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!
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!
Well I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but it is now just 5 days to go to my very last Chemo treatment!
I’m anxious, excited, emotional, relieved and exhausted, all in one big bundle. It’s been a long time coming and I can’t believe how much as changed in both my world and the big one out there since my diagnosis in early November.
Our last holiday in Wales at the end of August, a beautiful sunny week and I was completely oblivious of what was to come.
In just two months, my neck went from the left hand photo to the second black and white photo, by the time I started treatment it was easily the size of a golf ball but more eliptical. Looking back at the previous photo, I can now tell it was there and probably had been for some time, the skin is flattened out above the collarbone, compared to the right because of the swelling that was growing underneathe.
On one of my many chemo insomnia fuelled nights, before my 10th session I think, I made the bad decision to try and work out a load of statistics to do with my treatment, lets just say it did not help me get back to sleep!
When I wrote my piece after my interim scan, many were surprised by the sheer number of staff involved in what it takes to get someone through cancer treatment, and so I thought I’d also write all these medical stats down, to give you the real picture, this is what it takes to get someone to the end of a relatively short (in Chemo and Cancer terms) journey, compared to some.
The Lymphoma Cancers; Hodgkin’s like mine and Non Hodgkin’s are considered in the medical profession to be the ‘good’ cancers, if there is such a thing, in that the treatment is so effective, and I know that to be true in my case judging by how quickly my main lump of the 5, on my collarbone shrank away. It was pretty astonishing.
But what they try to not fully disclose (as it would scare the pants off you!) is that this is probably because Lymphoma cancers can be very fast growing, and so they have to get on top of it fast, by hammering you with these very powerful but toxic chemo drugs every 2 weeks in order for it to be successful.
Many other cancers require treatment every 3 weeks and I’m not sure which I’d prefer, whether to get through it faster, albeit the side-effects are pretty awful, or to have another week’s respite in-between.
I am going to talk more about this roller coaster journey and the lessons I’ve learned next time, after my last treatment, simply because I don’t want to tempt fate – remember I did get admitted into hospital on my Birthday morning for 5 days, for that joyous experience of Neutropenic Sepsis – I mean what are the chances?
So here are some fun numbers to get your head around, I can’t even imagine how much it would cost but I am hugely grateful for our amazing NHS system, along with the care of all the staff involved which money just couldn’t buy.
Chemo Journey Medical Statistics, in the rough order they occur
1 lump on my collarbone, measuring 2 x 2 cm initially
Initial Apts – 2 GP, 2 ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) at Barnsley Hospital, 2 Diagnosis Appointments with Haematology
Biopsies: 2 Core needle biopsies – 1 on my neck, 1 under my arm
Scans & X-rays – 1 Ultrasound scan, 1 CT Scan, 1 MRI, 3 PET Scans, 3 chest X-rays (to check picc line in right place and also when I was poorly to check for infection)
5 Lumps found in total – Neck, under arm and 3 in my chest. By this point the one on my neck was 4 x 4cm
7 long excrusiating weeks from first GP appointment to confirmed diagnosis.
Stage (how they stage your cancer) – 2B – which means, more than one lump, but above the diaphragm, and with symptoms (the B part). This then determines your treatment.
Function Tests – 1 heart, 1 lung, (to see what your baseline is as the drugs can effect your heart and lung function further down the line)
Picc Line (a tube they put in your arm to administer the drugs) – 1 put in and then taken out – many arm swinging episodes when it was blocked!
1 wig chosen (but thankfully not needed for a while, infact I didn’t shave my hair to a grade 4 until my 10th chemo session, and only because my husband told me I looked like a baby orangutan!)
36 Chemo related apts – which is 12 sessions x 3 apts for each which are: picc line dressing change, blood tests and consultant apt to check you are ok for next session and the actual Chemo Session itself (usually 2-3 hrs).
4 Different types of chemo drugs that have incredibly toxic sounding names such as Vinblastine and Doxorubicin, even the sight of these names now makes me feel sick.
At least 30 at home self-injecting medication that you do into your stomach (this is to increase your neutrophil white cell count to make sure you’re OK for next chemo)
4 cannulations and 14 injections during my hospital stay of 5 days
1 All Clear PET Scan result, after just 4 sessions of chemo! Unfortunately, you still have to carry on to the end of 12 sessions to mop up any individual rogue cells.
