Putting dreams into action – creating a new Vision Board for 2021

Hey everyone, hope you are well. It’s been another busy week and the weeks seem to fly by, which is good because it means the kids will soon be back to school!

Helping to keep me distracted until lockdown is over and busy in my work, is our accountability group WOW Wednesdays. During this difficult time, myself and Clair who founded the group are constantly looking for ways to keep our members motivated and happy as they navigate the daily routine / Groundhog Day in lockdown, whilst still trying to move forward with their goals.

Since it’s become a membership group, we provide several new benefits, such as prompts through the Facebook group, our accountability meetings have moved online, we’ve created a monthly newsletter and we’ve added in specialist sessions, all to support out members at whatever point they are in their journeys.

We have members just starting their new businesses, changing their direction due to the pandemic, building on what they’ve already achieved or simply setting life goals that they are aiming towards – it’s a diverse bunch of people who all support each other too with their vast knowledge and skills.

And this brings me on to today’s post because this week we delivered the Vision Board workshop. We did this last year too, but obviously face to face and it’s always a popular session. I always think February is a good time to do something like this, as you are through the January fug, and starting to think more about what you want to achieve that year.

WOW Members last year creating their boards at Charlottes beautiful guest house – The Scarlet Hen Norfolk House

You may have also chosen a Guiding Word for the year and perhaps have started mapping out some plans. If not, this may help you with direction for your vision board, find out about the selecting a guiding word process here.

Creating a Vision Board is an ideal way to get all those dreams and ideas down visually, creating some action around all those wishes and thoughts and begin the journey to bring them into reality, whilst having a lot of fun doing so!

So, how can it help support you in everyday life?

To find out more about the benefits, and tips on how to create one, click here (otherwise this post would end up being half a book!). Plus there are some extra tips below, taken from a Breathe Magazine article a while ago.

And if you want to see how my last vision board worked out for me, then you can read all about that here – it is spookily spot on in a lot of areas!

My 2021 Vision Board – Manifesting as much magic as possible after the year we’ve had!

After delivering the session, I was keen to get started on a new VB for myself and so yesterday, surrounded by magazines, I started tearing out the images I was drawn to and that I could relate to my goals and dreams for this year. The only issue I have, is knowing when to stop!

Thankfully, I’d chosen a slightly bigger board this year, but it still ended up pretty crammed, which I always think sums up how much I want to do!

So, I thought I’d talk through my new board to give you an idea of the kinds of things that can go on there, and why I have chosen the things I did.

However, please remember, your board is personal to you, so you need to be led by your heart, your own personal plans, and dreams, and not worry about what you think ‘should’ be going on there.

Go with your gut, what images you are instinctively drawn to and what you feel passionate about.

The beginning of the process

The first thing I did was write my words down the middle of my board – Balance and Breathe

The first thing I did was find a suitable board -which is actually just part of some-packaging, and a nod straight away to one of the things I want to do this year which is to reuse and recycle more. The shape also lent itself to what I wanted to do, which was to place my guiding words down the middle, – always a useful reminder to have it/them on your vision board too.

Next it’s about finding some quality time, alone and searching through a pile of magazines, and selecting images that speak to you, link to a dream you have or resonate with the direction that you want to take this year.

Originally, I wanted to group certain aspects together, which may appeal to you if you like things in an orderly fashion. Some parts worked like this and naturally went together, but then some shapes simply didn’t fit together well, so it became more about how the images would balance each other out across the board – see my guiding word ‘Balance’ is infiltrating the task at hand again!

From left to Right – my images and why I chose them.

The left section

The quote – I am not afraid – I was born to do this.

I chose this because one of my lovely writing group members said I was made to do this (the writing group), which really boosted my confidence but it’s also because when I am doing that group,  I am not afraid at all, not even nervous, and that is always a sure sign I think when it feels such a natural thing to do, so it’s a reminder when something feels that good and second-nature to run with it.

It’s okay to shine in your own way – postcard.

This is one of my own designs and a reminder to get my wellbeing postcards out into the world more. I created a set last year, but haven’t put them anywhere to sell yet. Plus, the message is an instruction to stay in my lane and not compare myself to others.

The number 400

I’ve never set myself a money target before (which is probably why it’s not been a focus), but this year I’ve set a simple low target per month as more income streams to my work come onboard. I’ve changed my mindset on money lately, in a good way, as a way to support me moving forward, i.e paying for Coaching training further down the line for example.

The abstract Painting – Jessie Ford

This is a new type of art I want to try as I’ve never done it before, and I love this particular one by an artist I really like. It’s also close to the next image, because ideally, I’d like to create a piece for the bedroom, so that gives me a focus to practice! I’m also inspired by one of our WOW members Charlotte @charlotte_balderstone, who has recently got back into her abstract painting and has created some brilliant pieces for her home.

The Pink Bed

Re-decorating the bedroom is our next big project in the house! In an ideal world I’d love a pink bed like this one, but I can’t see that getting approved by the hubs, but we are getting a new bed, and wardrobes which will instigate the whole room re-design. I’m desperate to get some @hannahnunn wallpaper too, which I’ve had a crush on for years!

Decisions, decisions! How do I pick when they are all beautiful?!

Quote – The Sky is the Limit – you never have the same experience twice.

This is just a nod to all the new experiences I want to have when lockdown is over. I was always one for new experiences anyway and throwing myself in, but when I’m released back into the world, well the world better be ready!

The Tree growing out of rocks.

This tree I tore out from Country Living, and is not too far from me so I want to visit it, but also, it’s a reminder of how much things can grow out of difficult circumstances (i.e., the rocks) plus, you know I’m a tree-worshipper!

The woman in a swimming costume

One thing I’ve really missed since my diagnosis is swimming. With treatment involving a pic-line, I couldn’t go and then obviously during lockdown the pools all got closed too, so I’m desperate to go swimming again.

The woman above in the pink jumper and skirt

I’m so bored of lockdown style. My friend Claire of @myhousecandy still dresses up at home and looks v cool and glamourous, BUT I’m always so cold in Winter and walking the dog so it’s jeans, joggers and leggings and warm layers for me! I like this jumper and skirt style, but probably with some trainers, I want to be braver with new style options this year.

The black and white image of the woman leapfrogging.

Sometimes I can get so engrossed in my work, I forget to be daft and have some fun with the kids, so this tells me to be more playful now and again.

