Birth, 8, 18, 28, 38 | Reflections on Decades of Birthdays

On Tuesday I turned 38. It got me thinking about where I was a decade ago in life, and a decade before that and so on until soon enough I got out my old photos (all digitized prior to leaving for sailing around the world). I also dug through my journals and I reviewed. 

Birth

I was born on June 13, 1979 in Lackland Air Force Base (which is in San Antonio, Texas.)

My mother and her family are from Texas. My father was from Arizona and had joined the Air Force. He was stationed in Texas when he met my mother, a single, divorced woman with two sons. Rich and James are my half-brothers but in my family we don’t ever call each other half-brother or half-sister, everybody is just full sister & brother, 100%.

We moved to New Mexico (we were always moving because of being in the military.) In Alamogordo, my brother, Chad Michael was born. He is 364 days younger than me. They brought him home on my 1st birthday and that set the stage for all of our birthdays from there on out. We shared every birthday I think until our early 20s. As an adult, though I don’t mention it to most people, my birthday means a lot to me and I think it’s because I never got to have a party that was really just for me as a kid.

Cool baby, but it's my birthday, right?

Cool baby, but it's my birthday, right?

We moved to Tennessee next. That’s my sister Sariah wrapped up in a white blanket. She is 18 months younger than Chad Michael. We were stair steps: ages 2, 1, and newborn! 

So....you're telling me that's another baby?

So....you're telling me that's another baby?

I wasn’t a good big sister to Sariah. I wish I had been. Chad Michael and I often excluded her. I wish we’d been corrected on that. She always wanted to hang out, and I usually wanted to be left alone. I’m sorry about that, Sariah. I’m glad we’re friends now. I wish we had been closer when we were younger.

After Tennessee, we moved to North Dakota. There, my sister, Rose, was born.  Adorable kid, right? 

North Dakota is where I went to kindergarten. It’s where I learned that snow can blow so hard and so much that it covers your front door entirely. At five I didn’t know just how much snow life had in store for me; back then it was pure novelty.

This is my sister Sariah looking out at me, Chad Michael, and our grandfather, my father’s father who was visiting from Arizona.

Then we moved to Alaska. Yep. More snow. 

In Alaska, my youngest sister, and the last sibling, Phoebe, was born. That made a total of seven kids. We were a family of nine when you added the adults.

No, that is NOT Lyra (my daughter) in the photos below, that’s my sister Phoebe. Lyra’s looks, her gestures, and her mannerisms remind me all the time of my baby sister. I was so smitten with Phoebe when she was born. I was 8 and I thought she looked like an angel baby.

Eight

I was in 3rd grade when I was 8. I hated having my long hair combed as a kid but by age 8 I had learned that long hair was valued as a ‘feminine’ trait. I wanted the best of both worlds when it came to my hair so my mom told me about this haircut that was short in the front and long in the back. 

It was a mullet. 

She didn’t call it that and I didn’t know. 

I will tell you this: I LOVED MY HAIR STYLE. So easy. So great! Business in the front, party in the back.

I was raised Mormon (also called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). I’m no longer practicing. I’m a happy Atheist now. But at age 8 in the Mormon church you get baptized. It’s a big deal.

They call age eight the ‘age of accountability.’ You officially know right from wrong, according to them. And when you get baptized, any mistakes you make from there on out fall into the sin category and you have to get your repenting knee pads worn in because it’s all sinnin’ and repentin’ after they dip you in that water.

I couldn’t wait to get baptized. It meant I was part of the club! It meant people would take me and my actions seriously. I held my breath and was fully submersed and rose up anew, as a human who knew right from wrong. I felt powerful indeed. I also probably started sinning that same day. I’m pretty sure it didn’t take long.

I call this photo ‘POWER TO THE PATRIARCHY.’

Also, do you think they knew to line up in that V-shape formation? You think they’d done that before? Or maybe the picture-taker told them to do it? You think they just got into formation naturally like that? Maybe the baptism crew was all about the angles. We’ll never know.

I started keeping journals at age 8 and I have two giant bins now, full of years of writing.  We went panning for gold and since you know me already, you know we didn’t strike it rich.

