Create Your Ideal Life Workshop Feb. 8, 2015

manifest destiny

Vision Quest Retreats is teaming up with Megan Tyson King  of Making Travel Happen to bring you this mini-escape/workshop to help you clarify and achieve the goals that bring you joy, and learn how to infuse more courage, adventure and fun into your life. Consider it your success reboot for the new year

Megan King and meDuring our time together, we will focus on a series of interactive training activities that center on these core goals:

• unleash your creativity (even if you don’t think of yourself as that creative) 

• hone in on the vision you have for your life and create a roadmap to get you there

• learn key steps to add more fun and joy to your regular routine

• feel more courageous and adventurous about owning the life you want, ready to push past all blocks

Make a commitment to yourself to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday, or the humdrum of this winter season, and take the time to focus on you.

You’ll come away with your own portable vision board, a colorful decoration (a surprise on what this is), and knowledge of various exercises to rev up your “fun engine” (a.k.a. your ability to add a little zest to any situation).

Plus, you’ll get to meet and work with great people who are also seeking more vibrance in their lives. Everyone will get involved in the collaborative environment.

Location: Silver Spring, Maryland area. Specific address TBD soon.

Day/Time: Sunday February 8. 1-4 pm est.

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION  ($47.00 until Feb. 1)


Making Travel Happen — Welcome to Adventure from Megan Tyson King on Vimeo.

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Welcome to the Vision Quest Chronicles from Nicole Cutts

If you are a woman pursuing your Vision on the Heroine’s Quest join our tribe at the Vision Quest Retreats face book page

If you are a Woman Business Owner come play with us every Wed. at Women Owned Business Wednesdays; a 24 Hr Happy Hour where you meet cool people and win cool stuff!

I hope you enjoy the blog and vlog posts below and leave some comments.

Much Continued Success & Well Being, xxoo Nicole

Nicole Cutts, Ph.D., CEO Cutts Consulting, LLC & Founder Vision Quest Retreats


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The Success Doc on the Steve Harvey Morning Show “Keeping New Year’s Resolutions”

Dr. Cutts On Air Jan. 5 on Bobby Gailes “Taking it to the Streets” segment on the Steve Harvey Morning Show on WHUR 96.3 Howard University Radio discussing how to KEEP those New Year’s resolutions. In case you missed it click Video Image below  LISTEN

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With Bobby Gails, Producer Steve Harvey Morning Show on WHUR 96.3 FM


3 Reasons People BREAK New Year’s Resolutions:

1) Unrealistic Goals

2) Not having a plan with milestones

3) Lack of accountability

How to KEEP New Year’s Resolutions:

1) Set REALISTIC goals-pace yourself, look at what you already have on your plate.

2) Make a CLEAR plan with milestones-reward yourself when milestones achieved.

3) Get an accountability partner or goal buddy who is also working on goals and check in with each other on a regular basis. Having a Success Coach for at least 3 months is also a great way to be accountable and to have someone help you work through blocks and to define the plan. If you want support check out my Success Coaching Services.

Wishing you all a healthy and successful 2015!

Nicole Cutts, CEO Cutts Consulting, LLC, Founder Vision Quest Retreats & Women Owned Business Wednesday on Facebook



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Top 10 Tips to Beat the Winter/Holiday Blues

Dr. Cutts On Air: Click here if you missed my appearance on radio station WPFW 89.3 FM Dec. 12 “Beating the Holiday Blues” with Sheila Alexander-Reid on “Inside Out

Winter months can bring on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and for some this may be exacerbated by holiday blues. Symptoms of winter SAD usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April. Some folks begin to slump as early as August, while others remain well until January. Depressions are usually mild to moderate, but they can also be severe. Even if you don’t suffer from SAD gloomy winter months may bring you down and for many people the holiday season can be a tough time. Below are my top 10 tips for beating the winter/holiday blues.