How I got published

This is a section that is always in Writing Magazine and I’m using this to future manifest! I want to be the one featured in there with my none-fiction book that I am writing – I HAVE to finish that this year!

Friends drinking wine.

The most obvious one, but the thing I most crave right now. It’s been 15 months so far for me, since I’ve been out for meals, and drinks with friends, because of my treatment and lockdown. I AM DESPERATE for a good night out!

A job that connects me to a friend, art and nature is a joy.

That statement sums up where I want to work really. There are so many options with this that I still want to develop, retreat days for one – I would LOVE to set these up once Covid is over.

The black woman smiling.

This image reminds me of Nicola Rae Wickham of @lifemoreinspired (she has a similar style) who I’ve been working with this year through her ‘root and rise’ membership. She’s someone I deeply admire for her passion, voice and how she runs her business and so is a role model for me.

This last year she has particularly used her voice, speaking out against racism, and I also want to use my voice more on issues I am passionate about, because it’s just so important we don’t ignore it and bury how we feel. I’m currently reading ‘Speak your truth’ by Fearne Cotton and it’s interesting to understand how we are silenced though the years, in so many ways. I also want to listen to more diverse voices and their stories, and so this is a reminder to do this.

The middle section

The woman gardening.

I enjoyed more time in the garden last year, so this year I want to build on that, get out there more, and add some plants around the Cabin area decking too.

She believed she could, so she did – Jesse Ford.

Another piece of artwork by Jesse and this is hung up in my home. I say it a lot to my daughter, and it’s a reminder to always boost her confidence and promote women doing their thing, especially in small businesses, I always want to support women more, it’s so needed, and to set a good example to my daughter.

The artist by the edge of the sea

This lady paints outside close to the sea to capture the energy of the waves and be immersed in the process. I love this and want to paint or draw outside more, it’s such a joyful experience.

Suzy Walker and Loraine Kelly

Both women I think really embody being confident in themselves later in life. Can you believe Lorraine is 62? She’s a consummate professional, stands up for things she believes in and I’d love to be on her programme one day promoting my book!

Suzy is the editor of Psychologies Magazine who I worked with last year on an interview and the series of ten Lives I did. She’s so creative, lives on a houseboat (which I think is very cool) and is just incredibly talented, I’d love to work with her more.

1 Brilliant Female Eco

Essentially what I want to be! Working by/for myself, but collaboratively with other creatives too.

Toes in bubbles

A hint on the self-care, I love baths but don’t have them often enough, it’s a sensory experience and a reminder to just chill and enjoy!

Kitchen shelf & Wallpaper

This was one of the first images I tore out, I just really like the wallpaper and the country flowers. Flowers in my kitchen make me happy, I just love the feel of the image and this wallpaper would look lovely in my kitchen!

Picture of Positano and the drawing hand

These go together because one day this would be my dream trip, an art holiday in Italy with friends would be my absolute heaven. Positano is one of my favourite places there but I’d equally like to go to @elenapellecchia58 villa in Tuscany, that I’ve been stalking and dreaming of for a long time!

Scallops, Amsterdam and Escaping

These images go together too, a few years back me and the hubs went to Amsterdam for the weekend, staying at The Dylan, a fine-dining hotel and it felt like we’d truly escaped from being just Mum and Dad. It was an amazing weekend, riding bikes around the city, visiting the Van Goff museum, and eating gorgeous food! We NEED another trip like this.

The orangutan

Okay we are getting into longer-term aspirational territory now. After watching a programme on an orangutan nursery, I’ve been wanting to go out and volunteer there, so yes this is on my board, but may not happen for a while…just putting the manifestation in place!

The right section

Cornwall Minack Theatre

Last Summer when we escaped t to Cornwall, we tried to visit this beautiful open-air theatre overlooking the dramatic coastline. Sadly, there were no spare tickets and so when I saw this picture with views from above, I felt a pull to go back!

You got this.

I have a mug that says this too, just a reminder that after the last few years, I can get through pretty much anything!

Hot air balloon over Masai Mara

A safari trip is something we all want to do as a family, before the kids get too old, I’m not sure when it will happen, but it WILL happen I’m certain and what an experience that would be!

Every day is a beautiful adventure – Jesse Ford.

Another piece of Jesses and a reminder to treat every day like the adventure that it is and savour the present moment.

The ‘shop small’, rising hand.

This covers many things! Firstly, it’s a ‘Not on the Highstreet’ advert, and I want to get my artwork on to an online shop, it may not be NOTH, but it’s a reminder to get it sorted.

NOTH was founded by Holly Tucker, another one of my female heroes, and this advert in particular is about celebrating female founders, which I’m also passionate about.

Finally, the fist rising feels like positive action and activism to me, being an active part of the female founder community, and celebrating its unique strengths, which of course I fully support and will continue to do more of through my social media channels.

Sunset and sea

Last year sunsets, views of the sea (on the Cornwall trip) and walks in the wood are what got me through some difficult times. These are my constants, every new day will come with different challenges, joy, and experiences. I savour it all and this is just to recognise the sun will always rise and set and tomorrow is a brand-new day, and if I can spend it staring at the sea, all the better!

So that’s how I created my board and I think some definite themes have emerged:

  • Adventure, travel, and experiences – not surprising after being cooped up for so long!
  • Positive role models who speak out and deeper connections – definitely something I want to take on more this year.
  • Beauty, both at home and in nature that then translates – I’m often inspired visually and drink in views to then use in my creative work.
  • Continued growth in self-belief and confidence – this last year’s events have massively boosted my confidence that I can (and will) get through anything, so long as I have passion and purpose in spades (which I do!).
  • Good Energy – I like the energy of this board, it feels like it has fire in its soul and that it wants to accomplish ALOT and live life to the full (which is exactly what I want to do!)
I think Barley is worn out by all my plans!

Now I just have to keep it visible, take action towards these dreams and let the board (and me) manifest some big magic!

So, I hope that this has given you some ideas about how to put your board together, but I hope most of all that it comes across as very personal to me, and that that is the most effective way to create one for yourself – it’s YOUR VISION, no-one else’s.

I’d love to know if you’ve created one this year or if this post has now spurred you on to get busy with the scissors! I do find a physical one works best for me, but if that doesn’t appeal, you could always create a board on Pinterest where you can search specifically for things you would like on there. You could then use that as a screensaver to make it consistently visible.

