On a cool spring morning I left my comfortable Savannah on the Atlantic Ocean and headed for the unknown of the once Wild West. I was going to a place I had never been, to be with a group of people I had never met and to attend a wellness writers’ retreat, something I had never done before. Like so many others on that same journey, I was thinking, “What in the world am I doing?”

The excitement that I had felt when I decided to go had dissipated. Doubt had set in. I began to secretly plan how I could manipulate Delta Airlines so I could get out of there fast, if necessary, with a minimum change fee. So I had paid the money and couldn’t get it back? That was just the price I would have to pay. Little did I know that this would be one of the best decisions I would ever make and that my life would forever be changed.

Thinking that I would be among the last to arrive, I was among the first. The welcome afternoon was perfectly planned. I had hardly arrived, settled somewhat into my luxurious room when I learned that it was time for my massage. I had another moment of panic. Oh my gosh, I love massage, but how can I greet those others about to arrive with “massage head?”

One by one our little band of wonderful writers began to filter in. We were a bit edgy and tentative. Each one hiding it as best we could, trying to act like the confident adults we were—when we left home, that is.

Fast forward to the third night after days of writing, reading and sharing our stories and for some, baring their souls. We sat in our comfortable spots. As in church, we had chosen our special pew and began to gravitate to our undeclared places. When everyone had finished their reading, we struggled to find the tissues. Tears poured down our cheeks, and there were lots of runny noses. Then suddenly it all turned to laughter. At that moment we became one. We laughed till we cried and cried till we laughed. A diverse group, diverse in every way—by age, gender, ethnicity, geography and life experience—came together. We were one and we were writers!

Thank you, Julie and Lisa, for creating this event where we all learned and loved. We will forever be your band of writers from Sedona 2013. You guided us; you pushed and pulled us; you encouraged us. You sent us home better people and better writers. You created a family that now vows never to be separated and to always be supportive of each other.

Watch out New York Times best sellers, here we come!

Lydia Ramsey – Author of “Manners That Sell”