Pulling Away to Create

I signed a contract to write a book last week, and in the time since I made it official, I have had zero opportunity to write.


I haven’t been able to blog, to work on the book, or to make edits on another project. We’ve been on vacation, and I purposed this year to be fully engaged in that vacation. In the past, I’ve always pulled away to blog, feeling as though I had to keep the ball rolling so as not to lose momentum.

This year, I had to stop.

Babies change things. Having another baby makes it harder to pull away and work. I’m obviously okay with this, because have you seen how desperately cute that baby is?!

But I needed to make it a plan in my head that I wouldn’t steal time from my family to write words that may or may not be read. I needed to be present, fully, and I was. And it was awesome.

But today it’s time to get back in the swing of things.

Photo Courtesy of Tammy Labuda. TammyLabudaPhotography.com

Photo Courtesy of Tammy Labuda. TammyLabudaPhotography.com

Tonight, two of my creative besties will land in Florida. They’ll make their way across the country from California, and land on the hot tarmac here in Tampa. Tomorrow, the other three will join them, and the six of us will spend the rest of the week cheering one another on as we press toward our individual goals.

We’ll work on books, on photography, on lesson plans for the coming year. And we will do what we’ve always done best. Encourage one another.

Photo Courtesy of Tammy Labuda. TammyLabudaPhotography.com

Photo Courtesy of Tammy Labuda. TammyLabudaPhotography.com

This will be our 5th Annual Creative Retreat, and it will be different this year. We’re on a different coast, and we’re all in different places in our lives. Time will be spent less on creating the perfect meal, and more on the projects that beg for our time.

Tammy doing her thang at our 3rd Annual Retreat.

Tammy doing her thang at our 3rd Annual Retreat.

There’s been a lot of stress leading up to this year’s retreat. Coming in from vacation the day before you’re hosting such an event is not something that I would generally recommend. And it’s the first year my mom hasn’t been around to help with the kids, so a sitter is coming to the rescue.

We work at these retreats, yes. But we also rest, and rest is imperative for the creative soul.

We work at these retreats, yes. But we also rest, and rest is imperative for the creative soul.

All these things beg for my attention, threatening to steal the joy I feel when I surround myself with these talented friends of mine, but just as I had to purpose not to work during vacation, this week I will purpose not to worry while away from my family.

[Tweet “Sometimes moms pull away from the art to focus on family. And sometimes it’s the other way around.”]

Photo courtesy of Tammy Labuda. TammyLabudaPhotography.com

Photo courtesy of Tammy Labuda. TammyLabudaPhotography.com

The kids will survive a few days without me, and Lee assures me he’s got this handled. Despite the stresses inside his own job, he’s given me a wide blessing to chase after this dream I have of writing books.

So this morning, I’ll get the baby settled for a nap, and pray she takes a long one. Then I’ll head out to pick up groceries, and I’ll prepare myself to leave for a few days. To step away into my craft.


It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we’re willing to pull away for a few days. Even for a few hours. I pulled away from blogging for almost the entirety of our twelve day vacation, and I found that the quiet spaces actually provided me time to think.

Imagine that.

All the words I need to write began to simmer in those pulled back days, and they’re ready to tumble out. At least, I hope they are. I really hope they are.

And pulling away from my family for just a few days will offer a similar peace of mind so that when I return I’ll have less of the book hanging over my head, and I can focus more fully on them as we continue to enjoy our Summertime Agenda of Awesome.


[Tweet “Pulling away from life for a time leads to soul refreshing that cannot be duplicated.”]

I’m looking forward to the refreshment of simply diving into the work this week. And next week?

Next week we play again.


Why You Should Host a Creative Retreat

Four years ago, I got on a plane and headed West. My friend and writing cohort suggested a weekend away to focus on our crafts, and it sounded like exactly the thing I needed to jump start a few projects. That was the birth place of our Creative Retreat.


Today, Wendy told you how to plan and execute a Creative Retreat. I’d like to piggy back on her words and tell you why you should do it.

There is no substitute for the power of like-mindedness. As females, we crave relationships. Conversation with others is the Yin to our Yang. We thrive on those deep seeded moments of connection.

WendyWhile this is true for all women to some degree, for creative women, relationship is almost like oxygen. As Creatives, we are known to have ALL THE FEELINGS! We see life in a unique way, and by unique I mean totally different from our more realistic, left-brained peers.

Let’s just say we might still believe in unicorns and fairies.

When Creatives come together, the days suddenly feel a little more sparkly. Tuck Creatives away in a beautiful place with inspiring scenery, and a bit of magic happens. Imagination takes flight when a group of creative women comes together, because as we share ALL THE FEELINGS, and we dream the dreams, we see that perhaps this thing that we do, this creating, isn’t such a strange thing after all.

There is comfort to be found in a room full of women who agree that they’ll forgo cleaning the bathroom/kitchen/house in order to write a few more paragraphs, or edit that last batch of photos, or simply read a book. There is beauty seen when we stumble out into the early morning sunlight together because we couldn’t sleep, all the visions and stories calling us out of bed.

A Creative Retreat extends a hand out and says, “You’re not alone. I get you. Let’s do this together.”


What makes a Creative Retreat?

Wendy gave some excellent tips on what makes up a successful gathering for the creative minds. But more than anything, a Creative Retreat is simply a place where you come together, and you enjoy designated, un-interrupted, guilt-free hours specifically on your craft.

