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.
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!
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:
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
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.
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!
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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:
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:
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?
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…
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.
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.
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.
If you’re reading this before 1.30pm today (Monday), then I’ll be gearing up with my first Instagram Live for @psychologiesmagazine, the first one in a series to help you ‘Gain Creative Confidence’. I’ll be chatting ‘Live’ about all the things I talk about on here, plus adding in a small creative task each week, as a little prompt to encourage people to have a go.
If you are a new reader that’s come from watching today, then welcome!
Each week I dig into an area of creativity, ranging from procrastination to refining your style, from seasonal prompts to interviewing local creatives. Creativity is a complex subject that still fascinates me 68 blog posts in and I hope it will you too…now on to today’s topic!
Where’s your energy at?
Today’s thoughts, as often is the case, came from one of my photos that I took at the reservoir out with the dog. It’s been a while since I’ve been to this particular one and when this happens, I notice so much more how things have changed since I was last there. All the grasses had grown tall, taking over the path and flowering.
I took this photo, in the breeze and so it captured some movement and some stillness, against the backdrop of a blue sky, reflected in the water.
For some reason I couldn’t get this image out of my head all week and found myself in periods of intense movement, creatively, followed by some stillness in the very hot weather – it was just too hot to do anything!
Now, normally this would really frustrate me and I’d lapse into feeling agitated, feeling like I should be doing something, I should be getting on with things, I have an ever expanding list with lots to do and be ticked off on it. But for once, I actually wrote this in my planner:
‘Go with the flow today’ and it was a good reminder. It’s very easy to get hung up on that ‘list’ when you have lots going on, but I recognised a few things have changed for me lately, and maybe it was starting to pay off? This is what I’ve changed:
As someone who is NOT a morning person, I’ve added a gentle routine to ease me into the day. I’ve always appreciated that first morning cuppa, along with being pounced on by the dog, but now I’ve added in 2 writing practices inspired Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired and the Dream and Do podcast who advises Create before you consume, first thing in the morning.
So now in the morning I do:
And in the evening, a routine also seems to be coming together…
My new essential oils helping me on my night time routine
This week I met this bull and his Mrs up the lane!
I love going out in the ‘golden hour’
The surprising thing that I noticed, was that just by taking the pressure off myself, slowing down and sticking to the above, I was still as productive, just in a less harried, more effective way which I’ve heard spoken about by experts like Dr Chaterjee on the ‘Feel better live more’ podcast but if I’m honest I never actually believed could be true! Shows what I know!
I felt much calmer and recognised that perhaps it was these regular self-care practices that were now working as they become more habitual. By creating the mental space, it gave me clarity on priorities and my direction, and I gained more joy and satisfaction from the ‘work’ (although to me it never is that!).
On the days were I felt less energy, I allowed myself to catch up with friends in the sunshine, do some gardening and sketching but I’ve also had some insightful conversations and planning sessions that I know will have a big impact in taking The Curious Creative Club forward.
It’s made me realise how much I love the planning stage too, working it all out, finding those nuggets that you have an instinct about, that could really work, it’s an exciting time!
And so, the ‘swaying grasses’ photo is becoming one of my favourites, as recognition to go with that breeze of energy and I’m going to use it for my next adventure into exciting territory – Curious Coaching.
I know too that those grasses will inspire me in other ways, I picked a bunch for a vase for example in my kitchen and I know I’ll have a go at drawing them soon, they remind me of @hannahnunnstudio beautiful designs.
If you think this could work for you then ask yourself the following questions, recognising that ebb and flow is actually so important in the creative process and sometimes we have to be more mindful and consciously tap into this.
For example, there could be some short admin tasks that don’t take up a lot of energy but would feel good to get done, or you may be feeling energised with lots of creative ideas – time to use that energy burst and get that story down or paint that commission you’ve been holding back from attempting
For more on this and some great self-care 5 minute activities, check out Dr Chatterjee’s Book – ‘Feel Better in 5’.
I hope this helps you to tune into your energy as you move through the week and remove the guilt from what you think you ‘should’ be doing, and for those eternal ‘should-ers’ replace it with the word ‘could’, I promise it makes all the difference!
Do let me know how you get on; I’d love to know!
Until next time, keep being safe as we head into restrictions being lifted!
Juliet, the curious creative x
Ps for those wanting to watch the Live from @psychologiesmagazine today just click the link after 2pm.
I’ll also always add the task to Psychologies Connected Community Facebook group, so please have a look if you fancy joining in.
Hi everyone, this is just a very quick pop in to say that from tomorrow my weekly Instagram Lives via the @psychologiesmagazine Instagram account begin!!
They are on at 1.30pm every Monday and will cover elements of creative process as well as a little weekly challenge too.
Here is me practicing!
So if you fancy joining me please do! This is a huge leap out of my comfort zone but then again I have to practice what I preach on here don’t I and just give things a go!!
Hopefully it will bring some weekly inspiration to people, please let me know your thoughts if you do watch, all feedback always welcome!
Thank you and hope you’re having a good weekend, my usual weekly post will be up tomorrow! 😀
Tc Juliet, the curious creative x
Hey everyone, how are you doing?
So, before I begin just a quick update on last week and my scan results, all was not completely straight forward because of course it wouldn’t be would it?! The good news is I don’t need anymore immediate treatment. The slightly odd news is that on the scan a very small area is showing up again, that showed up on my initial scan, but not the mid-way one when I’d started treatment, and that’s why it’s odd. The plan is to have another scan in 3 months and see what’s what as it could be a few things. So, for now I’m parking the worry, it’s taken up enough of my life already, and I’m cracking on with the myriad of projects coming up!
Last night I went on a Summer Solstice walk with a few friends, on a route I don’t normally take and we were rewarded with some fab views, including the main picture of our famous local Emley Moor Mast!
