Creative Retreat Planning

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Balance, Running a Business44 Comments

I’ve been saying for months that I need to press the pause button, so I have some uninterrupted, concentrated time to think and recharge.  My thought is this would be a day at home and everyone in the house will pretend I’m not there.  Yeah, I know that was wishful thinking!

My kids can pretend to be ninjas and spacemen and super heroes, but they cannot pretend I am not there.  Sebastian doesn’t know what a creative retreat is and when he has to pee, my elbow is the one he will bump with his nose.  Jeff would do his best, but there’s only so much a guy who works full-time and is a full-time grad student can do to keep me fenced off.

So, he brought up the idea of giving me the chance to go a local hotel for my own creative retreat.  The idea was still on a small scale.  It would be local, just for a day and a night, but it sounded amazing.

Then, an opportunity arose!  A fellow mom and creative at our church needed some time away and wanted to go somewhere warm.  When her husband mentioned that in passing to Jeff, he had a lightbulb moment.  Why don’t we go together?

So, we are!  We’re going to Clearwater Beach in Florida for a few days.  I am so excited for this “gift” to get away from daily life, by myself!  Well, I’m going with a friend, but we’re each going for some alone time.  So, we’ll share the expense of the hotel room and car rental, but then we’ll go our separate ways to get what we each need.

Once the tickets were booked, I realized I really needed to plan for this trip, so I wouldn’t be aimless or distracted once I got there.

Planning for me has involved taking a lot of notes, making lists, and doing some preliminary journaling, mostly asking myself questions.

What does this next chapter of my business look like?  What are my priorities?  What do I want to pursue?  What do I want to remove?  Why will people want to read my blog over the next year?  What is fulfilling?  What is draining?  How can I structure my days and weeks to help me reach my goals?  What even are my goals?!

Jeff and I laughed as we looked over my long lists, goals, questions, and thoughts.

“Basically, I’m going to have everything figured out by the time I come home.”

I know that I’ll only scratch the surface of what I’ve laid out for myself, but I also know that I will have focus and direction and, even if I only scratch the surface, it’ll be scratching the surface that needs to be scratched.  And, hopefully, I’ll have some momentum that will carry me through the next few months.

To help me think through some of these things, I have downloaded some podcasts to listen to and bought some magazines and books to read.  I am also planning to spend lots of time sketching, painting, reading up on art, listening to music, and doing things that feed my creative soul.

I’ve created a watercolor palette that mirrors the palette I use in oils, so I can explore a faster-drying medium in my field journals.  I’m excited to try making watercolor and pencil sketches that I can use as reference for future oil paintings.   I haven’t done that before.

I am also going to do things that are rejuvenating, like getting a massage, getting my nails done, sleeping in, taking walks on the beach in the evening, sitting by the pool, etc.

I’ve got my linen dresses packed, I bought a new comfy pair of sandals and I am ready to go soak up some sun, put my toes in the sand, and return with some clarity and renewed energy.

Any suggestions for inspiring creative podcasts?  Any must-read creative/design/art/business books?

How do you recharge your creative batteries?

Creative Retreat Planning

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44 Comments on “Creative Retreat Planning”

  1. I love 99% Invisible – it’s all about design – everything from urban and interior design to product and logo design. Lots of “thinking outside the box” and how design pioneers in all areas have carried out their ideas. Could be inspiring for you.

  2. Idk….I’d just pack and go and not think about all the things I’d have to think about, lol! Obviously we are two differnt people in that aspect! I’d grab my ipod with my music, 2-3 books, a crochet project, my Bible, a notebook, pen….and make sure I know where to get some coffee. I’m more of a stare outside the window and zone kinda person. The time alone with my thoughts allows me to breathe….and I usually figure out what needs figuring out that way.

    Have a wonderful, wonderful time! Oh, and bring your sunscreen!!

    1. Ha! That’s my tendency, too, but I really want to get the most of it, so I felt like I needed a framework and a good place to start. There will be a lot of freedom within that framework, though!

  3. My friends and I have been going on a Scrapbooking Weekend for years. We found an Episcopal Conference center within an hour of the city we live in that is very affordable and we go there. We have a whole large room to ourselves to set up and work in and all we do is show up to the dining hall to eat when it is feeding time. They have nice hotel style rooms for us to sleep in. It is awesome and so much fun! We love it so much that a few years back we added Thursday to the “weekend”. Enjoy your time!

  4. fantastic have a brilliant time. I went away for he same reason last November and came home so inspired. even walking by myself to the cafe for breakfast was joyous. not to be anything to anyone for a weekend. so freeing – don’t get me wrong i love being a wife and mum but nice to step out of those roles for a change.
    Fiona xx

    1. Yes, I feel the same way! Just to know that I’m not responsible for anyone else while I’m there is freeing. I hope my brain is in gear while I’m there, so I can really take advantage of that time. 🙂

  5. Sounds like a wonderful time! I’m contemplating retirement in the next 2-3 years and am clueless how to even begin dreaming about what I might do in my next chapter of life. All I’ve ever done is work and be wife, mom, divorced, and now empty nester, so the luxury of “dreaming” about what I want to do is pretty foreign to me. Maybe sometime you could put together a list of questions that women like me could ask when they’re starting over or just trying to figure out a new direction in life.

