a gift


I’m Western Wisconsin for my annual Motherhood & Words retreat at Faith’s Lodge.

This is generally a hectic time of year for me and this year is no exception. In the days leading up to the retreat, I was on deadline with a big federal grant at work, prepping for the retreat in the evening, and stealing moments as I made dinner to go through the copyedits for Ready for Air, which are due back to my publisher on Monday. On Tuesday I had a moment of panic, thinking that I wouldn’t get it all done. But somehow I did, as I always do.

On Thursday, after I had packed up the car with clothes and computer and groceries and skis, and headed out to pick up two of the participants who had flown in from out of town for the retreat, I already could feel the stress begin to drain away. Even though I am on the whole weekend, and it’s not really a retreat for me, it’s still one of my favorite weekends of the year. There is nothing like being surrounded by women digging deep, writing what they previously hadn’t been able to get down on the page, working their way toward some kind of truth.

This year there are five new participants and five returning, and they are all amazing. Their words— raw, powerful, heartbreaking, hopeful—spill from their mouths, filling the room, seeping into my heart. As their teacher, I can’t help swell with pride, amazed by their bravery, their vulnerability, their tremendous skill.

This afternoon, after my last individual conference, I will be spent, but alive, and I’ll clip on my cross-country skis and head out into the deep, fresh snow to ski loops on the trails until I am breathing deeply. Then I will return again to the lodge, ready for more of their words (and for some delicious food and wine).

What a gift to call this my work.


  1. Oh it sounds divine. I love the addition of cross country skiing to your day. It sounds like an ideal way to balance and refill your well.

  2. Every year when you write about this I want to come.

  3. It sounds perfect, Kate! I do wish I was joining you and the group right now. Perhaps my chance will come next year? I can’t wait to hear more about these women and their words.

  4. I would love for you to be here next year, Autumn! It’s such an incredible place! Always the last weekend in February.

  5. As one of the participants, I can say the gift is ours. You are an incredible teacher and it is with your support and encouragement that these words find their way onto paper. Thanks for another fantastic weekend! You are the teacher!

  6. While I’m unable to attend this weekend (obviously : ) and this summer — I think about you and the fellow mother writers often. I’m inching in my own writing here and there : )

  7. Oh, it was so wonderful, Kate! Thank you for existing! You were our gift. 🙂

    And now–back to working out my outline on Scrivener.

    • Oh Janine, you’re a rock star. And even when you don’t want to do what I tell you, the result is phenomenal. Curse me as much as you’d like. I can take it.

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