Retreat to Win

The Inner Tyrant: Don’t Fight. Retreat.

If you’ve been paying attention you may have noticed the blog was quiet this past month. (The Mary Oliver poem was just a flare I sent up to let you know I was still around.) I needed a retreat. 

It’s not that I haven’t thought about you. I wrote a number of posts in my head but since I can’t let you into that crazy neighbourhood, they don’t count.

About a month ago I noticed a disturbing trend on my part. You should know that I love a goal. They motivate me to act but there comes a point when “keeping my eye on the prize” crosses a line.  It began with watching my readership and engagement stats – which were growing. It was fun to set a higher goal and challenge myself to reach more people. But I started obsessing about numbers and my metrics became drivers,  it was time to “get out of Dodge”.

My Inner Tyrant had moved in.

I needed a clean break. No forwarding address. I shut down the computer, put my smart devices on a shelf and headed for the Studio interspersed with long walks along the shore. My timing was right for a retreat. My friend Charlene flew in from Ontario to act as an accomplice and help me make good on my escape.

The plan was to make stuff, to have fun and laugh. A lot. (There was also a lot of good food involved.)

Retreat: Day 1

First item up was Soap Making (and lotions and other nice smelling stuff!).

While I’ve done the melt and pour route, that’s kind of like baking a cake from a box.  Problem was, everything I read about lye scared the bejabbers out of me. It sounded like I risked life and limb as well as my pets and random small children who might wander through. There were warning about explosions, caustic waste, mayhem and serious burns. (Tell me again why did I want to do this?)

Turns out, they have to warn you because it can be dangerous but it’s not really difficult. With common sense and a few simple safety precautions there’s nothing to fear. (Although I kept the dog out of the Studio.) Also, Charlene had done this before and having someone with experience makes it that much easier.

I even felt confident enough to experiment. The first batch we made with plain water but for the second batch we used Spearmint and Lemon Grass Green Tea as our liquid. The third batch was coffee-based. Ugh. Smelled ‘skunky’ when mixing and I was afraid the neighbours might wonder what we were brewing. However, it finished up nicely.

Next time I plan to use salt water from the Bay for authentic Bay of Fundy soap!

I’m not an expert on soap-making by any stretch but if you’re curious to know more about making your own soap, check out The Soap Queen. It’s a fun site with great information, videos and ideas. Even recipes.

soapmaking during creative retreat
Setting up to make soap. Most of what we needed we found in the kitchen.
soapmaking during creative retreat
Pouring the raw soap into molds. Smelled good!
soapmaking during creative retreat
Some of the coffee-based soaps curing on the window sill. The two wrapped lavender bars are melt and pour done earlier.

Retreat: Day 2

Still on our homemade skin care kick, we tried some recipes for sugar scrubs and a deodorant. Both turned out very well and the deodorant works amazingly well (or so I’m told by those around me.)

making sugar scrub on retreat
Mixing up our sugar scrub
making sugar scrub on retreat
The finished scrub. Smells wonderful and works well on winter-dry skin.
retreat day 2
Starting the blend for the deodorant

We didn’t just stay indoors all the time, however. We craved fresh air and some exercise. After all, we live on the ocean! Who can hide indoors when the surf is calling. So we surrendered to the wild side and walked walked along the shore, enjoying Mother Nature’s creative side.

It was definitely wintry!
The breakwater looked like it was covered in icing sugar.

Changing it up

Time to play with colour! After giving the counters and table a good scrub (which is easy when the mess is soap-based) we brought out the paper and paints. First we loosened up with washes of colour and plastic wrap to create abstract backgrounds. Once those were done, we set them aside to finish up the next morning. After being so careful and precise mixing our soaps, we needed a way to loosen things up.

This particular exercise is a watercolour technique I’ve often used. But keeping with the idea of experimenting, we decided to see it if it would work with acrylics, as well. While the acrylic paint didn’t flow under the plastic wrap like watercolour, the paint still echoed the lines and forms created by the wrap on top. Definitely something to do again.

Retreat Play with Watercolor
Still to be completed but you can see how Charlene used what she saw in the background. Very nice.
Playing with backgrounds was fun!

Now it was my turn to be the experienced hand as Charlene wanted to try a more realistic style of painting. We decided on a simple floral with an out of focus background.

Heads down in the work

Later that day there was one more walk for us by the Bay of Fundy. We actually heard boulders crashing around as the waves rearranged the shoreline. Pretty awe-inspiring and a fitting finish because our retreat time had rearranged a few things for me. I was back on track with new energy. My focus had definitely shifted back to what’s important – expressing my creativity (and NOT my stats) while inspiring someone else to step into their creative power.

The Bay of Fundy

The Bay was wild on our walk that day

Don’t fight the Tyrant. Retreat.

If your Inner Tyrant makes an appearance don’t stick around. If your stress levels start to rise or you feel you’re drifting off course, it’s probably time to escape, even if it’s only for a couple of hours. Getting into a new ‘head space’ gives you a new perspective.

Push away from what you’re doing and get out of there. Try something different. Take a walk. Find an accomplice. Eat good food and laugh at something.

Got some strategies that work for you? I’d love to hear how you escape from the clutches of your own Inner Tyrant. Share in the comments and let’s plot against that Tyrant.

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