Firstly, I’m sooooo sorry it’s taken this long to write, but as usual life got a little busy since training to be a Coach which I started at the beginning of this year. And rather than beating myself up about not getting a blog post out, instead I’m going to use the content I write in my monthly newsletter to keep in touch, and then when I have the time, get back to some more topic-led posts too. That way I can still connect with my Blog readers, and hopefully you’ll enjoy catching up with what I’m up to too with the CCC!
This month I feel like I’m getting a bit of my creative mojo back, after a busy April, and that’s mainly down to 2 reasons:
The first gave me a confidence boost in my photography skills, and the second, once again reminded me of my longest standing dream, which is to finish writing a book and get it published.
The aim was to do this before 50, but I’m now 48, and it took Laura 6 years to get hers to this point, so maybe that deadline might need to be moved BUT the main thing I need to do is just get myself back in the writing saddle, and stop thinking that I don’t have enough time – classic procrastination excuse!
What also served as another reminder was finding an exercise in a notebook that I did just over a year ago with Life After Cancer, where we had to visualise a dream coming true – and here is mine, with the none-fiction book, pretending I was launching it in Waterstones, Leeds – a place I used to go a lot when I worked in the centre.
And the funny thing is, re-looking at this little mind-map gets me all giddy and tugs at my heart because the truth is I do really, really want this to happen. And the reason I guess it scares me, is because I know it’s a long-game project. When I think about it, the rest of my projects are either short-term, on regular, and provide instant gratification.
With a book, there are no guarantees that A) It will get published, or B) People will like it and so that un-known can be daunting, BUT I also bring back to myself the lessons I try and give to others on creative journeys:
Writing it before was giving me so much joy so I need to remember that.
So, if you too, are feeling stuck, or your dream feels pretty big and a little daunting, just have a think about this, and then break it all down and ask yourself,
What is one step you could take this week, to get a little closer to your dream?
And I’m going to let you all be my accountable guides and vow to at least have re-read the 15k words I’ve already written, to get me back into the zone of writing it! I’ll report back next month!
Also, I would absolutely love it if you would share with me what your creative dream is – DM me @thecuriouscreativeclub and we can all support one another to keep on track.
And now on to the rest of the things happening at The CCC this month!
3 things I’m working on
My Weekly Creative Writing Club
I need to get back to marketing this more as with the busyness of life it’s not always possible for the people in my group to come on a weekly basis. Plus, it’s important to me for all the members to have different experiences of other writers and their work too, so that everyone can learn from each other.
I love coming up with the weekly challenges though, as it challenges me too! So, if you are interested in having a go, please get in touch, the sessions happen on a Monday evening 7.30-9pm on Zoom, it’s a lovely group and is just a friendly, safe space for you to carve out some creative time for yourself and I love seeing the ideas that people come up with from my prompts.
Please note you DO NOT need to be a professional writer to join! This is all about fun and creativity rather than grammar and English lessons. If you’d like to find out more, click here.
The end of my Coaching Training is nigh
As you know I’ve been on this Coaching training journey for the last 5 months and it comes to an end very soon! It’s been a complete eye-opening journey, and I’ll be incredibly sad when it ends because of the amazing people I’ve met on this course – but of course we will always stay in touch!
Whilst training, we have also been practicing with other trainees throughout, and this last few weeks my coaching partner has been Alex who lives in Romania and is very wise for his years, and whilst in a session he said something to me that really struck a chord:
‘You do know right that the coping mechanisms we construct that become habits have a shelf life and that the same methods won’t keep working forever?’
And the thing is, he is totally right, I’d just never heard it pointed out like that before, and just by saying that, as if this was pure fact, it almost started to give me permission to consider other ways for me and future clients.
And by the way this is the magic of training with @noorworks who will be re-starting the programme I’ve been on again in July so if you are curious, go check it out, I can’t recommend this course enough for ANYONE in terms of personal discovery.
Volunteering Back to Life After Cancer
As you know coaching training for me was made possible by the lovely Steph who runs Life After Cancer – a support group for people who have finished their cancer treatment and have been launched back into ‘normal’ life wondering what the hell just happened and possibly feeling lost and overwhelmed.
Myself and another lady who trained, now help to run the weekly Support Group and will soon start to also deliver the Community Coaching 6-week programme too which is really exciting. Not only will it give us chance to use what we’ve learned with Noorworks, but I’ll be giving back to a community that I fully want to support, because I’ve been there and I know how hard it can be for some.
If you know anyone who is going through treatment, please do let them know about LAC – it’s a fabulous supportive group and network, who’s range of support and information is growing all the time, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.
Sadly, Cancer isn’t going away anytime soon, I know far too many people either going through or have gone through it, but there are inspirational stories out there too. Just this week I’ve been so touched by the mighty Deborah James’s awareness and fundraising work, even as she is now at the point of hospice care after 5 years of living with bowel cancer.
