saving our souls one tribe at a time.

Meet Your Soulsister: Jolie Guillebeau July 17, 2009

Filed under: Soulsisters 09 — Rachelle @ 7:19 am
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smallerjolie (2)

Jolie Guillebeau, painter, blogger and foodie extraordinaire.


Jolie and I met on-line through a friend-of-a-friend, and have a common connections through the neo-monastic community in Seattle. Now a resident of Portland, OR, Jolie has recently bumped into fellow Portlander Soulsister, Shari MacDonald, and of course they already adore each other. I know you’re going to fall just as quickly in love! Give a special shout out to Jolie in the comments — and thank her in advance for all the delicious food as Jolie has planned our fantastic gluten-free, vegetarian, summer-goodness spa menu!


Jolie’s Introduction:

A Ph.D candidate in Molecular Physics, a ballerina with the Royal Ballet of London, and Deputy Ambassador to Burkina Faso– Jolie has been none of these things. What she is: an artist who likes to look at clouds, read Jane Kenyon poems and eat soy ice cream sandwiches. She’s been to 46 countries, knit a fair isle sweater all by herself, and even had coffee with Desmond Tutu once, and now she works out her fragmented Faith by sitting at her easel. She’s married to Chris, and that’s enough adventure in itself.

Create something everyday, you’ll change the world.

I’m looking forward to this retreat, because I’m also lonely. We moved to Portland in February after a roller coaster chain of events led us away from Seattle and made us question every aspect of our lives and our values. For example, I want to make a living as a real artist, but also want to support my husband’s dreams. I want to honor God, but don’t think I can swallow the Christianity I’ve been fed all my life. I want stability, but I don’t want to sacrifice adventure to have it. With all these contradictions, I’ve found myself stuck and trapped in indecision. I’m hoping that this retreat (and all of you) will be able to offer some clarity and insight. Plus, I love to cook and can’t wait to share yummy food and great wine with all of you.


Meet Your Soulsister: Emma Staake

Filed under: Soulsisters 09 — Rachelle @ 7:07 am
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My sweet friend Emma, with her boyfriend Souren in front of our house.


So this is Emma, who among other things is girlfriend to Souren, our teenager-adopted-by-affection. Emma’s been in my virtual world for over a year now, and just this Summer we got to meet IRL, which was fan-damn-tastic. She’s a beautiful soul, often wise beyond her years, with an beautiful voice and bright future ahead of her. I’m totally stoked that she’s going to make mentory-friend connections on this retreat with soulsisters who are just a little ahead of her on the journey. I can’t wait to see the cross-generational energy flow! Sistahs, say hello to Emma!


Emma’s Introduction:

I’m Emma Staake — pronounced Stack-ey :]  I’m 17,  and a recent graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle. I met Rachelle about a year ago through my boyfriend, Souren Eriksen, who is part of Rachelle’s unofficial family, and thus, was taken in as a small piece of Rachelle’s large unofficial family. I am an artistic person who enjoys many mediums, but my main focus is Jazz Voice. I’m following that dream in my further education, first to Bellevue College, where I’ll be attending this fall to sing in their award winning “Celebration” Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Ultimately I want to teach jazz voice and possibly direct a jazz choir of my own. I am a budding arranger and composer, and I also love designing jewelry, writing, and doodling around on paper. I am attending this retreat for several reasons, the biggest being that I am finally (finally!!) done with highschool, and I want to surround myself with wonderful, nurturing, creative, collaborative people who can be my mutual mentors and friends.


Meet Your Soulsister: Lisa Alexander June 29, 2009

Filed under: Soulsisters 09 — Rachelle @ 7:44 pm
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A natural beauty...our Lisa A.

A natural beauty...our Lisa A.

Lisa and I met through a friend of a friend of a friend (or something like that) and have gotten to know each other via Twitter. She’s ready to teach us how to “say what we mean and mean what we say.” That’s a skill I need more practice with fuh-shur!

Lisa has been a supportive and sustaining balm to me during this difficult year abroad. Say hello and add an encouraging soul to your circle.

Lisa’s Introduction:
I am a professional peace builder (masquerading as a mediator and divorce lawyer).  I am a sporadic crafter and writer, working primarily with felt, beads and collages.  On the writing front, I’m too shy to put my writing forward, or even sometimes to produce it.  I’m coming to the Soulsisters Retreat to be inspired by like minded souls, to reach both outside of myself and into myself at the same time.


Meet Your Soulsister: Shari MacDonald Strong

Filed under: Soulsisters 09,Uncategorized — Rachelle @ 7:35 pm
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The lovely and adventuresome Shari MacD.

The lovely and adventuresome Shari MacD.

