I sense it is time to really retreat in between work schedules and ensure cave time to focus on my passion project: Molly, a true crime analysis. Seek solitude, writes Delacroix. I hear you. I am in a fantastic place regarding the project- she feels ripe, ready, eager. Through a tear in the fabric of time and space, Molly, long dead, guides, revealing more and more. It astounds and humbles me.
“Murder, though it hath no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ.”
— Shakespeare, “Hamlet”
Creative process includes allowing for gestation, gathering resources, paying the rent. But it also requires intense dedication. And obedience. So it is important now for me to honor this new call for retreat.
We need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers. – Ester Buchholz
And having allowed the project to gather even more evidence of late, it seems very much like gathering supplies in order to build. To sculpt.
Writing non-fiction is more like sculpture, a matter of shaping the research into the finished thing. – Joan Didion
Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell. ― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
7 brilliant, heart-full and talented colleagues are collaborating to create When Doors Close – a retreat to unlock new possibilities.
I’ve been witnessing heartaching frustration in friends, loved ones, even strangers, and hearing the refrain “all the doors seem to be closing” – over and over. I know these words well. I’ve said these words, and felt at my wits end, at several watersheds in my life.
I’ve got some answers, and some experiences, that will help you (or your friend that you’re thinking of) to make it through to the other side where there’s room to breathe and hope again. And more answers and experiences are in the hands of Brenda Barton, Lucca Hallex, Kat Thorsen, Sue Biely, Tammra Broughton and Jain Wells who will join me in leading participants through a powerful weekend designed to release what is no longer, remember what will always be, and connect to the supports that will make forward movement possible. – Rebecca Mears
I am delighted to be part of this extraordinary retreat!
There are times in life when it feels like all the doors are closing or have closed, and we can’t for the life of us figure out a way forward. When the pressure is intense, courage failed a long time ago, and the heart feels broken.
This weekend retreat is designed to breathe life, hope, and courage back into those weary and worried bones. I have chosen facilitators from varied backgrounds and modalities whose expertise and guiding will enable us all to access, express, process, and discover how our paradigms, experiences, and emotions are collectively impacting what we perceive to be possible – which then creates (or limits!) what IS possible.
The weekend will feature intensive learning sessions, art, sound therapy, play, and quiet-time in which to process personal insight and application. My “prime directive” is for participants to complete the weekend journey feeling empowered, refreshed, unburdened, hopeful, connected to new members of their “tribe”, and ready to take specific and positive action towards the creation of their immediate future.
Here is an overview of what the journey will look like:
Phase 1: Release What Is No Longer
We will begin the retreat weekend on Friday evening by releasing what is no longer supporting, available, healthy, or viable in our lives. We will allow ourselves to appreciate and grieve, and consciously let these things (or people, or situations) go. Brenda Barton will take us through some “Rituals for Releasing”, and then we will “reset” our bodies and minds through a Gong Sound Bath led by Jain Wells.
Phase 2: Remember What Always Will Be
Saturday we will dig deep to reinforce our foundations and re-stabilize on what nothing outside of us can change. Rebecca Mears will lead a morning session on “Re-membering your Truths” that will use visualization, provocative questions, and story-sharing to facilitate each person’s remembering of who they are that they will always be, and the individual truths we hold that can guide us through the dark and foggy times. Kat Thorsen will follow up on these ideas in the afternoon via her powerful use of art and creative expression, leading us all through deeper exploration of what was uncovered in the morning. In the evening, Lucca Hallex will guide the group through an “Intuition Tune-Up”, where we will all get more familiar with the unique ways our intution speaks and guides us – and give a megaphone to what it is telling us right now.
Phase 3: Re-enforce Supports and Connections
On Sunday we begin with PLAY! Sue Biely will engage us in a delicious play-based session that will take us back to our unfettered selves – where creative problem solving, idea generation, and community building happens easily. We will begin to identify possibilities where we had not previously seen any. After lunch, Tammra Broughton will equip us with tools useful for becoming aware of and learning from our negative self-talk, that can empower us as we move forward – in her session “Positively Powerful NLP.” The weekend will be brought to a close Sunday afternoon as Rebecca Mears ensures everyone has next-steps, supports, self-care, and access to encouragement in the session “Constant Vigilance”.
May 20-22, beginning on Friday the 20th at 5:30 pm and ending Sunday the 22nd at 5:30 pm.
