Channeling Gratitude

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I really have to work hard  this time of year at being grateful .

It’s bitter cold outside here in Alaska at the moment.  My lips are cracked and bleeding, my refrigerator is empty since it’s too frigid to shop, and I find the constant darkness to be oppressive.

Add to that the holidays-something I loathe-and the pre and post election fallout and I’d say it’s been a stressful and overwhelming time. It feels like the world has gone crazy and we’ve stopped listening to one another.

I’ve been forced out of my shell the past many weeks  with my book events. I’ve met a lot of new people and attended several book groups already. I’d  spent enough time alone the year before that my social skills had atrophied. How refreshing it has been to see people choose  to congregate, to agree, to disagree, and to do it with respect and often with affection.

Hopefully, I’ll keep my new social chops after the book events wind down. We’re all navigating this sometimes ominous-looking future the best we can, something I lose sight of when I spend too much time alone,  scrolling through social media, reading instead of relating.

Here are some key players who make my life enough.

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I have gratitude. It just needs to be defrosted.

Thank you for your support.

The Benefits of a Writer’s Retreat/#swpretreat2016

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I recently returned from a few days in Scottsdale, Arizona at the She Writes Press (SWP)Author Retreat 2016 at The Boulders Spa.

I love writers conferences, but  found this retreat, similar to the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat I attended in Washington almost four years ago, to be more restorative.

Like writers conferences, there were opportunities for learning craft at the SWP retreat. Author Rebecca Skloot of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was the keynote. She taught a workshop on structure, and panels of industry insiders later presented on topics like getting our books into libraries, bookstores, and ways to get collateral rights sold.

But at the retreat,there was built in time for solitude and writing.

There was also the comforting feeling of support in the air. No conference story-pitching  and competition. Just more experienced writers mentoring the newbies, and the newbies reaching out to the newer newbies.

Good food and nice trails for walking were all around. A chance to get new head shots and promo video was offered, not required. And after working closely with the terrific staff  from She Writes Press and SparkPoint Studio, it was a real treat to finally meet them all in person.

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Authors were invited to give three minute reading of their work by the fire pit the final evening.

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Perhaps that’s the most welcome difference I’ve noted between a writers conference and writers retreat. There are invitations extended, but no hard expectations expressed.

I returned home, refreshed and focused with a new group of  authors to add to my friendship bank.

A worthwhile investment, indeed.