A few weeks ago I had the very great pleasure of attending Jenny Pace’s first Creative Business Day Retreat (she’s been running weekend retreats for a few years) and it turned out to be such a wonderful experience that I couldn’t not share it with you.
I’ve wanted to work with Jenny for years, having followed her on Instagram, Facebook, read her blogs and newsletters, so finally getting to meet her in person was a joy. Plus, the venue for the retreat, the beautiful PAUS in the Cambridgeshire countryside, was perfect for some quiet contemplation and a physical and mental reset.
We were only a small group – six in total, including Jenny – but actually that worked out wonderfully for me (and I think the others too) as it meant we all had the space and confidence to share our stories and worries and revelations. The other ladies attending were all lovely, at different stages in lives and their businesses, but it felt like we all got on immediately and the laughter came as easily as the listening.
We spent most of the day clustered around a central coffee table, each choosing a comfy seat – sofa, bean bag and even a rocking chair were on offer! – which made things feel really cosy and relaxed, and I think probably contributed to our openness that might not have been so evident had we been sat at table and chairs. Jenny had also set the atmosphere with gentle background music, crystals, candles and incense, and the abundance of plants filling the space definitely helped too.
I’ll admit to anxiety heading into the day – for starters I had to drive round the M25 during the Friday morning rush hour which is notorious for accidents and delays – but mercifully the travel turned out to be just as hassle-free as the rest of the day!
Having settled in with introductions, Jenny opened proceedings with a gentle meditation to set our intentions and get us all in a calm and receptive frame of mind, and then we each chose a little wooden star with a word etched on it that would become our guidance for the retreat and beyond. This was a random choice, but I believe (as does Jenny) that we each ended up with the word we needed. Mine was Love. I’m going to talk more about this another time, probably in another blog post, but my initial impressions were that it perfectly tied together my desire to do more of what I love in my work and wider life.
These stars – and the gorgeous personalised Leuchtturm notebooks we all received – were kindly provided by Nicky of Betsy Benn, who was also one of the attendees.
The morning was taken up with some journaling exercises, answering gently challenging questions to dig deeper into where we were and where we want to be, what’s working or not, and how we want things to feel in our businesses. These brought up common themes for all of us, as well as some dreams we were keen to pursue, and in the group discussion afterwards we were all able to contribute further questions and encouragement in support of each other.
Lunch was provided by the team at PAUS, and was utterly delicious! There was a beef goulash, or a chickpea curry for the vegetarians, plus the yummiest sourdough bread to soak up the sauces, and tempting cake treats for afters too. Conversations continued while we ate, touching on a whole gamut of subjects, and we probably could have just chatted for hours.
The afternoon saw the group split off for a while, some to take advantage of the outdoor hot tubs and sauna, and others to carry on with individual contemplation. During this time I was incredibly fortunate to get an impromptu coaching session from Jenny (and Gabrielle Treanor too, who it was a pleasure to meet in person for the first time!) which definitely helped me get clearer on a few issues that have weighed on me for some time, and to begin to plot out the steps for unravelling them.
We concluded the afternoon back together, with each of us declaring things we would be letting go of, and feeling much more empowered to move forward with plans for our businesses, and Jenny led another beautiful meditation which further cemented these commitments. Goodbyes were lengthy – none of us really wanted to leave! – but when I eventually dragged myself away it was with a sense of immense gratitude for such a wonderful day, spent with wonderful people, and a renewed enthusiasm for my work and the things I want to create, both to share with others, and for myself.
Working with Jenny was exactly what I’d hoped it would be, and she offers that brilliant mix of knowledge and experience from working with many small creative businesses, advice for making sure the practicalities work, common sense, asking the right kind of gently challenging questions, and a trusting guidance that lets you uncover the answers you already know within yourself.
One of the immediate realisations I had from the day was how much I’d enjoyed just being somewhere different, and how much of a positive difference it made to my frame of mind. Just changing location seemed to open up such a fresh perspective, and freed up my mind and heart to dream and start to believe what might be possible. I decided there and then that I wanted to work somewhere else more regularly, and in fact I’m writing this post from a gorgeous little local café and getting far more done than I would at home – although I do love my little home office!
It made me appreciate just how stuck in a rut I’ve been with my work – not just how I do it, but also what I think I can do – and how many old stories I’ve been carrying around that I now want to re-write. This was one of the biggest takeaways from the retreat for me too, with the idea of Redefining popping up several times and asking to be explored. So I’m going to be doing that in the weeks to come, and I’m already excited about what I’m uncovering and the direction it could lead me. There are a few key areas for me personally that I think this work will touch on, you know, just the big ones like Money, Work, Time, Value! But I know it’s important that I address these and what they mean to me – and especially what I WANT them to mean to me – because my current reality around them has been holding me back. And I know I can do so much more!
Anyway, back to the retreat, which was a truly wonderful day (anybody keeping count of how many times I’ve said wonderful in this post?!) and one that I’m so grateful that I got to experience. Any working day that involves slipping off your shoes and getting comfy on a sofa while you delve deep into business and life planning, and doing it among like-hearted women walking their own creative business paths, with the fabulous guidance of Jenny throughout, definitely gets a glowing review from me!
Expect to see things shifting in my work soon, in the things that I talk about, and the things I offer, but all of it will be coming from a place of much greater clarity, certainty, and confidence in myself – and I can’t wait!
If you’re interested in working with Jenny she will shortly be going on maternity leave, but she does have one of her weekend retreats planned for next March in the Cotswolds with spaces still available.