We Come With A Story: Reflecting on the Writing from the Heart Retreat

Lead Instructor Heather Sullivan recaps on powerful experiences from our reflective writing & yoga retreat in Yosemite Valley


“I am just back from facilitating a weekend in Yosemite Valley during a verdant spring with a late dogwood bloom and thundering rivers and waterfalls.  Afternoon thunderstorms and downpours added excitement and decorated the skies as our group met and convened in fireside discussion, yoga class by the Merced river, around lovingly cooked meals, and internally in our journals through writing.

Participants putting pen to paper to reflect and share their stories during our Writing from the Heart retreat this past May/June

Each of us came with a story.  Many stories. Some easy to share and some we didn’t want to share…at least at first. A safe space was created for each of us to share what we needed in the moment and each one of us to listen to one another and hold space for one another. Yosemite Valley, carved by the flows of rivers and glaciers over time has seen it all and can hold so much.  It can hold it all. The joys, the pains, the loves, the losses.  It is the ultimate witness and this weekend was witness to the love and vulnerability of our sweet group of 10 souls.

Participants explored different perspectives on this 3-day Yosemite writing retreat

I left the weekend feeling in awe of each person there and in awe of what every person’s story can be and how much we each as humans endure in our time on earth. Equally I was left in awe of the beauty and the magic in the world that can help each of us on our journeys of hardship and triumph….of simply trying to breathe and show up as our authentic selves each day. 

Bathing in the magical sounds of the cello in the meadow of El Cap
(a huge thank you to local cellist Erin Wang!)

Here are a few of the writing prompts we shared.

1. Use the following sentence stub for a free flow prompt:  As I begin the day in gratitude…..

2. We each came up with 5 topics we wanted to write about.  This came from a participant brainstorm:  I was walking next to sadness and I put my arm around it.

3.  Spend 10 minutes writing.  The story I need to tell but haven’t been able to.

Then try writing it again from a different perspective. (From the perspective of a waterfall. From the perspective of a squirrel.)

The group poses with Nancy Aronie’s book “Writing From The Heart”, a key inspirational piece for the program

This course is inspired by my writing mentor, Nancy Aronie. Nancy facilitates writing workshops on Martha’s Vineyard with Chilmark Writing Workshops and has written a book about writing and life called: Writing From the Heart. We will be offering this course again next year so stay tuned if you are interested in this type of heart journey.”

words by Heather Sullivan

Hugs all around as we say goodbye after an amazing weekend of reflective writing and sharing in community
Our deepest, most heartfelt thanks to all the participants for showing up in authenticity, reflection and love. We couldn’t have done it without you!

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