Monday, April 30, 2012

Sometimes You Need to Retreat

People have been bugging Kim and me to have a retreat for years. We were always kind of intimidated. In our minds, we needed to have an elaborate setup with many teachers, and many more customers--possibly hundreds of both. We weren't quite sure where to have it--Europe and Montana both seemed kind of far away. We talked to all kinds of people, got all kinds of suggestions, and just spun our wheels. 

Last June, however, we had a breakthrough. We took a class on how to hold a retreat. Everything seemed pretty straightforward, but we were still unsure if it was possible. And then it happened. One thing that the instructor said in passing changed us instantaneously. She said, "Decide what your minimum is--say, 8 or 10 people." 

We looked at each other. That was it? You could do a retreat with just 8 people? 

Suddenly it seemed possible. And during the break in the class, the instructor further convinced us that there just had to be a place near our home, given our lovely location in Central Pennsylvania. 

So we started planning. We indeed found a place--Lake Raystown. It seemed like a perfect spot--just over an hour away--far enough to be away, but close enough not to eat into retreat time and energy. We spent the next 6 months organizing the whole thing. 

And suddenly, this past weekend, it was time to pack and go.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am not exactly an early bird. Frankly, I'm not all that interested in worms. So when I had to leave the house at 6:45 to get there by 8:00 Friday morning to set up, I did not begin as the most cheerful person in the world. 

But I took route 45, which is one of my favorite roads in Pennsylvania. And within minutes, my attitude changed to one of great joy. Once a year or so, when I have to get up early, I am reminded once again that there is a reason other people think morning is beautiful: And that reason is the sun. I stuck my camera out the window (with the strap around my wrist to keep it secure), and shot blind photos of random scenes. Like this.

And this.

And this. 

Cows, baby. I love me some cows.

In no time flat, we were both there. Set up went quickly, and soon Kim and I were sewing before anyone else arrived.

Surrounded by this. 

By 2:00 everyone had arrived, and the room was humming with activity.

Mostly, when you take a shot of people working in a room and post it to your blog, it doesn't look great. People's expressions are weird. We've all seen those dreadful workshop pictures--right? My shots were no exception.

But Photoshop came to the rescue, turning my bad shot into a painting that gives you a real feel for the energy of the room:

The entire weekend hummed like that.

As the days went by, I loved looking at all the beautiful colors people were using.... 

And seeing what they were making. Here's a basket in process:

(I nearly stole one I loved them so much.)We had cool but pleasant weather most of the weekend, and spring was in full bloom. I found this pretty little thing on one of my walks:

Okay. I admit it. I took exactly one walk. But it was an extra good one, what with the butterflies!

I did, however, eat every meal. This was my favorite meal, I think--chicken and veggies and fruits in an Asian sauce. We were each allotted 3 kebobs, but since we were a group of women, and we are all scared to eat for fear of Pounds, there were a lot left. So I ate 6.

Kim and I have stopped eating sugar. Normally we're not even attracted to it. But the smell of these cookies nearly sent us over the edge:

But best of all, by Sunday we all had some finished projects--or something darned close! There is just nothing more exciting! These are just a few of them:

And so it was a great weekend, even for Kim and me. She worked on some art quilts. I finished quilting my Jelly Roll Race (photo to come later, or stop by the shop to see it), and I finished a necklace, and I finished a headband, and I made the nametag we're supposed to have for Quilt Guild, which I have not had for NINE YEARS, and I worked on the beginning of a new quilt. And after all of that, I thought I would have time on Sunday to finish putting the buttonband on a sweater that I steeked 2 years ago. No such luck.

So I did it when I got home.

I am certain that without the retreat to motivate me, this sweater would still be languishing in a bag in my closet. Sometimes you just need to get away.

We'll be having another retreat next year. Pay attention to the fall newsletter and sign up right away. I'm already looking forward to it.