My time of retreat felt like flight. Not the kind we’re used to these days when you’re herded like cattle through security and shoved into a seat appropriately sized for a nine-year-old. It was flight that was light and swift, like a blue jay. The wind was in my hair and I glided, soared, and soaked in the view.
The landing has been a little rough, though. I thought I was prepared for it. I knew that coming home after having completely uninterrupted days in 70 degree weather and sunshine would be a jolt. It’s been more than that, like there are literal forces at work against me, trying to siphon all enthusiasm from a completely full tank.
I ended up in a mix of tears and manic laughter at my small group last Thursday, when I was asked to share a prayer request for the week. Even though I was somewhat embarrassed, I’m glad I had my little breakdown. One of the women in our group, who always seems to have wisdom at her fingertips, jumped in and said that I needed to approach this post-retreat time with recklessness. Right away the tears stopped and I perked up. That was an odd word choice, but it was perfect.
She continued, “Don’t be tight-fisted. Be reckless.”
She didn’t mean it in the careless sense of the word. She meant it in the best possible way – hurling myself energetically towards what I want.
So, I’ve been working on that this week, open-handed recklessness, as I implement some of my plans and unpack some of my notes.
While the creative retreat is fresh on my mind, I wanted to share some more practical details about it, for those who asked and also for those who are feeling weary and need to recharge.
This creative retreat was a spur-of-the-moment trip that Jeff planned along with the husband of a friend. She needed a personal vacation, some alone time in a warm spot on the globe, and I needed a creative retreat, time to think about my business, get inspired, and plan for the future. We both wanted lots of time alone, no schedule (other than our flights), no obligations, and lots of free time. Neither of us wanted to travel alone, though. So, we traveled together, but would go our separate ways each day and meet up at night for a late dinner. We didn’t know each other very well, but we ended up being perfect travel companions. We were the same in the areas we needed to be the same and were different in ways that allowed us to each go our own ways. She went running on the beach and I sat down by the harbor, writing in my notebook. She went to a botanical garden and I sat on the beach and sketched birds and beach chairs.
It really was the perfect arrangement. We always left dinner as an open option, but we were both ready for some company by the end of the day and it was nice to share what we enjoyed most or what we learned. She is an art teacher, so I definitely took advantage of that situation and we talked about art.
Anyway, let me dive into what this post is supposed to be about – the practical stuff- what questions I asked of myself and what answers I found.
Going into the retreat, I prepared a list of questions and goals. This wasn’t meant to be a measuring stick for success or failure, but a compass to guide me through the retreat, so I wasn’t wandering aimlessly through my thoughts.
Here were my goals and questions…
- Think about and journal through the direction for my blog. How will it change over the next year? Why will people want to read it? What topics will pull me to my keyboard like a magnet?
- Put together a schedule to act as a framework for my work days. Separating life and work, so each time is more concentrated and enjoyable. (Right now there is far too much mingling of the two!)
- Receive inspiration and clarity. Where do I want my business to be in a year? What parts of my business do I want to grow or simplify? What do I want off my plate? What do I want to spend more of my time on? What is fulfilling? What is draining? What is “frontier” for me?
- Put together a healthy habit plan. I have not been pursuing health and balance and I need to make that a priority in my schedule. I have been *trying* to start for months, maybe even for a couple of years (since whole30). So, what do I want to look like in a year? What do I want to feel like in a year? How will exercise and eating well and a good night sleep impact my work and personal life? What is a plan that will be effective, yet sustainable?
Yes, the goals were lofty and I was a little overwhelmed by them, even. What if I came home with nothing more than a few nights of sound sleep? But, to my surprise, I was able to work through each of these goals and the questions continued to guide my thoughts and how I spent my time. I made sure I spent time on each topic, loitering there until I had some answers, some direction, some ideas. I don’t have perfect answers for every question or a fully fleshed-out plan for every goal, but I have enough to get me putting one foot in front of the other.
Here were my ideas and answers…
(I’m just going to share my generic answers and I’ll go into more detail in other blog posts.)
As I shared in this post, I have been censoring myself too much. Not in the good sense, like needing to run words and ideas through a filter, so I’m not sharing anything and everything that pops in my head no matter how TMI, inappropriate, or unprofessional it is, but in the bad sense that there are good, honest, and true things I could share, but I talk myself out of it. I’ll get critical feedback, people might think less of me, it won’t get page clicks or be Pin-able. All stupid reasons to not share something that might be of value to someone.
So, I’m going to fight the filter.
I’m also going to do something I’ve never done – have a schedule! Gasp! I’ve always hated the idea of a blog schedule, because I wanted to write about whatever I was excited about that particular day. It felt more spontaneous and somehow more authentic that way. But, it also meant I would be working on a blog post that wasn’t coming easily until the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes it caused stress as the evening was winding down and I had no idea what I was going to write about. So, I have a schedule written down with days to create content and days to write content, which will free up my nights for more family time and a healthy bedtime.
Heidi, my assistant, and I have been working on sorting through my blog categories; cleaning and consolidating. As I sifted through years of posts, I realized I wrote on four main topics – home, business, art, and life. I’m calling them – All Things Home, Creative Business, Artistic Endeavors, and A Slice of Life. If you notice, the sidebar has another category – Furniture Makeovers. This really could fit under All Things Home, but it was my largest individual category by far, so I wanted to keep it featured.
I’ll be writing blog posts in all of those categories and try to hit each one throughout the week. (Most of the time.) It’s not going to be a strict schedule, but a guide to help me create well-rounded content.
This is the scariest part for me! I felt this way, though, when we decided to start budgeting our finances. The thought of putting a framework in place that actually needs to be followed is intimidating! What I’ve learned after living by a budget for several years, though, is that there is a lot of freedom in the framework. Budgeting made it feel like we had more money and it made us intentional about working towards our goals. I think the same will be true with budgeting my time by creating and living by a schedule.
I’ll share my schedule in another post, after I’ve lived by it for a while, but it will start with exercise, included focused work time, undistracted family time, rest, and a reasonable bedtime. It will also include a short list of daily goals to keep me focused and a stricter guard on mingling personal and professional tasks.
INSPIRATION & CLARITY
A lot of this is on a more personal level…thinking through priorities for my business. At some point, I’ll share more detail on some of this – how I determine what to chase and what to let go. As a spoiler, I don’t have it perfectly figured out, but my gut has been pretty reliable over the years.
I can say, though, the things that kept sticking out to me as I listened and journaled were authenticity and enthusiasm. I want those elements in every blog post, in every product line, and in every aspect of my business.
HEALTHY HABIT PLAN
I spent the least amount of time thinking about this on my retreat, but it made my list because it needs to be a priority. I know feeling healthy and rested will make a big difference in my ability to have energy to meet my goals and to think clearly. I’ll just be better all around if I feel good and feel good about myself. It’s going to start with regular exercise and the plan will grow from there. I’m revisiting P90x3 for this, since it was my favorite program and I saw great results.
It might sound silly, but I’m also going to set alarms to remind me to drink water, take a quick walk around our street, correct my posture, and eat small, healthy snacks. And, as I mentioned earlier, I will have a bedtime. I really need that, because I’ll just keep going, even if my brain and body are way past done.
I’ve already started implementing some of these things this week and have noticed a big difference in my productivity and my overall approach to each day and the tasks on my to-do list. And, surprisingly (or maybe not), it’s some of the smallest, simplest things that have made the biggest difference.
Here’s to recklessness…