Newsletter | Sep/Oct 2016

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Annual Retreat
by Janet Crane

This year's attendees assembled by the pool at Westerbeke Ranch

We have lost count of the number of retreats, but it has to be at least 30 by now. One day I'll have time to check all the papers I've saved from past retreats.

This year was as enjoyable as ever: about 48 attendees, with the theme of "Navigating Life's Transitions: Tools for Change".

Friday evening's show and tell session concentrated on changes that people had been through in the last year.

Dr. Joan Steadman led the Saturday morning session, discussing how change happens, how we react, how we could be more mindful of changes as they happen. The session ended in a poetic way with people writing a word or two on what prevents them from dealing with change and dropping the slip of paper in water, where it dissolved to nothing. Dr. Steadman generously offered to talk to people individually about changes they are going through for the rest of the weekend. Thanks to Kris Raupach, Rachel Sloniki and Caroline SooHoo for coordinating this.

The art project was making memory boxes and as usual, the group produced a dazzling variety of approaches. Allison Kinst did a wonderful job of providing materials and creating lovely examples of ways to create the boxes.

Our first movement session was arranged by Helen Vasquez and I found it very interesting. Liv Schaffer, dancer and choreographer, led the group through a series of exercises. In one, a person made shapes with her body and the following person reacted by making a complementary or contrasting shape and the next person did the same and so on through the group. In another, the group traversed the room as if they were feathers, and then as if they were wading in peanut butter and then worked in pairs, with each person embodying a different feeling. The exercises were a real eye opener to me about how some modern choreography is created by narratives rather than by working with a vocabulary of traditional steps.

The second movement session was led by a very warm and cheerful yoga instructor recruited by Shari Canepa.

The band on Saturday evening was Foxes in the Hen House, an all-woman group playing American country and blues. As usual, the audience had great fun making up their own version of line dancing, swing and polkas. Thanks to Cammy White and Debbie Klein for finding the band.

Many of the attendees walked the labyrinth at night and shared wishes for absent friends and thanks for good company.

On Sunday morning, the Steering Committee took care of OWA+DP business matters and recruited new SC members. A final thank you was offered to the retreat committee, including Heather Sprague who handles the finances. Then there were a few more hours to enjoy the sun and the good company.

Next year, Rachel Sloniki will take over most of the retreat planning; I will work with her on this and will help get people to the retreat.

The dates for next year's retreat are September 29th, 30th and October 1st. To our dismay, this weekend conflicts with Yom Kippur, which we have always explicitly worked with Westerbeke to avoid. The dates were set 2 years ago and an error was made and Westerbeke can't change the dates at this point due to solid bookings for the whole month. Rachel, Christie Coffin and I looked into alternate sites for the 2016 retreat, but there was not time to research and make arrangements before the contract with Westerbeke had to be confirmed for next year. We have discussed this with the 4 people who observe Yom Kippur who were at the retreat on Sunday morning and they understand the situation. There are no conflicts for the dates in 2018 and 2019.

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