Bios and details for each facilitator and their session will be posted soon in the event and on the website.
$250 on-site in Vancouver (limited to 35 seats)
*Lunch/snacks included. Housing overnight is not included, although there are two guest bedrooms available for reservation on-site. Payment plans are welcomed, write Rebecca to set one up. Location is at the House of Dreams in Kerrisdale, Vancouver, easily accessible by transit.
$100 for live streaming online
*For those who join us online, we will provide you a list of art supplies to prepare so that you can participate in all workshops to the maximum even from a distance. Live stream will offer the ability for you to interact with fellow online participants, to ask questions of the facilitator, and will be recorded. Payment plans are welcomed, write Rebecca to set one up.
Huge thank you to Rebecca Mears for envisioning, developing and producing this retreat!
KATARINA THORSEN- THERAPEUTIC ART PORTION
SATURDAY MAY 21, 2016 1-4:30 PM
The session will cover:
Writing (getting at the internal pain)
Drawing lesson– gentle guidance (no experience necessary)
Mind-mapping/ personal planning
Whole brain engagement
Visual storytelling – group
Graphic recording of group dialogue and reflection
Creating group mind map (that can evolve and be added to)
We received 1,466 applications for 2015 and are able to offer 40 residencies. Though your application did not advance into the final round this year, we want you to know that your work resonated with our reviewers.
Sending your work into the world is an act of bravery, and we appreciate the opportunity for our reviewers to experience your voice.
We’d like to share our selection process with you, so you know the thoughtful time and attention your work received. Two Hedgebrook alumnae, who take their role in this process to heart, read your application and collaborated to select applications to continue further into the adjudication process. All applications are anonymous, and any reviewer who recognizes an applicant will recuse herself. Applicants who advance are reviewed by a three-member committee of readers in cities across the country, and then by a five member selection committee in the final round.
We ask reviewers to consider the quality of the writing, the strength of the proposal, and clarity of answers to the ‘Why Hedgebrook, why now?’ question. We are committed to supporting a diversity of voices: cultural, generational, geographical, LGBTQ, by genre, published and emerging.
You are a member of Hedgebrook’s community simply by sharing your work with us. As our global community grows, we are offering more opportunities for women writers to experience Hedgebrook in other ways. If you choose to stay on our mailing list, we’ll share opportunities to write, network, take workshops and engage with writers from around the world. We are committed to advocating for all women writers to gain equal voice in the cultural conversation.
So why is a NO from Hedgebrook a YES?
Because I dared to apply for the 6 week retreat.
To allow myself even the possibility to focus fully on me shows me that my mindset is changing. I am opening myself to opportunities.
I have worked on my project, Molly, since 2003 through all the blood and guts of life. Working on Molly is my refuge. Now I need to give myself the QUIET that she needs.
I was empowered by the application process- empowered by the NO, for it showed me that I am ready to allow myself to now strip away distractions in my life that do not serve me, that do not reflect my value nor feed my life’s work.
I want to give myself to the experience of Hedgebrook- but that need not be at Hedgebrook.
I am expanding my community. I will eat well. Walk. Take time.
Sunday AM.Woke up at 6:30.Showered, prepped.Cozy.Slept so well as the room was inviting, the bed so comfortable and the light so right.Going to grab a coffee while I can and then come back and savour these moments in the cabin.
Chatted with others in the kitchen about fathers and death.Such camaraderie in that.Prepping for 8:30 start on the Raven drawing.
After breakfast, we sat in opening circle and pulled Goddess cards.
Participant 1 pulled “Mary Magdalene” and that message certainly resonated with what this participant focused on this weekend: self-love/heal the situation with love.
Participant 2 pulled “Mother Earth.”Though the message at first seemed environmental and about taking care of the planet, upon reflection it also became about taking care of the self and the inner world.
Laura pulled “Sorceress”- making complete sense to me. I love watching Laura move into new, richer, visible leadership.Trust.I am so blessed to watch my dear friend blossom and expand her work.
Participant 3 pulled “True Love”- a card that shone with the message of the gift of staying in the present.
I pulled LEAP OF FAITH- again!!!Take a risk and put your heart’s true desire into action!
Our drawing session began with a Raven drawing and unfolded into an image of grounded perspective and reflecting the work we have been doing around archetypes.Water (LOVER), Earth (WARRIOR), Raven (MAGICIAN), Crown (SOVEREIGN).
