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.

Set of colors | Food
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