Welcome to Writers’ Sanctuary

You may download a PDF copy of this document if you prefer by clicking this link.
 

Welcome Writer!

I’m delighted you’ve made the decision to nurture your creative self by coming to Writers’ Sanctuary.

General Notes to make the day as supportive to the creative process as possible:

What to bring: You will be doing writing on the spot, so please bring whatever writers’ tools you like best to work with: journal and pen, or laptop.

Cell phones: please turn off your cell phone if you can. If you need to leave it on because of child care issues or whatever other complicated situation is happening, please have it on vibrate and if you need to answer it, either go outside or into my office with the door closed to have your conversation. As much as possible, resist the urge to check texts and email. This is your day away from all that!

Clothing: This house has big picture windows looking over the pond and a fireplace as well. Temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit in the main writing space. I recommend you bring layers, from a tank top underneath to something quite warm on top, so that you can shed or cover up and always be comfortable. Also, the house is not airconditioned, so if you’re coming from May to September, it’s good to have options for comfort.

Food: Please let me know if you have dietary issues early in the week before Sanctuary begins so I can be sure to take your needs into account when planning the menu.

Who you will be writing with: There is a community of writers who call themselves Sanctuary Lifers – they’ve been coming for a long time and they say they intend to keep coming. Hooray! Most Sanctuaries have a mix of novice or emerging writers and established Sanctuarians. The long-timers do a wonderful job of anchoring the practice, and always welcome new and emerging voices. It’s an honour and a privilege to witness new or shy writers beginning to discover and believe in their voices on the page.

What you will be writing: As the facilitator, I offer various prompts intended to prime the writing pump. However, this is YOUR writing time. You are always free to ignore my prompt and write whatever you want to be working on. All writers are welcome here – Sanctuarians write everything from life essay and journal entries to long and short fiction, poetry, or scripts and plays. This creates a rich mix of genres that often ends up encouraging writers to experiment with unfamiliar forms and voices. There is no way to do this wrong – you’ll probably hear me say this several times over the course of a day.


On the following pages you will find some notes to orient you so that you know what to expect.

Rhythm of the Day (times are approximate)

Arrival and Parking

Maps and other information about how to get here can be found at this link:
http://inkslingers.ca/inkslingers/contact/location-of-uplands-writing-retreat/

My cell phone number (in case you get lost) is 905-985-8389 and, should I not answer for some reason, you could also call James at 416-435-7372.

Please try and park, if possible, so that no one is blocked in. Sometimes people have to leave before the day is over.

Getting Started

Participants arrive a little before 10:00 so that we’re ready to settle into our seats and begin on time. There is always coffee and tea available and usually some light snacks – fruit, cheese, muffins – in case you were rushing and didn’t get breakfast.
We start with a check-in – generally introducing ourselves to each other and saying a sentence or two about where we’re at with our writing.

Grounding Meditation (5 minutes or so)

Then we do a brief grounding meditation – a couple of minutes of focussing on the breath, on physical presence – to slow our brains down and enter that light trance state from where (in my experience) the best writing comes.

Brain Dump (15 minutes or so)

Next we spend about 15 minutes doing Proprioceptive Writing* (instructions below).
This is the “brain dump” portion of the day. It’s a chance to set down things that are taking up a lot of mental real estate, or to write about what you want to explore or accomplish for the day. You may do the formal Proprioceptive practice, or you are welcome to simply journal. You won’t be asked to share this writing. (And sharing is ALWAYS optional anyway – read more about this under the AWA Guidelines).

Prompted Writing and Reading (10:30 to 1:00)

Most Sanctuaries there will be two sessions of writing and (optional) reading. From about 10:30 – 1:00 I will guide participants (and myself too!) in writing to prompts and then (optional) sharing.

I lead workshops in the AWA Method

developed by Pat Schneider 30 years ago, a method with a long history of supporting writers in discovering and exercising their voices and expanding their abilities with craft in writing.

A larger explanation of the AWA method can be read below, but two of the key principles are:

  1. A high level of confidentiality is maintained to protect writers and their writing.
  2. For first draft writing only what is strong and working in the piece with receive feedback. Questions, suggestions and constructive critique are reserved for later, edited work.

All this boils down to a simple statement: the safety of your psyche and your work is paramount in an AWA workshop. I will be writing along with you, but my primary work is to keep the space safe and productive so you can relax, trust the process and the group, and work on your writing.

Lunch – (approximately 1:00 to 2:00)

Lots of writers say they come to Sanctuary more for the food than for the writing. They’re joking, but I do try hard to make sure that you’re nurtured in body and soul during the day, so I try to ensure that the food is healthy and delicious. If you have special needs regarding your food PLEASE let me know a few days ahead of time – I’ll do my best to incorporate your needs into the menu.