She is an amazing woman, has saved many lives raising awareness, and I read her brilliant book – Fuck You Cancer, when I was first diagnosed which was brutally honest, but hilarious too. This week she has set up a fund @bowelbabefund, raising well over a million in just 24hrs and it’s now over £5M.
The Instagram post, that she never wanted to write says at the end – ‘No regrets, Enjoy life x’
And I couldn’t agree more.
What I’ve noticed on my walks:
Firstly, I got an extra special nature dose last month when I went away for a few days with the girls and we visited RSPB Bempton Cliffs near Filey! It was like going back to my childhood – my Dad was a really keen birdwatcher and we would regularly visit these places.
But what made it even more magical was seeing the rarest bird I’ll probably see in my lifetime – the only black browed albatross in the UK, named Albie by locals, who got blown of course from Argentina a number of years ago and now spends his time between Bempton and Germany!
We were all awestruck as we saw this 8-foot-wingspanned bird glide around the magnificent white cliffs amongst the thousands of gannets! A very special highlight of our trip!
Back home, everything is getting so lush and green now. It’s this time of year that I notice the paths are over-flowing with cow parsley, the birds are even noisier and there are insects buzzing all around. I’m delighted to say we have a pair of wood pigeons too, nesting in the ivy in our garden which are keeping me entertained out of my kitchen window! It’s impossible to get a good photo though, they are very well hidden in there!
And finally, I’ve been taking lots of pictures of Barley in the Bluebells, which I do every year. It was her 6th birthday this weekend, or 42 in human years, still as daft as ever though!
What’s lighting me up!
This is what I’m into or learning from at the moment:
Ozark’s final season Part 2 is back! I think I held my breathe the whole of the first episode! Love this series, but watching it slowly as I don’t want it to end!
Davina Macall’s – Sex, Mind and the Menopause – CH4 following on from the first documentary just over a year ago. It’s so important that everyone watches this, and I’m grateful that this year they also included women who have had breast cancer who can’t necessarily got onto HRT – keep up the good work Channel 4 and Davina, there’s still so much more to talk about!
Steven Bartlett’s podcast – Diary of a CEO
Two stand-out episodes lately! One with Jessie J who I love but didn’t realise how much she has been through in recent years, and the other with Marcus Buckingham talking about relationships following his book launch – Love + Work.
Steven, the host, is a master interviewer – the depth of the conversations are right up my street, I love his approach and curiosity!
Single Bald Female – Laura Price
Really enjoying Laura’s debut, about Jess who finds herself with breast cancer in the middle of a relationship break up and new job, and all the complexities that entails – however meeting maverick Annabel may just change her life!
Want more creative inspiration and tips?
I’ve also just uploaded the most recent podcast interviews I’ve done with Deborah Ogden and Jana Oliveira onto my website, so if you’d like to have a listen to these, click here
Until Next Time,
TC Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps The Curious Creative Club Writing Workshops are BACK! – Now at the Eco- Hub and running in June and July.
Click here to find out more
Hi everyone, long time no chat?! If truth be told (in Uncle Brynn style, he’s been on my shoulder like a mentor since Christmas re-runs, I’ve no idea why!) I can’t really pin-point why I haven’t been here for a while, there’s several factors;
So, I’m rested-ish, feeling better-ish, but like everyone I know right now, have had a leisurely cautious tiptoe back into normal-C-word-life. And yes, I’m as sick of it as the rest of us!
BUT you didn’t come on here for a whinge-fest, so back to the positive!
Many of you will know, each year when I re-emerge from the tinsel, pine-needles, mulled wine and mountain of cheese and biscuits, I start off my year thinking about my Guiding Word. It’s become some-what of a tradition now with this being my 6th year of doing it.
I’m not going to go through the process, because you can find that in past posts here and also Susannah Conway does an excellent workbook which you can find here, if you’ve never done this practice before, but I will explain why I’ve settled on the word that I’ve chosen.
So, my Word of the Year is Re-Imagine, with supporting words – Question and Simplify. Originally, I had the word SHIFT, which after sitting with it for a while, felt too abrupt, like it was my mum telling me to move out of the way in her kitchen! Plus, I wanted more of a ‘thinking’ word.
I’m now starting the 4th year of my website, BLOG, and business, and it feels like the time is right for a refresh, and a keen look at the next step for The CCC. A lot of this is driven by the news at the end of last year that I’ve been chosen by Life After Cancer to be funded to train as a Coach, over the next 6 months, training with the Conscious Coaching and Training company, Noorworks.
I can’t tell you how much this means to me, it’s been a calling to do this for at least a couple of years now, ever since our WOW Accountability Membership was launched and has continued to grow over the last few years. So, this will become a large part of my focus over this year. I started on the training programme a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. I couldn’t get enough of soaking up the knowledge of our very wise trainer Mahnaz! What a woman! So, I’m so excited to be involved in this, along with my fellow learners from all around the World. It feels like the beginning of a very special journey for me.
