Writing Retreat 2012 Martha’s Vineyard

So I have run away for a week of R&R (Rest & Reflection) and to work on Book II of The Adventures of Isabelle. Martha’s Vineyard is an apt place to do this as Book II: Journey to Orphalese is set mainly on the sea. This blog post is a travelogue; updates on the trip and some pics will be posted here. If you want to see the full album please visit the Vision Quest Retreats Facebook page and the Writing Retreat 2012 album.

Getting There: I set off at 4:00 a.m. for the 9 hr drive to Woods Hole, MA to catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. I made good time, probably too good as at the rate of travel I would be about 2 hrs early for my 2:45 ferry! No matter, I had time to stop in RI to visit my good friend Jen and her 3 lovely dogs. After a tasty cup of coffee and a chat I was off again. I still made it to Woods Hole early so I parked my car in the ferry line and went to grab a clam chowder which I ate sitting in the sunshine on the pier. The ferry ride over was peaceful and short. I got to Vineyard Haven by 3:30 and joined my cousin and her cousin, who were at her house for the weekend. After the long drive I went to bed and it seems like I slept for 24 hrs.

The Clay Cliffs at Aquinnah

The next day I had a great visit with my cousin, did some yard work and took a driving tour of the island, stopping to souvenir shop at Gay Head overlooking the Clay Cliffs (I got a beautiful wampum pendant on a soft leather string from a Wampanoag artist who owned the shop) and eat yummy sea food back in Vineyard Haven.

Day I: My cousin and her cousin departed on an early ferry so I got up early to do some prayer and meditation. Breakfast, a little stuff around the house then decided to drive to Gay Head/Aquinnah to explore the clay cliffs (see pic above). It turned out I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have the cash to pay for the only parking available to access the beach…bummer!

The beach at Menemsha

Oh well I drove back to Menemsha (a working fishing village) where I picked up some clam chowder from Larsen’s seafood to take to the beach. I ate my clam chowder sitting on my little blue beach chair then lay in the sun for the rest of the day reading Wuthering Heights (talk about drama!) No writing took place which is okay because I released myself from the “shoulds” and “have to’s” this trip.

Day II: The forecast called for rain but blessedly it did not! After prayer meditation a little yoga and breakfast I packed up to head to the beach. I drove to Lambert’s Cove parked my car and took the little peaceful quarter mile trek to the beach.

Lamberts Cove

Wow! what a lovely beach it is! a long stretch of white sand and hardly any people there. I set up my towel in a nice little spot and got back to Wuthering Heights. The sun was bright and hot so I basically just worked on my tan. Once hot enough I decided to brave the icy cold water. It took me quite a while to get it, my blood is used to tropical climes and to me this was a Polar Bear plunge but I was determined to do it so I presently put on my goggles and just dove in. The water was so cold it stopped my breath! I had to force myself to breathe to swim but I got used to it and was able to enjoy myself. The water was clear enough to see that I was surrounded by small jelly fish…why I was not stung I’m not sure but I’m guessing either they are harmless or the water was so cold and my skin so frozen it made me immune, don’t know but I had a great time. After this more sunning then a walk down the beach to explore. Found a lot of monarch butterflies on the golden rod growing on the hillside (see pic). After this the dark clouds began to gather and the wind picked up so I hightailed it off the beach like the others. Had a peaceful evening, went for  a walk around Vineyard Haven and ate more clam chowder for dinner (yes I’m addicted to the stuff) Did any writing take place? Nope!

Day III: Same morning routine but today is kind of overcast, and rained over night so I’m staying in to work on my pics update my travelogue and hopefully write. As I type this the sun is coming out so I may need to go the beach again. We will see…

I did decide to hit the beach. Since it was late in the day I figured I may not have much beach time but I really wanted to see the clay cliffs at Aquinnah up close. I took the beautiful long drive on country roads through farmland passing through Chilmark and arriving at Gay Head in the tribal lands of the Wampanoag people. I parked and took the 45 min hike to the clay cliffs which took me through a field full of golden rod and monarchs down to the rocky beach. The trek to the cliffs was long and wonderful in the sunshine!

a clay “rock”

