We are on a high. We are floating, glowing, soaring. We are rejuvenated. We are inspired. Our hearts and our minds are filled with lessons learned, ideas shared and dreams realized, but now what do we do? How can we make it last? Can it last?
I have been on enough retreats—some of them transformative, awe inspiring and mind boggling—to know that there is a challenge once you re-enter the world. The truth is we have rent and mortgages to pay. We have families and friends who deserve our care. We have obligations, dilemmas, challenges. They are not always pretty, but they are real. And they are calling.
So how do we hold on to the magic? Whether you are one of the lucky hundred who experienced Squam or just a fellow artist and dreamer who wants to keep fueling your own creative fire, this is a question that will come up again and again. I do not presume to have all the answers, and I know that everyone is different, but here are some things that have helped sustain me (I say “we” and “need” but really it’s “I” and “want”).
We need to seek (and honor and cherish) community. Lord knows I have been known to go radio silent, but now more than ever we need to reach out to each other. We may not be able to walk down a short path to each other’s cabins, but we can send little emails and make quick calls. We can continue those conversations about art and life with the people in our own circles at home. When we share our stories, we find that we are not alone.
We need to make time for making. Not everyone is blessed enough to do something creative for a living, and not everyone even wants that path for themselves. But odds are if you are the creative type, you have that hunger to make things. Feed that hunger. Set aside time for it, whether it’s a crafternoon with girlfriends or 15 minutes knitting during your lunch break. I like to take myself and my journal out to lunch at one of my favorite cafes. I write, doodle, think and play for an hour, and I always come back to my little studio so much more ready to work.
We need to refill our wells. What does your well look like? Mine, much like that of a 15-year-old girl, is filled with full-bellied laughter, a mess of torn up magazines, chick flicks and singalongs, and an arsenal of sweets. Last weekend I realized how completely calm and clear I feel in nature, too. Sure, I live in one of the most hustly and bustly cities in the country, but I also live 10 minutes away from one of the largest urban parks in Northern America. I see more picnics and hikes in my future. Fill your life with those things that make you come alive.
Sometimes, we just need to stop. A very wise man once taught me the wonder of recreation. I used to think recreation was something frivolous, something you are allowed to do in your spare time, when everything else has gotten done. But the word says it all. You are taking time to re-create. So do yourself a favor and do those things you think you shouldn’t be doing. After making time for recreation, I always find I am ready to create, again.