Silent Focused Time (2:00 to 4:00 pm)

At 2:00 pm we enter our 2 hours of silent focus. You may want to expand on something you started in the morning, or you may have brought something to edit. Or you may want to use that time to create new material for a project you’re already engaged with – a novel, new poems for your collection, etc.

If you and another writer want to talk, you’re welcome to outside and chat – either going for a walk, or at least far enough away from the house that you won’t disturb the concentration of the others.

This day is meant to be nurturing time for you. Sometimes what we need for creativity is just a break – or a nap – so feel free to support yourself in whatever way is best for you. There are various soft horizontal surfaces with pillows and blankets for a nap, and Uplands is located on almost 500 acres of land on a dirt road, so there’s the opportunity to get out and enjoy nature as well. When the weather is warm, you are welcome to sit outside and write too.

Final Sharing and Wrap-Up (4:00 to 5:00 pm)

At about 5 minutes to 4:00 I call writers back together. For the last hour each writer has a few minutes to share and receive feedback (if desired) on what they’ve been working on. If you want feedback on a more polished piece or have a specific question about whether or not something is working, this is the chance to get that. Or you may choose to read another piece that you produced in the morning but haven’t had a chance to share yet. Or you may be tired and simply want to listen and comment.

Sometimes people’s schedules mean that they can’t stay till the end of the day – the group is often smaller by 4:00 than it is in the morning. If you need to leave early, that’s fine. We all have busy lives – that’s why there’s a need for Sanctuary!

_____________________

Here is a quick overview of the AWA Method, designed to keep writers and their work safe.

THE FIVE ESSENTIAL AFFIRMATIONS

  1. Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
  2. Everyone is born with creative genius.
  3. Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or education level.
  4. The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.
  5. A writer is someone who writes.

THE FIVE ESSENTIAL PRACTICES

  1. In the workshop we maintain a non-hierarchical spirit regarding how we treat the writing (e.g. the facilitator is not the “expert” & no one’s writing is treated differently than anyone else’s).
  2. Confidentiality about what is written in the workshop is maintained at all times, and the privacy of the writer is protected.We maintain confidentiality in four different ways
    • We treat all writing as story or as fiction – feedback is offered to the writing not to the life of the person writing. We refer to the “I” voice in the piece as the speaker, the narrator, the character, etc.
    • At all times, writers are free to refrain from reading their work aloud.
    • The work is only open for feedback at the moment it is offered. Once the discussion has moved on to another piece of writing, no one refers back to it again. This means that no one will question or address the writer about their piece afterwards in any way, particularly any way that breaches the contract that all work offered here is fiction.
    • And finally, we don’t talk about any work we’ve heard here to anyone outside of the workshop space.
  3. Absolutely no criticism, suggestion, or question is directed toward the writer in response to first-draft, just-written work. A thorough critique is offered only when the writer asks for it, and only when he or she has distributed work in manuscript form. When work has been offered in manuscript form, critiques are balanced; there is as much affirmation as suggestion for change.
  4. The teaching of craft is taken seriously, and is conducted through exercises that invite experimentation and growth.
  5. The leader writes along with the participants, and reads that work aloud as well. This practice is absolutely necessary, for only in this way is there equality of risk-taking and mutuality of trust.

______________________

Practice of Feedback for On-the-Spot Writing

  1. We are free to write what we want — exercises are offered as a prompt or a jumping off point, not as something to restrict the writing.
  2. We are invited to read. Anyone at any time is free to pass up their turn to read. (Some sensitivity is needed around this – sometimes writers pass because they are intimidated by the voices they have heard and think they won’t “measure up”. In that case we may offer a gentle nudge – but never force anyone– to share.)
  3. We honour the writer and the writing by listening carefully.
  4. Everything shared in this room stays in this room. Confidentiality is key to creating a safe space for each writer.
  5. We treat everything as fiction. In responding, we refer to the narrator/speaker/ main character, not to “the author”, as the voice of the piece.
  6. At this stage, when the writing is unpolished and the author still vulnerable, we do not make suggestions about what might make the piece stronger.
    We respond by giving back to the writer, in words as close as we can to the way the author wrote them, “what stayed with us” or “what was strong in that piece for us”. Sometimes what stays with us will be an emotion or a bodily sensation. That can be offered back as well.
  7. We concentrate on the writing being offered, not on our own similar experiences.
  8. We remember that, while writing is often therapeutic, this is not a therapy group. If the writer begins to cry, as sometimes happens, we do not rush to comfort them – we trust that they are moving through their process as they need to. We breathe and wait until they are able to finish the reading.
  9. We remember that, while other writers may express in their writing sentiments with which we disagree, this is not a discussion group for content. We focus on the craft of the writing.

