France – La Muse Writers and Artist Retreat

‘Le monde est un livre dont chaque pas nous ouvre une page’ -Alphonse de Lamartine

In February this year, I started to develop a series of plans and road maps of where I wanted my adventure to head. My whole life I have had a love affair with France – the food, the wine, the music, the art, the countryside and to be fair the men too. I started to plan my great escape from Hong Kong to Montpellier where I intended to study French until the tragic event of Bastille Day in Nice took place. Dad said quietly ‘I’m sure there was an artist retreat you talked about earlier this year, maybe you should apply?’ I took his advice and wrote my letter of application to La Muse, a few days later I was accepted.

My heart grew big, my creative ideas started to flow and my imagination went into full force. After visiting home, I traveled to Ubud for some serious yoga, meditation, friendship making and sound healing. My heart was so full of love and pure joy, I was excited to return to Hong Kong and pack up my life after seven long years. Six boxes, my blue backpack my pink suitcase (Penelope is her name) was packed and I was ready for my European adventure I was finally following my heart and creativity. I had a sense of overwhelming pride as I said my good byes and tied my Hong Kong endings. My last week wasn’t exactly how I imagined or planned my final good byes with the death of my Nana, I returned to home for her funeral and to be there with my family. My heart was broken and I returned to Hong Kong grief stricken. I had lost my soulmate and best friend. I spent the weekend saying my final good byes. On Sunday just as I was leaving for airport express my flight was cancelled. I accepted that my journey wasn’t off to the best start, one hour later I was on a direct flight to Paris. I sat on the plane and sighed on almighty sigh of relief and said good bye to my life as I new it.

Ècrire, c’est une façon de parler sans être interrompu. -Jules Renard

I arrived at Carcassonne train station and waited for John to arrive in the green jeep. As we headed up the mountain with NG and ME we made one big shop at the Bio Store, as we wouldn’t be returning to civilisation for another week.  Over the 25 minutes journey, John had us all sussed out and was suggesting books and warm advice. Mine was all about Transitions. I was open to anything and everything – I was in desperate need of just to stopping after five long flights and three continents in one week I was all over the place. I was shown my room, the beautiful Terpsichore with a view which made me pinch myself – I had actually did it. I was living my French dream! We had a wonderful welcome dinner with John, Kerry and the La Muser’s. So many talented writers from all over the world and all at different stages of their writing. I was inspired though a little apprehensive.

Each morning as the sun rose so did I. I walked. I climbed mountains. I cried. I screamed. I got lost. I was found. I repeated this every morning for the three weeks except for hunting days (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday – I carefully took afternoon walks). I learnt fast that I needed to remember what day it was, turning the corner to find horses and hounds running towards you wasn’t exactly the most peaceful start to the day. I soaked my sore body in the beautiful bath with a view which would heal any broken soul.

As I walked I found places to cry, my heart devastatingly broken and I was experiencing the full effects of grief. I was acknowledging how I was feeling and I let myself feel it, with no judgements. Each day I sat by the creek running through the bottom of Labastide-Esparbairenque for quiet reflection time and to cry. The sound of the running water, I felt connected with my Nana Oliver. My fondest memories as a little girl was searching for fairies at the bottom of the creek with her. I cried a lot and I let it all out. My heart hurt so much but each time I did I began to feel lighter.

Over the first week, my energy started to shift and I began to feel comfortable with my fellow La Muser’s but most of all myself. The season began to change from Summer to Autumn and quiet dramatically. After seven years in Hong Kong, it was incredible to physically feel the change, the rain and the temperature drop. The evening of the Harvest Full Moon my energy shifted and so did my ideas I had originally planned to write a series of picture story books but after a conversation with RW that morning over breakfast. He said ‘You have an important story to share Sarah’ and with that I started to scribe my memoir. I didn’t really know where to start. So I started to just write and over the week with AL and JM I started to take prompting sessions 5, 10, 50 minute sessions. I felt alive, I was writing and my flow was taking place. I was inspired by these two incredible women. I was scribing about past experiences, traumas and events which laid dormant within me. I felt liberated. Nervously, I shared a part of my memoir at our reading evening, RH put his hand on my shoulder and said a heartfelt ‘Wow’. That simple word is all I needed to hear and that lit a fire within me so I kept writing and writing.

During my final week, I was climbing mountains (and getting lost thank you for MB for sending out the search party) I finished painting my six canvases, I was creating and baking delicious tarts for my fellow La Muser’s to devour but most of all I was writing for three hours each day. I was in my element, my heart was full and my head was clear.

Three weeks is not enough time at La Muse and I know how SC can easily return for 9 times. John and Kerry have created a safe environment where you can explore who you truly are, no matter where you are on your creative journey. The clean air, the water from the source but most of all the genuine love Kerry and John both shared to each of us was priceless. Words can’t describe how grateful I am for my time at La Muse, it has changed my life, it allowed deep healing to take place and it has prepared me for my next phase of my adventure.

My biggest piece of advice is don’t have expectations, I didn’t and because of this it has allowed me to grow even more. I can’t wait for my next stay at La Muse, spring time sounds good.

Much love and gratitude,

❤ Sully










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An artist, a cook, an inspirer, a writer and a yoga lover who is traveling the world.

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