Every September, I gift myself a creative getaway. I get far away from the home I love, i.e. everything potentially distracting to my creative work, including friends and family. This is a time for solo dreaming, journaling, deep thinking and writing, writing, writing.
Most often, my DIY solo retreat is a cheap hotel in Las Vegas. Despite the carousing all around, I post up alone in the Flamingo hotel where there’s air conditioning, wifi, power outlets, desk space and nothing on my calendar but “create my next Big Thing.” Glancing out the window, I see sunny views of tourists marinating in a sprawling pool with flamingo floaties – and I have zero temptation to join them. I stay at the desk in my little room with hot coffee and laptop, my head down and fingers tapping away.
For this lucky September, I get to stay at a dear friend’s beautiful and remote place in Maine, right on the coast with a gorgeous view of the sea.
Here’s what’s in my travel kit for getaways like this one – my fuel for the creative fire, supplies for my own personal artist’s retreat.
I might launch a podcast, create a video series, start a location-independent coaching program, more. Whatever the brainstorm, I’m ready with my gear.
Video recording device with tripod
Favorite: my iPhone and the ProCam app, plus my trusty GorillaPod stand
Mini microphone for quality audio recording
Favorite: MiC, available at the Apple Store
Favorite: my trusty pink MacBook
External hard drive
Because ain’t nobody got time for “storage full” notifications.
Pampering ritual items:
The best inspirations always come in the bath, don’t they? Douglas Adams famously measures his ideas in baths. I get premium insight from premium pampering, so I make sure my product lineup is on point.
Scrubs, masks, essential oils
Favorite: anything from Lush, especially the mask and scrub combo Cup O’ Coffee and anything that smells like Rose Jam or Flying Fox
Candles and crystals
Favorite: intention candles by Aloha Elixir, starting with the eucalyptus mint blend Road Opener
My mind runs on dope beats and hot yummy beverages. To keep me fueled and focused, I prepare a few hours of thoroughly tested deep-think music and bring along my tea and coffee travel wardrobe.
Some type of hot water contraption is in every hotel room and domicile, whether it’s an electric kettle, a tiny coffee pot or an ostentatious Keurig set-up. You can make it work. Just don’t expect your favorite coffee/tea to be there waiting.
Good herbal tea
Favorite: dried māmaki leaves (indigenous Hawaiian nettle)
Favorite: lion’s mane mushroom coffee by Four Sigmatic
Insulated vessel, mini-strainer
Favorite: HydroFlask food flask, maintains both hot and cold like a temperature-control dream, easy to clean, super secure lid, and it’s damn cute
Favorite: manatee tea strainer, which looks like a tiny sea cow is hot tubbin’ on the edge of your drinking vessel
Favorite: my personal Spotify account (follow me @ponyponytail), currently jamming to a genre-bending curated playlist called Pollen
Good headphones, plus an aux cable in case my lodging has good speakers that aren’t Bluetooth-able
Favorite: Bose noise-cancelling over-ear headphones (QC35 II)
Dear reader friend… LMK if you have a super recommendation for a quality, durable aux cable. Currently, I’m using an emergency-purchase one from Walgreens.
I firmly believe in getting dressed up for work, but I do not compromise on comfort. Do you think more provocative thoughts when you’ve got some sexy shit on? I do. And for me, creativity and sex – or feeling sexy and therefore generative – are inextricably linked.
Very cute, very comfy clothes
Favorite: Lily Lotus errrrythang, designed in Hawaii and made in the USA, especially the kia bra, the gypsy pant and the lily wrap, buttery-soft separates that make you feel like a professional loungewear model
Cashmere scarf and warm socks
These may or may not make it out of my room. If it’s 105℉ outside, likelihood is low I’ll be seen in public with these items, but likelihood is high that I’ll need these warm snuggle buddies in the cryogenic chamber that is a typical hotel room. Like, the hotter it is outside, the colder hotels are inside.
Favorite: SmartWool over-the-knee socks
Favorite: I have a scarf that’s 50% cashmere, 50% silk, all black and very large – it’s a combo scarf and lap blanket.
When I’m good and bored, my mind starts releasing thought bubbles of subconscious magic. Many big ideas have come from my aimless musings while driving in traffic or waiting somewhere. But boredom is, well, boring. I’ll avoid it, even though I know it’s good for me.
Instagram, entrepreneur podcasts and YouTube tutorials are three of the sneaky ways I’ll trick myself into feeling productive and engaged, even though I’m really just avoiding boredom and the creative work that follows.
To outsmart my foxy procrastinator ways, I pack along a craft project that occupies my eyes and hands, and I disallow listening to podcasts and sometimes even music. The repetitive action of braiding, wrapping, etc. is enough to keep my monkey mind busy while my deeper creative consciousness gets her quiet time.
Mindless crafty project, just one
Favorite: jewelry making, like braiding seed beads onto silk cord or wire working
Note: This mindless crafting is entirely different from designing jewelry, which is an artistic endeavor and would use up much of my deep-think bandwidth. No bueno.
Here’s the scene right now. I’m sitting in a comfy armchair, steaming cup of Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee at my left hand. I’ve got my Bose headphones on, and I’m listening to my “KWEEN DIME” playlist on Spotify. (It’s good. You should follow it.)
The leaves on the trees outside are just starting to turn orange and red. It’s sunny but cool, and I’m wearing the exact Lily Lotus outfit described above, plus SmartWool socks and my scarf.
Earlier this morning, I got so ridiculously bored that I took a head of cauliflower and riced it using only a santoku, no food processor. My brain went wandering… and here we are.
This blog series, this article right here, stands as evidence of my creative output from this retreat. And friend, there’s more, there’s so much more.
As always, thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Now, I would love to hear from you: what tools and supplies do you use to fuel your creative fire, and what are the strategies that make them work for you? Drop me an email or, better yet, leave a comment below so we can keep the conversation going.
I raise my coffee mug to you. Cheers, love.