Motherhood & Words

I’m here again at Faith’s Lodge for the 3rd annual Motherhood & Words Retreat, and I already know it’s going to be another amazing weekend. Last night, as we waited for everyone to arrive, we sat in the Great Room with plates of cheese and glasses of wine, unwinding, letting the comfort and beauty and intention of being here in this healing place seep into our consciousness. As one participant reminded us, the Lodge was created for intentional grieving. Most women on this retreat are not grieving the loss of a child, but there is something in the intentionality of this place that helps these writers refocus on the stories they need to write. I can’t wait for our morning discussion and hear the words they’ve already written.

There is one heartbreak here at the Lodge this year: the felled trees. Some of you may remember that I posted about the loss of trees last summer, when straight line winds tore through the area, destroying 62 of Faith Lodge’s 80 acres of tree-covered land.

Intellectually I know that 62 acres of trees = a whole lot of trees. But I was not prepared for what it would feel like to drive into the Lodge’s property and see the devastation. It looks like a bomb was detonated. Tears filled my eyes at the sight. And because of the damage to other property in the area, there was too much work for the logging companies, and they have only been able to clear a small strip near the Lodge, which miraculously sustained very little damage.

I was up early this morning, turning on the fireplace up in the Eagle’s Nest, where we have our morning meetings, and laying out breakfast things for the group. And as I stared out of the devastated land, I was grateful to see a light snow begin to fall, as if the elements sensed our desire to cover the barren land.

Now, I sit for a few minutes of quiet in front of the fireplace in my room, a cup of strong decaf perched beside me, and I’m filled with gratitude for this incredible place that will re-grow and adjust, for the lives that have begun to heal here, for the incredible women who have joined me this year. It feels as though it will be a weekend of renewal for me, and I’m ready.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Joy on February 24, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I hope you and the rest of the women have a wonderful time, Kate! I was tempted to email you when I saw you had the last-minute opening, but it would have been crazy to try to make this weekend work. I would love to go sometime, though – maybe next year?

    • Kate on February 28, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      Joy, I would LOVE to have you there next year. It was such an amazing weekend. Please think about it!

  2. Rhena on February 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I’d love to go one year too! (I also love the “strong decaf!”) It’s always unbalancing when a landscape we’re used to changes. Regrowth, though, is always possible especially in the black earth of MN/ WI.

    • Kate on February 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      I know! I bet it will look completely different yet again next year. I hope so!

      Is strong decaf so silly or what?

  3. Marilyn Bousquin on February 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Kate, This is so beautiful. I feel healed just knowing you are with a courageous group of women writing about motherhood and life and truth and self. Sending warmth and encouragement to each and every one of you. Write your hearts out! xo, M

    • Kate on February 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      Thank you, Marilyn! I can’t wait to give you a hug in a few days! I’m going to stalk you.

  4. Autumn on February 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Have a wonderful, fulfilling retreat. I long to be there! Maybe next year?

    Are you planning another online course in the near future?

    • Kate on February 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      I would love that, Autumn. It’s always the last weekend in Feb. And my next online class starts in September. Let me know if you want more information…

  5. Sara on February 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    This retreat and this space always sounds so delightful.

    • Kate on February 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      I hope you’ll be able to come one year, Sara. You’d love the Lodge, I know.

  6. Mary on March 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    It was such a fantastic retreat! I am back home, back in the routine, but my mind is still in that gorgeous lodge with you and my new friends — those amazing women, those incredible writers — working on getting my stories down with your expert guidance. I’m already blocking out the weekend for next year. Can’t wait.