Holidays can be insane, but the one thing I can now count on is the mid-December Writing in the Woods Retreat that my writing group enjoys every year (well, two in a row now...). This year, nine of us attended with three of us finishing the books were were working on, another receiving requested feedback, and others completing projects and finalizing ideas. In addition to hours spent in writing mode, we hiked, walked the canopy trail looking for faces in trees, canoed on the Manatee River, had quiet alone time, group discussions, and celebrated accomplishments. Yes, we ignored traffic reports, shop talk, and I even left my phone at home (by mistake, but it turned out to be a blessing.
Although Living with Gussto seems active, it also involves connecting to this beautiful creation we share; it requires respite, reflection, rest, and renewal. That's what retreating does for me. It is such a treat, and now I can look forward to it every year.
Being on the water is so soothing to the soul. At sunset we ventured to the docks on the river and beheld the spectacular color show that only God can paint in the sky. The reflections on the river were crystal clear and color perfect. Our canoe trip brought connections to nature and each other in quiet conversation and the soft sounds of paddles skimming the water.
The canopy walk is a lot of fun with a mini hike into the woods and then an easy climb to
the tops of trees. From above we could see native, natural Florida everywhere, hear the birds sing, and celebrate being.
Yes, nature is where I reconnect to my soul, to my God, to my friends, and my writing.
This is probably my favorite place at the DaySpring Conference and Retreat Center: the Labyrinth. It looks simple but walking on the maze to center and back does just that, brings me to my center and back. It's actually a good 15-20 minute meditative activity where the mind wanders as it moves to the center. Last night I went there, I was alone in that whole area of woods. I brought my bagpipes, and just lifted my music to the heavens while walking in this lovely place. This morning I had to walk it again - to the center and back again.
I am so grateful to be blessed with these wonderful experiences. Living with Gussto, in some isolation, and also with people, writing, centering, walking in peace, connecting to creation. What a wonderful life! You know what? It's one all can have. It just takes leaving the phone at home and going on a retreat in the woods.
Now I'm ready for the holidays to begin.
May all of you find peace, joy, and love this season and into the the new year.