A soft, gentle rain was falling, the kind that makes me want to curl up under a fuzzy blanket and listen to mellow oldies on the radio. Or sit out on a screened-in porch with a glass of wine and a good book or an empty journal just waiting to be filled with my own thoughts and reflections.

It was a great way to start the Writers Retreat I attended last weekend.

The retreat was put on by the women writers group I belong to, and I knew it would give me a chance to spend some quiet, quality time in solitude, working on writing projects that always seem to take a back seat to the other work that keeps me busy during my day-to-day life. I was also anticipating some quality – but not so quiet – time with the other women in attendance. There would be some whom I knew well, others I knew only slightly, and a few that I would be meeting for the first time, but would feel by the end of the weekend as if I had known them for years.

I’ve been in the writers group long enough to know I would encounter knowledge, expertise, and a wealth of resources among the retreat attendees, as well as the support, enthusiasm, and generosity the entire group is known for. And that’s exactly what I found.

I made some good progress on my own work while I was there, and I got some feedback and new ideas for places where I was stuck and my work wasn’t progressing. I was also able to give the same type of help to others who had questions or needed input in their own work, in areas where I had some background and expertise.

During the give-and-take that went on with everyone throughout the weekend, I came to realize how lucky I am to be a member of a group that has many common goals and aspirations, but such a diversity of skills and specialties – a group filled with women as determined to help others succeed as they are in achieving their own success.

I know there are many people who would insist that communities such as this don’t really exist or flourish, because in “the real world,” people are more competitive and cutthroat, and are too busy taking care of their own needs and concerns to pay that much attention to those of others. But these people would be wrong. Groups like this really do exist and thrive, and I feel blessed to belong to one of them.

It drizzled off and on for most of the weekend, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of anyone at the retreat. And it didn’t keep us from enjoying a campfire and gourmet s’mores down by the lake on Saturday night.

The sun finally came out to stay on Sunday morning, as everyone was preparing to leave the retreat and get back home. I’m sure that everyone went home relaxed and rejuvenated, filled with new ideas and inspiration, and with minds racing ahead to the next steps for their writing and their lives.

I know I did.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on June 9, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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