This is a story about how Makearoo came into being.
On October 19, 2011, I was on the phone with my biz coach, Darla LeDoux. It was less than a week until my 44th birthday and we were on our last call of a six-month coaching program.
And we were both feeling frustrated.
I’d signed on with Darla to figure out a way to make freelancing more lucrative. If I could just pitch more often, set better income goals, get clearer on the types of markets I wanted to write for, etc., I’d be golden. The old “If I just try harder at that thing I think I need and am too scared to abandon so I can grow, maybe it’ll get better” chestnut. (This is a lot like trying to think your way out of depression or anxiety; without the right support to connect you to inner knowing, you’ll spend a lot of time chasing your tail and finding yourself standing in the same miserable spot over and over and over again.)
The mechanical, goal-setting, go-getter stuff wasn’t working, not due to laziness or stupidity, but because my heart wasn’t in it.
I was a writer who wasn’t writing.
I’d been writing for most of my life, and I felt like a failure. I felt like I’d let my family and my coach and myself down.
Darla said that she was damned if she was going to let me shrink away from my power and gifts. She told me to brainstorm a list of ways I could make money using my talents and experience, no matter how outlandish it seemed and regardless of whether it was lucrative. I was to call her and share my list in two days.
“A miracle will happen between now and then,” she added.
Are you rolling your eyes? I did.
I was a cynic for most of my adult life. The Scully (logical scientist) to everybody’s Mulder (believer in paranormal activity and alien life forms–any X-Files fans in the house?). I was always looking for “the tell,” the real deal, the man behind the curtain. I was raised by a parent who learned from her own parents to trust no one, that people will always let you down if you give them half a chance, and that most people are full of shit and only out for themselves. So a miracle? Please.
Deep down, I knew what she was getting at. It was time to pull out the stops and really think about how I want to spend my time. I wanted to remain self-employed and I wanted to keep making stuff, and I longed for community and connection. So I started a list, the top portion of which is in the image shared above. (Behold the beauty of Toni brainstorming! I still totally plan on writing Babies are Jerks, by the way.)
That idea at the top? That’s Camp Makearoo. It was the first thing on the list and the thing that scared me the most out of everything else I’d thought to do, because it felt too big and too close to my heart. I’d attended conferences, retreats, and tweetups and knew well the electricity, connection and insight gained from gathering among like-minded people to serve a common purpose. But lead one myself? Help people like me who wanted to connect with who they were and what they did best? Was I nuts?
For the first time, I did the totally illogical and unsafe-feeling thing and I went for it. After a lifetime of safe gigs reaching for low-hanging fruit and keeping myself from being seen by too wide of an audience, sheltered in a crusty coating of self-deprecating jokes and cynicism, I jumped into something totally new. Something that would require risk and vulnerability and putting myself out there and asking for help and learning an assload of new skills, like how to run a retreat and grow a coaching practice.
And it all came to me in two days, because I was tired of being frustrated and stuck and joyless in my work, and I was tired of being cynical and hating myself.
I was ready for a miracle, so it arrived. Funny how that works.
This is important: The miracle wasn’t the idea. It was my openness to the idea that I had mad skills and could apply them in ways that felt like home, like the work I was put here to do.
It’s a little more than a year later and we’re coming up on the second Camp Makearoo this May. This retreat is the PERFECT opportunity to bring your own list of big, bold, too-crazy-to-come-true, who-do-you-think-you-are dreams to this retreat. You know, the one you’d be too shy to post in a weekly newsletter so everyone could see the crazy shit you dream up? That list. Camp Makearoo is the ideal place to incubate an awesome idea that feels just a little bit scary and out of reach, but that you know in your heart of hearts you could do if you let yourself take the plunge because you want it more than you fear people hating it or pointing at you and laughing. Whether you’ve been writing or making stuff for years and want to evolve or you’re just starting out and wondering how in the heck you can make something on your dream list happen, this gathering is the place where miracles will arrive. You don’t even have to show up believing that to be true, but you might by the time you leave.
Are you ready? I’ll see you in May. (And I want to read your lists!)