, , , , ,

welcome bags

Welcome bags for guests: cookies and coffee from a local bakery and roaster, Moon Pie (of course), water, Write Naked tote bag, and agenda.

Last month I hosted the inaugural Country Retreat for Creative Professionals, a 3-night retreat at the River Landing Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in Alamance County, North Carolina. While this event was just a few nights and under half an hour’s drive from my home, I felt like I was gone for a week far away.

This event attracted an engineer developing a one-man show. While writers typed on laptops and scoured handwritten notes, he lined the community room with disassembled coffeemakers that he was using to plan the content of his show.

Barbara Hengstenberg of WildesArt, who I co-hosted a day-long retreat with two years ago, created gorgeous watercolor pieces inspired by her own poetry!

watercolor poetry

Barbara’s watercolor poetry.

Among the writers, we had both non-fiction and fiction represented. I continued my work for my short story collection, but didn’t get as much done as I’d liked because of client work deadlines.

Our space was cozy and inspiring: an inn converted from a barn. Everyday I walked the trail along the Haw River to Saxapahaw. While I think place is an important fuel for inspiration, I believe food is as well. Every night we had meals from restaurants less than a mile away with foods sourced from nearby farms. The inn spoiled us every morning with crepes, French toast, or a frittata.


One of the amazing breakfasts prepared by the inn.

Knowing that we had the two right types of fuel for the whole weekend, I wanted everyone to get into the right mindset on our first morning. Here’s what we did, and you can try this to:

Write a Letter to Yourself

How do you feel about writing this letter? How do you feel about where you are in this physical space? What motivates you?

Be specific and answer these questions how they relate to now, and how you imagine you will answer them in the next three years.

Then answer the questions in ways that they relate to these areas of your life:

  • Professional
  • Personal (Family, friendships, love)
  • Financial
  • Health
  • Place

Where are your priorities? What are you struggling with? Why are you doing what you’re doing or setting out to do?

I provided everyone with paper, pens, and stamped envelopes. After 20-30 minutes, I took everyone’s sealed envelopes and now they are sitting on my office shelf. I have a reminder in my calendar to drop them in the mail next March. It’s a little time capsule of creativity.

Try it out yourself, or join us at next year’s retreat to reflect and refuel. 🙂