Madness, Musings and creating a Magical Christmas

Hi everyone, how are you doing? I’m sure you may be wondering where I’ve been the past few weeks, this is the longest break I’ve actually had since starting the Blog in January 2019, and it’s been weird, but at the same time I really needed it, because the s*** really hit the fan, which I didn’t think was possible, given the year we’ve had already, but yup someone decided they needed to raise the game for us!

This one gave us a fright!

So, without going into too much detail, the dog got really ill, with sepsis and was in vet hospital for 5 days, during the half term holidays. Anyone who knows me, knows the dog is like my 3rd child so it was incredibly stressful. To keep busy we did some major decluttering and cooking, just to keep busy in-between regular vet updates!

We’d just got her home and then the following weekend, my Step-dad got symptoms and tested positive for Covid, he gradually got more and more ill, and then went into hospital, has been seriously ill, but finally turned a corner earlier this week and yesterday came home. My Mum also got it, but thankfully, she had it mild, phew.

So as you can imagine it’s been a scary time, all that coupled with a bit of extra treatment for me, has filled my time and head-space and I completely lost my mojo for a while, but I can feel it slowly returning…thank goodness for that!

So, today I want to talk to you about a few things really as I’ve been pondering several elements of creativity and direction in this pretty stressful time, and listening to several great podcasts, that have got me thinking.

Is a tight, specific style important?

Firstly, I listened to one of our lovely WOW Members Yvonne Robinson from @_lovetodesign_ , who was interviewed by Emma Isaacs for her Creative Ways’ podcast. Also, on the podcast was Richard Tillotson from @mungoandshoddy and so the interviews were split over 2 episodes – double the wisdom for me to consume hurrah!

All 3 artists used to work for Tiger Print, years ago that is now part of Hallmark and it was really interesting listening to their individual journeys and similar experiences. They also talked a lot about their own personal artistic style and this got me thinking as they are all successful in what they do, so is this a key element of success – developing a specific style of art that is easily recognised and identifiable to them?  

I wondered this because I really don’t have a specific artistic style yet and could this be something that may hold me back?  Are customers accepting of an artist who is still at the experimental stage, or does it dilute who my typical customer may be? Is my audience too wide or am I overthinking it and its all fine? I don’t know the answer, so I’d be interested in your thoughts!

Plus, if you throw in the fact that I don’t really include any sentiment or words into my cards apart from the odd few, does that also narrow the appeal? Yvonne said that she felt it was the image that draws people to the card, but it’s the sentiment that connects with the customer and encourages them to purchase.

I do think there is a lot in this and this is where their experience and training comes in, which is way more than mine in terms of art at least, and I do want to combine my images with words – especially as you know I love words and am a writer at heart. For me it’s simply not knowing how to use ‘In design’ packages to combine these, but I have started using Canva Pro to have a go at this, which has helped me create some new Wellbeing Wisdom postcards, which was such fun to do, so my plan is to experiment more, and add more words to some designs (I’ll show you soon as would love to know what you think).

I suppose what I do do, is try to create little collections of different styles, based on either subject or the medium I’ve used. And this lends itself to my curious nature that is still very much learning at this point. It keeps me interested, inspired to improve and to try new things without the fear of failure and just play around with new materials. Some work, some don’t and that’s ok, I learn with each experiment.

Do we need to take more breaks from Social Media?

This is another thing I’ve been querying this week, based on both the experience of not having the mental energy for it over the past few weeks with everything going on, and also listening to Ruth Poundwhite’s ‘Creatively Human’ podcast interview with @helenredfernwriter who talked about re-focussing her energy back to her writing and making that the primary focus rather than social media, particularly Instagram, as it was beginning to take over. She’s now created strategies that work to avoid this happening again.

I have to say I’ve been feeling this too, but I think it’s been made more apparent because my time has been squeezed by 2-3hrs a day and so less and less time to get done what I wanted to. Plus, my Instagram is something I’ve been putting a lot of effort into, in a bid to get to the golden 1k followers.

