I have suffered from “lone-wolf” syndrome for many years now. As I came into my spiritual and creative self-awareness in my young 20s, I craved yet feared a spiritual community. For almost a decade I let fear win and stuck to my comfort zone of solitude, shying away from community situations at every turn. But when I stumbled across the “Wellness and Writing” Retreat website, I knew it was time for me to take the leap, as I couldn’t ignore the convergence of two of my biggest passions: creativity and spirituality.
Walking into the retreat, I was noticeably the youngest of the bunch and immediately began to judge myself as not worthy of being there. Was I even that good of a writer anyway? Sure I write and edit professionally, I thought, but this was about the soul writing—the stuff I never share. My doubt manifested as me keeping a subtle distance from the rest of the group at first. On the third day, however, I was all but forced to open up. A group of five people were sitting under the house’s outside gazebo. I approached and Gary said, “Ready to read your stuff, girl?”
“Right now?” I asked, put on the spot—terrified.
“Yep!” The five of them said in unison.
So I read. Afterward, sweet Lydia from Georgia said, “By God, that was just the biggest surprise.” And one by one they stood to hug me. It was a moment so big for me on so many levels; a quake that brought down the wall I had built inside of myself.
It’s hard to describe the connections I formed with the retreat participants in just five days. I feel like I walked away from this retreat with a new creative and spiritual family. As Ian said, “You walked away with two dads and 12 moms—for life. Except we’re cool, like aunts and uncles.” And that’s really how I feel.
Thank you Julie and Lisa for facilitating an environment where, yes, wellness and writing are fostered, but even more so, where lasting, authentic, soul-bound connections bloom.