I was in lots of plays. Here I’m dressed up as a royal messenger. Hey, I just worked with what I had in my closet. Me and my mullet and my costuming abilities. A year after this photo, at the end of 4th grade, I was at that boy on the right’s house with another friend of ours, also a boy. I’ll call the boy on the right, ‘Bob’ and the other boy who was with us, ‘Gabe.’ Bob had milk crates full of Archie comic books in his room. Gabe and I were reading them with him. I got up to go home and when I got to the foot of his bed, Bob said, “you should lift up your shirt, Charlotte.”

“What?” I asked, confused.

“Yeah. Lift up your shirt.”

I had zero in the way of boobs at that time. Not even breast buds. Hell, boobs weren’t even on my radar. The most awful, icky, uncomfortable feeling washed over me. The other boy, Gabe, who I had a crush on, just looked back and forth at us, also not sure what was happening. I exited stage right almost immediately but I still remember how violated I felt with just the way that prepubescent 4th grade boy was looking at me.

Not all men are creeps, but the ones who are, never leave you.

Life goal at age 8: to be a teacher when I grew up.

Eighteen

A decade later and so much had changed. (I’m starting to realize that that is what you can expect from 10 year time spans.) I moved out of the house at 16 and moved in to live with my oldest brother, Rich. Rich took care of me and for a short time, my younger brother Chad Michael, without any financial assistance from my parents.  You can read this post here where I exposed my father for sexually abusing me and my sister. Massive trigger warnings if you haven’t read it yet.

My brother Rich stepped in and he became the supportive father figure I needed during my later teens and early twenties. He is an amazing human being. We used to throw the most incredible costume parties. Life was good living with Rich.

At age 16 I got a job bussing tables after school and for my junior and senior years of high school I worked to help Rich pay the bills. I still graduated with a 4.3 GPA and got an academic scholarship to the University of San Diego where I majored in International Relations and double minored in French and Spanish. I was the first of my seven siblings to get a BA. My youngest sister, Phoebe, also got a BA and then went on to get her masters in Geography.

Me and Rich at my high school graduation, 1997

Me and Rich at my high school graduation, 1997

Despite those accomplishments, age 18 Charlotte is not someone I’m really impressed with, and that’s because I just re-read my journals. Yikes. Are all 18 year olds super myopic? My writing focuses on guys, sex, and physical appearances and I found it pretty nauseating to read. 

I struggled with eating disorders after being abused by my dad. First I didn’t eat for two years, then when I did, I obsessed with controlling what I did eat. I calorie counted and calorie restricted and used phen-phen (remember phen-phen? and Metabolife, aka Metabacrack). I occasionally purged and I exercised obsessively. I have never had an accurate image of my body. This all started wayyyy back when I was sitting on my dad’s lap and he patted my belly and told me I “was getting kinda big.” 

Still. Reading my journals, it’s hard to believe how vapid I was at 18. Geez Louise. For as much as I continue to deal with loving myself and my body the way I am, I’m very glad that years of therapy and work have gotten me away from where I was at that age.
   

Senior prom, 1997

Senior prom, 1997

I went onto have a successful first year of college. 

I worked two, sometimes three jobs during my four years at USD and graduated Magna Cum Laude. No sororities for me. I was not super connected to the students or culture of the campus. My life was off campus and while I loved my education, I was ready to move to the next parts of being a grown up.

Life goal at age 18: to work as an interpreter at the U.N.

Twenty Eight

June 2007. A decade after 18 year old Charlotte and I was finally starting to figure out who I really was. I had started blogging on Rebel Heart only a few months prior. I was documenting mine and Eric’s process of moving from land to our sailboat. A month after turning 28 we were officially liveaboards and Eric proposed to me.

In this photo, we were headed out for what I thought was a regular date night. Eric’s palms were sweating because about an hour later, he proposed.

One of the happiest moments of my life, just minutes after his proposal. He’s so handsome, isn’t he? I love, love, LOVE this man.

Twenty eight was a year of discovery. It was the fomenting of my life as a liveaboard and sailor. I spent a lot of time getting to know our vessel, and my sewing machine!

My mother taught me to sew as a child and I’d make my own patterns and clothing for dolls. It wasn’t until years later, and living on our boat, that I decided I needed to get out my machine and start sewing again. Eric eventually bought me a Sailrite and I learned how to sew boat interiors and exteriors, marine canvas, and sailcloth. I had a knack for making my own patterns and designs, a good thing too because all of boat work is custom work.

I was amazed at how much more confident I was at age 28. I felt more at ease in my own body and I felt very at home on the water. At last I’d found a place I felt I belonged. Living on a boat and being a sailor is like being in a very cool secret club. Not a lot of people know about the lifestyle and those who do are all members or former members of the club. There’s an incredible bond between sailors. I found this especially so between other female sailors.

