Create and connect–by the numbers

Photo by One Crafty Mother

A week ago I was sitting in a canvas chair under a tent surrounded by a circle of women.  We did what women do when they get together—they talk.  And talk.  And talk.  (And drink wine.  We did that, too.)

It sounds simple.  It was.

It sounds ordinary.  It wasn’t.

This was Creative Alliance,  a gathering of creative women on the internet.   It was extraordinary.

The weekend was filled with conversation.  Creativity.  Connection.

I left filled with ideas.  Information.  Insights.  Inspiration.

I want to write about it before the experience fades and before I forget like I forget everything else.

The conference was all about creativity;  so I kind of feel I should write creatively.  Only what keeps coming up is something very unlike me and very un-creativenumbers.

So I’m going with that—

 First a nice round number:  100

 That was the temperature  in Ojai.

I mention that because I hate hot weather.  And I would never believe I’d spend 2 days outdoors in 100 degrees and  not notice—and not complain (okay, maybe I did.)

The good news is that we didn’t do anything more  active than listening—but it was very active listening.

Really, only one person  did anything physically active.

Which brings up another nice round number:  50

That’s the number of push ups she did  on the grass under the tent in the middle of the circle.

While she continued speaking.

Photo by Chloe Jeffreys

Sheila Cluff wasn’t part of the weekend group, but she lives in Ojai and owns the Oaks at Ojai.  Hearing about her remarkable life was truly inspring; she’s a force of nature.

She wasn’t even breathing hard when she stood up after the push-ups.

Which is why I mention this number: 77

Sheila’s age.

Here’s a smaller number:  2

The number of words I heard often at this conference.  Both start with the letter B ( 2nd  letter of the alphabet ).

The two words: Brene Brown.

Her name came up in the very first session I attended; and kept coming up.  It seems to be on everyone’s lips these days.

Which is appropriate since the weekend was a perfect example of her work: —all about vulnerability, about daring greatly, about supporting others to do both.

I wrote a post about her recently (she even commented!) and I’ve been absorbing how much her message fits into all our lives.

How much of a difference it makes to be vulnerable.

I was in awe of the women who opened up so readily to share their truths.   I only wish at the time I had allowed myself to be more open, more honest, more vulnerable.

The space under that tent was a safe place  to be vulnerable.  Because underneath was a feeling of trust.

I’ve never been a fan of things like EST—self -help isn’t my style. And this wasn’t that.

This was support.  Offered with no strings.  No you-rub-my-back-I’ll-rub-yours.  Just there.

Now, I don’t want to go all woo-woo; this wasn’t a new-agy type of thing—I mean, these women were from places like Mississippi and Missouri.

Which leads to the most important number : 45

That’s the number of women who attended.

It was much smaller than a typical conference which made all the difference.

And led to one of the great things about it—the mixing of generations.  Decades separated the youngest from the oldest (which wasn’t me, but I’m close).

It didn’t matter.

We were all students; we were all teachers.

Which is how life should be.

This is something the internet has opened up to me. And  I think it’s how we stay vital as we age, to continue to expand our minds, our curiosity, our world, and the people we know.

That was at the heart of Creative Alliance—the people.

That was my takeaway, although I really can’t adequately describe or share the experience.

Maybe the best way is to try to put you inside their heads and their hearts.

Here’s one way—

Video by Sue Davis 

Another way is to meet some of the women who so bravely and boldly shared themselves.  I wish everyone  could have heard the remarkable words people shared on the last night.  I wish I could introduce every single person who was there.  Since last week, some people wrote posts which captured the essence of Creative Alliance better than my words (or my numbers).   You can click on the names to read them.

My only real problem with Creative Alliance is that it won’t happen again for two years.  And that everyone can’t go—but I hope everyone reading this will seek out their own creative alliances.

My gratitude to Leane Vandeman and Andrea Fellman for making it happen. It was a privilege to be there;  to know everyone who attended; and to call them friends.