But first I wanted to take some time to reflect as we’ve just passed the Summer Solstice and the longest day of the year. It always seems to come as a surprise to me that we are already here, even despite us being in the situation we are. Time just seems to gallop along a little faster each year, even when we’ve slowed right down.
It’s also easy in the midst of everything going on to get caught up in the busyness of life and not take a minute to reflect how far you’ve come this year, and to me it’s such an important thing to do.
We are forever evolving and growing, though our work, creativity, or circumstance and especially at a time of such adaptation, and that should be celebrated and recognised. Just surviving through this last 6 months deserves a pat on the back and a virtual hug!
Celebrating no more treatment with a FAB lolly and the achievements of this year so far with a glass of wine…it would be rude not to!
Quite often we don’t even realise what is on that achievement list, because we never sit still long enough to think about it. It’s also a genuinely useful exercise to discover where you are at right now to work out which direction you want to head in. Without having that base understanding of everything you’ve accomplished so far, it’s hard to examine these areas more closely and ask questions.
If, like me you set some intentions at the beginning of the year, you can also look back at those and see which ones can now be ticked off (hugely satisfying in itself), or have you shifted with the opportunities and gone in a completely different direction to what you originally thought?
This year has been one of flexibility, to react to this new situation and it may have taught you a lot about yourself or your business, leading you down a route you never expected but one that may have turned out better for you or your family.
These are the important questions we could be asking ourselves at this time of year, to help us plan as much as we can at this point, what the next 6 months may look like.
So here are a few ideas and questions to get you going down a path of reflection, to you can map out the next road more clearly…
What’s wowed you this year? Image from @modocreative
New intentions for the next 6 months
This book is changing my life, literally! I cannot recommend it enough from @drtaraswart ! #sixthsense #lawofatraction
You may notice I’ve also been talking a lot about the law of attraction and Action Boards lately, it’s definitely something that seems to be shaking life up currently, in a good way! And at the beginning of the year I always set a Guiding Word too (or 3 as it happened to be this year!).
At this point in the year I find it useful to check back in with these methods / materials of support to make sure these are still working for me.
It may be that you have forged ahead at a faster rate to what you thought, your guiding word has served you this far, but now you’re ready for a new one to stretch you further. Or because of Covd-19 your whole world has changed and so what you had planned has too. There’s no law that says you can only do this at the beginning of the year, and these are very different times right now. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to switch things up.
Re-look at your Guiding Word and / Action / Vision boards. Are they still useful, do they serve you or just remind you of what once was, or of the dreams that you wanted that have changed now because of the pandemic?
If so CHANGE THEM NOW, or they will just serve as an annoying, deflating reminder, which is not their purpose.
Wise words from my new focus journal purchase; ‘5 Minutes in the morning’
Looking back at my chosen words, it was at a time when I was in the middle of my chemo journey, still learning and being floored by the side effects, so my words ‘Rise and Re-energise’ felt like options I needed to be reminded of to get through it.
However, I’ve finished now, and I have no choice but to re-energise this body back to its former energy levels if am to do everything I want, and so it makes these words a little redundant.
The 3rd word was ‘Surprise’ and this has been a revolutionary word for me this year! The choice of this word was to encourage me to surprise myself and others both with how I would get though chemo and in the work that I do. I don’t think in the last 4 years since I’ve been choosing guiding words, there has been one that has been this effective.
Not only did I push through chemo in a far more positive way than I imagined, given that I am normally a very bad, impatient, patient but the way my work has taken off in so many surprising directions has left me quite gobsmacked!
The following things are surprising entries into my achievements list for this year so far, and these have not only re-energised me in my work but have required me to rise up and be visible, so maybe there is a link between the words after all!
A collection of just some of the amazing and surprising experiences so far this year, what could be next?!
And the above is just the surprising things, there are many more achievements to list in my normal work, like writing this Blog of which this is number 67, producing new artwork and photography, continuing to run the Wow Wednesday accountability group via Zoom, continuing attending my creative writing and art groups via Zoom too as well as thinking ahead, planning, social media, updating the website etc etc.
My point is when you collect all these great moments together it becomes a lot and when you see it all in written down it shows you that all your hard work is paying off.
So what are you waiting for, head off for a celebration meeting with yourself, get it all listed and enjoy the sense of pride it will bring and the passion and energy it will give you, ready for the next stage.
Speaking of which I have to start preparing this week for the new project with Psychologies Magazine, I will be doing an Insta Live session every Monday from the 29th of June, at 1.30pm via their Instagram channel @psychologiesmagazine!
I’ll be doing much like I do on here, chatting about different creativity topics and also setting some mini-creative tasks (shock-faced emoji)!
I’m not going to lie, I’m a little nervous which is why I need to practice but if you look at my list above, most of it is about helping people to understand the benefits of creativity to enrich their lives, by reaching a wider audience, so I can get that message out there and support even more people.
That’s what lights me up and makes me happiest, so yes, I’m excited about this and if you watch, please be gentle! I’m a bit of a technophobe so it may take some practice to get is right, but I’m taking a leaf out of my own book – practice makes progress NOT perfection!
So, I hope this has inspired you to celebrate your own achievements and if you want to list some below in the comments here, I’d love to hear what you’ve all been up to.
2020 may have been the most challenging and difficult year yet, BUT it has also brought about incredible clarity of what’s important, what truly matters to you, use that in your next 6 months planning and it will make all the difference.
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Hi everyone, I’ll be honest this week’s blog is a bit of a mixed bag of thoughts and that’s all because last week was quite extraordinary.
It started with Monday, after I’d posted my last Blog around ‘fear’. Later that afternoon I go a call from my specialist nurse telling my final scan ‘report’ wasn’t totally clear and that it was being sent to their Radiologist who specialises in Lymphoma and then would be discussed at the MDT meeting on Friday (Multi-disciplinary team where they discuss cases and decide the best way forwards).
