The Blog

Dear Lost Creativity

by Leonie Dawson on June 23, 2016

I’ve been lost lately.
Burnt out, empty,
nothing to say.

I have this well you see
dip the hand-hewn bucket
it returns to the surface,
brimming with creativity
brimming with art and song and stories and magic.

I was so used to this well
never faltering
never failing.
I have been drinking from it for years.

17 editions of books, 103 courses, thousands of illustrations, dozens of journals
to be exact.

But one day I turned up
and all there was
was the distant thud
of wood bucket
against parched soil.

The well was desolate.
So was I.

There used to be a strong voice in here,
you know.
One of Great Spirit.
One I need only open my ears for,
and it would spin the stories through me.
I was her dictation assistant
I was just her vessel.

But now.. now…
There’s only an echo chamber
of a thousand voices
all merged and muffled
into one distant din.

And I’m sad and I’m lost and I don’t know how to magic it back.

I can tell you why the well went dry,
why the voice went silent.

It’s a perfectly reasonable response to the circumstances, you know?

I’ve worked too hard for too long.
I haven’t taken breaks.
I’ve moved a lot.
My company has doubled in size again.
The pace is faster.
I feel like I can’t keep up.
I’ve reacted instead of created.
I’m breaking all my golden rules.
I’ve worked too many weekends.
I’ve forgotten to have outside hobbies.
I’ve got a vast deficit in fun and ridiculous aimless adventures.
I have small children.
Criticism, trolling, online vitriol.
Social media comparisonitis.
I feel simultaneously exposed and also not seen at all.
And this will sound remarkably 1%ish, but having a public figure is becoming more and more difficult to manage. Live events and meet and greets leave me reeling and empty for days, weeks, months.

But most of all,
the reason is…
I haven’t tended to the well.
Haven’t filled it back up.
Haven’t cleaned it up.
Haven’t thought about it.
Just expected it to be there when I needed it.

Hiro tells me:

“Leonie, your energy is a bank account. You’ve been withdrawing large amounts for a very long time without putting anything in. What else could happen but for your bank account to get overdrawn?”

And I shrug my shoulders, nod miserably.

I don’t know how to change it.

*

I don’t know the answer.

I know I must find it though.

*

I’ve taken to journalling each day.

When lost, return to the basics.

Julia Cameron’s prescription usually bears good results.

Tiny answers come to me one by one.

Nothing to change the world.

No instant healing.

I’m not expecting it to.

But 100 small changes will add up.

*

This is no one’s responsibility but my own.

My team can’t save me, my husband can’t save me.

Not when I’m running from myself.

*

Last night, in the car, hurtling through the dark.

David Whyte’s voice weaves its way out through speakers.

His words make my heart still.

“There are three kinds of marriages.

Your marriage with another, with the people you have committed to love and respect through the big and the bad. Your husband, your children, your friends.

Your marriage with your work. That thing you do that you commit to love and turn up for no matter how hard it is.

Your marriage with yourself, the one you cannot leave.

And all three of these kinds of marriages are equally important. And if we put all our attention on one or two, if we neglect some of those marriages, it is to the detriment of all three marriages.

And what is needed in all three of those marriages is conversation. Presence. Reminding them you care enough to listen and tend to that relationship. Making time for that marriage because it is important to you.”

I sit in the car for a long while after that,

crying.

Thinking about all the ways I dropped the conversation with myself and my work. All the ways I forgot to love and romance those two marriages.

Without them, life has lost its colour… my heart has lost its juice.

*

I have a plan.

I will win them back.

I’m just a girl…

standing in front of her art

and her self

asking them to love her.

leonie handwriting small

scrapbook

Hola baberoonies,

I’m back in action with my semi-regular scrapbook of sorts. Between dealing with some burnout, our US team retreat and orgasmic cronuts, I invite you to join me on this nostalgic journey of the past couple of weeks!

Passing you a cup of chai tea + a caramel cronut for your enjoyment…

1 scrapbooking goodies from target

Awwwwwwwwwwww yissssssss… Found some cute scrap booking goodies at Target… Imagonna use them in my art journal!

2 swings last day of autumn

Swings. Last day of Autumn.

4 botanic gardens

A long wander at the Botanic Gardens. Obviously, this is the desert section. At least… I hope it was. Otherwise they may need to rethink their hiring decisions for their gardeners! Haaaaa!

5 starry

Just LOOK at how big my big girl is getting!

6 reading in bed with tea and biscuits

Reading in bed with tea & biscuits on a rainy day. Mr D just read the first chapter of this and pushed it into my hands, telling me it was essential I read it.

But I don’t want to stop you from reading it!” I said.

Never fear,” he replied. “I’m going to take a nap.”

This man has some damn good priorities.

And he was right, of course. That book is INCREDIBLE!!!!