Weight – Lost 10 pounds whilst on Chemo
And finally, I’ve lost count on the following:
So, I don’t know about you but when you add it all up, I think it’s a mountain of care and medicine, but I guess that’s what it takes to blast your body free of cancer.
I’m a bit of a loss as to how I’m feeling right now, I go from elation it’s all over to ’oh crap this is going to be a new normal’, where fear now plays a part in my life, which to be honest, it never did before.
By that I mean, back to the anxious waiting of appointments and follow up scans, checking it’s not returning and the other fear of what if get a secondary cancer, of something else, which can happen
By going through this you add a whole new bunch of statistics into your life, not least that you are currently under threat from Covid-19 now too.
The worst part about it happening now? I can’t even celebrate as I’d wish to, thanks to the other bloody C word!
I’m putting off ringing the bell until after my final PET scan (that fate thing again) and hopefully by then I’ll be able to take my family and a few friends with me as well as give my chemo nurses a great big hug.
I can’t wait to get back out for drinks with this one after the toughest year ever and back out proper walking with Barley, I need to get my fitness levels back up!
For me there’s another 6 weeks of lock down at least, but I‘m praying that we get to the end of this awful pandemic asap, and I can tiptoe into the outside World again, a place I haven’t been fully since November last year. It’s going to be a very strange experience.
In the meantime, I’ve got to stay well for just 5 more days, get the last treatment done and get my picc line taken out which will be fab – I’ll be able to finally have a shower without the plastic cover on!
The many stages of hair and reducing eyebrows I’ve been through, but I’m not brave enough to show you the bald/fluffy chicken look!
I will also be growing my hair in the privacy of my home and garden and trying to at least get a cute pixie crop rather than my current fluffy baby chick look by the time I’m allowed back into society!
This is the picture that encapsulates what I want to get back to, wind-swept, carefree and healthy looking, it’s going to take a while but I’ll get there…
This coming Friday, my poem will be published for the Yorkshire Writer’s Lunch Blog, that coincides with that last chemo session, and so it’s all about my chemo journey, I’ll pop it on this Blog too.
Until next time, I hope you are well, staying home and staying safe, there’s a whole bunch of us on the 12 weeks full lock down, and you are helping to keep us very safe too, so thank you!
Take care, Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps Last week I did another Blog for Psychologies online Life Labs series, all about how ink sketching can improve your well-being, it’s here if you would like a read
PPs – For anyone wanting to know more about Hodgkin’s or Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, you can find the best up to date information here at Lymphoma Action
PPPs – If you are in need of a good novel to read, I can highly recommend Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins, who is also currently doing Insta Lives on Psychologies Magazine’s Insta on how to write a novel that are proving very useful!
Magpie Lane is keeping me entertained in the small hours when I can’t sleep! Completely gripping and really unusual, I love it!
Hi everyone, how are you all doing? I’m not gonna lie, I’m struggling today, it seems the further on this chemo journey, the side-effects kick in faster and harder, so yesterday and today I’m pretty physically floored.
So instead of writing a full on Blog post, I’m just popping int to say Hi and to share the post I wrote for Psychologies Magazine, Life Labs series last week, all about how poetry can really help you to process what is going on whilst practicing your creative skills and getting into that joyful state we call ‘flow’.
‘Flow’ basically means that we get so focused and lost in an activity that we fully relax and let go of the endless mind-chatter that goes on, especially in worrying times like this – and that’s got to bring us more joy right?
This post has gone down really well so far, so for those who haven’t seen it yet, I hope you enjoy it too and that it inspires you to put pen to paper. Click here to read.
These few days after chemo are the hardest part for me, when I feel too ill to physically do any creative activities, I find it so hard to just not do anything!
Yesterday trying to just get a bit of fresh air, Barley thankfully entertains me too!
So please to everyone out there in the midst of staying at home, although I know it’s not great, please do make the most of it too. You’ll never get this slower pace of life back, it’s such an opportunity for those who are wanting to try something new, in-between the regular day to day stuff like home-schooling and working.
I’m not saying it’s easy, especially with little ones but I know there will be windows of time that we didn’t have prior to this, even if it’s just your commute time or school drop-offs.
I know that this whole experience will be much more tolerable for me when I feel well enough to get back on my creative train, start planning again and put this whole 6 months of treatment behind me, the frustration will be for me will be if I have to stay at home for many more weeks because I’m ‘vulnerable’ – can I just say I bldy hate that word!!