And consider getting the kids involved, it’s a great activity to do in the half-term holidays!

So long as it works for you, that is the main thing, so enjoy the process and set those intentional hopes and dreams off into ACTION, you’ll feel all the better for it, I promise.

Until next time…

TC Keep Safe,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps, If you would like to take advantage of the next offer to join our WOW Wednesday Accountability Group, for support to move forward with your dreams and goals, then please click here for all the details.

PPS, If you are getting increasingly bored in lockdown and would love a relaxed creative outlet, then please click here, to find out all about my new weekly online Writing Club.

Using your values to guide how you want to live and create.

Hi everyone, how’s it going? Hanging in there? Ready for half term?

On Friday I had my vaccination, which was a big relief, although I was shivering that night, but feel ok now. Having spent months shielding and managing to avoid Covid all this time, despite being in and out of hospital, I just can’t wait until everyone is done and restrictions start easing. It was all very well organised and I do feel more protected now, I just hope that people do go when called.

Wearing my vaccination sticker!
All done at the John Smiths Stadium

Over the last few weeks, all kinds of opportunities have come up including being asked to start a writing group to replace the workshops I did, back when we could see each other face to face (those ancient times), and so I’ve been re-evaluating the directions I want to go in, again, whilst trying to keep hold of my guiding words for this year, ‘Balance and Breathe’.

Re-visiting my values

The work I’ve been doing as part of my Root and Rise membership with Nicola Rae Wickham has helped with this, as we’ve been working on alignment and how using your value’s power can help clarify your direction.

As someone how has worked with values many times in my Marketing career on different projects, I enjoy this piece of the overall picture, in fact when I set up The Curious Creative Club, it was one of the first things I did, but Nicola reminded me that values are not set-in stone and can change and move as we grow in our work.

And as well as your guiding words, your core values can really help clarify the direction you want to take. When you are starting out as a creative business or going up a level from hobbyist to a seller, especially if you’ve been doing it a long time, you may not consider this too deeply and be keen to crack on with the other more attractive creative tasks, such as branding, creating graphics or designing your website.

However, I can’t stress enough, how important defining this part is, because it genuinely drives everything else and makes it all so much easier.

Defining your values can help in so many ways, here are just a few:

  • How you want to work
  • What you want to create
  • What excites / drives you?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Who you choose to surround yourself and what causes you support?
  • And very importantly what you will say NO to

Essentially creating values is about getting to know yourself, really, really well. Which sounds crazy right? Of course, you know yourself well, but when have you taken the time to sit down and ask yourself the important questions? It’s not something we regularly do.

So, taking the above questions to explain it further, have a go at asking yourself these questions and make notes of your answers.

How do you want to work?

Whether this will be your primary work, a side business, or simply a hobby, this relates to so many variables and leads to further questions – Do you want to work from home, in a studio, or fresh air? How much time realistically do you have to dedicate to this? What time of day suits your creative energy best? This all comes under how you want to work, and can bring you a value related to it, for example – Committed could be a value, or Collaboration could be a value if working with others is important to you.

What do you want to create?

This is possibly the most personal, and could look like a million different sentences, but if you were and artist for example it could look like this: I want to create bright bold statement pieces that people talk about – so ‘daring’ could be a value or it could be I want to create intricate pieces that take time and evoke a feeling in people’s homes – so ‘thoughtful’ could work for you.

Or maybe you don’t want to be so specific and would rather be open to creating all kinds of art, and so being playful or experimental may be a central value to be aware of, to remember that feeling.

What excites / drives you?

This is a big one, about your passion and purpose to create in the first place, knowing this one is essential to action, especially in those moments when you are not feeling it. You can also think of many of these questions in the reverse to understand what your values are not, so for example – what demotivates you or upsets you?

I’ll give a personal example to answer what drives and excites me;

What drives me is making a difference to someone’s life, for the better, so that’s why I write this blog and why I run creative groups in the hope that it will inspire people to make changes that will then improve their quality of life.

What excites me is learning new things, problem-solving, discovering a new passion for something, having new experiences, travel, music, creating, challenging myself and not being afraid to experiment. All this gets my creative energy flowing and is the fuel to kick-starting action in my work.

In reverse, what demotivates me or I find annoying or energy-consuming is anything technical, over fussiness, things that don’t work, complicated messaging or content. I like things to be simple, to work and be straight to the point!

All of this plays a big part in my work and how I like to live my life.

Who is your ideal customer?

I’m no expert on this one and this is the one area that I’m keen to learn more on for my own business, but as a start, ask yourself what problem you are addressing for your customer.

This may be a broad ask, so it may be worth digging deep and asking yourself the 5 Why’s, which really gets to the crux of the issue, so for an example type of customer;

Problem – Women have reached a point in their life where their passion and purpose are lacking due to several issues such as children being a priority or leaving home, and they are at a crossroads, unsure of their identity and wanting to do something for themselves, that they really enjoy.

Solution – Encouraging women to take up something creative to provide a focus for change and ultimately a richer life.

But why is that important?

Because it’s important to live a contended life, because we only get one shot.

But why is creating important?

Because it will improve feelings of self-worth

But why is that important?

Because it’s important to feel proud of yourself outside of the societal roles of being a ‘mother’ etc and it will also help boost confidence

But why is that important?

Because it will lead to increased courage to try new things

But why is that important?

To live a full life that is enriched, purposeful and enables you to reach your full potential – which hits the mark on the self-actualisation point on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, see below.

Image result for maslow's hierarchy of needs

These aren’t perfect answers to the five questions above, but it can give you an idea of what is important to you in terms of your ideal customer and the problem you are trying to solve, as a refining method.

Who do you surround yourself with and what causes / communities do you support?

This comes round to who you want on your team, both personally and professionally, because these people become a big part of your World and therefore have an impact, whether you like it or not!

Again, this follows a deeper understanding of who you are as a person. For example, if you know you are an introvert, surrounding yourself with only extroverts and in situations that don’t suit your energy, will be totally draining. On the opposite side of the coin, extroverts need that social interaction to boost their energy and feel more content.

Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty person? That doesn’t mean you can’t have the opposite kind of people in your life, as that would be practically impossible to do, but understand your own needs too, so if you are having a bad day, surround yourself with positive people.

