04 Feb Putting Words to Creative Joy
I’m a firm believer that things come to you when you need them most. Although experiences, messages, opportunities often seem to come out of nowhere sometimes, I have learned better. Just over 6 months ago I was given the opportunity to participate in The Creative Joy Retreat as one of three hosts. It was a very unexpected prospect which made it such a twist of fate but as trite as it may sound, things usually happen for a reason. I went in with a willing heart, an open mind, and an inner-knowing that The Creative Joy Retreat was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Needless to say, the experience was transcendent—not to mention surreal—as I found myself in a gorgeous old monastery on the Hudson River side by side with Jen Louden and Marianne Elliott sharing stories, songs, stretches and sacred space with 65 amazing women, most of whom I had never met (on the internet or otherwise); bodies, souls, and spirits all there to explore and experience their own Creative Joy. I know that each of the women there, myself include came for unique and diverse reasons and also left with unique and diverse gifts—no two experiences alike—but each one deep, meaningful and transformative in ways that can be so hard to put into words.
Marianne took a little time to chat with some of the women who attended last year’s Creative Joy Retreat to seek out some answers as to what exactly went down in Garrison over those 5 days and what some of these amazing women took home with them. I know personally, it’s been awesome to read these interviews from Amy and Mary as it has helped me to process my own experience and also give you the opportunity to better understand what The Creative Joy is all about in hopes that you too might step into the light of creating your own joy with us and the sisterhood of women looking to do the same.
As synchronicity would have it, I will be sharing Marianne’s interview with the lovely Sue Ann Gleason of Chocolate for Breakfast whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last year’s retreat and whom recently invited me to share my story with her Well-Nourished Woman Inner Circle soon (such an honor). What really resonates with me about what Sue Ann shares with Marianne is how much unplugging at the retreat last year gave her some much-needed clarity. I won’t paraphrase; I’ll let Marianne and Sue Ann do the talking. It’s good stuff!
Marianne Elliott: So, Sue Ann – what, if anything, did you take away from Creative Joy? What has stayed with you over the past six months?
Sue Ann: Wow, six months later. Where does the time go? I left our Creative Joy Retreat with such a clear sense of what it means to truly unplug and rejuvenate. I took that energy with me into my entrepreneurial world and gave my Well-Nourished Woman program a facelift with creative JOY front and center. Along with ARTful eating, my Inner Circle is exploring what it means to be fully expressed in their creative lives. I’m leaning toward spaciousness…and tending my creative joy space…and bringing my tribe along for the ride. And it feels so RIGHT.
Marianne: You say you left the Creative Joy retreat with a clear sense of what it means to truly unplug and rejuvenate. And that is such a rare experience these days for so many of us, so I’m really interested, what was your clear sense of what it truly means to unplug and rejuvenate?
Sue Ann: Well, Jen called it our shadow comforts – and it became really clear to me how plugged in I am to my business and my little noble devices. I realized in that space, in that really quiet space, that it was going to take great effort for me to give up those shadow comforts and to really understand that unplugged means without devices. And I came home and really made an effort to stop spending as much time on my devices. I gave myself permission to schedule Facebook posts on my page from time to time; to take great blocks of time for me and my muse and my writing. So that’s what I took with me in terms of really unplugging.
Marianne: I surprise myself when I put myself in the situation of unplugging how challenging it is, and that makes me realize how plugged I am.
Sue Ann:. That was for me as well. Yeah.
Marianne: And so the connection between unplugging and rejuvenating, how are they connected do you think?
Sue Ann: I was realizing that in order for me to truly restore and rejuvenate, I have to let go of this need to constantly be plugged in and interacting either with my business or my colleagues or my clients. And that I can’t do that, right? I can’t restore, I can’t rejuvenate if I choose to keep that intensity about me in my world, in my plugged-in world.
Marianne: So there are two interesting things I’m hearing. One is the kind of shadow comfort side of it, which I think is a big part of my relationship to being plugged in, is that it becomes a way that I occupy myself when my alternative might be to go into the perhaps less comfortable, but I know ultimately more fruitful territory of creative stillness. So the checking, the constant checking and refreshing, I justify it for my business, but I think it sometimes is for me a way of avoiding the space where my creative work happens.
