Retreat Week, Day 1


My family went away this morning and have promised to return before The Walking Dead’s second episode of the season. This is probably the first fall television season that we’re watching so many shows as a family. Our oldest son usually skips out, but he did spend six weeks with us watching the premiere season of Fear the Walking Dead. Considering that he doesn’t watch the main show anymore,  this was quite an achievement.

Well, it’s retreat week again. It’s funny how it always seems to fall during this week in October. I really don’t plan it that way. I make some kind of a preliminary plan of activities, and when I look at the calendar, it’s this week again. It seems to have moved from psychologically necessary for my mental health to traditional week that is necessary for my mental health. Regardless of the changes in my reasoning behind the retreat, it is still important to me, and a necessity to keep me going until the next retreat.

My retreats vary from writing to spiritual to creative to a combination of all of those things.

Today I begin with a Fall Retreat at the Dominican Center where I enjoy going. I’ve had this retreat director once before, and I really like the way she runs this creative retreat in particular. There is group time with music and photographs, and then free time to explore what strikes us. There is also lunch involved. There is time to meet and get to know others, and time to be alone. Today, I was a little flustered. I couldn’t figure out how to introduce myself to the group. At lunch, I was deathly dull, and couldn’t answer the simplest questions about what I do with my life. I need a 30 second elevator pitch for myself. And I’m a writer! Pathetic, no?

I’m also floundering a bit. The morning session was shorter than usual, so I didn’t want to start anything new, so I just vegged out in one of the dorm rooms. Although I think in this environment they call that meditating. LOL. The second session wasn’t very useful in the creating either. I laid on the bed, just to think for a minute, and the next thing I knew it was twenty minutes later and they were ringing the bell to return to the chapel. Except, as I found out later, no one was ringing the bell. It must have been my inner alarm clock, which only seems to work at the retreat house.

It’s not until now that I’m home that I’m feeling all the energy swirling through me. I watched an episode of TWD on Netflix, and now I have everything I tried to do earlier sending me words and images that I’m supposed to make into words, and get them out and on paper. Or on screen. To me, they’re both the same thing.

I do have some thoughts on other items I want to include in my week.

Sacred Space. Currently, my sacred space, my corner office, is a disaster. About 85% of that is my fault. 10% is still Gishwhes. The rest is my family thinking I can’t see their junk mixed in with mine. I can see it. Trust me. Because this is a retreat week, I will be looking for sacred spaces for each of my days that is away from home. I’ll explain some of my plans below, and some of those contain a sacred space that is new to me.

Object. In one retreat, we were given a shell. In another, a key. For me, I’m a collector. I have prayer cards of important people who I admire, and I would love something from my own saint, St. Elen. My goal is to make a prayer card for her and for myself. It’s the only way I’ll have something of her. I have a rock from Dolwyddelan Castle that I carry. I have Bob, my pocket frog, but that’s more for anxiety than for spirituality. I have medals and objects that my church gives out each lent. Those are very meaningful to me because I started getting them before I became Catholic. They’re like a bridge from one life to the next.

Music. Or conversely, quiet. I’m not big on quiet, but having said that, I’m not big on noise either. I’ve mentioned liking Cracker Barrel for its white noise effect. I also like the library, but less so. I’m going to try to put together a playlist on my kindle for this week. I was just introduced to Balt vs. Beats by Norman Reedus. It’s an album by Balthazar Getty, and the first single, Cars Drive By is something that I shouldn’t like (it’s not my style), but it really struck a chord in me. It touched my soul. I might have to set the video on repeat on You Tube since it’s not sold on Amazon yet. I haven’t checked iTunes, but they’re next on my list.

Praise and Gratitude. Two things I often forget; not because they’re not in my heart – they truly are, but because sometimes it sounds…..pushy to my ears. I feel like my praising G-d and thanking Him and His Son is almost a public pronouncement because I write so much about my spirit, and my spirituality. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Perhaps if I make it part of my retreat ritual, it will come to me more easily in my daily spirit searches. I praise G-d and I thank the Dominican Sisters for these opportunities. I take as many as I can afford, and they are generous with their scholarships. I get so much out of these days. I know I’ve been talking about how difficult today was to get into a mindset, but in fact, this day will inspire me and influence my writing the rest of the season. It opened me up for it, and for that I am truly grateful.

