This is the third post in my winter series where I open up my blog to other writers to explore a theme. This year I asked my Haven alums to consider submitting a piece about what it took to get themselves to the retreat, what their blocks were, and how it has informed future decision making when it comes to creating possibilities for themselves in the field of their dreams.
The theme is: I Gave Myself the Gift of a Haven Retreat. So Now What?
If you’d like to come on a Haven Retreat, here’s our 2015 calendar:
February 25- March 1 (only a few spaces left)
June 3-7 (filling fast)
June 17-21 (filling fast)
April 29- May 3- Haven joins the fabulous luxury guest ranch Ranch at Rock Creek for an activity-based retreat that will blow your mind!
Click here for more info. You do not have to be a writer to come. Just a seeker…
I Gave Myself the Gift of a Haven Retreat. So Now What?
By Fateme Banishoeib
Haven found me when I was lost as a little kitty cat on a corner in a rainy night. Haven took me home and rescued me from freezing unseen and voiceless. In the warm nest, I found my whisper, protected by the feminine power of the circle and my heart heated by others’ passion for writing and give voice to their soul.
I was disturbed by the loud voices of brutes with no soul and to save myself I hide. Holding myself waiting for that moment, for that sparkle, that blink, for HAVEN, and finally come to light again. My truth came out in Poetry. I was born in Poetry and Haven gave me the chance to re-born in it again. Poetry was hidden in me, came out as from mother’s womb revealing beauty, life, memories, visions, dreams and medicines for my heart.
After HAVEN copious pages of poetry wrote themselves through my hands. I was given the key to open the magic door of intimate conversation with life. My mind does not know what is happening and led by the heart I conquer my presence in an act of freedom into the path from “good girl” to woman. A woman that does not care to be known or controlled. A woman that is rebelling for independence from what I was told to be and is changing the relationship with my own shadows. A woman emerging into the light of my true self.
In Poetry I am stepping up and coming alive again. Line after line I peel off the layers of hurts and free the real me that the “Dancing Queens” saw and I have been hiding.
The Poetry whispers to my ears that is never too late. It is time for fun, playing with words and their music. I know I always wanted to write and many years later it is what I am doing right now. Convinced by my own limits I kept telling instead that I did not want it. I said it out loud. So the Poetry took a detour and hide in the place I was most scared to go, the shadows. Blinded by my own veils of limitations I realize it now.
The music of Poetry is taking care of the secret garden I had abandoned exactly where I am and wait for the dream to be attracted by the smell of roses. I know it will come. I can smell the roses!
And after the gift of Haven I gave myself the gift of Poetry…this is for you and me.
I cannot see, hear, accept, control
I disappeared in the cold new season
In the darkness the only light is the imagination
I turn on the magical thinking and seek for the unicorns
The masquerade is over
The heart has taken over
I let go of the craving of wanting to know, wanting to be right
From the garden asleep
When the time is right
New life will spring
The sky above knows
Dark and light alternating as night follows day
The darkness is the time to dream big
Expect a miracle
We live in a world of miraculous Poetry
I Found My Voice and Lost My Cheese
by Mary Novaria
I left my shoes on the porch and stepped into the lodge feeling like a fraud.
When I arrived at Haven I’d lost confidence in my words and in myself. The past five years had been a morass of caregiving for an aging mother and teenage daughter, both incapacitated by maladies that my words, written or spoken, just couldn’t fix.
Although there’d been scant time and even less energy to write, when I got to Haven, I’d somehow managed to scratch out about 75 rough pages of angst, the meager beginnings of a memoir. A mother, a daughter, a grandmother—two slices of bread (them) and a slab of bologna (me)—assembled into a complicated mess of a sandwich.
Deep down, I didn’t really believe I could do it. Not in the way you have to believe in yourself and trust in your story in order to actually write a book. I was frozen, stuck, unsure of how to dig myself out.
But the ranch is warm. Even when your boots crunch down on the icy dew as you walk from the guesthouse to the lodge. Even with the lake shrouded in a gray mist that obscures the squawking geese. Even as your breath puffs out like exhaled smoke while you stand in awe of the night sky.
I began to thaw in the sanctuary that is Haven. Scribbling in a notebook spotlighted by the streams of afternoon sun the poured through the windows… sharing words and laughter and tears before the crackling fire… soaking up Laura’s kind, loving, emboldening words. There was warmth enough to incubate both a fledgling book and a lost woman as fragile as a chick just hatched.
And there was soup… specifically that simmering, creamy, fragrant carrot coconut concoction—the first of many love offerings to emanate from Emma’s kitchen.
I admit to a twinge of trepidation at the notion of going of vegan, if only for a few days. I could deal with no meat. But no dairy meant no cheese—one of my great comforts in life. Good riddance Gouda. Cheerio Cheddar. Bye-bye Brie. I was astonished that I didn’t miss it, not even when we had raw tacos.
Two months later my new doctor (a naturopath) took me off dairy, wheat and a few other things to address some longstanding health issues. I began cooking and eating a different way and wrote to Emma for baking advice.
I reminded myself that at Haven I’d wanted for nothing. Not even cheese. And certainly not for companionship and inspiration. I realized that as much as I relish the isolation of the writing life, I do occasionally need the blanket of community to bundle me up and keep me from freezing to death. So I found my way to a monthly writers’ workshop. I’m not much of a joiner, so this was a stretch. But then, so was a life without cheese.
Using my workshop group for accountability, I committed to daily writing, once amassing a streak of 261 straight days. I took a break when the kids came home and felt like I’d fallen off the wagon. I shared chapters in monthly workshops, which kept me moving me forward since there was an expectation to show up with new material each time. I finished a first draft. A second. A third. A major revision.
For more than two years now, I’ve been a wheat-free, dairy-free writer. If I’m fortunate enough to find my way back to Haven, I won’t feel like a fraud when I cross the threshold in my stocking feet and I won’t be pining for Brie.