A week ago I was here. And what I did changed me a little.
Now - you guys know me. I'm not super frou-frou-y or mushy (we won't even talk about how I feel about crying) - but this. This was something special. Let's see how I do at putting it in to words.
I've had my eye on Amber Housley's Inspired Retreat for a year or two now - ever since I noticed some of my industry friends talking about it on their blogs and seeing photos of the event on Instagram. Just from the pictures I could tell it was something that would be fun to go to...but I feel the same way about Italy and haven't been there either. Could I justify the price? Would I actually LEARN anything or would it just be a giant sleepover? If I DID learn anything was I actually ready to do something with it? Since our move to Kentucky I had been struggling a little...feeling like I was "off my game", overwhelmed, needing to make a change - so I took the plunge. Little did I know what a gift I was giving myself.
I hiked. I learned about Periscope. I took almost an entire journal full of notes. I ate the MOST amazing food and drank some pretty spectacular cocktails and did not feel an ounce of guilt. I let my guard down and really let people IN. I slept like a rock. I thought about where my creative life could take me and made ACTUAL, concrete plans about how to get there. I made a floral crown. I sat on a porch with women who had been complete strangers two days prior as we shared our struggles and our dreams. I tried my hand at decorating a planner. I only checked my email once. I did the whip and nae nae. Just kidding. I stood around and watched other people do it. ;) But I didn't run out of the room! I let everything in - every idea, every conversation, every experience - and I got out of it more than I could have hoped for.
I could do a whole series of blog posts about the things I learned - but I think that is one of the truly amazing things about this retreat. Everyone learns something different. Everyone takes away what they need to for their business or their personal life. This isn't a one-size-fits-all weekend where the teachers are trying to reach hundreds of attendees and you are just a business card or a name on a list. This is a deep dig with a small group of women who have found their niche and are willing to share their lessons learned. SO much knowledge and such an incredible willingness to share. No competition, no judgement, just women supporting women. Leah Remillet made me think about how I can live a better, bolder life. Shanna Skidmore and Jenn Sprinkle helped me take a hard look at my finances (both personally and professionally) and gave me strategies for managing it all. Kim Stoegbauer of The TomKat Studio showed me how to take better photos. Cailtin Bristow of Lettered Life re-ignited my creativity. Cathy Olson of Love Inspired made me excited for social media again.
And that was just from the "official" teachers. My roommate Jennifer Reed of The Sugar Monkey taught me that I am not alone. Beth Snyder of 1canoe2 challenged me to say yes to a new opportunity. Christy Tomlinson of The Planner Society reminded me of where I came from and what a blessing it is to still be here. I could go on and on and on...because I made REAL connections. These aren't women I met at a conference and will never talk to again...they are women who are now part of my tribe. I found a group of women who understand me, are rooting for me, and are just as passionate about my business as they are about their own. I have been uplifted, re-energized, and given the kick in the pants I needed. I have been Inspired.
Every single detail was handled with love and attention and with the sole purpose of giving us the chance to just BE. Perfect example? These amazing photos were all taken by Sarah Frenzel of Frenzel Studios so we could spend time visiting with each other and be IN the photos instead of worrying about capturing every moment. What a gift for a memory keeper like me!
The greatest compliment I can give Amber and Inspired Retreat is that I will be back. I know it is an investment...but it is one of the best you will ever make in your creative business. You can spend a few hundred dollars here and there going to huge blogger events or conferences where you hope to get a few snippets of information or a few seconds to talk to a speaker you admire or try make one connection...or you can invest in Inspired and spend three days with a group of women who will change the way you look at yourself and your business and challenge and inspire you to be more. To be happy. To define your own definition of success. To know that you are enough.
I'd like to somehow share just a little bit of Inspired with you. We were SO SO SO incredibly fortunate to receive some wonderful, meaningful and generous treats throughout the event, so I would like to gift some of those items to one of you. Just leave a comment here - I'd love to hear what inspires your creativity - and Monday on my Facebook Page I'll announce a winner who will receive a box filled with treasures from The TomKat Studio, Woven Pear, 1canoe2, winnie jean, Studio Calico, Pink Puddle Studio and much more.
And so I leave you with this. This video was put together by 314 Productions while we were at the event and is the perfect little glimpse in to Inspired...but I believe the lessons shared here can be applied to all of us as we strive to live a bigger, better life.