It’s been two years since I made the connection between creativity and happiness.
That’s one of the great things about blogging: you can accurately date your ideas. And so I know for certain that it was in March of 2013 that I had the realization that we are all creators in some way. I also know that it was in April of that same year – almost two years ago exactly – that I first wrote about consciously making space for happiness + creativity.
My passion for making stuff has grown tremendously in the last two years. (My talent for doing so has grown a tiny bit.)
I am not a person who keeps ideas or passions to herself. The more important creativity has become in my own life, the bigger role it has played in my work. I’ve set aside time to make gratitude journals during corporate workshops. I’ve started women’s groups with arts and crafts. I’ve coached clients to get their hands dirty.
Then, earlier this year, I went all in on the creativity idea. I put together an event that was really and truly, no strings attached, 100% about spending time being creative.
I rented space in a wicked cool art gallery, and I reached out to some of the most creative people I know in Pittsburgh and asked them to show up as experts for a little chat about the creative process. I asked a studio owner and art camp director to organize “some kind of fun craft.”
“I don’t care what they make,” I told her, “I just want them to enjoy the process of spending a couple hours making just for the fun of it.”
With half-assed plans in place and a venue booked, I put the word out on the Internet and invited people to come.
The most amazing thing happened.
First, yes, people said they would come. They even bought tickets. But also: they said they were excited to come! They totally got what I was trying to say about spending a chill night just hanging out with a glue gun and maybe some feathers. Just because it would be fun.
The night of the event, every single person in the room was pumped to be there.
The panelists, who donated their time in exchange for nothing but free arts and crafts time, thanked me repeatedly for being included. They thanked me – when I was the one who felt overwhelmed with gratitude for their generosity.
The attendees, the ones who had paid $25 to help cover the cost of space and supplies and food, thanked me over and over again for hosting. They made the most beautiful things – even the ones who were insistent that they had no ability to make beautiful things. And the musician who claimed to have zero talent or interest in “anything visual” was putting the finishing touches on her very visual project right up until we shut the lights off and locked the doors.
Every single person left happy and expressing gratitude for being included.
I was floored. I was humbled. I was amazed at how much my crazy idea resonated with other seemingly not crazy people. I felt… normal. Not because I had changed, but because I had wandered by chance into the midst of people who needed and wanted the same things I needed and wanted.
At the risk of over using the A word: it was amazing. It was awesome – as in full of some awe.
I’m remembering that awe as I make this announcement today:
I’ll be hosting The Creative Soul Retreat in Pittsburgh, PA this September 11th through the 13th. It’s a weekend of creative workshops, rooftop parties, and hanging out with people who make me feel normal.
To be perfectly honest: I’m creating the retreat I would want to attend.
That means I’m making sure there is protein at breakfast and springing for the open bar at night. It means I’m trying to hire my favorite all-girl band for the welcome party. It means I’m bringing in the artists I’ve been stalking on Instagram and planning workshops for the kind of stuff I can actually imagine doing at my kitchen table.
And it means you’re invited.
This is not a local event. This is a chance for longtime readers and brand new friends from all over the world to come together for a low-key weekend of creating just for fun. Because I love connecting just as much as I love creating.
It’s not about learning or networking or professionally developing.
It’s about markers and glue and finally getting over the fear of drawing.
But also it’s about you. Because I am a pusher of happiness, and I’m absolutely convinced that a weekend away to do whatever the heck you want will absolutely make you happy.