______________________________


Proprioceptive Writing

is done at the beginning of Sanctuary as both “brain dump” (to unload whatever may be weighing on your mind or calling for your attention, whether you’re aware of it or not) and as exploration.

YOU WILL NOT BE ASKED TO READ YOUR PROPRIOCEPTIVE WORK ALOUD!

This is your place to write anything, say anything. (On the other hand if something comes up that you do want to read aloud, you are welcome to do so when it comes time to share your work.)

Practices for Proprioceptive Writing:

Write what you hear in your mind. If you want, you can start with the sentence stem: “this is where I am right now…”
Listen to what you write as you write it
Pay attention to each word, each phrase as you write and watch for
“where the energy is”.
Be ready to ask the proprioceptive question: What do I mean by _________?

EXAMPLE:
For instance, suppose you were writing about how your sister in law supports you – and as you’re watching yourself write you feel that little frisson of energy when you hit the word “support”. You would write “What do I mean by support?” and then you would answer that question as you continued to write.

The blank is whatever you “hear” during your session. This is about getting out what you hear and not judging the content. This is personal writing. Explore whatever is inside, then you will be able to expand it creatively afterward should you choose to do so.

When the Proprioceptive part of the morning is finished, I will ask 4 quick concluding questions before we move on to the next section of the day.

Sanctuaries in 2017

Sanctuary writers 635

Sue Reynolds 125

Writers’ Sanctuary
with Sue Reynolds

LEARN MORE ABOUT WRITER’S SANCTUARY WITH SUE HERE

Dates for first half of 2017

Sunday, Jan. 22nd

Sunday, Feb. 5th

Saturday, March 4th

Sunday, March 5th

Sunday, March 26th

Sunday, Apr. 2nd

Saturday, April 22nd

Sunday, May 7th

Saturday, May 27th

Saturday, June 17th

Sunday, June 25th

CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN TO REGISTRATION PAGE for Writers’ Sanctuary with Sue

 

Register for a 2017 Writers’ Sanctuary Single Day Retreat with Sue Reynolds

Please fill out this form to register for Writers’ Sanctuary

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 Sunday Feb 5th (waitlist only) Saturday March 4th (waitlist only) Sunday March 5th (waitlist only) Sunday March 26th (waitlist only) Sunday April 2nd (waitlist only) Saturday April 22nd (waitlist only) Sunday May 7th (waitlist only) Saturday May 27th (waitlist only) Saturday June 17th (waitlist only) Sunday June 25th (waitlist only)

(Please note: if the date you are requesting is WAIT LIST ONLY, you are not required to pay a registration fee unless your WAIT LIST ONLY spot becomes available and you're able to attend. If a spot does not become available, but you have paid already, a full refund will be issued or transferred to another date if you wish.)

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2017 Winter – Turning your Life into Story… and into publication

Facilitated by Sue Reynolds

Place: OSHAWA – Trent University in Oshawa, Room 105, 55 Thornton Rd S, Oshawa, ON L1J 5Y1
Times: 7:00 – 9:00 pm.
Dates: Monday nights, January 30 – March 27 (please note – there is no class on Feb. 20)

This 8 week course shows participants how to find the germs of story in personal experience (their own or those of their family and friends) and transform them into short fiction.
Through the study of existing short stories and learning writer’s craft techniques, authors will experiment with their own tales.

Homework can be submitted privately for individual feedback each week.
By the end of the course writers will produce one or two polished stories and, if they choose, “put a stamp on it” – i.e., identify a contest or journal they think is an ideal market for their story and send the piece off.

Susan Lynn Reynolds is a writer, teacher and psychotherapist. She teaches writing through workshops in the community, in college continuing education programs, and in social services settings. She writes and has won awards for her YA novel, short stories, poems and non-fiction.
She has been leading writing groups since 1998 and has been certified to lead workshops in the Amherst Writers method since 2002. She is licensed to work with groups doing expressive writing for wellness as well.

She has been leading writing workshops for female inmates at Central East Correctional Centre for 12 years, a program for which she received the June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism.

