Reflecting on 2019 – What ‘firsts’ are you celebrating this year?

As we come to the end of the year, I begin to reflect on what’s gone on and whether I’ve made the most of it or not. To help with this, I keep a record of key moments throughout the year, especially if it’s been an eventful one.

It’s easy to forget about the big wins and the smaller successes when life is really busy, so jotting it down makes it easier to look back on. If you are a regular reader, you’ll know that this year has been especially crazy, probably the one of most dramatic years of my life to be honest and that is not me dramatizing either!

It’s been filled with exciting high points and devastating low points with only a smidgen of normality in-between!

So, today I’m going to focus on the incredible high points, and in particular the ‘firsts’ I’ve managed to achieve this year.

‘Firsts’ for me are important because they make you strive for the ‘new’, the things you’ve never tried before and the things you are really curious about, because then it makes you dare to do them and your life becomes all the richer for the new experiences.

You may be thinking, what is the point of looking back and reflecting, I haven’t time for that! But it does have huge benefits I promise you, especially if like me, you don’t have a great memory!

Here are the plus points:

  • It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘busy’ of your creative business / hobby. Stopping and taking time to reflect gives a deeper understanding of how far you’ve come and will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
  • Think about the moments that terrified you, for example trying a new style of work or delivering a talk on your skills.

Now, remember how you felt afterwards? Elated, buzzing, relieved? I’m sure you will have felt proud that you did it! Even if it didn’t go as well as planned, you were brave enough to try and that is a huge step forwards that you can now learn from

  • If you are your own worst self-critic, like many creatives are, you may be the kind of person who focuses on the negative, for example if something didn’t quite work out or you missed an opportunity, then it may surprise you to see a written list of all that you have achieved, which should then give you a confidence boost and help to shift to a more positive mindset.
  • Share how far you’ve come with your friends and family, blow that trumpet, you deserve it! Especially to the ones who may not truly ‘get’ what you do, it may just help them understand it all more. And talk to any willing apprentices too, hearing your story will encourage other creatives to try new things too and put themselves out there making the creative community bigger and stronger!
  • Use your list to set new challenges for the next year. Maybe you never thought that you’d achieve all that you have? Now that you know you can, it can guide your goals for next year, increase your appetite for challenge and set the bar a little higher, though not too high to scare the pants off you, obviously!

Now that you know the advantages of looking back, below is my list of firsts, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, to then make your own, and some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

There are other things I’ve done of course, but these are true ‘firsts’ and as this was the year I set up The Curious Creative Club, there have been quite a lot. If you too are thinking of moving from creative hobby to something a little entrepreneurial, I’m hoping this may help you.

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The Curious Creative Club

My ‘middle of the night’ idea of how to create a blog and website by combining my 3 creative interests came to fruition this year and launched in January, but there were many ‘firsts’ to make it happen as I literally didn’t have a clue what I was doing and started from scratch with no professional help! This is how it evolved:

  • Setting up my website – I chose WordPress and then taught myself how to use it. Yes, ok it is a fairly simple process, but for me it was still a challenge, albeit a fun one. Choosing the template and design, creating the content and branding, working out social media buttons and links I really enjoyed, but I’ve yet to master a ‘shopping’ page, next year!
  • Blogging content – to date I’ve written 44 blogs which I’m really proud of to be honest! When I started out, the idea was to do content once a week which up until recent health issues, I’ve done, but the surprising part was that only once did I struggle to think what to write! I’ve always been an ideas person and thankfully each week something would guide me to the content, but as it’s all based on creativity, rather than say a lifestyle blog, the content subject is narrower, so it just goes to show there is a lot to talk about around creativity! I was also invited to share one of my posts on Woman Ready Blog which was lovely!
  • Blog interviews – again this was something new to me, but I really enjoyed it and will definitely be doing more. In March I did a series of 4 interviews with local creatives and it was great to hear local success stories that I knew would inspire others. Feedback from the interviewees was lovely and gave me the satisfaction of supporting my creative community.
  • Social media – whilst this isn’t completely new to me, making sure that this content aligned with The CCC website and supported the blog was really important. I set up Instagram, a Facebook page , a Pinterest page and more recently LinkedIn.

Instagram was especially challenging because I almost wanted it to be magazine like, rather than a perfectly curated, visually appealing account like my other @soothedbynature account. I thought this might not work as it goes against the grain of normal Instagram accounts, but so far it is growing (currently 475 followers) and works well to facilitate other news like the WOW events and my workshops.

  • Writing Workshops – This was something I really wanted to do and after putting my proposal to local café owner Miriam, who loves her café to be used as a community and creative hub, we went ahead and have delivered 5 workshops this year! I started off with ‘Playing with Writing’ for beginners and then recently developed ‘Writing from Personal Experience’ and both have been received so well with fabulous feedback!

Creating these has been the biggest lesson for me so far in this journey. I am not a writing teacher, and yet all that was needed really was the belief that I could do it!

