I spent the weekend in crispy cold Vermont, at a retreat for writers, illustrators, and editors of children’s books. I had an amazing time, although I was forced to stretch myself in ways that weren’t always comfortable. The first night, for example, I was made to write poetry. (Ack!) More specifically, I had to help write a poem in the form known by smarter writers than me as a ghazal .

Our ghazal was to be built around the word “hole” and let me tell you, I squirmed a whole lot during the thirty seconds I had to compose my two line offering. (Okay, we had five minutes. But it passed very, very quickly.) In fact, I was hugely relieved that we ran out of time toward the end of the session; I was able to tuck my couplet away unshared.

But guess what? I was also hugely bummed when our ghazal was read at the end of the night and my couplet wasn’t part of the brilliance. Because somehow a roomful of complete strangers—many of whom quaked, like me, at the thought of writing a poem—composed a thing of beauty. Truly.

There were other wing-stretching group activities over the weekend. We drummed. We painted. (See the photo above; the “hole” gazal group painted it together.) We talked. We dreamed. We worked. We partied a little bit. We shared our stories. I came away with new friends and new ideas, with the start of a new draft, and, most importantly, a new mantra: stretching is good. Stretching will help you reach the cookies on top of the fridge, it will keep your muscles supple and strong, it will help you grow.

So … how will you stretch today? Me, I’m going to start by sharing that little couplet I wrote this weekend. I hope you enjoy it:

Buckwheat turned by hand and hoe and chatter
The blade fell short—just short—of a rabbit’s hole.