Intention Setting

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

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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RECAP: 2018 Weekend!

A Note from Leah

This year’s retreat felt like the most magical and yes, intimate, yet. Every year I kind of hold my breath waiting to see how everyone “gels” together and (knock on wood) every year the group becomes fast friends. This year was no exception. By Saturday night it felt like we had all been friends for years. For me personally the highlight of this year was Robin Scott’s workshop on Saturday afternoon, but truly it is impossible to pick a favorite thing, as everything this weekend from the food to the downtime to the yoga was restorative and lovely. Already counting down the days til next year!

Emily_Rankin

A Note from Emily

Everyone single person who attended this year (like all previous years) was a welcoming, unique and brilliant woman doing amazing things. And our guides Danielle, Robin and Amanda brought so much needed energy to the weekend. The conversations were meaningful and life affirming/altering. Every year I come home feeling a shift in myself. Having the opportunity to plan and host such a special weekend is one of the highlights of my year. I'm grateful for everyone who has attended, wants to attend and have read our words. I get just as much (or more) from the weekend as those who we plan it for.

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What We Did:

The 2018 Creative Soul Weekend was our FOURTH annual retreat… how is it four years already?!? This year we tried some new things, and kept some traditions alive too. Emily got some fantastic photos, which we're going to share here, along with a day-by-day recap of how the retreat went. Stay tuned at the end of the post for what's coming next for Creative Soul Weekend, including the dates for next year, so you can mark your calendar and book your childcare now! LOL.

Thursday - Welcoming The Gals

Emily and Leah checked in and set about making the cabin welcoming for this year’s participants. We set out flowers, the gift bags, and got the food in the fridge and cupboards.

* A huge thank you to Brenna MacNeil and Quincy Street Market for their unexpected and generous donations to our gift bags and to Robin for gifting us all with our own oil from her beautiful Oils for Empaths collection.

A note on food: This year’s food marked a departure from CSW tradition! We had originally done the food potluck-style in the first year to lower the costs, and then continued that tradition because it was fun to cook together, but it had come to be a little more trouble than it was worth, so this year we gave preparing all the food a try, and including that in the overall price. And because we had two participants who have gluten sensitivities, and one who eats vegan, we made all the meals vegan and gluten-free (with meat and wheat options for those who wanted them) a choice which was enjoyed by all and will definitely be carried over into next year. In this day and age we’re all aware of the health benefits of such a diet and it’s nice to try new recipes to take home. Links to the recipes we made are below in the post - we used all Oh She Glows recipes.

Anyway! Everyone arrived between 3 and 8 PM, as we were all travelling from various places… some from Sydney, some from Halifax, and one gal even came from Maine! This is why we don’t plan anything for Thursday evenings… it’s nice to just relax, greet everyone, and hang out. Unpack, check out the cabin, say hello to the space again.

A couple gals busted out their tarot cards to share, and after a while we ate lentil walnut tacos for supper. The evening passed comfortably with conversation and connection, and a late-night swim.

 

Friday - A Day with Danielle Bryson

Breakfast was DIY, with eggs, bacon, fruit, yogurt, granola and toast with PB and jam available, as well as tea and coffee.

Danielle Bryson, a yoga teacher and healer based in Baddeck Bay (Black Stove Studio), arrived at 10 and we spread out our mats on the deck for a yoga class. She opened the class by lighting white sage, then led us through poses to open up our chakras and get the creativity flowing, ending with a yoga nidra session. Danielle’s energy is bright and bubbly, humourous and yet wise, and it was a perfect way to start the day off.

Lunch was a spiced red lentil, tomato and kale soup, which one participant dubbed “Soul Soup” afterwards, with chickpea “egg salad” sandwiches.

> Recipe: Spiced Red Lentil Tomato and Kale Soup, Oh She Glows

> Recipe: Chickpea Salad, Oh She Glows

Then in the afternoon Danielle did private sessions of reiki, massage and yoga nidra in a bedroom upstairs. As the private sessions went on, the others hung out in the cabin, on the deck, or the beach.

When we don’t have stuff scheduled, it’s very relaxed - you want alone time, you can definitely go for it, no questions asked. Or if you want to hang out and make a collage, and chat, that’s totally fine too. The two Leahs did a run to the local grocery store for a few supplies, and a drive to a couple local beaches and viewpoints.

Dinner was pizza and warm squash salad. Confession - pizzas were of the frozen variety! Whatever… we feel that creativity is all about putting the work in, in some places, and making things easy on yourself where you can. Right? Right.

> Recipe: Vitamin Glow Warm Squash Salad, Oh She Glows

 

Saturday - Morning Free Time and an Afternoon with The Diary of an Empath

In the morning Leah N wanted to get some bodyboarding in, so she took anyone interested up the coast to West Mabou beach and then, after those waves weren’t great, to Inverness beach. There may have also been some “Instagram Husbanding” - impromptu photoshoots of us living our best lives. The rest of the gals stayed in Port Hood and had their own solo adventures. There was reading, walks on the beach, tarot, journalling and foraging for edible and healing plants.

csw_wild_flowers.jpg

Everyone reconvened at lunch for Big Vegan Bowls, artfully arranged by one of our participants who happens to be a professional chef.

> Recipe: Big Vegan Bowl, Oh She Glows

Afterwards, Robin Scott (thediaryofanempath.com) and her friend Amanda Bradshaw arrived. We gathered around the table to take part in a sample of Robin’s Empowered Empath Journalling Course, on the Sacral Chakra. We made a small vision board and did some dream journalling and then learned how to set goals and work with the non-physical to take our power back and manifest what it is we are wanting for our lives. It’s hard to put Robin’s energy exactly into words, but afterwards we all felt calmed and yet energized, stoked to get our goals for the next month into action.

Then we quickly got gussied up and headed across the village to the Clove Hitch, a local restaurant where we had a reservation. The intimacy and relaxation of the cabin is so lovely but it’s also nice to get dressed up and dine out with friends new and old! And the Clove Hitch is casual but also fancy… a nice place to wear our dresses and fancy clothes to, and wear lipstick.

Then back to the cabin afterward where Emily chatted with us about the Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions and we talked through some of the questions. But we were all pretty tired by this point so we ended up cutting it short… but we all took the materials home with us for further pondering.

 

Sunday - the Bittersweet Farewells

Ahh, the last morning. By this point we’re all ready to go home but also don’t want to leave. The weekend feels like it flew by, yet we’re all so full of goodness, we know we soaked up every second. It sounds cheesy but it’s true.

We made a batch of pancakes (https://ohsheglows.com/2014/02/25/easy-vegan-and-gluten-free-pancakes-strawberry-shortcake-w-whipped-cream/) which we shared around the table. We took a group photo on the deck, then a few gals took off early to catch a bus, and the rest of us walked on the beach one more time, letting the waves wash over our feet, sitting and chatting on the sand til a random raincloud came along and made us scurry for the cabin. Then it was packing up the cars and getting ready to head back to “real life”, whatever that is.

> Recipe: Easy Vegan and Gluten Free Pancakes, Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream, Oh She Glows

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The dates for next year are September 5th-8th,

so mark your 2019 calendars, book your childcare, start saving up your spare change (because your self-care is important and you have a whole year to make this happen for yourself!), and most importantly, either sign up for the newsletter or follow us on Instagram or Facebook in order to get all the goodness we’re going to be writing about between now and then! As well as to be the first to know what we’re planning for our big FIFTH YEAR and to know when registration opens.

Cheers!
Leah & Emily