For one glorious week, I lived the unplugged life in Santa Fe, NM. No social media. Even turned off my phone. Wrote long hand on a legal pad.
My purpose for going to Santa Fe was to attend the Creative Reboot Conference – an amazing weekend of workshops for the sole purpose of tapping into our creativity as writers.
The highlight was two workshops with Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and many other books.
Fresh from several of life’s messes, including my son’s five-month illness, I desperately needed some down time.
But this week also offered growth in my craft and immersion in one of the most creative places on earth.
So I tacked an extra two days onto the weekend – time for just me – for that self-care my therapist says I need.
Words fail to express how glorious that week became and what a milestone it was both personally and professionally. I have so many great ideas to share with my coaching clients. I also have several great ideas for blog posts and even for a future creativity retreat. And I am rejuvenated, refreshed, rebooted.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some writing tips I learned at the conference. You can follow these tips on my newsletter.
What is it about Santa Fe that evokes such a strong sense of belonging?
The Environment. At 7200+ feet, Santa Fe rests between the Sandia and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It lies at a higher elevation than Denver, the mile-high city, yet doesn’t feel like you have to climb enormous hills to get there. Some people do suffer from altitude sickness.
I only suffered regret when I had to leave. The city is nestled like a bird resting in God’s hands, so you feel safe within those mountains, secure within its borders.
The Climate. With little or no humidity, a bad hair day does not exist in Santa Fe. Compare that to Kansas where I might as well throw away my curling iron and forget the entire process. The week I spent in Santa Fe, daytime temps were in the 80’s and nighttime in the 50’s.
Layered clothing required. My definition of perfect.
The Diversity. Tourists from all over the US and the world visit Santa Fe. I met people from France, California, Minnesota, Germany, Chicago, Australia, Japan, Columbia (the country, not Missouri) and Colorado. Those who choose to live in Santa Fe may be Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians or Anglos – an amazing mix of God’s creatives.
We easily mingled, shared tips about the best historical tours or joked with each other on the shuttles.
The Architecture. Those curved, soft walls – no angles anywhere with the terracotta covering the adobe. The colorful doorways and window frames, usually a turquoise blue.
From the St. Francis cathedral to the Loretto Chapel to the Georgia O’Keefe museum, Santa Fe knows how to display its unique beauty.
The Atmosphere. The people of Santa Fe relish in the joy of relaxation and play. A wedding party marched around the town plaza, complete with Mariachi band, dancing bridesmaids and the newlyweds with happy glows on their faces.
People stroll through the streets. No hurry to make appointments. Waiters and waitresses take time to stop and talk to their customers. Business owners do not pressure for sales. Everyone seems eager to meet you and take the time to learn more about you.
The History. Each year, I read through my copy of Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. Though written in novel form, it details much of the history of the region. The faith walk of Saint Francis and Father Lamy, how the famous cathedral was built and how the sisters of Loretto served the people of the community.
I participated in one of the historical walking tours with an amazing guide who was born in Germany, raised in Chicago, then made Santa Fe her home. During that hour, I learned more about the region than previous years and reveled in the rich faith that built the city.
The Arts. From Canyon Road to the winding Loretto staircase to the handmade jewelry of the Native Americans – the arts thrive in Santa Fe. In fact, people come from all over the world to attend the Festival of the Arts or buy season tickets to the famous Opera House.
For a creative like me, it is like being drenched in the fiery juices of God’s artistic design. The colors and textures, the fine craftsmanship, the pride of each artist as s/he describes their process. Heaven on earth.
Six years ago, my precious friend Deb and I made a research trip to Santa Fe. I was working on the last book of the Reverend G trilogy and needed to know first hand the feel of Santa Fe. I already loved the area. That trip cemented my craving for New Mexico’s finest.
This time, without Deb, I determined to make my own memories although I still grieved her absence. But I felt her there with me, in the coral sunsets and the mournful tone of a wooden flute.
Most of all, I felt a sense of homecoming – as if Santa Fe had chosen me for a week of rest and a reminder that life was about to turn around. That my son would indeed be well. That my words would impact readers and my soul would find its refuge.
Hope strolls through the quiet lanes of Santa Fe and promises to call me back again. I plan to someday answer.
George O’Keefe was right when she said, “Once you’ve been to New Mexico, the itch never leaves you.”
©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Learn about Reverend G and her trip to Santa Fe in the trilogy: The Unraveling of Reverend G, Intermission for Reverend G, Final Grace for Reverend G.