Today I chatted with the inspirational Rachelle Mee-Chapman, aka Magpie Girl. She’s the leader of Flock and the writer of “Soul Retreats”. Her success centers around her ability to coach artists into realizing their potential and their place in the larger creative community. We’re talking about spiritual advice, soul retreats, and the true power of crazy artists like you and me. Now, don’t get scared. This could be the most influential and eye-opening interview you’ve ever read here on Create Hype. If you’ve ever felt alone in this ‘follow the line and climb the business ladder’ world, then you are going to love with Rachelle has to tell you. Read on!
You recently released the e-book, “Soul Retreats,” which teaches us how to create a soultribe and gather creative community. What exactly is a ‘soultribe’ and what do creatives gain from building or being part of one.
A soultribe is a group of people who have one or two core values in common and who live out those values together. It might be a collection of neighbors who care deeply about serving locally. Or it could be a handful of girlfriends who want to be moms and artists. Or it could be a few people who are making the same transition you are and who want to do it with joyful mindfulness.
As I often say, “You don’t have to be mad to be an artist, but a little bit of crazy helps.” Creatives see the world through different lenses than the majority of folks. This can be hard to manage as we move through the dominate culture. Having a soultribe to support you, kick you into gear, and just notice things about your creative cycle, can help you produce more, feel more grounded, and live out your art more fully.
You are the leader of Flock. Could you tell us a little bit about that and what it offers you AND the members?
Flock is an online soultribe for women. It’s in transition now and is moving from a website-based gathering to more of an email-based model. (Who needs one more membership site to check in with? I want to meet people where they are already gathering! Easy peasey, right?) Flock allows me to speak more intimately with my readers, and acts as a bridge between reading my work and hiring me as a private coach. I check in with my Flock three times a week. Together we set our weekly intentions on Mondays, get a little encouragement and blessing on Wednesdays, and take some time to honor the work of our hands and our heart together on Fridays. In between I answer any personal emails the Flock wants to send me with some light coaching, and send out carefully curated articles and posts that I think will help with whatever the community is currently experiencing. My hope is that Flock is there for you on those days when you feel alone. (No more endlessly clicking around the internet trying to find the companionship you need!)
You embrace the fact that being a little crazy/mad helps an artist, or at least goes hand in hand with ‘being’ an artist. After working with so many artists, do you still believe that artists think/ work a little differently than other people?
Some artists are more mainstream than others, and it can be frustrating for them to feel less “artsy” than their fellow artist. But most of my creative clients really do experience the world differently. A friend of mine who is painter told me a story once about when he was a child and he realized that he saw the spaces between the leaves on a tree, while his other friends saw the leaves. When he taught my daughter to paint he told her “drawing is learning how to see.” I think many artists see, feel, and move through life in a way that is not the dominate method of processing our world.
Your community and website focus on spirituality and crafting a belief system that nurtures YOU, just special you. Why is it so important to form such a belief system as an artist?
If institutionalized forms of spirituality nurture you, by all means, imbibe! It’s much easier to slip into something that is already established than to create something from scratch. And loving an ancient, storied, rooted form of faith is a beautiful and powerful thing for an artist.
But if institutionalized spirituality does not nurture you, then you’ll have to create your own right- fit soulcare. Why? Because it does not behoove you to spend a lot of emotional and mental energy fitting your square-peg self into the round hole of religion. The world needs you to pour your energy into what you are called to do – your art—not to spend your energy translating everything you hear from a pulpit into something you can understand, or investing endless hours into spiritual disciplines that do not nurture you. Oftentimes we are told that the “discipline” of remaining in an institution that doesn’t naturally suit us is what makes us grow. I’m just going to go all Dr. Phil on you here and
ask, “How’s that working for you?” If you’re thriving under that model, go for it! If you feel depleted, frustrated, and stuck, move on. You have the permission within your own wise, beautiful soul to create what you need (and even to build a soultribe to practice it with!)
Do you mind telling us about your evolution into your current profession of helping artists
embrace their creativity? I’m sure it’s a fun journey.
Sure! I’d be happy to.
After 35 years in the church, including being ordained as minister in a denomination that was opposed to ordaining women, I felt called—no, compelled—to leave the institution. The rites and rituals of the church suddenly stopped working for me. I found the doctrine of my denomination to be less flexible than I thought. And I grew tired of talking myself into holding beliefs that worked well for me at earlier stages of my life, but which were no longer serving me. Some of the folks I worked with at the church were experiencing the same spiritual shift, so we left to form a small soulcare community called Monkfish Abbey. Most of those folks were artists, and I found that while organizing the group was a bit like herding cats, being with such creative souls fed my own hungry heart. I soon discovered that I value how people intuit truth through art, and I found that my thoughts were always clearer and richer when I spent time immersed in various art forms. My new religion is basically The Gospel of Love plus whatever happens at the intersection of Art +
As you can imagine, this was a huge shift for me. My art-form of choice is writing, and I found it helpful to process this challenging transition through blogging. I wrote first at Urban Abbess, and later at Magpie Girl – which is so named because at the time I was “distracted by sparkly things,” flitting from one thing to another trying to find my way. Now Magpie Girl is my virtual classroom, where I use a communal teaching-learning model to help people develop rooted, authentic, creative soulcare practices.
Rachelle Mee-Chapman is a classically trained theologian with a rebellious soul. Formerly ordained as an evangelical minister, this religious misfit now helps people create right-fit spiritual practices regardless of their creed (or a lack thereof!) Learn more about her approach to customized soulcare at Magpie Girl: care for creative souls.