Keeping Connected in tough times

Hey everyone, how are you doing, on what it feels like is going to be a difficult week, here in the UK.

Blimey it’s so tricky at the moment isn’t it? Just as we were all starting to have some small bits of normal, bang, here we go again, back in lock-down (in West Yorkshire and lots of other counties here).

It feels like an endless roller coaster, that we are tethered to and have no choice but to ride – you may be physically locked into this war, but our mental strength and resilience is what will bring the freedom for us to rise higher and get through this.

The phrase ‘what doesn’t break you makes you stronger.’ is more valid now than I’ve ever known it, but this situation I can see is now starting to take its toll on so many people, even the strongest ones I know. Because it’s just not normal is it for us humans to have to relinquish control to the powers that be for THIS long.

And no-one wants to feel like they are being controlled, or watched constantly, not trusted to do the right thing, and I know there are people out there that take advantage and don’t follow ‘the rules’ but for the most part, decent people are, and they just want to live their life.  

Lord knows most people understand the value of it, if not before, they certainly do now. Lock-down has made us appreciate our freedom, our ability to make decisions and to value the small things in life more than we ever have before.

Personally I’ve always been someone that wants to live life to the full, even before the cancer journey, I‘ve watched too many decent, lovely people have horrible things happen to them when they least expect it and they’ve not been able to enjoy life fully for various reasons such as ill health or I’ve seen people without purpose or passion that have just kind of drifted through life or focused on the wrong things and before they know it, it’s too late.

It’s frustrating to see time wasted like this, it’s a precious commodity and one that we should be very thankful for and be making the most of our time here.

This is why I promote well-being and creativity so much because, this is where passion, purpose, and looking after yourself all come into play, so you not only have a life that you love but there is a depth and quality to it – we only get one after all, as they say, it’s not a rehearsal.

The added benefit is that many creative hobbies also bring you together with others, it connects you to your tribe and like-minded people, and in turn helps to prevent certain types of loneliness, which I’ve learned so much about from my friend, Wendy’s blog about it (pls see Wendy’s insta for more details of her great blogs where she even reads them out so you can listen to them like a podcast which I think is a great idea!).

In it she states there are 3 different kinds of loneliness which I‘d never heard of before, these are intimate, relational and collective and it’s the collective part that links to making connections with other that share the same interests. I can fully relate to this, because although I’m physically missing going to my art, and writing groups, I am still connected to them via zoom meetings and happily catch up with them regularly.

We’ve made sure that our Wow Wednesday meetings have continued on Zoom and our members have appreciated the support in these tough times

Because I’ve gained so much from these groups; friendship, advice, other recommended connections, I understand the deep value of being part of a tribe and that sense of belonging to the cause, to people who think the same as me, have that creative antennae and I am loathe to give all that up just because of a global pandemic!

The same goes for all the Facebook groups I belong to, the one benefit I think from lock-down is that  insightful, interesting face-book groups have sprung up left, right and centre to support one another and have those honest discussions about how people are really feeling, trying to get passed the, ‘I’m fine thanks’, to truly try and help people.

I don’t know if there is a bit of freedom in asking questions via typing or knowing that you are in a safe space to share but these have grown rapidly in lockdown and have been such a great response to these uncertain times. 

Grow Through What You Go Through. Are you complaining — going around… | by  Daza Jewelry | Daza Jewelry | Medium

So, I think this is what we have to do to get through this, and defeat this aspect of potential loneliness, we have to carry on making meaningful connections and have deep conversations – it’s like that phrase isn’t it – ‘You grow through what you go through’ and I think there is a lot in that, if of course that is open to you and you’re not feeling too overwhelmed or stressed.

We have a natural ability as creatives to seek and find solutions to problems, we need to use this superpower to our advantage now more than ever.

If you can turn things on their head and look for the lessons or the positive spin on it, then there are opportunities to learn, grow and find strategies to help you cope when something side-swipes you next time, because we know there’ll always be a next time but doing some self-preparation can soften the blow.

If, like I suggested when we first entered lock-down, you set up that self-care list to keep going back to when times are tough, why not use this second turning point to re-evaluate that list and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the list still working for me?
  2. Have I tried everything on there?
  3. Of the ones I have tried, which have I enjoyed the most?
  4. Which would I like to do again / improve my skills on?
  5. Which do I know I’ll never do? Strike them off!
  6. What am I curious about, should I add some new ideas?
  7. How can I make sure I commit to the list more? Set myself a weekly challenge for example?
  8. How can I connect with others who enjoy doing the same creative things as me?
  9. Who could I buddy I up with on this? Could I join a Facebook group or a creative online zoom session like Shannon from @mockingbirdmakes provides?
  10. Could I start a journal, specifically for how doing these creative activities makes me feel, so I understand and acknowledge the value more AND double the self-care by journaling.

There’s so much support and inspiration out there now to help get your creative game on, the creative and well-being community have stepped up massively during lock-down, and it is a genuine, heartfelt, and caring place to be.

So, if you are a creative, but are perhaps doing your work on your own, there is obviously pleasure in that, but I do think there is an opportunity to extend that to bring even more joy and satisfaction.

By sharing your story in online groups and joining in the conversation, or even if you’re not ready to do that yet, join anyway, discover people you’d like to connect with, and see how other people share and engage and it may give you the courage to have a go too.

Plus, it tests the water to see what others feel about what you’ve created, and most of the time you’ll be pleasantly surprised and encouraged, with people commenting and liking what you’ve done.

This then delivers a huge confidence boost to those that are sometimes unsure of what they create i.e is it any good or good enough, will I get laughed at? The mind chatter goes on!

There is the opportunity to learn too, from people further on in their creative journey who could offer tips, advice or may even run workshops, for example water-colour clouds are my nemesis so I look for artists who do these well so I can pick up new techniques.

For me there’s nothing better than sharing the knowledge you’ve learned, as you’ll see on my Instagram if you’ve not looked already, I regularly share other accounts, wise opinions, inspiring products and events on posts and stories that are relevant to my audience, because I almost see it as selfish if I don’t!

Keeping the knowledge to yourself and not passing it on to the followers I respect and love just doesn’t feel right and it’s why I write this blog and do things like the inspiration corner below, because it feels like the right thing to do. It is my purpose and passion to help people reap the well-being benefits by using the knowledge and skills I’ve gained.

Connecting breeds further connections and opportunities, and so the knock-on effect becomes greater and greater, a bit like that film ‘Pay it forward’.  I sometimes check in and realise how often I do this without even realising, by doing a Q&A with my son on an evening before bed, we’ll ask ourselves these questions:

  1. What did I do for someone today?
  2. What did someone else do for me today?
  3. What 3 things am I grateful for today?

It’s always interesting to recognise what others have done for us and what we have done for others and acknowledge the things we are grateful for.

It’s also why I do the Insta Lives for Psychologies, not because I love seeing myself on screen (because I really don’t!) but because it is another way to reach a wider audience that I could hopefully then help too.

It’s been an exciting thing to do, to use my voice instead of writing and although the nerves were in full force on the first one, I’ve since really enjoyed interacting with Psychologies readers who want to have a go at doing something creative. I’ve received lovely, positive feedback and the icing on the cake is that they’ve also had the courage to share their work with me, which is exactly what I wanted these sessions to achieve.

Speaking of which the next one will be on the 28th of September, at 1.30pm, It would be great to see you there.

I’d love to know how you are looking after yourself in these crazy times, whether creative activities have helped improve your state and well-being and what you might want to try next?

Also, what do you think about getting more involved with the creative community, do you see the benefits or are you a little apprehensive as many creative introverts can be?

Please feel free to comment below, or DM me on Instagram, lets keep talking and connecting so we can all get through this together and share the amazing talents within this community.

Take Care, stay safe, until next time,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Inspiration Corner – what I’ve been up to this week

Podcast

This week I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Day’s, ‘How to fail’ podcast which I love and have binge-listened a few this week, particularly enjoying the one with Ruby Wax – you can’t really get a more honest conversation about mental wellness than with Ruby, she’s such an expert in the field now and it’s well worth a listen. There’s also something very calming about Elizabeth’s voice and interview style, she’s a brilliant host.

Challenges

Today marks the start of artist, Susan Yeate’s next sketch book challenge, this time a 7 day one. It’s a great way to commit to some creativity every day for 7 days and get into the habit of just creating something, very simple, following the daily prompts. Here is the link to details of the challenges on her Instagram.

Blogs

Another friend from our Wow Wednesday group, Anna is also now writing a Blog, called Yorkshire Wellies and last week was all about her musings on the new season, a lovely read so check that out too with a hot chocolate and a blanket!

Reading

I’m still reading Caitlin Moran’s – More than a woman (I’m a slow reader!) but it’s making me really chuckle, much needed right now.

However, if you’re looking for some new reading inspiration, sign up to Clare Mackintosh’s Book Club

Watching

We’ve been going over past episodes of ‘Live at the Apollo’ hosted mainly by Michael Macintyre, who I just love and cracks me up and lots of laughter is exactly what we all need right now.

We also watched BBC One’s one off documentary, Extinction: The Facts, which broke my heart to be honest, David Attenborough is a legend in my eyes and this is a much needed important programme to make us humans realise what is going on in the world in terms of environmental devastation – we owe it to the planet to watch, learn and take action.

