Our Longing For Retreat

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

It’s been two years since I’ve been able to return to one of my most beloved places on earth – to Squam Lake for an art retreat. When I arrived, the lake was a sight for sore eyes, and I felt myself sink into its familiar embrace.

Squam is vast and quiet and serene. The loons speak, ripples lap the the rocks on shore, and thunder clouds spark pink and grey at dusk.

I arrive ready for rest, for respite, for laying down heaviness. I put away my phone, abandoning my habits of “checking,” and pick it up only to take photographs or exchange numbers with new friends. I want to retreat. The tasks that are piling up in my absence will all be there when I return. For these few precious days, I’m unavailable, unreachable, blissfully disconnected.

I retreat into a cocoon of warmth, connection, inspiration, and nature. I go into the water even though it’s cold. I break into song because it feels right. I walk a magical path through the woods to get the few places I need to go each day.

My only job is to be, breathe, connect, and if I wish, create.

I marvel at flowers I’m seeing deeply for the first time.

I accept hugs from new friends – we enfold each other in quiet presence.

I revel in being nurtured and cared for – my meals, my living space, my art materials – have all been provided for me. In this space I find that I have more to give too. I notice little things I can do to make it easier for someone else – ways I can give, ways I can encourage.

And I feel seen, and see others. I can’t properly express how nourishing this exchange is.

I cut a stencil of a rice pattern, and use rice paste to apply it to cloth.

A beautiful class and process with Chinatsu Nagamune and Andy at Codo Experiment

I submerse it in an indigo dye vat, filled with magic.

We marvel at what emerges from the vat and the beautiful simplicity of the materials and process.

And today I return to the world. To my routines, my responsibilities, and the heaviness of the world. I try to take the lessons with me that I learned. I feel the embrace of the lake, the woods, warm hugs, and shared creative community that gives so much life.

I’m so grateful to everyone who was a part of my experience, and especially Kiala Givehand and her Sacred Makers Soul Retreat team.

Creatively Yours,



  1. Sharon B

    I love your letter about your retreat. It’ made me feel like I could use one soon!
    I have carpal tunnel. Very severe right now. I can hardly write and slow stitching – anything with a needle- is completely out. I’m waiting for a place in line for surgery on both hands (only one at a time) and hope my hands will be useful again. I am going to try using pens on paper and maybe try to do some collaging but my fingers swell a lot so it’s hit and miss.
    I guess what I am trying to say is TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Take care of your hands. And cherish every day. 👍🤞😊

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Sharon: Oh goodness, I am sorry about your hands. Such a big challenge. I hope you can get in soon. In the meantime, you might find some new inspiration about how to work from this movie: Words and Pictures. She develops arthritis in both hands. Please watch – it’s one of my favorites! xo

    • Eileen Larsen

      Oh Amy, I am so happy for you, that you took the time to return to your beloved Squam Lake for some much needed/deserved rest, relaxation and renewal. The pictures give such a nice glimpse of your wonderful retreat. And your signature rice pattern on fabric…yessss!! Thank you for sharing…it’s inspiring me to look more closely into a women’s retreat this September at the same Girl Scout camp I attended in the early 70s!

      • Amy Maricle

        Eileen – You are so sweet! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I went to a girl scout camp one year too. Camp Netimus! Xo

  2. Karen N,

    What a wonderful post Amy. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m very happy you were able to retreat and create. Those experiences have been so missed these last two years.

    • Amy Maricle

      I so appreciate your reading and your kind words, Karen. I hope that you get some retreating time too – whatever that may mean. xo

  3. marlene p

    Oh my, for just the time it took to read what you wrote, look at the pictures you sent ( especially those of the mark making on cloth), I was off on my own mini-retreat, lost in the mark making you did, in the surroundings you enjoyed and the friends you shared those with. Thanks, Amy, for bringing us into your retreat space if only for a snippet of time & only through WORDS & PICTURES!!!

    • Amy Maricle


      I’m so happy that the words and pictures spoke to you in this way, that’s just what I hoped for! And nice tie in of the title! xo

  4. Donna Cain

    Your retreat sounds wonderful. I’m so glad for you, and I love Kiala! How special to be able to go back to an experience you know and love so much.

    I’ll be going to Black Sheep Gathering here in Oregon later this month. It’s a fiber festival, including marketplace, barns with sheep, goats and other fiber critters, classes and other activities. Not a retreat, but a great chance to recharge and get inspiration. Actual retreat time for me means moments of solitude, spinning, knitting, slow drawing, or doing other art. I try to include some of that in every day.

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Donna:

      Oh your gathering sounds just delightful. I’m so excited for you. I feel more clued in about it too after being with so many talented knitters this past week. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

  5. Laurie

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Beautiful images! I recently attended my first silent retreat and it was truly transformational. It is remarkable how we are able to slow down, and how that can change us. A retreat with art making sounds like it would seep down into one’s bones. Now it’s on my list!

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Laurie – Oh I’ve only done shorter experiments in retreat with silence. I know many who love it. Thank you for sharing! xo

  6. Eleisa Trampler

    Lovely experience, Amy, thanks for sharing. I was quite enthusiastic about the e-course, signed up and then remembered I’m taking a class in pastels and will be out of town for a while. I’ll try to make it somewhat of a retreat. Yours and Kiala’s classes on Sketchbook Revival in 2021 were my faves!

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Eleisa:

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed those workshops and that you are taking things in your own time. It’s so important. Thanks so much for reading and sharing here. xo

  7. virginia

    What a wonderful place! Thank you Amy for this sharing, I felt like I was there, by the lake…water has a magic power on me. I wish I could live an experience like yours but now I can only follow your suggestion and find the way to have weekly micro retreats: a walk, no news, no phone, an hour of slowdrawing practice…yes, I can do that! And I can also experiment something new, learn a new technique…love the indigo cloth, the rice effect is magical!

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Virginia:

      Oh your comment is so sweet, and I’m so happy that I could inspire you to take those little micro retreating moments. I’m trying to remind myself just now too! XO


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