#1: Exercise. Exercise is crucial in combating depression, staving off Alzheimer’s and keeping off unwanted pounds. Do some kind of physical activity you enjoy at least three times a week for 30 mins each time. Exercise can release endorphins and reduce stress. Vary your routine and have fun with it. I keep it simple with walks in the woods and my yoga practice.

#2: Get Light. Get outside when you can in the sunshine even if it’s cold the sun’s rays can lift your mood. Being in nature lifts the spirits of many.  I’m lucky enough to get out during the days but some people get relief from using light boxes. These devices range from about $30-$150. Not all light boxes are affective for treating SAD. Before buying one you may want to read this article from About Health.

#3: Laugh and Have Fun. Do me a favor. Smile. Just smile right now for no reason and see if you don’t feel better. When we laugh and smile this action sends a message to our brains that we are happy. Laughing can release endorphins. Watch funny movies, listen to comedy (I have many comedians plugged into my Pandora station) get together with friends, play games. Just do stuff you enjoy with people who make you laugh. When down you may feel like isolating…DON’T!

#4: Be of Service. Nothing lifts the spirit like getting outside of yourself and doing something for someone else. There are so many ways to bring joy to others. Think of things you can do and do them. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or just do some favors for friends and family. The opportunities are endless. If you can’t come up with anything check out Simple Ways to Give Back…

#5: Lower Your Expectations. Holidays are often stressful because so many people are striving for a Norman Rockwell type of holiday. Stop it! Don Miguel Ruiz has the right idea with his fourth of his Four Agreements; Always do Your Best. But this isn’t an invitation to perfectionism. It means do your best then leave the rest. Stop trying to control, to be perfect. There is no such thing as the perfect family, party or anything. Don’t compare your experience to anyone else’s. High expectations lead to stress, disappointment, and often resentment. Lower your expectations and watch your serenity and happiness rise.

#6: Practice Gratitude. Holidays are also a great time for people to compare their lives to others and feel lacking. Single people may feel lonely because they don’t have anyone to kiss under the misletoe. Divorced parents may stress about splitting holidays. Kids with divorced parents may be unsure of who to spend time with. Holiday time may also remind you of loved ones who have passed away. All of these situations can lead us to feel a sense of lack. The antidote for this is GRATITUDE. Focus on what you do have and give thanks for it. Accept and bless YOUR circumstances. When I feel down I write a gratitude  list of at least 10 things for which I’m grateful. A roof over your head? A job? Food? Friends?These things are pretty awesome!

#7: Get in the Holiday Spirit. Instead of being a Grinch or old Ebeneezer and trying to xmas treehide from the season, get into it. Much of our suffering comes from resistance and peace comes with acceptance so do something that’s connected to the season. Decorate the house, go see decorations, have a holiday gathering. I personally like to go visit my favorite Christmas tree every year. I skip the national xmas tree in favor of the one set up in front of the US Capitol. It’s gorgeous and one of my holiday traditions to visit it.

#8: Exercise Your Spiritual Muscle. Many people draw strength and happiness from a spiritual or religious life. If you have a spiritual or religious practice increase it at this time. Consider increasing attendance at spiritual and religious meetings. If you pray and or meditate up it. If you are a member of a 12-step program be sure to up your meeting attendance and stay in touch with others in your program. The holiday season is NOT the time to slack off or isolate.

A special note to food and substance addicts: Holidays can be tougher because of the increased use of food and alcohol by those around you. Surround yourself with people who don’t overdo it and better yet with others in your program who practice sobriety and abstinence. If you think you have a problem with alcohol and want to check out a 12-step program visit Alcoholics Anonymous and if food is an issue check out Overeaters Anonymous.

#9: Self Care is Key. This may seem like common sense, but it’s important to take care of yourself to combat depression and the blues. Don’t overdo it, get rest and eat properly. People tend to crave carbs in the winter and when down because eating carbs can boost your serotonin levels. This can lead to winter weight gain. It’s okay to indulge in a bit of comfort food, like pasta and noodle soup but just don’t over do it and remember to exercise too. If you take medication for depression stick to your regimen and be sure to consult your psychiatrist or general practitioner before making any changes.

