Beginnings and endings

The courtyard between the lodge and the hot springs at Joyful Journey as winter sunset colors the Sangre de Cristo Range in the background.

“Begin as you intend to continue,” my Scots grandmother used to say. Which to me means,

Be thoughtful about how you enter into something, whether a project or a new year. Don’t rush into it; take care with your intentions and dreams, what you hope to achieve and how you imagine getting there.

I heard Grandmother Chris’ lilting voice in my head last Friday during a trip with girlfriends to soak in the hot springs at Joyful Journey Spa. A chance encounter with the conference coordinator  led to my learning that the lodge and events center had an opening for a group the first weekend of spring.

Begin as you intend to continue. 

I’ve been considering beginning a series of writing workshops that nurture both spirit and creativity, based in comfortable surroundings in places that inspire awe and deep thinking. Joyful Journey fits that bill: the small lodge and spa encompass a rural hot springs with a panoramic view of snow-capped peaks, star-studded skies at night, and the peace and quiet of Colorado’s “forgotten” San Luis Valley. Especially in spring when the entire Rocky Mountain Flyway population of sandhill cranes, 20,000 or so statuesque, long-legged and long-necked birds, arrive to dance their spring courting rituals and call in their percussive voices.

So I’m taking a leap and beginning a “Write & Retreat” workshop series offering time out for creative renewal and writing practice, time to let the community of nature work its magic on heart, spirit and inspiration. The first workshop, “Write & Retreat: Cranes & Hot Springs” will take place–appropriately for the renewal theme–on the first weekend of spring, March 21-24, 2013, at Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa, about 3.5 hours southwest of Denver and an equal distance north of Albuquerque.

Sandhill cranes in the San Luis Valley in spring.

The agenda for this four-day retreatful writing workshop is simple: soak, write, read and talk writing in a small-group workshop setting, retreat into contemplative time, take a drive to watch and listen to the spectacle of the cranes’ dawn flight and dancing, write, read, soak, contemplative time….

Imagine these four days as time to nourish your inner self, to take your writing to new, richer places with an intuitive and experienced teacher, and to practice retreatful habits to bring home to your daily life.

Begin as you intend to continue.

If you’re interested, let me know. I’m still working out the details. Spaces are limited by my preferred workshop size (10-15 writers; there’s also room for companions who come along to soak and see cranes, but won’t attend the workshop).


Trimming the window over the kitchen sink. One down, 36 more to go….

The endings of the title? My new sideline as a trim and finish carpenter is something of a gentle transition (gentle emotionally, if not physically!) to a rather huge ending. Once I’ve finished trimming all 37 openings, put up what seems like miles of baseboard, and invent a shower and tub surround plus a counter for the master bath, this whole half-block property will go up for sale: the house with its custom sculptural sinks, cabinets and sandstone shelves, the cozy guest cottage, and the historic shop (plus the pentanque court, organic kitchen garden and wildflower “lawn”).

I’ll move around the corner to a tiny house built just for me, plus a studio over the garage to house guests and Terraphilia residents.

Endings and beginnings

None of this will happen overnight, which is what I mean by a “gentle” transition. Regardless, I’m ending my time in the house my love helped design and build for us, the place we imagined living out our lives together. We did that, only the end of “together” came sooner than either of us could ever have imagined.

I’m beginning this new year as I intend to continue, walking a mindful and loving path as writer, teacher, and–this I would never have guessed a year ago–finish carpenter. Building a new life with care, and a great appreciation for the community of lives with whom we share this green and blue planet, sparkling with life.