    Have fun in the sun!!

  6. Have you ever looked at “junk journals” on U-tube or pinterest? There are so many different styles…and they are so creative, and you can use alot of stuff you may already have. Some are very rustic, and some are beautiful. So many different things inspire me. Hoping a new environment also helps…have fun!

  7. Marian,
    No ideas for reading or listening, just best wishes for a relaxing, rejuvenating time. Enjoy some time alone on the beach, staring off into the sea.


  8. That sounds like a wonderful way to get away, Marian. I’m personally so beyond burned out – WAY beyond burned out, and BORED – with my routines and my work that don’t offer any enjoyment of life, so something’s gotta give. Unfortunately, I’d probably need a minimum of a month off to overcome these feelings which are likely a midlife crisis of some sort! I’d probably start off by sleeping for days straight, then sitting and staring off into the sea for a several days before my brain would even accumulate enough energy to kick in to gear to be able to give thought on how to dig myself out of this very deep rut. Ugh. Anyhow, I’m wondering if a trip to Tybee Island might be a good thing … and if Tybee Island is even still on the map after the most recent hurricanes …

    Your art sounds like it feeds your soul, and just the time by yourself for a few days will probably be very refreshing and nurturing for you. I’ll be waiting to hear how it goes for you! Enjoy!

  9. I just got back from a week in Los Angeles with 9 of my besties for our annual quilt retreat. I am so energized and my creative juices are flowing again. I added a lot of new groups, quilt artists and more to Facebook to be more inspired. I have been Ill for two years and this was just what i needed to see beyond the physical problems and day to day ness of life. Have a wonderful time and don’t worry about what you accomplish on your trip, just enjoy your time away. Ann

  10. Sounds wonderful! I always check the weather forecast, as well as ask friends who have been to my vacation spot during the time of year I am planning on going. No fun for me if I’m not dressed for the weather; all I can think about is how uncomfortable I am.
    I would also build in some “exercise” time. Could be long, brisk walks, exploring along the way, as well as traditional time in the hotel gym, or dancing in my room for a half hour. Gives me the energy to think.
    Enjoy your “me” time. Looking forward to what God works in you while you’re away.

  11. Sounds really like you are having a working retreat. I too am at a crossroads , having been a vendor for the last 6 years , selling furniture and vintage smalls. I Ijust feel the need to venture into something more satisfying for myself. I am 66 and have always been creative, so now it means letting go of what I have built up to a small business , and move forward in a positive way. Have fun on your retreat, and enjoy all of it !

  12. You’ll be in my neck of the woods. Clearwater Beach has great beach sand, ignore the young beach volley ballers and walk to a quieter part of the beach. Have fun!

  13. Sounds like a dream! I can understand the need for some time away – especially owning a business and working from home. I find that it is hard to take a break from my work, and even when I do, it often seems to be on my mind – it is so hard to get away from it! After doing furniture for a few years, I am feeling burnt out and a little lost as to what to do next. Sounds like I need my own creative retreat!

  14. Sounds amazing although I’d go somewhere cool! (Summer in Australia and just returned from Malaysia where I grew up)

    I love getting on the thought train inspired by Start With Why by Simon Sinek 🙂

    Have a good time away!

  15. Sounds fantastic. I had pretty low expectations but ended up really loving Big Magic. And I’d love a heads up for any good podcasts. I’m on a losing streak of picking duds! Enjoy! When do you go?

  16. Hi Marian, I am reading your blog for maybe two years now from germany :-). Although I am not at all a successful entrepreneur you still remind me a lot of myself and how I used to approach things to “feed” my creative soul. When I read this post I felt I had to comment for the very first time. My first thought was: OMG, she is getting away to tank energy and she is literally bringing a ton of questions in her suitcase…. puhhhh…. while I still thought about this I realized I would´ ve done exactly THAT in the past. I have no idea how you manage sooooo many things and you can be so proud of yourself. It´s also needless to say that even you need a break every now and then. My suggestion for you (well, it´s more of an idea) is: Write everything down on your list and then let it go. Fly to Florida, get your time off and let your creative soul be fed by emptiness. Somethging I learned through my education as a yoga teacher. Empty yourself so the universe can flow right through you. You would be surprised when you come back home and take your list, how many of these questions you might be able to answer…. :-). I hope everything I wrote makes sense and doesn´t sound wrong. I know my english is pretty good but I am still german after all. Bless you and have a great “Time Out”!

    1. Love your thoughts — writing the list of to dos and then letting go and allowing your creative soul to be fed by emptiness. Wise advice that I will heed in my own life today.