A bio break and then snack time with Saria’s delicious muffins and blueberries plus crumble and whipped cream.Bliss.
Laura has taken us into more perspectives around the work we have been focusing on at this retreat- providing tools to carry with us as we “re-enter” our lives.Clean Talk, Clear Actions.
We are now journaling around what awaits us as we step back into the world.
Deep breaths.Address a piece at a time.In small steps.TRUST.Trust that I am taken care of.This pause from my daily life certainly feels cleansing, but certainly stepping back into it feels slightly ominous because this experience truly allowed me to take a real emotional dive/mental break from TV/Phone/To-do Lists/Worry/Fear- is it possible to allow myself to carry this lesson forward into my life “on the mainland”?To be cleansed by this LEAP OF FAITH?
Filling this journal with stream of consciousness and drawings has been the greatest feeling.Dancing again, teaching, creating, being together, being in the structure of the yurt during processes, pausing and being, being nourished by this welcoming land, being nourished by glorious food, being taken care of but also leading, guiding, sharing who I am as a creative force.
It is Sunday AM and I am tired. A plane flies overhead.Reminds me that tonight I do not open my computer or prep for the week.Leave that to tomorrow.The yurt is being pelted by leaves.Loud leaves.
The participants role played and practiced clean talk.
Then off to a beautiful Mexican lunch with Saria.We presented her with our art piece: Creative Prayer and I read her “A Breakfast for Barbarians” by Gwendolyn MacEwen. To me, the poetry of Gwendolyn MacEwen partnered perfectly with this retreat and this particular poem was a perfect thank you to Saria.
my friends, my sweet barbarians,
there is that hunger which is not for food —
but an eye at the navel turns the appetite
with visions of some fabulous sandwich,
the brain’s golden breakfast
eaten with beasts
with books on plates
let us make an anthology of recipes,
let us edit for breakfast
our most unspeakable appetites —
let us pool spoons, knives
and all cutlery in a cosmic cuisine,
let us answer hunger
with boiled chimera
and apocalyptic tea,
an arcane salad of spiced bibles,
tossed dictionaries —
(O my barbarians
we will consume our mysteries)
and can we, can we slake the gaping eye of our desires?
we will sit around our hewn wood table
until our hair is long and our eyes are feeble,
eating, my people, O my insatiates,
eating until we are no more able
to jack up the jaws any longer —
to no more complain of the soul’s vulgar cavities,
to gaze at each other over the rust-heap of cutlery,
Laura shared more tools to sustain the experience of the retreat and we reviewed our original intentions from Friday evening.
My original intentions:
Stillness of the heart
I truly feel I have met my own intentions during this retreat.I allowed the fears to come up and I met them with love and stillness.I navigated the journey with Laura with ease, being present to changing currents.I allowed myself to welcome back the dancer.I even sang!I know that I now infuse and exude all the lessons of my life and I can maintain my intentions to be present, to allow, to have stillness of the heart. I immerse myself in the creative process- not to escape but to simply BE- to allow stillness, connection, action, results and move back and forth through the spiral.No judgment.
The SIMPLICITY in all this is that I have gifts that I love to share and those gifts are my guardians.I am safe.I am me.I am taken care of by the peacefulness of the creative process, by the stillness of knowledge, by the trust.
That is one thing I’d like to share with the group: TRUST.When the fear arises, fall back to stillness and trust. Unravel the past from the present, from the future, the depression from the anxiety from the peace and give them all space to dance and breathe together, to let it all BREATHE.
Part 3 October 18, 2014 SATURDAY MIDDAY: THE CYCLOPS GODDESS
Laura explained the Symbols Way process and got us in the frame of mind to fully enter the process this afternoon.
As part of our facilitation posters, I had reflected the 4 archetypes in my own way, and I feel the imagery I chose worked well within our natural Xenia landscape:
But before each participant was taken through the Symbols Way process individually, we dove into more messy creative process. I took the participants through my chakra drawing exercise— taken from previous lessons I have shared with other students. I love building and re-interpreting.
We drew a human figure and then went on to drawing a 3-D eye. We wrote the chakra chart and started incorporating the lessons thus far. It was truly a GO WITH IT exercise, creating a CYCLOPS GODDESS that we just kept layering on top of!
Of course, I had to look up the meaning of the CYCLOPS to see why she was appearing:
Blind, yet seeing. Ego vs spiritual enlightenment.
CYCL: the circle, the wheel.
