So much more than a workshop

Apr 22

The Orcas Island rain perplexed me.  At home, if you walk in the rain, you get wet.  Seriously wet.  In seconds you are damp; one dash in the rain can leave you dripping and soggy and breathless.  Here, I walk in the rain, and I don’t get wet.  I look around; I see the rain dripping off the moss-covered roof and leaving ripples like stars in the sky throughout the bay.  There is so much water on the well traveled path that I cannot tell if it is coming from the sky above, or if it is bubbling up from somewhere deep within this place as part of it’s urgent, relentless cleansing nature.  It bubbles up; I bubble up.  I force myself to walk slowly in the rain — I’m not getting wet — and to be drenched in the space.

The workshop for writers was amazing.  Going to this event was the most random thing I’ve done in the past five years, and it was so very unsquelchingly right.  There were twenty-six workshop participants, and six facilitators.  For about seventy-two hours we were all at a cool, misty summer camp together; free of preconceptions and responsibility.  Our only mission a shared one: to write and to better ourselves.

I find my brain is bursting with essays and pages and snippets I wish to record.  I now need three days in a dark room to process, and I’m just praying that I can find enough quiet moments strung together over the next few days to capture the magic of Doe Bay and the endearing friendships forged before I am again ensconced in my world, my beautiful world, of Jen and of wife and mama.

The finale of the weekend seems appropriate to describe: I was one of the few who travelled a great distance to come to the event, and the facilitators were so accommodating with my logistical needs.  On the second to last day, one of my new friends with whom I hadn’t gotten to talk to much approached me.  West said, “I hear you could benefit from a seat in my plane tomorrow.”

Slightly confused, I said, “Well, no, I don’t think so, I’m on a red-eye out of Seattle-Tacoma tomorrow night.”

“No, no, no, I mean to get you from the island to the mainland.  I’m a pilot and have a charter business over in Friday Harbor here in the San Juan Islands.  I’m taking Matt and Claire to the mainland, and I have an extra seat.  The Poetess said you might like that seat.

My friend Bo Peep turns to me with eyes like saucers.  Matt is Matt Logelin, and Claire is Claire Bidwell Smith, both authors who have written actual best-selling books, and two of the reasons this workshop had been so appealing to me.  I’ve been conversing and rubbing elbows with them all weekend.  I find their writing style: vulnerable, authentic and painfully honest to be a source of inspiration in my own craft.  Moreover, I’ve met them, talked with them, become — dare I say — friends with them.  Bo Peep knew that a chance to spend a few more hours with them would be a big deal for me.

I nod at West.  “I’m going to say yes,” I say, “That would be amazing.”  I say yes these days.  Yes.

So last night, I flew with West, Matt, Claire, and Juliette (Claire’s baby daughter) on a Cessna 303 over the San Juan Islands back to Seattle.  Twenty minutes of breath-taking scenery, of watching Claire take approximately one-hundred photos, of watching Dan instruct Matt how to fly the plane.  I was assaulted with long-forgotten memories from my own childhood and the accompanying butterflies in the tummy of riding in my grandfather’s plane; I don’t think I was more than ten at the time.  I sighed with the fullness of the life I lead.  Attending this workshop was all about me, my dreams, and my hopes for the future.  Many people came together to help me with the logistics: thank you.  I return feeling full, and I hope to pour out in return.

I gazed out the window of that airplane full of beautiful people with revery, and I counted my blessings, one by one.


  1. suenitz /

    I have been thinking of you all weekend my friend! So great to hear about your incredible experience! Thank you for sharing your life with us. Much love to you.

  2. Lindsay /

    Love, love, love that He had such a gift for such a great lady…:)

  3. Kim Bunn /

    I am so glad that the workshop was amazing! I cannot wait to hear about some of the things you want to write about. 🙂

  4. Blessings Keep Coming 🙂 What an Experience !!!!!! 🙂

  5. LUCKY!!

  6. You describe the Pacific NW weather so perfectly! I love those spring rains — and the islands.

  7. So glad that you went and grew and glowed. May this be just the start of a new and exciting life of writing and publishing; your words have an audience out here !~!

  8. Bonnie J /

    After having gone to the San Juan Islands. …. your descriptions delight. I want to go back for the lavender fields! ! How exciting Jen and such a blessing from the Lord for allowing you to savor such a trip? A true Gift from the Lord. .

  9. Peggy /

    Dare I say…your already incredible writing is already more captivating! I, too, can’t wait to read your recorded “snippets”.

  10. Now that is so very exciting! I love being a spectator watching as your life unfolds. And I love how you treasure it, too!

  11. I’m so happy to hear that the workshop was wonderful. Life is going well for you and I am thrilled for you! Write on…….!

  12. Rockin awesome!

  13. You went!!! I was so hoping you would go. I would love to hear all about it in person. We’ll have to make that happen. So very happy for you.

  14. Peggy Murriner /

    Kara Uhl & I were chatting about you at last week’s preschool picnic. She said you made it out. (I only get to catch up on you every month or so.) And I cannot believe you were San Juan Islanding!!! I love them. Amazing. Jealous. Must read more. So happy for you.