 

8 sunday afternoon collaging

Every Sunday afternoon, I have my calendar booked out.

It says “SOLO MAMA RETREAT!”

I take giddily to my bed and read and art journal and do e-courses and write…

9 brene art journal

A page of art journaling through Brene Brown’s e-course… Hot diggity she is chockfulla insights!!!!

10 raining dark

It’s raining and it’s dark and it’s time to write and draw and dream in the sweet silence.

11 pilates

It’s only taken me 18 months… But I’ve finally found another private Pilates instructor since leaving Kuranda. Having one come to my house is the only way I actually fit it in each week. This way the kids can run amok and husband can join in.

It felt like a huge splurge when I first started doing it… But it is so so worth it! A good investment for my body, mind and spirit. There can only be good knock-on effects for my company from that!!!

12 wild and tangly kittens

These kittens. Wild and tangly and hard to corral and oh so sweet. Adventures with them are both mayhem and magic.

National Museum of Australia was brilliant – especially the Playschool exhibit which was surprisingly touching, a little microcosm of culture changing and flashbacks to my own childhood.

We also managed to get there when the cafe wasn’t chockablockfulla.

Amazing views over the lake and the food was scrumptious!

(And my kids didn’t freak the fuck out at any time. It was a damn near MIRACLE GUYS!)

13 canberra wise women

I went and spoke at the Canberra Wise Women on creativity.

16 canberra wise women

Speaking about creativity and death and angels and money… Just the usual really 😉
Photo by my favourite boo, Julie Okely.

19 tall leonie

Meeting the lovely Jennifer Thompson. The thing about the Internet is you never know how tall someone is… I usually tower over other women at 5’10. I totes wish I was 6 foot though!

13407206_1312095975471686_1184502360488996571_n

Bossy as fuck, and owning it.

13423756_1317134871634463_2342615131009466757_n

I took gift baggies for everyone at the event… just got these babies printed up and I’m v happy with the colour! (Of course! TURQUOISE FOREVERRRRRRR)

13466025_1320951947919422_2978134938010042183_n

Me doing my best impression of a Laughing Rainbow Galah, the creator of Canberra Wise Women Lisa LaMaitre, Vogue photographer Lori Cicchini and songstress Alice Cottee.

14 canberra wise women

I always take my journal with me to illustrate my notes at events like these. Alice Cottee – a multi-talented musician – was one of my fellow interviewees.

15 canberra wise women

Lori Cicchini was another one. Gosh she’s an incredible talent, and her story was very special!

13412984_1317695311578419_2354603601611329243_n

Tracy captured me in the act of journalling… bless her heart!

The event was awesome but live events always take a LOT out of me. SO MUCH.

This is going to sound ridiculously #humblebraggish… but as my public profile increases, so does the number of people wanting to talk to me afterwards, get hugs and selfies and ask questions and get books signed. It becomes difficult to even get to the toilet or eat. It’s INTENSE, man. I have a newfound respect for anyone who is proper famooooose.

 

17 when harry met sally

Consequently, I spent the next two days on the couch.

When Harry Met Sally is NOT going to watch itself, people.

17.1 hs musical

Nor is High School Musical. HOW VERY DARE YOU FOR THINKING OTHERWISE.

18 hs friend

One of my dear mates from high school found this in his stash a while ago and sent it to me… I made it for him when we were 15 or so.

He was always up for my crazy ideas and shenanigans. I don’t think he ever said “Loney, you’re weird” (even though that I got told that on a daily basis by the rest of the school I went to). We even collaborated on an artwork that went on to win the Junior Champion Artwork sash at our local show!

Huttley was always obsessed by music… he’d send me his lyrics in long letters and I’d hang out in his room listening to his songs. And now he’s a DJ and a signed artist! I couldn’t be prouder of him! You can find him here!

It made me grin so big. I was so lucky to have friends back then that embraced our own and each other’s kookery and creativity. Trust me – it wasn’t always easy. We were definitely the freaks at school… but we didn’t care coz we found friends who celebrated who we were, and ignored the rest. That was what made it magical. That’s what friendship is all about.

21 girls in the garden

The girls have been pottering around in the garden… They brought me outside to show me their “nature table which looks like a starry sky.” It is insanely beautiful art.

 

3 retreat folders

Back at work… I spent the afternoon making up gift bags & retreat folders for our Staff Retreat in Arizona, USA. I’m still not up for international travel (reason: small children and also a huge case of I Really Need Routine To Thrive)… so I’m sending this girl instead:

20 flying out to US

My fearless sidekick + COO, Sonya!

I flew her over to the US, and got all our staff flying in to Arizona from all over the US to spend a few days together.

I’m not ready to travel yet, but I’m so glad I can send my right-hand woman to go work her magic and hold space for our wonderful staff to connect together, reflect on the past 12 months and vision the next 12. This is us ten years ago running a retreat together. Back then we were talking about energetic ley lines and tipi cleansing ceremonies. Now we talk more about strategic planning and hiring staff.

