writing retreat

Writing Retreat, Here I Come!

I am off to my lovely retreat that I attend each summer out by the Lost Coast of northern California. It is a delightful nine day writing retreat in the middle of nowhere where about 26 writers gather each summer to do what they love, write with their friends. The retreat has been around for some time and there are people who have been attending for 17 years or more. I am a newbie here as this is only my fourth year. Dubbed the Kitchen Queen, I spend the morning and lunchtime in the kitchen making sure breakfast and lunch are served for hungry campers. Then different members of the group take turns with dinner.
I love this retreat. I would never have thought that I would take so much time from my kids to do something as frivolous as a retreat. That was for other people. Now, I deem it necessary to my sanity. My kids survive just fine in the hands of grandma for the approximate two weeks time I am away (once you count traveling from where I am to where my friend lives, then shopping and heading out to the retreat). When I write there, I write in a way I cannot do at home among kids and a dog and noise. I can immerse myself in creative thought for hours at a time.

Mattole River from the retreat.

A creative retreat is important to our creative self. Stepping outside and away from the norms of everyday life and immersing into our creative work can clear out room to take one’s creativity to a new depth. Maybe you cannot get away for a retreat. I understand. It can be hard if you don’t have support from family, especially if you have children. Maybe money stands in the way. Have you thought about creating a retreat for yourself at home, even for just a day. Find a sitter for the kids or see if there are scholarships for day camps they can attend for just a few days. Then dedicate your time to your creativity.
There may be moments when guilt creeps in, telling you that you are being selfish. That’s when you say, “Damn right! It is my turn to be a little selfish with my creative time. I am worth it.” We all need our creative space. I talk a lot on this blog about really only needing a practice of ten minutes a day for creative expression, and I stand by that. What I am also saying is that we have the right to give ourselves permission to go deeper into our creativity in order to become even more connected to it. Creative expression is vital to our human condition…it isn’t an “extra” subject for school. It is an essential part of we are as people. Take the chance. Give yourself a retreat for your creativity in whatever form you express it.

The path into Camp Mattole where the retreat is held.
i'm sorry quotes

Over 50 Creative Quotes to Say I’m Sorry

I want no part in saving the world. I do want to be someone that another person can count on the be there for them when the world cause them to feel insecure. I want to be the person that aplogizes when I can’t save them from my mistakes and I have let them down. Sometimes, we create the insecurites in those we love by not upholding our end of the relationship in one way or another. The only way to repair such damage is to accept responsibiity and offer a sincere apology to the best of our ability.

There are a couple of ways to approach asking for forgiveness of our transgressions. If we believe the person will see us face -to – face, we can attempt a formal aplogy in person. Even when facing someone though, words are sometimes difficult to say aloud. We stumble and forget what we are going to say. Writing a letter of apology or sending a card are also ways one can approach the situation. The written word gives us time to clearly think through what we want to say to the other person, even if we are standing in the same room with them. Do you owe someone an apology, a long overdue, “I’m Sorry”?

One way to make saying “I’m Sorry” easier is to use a carefully selected quote that fits the situation because sometimes, someone else has said exactly what you mean to say when you can’t find the right words for yourself. Quotes are sometimes funny and lighten the tension between two people, especially if humor is a part of the relationship. Some call for more sincere and heart-felt sentiments. For a couple, a more romantic tone may be more appropriate. I want to encourage to take some time today and consider who you may owe an apology and how you may best be able to say it. If you need some help, read this blog on 61 I’m Sorry Quotes to Personalize Your Apology. Here you will find an abundant of beautiful and charming quotes perfect for helping you in an apologetic letter. Apologies can be creative and beautiful but only mean something if they are sincere,  If you don’t need it now, just remember that someday you might because we are not perfect and it is better to admit we messed up and say “I’m Sorry,” than do nothing at all.

Over 100 Reasons

Over 100 Reasons to Write an “Open When” Letter

Last month, I wrote a post on Five Reasons to Write a Handwritten Letter. As someone who creates cards just for those occasions when handwritten letters are the most needed, I really feel that a handwritten letter says so much more than a text or e-mails can.  When was the last time you sent out a letter to someone? Or dropped a letter into the mailbox with more than just some family pics on it or a quickly scribbled Happy Birthday. In this busy age, it is quite common to do these things in hopes of staying in touch. What if instead we went one step further and wrote a letter? There is great joy that comes from sitting down and writing out a letter for someone you care about. For your creative weekend pleasure have I got just the treat for you! Welcome Julissa, my guest writer for this fabulous Friday.


Julissa, from Shari’s Berries, has written a wonderful guest post and link to a fabulous letter writing idea,  “Open When” letters. I am delighted to share with you what she has to say.


Do you remember the first time that you ever received a handwritten letter? Maybe it was from a relative, a pen pal, or a best friend. Maybe the envelope was decorated with swirls of color or your favorite stickers. Whatever form it came in, it held the promise of something great: a special message just for you, folded up neatly and tucked inside.