To REGISTER

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Registration for Non Members




$220.00 + HST

Registration for Writers’ Community Members




$198.00 +HST

 

Write Around the World – with AWA and me

writing picture 02 sml

Come Experience the AWA Method in Action

Sunday morning,
October 23rd,
10:00 to 1:00
at Trent University in Oshawa,
55 Thornton Road South, Room 116, Oshawa, ON L1J 5Y1

This Sunday participate in “Write Around the World” – a weekend writing event held in support of Amherst Writers & Artists, the organization that trained me to be a writing workshop facilitator back in 2002 and that has trained over 1400 facilitators worldwide. (For more information on the kinds of work AWA facilitators are doing, please click here.)

I will be leading a writing workshop conducted in the AWA method at Trent University in Oshawa on Sunday morning from 10:00 to 1:00. We’ll produce several pieces that morning and participants can choose one to enter with AWA where it will be published on their website. The piece can be one page of poetry or one page of double spaced prose.

There is no fixed cost to this event, but I ask that you either get sponsorship or sponsor yourself. (No donation is too small!) All proceeds will be donated to AWA and you will receive a tax receipt.
 

“Whether your purpose for writing is artistic expression, communication with friends and family, the healing of the inner life, or achieving public recognition for your art —the foundation is the same: the claiming of yourself as an artist/writer and the strengthening of your writing voice through practice, study, and helpful response from other writers.” ~Pat Schneider, founder of AWA, in Writing Alone and With Others

 

Please use this registration form to let me know you are coming.

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writing 300

You can use this button to donate, or you can bring cash or a cheque the day of the workshop:

 

This button will open a portal with a donation of 1.00 and a quantity of 1. Change the quantity to the number of dollars you would like to donate, hit “Tab” or “Enter” so the dollar figure adjusts to the new quantity, and then click the yellow and blue Paypal button to go to the Paypal Portal and complete your payment.

Thank you so much!

awa-postcard-for-iowa-presentation-version-1

Write Around the World – with AWA and me

writing picture 02 sml

Come Experience the AWA Method in Action

Sunday morning,
October 23rd,
10:00 to 1:00
at Trent University in Oshawa,
55 Thornton Road South, Room 116, Oshawa, ON L1J 5Y1

This Sunday participate in “Write Around the World” – a weekend writing event held in support of Amherst Writers & Artists, the organization that trained me to be a writing workshop facilitator back in 2002 and that has trained over 1400 facilitators worldwide. (For more information on the kinds of work AWA facilitators are doing, please click here.)

I will be leading a writing workshop conducted in the AWA method at Trent University in Oshawa on Sunday morning from 10:00 to 1:00. We’ll produce several pieces that morning and participants can choose one to enter with AWA where it will be published on their website. The piece can be one page of poetry or one page of double spaced prose.

There is no fixed cost to this event, but I ask that you either get sponsorship or sponsor yourself. (No donation is too small!) All proceeds will be donated to AWA and you will receive a tax receipt.
 

“Whether your purpose for writing is artistic expression, communication with friends and family, the healing of the inner life, or achieving public recognition for your art —the foundation is the same: the claiming of yourself as an artist/writer and the strengthening of your writing voice through practice, study, and helpful response from other writers.” ~Pat Schneider, founder of AWA, in Writing Alone and With Others

 

Please use this registration form to let me know you are coming.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Telephone: (required)

Please register me for Write Around the World:

Optional Message

Input the code: captcha

writing 300

You can use this button to donate, or you can bring cash or a cheque the day of the workshop:

 

This button will open a portal with a donation of 1.00 and a quantity of 1. Change the quantity to the number of dollars you would like to donate, hit “Tab” or “Enter” so the dollar figure adjusts to the new quantity, and then click the yellow and blue Paypal button to go to the Paypal Portal and complete your payment.

Thank you so much!

awa-postcard-for-iowa-presentation-version-1

What AWA Facilitators do

Pen in a 300Here is a snapshot of the reach and power of the AWA Method:

  • Vicki Pinkerton leads writing workshops with the Nuntut Gwit’chen people north of the Arctic Circle.
  • Jill Goodacre writes with First Nation adults and intergenerational survivors who suffer from the legacy of Indian Residential School trauma in British Columbia.
  • Mary Tuchscherer travels to Limbe, Malawi, and writes with teachers and AIDS orphans
  • Aaron Zimmerman offers writing workshops with the incarcerated men at Rikers Island, and in methadone clinics, homeless shelters and afterschool programs in Brooklyn, New York
  • Mary Kim Kaylor leads a writing workshop in a high security hospital with patients and guards in Lake Oswego, Oregon
  • Kate Murphy writes with the blind at the Royal National Institute of Blind People in Northern Ireland
  • Katie McCleary offers workshops with hundreds of teens in Sacramento, California

and of course, I’ve been writing for 12 years with women (and occasionally men) incarcerated in the Lindsay Correctional Centre in Ontario. And here in Toronto the Toronto Writers’ Collective are doing terrific work offering free workshops for the last three years to a wide range of marginalized and silenced populations.

