The Finale

Welp… this is a post that was both really hard and really easy to write.

And we’re sharing the details because we know that making hard decisions about where to put your energy is a necessary part of being creative - so we hope it helps someone out there.

Although we adore Creative Soul Weekend, and everything that it has brought us these last four years, we’ve been talking and we’ve realized… it is time for us to wrap it up.

Leah started the conversation in an email at the start of April, saying she felt like although she wasn’t burnt out yet, that she could see burnout around the corner. Her son Aidan is growing quickly, she works full time, and she wants to take a few things off her plate to make more space in her day-to-day life, more time to be present with her son and in her own life.

But it’s hard to admit that!

“I have so many fears about admitting this - that I’ll lose touch with you, that you’ll be mad at me, that it means CSW failed, that I'll be letting down all the gals who have been so supportive of us.”

Emily responded by email quickly:

“Is it bad that I had a sense of relief when you sent this? I've been back and forth for months. One day all in. The next, ready to send you this same email. Then back to being in love with it.“

Turned out Emily was feeling the same way. Although she had left her day job to focus on her growing design business, somehow it felt like her plate was as full as ever with volunteer commitments and a bustling biz. (Also - funny how that happens… the conversations we put off having because we’re so scared our collaborators or our partners or friends will be mad, are often the ones that they’re scared to have with US.)

Leah responded:

“Yeah, it's funny how little commitments sneak their way in, one little one at a time until before you know it you're running around like a chicken with its head cut off, wondering how the hell this happened.”

You think burnout is something you vanquish once in your life but it turns out to be like weeding a garden: perennial, constant, necessary.

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For both of us, Creative Soul Weekend has always been a passion project. Meaning, it is our passion, and nothing else, that fuels our work for it. We do not make money from it. The project breaks even - all money we take in goes directly to pay for the costs.

Just last month, at the Mini, washing dishes after everyone had gone, we were talking about growth of the project, about potential business models we could use. Social enterprise? Co-op? Non-profit? We wanted to grow, but although when we first started Creative Soul Weekend we dreamt of making it a for-profit business, we learned as the years went by that in order to do that we would have to charge a fair bit more money than we already did, which would in turn make the event more exclusive. And as the years have gone by and we’ve both grown in our social consciousness, exclusivity is not something we want. Self-care and creative development should not be only for those with money, for those with privilege.

But, without earning money from the project, it’s a fair bit of work for a volunteer gig. And though we’ve gotten so much from it in other ways (friendship, both with each other and our participants; joy; pride in creating events that have shifted people’s lives) - well, life changes. We change. And in our fifth year we’ve both come to the realization that we have limits. We only have so much energy, and there are other things in our lives that need our full attention more.

So with gratitude, we are wrapping Creative Soul Weekend up. BUT this is our fifth year and the cabin is already booked, SO - here’s what we’re doing for this year. We would LOVE to have a fifth CSW, one last hurrah, a finale, but even more chill than in years past. We haven’t booked anything else for the weekend (no yoga, no creative workshops) but depending on participants and their interest we could look at booking something. Food would be potluck style, as in the first few years.

There’s room for 7 of us and the cost of the cabin is $763, so if we got 5 other gals to split it, it would be $109 each. The price will change depending on the total number of participants; fewer people means a bit more cost. If you’re interested, send us an email and let us know!

We also need to say a big THANK YOU to all of you for supporting us over the years. You’ve all taught us so much, and shown us that there is a market here for events like this, and that creative women are a force to be reckoned with. Keep being awesome!! Keep creating and showing up for your creative life.

xo Leah and Emily

We Came, We Saw, We Mini-ed

A mini version of the main retreat was something we had always toyed with doing, and finally this year we made it happen. We wanted to do something that was (A) in the Sydney area, (B) only one day long and (C ) a lower price point than that main retreat. We still wanted the elements that we think make the main retreat so special - a small group of women, a yoga workshop and some sort of creative workshop. The space had to be homey and welcoming. The food had to be delicious.

And thankfully, that all came to be. We’re very grateful to the women who came to our event, and to the teachers and chef that we had work with us, for this special day.

Thanks!

