I feel drunk in love tonight. Far from my transitory nest in the Pocket area and a week from sleeping in my Maui bed, I’m already in paradise. Outside the birds serenade in the twilight and evening settles on a view that belongs in the Sound of Music. From my guest house window, a lush valley, domed hills, broad mountains and snow-capped peaks cause me to breathe wonder along with the pristine air. I’m gratefully situated in Shingle Springs, on the property of my dear friend, Sue Atkinson.

It’s my second night in this cottage that looks as if it blew out of a magazine and happily landed here. And sitting here in the woodsy, lofted space with darling dishes that match the walls, I feel romanced by life. After 24 inspirational hours with an intimate group of writing comrades known as “Scribes of Spirit,” I’m now immersed in my own 24-hour retreat. Simple meals in solitude; a walk with Sue to visit her horses; a deeply satisfying talk on the phone with my son, Gavin; working on some astrology charts and soon headed for a cozy, spindled daybed.

But earlier today—between group glow and personal peace, I broke out in anxiety the way one breaks out in a rash. All it took was a glance at the calendar of my last seven days—filled with people to see, places to be and packing to do. I felt the days flying off the pages and pictured myself standing at the airport saying goodbye to my dearest friend as I attempted to hold back tears and coerce luggage. With that glance ahead, my departure suddenly seemed too fast, too sudden, too much—a premature birth.

And then I came back. I wasn’t in any of those places yet. I was here, making this little cottage my own for one more night. Sipping wine, wrapping myself in the warmth of my son’s voice, and laughing at my future housemate’s funny, heartfelt email.

The anxiety crept away like a foiled hunter and in the blissful quiet, I sat down to write to you.