Once the course is finished (and during with the peer support group) I will then volunteer my time back to Life After Cancer, to the ex-cancer patients coming out of the end of treatment and wondering what on earth just happened to them. What a gift it will be to be able to support them to start to process what has happened, get stronger and thrive in their new life, post-cancer.
Because I will then be certified by the course too, I can then set up my own Coaching practice within my business, which will become another important additional element to the whole package of what I do, for both myself and the people I work with.
So, this is where Re-Imagine comes in in bucket loads! I get to Re-Imagine how I work and delve deeper into helping people, and by doing so, I will help my clients Re-Imagine their lives too.
For me, Guiding Words have to work really hard in order to give you the most support and motivation possible, so I like to stretch them across all areas of my life where possible.
This year is also the year we will move house, after 16 years of living in this one. Not only will the new house give us a new way of living, due to its location, but it also gives us the opportunity to strip back the ‘stuff’ in our house and create new systems, and simplify things.
This applies to work too, I want to work smarter not harder, and I know a lot of people use that phrase, but I know I could streamline things more, and plan my schedule better – hence the ‘Question and Simplify supporting words on how I do things and how to improve to make it easier all round in business and day-to-day life. It just requires some dedicated thought and time, working on things and ‘thinking’ rather than always ‘doing’ and being reactive, rather than proactive.
Part of Re-Imagining will also be about allowing myself to dream, something we talked about in the first coaching training sessions. I do feel like I do this a lot anyway, if anything I have to park the many ideas I have until I have capacity, but within the first part of the course, we were then challenged to think,;
‘And what would be even better than that?’
And so I want to think more long-term, something I’ve not always done, but as the children get older and need us less, there’s room to at least start thinking about life post being a parent-taxi!
Another element of Re-Imagine links to newness and excitement, something I’ve always sought to keep things fresh. I have a thirst for learning and discovery, and I need to make sure I nurture that to avoid feeling stuck or uninspired, and the Coaching course I’m doing it certainly helping with that (#mindblown on the first weekend!).
We have to go out there and seek new experiences, new sights, and sounds, tastes and the feel of different environments to get the triggers to spark new ideas.
I think with Covid, a lot of us have sought safety and comfort, to get us through this, but sadly it also leads to stale thinking and feeling a little lost, so we need to get back out there to see what’s new, and make fresh connections with other creatives, discuss ideas, and get our mojos back!
I’ve realised, after just one weekend coaching training, that I really enjoy and appreciate the deep conversations you can have with other humans in a connected space. Not only does it give you the opportunity to listen and learn from someone else experiences, but by having to voice your own opinion and thoughts, you gain so much clarity, and a deeper understanding of what you are truly passionate about, your values and beliefs, and how you relate to the world around you.
And that knowledge has brought me once again ‘back to the book!’. I started my none-fiction book in 2020, during the pandemic, when I was struggling with loss of memory due to chemo to finish the first draft of a novel I’d written. Plus, there was such an appetite and boom of people who wanted to start something creative to get them through the boredom of lockdown, and surprise surprise, more and more people then began to understand the joy of it.
I wanted to tap into this new societal enthusiasm for creative activities and tell my own creative journey story, right back from childhood, and then go on to explain the wellbeing benefits in detail and support new enthusiasts with practical tips and advice on where to start, and how to get the most out of the experience, much as I do on here.
As I recovered from finishing my treatment, I was hell bent on catching up on the year I’d missed out on, and so dived back into all my previous projects and more, but now I’m being called back to the book.
This always seems to happen at this time of year, but ultimately IT IS the dream that I’ve held onto for the longest, and I can picture this book, on the shelves of a local bookstore like ‘Read’ in Holmfirth or travelling the country to share it with people and talking about it, so quite simply, IT JUST NEEDS TO HAPPEN! (That’s me talking very loudly to myself btw!).
So, I also need to Re-Imagine that dream, because when I do, I can’t help but get giddy about it, so I know it’s a path I need to travel, and with a faster pace!
And on that note, I’m going to finish my Blog here, to create some time to begin re-reading it, to get back into where I paused!
I hope that by showing you how I’m using my Guiding Word, that it gives you a real, tangible example to try out this strategy for yourself, especially if you’ve never tried this before. It’s become such a valuable tool in my armour for the year, it’s always around to give me motivation and support when I need it most, and is great if you ever really struggle with a decision, to just come back to and ask yourself, does this align with my GW and my central values?
For new visitors to the Blog, who may have popped in for the first time from my social media accounts, thank you for coming along, and if you’d like to find out more about my creative projects, and access more resources, just follow the links below. And please suggest any creative topics you’d be interested in hearing more about. I’ve always wanted this to be a collaborative, learning experience for us all, including me!
And to everyone else, thanks for sticking with me and sorry it’s been a while! I have also set up a monthly newsletter now too, to keep up to date with what’s going on, which I mentioned in my last post here, if you’d like to read what topics the newsletter features, and sign up if you wish.