This isn’t a large figure I know, but I made it my target a while ago and have made good progress recently but as everyone does, I get frustrated by the follow – unfollow game that some people play. So, I think it’s partly a bit of apathy with it all too.

That’s not to say I’ll be coming off completely, but I am going to schedule some days off, and slow down the input a little, and take heed of Helen’s advice.

Helen’s work on her website is also really interesting, she has lots of avenues where she expels her knowledge on all aspects of writing, including many struggles which is so refreshing to see, rather than just the shiny experiences of ‘Look at me I wrote a book in 3 months in lockdown!’- that just makes any potential novelist / author feel rubbish.

Knowing there are people out there that face the same challenges as us, who are happy to share, really helps, and fills you with that writing community spirit, that we’re all in this together.

My letter this month in Writing Magazine

Also driving this is getting back to the heart of what I do, and that is writing, so it was important for me to get back in the saddle, and write this.  I also re-joined my writing class on zoom last night which felt good, and a letter I wrote to Writing Magazine was published in this month’s edition, in which I talk about the none-fiction book I’m writing – which makes me feel more accountability to crack on with it!

And then there’s Christmas…

I’m not going to lie, this month so far, plus the on / off news about whether we will be in or out of lockdown, has not instilled me with anticipation of Christmas joy.

I’ve been snapping some pictures of holly to get me in the Christmas spirit!

No, it has taken things finally getting better and having to prepare for my next @psychologiesmagazine Insta Live (coming up Monday 23rd November) to kick me into some festive action! It’s not so much the festivities, but more the knowledge of the time it’s going to steal from my work, when I’ve just lost 3 weeks and feel like I’m playing catch up. 

I realise this sounds very bar-humbug and of course there are lots of things I love about it: decorating the tree and the house with as much light and colour as possible, usually creating new xmas designs for my cards (although not this year), drinking mulled wine and amaretto on ice, eating copious slices of Christmas cake (My mum bakes me one every year and I’m the only one who likes it – result!) with wensleydale cheese, after-eights and matchmakers!, the tradition of me giving the kids Xmas pyjamas the night before, big woolly jumpers and slippers, usually sparkly on Christmas day, the kids demanding that we play monopoly, the fire on whilst the wind whistles outside, the dog going nuts with all the Christmas wrapping, and watching my absolute favourite Xmas movie – The Holiday, are just a few of my highlights.

I’m looking forward to researching some
Christmas ideas , this star is gorgeous!

I also find the run up to Xmas a period of reflection, and this year for us and for many it’s felt like 10 years of dramatic events rolled into one and it’s a lot to take in. This year my Uncle won’t be here and I know that will hit our family hard, he was such a jolly character, and loved being around all his family at Christmas time.

But it’s also really important to reflect on what we have all come through, some really huge things, as well as the successes creative-project-wise that I need to acknowledge and be thankful for – make that all important list of what we’ve achieved, because it helps to shape the next plans and direction for 2021. I’ll be doing some more of this in a post in the run up towards the end of the year.

So, this weekend will be Christmas research, to inspire myself, and the listeners of the live on Monday. I want it to be a fun and uplifting experience because who knows what the government will decide next week, so we need all the enthusiasm and creativity we can muster to make this Christmas as magical as possible.

You never know, using our creative skills and thinking outside the box may just make this a unique and special Christmas. It will certainly be one we won’t forget in a hurry that’s for sure and I know that this year we’ll all appreciate our loved ones a little bit more.

As we get into this extra busy period, and I want to re-commit to the book / books (there’s still the never-ending novel too!) I’m going to space out my long blog posts to every 2 weeks and then I’ll pop in in-between with updates like the link to the Live and recommendations of things I’ve been listening to or reading which I hope you will find as useful and inspirational as I do.

So I hope your preparations for Christmas have begun and that you’re not feeling the pressure too much, this year we need to just chill I think, make some good memories with our families and add in some big doses of self-care, we deserve it after surviving 2020!

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps main image taken from one I created in Canva for my wellbeing range and apt for World kindness day last week!

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