Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Honest Feedback (please)

well, i'm seriously frustrated over here.  i cannot add any links or my entire text disappears never to return.  nor can i add photos once the text is in place.  major frustration.... deep breath.....i'm going ahead with my post, but cannot add most of the links that i planned.

my friend kerri - /recently wrote about the whole idea of “constructive criticism” - its ramifications, pros, cons and the fears we experience around it. it was a great question and in my comment to her i mentioned how it makes a difference if we are asking for the feedback or not. it can be daunting to step up and ask for honest input when our creative output is new and raw and close to the heart. i also told her how when i first started showing my photos publicly, i was so very sensitive, but i have grown past that. in fact my confidence is now in a place where, if i seriously like an image, i honestly don’t care what others think ( at least I like to think so!)

i am not that way about all of my creative endeavors, however. in particular, one of my newer creative passions is retreat planning: i have felt so strongly about following this path since i experienced the life-changing power of retreating at the bepresent retreat last year in Oregon. i’m so convinced that it would be an amazing experience for anyone in attendance that i have put a huge amount of time and effort into making this a reality. i love doing it and my first little retreat confirmed my thinking about it. most women that i speak with think that it sounds like a wonderful idea. so what is the problem??

well, thinking it’s a wonderful idea and actually signing up are 2 different things. i currently have 4 enthusiastic participants, but i’m still needing 5 more to make it happen, at least at this lodge. all my blog posts, facebook, emails, postcards, etc. have resulted in pretty much zero response. i’m trying to be objective about this and realize that there are very good reasons why people don’t sign up, yet a little part inside of me that i try not to recognize tends to take it personally. you know the part: the i’m not good enough, why did i think this would work anyway part. so, yes, it’s definitely out of my comfort zone to ask for honest feedback, but i’m going to do it anyway.

if you choose not to step in here, i totally understand – i’ll try to have a more inspiring post next time! but i have to ask - is there something about the presentation that is not enticing? too expensive? (yet much less than most retreats!) maybe people think this is a big money-maker for me?? is it because everyone is looking for “famous names” to learn from? (i would have to charge more!) is everyone just too busy? is it too scary to attend something that is basically an “unknown”? or maybe there are other reasons that i’m not thinking of. that’s why i’m throwing it out there. i hate to give up on the idea without covering all the bases, so bring it on. i asked for it!

there are 2 links to the retreat blog up at the top.  you can scroll down and see all of the posts.

(all photos taken on Mt. Palomar, home of the Space Between retreats)


  1. Patty,
    My sister and I started going to art retreats a couple of years ago. I personally try to do one per year. For me (and this is just my personal input) I have to weigh a lot of factors. I look at retreat location, time of year, will it conflict with another family event, how long it lasts, how large a gathering it is, what is offered and the cost. I have to consider cost carefully because most of the retreats I have checked on are out of state. This means more costs of air fare, rental car, etc. There are SO many retreats out there now and there seems to be more and more popping up so it gets harder and harder which to attend. I think you are super brave to organize retreats! Don't give up your dream!

  2. This is a tough question Patty. First of all, let me say, I really don't think it's all about you. ha ha Like Judy who commented above, people have a thousand considerations why they choose or do not choose a retreat. I do think it's a 'Universe' thing. It's about keeping your confidence up and going with the flow. It's about 'knowing' things are exactly as they should be. I have seen retreats and workshops liquidate from 6 people to one person the night before. The facilitator carried on with one student. The next week two workshops materialized for her. Another art retreat I attended had a cancellation of four people the night before. That left four of us. For whatever reason, it was meant to be and it was fabulous. "Stuff" happens as we change. You are 'building' a new you, a new passion. It takes time. It's a time of transition and learning. My 'gut' says to ask you to look at your venue. Why? I'm not sure. Could you do it at your house with B & B's in the area? Could you support totally local? Seriously, I don't think it's your content, cost, or presentation. This is a learning curve. Surrender and acceptance. It will come. In ways you may not expect, however it will come. This is a big part of who you are. The Universe will support you. Are you asking the Universe for guidance? Please don't be so hard on yourself Patty. Consider this a wonderful adventure with all it's ups and downs. Like I said on my blog this morning we have a choice to choose fear about the unknown or to be happy and excited about it. I've begun to choose the later. It feels ever so much better, and seems to produce much happier and easier results. Sending love and light. xx

  3. First - I think you're a very brave person to even attempt to put together a 'retreat'. I can't imagine the logistics of having to tend to so many different personality types..skill sets..hopes and desires.
    Second - I think there are probably a whole bunch of good reasons people don't and aren't signing up for the retreat. Money constraints. Time constraints. Fear of that kind of intensity. Don't give up...if you build it..they will come.