This, I was completely NOT expecting. All the way through treatment, my team had been saying if you’ve had a clear mid-way scan, which I had, you were pretty much home and dry. Having said that, the week before, a friend from an online support group, who was 3 weeks ahead of me on her treatment plan, also had the same experience, resulting in her now having to have another 5 months’ worth of a stronger chemo and a stem-cell transplant.
My call, combined with this new evidence – i.e. just because you’ve had a clear mid-way scan does not mean it’s all fine, meant that all of a sudden everything was thrown out of my control, once again! Why is nothing ever straight forward?!
As this Blog is live today, I’ll be going to me hospital apt finding out my results.
However, what could have been a disastrous week, in terms of me panicking and fearing the worse, actually turned out to be a pretty good week and so I wanted to share why.
Firstly, I took my own advice of the last Blog and focused on Gratitude and Taking Action, what could I control right then and there in this moment in time? First up, I notified people that I’d made recent commitments with to what was going on to relieve that pressure, and of course they were lovely.
I then carried on doing what I normally would in terms of my weekly creative projects; promoting the Blog, writing my book, Social Media posts, Art and Writing Club homework.
My intuition is to not work with pastels! But our task in art club this week was to work with a material you don’t normally work with! My intuition is right! Just the feel of pastels makes me cringe lol!
I also added in a healthy dose of self-care this week and took the pressure off to be deep in work mode most of the time, I allowed myself some ‘free’ time. This included a few walks with friends, one of which is simply hilarious – she got on the swing in the woods and then slipped as she got off, leaving her dangling over the mill pond, just holding on to the swing for dear life, I was crying with laughter, much needed comedy gold.
I’ve been listening to a new podcast too that I’ve found called ‘shagged, married and annoyed’ by Chris (Comedian and Strictly) and wife Rosie Ramsey. It’s an absolutely hilarious take on their marriage and also listeners questions and has me laughing out loud in the car. You cannot underestimate the power of laughter; it really is the best medicine.
And then something strange happened, a kind of build up from previous weeks, following me talking about visualisation in the last but one Blog, attending the masterclass with Andrea and writing about that and the slow drip feed of people telling me I could / need to be doing this, and I allowed myself to think bigger again.
The reason I’m saying this is strange is because I have no idea what will happen today. I could be told that I’ll be heading down another treatment journey, which would mean physically I’d have to take a back-step again BUT there was also some semblance of ‘F*** it’, I’m not going to let this hang over me, it’s taken up too much of my life already.
Nicola hosts the podcast ‘Dream and Do’ and Instagram @alifemoreinspired
Firstly, I took the decision to contact Nicola Rae Wickham, a creative mentor I really admire who was looking at starting a monthly Club and offering a deal for founding members, I’d missed the deadline for the debut offer but thought what have I got to lose, I can always just ask? The result was she said ‘Yes, of course!’.
I then sent of a text to 2 friends and asked them questions around what I was thinking and also asking them if they’d like to be guinea pig clients.
As I got a little braver, I then wrote half an email to a friend who is in the field of what I want to do, only to scrap it half way through because I thought no, I better not get too ahead of myself and wait until I’m passed Monday. And then guess what happened? The very same friend text me a few hours later, asking for advice on something to do with her business and suggesting a call!
My point to all this is, it’s very easy in tough times to go inwards, hide from the world and just want to battle through the week BUT if you instead listen to your intuition and let it guide you it can lead to some really great things.
The call with my friend lasted 1.5 hrs, was mutually beneficial and we’ve come up with an exciting collaboration plan to move us both forwards, I couldn’t be more thrilled.
This in turn has given me a huge boost to my self-belief, she’s someone I look up to and is incredibly clever, an expert in her field and even she thinks I could go in this direction which kind of blew me away.
Fab lollies, new plants, doodling and Barley cuddles, have all helped this week too!
So, what is the thing? It feels scary at this moment saying it out loud and I don’t want to tempt fate for today but then what if I listen to what I’ve learned, say it out loud and then that somehow goes out into the universe and manifests itself into reality? I’d be stupid not to try right?
Get ready universe here it is – I want to become a creative / personal branding coach/mentor.
It’s something that has been nagging away at me for over 3 years, much like setting up the Blog did before. The block I’ve had around this is that I can’t afford formal training, yet. But as I’ve delivered my own writing workshops, worked with the members of the Wow team over the last year, and with this Blog too, plus of course the 21 years of marketing and PR career I had before all this (which I often forget!), I’ve grown in confidence that I really can help people, and it is definitely the direction I want to take long-term because I get such a buzz out of it!
That night, as is usual in my case, I woke up with all the ideas of how I could help my friend and drafted these out into my notebook the next day, leading to further excitement and planning work which I love doing.
As you probably know, I’m interested in positive psychology and well-being anyway and listen to related podcasts and read up on the subject, but this week felt even more apt as I listened to Dr Chatterjee’s interview with Dr Tara Swart on his ‘Feel better, live more’ podcast, all about how to plan your post-lockdown life, focusing on visualisation, spirituality and Action Boards (her version of Vision Boards). It was a fascinating listen and I’m now reading her book; The Source – Open Your Mind, Change Your Life, which so far, is brilliant.
In addition to the events above, a few other key things have happened this week:
‘It’s never too late to step out of the shadows’
A fitting end and a quote that myself, and my friends listening, could all relate to. I believe, after lock-down, it’s time we all step out of those shadows and really go for creating a life that we truly want, that fills us with passion, enthusiasm and a deep sense of fulfilment.
My point to all this is what I always say; the more opportunities you open yourself up to, the more end up coming your way and this all very much fits in with the law of attraction too. If you then Take Action on top of that openness, the effect is doubled, yourself and the universe, working together to head in the same direction.
It may all sound a bit ‘woo’ but I firmly believe it makes a difference, if you hide in a corner, not connecting or engaging with people, how is that energy every going to encourage opportunities or people to work with you?