#10: Be Creative. This tip is kind of a free for all. If you have a creative outlet like painting or cooking or making jewelry (like I do) then get into it. Doing things you enjoy will lift your spirits. If your creative talent means you make things then share these things as gifts. This tip also means come up with your own creative ways to spend the holidays. If you don’t like traditional holiday happenings then do something you enjoy. This may mean getting out of town. Do whatever makes you feel good as long as it’s healthy.

I hope you found something you can use here. Maybe you have your own tips. Share them here or feel free to leave a comment. Wishing you a joyful and peaceful season.


You may also enjoy my post  F.U.N. The 5-Point Plan.

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Iemenja Jewelry Collection

The Story: 17 shell wampum and deer tooth necklaceAfter not painting for some time I had been itching for a creative outlet for my hands. Writing is great but doesn’t fill the same tactile creative space. I have always loved the sea and been an avid shell collector.  On my recent retreats to Martha’s Vineyard I have fallen in love with wampum which comes from the quahog shell (the one’s you see with the purple lips). Starting with the wampum I have been having a creative blast making jewelry. Slowly adding other shells collected in the Caribbean and other materials, I have been varying the designs.  Below are some images of the creations. 

If you are interested in purchasing something please drop me a line at and I can send pics of the current inventory and/or we can design something together.  For more info and pics of my recent trunk show visit Vision Quest Retreat on FB.

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Inventory as of 11/15/14

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Inventory 11/15/14









Wampum and Sea Glass Necklace


Wampum and Turquoise Pendant



Wampum, Turquoise and Gold Earrings eBay

Wampum, Turquoise and Gold Earrings

Wampum & Glass Bead Earrings eBay

Wampum & Glass Bead Earrings










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Channeled Whelk Shell Pendant

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Oyster Shell Pendant














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Wampum Pendant with Gold Accents




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Fossilized Wampum Pendant


















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Display at Iemenja Jewelry Trunk Show Nov. 9th







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Pendant on Silver Choker

For commissioned pieces contact Nicole Cutts @


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Iemenja Jewlery Trunk Show Nov. 9, 2014

17 shell wampum and deer tooth necklaceYou are cordially invited to a jewelry trunk show and brunch Nov. 9. It’s a great time to nosh, network and pick up some unique wearable art in time for the holidays. I hope you can make it. I picked up some choice wampum and other cool shells during my latest adventure to Martha’s Vineyard and am looking forward to sharing my finds with you. I hope you can join us. Below are some pics of the work. To read about my shell collecting adventure click here.

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For further details visit Vision Quest Retreats with Dr. Nicole Cutts on Facebook  or email

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Writing Retreat/Shell Collecting Adventure-Final Update

Tuesday Sept. 16: (last day of 10 day retreat)

We have come to the end to a fabulously productive and enchanting retreat. After getting a good deal done this morning and what I reported in the above vid there were other great highlights to the day.

*Serendipitously-meeting and talking with a man at my early morning spiritual

*Beautiful drive to Menemsha where I had lobster mac and cheese on the beach before hanging out with some cute young fishermen on the jetty and their dog Sadie. Also saw great jellyfish and got some cool vids.

*Ran across a bead store in Vineyard Haven that’s been there 20 yrs that I just found. Finally got the sea glass I’ve been seeking for the necklaces I’m making.

After shooting this little vid at the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club I spent the evening cleaning packing and readying to depart in the morning on the 7:00 am ferry out of Vineyard Haven to return to Woods Hole and the mainland.