There’s something special about holding a tangible letter with your name on it. Maybe it’s the knowledge that someone took the time to sit down and put pen to paper for you. Maybe it’s just the old fashioned fun of it in our age of emails and text messages. Regardless, it’s a sure-fire way to make someone feel loved.

It makes sense then that “open when” letters have recently become a huge trend.
Popular among long distance couples, close friends, and military families, “open when” letters provide a different letter for the recipient to open on a number of occasions. Some popular topics include “open when you miss me,” “open when you’re sad,” or “open
when you want to know why I love you.” Shari’s Berries thought this was a great idea, so they came up with over 280 “open when” ideas to share with your loved ones. Plus, they’ve included some pre-decorated templates you can print out to get the creative juices flowing.

Open when letters are a great opportunity to slow down and stay in touch in a way that shows you care. They’re also a great chance to think creatively. Try using them as a form of art journal or scrapbook and see what you can come up with to make your recipient’s day.

Have you ever written an “open when” letter? Do you plan to? Let us know in the comments!”



DIY: Creating Leaf Poetry

This is a replica of a favorite project I did a while ago. I call it Leaf Poetry. Why? because you use the leaf templates or you can trace leaves and paint them anyway you desire. Then you are going to write some very simple poetry on your leaves. You can use as many leaves as you want but I chose three. See…Leaf Poetry.


Ten Minute Tuesday: Talking to Your Critic

We all have at least one in our head. One critic that doesn’t shut up. He or She is the critic in the stands that Brene’ Brown often refers too. They aren’t supposed to matter because they do not get down in the arena with you. They don’t wrestle with the world and come up dirty. This critic tries to stay above it all. Always criticizing  but never trying. Since this is National Letter Writing month  let’s write  a letter to this critic, Tell this critic what you think of them. See who they are clearly in your mind. Man or woman? Insolent child? Think of this letter as standing up and addressing them directly. If they are a critic that is not willing to get down in the mire with you, do you fire them? Send them on vacation for a while? What do you want to say? I once wrote a letter to this critic firing them. He was a cranky old man in my head. One who was never happy with anything at all. It didn’t matter how good something was, HE did not like it. So I fired him. Now, I will warn you, since firing him, he does not come around as often, though a couple of new ones took his place. But everyone once in a while the cranky old man slips past my defenses and into my head once again like an employee who never gets the hint that he is doing terrible at his job. So I have to fire him again. Here is my letter to the critic in my head and how I fired him.

Dear Critic in the Stands,
I’m letting you go.
I’m saying good-bye to your harsh tones and your sandpaper words
that scrape away
the soft parts of my heart.
I’m turning away from you,
Leaving you standing with your arms crossed and
frown lines on your face
while tapping your foot.
This relationship is not working for me.
I do not enjoy having you shred my skin away,
expose the broken bones beneath
while you are up in the stands, keeping your hands clean
and your bones safe.
I have made my list of the ones who matter,
tucked it in my pocket… the loved ones who get down in the mud with me.
So, I will tell you again.
I’m letting you go.
I’m saying good-bye.
Please leave the arena now,
you are fired.

Four Poems

Four Poems to Inspire You



Let’s gather by the golden, red fire
in the early morning,
before dawn breaks through.
While the madness of sleep still inhabits our minds.
Time to dance before the flames,
heal our younger selves,
while laughing and singing,
wildly spinning around the circle,
howling like wolves
under the moon.
Medicine women,
with the pharmacy of the earth
in our hands.
The windows we keep
between being inside
or out,
shattered away,
and the concrete barriers
we built around out hearts,
tumble down,
crashing in the fire;
the red flames reaching to the stars
and we do not burn.
The drumming goes faster.
The wild howling,
stomping of feet,
a feverish circling of the pit.
As the blue sky appears,
the sun slowly
ascending into dawn;
the small bits of ice formed at the edges of our spirit
melting away.
Hands held,
a circle formed,
a promise made,
as the flames die,
we are Reborn.
My inner child dances,
in movement to beating drums
only she could hear.
She stands on the edge of cliffs,
into the rushing, turning ocean,
and rises:
chilled, excited
She carries sword and wand,
rides into battle
protecting villages,
rescuing beggars,
the children,
the lost ones,
bringing them home safely.
As for dragons,
my wild child,
she rides farther,
higher on the backs of dragon’s
that others
are terrified to slay.


ALL POETRY is the property of Susan Sontra, author of The Creating Room. The post may be shared but the poems cannot be shared outside of this posting.

wrting acrostic poem

Ten Minute Tuesday: Acrostic Poem

“An acrostic poem is a type of poetry where the first, last or other letters in a line spell out a particular word or phrase. The most common and simple form of an acrostic poem is where the first letters of each line spell out the word or phrase.”
Young Writers Free Glossary

For example I could use my name SUSAN with each letter beginning the sentence of a line in the poem. You can choose to use any word or even the whole alphabet. Sometimes it is easiest to start with just using a name.