If you are feeling great, be as supportive as feels right, but limit time with negative or critical people, it’s just about being aware of the effect other personalities and characteristics can have on you. Humans are largely empathetic creatures and pick up on the vibes of others, so we need to be a bit more conscious of it and protect ourselves if need be, especially in current times.

There are also the inherent belief systems we all have or have grown up with, how we feel about societal issues, so again examine these, what forms part of your belief system?

Are you religious, vegan, part of the LBTQ+ or BAME community, do you believe in justice, equality, climate change, keen on making a difference in other cultures or communities that you may not be part of but care deeply about?

The list is endless, but how passionate and active you are within these areas, will form part of your inner belief system and how you want that to show up, both personally and in your work and may have an impact on who you choose to include in your circle too.

Belief systems are powerful but also challenging, it can be hard work fighting for something you believe in, but can be immensely satisfying if ‘making a difference’ is one of your core values.

A great example of this, is the recent BBC 4 programme hosted by Jenny Éclair that a friend told me about. It’s called ‘Craftivism’ and follows some inspiring artists, trying to use their voice in a different, less aggressive way than say a protest march, whilst getting their message across extremely well using their crafty talents.

Craftivism with Jenny Eclair on BBC 4

A crafter on the programme, Helen Baker created little pants signs with messages on to encourage more women to attend their cervical screening appointments. She then places these little pieces of art in Doctors surgeries, charity shops, and behind toilet doors to get the awareness out there. See the clip from the show here…

This really appealed to me, and I’m now thinking about ways of doing this in my own work because it just goes to show that there are many ways to approach a problem or issue and it seems this notion of ‘craftivism’ is growing.

And finally – What do you want to say No to?

Once you know most of the answers above, it will become a lot clearer on what you will say ‘No’ to, because it doesn’t feel right and doesn’t align to your values. The key thing is to pick out what words keep coming up for you, and the meaning behind those words – why do they matter so much to you – do they give you fire in your belly and sit well with the work you do?

When I originally set up The CCC, I chose the words above, almost like a roadmap for my ‘customer’ journey, I realise now but because it has grown so much since then and I am fully immersed in what it has become, there are new things I want to add in which I’m currently working on.

Don’t forget to think about your strengths.

Nicola recommends also looking at your strengths as another way to help guide you, to make sure your values are aligned with you in an honest way. If you are unsure what your strengths are, as sometimes we can struggle with this, then ask five of the closest people to you, who know you inside and out.

Collect these words and highlight the ones in common. Hopefully, the words that will come up will feel good and you’ll find yourself nodding!

Since I started, I’ve joined many social media groups or followed people on Instagram who all have similar passions and purpose to me and that helps solidify what I’m all about too and the direction I want to go in. You feel part of a community that you choose to support, because you believe in their work, and they support you too.

However, equally with all the ‘noise’ in social media land, it will also help you to define what doesn’t represent you out there and helps to create boundaries.

So in summary, what I’m trying to get across to you is this:

  1. Your values are your guiding principles, the things that help define decisions and direction on a daily basis in your life and creative work, often on an unconscious level.
  2. They make up a big part of who you are as a person, you can find them in a gut feeling, an increased heartbeat or sweaty palm and just as much in a heartfelt hug, raucous laughter, or empathetic tears, listen to these signals and you won’t go far wrong.
  3. Thinking about values as part of the bigger picture is a really useful tool to help guide your work and brand – get this right early on and it will make things like writing your ‘About You’ section, for example, so much easier.
  4. You can use your values in your voice and how you show up, whether that be standing up for something you believe in on a social media post, protest march or craftivism opportunity, our values can make a difference, if we choose to use them in an active way.
  5. Consider putting words from the answers to the above questions and your strengths into a word-cloud – that way you can see them in an easy visual way, and it may make things clearer for you, see below as an example.
  6. Knowing and understanding your values and beliefs means that that you come from a place of whole-self and authenticity– putting your heart, soul, and stamp into everything you do.
  7. People and your customers then easily come to recognise and trust what you are all about and what you are known for, another win-win.
Creating a word-cloud based on feedback from our Accountability Group members, helped us to then create our branding

I hope that’s been helpful, and personally I’m excited to do some more work on this because it feels like the time is right. I want to go back and reassess, two years down this journey, and clarify my values once again.

I’d love to know if this resonates or helps, or what key values are important to you, so please share in the comments below.

Until next time take care and stay safe…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

47 Years Young – How understanding your lived experiences brings inner strength to tackle anything.

Hi everyone, hope you are all ok, despite the very grim news today that the UK Covid deaths figure has now gone over 100,000. This is both surreal and too real all at the same time, and will weigh heavily on everyone going through this. It’s a lived experience that we could never have foreseen, and yet we have all developed strategies, conscious or not, to get through this as best we can.

And so on to today’s blog post, which is a little different to usual and hopefully provides just a little light relief, whilst we wait for our vaccinations.

As you may gather from the title it was my birthday this week. I still don’t feel remotely the age my birth certificate says, I feel around 33 in my heart, but after last year and all that entailed, I must admit, sadly, that I finally look more my age, chemo is a bugger for aging you.

But this week I have lots to celebrate, not least not spending it with sepsis in a hospital bed like last year, now that is an experience I never wish to repeat. No, this year’s birthday was much nicer, even in lockdown and included a LOT of food; poached eggs in bed, a takeaway dinner and a big coffee cake made by my daughter (yum), plus friends chats on zoom, family quizzes and lots of gifts being dropped off at my door, I’m a lucky girl (see I still don’t call myself a ‘woman’!).

But turning 47, is a reminder there is still so much I want to do, ideally before I am 50…here’s a few I want to tick off:

  1. Publish my first book, ambitious but a necessary target to push me on!
  2. Set up my online Art store.
  3. Get to my dream Italian villa in Tuscany, with my girlfriends, run by @elenapellecchia58 – so needed right now!
  4. Launch Curious Coaching, really looking forward to getting this off the ground.
  5. Maybe get on Safari for a family holiday before the kids are too old.
  6. Grow my hair back to shoulder length, my neck is cold (see told you I was old haha)
  7. Maybe one last skiing holiday, before I forget how to do it.
  8. Go to a bar and out for dinner, with as many of my girlfriends as possible, simple but true, it’s been 1 year and 2 months for me people and I’m feeling it!
  9. Many more concerts, after this drought – Pink, Beyonce, Robbie (of course) are on my initial list.
  10. Hopefully launch one child into Uni!

