Two years ago I attended the AROHO's (A Room of Her Own Foundation) Retreat at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. The event takes place only once in two years at artist Georgia O'Keefe's ranch. Following her death, Ghost Ranch was designated as a retreat site, one of incomparable rustic beauty.
I'd been hearing about Ghost Ranch for years - about the AROHO Retreat, the ranch's spiritual nature, and about the amazing impact it has upon one's sense of inner calm and connection with nature. I'd never been to New Mexico, never been to the Southwest, nor had I ever experienced desert terrain. But at last, I was privileged to attend.
So reluctantly, in spring 2011, I submitted my application which required a writing sample. I braced for rejection. I understood, anew, Groucho Marx's cliche about joining clubs that would include me among their members. And then I was surprised when my acceptance letter arrived - surprised but then also exceedingly worried.
What if they discover I'm really not a writer? What if they made a mistake, they confused me with another Marlene? What if the other attendees are brilliant, well-published, famous writers? And what if...the list was endless. I pulled out my lucky Woodstock Tee-shirt, one reserved for only the most special of events!
At AROHO, I was awed by the level of creativity, camaraderie, and kindness. i was touched by the total absence of judgement these women embraced. Clearly, we all seemed to be dealing with a phenomenon I learned was referred to as "the inner critic". I was amazed by the women who offered one-on-one consultations; the ones who taught afternoon small groups; others who conducted one-time whole group presentations.
This January, I again submitted my application plus the reluctant writing sample. I even mustered up the confidence to submit two proposals; one for a group exercise about regrets and the ways in which we can transform past regrets into future gains; my second proposal was to offer individual consultations about research methods that will add credibility to our writing.
Then, at the end of February, my email inbox held an AROHO surprise. I braced for disappointment, convinced myself that no way would AROHO consider me as a presenter, I mean - after all, what do I know about writing anyway? But, there it was - not one, but TWO acceptances!
Come this August, I'll be presenting at AROHO's Retreat at Ghost Ranch. And with only 5 months left, I'm finding myself giddy and nervous. As my sons pointed out that day, "when it comes to writing and teaching, it's never too soon to start thinking and planning, never too soon to be worrying!" My lucky t-shirt is clean, folded and ready!