This is a MUCH longer post than I would normally write, but it’s a story that’s been brewing for a while.
In 2007 I had come to the end of my rope. I was ready for a change. I decided I was going to meet with a friend who had just retired from directing Artist’s Way Retreats, and I had a big idea to pick up where she left off, to see if this was something that would help me find creative fulfillment. Within a week of planning for my very first ever retreat, I felt refreshed, and excited! I knew this was right. At work, my step was lighter – I was happier.
Then I wondered if it was possible to bring some of this inspired feeling into my workplace, sharing it with others. I worked in the creative department of a big corporate office, and there didn’t seem to be an understanding of how to inspire creative people. Basically it was up to the creative individual to inspire him/herself. Unless there was product to be made from a workshop or lecture, there wasn’t much interest from the upper levels to allow it to happen. And this is a company that depends on its artists a great deal. It seemed like such an easy thing to fix. All artists need is a little freedom to be purely creative, I thought. Just a little.
As I browsed the web to gather ideas for workshop leaders to invite into my retreat, I happened upon three websites that would launch a journey of creative dream discovery that continues today. I found SARK, Artella, and I stumbled upon a little website by a girl named Andrea Schroeder. Her website was called ABCCreativity.com (now creativemagicacademy.com). What struck me was her Creativity Spa – a duplex she transformed into a creative center with pink walls where people could come in, use supplies, make creative stuff, and even PAINT ON THE WALLS. I thought, wow! Paint on the walls? I immediately thought about our huge corporate office – it used to be an automobile manufacturing plant. SO much space, and not all of it was being used. We totally could find a single room to use as a “Creativity Spa” of our own, right? I also thought we could hold some random creative workshops that would PURELY be centered on inspiring the artist to experiment and PLAY, with no force from the company to produce product. Pure artistic expression. I gathered the images from Andrea’s website to make my own “Creatvity Spa Hot Sheet” to use as a proposal, found the right group to propose it to, and it was overall received well. I was hopeful, excited, a little nervous, and feeling I was totally going in a wonderful new life direction.
Less than two months later I was one of the many people dropped into a mass group of lay-offs. Job over.
I had two little kids at home, one not even a year old yet, but thank goodness I also had a husband with a full time job. I decided to be grateful to have some time of career reflection and to have more time with my kids. I felt, dare I say… RELIEVED (combined with shock). I felt the ole cosmic “boot in he rear” telling me, “Well, it’s great that you’re trying to do this creative inspiration stuff at your workplace… but don’t you realize that’s not where you’re supposed to be?”
After four years of creative exploration, retreat and workshop facilitating, teleclasses, and collecting certifications, I’ve realized while I was at the corporate job, I was where I needed to be at the time. Over time, it acted like a pressure cooker, pressing me to the point of desperation to discover a world of creativity and inspiration beyond the corporate walls. I’m glad that happened.
I have since found a new community – one filled with kindred souls, and most of whom I haven’t met face-to-face. And we all have a similar mission – to share creative inspiration with others.
I wonder if one day I’ll return to my old workplace as a visitor to fulfill my old dream – as a presenter or workshop leader. I hope to share inspiration, helping to make people happy in their workplace, and encouraging them to discover the same creative communities I did, so they can seek out more and more creative opportunities outside the cubicle. At the least, I hope to be able to do it with my retreats and website.
In the meantime, I am happy in my new employment which doesn’t drain my creative spirit. I seem to have more energy than ever, despite the occasional exhaustion when life just gets too overwhelming. And that is when I stop, breathe, and visit Andrea Schroeder’s website and blog to see what magic she’s up to.
I recently have had the opportunity to interview her and am thrilled to share it here. She has been on her own journey since mine began, and it s very interesting. I hope you enjoy our conversation!