I’m also about to run an in-person workshop on discovering your Guiding Words and creating your 2022 Vision board, called Re-Imagine (see what I did there?!) at Unity Yard, Holmfirth, February 6th, 2-4pm, which I can’t wait to deliver, and you can find out more about that here.
Do let me know if you have chosen your guiding word yet, and the reasons for it, I love to hear my reader’s choices and stories behind them.
Until next time…
Take Care and enjoy easing into this New Year,
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
P.s Don’t forget to put your word/s somewhere easily visible so you can check in with them regularly, whether that me a piece of artwork, a Canva graphic on your phone, a photo that makes you think of the word, or all 3!…it really helps to make it consistently visible.
Hi everyone, how are you doing? I hope you are snuggling up with a hot chocolate now the Autumn weather is arriving (in the UK anyway), and taking 10 minutes for yourself to read this month’s blog post!
Today I want to help you to feel comfortable about talking about what you do as a creative, which if you are like 99.5% of the creatives I know, will probably feel like the most un-natural and cringey thing to do…but I promise it needn’t feel like that.
This can apply to creatives just starting out, perhaps selling their creations online for the first time or just starting to build up a following on Instagram, as well as those who have been doing this longer but may be falling out of love with the process or are looking for new inspiration on how to talk about what they do.
So where do you begin?
Firstly, you need to address the following negative Nelly chatter, that may be chirping in your head and holding you back. I’ll give you an example of how this may go.
Jodie, age 41, who has a part-time job as a hospitality manager, particularly on the Wedding Services side, has been honing her skills as a lino print artist in her spare time. She’d like to set up a side business, developing lino printed stationery, starting with Wedding invitations, thank you cards and table setting products.
Where she’s at: Jodie has a following of around 300 on Instagram, mainly made up from family, friends and a few colleagues and this is the channel she focusses on. She has a small but strong network of contacts in the wedding industry – a great potential audience for her products.
Challenges:- time is precious, she has a busy family life, on top of her other job, and so when she can work on her side business, she needs to be efficient, and crack on but feels overwhelmed about what is needed to get her business really going. Selling herself and her business feels scary and a big task. She’d like to do more on Instagram but doesn’t have a particular strategy, more posting as and when she can and is unsure on what kind of content to post.
Thoughts:- What if my designs are not good enough? What if I get the social media side wrong? What if it goes better than I think and I don’t have the time to full-fill my orders? There’s too much to do, maybe I just keep it small and sell to family and friends rather than putting myself out there, that feels safer. But what if it could work and this could really go somewhere? I really enjoy creating my designs, what if this is something I could do full-time in the future and I’m wasting time procrastinating when I could be getting on with it?
So, you get the idea, I know myself that I have had all of these thoughts above, and as you read those, you can probably feel the pressure building, and this is often why we can then panic, put off moving forwards and sometimes give up altogether.
Whilst I can’t answer everything in this blog, as it would turn into a book, what I hope will help in the first instance, are the following things.
The next step of course is then talking to your friends and family, and whilst I hope that your network is supportive, don’t be upset if they aren’t immediately. Some people take longer to accept that change is coming, even if it is a personally positive one for you,. They may raise concerns about finance for example. This always comes from a place of fear, and they are just trying to protect you, but the more you talk about it, the more they will see how serious you are about following your passion and purpose.
Self-Belief is EVERYTHING! You want your potential customers to believe it too, and trust that you know your craft. You wouldn’t trust a builder that said, ‘I kind of build houses, but I’m not the best’, now, would you?!
The more confident you become in your personal creative skill, the more that will come across when you talk about it, which all then helps when selling yourself in public. But also understand that it does take time to build this confidence.
Your followers aren’t all online at the same time, and depending what strategy Instagram and Facebook are using at the time, it may even only by 10% of your overall audience that are seeing your content regularly.
So, post away consistently, in a way that works for you. The key is to keep it interesting and fresh, don’t just repeat previous content. Think about different angles of how you can talk about things. So, to use our example of Jodie above, who has created a new lino print piece, she could talk about this in several different ways: –
It’s easy for us to get in our own way as creatives, with similar thoughts to my example above, which is why being accountable to someone else can really help. We are much more likely to take action and tick off what we want to do on our list, IF we have said we are going to do it, to people that we care about and respect, because we are less likely to let someone else down, than ourselves!
Choose your buddy wisely though, pick someone who is likely to both support and understands what you are trying to achieve, will also challenge you, and check in regularly to see how you are getting on.
If you want to take one step further, then join an accountability group, such as the one myself and my accountability buddy, Clair set up. We knew how well it was working for us, and so we wanted to extend that model to other small businesses and entrepreneurs working on their own to help them move forwards with their businesses. And this all gives you a new audience to talk to about your business, further building your confidence.
If you’d like to find out more about our accountability membership WOW Wednesdays, then click here.
Whilst honing down what you are doing helps in terms of productivity and clarity, to not feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to talk about different areas of work if you are a multi-creative business.
