Retreats

A One Day Retreat Workshop: Your One Wild & Precious Life – the Poetry of Presence

Buddha in the spring garden 96

 
What is the dance between silent, experienced embodiment and translation of that experience into language?

Having engaged with active thought and language, how do we return to the silence again afterward?
________________________________________

Your One Wild & Precious Life
– the Poetry of Presence

A One Day Workshop with Tanya Porter and Sue Reynolds

 

“Every moment contains a poem – if you haven’t found the poem you haven’t gone deeply enough into the moment” Ellen Bass

 
________________________________________
The pond 96On October 1st, 2016 join therapeutic writing facilitator Sue Reynolds and the gifted yoga and meditation teacher Tanya Porter for a day of embodied presence and reflective writing.

A day for you to grow still, to refresh and renew in a beautiful environment.

Through the day we will experience the replenishment and nourishment of (very easy) yoga and meditation.
writing reflection 96

Then transitioning from the yin to a more yang state, we will move into reflection and expression of our experience through writing.

A day of deep stillness and profound personal presence to nurture you.

Tanya and Sue were interviewed about this program on Whistle Radio (aired May 24th)

Please click the links below to listen to the program:

Part One

Part Two

 
(Please scroll to the bottom of the page to register)


Date: October 1st, 2016
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Place: Uplands Writing Retreat, between Uxbridge and Port Perry.
Cost: $110.00 plus HST. Delicious lunch provided!
 
Registration form at the bottom of this page
 

The Facilitators:

Tanya Porter
Tanya Porter
founder of The Inner Space, is a classical yoga and meditation teacher with over 20 years of experience. She is also a multi-disciplinary performing artist, educator and holistic energy practitioner specializing in over 25 years of Theatre, Drum, Dance and creative wellness programming for all ages.  Tanya developed Rhythmic Re-framing®, a healing modality that combines meditation, affirmation, boundary work and vibrational healing through drumming.

Questions?

Contact: tanya@theinnerspace.ca

 

Sue Reynolds
Susan Lynn Reynolds
is a writer, teacher and psychotherapist. She teaches writing through workshops in the community, in college continuing education programs, and in social services settings.

She has been leading writing workshops for female inmates at Central East Correctional Centre for twelve years, a program for which she received the June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism.

She leads professional training for Amherst Writers International and the Toronto Writers Collective and is the Executive Director of Amherst Writers Canada.
 

 

 

 

Registration for Your One Wild & Precious Life

 

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Telephone (required)

Optional Message (dietary restrictions, etc.)

After you hit the "Send" button, you will be taken to the payment page.


_________________________
CANCELLATION POLICY:
If we receive your cancellation notice up to five days in advance of the retreat, (for instance, if the retreat is on a Saturday, we must hear from you by midnight on the previous Sunday) you may choose to apply your deposit to a future retreat or receive a refund (minus a $20 administration fee).

If you cancel with less than five days notice, (in the example above, for instance, it would be anytime Monday or later) and your spot cannot be filled from a waiting list, no refund will be made. However, you are permitted to sell or gift your spot for that date to another person. If you do this, please email or call Sue (905-985-8389) right away to provide the contact information of your replacement. Since Sue provides lunch, it is important that she know of any dietary restrictions etc.

NOTE: *If a retreat is cancelled for any reason, such as severe winter weather creates dangerous driving conditions, Sue will email and call all registered participants. In this situation, participants may request a full refund or transfer their payment to a future retreat date.
 

2015 Summer Weekend Writing Retreats near Toronto

Slideshow of the Uplands location at the bottom of this page.

Sitting in the circle

July Retreat:

Thursday Evening, July 16, to Sunday Afternoon July 19.

Uplands Writing Retreat near Uxbridge, Ontario.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

August Retreat:

Thursday Evening, August 20, to Sunday Afternoon August 23.

Uplands Writing Retreat near Uxbridge, Ontario.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Uplands Retreats

Sue Reynolds has been hosting and facilitating single day writing sanctuaries for 10 years. In the mornings, participants write from prompts that Sue provides. Then they have the opportunity to read their freshly created poetry and prose in a supportive group environment. After lunch, writers enjoy a few hours of silent writing time. Writers are enriched and delighted by these day-long immersions and often find that their writing has surpassed their expectations.

