Saturday, December 8, 2018

Charlson Meadows Retreat

As the calendar page flipped I had an out-of-the-box experience that ended November and ushered in December. Last weekend I had the most amazing experience.  I took part in a writing retreat at the beautiful Nancy Nelson Lake House at the Charlson Meadows Renewal Center. My sister-in-law, Stephanie, asked me if I wanted to go with her and her writing partner/friend, Carey. To give myself space I even took Friday off so I had time to drive to Minneapolis, drop Groovy Girl with her cousins, and carpool to the retreat center in Victoria, MN.

This space is breath-taking as you enter through the solid doors where we were greeted by the program director, Nicole. After a short guided tour of the rooms, we were able to select our own bedrooms, unpack and look around at our leisure. The inside of the home is beautifully decorated with art pieces throughout the house.

The retreat center sits on 142 acres of land situated between Zumbro and Stone Lakes. It was snowy and cold for this retreat but the maps of the grounds look beautiful with three labyrinths, hiking paths, meadows, wetlands, and a beach area. I look forward to exploring the outdoors there when everything isn't frozen (meaning any other season other than winter) yet watching the snow come down on Saturday afternoon was an ethereal experience.

Arriving on Friday afternoon we had time to relax and unwind before dinner was served at 6pm. Before the meal, we sat in front of one of many gas fireplaces and introduced ourselves to the 12 other writers in attendance and then we adjourned into the kitchen to scoop up the delicious offerings by Tena, the local caterer for most of the weekend. Each meal was carefully planned with a good attention to detail. While beef medallions were offered on Friday night the three vegetarians had delicious pasta to enjoy. In the morning we woke to fresh caramel rolls, quiche, and a large bowl of fruit. We shared some meals at the large dining room table and other meals were more casual as we gathered around the island in the middle of the kitchen. Eating was a highlight; the food was wonderfully prepared and I was filled with gratitude to have someone else cook for me. I realize how much energy on a weekly basis I use for meal prep in my house so this was pure joy. I didn't even have to empty the dishwasher!

Between meals, we were given the gift of time to write spreading ourselves out in the various common rooms in the lake house. The house was built with solitude in mind so while you are working at one end in the library you cannot hear anyone else working or chatting in rooms across the way. My group of three gathered in the library space which had a sofa, comfy overstuffed chairs, a desk, and a fireplace.

We did one group writing activity after dinner on Friday which used prompts to get us loosened up. It was low-key and interesting to hear everyone else's writing ideas. I headed to bed after that and felt motivated enough to write for another hour or so in the comfort of my secluded room. The rest of the weekend flew by with delicious meals, good conversations, and lots of writing time.

This is a lovely place to spend a weekend and I plan to go back for another writing retreat and I'd love to take part in one of their one-day spiritual journeys. Check out their website for more information on their offerings. Thank you to Stephanie for extending the invitation and thank you to Nicole for your seemingly effortless abilities as a host.   I feel better for what I accomplished over the weekend and just simply knowing this place exists.

I did some digging after exploring their website myself and found information on Lynn Charlson, an inventor, and the benefactor of the retreat center. He sounds like an interesting character and I'm sure it is because of his creative energy that the retreat center is infused with such magic.