I normally try to take one journey within at least once or twice a year. As a creative, I feel it is vital to stay inspired, boost my creativity and grow professionally and personally. In May, I attended the Brand Stylist Retreat in Mallorca where Fiona Humberstone and Elizabeth Cairns helped me and others to get clarity on our professional journey, gather inspiration and set strategies and goals for a soulful and purposeful business. It was an amazing experience that has immediately been promoted to a once a year week devoted to realign with my business, set intentions and create a clear vision to guide me through the months to come. I can’t wait to be there again in June and meet more amazing women as the group I met this year.
COSMOS GATHERING IN TUSCANY
Last week, instead, I attended the Cosmos Gathering in Tuscany. Again a retreat for creatives, specifically photographers, set in the beautiful settings of the Tuscan countryside. We slept in the Medieval Castello di Meleto, waking up to the mist rising from the hills and the sun peaking through the olive trees branches and worked in the secluded space of Montelodoli, a Tuscan Casale on a hill nearby, where no distractions or noises would deter us from our purpose.
I have done a few of these retreats and I have to say it’s often hard to guess what it will all be about just from the program. It’s more about trusting your host and knowing that she and her chosen team have created an experience that will be enriching and uniquely satisfying your needs. It’s always different and often doesn’t match your expectations, but in the end, if it’s well thought of and put together, it is always exactly what you didn’t know you needed, but you are so happy to have found out.
Cosmos Gathering has been a journey within my untapped creativity. As one of the brilliant hosts, the amazing Kelle Sauer, put it, “it set me free”. As a professional in the blogging and photography industry you spend so much time just keeping up, aligning, competing, that you forget that any creative journey is utterly unique and doesn’t know rules or standards. For once, at Cosmos, it wasn’t about learning what is happening in the industry, what’s new and what you should be doing next to compete in the World Wide Web. It was about each of us, about challenging our methods and our work, experimenting doing the uncomfortable and discovering a new potential growth path we didn’t even know it was there.
“Every time I am in Tuscany, I enter into a new mental space that makes me more receptive, more alert, and opens me up to new inspiration.”
There were no landscapes or unfamiliar places to shoot in Cosmos. I know Tuscany intimately, a 25 year old love story that finds me on every single occasion as much in love as the first time I set my foot there. And I know how suiting for my wounds this place can be, how introspective a journey in this gentle and manicured land can turn out and how conducive to creativity time spent in this part of the country is. Every time I am in Tuscany I get into a mental state that makes me more receptive, more alert, more open to new inspiration. I hear the voices that were muffled by other noises, I see what was masked and foggy, a feel deeply and intensely, my senses are awoken new and my mind refreshed, any clutter or dirt washed away.
THE BEST PLACE TO EMBARK ON AN INWARD JOURNEY
So there was no better place to embark in an inward journey and Leila Scarfiotti, the mind behind this retreat knows it well. We spent the week sharing intimate life stories, getting to know each other and how we work, what are our challenges and our creative goals, we explored self-portraits with Cristina Nunez and talked about the personal styles and ways to approach photography with Leila and Kelle, we shot models and we shot each other, we looked at each other photos and explored how visual language communicates, how much of our intention comes into it and how much the viewer personal perception influences that final message that our photography conveys.
“The journey was ours and the hosts were simply the facilitators, those who created the conditions for little every day miracles and discoveries to happen.”
There was no formal teaching. No guru who blessed us with their presence dispensing knowledge and how to. There was no top down approach. We learnt to explore our creative process and our possibilities while doing. The journey was ours and the hosts were simply the facilitators, those who created the conditions for every day little miracles and discoveries to happen.
We never moved. We didn’t go anywhere and yet I feel like I have just got home from a thousand mile journey that took me to very distant lands where I discovered things I didn’t even know existed and the fact that the journey was just within myself and my endless capability of creation has left me filled with a hope I haven’t felt for a long time. If you go back to my very first post (This Is A Hymn To Beauty) you will see how I value art and beauty as a way to save the world, how I strongly feel art as a mean of salvation and redemption, a revolutionary tool of creation that can truly change the world. To be reminded that its power lies within me and other fellow artists and creatives, within each of us really, has been cathartic, to say the least.
Reconnect with your deepest self
Take some of your holiday time off to take a journey within at least once a year. Find a place where you can think, listen and feel your deepest self. Find it on your own or with other kindred people. Be your guide or let someone else take you by hand and walk you through. Travelling truly is always about experiencing and you will be surprised how this type of experience can be even more refreshing and restoring than a week lying on the beach or visiting town after town. When exploring, don’t forget to visit your own self and discover the person you have become and you can be. Disconnect from the outer world and reconnect to your inner self, the landscape there is all to be discovered even when it looks barren at first glance what you will find is certainly going to surprise you.