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Writing Retreat/Shell Collecting Adventure Part 4

After my spotty morning of writing my trip to Lambert’s Cove was divine. I braved a swim in the icey water and am glad that I did. Once in it wasn’t so bad and this time the water was largely free of jelly fish. I swam pretty far out and floated on my back then played around a bit in the clear water. I always think of Mami Wata and my connection to her and her sisters when I have the joy of getting in the water. As long as I am connected to the sea I am connected to her.

lamberts cresting hillAfter my swim I lay on my towel to warm up. The sun was not very hot but it was hot enough to warm and dry me and make me happy. I left the beach around 4:30. Once back in Vineyard Haven I went for a walk along the main road to town to Owen Little park and down to the harbour. My online research in the morning had not turned up a nautical term; a part of a sail boat,  I needed for the book so I figured I could find someone at the docks to ask. The one sailor I found was unsure but he gave me a term I could start with. The lighting over the harbor at this time was enchanting and showed off the beauty of the boats moored there.

Lamberts empty rock under waterI climbed the hill back to Main St. then made my way back to the house. After my desperate attempts (that yielded very little), to get some grapes that were very high up I moved on to shell processing. I had soaked my latest batch of acquired quahogs and it was time for the gruesome task of getting the flesh off of them. This I did squating over the bucket in the backyard with my toothbrush (no not the one I put in my mouth!) before soaking them in a bleach solution. This batch was pretty grimey and since the outside of the shell is a part of the aesthetics of the jewelry I wanted them to be free of dirt and stains.

Jelly on beachAfter shell processing I took a lovely hot shower. There is nothing like a shower after the beach and a swim in the ocean and I scrubbed myself extra well lest I smell clamy! After shower, dinner, reading IMG_3587(Ernest Hemingway’s Over the River and Into the Trees) I drifted off to sleep, perchance to dream.


Owen Little smaller



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The Road of Trials: Part 3 Writing Retreat/Adventure 2014

Sunday Sept. 14: As the famed bard Ice Cube would say “today was a good day.” That being said it was not without its tests. I was reminded by my cousin (who by the way has hero with a thousand facesgraciously loaned me her home for this retreat) of some trials I faced while on the journey here. She has encouraged me to relate those as well as today’s trials and tribulations. “Can you just have tribulations or do they always have to come with trials?” (Hannibal Buress) She also reminded me that “it’s about the journey.” So here goes…

As I type this I have been waiting for AAA since 3:30 this afternoon. It is now almost 6:00 and the sun is beginning to set.  My car is completely dead.  The air is a chilly 63 degrees and dropping. Luckily I do have food. I am reminded of the first of the five stages in phase two of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth or Hero’s Journey; The Road of Trials. The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the heroine must undergo to begin her transformation. These trials often show up in threes. Perhaps in today’s modern world these tests can show up as car trouble. Anyhoo today is not the first day of this trouble. Let me take you back to a week and a day ago.

Trial #1: Saturday Sept. 6. I left home in the early hours of the morning and was making very good time (read driving kinda fast) and by 9:00 a.m. was on the New Jersey Turnpike. I’m crusing along in the NJTPfar left lane when I look up to see a white police SUV right behind me. I immediately slowed down and pulled smoothly over one lane to let the good officer pass.  This has happened before and I’ve been relieved when the po po speeds on but this time he stuck right on my bumper. This wasn’t looking good. I maintained my speed and prayed. When the blue and red lights came on I pulled over to the right shoulder immediately and waited. Cars were whizzing by as the officer approached my passenger window. The usual drill; asked for my license and registration. I’m not one to try and beg my way out of tickets but I did throw a little “May I ask you why you stopped me officer?” his way. He said he had “got” me on lazer back at exit 11 going some exhorbitant speed. I thought “I didn’t even see you.” and in my mind’s eye he had been parked on the side of the road in a median and seen me tear past. I made that face that says “Wow! really?! Was I going that fast?” knowing damn well I was.

storm trooperHe asked me if I had any tickets or violations in Maryland. Once I assured him my record was clean he seemed to pause to consider. I think it was at this point that I was supposed to ask for leniency based on my previous good behavior. I just looked at him and him at me before he said. “Where are you headed today?” It was at this point that I should have said something like “To Yonkers to visit my grandma in a hospice and she only has an hour to live.” But instead I casually said “Martha’s Vineyard.” At least I refrained from adding “and I’ve got a ferry to catch so can you hurry it up?” He stared at me for one more minute before saying dryly. “Sit tight I’ll try to get you out of here quickly.”