A few years ago, participants lingered and protested that they didn’t want to go home – they wanted to stay forever and keep writing! Someone suggested the idea of a Sanctuary Pyjama Party and the Residential Sanctuary was born.

Now in it’s 5th year, the Residential Summer Sanctuaries have been relocated from the Orillia location to the Uplands Writing Retreat which is located halfway between Port Perry and Uxbridge on the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine.

The retreat begins on Thursday evenings with a light meal and an introductory session of writing. After a full-fare breakfast on the remaining three mornings, Sue provides prompts to launch writers into their craft. Afternoons are spent in silence – writing, walking, swimming, resting. Participants meet in the late afternoon to share their new writing, although sharing is always completely optional. The retreat winds up mid afternoon on Sunday.

Guests may choose from modest, private or semi-private accommodations. All delicious and healthy meals are included.

OPTIONAL: restorative yoga will be provided locally Friday and Saturday evenings. (The cost for this optional activity is extra – approximately $20 per session.)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Slideshow from the Uplands Retreat Location:

A perfect summer sanctuary day
Another Bedroom 300
chicadee at the feeder
Deer sighting at the pond 300
Famous Sanctuary Rhubarb muffins
Home in the fall
Home
horses in the setting sun
Hummingbird at the feeder
on the dock
One Bedroom 300
Reading by the water
Ready to begin 300
sanctuary at dusk
Sanctuary Morning Refreshments 300
Tent beds
tent other bed
The Miners Tent
The Outdoor Writing Room 300
the Sanctuary morning table 300
writers writing
Writing in the Window 300
Writing on the dock near sunset
Writing on the dock

Space available in Writers’ Sanctuary

this Saturday September 6th, and other dates this fall as well.

Click this link to register: https://goforwords.com/writers-sanctuary/sanctuary-dates-for-2014/

Writers Sanctuary header with book

reflective time
 
 

If the writer in you is feeling neglected, if you need a day away to concentrate on your writing project, if you are working on a project but feeling a bit stuck, or if you want to write but don’t know where to start, a one-day Sanctuary Writer’s Retreat may be just what you need: a day of bum-in-chair, support from other writers, and a nurturing, no-excuses environment, where everything is looked after and all you need to do is write!

 

The pond 300At a Sanctuary, we begin at 10:00 a.m. Writers are welcome to arrive a few minutes early to settle in, grab a coffee or tea, and muffin or some fruit and chat with the others.

The morning is spent doing a series of on-the-spot timed writing exercises to stretch those stiff writing muscles and get the creative writer in you feeling more relaxed, focused and perhaps even a little experimental.
 
 
 
 
 
Buddha 300After the delicious lunch (provided) the afternoons are spent in silent communion with other writers, working either on a computer or by hand on whatever project is preoccupying you as a writer these days. If you don’t have a laptop but want to work on a keyboard, you will be provided with a computer. Your Word file can be emailed to you at the end of the day.

Uplands is in a peaceful rural location, so you are also welcome to go out for a walk on quiet country lanes if you need a break. There’s even a couch or two if you need your afternoon nap for half an hour to wake up refreshed and ready to write some more!

Tranquillity

Writing is over at 4:00 p.m. for those who need to get home, but if you wish to stay, there will be an opportunity to sit a while longer, to share some of what you’ve been working on and to debrief, discuss issues of craft, etc. The day is finished by around 5:00.

Click this link to register: https://goforwords.com/writers-sanctuary/sanctuary-dates-for-2014/

Writers' Sanctuary 650

Extra Sanctuary Added this coming Sunday February 9th, 2014

DSC_0055a

feeder

Because of the snowstorm this past Saturday, the scheduled Sanctuary got cancelled – well, postponed. It was rescheduled for this coming Sunday February 9th.

However some of the participants are not able to make that new date. So, unexpectedly, I have a Sanctuary Sunday with space available.

If you would like to spend a day working on your writing project, in community, please go to this link and book your space in the circle.