HERE WE GO. More magic! How appropriate that the words in the chant we sang on the way to the sanctuary last night were:
We’re spiralling into the circle, the circle of our wheel.
We’re spiralling into the circle, the circle of our wheel.
We are the weavers, we are the woven ones,
We are the dreamers, we are the dream.
We are the children, we are the chosen ones,
We are all part of the web.
We also journaled around the matrilineal question: What was your mother’s name? And if you know them, your grandmother and your great grandmother’s names? What are some qualities you or others associate with each of these women? This was a great way to “set the scene” for beginning the Symbols Way process.
A HUGE THANK YOU TO LAURA FOR PROVIDING THIS OPPORTUNITY FOR ME.
SPECIAL THANK YOU Saria, and to Angelyn, Loretta, Fran and Lorena
Here are some journal excerpts so you can get a small glimpse as to how powerful the experience was for me.
October 17, 2014 FRIDAY
Sitting in the kitchen at Xenia with Laura as Saria makes Shepherd’s Pie. We took the 11 AM ferry- lunch at Artisan’s Square then to Xenia to prep and settle. Expecting guests at 6:30 and the large Yurt is all set up.
Everyone has arrived. Angelyn comes to visit as we wait for dinner and talks about the history of Xenia.
Opening circle after dinner (checkins, intros, intentions, expectations, What is the crossroads that you find yourself at this time?) We chanted and sang as we walked in the rain to the Sanctuary.
Laura read a beautiful quote on LISTENING. We then went into SILENCE (to end at 9 AM opening circle on Saturday after breakfast). We sat in silence for many many pregnant minutes. Ok- so THIS is indeed SILENCE.
We walked back to the lodge and ate dessert. I walked to the yurt to get my journal and enjoy the space for awhile. I am now back at the Maple Lodge (sharing it tonight with Laura)- prepping for bed.
I had panicked at the sanctuary- that familiar trigger as the darkness felt like a black pool of ink floating above me and descending. But I found I could stay with it. I breathed deep breaths in time with my heart and I was right back to being with my parents at their last breaths. My heart beat with theirs and as theirs slowed mine carried on- carried on beating for them.
But I am now feeling angst come up as I anticipate turning out the lights.
Xenia is inviting me to feel safe. Enveloping me in magic. And I am ready to see it, hear it, experience it and give myself to it.
Recall seeing two deer– gentleness, move through life and obstacles with grace, sensitive, intuitive, ability to change directions quickly, to be in touch with life’s mysteries.
Recall seeing the little frog trying to get in through our door at Maple Lodge.
“As symbol of transition and transformation, this spirit animal supports us in times of change. Strongly associated with the water element, it connects us with the world of emotions and feminine energies, as well as the process of cleansing, whether it’s physical, emotional, or more spiritual or energetic.” [source]
I took the frog as an invite to dive into creative process- and as a reminder that this weekend is a leap of faith on our part. He was a small frog- ie. small steps, take it easy. Recall that Laura drew the Aine: Leap of Faith goddess card yesterday and I drew it today… [I drew it again on Sunday!] Hello!
“Allow yourself to trust that the Universe will support and guide you where you need to be. Virtue recommends going on a nature walk, meditating, or praying to aid in making a decision upon what your heart truly desires. Once making that decision, the Universe will provide for you! You will begin to see helpers come your way, sudden opportunities opening up for you, or even books that can help you along your journey. But none of this will happen if you do not take action steps and get started on fulfilling your dreams. Do not get overwhelmed. Breakdown your goals into smaller tasks to complete over a period of time. Be gentle and kind to yourself, but remain focused.” [source]
It was interesting falling into silence— very liquidly somehow. Texting, mumbling, writing may not be full silence- but hey one step at a time. OK- lights out. Be still my heart. The deer and frog protect.
Stay tuned for Part 2 Saturday morning…
And for information on more workshops and retreats!
We will provide you with tools for gaining insight and shifting perspective using inspiring themes such as archetype symbology and shadow-work. Self-reflection activities will take you deeper into your own journey while group experiences expand your mindset.
Laura will share authentic leadership exercises to assist you in gaining perspective on your personal and professional challenges. Kat will guide you through creative process and expression and will facilitate those precious aha moments we all love to celebrate.
What we’re offering you is a weekend of Safety, Gentleness, Nurturing, Discovery and a wee bit of Wildness!
“My mission is to create opportunities for inspiration & transformation.”