Participants - seven women, each with unique creative gifts, stories and reasons for being there. You’re all gorgeous. You made this day what it was.

Susan MacDonald - delicious food and snacks, including a raw cacao hummous that we were all astounded at and a foraged raspberry leaf tea that tasted so fresh.

Alison Uhma - Creative Workshop about Graphic Memoir making that had us all giggling at our doodles and thinking deep about our pasts.

Molly Fletcher - for grounding us and relaxing us with your meditation and yoga.

Big thank you to Krista Montelpare for providing wonderful vintage dishware for our food, vintage vases and fresh flowers!

Carman United Church Hall - for the space full of history and warmth.

Lotherington’s Flowers & Gifts - for the Calandiva plants that were the welcome gift.

Here are the photos that Emily took that showcase our first ever Mini CSW:

You Are Creative

For anyone thinking that Creative Soul Weekend isn't for you because you aren't artistic - consider this your friendly reminder that being creative does not mean you need to be artistic!

Creativity is defined as "the ability or power to create". You can create something, we know it! You can create a meal. You can create change. You can create memories with your friends and family. And we have faith that you can create a stick person drawing if you really are stuck on this artistic thing ;)

So please remember you are so welcomed at Creative Soul Weekend, just as you are.

Want to join us for our first ever Mini Creative Soul Weekend? Click here to get all the details and to register!

 
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Introverts Love CSW!

We totally get it. Events like this can be intimidating at first, especially for introverts. That's why we like keep things small and simple. We know sharing space with others can be overwhelming but the whole point is to fill your creative cup, not drain you. We leave plenty of space for everyone to have alone time to recharge your batteries. In any way that feels good to you.

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We want to create a space where you feel welcomed, relaxed and free to be yourself. So our hearts exploded when Jacquie recently shared her experience of Creative Soul Weekend 2017.

“When I was on my way to CSW in Port Hood I was a little anxious to be spending a whole weekend not knowing 7 out of 8 women attending. I am very much an introvert.

Not soon after, the nourishing food, creative activities, and laid back ‘do-whatever-you-feel-like, whenever’ attitude with the openness of those attending had me completely at ease. I’m grateful to have strong, female friendships in my life but if I didn’t attend CSW I wouldn’t have had the conversations and connections I made there with new people. It prioritized wellness, friendship, healing, joy and the importance of just taking time to be. It still has big ripple effects in my life now in 2019.”
— Jacquie B.

Thank you Jacquie!

Begin, Again

Begin, Again
Leah Noble

It is getting late in the day when I dry my hands from the sink and turn to the bookshelf. “Ahhh,” I think - “I will find a poem that has to do with renewal, rebirth, fresh energy. This, this will do my job for me. I’ll post that and won’t have to think or create much at all.”

The baby is in his crib, asleep. He is one year, 2 months, and one day old. His body is solid and wiry, and he crawls everywhere these days, so proud of himself. Tongue between lips in concentration. Bright eyes taking us all in.

The air today was warm. My skin drank it in, all five degrees of it, so pleasant and such a shift from the bitter crackling cold of the last several weeks, the squeaky snow. That snow has now turned to rivulets running down black pavement. Filling ditches, overflowing.

I go to the bookshelf. I pick out some books of poetry I bought years ago, back when I wrote poems too. Back when I was excited by that medium, thought I might do it enough to call myself a poet.

Somehow, someway, years turned and years turned, and I don’t write poems anymore. Instead I: change diapers. Do dishes. Go to a job and do the things required of me there. Text friends. Gather boxes of things I don’t use anymore and bring them to the thrift store. Prepare food for meals, for eating. These meaty little details of life.

I pull a few books off the shelf, slim volumes but beautiful in the paper stock chosen, the typefaces, the scanty yet weighty scatterings of words across pages. Poems. Those strange little creatures. I scan through, looking quickly for springtime themes. But the poems do not reveal themselves so easily. I cannot “CONTROL + F” them. Instead, they lure me in.

The words, the images, the paper stock. I read and I don’t fully understand and yet a part of me does understand. Remember? That part of me says. Remember, you loved these? Remember, you love to string words together, too?