I’m someone who has always looked actively for signs and trusted my gut instinct on things and that involves taking a good look at yourself and spending time on self-development. An example of this is finally doing what I tell others to do – journaling.
I often think I don’t have time or have to have the right notebook (I know, it’s an addiction!) and so to encourage me to do it, when I KNOW how good it can be for you, I’ve ordered the same focus journal I got for a friends birthday ‘Five minutes in the morning’ and am working through the self-reflective tasks on a daily basis.
Having said that, it doesn’t allow you to write about how you are feeling that particular day and so upon listening to Julia Cameron’s interview who recommends doing the ‘Morning Pages’ – essentially 3 pages of writing a stream of consciousness first thing in the morning, I remembered a clear, clean notebook I had left that I could use for just that!
I’ve added a little structure though to make it work more intentionally for me. The first 2 pages can be about anything, the last page will be to set out my intentions for that day and will also hold my gratitude list for the previous day – (i.e. Gratitude and Take Action remember) to clear away any anxiety for that day and set myself in a good frame of mind.
I started this yesterday and wrote about a daft habit that I’d gotten into lately that I was going to intentionally try and stop. This may make you laugh but when I get down to ‘work’ I take with me my daily planner, my large notebook, my laptop, and books and magazines as a kind of ‘comfort’ blanket dragging them around the house, I think to make me feel that I can get all this stuff done if I just have it with me!
The reality of course is that I don’t because it is too much for one sitting of work! The comfort then reverses into ‘disappointment’ in myself and an ongoing inner dialogue of, ‘Look what you didn’t get round to today, you’ll have to try harder tomorrow!’ which of course I know when I really think about it, is ridiculous!
So, I’m now going to intentionally set just 3 things a day to complete, anything else is a bonus and I’ll only take with me what I am actually going to do, usually planner and laptop.
Larger notebooks will be used just for drafting-out sessions and bigger picture thinking such as mind-maps etc which doesn’t happen on a daily basis. Magazines and books will be used for pure research time, which requires a quiet place for it to sink in properly – i.e. not when I’m in the middle of other work.
So just one day or morning pages has helped me sort out this issue, imagine how doing this every day will help to process my thoughts and behaviours? It’s encouraged me to make this a regular practice because even on day one, I can see the value in it.
This week I want to set you a challenge, ask yourself these 4 questions, I want you to get curious and look inwards. Write your answers down and look again at the end of the week, has it made a difference to how you navigated your week? Have you noticed any specific behaviours? It will be interesting to see:
Do let me know how you get on!
Have a great week and I don’t know if the all the above stretches as far as creating good health, but universe, if you are listening, please let my results be clear, because I have a lot of exciting work to do!
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps We’ve held off promoting Wow Wednesdays for a while because we’ve been doing it all virtually but sometimes we have space to add people in to the zoom calls, so if you are interested, please have a look here for further details of what they are about and DM me via Instagram if you are interested. The next meeting is this coming Wednesday 17th June, and we do calls at 11am and 8pm
Well what a week it has been, I often wonder how so much can happen in just 7 days but so often these days it does.
When the world keeps changing and not in a good way, it can often add to the internal fear we already have as creatives to move forward with our ideas. When our external narrative becomes increasingly shaky too, it suddenly seems less safe to forge ahead and you end up stuck, not sure where to go next.
I can’t say that fear was a big part of my life before last year but 2019 taught me many things, not least because it was the most up and down year as a family we’ve had for a long, long time. Before that when I think about it, I’d been comfortably trotting along and felt very much in control, and this is the key word I think, because it’s when things are taken out of our control that every thing feels so much more heightened and frightening.
Walks and working out in the fresh air are still the best thing for me to process and gain perspective
Last week I took part in the free ‘Time to rise and be seen’ masterclass by Andrea Callanan which looked at fear in one of the sessions. It was a strange experience, as she talked more and more about fear actually being useful and treating it as a friend that is there to protect you, I realised how much I had been holding back from feeling fear, following last year it dawned on me that I’d become terrified of feeling any sense of fear ever again!
This was quite revolutionary and felt like a physical response, I could literally feel my heart rate rising listening to her speak. And I wasn’t alone, for many people on the call, talking about fear really hit a nerve. And when you think about it, given everything that has gone on so far in 2020, it’s no surprise that many of us are feeling all scared- out and just don’t want to be stalled in a constant state of low-level fear anymore.
It’s why many of us have stopped watching the Covid-19 updates and are choosing to protect ourselves in our own safe bubbles of home and inner circle.
But as you can imagine, you can’t push down fear on a constant basis, or it becomes exhausting. It’s about learning to deal with those feelings, understanding what it’s trying to tell you as your protector and then changing your state to get through it.
Andrea’s first day of focus was about Gratitude and Taking Action as the key strategies to adopt when you want to change your state. By this she means if you’ve woken up in a negative or sense of fear frame of mind, that’s leaving you stuck, there are things you can do about it, you don’t have to resign yourself to it being a ‘bad’ day all day long that you just need to battle through.
After the fear session I realised my dramatic response that seemed to come from nowhere, was obviously a more extreme reaction due to it being my final PET scan the following day, where I get to find out for certain if the Hodgkin’s lymphoma is in remission or not. Andrea talked about the acronym for fear:
And that fear is usually based in the past (experience, challenges or trauma) or the future (anxiety) and this certainly hit home for me and explained why it felt like a double whammy. My fear was based on the challenges of cancer over the last 6 months and anxiety of the future – what if it were to come back?
I decided to adapt this theory for myself, replacing Fear with Ear, as a sign to listen to what it was trying to tell me and then re-ground myself in the truth of the present – i.e. right now the evidence is that I had a clear scan in January, and that is the only personal fact I have to base anything on right now. So, carrying on the theory of Gratitude and Taking Action, it would look something like this.
My lovely nurse and now friend Debbie, and masked up for the scan, I have such a little head it covers most of it!
