I apologise for my tardiness. In the past two weeks I ran a youth conference for the Anglican Diocese of Niagara, moved myself out of Wiarton, finished my last week at Gleasonbrook Pottery and started setting up my new studio. It has been an ongoing emotional and physical journey.
I am one of 20 volunteers who put together a week long conference for teenagers at the end of August each year. I attended this conference (called "NYC" for "Niagara Youth Conference") when I was a teenager and have now been involved in the planning process and leading a small group for four years. It is always the highlight of my summer, if not the entire year.
It doesn't get much better than a large group of like-minded individuals spending the week together in a beautiful setting.
Except, I lied. It does get better.
Throw in some community standards around acceptance and honesty, and a safe space to explore the depths of your spiritual, emotional and mental being, and you've got yourself a recipe for one HELL of a week.
Not only is NYC (and it is every year) one of the most profound experiences I have ever had, but it also allows me to dig into my creativity in new ways, exploring new ideas and ultimately enhancing my overall "vision". Over the past 8 months we planned a conference that was themed "An Unexpected Journey". We created activities, spiritual opportunities, workshops, social events and discussion topics that focused on this theme. Starting with the call to action, encountering obstacles and transformation, and finally tackling the return home, we took the delegates on a week filled with laughter, tears, comfort, security, trials, tests, and joy. WHAT A WEEK!
Each year the importance of this week becomes more apparent. The planning itself is an exercise in diligence, patience, understanding, delegation, team-building, and thinking outside-the-box. A week of facilitating small group discussions is an exercise in listening, problem solving, community, trust, faith, and improvisation. A week of crappy food and uncomfortable beds, however.... that's an exercise in health. More this year than ever, I am starting to see the benefit of this week in my studio practice, and the way I see the world. The youth were a delight, as always.
Many athletes "cross-train" in sports other than the one in which they compete, with the goal of improving their overall performance. Why should artists be any different?