The Detective’s Daughter- Retreat Lessons


Kim in Baltimore where winter has turned immediately to summer.

Last night I braved the storms and tornado warnings to drive back from Pittsburgh to Baltimore from my Pennwriters convention. I had no choice. You see I had only one day to ready myself for a writers retreat. There’s laundry to wash and food to buy, and it’s nice to sleep in my own bed from time to time. May’s been tough. With thirty-one days in this month, I’ll be away for seventeen of them.

Tomorrow morning I leave for a retreat just outside Philadelphia. I’ve been going to Clare House for about five years now and I think I’m finally learning what I need to bring. I’ve always been an over-packer. I needed an outfit for any occasion that might arise. Suppose I was invited to a grand ball in the middle of the woods? I’d need a dress for that. We might go shopping or out to lunch or to the movies. I might run into a girl from high school I haven’t seen in thirty years. All these scenarios needed a wardrobe and I was prepared for each of them.

The first time I went on this particular retreat, I brought enough clothes and food for several people for a month. The next few times I was invited I began to make list of what was needed and wanted, but still it took forever to pack and unpack my car. But practice makes perfect and I think I’ve got this down to the most important items.

Books. Next to writing instruments and food, books are vital to a successful retreat. In addition to a thesaurus and a dictionary,  I need motivational and inspirational books as well. They give me a boost when I get frustrated or feel what I’m writing is just not working.FullSizeRender (19)

After a full day of writing, I like to relax before bed with a good story. I picked up All Saints by Jason Jack Miller at Pennwriters. I’m looking forward to reading it over the next week.FullSizeRender (17)

In the afternoon, before I get started on the second part of my writing day, I meditate. This time I’m taking along my new meditation CD by Madhu Wangu. Quiet time is good for your mind and soul.FullSizeRender (18)

I’ve also learned that high heels, cocktail dresses and make-up really have no place on retreat. Leggings, a sundress, and comfy shoes are all the fashion I need.  And…of course… I’ll be bringing my trusty laptop and manuscript bible. That’s what the retreat is all about.

I’m determined to lighten my load this trip.   I’ll keep you posted!


Dear Reader, how do you pack for a trip? Are you over prepared or always forgetting something?



23 Thoughts

  1. I just zipped up my suitcase, Kim! My standard hoody for morning writing, shorts for afternoon walking, and a few fun things, too. for me the amount depends on whether I’m driving or flying. As I’m driving, I can throw in last minute ideas, just because I can.

    See you this afternoon!

  2. I was thrilled when the bag I packed for Malice Domestic weighed a mere 30 pounds–usually mine are flirting with 50 pounds. The most essential clothing item? Respectable black pants. You can dress them up or dress them down, and nobody will know whether you’ve worn them three times already.

  3. Thanks to years of traveling during our clowning days, I have learned to pack tight and fit something into every little nook and cranny. However, because there’s space has always meant that I take way too much.

    I always over pack, but I too have learned to scale down and do so more with each trip. On last years trip we took tons of clothes that were never out of the suitcases and food was left to come back home because with eating out and then being so tired when we got back to the room all we wanted to do was shower and hit the bed. For this year’s trip, I am determined to take less. After all places to do laundry aren’t that hard to find. Most motels have laundry facilities. Due to medication and our furbabies meals, we took a freezer/refrigerator unit that is portable and can run on both electric and the car battery last year. We found it too heavy, too big and difficult to load and unload since hubby had to do the majority of it especially as many times and we had to load and unload moving to the next location. This year we found a much smaller just freezer unit that actually has wheels and a handle like a lot of the luggage does these day. Well it works both freezer and refrigerator but we figure the freezer function best fits our needs. With it we can keep the blue ice frozen up at night to use in our little ice chest for the cool stuff.

    Really we look like a herd of gypsies when we travel, but eventually I’m getting it trimmed down to the essentials. I am determined to go by the motto this year – If we don’t have it we can either do without or buy it somewhere along the way. It’s not like when we leave home that all WalMarts or grocery stores just fall off the earth. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. I’ve learned to be a very light packer. But I’ve also learned that an extra pair of pants and/or a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt will solve a lot of unexpected problems. Sneakers and sandals take care of most shoe requirements. One somewhat dressy blouse and the ubiquitous black pants takes care of unexpected “let’s go out to a nice place” invitations. I don’t claim to be a fashion plate, I just want to be respectable and comfortable. And comfort includes being able to deal with my baggage myself without straining anything!

  5. I’m an underpacker. I almost always get to where I’m going and realize it would be nice if I’d brought X.

    Except for books. I’m almost always good with my book load and usually bring too many.

    1. That’s how I once packed when I stayed mostly in hotels where a porter carried my bags or I could get a cart to haul them. Now that I’ve started attending retreats where I’m responsible for hauling all my things, I’ve learned less is more.

  6. I’m good at packing. I think I can go anywhere for a few days with what I can fit into a backpack as long as there’s an iron at the destination!

  7. I feel I usually pack about right. One outfit per day with a dress up outfit included only if needed.

    Well, there are books. I always bring at least twice as many books as I need. Sometimes three times as many books as needed.

    Enjoy your retreat.

  8. I still over pack even after I’ve taken things out I’ve decided I probably won’t need.

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