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Five-Watt Coffee, 3745 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis


Breakfast sandwich at Victor’s 1959 Cafe, 3756 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis.

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The cozy living room in the apartment.


A beautiful workspace with windows that faced east for energizing morning light.

Getaways are great, right?

I love hopping on a plane to go to a writing conference or yoga workshop. There’s something about drawing a community together from places near and far.

But this isn’t always feasible due to time commitment, cost, or other factors.

I try to do a DIY writing/yoga retreat a couple of times a year. I just returned from a 48-hour retreat in Minneapolis and even though I wasn’t far from home, I was far enough away to feel refreshed and re-energized. Both my writing and yoga were feeling stagnant — some focused time toward both was just what I needed to give my commitment to both a little boost.

Here’s what I consider when planning a getaway:

  • Go somewhere within driving distance, but far away enough from home where you feel like you’re really away.
  • Go to a place where you feel comfortable. Are you energized by a city? Or does it stress you out? Do you love peace and quiet, or is the solitude overwhelming? You know best what you need.
  • Affordability, of course. In Duluth I rent a house with women from my writing group, so it’s quite affordable. Last weekend I was by myself so I found a pretty cheap Airbnb. I had to share a bathroom and living/kitchen space, but I wasn’t there much anyway so it was worth going cheap.
  • Keep errands to a minimum. I like to stay near either a grocery store or a good place to eat (generally the former). I like to get food right away that I will need for the whole retreat. If I’m in a city, I want to be within walking distance to a store/restaurant/coffee shop. I want to park my car and never use it while I’m there.
  • Try not to do too much. I had five things on my to-do list last weekend. I checked off two of them. But overestimating my time is my tendency, so I didn’t feel stressed by not getting to everything. However, I think I would feel a bit better if I were more realistic about my time.
  • You are there to retreat. It’s tempting to see friends or that great exhibit or take a half-day hike. If you get inspiration from museums or nature, by all means, go for it. But it shouldn’t dominate your time if your reason for retreating is writing or yoga or whatever. We tend to procrastinate our creative work, but the retreat is the time to buckle down and get stuff done. That’s why you retreat in the first place!
  • Be kind to yourself. If you came in planning to do one thing, but did something else, it’s OK. You don’t actually know what you need the retreat for until you get there. You might be taken in a different direction. Go with it.

Here’s how my retreat broke down:

  • I arrived at the apartment on Thursday evening. I spent some time journaling, reflecting on where my yoga has taken me in the past year and what I wanted to get out of the weekend.
  • Friday, 6-7:30 a.m. Mysore practice with Angela Jamison. The reason for the retreat was the Friday-Saturday Ashtanga workshop with Angela. Since I’d have some free time on Friday, I knew I could get some writing done, too.
  • Friday morning after practice: Personal writing time.
  • Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. I met up with a writer with whom I’m going to be doing some coaching. Even though this was “work,” guiding someone through the memoir process is exciting to me and doesn’t feel like work. It helps me feel more like a writer.
  • Friday afternoon: Lunch at Victor’s 1959 Cafe, and coffee at Five Watt coffee. I worked on my writing while at the coffee shop. Got back to the apartment to shower, read, and take a quick nap.
  • Friday, 6-8:30 p.m. Evening workshop with Angela. This was more like a lecture, with Angela imparting some of her vast Ashtanga knowledge upon us.
  • Friday night: Did some reading.
  • Saturday, 8-10 a.m. Led Ashtanga practice with Angela. Wow, did I get sweaty! This was my third full primary series practice in a week (I had gone to a Mysore class at OneYoga on Tuesday morning). I was pleased to discover that my regular morning practice has strengthened me, because I didn’t feel unusually sore or mentally wiped out.
  • Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. More workshopping with Angela.
  • Saturday afternoon: Headed home, returning around 5 p.m. I used the drive time to and from Minneapolis to listen to audiobooks. I finished Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, and started listening to Story by Robert McKee.

Pretty much the perfect weekend!

Does memoir and yoga sound like a perfect weekend to you? Do your own getaway at Grand Marais Aug. 10-11 for my memoir/yoga class!


Me and Angela. Yes, she’s as sweet and kind as she appears!