I had the ideas for tasks, I rehearsed (in the woods on dog walks) and knew my stuff more than I thought I did. These workshops gave me so much confidence and pure joy, watching my participants come alive with creative ideas right in-front of me. It was like watching the light-bulbs go on in their eyes – so rewarding! I can’t wait to get back to doing them, once pesky chemo is over with.

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  • Setting up WOW Wednesdays; another ‘middle of the night’ idea. This stemmed from visiting networking groups HD8 network and Business Brunch Club – and whilst I appreciate what they do in terms of networking opportunities, I quickly realised these kinds of groups weren’t quite right for me – I wanted to create something of more personal value and usefulness, that didn’t cost money, to help individuals who worked from home, had their own business or were studying and had goals to reach too. In addition to this, I’d worked with Miriam from a local café who hosted my writing workshops and she was struggling to get people in on Wednesdays and so our local accountability group WOW Wednesdays was born!

Hands down, this is the idea that I’m most proud of this year. I had no clue how it would go but 9 people showed up on the first one back in June and now we have 25 members, who are such amazing people they inspire me at every meeting. This little community means the world to me and it makes me feel quite emotional talking about them. It’s a complete diverse range of people who share their stories, skills and support to all the other members and there is literally nothing that they can’t help with.

They are simply my dream team who in just a few months have grown so much themselves in all sorts of ways but especially confidence in their own work and abilities and at the end of this I‘ll share some of their firsts too!

  • Eco product testing for Psychologies magazine! This was a lovely surprise opportunity with a magazine I’ve loved for years, following one of my photos being chosen as the winner of their monthly competition in the magazine. They also chose me to be in their profile section which was great exposure too!

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So far I’ve tested a yoga mat, deodorant, tea bags, chocolate, candle, face cream, hand balm, shampoo bar and each time I’ve done a minute video review for their website – something I’ve never done before! Testing the products has been a real eye opener on how much more we need to focus on the products we use to help our planet, for more info on the product reviews click here.

  • Events to learn from; Along with my partner in crime, Clair, we’ve attended Holly Tucker’s live podcast event in Manchester, Yorkshire Writer’s Vision Board Workshop and Sarah Tasker’s (of Hashtag Authentic book and podcast) talk, all of which were incredibly inspiring and educational. I can’t recommend enough to go along to these kinds of events, especially if you are stuck in a creative rut, you’ll walk away with ideas sparking I promise!

We loved taking part in the vision board workshop!

Other Creative firsts for me this year:

Writing; This year I joined 2 new writing groups, Write at Read bookshop in Holmfirth and the Huddersfield Authors Circle, the latter’s first task was to write about Huddersfield in the 1800s, completely out of my comfort zone! I stared at my notebook in sheer panic and didn’t write for 15 minutes, which has never happened to me before, but I got there eventually and the group really liked my piece! Phew!

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Art; trying new things again such as pyrography, acrylic painting and perspective work at Demos delivered by Shelley Art Group, and also becoming Calder Arts ‘Artist of the Week’ on their Instagram – great exposure again! I’ve also started selling my art cards in Miriam’s Kitchen Table.

Some recent shots for my@soothedbynature insta account

Photography; In April I attended Sarah Mason’s DSLR Workshop which was such a fab day learning how to use my proper camera! Since then I think my photos on @soothedbynature have improved and I’m getting more engagement with lovely comments lately. My goal is to get to 500 followers on SBN, currently at 497 so I’m really close! I also entered the Countryfile photography competition and want to enter more next year.

So that’s a run down on my year, or in reality 9 months before all the health investigations and diagnosis so all in all I’m really pleased with how The Curious Creative Club is going and I’m so grateful for everyone’s support.

There’s so much more I want to do and what I’ve learned is that the more you do, the more opportunities and ideas spring up, one thing most definitely leads to another!

In the New Year I’ll be talking about my plans and wishes for 2020 of where I want to go with The CCC, and when I’m fully better (hopefully by end of April), there will be no stopping me!

In the meantime, here are some of my WOW members firsts for this year to hopefully inspire you further!

‘Delivering my Pocket Vision Workshop, a great experience that boosted my confidence at a time when I needed it’ Zoe
‘Going from ‘How can I grow my business to how can I fit all these clients in, in a year!’ Clair
‘Letting people read my creative writing and sharing it at writing groups has really helped my confidence grow as a writer!’ Carrie
‘My first pyrography workshop! So pleased I did it!’ Jac   

As always, I’d love you to share your ‘firsts’ too in the comments below and do get writing those lists of achievements, I’m willing to bet it will be a lot longer thank you think!

Happy reflecting! Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

P.S At the moment I’ll be posting every two weeks to coincide with when I’m at my best after treatment, if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to write about or share insight on, please do get in touch as I want this blog to be as helpful and as useful as possible! Thank you xx

 

 

 

 

 

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