I have no set or specific goals other than to discover something new about me and/or the world around me, to write something worthwhile, to finish my WIPs for this week, and plan next week’s writing and blog posts for the theme.

My week is formally planned until Thursday, so I will need to come up with something for Friday. I think Saturday is going to be spent decompressing. Finally on Sunday, the man who was in the RCIA class the year before me, and his wife just had a baby. Molly’s baptism is Sunday during Mass, and I want to be there. They were both so supportive of my time in the program and after my baptism, and I really appreciated that. They still always smile and say hello when they see me.

Basically, this is my week to try new things creatively. Focus on what’s working, get rid of what’s not, expand my creativity.

I’ve made a list of my current WIPs and my new projects that I want to begin on.

Let me share my schedule with you:

Today: Heaven and Earth Retreat, Wait for my family to get home from Grandma’s, Girl Meets Texas Part 3 (don’t judge me), and The Walking Dead.

Monday: Anointing (Healing) Mass and Lunch at Church, cook roast beef for family

Tuesday: Writing Group, Living Rosary at Church

Wednesday: Flu Shots with husband. After dropping him off, I think I’m going to head either to the library to write or to one of my favorite “coffee shops” where I get a lot of things done, and words written – Starbucks, Cracker Barrel, Red Robin, although probably not that last one.

Thursday –  The North American Martyrs Feast day is on Monday, but since the healing mass came up, I’ve decided to go to their shine Thursday. At this encore visit to Auriesville and the Shine of Our Lady of Martyrs, I plan on seeing the two museums that are on site, meditating on the Palisade, and possibly returning to the Ravine, although that depends on how I’m feeling physically.

As I said earlier, that leaves Friday. I may take Friday as an outdoors day, wander about and take photographs.

Hopefully I’ll have something new to post each day with what I’ve done the day before; possibly on the same day, depending on the wifi situation and if I want the posting to be in the moment. I will see how it feels. This week is very much about seeing how it feels. I also hope to include photographs of things that will be inspiring me during the week. I am a writer first and foremost, but I’d like my photos to take a larger place in my overall expressionism. I want to set up a proper home page with my links to the blog pages and possibly a proper index by Thanksgiving, but maybe I can start it this week and it will give me the incentive of having a WIP rather than a not yet started.

One word about today’s creative and writing process: This is the first time that I’ve brought my keyboard and kindle to a retreat. I’ve always used pen and paper and then transcribed via computer, and more recently k&k. Today, I have both. For me, his seems to have worked better since if I want to start a writing piece (like this one which I started in the second free session) or a blog post, I can do that in my office suite on kindle. And when I run out of space on the kindle, I can use Dropbox. The keyboard travels so well that I’m actually bringing less of the things that I end up not needing and eliminating wasted space and my bags are lighter. I found the same thing when I recently traveled to Florida. A+ for technical processes.

My upcoming projects for this week include:

5-7 Retreat posts

Dilemma prompt for writing group due Tuesday

Review of my Walking Dead speculation. In other words, how accurate was I? (Hint: Not very.)

Begin outlines for both of my books. Work on these at least twice a week, hopefully more.

Work and complete my WIPs which include:

Resume, focusing more on writing

FAQ for my blog and my Facebook

Daryl Dixon Meta, which I’ve finally started

Outline for TWD fan fiction that I need to get out of my head

Outline some of the other writing pieces for next week’s theme of Halloween.

Before I sign off, I’d like to pause for those feel good moments of today:

I was complimented on my rainbow shoelaces, my shirt, which is my favorite shirt, and my new woolen scarf that I got for my Maggie Greene cosplay. I was very cold today, but that scarf is warm so it’s useful too. I love when my cosplays can be real clothes that I can wear in other real world contexts.

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