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creative retreat

THE KEY TO CREATIVITY – REFLECTIONS FROM A CREATIVE RETREAT

October 11, 2016

A question we have asked ourselves time and time again at Creative Retreats UK is how we unlock creative potential. What is it within ourselves that, if successfully plugged in to, can power us a truly creative and fulfilling life?

***And the intention is not to provide the answer to that question, even if just fresh from Retreat*** Because we know we simply do not have it. We cannot tell you how to unlock your own creativity. We cannot give you the key. But we can reassure you of something: that we definitely believe in you. One of the things we can tell you right now, is that the key to your creativity is you. You are the best resource you have ever and will ever have in understanding your own creativity. And the more thinking time and space you give to that process of unlocking it, the easier you will eventually find it to turn on your creative key.

Here’s what we do know. We know that creativity isn’t bound by any single definition. That it comes in all shapes and sizes and doesn’t necessarily fit into the stifling molds that our schooling might have limited us to. Nor should it have to. The creative process allows us the unique freedom to express ourselves individually and explore what’s on our minds and in our hearts. Our commitment to plugging in to that dimension gives us access to a whole new level of creative electricity.

We also know how important a factor environment is in supporting creative pursuits. The humdrum of the city becomes an inevitable distraction off that path and it’s easy to feel puzzled in the search for a suitable place for creation. Especially in shared spaces and with little time in a day.

Beyonce Fitness by Kate from Eat and Learn

Ed from Inspire & Build shares his ideas about creative productivity

But with openness and comfort, it is possible to switch off the external world. To free up the space to begin the important work of plugging in to something deep within. We begin to ask bigger questions. We give pages, song lyrics, head space to our ideas, and in turn contribute to the process of unlocking. We begin to realise, that the only thing standing in the way of living out a truly creative and fulfilling life: is ourselves. It is our will to search for the door, find the lock and push forwards: our will to continue that creative pursuit lovingly as we walk through. To be present for an idea we have that has been pestering us on the bus to work. To listen carefully to the narrative that keeps coming back to us in our dreams. To keep giving time to the projects we procrastinate with. To put paint to sketchbook and go with it, despite the competing elements of our lives that pull us away from that thing.

***DISCLAIMER*** The journey to unlocking one’s own creativity is not always a straight forward one. But, through the act of giving time and space to our innards, we begin an inevitable process of purging our creative sins. Of drawing out and moving on from failed projects, bad ideas, previous rejections: of moving away from faulty electrical wiring and towards an understanding of what helps us with ignition. Some will stop when it gets hard, and it does. They will stop producing if they feel they are stuck, or lose themselves in their own creations. They will find themselves looking for something to liberate them, blind to the fact that commitment to the process itself is what will eventually set them free. That every time they show up for this side of themselves, they add form to an internal key.

Bridget from creative organisation Flow – in flow.

We are learning what helps us to be creative. It seems like being creative could be as simple as picking up a pen. And for some it might well be. Some people have reached a point of simply grabbing their tools and plugging in. And that feels magical. What seems to be the case more often than not though, is that living a creative life is not about being either gifted or terrible at doing this. Creativity is a practice. It is a way of life akin to that of a marathon runner or a martial artist. It requires dedication, persistence and encouragement. It requires hours, it requires grit, it requires sportsman’s resilience. The creative muscle must do its reps if it is to be strong enough to dismantle the portcullis that stands in our way: if it is bold enough to continue formulation of an internal key.

Mindset is everything. Creativity is not a gift, nor is it just reserved for the gifted. It requires work for us to feel its benefits. It requires warmth, safe space, encouragement, continuous nourishing, and nurturing to set the foundations of a healthy bond within. Some might start creating and soon give up. They begin to play the piano and it sounds beautiful, but then they short circuit. They forget the notes, they cannot read that piece in the music, they become tired. Their hands start to feel too small for the keys. They quickly brand it something transient, they talk about it in the past tense as something they ‘had a go at last week.’  They believe it’s lost.

The way we relate to our creativity is a reflection of how we relate to ourselves. If we do not eat, we will starve. If we do not continue to give our time to the creative spirit within, the same happens. What emerges as crucial from all this, is the shaping of our creative keys via an internal source of love, dedication and kind nurturing. The inner confirmation that we do not need the approval of others to validate our productions. Of understanding that the best and most fulfilling creative experience is first and foremost with ourselves and for ourselves. It is the fun process of painting what we want, penning what we wish, of listening to the melody within and inviting that character to sing.

