Writing beach retreat.

So for years now, Emily & I have gone on writing retreats to the beach. Usually 3 or 4 days where we sneak away from our regular daily lives and hole ourselves away to focus on nothing but writing. We’re here now with our 4 kids and we’ll play and chat and write and the kids will have a blast. But it hasn’t always been like this. Once upon a time there were 4 of us that would come, us and 2 other writers and that’s what I want to talk about today.

When we started these retreats, we were fortunate that one of us had a lovely beach house we could use and it made our twice yearly trips (usually February and September) even more of a treat. For the brief stint I lived in Tennessee, it made things more difficult as I would see family when I went to Texas and there simply wasn’t time to carve out for those writing retreats. But one  November we decided it was time for another one so I flew into Austin and together we piled into the minivan (this time with a very pregnant Emily and a rather chatty toddler) and we hit the road for the five plus hour drive down to Bolivar peninsula. We had these traditions with these trips, we’d usually stop at Chili’s in Houston and then make our way to Galveston where we’d load onto the ferry that would take us over to the smaller strip of land that housed the beautiful Crystal Beach.

I suspect that many of you might not have heard of Crystal Beach or Bolivar peninsula unless you remember Hurricane Ike, the one that hit shortly after Katrina. Ike’s damage didn’t get quite the media attention that Katrina did – Bolivar is obviously not as populated as New Orleans, but still many people lost their lives and even more lost their homes.

It wasn’t just writing retreats though that mark my memories of this blue house on stilts, it was a family vacation spot a few times, a place where I went with several friends for just a weekend away at the beach.

Before the storm, you could see rows and rows of houses, these are the pictures of the aftermath of Ike, you can see how nearly everything was leveled. Now I only lost a place where I have memories, I didn’t lose property or land or belongings or loved ones, and I can only imagine how those people will begin to put their lives back together.

I’m one of those beach people. You know, how some people prefer the mountains – The Professor is one of those, but me, I’m all about the beach. The waves, the sand in my toes and the sun warming my face. I can sit there and watch that water for hours. Or walk along the shore and pick up shimmering pieces of sea glass. It is a refuge for me, the one place on earth that fills my soul more than any other.

Changing beach locations is not the only way our retreats are different. As I mentioned before, now we have kids in tow, whereas when we started, we were both kid-free. Not only that but our dear friend, the one who owned the beach house that we lost now has late-stage Alzheimer’s. Our trips are different, but we still write and recharge and laugh and enjoy a few days away from our “normal” lives. But I miss those early retreats, I miss that blue house and I miss our dear friend.

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Refilling Your Emotional Well

As a writer I’ve heard this phrase many times before, usually in a talk or presentation about creativity and tapping into your artistic or creative side. But I’ve also found that it’s an important phrase for life in general.

What I mean is, we’ve all read or written blogs about the busy-ness of life or about finding “me” time as an adult and a mom. Especially those of us who unrealistically try to be Supermom. ☺

But I also think the idea of refilling our emotional well is an important concept to teach our kids, too.

Oftentimes today our kids are overbooked, overscheduled, over-involved…over a lot of things. Sure, trying your hand at a variety of things can be a great way to develop and discover new talents, interests and skills. At the same time, doing too much can lead our kids to feel just like we do after a hectic day at the office, followed by an evening taxi-ing our kids to different activities, cooking dinner and washing dishes, capped off with a writing session in front of the computer. No wonder there are days when we feel frazzled, frayed or bamboozled.

So, just as we need a little “me” time, so do our kids. Think of it this way, if we teach our girls how to recognize when they’re getting to a point where everything seems too much when they’re young, maybe they’ll be better at balancing their responsibilities or at least doing so in a healthy way when they’re older.

Whether it’s curling up with a good book in a corner on the couch or under a tree in the back yard, or coloring with crayons, or going to the beach to have fun in the sun and surf…Whatever it is that makes them truly happy. That helps them feel re-energized and rejuvenated. Whatever brings a silly grin to their face.

Whatever refills their emotional well.

For me, that’s a day relaxing on the beach with a good book. A nap in my back yard with my puppy sniffing around for lizards. Watching a chickflick with family and friends. A day of baking gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies with my girls. Going salsa dancing. Putting on my music and going for a run.

How about for you, what helps refill your emotional well?

This makes for great dinner table conversation with your loved ones. Try it, and maybe someone will surprise you by their response.

I’d love to hear how it goes for you if you give it a try!