Ever go on a church retreat? I did.
Antioch Weekend at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Roseland, New Jersey. In the 80s.
You got to wear your Jordache jeans and sleep over at host houses and hang out with kids you didn’t know (read: boys you didn’t know) from public school. Hot.
We sat in the school classrooms, but it didn’t feel like school. We had prayer groups and discussions, talked about life and faith. Then we’d stand in a circle and hold hands and sway to Led Zeppelin (because it was a “cool” church weekend).
Maybe someone would cry. And it was totally normal to hug a lot, which provided an off-the-charts oxytocin-addled high.
It was the first time in my life that I felt like an adult. Not a student, not a kid, but a person, with feelings and opinions and ideas that mattered.
I felt closer to the other kids after a single weekend than I did with the kids I’d known my whole life. I felt seen and known. We all cried when it ended. I learned that bearing witness for another person was one of the most important things I could do. I believe it still is.
A few years ago I attended a different retreat—a writing retreat, led by a woman I’d never met. We were in Rhode Island, the leaves starting to turn, and I woke up the second day and felt it—that same elevated, energized, happy feeling.
Only this was way better. I wasn’t fumbling through prayers and awkward teenage hugs.
I was writing. Writing in ways I hadn’t written in years—free of judgment, free of fear and criticism and self doubt. I was absolutely high on it, on the energy in that room.
I left that retreat changed. It was an intoxicating blend of feeling totally new and yet returning to something familiar.
That’s the goal of a retreat, the best kind—to discover and remember. Both things.
I still go on those retreats, led by the fabulous Suzanne Kingsbury, who’s become a close friend. And she trained me to lead my own.
And tomorrow, I’m headed to Austin for The Intensive—the three-day writing retreat I run for professionals of every stripe (some identify as writers, some not at all) who want nothing more than to move their work out into the world.
Using a specific approach called the Gateless Writing Method that Suzanne created—a critic-free approach to creative generation—we’ll uncork, unblock, and uncover their brilliance so they can craft powerhouse talks, books, podcasts, stories, blogs. We’re also going to swim. And drink wine. And laugh a lot.
This one filled up so fast that I scheduled a second one, same place, for October 17-20, and I happen to have a few spots left for that one.
Does it sound fun? Want to learn more? Want to see pictures? Here you go.
It’s not for everyone, certainly. But maybe it will tickle at your brain, make you wonder, “What if? What if it were amazing?”
And more importantly, this: “What if I could take a few days to focus on what I want to work on, instead of what everyone else needs from me?” YUP. That’s it.
You don’t need any cool-kid criteria to join us. The point of the application is to make sure we can assess if it’s a fit for you.
P.S. See if The Intensive is right where you should be Oct 17-20, 2019, in Austin, TX! And if you’re not sure, just ask!