After an endless year of waiting, the 5th annual Create & Incubate Retreat came and went — it wrapped up on Sunday.
I swear, those five days are the most wonderful five days of my year, and they just keep getting better each year.
And they seem to go faster each year, too.
I wait forever for the retreat to come, and then it’s finally here, and I’m immersed in magical creative energy, and laughter, and generosity, and warm-heartedness…
And spontaneous visits from deer and quail and hummingbirds…
And uninterrupted create time in the Incubator for five days…
And then in the blink of an eye it’s over, and I’m home again. Back to the messy chaos that is my normal life.
It’s a short week this week, too. Thursday is Rosh Hashanah, so I’ll be out all day leading services. And then I leave early-early Saturday morning for the Heroic Public Speaking Live conference in Philadelphia.
And, of course, because planning ahead is not one of my strengths, I had a massive project deadline on Monday, so I had to hit the ground running.
And alas, I do not have next week’s podcast in the can, so I’m making this episode a short one, in order to get two episodes recorded this week.
So what I wanted to share with you today is from a little thread from the Create & Incubate Retreat Alums Facebook group, with permission from my best friend, Amy.
See, Amy has come to my retreat every year since its inception. And Amy is, among other things, a playwright. She spent previous retreats working on a play that ultimately was produced last year.
And it was amazing.
This year she used her time at the retreat to start work on a new play. But the gremlins were vicious.
Amy’s first play was set in modern day, is very realistic in tone, and revolves around a couple facing very realistic challenges.
Her new play is really different. It’s based on a well-known classic novel, which has been dramatized into plays and film countless times over the years already.
“What’s the point?” said Amy’s gremlins before she came to the retreat. “Who would possibly be interested in yet another version of this story? Why would anyone want to come see my play?”
She was feeling pretty hopeless about it.
But all of that changed inside the Incubator.
It’s impossible to communicate in words the magic of creating in a room together, in companionable silence. Everyone working on their own creative projects.
The cross-fertilization that happens. The inspiration.
And because I start each day, right after breakfast, with Catalyzing sessions, we are all loosened up, laughing, out of our heads and in our bodies.
The gremlins are dispersed, we are grounded, connected with each other, ready to dive into the uncertainty that is creativity.
So by the time we did our sharing after dinner each night, and gave each other a glimpse of what we’d been working on all day, the rest of us were blown away by the imaginative, creative, genre-bending scenes Amy had painted from the story we all knew so well.
A. Ma. Zing!
“You must produce this play to be right before or after Create & Incubate Retreat, so I can come see it!” said Rebekah, who has flown all the way from New York two years in a row to attend the retreat (and has already pre-registered for next year, along with almost everyone else — make sure you’re on my mailing list if you want to attend next year, because most of the spots are already taken by this year’s attendees — I’ll be sending out early bird registration info to my Insiders Newsletter subscribers once I have the dates confirmed and the contract finalized).
The Cold of Re-Entry
But here’s what happens: at the retreat, when we’re surrounded by the bubble of warm, cozy support and encouragement, everything feels possible. The gremlins still show up, but we get help in sending them off to get pedicures, so they don’t run the show.
And then we go home.
Usually that means isolation. We’re not in a cozy, creative Incubator anymore. So what felt fun and delightful and exciting and filled with possibility at the retreat, in the harsh fluorescent lighting of our day-to-day lives suddenly feels lame.
Those “you don’t know what the hell you’re doing” gremlins start to rear their ugly heads.
I posted a “re-entry” video in the Retreat Alums Facebook group, to remind everyone that coming home after an experience like Create & Incubate Retreat can be jarring, and to treat ourselves gently and lovingly. And in response, Amy shared this:
Then Amy shared this Andy Warhol quote, which triggered a little thread/rant:
And that is what I want to share with you today. May it inspire you to put on a timer, if that helps you, and just create. Just start.
Whatever anyone else decides — and whatever you even decide about what you create — doesn’t freaking matter. What matters is that you DO IT.
So go do it already.
Then let me know you did it, because that will make us both happy.
Go get creating!
This was the first all-female Create & Incubate Retreat, and our mealtime conversations sometimes got a little… female-specific. Which is leading to this week’s Something Cool. I have not actually tried this myself, but one of the retreatants did, and it made camping out during the recent eclipse much more convenient: Pee Pocket!
This is a device that lets you pee like a guy, and we had a very long, very hilarious chat at lunch at the retreat about it.
I confess I’ve been curious about these things for a long time. There a ton of variations out there — some disposable, like Pee Pockets — some reusable. If you have had experience with any of these devices, I’d love to hear about it! Chime in in the comments!
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