But it’s all the same really… Our intention has always been to help and heal the world… And have a damn glorious time as we do it.

So proud of you Sonya!

 

22 sonya on the plane

Sonya on her way to the US! WOOT WOOT!

23 princess sonya

Erin, our Social Media Manager, picked up Sonya from the airport.

Look at this sign she did up for her to meet her at the airport!!!! That is NEXT LEVEL ADORABLE.

Also: look at the size of that coffee in Sone’s hands!!!! Hahahahaaaaa!!! Anyone would think she just skipped a whole night of sleep or something!!!!!!

I love these girls and I am sooooo excited they are all in person connecting & dreaming together.

24 hot people

I hire hot people for my company. No, seriously, they are totes sweaty. Probably because we chose Arizona in the middle of summer for our Team Unicorn Retreat!

Wooooooooops!!!!

(And yes, I’ll totally force lovingly encourage Sonya to write a blog post about how she ran the retreat with all the logistics!)

 

26 team unicorn

And then there was four… 2 more to arrive and then our US #teamunicornretreat begins. There’s Sonya, + Academy Happiness Officer Julie, Customer Delight Officer Jennifer & Erin!  I am so proud of our team… Together great things can be achieved!

27 airbnb

Awwwwwwww yisssssssss… We hired a fantastic Airbnb and it’s even better than we expected! Hiring out a house for the week for your team can be a really affordable & fun way to connect a remote team together.

28 unicorn retreat

Team Unicorn Retreat is happening!

All the girls brought presents for each other… they are the sweetest souls!!!

29 unicorn shower cap

Hahahahahaaaaaa!!!! Erin treated all of Team Unicorn to unicorn shower caps!!!!!!! We love that girl.

This is Fallon, our Customer Delight Officer, with her best unicorn impression. I think. That, or she just sits like that normally. Bahahahahaaaa!!! I love my team!!!!

30 loteis wei

Now THIS is next level generosity.

Lotus Wei knew we were running our team retreat in Phoenix, and the owner sent us a beautiful message… She has used the workbooks to build her business and wanted to thank us by treating our team to massage and chocolates infused with @lotuswei essences. They didn’t ask for recognition or promotion, they just did it to express gratitude.

I usually say no to many gifts and offers because I can feel that it comes with conditions and hooks. We said yes to this though because it was so sincere, loving & energetically clear.

What a beautiful soul-enriching experience!

 

32 tru food kitchen

Look at my gorgeous team! Beautiful inside and out! Passionate, enthusiastic, smart & totally behind our mission. #TeamUnicornRetreat dinner at True Food Kitchen!

32.1 us team

My amazing US team all together on their last night of retreat:

  • Fallon & Jen our Customer Delight Officers
  • Julie our Academy Member Happiness Officer
  • Sonya our Chief Operations Officer
  • Suzi our Graphic Designer
  • Erin our Social Media Manager.

These women have such good hearts & love our clients & our mission so much.

36 sonya heading home

After a beautiful ‪retreat‬ in ‪‎Phoenix‬, Arizona‬ my COO heads back home. Here she is with Erin saying their good-byes (with the police in tow!) ‪

Meanwhile In Australia, There Is An Unattended-To Leonie… WUH WOAH…

33 birkenstocks

Just bought myself some new Jimmy Choo stilletos. And by “Jimmy Choo stilletos” I mean “Birkenstocks.” #hippy

34 caramel cronut

This would be a photo of a caramel cronut, but it didn’t exist in that form for long enough. It is HIDING IN MAH BELLLLLAYYYYY. ‪#‎artistsdate‬

35 orgasm

I think I know now what a man feels like at the point of orgasm. I syrup syringed the fuck out of that cronut.

31 beff

Who’s that girl? It’s BEFF!!!!!

37 drawings on fridge

“Mum, can you please take a photo of us with our drawings on the fridge and send it to Aunty Sonya? I feel like she would want to see what we’ve been up to.”

38 super beige

Feeling super beige today.

39 team slack

My team have to put up with a lot.

Well, that’s what’s up in Leonieland…

I’m looking forward to having my COO Sonya come down to Canberra next week to do some planning, sharing and offering of gifts from my US team! (I may or may not have heard that there’s Donald Trump toilet paper included in those goodies. My ass is SOOOOO excited about that.)

Our new Project Manager starts next week as well which I’m RIDIC excited about… I’ve known and loved her for thirteen years and she’s been on my Dream Team List for a long time. I can’t believe I get to work with such incredible people! With them, anything is possible!!!!!!

Sending you so much love and goodness,

leoniedawson

Best-selling author of 2016 Shining Year workbooks

Founder of Shining Biz & Life Academy

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leoniedawson

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