Jenna from Komorebi Nature and Wellbeing runs session on Forest Schools

The key to unlocking our creativity is closer to home than we might first think. With the appropriate belief, love, support, connection and resilience – we can get on our way to exploring what we enjoy, what we are truly made of, and find our own answers as to how we wish to live it out as we realise it’s there within.

We provide time and space for you and the things you love to do, in beautiful surroundings and with like-minded people. Set in a picturesque pocket of the South East countryside, you are home from home as you connect with your creativity at a Creative Retreat. Over three days, you set an intention. You select sessions and dedicate time to things you feel will help you make progress with it. You are asked the important questions and are given space to share your ideas and projects as you contemplate answers. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about our next Creative Retreat!

Big love to our October ’16 Creative Retreaters <3

KICK START YOUR CREATIVITY

September 27, 2016

Commitment is the first step of the creative process. It is the kick-starting spark that shows our ideas where to head to, destabilising the barriers that stand in the way of creating. It’s then, and only then, that the creativity inside can truly begin its magic. Sometimes I watch people doodle in meetings. Some just draw a line, others keep going until it starts to sprawl out and unveil something interesting. If we are prepared to stick around doodling for long enough, then our creative sides will definitely appear.

This is normally the point that people who are struggling with commitment say ‘But I’m not creative,’ or ‘I can’t draw,’  or ‘I don’t have time’ and that may well feel genuine. They put the pencil down. But we have to push through that reflex action in order to hack the internal belief system. We have to put the time in if we are truly keen to see anything different. We have to pick back up the pencil. Furthermore, we must trust the direction in which things start to pull these proverbial pencils in. And please do not let your demons start to limit your ideas about creativity. For it goes way beyond the parameters of traditional ‘arts and crafts’ we were taught at school. It comes in many forms that, given a notes tab, a view finder, five minutes in conversation, or a page in your Moleskin – will begin to take shape more intentionally.

There will always be reasons not to create, or stagnate in routine if we want there to be: an invitation from friends, a fun show on telly, an inviting duvet, a busy day at work. Although these elements of life have a time and a place, one must learn to hit pause on them to truly make way for creativity. And the longer we are willing to hit the pause button for, the larger the space is made for our creativity to evolve. The closer to creative fulfillment we will be. A feeling that some of us may not have ever taken time to consider.

Hacking the internal belief system that stops us from connecting with our creativity means overriding the feelings of fear: of picking up a pencil to draw from our ten year old selves, of singing whether it’s screechily off key, of accepting we are not yet the ‘professionals,’ nor at this point are we intending to be. And with that level of acceptance, the kind hands of nurturing can get to work. The pangs of discontentment will begin to subside, replaced by the sensation of encouragement.

Small + Small = Bigger

We have a simple answer to help you on your creative journey. We want as many people as possible to join in deeply connecting with their creativity. We want to ask you to dedicate seven special days to it. We want you to be surprised by the outcomes of a small investment and see how given time, things begin to unfold.

Sign Up

How? Every day for seven days, a creative challenge is sent to subscribers by text message. You can spend as little or as long as you want to on it and you’ll be trusted to carry it out independently. You then have the option of sharing what you have produced if you sign up to the Whatsapp group or within your social network, or storing it somewhere privately. You will engage with your ideas and observations and be asked to capture your findings appropriately. The brief is open, the remit is yours.

Why participate? In past years, it’s proved to be heaps of fun, accessible, doable, a great chance to connect with others and a real challenge for those who want it to be. Plus, it’s completely FREE!

ARE YOU READY? SIGN UP NOW TO RECEIVE YOUR FIRST CHALLENGE:

***Your details are safe with us***

OK, Kick Start!

1. BOOK A SLOT

You’ll be sent a creative challenge early each morning for seven days. Find a slot in your day that is feasible and a time frame that you know you could be free. Stick to it. Yep, even if you’re tempted by distractions. Keep to it and the results will be rewarding!

2. RISE TO THE CHALLENGE

Whether you’re new to this way of thinking, or it’s something you want to develop further, RISE ABOVE the voice that is stopping you from participating. You are creative – everyone inherently is, we absolutely promise you will surprise yourself. You can be inspired, you can find interesting things, you can find ways to express this, you can finish what you started. This is the muscle work in getting things moving and flowing outwards and upwards.