A Creative Retreat is a getaway that allows you not only to escape your day to day home life, but also to escape fully into the gifts that let your soul breath a little bit easier.


Why Is a Creative Retreat Important?

In the four years since Wendy and I began planning these Creative Retreats, we’ve seen the women who join us grow in their talents. The photographers, both already phenomenal in their own right, have gotten more confident in their abilities, and in their callings. The teacher has found that the time away fills her soul, preparing her to return home to pour back into both her students and her children. The writers have each expanded their reach and platform, and have accomplished project goals.

A Creative Retreat is not only fulfilling to the creative heart, but it also allows you to set and achieve goals. Concentrated time focused solely on your project can yield amazing results.

Three years ago, I wrote 50 pages in my novel in just three days. All I needed was the space and time.


If you’re a creative who’s looking for space to breath and stretch your creative wings, I would urge you to look for a retreat that you can attend that will meet that need. And if you can’t find one?

Well, head over to Wendy’s blog to see how to start your own.

Happy Friday!

Scenes from a Creative Retreat

This is the fourth year I’ve gathered with my group of like-minded, creative friends, and every year I find myself more blessed by our time together. Each person here is so uniquely gifted and blessed, and I learn so much from them. My soul is nourished, and I find myself lost in my craft.

Today I finished my e-book. Stay tuned, because my hope is to have it published within the next few weeks.

Last year, the photographers ruled the show. They worked to further improve their skills behind the lens, and the results were a masterful grouping of photos of each one of us.

This year, each one of us has new ventures that we are developing, and during the quiet hours of the day, we’re deepening our skills, supporting one another in our respective crafts, and sharing delicious meals filled with conversation and laughter.

It’s truly inspiring to be here, and I find myself more and more wanting to pull other women into this fold. It’s a dream that’s turning into a goal, and this weekend is fanning the flame.

As I go back to my work, I’ll leave you with a few photos of our days here. I’ve been so focused on my book that I haven’t spent much time photographing our amazing, Southern California surroundings, nor have I been overly drawn to blogging. My brain has been fully engaged in this one project, and I’m so thrilled to have finished it today.

So without further ado, I give you Scenes from a Creative Retreat






Happy weekending to you all!

Watercolor Therapy: A Guest Post

This post was written by my dear friend, soul sister, and my creative partner, Wendy. A week from today, I will be on a plane to California for our annual Creative Retreat – a time to gather with other like minded women seeking to glorify God with these gifts that He’s given us. I am thankful for her wise words. Please welcome her!

There is a time and a place for therapy.

When a muscle is strained, there’s physical therapy; for the patient who’s undergone a stroke, speech therapy; children with physical delays need occupational therapy; and those held in emotional bondage benefit from psychotherapy.


Photo courtesy of Wendy Speake.

My dear friend, and author of this blog, is in need of a little therapy right now.  Even as I write, Kelli is flying home from an intense weekend with family.  After receiving the devastating news that a loved one is battling an aggressive form of cancer, each family member came together for the deep heart therapy that can only be done in one another’s presence.

The Stuart Family lifted up their beloved patriarch with prayer therapy, before Kelli’s father-in-law began chemotherapy.  Now all the Stuarts have scattered back to their own cities and little families again.  How difficult I imagine it will be for Kelli and Lee to not be with their loved ones during the days ahead.  Which is why therapy must continue. 

Prayer Therapy:  Those who know and love Kelli and her family, I beseech you to pray for them during this time.  Pray for the healing of her father-in-law, wisdom for his doctors, comfort and peace for Lee’s mother and siblings, and lift up the grandchildren… as the sting of illness and the reality of heaven sets in.


Photo Courtesy of Tammy Labuda Photography.

Friendship Therapy:  We desperately need friendship when our hearts pump hard to comprehend our circumstances.  There are seasons of grief when we pull away; retreating into prayer closets, lifting up our hands in private worship.  But a time comes when friends must join in the retreat.


“Retreat: A movement away from danger, back along the original route.”


Photo courtesy of Tammy Labuda Photography

 How appropriate that Kelli and I are hosting our annual Creative Retreat at my home in one week’s time – Our safe place to move away from danger, and find our path again.

Sitting in my backyard yesterday, creating watercolors with my children, I thought of Kelli, and sent her a text:  Let’s do some watercolor therapy when you come.  She responded:  I agree. 

 Water clear and paint brush dry 

Blank canvas ‘neath the western sky 

Young woman sitting all alone 

Breaks silence with a subtle moan 

Bare shoulders kissed by heavens sun 

She lifts her eyes, bids healing come 

Picks up the brush, then comes undone. 


Photo courtesy of Wendy Speake.

Ironically, or not at all, Kelli sojourned to my home for last year’s retreat, after the heartbreak of her unfruitful adoption.  She retreated to my front porch, blindsided and raw.

 Prayers and friendship mingled with food, adventures, laughter and late nights, as healing took place.


Photo courtesy of Tammy Labuda Photography

Sometimes the therapy a heart needs most is to RETREAT.

Retreat into the healing, dry climate of Southern California’s hills,  and the quiet of a backyard, and the rhythmic movement of a paintbrush.

 If you are hurting today, which many of us are, I encourage you to retreat, to find refuge, and to dwell in the shelter of the Most High.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day… (Psalm 91:1-16)

(Thanks to one of our amazing photographers, Tammy Labuda, for always capturing moments of inspiration so expertly. Check out Wendy’s beautiful new site here.)

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