What I Learned from Another’s Writing Retreat

Recently, my “I’ve met her in person” and online writing friend, Shirley Showalter, and my online writing friend, Kathy Pooler, reported in respective blog posts here and here about their Lenten plans as well as experiences at a writing retreat they attended. As I read their blog posts, I began to ponder anew my commitment to observing Lent. I’ll receive ashes on Ash Wednesday and help with communion several times during the days leading to Easter.

Ann Voskamp quote for Lenten season
Ann Voskamp quote for Lenten season

But personally what is my commitment? Where do I need to learn restraint? Where can I find silence in my life to focus more clearly on God’s role in my life and my role in the lives of others?

I went back and re-read Shirley and Kathy’s posts. In them I found a depth of commitment in several of their thoughts and sentences. I would quote them, but I want you to find them for yourselves.

Here I’m making my Lenten stand, having discussed my plans with Husband Bob, partly to give accountability by having shared it with others and partly to give accountability to God and my family and home:

  1. Effective February 18, 2015, I’m stepping away from all social media. Yes, this includes Twitter and Facebook, which I have already moderated to a degree over the past month or so.
  2. Prescheduled blog posts will appear via social media due to the beauty of scheduling ahead on the blog. I will make myself available to reply to any comments, but I won’t be commenting on the blog posts of others. My newsletter will go out as planned in March.
  3. I am committing to leaving home at least twice each month, if not more, to work in solitude and silence on my book, a gift I’m writing for all those hurting from abuse but to also spread an important message God has taught me. I hope to set up a much-needed writing schedule and a stronger commitment to this book.
  4. I want to allocate more quiet time for Bible reading and prayer.
  5. And I’m giving up chocolate!

Granted I have been forced to step back before due to family issues or family health issues. I have never made a conscious decision to make this kind of change when I am feeling renewed and so healthy for a change and yes, let’s add happy to the equation.

I will resume my regular schedule April 14th reporting what I’ve experienced and learned. I have asked Shirley and Kathy’s permission to join them, and knowing them they’ll respond affirmatively.

There’s nothing like good writing friends to inspire you.

Do you have plans for sacrificing something for the Lenten season? Do you want to ask me questions about this post? There is space below where we can have great discussion! Join us, please.

Encounters of the Best Kind

Via MorgueFile
Via MorgueFile

Not to minimize fantastic vacation trips and summers experienced in the past, but this summer’s experiences have amazed me! I cannot resist sharing the almost extraterrestrial sense of time and place present during this season.

For some time I have interacted with two writers and one editor online. In fact, I would go so far to say we forged cyber-friendships never knowing what lay beyond emails and comments.

Like the three windows shown here, we cannot see what is on the other side of the window panes. We can only imagine.

Likewise, we could see a computer screen and send messages to one another. Beyond screens and words, we knew very little about each other. We had no way of knowing the authentic person on the other side of the screen.

Summer 2014 has changed all that, and it has been a rewarding and special time.

First off, in June, I met writing friend and mentor, Sharon Lippincott, in real time in Lake Oswego, a suburb of Portland, OR. We shared a couple of hours and coffee at St. Honore Bakery as we talked writing and memoir, husbands, health, travel, technology, and yes, children and grandchildren! Sharon and her husband, Parvin, were in town to attend their granddaughter’s high school graduation.

Sharon blogs at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, a reservoir of excellent information for those wanting to write life stories and/or/memoir. Sharon also is co-founder and host of Life Writers Forum, an online gathering place for writers to meet others interested in life story writing and memoirs. Additionally, the forum is a base for exchanging writing tips and other writing-related information.

Sharon has written several books, which are available via Amazon.

Next up was a real encounter with Candace Johnson of Change It Up Editing. Candace has a vast background in working with traditional publishers, self-publishers, and independent book packagers. She has assisted clients with nonfiction subject matter ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments and self-help as well as reality based novels and more traditional fiction genres.

A few weeks ago I telephoned Candace to talk over the possibility of contracting for editorial services when the time arrives. While on the phone, she reminded me that she and her partner spend some part of the summer in Portland. We agreed to meet up for lunch or coffee during that time, and we did!

Last Thursday Candace and I met at The Dragonfly Coffee Shop at 1:30 and finally decided at 4pm we had solved as many of the world’s problems as we had time for that day. We had also run the gamut of conversation expected between an editor and a writer. Along the way, we also managed to talk about the places we have lived, jobs we have worked, books we’ve read or are reading, our children, the men in our lives, our favorite spots in Portland, and more.

If these two materializations were not enough, this past Sunday my husband and I attended our first worship service in a Mennonite Church. You might ask why, and I will tell you it’s fairly plain and simple.

A third online acquaintance, writer and mentor Shirley Hershey Showalter was preaching at Portland Mennonite Church that morning. Shirley had invited us to attend providing not only the opportunity to hear Shirley’s message but also for us to meet face-to-face. And we did!

You may or may not know that Shirley and her husband, Stuart, are currently traveling the west coast south to north on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. Their trip is shown on Shirley’s events page as “The BooktourAnniversary Palooza Amtrak 30-Day Pass on Coastal Starlight and Empire Builder Trains.” Their travels are so described as this year marks Shirley and Stuart’s 45th wedding anniversary and along the way they make stops for Shirley to speak or preach or read from her recent memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

Meeting Shirley and Stuart was a high point of our Sunday. An extra blessing was the palpable warmth and love of the members of Portland Mennonite Church, an experience I would not have wanted to miss.

I could have flown around the world or taken a 30-day cruise, and neither would have been as gratifying having the opportunity to meet these three cyber-friends, up until now, within a four-week period.

And to Sharon, Candace and Shirley, thank you for taking time from busy schedules to meet up with me face-to-face, real-time, for encounters of the BEST kind!

When you are travelling, do you ever think about folks you’ve connected with online and the possibility of meeting them face-to-face? I highly recommend it!