When I focus on all these elements, just by recognising what I have with gratitude makes me feel calmer and that everything is ok, right now, which then allows me to move on to taking action, which I know for me is the best thing to avoid just ‘waiting’ for the phone to ring and avoid the ‘watched kettle never boils’ situation!
So, the Actions I took looked like this:
Can’t beat some painting time, putting the finishes touches on an earlier piece and making my fave Jamie Oliver’s lasagne!
So, what do you think, could this practice work for you when you are feeling the fear and in the midst of an internal panic? I guess the key thing is to be able to recognise and acknowledge how you are feeling, and I know from above that initially I had not!
I was doing everything I could to avoid it but then when it was triggered by the training, it come over me like a tidal wave, so try to face it head on and as Andrea says, it is there as a human trait to protect you, to help us survive.
And I’ll be using this practice again this week. As well as some big challenges last week, there were also some great successes:
Above, the Wow team on one of our virtual calls in lock-down and below Andrea talks about fear and the words we associate with it
Which brings me to the next slightly scary situation! When I wrote my New Year’s intentions this year, part of that was to become more visible so that I could spread the message of the benefits of creativity to a wider audience. Last year I’d started to do some short product review videos as part of my role as an Eco-panellist member for Psychologies and found doing it surprisingly okay.
Then this year other opportunities have come my way, such as podcasts and the live Facebook interview with Suzy Walker, Editor-in-chief at Psychologies in April, which was scary but it was arranged so quickly I didn’t have too much time to be nervous! Plus, Suzy made me feel very comfortable, so it was more like having a chat with a friend (it’s now had 4.5k views, crazy!).
The video is what’s lead to this upcoming collaboration, and I am beyond excited but also a little nervous because if anything scares me in my work, it’s technicalities! I haven’t done any Instagram lives myself yet, and living out in the sticks in the countryside sometimes makes internet connection an issue! Plus, there’s always that anxiety of no-one coming to watch what I have to say!
So, let’s examine this fear via the practice above;
Following these positives, I’ll then use this to guide my action:
I hope this gives you some idea of how you can use this practice both in your personal life and your work, just typing the above certainly makes me feel a lot more in control, and when we feel in control, fear is lessened.
And finally, just a note on another source of fear for me last week, which I suspect we have all felt recently, following the sickening murder of George Floyd in America.
Like many content creators who are white, I struggled knowing what to do for the best to show my support and to try and be part of the change that desperately needs to happen. As many turned their squares black on Instagram on Tuesday last week, which I understand that people wanted to show their support, it just didn’t feel right for me, and then when Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired, who I already followed on Instagram, spoke out through several ‘Lives’ this week, about how she was fed up of being silenced, it really resonated with how I’d felt.
So my point is, it’s easy to follow a trend that’s out there, but it’s more important to carry on the conversation and keep talking even if you are a little un-confident or scared because it’s far better to speak and make small mistakes and learn, than to say nothing at all, because then we are all part of the problem.
An equal society needs deep conversations from all parties to build those human connections and fight for what is right.
Not all people will do this in the same way, you have to find YOUR way and use your voice but I can highly recommend as a starting point listening to Nicola’s videos, she isn’t an anti-racist educator, she’s an inspiring creative woman who just says wholeheartedly how she feels, and those are the voices we need to listen to and then choose how we respond accordingly.
That being said, I challenged myself to write from a black woman’s point of view for my YWL Blog post this week, it took me ages, I cared about trying my best to get it right and I wanted it to reach a climax of hope (and linked to the main picture of a double rainbow). I’d be really interested to know what you think by either commenting on my writing piece or on here.
I don’t profess that I’ll always get it right, but I do want to try harder.
And on that note, I wish you a week of less fear, more gratitude and action, and certainly more hope…
Until next time…
Juliet, the curious creative x
P.s If you are interested in Nicola’s work, click here for more info
PP.s If you are interested in Andrea’s work, click here for more info
I can’t believe we are now in June, this lock down life seems to make the days zoom by, but as we are slowly starting to come out of lock down in the UK, (myself included woohoo!), this week I thought I’d talk about the future, how can we plan ahead now to create a life that we really love?
As it feels like we are hitting the re-start button on this year, I think we could all do with examining those big life dreams again, with the benefit of a keener, sharper vision of what’s really important.
But first, I want to explain why I believe in the power of visualisation and why it’s not just all fluffy, woo woo stuff.
So, you may remember, last September, myself and friend Clair went to a Vision Board workshop in lovely Knareborough, which was just a few weeks before I first went to the doctors, so I wasn’t aware of my condition or anything then.
The workshop, run by Susanna and Francesca from @writerstogether was brilliant and during the guided meditation before we put together our boards, Francesca said what I had ‘seen’ in my version of the meditation was linked to the word ‘magic’ and that I should try and find a green stoned piece of jewellery or talisman (a kind of lucky charm) to wear.
My board I realised afterwards was the colour palette that I have a lot of in my home, greens, blues and pale pinks, all I think linked to the colours of nature that I capture a lot over on my @soothedbynature account; green trees, blue skies, pink blush clouds at sunset, you get the idea.
These colours feel very restful and calming to me.
After the workshop, I also realised when talking to Clair, that weirdly a few weeks previous I’d sent her and another friend a link to an ideal place for a mini-break, called, wait for it, The Magic Bus – a converted old style bus that has been made into accommodation in Hay-on-Wye, a place I really want to visit.
When I got home, another realisation hit me, the one book I recommend and go on about to any creatives who will listen, is The Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, my favourite book about creativity.
When I put together the board, I went with my gut instinct and only chose images that really ‘spoke’ to me.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year when I was choosing my guiding word, as I always do in January. Normally I choose just one, but this year that didn’t feel right, I felt I needed 3 because I knew by that point my diagnosis, and the year would almost be split into stages, during and after treatment and beyond.