The clay ranges from white to red to orange to black and forms the most gorgeous patterns in the cliffs and in the clay “rocks” found in the sand. Explorers are prohibited from tampering with the clay or I would have done all kinds of stuff with it; painted my face, made sculptures and given myself a body treatment. I especially loved the red clay! When I was a child and studying Native American cultures I was obsessed with the idea of finding even a small clay deposit and here I had finally hit the mother load and I couldn’t have any!? (oh well tribal and natural laws must be obeyed if we want the cliffs to stick around) The landscape here was breathtaking and the weather was perfect after a rainy morning. Half way down the beach I realized I had left my water in the car so after walking all the way around the cliffs I trudged back down the beach and up the trail to the parking lot to retrieve it. I thought I was going to die of thirst (I determined to use the experience in my writing. There is actually a scene where the princess has to do some serious trudging in the heat so this was good!) After refreshing myself with water and trail mix I headed back to the beach to enjoy the late afternoon sun. Unlike yesterday which was very windy there was just a peaceful breeze and warm sunshine. I returned to Wuthering Heights for a time then just lay there taking it all in, really grateful for the blessing of this time and just enjoying my freedom. As the sun began to set I left the beach to make my way back toward Vineyard Haven. The drive with my windows open was refreshing as the temperature had dropped some. I stopped off for coffee in town at Mocha Mott’s and then came back to the house. Dinner at home, some journaling and now off to bed. Have I written? guess…nope! (but I’m getting the R&R getting clear and doing some research for future retreats…tomorrow I am writing…I hope.)

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Day IV: I awoke early this morning determined to get some writing done so after my prayer, meditation, sun salutations and coffee I got down to work! I was typing away on Book II of the Adventures of Isabelle when I looked up and realized it was almost 12:00 and I had some work due at noon…yikes I almost forgot that! I had planned to visit the Audubon  Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary that afternoon so I felt this was a good time to stop writing. After getting the work off to my client I packed up for the day’s adventure.

I took the Edgartown Rd to Felix Neck and drove up the long sandy road to the nature center. I was the only visitor about the place. I was helped by a nice lady ranger to rent a kayak to take the tour around Sengekontacket Pond. Armed with my life jacket, dry bag, Sengekontacket Quest Map and paddle I set off down the trail to find my kayak. There was a slight breeze as I pushed off into the water. There was absolutely no one in sight for a few miles and it was blissfully peaceful! Following the map and struggling a bit against the wind that had picked up I headed for “rock pile” which seems to have been misnamed as I could hardly see the rocks from the water. I did pull in here but decided I didn’t really need to see blue grey rocks as big as my fist so I shoved off heading to someplace I believe was called Osprey Point which promised some interesting shells. I did get out of my kayak here and walk along the tiny little beach looking at and taking pictures of the clam and scallop shells that littered the beach. The weather could not have been more perfect and I wished I could have taken a nap here on the beach but it was nearly 2:00 and the kayak had to be back by 2:30. It seemed that the wind would be more in my favor on the way back and it was but the waves seem to have another idea so going back was a little challenge too but I imagine if I did this all the time I would have killer arms. At this rate I think my arms will just kill tomorrow but maybe not. I raced back to the landing point marked by the white Felix Neck Mass Audubon flag. After returning the kayak to the rack I trudged back to the nature center (I feel like I’ve done a fair amount of trudging on this trip…good for me I’m thinking).

Wasque Point

Day IV-Part 2: After leaving the wildlife sanctuary I continued on the road I had been on traveling to Edgartown. I got it in my head that I wanted to see Chappaquiddick and knew I could catch the ferry over to the small island in Edgartown. I got to the lovely quaint place and wended my way through the narrow streets to the Chappy ferry. I knew you could go with or without your car and wasn’t sure which I should choose when I found myself in the car line. Not knowing what to expect I decided it best to have my car. That sure was the right choice because unless I had had a bike I might still be walking on the Chappaquiddick Road all now! I followed this one road until it turned into a dirt road then a sand road my nose leading me to the beach. I parked and got out at Wasque Point and walked out on the tiny little almost deserted beach. I found a spot to lay my towel then went exploring. I found a large bed of mussels on the shore line and wondered about digging them up and taking them home for dinner (better not). After my little walk I lay down to read. The sun wasn’t very hot and there was a cool breeze so I put on my shawl and just enjoyed the fresh air. I was overcome with a wave of gratitude for this peaceful time on this gorgeous little island. I sat for a good while in the sun to meditate and say some prayers of thanks before gathering my stuff to head back to the ferry. I wanted to visit the Indian burying ground on the way back but the road is either unmarked or I just could not see it. Either way I guess I wasn’t meant to find it today.

I drove aboard the little ferry which only holds about 4 cars and took the short hop back to Edgartown proper. I took the Beach Rd back this time which would take me through the pretty town of Oak Bluffs. Stopping only to take pictures of the neat little ginger bread homes I headed toward Vineyard Haven where I’m staying. I was starving so I stopped at the Net Result and got a delicious fish sandwich…damn I wish I had it again now!

After dinner I showered and am now in my jammies at the little desk in my room working on this travelogue and my pics. I will put in at least on hour on my story before settling down on the couch with one of my books.  Still feeling waves of gratitude for this time and this amazing gorgeous day!

