Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chats Retreat - Day 2 - The Morning After

What do writers do after an evening of visioning, a few cocktails, a satisfying meal and a hour long critique of a member's novel revisions? A few go to bed. The others stay up sipping on hot cocoa laced with peppermint schnapps, talking about fortune telling, movies, favorite actors and musicals while roasting marshmallows in the moose-enhanced fireplace until 3 in the morning. (I know that's a run-on sentence, of which I have an affinity for, but not as long as one written about a chicken by Robert Olin.)

I should have been taking notes. But I was having a hard time keeping up. It became clear to me that my life is devoid of entertainment that can't be found on HGTV. Netflix is a world unto itself where I rarely venture. I can see I've been wasting my time at work watching back seasons of the Tudors. While interesting, it does not provide the same amount of variety the others in the group take for granted.  I had few answers for a) name three men you'd like to be stranded in an elevator with or b) name your three top three movies or c) my favorite line from a movie is ...

So basically I listened, interjecting a name or a title on occasion. But here's what I learned. When you are with fun, witty, intelligent women who find meaning and inspiration in just about everything in their lives, listening is okay. The beautiful community of women can be as much about listening as joining in. Of course I don't remember the really poignant moments when Carol had me sitting on the edge of my seat soaking up her wisdom as if sitting at the foot of the Dali Lama. It would be nice if I could, but just being part of the group was where the magic resided.

I've heard of women's groups that dance naked under a full moon. I've seen pictures of women holding hands at sunset walking into the ocean for a communal baptism. I've attended women's prayer circles. I've been to Cursillo. I grew up in a house full of women, for God's sake. But even standing on the outside looking in, I've never felt more a part of any group.

Yesterday afternoon (after Donnie left and I'd recovered from being lost in plain sight) most of the gang searched through magazines for words and pictures to use on a vision board. The first step in this process is choosing a word for yourself. A word that you want to focus on, or want more of, or want to incorporate into your life. It could be an emotional word - strong, courageous, bold. It could be a desire - relationship, travel, learn to cook, whatever. Then you go about choosing pictures that speak to you. Carol said they don't have to be about your word (printed on the top of the poster board). Just pick and cut and move on. Next, you glue the pictures on the board, collage style. In the end your word will become a visual reminder of what your goal is.

I can't say why, but I wasn't feeling it. I'm sure I've got words I need to hold on to - goals, self-esteem, confidence. Not of them spoke to my heart so I chose not to participate. I scanned a few magazines. Tore out a few pictures that spoke to me. Mostly I watched the others. And listened as they encouraged each other and laughed and told stories about themselves. It didn't feel like eavesdropping, in the typical doctor's office way, where you can learn anothers whole medical history by pretending to read an out of date Newsweek magazine. This felt more like i was absorbing the scene, like the towels soaking up spilled wine. I haven't tried to analyze the why of my actions. I'm okay with doing what's comfortable in the moment.

It is now almost 2pm on day three. Our last day here. There is a subtle finishing up of this place and gearing up for the next taking place. As I expected, as anxious as I was about coming, now I don't want to leave. I want more time here. I want more time with my peeps. I want to be surrounded by mountains and trees and laughter and wisdom.  I'd be the first to admit I'd be lost without the finer things in life. This computer,  for instance, the indoor plumbing, cold Cokes, good food I didn't have to shoot and skin myself, and even my smart phone. I wonder, however, if what I'm feeling - this whole woman community thing -  is buried deep in my cells. Could it be DNA left over from a time when women sat around a fire sharing stories of their past and visions of their tomorrows, painting ochre pictures of prehistoric moose on cave walls, complaining about how hairy their Sweeties are, and basking in the warmth of friendship?

I'm reminded of the song my Internet friend, muse, and grief counselor, Dani Sutliff first shared with me. It fits how I'm feeling this week.

In a Circle of Women 
(words & music by Sydney Salt)

In a circle of women, I am born again * In a circle of women, I am home
Heal me now, together we heal each other In a circle of woman, I am whole!

* you are born again, we are born again

I wish for you like-minded, big-hearted friends,
Merry ME


AkasaWolfSong said...

I've been sitting here reading all about your retreat adventure and I'm so happy you did this for yourself. I'm envious! Yes, I'm sure your psyche and emotional being was calling up your ancestral women who sat around the fire and sat in Divine support of one another...I think it is intrinsic and inherent don't you?
I envisioned so well by your descriptive sharing the cabin, the rain, the laughter, the sharing of Sisters, the breaking bread together and my heart sat here's been a long, long time since I've done any of that and it sounds like heaven to me. I too would have longed to stay, been all choked up and teary eyed and yet wanting to go home as well.
What a marvelous adventure Dear Friend and thank you for being such a prolific writer in that you can conjure up the images with the stroke of your keyboard! Ahhhh!
May the Angels watch over you always Blessed Mary...Always!
In Divine Love,

Jody said...

Dear M,
It sounds as though the experiences you have had at the retreat has been marvelous for you in many ways. Am so glad you went, and there will always be a next time, now that you know it is precious for your Soul.

MamaJoe said...

I do so love that you were able to be you in the moment. To go with what moved you....or didn't. I love Dani as well! Vision it!