Honky Tonk Merry Go Round

I’m on a honky tonk merry-go-round
Actin’ like a foolish clown
Still racin’ those blues that you left with me
Wond’rin’ if I’ll ever be free

Round and around and around I go
Ridin’ high and feelin’ low
Round and around just like a top
Well, I’m a-gettin’ dizzy, but I can’t stop

“I’ve been writing about the retreat since I got home just over a week ago. Remembering. Feeling. Thinking. Writing. And today when I put on Patsy Cline’s song the ideas came together. It’s like that for me – ideas and songs congeal. No, coalesce (sounds prettier.) But, no, it’s really congeal. A messy collision of thoughts that tumble out through my fingers.

I’ve been a member of several writing groups over the years. Some supportive, most competitive. January 2013 I saw a post on a blog about writing retreats — and how one really should do one. Or several. That led to Googling Writer Retreats and seeing one for Sedona – Spring 2013. The information spoke to me – I felt it said “Dear Mary. Come…” Although the timing would not work for me, I followed along as the dates neared and the spaces filled up. Oh well, maybe next time.

In late May, Julie posted a query about Fall 2013 — Hilton Head or Sedona? I voted for Sedona. Definitely Sedona. And I was definitely going this time. Let the application process begin.

Aside from having my two sons, marrying the right man, and maybe a few other important life decisions – this is the most important decision I made for myself. I’d been on life’s merry-go-round for a long time. “Still racin’ those blues that you left with me Wond’rin’ if I’ll ever be free” Those blues were self-imposed and only I could free myself. It was now time to explore, make choices, and pursue interests of my own. Selfish? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Successful? To be determined.

As the retreat week approached I was excited, and a bit anxious. I’d decided that this would be a put-up or shut-up week for me. Either I would leave the week willing to put writing aside and pursue something else, OR I would leave with enthusiasm to grab a hold of my writing life. Enough fence straddling for me.

Another passenger on the shuttle from the Phoenix airport was going to the retreat too. He looked serious, and as he took the last row on the van he said he “wanted to rest on the ride.” So I sat with two chatty, giddy young women from Australia in the US for the first time. One had dyed her hair the color of Sedona’s Red Rocks. They were ready to experience vortexes, the Grand Canyon, and local breweries. The other passengers were sisters on their annual get together. I’d been to Sedona before, and remembered it as a stunningly beautiful place. I knew that once we left I-17 we’d drive a bit and then literally turn the corner for a drop dead gorgeous view of Red Rocks. The first time I came to Sedona, I drove that road completely — twice. I longed for that awe-inspiring view. When it arrived I felt I was being immersed into a new world of opportunity for me. Over-hype? No. I eagerly anticipated what was ahead.

Arriving at the house we were a bit early and waited on the front steps. I chatted with Ian and admit that the longer we talked, the less confident I felt about being there. Geez Louise – this guy was published and had a manuscript with him he was putting the finishing touches on — plus he had a nice, pleasant demeanor, and cool Canadian accent. I had snippets, vignettes, a couple of short stories, many not quite fully formed ideas, a nasal Chicago accent and capris. What was I doing here? Doubts crept into my mind. Stop comparing I repeated.

Julie arrived — welcoming, enthusiastic, genuine. Her car was filled with necessities for the week. As we unloaded the items into the house, others arrived, and continued to come over the next several hours. Lisa arrived — eager, energetic, authentic. Throughout the late afternoon and evening introductions were made, we had dinner, shared more thorough introductions, unpacked, and settled in to our home for the week. Home – it felt right.

I’ve facilitated and participated in many workshops, seminars, and multi-day conferences on a variety of topics. From the website’s enticing outline through the application process, to payment arrangements, to itinerary details, to suggestions on what to bring, to the phone call with Julie, to the submission of writing samples for comment to Lisa — everything was done thoroughly, carefully and professionally.

No matter your personal writing status or timeline, the Wellness & Writing Retreats offers an environment and opportunity for you to share and develop your craft with others in similar circumstances. Julie and Lisa provide the framework, the discussions, the guidance, the support, the creative, challenging prompts to deeply delve into you as a writer. What do you want to accomplish? How do you see your stories? What goals do you have for yourself as a writer? The space created by Lisa, Julie and the participants lends itself to self-discovery, learning, sharing, laughing, exploring, crying, pondering, openness, reflection and growth.

What I found was a caring and supportive group of people who wished to share their experiences, stories and styles, AND desired to hear me share mine.

Successful? Yes.
Transformative? Yes.
Yes, I am a writer.

Carpe Diem. What are you waiting for?!?!?!

~ Mary Enright-Olson