Booking Your Renewal: A Retreat for Writers

Renewal Retreat for Writers:

Renewal: A Retreat for Writers features writing sessions and workshops infused with exercises and writing prompts inspired by the unique and beautiful Jamaican landscape. Workshops, taught by authors Fiona Zedde and Sheree L. Greer, include both individual and group writing sessions that encourage writers to take full advantage of the naturally beautiful Kensington, Jamaica. Morning walks and yoga at the nearby beach, in addition to river and hiking excursions, will be lead by Dr. Adella Deacon, who is also an attorney and will provide a workshop on contract basics.

closer to beach on walkTentative Schedule:

The Renewal Retreat for Writers is all about creating an opportunity to relax in nature, refresh your passion for writing and finding your voice, and refocus your dedication to craft. The retreat features challenging, engaging creative writing workshops, informative discussions dedicated to the business of writing, and invigorating, inspiring hikes and wellness sessions to renew your whole self.

Retreat is scheduled for Thursday, October 13th to Sunday, October 16th and features workshops, morning walks and yoga, hikes, and free time to connect with participants, connect with the community, and of course… WRITE.

Review more about the tentative schedule HERE.

Pricing Information:

Retreat cost $749.00

The overall retreat cost includes workshops, room and board in Kensington, and transportation to off-site excursions while in Kensington.
Registration closes SEPTEMBER 1st!
QUESTIONS? Contact us at renewaltheretreat@gmail.com!

Only a couple spots left… Book Yours HERE!

 

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Bliss in Jamaica

bliss coverJamaica is where Bliss was born.

I don’t mean just the character from my bestselling debut novel of the same name, but also the book itself. Although I wrote Bliss in the United States, the inspiration for its character and places, its emotion and its conflicts, all came from Jamaica. The book isn’t about an ideal person or an ideal place. Instead, it’s about beauty and struggle, facing the fears within all of us, and it’s about triumph. In short, it is about my island home. This home and its treasures are what I hope to share with those who come to The Renewal Retreat in October of this year.

Even without memory to further stir the coals of creativity, visitors to Jamaica find it to be a place of vibrant traditions, unforgettable artistry, and incomparable inspiration. It isn’t just the beauty of the island, it’s also the country’s rebellious Maroon past, the way incredible wealth sits beside great want, and it’s about dark nights that seem impenetrable until you dare to walk out into them.

The entire world has heard of Bob Marley, Blue Mountain coffee, and of Stella getting her groove back. Allow Kensington, Jamaica to serve as your muse, as your Renewal.dunns fiona

 

 

Who Knew: The Laid Back and Necessary

Once I decided to let the vibe of Jamaica have its way , I found myself experiencing the authenticity of the country. Every sound, every taste reminded me that I was away from home, away from my every day. I loosened up and the simplicity of sky and water, bush and sand, created a connection between me and the land, me and my spirit.

Early morning calls from roosters and urging of goats to start my day made the days stretch long. A morning walk to the beach, as visually stunning as it was spiritually refreshing, set the tone for afternoons spent writing and reading. Short trips for local eats and music in the air throughout the day created a backdrop for a laid-back trip that showed itself more necessary than I ever imagined.

The following hikes, to the river and the community cemetery, ignited something deep within. A connection to nature, something in the rain, in the breeze, the rustling of tress, felt like secrets I once knew but had somehow forgotten. The hikes were difficult. My muscles forced to do more than carry me from office chair to the driver’s seat of my Honda. The physical vigor demanded I get in tune with my body, with the way I move, how much I trust these bones and muscles; the physical and spiritual moving in tandem, an inner strength found its way to the outside. As I walked, foot over stone and stick, hands gripping trunk and vine, I couldn’t help think about how little I immerse myself in the natural world, how much of my life is consumed by artificial light, clicking keyboards, and electronic movement. I am a human. Not a computer or a profile, but a human being.

hiking seriousI know. It sounds a little hokey. Or maybe it doesn’t. I can’t call it. That’s the way it is.

The only certainty I have is that I felt good. I felt really, really good.

reading

 

 

I didn’t do as much writing as I had hoped while I was away, but documenting the sights for this blog and studying the landscape to inform our workshop activities for the retreat, confirmed what I had hoped.

Kensington, Jamaica is ripe with narrative. Full of story. The senses come alive here: sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch. How these will collide and comingle, inspire and invoke, is what excites me most about sharing this experience with you.

And the jams in those links? Beres Hammond. Make a playlist, boo.

Join me for my final installment… but more importantly…

Join me in October.

