Hello there, brave and beautiful weirdo! This is a repost of the 12th Makearoo Newsletter here on the blog.
FYI, in my world, ‘weirdo’ is high praise and one of the many perks of being a creative person. Tapping into our unique weirdness is one essential element of producing our best creative work. In fact, I have an upcoming e-course on this very topic, called Dare to be Weird, designed to help creative people embrace what makes them unique instead of assuming your quirks, work habits, and gifts are bizarre flaws to keep deeply hidden out of fear of judgment and/or rejection. Interested? Email me for more info and to sign up if you’re an early bird sort of person.
Camp Makearoo Recap
There are probably dozens of things that could have kept Camp Makearoo from happening. All of them relied upon me quitting. As I wrote on the blog before camp, I didn’t come anywhere close to filling seats like I’d hoped to when starting out, and I could have counted that a failure. I didn’t. My parents experienced a major health crisis two weeks before camp. I helped where I could, had a few healthy cries, and kept planning. I experienced about two dozen technical/logistical/financial glitches–including during the morning of Day 1–and I carried on in spite of them. A guest dropped out a couple of days before the event, deferring her attendance for a future camp. I kept working.
I could have quit. I could have let any one of those things stop me. But I had this idea for a gathering of weirdos that I couldn’t let go of, and I had three talented creative people with big hearts and even bigger dreams who were excited to attend this event. Giving up wasn’t even on my radar. And when I woke on May 18th, I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous in my life–including my wedding day. Speaking of weddings, my awesome husband Daniel–the biggest supporter of my creative work for the past 15 years–was on hand as the Camp Makearoo AV Guy, packing up computer and camera gear and gift bags for our guests and speakers so we could hit the road. I was nervous, but it was a great kind of nervous, if that makes any sense. The right kind of nervous. I’d released any attachments to perfection or ‘wowing’ anyone, deciding I was going to show up ready to serve and share with the people who were every bit as thrilled to be there as I was.
Packed and ready to lead with joy!
View of the harbor on Lake Geneva from The Abbey Resort
Cozy rooms for working on your creative projects throughout the weekend
Dr. Dawn Levitan of LifeScopes Coaching talks relationship shifts and healthy self-talk for creatives
I don’t think the weekend could have gone better. The only things I was lacking were a stylist (as you can see from all the beige in our gathering space!) and an event photographer. Lesson learned for next time: There will be color and fun in the Camp Makearoo environment! Ban the Beige!Another lesson learned: I am a one woman force of nature, but I can’t do it all. I’m a decent photographer, but I knew ahead of time that I’d be 100% focused on my guests and keeping Camp Makearoo running smoothly. So I set up my camera in the back of the room and asked my husband to grab some shots for me, because I knew I couldn’t be present in that sort of storytelling way during camp. I also set an intention to have an event photographer on hand for all future Camp Makearoo events so I won’t have to worry about capturing every moment of the weekend.
Mandy Page of Bold Types Coaching gets to the heart of our secret knowledge and how to tap into that creative power
Other than those two logistical issues which, despite their importance to me, did nothing to impede the quality of Camp Makearoo, the rest of the weekend was incredible. The people who attended were insightful, eager to make room in their lives to pursue their creative dreams, candid about their gifts, hopes and fears, and incredibly and uniquely talented in a variety of media (sewing, baking, interior design, writing, graphic design, etc.) The people who facilitated camp with me were just as talented, energetic, and eager to help our guests–we even had financial freedom coach Ginny Victory reach out to us via Skype (no technical glitches there, woo hoo!) and exclusive videos containing simple things you can do at your desk to either wake up or stay connected to Source from Ms. Mindbody Kate Hanley. It was so fun seeing the connections made between speakers and guests, and insights and ‘Aha! moments’ popping like flash bulbs at the Oscars. One guest remarked that she loved the total absence of ‘the guru thing,’ how each of us at Camp Makearoo–guests and speakers–was striving and working through our own stuff and there were no ‘hands-off’ expert types who floated above it all. We were all connected, regardless of where we were on our individual paths. That’s powerful stuff.
A Skype talk about money mindsets from Ginny Victory
I’ll give a brief recap of the schedule: Day one took a multidisciplinary approach, with guides tackling different facets of creative work (relationships, mind-body, blocks, owning your unique weirdness, money mindsets). Day two featured one-on-one sessions with our experts on topics important to our guests and a discussion of spreading the word about your awesome stuff without feeling like a douchebag. (This is where I’ll share one of my favorite moments: I made some kind of smart remark and one guest leaned over to another and said, with total affection and I suspect a hint of admiration: “She really has no filter whatsoever.” It’s funny because it’s true.) We then took an afternoon pause to rejuvenate or work on our creative projects and ended with a group dinner at The Abbey.