The Curious Cabin is open!

Hi everyone, how are you doing? It’s been a hot one in Yorkshire today! I’m writing this very excitedly on a gloriously sunny day from the Cabin! Finally, after weeks of work, it is ready, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it has turned out!

But first, I finally got the results of my scan and it’s good news, there is still the little bit of glowy area in my chest but it hasn’t grown so they don’t think it’s active disease, something called thymus hyperplasia (where the thymus gland is inflamed), which is apparently quite common after chemo, so all good, no more treatment, no more waiting for scans and results etc, I can now crack on with the ever growing list of creative work I want to do without the ‘what if’ hanging over my head!

Cabin Fever

And let me tell you, this Cabin has been a big part of that dream, especially now the hubs works more from home and needs the office in the house. It took a while for it to get here thanks to high demand since lock-down, I think everyone has been renovating their gardens and craving some solace in a summerhouse, but it eventually arrived 3 weeks ago and the hubs has done a sterling job building it and painting it outside and then I’ve cracked on with painting and decorating inside.

Plus, of course, I’ve been shopping for the all important, ideal purchases to fill the small space (it’s just 2 m x 2.5m), to make maximum use of every nook and cranny!

Because it is such a small cabin that had to fit a tiny irregular space behind the back of the garage, creating as much light was key to making it a workable place to write and do art in as well as relax,  listen to podcasts or read.

For all these needs, I knew it required a decent desk (obviously), a comfy chair and plenty of storage space. Originally, we were going to build a bespoke bench in the corner, and we might still do that but for now, one we had already will do.

In fact, in order to keep costs low and not waste things, the cabin occupants are a mixture of old and new, and I’ve picked the ‘new’ things purposely to go with these. So, these are the ‘old’ pieces that made the cut:

  1. A beautiful chair gifted from my lovely friend Claire @myhousecandy, that my son nicked on lockdown to play the Xbox on but I’ve swiped it back because as we know teal is my absolute favourite colour and it fits perfectly in here!
  2. My old dressing table chair that is white and rattan from Barker and Stonehouse, small and lightweight so I knew it would fit in here
  3. The storage chest in the corner and the navy blanket, both from Dunelm Mill, which will double as a seat too if need be. This stores most of my art materials for needle-felting, painting, drawing etc
  4. Decorative bits and bobs that have moved in from the house that mean something to me, so The Habbit picture I got from Staithes art festival a few years back that I absolutely love from @daub.jg who combines animals to make a new one – this is his hare cross rabbit, hence the habbit and it’s a reminder to me to get into a more routine habit of writing daily!

Empty Hendricks bottles (my fave gin!) serve as book ends (recycling and all that) and hold together many of my favourite well-being and creative books.

The Mousehole picture from our recent holiday to Cornwall stands proudly on the new shelf along with one of my succulents from @bloomindaleflorist

The aloe vera plant grown from a cutting by my friend, who also brought me this lovely sunflower today! The black and white vase, wooden star, seagull picture and the little blue bird are again all things that I had already and loved!

The ‘J’ used to be in my bedroom and my collection of notebooks and the pencil case are from friends, Staithes art festival and a couple of recent purchases and finally the easel, art box (behind the chair) and magazine rack are all ‘old’ too but have been upgraded to the cabin!.

And so, on to the exciting new stuff, which has caused me many a sleepless night in decisions!  I’ll list them in order of purchase…

First up was the ‘Curious’ sign (pictured further down), I ordered before the Cabin even arrived! I’ve always wanted one of these from @modocreative and so this was the treat-piece of the cabin and I LOVE it! They will create any word for you and have a wide range of colour options and designs and look very cool, even if I do say so myself!

Next was this desk from Soges Home on Amazon (£70), a bargain I think as it’s really solid, a good size for the space and I liked the two-tone effect and the fact it has shelves too.

Now I never do the flat-packed putting-together thing, I get too frustrated normally, but I actually managed it along with the help of my 12 yr old son and was quite proud!

Next came the rope mirror (further down) and the candle lantern, both from local furniture that has designer furniture at discount prices – Cosy Homes, in Scissett, Huddersfield @cosyhomes20182018  – if you ever need a designer sofa at a great price, I can highly recommend going there!

I then spotted a small little plant stand in TK Max that I knew would fit perfectly in-between the windows and I loved the quirky detailing!

Whilst shopping at Sainsburys I spotted a bargain of a clock in the sale, just £10.

The Range was next on my list as I know they do a fabulous ‘range’ of frames and picked up these great black and white dotty /animal print effect styles (see further up) and knew they would go really well in the space in-between the windows too above the snake plant.

Whilst there, I saw this cute fur footstool that could double up as a seat or table too – everything I looked for seemed to be multi-purpose and practical. I also looked for things that were different textures to soften up the space and bought a fur cushion cover from Dunelm Mill too for the corner, a respite from all the wood.

Next came the plants! I knew I wanted some big plants in there to bring the outside in and give a fresh modern feel as well as help oxygenate the cabin in winter. I did check out which ones would survive out here though as my mum was convinced, I would kill them all! I asked at Dobbie’s garden centre (Shelley Huddersfield) and got some great advice so picked this one up (left) and the other from B&Q.

Whilst at B&Q, the next job was a rug and doormat, again looking for maximum opportunity to keep it bright and also add texture, the rug was a bargain at £30 and I love this doormat too.

Then onto Ikea for the final purchases of the shelf which I love because it brings all the different coloured woods together and breaks up the white wall, perfect display my books.

I also picked up this trolley which I’d had my eye on and I know will work well to have by my side when doing art pieces and can double up as storage and a little side-table next to the chair – I envisage it being a little tea-station too in the future!

Now being a flat-pack expert(cough) I attempted to put this together too and I honestly think the desk was easier! But anyway, I eventually got there, huffing and puffing trying to get the tiniest of screws in and the metal mesh, two-toning with the wood looks fab! I can actually pretend to be a trolly dolly with it!

The final bits from Ikea were these; a grey felt storage solution for a blanket and slippers in the winter that works well with the storage box in the corner, another plant and two-tone plant pot in grey and gold (see the theme here?), the desk tidy to hold all my notebooks and pens etc and finally a phone holder as cheap as chips at £2.25!

The cabin was filling up nicely and almost done, but there was one thing missing, doorstops so the doors don’t fly open (it’s very windy up here!) I picked up these gorgeous mustard pompom ones from Next and this beautiful blue patterned glass candle that smells of the sea, called sea-salt, to remind me of that lovely trip to Cornwall we took this Summer.

So, this is how I put it all together, step by step and honestly it is the most calming creative space I thought I could only have dreamed of and now it’s here and real and I feel incredibly lucky to have it and thankful to the hubs for building it, (think I’m in coffee duty debt for a long, long time!).

Oh I almost forgot, in terms of paint I picked Sentosa from the Sandolin range and the white too (used to paint beach-huts so I knew it would be tough for the weather up here!) which is a really rich blue-green (turquoise-teal!) colour, that contrasts lovely with the white and of course fits in with the colour scheme inside.

Inside I used the same white but then kept the frames and beams and floor the natural colour, just treating them with Osmo wood protection oil.

The only things left to add are a beautiful second-hand cardholder which the lovely Liz from @thewateringcanfloristhd8 is giving me as she no longer needs it. The idea it to display all my cards on it and can take pictures for when I get my store on my website (it’s been on the list for some time!).

I also need to get some electricity wired in here, before it gets too cold for a little heater  and a desk lamp and some lights I‘m selecting from @cableandcotton –  where you can pick and choose the colours – this is becoming a bit addictive, there’s so many options to choose from!

And finally, I’m going to order a window film from the lovely @hannahnunn to go on the side window as it currently looks onto the garage wall, so it needs prettying up!

And that’s it that’s a wrap, so I hope this gives you some inspiration to make a creative space in your home. I realise I’m very lucky in having this outdoor space but even if it’s just a corner in your hallway or part of another room, there are ways and means to make it special, to make it ‘your’ place, with your own personal touches and clever ways to add in practical solutions to make sure that the space works for you in what you want to do.

I’d love to see your creative spaces too, so please do share with me! Now, the key thing is to stop staring around the place in awe and get serious about getting productive in here, but at least I’ve started with this Blog! Hope you have a lovely creative week and I’ll share my progress, next week!

Until next time,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Inspiration Corner

Events:

Looking for something to entertain yourself with on Sunday ????
Pop along have a browse maybe buy or just come along and say Hi !!!😊😊😊
#supportlocaltraders
#sundayshopping
#socialdistancing2020 
#freshairandsunshine 
#flowersalwaysmakeyousmile 
#plantzone
#indoorplants 
#yummyyorkshire 
#yorkshireweddingflorist 
#thewateringcanhd8
This market happens every 2 weeks, why not check it out and then have an ice cream at Yummy Yorkshire?

This week has been mainly running around looking for things for the cabin, but there are a couple of things I’ve been inspired by, especially when I went to @yummyyorkshire Market on the Farm this Sunday.

There were lots of lovely local sellers, including Helena, from @theproverbialhare who does amazing artwork which she then prints on to things like notebooks and tea towels as well as art cards.

Attachment_1582554775.jpeg
An example of Helena’s gorgeous work

I’m hoping to also have a table at the market in November and December so we had a good chat about what to expect and of course I could resist a notebook and card to frame for the Cabin!

