Every now and then we have an experience, an escape, that carves itself into our story. It rests out of time and out of space. It serves as a kind of beacon to everything else we do. For me, this was Lodged Out, a four-day immersive unplugged creative retreat set in the Cascade Mountain Range of the Wenatchee National Forest, summer camp style… Well, actually, winter camp style.
I travel a lot, but I am rarely ever off grid or unplugged. It’s the nature of my work and my life, and I am by no means complaining. But, I started to get a tad concerned when I realized I was rolling over in the morning and checking my phone before checking in with myself. I have felt in the last year my attention and tether to social media and my cell phone grow from a thread to a wire to a big fat thick rope.
I also recognize at this moment you’re thinking; one could just have a little self-control. But, of the things I was blessed with in this life neither moderation nor self-control are in my cards. So, I adapt.
It’s been fun to watch Lodged Out grow and turn into what it is today. It started last fall by Bobbi Lee when she realized she wanted to dive into something that felt holistic, more creative, and centered around connecting, growing and learning in a multitude of ways. She wanted more heart space. I want that too.
I was invited to Lodged Out as a workshop leader. I taught a creative writing class on the lyrical essay and creating dimensional fiction characters. We talked writing, writing life, and why it is I don’t sleep at night. There was no topic off limits when it came to my craft and I was both thrilled and challenged by being put up on stage like this. Mine was one of several workshops over the four days that ranged from sustainable fashion to astro-photography.
I’m not going to lie, I had a moment on my way to Washington where I thought, “WtF have I done, I’m about to go into the woods with no cell service for four days with a group of complete strangers. I literally know no one.” But, I was already in route and I rarely back down from a good old awkward time so I pressed onward.
We took a bus up through the winding mountains, a gorgeous snowy drive, and slowly left the rest of the world behind. My anxiety eased, my service went out, my music chilled me to the core. The experience was a classic sleep away camp style with bunked cabins and a main lodge, cross country skis and snow shoes, tons of snacks. And my personal favorite part: Every meal was made by a private chef using all locally sourced ad organic ingredients with heaps of vegan friendly options.
I am socially awkward even on my best of days and even after a glass of bourbon, so I was a little nervous about making friends. But, I realized very quickly in that without the crutch of our phones to divert our attention from potentially awkward moments, we were having real conversations. We talked about everything from organic dog food to whey there are mountains on the moon to what sort of practices we keep in the bedroom. There was no topic off limits, and the people that were strangers one minute, were my dearest friends the next.
I know this sounds like a letter I’m writing home to my parents from camp. I’m laughing right now, because it was literally something to write home about. In the mornings I’d go on walks in the snow and in the afternoons take a workshop and then spend my evenings drinking hot toddy’s and listening to a speaker or live music. Swoon. And on top of a damn good time, the noticeable positive effects of not having my phone for four days were very real. Time slowed down, way down. And for me, that’s always what I’m looking for.
The tickets have just been posted for the next event. This one is a summer camp on the infamous Lake George, at Camp Adirondack on their private peninsula in Putnam Station, NY. An all female-identified retreat including a hike and watercolor workshop, film photography, block printing, and two awesome fireside chat storytellers – Aminatou and Fariha Roisin. Also, once again all locally sourced amazing meals, summer camp style cabins, loads of good times, and most likely some skinny dipping. I’ll see you there if you know what’s good for you.