Shari and I discovered each other a few years ago, as we tried to write and raise children together as Northwest neighbors. (Portland &  Seattle) We finally met when we were in Portland for a Zine festival — all five kids and husbands in tow! Sadly, we were parted by someone’s bright idea to move to Denmark, but due to the magic of the Inner-net thing we’ve managed to stay in touch. I know you’ll all love to meet this friendly, witty storyteller on Hartsine Island. But in the meantime, give her a virtual “hello!”

Shari’s Introduction:
I’m a freelance writer and editor who lives in Portland, Oregon.  I’m the senior editor and former columnist at Literary Mama magazine and editor of the anthology The Maternal Is Political: Women Writers at the the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change (Seal Press, 2008). Irecently finished my first screenplay about the revolutionaries who assassinated Tsar Alexander II in 1881 and am currently researching a historical novel set in Russia. I’m the mother of twin boys, age 6, born via gestational surrogacy, and a daughter, age 9, adopted five years ago from Russia.


Meet Your Soulsister: Jen Payne

Filed under: Soulsisters 09 — Rachelle @ 5:19 pm
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A happy moment with my Jen's (Lemen on the left, Payne on the right.)

A happy moment with my Jen's (Lemen on the left, Payne on the right.)

Somehow, Jen Payne found our (former) soulcare community in Seattle, Monkfish Abbey — and I’m so glad she did! She’s always a source of practical wisdom mixed with plenty of good humor.

One of my favorite things about talking with Jen is that she asks good questions — which I always, always need. Jen warmed the cockles of my heart this year when she asked if we could have a regular Skype chat across the oceans. I can’t wait to see her on our hometurf in July! Say hi to this warm, clever woman…

Jen’s Introduction:

I am a mental health therapist and see clients in my private practice and work part-time at a psychiatric hospital. I’m mother to two wild and beautiful red-headed girls and twelve years married to a closet artist who has finally come out into the open as a painter. I’ve journaled since I was a very young girl, and writing is what keeps me alternately scraped off the floor and the ceiling. I also dabble in other creative expressions, and am coming to the retreat to bask in the glory of the artists Rachelle knows, and because I love Rachelle with all my heart.


Meet Your Soulsister: Jessica Schafer

Filed under: Soulsisters 09 — Rachelle @ 5:03 pm
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Meet Jessica S....our poet-in-residence.

Meet Jessica S....our poet-in-residence.

Jessica found us on-line, and I immediately ran to her website to get to know her. (Check out some of her best work from National Poetry month, here.) I don’t have many poets in my blogging circle, so it’s lovely to be introduced to her work. Say hello to Jessica….and get ready to swap author and poet favorites at Soulsisters ’09!

Jessica’s Introduction:

I grew up in Germany as a missionary kid. I work as a Resident Director at Trinity Western University, where I also received my BA in International Studies. I’ve been married for almost three years, no kids. My favourite thing to do is read. I’m doing a long distance training program in spiritual direction at the moment through the Haden Institute and someday soon I want to start an MFA in poetry. And I immediately wanted to come when Rachelle posted the invite because it combined two of the most important things in my life: creativity and spirituality. I love intentional community that leaves room for diversity and mystery and that’s often really hard to find, so this seems like a great opportunity!


Retreat Planning June 24, 2009

Filed under: Soulsisters 09,Uncategorized — Rachelle @ 2:43 pm
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Hello Sisters,

I’m sitting in the guest bed at Jen Payne’s house right now watching the sunrise and dreaming of our upcoming time together. Yummmmm…..


Here’s all (most?) of the info you’ll need for the retreat. Please note there are lots of things I need to know, and they are bolded. So grab a cuppa and open up an email so you can answer my queries as you go. I appreciate your response as I’m horrible at tracking down odds and ends, so ya’ll will really need to take responsibilty for letting me know what you need, how you can help, and what info you’re missing, kay?


Here’s everything I can think of ….


Getting Started
We will have a “rolling start” from 1pm at my parent’s house, Pura Vida. We’ll have lunch and drinks on the deck, and four of us can set sail on The Lady Penelope. (More sailing to follow!) At 3pm we can check in to the Retreat House (on the other side of the cove). We’ll be sharing queen beds so if you have a bunk mate in mind let me know. If anyone feels like they really want their own bed, there is a single captains bed at the top of the stairs. So if you want to snore alone, but don’t mind not being behind closed doors, please let me know.


Food and Drink
Jolie Guillebeau is organizing our meals. The menu is fresh, yummy and vegetarian, with protein options. If you have special dietary needs, please email Jolie.


To stock our mini bar, please bring a couple bottles of vino, the makings of your favorite cocktail, or your favorite beverage. Also, please bring a snack to share.


Morning Work
In the mornings we will have time to ourselves to work on a personal project or just relax. Sunday morning the remaining sisters will be able to go on a sail. There is also a row boat and kayaks for our use, and of course HOT TUB! If you need to spread your project out, there is a craft room at the rental. If you need to bring some sort of special supplies, just check with your driver about luggage space.


