Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday's Makings at the Women's Retreat

Having slumbered with visions of swaying pine trees, lapping lakes and creative genius dancing in our dreams, we all were up early. The first activity is to amble down and nest into a cozy spot on the granite peninsula at the west end of the shore. Flat 'n sandy with a calming view of the mornin' lake, it's a perfect spot for our daily yoga. I lead the Sun Salute and it always takes me a day or two to get relaxed with doing the breathing and speaking instructions/suggestions at the same time. I find it such a centering time, greeting the beauty of the Sierras in silence, inhaling deep of the pristine air and knowing the link between nature and myself.

We relocate to the Sequoia cabin after breakfast at the Ponderosa cabin. The Sequoia is our "creative" cabin and we cover a full gambit of generalities, questions and suggestions about journaling. We seem to have covered most of our planned material quickly and it allows a bit of free painting time before lunch. I choose to do a simple contour drawing and later fill in color where I want.

Lunch is yummy and Jean and I have received a request to do a tandem painting of the same subject matter. To demonstrate how differently we approach a scene, I start with saving my whites, applying my wax crayon and then start with under washes. I hand it over to Jean while my image dries and we ping-pong back and forth til done. A fun revelation for all of us!

Our major goal for the afternoon session was to relax, express ourselves and get acquainted. What better way than . . . making your very own paper doll from scratch . . . in the dream version of yourself?!?! Well, some of my fantasies include carefree hair, naturally beautiful Jamaican skin and narrow thighs (don't we all have these silly images in our head?)! So here's my doll, with properly bending joints and wacky yellow french knots embroidered for curly hair. As most of you know, I work slowly, so we never got her clothed beyond the under ware . . . but she surely made me smile!

The full two page journal spread falls together spontaneously. With the paper clay "cloud" insert on the left and the negative hole cut out to protect that "cloud" I have created challenging design elements to work with for the next few pages. I love how the pink and purple hiking boots reflect back those same colors in the shadows of the cloud's under-belly. And just looking at the page . . . all those frivolous or frowning moments flood back . . . don't you just love journaling?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sierra Retreat ~ Welcoming Day

Our Women's Journaling Sierra Retreat unfolds it's wings this 9th day of September. The starting threesome, Jean (my tandem-teacher), Izzy (our amazing gourmet chef) and I, are up early.

Jean and I have a teeny window of time to take a mornin' walk around the lake . . . and just drink in the soothing lake energy and the subtle, rustic beauty we begin to taste as we slow down.

Back at the cabin, Izzy takes her place dancing amongst the food and stove top while Jean and I vigilantly watch the second cabin, the Sequoia, to be vacated. We hope to get at least the living room space tended to by the cleaning staff first, so we can begin setting up our work stations for everyone, settle in our library and spread out shared materials. At 2pm Izzy finally corrals us into taking a break for lunch and we breathe, watching the "makings" of our retreat come together.

Shortly, retreat participants begin arriving. We skitter around touring everyone of the various bedroom possibilities and nesting spots get claimed. Unpacking pursues. With a bit of sun still shimmering on the lake several of us opt for a tour of east end of Lake Alpine. Personally, it's my favorite because of the Miwok Indian holes carved into the granite. See them there in the lake photo, lower right corner of the granite? I can just sense what it must have been to summer there, sitting cross-legged in the afternoon breeze, grinding seeds or grains in the small granite cups there. Anyway, I digress.

We beat feet back to the Ponderosa cabin, the one designated our formal dining area, ready for our first gathering. With the day's warmth still hovering on the deck, we set up the tables there for dining and immerse ourselves in fabulous food, warming wine and stimulating conversation. As the evening cool takes over our outdoor space, we migrate inward.

Our agenda is to craft a collective statement, and loving common energy and we spend giggling hours with this as our culmination. Pretty rich, eh? It will sit amongst us for all our evening gatherings, reminding us all of our individual uniqueness as well, as common bond. A dandy start to the retreat I'd say!!