I turned the engine off to conserve gas while I waited. It actually didn’t take him that long. Returning to my car he handed me a white piece of paper and said. “This is a summons to princess leah in jailappear in court, but you don’t have to go because you live in MD but call this number here and they will tell you what to do.” When I tried to ask him how much it was he repeated that I should call the number, told me to “watch my speed” then beat a hasty get away. After he pulled off I unfolded the piece of paper searching for the fine amount. I saw it in tiny print $200?!! No wonder he wouldn’t answer my question and made a quick get away! He wasn’t trying to be there for the freak out. I took a couple breaths to calm myself before taking off again.

Trial #2: I turned the key in the ignition and only heard a clicking sound. NO!! I turned the key to the off position and took another breath. Maybe my energy and moving too quickly messed something up (this has happened before). Another breath, another click click. My second thought was “that policeman sucked the life out of my battery!” After I got a hold of myself I figured out that I had left the lights on during my stop. I called the cavalry a.k.a. AAA. The third trial was a quick shot to the head when the dispatcher informed me that AAA does not service the NJTP. At this my stomach dropped as I saw all the cars zooming past and imagined myself having to flag someone down for help. I was mentally cursing the police out when I heard her say “They have their own service, I will connect you and they honor AAA.” Ok all hope was not lost. I sat waiting anxiously for the NJTP rescue vehicle to arive. My trip that had started out so cheerfuly was taking an ugly turn. I prayed that the guy would come soon so I could make my ferry and that when he did come it would just be the battery and not the alternator.

aztec warrior rescuing princessIn about 30 mins a nice man arrived in a white van. I told him of my plight; the cops, the dead car, the ferry I had to catch. He understood and acted quickly. In no time I was on the road again singing “On the Road Again.” I drove the speed limit and even made the earlier ferry. Things were looking up but I knew my battery was weak and still had to deal with this. On Sunday, once safely in my digs for the week I called AAA again and requested the battery service. They must not have understood me because they instead sent a clown. He was a font of misinformation and as useless as teats on a bull, claimed he couldn’t check the battery as the car was now starting! Told me he didn’t have my battery anyway and since it was starting to call if it stopped. Oh, okay, I guess I will just pray that my car doesn’t die on some remote road on the Vineyard with no cell service.

For a while after this the car was starting fine so I stopped worrying about it but starting a couple of days back it was turning over a bit slowly. This brings us to today. After a good morning of sleeping in and working on my first draft I set out on a few errands. I had to go up-island to get a stash of Chilmark Chocolates, then to Menemsha again to collect some stinky quahog shells (to be cleaned and used for wampum to make jewelry), pick up dinner at Net Result (yes clam chowder!) and get home in time for the Big Broadcast at 7:00 on WAMU. It was a gorgeous sunny day, a little cool but divine. I enjoyed the scenic country roads on the way to Chilmark. Chilmark Chocolates is only open Thurs-Sunday so today was the day. I joined the line on the little open porch and eagerly awaited my turn. I am not a big choco-head but my friend Andrea had told me about this place numerous times so when I was here in July/August I had gone there with Al. I repeat, I am not a big chocolate fan but this chocolate is GOOD, really the best I’ve ever had! (The place also has an intersting story and if you are interested you can read it here.) I left the store happy, one errand down, now on to Menemsha and my shells. I would not stop long because of course you do not want to leave chocolate in a hot car.

