Hey everyone, how are you doing, on what it feels like is going to be a difficult week, here in the UK.
Blimey it’s so tricky at the moment isn’t it? Just as we were all starting to have some small bits of normal, bang, here we go again, back in lock-down (in West Yorkshire and lots of other counties here).
It feels like an endless roller coaster, that we are tethered to and have no choice but to ride – you may be physically locked into this war, but our mental strength and resilience is what will bring the freedom for us to rise higher and get through this.
The phrase ‘what doesn’t break you makes you stronger.’ is more valid now than I’ve ever known it, but this situation I can see is now starting to take its toll on so many people, even the strongest ones I know. Because it’s just not normal is it for us humans to have to relinquish control to the powers that be for THIS long.
And no-one wants to feel like they are being controlled, or watched constantly, not trusted to do the right thing, and I know there are people out there that take advantage and don’t follow ‘the rules’ but for the most part, decent people are, and they just want to live their life.
Lord knows most people understand the value of it, if not before, they certainly do now. Lock-down has made us appreciate our freedom, our ability to make decisions and to value the small things in life more than we ever have before.
Personally I’ve always been someone that wants to live life to the full, even before the cancer journey, I‘ve watched too many decent, lovely people have horrible things happen to them when they least expect it and they’ve not been able to enjoy life fully for various reasons such as ill health or I’ve seen people without purpose or passion that have just kind of drifted through life or focused on the wrong things and before they know it, it’s too late.
It’s frustrating to see time wasted like this, it’s a precious commodity and one that we should be very thankful for and be making the most of our time here.
This is why I promote well-being and creativity so much because, this is where passion, purpose, and looking after yourself all come into play, so you not only have a life that you love but there is a depth and quality to it – we only get one after all, as they say, it’s not a rehearsal.
The added benefit is that many creative hobbies also bring you together with others, it connects you to your tribe and like-minded people, and in turn helps to prevent certain types of loneliness, which I’ve learned so much about from my friend, Wendy’s blog about it (pls see Wendy’s insta for more details of her great blogs where she even reads them out so you can listen to them like a podcast which I think is a great idea!).
In it she states there are 3 different kinds of loneliness which I‘d never heard of before, these are intimate, relational and collective and it’s the collective part that links to making connections with other that share the same interests. I can fully relate to this, because although I’m physically missing going to my art, and writing groups, I am still connected to them via zoom meetings and happily catch up with them regularly.
Because I’ve gained so much from these groups; friendship, advice, other recommended connections, I understand the deep value of being part of a tribe and that sense of belonging to the cause, to people who think the same as me, have that creative antennae and I am loathe to give all that up just because of a global pandemic!
The same goes for all the Facebook groups I belong to, the one benefit I think from lock-down is that insightful, interesting face-book groups have sprung up left, right and centre to support one another and have those honest discussions about how people are really feeling, trying to get passed the, ‘I’m fine thanks’, to truly try and help people.
I don’t know if there is a bit of freedom in asking questions via typing or knowing that you are in a safe space to share but these have grown rapidly in lockdown and have been such a great response to these uncertain times.
So, I think this is what we have to do to get through this, and defeat this aspect of potential loneliness, we have to carry on making meaningful connections and have deep conversations – it’s like that phrase isn’t it – ‘You grow through what you go through’ and I think there is a lot in that, if of course that is open to you and you’re not feeling too overwhelmed or stressed.
We have a natural ability as creatives to seek and find solutions to problems, we need to use this superpower to our advantage now more than ever.
If you can turn things on their head and look for the lessons or the positive spin on it, then there are opportunities to learn, grow and find strategies to help you cope when something side-swipes you next time, because we know there’ll always be a next time but doing some self-preparation can soften the blow.
If, like I suggested when we first entered lock-down, you set up that self-care list to keep going back to when times are tough, why not use this second turning point to re-evaluate that list and ask yourself these questions:
There’s so much support and inspiration out there now to help get your creative game on, the creative and well-being community have stepped up massively during lock-down, and it is a genuine, heartfelt, and caring place to be.
So, if you are a creative, but are perhaps doing your work on your own, there is obviously pleasure in that, but I do think there is an opportunity to extend that to bring even more joy and satisfaction.
