This past weekend I had the pleasure of teaching my first creative business workshop, and it was an amazing experience. To be surrounded by such brilliant, inspiring people was exhilarating. There’s nothing like a big, fat dose of creative energy to keep you going.
The class was called Building A Balanced, Sustainable Creative Business. The title is clunky, but the material is near and dear to me; a framework I developed back in the early days of running my business. It was an honor to get to share it, and to have a room filled with people so eager to learn.
The day was also a reminder of just how critically important connection is. After a year of not having much of it followed by half a year of awkwardness (Am I safe? Should I wear a mask?? Has everyone else been safe???), it was amazing to just be around people again. And not just any people, but creative people… my people. To say something and have others nod in understanding, laugh in camaraderie, or wince knowingly – that immediate connection is so very powerful.
It makes you realize we’re not alone in any of this.
Were we still cautious? Yes. Lots of careful conversations about precautions to put minds at ease. Creativity is important, but safety even moreso. Strange times, I heard more than one person murmur. But beautiful times. Engaging times. Inspiring times. That’s what I’ll remember most about the day.
As I was tidying my space ahead of time, I discovered a list I’d wrote – I called it a Bucket List back then, but I’ve always hated that term. Too close to a “kick the bucket” list for my tastes, which is a terrible way to live. These are the things I want to do every day, not just squeeze them in before I die. To live a life fully here and now, not eventually.
The list was from eight years ago, after we moved but before my studio was even a dream – or rather when it first became one. Build a barn studio was the first item on the list. To look back and think of how much I wanted the space I now get to enjoy every day is a powerful feeling.
Much of the list was things we’ve done and now take for granted, like build a greenhouse or plant an orchard. Then there were the big ones like write a book. Since writing that list, I’ve published two. There were some odd ones too, like build a swing bed. I don’t remember what this was all about, but apparently I got over it.
The one that was the most striking to me in that moment was this:
How long had I been dreaming of this?? Tossing it around in my mind, right before making excuses about why it wouldn’t work? Apparently eight years, at least.
Even when I put it out there, there were doubts: What if no one signs up??? I was so convinced of this as a possibility that I did not even entertain the notion of buying chairs until the class had filled. I just thought, well hey, we have chairs in our kitchen… how many could I possibly need?
As I stood there in that barn studio in front of a room full of attendees, I was struck by the excitement, the sense of anticipation of my newfound students. They wanted to be there. They wanted to learn, to be surrounded by creative people, just as I did. Delaying it yet another year would have denied them that opportunity. I was doing this for them as much as me.
I remember hearing an artist talk about how her work shifted when she saw herself as being in service of others rather than selling something. What a beautiful way to put it.
So do the thing, yes. Do what you are called to do, what you are longing to do, what you dream of. Do it for yourself, certainly. But also do it for others.
Alana Rancourt Phinney
Thank you – this is powerful to hear right now as I gear up to facilitate a community dance tomorrow where we live now. I have had to do a lot of work to reinvigorate and reimagine Park Dancing in Central Vermont where we moved five years ago – not in the Philadelphia area where it was born and building momentum, had a small following and an incredibly special park. I have so many feelings about leaving the home base of this work, taking it away from the people who attended regularly, and then, like you, wondering if anyone will come – even tomorrow! – to experience the wonder of not knowing what the dance is that we are about to make together. And there are less people here in this rural area so – there are logistical factors that play into my “well, maybe I shouldn’t do this.” But – even if two people show up, we will make a dance, just as we did this past August when literally two people showed up. Thank you so much for writing your story so that I could think about mine and keep moving forward and do this thing.
Alana, congrats on your opportunity!!! And, good on you for pushing through the uncertainty and doubt. YES, it is always worth it – not “even when” two people show up, but because they did.
Absolutely beautiful. You are such an inspiration and marvelous light, thank you for sharing yourself and your dreams with us!
Thank you for being your amazing self!