Integrate: Because Creative Work is Lid-Resistant

No one has more beautiful lids in her kitchen than my friend, Hula.

The idea for the Integrate Retreat began in my inbox.  The Take Me with You journal had come out, and I was hearing all kinds of things from you, dear readers, about where you were at on your journey of recovering or finding your voice.  What fears you were battling and what you were up against in your mind.

And it was so familiar.

Fear about what would spill out on the page was a common theme.  Most of us have a certain level of awareness that there are thoughts, ideas, or even whole parts of ourselves that we keep under wraps.  Things that feel threatening, as if they could really shake things up or make it impossible to put off change any longer.  Or some of them are things we don't particularly want to get out--we don't want to be known for them, even known by ourselves.  We get so used to it that we stop realizing just how much energy it requires to keep the lid on.

Just don't pick up a pen.  Just be careful who you talk to.  Just avoid that topic.  Just don't go there.  We make up strategies and do our best to execute, but slivers of longing still find their way out through the cracks. 

I know this.  I know it so well.  There's something about creative work that is lid-resistant.  Whatever our medium, whether we are painters or photographers or storytellers, to access the kind of freedom we need to create good work we are required to loosen our grip.  Including our grip on ourselves.

I hadn't been writing for very long at all when some very disruptive words leaked out onto my page.

"It's okay if I'm not brave," they said, "because someday my girls will grow up and they will be brave and they will live in exciting cities."

I don't think I'm the only one who would be stopped in her tracks by such a thought.  I had a 3-year-old and a newborn baby, a house and two dogs in the suburbs.  I wasn't even 30 years old yet, and I was already settling for a life that some part of me didn't want.  And I had been very happy to ignore that.  For years.

But seeing it in black and white--where I couldn't avoid knowing any longer that I was on a path of not following my dreams and then pressuring my children to do what I had not been brave enough to do myself--well, it was a point of no return.  One I didn't ask for, and one I never saw coming.

Slivers of longing still find their way out of the cracks.

I set off to uncover this exciting-city-loving girl and to welcome her into the fold.  She had been there all along, in fact she had probably had some hand in marrying an exciting-city-loving boy all those years ago.  And so, with a 3-year-old and a newborn baby, we began the adventure of a whirlwind move to Brooklyn, a place that mysteriously fits us so, so well.

I know what it's like to be afraid, to use so much energy to coax myself into Just Being Okay.  Who wouldn't want a pretty little house in the suburbs?  It was supposed to be what I wanted. 

Keeping the lid on was exhausting--practically a full-time job.  Taking it off shook everything up, like an earthquake running through my inner universe.  But on the other side, I got to be more free, more true, more whole.

This is one way integration shows up in our creative journeys.  If there's one thing I believe, it's that we shouldn't ever have to go it alone.  To have conversations that change everything forever, and to create a community for ourselves of people who are on the same kind of path--these can be the foundations that keep our quaking worlds from shattering.  This is why we are gathering in November: to be together, to loosen our grips on that lid, and to witness the adventures that are just waiting to find us.  There's a spot there, just for you.  And a dream in my heart that you will come.