The #1 Rule of Getting Started with Creative Companionship: Expect the Unexpected

 What flavour of Creative Companionship will you choose?

How do you know what to expect from a Blooming Caravan initial consultation?

The short answer is: You don’t!

The long answer? I’ve designed complimentary meet and greets to help potential clients easily decide whether Creative Companionship visits are a fit for them or at least worth a try.

I know, I know. For some people, the very idea of sitting through a meeting with a stranger evokes the gut-churning awkwardness of a first date. I’ve encountered potential clients who would rather jump into a trial month of visits from Blooming Caravan than struggle through what they think will be an uncomfortable first conversation. I’ve tried to make it easier by gathering some quick preliminary information when you call to book a meet and greet or make an appointment online. This way you don't have to burn all your energy telling me your story at out first get-together.

The reality is that as much as I aim to adapt a series of visits for all possible needs and interests, I also know I’m not the right person or service for everyone. Yet, admitting this to families up front might give the false impression that a meet and greet is some kind of assessment where I will be checking boxes and scoring their loved one’s potential for creativity.

While it might be fun to one day develop a snappy personality quiz to decide your favourite flavour of Creative Companionship, my current system is far simpler and more straightforward, even though we’ll always start with a few fun questions to put us at ease.

If we’re going to work together, I’ll need to know “What’s your favourite tree or flower?” and “What’s a song you just can’t live without?” In a nutshell, our meet and greet is mostly a conversation to see whether we “click” and would enjoy working together on a creative project, either one of your choosing or one I suggest.

Even more importantly, the meet and greet is about unearthing the unexpected. What do I mean by that?

When I started Blooming Caravan, I thought that the only information I needed to uncover was the types of activities or hobbies the person had always enjoyed doing, and from there we could make a plan to ensure they would continue doing the things they love. I think this focus on tried-and-true activities partially came from the widespread belief in our culture that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Though I’ve always found this expression to be suspect, my assumption going in was that clients would prefer not to tackle brand-new projects in their elder years.

Now, several meet and greets in, I’m rethinking what questions to ask. I am having a lot more success by inquiring “Is there something you regret not learning or not knowing how to do?” versus “What have you always done?” It’s like a fun archeological dig.

By learning more about missed opportunities in their lives, I’m seeing clients bloom in unexpected ways. One new client is learning to cook for himself, even though his family initially told me that the kitchen held no interest for him. Another client is relearning how to send emails and wants to eventually start an online language course (talk about ambitious!), even though I was brought in to do gardening with her.

My advice for care partners who want to engage their loved one in a creative project is this: expect the unexpected! Be open to exploring a new direction, because you never know where those unplanned creative voyages will lead. If you’re not having any luck getting your loved one fired up about past hobbies, ask them whether they’re hungry to try something new. If you agree to join them on their journey, you might be surprised by what you both end up learning—about yourselves and each other!

Inspiration comes from many places, and this week’s Tricks of the Trade Thursday musings were affirmed by watching Lolabelle at the keyboard in “Heart of a Dog” by artist Laurie Anderson.