"Ask me a month later and I may be able to tell you. I can't now...I don't know myself...I'm too near it. My thoughts feel as if they had been all stirred up until they were thick and muddy."
I read these words this morning from Anne of Avonlea. This is Anne's answer to Marilla's question about how her first day of teaching went. I am borrowing Anne's words as I continue to metabolize the experience in Montana that is now a week-and-a-half past.
I have been working on a response to the question, "How was Montana?" for a week. I don't have a ready answer. During the entire retreat, I felt at a loss for words like they had been confiscated for a time. That's a strange experience to have when one is at a WRITING retreat. But it also allowed my heart and mind to absorb everything that was happening. To soak it in so that I'd be able to access it later.
In one word, the retreat was TRANSFORMATIVE. I flew to Montana THINKING I was a writer, and I arrived back in Missouri KNOWING I am one. My one-on-one with Laura Munson was encouraging and instructive. She pointed out places for improvement (Point of View, no adverbs, and less stage direction) and highlighted the places that my writing was already excelling (passion for the craft, my love for my characters, having what cannot be taught). She underscored that I was willing to play on the page and told me that that takes courage.
Laura encouraged me to determine why I was writing this book. I had a ready answer: Writing Astrid's story is my practice in being FEARLESS.
This epiphany is a beautiful accompaniment to everything I have done and worked for in my year-long celebration of 40. The mindset that the 4040 list has created made this retreat possible. Getting to Montana was a leap of faith financially and otherwise. Asking for help through the gofundme campaign took me out of my comfort zone. Once I arrived at the ranch, surrounded by majestic fir trees, the sounds of birds, the sight of tree swings, I knew I was on hallowed ground. When I encounter the sacred in the ordinary, tears pool in my eyes and stream down my cheeks. There were a lot of tears those five days at Haven.
My heart has weathered a lot over the past few years, and Haven invited me to come and rest. To laugh and to cry. To breathe and offer thanks.
There is so much more to tell. Please be patient as I recapture my words. There's so much goodness I want to share.