My Experience At Mari Andrew’s Creating From The Soul Workshop
In 2017, I discovered Mari Andrew’s Instagram and instantly became obsessed. I went to Barnes and Noble and bought her first book “Am I There Yet: A Loop De Loop?” Her writing and illustrations felt very relatable to me as someone in her early 20s, just trying to navigate this new adulthood life.
When I found out that I could meet her and learn from her in real life, I signed up for her retreat called “Creating From The Soul” at The Art of Living Retreat in Boone, North Carolina, a state that I never been to before. One of my goals for 2021 was to go to a new state that I had never been to before. I ended up, going to three new states that I had never traveled to, before in 2021. So, success!
My flight landed early around 12:30pm on that Friday at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport and I took a van called The Hickory Hop from the airport to the retreat center. The Hickory Hop runs every three hours and you have to book in advance. On my ride to the retreat, I met other people going to the same retreat center as me. I didn’t know anyone else, going to the same retreat as me. There were multiple retreats, going on at the same time. I’m a New Yorker, so I’m used to cold weather, but the mist off of the mountains and the rain made it colder than I imagined it to be.
I had been to one other conference/retreat before (shoutout to The Artist As Citizen Conference). The retreat price included two nights, food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the conference activities. Our retreat was Friday night to Sunday mid-afternoon. The food was vegetarian and vegan. It was a buffet-style and it was pretty good! I’m a particularly picky eater and was in recovery from a jaw injury, so not knowing what I can eat before I go somewhere stresses me out. There were multiple different styles of rooms you can get, but I opted for the hotel style with a tv in it. I find that at the end of the long day, I enjoy having a tv at the end of the day, especially if we are doing creative work, which can be emotionally draining, sometimes. While, we weren’t in class, they also had daily yoga, meditation and a Guided Hike that was offered to us as well! I did not do any of those things, but it is on my list for next time!
The first night of the retreat, Mari introduced herself and we went around the room to introduce ourselves. There was sixty or so of other people participating in the retreat. Most of the people in my retreat were cis women (as far as I remember, no one was non-binary). There were some lovely people, who were creative for their career (like me) and they were some other people who were looking to add more creativity in their life.
On that Saturday, I woke up and had breakfast. Then, I headed to our first workshop of the day, we did some Warm Up prompts to get our creative juices flowing. We discussed Personal Writing (which is a lot of what Mari writes about) and did some analyzing of some song lyrics, mainly discussing specificity. We broke for lunch and came back that afternoon to discuss personal missions. What, specifically, did I want to say about the world? What did I feel comfortable sharing vs. what did I not feel comfortable sharing? What did I value?
On Sunday (the last day of the retreat), I woke up early to pack my bags and double checked that I had everything with me and I didn’t forget anything in my room! On the last day, Mari went over with us how she got published and shared some very valuable tips. She gave us some book recommendations as well and different ways to share your writing. I brought my copy of My Inner Sky with me, so I asked her to sign it and to take a picture with me. We had a beautiful talk about musicals and writing and art.
Mari Andrew and I on the last day of the Retreat together.
I ended up taking a car service back to the airport, instead of The Hickory Hop. I ended my trip at the airport, by buying some chocolate at the Dylan’s Candy Bar at the Charlotte Airport (Yes, this really did happen) and it was a great way to end my trip. If you are looking to meet some wonderful other creative people and learn from a wonderful spirit, I highly recommend taking Mari Andrew’s Creating From The Soul class at The Art of Living Retreat in Boone, NC!