3. SELF-NURTURE

Appreciate even the tiniest thing and celebrate the smallest steps forward. Look for opportunities throughout your day to spread your creative vibes and share what you have done or found with people you know will be encouraging. Every next step you take is progress and asking for feedback will help you. Negative Emotions? Remember everyone is at different stages of their creative journey. Treat negative feedback as an echo from a past, less creative self that has showed up just to test you. Then push through and pick back up the pencil!

4. TAKE RISKS

Similarly to creating a nurturing space, allow yourself the same space to be able to try out things that are new to you. It’s easy to be very creative, yet stagnate in the safety of what’s familiar to you. Venture into unknown places, explore what you are not very used to. Do that thing you are worried about and find a way to make it work for you.

Are you ready to get moving with your creative work? Join us in the 7 Day Creative Challenge to get inspired and throw yourself into creative action! 

#the7daycreativechallenge

By Maxine Clay, Co-Founder of Creative Retreats UK

SWAP SHOP

July 10, 2016

Have you ever felt like you got dressed in the dark? The unfortunate pang that seems to kick in after you have left the house in the morning, as you catch a glimpse of yourself in a bus stop or a mirror. Your clothes don’t seem to fit you like they used to: you’re back to front and inside out, you’re blue and green without an in between and there’s a stain on your blouse blinking back at you. More sobering, is admitting to yourself that you left the light on that morning. That despite the mountains of garb available to you, (half of which you never got round to wearing) you can’t seem to find the inspiration and zing from it all that you used to.

 ‘EVERY YEAR, APPROXIMATELY 350,000 TONS OF CLOTHING GO INTO LANDFILL AND A QUARTER OF HOUSEHOLDS ADMIT TO OWNING MORE THAN THEY NEED.’

 

Jude Galea hosting her own Swap Shop this Spring.

 

Meet Jude Galea (Jan ‘15 & ’16 Retreater.) By day she’s a doctor, by night she’s a conscientious creative, searching for ways to revamp her wardrobe without the overspending and waste that she’s used to. Despite her overwhelming schedule, she recently made time to host a ‘Swap Shop’ at her home in Brixton and we caught up with her to hear more about it and provide some inspiration to remedy the clothes woes…

What’s a Swap Shop?

A Swap Shop puts people with articles to exchange or trade in touch with each other. In this case, it’s friends and clothes. Attendees bring what they don’t want anymore and leave with what inspires them. It’s a way to be creative about your wardrobe, without the usual waste, cost and to do – and it’s fun!

What inspired you to put on the Swap Shop?

I’d wanted to do one for ages. It’s a great way to revamp your wardrobe on a shoestring ready for summer, usually I would go and buy a whole new wardrobe and spend a fortune. The idea was that I could get the wardrobe, but this time it was free! It was also about making time for things I enjoyed and making things happen. So often it’s easy to schedule things in and then let work dominate.

What did you have to prepare in advance?

It was so easy! The only issue is that I only get my work rotas a month in advance, which isn’t enough notice for Londoners – so I had to ask work to take me off that weekend. After that though, it was just making a Facebook event stating details and how it would works I also read a few blog posts about Swap Shops. Originally I’d envisaged a pile of clothes on the floor, but the posts I read suggested putting clothes on rails. I really enjoyed setting up my flat nicely, with my popcorn maker and a vegan cheesecake I had baked – I took real pleasure in making an effort and preparing snacks for myself and for friends.

How was the experience of running it?

Really fun without any pressure or stress. I got so much pleasure from it manifesting too! It gives you a lot of confidence to think about running other things. I enjoyed swapping clothes and it doubled up as a chance to catch up with friends as well. I also just enjoyed the experience for what it was. 

What advice would you give to others who have an idea they want to try out?

Making time for things you like and ‘’showing up for yourself’’ is so important. If it is hard work then think about all the smaller steps and try to take pleasure in each stage. It’s also important to focus on one thing you enjoy. Maybe in the past I would have tried to make five different vegan snacks, but I focused on just the cheesecake and got a lot more pleasure out of it too. 

Want to know more?

-Interested in running your own ‘Swap Shop?’ Go for it! It doesn’t have to be just clothes, it can be books, electrical appliances, artwork, themed objects, arts materials, small pieces of furniture, baby clothes, children’s toys, old records etc. Here’s some great guidelines for you to read up on to help you get going.

-Interested in conscientious consumerism? Read up on Swishing, the UK’s only all-in-one clothing exchange and retail fashion store.

-Have an idea of your own that you’d like to try out? Join us on our next Creative Retreat!