Considering a Personal Retreat? -Read This First

Found poetry

A personal retreat is where the expected meets the unexpected. Before I left I wrote down my intentions and daily schedule for the 3-day retreat. It’s always good to have a framework from which to leap, a place to return to when lost or confused. Just as I suspected, allowing for the possibility of leaps, wandering and detours is key to having a productive and meaningful retreat experience.


I was excited to get going on my big adventure but the Universe wanted to play a few games with me first. The first roadblock appeared before I even got off the farmLiterally, it was a roadblock. I opened the front door, looked up the driveway and realized I wasn’t about to go anywhere anytime soon. A horse trailer was parked 1/2 way up the driveway waiting for a horse to load and make a return trip back to the track after some R&R. It could be quick or it could take a while. Horses do not like to enter small dark spaces. It is fun to watch the stops and starts, so I did just that, sitting on my front stoop to enjoy the show. Fortunately it only took a few attempts and then I was off.

Or so I thought. A warning light came on on the dashboard – check tire pressure. I was about to drive 25 miles  down the highway to be alone in a somewhat remote area. I wanted to be safe, not stranded. So next stop was the gas station and air pump. The sign said it was out of order (as I thought might be the case given how the Universe lot a good joke).  There was air coming out, just not consistently, so I was willing to give it a try.

And try I did, but my weak arthritic hands could not get the nozzle off the tire valve stem. One tire, two tires, none of them would budge and there was no one to ask for help. I called my husband to see if he thought I was safe driving since the tires looked ok and after he assured me, I took a leap of faith and continued on.

photo-324I knew the Universe was testing me and knowing this, I didn’t let it upset me. I mean really – doesn’t something  always g wrong when you leave on a trip?

I arrived at 10:30, just 1/2 hour later than I intended. The weather was glorious and I was alone, all alone. I settled in, tuned in a Liberia album via my iPhone and sat down to journal:

“It’s going to take me a while to relax and calm down to feeling serene. The music is helping. I am also anxious to watercolor the book pages I brought so I can start the found poetry. So that is up next. I cannot force the process…nor do I want to.”

I was pretty antsy most of the day. I realized that keeping to my intended schedule


was totally over-ambitious and that it would best serve me to go with the flow. I’m not sure why I felt the need to regiment myself, but I do think it is wise to have some sense of structure so that you do accomplish everything that you dream of doing as you’re cooking up your ideal retreat experience.

I painted my book pages and set them aside to dry. Next up?  Scavenging text for something I could do all day, every day – found poetry. Here’s an explanation of found poetry from

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.


I love the serendipity of it. I start by thumbing though one of my favorite source books and just cut any line, phrase or word that speaks to me. When I have 20 or so, the fun begins. It never ceases to amaze me how a beautiful poem full of meaning can be created from random phrases. I believe it’s the randomness and being open to letting the process take over that allows for the magic. It is just another example of what I believe to be true, that if you truly trust the process, the process won’t let you down. That goes for anything, not just found poetry.

This is getting bit long so check back in a few days when I share my walking adventures from Day 1 and 2, along with another message/joke from the Universe. Things didn’t go exactly go as planned but again, it was better that way. All part of the process and insight I was there to discover.



  1. Kathy Johnson says:

    I look forward to reading more about your retreat. However, I am intrigued by the “found poetry”. I have never heard of it before. I am going to read up more on it. How did you discover a “source” book that you cut up? Is it a book of poetry that you use? My mind is turning thinking about this idea. I appreciate your sharing your retreat.

  2. Looking forward to the next installment of your adventure. Walking for me is a meditation and I find that I form some of my best ideas during a walk.

  3. Lovely entry, Lesley! Thank you for sharing. I so enjoyed reading about your Personal Retreat. Can’t wait to read more. Hope you are well.