Chilmark ChocolateWhen I turned the key the car said “click click click” This time I was not shocked. I just said to myself “Well it lasted this long and I’m far from stranded.” I thought of calling AAA but knowing how long they can take and wanting to get home I asked for a jump which I received from a very nice couple; Claudia and dont’ know her hubby’s name. I got some tips from them on service stations in Vineyard Haven and took off. My first thought was “Don’t stop at Menemsha for shells, just keep driving.” but my second thought was “ah what the hell! Just don’t turn off the car and don’t take too long.” My good parking karma was in effect because I got a space close to the trash heap of shells. Leaving the engine running I grabbed my trusty orange bucket and headed for the pile. I didn’t have time to be super selective and only filled it less than half way, threw the bucket in the trunk and was off again. The scenery was lovely but I couldn’t enjoy it. Damn, I don’t remember the road from Menemsha to Vineyard Haven being so long!

clam arrangementFinally on the edge of town I pulled into the NAPA store, left it running again and went in. Told the big red faced guy behind the counter my story. He tested my battery, told me it was bad and that he had my battery but they don’t install them. I went out to the car to call AAA and ask for the REAL battery service this time. I stressed that to the lady “I want the REAL battery service, not the drunk bastard you sent Monday.” (didn’t actually say that last part) She assured me that the person coming could test my battery, starter, and alternator and give me a new battery if need be. She told me the guy had been dispatched and would be there in 90 mins of less. I took off again. The voice in my head, that sounds a lot like my mom’s, said “Nicky, go straight home and wait for AAA.” The other voice, the little devil voice that sounds just like mine said. “Oh you have time and you need to get dinner in the house in case the battery guy doesn’t come in time or in case it doesn’t work.” My mom’s voice broke in again. “Eat the kippers you brought. There is plenty of food in that house. You aren’t going to starve.” But my voice won with “But you don’t have clam chowder from Net Result.”

That said I raced to Net Result. The gods were with me because I was the only one going through 5 Corners (that never happens). Left car running in NR parking lot and went in. No one in line there either! I saw my Chilmark jumpers Colleen and don’t know his name and was like “Helloooo” They said “How’s the car?” I told them it was outside running but I was working on it. We wished each other well and I was off again. Monomyth graphic

Back to the present. As I type this the AAA guy has come and gone. I have a new battery and piece of mind that my car will make it the 8-9 hrs home. I’ve had some chowder, listened to my broadcast and am ready to chill! Oh yeah I forgot to mention that I got back home by 4:00 and parked the car to wait for the service truck. So yes today was a good day. I passed the tests on the road of trials and made it home with my boon, or should I say boons? Chocolate, Shells, and Chowder.

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Writing Retreat/Shell Collecting Adventure (cont.)

Friday September 12:

After a lovely time at the beach reading and collecting shells and rocks I resumed my hunt for Spisula solidissima a.k.a. the Atlantic surf clam. Following a tip earlier in the week I had headed down the state road leading to Aquinnah and taken Lobsterville Rd. to its end. My search that day did not turn up the large shells rumored to be there. I returned to the source and got more intel. Today, armed with this info, I would try again.

cliffs up close drift wood legs gay head light house from beach It was a gorgeous afternoon as I drove down the road that runs along the sea. I parked near the jetty at the bike ferry and grabbing my bucket trudged through the rough sand out to the stone jetty. On the other side of the second jetty I could see the crowd gathering on the beach at Menemsha to watch the sunset. A lone fisherman stood at the end of the jetty on my side which was peaceful. I looked around the beach expecting to see the tons of giant shells I had imagined. I saw none. I walked toward the water and looked in. Seeing different large spots of white I got excited but on closer inspection many were broken pieces of clam shell. They were large so I knew I was close. I realized I’d have to get in the water to find and collect the shells I sought. I took off my shorts and tied my tee shirt up. Doing my best Honey Rider impression I walked down into the cold clear water. I finally started to find them! Moving slowly  and unwilling to submerge my tee shirt in the water I used the toes on my right foot to pick up the shells before holding them in my left hand. (I was pretty pleased with myself.) I got a really good haul and also found some quahog shells.

clam bucketToday being Friday I was very excited as I headed back to Vineyard Haven. Today was Lobster Roll Day at the Grace Church! I parked and joined the other happy people skipping up the sidewalk to get theirs. I even sang a little lobster roll song on my way to and fro the church! After another lovely outdoor shower I consumed TWO lobster rolls and hit the hay early. Another fine day indeed.
I will leave you with this video taken where I found the Atlantic surf clam shells…

