For many years I’ve wanted to create a three or four day retreat. I toyed with the idea of a creative retreat for moms or spiritual seekers, writers, caretakers, or pet rescuers — you name a group and I thought maybe they needed one. I got to a point in my current project that I realized it was me that needed the retreat. Bu who would lead it?
It needed to be given by a skilled presenter with a passion for leading retreats, an understanding of the creative process, and a focus on writing. I looked at my LinkedIn profile and indeed, I fit the bill.
So, I did it. I took vacation time the four days after Labor Day which actually gave me nine whole days if you count the weekend before and the weekend after. Since I was the event manager and set up crew, as well as the creative leader and spiritual mentor, I needed all that time.
That it coincided with my husband’s visit to his family meant I could have the house all to myself and design a schedule that fit my particular needs for a creativity recharge.
In upcoming posts, I’ll debrief the days, so you can create your own retreat, because, believe me you need one. But here’s where it starts — with the intention to recharge and reconnect. The style is up to you — you can design a retreat that’s pure creative boost, or you can, as I needed to, focus on a particular project.
Here are the steps to enact your retreat:
Step 1: Decide on a date, time and place.
Look at how many days you actually need three, four, five? Look at your family calendar and your work schedule and see when the stars align for you to take off from both.
Then find the place that matches those dates. Can you book an Air BnB? Can you offer to housesit for a friend? Are your parents on vacation? Can you farm out your own family to other homes?
I’m cheap so I didn’t want to actually spend money. I housesit while my parents snowbird, so their place was an option. Ultimately, this project would take my total attention, and I had my husband’s support, so if I needed to I could have booked 3 days at a local Air BnB. Luckily, the perfect vacation time from work for me coincided with Mohamed’s annual visit to Egypt. My child is currently playing the role of sullen graduate who locks himself in his room so Voila! My home became the perfect oasis from it all.
Step 2: Design your retreat schedule.
My detailed schedule included an introductory welcome from the director (me) and activities like: creative exercise, focus exercise, pool time, yoga, timed writing, project draft, guest speaker, nap.
Step 3: Out of Office
Let employers, friends, family members and clients know you are going on a retreat. Use the word ‘going’. They would totally respect your time if you were booked at a conference and had paid for an expert staff and hotel. You are an expert on your creative needs and you have booked this time. You are not available. Do not elaborate. The moment you tell someone (as I screwed up and did) ‘it’s in my home, I’m leading it!” They will see fit to break down your boundaries and invite themselves for coffee, for a pedicure, or ask you to rewrite their website ‘super quick’. I set ‘out of office’ messages on ALL of my email accounts including the one for discount mailers from overstock.com.
Step 4: Do it. Do it!
I’ll walk you through my schedule in upcoming posts so you can adapt the idea for yourself. Just know that this is important. This work is important. Your creative spirit is important. It’s worth taking the time to feed the creative stream.