Beth, Kim, Heather and Jane (group post)



Amy W




Amy S



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  1. says

    Fabulous! It was so great meeting you. Thanks for not mentioning either of the numbers I divulged to you (my age or weight)

  2. says

    Oh, Darryle…this is perfect.

    I have not found my words yet, but I am loving the posts all you lovely ladies are crafting…brings the experience all back. I adored our conversation and wish there had been more time. You left your imprint on me, and everything about Creative Alliance was awesome and spectacular.

  3. says

    LOVE this, Darryle! Meeting you was one of the true highlights of the weekend for me – we are kindred spirits in so many ways. Somehow I knew even before I got there that I would feel a connection to you – especially after reading your Red Dress post (and many others – love your blog).

    Look forward to more bonding over the internets (and hopefully again at another CA)!



  4. says

    yesss. Beautifully summarized, Darryle! I was surprised to see your reference to est… as the analogy had actually occurred to me in the intensity of the experience, the long full days and the depth of it all. (But I agree, it was more apples and oranges or even apples and bluebirds as comparisons go.) I was so happy to meet you and look forward to discovering more of what you’re up to. Brené Brown et al, OH yeah!

  5. says

    This nails it. The push-ups… That was incredible, wasn’t it? Along with everything else, but the push-ups were so concrete. 😉

  6. says

    I enjoyed you too, Kelly, and hope to see you soon since you’re not so far. Meanwhile I think I’ll sit back in the orange chair I got from the conference and watch you set the world on fire.

  7. says

    LOVED meeting you too, Molly; and I’m about to start your book. And I don’t think I can do any push-ups. She really shamed us, didn’t she? Maybe we’ll improve with age.

  8. says

    Haha, that sounds just like you. Appreciate all I learned and plan to spend (waste) more time on Pinterest thanks to you. Hope to see you soon in SF. Or come down to Carmel to visit!

  9. says

    I really enjoyed hearing your post so will really look forward to reading whatever words you find to write. Also adored our conversation and absolutely know we’ll see each other sooner rather than later. We can talk old times! And old kids. xxoo

  10. says

    Agree with every thing you said and with every thing you said all weekend. You really are a kindred spirit, and so WISE. I so appreciate your wisdom, advice and sensibilities—and feel very connected. And I have a feeling everyone who was there, and everyone who knows you at all, feels the same way. xxxoo

  11. says

    Yikes, Jane, I wish I could say something funny or clever to answer your question. In the spirit of the weekend I’ll say this–people who read my blog might disagree, but honestly it’s been hard for me to get used to being “transparent” —some areas are so much easier than others. I’m also kind of secretive (maybe paranoid) about discussing projects and ideas—maybe influenced by exposure to the Hollywood scene. And I also think I have “issues” with being seen as less than strong. I’ve now read Brene Brown’s book and trying to be more comfortable with vulnerability but I’m not there yet. Will keep you posted.

  12. says

    Funny you thought of EST, too. I didn’t really think of it in comparison to Creative Alliance, but just as an example of the whole field of self improvement, which I’ve always avoided–(now there’s something that sounds crazy, avoiding self-improvement). Since I never went to EST or anything like it, I have no basis for comparison, but if any of those self-improvement programs are anything like our weekend, I might have missed out after all. So enjoyed the time with you, Anne, thanks so much. Look forward to hearing great things about the Louise Log!

  13. says

    Yeah, those pushups were really something else. TEchnically I guess it wasn’t part of the “creative” part of the weekend but I couldn’t leave it out. And she was so inspiring along with everyone else! Thanks, Chara.

  14. says

    Thank you; I really enjoyed meeting you, too–. Will keep track of your life with your adorable son and great husband via blog; look forward to next time our paths cross. xxoo

  15. marlawentner says

    I really enjoyed this column and the video (which was really well done) and all the ancillary places to go to find out how to be really creative. I so wanted to be there with you! Thanks for sharing.

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