What a paradoxical week! There were bright sunshiny days that trumpeted joy and rebirth, alternating with dull grey days that spit out rain. There was exultation and anxiety on the emotional barometer. There were afternoons spent exploring the mudflats at low tide, and mornings with nose pressed to laptop screen, fingers typing away. There was social media chatter and there were naps. There was gearing up and letting go. Gee, that does sound like Spring, doesn’t it?
My thoughts this week circled mostly around business, so (fair warning) that’s what I’m writing about today.
More and more opportunities are coming my way to lead retreats, and to teach in-person workshops. I am thrilled about this! It’s quite a shift away from the online work that has been my main focus for the past few years. Here’s an epiphany that came to me this past week:
I love leading retreats as much as I love painting!
It’s a third art form, along with writing and making art. I love love love designing experiences for people. And I love learning how to hold the wisdom of the circle.
But / and. Here’s the paradox: I am finding that it is much harder work to create a sustainable income with in-person events because of the high overhead (venue rental, caterer, travel). With online courses, not only are the costs lower, but the pool of people who might want to join in is much larger.
And I love connecting with people who live far away from me. I love my friends in southern Ontario, in Massachusetts, in Brooklyn, in North Carolina, in Texas, in Santa Fe, in Chicago, in the UK and Australia. Virtual sacred space can be such a miracle and a blessing.
And I love teaching in person. This week, I was asking myself how to balance the two, keeping in mind my desire to avoid burnout and financial stress. (Not to mention making sure I have time in my schedule for writing and art-making.)
As I was musing on all this, I came across a blog post Jen Louden wrote on “How I Do My Business and Why.” (I’ve taken courses from Jen, gone on her retreats, and received coaching from her, so I tend to listen when she speaks.) She wrote:
“I adore teaching, and most of all I adore teaching live at my retreats, but they are too labor intensive to fill and teach more than a few times a year. So I teach online more often. And it works better for the majority of my community because they can’t always travel. So to serve and earn, I do both. It’s not about perfection, it’s about sustainable service.”
Synchronicity! The right words I needed to hear, at the right time.
“Sustainable service.” How I love that phrase.
And so — the gearing up and the letting go. I am gearing up to launch the new Gaian Soul Circle, a private online community, later this month. I’m excited about learning more from Jen in her upcoming TeachNow course about how to translate interactive activities to an online situation. I’m happy about beginning the new Circle with some of the folks who were part of the Gaian Tarot Circle or my seasonal ecourses, and who valued the community we created there so highly. I’m looking forward to having a private online sacred space to gather, to hold council circle via teleconferences, and to share wisdom about earth-centered spiritual practice, the Goddess, the tarot, connecting with nature right here and now, the sacred arts, and all those things I hold so dear.
And the letting go? I cancelled the retreat I had planned for late August, shortly after announcing it. (The September retreat is sold out.) Was I afraid I would look like an utter fool? Um, yes. Was I afraid I would disappoint the women who had already registered, and come off as completely unprofessional? Why, yes, I was. But I wasn’t sleeping, and my anxiety grew. So I took a deep breath, consulted the oracle, and sought the wise counsel of my mastermind buddy Theresa Reed.
And I chose self-care and sustainable service.
So be it.
I so appreciate the grace of the women who had already registered for August, as they easily shifted into coming to another retreat, at another time. Grateful.
A few things that lit me up this week:
The rest of Jen Louden’s post on “How I Do My Business and Why” is just as rich as the paragraph I quoted above.
I love the whimsical art of Lisa Congdon, and I especially love the quotes she has gathered and illustrated for her new book: “Whatever you Are, Be a Good One!”
My friend Carolyn Cushing has a feature on her blog I love called “Wild Wisdom on Wednesday.” This week, it’s all about rocks.
“It is stones smoothed by the sea, erratics resting from their wandering, rocks turning up in the garden, the pebble you picked for your pocket, that invite you to enter the full deep of earth.”
And I resonate strongly with this post by Latisha Guthrie on re-entry after a peak retreat experience:
“The poison and the remedy is always one and the same after reentry: pace and space. Too fast and too far and you’ll likely find yourself stranded in loneliness, too slow and too close and you likely find yourself suffocated by the fog of inaction. To settle into the rhythm of my daily doings again, asking for the space I need. Knowing the path is being prepared for me. Laying down expectations of needing to understand every piece completely. Embracing active discovery, letting go of finished lines, being present to the living mystery. This is my practice this week. This is my practice for always.”
One of my biggest takeaways from Jen Louden’s free call on TeachNow last night was the idea of creating different ways to present information so that all learning styles are supported, not just my own learning style. Oh yeah. I’m going to have fun with that!