This list is both small and huge: small in representing only a fraction of the people that AWA reaches; huge in that it represents the power of what we do.

We who write together know that as our words arrive on the page, we are deeply connected to who we are and to each other. We also know listening to others and being listened to in return is profound. We gave each other this gift, and AWA made it possible.

To sign up for the workshop on Sunday October 23rd, please click this link and register at the bottom.

If you can’t join us but would still like to support the work we do, you can donate here:

 

This button will open a portal with a donation of 1.00 and a quantity of 1. Change the quantity to the number of dollars you would like to donate, hit “Tab” or “Enter” so the dollar figure adjusts to the new quantity, and then click the yellow and blue Paypal button to go to the Paypal Portal and complete your payment.

Thank you so much!

 

Registration for Your One Wild & Precious Life

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_________________________
CANCELLATION POLICY:
If we receive your cancellation notice up to five days in advance of the retreat, (for instance, if the retreat is on a Saturday, we must hear from you by midnight on the previous Sunday) you may choose to apply your deposit to a future retreat or receive a refund (minus a $20 administration fee).

If you cancel with less than five days notice, (in the example above, for instance, it would be anytime Monday or later) and your spot cannot be filled from a waiting list, no refund will be made. However, you are permitted to sell or gift your spot for that date to another person. If you do this, please email or call Sue (905-985-8389) right away to provide the contact information of your replacement. Since Sue provides lunch, it is important that she know of any dietary restrictions etc.

NOTE: *If a retreat is cancelled for any reason, such as severe winter weather creates dangerous driving conditions, Sue will email and call all registered participants. In this situation, participants may request a full refund or transfer their payment to a future retreat date.
 

A One Day Retreat Workshop: Your One Wild & Precious Life – the Poetry of Presence

Buddha in the spring garden 96

 
What is the dance between silent, experienced embodiment and translation of that experience into language?

Having engaged with active thought and language, how do we return to the silence again afterward?
________________________________________

Your One Wild & Precious Life
– the Poetry of Presence

A One Day Workshop with Tanya Porter and Sue Reynolds

 

“Every moment contains a poem – if you haven’t found the poem you haven’t gone deeply enough into the moment” Ellen Bass

 
________________________________________
The pond 96On October 1st, 2016 join therapeutic writing facilitator Sue Reynolds and the gifted yoga and meditation teacher Tanya Porter for a day of embodied presence and reflective writing.

A day for you to grow still, to refresh and renew in a beautiful environment.

Through the day we will experience the replenishment and nourishment of (very easy) yoga and meditation.
writing reflection 96

Then transitioning from the yin to a more yang state, we will move into reflection and expression of our experience through writing.

A day of deep stillness and profound personal presence to nurture you.

Tanya and Sue were interviewed about this program on Whistle Radio (aired May 24th)

Please click the links below to listen to the program:

Part One

Part Two

 
(Please scroll to the bottom of the page to register)


Date: October 1st, 2016
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Place: Uplands Writing Retreat, between Uxbridge and Port Perry.
Cost: $110.00 plus HST. Delicious lunch provided!
 
Registration form at the bottom of this page
 

The Facilitators:

Tanya Porter
Tanya Porter
founder of The Inner Space, is a classical yoga and meditation teacher with over 20 years of experience. She is also a multi-disciplinary performing artist, educator and holistic energy practitioner specializing in over 25 years of Theatre, Drum, Dance and creative wellness programming for all ages.  Tanya developed Rhythmic Re-framing®, a healing modality that combines meditation, affirmation, boundary work and vibrational healing through drumming.

Questions?

Contact: tanya@theinnerspace.ca

 

Sue Reynolds
Susan Lynn Reynolds
is a writer, teacher and psychotherapist. She teaches writing through workshops in the community, in college continuing education programs, and in social services settings.

She has been leading writing workshops for female inmates at Central East Correctional Centre for twelve years, a program for which she received the June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism.

She leads professional training for Amherst Writers International and the Toronto Writers Collective and is the Executive Director of Amherst Writers Canada.
 

 

 

 

Registration for Your One Wild & Precious Life

 

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Telephone (required)

Optional Message (dietary restrictions, etc.)

After you hit the "Send" button, you will be taken to the payment page.


_________________________
CANCELLATION POLICY:
If we receive your cancellation notice up to five days in advance of the retreat, (for instance, if the retreat is on a Saturday, we must hear from you by midnight on the previous Sunday) you may choose to apply your deposit to a future retreat or receive a refund (minus a $20 administration fee).