At 28 I had no idea what the next decade had in store for me. We had a plan, sure, to leave in five years and sail around the world. We had agreed to have children, and raise them on the boat, and take them with us, but we didn’t know what that would be like. There was no way the Charlotte of 2007 could have envisioned all that would happen in the decade that would lead her to 2017. 

I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life played out the way it did. As it does. As it should.

Life goal at age 28: to be the next Lin Pardey, but with kids.

Thirty Eight

Now we arrive at present day. I’m two years shy of 40. I am a landlubber. It is so bizarre to say that. You could call me a CLOD too, or a Cruiser Living on Dirt. 

I have two incredible children, ages 6 and 4. Really, these kids are rad and I’m truly lucky to have them in my life. 

After being raised as a military brat and never living anywhere long enough to have friends from childhood, I can finally say that I have some ‘old’ friends, or perhaps better stated, lifelong friends.

Me and Mele, Devil's Postpile, November 2016

Me and Mele, Devil's Postpile, November 2016

And I’m lucky enough to still be meeting new people and making new friends too.

Me and Rosanne, Speakeasy Gala, May 2017

Me and Rosanne, Speakeasy Gala, May 2017

While I may live on land, I’m deeply immersed in the elements living here in Mammoth. Just like living on a boat, when you walk out into the cockpit each morning, you are dealing directly with whatever Mother Nature is handing you, so too is life at 8,000ft altitude. Outside my door I have no choice but to deal with the elements too.

I learned how to ski this season. It felt really good to be 37 and learning something new. I’m not too old for this. I can do hard things. I can learn new skills. These were just some of the thoughts going through my head as I flew down the mountain on two sticks.

Couch-locked after day 3 of ski lessons.

Couch-locked after day 3 of ski lessons.

I also learned how to snowshoe. There’s not a lot to learning to snowshoe, not like there is with skiing, but it was still two new things in a season. You can teach a 38 year old new tricks!

Snowshoeing toward Mammoth Rock Trail

Snowshoeing toward Mammoth Rock Trail

Eric and I went on our first date in November 2004, so we're 12 1/2 years and running. I’m still totally into this guy. Hook, line, and sinker.

Together we have each broken cycles of abuse and we’ve forged a new path raising our children and creating our family unit. It has not been easy, but it has been worth it. May our children know love, support, encouragement, safety, and security throughout their entire childhoods.

Mammoth Town Clean Up Day, June 2017

Mammoth Town Clean Up Day, June 2017

At 38, I see the path that many women (and sometimes men) take when they have children, that of allowing their life to be subsumed by the raising of their offspring. For some, I believe this happens because they have never truly evaluated what they wanted for their own lives, so raising children becomes the role they slip into: a seemingly natural fit. For others, it becomes the path of least resistance, of not wanting to rock the boat.

But I also see what happens to those women (and sometimes men) who find themselves at the end of a long 18-25ish year time span of raising children, then entering middle age, and only just beginning to sort out who they are and what they finally want to do with their lives. I choose not to go that route. I choose to pursue my passions now, while my children are young. I choose to try to make sure I’m fulfilled as a human, independent of my role as a mother. I believe that if I’m happy as a whole person, I’ll be a better mother, and I’ll set a solid example for my children about how to stay true to themselves.

So I write. And sometimes I leave. I go on retreats. I travel without my kids. I focus on keeping myself healthy and whole, and for me, that means periodic breaks from parenting. 

Writing Retreat, San Miguel de Allende, May 2017

Writing Retreat, San Miguel de Allende, May 2017

I do so wonder what the next decade has in store. Some of my readers have now been reading my blog for TEN YEARS. First on Rebel Heart, and now here. Whether you've been with me from the very beginning, or you've just recently started following, I thank you for the support.

Life goal at age 38: to raise my kids the very best I can, to relish my relationship with my husband, to nourish and enjoy my friendships, and to write lots and lots of books.

It's Gonna Be May ~ 2017

I did more in the month of May than I sometimes do in an entire season.

It's a writing retreat.

I swear.