I look forward to seeing you!
Sue from Wedding

Radical Restoration for your Artistic Body and Soul

First published in “SURFACING” – the Arts magazine for Durham Region

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Susan Lynn Reynolds

When I was first hired to be the writing teacher for a combined yoga and writing retreat three years ago, (and every year since) it seemed like a dream come true. Go south for two weeks in the middle of winter to spend my time doing yoga, enjoying the southwestern coastal area of Costa Rica, and facilitating a writing group every day? Where do I sign up!

It proved to be far better even than I’d imagined. First of all, it turned out that the yoga teacher, Esana Lotfy, teaches yoga the same way I facilitate writing groups. For both of us, effective practice for all participants starts with loving kindness and compassion. It’s crucial that participants not “should” themselves in their process, whether it be beating up on themselves because they think they “should” be more flexible, or whether they think they “should” write differently, more grammatically or somehow just “better” than they do.

“Shoulding” all over oneself is the first step toward injury in yoga, or toward a really bad case of writer’s block. Continue reading

Writers’ Sanctuary is moving!

 
Well, I have big news. Some of you may have heard the tectonic rumblings over the last six months. It’s been up and down and back and forth for some time now, but just before we left for Spain, it was confirmed that James and I will be moving to the other house on the Uplands property.

This is exciting for many reasons, not least of which is the view (pictures below). Also, the main room is quite a bit bigger than the living room in this house, so there will be lots of room for writers at Sanctuary now!

And in the silent afternoons – you can watch your thoughts on the surface of the pond, or listen to the waterfall.

There is space for one retreat room as well, so if you need to get away locally for a few days to write… Details to be announced soon!

Waiting for you

Our new office view

The back forty

The ponds

New front entrance

Pat Schneider’s 2013 Ontario Retreat

All the details are now in place!

October 20-25th

Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity!
Limited to 12 participants. .

To visit Pat’s website, click HERE.
We are thrilled to announce that Pat will be returning in fall of 2013 from the evening of October 20th to after lunch on October 25th. This retreat will consist of writing with Pat for four hours every morning. The rest of the day is given over to each retreatant continuing to write, read, relax, walk, meditate or whatever needs to be done to support your writer’s soul, in community with other writers.

A manuscript may be sent ahead of time for one on one consultation with AWA facilitator Sue Reynolds who will be aiding and supporting Pat during the retreat.

This autumn the Pat Schneider Writing Retreat, hosted by Inkslingers/GoForWords, is being held at the beautiful West Wind Inn on Buckhorn Lake about 1.5 hours northeast of Toronto.

Owned and operated by two generations of the Jensen family since 1991, the well established Westwind Inn is located near the country village of Buckhorn, Ontario. Situated in a truly spectacular setting of natural wilderness in the Kawartha Lakes region, this 60 acre private country estate possesses charm and privacy.


Each room has a private fireplace and comfy sitting area. Single rooms have a couch, double rooms have a deep easy chair.

The dining area overlooks the lake.

Air conditioning
Alarm clock
Boat Launch
Fax available
Games room
Hairdryer available
Ice Maker
Internet – wireless
Ironing facilities
Jacuzzi
Laundry facilities
Movies in room
Non-smoking rooms
Private bathroom in room
Private garden grounds
Quiet location
Radio in room
Restaurant
Sauna
Self controlled heating/cooling system
Shower
Spa
Swimming pool – outdoor
Tea and coffee making facilities
Television
Terrace
TV room

PLEASE NOTE: There are only 2 spots left as of the end of June. To book your spot go to Inkslingers at this link.

Registration Fees:

Single: $1700 + HST

Double: $1550 + HST

 

A deposit of $500 is required to secure your place in this retreat.  Please click the “add to cart” button to pay the deposit via PayPal or via credit card through the PayPal portal.

Follow up payments are scheduled as follows:  August 1st, your second payment of $500 is due.

Final payment of the balance of your registration is due September 30th.

If you need to arrange a payment plan, just let us know. We’ll do our best to accommodate your needs.

