An Artist Retreat

So, sometimes, it pays off to whine. I am not, by any means, condoning this terrible personality trait but sometimes it really does make a world of difference.

I was at one of my new favorite hangouts with my roommate Kitty, called The Empty Glass, and I was out on the patio talking to a few folks, S.D. in particular, when I happened to mention how bad I would like to go to a drum circle. Unbeknownst to me, there was one happening a week later and I was about to stumble upon an invite.

We (Kitty and I) were beside ourselves, waiting the week out, getting excited about this artist retreat we had been invited to experience. We really had never done anything like an artist retreat before and really had no idea what the experience would entail. With nervous excitement, the week passed in a flash and we found ourselves at the bar again, the night Kitty was performing with The Wayward Girls' School of Burlesque.

Once more, I found myself outside talking with random persons, and started talking to the guy, S.D. who had invited us to the retreat. He told me he had been having trouble deciding on who to invite, but really felt like Kitty and I would benefit the most from the event. I was super excited. He told us he would swing by and get us Sunday at 1pm-ish and we'd be spending the night at the retreat, leaving Monday afternoon.

Once we were all in agreement, we exchanged numbers and went about our night. The next morning I woke up, hopped in the shower and haphazardly shave my legs, woke Kitty up and we said goodbye to my dog and began our adventure.

First, we stopped at a local farmers' market and picked up some fresh food, hit the grocery store for some basics and met up with a local Art Group Coordinator, B.D. aka Mama D. We followed her for about 40 miles, got off the interstate and headed out to one of the most aesthetically beautiful places in West Virginia--Whispering Springs Haven.

Upon arriving, we were greeted by a gentle wave from a petite lady with a warm, welcoming face. We instantly felt at ease and at home. Kindred spirits can always recognize each other immediately. She introduced herself as Karen, the owner of Whispering Springs Haven. It was kismet.

We got settled and while S.D. and Mama D. cooked, Kitty and I took a walk around the property and just took it all in, getting used to the solitude. A light rain sprinkled over us and it was so quiet we could hear it patter off the leaves, the only other sound being the sound of birds calling out to one another, playing in the rain.

We had a delicious seasonal meal, prepared by S.D. and Mama D. followed by dessert. We all hung out for a while, discussing small business ventures for artists and our individual projects, waiting for the moon to show her brilliance.

Around 9:30pm, the sky finally cleared and the moon quietly watched us from above as we gathered drums, recorders, maracas and tambourines and sat in a circle outside. We took a minute to get centered in ourselves and then we did a healing circle for those we loved, some vocalizing their "prayers" while others, like myself, just let our thoughts flow, letting the circle of energy take our cares with it.

Afterward, we walked across the mountainside, to the fire pit and had a drum circle, shared stories, philosophies and experiences, drank some Amish chai tea and were just sated with the feeling of being. It was magical and natural and you could feel the perfection of the universe in this place. The pure solitude of this place was amazing. I really felt free. Free from harm, worry, stress, deadlines.. everything, really.

After Mama D. and Karen made their way back to the cabin (for lack of a better term) the three of us continued to talk throughout the night, stoking the fire with our toes resting along the firepit or in the sand surrounding it.. After our talk at the fire, Kitty and I went to bed, but stayed up having girl talk until early morning, then we finally fell asleep to the sounds of perfect peace.

Waking up the next day, we had another great meal and we volunteered to help Karen get a few things done around the house, since she had been so kind to let us come and free ourselves there, and somehow even chores seemed fun there.

It had begun raining again when it was time to leave and we really didn't want to go. This might sound silly, but a little part of me will always be there. I have never experienced the clarity I did while I was there and I just feel so much more like myself now.

Even if you're not an artist, per se, you need to do this. My reality has shifted because of Whispering Springs, and the loving and nuturing people who run it.

So, thank you Karen, Mama D and S.D. for allowing us the opportunity of a lifetime, and we can't wait to come home again. Our hearts are open and full of love and hope because you helped us see our full potential, not only as artists, but as people as well.



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