I have long felt that our creative energy is a bucket of sorts. Sometimes it is full, other times more empty. Sometimes a walk in the woods fills it up and other times tedious tasks can drain it. I’ve spent most of my life living in this balancing act, trying to replace the creative energy with intention when it drains. When I was younger the it would fall well below the needed level before I even realized that I was empty. My Mom used to say to me – on repeat – “It’s important to say no to things.” But usually the things I said yes to were fun. It was so hard. Too many fun things are still draining in the end. Just not enough time for all of life’s goodness. I think this was the beginning of learning my personal capacity.
After a serious bout of insomnia and anxiety in Graduate School I started to look at life differently. Nothing, if I could help it, was worth that feeling. It was a dark time and a rough road but what happened was the building of a bucket of which I was acutely aware. I had burned the bucket to the ground and had to rebuild one piece at a time. I had developed a kind of spidey sense for when the bucket was on a downward trend and so I tuned in to filling it back up — teter-tottering back and forth between full and empty in a more sustainable way.
In my teaching days, when I worked in the classroom this was more difficult to do because I was at the mercy of the school calendar that seemed to ebb and flow with massive ups and massive downs. It was in those years, that I established the habit of coming home and immediately heading out for a walk upon my arrival. It was mostly because of Tallie needing to be run but quickly I discovered that it was just as much for me. I would leave each walk with a full feeling. It continues to be one of the sure fire ways to fill my bucket.
I think this need is what propelled my thoughts on creative retreats. I no longer see them as things of luxury but rather as important as going to the doctor or brushing ones teeth. They are a necessary part of running a creative business. Surely the cost of such things are a luxury but I see two ways to solve this problem: create your own or if you run your creative business with allotted amounts for education, marketing, outreach, etc. then retreats can fall into a category that you can prioritize. I would argue that one who runs a business based on their own creative juices MUST prioritize ways to refill your bucket on a regular and sustained basis. It IS your business.
Creative Retreats are one way and a way that I have felt compelled to lead. Attending the retreat in Vermont this summer was so impactful for me. You know those moments where you (the mom, the wife, the aunt, the daughter, the caregiver, etc.) feel connected to YOURSELF? You know those moments that bring you back to yourself? That is what it is all about for me. When we are connected to ourselves we create from this place and what we make or say or do is authentic.
Images taken at last week’s full day creative retreat – portraits by the wildly talented Traci Elaine, food, landscape and art by the stunning Cara Cummings and a few from me here at the bottom. I hope you’ll join us for the next one – not sure when it will be, but I will definitely be doing it again!
Workshops + Retreats