Blissfully perfect spring weather all weekend meant al fresco lunch and walks along the lake during down times(That’s my handsome AV guy, aka husband there on the far right)
We regrouped in the lobby early on the morning of day three for a super-secret excursion–a quick drive south to Harvard, Illinois for a talk and exclusive tour of the Starline Gallery by photographer, teacher, and marketing whirlwind Nancy Merkling. Nancy talked about her own creative process as a photographer (including resisting the classic line “it’s a great hobby, but . . . ” as she crafted a thriving career). We also discussed the gifts inherent in rejection, and why she started a monthly gallery event at the Starline based on community (no stuffy inner circles), freshness (new art each month) and fun (live music, Shakespeare plays in the elevator–yes, really–and wine paired with tasty eats) that’s grown beyond her wildest imaginings. She built this event and people from all around came to this tiny farm community way out on the outskirts of the Chicago area, despite the protests of the usual gang of naysayers who appear seemingly out of nowhere when someone announces an ambitious project.The takeaway: Hold the belief, execute it with smarts, heart, and fun, and people will pay attention–all things I believe with my heart and soul.
Next, we toured the entire Starline Warehouse, where they’re renovating to create more event space (including a chapel and bridal suite), galleries, an Internet cafe, and a full service, ‘no reservations’ restaurant. There were tons of photo opps as we walked through the bones of this enormous old factory, once home to a farm equipment manufacturer that was saved from demolition a decade ago by local entrepreneur and visionary Orrin Kinney. The combination of Nancy’s energetic talk and exploring the renovations in progress were both uniquely inspiring, and everyone had their cameras out and creative antennae extended–the perfect field trip for weirdos!
One of the hidden gems at the Starline – a central atrium maintained by an artist/landscaper who rents studio space at the gallery
Exploring the Starline Gallery renovations — what a gorgeous space!
Chapel organ installation-in-progress
We ended our last day together with a Camp Makearoo Gallery Showing. I’d snagged a sunny conference room overlooking the harbor, we ordered lunch (exploring warehouse/gallery renovations builds up an appetite!), and each guest (and speaker!) shared something they had created, talked a bit about the process of making it, and explained why it was awesome. I think getting to know each other over those three days made the sharing of our work that much more powerful. Some people shared their chosen works for the first time ever, and realized how vital it is to open up and share in an environment of trust. It was a powerful precursor to opening up and sharing our work with the world. And I think that ties into the personal and personalized marketing perspective I believe works so well for creatives and really any indie biz–when you have a sense of the human being that made the cool thing you’re itching to buy, you feel that much better about spending your money. You know you’re part of a cycle of good things.
A brave and beautiful Camp Makearoo guest shows some of his artwork during the Gallery Showing
All around, this was one of the very best experiences of my life and I had a blast from start to finish.We all learned so much. We discovered the inherent value in being in a room with people who are either in the same place in their creative journey or who are a bit further along, having busted through barriers to reach a place of joyful productivity. We also reveled in the mad energy of sharing our work with and gaining inspiration from our tribe–because creatives share many common traits, regardless of our chosen media. This idea was at the heart of Camp Makearoo from the outset–that just hanging with fellow creatives brings myriad benefits–and I was thrilled to actually experience what I already knew was true.We discovered that ‘talent is the least of our problems’ and that knowing you can make cool shit isn’t the same thing as actually making it and sharing it with the world in ways that feel authentic to us. We also learned the importance of going back and repeating that process over and over again, leading with joy and laughter because suffering for our art is no way to live or work.
And we began transforming our money stories, starting with forgiveness for our past money mistakes (because guess what? We’ve all made them!), new insights into smart risks (including taking on debt in some cases) and big, bold plans to earn enough to come out on top, because I am on a mission to bust the starving artist myth (and the suffering artist one while I’m at it), and I aim to bring all of you brave and beautiful weirdos with me in reshaping what’s possible for creatives.
Finally, the subject line of this newsletter is an actual quote from one of the guests at Camp Makearoo. We wrapped up the Gallery Showing, feeling invigorated and inspired by all of the incredible work produced by everyone in that room, but also sad because it was time to say good-bye. One guest walked up to me and said “I enjoyed every minute.” I really can’t ask for more than that, and I’m thrilled to have created the space to make that happen, knowing that the participation, insight, and honesty of our guests also helped make Camp Makearoo such a memorable and enjoyable experience.
If you’re reading this and thinking “Hey, I want some of that!” I’ve got great news for you:
A SUPER-AWESOME ANNOUNCEMENT!
The next Camp Makearoo will be October 19-21st at The Abbey Resort.
Yep, we liked the venue so much we decided to stay. As one guest put it, “You pull into the resort and just immediately feel relaxed.” I’ve chosen another ideal time of year for this event as the leaves are turning colors and the days are warm and sunny enough for a lakeside hike or stroll.
Are you ready to experience the power and magic that gathering with fellow creatives can bring?
Are you longing for more from your creative work and hungry to learn how to break past your biggest barriers?
Do you like to laugh and enjoy beautiful surroundings?
Are you ready to make your uniquely cool stuff and share it with the world in ways that feel authentic to you?
Do you want to help us bust the myth of the starving, solitary creative who must suffer for his/her art while waiting to be discovered?
It’s time to stop reading about Camp Makearoo and chart a course to get yourself there!
And as always, Email me if you have any questions. I’ll be doing a couples/bring-a-pal discount oand referral bonuses, too!