friendly about a fifteen minute walk away, and we often go there. We went every day that week. I packed a plethora of snacks to ensure our stay was well over an hour long. One of my co-workers had been talking about going to a horseback riding retreat, and it got me thinking about how nice a writer’s retreat could be. This led to a little mental back-and-forth of me telling myself there likely weren’t any in the area, and certainly not ones that would fit my schedule. Maybe not even retreats that would be the kind of wilderness escape I was longing for. So what was I looking for, then? Well, I told myself, you don’t have to be around other people to do it. And that was what set the wheels into motion. I started thinking about what I could do, and when. And I settled on September 29th, in an oTENTik in Fundy National Park. Why oTENTiks? I’m not prissy or anything, but let’s be real: camping in late September in a tent on the cold hard ground–where there are critters, and you need to duck down low and huddle up in your tent, sleep on rocks, and hide your food from potential predators–was not my idea of a relaxing and inspiring time, especially when I was doing this to escape obligation, not create a different one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it wouldn’t have suited my purposes. oTENTiks are basically the baby of a cabin in the woods and a regular tent. Perfect. I had been wanting to stay in one for awhile anyway, so this was the ideal opportunity. I decided on Point...

Read More

Writer’s Retreat Photographs

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 in Components of other posts | 0 comments

Dad and Amelia dropped me off at the campsite and the three of us explored for a bit. Then, Dad packed her up, and the two of them left me to my own devices. Time to explore.     My campsite and the surrounding area yielded some interesting finds. It seemed the Goutte d’Ô would have been a better option for one person staying alone, but the oTENTik was certainly suitable for my purposes. I also found a friendly hare foraging nearby. After some exploration, I went back to my campsite, got my bearings, and decided to hit the ground hiking. I made tracks to the Coppermine trail, which was a five-minute walk away.      The Coppermine trail is one of my favourites in the whole park. I walked through the woods and along the coast and saw a number of beautiful and inspiring sights.    I took a break along the coast for a snack and to take in the scenery. I very narrowly missed meeting a new friend…    …And connected with a few others along the way. That quartz stone was just glittering in the sunlight as I rounded the corner. Its beauty struck me. It was covered in veins of dark green moss and had what looked like copper running throughout. I couldn’t capture its brilliance on camera, but I tried. After my walk, I ran back to my campsite and quickly wrote 5 pages of project notes for a new idea I’d acquired while walking. Night was beginning to fall, so I set about making a campfire. This proved a challenge at first. It took me a lot of tries, a wasted firestarter, and half a book of matches before I achieved much success. Some scrap wood on the ground nearby also served as a sort of an extended match. But… Before long, I was met with the warmth and success of a happily crackling little fire. Once it was finally lit, it stayed lit for three hours. I sipped an Erdinger, roasted vegan marshmallows and veggie dogs, and contemplated for a long time. 2016 has been a strange year for me, but it led me here, to this moment. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied movement, and a little deer mouse hopped around my feet. I named it Peter. With a chill in the air and an owl hooting in the distance, I retired into my sleeping bag in the oTENTik and got ready for the morning to follow. I would have to check out of my site at 11, which meant that getting up early to enjoy the day would be imperative. I worked briefly on a novel I have in the works, and then went to sleep. Good morning! I awoke to the sun shining down across my campsite. I freshened up a touch, and went out to the Point Wolfe observation deck to enjoy a breakfast I had packed. Next time, I hope to make use of the cooking amenities, but this time I had brought some food from home.    Some veggie dogs from the night before, two hard-boiled eggs, some cold black tea, a banana, and a chive I’d picked from my father’s garden.  I sat there in the sun, reading Thoreau, and when I finished eating, I sprang up to run down another path. I took a walk down the Shiphaven trail, which is just across from Coppermine and runs in the opposite direction along the coast. I walked all the way down there, across the street to another path, then up through the picnic area. By then, it was time to go. I walked back up to my campsite to pack up and say a final farewell to my retreat. While walking, I tried my best to absorb as much sunlight as I could. I wiggled my fingers and stretched them out toward the light, inviting it to stay. The winter is on its way, and with it comes long periods of cold and silence. The trees are my preferred place and reconnecting with nature was such...

Read More

Unicorn Cave Writer’s Retreat

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Components of other posts | 1 comment

When: Early autumn/spring, bi-annually Purpose: to re-center and re-ground, focus inward and gather energy and inspiration from nature for the year ahead. Where: anywhere hidden from public view. A cabin or tent in the woods is preferred. Schedule: there should be none. Here is a list of suggested activities: meditation, outdoors or in candle-burning or campfire building photography reading of inspirational materials, such as poetry or novels listening to music hiking or exploring writing, of course! Rules: there aren’t really any, but staying away from the internet and social media is highly recommended. Having a 24-hour phone ban (excluding emergencies) is also recommended. Why “Unicorn Cave”?: Unicorns are solitary creatures. Caves are for hiding away out of sight. The Unicorn Cave Writer’s Retreat is your own solitary oasis carved out of your daily life, to spend alone and in reflection, working on whatever you wish. It’s a gift to yourself. The nice thing about doing a solitary retreat is that you don’t have to limit what kind of writing you do. Work on whatever you want, be it one project or three. Start a new one, or contemplate a forgotten one. You can choose to work on nothing at all and simply gather inspiration. There’s no wrong way to do it. Time is not the focus. For this brief period, you are a unicorn: you are outside of time. Obligations do not exist outside of yourself. Make yourself your only obligation and revel in that. Please follow and like...

Read More