The power of play and trying new things

Hey everyone, how was your Christmas?

Hopefully a good one despite it being vastly different for many? I know I for one just appreciated having both sets of grandparents round for dinner, the last time that happened was back in February! We had a really fun day, watching re-runs of passed family holidays when the kids were little, taking it in turns to open presents and of course a huge feast of a dinner, that left us all feeling satisfyingly comatose!

Last time I wrote all about celebrating your achievements and this time I was going to talk about the lessons from 2020, but I’ve changed my mind, because I think we need a bit of light relief, and the lessons can link into my plans for 2021, which I’m still formulating!

So instead I’m going to talk about the power of play, and experimentation. Now despite me encouraging this a lot to my readers, it’s something that’s fallen a little down the priority list in the last few months, mainly due to the busyness and challenges of life, but none the less I think I’ve missed it.

Now that the kids are home for a good few weeks and maybe longer due to a staggered return to school, it’s highlighted how much we need this as a family, and we’ve found some new creative ways to encourage this a bit more.

First up, my son got a dartboard from the grandparents! It’s been an absolute hit in our household, both kids getting involved and the grandparents on Christmas day too!

This has encouraged us to make the ‘play-room’ what it used to be known as when the kids were small,  into more of a games-room now that they are older, and our main present to our son was a gaming chair, which he’s been after for a while.

If you are anything like me, you’ll agree that most ‘gaming’ chairs are big, dark and ugly cumbersome things, BUT this one I have to say I like, it has LED lights whizzing round it for a start, plus speakers within it for music and games etc, it’s pretty cool I have to admit!

My son has a bit of a thing for lighting too, and he also requested LED light strips, which are now in place under the cupboards, and around the TV too. The overall effect, is perfect for a 12 year old boy, and the rest of us like it too.

Lighting seems to have been a bit of a theme this Christmas, as I also requested some for the Cabin, from Cable & Cotton, we’d bought some similar for my daughter last year, and they stretch across the beam in her bedroom, giving it a lovely warm glow.

It took me ages to pick the colours, they have such a great choice! But now they are up and shining bright in the cabin, I absolutely love them and they make the space even more special, in fact I’m writing this from here right now!

Having the twinkly lights on the tree and even on the branch I’ve decorated in the kitchen, somehow makes everything feel better don’t you think? I don’t know if it’s just because we head into the darker winter nights in the UK, or there’s just something very childlike and playful about it, but bright colours and light, and even the flickering flames of the stove make me feel nostalgic, hopeful and cosy over the colder months.

I also requested a lino-cutting set for Christmas, from The Everyday Creative, as this is something I’ve always wanted to have a go at, and this plus reading an article in Red Magazine have got me thinking about planning out a new ‘Play’ list (see what I did there!) for 2021.

This is partly as Emma Gannon and her Life Coach, Selina Barker in her podcast ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’ discuss how to make sure ‘down-time’ happens, planning these positive self-care moments into our diary. Which is another tactic I know only too well, but I’m not so great at doing this regularly myself!

They also talk about colour-coding your diary, so that you can see instantly, where the focus is over your week, and if it’s highlighting any strikingly obvious imbalances, such as lack of self-care. This is something I definitely need to do more of, and prioritise a ‘play’ or ‘self-care’ colour to use in there (off to use my new Xmas fine-liners!).

The Red magazine article had 3 writers try out different creative hobbies – I’m really pleased to see this showing up more in mainstream titles – one benefit of Covid I think is that people are now recognising how beneficial creative activities are for mental wellbeing – especially during a pandemic, and the 3 activities they chose were all things I’d love to do more of or begin.

The first was poetry therapy, I love the idea of this, and I really enjoy the challenge of creating poems. We sometimes do this via Zoom in the local writing group I belong to, or I often find myself creating one in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep. This last year I was lucky to have one of my poems published for a council pandemic project, maybe this year I should challenge myself to enter a competition?