If you cancel with less than five days notice, (in the example above, for instance, it would be anytime Monday or later) and your spot cannot be filled from a waiting list, no refund will be made. However, you are permitted to sell or gift your spot for that date to another person. If you do this, please email or call Sue (905-985-8389) right away to provide the contact information of your replacement. Since Sue provides lunch, it is important that she know of any dietary restrictions etc.

NOTE: *If a retreat is cancelled for any reason, such as severe winter weather creates dangerous driving conditions, Sue will email and call all registered participants. In this situation, participants may request a full refund or transfer their payment to a future retreat date.
 

Payment for Your One Wild & Precious Life Retreat Day





Click here to go to Paypal and pay the registration fee of $110.00 plus HST.

We look forward to spending a day with you in deep presence and reflection.

_________________________
CANCELLATION POLICY:
If we receive your cancellation notice up to five days in advance of the retreat, (for instance, if the retreat is on a Saturday, we must hear from you by midnight on the previous Sunday) you may choose to apply your deposit to a future retreat or receive a refund (minus a $20 administration fee).

If you cancel with less than five days notice, (in the example above, for instance, it would be anytime Monday or later) and your spot cannot be filled from a waiting list, no refund will be made. However, you are permitted to sell or gift your spot for that date to another person. If you do this, please email or call Sue (905-985-8389) right away to provide the contact information of your replacement. Since Sue provides lunch, it is important that she know of any dietary restrictions etc.

NOTE: *If a retreat is cancelled for any reason, such as severe winter weather creates dangerous driving conditions, Sue will email and call all registered participants. In this situation, participants may request a full refund or transfer their payment to a future retreat date.

Keep Calm and Write On

Writing to promote tranquility and resilience in an anxious age

Bird tattoos come to life, freedom concept

 

Scope: Thursday afternoons for 6 weeks

Dates: March 24 – April 28

Time: 4 – 6 pm

Call Blue Heron to register: 905-852-4282

$180.00 + HST for 6 classes

 
 
For thirty years psychologists have been researching how expressive writing and other forms of writing can help individuals who are experiencing psychological distress. The outcomes of the research have shown that writing down “what distresses and dismays you” can significantly relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Most of the studies have used a protocol focused on individuals writing alone to specific instructions. But more recently research has shown that writing together can enhance the development of the protective processes of self-esteem, self-efficacy, coping strategies, social support, and cultural connections.

Using the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) method of facilitating writing workshops, research conducted with youth has shown that writing together promotes connection to self through feelings, reflection, and behaviors, as well as connection to others through learning and empathy. Writing in a group using this specific approach facilitates emotional catharsis, increased self-knowledge, coping strategies, and understanding and appreciating of others.

At the Blue Heron Studio in Uxbridge Ontario, starting March 24th for 6 weeks from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. high school-age participants have the opportunity to explore their experiences through a writing workshop conducted in the AWA method.

Begin Again

Costa Rica

As we set out for our writing and yoga retreat in Costa Rica this year, the excitement began before we even left Toronto. As we found each other in the check-in line at Pearson International Airport, we squealed and hugged, and jumped up and down with the pleasure of meeting friends with whom we had not written for a year or more.

Over the usual wait at the gate and the five hour flight and the van ride to Hatillo, we caught up. One of the questions I always ask at the beginning of a retreat is, “How’s your writing going?”

I ask because I am genuinely curious. But I also ask because I am gauging what the temperature of the workshop will be on the first morning. Where are all these writers at, both as a group and individually?

This trip I got a range of answers that included:

“Life’s been crazy! I haven’t been writing at all.”

“I’m so rusty – I’m afraid there’s not going to be anything in my pen.”

And from the new participant who had never “written” before and who didn’t consider herself “a writer” a frank, “I don’t know what I’m doing on this trip!”

That first morning, as class was beginning, one of the writers showed me the brand new journal she had bought for the retreat – a gorgeous, tooled-leather, hard cover book. She turned to the first blank page and looked up at me with pretend terror on her face. “I don’t know if I can write anything,” she confessed. “I’ve forgotten how to do this.”

I had my own anxieties on this trip; mine were about yoga. It had been 6 months since I was last on the mat and 10 months since I’d done yoga for more than a single day at a time. Lately my body had been feeling very stiff and out of shape. Continue reading

A Journey of Holistic Intimacy

writing together in place and time

By Susan Lynn Reynolds
Article in IntMagazine

This article appeared in the International Lifestyle magazine in Summer 2014. But the subject of the article is the benefits as a writer and simply as a human being of traveling and writing together, so with the announcement of our upcoming writing/yoga workshop in Ireland, I thought it was worth adding here.
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This beautiful world is full of luscious, and even holistic, experiences – all you have to do is flip through the pages of this magazine to be convinced of that. Travelling and “retreating” in groups is everywhere: bus tours, cruises, golf holidays, photography groups, painting groups, yoga and meditation groups.

