Saturday, February 27, 2010


I'm back in the snow -- in the Midwest! When Kate Hopper announced a few months ago that she was planning a Mother Words Retreat in February, in a beautiful lodge just a few hours northeast of Minneapolis, I wanted to hop on the plane right then.

Kate's a fantastic teacher -- thoughtful, insightful and attentive to both our written and spoken words. I took her online Mother Words class last summer. You know, the one where I basically had to drop out halfway through because I was trying to cart the little kids over the hill to sunny Orinda for swimming and get the big guy to camp or baseball practice and back every day. I was also just a little caught up in the administrative aspects of baseball tournaments. It was a fun summer, but it didn't include a lot of writing.  Still, I printed out every one of Kate's wonderful lectures, inserted them into my neatly tabbed binder, and kept up with the reading as best I could.  Even though I didn't write much then, the class got me thinking, over some mental hurdles, and ready to write once the kids were back in school.

Kate's Mother Words retreat, and the pictures of the cozy lodge weren't the only draws.  My friend Shannon, who moved from Berkeley four whole years ago lives here (for another month anyway). As does my dear friend Elizabeth who I hadn't seen in eight years.   I spent the first three days of my trip visiting these friends...chatting and chatting and chatting.  Even separated by all these miles for so many years, with only occasional phone calls, we still connect in the ways we always have. 

I also got together with a high school friend, Michelle, who I hadn't seen in 19 years. We found each other again on Facebook several months ago and before I knew it we were sharing our favorite poetry (remarkable in that I don't read too much poetry) and connecting over life changes, grief, and children. To meet up with her in person yesterday morning in a busy Minneapolis cafe was such a treat, and still not enough.

And now I am here, at Faith's Lodge, in rural Wisconsin with five other writers and Kate. The lodge is beautiful and homey -- leather couches and fireplaces bring warmth to every common room and guest room.  I'm writing and writing, on my favorite notepad, in my small blue notebook, and on the computer, for hours on end.  And we're sharing -- me and these these six extraordinary women -- the stories of our lives as we read and talk about our writing (and a few other things too!)

I head home to Berkeley tomorrow evening and my goal, of course, is to find ways to keep my writing moving forward amidst the chaos of my real life. This retreat provided a huge boost and lots of inspiration and now I *just* have to sustain it.


  1. Oh, how lucky you are to get this chance to learn from wonderful Kate and to be with other like-minded souls in a such a beautiful setting. I always make excuses of one sort or another about going to a writing retreat, but given that you two are the mother of three young children -- well, I guess I won't use that excuse. Thanks for the inspiration, and I can't wait to hear what you've written!

  2. I'm so happy that you were able to get away to do this. What a gift, to see and reconnect with dear friends, and then to learn and share and grow in a beautiful environment. I hope it gives you lots of good food for thought for the next weeks and months. Blessings to you!

  3. I'm so glad you got to go to Kate's retreat. I'd love to hear more about it!

  4. Oh Mary, you are so dear. (I'm actually blushing in my tiny office.)

    I can't tell you what a privilege and honor it was to be able to spend the weekend with you. What an amazing group of women. What amazing writers!

    It was absolutely my pleasure!