Cancellation Policy:

Your deposit is non-refundable, but 50% (i.e., $250) may be used for a future GoForWords or Inkslingers workshop, class or retreat. For cancellations before full payment deadline, all but your deposit is refundable. After the full payment deadline, any refund of the remainder is at the discretion of the organizers. If we or you can fill your space, we’ll refund your payment, minus $250 administrative fee. If you find that you cannot attend the workshop, let us know as soon as possible and we’ll try to fill your space with someone from the waiting list.

After the full payment deadline, we become locked into the total cost of your stay with the resort and our commitment to Pat Schneider to fill the retreat. However, should you have to cancel, we will do our best to work things out.

 


View Larger Map

Radical Restoration Retreat in Costa Rica

I am beyond delighted to announce that I will be one of the three facilitators at a restorative retreat in Costa Rica from February 15 to 22nd, 2011.
How would you like to spend a week in the jungle and on the beach, in deep communication with yourself, body and soul, through yoga, movement and writing?

I have been working with Deepam as a writing colleague for the last year and I have taken a yoga class with Esana (the most amazing yoga class of my life).

COSTA RICA IN WINTER – FEBRUARY 15th TO 22nd, 2011

– a week to remember: to write your heart, open your body, dance your soul, or do nothing at all… Whatever you need to restore you to yourself.

With Evelyn Lofty, Deepam Wadds, Susan Lynn Reynolds

  • Journalling as a Contemplative Practice
  • Restorative Kripalu Yoga
  • Guided Dance Meditation
  • Fabulous, delicious meals prepared from local ingredients (dietary needs are honoured).
  • Expansive, non-commercial Pacific Ocean beach
  • Salt Water Pool
  • Open sided yoga/movement cabana
  • Private, gated estate, exclusively for our retreat (maximum 16 participants) personal, attentive, delightful service

The estate is located just north of Dominical on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

  • All inclusive price (Flight, program, accomodation, meals, transfers and taxes)
  • Deepam organized and facilitated the retreat last year and will be doing so again this year. Since she’s been there before, and since she’s a beautiful writer, I thought I’d let her words speak for themselves. This is what she has written about this year’s event (the pictures are from last year):

    February. The winter has gone on too long. Summer seems a thousand days away. The body is heavy with winters weight, and it longs to stretch and move in a warm and friendly place. To let fall the coat and kick off the boots, and run through the surf on an endless beach.

    costa-rica-yoga

    Yoga in the jungle. Freefall writing to tap into the magic of words. Endless days on the beach. Dance meditation before dinner. New and old friends to chat and laugh with. Delicious meals made from local produce. The music of cicadas. Salt-water pool. Costa Rica. The Rich Coast.

    A dear friend has been urging me for a few years to take a group on retreat to Cabinas Alma, near Dominical, in Costa Rica. When she went there on a yoga retreat, it was a the rest is history sort of story. She fell in love with the land and the sea there, made fast friends with Sabina, the owner of the estate, and bought herself a piece of paradise close by.

    Esana and DeepamSince 1998, Esana and I have hosted retreats that feature Kripalu Yoga, moving meditations, and awareness exercises. In the past few years, we have offered them twice a year, usually for a weekend. The idea of taking a group far from home at first was daunting, but when I offered the suggestion to Esana, her instant, yes! made the possibility a reality.

    We took our first group of seventeen to this oasis on the Pacific coast last February(2010). To say that it was a wonderful experience would be an understatement. We had a perfect mix of couples, singles and even a mother and son. The grounds are lush, filled with nourishing and healing plants and trees from cashew and starfruit, to pineapples, guanabana, avocado, mango, banana, papaya, a full herb garden, flowering trees and flowering bushes, toucans in the trees, cicadas layering the air with their hypnotic sound. The warmth of the place wraps you in its arms and inspires your muscles to let go into deep relaxation. The yoga palapa sits across a small arched bridge from the dining room. Its an open-air space tucked into the jungle. Here, we also danced, overhead fans blazing away the heat from our bodies.

    costa-rica-beach

    And then there is the beach. What was so stunning about this beach is the space it stretches wide and magnificent as far as the eye can see, in both directions. Bordered by palm and shrubbery for picnics and refuge from the sun, it is a vast playground of unblemished sand and sea. Some participants spent hours combing the beach for sand dollars, shells, and bits of treasure. Others, like me, jumped and played in the waves, until the sun set.

