Here are the dates for Sanctuary for the entire year of 2014:
We’ve got our two international retreats arranged for winter/spring 2014. (February in Costa Rica, Italy in April). To read about them, please click on this link to be taken to the Radical Restoration site.
If you wish to be put on the waiting list for a date that is full, please use the optional message box in the form below to let me know.
PLEASE REGISTER ME FOR WRITERS’ SANCTUARY
First published in “SURFACING” – the Arts magazine for Durham Region
By Susan Lynn Reynolds
When I was first hired to be the writing teacher for a combined yoga and writing retreat three years ago, (and every year since) it seemed like a dream come true. Go south for two weeks in the middle of winter to spend my time doing yoga, enjoying the southwestern coastal area of Costa Rica, and facilitating a writing group every day? Where do I sign up!
It proved to be far better even than I’d imagined. First of all, it turned out that the yoga teacher, Esana Lotfy, teaches yoga the same way I facilitate writing groups. For both of us, effective practice for all participants starts with loving kindness and compassion. It’s crucial that participants not “should” themselves in their process, whether it be beating up on themselves because they think they “should” be more flexible, or whether they think they “should” write differently, more grammatically or somehow just “better” than they do.
“Shoulding” all over oneself is the first step toward injury in yoga, or toward a really bad case of writer’s block.
So there we were, in a tropical paradise, spending half of every day in intimate conversation with our travel companions, but even more importantly, with ourselves.
The “intimate conversation with ourselves” is the first part of every day. We stay in silence from the time we wake up until writing class begins; all around the resort, people are writing quietly in their journals, enjoying coffee and bananas before yoga, or trying homemade chocolate spread from local cacao beans on our toast for breakfast. Gigantic sky-blue Morpho butterflies dance on the air. Brightly coloured Toucans squawk from the trees. When in our daily lives do we have time to just be present with ourselves and our surroundings?
Once we write and read together, we begin to speak, but this is still a deeply intimate conversation mostly with ourselves—the other writers just get to listen in on it, if we choose to share. And it is always a choice.
At 12:30 the scheduled part of the day is over; participants then choose how they want to spend the rest of the day: zip-lining in the jungle, kayaking through a mangrove swamp, playing in the powerful Pacific surf, wandering the spectacular beach nearby, or shopping in the nearby town of Dominical. Or maybe just enjoying a nap.
Because of the time spent in quiet presence with each other, and in listening to each other’s writing, strangers become warm friends almost instantly. As the 14 days unfolds, people’s shoulders drop, their eyes brighten, their skin loses its winter paleness, the dark rings under their eyes disappear, and they smile. They smile a lot.
And by the time they go home, their journals are full of writing. Some of it is very personal and private – for their eyes only. Some pieces are poems, or short stories, or even pieces of a novel.
This practice of getting away from our lives and allowing our inner artist to emerge in the quiet, safety and comfort of a supportive group of like-minded people—I haven’t encountered any practice more restorative than that. It’s not a holiday that an extreme sport extrovert would cherish, but for any writer or artist looking for a break that supports their inner artist as well as giving their body a restorative recharge, it’s the perfect prescription. Many of the participants have been coming every year since the retreats began. Some of them have already said they’re coming again next year to Costa Rica.
And some of them have decided that they’re going to join us on our new adventure in April of 2014, when we try the same magically restorative formula, but this time for 10 days in Italy.
with Sue Reynolds
Have you wrestled with any of these questions in your relationships:
1. Why do I go from one relationship to another without finding what I yearn for?
2. Why am I restless or critical with those I love?
3. Why am I uneasy with my own company when I’m alone?
4. Is it possible to be close to someone else – and still be myself?
How we feel about our own selves, how well or little we know our own selves, whether we feel alive inside, largely determine the quality of the time we spend alone, as well as the quality of the relationships we have with other people.
Being alone. Relating to others. Both have the potential for immense personal satisfaction. Both can seem painfully elusive to balance – or achieve. But intimacy and solitude are not opposing experiences. They are different expressions of our same self.
We cannot usefully address our difficulties in relationships without also considering how we spend our time alone. Nor can we take on “self-awareness” in any meaningful way without questioning what we expect from others.