 

 

Q & A with Dr. Adella Deacon

Our Renewal Retreat takes place in Kensington, an area in the Portland Parish of Jamaica. The best way to describe our setting is to think about a close-knit, laid-back neighborhood. The area is residential, and the people who live there are hardworking, everyday people (When’s the last time you heard that jam? Say whoa, yeah, whoa, yeah, whoa, yeah!). Most people go to Jamaica as tourists, spending most of their time on resorts with little to no interaction with local residents of the island.
This experience is different. And there is no better ambassador for Kensington than one of its daughters.
Adella Deacon, DPT, JD was born in Kensington and serves as our guide, fitness and wellness instructor, and as a practicing attorney, she’ll lead the workshop on understanding contracts.
Dr. Deacon answered these quick questions for us about her hometown:

What do you love about Kensington?

“Visiting Kensington brings me back to the basics and give me a chance to reboot. Living in Chicago, it’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced lifestyle, but in Kensington everything moves at a much slower pace. For me, it reminds me that I don’t need all the things that society tells me that I need. And of course, being from Kensington, it is nice to be home.”

welcome to kensington adellaWhat is the significance of Kensington to your family and to you in particular?

“Very simply, it is where my family is. The family I have in the United States is limited to my immediate family, but in Kensington, a third of the populous is of some familial relation to me. Of course I don’t know all of them, but it feels good to be around family.”

What do you hope others learn about Kensington or Jamaica in general during their visit?

“Jamaican culture is the culture that I grew up with at home, so it’s hard to say. Kinda like what you would like visitors to say about American culture. I guess, most importantly, to know what it is really like in Jamaica instead of just believing what is seen on T.V.”

What is something people think they know about Jamaica that isn’t accurate?

“That we are all dancehall queens or gunmen. :-)”

In a few words, what would you say to people who ask ‘why Kensington?’

“It’s naturally beautiful there, and it’s near the beach.”

Join us for Renewal: A Retreat for Writers

closer to beach on walk

Off the Beaten Path: Kensington, JA

Kensington, Jamaica in the Portland Parish:

Kensington MapKensington is located in the region of Portland, whose capital, Port Antonio is a beautiful, thriving port and shopping center. Port Antonio is about ten miles away from Kensington, and neighboring city, and capital of Jamaica, Kingston, is twenty miles away.

Portland, the parish that houses Kensington, is known as a bountiful producer of bananas, coffee, mangoes, and local favorites ackee and breadfruit.

Several films have used Portland for its scenery and location, most notable “The Harder They Come” (title song by Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff featured here) and “Cocktail” starring Tom Cruise.

Forget all that though… what’s really dope is Ri-Ri (that’s right, Queen Rihanna) filmed “Man Down” there in 2011.

house frontOur Home for the Weekend:

We will be staying in a typical Jamaican family home. It is fully furnished featuring four bedrooms with locally-crafted, custom-made wardrobes and queen-sized beds. The house features two full bathrooms, a full kitchen, as well as front and back verandas.

The house has rooftop access with lovely views of the mountains, the ocean, and surrounding neighborhood farmland and foliage. The yard features local fruit trees and flowers, and a local beach and nearby river are within walking distance of the home.

 

beach viewNature Abounds:

Our home in Kensington will invite us to explore nature in ways that will inspire and challenge us. The beaches are locally-owned and maintained, and the coast to the river is a lesson in green, with palm fronds that stretch an arm’s length, flowering bushes, and beckoning vines. The nature hikes and walks to the beach, river, and historical above-ground cemetery invite you to commune with nature and reconnect with a spirit of simplicity, a reconvening with Mother Nature.

 

Welcome to Jam Rock?

For the first time ever, I took a trip without my computer, without a “grind list” (the gansta version of a ‘to-do list’), and without a plan. No drafts to finish, no chapters to revisit, no dialogue to tighten. passport Im OutI just left for Jamaica without aim or goal. The only thing on my mind was openness. My arms stretched wide to either side, my head thrown back toward the sky, my heart bursting in my chest–I opened myself up to experience and challenge, renewal and rejuvenation. And as all-embracing as that image may be, I couldn’t get the Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jam Rock” out of my head.

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t thinking I was entering some rap-video-mean-streets-guard-your-grill situation, but what I hoped, and what I readied myself for, was an experience of Jamaica that wasn’t a Sandals brochure. I wanted real Jamaica not tourist Jamaica. I wanted Jimmy Cliff not Jimmy Buffett.

My flight into Kingston from Miami was quiet, and as I watched the water change from the everyday-blue of my Florida life into the vibrant turquoise of this new adventure, I felt a weight lifting off my shoulders.  I truly felt myself leaving my daily grind behind and coasting into a fresh experience.

The mountains greeted me at the airport. The skyline alone a symbol of adventure and revelation.

Walking on Jamaican ground, in what felt like a lighter, looser body, created a new rhythm in my chest, a heartbeat that glimmered like the padded thumps on a steel drum.

fish weightfish dinnerFrom my first meal at Fish Cove to the passing landscapes of mountain and sea, the vibe was not vacation in the holiday-sense but a vacation in a more practical sense: “the action of leaving something one previously occupied.”