    And then there is the food. Almost exclusively organic, the food was simply prepared, local, delicious and satisfying. Fresh fish and a wonderful array of vegetables and grains. Every meal a delight as well as an opportunity to meet and chat with participants in a gorgeous setting.

    the-pool

    And then there is the pool. Just up a stone step path and through an archway waits a perfect blue salt-water pool, surrounded by a wooden and tile deck. There we lounge or swim or hang out, arms slung over the edge as our legs slowly slide back and forth through the silky water, chatting and laughing , or with our heads back, drinking in the fragrance of the flowering trees.

    In the morning, before breakfast, we practice a gentle, flowing yoga, our senses ignited amidst the sounds of roosters and cicadas, huge brilliant blue butterflies drifting by. We learned this trip, about when to dance and when to sit, so that for our next trip, we have put each meditation in a place that suits the pace of the place. After breakfast, we have the honour of having my own writing teacher, Susan Lynn Reynolds, facilitating an hour or so of freefall writing practice. This is an opportunity to let your pens do the writing, to get out of the critics way, and let the magic happen.

    the-river

    During the day, we can go to the beach, take a trip to Dominical, hire a horse, go to the nearby eco-reserve and take a zipline excursion through the jungle. You can even spend the day on horseback, taking a trip to a magnificent waterfall.

    Before dinner, I offer a moving meditation, an exploration of rhythm as we tap into the wellspring of the bodys expression. After dinner, a quiet meditation and optional reading from the days writing. Doesnt that sound like fun?

    Participants are free to pick and choose which activities they wish to join. No pressure. No hurry. No worries.

    This year, we are offering the retreat for the week of February 15 to 22, 2011. In our costs, we have included flight, accommodation, meals, facilitation and taxes. You just have to show up!

    Testimonials from last year’s participants:

    Wow Yes. A perfect combination of luxury and simplicity, rest and activity, hospitality and respite, people and place. Count me in! E.L.

    Personally, I liked everything… I enjoyed: the food, the atmosphere, the yoga and dance, the special activities: zipline, kayaking the mangrove, walking the beach, riding the surf, browsing and shopping, horsebacking to the waterfalls, splashing in the pool… Oh the facilitation was great! Returning… someday. Finally, experiencing the here and now! S.S.

    I would do it again next year and I would not change anything. Yoga, movement, activities, food, location all superb! You did a magnificent job! T.R.
    Fabulous food every meal, lovely garden, wonderful accommodating hostess (Sabina is the best), great rooms, great pool, wonderful flower arrangements in the dining room, program both dance and yoga excellent, wonderful staff… C.Y.

    What I liked: fresh fruit YUM!!!, tour of grounds, eating healthy, using the pool anytime, yoga and dancing, the camaraderie of everyone, the slower pace of just being able to read and relax… D.B.

    The accommodations were wonderful. I very much appreciated the ease of saying, yes and the retreat was booked. I liked that I didnt have to think about the travel, accommodations or meals (less stress and can focus on relaxation). The food was spectacular! Very wholesome and delicious. A1!! The exercises were great… It is hard to say exactly what experience each individual had in Costa Rica, I can say it was magical and restorative. (and I knew when I walked into work on Monday morning…I wasn’t there anymore.J.B.

    Thanks so much for arranging this trip. What a great experience! I actually enjoyed the lack of scheduling and the spontaneity of unplanned trips and other adventures. My life can be much too structured. My only suggestion is that perhaps we could incorporate more meditation into the evenings. The one Esana facilitated was an eye-opening experience (no pun intended). M.G.

    …Would definitely repeat… I really liked starting the day with yoga and doing so early. One and a half hours was perfect. Esana was great as ever (expect no less). I also enjoyed the meditative dance in the evenings. I liked the amount of free time. This gave me what I valued most the chance to slow right down and live from moment to moment without worrying about time and racing. The setting was perfect. The food and Sabinas presence added immensely. Felt well held by Deepam like you were looking out for everyones welfare and managing the zillion details with great care and patience. Thank you all so much. J.O.