  4. patty....i am with judy [ who i adore, like i adore you too] i would say location and the added expense of the travel would be huge concerns for me. if i had it my way i would got to about six a year. i am so happy that you are following your bliss. you make me smile and have such a gift to share. i can't wait to here more about your journey and i am sending you a big hug.

  5. Hello, my dear! I agree with the others. There are so many reasons why people attend or not attend retreats.

    I do have a couple of ideas and some posts (not mine) that might be of interest to read and may be helpful, but it was turning into a really long comment so I will send it by email. I need to find a link first.

    My two quick thoughts for you though .. 1) If there is a way that you can hold them even with limited participation, it does help get people experiencing the magic and talking about it and then you have something to build on. 2) Maybe you could see what it would take to hold it with the people you have and see if they would be willing to pay more because they believe in your mission.

  6. My other quick thought, just to get you thinking .. maybe you can spend more time talking about the why behind this. The reason I suggest this is because I can think of at least one person for whom I would attend almost anything they put on - I would do almost anything to find the money - because I believe in their mission. (Actually, I can think of a few people for whom this is true.) I think that if you can find people who feel drawn to your whys, it helps. In those cases, people are still choosing the retreat, but they're also coming because your why speaks to them. And sometimes that speaks more loudly than the specifics.

  7. i agree with all. I like Donna's idea of maybe trying to do them locally. Wouldn't it be fabulous to create a local community of women who gather for your retreats then have those connections spill over into friendships that have art days together or things like that?? I would love to have a group of open minded creative women to hang out with and create art or have a photography walk or lunch, etc!

  8. i agree with my sister (judy). i try to go to one retreat a year and it's a hard choice which one to attend. i choose based on if it's location is somewhere i want to visit, if the classes are things i am interested in, and of course the time of year (planning around a traveling husband and a teen-ager is not easy). i also agree with elizabeth about finding people who are drawn to your "whys". sorry i don't have anything new to add, but i think you should try to go forward with however many people you do get so you can build word of mouth and you can gain experience. love how brave you are being!!! ♥

  9. Patty,
    I write this BEFORE I read all the other comments, so this is really my point of view.
    I went through your retreat site, and I think I did it thoroughly, however, there is a chance I might have missed something.
    The very first (and for me quite important) thing I realized is that I couldn't for the life of it figure out where the retreat takes place. Perhaps Mt. Palomar is a national landmark that everybody but me knows about... but I still don't know WHERE it is, in which state, which city (with an airport?) is close by. This then makes it very difficult for me to take into account how much time it will take to get there and HOW (private car, airplane) and thus the cost of it all. I don't think that the cost for the retreat is high, I have seen totally other prices. But as I said, I might have overlooked the location of the lodge...
    The other things I can still think of and that would also be valid for me: people's financial situation; can we afford to go (what about children, school, jobs, other). Honestly, I would feel very bad at the moment if I left my family for three days and spend time and money on my own self, however important that might be for me. Going on a retreat - as tempting as it is - is not necessarily in everybody's book at these more difficult times. At the moment I feel comfortable with e-courses, as these can be paid with the little amount of money I make by teaching evening classes.
    Okay - I just took a break and looked at the "retreat site" again. I had to go through several other blog posts to finally find out that the lodge is somewhere in San Diego county. It might be a good idea to have all this information in one spot that people can find easily and don't have to go from post to post.
    These are my thoughts. I don't know whether they will help you, but I really hope for you that the responses for your retreat will eventually grow.

  10. Ladies, I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of your input!! I'm going to go back and read everything very carefully, but just wanted you to know how much I value your taking the time to respond in this way. Regrarding the venue, I never had any ideas of the retreat being bigger than local and here in San Diego County, Mt. Palomar is a pretty wellknown entity. I think the location is detailed on the lodge link, but I will have to verify that. Anyway,I love you all and am so blessed to have such caring and helpful friends!!

  11. i agree with some of the others here about how brave you are being-- in planning a retreat.

    i'm sure people have lots of reasons to hold back, and i'm sure one of them is just plain and simple fear of the unknown.

    i hope you can just keep it small this year, have a great time, and those friends will encourage more friends next time, and so on and so on.

    best of luck- and know that any "no's" you might get have nothing to do with you! :)

  12. Patty-

    I think you know this, but just in case, my reasons are purely financial. My unemployment dropped 2/3 as much as it had been, so I am really strapped. I truly would love to come, but I just can't afford to do so. I hope you understand!



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