After an incredible writing retreat in San Miguel de Allende, which you can read about here, I stopped in San Diego for a day before driving home to Mammoth. Sometimes I think about flying down to LA or San Diego, but then I'd miss eight hours of getting to listen to any audiobook I want and I relish the alone time to do just that. I've finished Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower recently and listened to Amanda Palmer's, The Art of Asking on this most recent trip. I liked her book so much in audio form that I bought the paperback so I could re-read it at my leisure. Highly recommend.

Driving back up with a car full of Ikea, Target, and thrift store finds.

Driving back up with a car full of Ikea, Target, and thrift store finds.

I got home from the Mexico trip on a Thursday evening. Friday was just trying to take a whack at the house and what needed to be put back in order. On Saturday morning Eric had a training with the local Search and Rescue Team and the girls and I went to help my friend, Rosanne, set up her tables for the Mad Hatter's Tea, benefiting the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre.

After helping Rosanne set up for her event, she helped me set up this quilt. I needed to hang it in advance of that night's gala fundraiser for the local elementary school. She helped me mount the hooks and made sure it hung straight. Thanks, Rosanne!

I rushed home from table setting and quilt hanging but not before buying some groceries for our babysitter who was coming over. She was going to stay the night so that Eric and I could stay at the hotel of the gala we were attending. It was the first night we've had away from our kids in FIVE YEARS. 

The theme of the gala was 'speakeasy,' and while I had fun, I was far more stoked on the thought of not going home to parenting responsibilities but to a hotel room with my husband, alone, for the fist time in FIVE YEARS.

We haven't met a lot of people since moving here, but the people we have befriended are quality. I'm glad I know them. This is me and Rosanne.

Rosanne, me, Tania, and Tania's mom (looking fly, right?!)

So like I was saying, the last time we'd had a night without children was five years ago. I was so excited for the mini break I couldn't stand it. After a little bit of dancing, Eric and I bailed and headed for our room.

This is the proverbial post-coitus photo only instead of a cigarette I ordered french fries from room service instead. So good. All of it. So good. Also, when we did go to sleep, we slept the sleep of the dead.

The next morning we had breakfast and all we could talk about was the kids (classic) and how weird it was that the kids weren't there. Then we relieved our amazing babysitter and Eric started packing the car for a camping trip. He was taking the girls on a 7-10 day overland trip in his Land Cruiser. While they packed, I drank coffee and got dressed up for my next and final event of the weekend.

Not only did I get to help set up for the Mad Hatter Tea, I got to attend too.

How awesome is this fascinator? Found it online from a vintage seller on Etsy.

Rosanne was at the gala the night before. She too pulled a quick change artist and showed up as the Dutchess of her two tables looking amazing. Look at her hat. LOOK AT HER SHOES.

When I got home from the weekend of festivities the house was quiet. Eric and the girls were headed to the Mojave Desert for an adventure and I was looking at about a week of the house to myself. 

A lot of firsts had just happened to me: first official writing retreat, a night alone with my husband for the first time in five years, and then I was about to have an entire week on my own. Is this real life, I wondered.

Indeed it was real life.

I stopped by the grocery store and got a bunch of 'Charlotte food.' Stuff like brie and feta, fresh veggies, pita, hummus, olives, and turkey. I had wine and chocolate so I didn't really need anything else. With my supplies in order, I hunkered down for a week of being an absolute hermit. 

I work from home so after getting my work job hours done, I wrote. I continued the telling of the story of how Eric and I met and how we came to buy a sailboat and raise our family aboard. Interspersed with the writing, I did push ups, and forced myself to leave the house at least once a day. I'm glad I made myself get out because I became deeply immersed in my writing world. In the six days that they were gone I wrote 24,000 words about our story, putting me at a total of 62,000. That's well within striking distance of a memoir. If I had to guess, I'd say I have another 20-30,000 left to write. I'm so close to having a complete first draft that I can taste it.

I loved re-reading my old MySpace journals (I copied them before deleting that account) and looking back at photos that were over 12 years old of me and Eric. In my head I was finally able to connect the dots from the beginning to the 'end' of our story. Of course, we're not over, but I have the telling of Rebel Heart firmly in a timeline in my head. Now I'm just spitting it out as fast as I can before I go back and do the even more laborious work of polishing it to be read by others.

Catalina Island, March 2005

Catalina Island, March 2005

Road trip in Nevada, November 2006

Road trip in Nevada, November 2006

Skydiving, August 2008

Skydiving, August 2008

Diving at the Coronado Islands, June 2011

Diving at the Coronado Islands, June 2011

After being gone for six days, Eric and the girls came home and I had to completely put away my writing. I find it too difficult to try to exist in two worlds at the same time, the world of words and the world of reality. I saved my work, backed it up in the cloud and on hard drive, and turned my attention to the three people I love most. 

