saving our souls one tribe at a time.

Meet Your Soulsister: Jen Payne June 29, 2009

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!


Meet Your Soulsister: Becky Knight June 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachelle @ 1:44 am
Super mom, super therapist, super woman -- Becky Knight!

Super mom, super therapist, super woman -- Becky Knight!


I know this must get old, but basically Becky had me at “sexologist.” I mean, can you get a better opening line that? Beyond her intriguing job, Becky is an all-round lovely person, bright and warm with a generous spirit. We’ve been Twittering with each other this year, and I’m looking forward to meeting her IRL. Stop by her blog, Living Sexuality, and say hello, or take her survey on her work site for a little bit of introspection.

Becky’s Intro:
I am coming to the retreat because I know I need a time of reflection and inspiration. Juggling three kids, a busy and entrepreneurial husband, and a full-time career as a clinical sexologist is leaving me feeling spread too thin. I want to find a way to honor my obligations and still live the life I dream of.


Retreat Planning June 24, 2009

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

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,



Meet Your Soulsiter: Jennifer McGuiggan June 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachelle @ 6:27 am
Tags: , ,
Sunny, supportive Jenna McG!

Sunny, supportive Jenna McG!

Thank the good lord for BlogHer06, where along with all the choice swag I picked up a lovely long-distance friend, Jennifer McG! (Yo, McG!)

Jennifer has an easy way about her that makes you want to just sit back with an iced tea and talk the afternoon away. And as someone who’s boldly (and wisely) learned to call herself a writer, Jennifer will have traveled the path recently enough to help others who are trying to own their artistic I.D.

Jennifer’s been helping me get all our ducks in a row for Soulsisters ’09, so be sure to pour her an extra glass of white wine on our pretty oceanside deck this July. In the meantime, say hello or ask her a question in the comments below, or stop by Jennifer’s blog,The Word Cellar and introduce yourself.

Jennifer’s Intro:
I’m a freelance writer and editor. It’s taken me a lifetime of writing to be able to call myself a writer, but I finally reached that milestone a few years ago – and it feels good to have that as part of my identity.

This summer I will start my MFA in Creative Nonfiction, which is exciting and a tad bit overwhelming. I occasionally play around with paints and mixed media, but I’m not very comfortable in that medium yet.

I’m coming to the retreat because I’m lonely. I need people. I need a tribe. I’m hoping to nurture long-distance friendships, as well as figure out how to find some closer to home. I live with my husband and two grey cats about an hour outside of Pittsburgh, PA, in suburbia extraordinaire.

 More than almost anything, I dream of living near the sea. I’ve recently found myself in the midst of a spiritual crisis, as my old ways of understanding God and Christianity have crumbled before my eyes and left me moored in sea of confusion. (There are too many mixed metaphors in that sentence!) I’m looking forward to communing with women who can walk this path with me, either side-by-side, or as leader-helpers. I think Rachelle would call that “with-mates.”


Your Hope : My Hope June 6, 2009

Filed under: Soulsisters 09,Uncategorized — Rachelle @ 7:09 am

Dear Soulsisters,

A year ago I was a big soggy mess. I could be found regularly crying on phone to my original soulsister Jen Lemen, mourning the loss of my soultribe,  and trying to figure out how to survive the isolation of being an expat in a not-so-friendly culture. Jen was going to the Lovebombgatherings, which was making me die of envy. Somewhere along the way she pointed out that I could organize my own little clan–that in fact, anyonecould organize their own little clan–and the idea for this Soulsisters retreat was born.


I spent six months just dreaming of this retreat: imagining the feel; thinking of what we would chat about; imagining lovely meals with whole food and good wine; letting many different combinations of guests list drift through my mind.


Jen suggested that Iwrite  just for the sisters I hoped to gather. (That would be YOU!) So I started concentrating my work on Magpie Girl into targeted  series that would support the kind of women I love: creative souls who live with intention, but still embody a spirit of fun.


