Updated: Jul 2
The Pretenders - Hymn to Her
And she will always carry on
Something is lost
But something is found
They will keep on speaking her name
Some things change
Some stay the same
If you haven’t listened to this Pretenders song for a while, today is a good day to do so. Hymn to Her was written for Chrissie Hynde by her high school friend, Meg Keene. The lyrics include daughter, maiden, mother and crone archetypes referring to the psychological transitions women undergo over a lifetime. My mother, who was a bit of a green witch and self-declared pagan, loved it as a hymn to the eternal feminine. To me it is about tuning in to Nature, within me and all around me, the places where inspiration comes from. This was my theme song for my time on retreat in Cygnet, so playing it now as I’m bumping back in to my studio, reminds me of the flow I found there. I especially love the idea that change is made easier by what remains constant.
Flowing in the flux of change is my happy place. To me, change has always offered the promise of novelty and surprise, and I love the excitement of spontaneity. I'm happiest when I can see the horizon and daydream about what might be just beyond.
This week I am in my element, leaving my retreat in Cygnet, and heading home. Arriving one week into the NSW lockdown wasn’t what I’d expected, and we don’t know if the plans we’d made for July will go ahead, or if we will need to let them go. Postponing will be a bitter let down, but months of work, organising and programming will not be wasted. Today Shannon said, “let's keep moving, planning and dreaming, as if we will go ahead.” Of course, we’ll keep an eye on new developments and respond accordingly, and if we have to, we’ll adapt and reschedule.
Whatever the situation, we will dig in and look for creative opportunities to make the most of what happens. Should we have to remain in lockdown I will happily snuggle back into my studio, in between retreats, and keep writing. Shannon will do what she loves most and think of ideas to make each retreat more beautiful than the last. Farmer Peter will keep those gardens growing and plan more surprises for Home Grown, and Eilsih and the What If team will get to work on pickling, fermenting and preserving the food they would have been serving during the retreats. The minute we can, we’ll swing the doors wide open again, and you will be the first to know. We’ll see it as a fresh start and invite you to do the same.
I am in my element in times of change, but there are downsides to being attracted to change. At times it has been difficult to settle down, with one eye on the horizon, and it was always hard to say goodbye to friends when we moved. So at Springfield we aim to balance change and stability, with an exciting program that grounds in the present. Making new friends is fun too, and old friends are one of the greatest treasures in life. IN Tasmania I was able to enjoy time with a friend I’ve known since we were nine. She was my first friend when we moved from New Zealand to Tasmania. She pulled out the old year books and photo albums and we looked at them together for the first time in decades and the memories, and stories, flooded in. It was a lovely reminder of how the past can also be a muse. On our last night, we laughed about how much we’ve change, yet stayed the same.
Embracing change as creative potential is my comfort zone, but I’m learning to look at it a bit differently now. I want to focus and grow what is constant within change too. Growing friendship during lockdown is not ideal, but it is a good time to consider those who could be lonely. For many people disruption, uncertainty and volatility lead to insecurity and fear, so this is a time to grow our hearts and reach out with compassion and kindness, as many did in the first lockdown.
Finding that sweet spot between change and stability, and balancing the many demands on us takes constant care and attention. Life at Springfield is designed to support positive change, with a continual flow of new people and new retreats. Our ethics of creative ecology are the base on which our stability depends. Creative ecology ethics apply the ideas of biological ecology to the creative process. Ecologists look at patterns and habitats in terms of ecosystems and relationships. They see the connections, looking at living organisms as ‘wholes’, rather than ‘things-as-parts’. At Springfield we think about our guests holistically too, aiming to nurture and nourish guests on many levels, designing our retreats to create patterns and habitats to curate beautiful, memorable experiences.
My two months on retreat in Cygnet have been unforgettable. It was a fresh start, to break away from my every day and find a routine that helps me to write. I wanted to consciously apply these ethics to my own creative process, and to tweak and refine my creative practise. With the clarity that comes from solitude I have seen that my creativity is influenced by my wellbeing, my environment and the patterns in the details of my daily life. What I do, and don’t do, what I eat, my sleep, my reading, conversations and moods all work to either enhance or limit my creativity. In my time away I have experimented with my days to find what works best for me. I now know that everything I do has either helped or hindered my creativity, everything I do makes a difference one way or another.
I have completed what I’d hoped to do and have a finished draft ready for polishing. What’s more, while writing this book about inner landscaping, and the practises that have helped me to embrace change, I have rediscovered the joy of writing. I didn't know what to expect, I might have hated being on my own, and writing all day every day could have felt like a chore. Instead, I have loved having the time and space, even when the words didn't flow. Having the freedom to write all day and into the night has been a delight. There were tough days, and I was unknown territory, so each day was a surprise. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the morning after I finished chapter twelve.
I recall, in the days after Shannon and Billy were born I was surprised by a sense of sadness and an unexpected sense of loss. I missed feeling their presence within me. This morning I felt a similar sadness, I miss my chapters, their presence within me, occupying me as they did. For years, most of my waking thoughts have been about this book, and I wonder what will fill that space now. I love the idea of arriving back at Springfield with a fresh sense of anticipation, and yet another blank page!
So, next time you feel like you need a reset to make a fresh start, I hope you’ll find a retreat that gives you the opportunity to take a break and step away from your everyday life. Don't underestimate the power of a change of scenery, time and space, an inspiring facilitator, delicious home grown food and a beautiful massage or two. And, if the retreat you’re dreaming of isn't on our program yet, come and tell us what you have in mind. We love working with clients to design custom retreats for a group of friends too. Or, if you are looking for a place in Tasmania to stay in solitude for a few months, let me know and I’ll share the details of where I have been in Cygnet, and where I hope to return next year.