Such as the morning came, the dawn so cautiously rising and the day

Unwritten. I savor the gray light that arrives just before the dawn,

Surrounding myself in its quiet blanket

And keep myself warm in its solitude, listening only to the

Noise of the doves cooing in the gray light.

It is a great way to learn the feel and rhythm of poetry. It’s form also lends itself to learning to choose words carefully as we write poems. In a poem, unlike a story, you may only get 5-10 lines to tell your story, so words need to be chosen with care. Today I want you to play with the Acrostic poem. If you are having a hard time getting started I am including two sets of word tiles for you to draw words from. Print them out and cut them apart and draw a word, or simply pick a word from the list. I find that words with five or more letters work best but short words are a particular challenge that could be fun. Save them the word tiles because there will be other poetry prompts this month that will call on them to be used. Good Luck and have a bit of fun.

word tiles 1 word tiles 2

Five reason handwritten note

Five Excellent Reasons to Write The Handwritten Letter

The handwritten letter…when was the last time you wrote one and sent it? When was the last time you received one. Guess what? Here is your chance. Starting April 1s,  it is not only national poetry month but it is also the beginning of national letter writing month. As someone who makes cards that are blank inside, I wanted to give you five excellent reasons to embark on writing a card or letter to a loved one. As a child, I used to delight in getting letters in the mail, special notes from people I love, letters from penpals in different parts of the world and cards from other friends or family members. They were like getting little presents. Even now, as an adult,  I have one friend who will send me a surprise postcard or note in the mail and I’m always delighted just by the thought that goes into it. Sure, we chat on the computer and through email but is not the same as getting an actual letter in the mail. I even enjoy sending my readers here handwritten notes. Though they happen less frequently as my arthritis has become worse, I still enjoy it. That is why Your Five Excellent Reasons are handwritten…just for you. Who will you send a note to today??

Why would you want to write a letter when sending a text message or email could be so much quicker? Here are the Five Excellent Reasons that sending a handwritten note is so important for you have the recipient.

magnetic poetry

Ten Minute Tuesday: Magnetic Poetry.com

Welcome to April, National Poetry Month. It is also National Letter writing month but I will bring that up again in another post. I want you to play today. Have you ever seen the magnetic poetry kits for sale, usually  in gift shops or little off the wall places. I used to collect the kits. I had three or four of them and more words than I could count. I even had a magnetic calendar and separate magnetic board just for all the words to hang out. I LOVED them. In my last move, they kind of scattered away. Every once in a while I will find a stray word in a box or stuck in an old journal. I loved having them to use for jump starting poetry writing.
Well, Magnetic Poetry also has a GREAT website, where you can not only by said poetry kits but you can PLAY with some of the kits in an online interface. It is a lot of fun and a great way to play with poetry if 1) you have never really played with it before 2) feel stuck in your own poetry 3) just to play for a few minutes for fun. It makes poetry entertaining and easily attainable to everyone which is what I like. Poetry should be reachable for anyone to try. It isn’t just for the poets or the slam poets, but for anyone wanting to express themselves in new ways.

So what I have done is taken screen shots of the website and posted them here with brief tutorials beneath the photos. It is really simple to follow and a lot of fun to do. Just to give an extra tip now, what I have may not stay in this form. I like to use magneticpoetry.com as a jumping off point for an idea and then expand it from there. I hope you have a lot of fun playing with words today. More poetry prompts to come and favorite poets to share.

Ten Minute Tuesday


How often have you felt that you take up too much space in the world? Or maybe you were in the wrong place, an outsider not wanted? Have you ever been displaced? I think most people experience it at least once in their lifetime. We feel must shrink away and not be so loud, or so bright, so smart, or so strong. Here’s to all those who have ever felt displaced. I want you to know, you are seen. You are Heard. And we need your creative voice as much as we need anyone else’s.

She has been told
she takes up too much space
in the world.
Her roundness consumes
the seat for two
on a bench,
maybe over fills the bus seat,
has had to fake buckle her belt on the plane.
She shrinks
when she can,
slipping in and out of rooms
pressing herself against a wall,
holding in her belly
in an effort to take away from who
she is.
Not wanting to
or impose
her stature on anyone,
she makes her voice soft,
keeps her head turned down,
does not raise her hand.
She remembers being young,
Cybil Shepherd looks from her
Moonlighting days,
and even then she was not small enough,
her “football” shoulders, she was teased,
her curvy hips,
her wide ribcage.
She whispers,
to make up for all the physical space
she devours.
It is all she sees when she looks in the mirror;
not silver blue eyes that change to green
or her smile;
instead she sees the round belly,
her thick thighs,
her round face.
She cannot see the curly hair,
her kindness, her empathy.
She sees she takes up more space than you,
so she quiets her tone,
hoping you won’t notice she is there.