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Writing to Heal: Words and Nature as Medicine for the Heart

March 14, 2020 - March 15, 2020

Why do we write? Writing is a process that can help us heal, especially when we recognize the power of our own words. In the words of Sylvia Plath, writing “starts stubbornly in the body, and beyond—father and mother, even back of that. Which is to say it starts in memory.” As the expert witness to our own life and memories, it is vital that we record what we experience and what we feel. How do the stories we tell of our lives inform and shape our world view? How do we heal ourselves in a world full of hurt?
In this two-day retreat led by local poet and environmental educator Allie Rigby, we will center ourselves around the nurturing act of writing in nature, as well as the healing power of sharing our words. We will explore the resilient landscapes of Pepperwood and stay overnight at the Bechtel House cabin. The workshop will commence with a full day of discussions, nature walks, solitary writing time, and readings. We will also examine excerpts from Terry Tempest Williams, Ada Limón, Lydia Yukavitch, Roxane Gay, and Tara Brach. Saturday evening includes a catered dinner, followed by casual stargazing from the Bechtel House deck.
On Sunday we’ll enjoy a delicious brunch along with time to share our work. The retreat concludes with special guest Maya Khosla, Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, who will read some of her poetry, which was directly inspired by the landscapes of Pepperwood. Some of the weekend’s activities will be held in the field and will include hiking 1-3 miles at a slow pace. Bring a tent to sleep under the stars or sleep in a bunk in the Bechtel House (for an additional fee). Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch are included. All levels of writers are welcome!


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Holland Gistelli


Pepperwood Preserve
2130 Pepperwood Preserve Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95404 United States
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(707) 591-9310