In just a week, it will be February 2, a day with quite a buffet of holidays to choose from–Groundhog Day, Candlemas, Imbolc, to name a few. Although the choices vary, they all come down to light.
Whatever your pleasure, this week prior feels like a grand time to honor the steps we’ve already taken to be mindful of the light, within and without. On December 18, I took a great big bright step, and I wasn’t alone.
That evening, with the help and support of a wild and wondrous horde of women plus my intrepid beloved, Mike, holding down the male contingent solo, I took my annual winter solstice retreat to a new level. In the fall, I brainstormed with the brilliant Melea Seward over drinks at Bare Bones Bar, and over the next two months, she generously offered her event savvy to help me dream up something that felt all aglow.
Instead of the usual 6-10 participants in my living room, I rented the bright and lovely main studio at Moxie Studio, enlisted the organizational brilliance of Amanda Hirscht of Life Support, and we transformed it into a winter solstice wonderland, equipped to host forty women for a retreat, a celebration of creative work, and chance to call up the light within our voices, in the midst of dark times.
Five women, including writers whose books I had the pleasure of editing, and all of whom are women I’ve collaborated with and admire, co-sponsored the event with me: Nancy Thurston, author of Big Topics at Midnight: A Texas Girl Wakes up to Race, Class, Gender & Herself; Kelly Wilson, author of Caskets from Costco; Jacki Gethner, author of Behind Door #3: Choose With Your Eyes Wide Open; Kim Cottrell, blogger extraordinaire and Feldenkrais practitioner; Vanessa Couto, counseling astrologer; Theresa Pridemore, creatrix of The Portland Tarot and brilliant designer via Cogflower Creative. What a powerhouse crew.
Plus of course, this star…
For the first hour of the event, as attendees arrived, Mike signed them in and handed out name tags and gift bags. Now that’s a committed boyfriend, right?
When I thought, oh, wouldn’t it be nice to have gift bags for all of the attendees and started asking around to see who might like to both donate a treat and promote their work, I never expected the burgeoning gift bags it took Amanda three hours to assemble.
These glorious goodie bags included treats from:
- Angela Rider of Sensible Mystic
- Consu Tolosa
- Cheryl Green of Storyminders
- Dr. Summy To of Myoptic Optometry
- Theresa Pridemore
- Kristen Hamilton, Intuitive Eating Counselor
- Heather Michet of Iris Healing Arts
- Kate Pagliasotti of Inner Court Acupuncture
- Molly Thurston-Parker of Queen of Hearts Baking Company
- Base Camp Brewing Company
- Amanda Hirscht
- Ann Eames Editing
- Bette Steflik of Shen Men Feng Shui Consulting
- Vanessa Couto
- Delaram Adyani of Premier Designs
- Summer Cranford of Context Salon
- Denise Sowden of EatMeDesserts PDX
- Zoe Cryns counseling
- CJ McPhee of Energy Moves
- Robyn Urbach of Allay Naturals
- Jacki Gethner
- Nancy Thurston
- Kim Cottrell
Gift bags in hand, attendees could then visit the lusciously decorated sponsor tables, where they could purchase all kinds of books and treasures and services. Or pause and savor the culinary wizardry of Meadowlark PDX,
who catered up a storm of ridiculously tasty appetizers and sweets, like lamb meatballs, butternut squash soup, beet & goat cheese crostini,
Not to mention bonus cookies for the gift bags. Oh my.
Every twenty minutes or so, I gathered everyone around to draw names for prizes. As with the gift bags, when I asked some of my favorite entrepreneurs and local businesses for donations for door prizes, I thought we’d have a nice handful. We ended up having enough prizes so each attendee got one.
Wowza. We gave away:
- Bead For Life Necklaces AND Massages from Jacki Gethner
- A Chinook Book from Nancy Thurston
- Beautiful jewelry and purses and gift cards from Delaram Adyani of Premier Designs
- Flower essences from Robyn Urbach
- Raven Essences Consult & New Year’s Blend from Andrea Matthieson
- Holiday Flasks from Kelly Wilson
- Copies of Kate Ristau and Maren Anderson’s Commas: An Irreverent Primer
- Original art from Kristen Hamilton
- The Dog Lover’s Companion to Seattle from and by Val Mallinson
- A Writer’s Self Care Gift Basket from Heather Michet at Iris Healing Arts
- An Astrology Reading/Consult with Vanessa Couto
- A Deck of The Portland Tarot from Theresa Pridemore
- A Divine Archetypes Chakra Misters box set from Candice Covington
- Coaching & a subscription to the Elixir of Venus Write-amin, from me
AND, what deeply warmed my heart,
- 2 bundles of books from all of the authors I’ve worked or am working with on their incredible stories: Nancy, Kelly, Jacki, and Kim. Plus books sent in from my brilliant Canadian authors, Jo Dibblee, author of Frock Off: Living Undisguised, and Bonita Lehmann, author of Saving Her. Saving Me.: On My Way to Something Magnificent. Plus copies of my novel, Putting Makeup on Dead People.
Holy wow. So focused am I on what I have yet to create, it’s really easy for me to forget to pause and acknowledge and celebrate the work that has been done. This was a night on which it was impossible to forget. What a gift to celebrate the work of all of these creative creatures.
I can be a fiercely independent lady, convinced I have to do everything on my own, and often reluctant to ask for help. This event reminded me of the power of collaboration, the potency of community, and the abundant gifts of connection.
For the retreat portion of the evening, I invited Theresa Pridemore to do an innovative group tarot reading with The Portland Tarot, and I suppose we shouldn’t we surprised that The Sun was one of the cards that emerged. Theresa’s reading grounded and prepared us to release what did not serve us, dive into writing, share our voices out loud, and reflect together on how we each would call up the light, that is, whatever we each needed and chose in order to shine, to be beacons, bonfires, lighthouses, candlelit windows, or welcoming hearths.
At the end of the evening, Heather Michet led us all in a round of song, in which we kept adding voices until we all were singing. Looking around the candlelit room full of beloved women & one beloved man, feeling the sound of all of our voices resonate in my heart, well, that was, as they say, something.
My deep sincere thanks to all of the attendees and sponsors and donors and helpers and organizers, and especially Val Mallinson, for leaping in and taking pictures to document this event (included here). I’m in awe of and humbled by the community I get to be a part of.
Although right now, I’m focusing on making the most of winter and looking to the wonders of spring, I’d like to plant the seed for next year’s winter solstice celebration. Whatever it will be, I know I don’t want to do it alone. If you’d like to be involved, please do be in touch. Together, we’ll create something bright and beautiful.
Thank you so much for reading. You might notice that I don’t have a space for comments, but I’m certainly open to conversation about what’s written here. If you’re so inspired, feel free to start a conversation with me via the contact form on the homepage of this site.