Other than dreaming of the things above, I’ve got a busy week coming up. Today I did a LIVE interview with Claire Tomkins, from Your Story Matters which was great, we have similar backgrounds, so we had lots to talk about how stories weave into your life and effect your creativity, and how it’s been a constant thread in my life since I was a child.

It’s here if you’d like to watch it (you may have to join up to the group first, but anyone can join it). Claire also has her own blog here too, which I’m sure you will also enjoy.

I’ve lots of other work and training plans to do this week too, there seems to be a lot of talented people offering free programmes at the moment, which is rather lovely and useful to people still trying to lift their businesses off the ground or progress further, for example Lucy Griffiths: ‘Turn your expertise into a course challenge’ on Facebook.

Another challenge I’ve been following along with this week

I’m launching something new too which I’m rather excited about, but more on that next week.

I also need to update my resource page – The Curious Cave, with the many new creative podcasts out there, which are a constant source of inspiration, such as The Creative Ways podcast with Emma Isaacs, and Creative Women International, with Philiy Page, and finally I need to practice what I preach and schedule in some of my own creative time, and try some new things as promised in my previous blog post here, where I committed to trying one new creative skill a month…I may do this as an Insta challenge soon and see if others would like to join in, so watch this space…

This weekend I’m picking up the lino cutting kit I got from @theeveryday_creative_UK for Christmas and having a go! I’ll post the result @thecuriouscreativeclub!

In the meantime, I thought I would leave you with the link to the piece I wrote for my turn on The Yorkshire Writers Lunch Blog, on Monday – 47 Years Young, all about remembering where I’ve come from, i.e., a quirky, pretty uncool eleven year old girl who had a lot of determination to get through some tough times ahead (and hence the title of this Blog today).

I hope you like, and try not to laugh too hard at the photo!

Feel free to use the angle of my piece, as a writing prompt of your own;

Simply add the single digits of your age together and think back to that young age – who were you back then and what parts of you have stayed the same or changed? It’s an interesting way to reflect and see how far you’ve come.

Keep Going

I’d just like to point out that all the above, as chirpy and enthusiastic as I may come across, it doesn’t negate what is going on out there, I feel a responsibility to still watch and understand what is happening, even though I know many prefer not to as it is too distressing (which I also totally understand) BUT all the above gives me passion and purpose to keep going, and emerge with something worthwhile and solid that I hope is helping others find their passion and purpose too.

Don’t forget if you haven’t read last week’s blog, there are lots of ways to get motivated during these dark days of January in there. so do have a read.

All my creative work is also keeping me distracted from another personal deadline in terms of cancer check ups, keeping busy is my go-to survival mechanism! We all have our ways of getting through this pandemic and other real-life stuff, and this is mine.

Likewise whatever is yours, just do it, without fear of judgement, especially your own, practice self-care and gratitude, these are the things that truly help.

Until next time…have a good week, stay home, stay strong, stay safe and get your vaccination when called, I personally cannot wait for mine.

Take care out there,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Please do let me know our thoughts on today’s Blog, it always helps me to improve, I want these posts to be as useful as possible to my readers, thank you.

PS The Yorkshire Writers Lunch bloggers are a talented bunch, please do check out their work, via the link, and they might inspire you to put pen to paper too.

PPS – We have been lucky with quite a bit of snow lately here in Yorkshire,inspiring my @soothedbynature photography if you’d like to check out some snowy images taken on my walks with Barley

Winter wonderland inspiration, 5 ways to get through the darkness of January

To boost your creativity and motivation…

As I write this, it is famously ‘Blue Monday’ in the UK, a notion that I don’t actually subscribe to as it sometimes falls on my Birthday (next Monday, I’ve escaped it this year) and whoever came up with this idea, I really don’t know exactly what they were trying to achieve, other than perhaps permission to be miserable? And who wants to be that?

I think we have enough reason to potentially be miserable don’t you, without another reminder thank you very much!

Ok, rant over BUT what I can identify with is the people among us who seem to suffer more from the dark days of Winter, and become enveloped in the gloominess, at least weather-wise out there, the ones that suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder.

Then add on what we are all going through right now, and it would be very easy to say, ‘ok I think I’ll just hibernate until the Spring arrives, bringing sunshine, and way more of us vaccinated’!

But unfortunately, life’s never that simple is it? We are not dormice, or hedgehogs, we are humans that need to get on with things, and so this Winter whilst still in the middle of a pandemic, we need to dig deeper than ever before to find our energy reserves, to keep fuelling a positive, hopeful mindset and actively search for more inspiration and motivation.

And if you are someone that gains that fundamental resource from other people, face to face connection, hobby groups, socialising, events like the theatre and concerts, then it is genuinely more difficult whilst in this position, where it has all been taken away from us, for a 3rd time in a year.

So, what do we do about it, as creatives, how can we keep inspired and motivated?

  1. Develop a plan to feel more in control of your direction.

Sometimes, as creatives, this is not our strong point! It can feel too formulaic, and a little scary, but trust me, spending some time thinking the next 3 months through can really boost your confidence, knowing on a deeper level and getting to grips with the direction you are heading in, rather than simply ideas floating in your head. And this doesn’t have to be perfectly laid out on an excel spreadsheet!

In fact, thinking how you work best and playing to those strengths makes a big difference to how bought in to this process you will be. So, for example, using coloured pens and mind-mapping it out over the seasons works best for me, and then from that will stem a more detailed 3-month plan.

My latest seasonal mind-map

In these unpredictable times, working on a 3-month basis is far less daunting and more realistic, who knows where we will be in 3 months’ time? Longer term goals can still be noted, and put on a shelf to be at the ready when you are.

Also, if you don’t know where to start, there are tons of free planning resources out there, such as these from @josephinebrooks, the queen of ‘Make a Plan, Make it happen’ podcast

2.Throw in some new challenges, and be open to new opportunities.

I think this is especially important right now, in a World that has shrunk and become duller in our everyday life, it’s important to keep your creativity spark, and that can always be reignited by daring yourself to try new things.

