"Your life adventure"


As I walked the winding path to the foot bridge I thought to myself how blessed I am to be a part of this very special group.  Where else can you play hard, feel hard, and connect so authentically?  This was the first year that we had as many new comers as alumni and I was not certain how it might change the dynamics.  My experience was it only enhanced the weekend.  The power resides in the process and it is strong.

So with that being said here are my three weekend adventures:

1.  I loved the dance.  I continue to be in awe of the creativity of so many.  Those snapshot will remain in my heart forever.  Thank you.

2.  I liked that we could live within the requests of the brothers and still be able to find a safe place for us to connect in joy and laughter after the meals.  I liked coming back from groups and finding many hanging out at the guest house.

3.  I loved the women's group of maidens, goddesses, mother earth, wise women and sages.  I will carry the wisdom of the mothers with me.  Michelle your voice will especially stand out with "I gave my children the mother I always wanted but not necessarily the mother they needed."  So powerful and profound.

Three missed adventures:

1.  I would have loved to be at Sally and Barbara groups.  Like many of you have said it is hard to make choices that mean you will miss something valueable. 

2.  I continue to miss more men being at the quest.  I would welcome any thought you have to increase the participation of men.

3.  On the way home the staff stopped at Red Lobster to eat and process the weekend.  While we were waiting on a table Ed and I were sitting watching a football game.  I told Ed I have disliked football since childhood.  Sundays were the day my father would hijack "our" TV and watch football all day.  Ed made a suggestion that maybe it was time to take an interest in the sport??  So half joking and half serious when our waiter came to the table to take our order I asked him if he liked football.  Something transformed in him and he beamed with enthusiasm.  He shared football was not his big love it was basketball.  He was so animated.  I realized in that moment I may never love football however I was in awe of his spirit.  I no longer want to miss any passion in others because of some "content" such as football.  I want to be in the presence of all joyousness.

My love is sent your way,


Since I am new to the Present Quest and I have never been to any retreat, I have nothing to compare this to. Debi mentioned that you have a tradition to discuss the three highlights and the three disappointments on the retreat (she knows you too well); so Debi, Carrie and I talked about them on the ride home, I cannot remember exactly what I said but I had some time to think and my greatest adventure was just participating in this retreat.
My greatest adventures:
1.) The Emotional Motivation with Barbara and the following process group; I became more aware of just how unaware I am and have been for some time. The idea of living in the present is new to me and I like it.
2.) The Shamanic Journey with Julia opened a whole new area for me I have never considered before; actually, I was always rather scared of that type of adventure.
3.) Our two skids: I participated and had fun doing it.
The missed opportunities:
1.) Not participating in the drumming session with Keenie, I would have enjoyed that.
2.) Your session about the staying curious through it all, I am curious...
3.) The book exchange, I did not bring a book, however I did leave with 2 new books anyway, one from Vicki and one from Cheri. Thank you Ladies.
My most cherished moments:
1.) Meeting Susan and sharing with her the pain of loosing our husbands of many years.
2.) Listening to one member sharing her pain helped me understand the pain my husband was in before his suicide.
3.) Meeting all the other Present Questers, their honesty, their openness, comradery and acceptance of one another. I know very few people like that.
My disappointments:
I can't really think of much, other than it ended too soon.
Maybe the food, but Ed made up for that with all the goodies.

I feel much better and more positive. I am making plans and acting on them, something I have not done in a long time.

Thank you everyone for a most memorial weekend.


It was a wonderful weekend. The work that went on there is very important and I am so glad you continue this as well as glad that I was there. Certainly I want to monitor my schedule so that next year I attend the evening events, something I regret not being there. My best adventure was with Ed's group and recognizing some major patterns of my life. I loved meeting the people and grew very close to several. The team did a great job keeping things moving but also on time. Facilities were OK except for the food. I send everyone a big hug.


It definately felt like a family reunion gone right as Joan says. Being "PRESENT" almost the entire weekend was AWESOME for me. Sharing my story with others with almost an ease about it really helped me realize how easy it can be to be honest with myself around others. The connection with Ed was amazing over the weekend (my turtle is okay but I might have to give the bill to Ed for the recovery from the trauma). I know I missed out on dancing due to my medicine knocking me out. I definately missed out on setting up the volleyball net outside (it was too hot to set up). The tenseness around eating took away from my relaxtion at times. Overall, I felt like I met up with people I have known forever for an EXCELLENT weekend (it was like I was in the Twilight Zone, but in a positive way) where I know I will see them again because everyone is now in my heart.

Here are my Reflections from the Present Quest 2009:

OMG...where do I begin? The Present Quest 2009 was a wonderful experience. Every year that I attend it gets easier to stay in the present moment. I ALWAYS have butterflies in my stomach on Friday night and even into Saturday, but by Saturday evening I am all there and all together willing to experience my joy and pain amongst very kind and loving souls. Thank you all.

I loved experiencing Yoga with Ed. His narrative during the session is very informative and he is gentle and it is a wonderful way to start the day. Ed, you would be proud of me......I begin every morning when I wake up with Yoga.

