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Apply NOW for a GUEST SPOT at the Write to Heal Retreat ($4500 value)
We've just opened our special application portal and look forward to welcoming one attendee as our GUEST. Apply by 11:59pm on Thursday, April 6th. Winner will be contacted Friday, April 7th.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we’ve decided to offer one GUEST SPOT to the Write To Heal Retreat. Here’s the application.
Could you or someone you know use a 5 Day/4 Night transformative writing and wellness experience in the Sonoran Desert?
Writers' Haven by Christine Wolf is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
If so, please consider applying. We’ll review applications until Thursday, 4/6 at 11:59pm. We’ll inform the selected recipient on Friday, 4/7 so she can make her travel arrangements and book her choice of 2 daily wellness experiences at Civana Wellness Resort & Spa.
The Write to Heal Retreat
May 9-13, 2023
Civana Wellness Resort & Spa
We offer this GUEST SPOT in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Jennings.
Beth was one of my younger sisters and a beloved counseling psychologist from Madison, Wisconsin. Beth passed away suddenly in 2018, at the age of 47.
Drawing upon her innate skills as a deeply intuitive and sympathetic listener, Beth constantly encouraged authentic expression and offered compassionate and constructive support to her clients, friends, and family. Beth also acknowledged the mental health paradox faced by many in her professional circles, describing how they’d often face stigma when seeking support for their own emotional needs.
The GUEST SPOT at the Write to Heal Retreat aims to offer support and encouragement to one woman as she explores her authentic feelings about difficult memories and freely expresses them through the practice of expressive writing. There’s no obligation to share this writing with anyone. It’s an opportunity to face some difficult times with courage and the intention to heal.
From May 9-13, 2023, the GUEST SPOT beneficiary will receive*:
• Lodging at Civana Wellness Resort & Spa (King, Double Queen, or Double Queen Patio room)
• Access to daily Write to Heal workshops
• 2 daily wellness experiences of her choice
• 3 group dinners (Tues 5/10, Wed 5/11, Thurs 5/12)
• A $300 food & beverage credit to apply to meals not covered by the retreat
*GUEST SPOT does not include transportation costs, trip insurance, alcohol service charges, or gratuities. Any charges incurred beyond the above-mentioned DETAILS will be the financial responsibility of the recipient.
The GUEST SPOT recipient will work with directly Christine Wolf to make her lodging arrangements. The recipient is responsible for paying for and making travel arrangements to and from Civana Wellness Resort & Spa in Carefree, Arizona. Travel insurance is highly encouraged.
On Writing and Desire…
How easily do the following 20 terms come to mind for you?
Anxiety. Trauma. Grief. Self-doubt. Stress. Burnout. Overwhelm. Pain. Loneliness. Disconnection. Fear. Anger. Disillusionment. Struggle. Pressure. Uncertainty. Emptiness. Withdrawal. Exhaustion. Lack.
And now, consider how different life might feel if THESE were our 20 go-to terms:
Confidence. Self-assuredness. Support. Balance. Acceptance. Safety. Peace. Rest. Comfort. Familiarity. Gentleness. Ease. Nourishment. Engagement. Purpose. Vitality. Clarity. Wellbeing. Intention. Harmony.
I think about these two mindsets all the time, and while I’ve often wished my *default* was one of optimism and positivity, it’s not. I work hard to counteract my operating system (and its tendency to slide straight to worry/panic mode), and I credit trauma for that. While I used to think I wasn’t trying hard enough to be more upbeat and positive, I’ve come to see that society is only just beginning to appreciate how much effort it takes to navigate life while carrying the weight of anxiety, PTSD, and so many other mental health challenges.
For me, the best way to smash the stigma and raise awareness about mental health struggles has been writing and speaking openly about my experiences — my challenges, my takeaways, and my goals — particularly when they’re not crystal clear.
Years ago, when I left my wonderful, stable job as a teacher and took a chance on a full-time writing career, there were countless people who doubted and questioned (and, yikes, even mocked) my choice.
It’s a hobby, some said.
An indulgence, others remarked.
A temporary distraction from your *real* work, they joked.
They didn’t understand (nor did I, quite frankly) how much writing truly meant to my spirit or to my very survival.
What exactly do you DO all day? they’d ask.
Must be nice, they’d add with an oddly humorous tone, making up words and having all that time to yourself.
My favorite comment, though, was this:
Do you think you’ll ever go back to having a real job?
When I set out to write full-time, I didn’t have a roadmap, nor did I have much confidence in myself. What I did have, though, was a pure and honest desire to make meaning of my life, and the knowledge that writing was the action I turned to as effortlessly as breathing.
My (blind?) desire kept me upright whenever I stumbled through this career transition, finding my way, meeting new people, and discovering my voice. My desire got me out of bed more mornings than I can count. My desire fueled a passion to keep learning and growing and connecting. My desire helped to shield me from naysayers and doubters. Most important, my desire brought me closer to the people I was meant to meet…including my authentic self.
I’m still a work-in-progress and that’s okay, since I don’t know a soul who isn’t working on themselves (or in need of it, lol).
In the fifteen years I’ve been writing full-time, I’ve worked hard to build a body of work that offers honest reflections and insights. I’ve also done my best to build and foster community through a commitment to literary citizenship. I try to give more than I take, and I try to learn more than I declare. If I’ve learned anything in all these years as a writer, it’s that putting words on the page is actually a small part of the “job”. The other, just-as-important parts include resting, reading, listening, researching, learning from my missteps, connecting with others, trying out new formats and approaches, and stretching myself beyond my comfort zone.
During the Write to Heal Retreat, we’ll focus on accepting ourselves and others exactly WHERE WE ARE. Through expressive writing exercises, we’ll face some of our toughest memories. And through wellness experiences, we’ll celebrate how strong, resilient, and beautiful we are in spite of those challenging times.
I’ve learned that, when I create space for myself to rest and reflect, I give my active, racing mind a massive opportunity to heal.
The best news is, this healing process can be done in any environment, at any time, with or without people we know. We need not fly to some far-flung location or leave our familiar environments to heal. We need only the sincere desire to find meaning and purpose from our life experiences — and a willingness to face our toughest memories with our open and compassionate hearts.
In the coming months, I’ll be hosting a series of virtual and local-to-Chicago Write To Heal Retreats. If you’d like more information about these, please get in touch. I’d be happy to send you registration information.
Writers' Haven by Christine Wolf is a reader-supported publication. THANK YOU! To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.