I realized that even my assumptions and beliefs about what I wanted this trip to be and what I hoped it would do were a kind of preoccupation with what I already knew and what I thought I wanted.

I decided, as the van bumped down the narrow, pot-holed country Jamaican roads, that I would shake those assumptions and preoccupations off, too. van picture

I stopped humming Damian Marley.

I stopped thinking about what I would do, what I hoped to see.

I watched the landscape. I listened to breeze.

I opened myself all the way up, and I let Jamaica rock me into a groove I had never heard before.

… To be continued…

road

 An experience like no other. Join us in October.

 

Renewal Workshop for Writers: Relax, Refresh, Refocus

The Renewal Retreat for Writers is all about creating an opportunity to relax in nature, refresh your passion for writing and finding your voice, and refocus your dedication to craft. The retreat features challenging, engaging creative writing workshops, informative discussions dedicated to the business of writing, and invigorating, inspiring hikes and wellness sessions to renew your whole self.

The retreat days are listed below, as well as a tentative schedule. beach cliff.pngThe scheduled events for the retreat are designed to engage both your creative, mental, and physical sensibilities with plenty of “free time” between activities to encourage exploration and relaxation, beach and nature walks, and personal writing and reflection time.

Understand that the scheduled events are tentative as participants are more than encouraged to relax, refresh, and refocus in the ways that benefit them most. The workshop is about you and for you; make the experience your own.

Retreat Days:

Thursday, October 13th – Sunday. October 16th

Tentative Schedule:
Thursday(10/13)
– Arrivals (2 p.m. – 4 p.m.)
– Meet and Greet Welcome Social  (5 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
– Dinner and Island Welcome Party (8 p.m. until…)
Friday (10/14)
– Morning Yoga/Fitness (8 a.m.)
– Breakfast (9 a.m.)
– Take Me to The River Writing Excursion (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
– Lunch (1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.)
– Marketing and Contracts Part I (3 p.m. – 4 p.m.)
– Late Afternoon Nature Hike and Writing Prompts (4 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
– Dinner featuring Workshop Readings 7:00 p.m.- 9 p.m.
– Evening Social Activity (9 p.m. until…)
Saturday (10/15)
– Morning Yoga/Fitness (8 a.m.)
– Breakfast (9 a.m.)
– Story and History Walking and Writing Tour (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
– Lunch (1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.)
– Marketing and Contracts Part II (3 p.m. – 4 p.m.)
– Late Afternoon Nature Hike and Writing Prompts (4 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
– Dinner featuring Workshop Readings 7:00 p.m.- 9 p.m.
– Farewell Party (9 p.m. until…)
Sunday (10/16)
– Morning Yoga/Fitness (8 a.m.)
– Breakfast (9 a.m.)
– Renewal Roundtable: Workshop and Q&A (10 a.m. – Noon)
– Check-out: (1 p.m.)
– Departures may vary

 

Meet Featured Writer: Sheree L. Greer

bio pic shereeA Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, Sheree L. Greer hosts Oral Fixation, the longest running LGBTQ Open Mic series in Tampa Bay and founded The Kitchen Table Literary Arts Center to showcase and support the work of ancestor, elder, and contemporary women writers of color. The author of two novels, Let the Lover be and A Return to Arms, and the short story collection, Once and Future lovers, Sheree recently published a writing guide for student writers, Stop Writing Wack Essays. She teaches composition, creative writing, fiction workshop, and African American literature at St. Petersburg College in Florida. Learn more about Sheree and her work at www.shereelgreer.com.

Meet Featured Attorney and Wellness Coach: Adella Deacon

Adella S. Deacon, DPT, JD, is a forward-thinking, energetic general practice attorney. She practices in the areas of contracts, real estate, estate planning, landlord/ tenant, and social security/disability law. She has an extensive, interdisciplinary-focused educational baadella bio picckground having earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and her Juris Doctorate from Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago, Illinois. She has more than 14 years experience as a healthcare professional, and currently treats patients through contract-based physical therapy engagements in addition to also running her own property management company. An empathetic advocate for equity and justice, she is constant champion for fair, honest representation and overall wellness.

Meet Featured Writer: Fiona Zedde

fiona bio pic renewalJamaican-born Fiona Zedde is the author of several novels, including the Lambda Literary Award finalists Bliss and Every Dark Desire. Her novel, Dangerous Pleasures, received a Publishers Weekly starred review and was winner of the About.com Readers’ Choice Award for Best Lesbian Novel or Memoir of 2012. Her latest work, To Italy with Love, is available now.

Under the name Lindsay Evans, Fiona also writes novels of romance and recklessness for Harlequin. Her novel, Untamed Love, is now available. Find out more at FionaZedde.com and LindsayEvansWrites.com.