Comments from Workshop Participants

“I have been talking about writing a book for 10 years but never could write it. Chivas had me writing in the first class and looking back with amazement. She had me do it without even knowing. It came with support and wisdom. Chivas is like my writing mother. She says I can do it, gives me support, just enough to take the next step, and creates a space with others that makes us blossom.” Linda G.

“I’ve only recently started working with Chivas, but must say that her commitment to craft, to the creative process, and to the importance of a safe and supportive space for women writers set and held the tone for our weekend. Whether she was presenting a cohesive craft lecture or passing around the designated roll of toilet paper for tears, catching or giving us writing prompts or guiding our sharing and discussion of our writing, her gentle, supportive, wise, and compassionate leadership was felt. (Do not think for a moment that she is not equally skilled at invoking the sense of fun. But, what happens at the dance party, stays at the dance party).” Susan L., excerpt from “Do not go gently into that good night (or out of your writing retreat weekend)”

“Chivas, this is your fault! I only want to write. To think about writing. I’m writing all the time—in my head, to myself. I’m energized by thinking/writing/telling/reading/hearing. I love it. And I blame you… Again, I blame you.” Joyce R.

“Another powerful, productive, soulful retreat. The presentations, assignments, and prompts offered the structure that I have been yearning for for months. In the busy happenings of every day life, I find myself writing in a very “linear” manner – often staying safe inside my comfort zone. Chivas’ mindful and thorough preparation for this retreat helped me to “birth” new pieces of writing that I have been trying to compose for months, and it was only once I was at this retreat that I finally found a way to do so. The group of women was strong and supportive, each individual bringing her own style and heart song, bravely sharing and inspiring me deeply in ways I find difficult to articulate. My gratitude for the gift of being a part of such an empowering and well-versed circle of women is off the charts. So from the depths of my soul, thank you, thank you, thank you.” Veda L.

“This room is like a laboratory for the triumph of the human spirit.” Nora Jamieson

“It was a wonderful retreat. We barely had enough time to do all the things Chivas had planned. The prompts were fabulous and the writing awe-inspiring. I have been a member of the writing group that Chivas facilitates since 2011. If you have notebooks at home with poems, fiction, or memories that you would like to put into other forms, or would simply like to awaken your creative spirit, this is for you.” Susan W.

“It helped me a lot to have a printed schedule for the weekend of what was going to start when. Thank you for adhering to the time guidelines you established and to keeping us on track with them throughout the weekend. I appreciated that you were flexible too and adjusted the timeline based on the needs of the group.  That type of decision-making felt organic and true. I appreciated the skill, intelligence and compassion with which you met each reader at the conclusion of their reading. I imagine as the weekend went along–carrying all that information and emotion–could have overloaded, overwhelmed or flooded you. However, that is not what I saw. You, Chivas, are an effective and masterful workshop/retreat leader. You were patient yet firm. I like that.” Laura B.

“The concept that I could write something of interest and value was new to me when I took my first class with you at the Forbes. You have always been so warm and positive, with encouraging and interesting comments for each piece read aloud. Even the idea of a group of women, each comfortable enough to read her raw material aloud, was wonderful, and I learned so much from hearing others’ material, such very different responses to the same prompt, and from your (and others’) comments. Your style and tone have promoted the development of a warm, caring and supportive relationship among the women participants who really look forward to the opportunity to see each other.” Alison B.

“Not even a year has passed since I started writing every day, thanks to joining your group–and writing has helped me in so many ways. For that, and for you, I have enduring gratitude.” Amy H.

“Since the retreat, I am plotting, writing, choosing my characters – or letting them choose me. The time with Chivas under her guidance was more than I expected and all that I hoped for. I also thank her for sharing some nuts and bolts theory as a linchpin and engine for deftly prompted creative spills. Her dedication is contagious.” Barbara C.

“Dear Chivas, Julia Cameron believes, ‘the words want to be written.’ Thank you for helping me know this.” Anonymous

“I find Chivas Sandage’s workshops to be both inspiring and supportive.” Kathy H.

“I love Chivas’ workshops! She provides interesting, generative writing prompts and gentle workshop support. Her encouraging nature and friendliness are an added bonus!” Jamila G.

“What a precious gift! A shared time and space where we collectively value the discoveries that we find in our own and in each other’s writing, nourishing encouragement to freshly generate and to refine our writing, & incredibly helpful reflection and insight into our writing process as we collaboratively discuss what we hear in each other’s work. We put our pen, hearts, and minds both to paper and to our group consciousness as we discuss our writing and our process. Chivas provides incredibly helpful insight into the heart and the structure of my writing. Chivas warmly and wisely guides us in exploring and refining our writing voice.” Maya L.