    We did so much in eight days it will take me as much time to review and settle the memories in place. The waterfall trip does stand out. The jungle, the meals, the monkeys, the pride of the family owners and the climb to dive. I think about once every 55 years is about right for that experience of diving free…I’m mindfully washing the sand and salt from my possessions but not my spirit. I had plenty of personal private time by the pool at sunrise and at 10:00pm, solo trips to town and simple prayer before each meal… as I prepare tonight’s meal I reflect that everything served to me was fresh and freshly prepared. Many thanks for your hard work preparing and dealing with unforeseen events. As an adherent of chaos and order I too went with the flow. G.T.

    The Details:

    ALL-INCLUSIVE (FLIGHT, PROGRAM, ACCOMMODATION, MEALS, TRANSFERS & TAXES) $2200. PER PERSON, BASED ON DOUBLE OCCUPANCY.

    Registration is done on the Balanced Body Studio website:

    http://www.balancedbodystudio.ca/costa-rica-retreat.html

    A $500.00 deposit is required to hold your spot for this. (Limited to 16 participants).

    Payment for Sanctuaries and SoulCollage

     

    Writers’ Sanctuary 2015

     

    Click the button to pay the Sanctuary registration fee of $80.00 plus HST via your PayPal account  or via your credit card through the PayPal portal. Your link to PayPal will appear at the top of the sidebar to the right. Click on the yellow and blue PayPal button to go to PayPal and complete your transaction. Thank you.

    ___________________
     

    SoulCollage 2015

     

    Click the button to pay the SoulCollage registration fee of $90 plus HST via your PayPal account  or via your credit card through the PayPal portal. Your link to PayPal will appear at the top of the sidebar to the right. Click on the yellow and blue PayPal button to go to PayPal and complete your transaction. Thank you.

    Please click here for Cancellation Policy.

    Sanctuary March 2009

    I’ve been meaning for a long time to try and take some pictures of a Sanctuary Sunday.  I even get the camera set up on the tripod…  but then I get busy leading the exercises and doing my own writing and I always forget.

    Sanctuary retreatant and poet Lloyd Gibb brought his camera in March, took these pictures, and was kind enough to give me copies.  Thank you Lloyd!

    Sanctuary for a Stress Addict by Fred Ford



    Article by Fred Ford

    – originally printed in the 2007 September/ October edition of the WordWeaver

    Nothing stresses me out more than relaxation exercises. On-the-spot writing isn’t for me either: I need at least an hour’s worth of agonizing before I can put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I’ve done some novel marathons, but they don’t count because I arrive pre-agonized. You can guess that I don’t often indulge in the tranquility of writing retreats.

    Well, not any more. I’d been hearing good things about the Sanctuary Sundays conducted by Sue Reynolds at her Uplands Writing Retreat. I’d also been finding excuses lately to work on everything else in the world but writing, so I decided to go. I needed to get away from the distractions of my normal “comfort zones.” I was even willing to brave some relaxation exercises.

    The drive up to Port Perry is therapeutic in itself, especially on the last weekend of April. The horses grazing on new green grass were a vision from the peaceable kingdom. The first wildflowers by the side of the dirt road warmed my winter-weary heart. The Uplands Writing Center is a welcoming green bungalow hidden behind a row of fir trees.

    Sue Reynolds ensured the atmosphere was casual and welcoming. She covered us off on some basic principles for the day: When it came to writing, we should just write. If it was junk, that was OK. We were there to embrace our inner garbage. “Don’t let the hand stop moving,” she admonished. Response to each others work was to be equally relaxed. Forget editing and critical feedback: speak about immediate impact and what in the writing goes straight to the heart.

    Sue provides new exercises for each Sunday, so I’m not giving anything away by describing April’s writing activities.

      First the dreaded relaxation exercise: concentrating on my breathing confirms what I’ve always suspected: I don’t know how to breathe right.

      Next visualize a door: any door, what lies beyond, and then write about it.

