I’m back, somewhat tanned, immensely relaxed, restored, refreshed and rejuvenated. I know, that’s a lot of R’s, but I can’t help it… Our retreat, Radical Restoration, was divine in so many senses – from the food to the company to the surroundings, it was all perfection.

On the first day of writing, after yoga in the outdoor palapa, followed by glistening fruits and homemade (from the hacienda’s cacao trees) chocolate spread on our toast and local coffee, I wrote this:

A glimpse this morning of the barrier suddenly dropping like a heavy curtain, to reveal this. Just simply this. And every plan, idea, notion, worry, concern and thought slipped through the floor boards into the earth, revealing that they are not real. None of them. Seeing them for the constructs they are to keep me from this limitless abundance. The skin permeated by sound and fragrance until there is not even skin, the heartbeat pulsing with the steady rhythm of cicadas’ wings, and this. Here. Now is all there is, all there ever was, but I have been busy working with sand and brick and wood to construct make-believe houses to keep all of this out. As if. There is no out and in. This is all the time. I’m just busy with my hammer and nails and glue, trying to make the prettiest house so that you will love me. But that notion has slipped through the boards as well. Such foolishness to think that YOU do not love ME. I might laugh, but instead this container of body, blood and breath begins to tremble and salt water drips like rain from branches.

That was how it started and it just seemed to get better every day. The day unrolled from the relative quiet of pale mornings into a symphony of sound and the sweep of warm sun as we stretched and twisted, flexed and let go in yoga, led by Esana. We spent our mornings in silence and found that everyone was grateful for the holiday from chatting and being polite. After breakfast there was time to slip into the soft waters of the salt pool under the guava and mango trees before we began our writing practice, led by Sue Reynolds. From ten until twelve thirty we wrote and shared our writing, just as we do in her Sanctuary Sundays. The difference here was that we did it every morning, which gave us the opportunity to develop trust, begin to take bigger risks and deepen the process.

We are planning to put together an anthology of selected works from these two weeks, which I am very excited about, since the writing was very very good. Some juicy stuff coming out of that retreat… hopefully we’ll have a volume ready by the end of summer.

We’ve got the joint booked for two weeks next year, and we’ve arranged to have the whole place to ourselves, and everyone can have their own room – no extra charge. We’ve booked the last two weeks of February again – the exact dates will depend on Air Transat’s day (they only fly one day a week and don’t post their flights until August). One thing that was clear is that it takes time to arrive and settle, so we are strongly recommending participants to book the two weeks. It made a much bigger difference than we imagined.

I filled an entire journal. Everyone wrote buckets, so there’s lots to choose from. I had planned to work on the edits for The Cost of Weather every afternoon, but fun often got in the way of that – a trip to the beach or a jaunt to Dominical for a Cafe Delicious

But somehow I did manage to get lots of work done and came away feeling not just relaxed, but somewhat accomplished. Now, I just have to transcribe all that brilliant prose and get the manuscript off to the agents and publishers…

I’ll close with another piece that came from a a prompt asking us how we knew we were alive:

This is how I do it: it begins with the head sometimes, other times with the feet, but most times with the hips. With or without music they pick up the rhythm of a branch against the window, the pulse-hum of the refrigerator, or some sound underneath all of the other sounds. Maybe not even a sound; just the sure beat of eyelash against cheek or flush of blood under the skin.

In any case, the hips slide in their bones against or with muscle, sinew, tendon and even the click crunch of bone on bone, that certain decay known and sometimes befriended, they go on moving, gliding or grating, circling or pumping; they speak of pleasures past, unborn children torn through their gates, scalpels and sutures and blood and shit gone unattended while we waited for his cry, they speak of longing and loss, ecstasy and terrible relentless pain, they speak at last of simple movement, space, delight, aliveness; being. Here and Now. Grateful to lead this body through its growing and its demise.

It’s all in the hips. No, that’s not true. It just usually begins there.
As the snow pours down all over everything and the winds rip branches off the trees here at home in South Central Ontario, I feel so grateful to have had this time to sink down into my writing, hang out with wonderful people, have my food cooked for me and not have to even do dishes, be warm for fourteen days, float in warm water, lie on my bed in the afternoon with a book, bodysurf in the ocean before dinner… Grateful grateful grateful…