And I get excited and pull out the laptop and open a blank document. I sit here at the keyboard and I type and I ponder this theme that I picked back in January. Renewal, rebirth, fresh energy. We are tired, at the end of winter, so tired of the shovels, tired of the salt caking our vehicles, tired of dry skin and bitter wind. My whole body hungers for spring, for wet dirt, for those little stubs of daffodils poking up, relentless. For the scents that awaken, the earth lush again.

But it isn’t just the earth that is reborn, in spring. We too are reborn, and our seasons are not as predictable. It is never too late to revisit a dream. It is never too late to begin, again. So what if I am about to turn 35, and I haven’t written a poem since I was 25. Who says those ten years were wasted? Who says I am not allowed to try more, try again?

I hear Aidan whimpering in his room down the hall - a few cries, and I think perhaps I’ll have to go and rock him back to sleep. But he quiets himself. So perhaps I’ll read another poem, before finishing the dishes.

In seven days we are hosting a sweet little springtime celebratory retreat. It’s called the Mini Creative Soul Weekend, and it will be in Sydney Mines, NS. Read more about the details here. We hope you join us!

Our First Ever *MINI* Creative Soul Weekend!

Happy March!

The days are getting longer and even if there are storms forecast, it feels like winter is on the wane.

We’re so excited today to tell you about our first ever MINI CSW!

Over the last four years as we’ve done the “original flavour” Creative Soul Weekend (which is three days long, by the seaside in Port Hood), we’ve heard from some women in our audience that while they would love to take that time for themselves and indulge in self-care and creativity, for a whole host of reasons they just can’t. Can’t take the time, can’t afford the price point, et cetera.

And we’ve always toyed with the idea of creating a one-day, smaller version of the retreat, closer to the main population centre of the island, but it’s been on the back burner for years, since this is a side passion project for both of us and our number one rule is not to stress ourselves out doing something we do for love alone.

Anyway, this being our fifth year, we decided this was the year to spread our wings a little and try a one-day event as well as the regular retreat in September.

And now it’s all planned and ready for you to sign up!


Here’s what’s on the go:

On March 23rd, the Saturday just after the Spring Equinox, we’re gathering in an old church hall in the seaside town of Sydney Mines, at 10 am. There will be tea and coffee and a little snack to greet you, as well as a little welcome/thank you gift. We’ll introduce ourselves, share nourishment, and settle in. Then at 10:30 the lovely Molly Fletcher will lead us in a gentle yoga flow designed to naturally stretch the muscles and open the joints of the body, while simultaneously providing vital Prana (energy) throughout the body, mind, & Spirit. Leah has taken yoga classes with Molly and can attest to her gentle leadership and calming presence. It’s a great way to start off the day.

After yoga we’ll break for lunch. Local chef (and Creative Soul Weekend 2018 alumna) Susan MacDonald is in charge of food and she’s using her creativity to create a meal that’s both nutritious and inspired by the spring equinox and the event theme of renewal, rebirth and fresh energy. We’re so excited to get to share Susan’s love of food!

In the afternoon we’ll stretch our creativity. Local visual artist Alison Uhma will lead us in a workshop on graphic memoir and creating a brief autobiographical narrative. Experience in drawing is not necessary! Bring a sketchbook and any art supplies you like to work with. Other supplies will be provided. Alison is interested in the capacity of storytelling to both extract personal truth and remedy broken relationships with the self and others. She is currently completing the first serial in a graphic memoir entitled From the Other One, about a daughter's relationship with her mother and the devastation of Alzheimer’s Disease. We’re very lucky to have her with us for this event!

After the workshop we’ll have an afternoon snack, circle up to share anything we’d like to share from the day, and say our farewells, wrapping up by 5 PM.

So there you have it - the first ever mini CSW. We so hope you can join us. We’re limiting spots to 10 women to keep the same intimate and friendly feeling of our longer retreat - so if this is for you, don’t be shy and claim your spot here. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us! creativesoulweekend@gmail.com

Click here to be taken to the event page, with more info including bios for our teachers.




Body Love

Happy February! And happy week of Love - both Galentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and the explosion of red and pink and roses all over the shops. Whether you think it’s great or hate the commercialism, it’s impossible to escape the dreamy theme this month.