The Shamanic Journey with Julia was especially moving for me as my guide was my Mother and her message to me was to 'open up'. How awesome is that!. I loved the Emotional - Motivational workshop with Barbara. And Sex on the Brain with Sally has been shared at home with my family, friends and co-workers....lots of very interesting facts and tips. All of the workshops were wonderful and gave me alot to bring back and incorporate in my daily life.

On a personal note, I experienced the release of some pretty stong and consuming anger I had been holding on to for 43 years. I was 8 years old when my mother began to drink and emotionally and physically abandoned my younger brother and I. I was able to get angry at my Mother for the first time in my life. The experience occurred 3 days before the 25th anniversary of her death (I realized this just yesterday). It amazes me how deeply rooted an emotion can be and how excruciating a process it is to ALLOW myself to feel it. It was all about my need to respect her as a mother and keep her in a very loving aura. I now realize that I can respect her and love her AND be angry with her, too. Joan, thank you for helping me through this, you are truly an awesome, loving and gentle human being. And a very special thank you to all in my process group, Vicki, Ed, Marianne, Pat and Susan.

Being in the presence of Monks and staying at the Abbey was phenominal. I do have a difficult time being obedient, so I was challenged in some areas but able to totally release during the talent show. I do have to admit though....the place really needs a woman's touch....sorry guys.

One of my favorite weekend experiences was moving from the Abbey to the Guest House to do our group work. Staying in the large building with hardly any occupants verses being in the Guest House with lots of people, light and cozie places. And I love porch sitting..... there were two lovely porches on the house!

Another wonderful favorite experience is seeing old friends and picking up where we left off last year. I love experiencing the Present Quest with new friends as it brings me back to my first experience and knowing that we are going to part as old friends with a whole lot of hope, strength, compassion and love.

Oh, and the Adventure and our stories were so amazing that I cannot find the words to express the experience of watching each persons presentation. As they unfolded, I saw myself in each one. And mine was so confirming and felt like I have the World at my feet, ready to help me every step of the way! Thank you all for your support. More to be revealed!

Finally, I will never forget a compliment that I received at Present Quest 2009 and that is that I am a young, healthy, beautiful, sexual grandma! Life does not get much better than this. This is my new mantra. Thank you, Julia, I love you!



Joan, I really want to thank you for this incredible weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was everything I had hoped for, and MORE!

My favorite three adventures are:

1. Shamanic Journey with Julia. That was a very spiritual experience that I feel lucky to have experienced. Julia was a great guide. The vision that I had has really helped to keep me on track with my goals. “I can soar”!
2. The Dance. Being able to share a moment in time from everyone’s lives was very moving for me. I feel like I ran through the gamut of emotions. I had tears of happiness and tears of joy. I loved the connection that sharing brings.
3. I loved the drumming circle with Keenie, Nancy and Susan for the talent show. I initially had no intention of participating, but they made me feel so welcome and it is one of the most cherished moments of the weekend.
3+. I know you only asked for three, but I really loved the last day when we did our process group presentation. When Nancy recited her poem to me at the end of our tear river, I felt very connected and privileged. Thank you Nancy for that honor!

Three missed adventures:

1. I wanted to go to Barbara’s motivational workshop, but I felt that I needed to have some fun and not be so serious - so I attend ed Joan’s group (which I did love).
2. I missed the yoga and meditation because I really was unable to get up so early, but I know that it is my loss. (However, I did do some very therapeutic dream meditation.)
3. I missed the opportunity to get to know more people. Some of you I barely got to speak with. (We can remedy that next year.)

I look forward to Present Quest 2010 and seeing you all again. I hope to not miss the opportunity to make some sort of connection with EVERYONE who attends!

Thank you all so much!

Michelle T.

Three of the many adventures that stand out for me:

