Renewal – A Writing Retreat in Jamaica

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Jamaica is where Bliss was born.

I don’t mean just the character from my bestselling debut novel of the same name, but also the book itself. Although I wrote Bliss in the United States, the inspiration for its character and places, its emotion and its conflicts, all came from Jamaica. The book isn’t about an ideal person or an ideal place. Instead, it’s about beauty and struggle, facing the fears within all of us, and it’s about triumph. In short, it is about my island home. This home and its treasures are what I hope to share with those who come to The Renewal Retreat in October of this year.

Even without memory to further stir the coals of creativity, visitors to Jamaica find it to be a place of vibrant traditions, unforgettable artistry, and incomparable inspiration. It isn’t just the beauty of the island, it’s also the country’s rebellious Maroon past, the way incredible wealth sits beside great want, and it’s about dark nights that seem impenetrable until you dare to walk out into them.

The entire world has heard of Bob Marley, Blue Mountain coffee, and of Stella getting her groove back. Allow Kensington, Jamaica to serve as your muse, as your Renewal.

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Who Knew: The Laid Back and Necessary — Renewal: A Retreat for Writers

Once I decided to let the vibe of Jamaica have its way , I found myself experiencing the authenticity of the country. Every sound, every taste reminded me that I was away from home, away from my every day. I loosened up and the simplicity of sky and water, bush and sand, created a connection between […]

via Who Knew: The Laid Back and Necessary — Renewal: A Retreat for Writers

Thailand White

The young German girl and I bonded over the lack of non-whitening body lotion in Thailand. Like me, she had run out of the allotted 100 ml for the flight and had gone into one of the ten thousand 7-11 stores to buy more. After the third store and nothing without whitening cream – including all the available brands of Vaseline – we both, in separate cities and at separate times on our respective trips, ended up buying tiny pink bottles of baby lotion since that was literally the only kind available that didn’t threaten to whiten your skin.
It seems odd that a country which is steaming hot just about every day of the year is so obsessed with whiteness. Many people work outdoors, but many also cover their bodies as much as possible while doing that work. They are covered, literally head to toe, to prevent their natural sun (that also brings plane loads of tourists every year) from touching their skin.
Normally I’d say colonialism is the culprit, but Thailand is actually one of the few countries that has never been colonized or occupied by a foreign power, unless you count modern day tourism, of course. Then again, with the pervasiveness of media and some of the insidious messages that it spreads, colonizing a whole country, even a world, of minds doesn’t require much more than the touch of a button.