“You & the writing group that your energy & inspiration brought together have meant so much to me. When we began, it felt like the first step out of a dark & lonely place, a place where my art & writing had been shut out. I am so grateful to you for all that you’ve done.” Tara R.

“Your workshops are enjoyable, valuable, enhance my strengths & give me a better understanding of areas for improvement.” Jayma H.

“Thank you for teaching this class & for getting me into writing again!” Jaye M.

“The blessing of your workshop casts a wide net & has ignited a writing spark in a friend of mine. I sent her my poems from the workshop & included your prompts. When she wrote back, she had this to say: ‘I used two of the prompts you sent. The one about inhabiting someone else’s body—Wow! I did a day in the life of my sister & learned so much from this exercise. I also did the one about visiting a country I haven’t been to in ten years. It was glorious! Thank you for sharing the prompts.’ So as you can see, you’ve been a blessing in the life of someone you don’t know. Thanks for both of us.” Sharron

“Thank you for all your careful preparation and holding of the retreat. And your skill in holding all the various kinds of writers, material and personalities.” Nora J.

“Being a ‘young’ writer and going on your first writing retreat can be a bit anxiety provoking. I am so grateful that from the moment I set foot in the Wellspring House, all anxiety was immediately put to rest. Chivas facilitated an amazing retreat with an astonishing group of women. I’ve never felt such safety as I did this weekend. The space was held in such a sacred manner that I was able to let my vulnerability flag fly high; I produced more writing than I ever could have imagined, formed exceptionally strong bonds with other female writers in just two short days, and shared parts of my story that were received with compassion and critiqued constructively. As I come back to ‘civilization’ and the busy buzz of everyday life, I am more grateful than ever for the women of Write Like a River, The Wellspring House, and Chivas Sandage. I feel restored and rejuvenated; certain that my pen will keep moving, inspiration will keep striking, and my book will be complete much sooner than I anticipated prior to this weekend. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Lindsay M.

Anonymous Workshop Evaluations

(from short-term workshops including East Hill Writers’  and Forbes Library Workshop Evaluations)

“I thoroughly enjoyed the group. The discussions were lively and Chivas was an excellent facilitator. I felt comfortable and supported, thanks to her guidelines and the tone she set. I learned a lot! The choice of themes and the poetry she selected were very relevant and instructive.”

“It was an excellent experience. Chivas is a skilled writer/poet who has a great deal of empathy. I learned a lot from being in this workshop. Thank you!”

“Chivas presented a wealth of knowledge and vision in the way she read/discussed our poetry (as well as the published poetry she brought us). I’m grateful to know more [about] what questions to ask of my own poetry. I feel lucky to have been part of this group.”

“Chivas obviously loves what she does. She is professional, non-judgmental, and knowledgeable about writing & she gives helpful feedback. Chivas is a positive person. I valued coming back to writing in a group after writing alone way too long. The relaxed openness was winning.”

“Expert, articulate, fair, good listener, sensitive & supportive. I enjoyed the handouts. Low-pressure & thought-provoking.”

“Sandage was open, accepting, knowledgeable & imaginative. She made me feel welcome here.”

“Chivas created a warm & safe welcoming space where I felt accepted. I was able to write with such freedom & ease. Her intelligence & sensitivity inspire but do not overwhelm! The structure was well-organized, the prompts appealing, the feedback never harsh. I felt heard & loved the detail with which I was heard. This was a healing experience for me after often feeling that what I say & write is not important. I feel Chivas is comfortable with herself & therefore creates an atmosphere of ease. She’s good with time management so I never felt rushed. What fertile, accepting ground from which to continue on with my writing!”

“The workshops helped open up my thinking process. It was my first experience with writing.”

“Chivas is warm, kind, & able to create a comfortable atmosphere. The workshop structure is fun & never overwhelming. Her feedback is helpful & encouraging. It was also great to hear everyone’s work & to set aside a time to write.”

“Her comments were perceptive & insightful. The exercises were unique & well thought out.

“Comfortable workshop structure. Interesting exercises. I’ve never participated in a writing group before & enjoyed the creative challenge.”

Thank You Notes after Class Visits (Archives)

Dear Ms. Sandage,
Thank you for coming to our class and for teaching us about poetry.
I never knew that you can break the rules to poetry.
Your friend,

Dear Ms. Sandage.
Thank you for coming to our class. When I grow up I want to be a poet.

Poetry brings the mind into life.
So thank you Ms. Sandage for bringing poetry into our world.

Dear Ms. Sandage,
I think that poems that don’t rhyme sound better than when they do.
Thanks again,

Dear Mom,
Thank you for coming to my class. I had a lot of fun. Here’s a poem for you:

A car drives past
but she does not notice
cause that car drives past every day
and that’s a simple thing
something that you glance at
but never really think about.


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