Reflect to Reset

Looking back to get the best view forwards

There are some people who will have gone all guns-blazing into the New Year with a whole set of resolutions, that by now have probably started falling off the wagon…. but what’s the rush? Isn’t it better to see what thoughts come up in semi-normal life rather than from a more sludgey brain that’s either still slightly hung-over from all that Baileys or on a come-down from a Celebration-box high?

I prefer to slip into January slowly, getting less irritated by the day at the pine needles and glitter still sticking to my socks and the three bins worth of cardboard creating a mountain in the garage.

As the house and routines slowly return to normal, I start to look at what we as a family have done and achieved over the last year. I ask myself, what were the fun bits, what were the surprising bits, what was harder than I thought, what made me most proud, how did the kids grow and change? What have I learned?

I’m definitely the kind of person who likes to reflect and feel grateful, I keep an ongoing list throughout the year of the good stuff because otherwise I’d forget what happened and it would all become a big blur.

If you like this kind of thing and want to go one step further, a great free resource is Susannah Conway’s ‘Unravel Your Year’, which asks you the big questions and gets you to really think about what the last year has taught you. It’s a good exercise to just take some time to think back and acknowledge our successes and challenges.

After doing that I’ve then started to look at my intentions (I prefer this to goals, it’s less daunting) for this year. In some respects this year has been more difficult to set those intentions, because 2018, for us, was a really great year.

Now I’m aware at this point you may be thinking well bully for you and not everyone has had this experience, but trust me I’ve had my fair share of bad ones in the past so I’m clinging on to this run of good fortune whilst I can! But when you have had a bad year, pretty much the only way is up right? And where normally I’d be wanting to improve on last year, this time I find myself thinking, I’d just quite like more of the same please and not wanting to push my luck.

However in terms of creative intentions, there are always so many things I would like to do; new things to try,  new projects to start, new directions to go in – I find the start of the year really exciting! So below are just a few of my many creative intentions for this year.

Art

I want to continue to learn and expand on skills and techniques, particularly the style of Line and Wash which I started last year, learning from a demo John Harrison did at our art club – I find this way of creating a painting so gratifying to do and it’s one of the faster things to complete – great for impatient ones like me!

Staithes Village painting

I’m also interested in working with gouache and acrylic paint to get that really modern, fresh feel, similar to the cactus painting I did here (but this was with water colour) – I plan on creating a new collection in this style, linking into trends and typography – as you know, I love playing with words too!

Cactus painting

The other thing I’m really excited to crack on with is needle-felting, something I tried on a workshop with Sam Jackman (@sam.jackman.textiles) in December. The process itself is more simple than I thought, immensely satisfying and a great stress-reliever – you basically stab a piece of felt with a needle, a lot! The other great thing is if you don’t like how something is looking, you can easily unpick it and rearrange.

I also wanted to see if the piece I did at the workshop would transfer well into a greeting card which it did, the texture looks really good, so this is another collection I want to do as well as framed pieces of the felt artwork.

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Finally I really want to get my art shop set up on here, (I just need to figure out the technicalities) and also continue exhibiting with my art club and at other local venues.

Photography

I’m really excited this year to be finally doing a photography course in April to learn how to use our DSLR camera that we bought years ago but never figured out how to use properly!

Photography is my daily creative passion and I mainly take scenic shots for my @soothedbynature Instagram page but I’ve only ever used my iphone, so this year I was determined to take my photography up a notch and asked for a one-day photography retreat run by Sarah Mason for my birthday. Another creative day that I am really looking forward to and hopefully it will help me increase engagement.

soothedbynature is all about encouraging people to get outside and notice the beauty around them whilst reaping the benefits of fresh air, exercise and the well-being benefits nature brings. The better the photographs, hopefully the more this will inspire people to get out there and see it for themselves.

Another intention I’ve had since last year was to try and get one of my photographs into Psychologies Magazine where they invite people to send pictures in each month along with a caption relating to what inspired the photograph. I’m so happy to report that they contacted me in early January saying they’d like to use the featured image above in the April edition! Yeah, I can now tick that one off my list!