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Day V: I set my alarm (or so I thought) to get up early for a 6:45 spiritual meeting here in town.  Miraculously my eyes opened at 6:37. I say miraculously because vampires are closer to being being morning people than I. I threw on my clothes and ran outside. As I was getting in the car it struck me. God woke me up…thanks big G. The meeting was great and perhaps not a coincidence that the topic was God doing for us what we can not do for ourselves (but God will also not do what we can do so I have work to do to allow God to work through me).  Enlivened by this meeting I started my second to last day on the island.

It was an overcast morning which made it a bit easier to sit down to write. I had written out several pages of the story long hand back in July which  I still needed to finish typing up. I had started the day before so I determined to finish inputting them this morning. It was a tough scene that I was writing and realized that this is probably why I had put it off for so long. As when that part of the story had been revealed to me I cried while typing it up. I guess this was the right time and place allowing me space for this. (I can not reveal the scene yet but all I can say is that it was heart wrenching for me.) After writing this up I gave the tears a little time to finish flowing. I have to admit I aided the flow by listening to a little Phil Collins.Once I was properly cried out I re hydrated with some cold water and made my breakfast before preparing for the day’s next adventure. While the forecast called for afternoon sun and it was already after noon, the day was still grey and cold so I decided to drive to Lucy Vincent beach in Chilmark just to see it and take pics, take a walk on the beach and sit and catch up on Wuthering Heights. I brought paper and pen just in case I was inspired to write the next scene.

I took State Rd to South Rd heading to Chilmark. The drive was lovely as usual but I have to admit I really wished for sun. Once in Chilmark I found Lucy Vincent beach Rd on the left a bit before hitting the town proper and pulled off onto the dirt road which wound up a hill before turning to a sand road heading down to the beach. During the season this is a resident’s only beach so I was feeling lucky to see it. There were only about four cars in the parking area. Slinging on my backpack I grabbed my little borrowed blue beach chair from my hatch and headed down the sandy path beachward. It really is a lovely broad beach with yellowish red cliffs and huge boulders and all sorts of great rocks on the beach. I set up my chair in a little cove, dropped off my towel and headed to the far end of the beach and the cliffs to start my walk. Along the way I found all sorts of little lovely things to take pictures of; shells rocks, seaweed, crab carcasses, a huge brightly colored discarded lobster claw shell. On the walk way past my chair on the other side of the beach I found the neatest most interesting rocks and amused myself for a time making arrangements of them. I guess I fancied myself a “beach artist” and had fun executing and photographing my little arrangements (see pics).

After my walk I snuggled down in my chair to read Wuthering Heights (yes the drama continues). It was still chilly and windy but I was protected from the wind in my little cove. Surprisingly I found that the next scene in the book The Adventures of Isabelle: Journey to Orphalese was being revealed to me so I took out my stack of loose leaf paper and my pink and white Vision Quest Retreats pen and got down to it. It feels really good when the story comes easily so I enjoyed this a lot. Sometimes when I’m working on this story it feels as if I’m reading a book that I really want to read because really I am not making it up. It’s as if the story is being told to me. Sometimes I wonder what will happen next or how my heroine will get from one point to another and then it just occurs to me. Sometimes I might hit a snag in the plot that I have to “figure out” how to resolve and that’s cool too. What I don’t like is when I’m writing and if feels laborious because some voice in my head is saying negative stuff like “why are you doing this?” or “you can’t write. who said you could write?” At times like this I have to stay focused on the fact that this is not my business. My business is to follow my urge to write and to share the story and to get out of my own way so I might do this. I’m writing this story because I’ve been led to and the urge will not go away, so I honor this. It’s so much easier when I get my big ego out of the way and just write!

Anyhoo, after the story exhausted itself I just went back to sitting and then another miracle occurred. The sun came out! Even though I had tried to content myself with the austere beauty of an overcast day I have to tell you my heart sings when the sun shines! Abondoning my little blue chair I leaped out onto the sand and ran across the beach singing “Tomorrow” from Annie. I could do this because no one was near me and because I damn well felt like it. I climbed up on a big boulder by the shore to finish my song before climbing down and prancing around a bit more (lest you think I’m totally crazy I engaged in subdued prancing covering it up with balancing poses from yoga). It was getting on to be about 4:00 at this point but I stripped down to my yoga top and lay down on my towel to take in a little sunshine before heading back to town. It was funny to me to note that the side of my body in the sun was burning up while the side of my in the shade was actually cold (I guess this happens when there is little humidity).