But also what I was hearing is it takes energy, it’s a giving out to be constantly plugged and what you were saying is we need that time when we are actually not giving out in that way. Is that what—did I hear that correctly?
Sue Ann: Yes. I can’t access my muse when my life is cluttered and so some of the noise that occurs for me around being plugged in to my clients, to my colleagues, is that I don’t give myself quiet. And so my goal has been to create more spaciousness in my life, and I have to unplug from all these groups and all of these wonderful places in order to sit with that stillness. I too, I say ‘Oh, I’m doing this for my business because if I didn’t interact this intensely, my business would fail or it would go dormant.’ And I’m discovering that it’s not such a bad thing, so I’ve actually consciously not taken clients, not taken contracts because I want to see what spaciousness feels like.
Marianne: That’s so powerful. And then the other question that came up to me when I heard what you had to say about your experience at Creative Joy six months on was you talked about giving your Well Nourished Woman program a face lift and placing creative joy front and centre. I’m curious, given how we tried to place creative joy front and centre of this retreat, how did it look for you? What was the form that took?
Sue Ann: I think before the Creative Joy retreat I felt compelled in my program to deliver information, to be the source of so much ‘head space’ kind of information. And I came home and I really looked deeply at that program and I shifted it. I changed my registration page. I brought in photographs that I had taken at the Creative Joy retreat. I played with colour. I just completely revamped both the sales page and also the content. So the principles I teach are the same, but what I’ve done is I’ve brought forth the artful eating piece and the creativity, creative expression piece so that that’s getting equal time. It’s not like an aside in my program anymore. It’s taking centre stage, and I think that’s really shifted the energy of this program, which I’ve had for two years now, so it has a completely different feel.
Marianne: That’s wonderful. And it is really interesting because Jen and Tracey and I each have our modalities that we take the lead on at the Creative Joy retreat and that each of us teach outside of it. I teach yoga, Tracey teaches photography and Jen teaches writing. But the way I approach yoga now and what I brought to the Creative Joy retreat and the way that I teach it in my online courses really has – front and centre – this permission to be in the playful process of yoga without limiting your experience of yoga with these external ideas of what the final pose should look like.
So it’s so interesting for me to think in relation to nourishment and food and eating, the same principle applies in relation to writing, in relation to yoga, in relation to photography. It’s transformative in all of those spaces I guess is what I’m hearing when you say that.
Sue Ann: Yes! It’s more than nutrients and how we best support our bodies through an anti-inflammatory diet, right? It’s the experience of how we’re looking at the food, how we’re presenting it on the plate. It’s that whole artful eating piece that emerges when we start looking at it for just the pleasure aspect.
Marianne: And the joy of eating.
Sue Ann: It’s a joy.
Marianne: Which is where chocolate for breakfast comes in.
Sue Ann: Exactly.
Marianne: That’s really very helpful. I’ve just found it so interesting talking to people like yourself, Sue, and a few other people I’ve spoken to to see, firstly, what strikes me over and over again is that it was such a collaboratively creative experience, the Creative Joy retreat, because all these incredible women showed up and didn’t just physically showed up, but they really opened themselves to the experience of Creative Joy.
And when other people are doing that, we all are supported to do it. As I’m having these conversations, I’m being taken back to that memory of how extraordinary the collaboration of the women who showed up was with us as the hosts to create the experience.
And the second thing that’s really striking me in these conversations is how important this work is. When you use language like creative joy to describe your retreat it can sound very light weight. But my sense, and what I’m hearing from you is that though it is light; it is important, and it can change how we do everything, from eating to working.
Sue Ann: I see it as a ripple effect, Marianne. It isn’t like I didn’t have a great program before, right? It isn’t like I’m doing something completely different, but the energy I’m bringing to it is different. The energy that I brought from Creative Joy, and as you said, the collaboration and co-creation with those women is coming into my world in a really powerful way still, six months later.
I hope that if you’re considering taking some time dedicated to YOU in 2013 that you join us at The Creative Joy Retreat; for the rest, for the fun, for the food, for the fresh air, for the space, for the stillness, for the pure JOY.
Early registration opens today. You’ve got to be on the list to get the chance to register early and get a $50 discount too. Creative Joy is yours for the taking!