More and more people are developing multi-passionate careers, especially since lockdown, so if you are creating this kind of business, be proud and shout about it. I speak from personal experience of this, particularly at the start I felt the pressure from family and friends who thought I should just focus on ‘one thing’ at a time and it took me years to realise that that’s not how I work best, and work with my skills rather than against them and be confident enough to say that to others.
I felt myself almost apologising over the fact that I did lots of different things, often using the phrase ‘Jack of all trades, master of none!’ But instead, I’ve now practiced talking about them all in a way that links and makes sense to who I’m talking to, which helps them to then understand where I’m coming from and why I do what I do! It no longer feels jarring or scatty, it makes total sense.
The bonus of taking this approach is that out open yourself up to a deeper conversation and the potential of aligned collaborations, which I’ve really noticed this year. If you think about it, it’s obvious really, the more topics and projects you work on – the bigger the spread of connections, casting a wider net which helps to grow your community.
That said, it’s not for everyone, and working this way is not better or worse than having a single focus, it’s just about celebrating how YOU personally work best and using that as a means for a quality conversation with your audience.
So, I hope that gives you some ideas of how to begin talking about yourself and your business, because your business is a reflection of you as a person, and is what makes it unique and special. – so go on, Tell the World about it! What have you got to lose?
Following on from above, and to extend my own messaging about what I do, to further help people understand what The Curious Creative Club is all about, on Friday 8th October I’ll be sending my very first The Curious Creative Catch Up, email newsletter out!
It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I think will really help to put all the different creative projects I do in one easy-to-read place.
So, what will it include?
So if this sounds like something you’d love dropping into your inbox each month (I will not be bombarding you!), then please sign up here, before the 8th of October (If you want to receive the first edition), and subscribers after that will receive the next one on the 8th of November.
Thank you and remember keep talking and sharing about your own unique creative talent, and do let me know in the comments below if this has been helpful, 🙂
TC, and get cosy now Autumn is setting in (I’ll be talking all about using Autumn in your creativity this next time!),
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
PS, If you don’t already follow, you can catch me on Instagram @thecuriouscreativeclub where I share regularly all about my creative journey, thank you!
PPS, Next week I’m doing the session below for @thecreativemap , the sessions are FREE so do sign up if you fancy some Autumnal inspiration!
Hello there, how are you all doing! Once again apologies it’s been so long but there has been a lot going on, again (when isn’t there?), but all good stuff and we decided to take a last-minute holiday in the UK too.
And this is what today’s Blog post is all about, because as with our Cornwall coastal holiday last Summer, this trip has been equally inspiring, and I’ve come back buzzing with ideas!
From my previous Blogs, you will know that I see having as many experiences as possible is such an important factor in the creative process, for me and many others I’ve connected with. It’s easy to get sucked into the doing, doing, doing, especially if say your creative business takes off and you have commissions or orders coming in a lot, BUT I’ve also seen many a creative burn out in this way and slowly lose that creative spark, which is what they loved about the whole thing in the first place and they feel like they are losing their mojo.
So, the lesson here is to NOT feel guilty about taking time off, going out to not only experience great memories with family and friends, but to also absorb what’s going on around you, especially in new environments and let that open up some new channels in your creative brain!
The saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and I’d say this is especially important for creatives who put their heart and soul into their work.
Your creations come from your very essence, call it your life force, and so that needs to be in a happy and excited place, not one that is lacking in energy or ideas because you haven’t cared for it or fed it. We use up a lot of energy when we plan and make new things, and so it’s important to look after yourself, think of it like a pet if it helps, that needs some love and attention and regular food! Mine would be a rabbit for sure, and if you’ve read my recent Instagram post, you will realise why… I think I’ll call mine Clover.
So, before I digress too far down a rabbit hole (sorry! Haha) this brings me to our trip, very last minute which made us think a little more out of the box on where to go with what was available (i.e. not a lot!). We ended up going to Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds, then a quick stop in Windsor (for the kids to go to Thorpe Park), and then had the following week in Brighton.
Now talk about contrast, I don’t think we could have picked two more different places for our holiday! Surprisingly, it was our first time to both places.
The Cotswolds was stunning, with beautiful, sleepy villages down twisty lanes and felt like taking a step back in time. Before we checked in, we walked around Blenheim Palace, and the food festival that was on that day. We then visited Chipping Camden, Broughton-on-the-water, the quaint houses of Arlington Row (which features on red passports, who knew?), the Cotswolds water park, Chipping Norton, Cirencester and Stratford Upon Avon over the following days, so we certainly packed a lot in!
We did walks, cake stops, paddle boarding, kayaking, the inflatable water course, country pub lunches and delicious dinners. One of the highlights was calling into the Diddly Squat Farm Shop, after we’ve been watching Clarkson’s Farm! Just as we pulled in, Caleb and Jeremy Clarkson himself were ‘tractoring’ in the opposite field. They then drove down the lane just outside the shop and stopped to wave at everyone and let people take pictures. It was such fluky timing, and funny to see him in his giant tractor!