The next one was Pottery, which I can’t believe I have actually never done! So that is going on my list! It will be interesting to see if it’s something I could get to grips with easily, or if it will wobble all over the place! Even so, it sounds like fun and I think could be quite therapeutic, using your hands to create in this way.

And finally, the 3rd writer tried bird-spotting – this is probably the one I’ve done the most, given I grew up with a keen ornithologist father, and I regularly spot birds on my walk with the dog – there is something very satisfying identifying the species, and it certainly makes walks more mindful.

So, my challenge to you, and to myself, is to create a ‘play’ list, of creative activities that you are curious about, and will permit yourself to try and experiment with, without any self-judgement, and definitely NOT to become an expert at overnight.

I want you to allow yourself to be able to laugh at your attempts (if they go wrong at any point), and not overthink what you are doing but just enjoy the moment and noticing how it makes you feel?

The added bonus, especially when we get to the point of being able to re-join classes and workshops, is that we will meet new people and possibly form new connections at the same time, which we have all sadly missed this year.

So, I’m going to commit to trying / doing more experimenting, once a month, throughout 2021, and I’ll report back on how it went! Here are my initial rough and ready thoughts, so you can see what I mean, along with whether these are new activities or ones I’m doing more of – I’m trying a mix to challenge myself!;

ActivityExperience
PotteryNew
Poetry writingMore of
Embroidery / needleworkNew
GlassworkNew
Short storiesMore of
Calligraphy / Text ARTNew
Acrylic paintingMore of
Photography challenges, e.g., Insta challengesMore of
Floristry / decorative displaysMore of
Silver Jewellery makingNew
Video lives – interviews on InstagramMore of, but me hosting
Lino printingNew

Over to You…

So, what do you think? Does this feel like a terrifying stretch to commit to? Or something that you think will really benefit your life, perhaps giving yourself a target of a certain amount of different things to try like I have? I hope it’s the latter, but remember we are not aiming for perfection here, at all, remember my motto: Practice makes progress – NOT perfect! It’s about the pure fun and experience of having a go, and hopefully with a little pride thrown in that you did it!

But how do you start?

If you are stuck on where on earth to start, check out The Curious Cave page for resources, or simply google and check out the many YouTube Videos out there now giving free tutorials you can easily follow, step by step.

Schedule the time into your diary, to make sure it happens! And do not feel guilty about taking the time out for you: self-care is health-care remember!

Create an Action Board of ideas you could try (simply tear out of magazines images or words that link to the activities you want to try and/ or how you want to feel whilst doing them, for ultimate impact – the ‘why’ you want to do this) and keep it somewhere highly visible, so that it remains important to you and doesn’t fall down the priority list.

Don’t underestimate your environment – do these activities somewhere playful or inspiring, not overlooking a sink full of dishes or somewhere noisy and distracting – this is quality, enjoyable time-out for you, so set up your space to encourage this feeling, not put you on edge.

After the year we’ve had we deserve more fun in 2021, make it your purpose to intentionally seek it out; your heart, soul and mind will thank you for it.

I’d love to know what kinds of activities you pick and how you get on, do let me know.

Until next time… wishing you a happier and healthy New Year, with a big virtual hug from me for getting through the unforeseeable, crazy, devastating year that was 2020.

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps Don’t forget you can follow me for more creative tips and inspiration on Instagram, @thecuriouscreative or on My Facebook page too: The Curious Creative Club

Main image: As always, curiosity is at the very heart of creativity!

5 Comments on “The power of play and trying new things

  1. After being told to not choose art ‘O’ level many, many years ago I am embarking on an art course in January! Scared and excited at the same time I am looking forward to seeing what I can produce. Watch this space….. PS I started embroidery during lockdown and absolutely love it. Enjoy xx

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    • Ooooo this is very exciting to hear Rachael! Can’t wait to hear all about it at wow! 👏❤️😍

      Like

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