Finally, I played around with different themes. These were some early drafts: 


Soulsisters ’09: The Mutual Adoration Tour
Soulsisters ’09: The “What I Already Know Tour”
Soulsisters ’09: The “Let’s Get is Started in Here” Tour
Soulsisters ’09: The “Oh-My-God-If-I-Don’t-Get-Some-Support-Here-I’m-Gonna-Lose-It” Tour

(That last one lacks a certain finesse.)


Out of those six months of planning the seeds for the Soulsister tribe-and-retreat were planted. But they can’t fully bloom without you! (Corny, I know, but you get the picture. :-)


One of my main goals for Soulsisters is that our tribe be lead communally, and that we set the tone and spirit of our new clan together. I so desperately want to hear from you!  So here’s the big Q:


What are your hopes for the Soulsisters retreat (and for our ongoing relationship with each other?)


Please put them in the comments below so that as we can fine tune the retreat to meet as many hopes as possible.


If you are having a hard time naming your hopes, try an *8Thingslist. *8Things is a game I play when I need to quite down my monkey mind. It’s how I started dreaming of Soulsisters ’09 — just by listing *8 words that described the “feel” I was dreaming of at our retreat.


We have just a few weeks left to finish our dreamy plans, so please let me know your hopes as soon as possible. Then, based on what y’all say, we’ll make a the  Big Ask and find out who’s inspired to lead our afternoon workshops. (In case you don’t recall the plan, we’ll have a couple of sister-led afternoon workshops to teach us a new skill or walk us through some sort of dream-reaching exercise. In the spirit of Sacred Commerce, those sisters who lead a workshop will get a little love kick-back of $50 off the price of the retreat.)


In the meantimes, here’s my hopes for our Soulsiter-y-ness. What are yours?


Yours in Sisterhood,



 My hope for the Soulsister’s Retreat is:

-that each of us will find the support and commraderie we need for the journey we are on, as individuals and together. (“There ain’t no place to go but together.”)

-that we will find practical, concrete help, tools, and suggestions– -and mabye a good swift kick in the pants — to get to the next stage of our creative and vocational dreams. (Let’s unstuckify!)

-that each of you will feel lavished with love and admiration for the wonderful beings you are and the amazing work that you do. (Mutual admiration rocks! Let’s take all the strokes we can get!)

-that we feel empowered because we created something we needed the way weneeded it to happen. (Go sistahs!)


Let’s Talk Travel: Airport and Carpools May 11, 2009

Filed under: Soulsisters 09 — Rachelle @ 11:26 am
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This post was put together via email by Jennifer McGuiggian, soulsister extraordinarie and caretaker of The Word Cellar. The care and keeping of a soultribe is a joint effort — so a big “thank you” to Jenna for keeping our travel ducks in a row.

 1. Fights: If you’re flying, fly into Seattle (Sea/Tac). Tuesdays and Wednesdays may be the best days to go online to book flights. According to NPR, that’s when the airlines are most likely to offer reduced prices. Please let us know your flight info once you have it, so we can coordinate travel to the retreat house (see #2 below).

 2. Rental cars: Harstine Island has no public transport. If you’re interested in sharing a rental car, please let us know. Or if you will have a car with you and are willing to pick up people, even better!

 3. Additional Time in Seattle & Accommodations: Let us know if you’re coming in early or staying after the retreat and are interested in finding and sharing accommodation with other soulsisters. Rachelle says that she uses to find hotels in Seattle and can often get something right in the downtown core for under $100. She says the 4-5 stars will put you in the Westin (if you are lucky) or the Sheraton right downtown; 3-4 stars puts you in the Holiday Inn or similar just a bit uptown. If you get something downtown you can take a bus or grab a hotel shuttle to one of the major hotels (even if your hotel doesn’t have a shuttle service.) For instance, taking the shuttle to either of the above hotels will get you smack dab into downtown, and from there you can walk, bus, or take a shorter (i.e. cheaper) cab ride.

 4. Seattle Activities: If you are familiar with the Seattle area, please share your tips on what to do and see. Rachelle will also try to provide some of this information to help those of us who are adding a few days to our trip.

 Thanks for your help with all of this. We’re really excited to build our tribe and see you all in July.