Podcasts

The Dream and Do Podcast – Nicola Rae Wickham

When I went for my scan last week, there’s always a lot of hanging around and so I listened to the lovely Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired on her Dream and Do podcast to a deep conversation with her friend Nova Reid, @novareidofficial, an anti-racism activist and podcaster and Tamu Thomas, a coach, speaker and writer of @livethreesixty , all about how they felt when the news came out about George Floyd and the huge aftermath afterwards. I listened nodding a lot, the conversation was passionate, honest and indicative of how much work there is to do to start to make significant change, a really thought-provoking episode and a must listen if we are ever to move forwards and make positive change for ours and future generations.

Bravehearts Rising – Lisa Pascoe

I mentioned this one last week but the episode this week is Lisa interviewing the fabulous Eleanor Snare, whose work I also love, so it’s a really inspiring listen, highly recommend catching up with this one – it’s here if you’d like to find out more.

InstagramHolly Tucker Hashtag Challenge

Holly has launched a new hashtag challenge this week for us all to share our working spaces, in particular our desks, which is really apt for today’s Blog! If you’d like to join in and check out other’s working spaces too for more inspiration, the hashtag is #YesThisIsMyDesk

Shaking the restlessness; ready, set, go for it!

Hi everyone, how are you doing?

Firstly, an update, my scan got cancelled last week which is annoying but couldn’t be helped and should hopefully go ahead today which happens to be on my lucky number date – 8 so I’m hoping that’s ‘a sign’. I’m then hoping results will come in before the weekend but you know that is probably wishful thinking, and it’s more likely to be next week.

Making the most of some last of the Summer sunshine with my friend Rachel and her cockapoo, Honey

This week’s Blog is a bit of a random collection of thoughts and inspiration that I think many of us are feeling at this time of year. Also I’m going to add in a new feature into these blogs, of inspirational things I’m either listening, watching, reading, attending or discussing, at the end of each post, which I hope in-turn will help you too.

Restless Body & Mind Syndrome

In the meantime, has anyone else been feeling incredibly restless? Like a kind of restless leg syndrome that goes through your whole body? Well I have!

Now I know I get like this at this time of the year anyway, usually after the 6 weeks that is never 6 weeks and always at least 7 weeks and sometimes 7.5 weeks school summer holidays, but this year is unprecedented (that lovely word again!).

These 2 have grown so much over Summer and
soon will be taller than me!

I mean we have had 5.5 months, around 170 days of our lovely children, and I’ll be honest it feels more like 5.5 years, much as I love them, I am ready, I am MORE than ready to get back to some form of routine and my creative work.

The ‘plan’ at the beginning of the year was to get to the end of treatment (in May) and then go for it work-wise and make up for all those weeks lost to feeling absolutely pants, but then Covid came along and whilst I did make the most of every spare minute we got in-between being the cleaner, chef, entertainer, Maître-de of this brand new Covid Hotel that expected a 5 star rating, it wasn’t what I’d planned. And shielding wouldn’t even allow me to escape!

Certainly NOT the haven of out-stretched time for me to just nicely get on with my business and progress, without feeling like I was wading in water and attending to everyone else’s needs – beck and call gained a whole new meaning.

One down one to go, suddenly this one’s looking very tall as he heads in to year 8, and was very excited this morning!

So, you can imagine this restlessness bubbling under the surface, threatening to build into a flood of hot lava rage, BUT I’ve managed to not rage too much (I’ve counted to 100 A LOT), which I think accounts for the whole restless body syndrome.

But thankfully I am not alone it seems, upon reading Kate Townshend’s piece in this month’s Psychologies all about this restless feeling at this time of year.  If I’d known where she lived I would have knocked on her door and taken her out for a huge gin, such was the power of her writing in pinpointing this phenomenon which had me nodding to myself and saying ‘Yes!’ loudly to the dog and making her jump. If you are feeling like this too, check out her article, it is absolutely spot on and gives some great insight into what could be the root cause.

New Routine Dream

So, onto routine, it seems I’m more of a planner than I first thought, I’m genuinely yearning some structure to what will be my new ‘creative-working’ week and I think this is partly due to now having a ‘home’ for the work and business and I can actually leave my back door, walk the 30 or so paces to The Curious Cabin (you know it had to have a name), close the door and physically escape from the callings of the house to clean it and the texts from the husband who is STILL working from home requesting ‘coffee emoji, SVP xxx’ , which means S’il vous plait for those that are wondering – why this request seems more quaint and lovely in French is beyond me but lets just say the novelty has worn off!

And it comes back to the cancer journey again I think too, as I’ve said before, I’ve always been one to try and make the most of time and life anyway, BUT there’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to sharpen up that focus and make sure you use your ‘well’ time wisely. Before all of this I most definitely took my health for granted, after all I’m not 90, I’m 46, but now I know that you just never know, so do not wait for the ‘perfect’ time to crack on with it, JUST DO IT (not sponsored I promise).

So, this means that we have been working really hard on the Cabin (I’ve provided many drinks and snacks for the husband who I have to say has been amazing building it and painting!) to get it ready asap. I forgot how achy painting makes you but I‘ve still enjoyed it, getting splattered in white paint whilst listening to a fab new podcast, (more on that later!) and there have been other fun bits too, planning out the inside area and shopping for things to go in there, I’m so excited about it I’ve had sleepless nights.

I know I’m incredibly lucky to have this small space, but it’s something I’ve been dreaming of for years and I think the hubs will be glad I’ve actually got all my stacks of creative stuff out of the house and will reduce the regular effects of craftermath on the kitchen table!

Lots of progress been made this week on The Curious Cabin!

So, if you now have the time to focus on your business or creative time, I highly recommend carving out a space in your home, or upgrading the shed, garage or spare room, because in order to create I think you have to have a bit of creative ‘order’, at least in your head and a place that is yours and yours only to get your creative game on, feel the calm vibes and do what you do best.

I’ll be doing a few extra blogs once the cabin is fully ready on how I designed it inside to work best for me.

In terms of planning, I’m also going to practice what I preached on last weeks Live with Psychologies magazine and get into really planning out my week and colour-coding it on my laptop so it gives me an instant picture of how I’m distributing my time and I can make tweaks if necessary.

I’ll also be reflecting on everything I’ve done this year and planning in detail what goals I want to achieve by the end of the year, again that making the most of the last 3 months of the year feeling, because lets face it not much gets done in December.

Thankfully I now have a solid strategy to work from thanks to some great sessions with Michelle from our Wow Wednesday group who is a whizz at these things and can help you see the wood from the trees in your business.

I really enjoy this part as I’ve generally done more than I think and I like making lists and mind-maps of what’s next! Here’s just some of what will be coming up for me:

  • Planning content for the next @psychologiesmagazine Lives (now running every 4 weeks, next one on the 28th of September)
  • Wow Wednesdays re-starting and planning new features within the membership
  • Art pieces to create for craft fairs and new Xmas card designs
  • Potential new writing workshops to run in a new venue
  • Back to the book, the none-fiction one that I started at the beginning of lock-down all about my life-time journey with creativity
  • Blog planning, hoping to do some more ‘creative’s’ interviews!
  • Doing some planning and research for Curious Coaching, my next new venture!

It’s going to be a busy but exciting time and that of course doesn’t include all the kids after-school activities, but I am ready, bring it on!

Until next time, I hope you have lots of exciting plans moving forward through September and the rest of the year and I’d love to hear about them! Please do let me know in the comments and let’s crack these next few months together!

Juliet, The curious Creative x

Inspiration Corner

This will be the little nook where I talk about things that have inspired me this last week, creative or otherwise, for you to check out too if you wish, just a little list for you to dip into, as and when you want/need to:

Podcass: Bravehearts Rising – Lisa Pascoe, I now know Lisa through Nicola Rae Wickham’s Dream and Do membership group and wow what a podcast, I binge-listened to 4 episodes whilst painting the cabin! Deep, meaningful conversations for women, especially empaths and HSPs (highly sensitive people) that will resonate and lead to many ‘Aha’ moments! Highly recommend.

Conversations of Inspiration, new series 9 – Holly Tucker – I am so happy this is back! Holly starts off with a cracking interview with Kanya King CBE, founder of the MOBO awards and it’s such an inspiring listen, her mantra is ‘Don’t get bitter get better’, so many things to take and absorb from this interview, go listen!

Reading:

A constant source of inspiration

Psychologies Magazine, avid supporter obviously but I swear each month just gets better and better and has been my staple getting through lock-down, this month’s dossier is all about starting your own business and includes the article I talked about above on restlessness too, amongst many other thought-provoking articles.

Author Caitlin Moran – More than a woman, a highly amusing book, that will have you in stitches, honest and brilliant!

Instagram Account: Eleanor Snare, always insightful and honest posts around creativity, this week Eleanor asked, What is your attitudes to risk? an interesting question for often introvert creatives!

Colour switch up to inspire and help you plan

Well yesterday there I was all guns blazing, ready to do the next @psychologiesmagazine Instagram Live since coming back from holiday and what happens, Wifi connection decides to drop out, the live doesn’t save to IGTV and my day is effectively ruined.