I chose Rise, Re-energise and Surprise, almost as a focus to get through the challenging time ahead. Below are my notes from that brainstorming process, I like to get all my thoughts down on paper, usually in colour, to really work though it in my own head. See below for that process.
This was also a time where, although I knew about my treatment etc, I had no idea about what was to come, in terms of being admitted to hospital for neutropenic sepsis, and the huge life-changing pandemic that was heading our way.
What has struck me recently as we are now heading towards the half-year point is how much is coming true in terms of my vision board and guiding words and it’s kind of blowing my mind a little!
I’ve always believed in visualisation and using guiding words to help drive you forwards, but this is the first time I’ve done a Vision Board and placed it some where visible (as suggested) so that it becomes a ‘working’ board that I refer back to regularly.
There are several key things that now stand out for me on this board, with the benefit of now being in the future:
Then there are the forget-me-knots, a flower I love but one I also associate with the NHS or lost loved ones and the ultimate image of the rainbow in a pair of hands (top right) which I chose to represent that it was all for the taking, BUT how relevant has the rainbow image become now, and in the palm of someone’s caring hands? Now that really made me stop and think and gave me goose-bumps!
So what next?
I’m telling you all this to show you that visualisation can be very powerful and as we head slowly out of lock-down, I think now is an ideal time to create a new vision of the life we want to lead, a new shiny, technicolor version of what we really, truly want our lives to be like.
None of us expected or predicted this situation and whilst it has been horrendous in many ways, it has also given us the universal opportunity of reflection, something we don’t often have the chance to do.
We are now beginning to ask ourselves many questions as each week the landscape changes; Do I want to go back to the 9-5 grind, could I work a different way? Is now the time I should set up that business I’ve always dreamed about, do I want to go back to a life of consumerism or have I learned a simpler way of living is better? Should I make changes to ensure I continue cooking healthier meals and maintain my daily walks in nature? How can we make sure we keep quality family time going, like we did in lock down?
In a way stripping back everything from our ‘normal’ life has given us a bigger, richer life to play with, without us fully realising it and now we need to make some decisions for that realisation not to be wasted and we all just gravitate to the life we had before, because we were stuck on the easy, moseying along route where we didn’t have to stop and consider all this.
Holly Tucker has had an interesting way of looking at it over the past few weeks on her Instagram helping SME’s through this crisis. She refuses to call it the ‘new normal’ going forwards and instead is promoting just the word ‘better’.
She recognises that things will be different, of course they will, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it can be a better life and time, now we realise the true value of it.
So, I think now really is the time to map out those dreams and plans and go for it. We knew that life was short before, but now it is crystal clear and in the famous words of Elizabeth Gilbert, from The Big Magic:
Speaking of dreams and goals, it is Wow Wednesdays 1st birthday this week! Never did myself, Clair and Miriam who set it up imagine it to take off like it did and keep growing! We now have 36 amazing members who have a wealth of talent and expertise between them.
We couldn’t be prouder of this small but powerful local community group who support each other through all kinds of challenges especially in the current situation! At present we meet via online calls every 2 weeks, but hopefully one day soon, we’ll be able to meet face to face again. Happy Birthday Wow Team! For further info see the Wow Wednesday page.
I hope this encourages you to dream big, you just never know what might happen when you visualise it happening.
I think my next vision board will include pics of long, luscious hair styles….I could really do with some magic hair growth, so I’ll try anything right now!
Until next time…thanks to Boris, I’ll now be walking a bit further and taking in the beautiful countryside views like in the main picture and increasing my fitness to create the stamina for my big dream plans! Take care everyone…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
P.s I found a piece of green sea glass on the beach in Conwy on our last holiday in August that I’m trying to get made into some jewellery but I did also receive some green quartz earrings from my creative writing teacher whilst on treatment!
Main image from Pinterest: DJ Fairhurst
This week I thought I’d talk about how us creatives or small business owners attempt to work at home, whilst we are all stuck in lock-down, in this ‘new normal’.
I love this lot but suddenly the house feels very crowded!
I don’t know about you, but having everyone at home, all trying to do their thing has shifted the boundaries of where I normally set up camp to do my work and it’s sending me a little stir crazy to say the least… let me explain…
My usual working spaces, the office now occupied by the husband and the kitchen is like grand central station these days!
So, in ’normal’ life, when the husband worked in an external office and the kids went to school, I’d generally be either in the nice warm kitchen, the tidy, bright office upstairs or occasionally I’d pop to a café (Gosh I miss those!) to work for a change of scenery and some low background noise – all of which were very peaceful, calm and uninterrupted places to work.
These days the house is more like spaghetti junction, with constant noise, involving cries of ‘Where’s the laptop / phone charger?’ ‘What time’s lunch?’ and ‘What’s for dinner?’, doors slamming, feet stomping and the constant movement goes something like this:
The husband squirrels away in the office from 9ish, but sends texts like ‘coffee emoji, + 3 biscuits SVP’ (i.e silvous plait) like that some how makes it a nicer request to be interrupted lol! Every 2 hours, if not sooner, he’ll race down in-between calls and you’ll either hear the fridge, biscuit barrel or various giant crisp packets being raided, before charging back upstairs again.
At lunch he’ll run out with the dog, as I’m still not allowed to go too far, the dog now knows this routine and gets ridiculously excited barking her head off, which husband encourages because he has ruined her since being at home. He’ll put in his lunch request before running out of the door.
Next is the 14 yr old daughter, who we increasingly have to drag out of bed. If she gets dressed or brushes her teeth pre-lunch, it’s a bonus and I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve nagged her. She’ll sit in her PJs doing her work at her desk, very neatly but surrounded by the chaos of her room, a room flattened by a tornado would look less disastrous and I’ve stopped poking my head through the door as it literally makes my heart race.