So why writing? And why in a group? Aren’t writers supposed to be scratching away alone in a garret somewhere?

Three words: Intimacy. Meaning. Affirmation.

Travelling together tends to promote intimacy no matter what the format. You can’t help regard another human being with more affection after you’ve seen them before their first coffee of the day.

But when we know we are in a safe space and we write together – stories from our lives, or poems, essays, or fiction – we tell things in a different way than our everyday, anecdotal voice. Continue reading

A Novel Beginning – Crafting Your Novel

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

Scope: Friday mornings, 6 sessions over 9 weeks

Dates: April 1 to April 29th.
Three week break to work on novel.
Final wrap class: May 20th

Time: 9:30 am – 12 pm

Call Blue Heron to register: 905-852-4282

$180.00 + HST for 6 classes

 

Even if you don’t get your entire novel written during this nine week period, you will develop your characters, their problems, their dilemmas, their transformative arcs, their worlds, and the plot points that will give you a strong framework to finish that book you’ve been promising yourself you’ll write one day.
 

A Novel Beginning lo rez

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They Live Forever in Our Broken Hearts:

Writing to Heal from Loss and Grief


Scope: Tuesday mornings for 6 weeks

Dates: March 29 – May 3

Time: 10 am – 12 pm

Call Blue Heron to register: 905-852-4282

$180.00 + HST for 6 classes

Every loss carries some degree of grief with it, and every grief has its own radioactive half-life. When we are in the midst of grief it can feel like a desert from which we will never escape, and there is no one-size-fits-all method for emerging, whole and healed and happy again, from that parched landscape. But decades of scientific research have shown that a written exploration of what distresses us in a safe and supportive environment helps individuals find their way.

 

Healing from Grief lo rez

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Keep Calm and Write On: Writing to promote tranquility and resilience in an anxious age

Bird tattoos come to life, freedom concept

 

Scope: Thursday afternoons for 6 weeks

Dates: March 24 – April 28

Time: 4 – 6 pm

Call Blue Heron to register: 905-852-4282

$180.00 + HST for 6 classes

 
 
For thirty years psychologists have been researching how expressive writing and other forms of writing can help individuals who are experiencing psychological distress. The outcomes of the research have shown that writing down “what distresses and dismays you” can significantly relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Most of the studies have used a protocol focused on individuals writing alone to specific instructions. But more recently research has shown that writing together can enhance the development of the protective processes of self-esteem, self-efficacy, coping strategies, social support, and cultural connections.

Using the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) method of facilitating writing workshops, research conducted with youth has shown that writing together promotes connection to self through feelings, reflection, and behaviors, as well as connection to others through learning and empathy. Writing in a group using this specific approach facilitates emotional catharsis, increased self-knowledge, coping strategies, and understanding and appreciating of others.

At the Blue Heron Studio in Uxbridge Ontario, starting March 24th for 6 weeks from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. high school-age participants have the opportunity to explore their experiences through a writing workshop conducted in the AWA method.

 

Teen Anxiety Workshop lo rez

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A portfolio of SoulCollage cards

It can be hard to explain SoulCollage to someone who hasn’t tried it. So here are some examples of cards. The slide show may take a minute to load.

I am one who has a sacred relationship with nature
I am one who is always thinking
I am one who is in the lineage of excellent writing treachers
I am one who is whirling in the gyre
I am one who receives wisdom through dreaming
I am one who travels for spiritual reasons
I am one who whirls in the Universe's love
I am the Mother Bear
I am the one for whom the way is guarded
I am the one in touch with my own nature
I am the one who bathes in FLOW
I am the one who can't relax around people who drink too much 300
I am the one who finds peace in my own stillness
I am the one who gets myself into precarious situations
I am the one who goes to the depths to discover treasure
I am the one who has to be in control
I am the one who is a household drudge
I am the one who is a mother 300
I am the one who is a visual artist
I am the one who is armoured
I am the one who is aware of my own beauty
I am the one who is chained to my desk
I am the one who is nurturing something new
I am the one who is persistent
I am the one who is working on my own transformation
I am the one who knows what's wrong with you
I am the one who knows when to use anger appropriately
I am the one who needs to get away by myself
I am the one who needs to trust my own artistic vision
I am the one who rides to the rescue
I am the one with a door behind my heart
I am the shape shifter from your solar plexus
I am death
I am one who frightens myself
I am one who is barely keeping my head above water
I am the inner child
I am the one who gets furious sometimes
I am the one who gives my creative time away
I am the one who is charting my own course
I am the one who is mad at my partner
I am the one who is present to wonder in the world

I am the one who is charting my own courseOne thing to know about SoulCollage is that it’s just enormous fun. You can get lost for hours choosing images intuitively or intentionally. Then there’s the assembly of the card. Working out which images belong with which. Each of these cards has a name, a persona, and wisdom to share if I choose to engage with it. This all becomes gradually clear as I engage with the process.

