Most of my young adult life was spent trying to acclimate. I moved 23 times by the time I was in my mid 20s. Fitting in, making friends, hoping to find a support system — even though I didn’t know that it was called that back then — became my mission. In that vein, I compensated. Be funny, be nice, give, be flexible and give and give some more. I was able to take on others’ stuff easily, but my needs weren’t important since my main goal was to be accepted. An uprooted tree that didn’t quite have its bearings ever really in the ground, I took a lot of falls. And I got back up.

When I walked into the house on my last Wellness and Writing retreat, I was greeted with something I had never expected. Heading towards the refrigerator, I was stopped in my tracks. Hands on my shoulders, an emphatic look, “Whatever you need, just let me know. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just ask. I mean this, Dana.” The sincerity shown in her eyes. Nothing else was said. I hugged her and said, “Thank you, Julie,” the author of A Cure for Emma and the organizer of the retreat. I didn’t ask why. I just accepted the gift.

Our brilliant writing coach, Lisa Fugard, and author of Skinners Drift and 21 Days to Awaken the Writer Within, spent the week emphasizing the importance of finishing my first draft. “Own your story. Watch your language. Keep writing. You are really starting to understand the craft.” After working with her on my last retreat, it was clear that I needed to start over. Her words neatly tied up with a bow, I once again accepted the gift.

Grappling with writing a memoir, I am brought back to my roots. As I dig deep into the ground, sometimes what I find doesn’t always feel very good. Surrounding myself with safe, caring people has become a necessity and for the first time in my life, I am doing everything I can to overcompensate whatever is necessary to take care of me.

Being vulnerable amongst a group of strangers takes a huge amount of trust and courage. Having been to this sacred retreat a few months back, I expected that once again I would find myself nestled in the blanket of comfort that I have craved since the last time I came to Sedona. As the week unfolded, bonded friendships started to peak their head above the soil. Laughter from the core of our bellies became an almost hourly occurrence as this special, witty, creative bunch of humans gathered to bare their souls. And as the days passed by, a garden of books and ideas began to blossom as we continued to water each others’ work with positive support and encouragement.

Reflecting on this bouquet of writers, I will cherish each and every part of this arrangement.

Coming home with the realization that the more authentic I am, the more I am accepted, a new seedling was placed in the ground Writing heals me. Through excavation, the harvest has begun.

And the gifts keep coming…

Thank you, my wonderful writer friends. ~ Dana