Teaching From Home: Four Books for Retreating

It doesn't always work to get away to retreat to another location. In my previous post I mentioned that retreats can be in your own yard, a campground, or in a quiet room of the house. When I can't get away to retreat, I rely on books to guide and inspire me to renew and refresh myself. Here are four books that have guided me during my own life, a work in progress:

Living Live in Full Bloom by Elizabeth Murray. Murray focuses on four pathways to cultivate your soul These include Gardener, Artist, Lover, and Spirit Weaver. One reason I was drawn to this book was the way it was organized. It has short daily practices and the reader can move around and focus on specific interests. I was also drawn to the book because of her writing about her photography and the practice exercises included.  Her photography is beautiful also. You can read more about Murray and the book on her beautiful website here.

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson. Anderson had reached a point in her life that she had lost her purpose. She spent a year at Cape Cod in retreat. In this book she shares the difficultie and the triumphs. Many women can relate to her experience and use this book as a guide for ours.She continued in a whole series of books after this one along the same theme. She holds retreats for women to provide a structure for their journeys. You can read more about Anderson and her retreats here.

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. First written the year I was born in 1955 this timeless classic has great and simple wisdom with the theme of the seashore. I first read this while recovering from surgery over thirty years ago. This book has traveled with me all my adult life and when I need to feel centered and find simple wisdom, this is the book I turn to. A good article from NPR about the book can be found here.

Still Writing, the Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro. This is the newest of my  inspired readings. This book explores the creative life through other writers, her observations, and her search for the creative process. She emphasizes that need to be alone with self, which is the theme that resonates through each of these books. You can read more about her, her books, and her blog here. 

 If you have any books you would like to recommend, share them in the comments. Also, what other topics would you like to read in this series?

The Gift of a Day

I am so pleased my sister and her friend are here having a retreat. It has allowed me to stop, slow down, and let my creativity flow also today. What a perfect way to greet the first day of summer.

With perfect weather of sunshine and a little breeze Carol has already taken a series of photographs, done some reading, and began a new journal. Her friend is ready to set up a blog today with some assistance from me. In a conversation today we were saying how just a day like today is what women sometimes need. Whether a wife, mother,widow, girlfriend, sister, single woman, or friend women need  time to call their own.

In preparation for this retreat I have been exploring poetry on the subject. Here are perfect words to share today.
Women's Retreat
And so it is
good and right
to laugh and sing
in the dark

Travel away
and come back stronger
living how we were
meant to live

In friendship
In community

To walk our path
with other women
never alone

To journey at night
arm in arm
and come upon
all our poems
Set in circles
lit by candles

To place a prayer shawl
knit in grace
placed by grace
We are the threads
gathered by holy hands

by Sue Kunitz

Published in The Caller (November 2007)
a Mount Calvary Lutheran Church publication
©2007 Sue Kunitz

Time to Retreat

retreat: a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax.
             a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation.

How rejuvenating to find time to retreat. Retreating can nourish the soul, provide rest and reflection, and allow a person to be still. A retreat provides a gift of time. It doesn't have to be miles away in a lodge somewhere with a bunch of people. It can be in a study, a quiet campsite, an easy chair. In the past I have loved attending writing retreats. The time was ours, but workshops were provided. I loved those gatherings because of the freedom of time, bonfires or readings in the evening, and the companionship of other writers sharing and learning.

Tomorrow my home will become a retreat for my sister and a friend. I am more than pleased to provide space, resources, unscheduled time, and support as they spend time on creative projects. I look forward to sharing meals, enjoying a fire in the gazebo, and being inspired myself. I may sneak off into a chair in the garden also to write and have my senses put in order.

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."    John Burroughs

Teaching From Home: Five Tips for Capturing Memorable Photos

I am not in front of students now every day, but I am still constantly teaching and learning. Blog and social network friends often ask me questions about photography, gardening, books I am reading, or linking to a  recipe I've used. This hatched an idea of sharing some tips and learning I have picked up along the way with my varied hobbies and passions. The posts will be entitled  "Teaching From Home." My hope is that throughout the summer you can learn something, or a post may inspire a return to a passion or a desire to something new.
For those of you that have been following this blog, it is obvious I love photography. Digital cameras opened a whole new way of seeing the world. As I place photos into online photo albums, it also provides a timeline of moments, events, and places I have experienced.
Today I will share Five Tips for Capturing Memorable Photos

 1. Always, always, always carry a camera. Whether it is my digital camera, tablet, or phone I always have a way to capture images. Also, I don't have expensive equipment, but  I do  keep all my equipment together and ready to grab or go. When Gracie and I encounter a doe in the driveway, I was pleased I had my phone. The photo at the top was taken while shopping at my favorite nursery. Again, so pleased I had my phone.

2. Keep Your Eyes Open. I am always looking to capture simple examples of beauty. Actually, I have trained my husband well. I had my back to the clothesline when the sun came out after a rain shower. He pointed it out. I love the image.

3, Capture People In Unique Ways. We are experiencing the era of selfies.  I like faceless photos. I started these images to provide privacy for my students. I explored more about this technique from Chris Orwig. My brother has mastered the faceless photo concept with black and white photos he captures on photo walks. The picture above if of two sisters from my class on a walk. I was so pleased I was behind them with my camera.

4. Wait Until Evening. If it isn't a "have to capture this moment" photo, the light of evening works well for me, especially with gardening pictures. Not as many shadows and weird colors to deal with. The bridal wreath spirea in the garden.

5. Frame the Picture: I work on this all the time. I examine what is around the image I am trying to capture. What kind of background will it create? I still have to crop, but it is important for me to frame a photo just right. My front porch works well for bouquets of flowers.

I highly recommend the book Visual Poetry by Chris Orwig. His motto is "savor every second". That he does. You can find his book here.
Is there another topic you would like me to share what I have learned along the way? Leave me a comment.

The Forest Calls My Name

A year ago today we invested in a used-but-perfect for us Winnebago. That day was a trip meant to be. On Craig's List we found kittens that needed to be rescued and a Winnebago that was looking for a home in the same area. We traveled to Newport to get the RV and Diamond Lake to rescue the kittens.

The forest is now calling my name. We haven't been camping yet this year. Week-ends have been filled with other events including a wedding, a graduation, and a time to rest and recuperate at home. This week we are getting ready to begin our camping season. Someone last year asked me, "What do you do all that time when you are camping? " I rest, read, take pictures, hike, join Everett in a walk with the dogs, eat, sleep, sit by a fire, and do it all again. Bliss.
I know I live in a place many people  love to come and rest and retreat. I love my home also, but sometimes I just need to leave the floors that need cleaning, the room that needs organizing, the weeds that need pulling and take up residence in a campground in the woods, by a creek, or near the lake.
I think at the end of this week we will head up to Sherman Pass to a favorite campground near the top. It is quiet, there are great hiking trails, it will be a bit cooler, and the dogs can run a bit more free. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it!