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An Extreme Journaling Retreat

Things have been a little hectic around these parts lately. They are finally beginning to settle down as (another!) solstice slips by. June 21’st has always been my New Year’s Day and this year in particular I’ve been in desperate need of a clean slate. A blank canvas. A hard reboot.

For a couple of weeks I’d been researching possible locations for a retreat. I wanted more than anything to be away from the madness surrounding me so I could hear myself think. Maybe in the woods, definitely someplace without cell service or wi-fi. And ideally, alone.

Most people plan their summer getaways months in advance. I learned this when trying to book one of the many cabins, cottages and yurts in Washington’s numerous parks and beaches. I kept coming up empty handed. I even got laughed at when requesting June 21st — “You mean 2011??!!”

I didn’t want to spend $175 a night and I don’t (yet) have a VW camper van. So I complained amply to my friends and made peace with the idea of hosting a retreat in my own creative space at home. A clumsy solution at best.

And then the Universe smiled down on me and ushered forth my friend Kerry, who is a sales agent for Princess Cruises. Turns out one of the cruise ships departing from Seattle had a few empty cabins and she was able to reserve them for friends & family for next to nothing.

It seemed too good to be true. But 48 hours later I was aboard the Golden Princess, bound for Alaska on a 7 day cruise, all by myself.

I’ve never been on a cruise before; it’s always been outside of my financial means. I toured one of the Princess ships with Kerry a few months back while it was in port. I remember walking the decks, fantasizing about being able to get away for a week, have all of my needs taken care of — three meals a day cooked for me, laundry service if I needed it, and nothing but time to sit and write and ponder and question and explore my mental landscape on the pages of my journal.

And suddenly here I was, with just that — and right when I needed it most.

If I ever doubted the existence of a benevolent force in my life, I never will again.

I brought journals and two of my favorite journaling prompt kits, Inner Outings: Adventures in Journal Writing and Wide Open: Inspiration and Techniques for Art Journaling on the Edge. I also brought this fabulous book that every creative person in business should get and complete: The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real. It has you creating an art journal to explore the innards of your artistic business. It helps you connect the left and right brained portions of your work, explore what’s missing and come up with solutions.

I ate fruit and watched the waves for hours. I curled up in a deck chair with my journal. I filled page after page.

The retreat so thoroughly hit every single need within me. I slept until I was done each day. I basked in the sun. I ate good food prepared for me. And I drank in the silence, the stillness, the peace. I felt my body uncurling from its tense knot.

As a bonus to all of this physical and mental healing, I got to see Alaska! I saw humpback whales, Husky dogs, golden bears, bald eagles, and glaciers. And some really cool buildings.

I wish every journaler I know could have this sort of luxurious experience. There is nothing like it on the planet. I was able to turn over every single aspect of my life and expose the damp parts that needed airing. I untangled the giant snarls in my brain and shook them loose until my life flowed freely again. I returned to Seattle weightless and unencumbered.

Much of what I discovered was already there for the taking. Isn’t that always the way? I just had to clear away the noise to see it.

My goals were physical relaxation and creative clarity. I gained both. And once I hacked through the fear, guilt, and confusion that was crowding out my creative flow, I felt inspired again. There are so many projects I want to put in motion, so many fabulous ideas I want to share with you. Workshops and new eBooks and kits and classes. I’m overflowing with colorful, exciting plans and I can’t wait to get started.

This summer I have carved out lots of time to put these ideas into practice. I’ll be sharing more about them as the days go on. I hope you will join me.


  1. Time is a wonderful gift for the writer, especially time to yourself just to think! So I am glad you got to rest and relax for a bit. Looking forward to all your new projects.

  2. So very glad to hear from you again. You have been in my thoughts since you wrote about all the upheaval you were experiencing at work. So glad to see you are feeling whole again, and ready to carry on.


  3. What a wonderful journey you had – a cruise – I would never have thought this either but it sounds like it really did ‘tick all the boxes’. Looking forward to seeing how everything manifests itself : )

  4. Thanks you guys — so good to be back in the saddle. 🙂

  5. Looks like you had a fabulous time. Welcome back! In Bellingham there’s the Alaska Ferry, but it’s much more spartan. No buffet on the lido deck! 🙂

  6. Sounds just heavenly. I thought of you recently; glad to see you around again!!

    Can’t wait to hear about upcoming projects, and would love to hear more about the journaling you did.

  7. It sounds lovely and you deserve it, though I’m jealous. It’s the kind of thing I would love to do but probably never would fix for myself (or afford)! 🙂 Thanks for sharing it

  8. I can’t afford it either, Hanna — I just am blessed to have friends in high places! 🙂

  9. Wow …what a fortunate opportunity!! This sounds like a total bliss. I am glad you got this chance 🙂

  10. My dream is to run a retreat centre where people can get back to who they truly are – find their purpose – recognize and choose the best path when at crossroads. I am sure that journaling is key at retreats. What a wonderful experience – a personal retreat at sea! It is amazing how the universe provides what we attract at just the right time.

  11. What a fabulous experience. Thank you for sharing the details so vividly. I’ve recently discovered your podcasts “Journaling Saves” and from that am exploring your website. Your home page is very creative and uncluttered. I just love the many different ways you are sharing your experiences and knowledge and I look forward to following you.