      Extract three lines from the poem “Some Questions You Might Ask” by Mary Oliver, and then use those lines as a starting point for a new piece.

      Write a new poem reproducing the rhythmic structure of “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams. We were allowed to let the hand stop moving for this one as we pondered the meter of the original.

      Choose an image from a selection of M.C. Escher prints, and let it inspire some writing.

      Select a portrait from a sheaf of photographs and, using that visual aid, write about some character we have created.

    Perhaps the spring weather wove some magic, or maybe the number of exercises involving poetry had something to do with it, but a number of us responded to the exercises with poems of our own. When we turned to prose, we found new characters coming to us unbidden. Spontaneity allowed us to explore beyond the edges of our normal creativity.

    After a fabulous lunch, the afternoon was silent. We were left to our own devices: go for a walk, meditate and, hopefully, write. And write we did. In my case, the morning geared me up to work on a novel where I have been floundering for a long time. For the M.C. Escher exercise, I wrote an essay concerning a problem character. The artist’s pyramid of triangles transmuting into birds became a symbol not only of this character, but of the whole book. While I had been thinking of combining two other characters, when I saw the amalgamated character’s face staring at me from Sue’s portfolio of photographs, the long-postponed decision was made in an instant. By the time I tackled the opening pages of the novel, I was free from my inner-editor. Unnecessary scenes were thrown into the void and what remained was rewritten with a new verve.

    So, despite Adrian Michael Kelly’s warning at the May breakfast about workshops and retreats sometimes being an appealing way to part people from their money, for me Sanctuary Sunday is well worth the cost. My experience at the Uplands Writing Retreat was not just a nice chance to get away. I took the experience home, and I have since found that the inner elation and the sense of freedom have remained. Instead of allowing myself to be blocked, I improvise solutions. They may not be perfect, but they’ll do for the time being. Yes, I’ll go back. Even if it does mean more relaxation exercises!

    Sanctuary in Winter

    The pictures on this page were taken here at Uplands in January 2009. WE lovingly refer to this place as Narnia because it’s got its own little microclimate – the snow comes early and stays late. But I’ve NEVER seen snow here like this year.

    Taken out the back window on Jan. 11, 2009

    Taken out the back window on Jan. 11, 2009

    Look how high the snow is just outside the window!

    Look how high the snow is just outside the window!

    Even the chimney has snow on it

    Even the chimney has snow on it

    Incentive to stay inside and write!

    Incentive to stay inside and write!

    Sanctuary Sundays

    Many writers have difficulty finding creative time (or space) in their “normal” lives. The opportunity to spend an entire day in deep conversation with their Muses and working on a current project seems too good to be true. Sanctuary Sunday is designed to make all of this happen in a beautiful setting and in the friendly company of other likeminded writers.

    At a Writers’ Sanctuary Sunday, we begin at 10:00 a.m. You are welcome to arrive a few minutes early to pick your spot, settle in, grab a coffee and muffin or some fruit and chat with the others.

    The morning is spent doing a series of on-the-spot writing exercises to lubricate the machinery – get the creative writer in you feeling more relaxed, focused and perhaps even a little experimental.

    After the delicious lunch (provided) the afternoons are spent in silent communion with other writers, working either on a computer or by hand on whatever project is preoccupying you as a writer these days. If you don’t have a laptop you will be provided with a computer (if you want to work on the keyboard) and your word file can be emailed to you at the end of the day.

    Uplands is in a peaceful rural location, so you are also welcome to go out for a walk on quiet country lanes if you need a break. There’s even a couch or two if you need your afternoon nap for half an hour to wake up refreshed and ready to write some more!

    Writing is over at 4:45 p.m. for those who need to get home, but if you wish to stay, there will be an opportunity to sit a while longer, to share some of what you’ve been working on and to debrief, discuss issues of craft, etc.

    twitter button 70 greenfacebook button 70 pinklinked in button 70 green

    In the summer of 2013 I was invited to do a TEDtalk on “Shining the light on our Changing Communities”. I talked about the therapeutic writing program I do with incarcerated women. You can view the talk here.

    Subscribe to Updates