After this I drove back to Vineyard Haven looking forward to the lobster roll that my cousin had advised me to get at the Grace Church off of Main St (apparently Friday’s during the season are Lobster Roll day). I found the place easily parked and walked up to the church where a sign hung down advertising this awesome event. I met a lot of smiling people on the sidewalk walking into and out of the church. It was almost like a real holiday with people exhibiting good will to all only on this day the cheer was owing solely to a tasty crustacean served on a white bread New England hot dog roll. I soon joined the happy throng and got my lobster roll. To be sure I’m always cheery when I am about to eat and on more than one occasion have been known to sing love songs to my meals. Well this day I composed a special love ballad for my lobster roll. I now can not recall the words or the tune but trust me it was good. I’m sure the words “I love you lobster roll” where woven in cleverly. My cousin was right as was the lady at the church who had told me it was “killah.” It was the best lobster roll I “evah” had! (yes it made me get a slight Boston accent).

After my meal I spent the rest of the evening reading chatting with friends on the phone and doing a lot more writing. I am so thrilled that I actually finally got down to writing and that I am creating (or being given) new material. This time on Martha’s Vineyard continues to be a huge blessing and I’m constantly being attacked by gratitude for the constant hits of happiness I’m getting in this beautiful place.

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Day VI: Today is my last full day on the island and it is cold and drizzly! I had visions of a sunny afternoon chillin at Lamberts Cove and even though the forecast shows clouds all

on the road to Lamberts Cove

day and even though the sky is gray I still think that vision will materialize (it just has to!) I used the morning to catch up on my travelogue and to start to get ready to leave early tomorrow morning.  I want to buy a few gifts for people take a last drive around the island and get that time on the beach.The sun did actually make her appearance after about 1:00 and it was divine! I packed up and headed to Lamberts cove where I just spent a few hours reading and laying in the warm sun. Unlike last time it was not windy so it was a perfect day. I took a walk on the beach swearing that I had taken enough photos to last a lifetime therefor I need not but then I came across these really cool jellyfish so I could not resist (see pics).


After a lovely last day on the beach I decided to take a drive to Menemsha really just for the drive because even though I toyed with the idea of watching the sunset there I wanted to get back into town in time to do my shopping and get my dinner at the Net Result (fish sandwich and clam chowder). After shopping and dinner I spent the rest of the evening doing laundry, cleaning the house, packing and generally just preparing to leave on the 7:00 a.m. ferry the next day. The big excitement this evening was seeing a pair of slugs mating suspended from the back porch. It was a pretty amazing mini cirque de soleil type of performance. I took about a million pics and a little video of them, which I’m sure they really appreciated. To see those pics and more from the journey…

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Day VI: Ask not for whom the ferry horn blows. It blows for thee. (All week whenever the ferry horn sounded its mournful cry it was a reminder that I would too soon be on it).

I awoke unspeakably early to catch the ferry but as it turns out this early morning hour was worth it to see the sun rising over the harbour at Vineyard Haven. It was impossible to be sad, the water like glass the soft watercolor palate of morning, a flock of pigeons creating lazy circles above the ferry landing like a small wave. After loading I went up on deck to take it all in. We got underway so smoothly many of us did not even know we were moving.The deep hum and vibration of the ferry engines, the sound of the ship cutting through the waves, the gently breeze all had a lulling effect. I wondered if all these sensations conspired to distract us from the thought of leaving the island. Once underway it was became windy and too cold for me to stay on deck so I went inside to enjoy the warmth and journal. I saw an empty seat at a table were one woman sat dressed in a flight attendant uniform. I asked her if the seat was free and she beckoned me to sit down. Somehow we got talking and I learned that she was on her way to Peru where she has a business that employs local women making knit garments and where she teaches fiber arts. Her story was fascinating and I felt it was no coincidence that I sat with her to learn this tale. It is too much to recount here but we are staying in touch and I look forward to featuring she and her work on Women Owned Business Wednesdays. After docking at Woods Hole and parting from Kati I set off on the next leg of my journey; stopping in RI to go sailing in Newport and to visit with my good friend and nautical consultant on the Adventures of Isabelle.

Day VI (+); Newport and my Visit with Pirate Jenny (Stay tuned for this installment)

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For over 12 years Nicole Cutts, Ph.D., licensed Clinical Psychologist, Success Coach, Author and Organizational Consultant has been inspiring and empowering people to achieve a more balanced and successful lifestyle. Dr. Cutts has consulted with and trained executives, managers, and teams at Fortune 500 Companies, Federal Government Agencies, and Non-Profit Organizations. As a master facilitator and Success Coach, she helps people create an exceptional life by honoring their mind, body, and spirit so they can experience joy, passion, meaning, and ultimate success in their work.
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