Saying Goodbye To My High Sierras Retreat Center

by | Jun 23, 2021 | Articles | 0 comments


As many of you know who have been in my world for awhile, prior to the pandemic, I lived my life pretty much on creativity retreats.


I offered Wild Heart Painting workshops in some of the most beautiful natural places in the western United States multiple times throughout the year, and truly enjoyed the life of making art magic in stunning natural environments with groups of my beloved students.


One of those places was called Tioga Lodge and it lived on the edge of the otherworldly Mono Lake in the high country of the Eastern Sierras.


I loved working there. It was a soul home for me. And I also loved the woman who owned the lodge, named Gloria Ma, for her unmitigated enthusiasm in hosting and feeding my students and for the intuitive painting process.


We started teaching there in 2013 and had our last pre-pandemic retreat in 2019. I was really looking forward to going back there to teach again once things calmed down around the pandemic, hopefully in the summer of 2022.


But I found out recently that Gloria died. I don’t know the details. Just that she’s gone. And the lodge is for sale.

I’m pretty doubtful that we’ll be able to teach there again since Gloria had the heart of an artist and an adventurer and was actually thrilled to have our wild hearted messy painters gloriously creating in her space. And most people who run retreat centers or lodges are not nearly so forgiving around the messiness that is a necessary component of both healing and art making.


Tim and I decided to take a trip to the mountains this week… which is the time when we would usually hold our retreat… mostly because we needed a change of scenery but also to take some time to visit the lodge and the land and say goodbye to this precious space that held us and the work so beautifully.


And to also honor Gloria’s courageous and creative spirit and her openness to making this beautiful mountain journey possible for me and my wild heart painting community.


It’s really hard to have lost four of my beloved art studios in the past three and a half years. I get very attached and make deep commitments on a soul level to the land and the buildings and the partnerships that get created when I put down roots and decide to call a particular place a creative home.


So my heart is heavy with yet another loss. Astrologically, these past three and a half years were the end of a 28 year cycle for me. And the new cycle actually begins today! I’m sensing the beginning stirrings of possibility and newness that comes with this potential for rebirth. And feeling the tiny green shoots of “what’s-next?” making their way through the layers of my psyche.


We’ll see what the future will bring. For now I’m a combination of sad, tired, curious and expectant. And trying, once again, as always, to embrace the mystery of it all.



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