A day after returning, Eric was back at another SAR training. The girls I enjoyed a brisk lunch outdoors on our deck. It was a cool 46 degrees Fahrenheit, but that's what they make jackets for, right?

I took these photos on May 13. Yes, all that snow was around on MAY THIRTEENTH.

It snowed for the rest of the weekend after we had our chilly al fresco dining experience. The morning it stopped snowing, I drove home to see bear tracks clearly going up and over the snowbank in front of my house. Mammoth is never boring. I'll give it that.

We spent the rest of May spending as much time as we could as a family and as much time as we could outdoors.

Though snow was still everywhere, plenty of places had melted enough for us to get out and stretch our legs too.

This was the snow berm in front of our house on May 20th. Still high, but warm enough for shorts and a sun shirt!

One weekend we decided to hit some local 4x4 trails behind Shady Rest Park. We eventually got stuck in some muck, but Eric was prepared for that and we were moving about 40 minutes later. He wrote about it here on his blog.

I don't know what it is about watching Eric do manual labor. This would only have been better if he were in a t-shirt or shirtless.

Here he is with an axe. You're welcome.

After getting us unstuck, he then administered first aid to L's little cut. I love a man who can do hard things and soft things.

On Memorial Day weekend we decided to throw caution to the wind and go ahead and plant some seeds. We're pretty dang sure it won't get past freezing anymore. Now we just have rabbits and mule deer to fight off. I keep trying to prep the kids for these plants to not make it...

I kept some succulents inside all winter and now I'm bringing them out during the day on our upstairs deck.

They were hardy enough to survive a Mammoth winter with indirect sunlight in a room that was only heated at night. so hopefully they'll be happy with some summer sunlight and warmth.

Every day gets progressively warmer and we find ourselves sitting, eating, and just being outside as much as possible.

I'm ready for June now and all that a Mammoth summer has to offer. Here's to a fast snow melt, bears staying away, and more time to write.

Writing Retreat in San Miguel de Allende, May 2017

I’ve been trying so hard to write our story. It has been three years since we lost Rebel Heart. While we interviewed with This American Life about what happened (you can listen to that episode, Call For Help, here), and while this piece written by Kevin Grange for the Journal of Emergency Medicine, was recently published, neither I, nor Eric, have told the complete story of what happened at sea in April of 2014. 

Writing workshop with Amy Ferris, March 2017.

Writing workshop with Amy Ferris, March 2017.

I’m working on that. I’ve done two of Linda Schreyer’s, Slipper Camps, or online writing workshops (dubbed Slipper Camp because you can write from home in your PJs) and I recently attended a workshop held by Amy Ferris in LA about writing/righting my life. Both of these tools have helped me break through mental and emotional blocks to access the story in my head that wants to be told. Time, and therapy, have done their part as well.

One thing I’m becoming increasingly cognizant of is how hard it is for me to write at home. Even when my girls are away, and the house is relatively quiet (remember, Eric and I work from home), the presence of everyone and everything is still there. Getting away helps me write.

So I went all the way to San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico to keep my writing momentum going. 

San Miguel de Allende (SMA) has a long tradition of attracting artists, poets, painters, writers, and other creatives. It welcomed me like a long lost friend.

What’s amusing is that I needed to get away from these, my favorite humans, in order to write about them and write about our life together on Rebel Heart.

God, he’s gorgeous.

And these two just shine.

This is Lizz Huerta. Isn’t she fabulous? Lizz is a writer. She has been publishing poetry, memoir, and fiction for over 10 years. Check out this story she wrote that won the 2016 Lumina Fiction Contest. 

She and our friend, Beau, rented a gorgeous home right in the center of SMA and invited me to join them. Lizz and I have talked about doing this before: renting a comfortable home, in an inspiring location, and spending our days writing and sharing, and our nights, exploring, drinking, and then writing and sharing some more. The stars had aligned so I bought a ticket from Tijuana to Leon (one of the airports closest to SMA) and drove down to San Diego.

The night before my plane left I got to see a huge group of my San Diego mom friends. They are women I love very much and who have been there for me time and time again.

