Its hard to believe, but it has been a year since I traveled to Oregon to participate in a bucket list event, the Wilder Running and Writing Retreat organized by Lauren Fleshman. I’ve never really written about the experience, there were lots of demons that surfaced that I’ve been slowly working through. The experience is also slightly tainted by the prolonged illness that my poor Eddie Fox suffered and to be honest I still have some guilt for leaving him as often as I did last summer. But the experience was one of transformation and growth and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am grateful for my time in the Oregon wilderness.
This weekend some of my fellow Wilder Women have gathered at the Caldera Arts Center to reunite and light the Wilder fire again. In their honor I thought I’d share some thoughts on the experience and a new opportunity that has come to me. Sending love and peace to the women doing the work this weekend. Know that I am with you in spirit.
Want to go deeper? That was the question on the website in front of me. Did I want to go deeper? When the first email came out from the woman I basically idolize (Lauren Fleshman) asking if there was interest in a Wilder Alum Workshop, I thought to myself No! I wasn’t ready to go deeper, I wasn’t ready to be just one of a very small group of women coming back to dive in deeper with the Wilder Writing and Running experience. I didn’t think I had fully processed my first Wilder experience from last year. So why had I clicked on the link for the application? Why was I filling out the application and hitting send? I didn’t feel like I had progressed in my writing or running. If anything I felt like I had gone backwards in the months since journeying to Sisters, Oregon. I wasn’t certain I had worked through the self doubt and the feelings of being inadequate that I honestly battled during my first Wilder experience. Last May I felt like a total dork trying to be cool around a pretty impressive group of women. I wasn’t certain I was worthy of a spot in a group of 10 women who were Wilder Alumni, what had I done with myself since leaving the Caldera Retreat Center in Oregon?
But here I was feeling the pull, wanting to go deeper, completing the application and hitting send hoping for another opportunity to really dive deeper. A chance to grow and sit, with confidence at the knee of a teacher I truly admire. I think a part of me secretly hoped that I wouldn’t get selected, that the demand would be too great for the September session so it wouldn’t even matter; but here I am, the dates are booked on my work calendar, I’ve paid my registration fee and I’m already looking at flights. I’ve also dusted off my copy of Writing Down the Bones and I am practicing, practicing both writing and running. Practicing some self love and self acceptance and working on owning my place in the circle of women that have shared this truly incredible experience. So in early September I’ll be headed back to Oregon, headed back to see what else I can unearth and to continue to develop 2 things that I love to do; run and write and to do both in a wild way.
To my fellow Wilder women I thank you for sharing your time, your stories and love. I thank you for continuing to inspire me and for giving me the strength to go back and to dive deeper. PC:@jesssbarnard