This may sound dramatic but I literally have a fear of technological gremlins, it is so frustrating. And I know first world problems and all that but I think it just added to the rising stress of the LONGEST school holidays in the history of the world. I mean it’s like the powers that be knew right, and they thought I know let’s add a later September return into the mix, just for extra fun.

I know I sound like the worst parent, but after 5 and a half months I’m done now; with the Xbox battles, vampire diaries marathon sessions, bloody Tik Tok and appearing only for food or to request batteries, I feel like we have squatters that are just draining all the power in the house and our mental energies too.

And I know I’m not alone, but enough now, the countdown IS ON!

Ok, rant over and I now will resume to my calm state of when I excitedly did the 7th Gain Creative Confidence session yesterday that was all about colour and planning and I promised to put the tasks on here as there are a few to consider this time.

Oh and update – the Live is now up and running here, thanks to the lovely team at Psychologies, phew!

Colour me happy!

So, the subject for this session stemmed from a few things that have inspired me this week, as well as of course my very colourful trip to Cornwall.

As we head into September and the first month of Autumn, I always get a little giddy for cosy jumpers, fresh plans in new planners (I like using the academic timetable ones), that new term feeling, blackberry picking for pies and my now locally famous jam and all the wonderful autumnal colours we get here in the UK.

It’s a time where I sort through my wardrobe, bring out the warmer stuff and also start looking at small changes to make at home as we head into the cooler months – think cinnamon candles, chunky throws, the first stove fire, a change of cushions and a fresh lick of paint for the kitchen.

There was an interesting stat on ‘This Morning’ this week, that we only wear 20% of our wardrobe, 80% of the time! In a time where many are trying to be more sustainable or save cash in this crazy unpredictable world, maybe it’s time we re-styled our collections, pair some different items together, different colour combos and change it up a bit, rather than always heading to the shops.

This also applies to interiors, as my friend @myhousecandy said this week, ‘A change is as good as a rest’ and I absolutely agree, move some key pieces about, mix up some new colours to get in sync with autumn or just freshen things up and love your space more.

It’s like that feeling you get as a child when you move your room around, exactly what my daughter did this week too, it just always seems better somehow, like we are supposed to do this and re-organise every now and again.

Maybe it’s because of lock-down too, we’ve spent so much time in our homes we can get cabin fever if everything stays the same.

Now speaking of Cabins, ours is now built! Thanks to the hubs doing a great job in-between the rain, I really think he used to be a carpenter in a former life, it seems to be his thing and potential creative outlet! Plus, he’s a perfectionist so hopefully no danger of the roof blowing off as it’s very windy where we live!

If you’ve followed my blogs regularly you will know that this has been a long-held dream to get a small cabin in the garden to use as my creative space and The CCC headquarters! I’m so excited it’s actually given me sleepless nights planning it all out in my head!

I created a Pinterest board a while ago and have definite ideas of what I want in there, the desk at least is now on order and we’re deciding whether to have a custom made corner bench for storage, then it will be possibly a comfier seat in the other corner, small side table, plants, lighting plus many pieces of art, my own included and accessories on the walls and finally a small bed for Barley too!

But first it needs painting, I’m going for this kind of blue/green colour called Sentosa (on brand with The CCC of course) on the outside with white window sills and doors and a soft white on the inside to keep it nice and light. I’ll be keeping it fresh on the inside too, with lots of bright colours against a backdrop of textured neutrals and this brings me to the colour challenges I’ve set in this week’s Live.

Bright art-work like this will be heading into the cabin

I know that colour is a big part of my life and creativity, not only in art and photography which is more obvious, but often I find in my writing and poetry especially, I tend to be looking for new ways to describe colour and bring it alive for the reader.

This happened whilst on holiday in Cornwall and I wrote a poem about the sea whilst sat on Newquay’s Fistral Beach. Here is a line so you know what I mean:

‘Orange lava pooling, mixing the spoils of an angels brush into inky depths’

The holiday opened my eyes to new combinations of colours, ones I don’t regularly see together but reawakened my senses. In particular, the combination of teal, gold, heather and lime on the image below had me drinking it in and searching for more.

If you would like to research new combinations, Pinterest do great colour swatch pins, but warning it does become a bit addictive! Infact I have a whole board of these if you’d like to have a look, click here.

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Here’s an example of a colour swatch pin on Pinterest

On today’s Live we talked about personal colour associations with different emotions and moods and how it can actually effect your state, so for me it goes like this:

Blue / Grey / Cream = calm or well-being

Green = growth and nurturing

Orange / Yellow = energy and laughter

Soft pinks = soothing and dreamy

Red = Daring or confidence

In my home I have a combination of grey, green and soft pinks in the lounge, which feels calm and soothing to relax in an evening whereas the hall has a neutral background but lots of splashes of bright colours which to me feels welcoming and cheerful when you come in.

I also talked about exploring different colours to what you may usually work with in your creativity , to once again mix things up a bit and experiment. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with colours and this can even encourage you to work with different materials, for example for darker pieces you could use charcoal.

Another option would be to go and do some photography colour research, either using your own photos or have a look at some different Instagram accounts that use a different palette to yours, eg @seasidekate has wonderful bright photos of her home town Brighton whereas @simpleandseason has a more restricted and muted palette full of texture, simple and beautiful.

And finally, I extended the colour idea and associations to planning, in terms of your diaries or To Do lists. By this I mean co-ordinating certain tasks into different colours and then when you look at your whole week you can really easily see what kind of activities you are spending most of your time on. And most importantly if you find that too much of that time is spent on things that you don’t want to be your focus, then you can then change it.

It’s a simple but really effective way of analysing where your time goes!

So, todays tasks I set were the following:

  1. Explore what colour means to you, what colours evoke your different emotions? And if you want to feel a certain way more, perhaps consider surrounding yourself more with particular colours or wear them for an instant lift?
  2. Experiment with new and different colours and combinations, and from this consider new outfit combinations or play with art-work using these colours, how does that make you feel, inspired or uncomfortable?
  3. Plan out your week and colour-code it, use colours that resonate with certain activities, for example self-care may be orange if your version of self-care is an exercise class or it may be blue if it means a chilled day at a spa. Take note of how your week looks in colour – is it evenly spread, or too heavily weighted to work or house chores, if so try changing some things for the following week and note the difference in your well-being.

So, I hope that gives you a few things to be getting on with before the next Psychologies live that will be on the 28th of September. I’m spacing them 4 weeks apart now, so that I too can get on with the many plans I have in my head running up to Christmas and I’m looking forward to getting productive in the Cabin!

I’m finally getting used to my new short hair, it went blonder in the sun in Cornwall!

But first I just have to get through the next scan, yes it’s that time again, 3 months have whizzed by already and I’m crossing everything now for a fully clear scan that will show I’m in remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. There’s so much I want to crack on with, but until I’ve got this big box ticked, it’s hard to plan too far in advance.

It’s almost a year since all this started and weirdly, September is blood cancer awareness month, and September the 15th is World Lymphoma Day, almost exactly a year since I first went to my doctors! Every 27 minutes, someone is diagnosed with Lymphoma. If you’d like to find out more, please click here for lots of information from Lymphoma Action, which has been a great source of support over the last year.

Until next time, have fun playing with colour!

Juliet, The Curious Creative x  

Main image taken by me on a dog walk but the art on the rock is not mine, just someone spreading a little joy!

Ps, For a great book on using colour in your creativity, check out Philippa Stanton’s Conscious Creativity below

RE-awakening the senses

Hi everyone, how are you doing?

I know I’ve been missing in action for a few weeks but it was for good reason, we managed to get a late deal to Cornwall, spending a week in Newquay, a week in Mousehole and a night in Exeter to see family.

After months in lock-down, and for me pre-lockdown lock-down, it was just the escape we needed, and I was desperate to see the sea!

For anyone who knows me, I’ve always been a water baby and feel deeply connected to the ocean, so to drink in the amazing views of the rugged Cornish coast and feel the salt spray on my cheeks has been just the tonic I needed after such a rough year.

My husband is the ultimate pre-planner and whilst we wind him up about it, I’m quite happy for him to work out a rough schedule, whilst I’m chief packer! This means that we got to see the very best of Cornwall, exploring so many beautiful places and ensuring we sampled delicious food too (his absolute priority!).

As we walked the coastal path, felt the sand between our toes on the golden beaches, got tossed around on the waves on body boards, checked out quirky little shops, visited key landmarks and spotted seals and dolphins, our senses that had been dulled in lock-down slowly came alive again.

I was constantly taking pictures, kind of my addiction anyway, but also my son joined in which was really nice to see, my little prodigy in action! It gave me lots of content for my @soothedbynature Instagram account too!

It felt really good to be out on an adventure, seeing new things and changing up what we were doing physically too, both through exercise and what we were eating – I’d become so bored of cooking in lock-down, and eating fresh, delicious seafood was just heaven!

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The colours and textures that we saw on the coastal path were simply breath-taking, I could have sat and stared for hours and it wasn’t long before I felt the creative itch returning. I sat on Fistral beach and penned a poem about the sea that I’d woken up in the night thinking about.

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I started observing the characters and conversations around us and taking in the decorations in shops, bars and outside homes, enjoying the effort people had put in.