Solitude is a very different experience than loneliness, and sex is only one way to express intimacy. Bringing intimacy and solitude together allows each of us to unravel why we need others and want to be free; why we want to be understood and guard our secrets; why we want to be loved “for ourselves” and yet may have difficulty accepting who we are.
Based on the work of Australian psychotherapist Stephanie Dowrick, writing instructor and therapist Sue Reynolds will lead participants in six weeks of self-discovery through guided exercises that will help them find the answers to these and other questions and begin to move toward self-acceptance and understanding and to find more joy and satisfaction in relationship to Self and to Others.
6 Weeks – starting Wednesday October 30th 7pm to 9:30pm $180
Well, I have big news. Some of you may have heard the tectonic rumblings over the last six months. It’s been up and down and back and forth for some time now, but just before we left for Spain, it was confirmed that James and I will be moving to the other house on the Uplands property.
This is exciting for many reasons, not least of which is the view (pictures below). Also, the main room is quite a bit bigger than the living room in this house, so there will be lots of room for writers at Sanctuary now!
And in the silent afternoons – you can watch your thoughts on the surface of the pond, or listen to the waterfall.
There is space for one retreat room as well, so if you need to get away locally for a few days to write… Details to be announced soon!
Dear Writing Friends,
I hope you’ve had a wonderful, languid, restorative summer.
It’s been months since I’ve sent out a communication, and in the time in-between I have filled my well deliciously with retreats, poetry writing, performances, and a Zen meditation retreat on the West Coast. Back in June, I was honoured to be asked to do a TED Talk for the TEDx Stouffville event. If you’re interested, you can see it here: Writing our way out of trouble. In it I talk about my work teaching creative writing to criminalized women and what we can all learn from research into the health benefits of writing.
With the sense of fall coming on now, I’m ready to pick up the pieces of my teacher’s life, and this is a brief email to let you know what’s going on in the next few months.
Because I’m a writer, I tend to be wordy, so I’ll just give you the links, so you don’t have to wade through a lot of verbiage; you can just click on whatever might interest you.
Rhymes at the ROM: We’ve made an arrangement with the fabulous Royal Ontario Museum to let us do a one day writing workshop on September 21 – come write with the dinosaurs and the pharaohs! And in the process, excavate some of your own hidden material…
AWA facilitators’ training in Chicago: September 11 to 15 (I’m co-leading with Maureen Jones, Executive Director of Amherst Writers) If you’ve ever thought of becoming an AWA workshop leader, this is the closest training to Canada being offered this year.
Courses I’m teaching this fall at Blue Heron Studio:
Intimacy and Solitude – exploring relationship issues through writing
Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.
– Paul Tillich
Your Meaningful Life in Memoir – explore (and perhaps challenge) the guiding mythology of your life
Write and Create Your Own Children’s Book – Write and illustrate (even if you think you have no artistic ability!) a single book for that special child in your life. A gift that really will last a lifetime.
Pen in Hand, Ink on Page – Need time to write? This course offers a regular weekly commitment to your writing and focus on the craft.
Writers’ Sanctuary Dates for Fall 2013 Most dates for fall still have a space or two left in them at the moment, but they do fill up quickly.
Inkslingers Poetry Nights in Toronto – A free night of community once a month to craft your poetry and your presentation skills.
Winter/Spring 2014: International Writing Retreats – Costa Rica and Italy – we’ve added Italy to our workshop roster for 2014 – la dolce vita! For those of you who have experienced the combination of Esana’s yoga with our writing in community – you know just how dolce this vita can be!
I’m thrilled that Pat Schneider is coming back to Ontario to lead another 5 day retreat this year. The retreat filled within a few days, but she is also doing a launch of her new book How the Light Gets In while she’s here. Pat Schneider’s Ontario launch. The event will take place the evening of October 25th.
Fall always feels like a time of renewal for me, after the muggy heat of the summer. The crisp air and vivid colours make me feel like a kid again – hopeful for the school year ahead.
My very best wishes to you for this fall season. May you find renewal in your writing, and I hope to see you at an event in the coming months.
My warmest regards,