I watch planes glide into and around the tarmac like giant dragonflies. Like the one created in mosaic on a concrete bench at the entrance to the Nashville airport. It seems I’m seeing everything a little more lyrically since leaving Suzanne Kingsbury’s Gateless Writing retreat at the Buddha House deep in the Tennessee hills.

There, we twelve women gathered for three days. Sequestered and isolated, save from each other, to write. Encouraged by my friend Daisy Florin of the gifted pen, I signed up almost on a whim when I learned of the location. My oldest son, Dustin, an aspiring musician and poet, moved to Nashville six months ago. I follow both passions.

Approaching the retreat, leaving the honkytonk hustle and bustle behind, I wind up narrow, newly greening roads. Cattle barely lift their heads to eye me indifferently. I wonder if I’ll be out of my league or amongst my tribe.

The Smart Car-sized Buddha head in the center of the circular drive is a good omen that it’ll be more the latter than the former. The manse, with its mish mosh décor, is idyllically situated in the middle of nothing but flora and fauna. Its vast center circular staircase would have suited Scarlett O’Hara. To me, it suggests aspiring to something higher.

And indeed we do, spurred on by the alchemy that happens on the oversized taupe micro suede couches. Red wine, green tea, and heady springtime air combine with this diverse and divine gathering of female energies and mind-blowing talent. We write and read. We laugh and cry. We commiserate and congratulate. Suzanne presides, gently and lovingly shepherding us with compassion and wisdom. We learn from each other’s shared perspectives and unique voices.

When I skied, back in another life, I always preferred to follow someone more skilled than I down the hill. Watching another’s expertise would take my skiing to a new level. At the Gateless Writing retreat, I attentively followed those with more skill up the hill. And the view was breathtaking.


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