I also had the time to read 3 books, The Salt Path that I was partly through, where a couple walk the Cornish coastal path upon becoming homeless and it becomes even more vivid when you can now picture the places they were walking through, it’s such an enchanting and moving tale.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn | Waterstones  Paper Dolls by Lisa Bradley  Front Cover

Next, I read Paper Dolls, by Lisa Bradley who is a local author to me who I know as our 2 children go to the same performing arts school. I was so happy to hear she got a publishing deal and couldn’t wait to dive in. It’s a great thriller with a brilliant ending, which is always key for me, I hate it when an ending lets a book down.

And finally I saved the best till last, Lisa Jewel always releases her books around when I go on holiday and I love that because I have chance to read it properly and devour it over a shorter time, and she never disappoints, her books to me are just an expert lesson on how to develop really great characters and I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Invisible Girl’.

It’s always during these Summer weeks of reading that I become re-inspired with my own writing and I naturally start looking at things through an author’s eyes again which is hard to explain but it’s like I start looking around and describing things in my head as you would if you were writing about it if that makes sense?

I wrote almost the full first draft of my novel prior to getting diagnosed last year but then when treatment started I found it more difficult to remember where I was in the story etc and to concentrate for long periods of time.

This year I parked that book until I regained some energy and felt more normal and started writing a none-fiction book instead about my life-long journey with creativity and I’m already a good way into that….but that call of becoming a published novelist never quite goes away and that passion generally returns at this time…so it might be time to start delving back into that story again, alongside the other book too….now if I could just no longer need sleep with all that I want to do, that would be great!

One thing this holiday has also taught me is to commit to more adventures and more exploring, it really does top up your creativity cup and I need to treat it as an intrinsic and valuable part of the process, so I’m going to schedule in a road trip once a month to somewhere inspiring!  I need to create a list where I can get there and back within school hours, so if anyone has any ideas please comment below (I’m in West Yorkshire).

And so, thanks to this holiday I’m now armed with ideas once again! Before I went away I was lucky to sell some needle felt pictures and some more originals and cards are now available at The Flex Collective Co-working space which is exciting and Cornwall definitely brought out the artist in me too, there are so many art galleries and cute shops selling art down there.

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I know I’ll definitely be creating more art seascapes and getting organised for hopefully upcoming Christmas fairs etc, providing Covid doesn’t scupper things.

I’m starting to feel that new term feeling again and a sense of some things returning to normal-ish. My daughter returns to her swimming club this week which will feel so strange but I’m excited for her, she’s missed it so much. I normally love September, that sense of hunkering down for the last 3 months of the year and making the most of it in terms of productivity before Christmas.

I’m also so keen to start up my writing workshops again, and hoping Kirklees is eased out of these further restrictions soon so I can make some more definite plans.

And finally, there’s just the small matter of another PET Scan to get through and hopefully finally get the proper all clear so that I really can fully crack on with things. The scan is next week so I’m crossing everything that I don’t go backwards, my hair is really growing now, and it needs to stay that way!

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Twinning with my boy!

So I hope you’ve had a fantastic Summer and are looking forward to September too and if you are feeling at all lack-lustre or not motivated, jump in the car or go our for a walk and explore for a day, I can practically guarantee it will get you creative juices flowing again…

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

 

Listen for the whispers…

Hi everyone, how are you doing?

It’s been a funny old week, work interspersed with pet vaccinations, dentists and eye tests, trips out with the kids and friends – my first in a long while as I come out of shielding, only then for my husband to be poorly again with a high temp and shipped off for another Covid Test (don’t worry it’s negative) and then for more restrictions to come in to play as we are one of those identified areas – just when I was liking visiting people in real life again!

Lovely to have our final Wow Wednesday meeting, before we break for Summer at Yorkshire Sculpture Park this week as it re-opened

And the weather has been all over the place, from pouring down to baking hot on Friday, it seems even the weather gods are perplexed with life right now!

As we get deeper into the School Summer holidays it’s getting more and more difficult to have some separate ‘work’ focused time and I’m trying not to stress about it but it’s not easy.

There have been some enlightening moments thoughout this week though and this is what I wanted to speak to you about… listening to some fabulous podcasts has been one of them. Let’s start with Michelle Obama’s new podcast where she interviews her husband and says this quote below, which makes me feel like just shouting hallelujah to be honest.

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Could not agree more Mrs Obama, and thanks for sharing @hollytucker! Swiftly adds to podcast list!

After watching her documentary ‘Becoming’ a few months back it gives me a huge amount of faith that there are people in the world that know what they are doing and understand what their purpose is in life.

Add in another one of my hero’s, Oprah, and I’m not necessarily a big religious follower but all I can say is when I listen to her podcast, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation’s I feel like I’ve been to church and come away with a book full of wisdom and knowledge, not least her episode this week on listening to the whispers (Life first speaks to you in a whisper’ 22nd July episode.)

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She talks about examples where she’s done this, and has people on the show who have experienced it too, like the women who listened to their instincts in America, that something was just not right when they met Phillip Garrido and his two daughters, which then lead to Jaycee Lee Duggard finally being found after 18 years of being held captive.

I can really identify with this in both big ways and small and have always looked for and listened to the signs that are out there in the Universe. Oprah talks about the messages first being a whisper and if you don’t listen then it becomes more like pebbles being thrown at your window, the longer you don’t listen, the harder and more forceful the message.

This feels especially true last Summer when I first discovered the small lump on my collarbone towards the end of May and mentioned it to a physio I was seeing at the time, as I thought it was something muscle related. He said that no it wasn’t anything like that and to keep an eye on it.

As you know I then promptly forgot, which is unlike me and kind of unbelievable given I was putting sun cream on throughout that Summer and especially when we were away in Majorca at the end of August.

Finally when the kids returned to school, I woke up one Monday morning with a start and a voice literally shouting in my head, ‘Check on the lump’ which I did immediately and it had at least doubled in size and that’s when the 7 weeks of investigations began which lead to the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and subsequent treatment.

That may sound far-fetched, but it was more than a whisper, it was an urgent command, because I hadn’t listened to that first internal whisper.

The more in tune we become with our gut, or that feeling of hairs standing up on the back of your neck, and senses heightened, the more protected we’ll be and have more trust in our decisions, that they are the right ones.

Since making the huge decision to leave a safe corporate life 4 years ago, I’ve grown to trust my intuition more and more and that ‘sixth sense’ is proving so useful as I go down new roads building this creative venture.

Since being young, I’ve always believed that I have a purpose in life, that I am meant to help people and create connections, I can’t even explain it, it’s just always been there. We all have superpowers, every one of us and I consider being observant, being able to easily connect and using that instinctive desire to help, to be mine, to be my purpose.

Now that I’m learning, slowly, how to become a coach, I’m trying even more so to tune into my instincts, understanding when to pause and listen at a deeper level, it’s all fascinating stuff and I’m enjoying developing these skills.

You can use this too in your direction, which way do you want to go creatively for example? Not so long ago I had a great strategy session, with Business growth expert, Michelle, from our Wow Wednesday group..

She easily streamlined all my work into 4 key areas: Writing and writing related work, Coaching, (which I’m newly developing), Wow Wednesday further development and Art, all in this priority order in terms of amount of effort and work required to get them all really going and with a clear vision and lots of key measurables.

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I recently enjoyed creating this local grasses print and 3D picture, it’s now hung in my living room!

Art, I had put last on the list, not because I don’t enjoy it, I probably enjoy it the most in fact, but the effort required to make it feasible income-wise is quite a lot, unless you are at that point of being a solely professional artist, which I’m not.

But guess what, since I sorted all that out and felt comfortable with where my focus needs to be, what have I been drawn (literally) to most over the past few weeks? You guessed it, the Art stream of work!

 

Since that strategy work, I’m now selling my cards at my favourite local bookshop Read, will soon be selling through Bloomindales florist online and I’m meeting with The Flex Collective this week in the hope they may consider selling some of my framed needle felt work so I’ve also been busy creating more pieces to show, it’s just such a gratifying thing to do, creating little landscapes of wool!

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Needle felting, it’s so satisfying to do!

Then, yesterday after picking up some new card samples in Holmfirth, I popped into Ribbles café, and was looking at my samples when Sarah, one of the owners came over. She looked at the cards (all needle felt designs, see below) and loved them, and asked if I could provide the original in a frame, for her to buy!

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The sample cards I picked up, I love how they look so 3D! 

We then got talking, shared a love of certain podcasts, talked about the craft fairs they’ve got coming up towards Christmas, how business is returning to the café and also that they hire out upstairs for workshops (which could be perfect for my writing ones!).

I’d been in the café a few weeks before with a friend and had a good feeling about it, as well as enjoying their delicious dandelion and burdock cake. When I returned to pick up those cards, all the other cafes in Holmfirth were closed, including Bloc, which I normally visit as it’s right opposite the print shop but now I can’t help thinking it was my subconscious sending me back there, to connect with the ladies that owned the shop!

So to me, listening to the whispers can be a powerful thing, it can send you in all kinds of directions and can also warn you of the wrong path to take or to take note of important things such as health issues or big life questions.

Suzy Walker, Editor in Chief at Psychologies magazine wrote about this too in this month’s edition. She has been taking evening walks in London during lock-down, and actively asking questions in her own mind as she does so, and the street has given her answers, genuinely! Check out her article, it’s a great read!