Whilst her work will be generally ‘perfect’ there are common-sense (not her forte) exceptions, usually involving English, History or Computing and she’ll make her way downstairs calling ‘Muuuuum I need your help!’ which could take anything from 2 minutes to 2 days, I’m not joking.
At this point I count to 100 in my head and know that any work I had planned for myself has just flown out of the window.
For extra fun, whilst I’m trying to help and trying not to get to that hysteria point, you know where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry? She’ll then start making her new fave thing of iced coffee, smashing boulders of ice she’s made in the freezer or obliterating fruit in the blender for a smoothie, with the same trail of destruction as her bedroom but with added stickiness.
Lunch will be invariably be a bagel with cheese and a magnum ice-cream, that the husband keeps buying on the online shop, much to my dismay – we are not on a constant beach holiday FFS!
Every now and again she’ll also run down informing everyone to ‘Stay out of the hall!’ whilst she does her land-work fitness ‘zoom’ call with her swimming club – god forbid anyone who walks through in the background or you’ll be met with the death stare.
Finally, there’s the 12 year old son who gets up ‘on time’ talks you through his work for the day and then proceeds to get on Face Time with his mate for most of the day so they can do it together.
This would be fine if he didn’t walk around the house on this ‘constant’ call and you occasionally forget when you are perhaps strongly suggesting (aka shouting) that he should not leave banana skins or magnum sticks on the Playroom (aka his giant office) floor and you come across to ‘friend’ as the most evil, witch of a parent in the world.
Said son, when he’s finished his work then sends bombarding text messages requesting ‘permission’ to go on his Xbox and eventually I wearily give in, just so I can carry on / start what I’m meant to be doing.
In between all this, the dog and cats will fight for space / attention on your lap / across your laptop if you do actually manage to sit down for longer than 2 minutes.
And then just when you get in the flow and think finally I might achieve something today and half the household has gone out on a bike-ride so the noise level reduces to bearable, you then realise it’s 6pm and you need to start dinner….
I should imagine I am not alone and that this will be the hilarious lock-down scenario being played out amongst families up and down the country!
I’d love to say I’ve got it nailed, but alas I haven’t and this is why I was working last night, a Saturday, until 12.30am (I was in the zone) on something and why on a Sunday I reclaim the office and hide away to write this Blog with no interruptions because it is not a school / work day!
In my mind the husband can deal with the pesky kids (I’m joking but still) on a weekend when I’ve been at their beck and call all week!
So, whilst I’d love to be able to help bring calm to your working week, we are all just winging it right now aren’t we?
But I do have a few tips for you that will hopefully help in the lock-down scenario, here goes;
The one bit of schoolwork I do enjoy, Art!
It’s not all crazy, as a family we’ve done some fun things, like this ‘Come dine with me’ challenge, we’ve all cooked dishes for each other, a great way to teach the kids to cook!
So those are my top tips for now, but also know that I am on a mission to try and get a Summerhouse in the garden that I can escape to and it become The Curious Creative Club HQ!
I’ve wanted one for ages and Author Sam Bunch’s outdoor office is awesome and is making me very jealous, so I am campaigning with the husband as he’s treated himself to his new escape, a road bike, and I need mine!
Above, author Sam Bunch’s garden office and right my little Summerhouse plan!
I’ve even created a Pinterest Board and drawn out plans, hoping that the power of visualisation will make it happen! Here’s hoping!!
Author Lucy Clarke’s Beach Hut, who wouldn’t want to write here with a view like that!
And if it doesn’t happen I may just drive to the beach and live in a beach hut….now that really is my ultimate dream – just like author Lucy Clarke has, check out her Instagram if you really do want to picture the perfect author life!
You have to have a dream right?
Until next time…
Keep going, find your nook at home and hide, smile, breathe, we can do this!
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
This week is Mental Health Awareness week, so I just wanted to talk about ways to help you feel more motivated in your creative work in the current circumstances, when you just might not be feeling it right now. It all starts with a big dose of kindness.
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness, and something we could all do with focusing on right now. Here is the MHAW definition of kindness and its beneficial attributes to our mental health:
Kindness and Mental Health
Kindness is defined by doing something towards yourself and others, motivated by genuine desire to make a positive difference. We know from the research that kindness and our mental health are deeply connected. The research shows that kindness is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging.
It helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens friendships. Kindness to ourselves can prevent shame from corroding our sense of identity and help boost our self-esteem. Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism.
I know that some people out there are finding it hard to get going creatively, you may be feeling lethargic and just not bothered at the moment. Be reassured, it seems to be quite a natural response to what is happening out there, and I know some of my friends have been feeling this way.
I also know that for some people, that also comes with a lot of guilt and disappointment in themselves, but there are other ways to pave the way back to feeling yourself again, rather than beating yourself up about it.
We are now about to start our 9th week in lock-down in the UK and I’m noticing patience is starting to wear a little thin, myself included, and frustration in all its guises is raising it’s ugly head. It’s now more than ever think that we need to be kind to ourselves.
Sometimes you just need to take yourself out and see the bluebells!
To me, there are a few ways to approach this head on and give yourself a boost to help slowly motivate you get back into action. Not all are exclusive, you may find a good mix of all these works best for you.
So, what do I mean by this? Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed more of the people that I follow have been putting out some really key ‘free’ resources out there to help everyone and especially creatives or those who have or are wanting to set up a small business in relation to what they do.
Inspirational creatives, business owners, influencers (the real ones!) and coaches have really upped their game in response to the Covid pandemic which is fantastic but it’s also quite hard to navigate your way through all what is available, there’s so much out there!
So, I thought I’d share what I’ve found especially useful during this last few months and hope in-turn that it helps and supports what you are doing too.