By sharing your story in online groups and joining in the conversation, or even if you’re not ready to do that yet, join anyway, discover people you’d like to connect with, and see how other people share and engage and it may give you the courage to have a go too.
Plus, it tests the water to see what others feel about what you’ve created, and most of the time you’ll be pleasantly surprised and encouraged, with people commenting and liking what you’ve done.
This then delivers a huge confidence boost to those that are sometimes unsure of what they create i.e is it any good or good enough, will I get laughed at? The mind chatter goes on!
There is the opportunity to learn too, from people further on in their creative journey who could offer tips, advice or may even run workshops, for example water-colour clouds are my nemesis so I look for artists who do these well so I can pick up new techniques.
For me there’s nothing better than sharing the knowledge you’ve learned, as you’ll see on my Instagram if you’ve not looked already, I regularly share other accounts, wise opinions, inspiring products and events on posts and stories that are relevant to my audience, because I almost see it as selfish if I don’t!
Keeping the knowledge to yourself and not passing it on to the followers I respect and love just doesn’t feel right and it’s why I write this blog and do things like the inspiration corner below, because it feels like the right thing to do. It is my purpose and passion to help people reap the well-being benefits by using the knowledge and skills I’ve gained.
Connecting breeds further connections and opportunities, and so the knock-on effect becomes greater and greater, a bit like that film ‘Pay it forward’. I sometimes check in and realise how often I do this without even realising, by doing a Q&A with my son on an evening before bed, we’ll ask ourselves these questions:
It’s always interesting to recognise what others have done for us and what we have done for others and acknowledge the things we are grateful for.
It’s also why I do the Insta Lives for Psychologies, not because I love seeing myself on screen (because I really don’t!) but because it is another way to reach a wider audience that I could hopefully then help too.
It’s been an exciting thing to do, to use my voice instead of writing and although the nerves were in full force on the first one, I’ve since really enjoyed interacting with Psychologies readers who want to have a go at doing something creative. I’ve received lovely, positive feedback and the icing on the cake is that they’ve also had the courage to share their work with me, which is exactly what I wanted these sessions to achieve.
Speaking of which the next one will be on the 28th of September, at 1.30pm, It would be great to see you there.
I’d love to know how you are looking after yourself in these crazy times, whether creative activities have helped improve your state and well-being and what you might want to try next?
Also, what do you think about getting more involved with the creative community, do you see the benefits or are you a little apprehensive as many creative introverts can be?
Please feel free to comment below, or DM me on Instagram, lets keep talking and connecting so we can all get through this together and share the amazing talents within this community.
Take Care, stay safe, until next time,
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Inspiration Corner – what I’ve been up to this week
This week I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Day’s, ‘How to fail’ podcast which I love and have binge-listened a few this week, particularly enjoying the one with Ruby Wax – you can’t really get a more honest conversation about mental wellness than with Ruby, she’s such an expert in the field now and it’s well worth a listen. There’s also something very calming about Elizabeth’s voice and interview style, she’s a brilliant host.
Today marks the start of artist, Susan Yeate’s next sketch book challenge, this time a 7 day one. It’s a great way to commit to some creativity every day for 7 days and get into the habit of just creating something, very simple, following the daily prompts. Here is the link to details of the challenges on her Instagram.
Another friend from our Wow Wednesday group, Anna is also now writing a Blog, called Yorkshire Wellies and last week was all about her musings on the new season, a lovely read so check that out too with a hot chocolate and a blanket!
I’m still reading Caitlin Moran’s – More than a woman (I’m a slow reader!) but it’s making me really chuckle, much needed right now.
However, if you’re looking for some new reading inspiration, sign up to Clare Mackintosh’s Book Club
We’ve been going over past episodes of ‘Live at the Apollo’ hosted mainly by Michael Macintyre, who I just love and cracks me up and lots of laughter is exactly what we all need right now.
We also watched BBC One’s one off documentary, Extinction: The Facts, which broke my heart to be honest, David Attenborough is a legend in my eyes and this is a much needed important programme to make us humans realise what is going on in the world in terms of environmental devastation – we owe it to the planet to watch, learn and take action.