RETREAT MAGIC!

Retreat woodland nymphs!!

WOOHOO! Well that last retreat was just about the best fun you can have in the woods. As usual, the magic of a group of women coming together began as soon as we arrived, with everyone chipping in to help set up and show newbies around. My favourite moment from the first night was when, after the first pair of writers who’d met at a previous retreat introduced each other as “my friend”, the rest of the group did exactly the same. Even people who’d only just met fifteen minutes earlier. So right from the start we were a group of friends.

Workshops in the hall

Our bunk bed cubby houses worked perfectly and everyone had plenty of room to spread out and much needed privacy. Not that most of us spent much time sleeping.

I’ve never seen such a group of avid writers, staying up into the wee hours working on projects after being inspired by the workshops, then up early again writing and talking about their projects with the others. That’s how these retreats work – writers helping writers. New writers benefiting from the experience of those of us who’ve been at it a while and us more jaded folk getting a boost from the enthusiasm of those just starting out.

It rained and rained and we writers revelled in it. Perfect weather for writers and ducks – but not so good for this baby bird who was tossed out of its nest and became our mascot for the weekend.

Mum and Dad bird kept it well fed and it was growing feathers fast!

Like this baby bird we started growing new feathers too and testing our writing wings with lots of writing exercises to get those creative juices flowing. It’s amazing what comes out when you’re not censoring yourself.

We made each other cry and laugh with our stories and delved into the nitty gritty of crafting beautiful sentences and books too. I’m a little obsessed with structure 🙂

We unwound with yoga and a special movement session with Monique De Goey who has a fabulous self care workshop coming up soon. Monique also treated us to amazing massages that had people floating around for some hours afterwards looking a little drunk!

Books books books!

Apart from the joy of watching people make firm new writing friends, and supporting and nurturing each other as we tested those new wings, the highlight for me was dance night with Lalita. She brings such joy with her, along with her fabulous flowers and dresses and scarves and, this time as a special surprise, gymnastic ribbons!!

Best of all was a moment when I looked up and saw everyone totally blissed out twirling their ribbons to Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights! Magic!

As usual our camp finished up with creating collages. As with the writing, there were no rules so it was fascinating to see how everyone made something unique. Lift the flaps collage, front and back collages, limits? No limits collages.

Annie and her collage

It was such a joy to be able to facilitate this retreat – the first of the craziness of 2020. Our pleasure in being together was multiplied tenfold because of the separation we’ve all endured this year. I was again reminded of the importance of connection, of human interaction in real life, lifting each other up, comforting each other.

Such a precious gift.

THANK YOU to all the wonderful women who come along on my retreats. I feel like I come away with new friends every time.

NEXT RETREAT is in beautiful Springbrook in the Gold Coast hinterland at the Theosophical Society Retreat centre December 11 – 13. EARLY BIRD PRICES close soon – so HURRY if you’d like a spot. All the details about this FEEDBACK AND REVISION RETREAT are available here. Any questions just contact me.

A nearby swimming hole!

These retreats have a magic of their own. The magic of creative women coming together never fails to astound me. How powerful we are together.

Come along and join the fun. Make new writing friends and dedicate time and energy to your writing dreams.

Have fun until we meet again. Write like furies!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

MEMORY BOOKS!

Memory books are a great way to write your way through grief and to help yourself and others to heal. This year I’ve already done one for my father who died forty years ago, and am presently working on another for an uncle who only recently passed away.

My father. Michael Arthur Shaw as an 18 year old – sparkling!

The first memory book I ever created was for my son Teddy who died a few days after birth in 2006. My dear friend Helena had sent a handmade blanket for my new baby but we never got to use it for that purpose. Instead, I covered a big scrap book with the material and set about filling every page inside with stories, photos and cards.

All these scraps of memory added together, create something solid to hang on to, to make his coming and going more than just a hazy dream. With the book we always have something concrete to prove his existence. Writing or the urge to write is often driven by this impetus — to make a permanent mark for those who leave before us.

I wrote the story of Teddy’s birth to include, and encouraged my children to write their own stories and draw pictures too. Friends all wrote in the book at his funeral and afterwards I glued their cards in to remind us of the love that surrounded us at that terrible time.

Every year on his birthday we display the book and light candles, and for many years we made cards or wrote stories or drew pictures to add to the book. It’s pages are filled now, fourteen years have passed, but we still remember him and the book is there to show us just how much love was in his presence.

My father as a young teacher

Early this year, as the fortieth anniversary of my father’s death approached, I was overwhelmed by an inner prompting to make a mark for him too. I wanted to create a book of memories to share with my youngest sister who was only four when he died and for my children and my siblings’ children, so they have an idea of the man who was their grandfather, even though they never got to meet him.

I started by writing my own. I was fourteen when he died so I had more memories than my younger siblings. I then asked my brother and sisters for their stories, and my father’s siblings and his best friend as well. Some stories came from interviews I did, either on the phone or in person, which I then transcribed and made into stories. Then I set about collecting photos to add.

Family Christmas in 1975

The result is a marvellous tapestry of stories and images that create a multi-dimensional portrait of a wonderful, creative man. Each story adds its own special colour to that portrait, different reflections of the same person, a kaleidoscope of love.

At the moment I’m working on a similar collection of stories and images for my Uncle Danny who only died recently. Some people are afraid of telling their stories or don’t know where to start. I found that once others started contributing and these stories were shared, the others gained confidence and eventually were able to write their own pieces – if only to contradict what they saw as factual errors in other stories! 🙂

Every experience is subjective, we all see things differently through our own lens of perception, coloured by our own lives. This is the best thing about collections like this, the differences in perceptions of the person we are commemorating.

Writing your own memories, especially if you focus on the good times, the moments of joy you shared, is a powerful healing tool. To add those memories to the memories of others creates a community of shared love and loss which is precious. I learnt from my father’s siblings that my father had a naughty side, but mainly I learnt that we all found him quite wonderful. That he was, in fact, the very special person I’d always believed him to be.

If you have lost someone you loved, either recently or decades ago, I highly recommend creating a memory book to help record your memories for future generations. But, even more importantly than that, is the healing that will come for your own heart in the act of creation.

If you are struggling to cope with the loss of someone you love, even if they died 60 years ago, you may find my book A Guide Through Grief – First Aid for Your Heart and Soul of use.

A Guide Through Grief

You can buy direct from Amazon as an ebook or Print on Demand everywhere but in Australia.

If you live in Australia and would like a hard copy, contact me and I’ll post one out.

With lots of love

Edwina