Saturday Sept. 13: GOOD NEWS! I finished the first draft of Book II of The Adventures of Isabelle: Journey to Orphalese!!! Although it did not seem like it to me I have been working on it for 4 yrs! Looking back over this chronicle I pretty much have only been able to get an appreciable amount of work done on it when on a retreat such as this one. (In the near future I look forward to bringing some of you on similiar retreats to work on your endeavors. So stay tuned.)PC with flowers

I have to say  writing does not exactly come easy for me and as I neared the end of the story my trepidation grew but I recall what my journalist friend and editor Tamara E. Holmes told me once “Just write. Get it down you can always edit later so don’t worry about it. Just nail yourself to the chair and write.” Nailing me to a chair is not unlike trying to nail Jello to a wall sometimes but even sort spurts in the chair before I would jiggle out produce work.

Seriously, if you could see me work it’s funny. I jump up at least every half an hour with some excuse or another; I gotta get a coffee, clean the floor, tend to my shells, call my mom, walk around the yard, lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling or as in JUST now, check out suspicious noises (it was the fridge, not to worry). I call this “my process” ha cropped

I didn’t leave the house today. After writing I did some light gardening, processed my clam shells (cleaning, sorting etc.) read, had lunch and dinner (chowder and lobster roll respectively) played Candy Crush, read some more and went to bed early, looking forward to sleeping in on Sunday morning. Today’s (Sunday’s) task is to fix holes I identified in the story before I left home and to fill out some scenes that are a bit thin or missing.

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Writing Retreat and Shell Collecting Adventure 2014

This travelogue chronicles my Sept., 2014 trip to Martha’s Vineyard. I have come away to continue work on Book II of the Adventures of Isabelle. I’ve also come in search of Mercenaria mercenaria (well really just their shells to increase my supply of quahog shells for wampum). Back home I’ve been working on jewelry inspired by Mami Wata and Imenja. You can see pics of the work HERE.  This travelogue will not be wordy. Pictures are the thing (and maybe even a video)

chillin at Lamberts Cove sundaySaturday Sept. 6: Arrived Vineyard Haven around 3:45. Spent rest of the day getting settled and sleeping as I’d driven about 9 hrs. Dinner, clam chowder and fried shrimp from the Net Result.

Sunday Sept. 7: Slept in, set up my writing area, set up hammock and chilled in it! Drove to Lambert’s Cove in the afternoon for beach chill and refreshing swim. Showered in outdoor shower as a treat to myself. Found Maya Angelou’s “Heart of a Woman” on the book shelf that night and started reading it.

Lamberts sunday

Lambert’s Cove

Monday Sept. 8: Awoke early to get to writing. Slow going this first day but labored on (oh the creative angst…ha!). Also did a few other work emails. Set off in afternoon in search of quahog shells. Had a hot tip about some giant clam shells so I followed that to Lobsterville Rd. no luck! Asked around at the shops on Gay Head cliffs. The lady at the shop was kinda cagey. Acted like she didn’t know where to find them even though she makes and sells wampum jewelry in her store. Suggested I go clamming but “I think you need a license for this.” She literally said “they are hard to find”. Really lady?! No they aren’t…bye!

jelly at manemsha mondayNext stop Dutcher Dock at Menemsha. I saw a bunch of broken quahog shells all over the ground around the fish shops. Went down on the dock. Saw a cool but deadly looking jelly fish and asked a fisherman where I could find some shells. He pointed my to the trash heap next to the bathrooms.


Eureka! I hit the mother lode!!

da mother loadIt was a stinky pile of shucked clam shells covered in flies and bees but to me it was purple gold! I squated over the pile picking out the shells with the deepest purple color and interesting patterns. Most of the shells had dried clam membrane still in them. Yucky but this means they are fresher than those I usually find on the beach.