This month we’re thinking about the manifesto we wrote last month, and especially the line “All bodies are worthy of space, respect and self-care.” We’re taking this love and this line literally and loving our bodies. Leah got a tattoo last month that admittedly was a cute flash piece she just wanted, but getting it on the side of her belly represents loving her body and its rolls and squishy bits.

And Emily is …… beyond excited to read this book! February is a big month of love for her. Especially self love. Her birthday is February 11th so between this day and Valentine’s Day she makes sure to do something nice for myself this time of year. It helps her get through this dark, cold time of winter too. This year she bought herself a new book, Project Body Love by Jessie Harrold. Emily’s been following Jessie’s work on transformation, transitions, wellness, and connecting with your wild woman self for a while now. Her words always seems to resonate in just the right way. This is Jessie’s first book, exploring her journey and struggle to love her body and the realizations she’s made along the way. We think any person in the world can relate to this quest. Emily cannot wait to dive into this one!

We also loved this piece by one of our favourite bloggers about ten years of taking self-portraits and why it’s important to love your body here and now.

We love you! And think you’re great. Just as you are.

Mind Your Light

Well, congratulations. You made it through January. You made it past Blue Monday, and through typically the leanest and hardest month of the year. Culturally we hang so much weight, so much meaning, on the turn of a new year, and feel like we “should” hit the ground running and guns blazing, but energetically this is the time of year for hibernating, for going inward. Our intention of total reinvention goes directly opposite to our resources, our limits. It’s a tough one to weather.

Recently Leah was scrolling Instagram and a friend’s post caught her eye. Tim Damon (account is private) wrote,

“Today, I was speaking with a loved one about the nature of feeling stuck. While I think it is important to hold space for our emotions to come up, I also think it’s important to get out of our own way and engage in activities that elevate our bodies, minds and spirits (especially this time of year!) That said, I am launching a new project and you’re all welcome to get on board. Between now and March 21, I will be posting images with the hashtag #mindingmylight and invite you to do the same. Many people suffer in silence with their mental health. These images have the potential for creating positive change in our community by inspiring others and sharing a simple yet profound message “You’re not alone”. Let’s shine a light on mental health. We’re all in this together.”
— TimDamon

We love this idea - not just about shining a light on mental health but also the idea of minding your own light. We think of it as a fragile tea light flame, something small enough to cup in your hand yet still powerful. To “mind your light” is to care for that fragile yet fiery part of yourself: your mind and your spirit.

Tim’s project calls us to think daily - How can I mind my light today? How can I cup my hands around the tealight and make sure the winds don’t blow it out?

And most importantly - his project reminds us that we’re all in this together. You, me, your friends, your neighbours, all the people in your community who you’ve never met: we are all human. We are all fragile. We all have that little tealight that we’re each minding. Not one of us has this whole “being human” thing figured out. So let’s help each other - that’s what (we think) we’re all here for, in the end.

Stating Who You Are. Our Manifesto.

Welcome to 2019! And welcome to year 5 of the Creative Soul Weekend. We’re going into this year on fire with creative ideas, a new one-day mini retreat for March in the works, as well as big plans for our “original flavour” retreat in September.

Part of that creative fire is setting monthly themes for our blog and social media. Kicking things off is January’s theme:

Stating who you are and standing by it in the world.

So to that end we’ve written a manifesto for the Creative Soul Weekend. We’ve long loved the idea of having a manifesto written but it was only two months ago that we decided to finally put pen to paper. Leah wrote it out by hand first, then typed it up, shared it in a Google Doc with Emily and got her feedback. After a few edits, Leah then made a collage (one of her preferred mediums). You can see the behind the scenes process in our Instagram Stories.

We would love to see various takes on our manifesto by various artists and creatives. So sometime in the next little while Emily will share her take on the manifesto with us and then we may tag another artist in and see what they do with it.

So here without further ado is our manifesto! We’d love to hear what you think of it.

Collage: Leah Noble



A Look Back at 2018 & Look Ahead to 2019

We find the end of the year is such a good time to reflect and set some goals.