Left to right: Brigid, Teal, Kristine, Monique, Alex, me, Katie, Sandee

The next morning, my brother, Rich, drove me to the new Cross Border Express Bridge and I sauntered across an international border to the Tijuana Airport to catch my flight. Easy, breezy, travel girl.

After many, many hours of travel, I walked into a four story home in San Miguel de Allende to the smell of a home cooked meal, a heavy glass of red wine, and a killer roof-top view.

No, seriously. Check.out.the.view.

And this is Beau. Lizz and I BOTH used to date Beau. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m in San Miguel de Allende with my ex! And Lizz’s too! And you can go ahead and think I’m weird. Most people already do. I like weird. 

We’ve all been friends for years. And Beau is also friends with Eric (my husband) and Hari (Lizz’s boyfriend) and everything about this trip is awesome, including Beau’s cooking, and his wonderful support of our writing. He also walks behind us like our bodyguard and gives us all the hours we need to write and laugh, and cry, and listen.

The first full day in town, I walked up to the roof and started writing.

Lizz read a fiction piece of mine I’d recently submitted to a writing contest. It got turned down and this only bugged me a little because it’s a really a damn good story idea and I am going to write it regardless. After I finish the story of Rebel Heart.

We spent hours writing. In between we munched on chips, and guac, and salsa. There were coffee and cookies too.

Finally, we said, ‘let’s be done at 5,’ and ice cold, Mexican beers were poured.

We walked to dinner that night at a local corner restaurant but as soon as we had finished, we headed back to the rooftop to catch the evening view and to share our writing.

In this photo, Beau is reading a piece I’d written for the memoir about life on Rebel Heart. It’s a sex scene that happens on the Pacific Crossing and I was so nervous as he read it. I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not to include pieces like it in the story I finally publish. After talking to fellow writers, I believe I will. I still need Eric to read it, and approve, and I’ll do that before I move forward, of course. Sex is integral to the human experience; it’s certainly fundamental in ours. If it’s written well, and it moves the story forward, I think I have to do it.

To my relief, Beau, said ‘wow,’ and ‘it’s really well written.’  :whew:

Lizz read us one of the short stories she finished that day. Her goal has been to finish a story a day while she is here. Her productivity, and not to mention her creativity, is amazing. This particular piece was about a mysterious, time-traveling Mariachi. I cannot stop thinking about it.

I’ve been writing on and off for years with Lizz. We did National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) together in 2010 and during that time she shared many of her favorite methods for getting large chunks of writing done in short bursts of time. 

On the second morning, she had me draw three cards from her deck to help set the mood for my writing that day. I wasn’t at all surprised when these three were flipped over:

1.    The word wants to be written.
2.    What do YOU feel?
3.    Defend to the end, the worthwhile.

The universe was in tune with my intentions. I continued to write my story.

We had lunch at El Mercado and enjoyed the vibrancy of the city as we walked.

There was a May Day parade happening for International Worker’s Day (that’s not a line of taxis, it’s a PARADE of taxis.)

After hearing Lizz’s story the night before it was especially thrilling to see all the mariachis.

We wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. We wrote until it was time to watch the sunset again.

Then we all went out to dinner. I often tell Lizz that if I’d had known her in our twenties, we would have gotten into so much, of the best kind, of trouble together. 

Now we’re in our 30s and we still make trouble, just a little more sedately. 

The third morning we headed to some local hot springs at a place called La Gruta, but La Gruta was closed. Luckily, the neighboring hot spring, Escondido, was open. 

This is the writer, Elizabeth Rosner. She was introduced to us online by our mutual friend, Amy Ferris, and was brave enough to say ‘yes’ to meeting two women she’d never met in person for a morning in some mineral baths. 

Elizabeth is a writer and a teacher. She is the author of three novels, The Speed of Light, Blue Nude, and Electric City, and a poetry collection called, Gravity. Her upcoming book, Survivor Café, the Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory, comes out in September 2017, and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

We explored the springs together and talked the way only writers who have never met before, but have the common connection of writing, can.

Is this real life?

If you ever visit San Miguel de Allende, I highly, highly recommend you explore the hot springs at Escondido.

After the hot springs it was back to work and back to writing. That afternoon we all separated into different parts of the house to focus.

Our last night came too soon.  I can’t wait to kiss Eric and to squeeze my girls, but the siren song of San Miguel will remain in my heart for quite a while.

Thank you, Lizz and Beau, for the friendship and the opportunity. Here’s to next year and another writing retreat. Please!