Laura is a business consultant, facilitator and writer. She has a broad understanding of both the rewards and challenges of entrepreneurial life as well as the corporate and non-profit sectors. Laura is an associate consultant with ViRTUS, and Authentic Leadership Global, Inc. She brings a variety of facilitation, strategic planning, team building and leadership tools into her practice. Known as a connector, Laura is passionate about sharing her experiences with ‘netweaving’, actively connecting those with similar interests and activities. She also is a volunteer facilitator of restorative justice with the North Shore Restorative Justice Society.
“My mission is to awaken creative expression through global art initiatives.”
Kat is a Vancouver artist, craftivst and therapeutic art facilitator and is passionate in her belief that art can heal and build connections. Kat facilitates arts and crafts workshops for all ages across the Lower Mainland and coordinates Frames Film Project, an arts-based program providing life- and employment skills for local at-risk youth. Her popular interactive art events and street art encourages participants to become part of the creative process. Kat published her first book, Drawn Together- Maintaining Connections and Navigating Life’s Challenges with Art in 2013. Her next book is a true crime analysis and graphic novel based on her research into a historical Vancouver murder mystery.
The Labyrinth is an Archetype, a divine imprint found in spiritual traditions in various forms around the world. By walking the labyrinth we are discovering a long forgotten mystical tradition which becomes a metaphor for our own spiritual journey. The walk is a shared journey – an activity which communities can do together to coalesce and unify vision. The labyrinth is a mandala that meets our longing for a change of heart; for a change of ways in how we live together and for the energy, the vision, and the courage to become agents of transformation.
I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them.
― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Experience self-discovery, connection and the glorious insights that being in nature provides as we embrace the gorgeous BC rainforest and island setting of Xenia Centre.
You will be nurtured by amazing fresh food and our Xenia host Saria will be available throughout the weekend to provide healing sessions.
Why Xenia? “Xenia” stands for the cross-pollenation of ideas between guest and host. It means hospitality and being friends to the stranger. Xenia has always opened its doors and heart to whomever finds their way down here. Xenia Centre is a gift to humanity, evoking service, she offers back peace, presence and a direct experience of ones true nature. Through so much love and attention being poured into her, Xenia has impacted the lives of thousands from around the world. This is truly a sacred place, a place that brings us home. In 1994, a young widow with a small child risked all to convert a dilapidated old sheep farm into one of the worlds most beautiful and unique sanctuaries. Against all financial advice, she followed her souls yearning to service this mission, the dream of Xenia called Angelyn to its birth.
Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul. – Marcus Aurelius
My life has taken an interesting turn, and I find myself having to declare bankruptcy and start totally fresh. This means giving up my tiny condo, packing up and finding new live work space, and basically reevaluating many things in my life. It is an interesting time for me as my parents have passed away (I have done a lot of processing and grieving around my definition as “daughter”) and I have left my frontline youth work that was wearing me down and leaving me depressed. I realize I have been carrying around- not only an insurmountable sack of debt that just kept getting heavier by the day- but that I have also been carrying a lot of emotional baggage. I am left with “nothing” yet left with everything beautiful and whole. I refuse to see this as a failure on my part. As an artist, I need to be fully open and vulnerable. And I know I was born with a gift for art for a purpose. This transition will take time. It will be incredibly healing. I am ready.
We are all born with gifts. We all ride the rollercoaster of life. What are your gifts? Passions? Where are you right now on this crazy ride?
I am 100% committed to my graphic novel and several exciting art and workshop projects! Can’t wait to share those with you! The team I am working with is extraordinary- including family, sister-friend, interns, youth…
But I am taking a bit of a retreat to focus my attention on both the move and on these projects. I am refocusing and deciding which projects are the most important and which ones I can place on the shelf.
And I am still connected with youth work in a new and exciting way. Stay tuned!
From Anna Thorsen, Creative Director and Katarina Thorsen, Art Director:
We want to take a moment to say THANK YOU.
It was a year ago on Feb 12, 2013 that pen was first put to paper on the first draft of our business plan at Cafca Café on Esplanade & Lonsdale in North Vancouver.
In the last year, we released three t-shirt collections, hosted two art events in Vancouver, one in San Francisco, spent time in Los Angeles & SF for research, met an INSANE amount of new faces in Vancouver, incorporated the business, raised over $38,000 in financing loans and learned more about business, ourselves and life than could ever be explained sufficiently in a ‘we’ve done it!’ list…