Before all this I was anything but ‘vulnerable’, I was a 45 yr old woman with lots of energy, who’d finally found her creative niches in life, one who loved sharing everything I’d learned and one who has so many plans and ideas that they wake me up and keep me awake at night.
Mentally, for the most part, I’m still that person and more in many ways (following the insomnia nights and many planning sessions in my head!) but now I just need to nail this physically, get back to the strong person I was and not feel as weak as a kitten some days, so that I can get on with what I love doing.
My consultant lets me go for the odd 15 min walk up the lane near our house, so I at least get to see trees, sunsets and the lambs now and again!
And for that I need my dog walks back please, to get my legs going again and build up some fitness! I’m desperate to see the bluebells, the squirrels, hear the birds and the river and and feel the sun and wind on my face… see I feel another poem coming on already!
In fact, if poetry really is your thing, here is a previous post I did too, including the seasonal poem I wrote back then…I can’t wait to get back to my walks in the woods – it really is what my body and soul needs right now…
Until next time, stay home, stay safe and show me your creative endeavors (it will cheer me up!)
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Hi everyone, today I’m excited to tell you that I had the huge privilege of speaking to the brilliant Suzy Walker, Editor of Psychologies magazine about all aspects of creativity and its benefits via a live video on their Facebook page and group – Psychologies Connected Community.
Click here to watch!
As you know I’m a massive fan of the magazine so it was fabulous to have the opportunity to do this today, as we all find new ways of connecting in these scary times.
The best treat you can order to land on your doorstep right now!
As well as the magazine’s own Facebook page, they have re-launched Psychologies Connected Community which is a great source of inspiring content; from live videos every day with experts, to bloggers and members sharing their creative skills, thoughts and ideas to help us all get through these unprecedented times, I highly recommend joining.
In that vain, I thought it would be a good time to share some previous Blog posts of mine that will help both you and your families get creative during this time at home and even more so through the Easter holidays.
There’s so many things out there to try, what have you got to lose? Making Easter cards for friends and family who you can’t visit at the moment would be a simple way to start and brighten their day at the same time. Many artists and creatives are doing free tutorials on You Tube now if you want to try some new techniques.
Plus, it doesn’t have to cost lots of money, if any, and it’s something that the whole family can enjoy doing together with less competitiveness than say sports activities and board games (if your children and husband are like mine!)
Remember process not perfection! I loved doing these doodle pieces just as much as a big painting!
Taking part in creative activities is so beneficial to your mental well-being, just taking time to solely focus on what you are doing, get in the ‘flow’ state and away from the constant news bombardment, is such a welcome relief to what is going on in the world, I guarantee you will feel calmer and happier for doing it.
So here are my links below under the topics of their main theme, to help you get started on your creative journey;
The ‘why’ it’s so good for you selection
The ‘how’ to encourage ideas to flow
The ‘what’ creative activities to do with your children
Don’t forget you can also find lots of inspiration on my resource page – The Curious Cave, filled with books, magazines, podcasts, creative groups and lots of social connections
I hope you find these useful and inspires you to give something new a try. We’ve never had such a gift of time to slow down a little, reassess how we spend our time and just have a go at doing things differently. Do let me know how you get on in the comments and share any pictures on my Facebook Page too.
I hope that one positive that comes out of this, is that we all understand the power and difference to your life, taking part in creative activities can make and it becomes something we do as a natural part of our lives equal to physical activities – then my work will be done!
Keep calm, stay home and create…
Keeping curious and safe…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps I also work with Psychologies as one of their 25 Real Eco panel members, testing environmentally products for the magazine. It’s a really interesting project to challenge how we choose everyday items and make sure that we do consider taking care of the planet in our choices. Click here for more information.
Main image courtesy of Alex Mullen, podcast producer, owner of Abs media UK Ltd
This week’s Blog is all about starting a podcast yourself, digging into the knowledge of the Two Northern Lasses, who started their very own last year.
But first I wanted to just check in and see how everyone is doing? How’s it all going?
Have you joined any of the millions of creative projects out there online currently? Or is it all too much and making you feel overwhelmed / guilty that you haven’t got the time to add that to the list of getting through this; working from home, playing teacher as best you can and keeping up with the constant washing and cooking / feeding – is it me or is everyone actually eating like food is about to disappear and they are in survival mode?
