This week marks the official start of what I refer to as my annual Season of Insanity.
Just about every year, for the past several years, I have gifted myself with three experiences of creative immersion, three “islands of time” that have become almost sacred events on my calendar.
Very few things are important enough to get in the way of my doing them.
Attending these retreats, come hell or high water, is one way I live my creative life. Long before I made space in my daily life for my creative self, I held space for these:
In March, there’s the Spring Retreat with my calligraphy guild, the Friends of Calligraphy – 5 days of undirected creative time in a serene former convent, working on whatever the hell I feel like working on, in the company of 29 other creative souls.
The creative energy in the air is palpable here, and for years, this was the only time over the course of the year that I actually let myself create art just for me. Astonishing, I know, but true. This retreat was my sole point of connection to my visual-artist self. My oxygen tank.
Thankfully I’ve figured out how to feed my creative soul the other 360 days of the year, but I still give myself the gift of the retreat, because there’s simply nothing like it.
In late June, the Season of Insanity begins with Jazz Camp West – 8 days of swinging in the trees. A pretty intense summer camp for adults, who also all happen to be jazz musicians.
Followed soon thereafter In mid-July by California Coast Music Camp – a week of acoustic music-making in the woods. This one’s a more laid-back summer camp for adults who enjoy playing – or want to learn to play – acoustic music in a variety of genres, from folk, to Bluegrass, to old timey, to Brazilian, to swing.
Sounds great, right?
And it is, but…
The problem is, as a self-employed solopreneur with a wedding art business that’s slower in fall and winter and ramps up in spring and summer, getting away for a single week during peak season is, let’s just say, a big fat pain in the ass. It essentially requires me to compress 3 to 4 weeks of work into the week or two before I leave.
This is bad enough in the spring, but the amount of effort it takes me to get away for two separate weeks of sleep-away camp in the course of a month of summer weddings is basically insane.
Insane, yes, but totally worth it.
I learned this the hard way.
A couple of years ago, in a misguided attempt to grow my wedding art and stationery business, I decided to invest in a booth at a couple of wedding fairs, which, for time and money reasons meant missing both of my music camps.
Oh, the pain! And what a mistake.
I won’t even go into the dismal ROI I got on the fairs (you can read all about that fiasco here). Missing out on camp hit me just as hard emotionally as that lousy business decision hit my finances, and turned out to be a loss much greater than the lack of those 15 days of fun.
A creative immersion retreat like my music camps, it turns out, has an impact far beyond the time actually spent there. If you’ve ever given yourself the gift of a creative retreat experience like that, you know what I’m talking about.
Once the spirit has blossomed, it doesn’t go back into the bud. Quite the contrary: the transformation and growth that happen at music camp, and at my calligraphy retreat, create momentum that propels me forward through the rest of the year.
Thanks to that notorious Wedding Fair Fiasco Summer, the two years between music camps felt like a long, dry desert.
I learned my lesson that year. Since then I’ve busted my butt to make sure I get to music camp. Even when money’s been tight and I’ve had to apply for a scholarship to get there. Even though it always means a Season of Insanity.
There are simply some cases where crazy hard work is worth it.
This year, though, there’s additional evidence that I may, indeed, be certifiably insane, because this year I layered another piece on top of the craziness.
Late last night I got back from Profit Catalyst, a 3-day business-building seminar in Portland that took place right before Jazz Camp.
In fact, Profit Catalyst actually overlapped with Jazz Camp. Yep, I made the tough decision to miss the first two days of my sacred gift to myself in order to give myself a gift I decided was equally important: three days of intense focus on transforming my business into the the vision-driven, world-changing entity I’m determined to evolve it into.
I have yet to see how missing the first two days of camp impacts my experience. It’s certainly not ideal, and it could be that I’ll regret it deeply at the end of next week.
But after the experience I had at Profit Catalyst, I doubt it. If I could have bottled the feeling of love, support and freakin’ powerhouse ENERGY in the room at the end of yesterday’s final session, I’d give you a drop, and it would change your life.
I can’t do that, of course, but what I can do is pass on my own version of that energy.
Which is exactly what I’m working on doing. Here’s a little secret: part of what I’m most excited about creating in my business (and a small piece of what I directed my focus on while at Profit Catalyst, in fact) is live, in-person creative immersion experiences that give you the same kind of blossoming that I’ve gotten from my music camps and calligraphy retreats. (And Profit Catalyst too. Except that my retreats won’t be about building your business, but about lighting your creative fire.)
Doesn’t that sound fun?
Watch for an advance notice sign-up list and more info down the road. For now, I’m signing off so I can get my butt to Jazz Camp!
Have a great week, and go get creating!