Hope Unplugs in Santa Fe

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. Sage Inn

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.

Doorway - Santa FeThe 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.

Loretto StaircaseThe 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. 

 

Advertisements

Taking Myself on an Artist Date

In her book, “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron encourages creatives to schedule a regular artist date. The idea is to do something creative that is not your usual medium so that you can return to your own art, refreshed and renewed.

It had been several weeks since my last artist date, so I looked forward to attending the Prairie Village Art Fair and reveling in the creative spirit of other artists.20140531_105757

As I roamed among the booths, I was astounded by the various ways to express art. Woodworking, ceramics, blown glass, water colors, oils, leather as well as the more unusual yard art and even sequins carefully nailed on boards to create portraits.

A few art forms made me wish I had about $2300 extra to purchase something special for my living room wall. Others I just passed by, not attracted to cartooning or jewelry made out of only black and white beads.

As I walked by some of the booths, I thought – how like writing. Just as I rejected certain art forms that didn’t appeal to me or fit my décor, so publishers sometimes reject my words because they don’t fit their needs. I didn’t reject these artists themselves, just their work.

I need to remember that nugget of truth the next time an editor writes those dreaded words, “Sorry, this story doesn’t fit our current needs.”

The art that attracted me most was a photograph of lily pads, caught within the warm colors of a sunset. “That photo helps me feel at peace,” I told the artist. He smiled.

Other art forms I liked included outdoor scenes, a photo of a barn door with an inlay of actual barn siding, a grove of trees with a few real twigs inserted. It was the art that represented nature that appealed most to me because it reminded me of the country, of the colors and textures I love most.

Then I realized an additional value of my artist date – to help me underscore how I worship God best – within the palettes of nature, the turquoise of a Kansas sky, the chestnut bark on my willow tree, the purple clematis that climbs my back fence. These are the pastels and oils of my life, these art forms that have been created to glorify the Almighty and give me joy.

So I left the art fair and drove home to sit on my deck and enjoy the art of God.

©2014 RJ Thesman – Finding Hope When Life Unravels – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

The Artist’s Date

In her book, “The Artist’s Way” (http://amzn.to/1ajQmPn), Julia Cameron suggests that artists schedule an artist’s date. This includes any type of artist who desires to build on the relationship between her work and her soul. Potters, sculptors, painters and wordsmiths like me.

The artist takes a break from a current project and does something else creative – a stroll through an art gallery, a visit to a fabric store to feel the different textures, an afternoon with the journal in a quiet spot. When the artist returns to the current project, the creative juices are revived and ready to pour forth again.writing4502.jpg

I’ve tried the artist’s date, and I like it.

After several hours of wordsmithing about Alzheimer’s and dementia; my brain, my fingers and my inner voice grow a bit weary. Then I know it’s time for an artist’s date.

Last Friday, I took myself on a date. I wrote for a few hours in the morning, then met a friend for a leisurely lunch at Chipotle (love that vegetarian bowl with lots of guacamole!).

Then I took some of the books I have read and don’t want to reread over to Half-Price Books. I needed a new journal and found the perfect one with the wire binding and a colorful cover.

I browsed through the Clearance Section to find more wonderful books to read and added three to my vacation reading list, except I couldn’t wait and started reading one of them already: “Good Grief” by Lolly Winston. She is my new best friend, and her book was on sale for $1.00.

What a treasure! An artist’s date and a bargain on the same day.

After Half-Price Books, I needed a bit of refreshment. Once a week, I allow myself a small carb treat, so I drove over to Dairy Queen and ordered a mini-Blizzard™ – Georgia Mud Fudge – really chocolatey and really good. Then I sat at a table by myself, started reading “Good Grief” and slowly enjoyed my Blizzard™.

Then a brief stop at the grocery store to get the food that was not chocolately and filled with carbs but is much better for me. Then back home for more writing.

Sure enough, after my artist’s date, I was revved up and ready to write again. Either that, or my body was on a delicious sugar high.

If you’re an artist, aka a wordsmith, try the artist’s date once per week. It’s a great way to get away for a while and connect with your creative soul.

If you need company, I’m always available for a DQ Blizzard™.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/184haSS