I often tell people that I’ve spent the past 8 years helping individuals get creatively unstuck, primarily in the context of community — whether online, like my Creative Sandbox Community for women, or in 3D, like my Create & Incubate Retreat.
This is true, but it’s not the full story.
When I started the Creative Sandbox Community as a 5-month pilot program back in August of 2015, my goal was to build a community to help women get their creativity back. To restore that internal permission to create that we’re all born with.
I always knew there more going on, but I didn’t have the language to explain it.
So I kept talking about the Creative Sandbox Community as a safe space for women creatives to get support to get creating.
Which was true… but something just wasn’t landing right. Because again, it wasn’t the full story.
Anyone inside the community could have told you as much, but I didn’t even have the words to ask. I was stuck in the paradigm that helping people get creatively unstuck was the end goal, and that limited my language.
The Power of Words
This lack of language is not an isolated issue. After last year’s Create & Incubate Retreat, I was having lunch with a colleague from my new consultancy, Creative Sandbox Solutions, struggling to put into words how special those five days were.
“Well,” he asked me, “why is it so special? What do people get out of your retreat?” He was truly curious.
And perhaps because I was still so fresh and full from the 5 days, I was finally able to tap into what the retreat is really about.
It’s not that creating is easier and more fun in community. (Though of course it is!)
It’s not even that you’re a zillion times more productive in that unique setting, surrounded by generous, open-hearted peers, all focused on their own creative efforts, with no outside-world distractions. (Though of course you are!)
What popped out of my mouth, while we munched on our salads outside on that warm September day was this:
“People may come to my Create & Incubate Retreat expecting to do their art for 5 days, but what people really get out of my retreat is that it changes how they see themselves and what they are capable. They literally walk away transformed.”
“Wow,” he said, “that’s huge.”
Yes, it is. There’s a lot more happening beneath the surface than the descriptor “creativity retreat” can ever express. And “walk away transformed” is a much stronger value proposition than “Incubate Your Next Creative Project Distraction-Free,” which is what the landing page for the retreat used to say.
A New Paradigm for the Sandbox
The same kind of confusion with language has been going on with the Creative Sandbox Community. There has always been a lot more happening than any of my language to date has adequately described.
Now I realize that the problem was in the paradigm.
I was conceptualizing freed-up creative expression as the outcome that the community helps us achieve. But that’s actually the wrong paradigm.
In fact, freed-up creative expression is simply the first step. Or, rather, one essential step that helps us grow as leaders, as professionals or entrepreneurs, as parents, as humans.
In the Creative Sandbox Community, we support each other to get creating and we share our latest creations, but we are doing so much more than “show and tell.” We are really a lab for women’s leadership through creative expression.
- We practice going outside of our comfort zone.
- We learn to lean into fear and uncertainty.
- We take on the gremlins of self-doubt.
- We seek our own, unique voice.
- We work on unhooking from outside expectations.
- We practice self-awareness and self-compassion (my Golden Formula!) in order to establish habits that work for us.
- We allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
- We embrace the biggest possibilities for our lives.
I don’t know about you, but that sure looks a lot like leadership to me.
Creative play is the route to your Big Dream, not the end goal. Whatever your Big Dream is, leveraging your playful Creative Sandbox self can help you get there.
And of course, the community is here to support and learn from you along the way!
The Intersection of Creative Expression and Female Leadership
The software industry has long used the term “sandbox” to mean a space for testing things out before taking them live. How entirely appropriate! Isn’t this exactly what we’re doing in the Creative Sandbox Community, after all?
The world needs your contributions. The Creative Sandbox Community is a safe space for women to practice sharing them. And to practice all the tools you need to embrace the biggest possibilities for your life.
I welcome your thoughts on this new paradigm!
The Expanse — My husband and I love finding a new television series to dive into, especially if it’s free on Amazon Prime! We both love sci-fi, and good writing and acting, and The Expanse has all of the above. It’s based on a best-selling series of novels by James S. A. Corey, that’s kind of a blend of space opera, militaristic sci-fi, noir mystery, and a dash of horror.
Here’s the description from Amazon:
“The series is set two hundred years in the future, after mankind has colonized the solar system. A hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain come together for what starts as the case of a missing young woman and evolves into a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.”
We’re hooked! Check it out.
Want a creative kick start?
Check out my book!
What would change for you if you could totally revel in the joy of creating? You CAN, with The Creative Sandbox Way!
- Melissa’s 10 fool-proof guideposts that have helped thousands get joyfully creating.
- 5 reasons why creative play is good for you, AND for the world (it’s neuroscience, baby!)
- Why “I’m not creative” is always a lie, and how to bust it.
- How to turn creative blocks into friends.
AND you’ll get creating right in the book itself.
“It’s one part field guide, one part creative practice—and I loved it. The Creative Sandbox Way is an adventure packaged as a book.”
NYT best-selling author of The Happiness of Pursuit and The $100 Startup
Hear ye, hear ye! This is to serve as official notice that all links to anything for sale, be it books or courses, are likely to be affiliate links. What this means is that if you click through said links and make a purchase, although it won’t affect the price that you pay, a few coins will jangle into my coffers, enabling me to buy a packet of hard gluten-free biscuits to feed myself and my husband for another day, or perhaps a pen with which to create some artwork. Or perhaps they will contribute toward paying a fraction of my web hosting bill, so that this blog and podcast can continue to exist. Thank you kindly for your attention.
Thanks for Listening!
Thanks so much for joining me this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.
Also, please leave an honest review for the Creative Sandbox Way on Tunes!
If you’d also like your voice to be heard on the show, leave your question as a voice message right here.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.
Now go get creating!
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!