I loved paddle boarding, something I’d wanted to try for ages, so I was happy I managed it and didn’t fall off! Much to the kid’s disappointment!
When we got to Brighton & Hove, I was surprised by how huge it was! We were staying more towards Hove, in a lovely ground floor apartment, not far from the Promenade to then walk into Brighton, or the back streets that held every restaurant, café, and bakery imaginable!
There was so much to take in in Brighton, I’d say it’s a place where anything goes, and the vibe felt electric and eclectic! From this giant poodle, happily posing in an open top car, to the skaters and bladers, volleyball, basketball and tennis games going on, mini drag queen shows, people just randomly dancing in the bandstand over-looking the sea, swimmers, and runners, to the homeless people not being avoided, but chatted at length to, more integrated into their community rather than being ignored. There were also the friendliest waiters and shop owners happy to tell their stories. Oh, and the fashion! Well, I’d say the brighter the better!
Brighton felt like a very physical and visceral place, where you absorbed the energy and soaked in the rainbow / neon colours and lights through your veins.
That’s not to say it was pristine though, and it wouldn’t be for everybody, the promenade walk was spotless and was being regenerated further along towards the Marina too, with plans for skate parks and more privacy for the naturist beach, but back up on the main front-facing street, as well as tall rows upon rows of white, cream and custard yellow Georgian Houses which were stunning to look at, there were also neglected down-beaten hotels, tired student accommodation, less attractive graffiti and some odd sights in windows (one had a set of manikin hands which freaked me out a little!).
But peel another layer back, into the cool streets of Hove, The Lanes and Kemp town and again it’s a different story, full to the brim with small, quirky shops, vegan cafes, unique restaurants, vintage collection, and antique shops, literally so much to see you easily get lost (as we did!).
We walked, and walked until our feet were numb, racking up an average of around 20k steps a day. However, we also ate a hell of a lot to make up for it, in the many gorgeous eateries.
I loved visiting these small businesses and chatting to the owners about how they started. The first I visited was @unlimitedshopuk and wow I was just blown away, if I owned a shop, this is what I would want, absolutely full of colour, art prints, ceramics, bags, T-shirts, hanging mobiles, stationery, jewellery, and all beautifully set out. I could have literally bought everything in it.
On the last day I got chatting to @finnhop who owns @brightonphotographygallery, also on the promenade and again was completely wowed by his photographic talent, including many of the collapsed West pier. All week I had been wondering about that pier, because at first, I questioned why it was still there, ‘Why on earth would they keep is collapsed metal structure in the sea that seemed quite an eyesore?’ But you know what, throughout the days I found it growing on me, and that actually it’s iconic structure features on the designs in these shops and in a weird way was quite beautiful.
Finn told me the story of it, how it was built in the 1800s left to ruin in the 70s and then they were about to invest in it and twice it was set on fire. It’s since collapsed further in storms, yet in 1918-19 it attracted 2 million visitors. These days you can swim around it to get closer, or as Finn does, take iconic photos of it, check out his account and you’ll see. He also takes pictures from the sea, an unusual and beautiful view.
And finally, me and the kids chatted to the owner of @artistanonuk who does the coolest clothing and built the business from his kitchen table! He created his own Brighton logo, as shown on his clothing designs, a man after my own heart.
Whilst browsing in The Lanes I also came across Lucy & Yak, a brand I’ve always admired, I mean just look at the front of their shop above and I remember their interview with @hollytucker on Conversations of Inspiration. Their dungarees and T-shirts are gorgeous.
It’s seeing so many of these cool local businesses in action that really warms my heart and fires up my creative energy, I’ve always enjoyed shopping, but seeing these unique shops puts fire in my belly! There was even an entire shop just full of rubber ducks called @theduckhousebrighton and I’ve just seen that they’ve launched ‘Friends’ duck characters! I want one!
We also visited Beachy Head one morning, about a 40 minute drive away. These stunning sheer white cliffs are the highest of their kind in England, making the lighthouse look like a toy in the sea. It created some amazing views and photography opportunities.
And so, I’ve come back with aching feet, but armed with inspiration and new ideas for the next direction I want to go in. And this is what I mean about making sure that you allow time for exploration and discovery.
For me it’s a real sensory experience that I’m after on these trips, this is what I find works best for me. It was the sensory reboot I needed, and this is what I found, So Clover may now have grown into a Hare:
See: From the rugged walls and picture-perfect thatched cottages and the stretching green fields of the Cotswolds to the bright painted walls, graffiti, shop windows, interior décor, rows of vintage motorcycles and cruising old cars, the upside-down house giving a whole new perspective and the neon flashing pier, everywhere you looked there was something to take in.
Hear: The Cotswolds was calm and peaceful, with bird song, flowing rivers, and gentle chatting as people ate their dinner. Brighton was somewhat brash in comparison, loud cheers, music, the beep of the promenade train, dogs barking, people talking in loud multiple accents or kids squealing on rides.
