Inaugural PathNorth & Laity Lodge Creativity Weekend
October 28-31, 2010

Dear PathNorth Members,

Earlier this year we introduced the idea of PathNorth Experiences being “place holders” in our lives.  It is our belief that these Experiences create time and space for us to recharge, build meaningful relationships and seek guidance with others who are on a parallel journey.  By committing to taking part in one or two (or more!) of these Experiences, we commit to making ourselves available to be touched, to grow, and to experience life more deeply. 

The Inaugural PathNorth & Laity Lodge Creativity Weekend more than confirmed this theory.  There were numerous parts of this gathering that were planned, however the most amazing discoveries, lessons and transformations occurred spontaneously, simply because we took time to step out of our comfort zones to just experience.

On Thursday evening, we were graciously welcomed not only by unseasonably warm weather, but also by a spectacular sunset as we enjoyed cocktails on the Chesapeake Bay.  After feasting on a fabulous meal provided by Osprey Point Retreat and Conference Center, we feasted on the words of poetry workshop leader, Olga Samples Davis, the vibrato from gifted cellist, Jozef Luptak, and the inspired strings from Julliard violinist, Stephen Clapp.  As the evening wore on, we settled in to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones.

Early Friday morning, coffee in hand, some headed to the chapel for morning reflections led by Laity Lodge’s Steven Purcell and Jozef Luptak. Steven shared the poem Leisure by Michael O’Siadhail. The group discussed living in the tension of work and rest, the societal pressure to fill our schedules and our lives in order to get ahead and the importance of slowing down and cultivating a grateful heart.  Steady and tranquil draws from the bow of Jozef’s cello underscored the significance of these conversations.

The next tour guide to lead our creative journey was author and cartoonist Tim Downs, who opened with a laugh-out-loud personal story of youth, idleness and a large container of quick-dry plaster.  Needless to say – you had to be there for that one.  Tim reminded us to “own our weirdness” while we discover and cultivate our unique styles of creativity.  Our creative juices flowed freely as workshops began that day.  We dispersed to write poetry, paint, cook and create a film with the common goal to stretch beyond our creative boundaries. 

Later that day, we were treated to business leadership Shakespeare-style!  Ken and Carol Adelman from Movers and Shakespeare brought not only Shakespeare’s wisdom of how to run effective organizations but they also brought corsets, tights, long bows and swords!   After dinner, attendees became thespians in a fully-costumed presentation of Shakespeare’s greatest prose and keen humor.

On Saturday we were grateful to hear from four visionaries who define and demonstrate creativity in unique and innovative ways.  Stephen Clapp, former head of the Julliard School of Music; Philippe Cousteau, environmentalist and co-founder of EarthEcho International; and Catherine Tatge and Dominique Lasseur, husband and wife team documentary film makers – all shared with us where they have been the most creative in their lives.  A unifying theme emerged around the willingness to be uncomfortable and to embrace fear and risk, in order to produce a creative and rewarding result.

That evening, at a reception hosted by Doug and Ann Holladay at their home nearby, the cooking students displayed with pride what they had prepared in their workshop.  Their mission: transform a bag of seemingly unrelated ingredients into sumptuous treats.   The result: deliciously unique hors d’oeuvres outshined only by creative and original titles such as Osprey Oyster and Peter’s Pear Pleasure.  With a backdrop of jazz talent Bill Edgar playing piano and another magical sunset, it was truly a memorable evening.

Once our bodies had been filled, our minds were challenged to think like Leonardo daVinci.  Michael Gelb, historian and author of best-selling books such as How to Think Like daVinci and Innovate Like Edison, used the true creative genius of daVinci to encourage the group to accept the unknown and the ambiguous, to be receptive, to tap into our intuition and to surround ourselves with beauty.  One sure example of this beauty personified was the voice of Mezzo-Soprano Debbie Domanski, who closed the presentation with a graceful, perfectly pitched melody.

The film workshop participants rounded out the night’s activities with a screening of Creativity Weekend: The Movie; as they experienced it through the lenses of flipcams.  It was as much a documentary as a comedy, and it was fabulous!  Two days, nine students and hours of editing from film-makers and workshop leaders Catherine and Dominique produced a film with candid reflections, extraordinary exchanges and laughter served up PathNorth-style!

We spent our last morning together recreating elementary school days with a full-scale show and tell.  The painting workshop displayed original works of art and the poetry workshop presented an impromptu call and response combining the hum of Jozef Luptak’s cello with personal poems from the group.  After each “part-time poet” read their poem, with a common line being “I am from…”, Josef responded.  At times Jozef transformed the strings of his cello to replicate the rhythm of a banjo and other times Bach’s Mass in B minor.  It was truly breathtaking.  Especially through these moving poems, the opportunity to step a bit further out of our comfort zones to gain new perspective and meaning in life was powerfully embraced.


Other reflections from attendees:

“Participating in the Creativity Weekend has been the highlight of both Ann’s and my year.   It was beyond amazing.  Ann and I had a great time and left feeling rested.  The outstanding presenters, the amazing participants and the superb agenda, not to mention the hardworking staff members made the weekend surreal.  Your leadership and organization was apparent throughout the entire weekend.  Thank you again for putting it on.” 

“It is hard to find the words and express our gratitude for having been at the Creativity Weekend.  I’ve been to many conferences and meetings, and cannot remember one that has had such an impact.  Rejuvenating, re-creative, inspirational, memorable, beautiful, and well, divine, are a few of the terms that come to mind.  We are deeply grateful.”

“It was a high class event!  Fun, inspiring and so many new ideas.” 

“Wow!  What an amazing weekend!  I don’t know how you and your team keep putting such incredible events together.  Thank you!  Thanks also for opening your beautiful home.  You and Ann are such gracious people.  I have to say I think you and I made a great choice in picking the poetry workshop.  I sensed that all the workshops were great, but my experience with our poetry group was truly special!”

“Robin and I would like to thank you for a great weekend and especially for the authentic love and care that you all possess. It was a great lesson for us and one that we enjoyed learning from you.  We look forward to many more opportunities to meet and grow together.  Many blessings!” 

“I enjoyed the music, the conversations, the new friendships.  Every workshop and presentation was wonderful.  Thank you”

“I loved the music throughout, savor the connections I made with others and am deeply moved by the spirit and soul of this special band of brothers and sisters”

“To the PathNorth Team, I would just like to thank you for making me feel like a family member to your wonderful organization.  In every respect you impressed me with your professionalism, creativity and passion for delivering a memorable experience.   Whether it was in our small groups, or the general sessions, the talent you assembled was tremendous.  Thank you for all your hospitality and I hope to see all of you again real soon.” 

“My oh my I had an amazing time with all of you at the Creativity Weekend. I'm sooo thankful to have been a part of it.” 

“I truly don’t know where to begin.  What an awesome experience you and your team can create.  Quite frankly - mind numbing.  As of Wednesday, still digesting and determining if it all really happened.  What I can’t figure out is how you were able to orchestrate an environment that turned perfect strangers into long lost friends in just 3 days?”

“Thank you for making me feel welcomed and helping me grow in the many roles we must play every day on this earth (husband, father, friend, entrepreneur, etc.).  You have created a fan, and hopefully a friend, for life.  Again, thank you.”

“Doug, Ginny and I had a very enjoyable weekend and left Osprey Point with new friendships and renewed enthusiasm.  Ginny and I send our thanks also to Krista, Catherine, Patrick and the entire Path North staff for putting together a special weekend.”


Questions? Please contact 202.467.2079

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