As creative people develop a certain style in their work and become more confident and comfortable, it’s easy to slip into the stream of just doing those things, but what got you to that point of success in the first place was your curiosity and courage to try.

This is where the magic lies, and we have to keep nurturing it in order to not just play it safe and grow in our creative approach and work.

If you continue doing the same thing for too long, then the passion for our work dwindles and you become bored doing the same old thing. To keep our curious energy alive, especially right now, you may be thinking it would take a monumental effort to challenge yourself at this time, but without trying, we will never know what is possible.

I know in a world that feels out of control right now, it may be more tempting to keep small, hunker down and protect ourselves, but it is rising to the challenges where we really grow, in our spirit, confidence and skills.

Opportunities to do this are everywhere when you look and are open to them.

Take last week for example, I was sent an opportunity from a friend about a self-care art project run by Artworks. I took a look and learned more about the work they do and was even more intrigued. For the project you had to put together an artistic selfcare proposal, plus send your CV and an Art portfolio.

It sounded great and I thought I could adapt the guiding word work I’ve done recently to this and put forward a proposal. However, the deadline was the very next day.

Now, I could have easily passed this up, it was short notice, it was something I had no experience of doing before, I had no Art portfolio, or a recent CV for that matter and so it was going to take some work.

But I also knew the project, and the people behind it, matched my values and were doing something that was great, for the benefit of others during the pandemic, and so I got to work and handed it in, just in time.

I’m under no illusion that they’ve probably had many entries, and therefore I am unlikely to get it, BUT what it did for me was several things, all of which were beneficial and a great learning opportunity for me:

  • Challenged me to have a go at something completely new.
  • Helped me to sum up the idea within perimeters – similar what I used to do with propositions when I worked in Marketing, and so it rejuvenated an old skill.
  • Made me update my visual CV, something I created a while a go with the help of @nickyraby.
  • Made me create an Art portfolio – again, something I’ve never done before.
  • Now I have some templates ready to adapt, if an opportunity like this comes up again.
  • I’ve created a new connection with a place I believe in and has similar values to my own, and have expressed an interest in collaborating, despite whether I win this opportunity or not.

There are many places to seek out opportunities and challenges, here are a just a few:

  • Magazine competitions – e.g., Writers News
  • Instagram hashtag challenges
  • Skills competitions such as the 30-Day Sketchbook Challenge that runs throughout January, but you can join up anytime.
  • Simple prompts based on unique days, see here for some ideas from my friend Clair @asocialnature.
  • Sign up to a virtual hobby group or class, such as @mockingbirdmakes ‘Creative Conversations with Shannon’ or join her Small Business Huddle for a friendly supportive networking group, every Thursday at 10.15am – 11am
  • Follow ‘How-to’ videos on YouTube, see here for an example from my favourite artist John Harrison.
  • Join a virtual choir if singing or music is your thing.

3. Actively seek new ways to be inspired.

This is somewhat harder than it used to be, due to some of our old avenues of inspiration being closed off, such as art galleries, exhibitions, our hobby groups, shops to understand what the trends are BUT that just means we have to become more inventive, and find new places to be inspired.

As I’m sure you know, digital platforms have grown immensely during lockdown, with some areas particularly taking off – and all are massive sources of inspiration, you just have to be careful you are not sitting there, all hours of the day, soaking it up.

Choose where you spend your time wisely. Pick accounts (e.g., Instagram) that pique your interest, match your values, and then get the most benefit, focus on what you are learning, take notes, connect with people, collaborate even, to get the most value from this time.

One that has really taken off during this last year are Facebook Groups:

Public Facebook groups are largely free, but you have to request to join (usually by just answering a few questions) and seem to have grown ten-fold over night! These are where you can become part of a specialised community, share your wares, take part in challenges, seek advice and are also a place to be accountable, if you wish, with regular prompts by the facilitators. Many also do Live interviews, which you can learn a lot from. Here are some of my favourites for small businesses and creatives:

Your Story Matters

Holly and Community

Women Who Choose Higher

Psychologies Connected Community

30 Day Sketchbook Challenge

4. Get outside, for your sanity and creativity.

All the above you may have noticed are things that you can do whilst in the confines and safety of your own homes.

But the one thing I can practically guarantee will bring more inspiration and mental wellness than any of the above, is to get outside and embrace all that Winter has to offer, and I know that can be a challenge in the UK with storms, rain, and sometimes endless fog days but now and again we do get some sunshine and also SNOW!

This happened in Yorkshire last week, and my walks took on a whole new magical entity, taking trips into a Narnia like kingdom! It really was mesmerising.

I can’t tell you what a huge mood-boosting experience it was, the sun on my face and the air so fresh, it cleansed my mind and soul all in one.

I took my friend into the woods too, and all I could hear were ‘Oooos, Ahhhs and Wows’ as we turned each corner.

I took so many pictures that day, fully engrossed in the view before me, which I’ve now uploaded on to my @soothedbynature account. When we are getting so few experiences to see new things at the moment, the changing of the seasons is the pure visual tonic we need to top us up.

I know everyone’s exercise space is different. You may live in a town or city, but it’s about the adventure and the possibility of seeing new things. For that hour’s exercise, so long as we do it safely, we can walk anywhere we choose, so enjoy that moment of freedom and explore, find the unique images, and use them in your work.

I know of a few accounts – @jfprod, @seasidekate amongst many others that take images of such unusual things on their walks, and they always inspire me, because they have captured something unique. And there are ones that bring us hope that we can visit new places and go on holidays again, @elenapellecchia58 certainly keeps that dream alive for me with her beautiful images of her home village in Tuscany!

5. Keep listening and learning.

On the days when those walks are simply about getting the dog out, being blasted by the rain and wind and not going flying in the mud, then it’s using that head space to learn that inspires me, and makes the walk more bearable!

I don my wellies, gloves and bobble hat and plug myself into a good podcast. You will know from my past posts that this has become a bit of an addiction, but they are so good, and genuinely inspiring and sometimes life-changing conversations that we are getting to listen in on, and for FREE!

You can check out my previous post here on my favourites, but I have some more recent selections too, here they are below….

This week also saw the return of Holly Tucker’s Conversations of Inspiration, which I must admit I’ve been keeping an eye out for as it is one of my absolute favourites!