Taste: Hearty country lunches, steaming hot china teapots and wedges of homemade cake found in quaint teashops in the Cotswolds, whilst in Brighton sugary tiers of rainbow cake, flavoursome curries, iced coffees, boats of Sushi, Steak, and vegan nachos. For my top recommended restaurants, check out my instagram post on this, here.
Smell: The salt edged breeze, fresh baked pastries, bike engines, candyfloss and joss sticks scented the air in Brighton, in the Cotswolds the aromas of fresh cut grass, manure on farms and roast dinners.
Touch: In the Cotswolds it was the rough feel of the ground on walks and nettle stings and the heat radiating from thick ancient walls on sunny days. Brighton brought the hard pebbles of the beach that strangely felt soft when you laid on them and they moulded to your body, and the throng of too-close crowds, jostling for paths in The Lanes.
Since returning and speaking to friends who have been away, we are making it a pact to go on more of these adventures, not only as a ‘treat’ but as an absolute necessity to top up our creative balance.
I think we have all tentatively stepped out of the stay-at-home bubble that Covid required, and now we are feeling more and more the desire to explore, and reclaim our wanderlust and the magic of new experiences, new sights, and sounds.
So, if you are feeling somewhat exhausted from the summer holidays, and all that brings for parents and putting others first as often we do, I highly recommend booking some regular ‘creative’ enrichment days in and go out on a mini adventure with friends, or even on your own, I know I will be doing monthly at least!
Until next time, please share in the comments how you plan on topping up your creative mojo, I’d love to know!
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps I now have a couple of spaces in my Friday Creative Writing Club, which normally runs on a Friday evening at 6pm, but I might be changing it to the afternoon instead, if this is something that you would be interested in, please click on the link for more information and testimonials, thank you.
PPs We are also opening up the doors again for WOW Wednesday Accountability Membership – the nurturing accountability helping you to focus on your goals and grow. The first session is always free, so if you want to find out more and access a free session, please click here.
PPPs Just thought I’d pop this in there for avid fiction readers, the new Lisa Jewell book is out and each year I save this for my Summer holidays as a real reading treat because I always know how good it will be, and each year she just gets better and better. I’m 3/4 through this one and absolutely gripped!
Hello everyone, how are you doing? Enjoying the sunshine, I hope?
So firstly, apologies for the radio silence, it wasn’t intentional, I just got crazy busy with lots of new opportunities, and then once you’ve not been in the saddle for a while, it becomes a little unnerving to get back in it. So today I’ve told myself enough is enough and to just get on with it and practice what I preach to many others!
It was also prompted by a friend of mine who was also having the same issue, and she wrote a great blog about it here, if you fancy a read of that too.
In essence the last few months have been a bit ‘off plan’ in that the part of my work that I see less as a constant income stream and more of a hobby that sells sometimes, suddenly gained some momentum and as someone who always says ‘yes’ to good opportunities, and worries about the practicalities later, I found myself in a mad creative ‘making’ phase.
To be honest this felt really good, as I hadn’t created new pieces of artwork for some time. It was a bit like the days gone by where art exhibitions actually happened, and you prepared for them! Added to this and some insider knowledge from Nigel, one of the artist members of our WOW Accountability Group, and hey presto I’m suddenly selling my work in not 1 but 4 local businesses!
It wasn’t quite as simple as that of course, but as soon as Nigel had shared about these venues, I paid them a visit, because when it comes to retailers on the hunt for new artists, you need to work fast and sell yourself, and the work. Remember people buy from people, it’s all about building those lasting positive relationships.
And I do enjoy this part because it has to feel right for me to partner with my kind of people. When it comes to small independent businesses, they all work differently; some like to be organised and you may have an informal contract that states what you are both offering, some are much more laid back and like to build personal trust instead. Either way, I always recommend putting down on paper / email what you’ve both agreed and then there’s no room for error on pricing, stock replenishing or whether you can offer bespoke pieces to their customers. It just makes things a lot easier for all parties to have something to refer back to.
But more importantly than that, it’s about finding a good connection with the owner, liking, and believing in their businesses, their ethos, and their own personable approach. For example, the first business was Joys Coffee House, in Kirkburton, where we’d already agreed to host our WOW Wednesday face to face meetings, once we were allowed after covid restrictions.
Ryan and his brother took over the café from Miriam, where we originally hosted WOW, and so it felt good to return to this magical place where it all began, and thankfully they had a similar approach to Miriam, in that not only is it a café, but also a place that supports other local businesses by selling their wares.
So, they were happy to take a selection of needlefelts and my cards, to add to their other stockists. It’s an all-round win-win, we support their business by bringing in a big group on a Wednesday, who definitely like good coffee and brunch, and we have a lovely space to hold our meetings in and sell our creations.
Next up was the new business, Unity Yard, located just outside Holmfirth’s Centre. Holmfirth has an increasingly arty vibe for anyone who doesn’t know it, it’s not all Nora Batty memorabilia! And Unity Yard has taken up a large space that used to be a fabric mill. The owner, Julia, is as mad as box of frogs (in a good way) and we hit it off immediately!