Once home I spent the next several hours processing my shells. Soaking them first in clean water then laboriously scraping out the remaining membranes, and scrubbing off loose dirt with a toothbrush and my fingers. Next I boiled them and scrubbed them all down again. After a final rinse, laid them out on a towel to dry. (see pics of processing below)

Boiling time
Ready for boiling






I have a great supply now but will probably get more. Still in search of those giant sea clam shells over in Aquinnah.

Tuesday Sept 9: Awoke early again. Made a lot more progress on writing today but it still feels a bit plodding! I find it hard to write. Wish it was like painting or other visiual arts which are just hours of pure pleasure. Broke for lunch then did a bit more.

writing area

My writing area

I took the afternoon to go for a walk. Drove over to Oak Bluffs, parked by the harbor and just walked along water edge to end of town then back through “Cottage City.” I did take brief walk on beach to look for pieces of quahog shell that have already been worn smooth by the waves and sand. Was rewarded with one piece. Really enjoyed my brisk walk in the cool sea breeze and the luxury of time to wander among the quaint little brightly colored houses.

Oak Bluffs cottages

Cottages in Oak Bluff

Once home a bit more shell processing then watched 12 Years a Slave (finally had courage). Great movie. Hoping to read a bit more of “A Heart of a Woman” tonight then off to early bed.  I will leave you with this peaceful video of Rock Music. Listen for the pretty sound the rocks make as the bigger waves recede. Ahhh music…

Wednesday Sept 10: Started writing earlier this morning and the morning writing session went really well! I completed an important scene. It was kind of tough because it was a very emotional scene so I had to struggle but after I got past that the writing flowed pretty easily.

smaller rocks in handWrote a bit more after lunch then headed to Lambert’s Cove to collect rocks, stopping at Native Cuts, for a haircut on the way. It was another gorgeous day at the beach. I explored the other end of the cove from where I normally go. (no pics b/c left phone in car. sorry). Went back to my prefered side of the cove to fill my bucket with rocks. After lugging my haul partway back down the shore I set up my towel, disrobed and soaked in some lovely sun. I was here about a month ago and today I noted that the sun’s power has already gentled quite a bit. It still felt divine. When my tummy started to growl and the clouds shrouded the sun I decided to head home. Time to lug my rocks. I quickly came up with a solution for the 10-15 minute walk back to the car. I put the towel then the bucket on my head. I did get a few looks but what’s a girl gonna do?

Net Result bagStopped by the Net Result on way home for more clam chowder and got some calamari from the shop to cook tomorrow. (I’m wondering if I should just get a trough for my clam chowder since I consume such huge amounts while here.) Once back at the house I showered, ate some chowder, chilled then got back to writing. It’s been a great day!

P.S. I LOVE Rocks!

Thursday. Sept. 11:

morning glory blue morning glory purple wild grapes

Today was a very good day! Got quite a bit of writing done in morning session. Broke early to go check out a property for a close friend. This errand took me to Edgartown so after viewing the house, a lovely little cottage with a charming yard, I decided to take lunch in Edgartown. Had a salad with tuna at Among the Flowers (salad nothing to write home about), then walked around the little harbor before heading back to my car. Took a short drive around town to look at the pretty homes before heading back to Vineyard Haven and to “work.”

lunch break
Lunchbreak in Edgartown

Afternoon writing progressed but was a bit haltingly. Broke at 4:00 for a phone session with a coaching client. It was an energizing and productive session and it didn’t hurt that I was able to walk around the yard and lay in the hammock while on the call. I also came across the grapes growing in my cousin’s yard. When she had told me of them a couple weeks ago they had still been sour, but to my delight when I plucked one off the vine and popped it in my mouth it was ripe and deliciously sweet! This was a great discovery beacause I was very hungy (salad does NOT keep me full) so I was able to have a snack while on the call. Yes…life is good!

After this I broke for dinner. I sauted the squid I had gotten from the Net Result then added it to some marinara sauce and had it over whole grain sphaghetti (good but not off the chain). More grapes for dessert.

I was pretty tired so after reading (and a tiny bit of Candy Crush…shhhh) I went to bed.

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