Hostess with the Mostest
We are operating on the Sacred Commerce & Giant Pool of  Wisdom model, which means everything we are doing on the retreat is based on what you shared in your hopes and bios. If you can host one of the following things, please let me know. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Remember fast and dirty is the way to success! (Plus, you know,  it sounds sau-cy!) And please, if you just need to rest and to not have one single responsibility this weekend, we want you to do that. We need you to do that. If you don’t do that right now, when we are starting out as a tribe, then we won’t have “permission” to do that when its our turn to just float.  Trust your intuition. (The Muse, she is very smart.)


  • Share Something Gorgeous Hour:  I bet if you looked at our Guiding Values, every single one of us would have “Creativity” and/or “Beauty” on that list. So lets start out Saturday night with a show-and-tell of all things gorgeous. Read a poem, pass around a photo, tell us a story, sing us something, or put a favorite song on the CD player and let us all lay on the floor listening to it with our eyes closed — whatever feels beautiful and sumptuous to you. It can be something you created, or something you just love. If  there’s some way to share that thing with us as a take away — burn the song on a CD, print the photo on your color printer–then please bring a copy for each soulsister (9). We’ll create our own swag  bags! But please remember this is a retreat, not a who-can-be-the-most-complicated-and-creative contest. Keep it simple my loves! If you can be the hostess for Share Something Gorgeous,  please let me know.


  • Teach Ins: A couple of themes are emerging as we chat about our hopes and bios.1) We need a place to belong, or perhaps more precisely, to accept that we already belong. 
    2) We need ongoing help to name-and-claim our identities as creative beings and/or
    3) We need with the YBH (‘yes, but how) — finding and taking the next step with our creative projects, novel, business plan, etc. We can all write our Mondo Beyond dream list, but do we know how to jump off the diving board and into our dream?

    I know we won’t find the answers to all of these big themes in one weekend, but I am fully confident that we can find a break through or two in the Giant Pool of Wisdeom. So let’s play around with these themes with some old skool teach-ins.

    Lisa has offered to do something on “saying what you mean and meaning what you say” which will help us all stand in our own power and self-define what it is that we are going for. That means we have one space left for another teach-in. Please let me know if an idea is brewing in you for the second afternoon slot. Teach-in hosts will get a litte discount from their retreat fee as a thank-you for the advance prep work. And if  we need to pitch in to cover teach-in supplies, the hostesses with the mostesses will let us know.


  • The Feedback Circle:  Monday night there will be an opportunity to have the sister’s look at a project you are working on and get feedback. This can range from having us read and offer our two cents on the first pages of your novel to whispering the dream you have in your head so we can all say “Yes, that’s real. I heard that!” Maybe we can unstick a few blocks and help some new things get born. We need someone to host his time together, please let me know if this sounds like it’s for you.


  • Keep in Touch: Finally, on Tuesday morning over breakfast and before check out (11am), I’d like to spend a little time talking about how we can keep in touch and continue to support each other long-distance, and when we’d like to meet IRL again. I certainly don’t know exactly what the future holds, but one thing I know for sure is “there ain’t nowhere to go but together.” If you’ve got a knack for listening to what folks are saying and distilling a plan of action, please let me know that you could host this time together.


What to Pack
Just a word here on life in the Northwest. The island is beautiful but can get chilly. Bring something warm for your toes and a light rain jacket and/or fleece if you want to wander. It can be shorts weather, but you will also want a pair of jeans. And don’t forget your swimsuit for the hot tub. (Unless you are comfy with being au naturel.) Other than the food and drink items listed above, and the item for the Share Something Gorgeous Hour you won’t need much but the journals and art supplies you’d like to have on hand.


Odds and Ends
I’ll be using some of our retreat fees to purchase a small thank-you gift for our lovely co-hosts, my parents. If you sell a product that you think would be a good fit, please let me know. In the spirit of Sacred Commerce, I’d be happy to share the wealth within the circle.

Oh, and just FYI, I’m planning this retreat on a break-even model, so that it’s easy for others to replicate, and so that no one is making profit at the expense of the others. On the off-chance that we have any funds left at the end of the event, I’ll send you some change or offer to donate our excess to chairty.

If you haven’t received a questioneer from Jennifer McGuiggan asking for your basic contact info, a bio and a photo, please email her. Also, I’m putting up the rest of the Meet the Soulsisters every other day or so on the blog. Please stop by and say hello, and/or ask your sisters a follow up get-to-know you question.  Be forewarned, if you haven’t sent Jennifer or I a photo, I will gleefully cop one off your website or pull one from my digital hoard. :-)


Okay my sistahs, I think that’s it. Please say “I can do it!” in the comments, and ask questions or make suggestions. I’m looking forward to seeing you all very soon!

Much Warmth,