This week’s conversation was with sports presenter Jake Humphries where growing up in Norfolk, Jake’s childhood was not an easy one after suffering severe bullying at school. After failing his exams and being fired from McDonalds, someone took a chance on Jake and changed the course of this life forever.

In this conversation, Jake shares his belief that people must take 100% responsibility in life – as well as his family motto to ‘never sit in the comfy chair’ – and how these philosophies have been pivotal in his journey to one of the leading broadcasters in the UK. 

It’s such a valuable conversation, culminating in the ‘Letter to my younger self’ part of the format of Holly’s podcast and always a complete tear-jerker! Tissues at the ready!

As well as podcasts, I always keep a look out for new books and there’s a few on my ‘want’ list currently, not least Fearne Cotton’s ‘Speak Your Truth’ which I can’t wait to read. Hoping the birthday fairies may help me out there!

And finally speaking of my birthday, I’ve also added this wreathe kit from Bloomindales to my list, rather than receiving a bunch of flowers, much as I love those, I’d rather have the double joy of learning to make something myself, which I can then pop on the front door to create some extra, much-needed cheeriness.

So, I hope that has given you some ideas to keep your inspiration and motivation topped up on your creative projects throughout the chilliness and darkness of Winter.

My plan is to also use my wintery photos as stimulus for a poem next week, as it’s my turn on the Yorkshire Writers Lunch Blog – which I might add is another great source of inspiration for writers too so do check it out.

Until next time, go on a 1-hour adventure, but stay safe and take care.

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps, Another thing you could get involved with if you are looking for ways to fill your time is to join the RSBP big garden bird watch taking place this weekend 29th – 31st January – great to get the kids involved with too!

How my guiding words will work for me in 2021

And how you can make them work hard for you too…

Hi everyone, how’s it going after yet another momentous week in this crazy world? I feel like a month has gone by since my last post, and yet it’s zoomed by as well.

It’s been a case of getting back into the realms of an online learning routine for the kids, being back at home now, and re-opening The Thomas Family Café, which last time round was the bane of my life BUT thankfully already my guiding words are flying into my head to help me out and keep me calm!

This is always a good sign that you have picked the right guiding words, when you start to think about them subconsciously to help navigate day to day life and this is what I want to talk to you about today.

But first I want to explain how I came to choose mine, and why this year I’ve picked not just one, but two.

The first direction I was heading in during my process, (which you can read about on last week’s blog here if you are still trying to choose), was based on how I was working towards the end of last year, the word ‘Action’ kept floating to the surface.

I’d begun to get into a pattern of working really hard, striving to make every spare minute count, in a World that was increasingly unpredictable. My head was in that place of; ‘You need to crack on as much as possible now, because the ‘time’ could be taken away from you again, at any given moment’.

When I worked through the process, and from reflecting a lot on last year (see here for that Blog post), I realised I’d done a hell of a lot, and of course there’s a sense of satisfaction in that, that I could get on with it and get lots done when I had to, BUT the revelation was that a lot of the ‘doing’ was in response to what I’d gone through.

For those who have come on board recently, the first half of 2020 for me was spent in Chemo treatment, where if you think a global pandemic takes away control in your life, then being in a chemo routine, is whole other level! The hardest part of treatment was relinquishing control to the doctors and knowing that despite the head being willing, physically I felt so crap, there was very little I could do, other than rest and watch TV, which for someone who loves to be busy, was torture at first, until I surrendered to it.

What it did mean during the days I felt well, I went into this manic thing of; ‘Right, I’ve got get loads done before I go back downhill again’, the treatment was every 2 weeks, so this was a constant yo-yo, almost like I was living in 2 different bodies. Eventually I realised what I was doing, but also the adrenaline rush and distraction of interesting projects, kept me going.

Having this purpose and drive when I was well was key for me mentally BUT I also knew that eventually it would catch up with me physically, and from September onwards I was pretty knackered!

So, instead I went through the process and asked myself the key questions, including ‘How did I want to feel in 2021?’, and my new word started to filter through, which was ‘Balanced’ but to make that more active and present, it then became ‘Balance’.

Much of 2020 was still spent rushing around, despite lockdown, whether it be to hospital apts, school pick-ups or to my daughters swimming sessions and timings fitted in around that such as different mealtimes for half the family, and re-organising our accountability group WOW Wednesdays to really help support members in lockdown.

My close friends are often shocked at how much I fit in during a day, but I was starting to feel exhausted by it all, something needed to give. I also realised that I don’t often deep ‘breathe’ and I think I even hold it without realising. I wanted to add in a word that not only reminded me to do that (I know, madness!), but to also be in the ‘present’ not always ‘future’ thinking on the next task, which I do ALL the time!

Plus, as you know, I’m a big believer on looking for the signs out there, and in a past post I talked about listening to Brene Brown’s podcast ‘Unlocking us’ with Gabby Riviera which slapped me around the face with a wake-up call when they started talking about her book ‘Juliet take’s a breath’. I always take note of these messages put out into the universe!

Defining your words

The most important part for me once you’re close to choosing your word/s is looking at how you personally define the meanings, because then you can unlock further how they will work for you across different areas of your life. The best words for me are ones that work in multiple ways and are multi-faceted

I first begin at looking at the dictionary definitions:

Balance: ‘An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady’

Bam! The ending of that definition sealed it for me! Yes, please to remaining upright and steady, that was EXACTLY what I needed!

Balance for me also means pausing to weigh things up, and it’s a feeling of calm and contentment, less heart-racing more liquid warmth running through my body. Balance feels very physical for me and as I’m so often ‘in my head’, thinking of ideas, plans, projects, you name it, this word feels perfect for reconnecting with my body and making it strong again, after a year of having everything thrown at it.

Breathe: Take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological response

And also, Breather: To stop and pause, to take a small rest

The first is interesting to me as it also indicates letting go, you take in what you need (i.e., oxygen) and expel what you don’t need (carbon dioxide), it gives a sense of letting go to live in a more balanced way.

Breathe, also indicates to stop, and take a breath / breather, which is all about pausing, recognising how you are breathing in the present moment and asking yourself, what do you need right now? Check in with your body, do you need a 10-minute rest?

So that is how I define my words ‘Balance and Breathe’, but now how will I use them in everyday life?

I really enjoy this part because this is when the coloured pens come out and I start thinking deeper about my words’ job! And that is to work hard and perhaps differently across as many areas of my life to have the most effect.