But how do you do it? Here are a few tips

  • Ever entered a room and wondered who to go over to? Who are you instinctively drawn to? Who looks friendly and happy to chat?
  • When driving and trying to decide on which road when you’re driving somewhere new, which choice is your first? Don’t question it, go with your gut
  • When trying to choose clothes we often weigh up the positives, what could it go with etc, but instead choose the item that you connect with most, the one that makes you feel amazing and boosts your self-confidence, you are much more likely to wear it
  • Tune into your body, we so often ignore it and spend so much time in our head, how is it feeling, truly, what are the aches and pains we are masking and saying it will be alright to ourselves, what is our body actually trying to tell us? How can we listen better to it?
  • Trust your instincts with confidence when it comes to dangerous situations, that is when your sixth sense is at its peak, e.g. take a taxi home or walk home down a dark path alone, sounds obvious but we can often have a false sense of security, especially when we’ve had a few to drink. I think this last point has been heavily influenced by the latest book I’ve just finished – ‘How to disappear’ by Gillian Mcallister – fabulous thriller!

So, my message today is simple, listen to that inner voice because it is your best guide. All humans talk about a sixth sense and it’s well documented in the animal world too, part of the historic sense and understanding of fear, when enemies or predators are close by, that has kept us safe all those years back and still does now, but these days we are more easily distracted from it’s messages.

Sixth sense is described in the dictionary as:

‘a supposed intuitive faculty giving awareness not explicable in terms of normal perception’

Like I say it’s a powerful, intuitive force and we’d be daft to ignore it, we are lucky to have it and it can help us in all areas of our lives, so listen to those whispers and see where it takes you, you may be surprised…and never ignore them when they shout!

Finally speaking of instincts, at the beginning of lock-down, when I knew I could no longer get into the office as often as I’d like as the husband is working from home, we took the decision to get a log cabin for me to use as my little ‘Curious Creative Club’ space (kind of my treat present for getting through chemo).

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An example picture of the log cabin coming, my soon-to-be little piece of paradise!

Now in terms of size it is tiny, just 2.5 x 3 metres as it can only fit in a certain place in the garden, BUT I can’t wait for it to arrive, hopefully mid-end of August. I lived in dens in the woods as a child, so this little space will be no problem and will be decorated with all the things I love; art, plants, books, cushions, signs, candles, blankets, etc, I CANNOT WAIT, so I’m just warning you in advance of log cabin spam coming your way, can you tell I’m a bit giddy?

Until next time, hope you’re all enjoying Summer, in between the rain!

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

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P.s Don’t forget Session 6 of ‘Gain Creative Confidence’ on @psychologiesmagazine Instagram tomorrow, LIVE at 1.30pm, I’m talking all things perfectionism with a task as usual for you too, hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going off plan – because the world won’t end if I do!

Hi everyone, this is a short one, I’m gonna be honest, today I’m tired, it doesn’t happen often, but last night I forgot that it was my turn to post this morning on the Yorkshire Writer’s Lunch Blog, at 10pm no less, so it was a late one, after 12,  before I got to bed. Note to selfread the daily planner where you actually put your plans and deadlines in, on a daily basis!

Then add in the prep for the Psychologies live Insta today, juggling some plans for the week (trying to keep the kids entertained), cooking dinner and a trigger pilates session, where you do lots of lovely stretching and I’m suddenly very sleepy and the hours have run away with me…so instead of trying to concentrate and probably not writing very well, I’m going to go off plan, and instead post this link to my video today, all about planning funnily enough (can you believe it?) and a nice little creative task too, and the quickly drafted poem from the YWL Blog today (see below) to basically get across 4 lessons:

  • You can be forced into being creative with an accountable deadline, and it can actually work out well (shock!)
  • Planning is better, far less stressful, but may give you a longer time to procrastinate so…
  • There are benefits to both, depending on how you work best!
  • Showing up imperfectly (as in this post) is still showing up, so you know, a few brownie points to myself for that! @alifemoreinspired would be proud!

I’ve had some lovely feedback from the poem, so even if this post does nothing else, it may transport you up a country lane to watch a sunset and revel in what I see along the way, here’s hoping!

Discoveries at Dusk – By Juliet Thomas

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Tall grasses glow in golden light

Nodding their allegiance to the sun,

A harmony of hues, brown sugar to pistachio

Dancing together as one,

Cheeks painted with soft breezes,

Breath slows, heartbeat eases

 

Overhead, the silent shadow of the last hunt

Flickering feathers in perfect hover

Below unseen, a field mouse freezes, then

Makes a last-dash for cover

‘Too late’, I whisper and sigh

Kez dives, slicing the sky

 

Urgent bleating raises my gaze

To the nursery on the hill

Weary mothers scold scamps to come closer

Still frolicking, despite the evening chill

I stroll on, eyes drawn to the sinking light

To secret stories of an early Summer’s night

 

As I head further up, curious cows say ‘Hello’

Calves are skittish, mothers stood firm

Or bowed, chewing sweet long grass

The little ones look on and learn

I talk to them softly, not wanting to scare

Yet the mothers still fix me, with a protective glare

 

Minute by minute, sky gods design

A prestigious work of art

Strokes of lemon, paprika, aubergine and olive

Stretching like dough pulled apart

I refuse to blink, transfixed I stare

Breath held, in the heady dusk air

 

At the end of the lane, I steal one last look

To the field on the right, at the top

Searching to confirm my friends are there,

I spot the hares’ form when they halt to a stop

Smiling, satisfied, I nod, the fabric of my walk complete

I turn, feet firm, revived by nature’s daily retreat

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Until next time, when I write this on a Sunday as normal (because habits work, another lesson!)

Take care and if you’re feeling tired too, let it go and cut yourself some slack, we’re all juggling pretty hard right now!

Juliet, The Curious and sleepy Creative… x

Ps I’ve been releasing the slight- Sinead look into the outside world, hence the main image as my hair is now growing! Still feels pretty chilly in not so sunny Yorkshire right now though!

For all newbies reading this, check out my older posts for the story of last years challenge of Hodgkins Lymphoma and chemo…

 

How childhood experiences can shape your future creative self

Hi everyone, how are you doing? It’s the Summer holidays yeah!

As we are at the start of the longest Summer holidays in history….almost 8 whole weeks no less, I thought it might be good to take a look at how your childhood experiences can potentially shape your future creative self.

At the moment I’m writing a new none-fiction book, all about my personal creative journey, how it’s helped me throughout my life and combining everything I‘ve learned though the Blog and from others to pass on that knowledge and inspire others to begin theirs.

For the beginning part of this, I’ve looked back on my childhood and examined what elements of that may have directed me down a creative path, both then and now and it’s been really interesting to look closer at this.

For the most part, it began with a love of exploring and being surrounded by nature, inherited from my Dad who was a keen birdwatcher and we had yearly trips to Scotland to seek out golden eagles, capercaillies,  peregrine falcon’s and puffins to name but a few!

I was also a tomboy, thanks to the large proportion of boys on my street, and it was a case of play army in the woods, or have no friends! I’d disappear in the morning and not come home until tea, usually muddy or drenched from falling in the river, much to my Mum’s despair!

This was my grounding in creativity without me even realising; building dens, making up games, navigating the woods, setting up rope swings, children know how to just play and have fun, without fear of judgment or perfection analysis.

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A golden eagle drawn by my Dad 

As well as watching birds and being an animal fanatic, my Dad also photographed and drew them and he encouraged my artistic experiments too, the thrill of getting a new set of pencils, pens and a fresh clean sketchpad as a child has never left me.

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Me with my first rabbit’s babies and holding a big toad in the middle of building our pond! Nice tash eh?

Being an animal mad family, the next step was to get a pet shop, which we did, and more adventures began as we had numerous animals at home, breeding them to sell at the shop; rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, budgies, cockatiels and zebra finches were all suddenly my friends too, and I absolutely loved it.

Because we were known for the shop, anything that was injured or rescued, also turned up on our doorstep: a seagull, hedgehogs, a mole, a lost rabbit and a kestrel were just some of the ones I remember. We also rescued a baby rook that became tame, and we called it Rollo.

All of these animals were characters that fed my imagination, creating a wealth of stories and experiences, not many children get to have a pet rook at age 11 that would fly land on your arm when called from the bottom of the street  – I gained quite a few cool points for that one!

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I remember feeding lambs on Scottish holidays as a kid and last year I got to do it again with one of my friend’s flocks, I loved it!  Plus, my first ride on a donkey, think I must have been about 1 and a half here!

As well as these obvious creative teachings, there were other things more subtle such as my Dad would also make up stories for me at bedtime, about a boy called Ragabobbin who lived in the woods and had great adventures.

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I’d actually forgotten about this until I realised I did the same for Jake, my son whose initials are J.E.T, so I used to make up stories about a boy called Jet, the super-fast boy who would get into scrapes because of his speed.

My Mum was less obvious in her creativity, but she was an expert knitter and mender, I had many an Aran jumper as a kid! I did inherit her talent for creating a meal out of anything though, the concoctions she made for me as a child are still some of my favourites, corned beef hash and pancakes is still top of the list!

What I’ve loved about this lock-down situation is that we have almost returned to these days of creating ways to pass the time and keep the children entertained in the process. There have been so many stories of cooking together, trying new dishes and creating art just for the fun of it, for the feel good factor, to get us through this strangest of time, I’ve found it really inspiring and heart-warming.