I have to say my daughter’s brownies were delicious though!
Of course, having a little peace time (preferably in a nice quiet room away from tasks and dare I say it the rest of your house-hold!) to either just chill or read or doodle a little can make all the difference in helping you to get through these tough times BUT only if it helps rather than just adding to your ever-growing ‘to-do list’ ! We all don’t need this extra pressure!
I have a bit of a doodling addiction!
I’ve found it really interesting getting my subscriptions through of various magazines over recent days, some of which haven’t even mentioned corona virus yet due to the lead times they have but Writing Magazine’s Editor Jonathan Telfer does and I found his opening letter refreshing.
I’d anticipated him to say now is the chance to get on with your book and writing projects, as many online writing businesses or social accounts are saying but no, instead he took a more intuitive approach and recognised that now might not be the right time with what is going on and how we are all feeling.
‘We’re all stressed, we’re all under pressure. If writing helps, and it may well do, all the better, but don’t beat yourself up about achieving some kind of target. All you need right now is to get through this.’
Sound advice I agree with, cut yourself some slack in these difficult times!
I’m also finding it interesting that I’m getting bombarded from well-meaning friends with creative projects, exercise programmes or quotes around keeping going.
I can’t keep up with all the messages and links I’m being sent but I actually feel like I‘m at a bit of an advantage in all of this – I worked out long ago how to keep myself entertained and busy since being in isolation on treatment anyway, and whilst I am really missing my nature walks, the rest of this, i.e not going to shops, cinemas, leisure centres, concerts, creative groups, supermarkets, anywhere public basically, I’ve learned to cope with.
However, that’s not to say I won’t be going wild after all this is over, but it is going to be so strange when I am allowed fully back into the big wide world!
The kids are appreciating the simple things, even just a walk up the lane by our house
It just goes to show that people are realising how difficult this is over the long term, and it’s giving people an insight into what living with cancer, auto-immune diseases and life-limiting conditions is like, which on one hand is a good thing to bring more kindness and understanding to what some people have to go through and also not taking ‘normal’ life for granted moving forward.
Connecting with conversations…
And now to the rest of this Blog, chatting to the lovely Michelle and Jayne, aka the Two Northern Lasses, hosts of the very same podcast, following on from my Blog last week all about my top podcast recommendations.
I originally met Michelle and Jayne though our Wow Wednesdays local accountability group, in-fact Michelle came along to the very first one back in June last year!
Funnily enough, they both often mention in meetings that they don’t see themselves as creative personally, despite being involved in businesses that require many creative skills I think!
Jayne owns Flex Marketing managing all the things that most people associate with being in marketing and more recently is about to launch The Flex Collective, a flexible and collaborative working space in a local village south of Huddersfield – which will be much needed when social distancing finally ends!
And Michelle has developed My SMART App, helping small businesses to create content for social media. She’s also a growth consultant, helping businesses with their sales and marketing.
Since joining Wow, they’ve also come together to start the podcast, Two Northern Lasses which again I think in itself is a creative project; planning their brand for it, the theme, their guests and the questions and style of interviews; creativity plays a part in all of these aspects.
So, I decided to ask them, as very busy business women, what made them decide to take the leap into the podcasting world?
1) So, Jayne and Michelle, what made you want to do a podcast in the first place?
Jayne – Michelle did! We’ve both gone from corporate careers to self-employed/entrepreneurship and over the course of 2019 met people who genuinely want to support each other out in all kinds of businesses. With our combined skills in sales/strategy and marketing we felt we could do this too and thought a podcast would be a good way to get this out to an ever increasing audience and enable us to help people that we wouldn’t necessarily meet on the networking circuit.
Michelle – I’d been listening to lots of podcasts, mainly US ones, the business type ones were all a bit too serious, I was looking for something that had bit of humour, genius me thought – I can do that, let’s rope Jayne in, she likes a laugh!
2) How did you decide the topic you would cover?
Jayne – Business was the obvious choice but we wanted to get across that real people with real lives and a sense of humour exist in business too. We set out to inspire people who either were or wanted to be self-employed in a kind of ‘if we can do It, you can too’ type message.
Since then it has evolved into being more about careers in general and our overall message is now really, ‘Go do what you want and if you get it wrong or you want to change things then that is ok and you should do it’.
Michelle – After the first 3 episodes we wanted to settle on a format, so we split into 3 segments – starting with a chat between the 2 of us, then into a chat with a guest – finishing with the ‘Our Moments’ game.