Is it the shorter days that invite you to get cozy and journal out your thoughts? Or just the fact that Christmas and the changing of the year are such a powerful time culturally, that you can’t help but think back to “this time last year” and compare how far you’ve come in 365 days? We’re not sure, but on our respective sides of the island we’re both feeling reflective. So we thought we’d each share individually our look back/look ahead, and then also do it for Creative Soul Weekend!

PHOTO OF PORT HOOD BEACH:  STEVE RANKIN

PHOTO OF PORT HOOD BEACH: STEVE RANKIN


Emily

What are you proud of from 2018?

Finding answers within myself. I've always been an independent person who values freedom but for a long time I found myself still looking outside of myself for the answers. For some kind of permission that it was okay to make that move, take the leap or write those words. In 2018 I trashed that habit and really went within. I created a deeper relationship with my intuition, found my inner strength and was able to trust. Trust in the "process," the universe, and myself.

What did you want to do more of but didn't get to?

Photo walks with Steve. Camping. Yard work. Looking at that list I guess the theme there is more time outside. More time just walking in the woods. Sitting in the grass. Beach combing.

What are you looking forward to for 2019?

A road trip to Newfoundland. Steve and I are planning a camping road trip across Newfoundland in 2019. I have family roots in Petty Harbour so I'm excited to visit and explore where the Chafe's came from, hitting the road with loose plans and exploring a province we've never been to. I'm also looking forward to creating space, in my schedule, my home, my brain - just more space. And finally finishing our deck! More time outside!

What are you worried about for 2019 (and bonus points for what's your plan to deal with that)?

I have so many ideas and can have a hard time saying no. I love being a part of things and helping in any way I can. But the first thing to suffer when I say yes to everything is myself and my personal time. I’m worried that the momentum I’ve built with boundaries will disappear. I’m worried burnout will creep back in. I plan to deal with that by creating time in my schedule for down time and reflection - just like I would for a client meeting or event. I need more quiet space to realign and make sure that what I am working so hard on is getting me to where I want to go.


Leah

What are you proud of from 2018?

I’m proud of myself for making a new home for myself, and my son. I’m proud of myself for recognizing when I needed to go back to work early, and then taking the steps necessary to make that happen. I’m proud of myself for parenting my son, and co-parenting with my ex.

What did you want to do more of but didn't get to?

Creativity! Most specifically, creative writing. Also reading. There’s a time and a place for Netflix, for sure - and I needed it to binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy in the depths of looking after a newborn - but I miss reading books. And I didn’t even try and garden this year.

What are you looking forward to for 2019?

I’m so looking forward to working on Creative Soul Weekend, for one! As you’ll read below there’s some fun stuff in the works. I’m also looking forward to having a garden again, having monthly writing dates with a couple of friends who also want to write a novel, and a trip to Nashville with my new boyfriend. Not to mention, watching my son grow and learn to walk!

What are you worried about for 2019 (and bonus points for what's your plan to deal with that)?

I’m worried that I’ll take on too much and that I won’t follow through on my creative projects or commitments. Which is pretty much always my worry, haha. My plan to deal with that is to make a list of all the stuff I’m doing or committing to, and asking myself, “Is this manageable or is this too much?”


Creative Soul Weekend

What are you proud of from 2018?

We’re proud of hosting our fourth Creative Soul Weekend retreat this year! We’re also proud of planning it during a year when we weren’t sure we would be able to (Leah had a new baby, Emily had left her paid job to go full-time freelance). We’re proud of the quality of the event we put together, and of the good time that the participants all had. We’re proud too of collaborating and working together as a team.

What did you want to do more of but didn't get to?

Social media and newsletters… it’s so easy to let this slide. We’re hoping to step up our game next year.

What are you looking forward to for 2019?

Our first “offshoot” event! We’re planning something fun for spring 2019. Stay tuned for news on that in January! We’re also looking forward to Year 5 of the Creative Soul Weekend in September.

What are you worried about for 2019 (and bonus points for what's your plan to deal with that)?

Certainly it’s easy to let paid work and other obligations take over a small passion project like this, and we both worry that we’ll let it slide to the back burner. We’re both planning to book time each month to work on CSW events and newsletters, and stay in touch with each other more consistently.

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