My daughter’s spicy chicken wings and my chocolate trifle in early lock down when we did family ‘come dine with me!’ 

I think this will continue during these Summer holidays as we are no where near back to ‘normal’. I went into town yesterday for the first time in about 6 months and it was the most bizarre experience, you spend more time being reminded of the virus in these places than at home with barriers into the road to make the paths wider, floors marked out everywhere you go, hundreds of notices and giant posters, people wearing face-masks, it’s just not a fun experience.

So, I can imagine that home and natural outdoor spaces are still going to be our safe and most enjoyable experiences for the time being, thank goodness for our gorgeous British countryside eh?

I know that many of us parents have either had children only back to school for a month or so OR they haven’t gone back at all like mine. If you / they have been home-schooling, they are now desperate for some fun and escape and so whilst I know partly it’s continuing to be mentally exhausting, I also urge you to take sometime out and have fun with them.

Exploring and den building, it’s what childhood should be all about! 

Use it as a way to extend their creative skills, it will stand them in good stead for the future. LinkedIn now rate creative skills as the most desired by businesses out there because they want problem solvers and those that think outside the box.

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My latest vase to get hydro-dipped! 

As I mentioned in my last Blog, Jake has recently got into hydro dipping and has set up his own little business, creating pieces for friends and family  and I feel much better that he’s excited about this and not spending 100% of his time on Xbox.

Holly Tucker, founder of Not on the High Street and Holly & Co has also been championing this when doing her Insta Lives, talking to children as well as adults about the advantages of working for yourself and creating a working life that you love. Like her, I’d love to see this in the curriculum as a career option and more business skills being taught as the launch of more and more small businesses continues.

It’s also time for us to get children back together with their friends and get used to being social again and thinking of games to play, just like we used to do as kids when we had no other entertainment. These are essential life skills and key to good mental health.

So whilst it’s partly frustrating that I won’t be able to carry on and work as hard as I have over the last few months now that it is Summer holidays, my children will always be my greatest creation and so supporting them and giving them enriching life experiences is equally important to give them the best chance of developing their creative skills too.

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From feeding camels in Fuerteventura to releasing baby turtles in Mexico, I think the kids have inherited my love of animals and really enjoy these experiences.

Don’t get me wrong there will be days where my head is on the kitchen table and I’m despairing at the trail of destruction and empty food shelves but we don’t have them here for long in the grand scheme of things, so I’m choosing to turn a blind eye, stay calm and go on some adventures together, at least to the Sea, I’ve so missed the sea, and try and bribe them to let me take pictures!

So have a fun Summer together, make some new good memories (not related to Covid-19!), explore new places, preferably outdoor and you know what, all these new experiences will fire up your creativity too.

For those who may want to do some family creative challenges, you can always look back on the lives I have done with @psychologiesmagazine via their TV Channel (just scroll down to find the sessions) over the last month which are suitable for everyone.

Today’s (find it here on my FB page) was all about connections with pets or animals and the challenge is to write a small descriptive memory piece about that.

Here are some examples to try:

  • The day you got your first ever family pet
  • A memorable trip to the zoo
  • Feeding baby lambs at a farm
  • First donkey ride on a beach
  • The day you decided to become vegetarian
  • Your fear of snakes / spiders / moths
  • When you lost a pet and made posters to find them
  • An animal hobby such as horse riding / racing
  • If you’ve ever been bitten and needed a tetanus jab
  • Being stung by a bee / wasp
  • Entering your dog in a country show
  • Rescuing an animal that was injured or lost
  • Working as a farm hand / in a vets / pet shop etc
  • Seeing your first deer / badger / fox on a country walk
  • When your cat’s paw got stung by a bee
  • Receiving an animal adoption as a gift
  • A car accident involving an animal
  • Connecting with your Chinese horoscope, I’m a tiger, which happens to be my favourite animal!
  • When the animal man came to school and you held a tarantula
  • When a storm blew over the rabbit hutch and they escaped
  • Watching an animal programme / film that really affected you
  • Believing in mythical animals as a child, e.g. Rudolf / Loch Ness monster / Bigfoot
  • Teaching your pet some tricks
  • Surprising your children with a new pet for their birthday / Christmas

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One of the animal programmes I’ve been hooked to is the live streaming from Cannon Hall Farm which is also a weekly TV show called ‘This week on the farm’ on Channel 5 on a Tuesday night, it’s been brilliant watching all the new arrivals, including this little pygmy kid! 

These are just a few, I’m sure you’ll have many more, I could literally write a book on just animal stories! I’d love to hear yours so please share on The Curious Creative Club Facebook Page or DM me on Instagram either.

So, I hope this inspires you, have a fabulous Summer with the kids, and remember to breathe / get the gin in!

Take care now, until next time

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

 

 

Permission to play, with newspaper, teabags and possibly a feather

Hi there, how are you all? It’s been an exciting weekend in ‘Birdsedge’ where I live, the aptly name village where all kinds of bird related antics go on in my garden! We have had 2 very busy blackbirds preparing their nest and then rearing the chicks, using the pergola as a landing strip before jumping up into the Ivy where the nest is.

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Baby no 1 found out our back door!

Being a nature geek, it’s been lovely to watch them and we have had many breeding pairs of various birds over the years here. However, it does become stressful when the babies start to fledge, not least because we have 2 cats, evil sisters who are expert hunters! Nothing gets passed them and so I have to keep a keen eye and watch for any stealth approaches!

This has happened this weekend, 2 of the babies have gone for it! The first one thought it would be a good idea to hide right outside the back door behind a plant pot! Not the best place to go as the parents wouldn’t come anywhere near, so I moved it to the back corner, and it followed dad across the drive but then took a right and went into the garage!

So off I went out again to get it out! Third time lucky and it finally followed Dad out of our garden. It was a similar story this morning with baby number 2, thankfully I saw Bluebell’s interest in a bush and knew the baby was in there, and swiftly got the cat out of the way! I don’t know how many babies are left, between 1-3 and so my protective work is not done just yet!

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Can you spot baby no 2?

Anyway back to the subject in hand of this week’s Blog and I’ve decided to link it to what I’ll be talking about on the week’s Live on @psychologiesmagazine which is all about giving yourself permission to play, with resources you may not immediately think of to use as artist’s materials!

With people being on a tight budget since lock-down, spending money on creative materials is unlikely to be at the top of your list, but that doesn’t mean to say we have to park our artistic hobbies, there are other ways to ‘make’, we just need to get creative and resourceful.

By stripping away ‘normal’ artistic materials, we have to think outside the box and give ourselves permission to experiment and play. Only by trying these different things can we understand how they work and whether they are effective for the piece we want to create.

Essentially what we need to make art, are just 3 things:

  • Something to work on – i.e. a Background
  • Something to work with – i.e. Tools
  • Something to ‘paint / draw’ with – i.e. Colour

Sounds simple right? But you may feel a little lost as to how to begin, so below are some examples of the above to help get you started. Once again, it’s all about the process and having fun, NOT perfectionism! Some things will work well, others may be a disaster, but it DOESN’T MATTER, it’s like the old fairy-tale quote, sometimes you have to kiss many frogs to find your prince/ princess!

By changing up the way we experiment, we may just find a new style that we absolutely love, that we might never have discovered, if we didn’t give ourselves permission to play.

Art in its simplest form is about making marks and we can use a whole host of things to make that happen…here we go

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Of course, we can use paper if we have it but why not try something different to experiment with colour and texture and possibly create a more interesting piece as a result?

Here are some examples: Old pieces of denim/ cotton, newspaper, music sheet, wallpaper, gift wrap or bags, wood, old furniture, pebbles, leaves, plant pots, crosswords, cardboard, vase, plain canvas bag, an old football, plain note book cover….

I’m sure there are many more, but these are just a sample of things that you could use to create a very cool art piece.

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Jake’s hydrodipping pieces and the new logo for his little ‘business’!

Many people in lock-down have been doing pebble art and leaving them on walks for children to find. My son has been hydrodipping everything in site from water bottles and helmets to phone cases and pencil cases! He’s even now set up his own little personalised business! That’s going to keep him off his Xbox a bit more at least over the Summer!

Next let’s move on to Tools,

Pippa Ashworth, a famous local artist uses all kinds of things as her ‘paint-brush or pencil’ such as thistle heads, sticks and sponges to create her very unique artwork, layered with all these different types of marks.

Some of Pippa’s amazing layered pieces. check her out @doodlepip64

Here are some other options: toothbrush, kitchen roll, packaging, paper plates, cocktail sticks, feathers, grasses, fingerprints, credit cards, cling film…

All of these things create some great effects, I particularly love bubble wrap (to make walls), cling film creates good earth / field effects and old credit cards make really good lines, for things like telephone lines.

Both these pieces of mine were created using bubble wrap, cling film, the edges of credit cards and cocktails sticks!

Grasses, feathers and ferns are great to paint and then print onto the paper like the main image and below that I created yesterday!

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And finally, what could be used as ‘paint / colour’?

I think this is the trickiest part of the process to find, but I know artists such as below @sam.jackman.textiles that have created lovely things from iron water, using an eco-dying process.