Writing

So, finally to writing, my first love and most rewarding yet most challenging creative endeavour of them all, hence why my book is called ‘The Key to Everything’!

There is the steadfast hard-slog of writing the novel (I’ll be writing a separate post about this soon) which I just HAVE to get that first draft done by May if it kills me (putting it in bold may help me, you never know!) and then there’s this all new shiny, attractive, fast-paced, more instantly rewarding vehicle of blogging.

I suppose it’s like a long-term relationship versus this newbie distraction that’s chatty and friendly and feels good to get quickly typed up – I just need to find a way to marry them together or at least be in the same house! But that’s all in my nemesis of scheduling and simply getting back into my story (my memory is shocking if I don’t write my novel regularly enough).

And then there’s other writing ambitions I have for this year; to continue writing short stories for the Yorkshire Writer’s Lunch Blog, to enter some Writing Magazine competitions and finally to write and deliver the creative workshops I’m developing, the first one being ‘Playing with Writing’.

So, these are my creative intentions this year – some stretching but interesting and pulling me gently forward into another creatively fulfilling year.

If you need some more inspiration as to how to include creative elements into your year, here are my top tips below which really helped me last year:

Have some sessions with a Life Coach – Lots of life-coaches that are training offer pro-bono sessions where they offer coaching in return for feedback to help them qualify. I did this for a few weeks and it really helps having someone impartial to work with you to achieve a specific goal. This lead to other positive actions for me too such as:

Join a Creative Writing group (or any local creative group infact) – If you’re a wannabe writer but sometimes feel stuck for ideas, this can be a real game changer! I joined a small writing group, lead by a retired creative writing teacher. She sets us writing tasks (a little daunting at first but you soon get into the swing of it) and we all share and feedback – great for firing your imagination and trying new ideas to get the writing flow going.

Look for experts or more experienced people to help you –  I also joined The Yorkshire Writers Lunch – a group of ‘some published’ authors who have all the knowledge to help you with tricky aspects of writing and wanting to be published, but as part of it you have to sign up to doing a short-story or poem on their BLOG now and again – but that’s just another good way to challenge yourself!

Learn – it’s our gift as a human! – Ok sometimes it can be information overload out there these days but there are some really good resources. My biggest gift to myself this year was getting into the podcast world – what a revelation!!

Now those mum-taxi journeys and dull grey day dog walks are way more interesting! The podcast world has exploded this last year and there are some really interesting, entertaining and hilarious ones out there – treat yourself, it’s free! Just search a topic or presenter via your usual podcast provider such as Apple Play, Stitcher etc. (see Curious Cave, for all my reading and listening recommendations).

Future Learn is another free resource that has loads of free online short courses in all sorts of subjects and it’s part of the Open University so you know it’s good quality.

Dare to share – If you love taking photos, especially on a specific theme, why not set up an Instagram account. I love this for injecting a quick and easy dose of creativity into your everyday (although it can get a little addictive). As well as sharing your own creativity, there is a huge creative insta-world out there to tap into.

I set up @soothedbynature in 2018 which is very specifically nature based, and I love documenting the seasons and the challenge of finding new images when I’m out there on my walks.

And of course there’s the @thecuriouscreativeclub insta account too for more inspiration on how to get creative.

Visit inspiring events / workshops – great to fire your imagination, learn a new skill and have a fun, different day out with friends. This year I’ve been to Staithes Art Festival (beautiful coastal village near Whitby), Holmfirth Art Week, Country Living Christmas Fair, Kent and Willow Candle making workshop, Sam Jackman’s Needle Felting Workshop and art demos by Pippa Ashworth and John Harrison, and Sarah Ward’s Crime writing workshop.

I hope that this gives you a few ideas to get going and plan your calendar – scheduling it in makes it way more likely to happen…see, I’m learning… 🙂

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

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