Business / Creative Inspiration
Nicky has a multi-profile business with years of experience and over a 1000 people who she has worked with as a coach. She’s a writer, actor, speaker, mum to 2 young children and podcaster of the top 100 business podcast, ‘Dreaming and Doing’. You’ll have heard me talk about her before but this is specifically how she has upped her game recently and what I have found useful:
I’ve followed Eleanor for a while on Instagram and have always been impressed by the deeper conversation posts on creativity, but then we got talking and Eleanor wanted to interview me for her YouTube channel and Podcast (to be launched soon) about the theme of connection and we could have literally talked all day long I think!
Another multi-passionate ‘Aquarian’ creative (like me), Eleanor is an Art Tutor, Creativity Consultant, hosts a virtual meeting on Zoom of creatives to ask the big questions every Wednesday 1pm-2.30pm and also created the Rising Soul Membership giving members the opportunity to reflect and create in their lives with a monthly creativity package for a small fee of £12 a month.
Why do I like/rate them? I don’t think you can fail but to be inspired by Eleanor’s passion, enthusiasm, wisdom, ideas and top tips of how to ‘liberate your inner artist’ on Insta stories and posts. All are welcome to join in the Wednesday group which I loved being a part of last week.
Holly Tucker – founder of Not on the high-street and Holly & Co
Holly has always been an advocate for supporting small businesses and believes that everyone should ‘Do what they love and love what they do!’. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but this situation has elevated her into stratospheric support to so many! During this time she’s launched the following, with the support of her team of course:
Why do I like/rate her? Ridiculously passionate about what she does, honest, and stands beside you despite her huge successes, she makes you feel like she’s one of you and we’re all in it together, a unique skill to have.
Lucy Atkins – best-selling Author
Lucy has been working with Psychologies magazine and running Insta lives on how to write a novel every Friday via the @psychologiesmagazine Insta page 1.30pm -2pm.
If you are interested in tackling that novel idea, Lucy offers great advice on all things fiction writing, from keeping readers turning the page to how to write that CPD (Crap first draft!), I’ve really enjoyed listening to these!
Why do I like/rate her? Firstly a very talented author whose books I’ve enjoyed and she breaks down writing into easily understandable steps whilst explaining the pitfalls too. Lucy is on Instagram @lucyatkinswriter.
Connection / Well-being
The video interview I did back in April, just one of the daily live videos Suzy does, interviewing all kinds of experts and coaches, each day at 1pm to help us get through this
Psychologies Magazine Facebook Group– name has changed to Psychologies Connected Communities
This has really grown over the last few weeks and now has almost 4k members. Psychologies have been popping in asking questions, seeing how everyone is, posting useful blog posts and their FB Live interviews that Suzy Walker, Editor-in-chief has been hosting daily at 1pm.
I was lucky to be interviewed a few weeks ago on how I’m getting through this with creativity and if you’d like to watch that it’s here.
There are all kinds of interviews, from chats with coaches, to gardeners to how to talk to children about what is going on, so do have a look and see what could be useful for you right now. Find the group here.
Members can also pop their own inspiring ideas, thoughts or blog posts on their too and it’s a useful place to become more visible in what you do to an engaged audience.
Positive Earth Community
Another Facebook Group run by my friend Jac, that shares ideas, services or products that are aimed towards looking after our planet, ourselves and each other. Many people during this time are looking at ways of living more sustainably and environmentally friendly so this is a good place to start.
They’ve also recently done creative photo challenges to have a daily focus for members and keep spirits up, such as nature images of a certain colour or things we are grateful for.
The orange and pink pictures I did for the Positive Earth FB Group colour challenge!
I’m hosting the challenge for the next two weeks so if you fancy joining in click here and sign up.
Just one of the many inspiring quotes, highlighted by @nickyraby from the ‘Becoming’ documentary on Netflix
The Michelle Obama Documentary on Netflix
If you haven’t watched this yet, then I can’t recommend highly enough that you do! It blew me away and got me raring to go again! Michelle talks about her experiences in the White House but it’s mainly about her life, growing up, what’s important to her, the book tour and the reaction to her and how her mission to have an impact on young people is her main focus right now.
It is such an inspirational watch, made me sit up and take notice as a woman, how we can make this a better world and that we ALL have something to offer.
The last baby girl kid born on the farm this season, how cute?
Cannon Hall Farm Facebook Lives
This is a local famous farm, in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, near to us that has been featured regularly on BBC TV’s Spring Watch, but the Lives are accessible to all and they have viewers from all over the world!
Farmer Rob and brother Farmer Dave basically take you around their huge farm that is normally being visited by thousands at this time of year. They show you all the animals, the babies, what their jobs are for the day and give you an insight into life at the farm in these very strange times.
They start every morning around 7.30amish and can be filming for up to 2 hrs, on Sunday morning they had 5.5k viewers! I tune in most mornings and it sets me in a positive frame of mind for the day, this morning they showed their baby Highland calf that was born last night, I mean what’s not to love?
I know I’m a bit animal mad but it’s also about the passion the farmers have for their job and their connection with the viewers that makes it extra special and watching helps to support the farm too – it helps them get more seen and will hopefully lead to more TV episodes in the future. Click here to see the Lives.
So, I hope that gives you a few new ideas to focus on if you’re finding yourself stuck in a bit of a creative rut. Even if you’re not ready to leap back into action yet, spending time learning or being inspired by others, can really help and feel like you’re moving in the right direction. Do let me know what you think and if they are useful to you.
And finally if all else fails, I find an inspiring quote or two, helps, and these in particular are pretty relevant right now.
Of course, there are many more resources and people out there doing great work, so if you have any suggestions for me, please comment below as I’m always on the look out for new inspiration too!
And if you are finding it increasingly difficult right now, please reach out, there is always someone to help and listen, just click here for all kinds of support through the Mental Health Awareness Week website.
Until next time, take care, walk in the beautiful countryside if you can, breathe, count to 10, whatever you need to do to keep going but most of all stay safe…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
P.s Don’t forget you can always head over to The Curious Cave too, for many more inspirational resources from me!