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Other ideas could include squeezed teabags, fruit juices, fruit printing, eggshells, sand, seeds / herbs, salt, shells masking-fluid, stewed leaves or grass…

So why not make your own list of alternative ‘art’ materials and then just have a go?

This week’s task I have set on the Live is to do just that and then try the following:

  • A piece of art with a different background material to standard paper
  • A piece that uses different ‘tools’ to paintbrushes, pencils, etc
  • A piece that uses different ‘paint / colour’ to normal
  • OR a piece that includes all of the options above.

Hopefully, this gives you permission and guidance to play and try something different. Many artists go down a particular ‘style’ route and feel as uncomfortable as those who are just beginning to try new things.

Within the art group I belong to, throughout lock-down we have set challenges and sometimes they work, and we really enjoy them but sometimes we don’t! It’s all part of the process, experimenting with new materials and techniques and keeps you interested if you feel you may have got stuck in a rut.

So please do have a go, this is great to try with the kids too as they head into ‘official’ Summer Holidays / the longest holidays in history! I’m sure we’ll all be looking for new ways to keep them entertained and searching for the new materials in the first place can be part of that too. Head out on a nature hunt for painting tools for example.

If you’d like to watch the video from this morning where I talk more about this, you can watch it here.

If you’d like to share any of your experiments, please post them on my Curious Creative Facebook page, DM me on Instagram or share on the Psychologies Connected Communities Facebook page either – I’d love to see what you come up with!

Until next time, happy playing!

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust in your talent or ‘to be’ talent…

Hi everybody, how are you doing this week? Did any of you dare venture out more at the weekend? I haven’t yet, as I’m not allowed back in shops until 1st August, but also I don’t think it’s going to be the joyful experience I usually associate with my slight addiction to shopping so I think I‘d rather wait until it feels a bit more normal.

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So, this week, I purposely waited to see how my second Live session on ‘Gaining Creative Confidence’ for @psychologiesmagazine went today to see what was coming up for people and also to talk a little about new guiding words for the rest of the year, and strangely they very much link together…let me explain.

As you know every year I talk about setting a guiding word in January to help you focus every now and again on areas where you may want to make a difference in your life, whether that’s linked to creative projects, your work or simply family life.

A few posts back I talked about having a celebration meeting with yourself, all about how far you’ve come in the first half of the year and within that asking if the word you may have chosen at the beginning of the year was still serving you, considering all what has gone on in what has been a momentous year.

I’ve decided my words (naughty I chose 3), Rise, Re-energise and Surprise, have been really useful so far, especially ‘Surprise’ in regard to the new things I’ve tried and where I am heading, but now I’m ready for a new, harder-working one.

The word I’ve chosen is TRUST, and this is coming up for me in a number of ways but what really sold it to me was an email that Suzy Walker, Editor-in-Chief at Psychologies sent to me. I’d sent her an email prior to hers, explaining when I could start doing the Instagram lives after I got my latest scan results and finished it by saying ‘would you like me to send you a rough draft of the things I’ll be talking about in the Insta Lives each week?’

Given that we’d only spoken twice verbally before this, I thought it was only polite as I would be transmitting from their brand but also I realise in hindsight it was also because I always feel eternally grateful for these opportunities and if I’m honest, a little like I am not worthy.

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I’ve been a subscriber of Psychologies magazine for years, maybe this is why I’m a little in awe and very happy to be working with them!

This is partly because the others who have done lives on there are what I call ‘genuine experts’, Lucy Atkins for example who has done the same as me with tips and guidance around writing a novel on a Friday live, is a best-selling Author, speaks eloquently and teaches an MA in Writing at Oxford University….so you see what I mean?! Huge comparisonitis right there!

So, what did Suzy send me back? She said, ‘I don’t need to know your plan – I trust you completely!’

I can’t tell you what that sentence meant to me, to have someone of her stature and experience, who I respect immensely, saying that to me was worth it’s weight in gold and a massive boost to my self-belief.

Now when I think of the word ‘Trust’ it reminds me of that sentence and it will remind me to trust in myself, trust that I can do it, even if it’s new and challenging and slightly scary, I will always find a way.

It may not be perfect, I may stumble on my words sometimes, but it will always be authentic and real. That is my USP and I need to trust in that itself!

Trust means other things to me too, which is always a good sign of a chosen guiding word, when you can apply it to multiple aspects of your life. So, these are some other ways in which it links:

  • Right now, I need to trust in my body again, trust that it won’t let me down a second time, come September at my next scan, because I really have too many exciting projects to do!
  • I want to trust and believe that my kids will be ok education-wise when Covid- 19is over and they go back to school, they’ve both worked really hard in lock-down, but I also think it’s going to be a challenge for them when they go back
  • I need to believe and trust that we will get to enjoy the good things in life again soon, that Covid-19 and Cancer has taken away since November last year, the simple things but things I really enjoy, like Holmfirth Art Week which is normally running this week and I’m normally exhibiting at with my local group…and a coffee at Bloc, and a browse in my favourite book shop @read…..just the little things!
  • I need to trust my hair will grow back to at least a decent length, style and colour, so I don’t feel like a ‘boy’ forever, I’m aware there are more important things in life, but when you had long hair before, it’s quite a change to looking in the mirror (although I save A LOT of hair faffing time)
  • And finally I’m learning to trust in my new found ‘talent’, and I say that in quotes because it’s not something I knew I had innately, it was something I always wanted to try and I’m not only enjoying it immensely, but according to the positive feedback I’m getting there are some natural skills in there that I didn’t know I had. I’m talking about the new direction of Curious Coaching that I’m training in and whilst I know I’ve got A LOT of learning to do, it also feels like the most natural extension of what I’m doing, like it was meant to be.

And this brings me on to the title of this Blog and what has come up in the lives. That is to trust in your talent or ‘To be’ talents.

When you look up the definition of talent it is this:

‘(someone who has) a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught’ – Cambridge Dictionary.

However, I am going to be controversial and disagree with this slightly, because if you’ve never tried to do something how do you know if you are innately good at it or not? Yes, you may have some natural ability in there, but it’s no good if it’s never been drawn out or discovered!

I also think you may have some base innate skill, but that’s not to say other elements of that can’t then be taught. For example, you may be good at art generally, in the most basic sense, say drawing, but until you either really experiment yourself, or follow a demo or go to a workshop, how will you know if you are any good at other interpretations of art such as watercolour painting, jewellery making, working with pastels or embroidery, to name just a small few?

I may not be the best photographer in the world, but I have an innate skill of observation, I’ve refined that through photography, noticing the details and the little things, for eg spot the little bug in these pictures, and the spider in the main pic was found once I’d zoomed in and looked closer at the image I’d taken of a patch of flowering mint

So, because of this I want to redefine the word talent, as I think it can be off-putting, being British especially, we rarely shout about our talents, believing that to be too showy, we prefer to be more self-depreciating, maybe saying you are an ‘ok Artist’ or not even daring to call yourself that, maybe saying instead ‘I enjoy doing a bit of art’.

So, how about we acknowledge what our talents are, believe in them and be proud, and for the ones we are practicing and still learning about, call them our ‘to be talents’, understanding that many can be learned and that of course we can improve and grow, and that’s just part of the creative process?

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My son’s artwork this week, prompted by his teacher’s challenge and me having a go at my own prompt from this week’s Live challenge, based around my favourite creative quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, below…

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This quote means so much me, the courage to take those steps is everything and the reward is a truly enriched life

My point is don’t put a limit on your talents, don’t pigeon-hole yourself into being just one thing, who knows what other talents we may have if we don’t go looking for them?

Yes there will be the odd one we will just never get on with, crocheting is my particular nemesis but I bet there are a whole load more that you can add to your talent list if you give yourself the opportunity to try. That is a valuable gift you can give to yourself.

And now back to the lives, I’m thrilled that people have started to tentatively share their work with me, linked to the challenges. I’ve received some poems and artwork that are amazing and I’m so happy that you are sending them to me.

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Some of my viewer’s wonderful work from the prompt of ‘tree stories’ from the 1st session

Interestingly though, sometimes the people sending me their work are a little shy of sharing them themselves but when I’ve asked if I can, they’ve agreed, purely because they have put their trust in me as someone who will encourage them, believe in their work and understand how hard it is when you start out to put your creative baby out there, into the world.

BUT as I always say, everyone starts at the beginning, no-one starts out a Lucy Atkins or Picasso and the beauty of sharing is that then creativity becomes contagious, because if someone sees you having a go, then you might just pass on that curiosity and courage to someone else, who will then have a go too and then the creative baton is passed on and on and on and my work here is done, haha!

No seriously, nothing feels better than seeing this happening before my eyes so please if you would like some creative prompts, come join us on the lives, @psychologiesmagazine, every Monday at 1.30pm, because Trust me (see what I did there!) there are creative skills hiding inside you that you don’t even know you have, yet.

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And, if you’re wanting any further inspiration this week, I highly recommend listening to 2 of my favourite inspirational women out there, Fearne Cotton interviewing the other, Holly Tucker, on this week’s Happy Place podcast.

Holly (my idol) always talks about finding that rough diamond within ourselves and polishing it until is shines bright….I couldn’t agree more.

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

P.s Holmfirth Art week is still going on, all be it virtually via an Instagram challenge, see below for details if you’d like to work on some prompts this week.

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