1. The first adventure happened on Friday night during one of the icebreakers. I was overcome with feelings of tenderness, joy, love, and gratitude, not to mention firey, pulsating palms, as I looked into the eyes of each quester and felt us connecting and discarding the walls. The songs that were playing in the background, especially “Calling All Angels” just held my soul and made me feel like I was in the right place, like I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I didn’t want the experience to end which is a lot different from how I used to feel with these eye contact experiences. I also regretted that I didn’t get to meet up with the eyes of anyone that was in my same row. The vulnerability and willingness to stand as we are and to know the other just feels so childlike and spiritual to me which is true of so many other moments during the weekend. That’s how my poem, “A Glimpse of Heaven” that I shared at the closing, evolved. I was just taken by these feelings that I always get when I’m here and they found their way into a poem. (By the way, thank you, Michelle, for affirming what that meant to you. I’m glad that I was able to move past the judgment in my head about having shared this poem before at other Quest weekends. It felt right to stand before you and to share it once again. I am honored that I was your “mentor”, or were you mine?) What I also noticed and loved about this experience was that no one felt like new members to me. It’s amazing what eye contact can do!
2. The dance was an adventure that I will savor forever. It was such an honor to be present and to bear witness to all of the sharing. Each story touched me and made me realize how fragile and courageous we are. It was such an intimate night. People sharing their most treasured gifts, like the letter from Karen’s mom or Susan’s family video. It was so heartwarming to see people gathered around Susan, so patient and honoring and collectively supportive. At first I felt that I should go over and stand as a comfort next to her, but then I realized I was supposed to stand across the room and watch love take over. Then there was Ulla and Susan’s dance. Again, divine intercession stepped in. I was on my way to ask Susan to dance, and she asked Ulla. What a gift it was to watch these two women hold one another to the words of “Coming Out of the Dark”. It was also a gift to watch Ulla’s process of picking out the song from Joan’s ipod. There’s no coincidences! (By the way, thank you for supporting me and making it safe to dance with Teddy. It felt a little self-indulgent, but when I shut the voices down, it felt soothing and even sacred, and yes, okay, sexy too somehow, thanks to Ed.)
3. It’s hard for me to choose just one more, so I think I’ll break the rules and make a list of some other adventures that stand out (although these do not include everything. It would take me all afternoon to capture all of them):
• Julia’s Shamanic journey—especially the rituals like being smudged before entering the sacred space, silently searching for gifts and understanding, and chanting a phrase after each intention. It was really special to be there with other women warriors.
• The talent show—all the talents, bravely and genuinely performed, Robyn’s song dedicated to his mom and Susan’s husband, Tom, drumming with my sisters, and watching the hilarious monk skit. Thanks for mentioning the empty ketchup bottles (the elephant in the living room).
• The women’s group—the wisdom and brave sharing, especially Carrie’s openness and willingness to risk and to trust. (By the way, Joan, thanks for your question about endings. In the mist of saying good bye to my beloved neighbor (and grandmother of the heart), I’ve been thinking a lot about your question. What keeps coming to me is: Endings are really beginnings in another form.)
• The sun process group—the intimate and difficult sharing, Keenie’s courage to be vulnerable which I believe took our group to another level of sharing and perhaps helped me to take the risk I did in sharing some difficult feelings with Elizabeth. (I’m glad I did, Elizabeth, and got to know you better. You are beautiful person.)
• And lots more. . .

Some missed adventures:

1. As I mentioned in my adventures, I missed not being able to make eye contact with everyone during one of the Friday night icebreakers.
2. I missed not being able to go to Ed’s workshop and Barbara’s. I wish there was more time in the weekend to be able to do it all.
3. I’m sorry that I missed having a massage with Michelle. I signed up for Mon. morning, but realized that it would feel too stressful with needing to get ready to leave. Next time I’ll have to push my way through the crowd and sign up for an earlier time!
3. + (to borrow Michelle T.’s idea for adding another adventure) I wish that I could have come up with a lighter “secret” to share during one of the icebreaker activities. Perhaps I could have shared my fantasy about being in a rock band. It was hard to think of a secret. Hopefully, that’s because I don’t have any today thanks to recovery and having people in my life that I trust.
3. + + (thanks, Michelle) I am sorry that I did not bring my really big, loud, African drum with thickly, hand carved sticks (via Susan’s car) and really give the monks something to talk about.

Love,    Nancy

Thank You to the staff and participants for the amazing weekend.

My three weekend adventures.

1. The dance, I love music, dancing and connection with others. I loved getting to know more about others through hearing their stories.
2. The Shamanic Journey with Julia. It was an amazing spiritual experience. Thank you for the journey, Julia.
3. Our process group. One of the exercises Joan had us do. The one where we gave things away and received things. It has helped me visually see and feel my reaction to giving and receiving.

My three missed adventures

1. The talent show, I was unable to attend. I missed seeing others talents and sharing my own talent. Just all the fun of it.
2. I have a difficult time choosing breakout groups. I want to attend all of them.
3. I am a slow processor. I miss the opportunity to process in the moment. This is frustrating to me.

Love, Marianne

I have been carrying around my reflections in my mind and heart and am finally putting in words some of them. I want to thank the original members for such a warm welcome. Starting with the icebreakers Friday night, looking in each others eyes and sometimes hearts and souls to the closing there was such caring acceptance and empathy. Saturday morning at brekfast Robin sharing with me his loss and that opened up my sharing my heartbreak and loss of my dear Tom.   Ed's group of finishing your life story touched me deeply and hearing other peoples stories and their great example of going on with courage carrying that loss with them. My process group; every member touched me deeply. My dear friend and roomate Nancy always sharing with her. The drumming. It was an honor to be part of, all though I am not very natural at it.   I must say the dance touced me deep in my heart. Nancy dancing with her teddy bear. Ulla and I dancing together. What I will never forget is when you played Tom's life story, the patience to get it working and the Love and compassion from everyone and Ed yelling "Tom, no wonder you loved him so much". I can't leave out the talent show. Robin dedicating Jimi Henricks to his Mom and Tom. I still smile when I remember The monks. What great acting our group is capable of.
Love Susan