I have some very exciting news….and it’s not a new Netflix show, though thank you to whoever came up with Wanderlust, I am hooked. No, this is something I am planning to do, something that I am going to make happen. My good friend and fellow author, Rebecca Gold and I are hosting a woman’s writing retreat in a beautiful estate in Bradenton, Florida and I am beyond excited about it. Don’t be put off by the word retreat. It is not the kind of retreat where we eat tofu and weird stringy sprouts and talk about feelings. Blech. As a matter of fact, we are planning to serve lasagna one night…with extra cheese.
This retreat is called Write Your Divorce Story and, as you know, I have done this and it served me well. Now I am rich and famous and hang out with the Real Housewives of New York City and Meryl Streep.
Okay, maybe not yet, but the dream lives on. Still, I did write my divorce story and I did get it out there but more importantly, the act of writing it helped me to heal, to gain clarity on my experience and above all, MOVE ON. Not to mention have an airbrushed photo taken that makes my disappearing eyebrows look pretty damn good.
How did I do it you ask? How did I bring my story to life with a possible movie deal starring Julia Louis Dreyfuss as Amy Koko? (What…it could happen!) Well, when I first began my journey through divorce, I kept to a very tight schedule. I would wake up and wonder how I was going to make it through the day without breaking down in front of my kids, my lawn guy, the checkout girl at Publix who for some reason always insists on asking me if I have exciting plans for the weekend, my neighbors, my Pilates instructor…well, you get the idea. Once I got that out of the way, I would get my kids off to school, do my errands, pick kids up from school, serve them dinner and wait for night to fall and for them to say goodnight because then it was MY time.
This was the time I would open a bottle of Pinot, pour myself a nice big glass, and sit in front of my lap top, where I would write my nightly letter to my STBX, which I am not going to share with you. Let me just put it like this, if one day, someone ever actually figures out the elusive iCloud and finds those things that we pay monthly to store there but still can never find, I am going to be very embarrassed. VERY, like I can forget ever running for attorney general or even secretary of my home owner’s association.
Anyway, I would write, and write and write, the anger and venom flying from my fingers. Once I was spent, I would hit SEND. I did this for a few months until his attorney spoke to my attorney, who spoke to me (even being reprimanded cost me money) and told me to stop it asap, because it was bordering on harassment, it would not cast me in a good light with the judge and it was really freaking weird.
I continued the letters, but I stopped hitting send. After a time, I looked forward to this nightly ritual and the letters became less and less hateful and more and more cleansing. In fact, some of them brought happy tears to my eyes as I recalled moments from the past where we had been a couple, a family, whole. I found writing these letters that would never be sent left me feeling lighter, and if not happier, then at least accepting and hopeful for my future as I ventured into it as a single woman.
These letters led me to my blog (ex-wife new life), which then led me to writing my book: “There’s Been A Change Of Plans – A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents In Midlife.”
Now I want to help other women begin that journey, whether they want to write their own memoir, short story or just gain clarity on their experience. Rebecca and I have designed a long weekend retreat that will help writers find their own unique way of telling their story. We will start with exercises to find the beginning of the story and continue with different writing styles and methods to keep the story moving forward. Each writer will leave with the beginning of a strong personal narrative and a road map to follow to bring it to completion.
We will also be offering daily gentle yoga and meditation (that’s Rebecca’s thing, not mine) and I will be hosting knitting lessons which I find helps me keep my creative juices flowing and creates a sense of calm, allowing me to focus on my work. There will also be time for sharing our work, for anyone who cares to do so. If no one cares to do so, I will share my past work starting with the story about fish having a party that I wrote in third grade. We will go from there.
The beautiful private estate we have chosen for this experience is located in Bradenton, just a short ride from Tampa International Airport. It is a 4200 square ft showpiece home on a gazillion acres of land with plenty of room for roaming and cozy spots for writing and amazing sunset views. There is a custom-built pool with a jacuzzi and waterfall, and a spa steam room, as well as a gorgeous lanai with plenty of chairs for group chatting, relaxing and of course, writing. Yes, we will be doing A LOT of writing. (Take a look at the agenda on my website to see the details of the writing workshops we are offering).
We will supply breakfast and lunch as well two dinners with one night reserved to dine out on the town as a group. There will probably be wine at night. Who am I kidding? There will definitely be wine at night.
Sound too good to be true? Well, it might be… We are only inviting 6 women to join us. So, if you’re interested, you better reserve your spot FAST or you’ll be sorry. If you would like additional information including pricing and the ingredients of the lasagna, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rebecca at Rebecca@yogicwriting.com
Please join us—you know you want to!