Are your fingers itching to start cutting and pasting to make your own?

2015 Summer Weekend Writing Retreats near Toronto

Slideshow of the Uplands location at the bottom of this page.

Sitting in the circle


July Retreat:

Thursday Evening, July 16, to Sunday Afternoon July 19.

Uplands Writing Retreat near Uxbridge, Ontario.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

August Retreat:

Thursday Evening, August 20, to Sunday Afternoon August 23.

Uplands Writing Retreat near Uxbridge, Ontario.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Uplands Retreats

Sue Reynolds has been hosting and facilitating single day writing sanctuaries for 10 years. In the mornings, participants write from prompts that Sue provides. Then they have the opportunity to read their freshly created poetry and prose in a supportive group environment. After lunch, writers enjoy a few hours of silent writing time. Writers are enriched and delighted by these day-long immersions and often find that their writing has surpassed their expectations.

A few years ago, participants lingered and protested that they didn’t want to go home – they wanted to stay forever and keep writing! Someone suggested the idea of a Sanctuary Pyjama Party and the Residential Sanctuary was born.

Now in it’s 5th year, the Residential Summer Sanctuaries have been relocated from the Orillia location to the Uplands Writing Retreat which is located halfway between Port Perry and Uxbridge on the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine.

The retreat begins on Thursday evenings with a light meal and an introductory session of writing. After a full-fare breakfast on the remaining three mornings, Sue provides prompts to launch writers into their craft. Afternoons are spent in silence – writing, walking, swimming, resting. Participants meet in the late afternoon to share their new writing, although sharing is always completely optional. The retreat winds up mid afternoon on Sunday.

Guests may choose from modest, private or semi-private accommodations. All delicious and healthy meals are included.

OPTIONAL: restorative yoga will be provided locally Friday and Saturday evenings. (The cost for this optional activity is extra – approximately $20 per session.)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Slideshow from the Uplands Retreat Location:

A perfect summer sanctuary day
Another Bedroom 300
chicadee at the feeder
Deer sighting at the pond 300
Famous Sanctuary Rhubarb muffins
Home in the fall
Home
horses in the setting sun
Hummingbird at the feeder
on the dock
One Bedroom 300
Reading by the water
Ready to begin 300
sanctuary at dusk
Sanctuary Morning Refreshments 300
Tent beds
tent other bed
The Miners Tent
The Outdoor Writing Room 300
the Sanctuary morning table 300
writers writing
Writing in the Window 300
Writing on the dock near sunset
Writing on the dock

Ellen Bass Workshop Toronto, Oct. 24 & 25, 2015

Photo by Irene Young

Photo by Irene Young


Ellen Bass is an extraordinary poet, teacher and author.

Having been lucky enough to study with her in California and in Mallorca, Sue and James dearly wanted to bring her to the writing community in Toronto.

The stars (and the International Festival of Authors!) have finally aligned.

Ellen will be here teaching a 2 day workshop and reading at the IFOA the weekend of October 24 & 25. The way Ellen teaches poetry is not to be missed!
IFOA logo

Click here for more information about the weekend, and to register

 

Biography:

Toronto Streetscape 300

Ellen Bass’s most recent book of poetry, Like a Beggar, was published in April 2014 by Copper Canyon Press. Her previous poetry books include The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press), named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Mules of Love (BOA Editions), which won the Lambda Literary Award. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday).

Her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and The Sun. She was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Elliston Book Award for Poetry from the University of Cincinnati, Nimrod/Hardman’s Pablo Neruda Prize, The Missouri Review’s Larry Levis Award, the Greensboro Poetry Prize, the New Letters Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Poetry Prize, a Fellowship from the California Arts Council, and two Pushcart Prizes.

Her non-fiction books include Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth(HarperCollins), I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse(HarperCollins), and The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse(Harper Collins), which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into ten languages.

She currently is teaching in the low residency MFA program at Pacific University and has taught poetry and creative writing in Santa Cruz, CA and at other beautiful locations nationally and internationally.

Click here for more information about the weekend, and to register

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