One example of the Wheel of Life, provided by White Apple Thinking

To help with this, you could use a simple ‘Wheel of life’ (see pic) and ask yourself how your words will relate to each area. So, for example, how can I use ‘balance’ and ‘breathe’ in the ‘money’ section?

I then get to work mind-mapping it out, so if I get stuck at all throughout the year, I can come back and refer to it.

This is the fun bit – mind-mapping it all out so you can see where it’s going to have the most impact

Simply thinking this all through and writing it down has a big effect because it feels like more of a commitment.

In essence, your word choices are gifts to yourself, creating an inner coach to help you navigate the year. You need to spend time getting to know them well.

And once you focus on them, get to the heart of what they mean for you and create a relationship with them, you will find they start to show up for you naturally, subconsciously, when you need them the most – just like your best friends getting in touch to check in with you.

I’ll give you an example, after I’d done my mind-mapping exercise, the next day I had a few things on, and time was over-running. I had a choice to either, drop off something at my Mum’s, and potentially miss the start of a workshop I‘d signed up to (Josephine Brooks, online planning workshop), or let my mum know I’d be up later on, stay home, have a decent lunch, do the workshop and then do the errand.

Now I know that sounds really simple, but ‘old’ me would not have wanted to let my mum down when she was expecting me, and would have whizzed over to do it, and rushed a sandwich whilst trying to catch up on the training.

BUT unexpectedly a question flew into my head:

‘Will going now tip the ‘Balance’ of my energy today?.’

Quickly followed by; ‘Am I giving myself enough ‘breathing’ space?’

I was so shocked I wrote these down, and committed them to memory for future use! But the point is it made me really stop and think, rather than just doing what I would have normally done. I listened to the question’s advice, and changed the time, thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, and nobody died!

In the end I joined the workshop, on time and took lots of notes, feeling motivated and relaxed

And that’s the beauty of this inner work and using things like guiding words because it really can be THAT simple, but the simple most consistent things, have the most effect and impact into changing habits for the better, and for good.

So here are a few other ways in which my words will show up for me (not all or I’d be here all day) in 4 areas of my life:

Wellbeing:

  • Strike a better balance between busyness and stillness, quit the rush
  • Pause for a breather, deep breathe at least 3 times a day, and done in the outdoors is even better

Work:

  • Balance the work throughout the year into 3-month plans, be more realistic when setting goals.
  • Create breathing space in-between tasks, pause, stretch, have a drink of water, feed into creative energy

Fun & Recreation

  • Balance work with play, i.e., the doing with experimenting, and protect Saturday ‘family’ nights
  • Breathe in ‘new’ air/inspiration, a reminder to go on new adventures, different places to walk, new skills to try

Money

  • Balance my ‘free’ work and support with projects that will take me forwards business-wise, be specific about how much money I want to earn
  • Be more conscious with spending, pause and ask, ‘Does this support what I need long-term?’ to bear in mind the goals I have around training (which costs money!).

Just doing this short exercise I can see that ‘breathe’ can also mean ‘pause’ for me, and so is already showing up in different ways which is helpful and increases its value on a day-to-day basis.

The final stage…making your words visible!

Now that I’ve mind-mapped this all out, the final stage is to make my words visible, for those moments when life gets in the way, although I do think when you’ve been doing this a while as I have, for the last 5 years, you become more aware, especially when you have done this deeper work.

However, it’s still good to do this, and builds in some creative time, which you know is what I’m all about, so get out the paints, pencils, whatever art material of choice and create a visual representation of you word. This could be simply writing in some beautiful typography, or you could create a picture that embodies your word that you can relate to.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer, create a vision board, with key images torn out of magazines, placing your word in the middle, and adding in some supporting words too if you find that helpful.

Recently, I’ve got more into using Canva, so I’ve created this, below, using a photo from the holiday we went on in Cornwall, because the sea, always makes me feel instantly calm and more balanced, I’ve always been a water baby, part of my Aquarian star-sign, I think!

But then I experimented with colours that in my mind relate to elements in nature (another passion of mine) and added more support words around the edges that relate again to how I want to feel and work and with a little reminder to practice what I preach by adding play in there!

This is what happens when you play in Canva!

Each square and what they represent, left to right:

Mountain Path – (Earth): This is about staying on the right path, feeling committed to my direction, sure of my decisions and aligned to my values, knowing it’s a long game and a step-by-step journey

Sky (Air)Breathing life into my passions and connections by speaking about them, it’s about learning and exploring, the wind carrying my ideas forward, and thinking bigger – blue-sky thinking and giving them a voice and boosting belief

Sea (Water)This is where I get most of my energy, by being curious and creative, it’s where I feel most at home, trusting my intuition and going with the flow of my creative rhythm, just like the consistency and ease of the tide

Sun (Fire)This is a reminder to not always be so focussed, to relax and find my sparks of joy, be playful and present and shine in my own quirky way and not ‘dull’ myself to fit in

I hope my example gives you some inspiration of how you can take your words further if you wish to and if you need any more ideas of how people have done this, have a look on Pinterest, or join Susannah Conway’s Facebook group, called ‘Find Your Word 2021’ as many people have put their versions on there.

And finally, Talk about it! It’s a great fun exercise to do with the family and get the kids involved. Plus, it helps you ‘own’ your word/s fully by talking to other people about it and even better to get friends involved and sharing their words too – you can then check in with each other and see how it’s going throughout the year. As you know when we share, it helps us to become accountable, and we often do better in achieving our intentions.

Or if it feels a little scary sharing it with friends, share it with me and this community instead, via my Facebook page or on my Instagram, where I‘ll be sharing a post to promote this blog post.

The only other thing to do is to make time to check in with your choice/s now and again to make sure they still feel right. As we know life and circumstances change all the time, so make sure your word/s still fit well for where you are heading or how you want to feel.

Your word/s are for you and you only so don’t be afraid to change them, at any point.

I hope this has helped to show you how your guiding words can have a real impact on your life, this is not a surface level thing to just tick because everyone else is doing it, it’s a powerful practice that can really help you move forwards if you take the time to integrate your words properly, and if they do show up in mysterious ways, I would love to know about it, so please do share in the comments!

Until next time…enjoy your daily walk (they are helping to keep me sane!), and then stay warm and cosy and safe.

Juliet, The Curious Creative x