      1. Thank you very much. I´m happy I inspired you…. it is something I have to remind myself every now and then 😉

    2. I didn’t want to sound negative but this thought occured to me as well. It sounds like so many plans for what I think is a short trip? I hope you allow yourself lots of time to just wander in your mind, stretch out and stare at the ocean and eat fabulous food slowly! Enjoy!!

  17. I lived in Clearwater Fl, for 25 years,, its pretty there… so glad you are getting away,,

  18. While you’re here (yep, I’m in Clearwater) you might want to check out Heritage Village, which is a free, county-run, open-air quiet space devoted to the preservation of interesting old buildings. I think you’ll like it… and it has excellent views of “Old Florida” and myriad places to sit and paint. It’s located right next to the Florida Botanical Gardens (also free) at the edge of Walsingham Lake…. and it’s quiet and secluded.

  19. Clearwater has fantastic beaches for walking and collecting shells. You can see dolphins from the shore as well. You are going to love it!

  20. I LOVE the book Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love). Get the audiobook — she reads it and her voice is amazing. So inspiring. I even got my 20 year-old-son (who at the time was in film school in NYC) to read it and he also loved it. It’s all about nurturing your creativity.

  21. So basically, you’re going to bundle up all the things you do at home, pack them in your suitcase and move it from Minnesota to Florida. Does every second need to be “creative” or “productive”? If you get a massage, walk on the beach, get your nails done, sleep in late, all of which IMHO you need, how are you going to have time to get this other stuff done? Do you even realize how hard you’ve been pushing, going on a year, now, with the move? If you leave all your “creative” stuff at home and do “nothing”, you will find plenty of ideas come to you when you return home. Readers have been telling you to CHILL. Maybe we see things you don’t realize. Leave the work at home.

  22. I too have a problem staying focused. The projects I planned were taking way to long and like you I worked in oils. My problem with oils was the smell and knowing there are water based oils out there they allowed my to change my mind way to offen! So I challenged myself to watercolors and I love the medium! Once the color is down it’s there so I just work with it! Go for it you’ll love them! Pam

  23. The beach is my most favorite place in the world to get away from everything. Well, aside from my garden. Make sure to take some time to just sit on the beach and soak up the sun and sea air. It does wonders for your soul. Safe travels!

  24. You are wise to seize the opportunity for a retreat. How impressive that Jeff suggested it. It sounds like he loves and appreciate you very much. The creative retreat is such a good idea, I hope you consider doing it more often, like, quarterly?

  25. How wonderful.I live there. Wish Icould meet for lunch but I know this is for you.So make sure you go to Frenchys rockaway. Have the She crab soup.Its fantastic. The weather is perfect right now. Have a wonderful time, you sure deserve it.

  26. One more place, Clear Sky Cafe for breakfast.I hope you are staying at the Sandpearl. Beautiful resort. Enjoy the beach, waves, sand , smells, and the sound of the water. Especially at night. THe Sandpearl has a fire pit worth sitting at , at night.Very peaceful.

  27. I’d love to go with you, Miss Mustard Seed!! I am so looking forward to your plans for your dining room table! I have one that looks exactly the same as yours. My husband thinks it needs to be left alone as it was; it was my grandmother’s (Ganny). Can’t wait to see your creation! Enjoy the sun and sand!

  28. You may still be German but you’re English is perfect. I wouldn’t ever have thought you spoke anything else!! Great ideas too! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Barb, this is just the situation I find myself in, though I am 5 years your senior. There’s no creative retreat in my near future, but I know the right doors will open for me at the right time.

  30. Hi, Marian! Congratulations on the opportunity for a “retreat”. I think several other commenters have touched on this same subject, so I apologize if I’m being repetitive. Here’s my suggestion….try something totally different to give your creative processes a rest. As someone’s else said, it appears you’ve just taken your current tasks and projects and packed them in your suitcase. So, just for this weekend, do something TOTALLY different. Give yourself permission to empty your brain of the normal pressures and “to-do lists” and I’ll bet you come back completely and totally recharged! Here’s hoping your weekend will be perfect….just what you want it to be! Hugs from Texas,

  31. I know you have gone and come back from your retreat already. Just wanted to pass on a podcast I am obsessed with. Search for the Jennifer Allwood show on Itunes. She talks to women about running creative businesses and how our brains are wired, I have had so many ah-ha moments while half listening as I work. She brings in great guests, too! She’s Christian, a mama and a creative business owner, her show is just refreshing.
    On another note, getting away for quiet, head time is possibly the best thing you can do for yourself. When my babies were little (we had 4 in 4 years) My husband would send me away every now and then for what I liked to call “The 18 hours that saved my life”. I read books with no pictures, shaved my legs past the capri pant line, it was magical. Gald you could take a break!

  32. . . . the northern california coast is 2 hours from my home. every year i get away to that location, towing my vintage trailer behind – and usually a friend tows her own vintage trailer – and we spend 2-3 nights listening to the lapping of waves and roar of ocean – eat well – a little too well sometimes wink – and refresh/renew. i never want to leave but responsibilities on the home front warrant that decision. thankful to read in your later post that your time away was well designed and spent. blessings…

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