CONGRATULATIONS TO ALEXIS PUTNAM!
This is the last of our Haven Winter Blog Series. I hope you have enjoyed it. I don’t believe in competition, but I do believe in supporting people for fine work. This is the post that my Haven team has chosen as the “winner.” Yet all the Haven alums who have bravely submitted their response to how they give themselves permission to be creative…are “winners.” Thank you for sharing, thank you for reading, and may the rest of your winter be full of creativity. From our muse to yours, Laura
Now Booking 2016 Haven Writing Retreats in glorious Whitefish, Montana:
February 24-28 (full with wait list)
It is July. I stand in the kitchen, crying.
“You say you want to write, well write something! Why do you need to go on some retreat? Seems like the first step is to just put some words down…” My husband sounds both pissy and confused.
The words are logical, but miss the point, and it ignites a fire in me. Through the window I see the sun blazing away out in the backyard, and I’m surprised by the power of my anger, and the strength of my conviction.
“I do! I try! But I need help…” More tears flow, accompanied by a recounting of my view of the past several years. And why I think I should go on the Haven Writing Retreat in Whitefish, Montana. I need space and support to discover a path forward, and to recover the substance of my writing self – my voice.
I brush crumbs off of the cold, smooth counter with my hand and struggle to explain. To convey that the only thing left of my writing dream at this point is the jewel of knowing. Knowing that I need to write. 3 kids, a near-death experience, and years of sleep-deprivation and stay-at-home mothering have just about eaten me alive. And if all I have to go on is this gift of certainty, it is absolutely imperative that I follow it.
My husband is not actually a jerk. He may not fully understand, but he can see that I’m desperate. The truth is, we can’t afford the retreat, and the timing doesn’t make sense.
But these things – bold stands to nurture our deepest selves – are rarely simple or easy. Every story is complicated. So, though it’s a stretch, we resolve to make it work.
And 3 months later, I’m on a plane to Kalispell to find my voice.
Haven is not what I expected, but it turns out to be everything I need. The four days and nights blur into one another – a circling, rhythmic process that builds and swells.
Here, I am nourished, challenged, awakened, connected, raw, open, terrified, exhilarated.
I laugh and cry and stretch and learn and sit in stillness and silence to face my loudest fears.
I find a single thread that will become my voice, and follow it as it grows stronger, truer, and more substantial. Soon it will carry all my weight.
I am given a path, and a plan to carve out time and space to write – even in the busyness and noise and engulfing nature of motherhood.
I begin to hope.
I’m back to my real life now. And back to making that same choice – to honor, protect, and nurture my writing self – in different ways.
These days it’s not a plane ticket to Montana, it’s grabbing a notebook and earplugs, and throwing myself onto the page – ungracefully, maybe, but with certainty.
It’s 20 minutes in the morning to unload my heart and clear my cloudy brain.
It’s 3 hours on Thursdays when the kids are farmed out in 3 directions – and I’m free.
It’s negotiating on Friday night for when (not if) those 2-3 additional hours of writing time will fit into our weekend.
It’s knowing – and willing myself to feel and believe – that committing to this writing is not taking away from those I love. This commitment gives me life. It gives me hope, and makes me more myself. Which, in turn, makes me a better mother, wife, and friend.
Sometimes, making this choice looks like learning to be okay with compromises.
Perhaps it’s okay to throw all the kids in the backyard for half an hour, forbidden from entering the house?
Perhaps it’s okay to allow a few viewings of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (or worse), in this formerly TV-free house?
Experimenting with alternative ways to buy time doesn’t always feel great. I’m still learning. Still haggling with myself. Testing the limits in different directions to see which sacrifices and which trade-offs feel acceptable or sustainable.
Tonight I am not writing. But since that part of me has been resurrected, it’s always running in the background, grounding me. So instead of feeling stuck, lost and echoey inside, and unsure of my direction or purpose, I can embrace all of the not-writing parts of my life more deeply.
I can feel my 2 1/2 year old resting limp against my chest without being burdened. I can breathe deep, feel his soft hair on my face, and acknowledge that he’ll never be this small again, without worrying and wondering what I’ll be left with when he’s grown and gone. Because writing is here to stay.
***Help bring a young writer to Haven Writing Retreats and have me Skyped into your Book Group! Secure this perk by clicking here! Only available to five Book Groups…
2016 Haven Writing Retreat Schedule:
February 24-28 (full with wait list)