She’s now collected artwork from over 70 local artists, added in a living wall of plants for sale and gorgeous bunches of flowers, lots of crafty gifts and squishy sofas and a relaxed corner at one end where you can relax with a coffee and cake and pick up one of the many books to read in her cute make-shift library.
The whole place is just amazing, and I’m so glad that I am a small part of it! In-fact I could easily set up a part-time office there or some creative workshops (watch this space, I’m working on that!). Currently I sell my cards, framed needlefelts and brand-new framed grasses editions and prints too.
As well as Julia, there are the young helpers, volunteers (one of which is a neighbour from 16 years ago, who I hadn’t seen since then, what are the chances?!) and local artists who pop in with new pieces or for a coffee, so there is always someone to chat to. I know that making this connection will have a big impact on me and where the CCC goes!
And then there is the Eco Hub at Emley, whose owners Charlotte and Lou are now also members of WOW and once again it’s another treasure discovered! As it suggests, the Eco Hub is all about supporting sustainable living, encouraging us to re-use, re-cycle, re-love items and use eco-friendly products, such as cleaning materials etc.
And finally, another local village that I love is Denby Dale, famous for the largest pies, the viaduct and all-round lovely country village. Here, there is a unique shop called Utterly Yorkshire that Carole and her family took over last year. If you have Yorkshire loving folk in your family or friends, then this is the shop for you! There are lots of unique county gifts on offer, including a selection of my needlefelts too, which of course depict Yorkshire landscapes and felt like another great fit for this work!
What is also really lovely about all these new connections, is that it followed on from a wonderful day out with Charlotte (another WOW Member – check out her gorgeous guest house – The Norfolk House Scarlet Hen) to see my small business hero – Holly Tucker.
She and her team went on a UK tour a few weeks back, to go and see 100 small businesses up and down the country and one of her stops was at Hebden Bridge, not too far from where I live. So, I was absolutely determined to finally meet her, after narrowly missing this chance at the conversations of inspiration live event in Manchester (the queue was a mile long and we had to get the train back!).
Thankfully, Charlotte was an equally big fan, and we had THE BEST DAY out ever! Not only did we get to meet her, but we were on the Insta live she did on her big stripey bus, she signed her book for us (Do what you love, love what you do), and we had a lovely chat and plenty of photos with her. She was every bit as lovely and inspirational as I knew she would be, with that boundless ‘Holly Hurricane’ energy, that’s she’s famous for! Her team were bloody brilliant too.
What came across though was her absolute passion and determination to support small businesses and champion all that they do, which she did in spades that week and beyond. Her energy is infectious and has made me all the more determined to continue my support too, as well as keep pushing with the CCC, moving forwards and making the most of these opportunities.
So, if you are ever in doubt whether to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to something, go with your heart and gut, if it feels good, do it and don’t worry if it was not part of your original plan.
As small creative businesses we have the ability to be flexible and act fast on these opportunities. Not only does it feel good, but from experience it always leads to more or other connections and that is how you build your business community, little by little.
Plus, building that community, in turn sparks more creative conversation and therefore more inspiration. Last year I began working with grasses for my art pieces and this year on my walks, watching them blowing in the breeze, it sparked new ideas for colour combinations, resulting in the pictures further up this post, imprinted on black and giving a way more modern feel. My new retailers love them, and I feel like I’m finally finding a little niche idea as an artist, which feels like a huge step forwards on this creative journey.
After visiting Holly in Hebden Bridge, we were also lucky enough to see designer Hannah Nunn’s studio, she has a big passion for nature too and we totally geeked out on grasses, I think she termed it a being a ‘meadow-geek’ afterwards and I’ll happily be called that any day!
I hope this has inspired you to grasp those opportunities, whether that be something external or simply an internal spark of an idea of something you fancy trying. I love the idea that I can take something as simple as a beautiful flowering grass stem and turn it into something unique for customer’s walls, bringing a little nature inside to appreciate when they walk by.
Until next time, which hopefully won’t be as long, enjoy the craziness of the UK Summer holidays, parents I am with you, and I hope you get some creative, restful time to yourself in-between the entertaining, feeding and taxi-driving!
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
P.s Don’t forget, I’m always posting tips and tricks on Instagram, so head on over there and follow to keep up to date with all the CCC news.
Also, here’s what has been entertaining me recently;
Clarkson’s Farm – so entertaining and absolutely hilarious! This is such a great watch, with many other characters than Jeremy and even has some poignant and emotional moments too.
The Hostage – Clare Mackintosh’s long-awaited new thriller – diving into this one!
Still so many podcasts but in particular ‘Conversations of Inspiration’ mentioned earlier – it cannot fail to make you feel more motivated and ‘Postcards from Midlife’ – funny and fascinating in equal measures!
I also signed up for Martha Beck’s FREE masterclass on ‘5 paths to your purpose’ which was an inspirational listen on the early morning swim run today! Well worth signing up for.