What we’ve found now having talked to our listeners is that they like the fun bits but also like the stories and the reality that change can often be good even if not planned?
3) How did you come up with the name?
When Michelle originally came up with the idea, she wanted to call it Two Yorkshire Lasses until Jayne pointed out that even though she had lived in Yorkshire for over 25 years, she originally comes from Darwen in Lancashire so we switched Yorkshire to Northern. A lot of people might not be able to tell the differences between a Yorkshire and Lancashire accent but there are definitely quite a few (although Jayne’s is a bit of a mix of the two now) but we are confident we both are definitely Northern!
4) Was it daunting starting out?
Jayne – We were both really nervous when we did the first recording as it wasn’t something either of us had done before and we obviously had no idea whether people would want to listen to us waffling on but once we realised that it was just a chat that happened to be recorded (and that if we messed up it could be edited) we soon settled in and we actually say this now to our guests who might be nervous about coming on. When we put the first few out we were also sitting watching the listener numbers (actually we still do!)
Michelle – as above, not nervous at all now and just really enjoy it.
5) What’s your favourite thing about doing it?
Jayne – We have a really good laugh recording it and getting feedback from people is really heart warming – we all suffer from imposter syndrome so to have people say they love listening to us is amazing. My favourite thing is when people say they feel like they are in the room with us and want to join in – I love that!
Michelle – We get lots of lovely texts, the ones we get from ‘strangers’ are the best as we know it’s not family and friends.
6) What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered by doing the podcast – that can be something you’ve learned about yourself or one of your guests, or both.
Jayne – I suppose for me personally I have discovered that I can actually engage with strangers. I am actually quite a shy person so I don’t do this normally unless I am drunk and then you can’t get rid of me so when we have had guests that I haven’t known beforehand I have worried that I wouldn’t have much to say. It may be because of the type of guest we get on, they are very much like us in mindset etc.
Michelle – I always fancied being a radio presenter although never pursued, I suppose this is the nearest thing to it in my world.
7) What advice would you give to anyone starting out and wanting to do their own podcast?
Jayne – Just get on with it – what have you got to lose?
Practically though, there are groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that help each other out – we got a producer straight off but a lot of people don’t do this, there are loads of ways to record and put the podcast out there, it is just finding what is right for you. Neither of us are massively techy so Producer Alex is the way to go for us – he is part of our team 100%!
Michelle – for us it’s a hobby but as Jayne says Alex does the techie bit and there are loads of forums/groups with other podcasters/producers willing to advise. Some like to record a whole series before releasing, we just jumped right in and released the 3 episodes we’d recorded in a few hours. We are fortunate that between us Jayne and I have the skills to put it out on social media too, so we have very little overheads.
So, there you have it, if being a radio presenter or having your own show has ever been your dream or if you just love talking to people and digging deep into interesting lives and stories, starting a podcast is an exciting thing to try!
It’s something myself and Clair, my ‘Wow Wednesday’ partner keep thinking about and following the Two Northern Lasses and hearing how much fun they have, makes it even more appealing.
My friend Lesley Ellis has just started hers and I’ve been lucky enough to be interviewed on both hers, The Midlife Manifesto (which launched last week, my episode will be on later) and Two Northern Lasses and although a little nerve-wracking, was mostly a fun experience once I’d nailed my ‘erms’ which I realise I use a lot!
I’ll keep you posted when these episodes are out but in the meantime add them both to your podcast list because they are great fun and inspiring listens! And yes I am biased!
I also just wanted to say a quick Thank You to everyone reading this Blog, I’m aware I’ve collected quite a few new readers in the last few weeks via some Facebook Groups where I’ve been sharing the links and I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my posts and it means the world to me when someone follows, comments or shares!
I am now on countdown to my last Chemo session which feels amazing so long as CV stays away! From the launch of this post, I have 24 days left to go to that last session, hopefully on the 1st of May, I’m crossing literally everything!
Until next time, stay home and stay safe as always…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps For those who are bored on lock-down and do actually want a creative challenge, The 30 Day Sketchbook Challenge recently started on Facebook and is running all April, just search and either catch up or just join in as and when you want to.
And Writers online always have their coffee break challenges going on, a great source of quick inspiration for creating stories
PPs For anyone wanting to read about my Chemo journey, here are the links: