Hi everyone, hope you are well and getting your head around plans for Christmas now that we know what the ‘rules’ will be in the UK! But first there are decorations to put up, trees to dress, cards to write and presents to make, so if that’s not an excuse to indulge in some calming creative time, I don’t know what is!
This was the subject of my 10th Live with @psychologiesmagazine this week as I talked through what some our family traditions are, creating new ones and what else you could start to do at this time of year to get into the creative Christmas spirit.
As always with these Lives I sit down, a little nervously at first, to draft out what I will be talking about. I normally have an idea of a theme, but it isn’t until I start jotting down some ideas, that usually a torrential flood of ideas follows, thankfully!
Plus, of course on the actual Lives, it’s great because you get to engage with the viewers which sparks a lovely creative conversation, and this is why I love doing them!
“Juliet thanks for all the amazing Lives you are doing!.’ – Suzy Walker(Editor-in-Chief, Psychologies Magazine)
So, here it is if you’d like to catch up and hopefully find some inspiration for creative activities you could have a go at, and please do share with me if you do try any because I love to see your work! You can DM me photos etc @thecuriouscreativeclub
So, what else have I been up to this week? Well lots actually! Firstly, last weekend I had some creative time in the cabin, which I love and designed 2 new Christmas cards, above, which have now come back as samples from the printers. For some reason they always look better when they are printed up as cards, Jean at my local print shop in Holmfirth does an amazing job!
I’ve also had past designs re-printed, so I’m busy trying to sell these via my own social media and at The Flex Collective, co-working space where we run our WOW Wednesday meetings. Jayne who owns Flex has created a little local shop corner to support local businesses, such a lovely thing to do!
Which leads me nicely on to WOW Wednesdays! For those of you that don’t know what this is, it’s a local accountability group for local small businesses and creatives that myself and fellow-founder Clair from @asocialnature set up almost 18 months ago now. The aim of the meetings is to encourage each other along with our goals, and be accountable for one another in order to get things done!
But to be honest, this is just part of what the group offers as it has grown in both size and substance and has now become a fully-fledged membership, with a private Facebook group, Zoom sessions on specialist subjects, skill-sharing and a whole load of camaraderie and support, especially during lockdown! (see link above for more info)
Now that we are settled in to our new Covid-safe working space @theflexcollective, we will be opening up the membership to new members at the founder-member price, as a one time offer between 1st-31st December, from 1st of January 2021 it will be a higher membership rate.
So, if this sounds like accountability support (and so much more) you could really use right now, please get in touch, or watch out for posts about it @thecuriouscreative on Instagram or on my Facebook Page too: The Curious Creative Club.
Clair and I, met this week for a planning session on WOW and we have got some very exciting things planned for the future! It felt great to get out of the house and meet up at Flex and we are going to continue to do this once a month, to have some quality time together to plan and just chat through our own businesses. We are accountability buddies for each other too, and this really works for us, especially as we have a very similar mindset, both INFP personality types!
On that day we also reflected on how far we’d each come this year, in a year with unprecedented challenges, both personally and with Covid! I highly recommend doing this, ideally with someone you trust or even just on your own, and even more so this year!
I’ll be doing a sum up of this type of reflection, why is benefits us and helps to shape future plans over the next coming weeks, because it is genuinely so useful and important to recognise what we’ve achieved, whilst we still remember! And I bet it’s more than you think too!
Now, here’s the rest of what I’ve been up to / been inspired by:
Just A Card
I’ve been following the prompts for JAC indie campaign week and sharing lots to help spread their message far and wide. Sarah who runs the campaign does an amazing job to support us independents, so if you want to know all about it, check it out here.
I’ve also bought her book, for some inside knowledge and tips on the card industry to see if it helps me finally set up that proper shop – No 1 task on my list in January!
Dr Chatterjee – Feel Better, Live More podcast
As you know I’m a long time fan of this podcast but his main episodes can be quite long so for those who don’t have as much time, but if you still want to benefit from his wise interviews, he’s now started doing a bite-size version on a Friday, yeah! This most recent one was particularly interesting where he interviews Marie Forleo and she talks about growth mindset, comparisonitis and how we need to share our gift:
“Comparisonitis is the kryptonite to creativity” Marie says.
Regular readers will know I’m a long-time fan of Gabrielle – the queen of over-thinking and overwhelm strategies, she’s a mindset and empowerment coach! Her ‘Pressing Pause’ short podcast episodes, always instil some calm into your day if you are feeling frazzled!
This week she also did a free-workshop – 3 steps to feeling calm and in control, which I joined to utilise tips to try if feeling the overwhelm (like many at this time of year, even without Covid!).
This was just a small part of her new course called she has launched called Rooted, but she also has many free resources on her website, so check it out.
Root and Rise Membership (there’s a theme here!) – Nicola Rae Wickham
I’ve been part of this founder-membership for a few months now and it’s giving me lots to think about, which I love! Nicola is doing great work within the membership such as prompts, lives, Q&As, and extra zoom sessions, coaching, and on EFT and guided journaling and the latter I’m looking forward to joining tomorrow night as this is definitely something I want to do more of.
Psychologies Magazine – New edition
As always I absorb the new edition as soon as it comes through my door, because it is always soooooo good! In particular this article struck home and I found myself nodding alot! The team at Psychologies just completely ‘get’ how everyone is feeling, and I love them for it!
My next creative project involves this branch! I will share more next time, I’m not going mad I promise, but bless my son for dragging it back from the woods! He’s a good un!
And that’s a wrap folks! It’s been a busy but nice one compared to previous stressful weeks and last night I got to go for a bobble-hat walk with this one, my mum, who I haven’t seen properly for a month thanks to the blumming ‘C’ word, so it was nice to have a normal walk and take in the sunset!
Hope you all have a lovely weekend and I’ll catch up with a longer post next time, but I hope you also like these quick drop in post of inspiration too, please let me know what you think!
Take Care, Stay Safe and get the festive feels going!
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Hi everyone, how are you doing?
It’s been a busy week at this end and a slightly late Blog Post due to an accident last night, my daughter dropped a glass on the floor and a piece bounced into her big toe, sliced her nail in half and cut the end of her toe! So, trip to A&E and a large comical bandage on for a week but she’s fine, just a little shocked at the time!
This last week I’ve been heeding my own advice given in my last post with lots of walks catching up with friends, as a family we are making yummy autumnal dishes and I’m really getting my creative game on. As I said last time, there is something very special about this Season that makes you want to get fully involved and enjoy all it has to offer.
It seemed only right, given all this natural inspiration and energy coming in droves, that this is what I should talk about during my @psychologiesmagazine live yesterday. It was my 9th ‘Gain Creative Confidence’ session and I really enjoy chatting to the magazine’s readers about all things creative, much like I do here really.
Recently I’ve added all the links to these sessions on to my website, so if you ever want an extra boost of creativity with some challenges too, head on over there and watch the half-hour sessions and you’ll find yesterday’s session here.
My excitement for Autumn got me thinking about how my creative energy really ebbs and flows and it’s only now, now that I’ve been doing this a good few years, that I finally trust in this natural internal process, rather than trying to force it to happen. Nothing challenges the creative mind more than staring at a blank piece of paper when you are just not feeling it and getting increasingly frustrated and mad at yourself.
In a way I’m lucky I realise in that I regularly have several different kinds of creative projects on the go, that all require different elements of process. So, that means if the artistic ideas aren’t flowing, maybe doing some research for a writing project, or getting clear on the next 3-month’s plan for my Art cards is the more appropriate thing to do.
It’s easy to slip into self-destruction mode, get annoyed and think right I’m not going to do anything creative then, and occasionally stomp off in a huff, when actually there are many micro-steps that could be taken, that will still make you feel like you are moving forwards – and that’s the key to not feeling stuck and completely exasperated.
Plus, whilst some of these tasks may feel uninspiring or even boring, this is a key part of the process too, because it is often when we feel bored, that the brain recognises this and takes action, and you’ll suddenly find an idea pops into your head when you least expect it, and hey presto, the ideas part of the journey begins again.
So, today I’m going to talk about some other parts of the process that are essential when working creatively, that you may not realise, but can absolutely make you feel like you are moving forwards, before the ‘making of the thing’ part, if you see what I mean.
What I want you to recognise is that there is real value in this, and that it is not wasted time or energy, even if it feels a little uncomfortable / annoying at the time, it all helps to build up to the bigger picture.
Whether you are right at the beginning of your creative journey and have no idea where to start or feeling stuck in the middle of one, these tips will all help to get you moving again.
Research & Prompts
If the work you are doing is visual, but you don’t know exactly where to start, play about with colours and textures, or different materials and tools to find out your preferences, what did you really enjoy, what did you really not? For example, I really don’t like the feel of pastels or charcoal, so prefer not to use these. Eliminating what you don’t like can help you focus in on the creative work you are drawn to and want to continue.
It’s hard to work from just your own mind, especially at the beginning, so another tip is to look at what others do and either work your own spin on it, or discover current trends (especially if you are wanting to sell your products). An ideal place to look is Pinterest, where so many artists pin their work and lots of demos too, so it’s a great place to start if you are still learning. Just search something that you are interested in, for example ‘Leaf Art’ and research away…
For projects like photography, it’s a case of pinpointing a subject that you are passionate about, getting really curious about it and exploring its many facets.
Also, think about the places you find yourself in, especially if you are busy and don’t have time to go to somewhere specially. What images could you take in these places? What kind of style / mood interests you? Where could you share your work? You don’t necessarily need a fancy camera; it’s about creating an approach that it is recognisably you with your content and images and you can be really quirky and individual with it.
In terms of writing, I recommend seeking out prompts if you are well and truly stuck. Often all we need is a little direction to get going, and it could set us off on a course we’d never even thought of before.
Writing Magazine offer such prompts regularly over on their Writer’s Online site and again Pinterest also hold this kind of inspiration so worth a look there too. Another option is to join a writing class, many of which have gone online at the moment, like the one I belong to.
What I love about this is you’ve really no idea what will come up and what you will be set to work on, so it truly is a creative challenge. Often the work you start in class can lead to a bigger writing project in your own time, and you get to learn from your fellow classmates too.
Get serious, and realistic about how much time you have to commit to creative projects, planning this properly avoids frustration and resentment down the line, and by scheduling it in, encourages you to really value it, especially if that time isn’t a huge amount.
You want to make the best of that time and planning it in gives you something to look forward to in your week. If it’s in your diary, it’s far more likely to happen rather than getting shoved down to the bottom of your never-ending list.
It might even be that you need to do some long-term planning if you want to change what you are doing. Ask yourself what projects really fill you with joy? What direction would you go in if you had no constraints? Do I need to earn money from what I’m doing? What is the big dream and what steps, and plans can I put in place to get closer to it?
Ruth Poundwhite, a coach who specialises in working with creative and introverted clients often suggests having a ‘business meeting’ with yourself, so that you work on the bigger picture of what you are doing rather than just ‘in’ it. It’s great advice and can really help you reflect on what you’ve already achieved and then clarify the direction you want to go in.
And if this brings up dreams of wanting to turn your skills into an actual business then the next step is really important and in some cases more important than anything else as it directs everything that you then do, providing a set of guidelines to stop indecision and make everything a whole lot easier!
Values, Ethos, Mission Statements
I could write a whole book on this subject as it’s my background when I worked in corporate land but essentially, it’s about getting crystal clear on:
>what you want to do
>why you want to do it (what is driving you?)
>who you are as a personal brand (because creative work is the epitome of ‘personal’ work – putting your heart and soul on that piece of paper, therefore you are creating a personal brand too)
>What are your key values and how does that link in harmony to what you do?
> How you want to get all those messages across to the outside world.
This requires some big honest questions of yourself and it can take time to figure this all out, so the other piece of advice may seem contradictory BUT if this doesn’t come easy to you then JUST START anyway, and there is no doubt that later down the line, when you are putting yourself out there, creating connections and learning at the rate of knots, the answers will come to you and you’ll slowly but surely piece together all this important stuff.
And even if you don’t fully get there, this is when you then access the wealth of online support/ workshops / courses out there to help you. This area has grown so much in lock-down and is so much easier to access, even on a tight budget with many courses being free.
As the great Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired (and another Coach who’s Root and Rise membership I’m part of) says all the time ‘Imperfection for the win’, which basically means that showing up imperfectly is better than not at all because the World needs and wants what you are offering, you just don’t know it yet!
Nicola also says ‘Clarity loves action’ which I absolutely love and is so true, to get that much-desired clarity, you need to act!
Ask yourself questions, practice, experiment, make mistakes, learn, it all counts to moving forwards, don’t wait until everything is perfectly in place because the honest truth is it never will be, fully.
Yes, it takes some courage, and possibly a step out of your comfort zone, especially if you are a perfectionist, but that courage will boost your confidence and will feel amazing that you are choosing to do something rather than stagnating.
So, my point is, all the above steps are important to the whole picture, especially if you are wanting to move up a level and make a small business out of your creativity.
There are more elements of course and I may talk about marketing in my next post, as there is a lot to cover on that topic alone, but getting these fundamentals in place all helps hugely as to how you then talk to potential customers about yourself and your products. Because you are starting on a much surer footing that has been thought out and questioned, you’ve put in the important preparation work.
And by still taking some small steps, they soon add up and you can be proud that you’re heading in the right direction, and not stuck, and isn’t that much better than sitting staring at that blank page wondering when the creative magic will strike again?
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
What has been inspiring me this week…
Podcast – On Brand With – Deborah Ogden interviews Wendy Nicholas
Deborah kicks off her new series of the fabulous ‘On Brand With’ with my good friend and WOW Wednesday member Wendy Nicholas, a formidable force in the field of well-being and I couldn’t wait to listen! Together they had a great discussion about how culture plays out in corporate business and how leaders need to lead by example, taking their well-being equally seriously in order for it to filter down to their teams, plus of course lots of advice about how to cope in this surreal experience of a pandemic. I cannot recommend this highly enough – go listen to Wendy’s soothing tones!
Podcast – Elevate your Curiosity – Joanne Griffiths of @arnoldandbird – Retail Mentor and Designer
Joanne is back with a new season and I love her short insightful episodes that focus on upcoming product trends and this week the podcast focuses on 3 key packaging trends, useful for all kind of makers!
Watching – Autumn Watch – BBC 2
By now I think you know I love Autumn and I love the BBC’s Seasonal ‘Watch’ programmes, which is right now highlighting the Autumnal beauty all across the country, including the Old Moor RSPB reserve in South Yorkshire. Follow along online too @bbcspringwatch.
Learning from – Creativity mogul and all-round inspirational fireball!
Keeley, owner of @bloomindaleflorist who I mentioned last week has been delivering so much content on social media recently, including a fabulous live on Friday on how to create a pumpkin flower display which I had a go at myself this weekend! She’s a firm believer, like me, in working together in and celebrating her local community and has used her many pivoting ideas to not only help her own business but her entire industry, how cool and inspirational is that?!
Hi how are you doing? Hanging in there with this new tier system? Or feeling fed up with it all?
I have to say I’m kind of in the middle, some days ok and I’m happy to be at home as the seasons start to change to then really wanting to just go out, out and have a really good night with my friends.
So today I’m going to talk about building that resilience as the nights draw in and making sure that we can still find joy in our homes and seasonal activities.
I want to avoid us all feeling somewhat trapped in this situation as we hit what’s coming to be known as the ‘6 month wall’ and have that feeling of impending doom as we head on in to winter.
The good news is that new seasons bring an extra layer of new creative things we can try and you can really sink into this time, drawing comfort from the fact that in this ever-evolving and different world we now belong to, some things do not change.
I think there is a real reassurance in this, and pulling yourself closer to what happens naturally throughout the year helps to distract and protect yourself from the horrible things that are happening. And that’s not to say we should ignore what is going on completely, but we all need some respite and some moments of joy to get through this and face the next turn of events.
So, what kind of things am I talking about?
Well, all seasons have their merits and unique moments, from the crisp mornings of winter, the first snow on the ground and rituals of family Christmases, to the warming of the ground releasing shoots of spring flowers, chocolate eggs and baby lambs, to long Summer evenings, family BBQs, holidays by the sea and longed for British Sunshine, but it is Autumn that is my absolute favourite.
There’s something about swapping T-shirts for jumpers, pumps for boots, lighting fires and scented candles, essentially going inwards to find comfort in keeping cosy and nesting in a part-hibernation state.
In Autumn it feels more acceptable to do comforting things, to prepare for a cold winter, fill yourself with wholesome soups, warming curries and stews, steamed puddings and custard, creamy hot chocolate, it makes me hungry just writing this!
So today I want you to re-evaluate the creative self-care list we began at the start of lockdown and think about some seasonal additions for Autumn.
Ask yourself, what do you need more of? What is you body craving? What does your mind need to feel nurtured?
And then, what kind of Autumnal creative / well-being activities might help with this?
The aim of the game is to think pro-actively and plan important self-care time into our busy days, then it is far more likely to happen. Here are some suggestions to how you may be feeling right now:
Believe me I’m feeling the same, but there are ways to feel better at home:
Fall in love with your house again by making simple changes
New seasons can give us the impetus to change things up at home and get your hygge vibe on and it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. Simply moving furniture around can make a big difference but if that’s not an option, then smaller changes can work to refresh your space.
At this time of year, I switch floral cushions to more touchy-feely fabrics like fur to snuggle up with. The same goes for throws to create a cosy fluffy nest that often the children, and pets can’t resist! Next, I light soothing candles, changing the scent to more autumnal aromas like spicey orange and cinnamon, or fruity scents like fig and blackberry.
Finally, create some autumnal flower displays either yourself, or support your local florist, and order them in, they look beautiful in an Autumn scheme and why not treat yourself right now?
And of course, you can decorate the house for Halloween with the kids. Pumpkin carving is always a must in our house but there are lots more things you can do such as dangly spiders, haunting lanterns and window decorations and making your own Halloween treats, because let’s face it trick or treating isn’t going to be the same this year but that’s not to say it can’t still be fun, we just need to channel our imagination!
Declutter to ease frustrations
I fall straight into this category and I really need to do more. Last week I had a whole clear out of mine and my son’s wardrobes and although it took half of my day, I felt so much better afterwards! It’s a good time to do it too as we swap our clothes around for the colder coming months.
I know it can be daunting having a to-do list for decluttering and sorting but even just doing one thing a week will help you chip away at it.
It’s all about moving forwards and not feeling stuck in the never-ending loop of little annoyances, and constant mind-chatter like ‘I should tackle this’ over and over again, driving you slowly mad.
Instead re-frame to ‘I could tackle this’ and just that small shift makes it a ‘want to do’ positive action rather than a bossy, ‘I’ve got to do’ command.
It makes you feel more in control, rather than weary from listening to the nagging Nancy in your head
2. I’m feeling so lethargic, and have zero energy or interest in doing anything
This is hard to dig yourself out of and largely depends on where it is stemming from, have you had a really busy time and your body needs to rest or are other things adding to your lack of energy? Either way, try some small changes to your routine or habits and you’ll soon notice the difference.
Be kind, nourish your body
Do the things that physically top you up such as making fresh, nourishing dishes, like soups and stews with plenty of seasonal, colourful veg or warming curries that include ginger, garlic and chillies – all great for your immune system.
At this time of year, I love making soups, they are so tasty and feel virtuous! Why not get creative and try making up some recipes of your own with different vegetables and stock? Or search for some easy feel-good recipes, here is one of my regular favourites ‘Sweet potato soup with coconut‘ from the BBC Good Food Soups and sides little book:
Jamie Oliver’s curries are another simple option, these tend to be a Saturday night family dish with lamb rogan josh and chicken tikka masala being their favourites from his cookbook, ‘The Ministry of food’.
Try and avoid lots of alcohol, as tempting as it is in lockdown, and whilst it may give you an initial boost, have more than a few glasses and you’ll feel sluggish and depressed. Alcohol is a depressant so will just make you feel worse in the long run, plus it plays havoc with sleep, leading to a restless night and a foggy head in the morning.
Instead keep hydrated with plenty of water, home heating soon dehydrates our bodies, so we need to replace more often than we think what we lose.
Also try a soothing cup of delicious ‘golden milk’ at bedtime to aid a good night’s sleep
3. I really miss my friends and social connections
Almost a full year in (part-lockdown for me since November last year), this is really taking its toll. I miss my close friends and creative groups that I belong to and so making an effort in this area is top priority for me and my sanity!
Get outside walking with friends
Loneliness and feeling a lack of connection has been a huge issue in lock-down, and before Winter really kicks in, try and make the most of dry days and meet up with your friends / family, (if allowed depending on your tier) and with space for social distancing, until the bad weather forces us indoors even more.
We are lucky (I think) to have seasons in the UK, so make the most of taking in the Autumn views, and the beautiful array of colours at this time of year.
Us Brits in particular, really need to keep our vitamin D topped up as much as possible, which many of us are lacking in, to help keep our immune system strong.
According to healthline.com, ‘regular sun exposure is the most natural way to get enough vitamin D. To maintain healthy blood levels, aim to get 10–30 minutes of midday sunlight, several times per week. People with darker skin may need a little more than this. Your exposure time should depend on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight.’
A friend of mine, Jac from Positive Earth Community Facebook Group, has recently set up walk and talk sessions on a Monday to help keep people connected and combat loneliness, which is a great idea and so simple to do. It’s easy to get into a rut and think I can’t be bothered to make the effort, but we know that keeping connected, especially in these tough times is so important to keeping mentally well and positive, so make it a priority, not a maybe.
Keep in touch online
If getting outside is not an option, or you want to add to the above to top up your social fix, then thank goodness for this digital age. As much as it often gets a bad rap, I’m not sure where we would now be in lockdown if it weren’t for things like Social Media, Zoom and Kahoot quizzes to name but a few!
Added to that there have been many online creative courses launched and creative projects like hashtag challenges on Instagram, lots of which link into the seasons.
You can sign up for Instagram Queen, Sara Tasker’s, newsletter where she shares her recommendations of hashtags. This month she shared the following ones linked to Autumn or the situation:
#stayhomestaycreative #craftforthesoul #howdoesyourgardengrow #quietshadesofbrown #noticewonderconnect #bakefromscratch #timeonmyhands #quietinthewild #consciouscreativity #myfloraljoys
Why not join in and treat it as a mindful project to capture the beauty of the season?
And if you’ve really got going with your creative hobbies and want to take it further and perhaps sell your products, Facebook groups launched by experts are a brilliant source of advice and a superb way to make connections and collaborate.
The online world of the creative community has grown beyond all expectation and is easier than ever before to join. I’ve always found it to be a hugely supportive and encouraging space where ideas and advice are shared equally, leading to all kinds of exciting opportunities.
Here are just a small selection of both creative and well-being groups worth looking at:
Holly & Co-mmunity
Psychologies Connected Community
Ask the Bookeeper UK
The Crafty Business Network
Find the good
4. I’m feeling uninspired, running out of ideas of things to do myself, or with the kids
Ok, Autumn is a great season to inspire creativity, not only do you have 2 events in Halloween and Bonfire night, but there is the changing landscape and colours that invite artists, photographers and writers alike to take note and immerse themselves in all this season has to offer.
Here are just some ideas, but as the holidays are coming up, I recommend sitting down and having a brainstorm with the kids to get them really involved.
For us normally, Halloween is a big deal (not me personally, I jump way too easily) but the kids and hubs LOVE it, usually taking themselves off to Alton Towers for Scare-fest. This year that might not happen, so instead our holiday plans look like this so far:
Come Dine with Me
We did this at the beginning of lock-down and it’s been forever talked about! So, it’s re-match time, we all need to make a starter and a main (we did main and puds last time) and we each vote for the winner.
Pumpkin carving – goes without saying really, but the hubs gets quite competitive with designs!
Halloween Night – latest plans involve a night treasure hunt in the woods with torches, I’ll be at home for this one or I’d probably have a heart attack!
Later on, it will be at least 2 scary movies and lots of nibbles, I’ll be hiding behind the cushion with a gin!
Boardgame Day – this genuinely drives me mad as it usually involves monopoly and they all race to buy up properties and bankrupt me, I’m a scrabble girl!
Art Day – this will be mainly for me and the boy, no doubt him making some scary character picture and me something with Autumn leaves, but I don’t care what he does because creative time is always a good time!
So, what else could you do? Here are a few suggestions…
I could go on but then this blog post wouldn’t end! And now it’s time for you to think up some creative ideas of your own to look forward to and get excited about. One thing lockdown has taught us is to problem-solve and be inventive and it’s created many magical moments already because of this.
So, you never know, this Autumn and half-term holiday may just be your best and most-remembered yet.
Do let me know how you get on and whether this has inspired you,
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
This week I’ve listened to some more fantastic episodes of podcasts, I can’t tell you what a difference these make to my life, giving me so many light-bulb moments and plenty of laughter too.
Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast
This was such an amazing episode with twin sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski explaining burn out and how to complete the stress cycle. This is just a must-listen and will leave you enlightened as to how humans process stress and emotions.
I absolutely love this podcast for its wit and humour and fabulous guests. Jesse Wear and her Mum Lennie have such great banter and you can’t help but chuckle along.
In particular, the Kylie, Chris and Rosie Ramsey and Michael Macintyre episodes can’t fail to cheer you up.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a local creative lockdown project organised by @nicolawynhamcreates to collate creative work for the region’s archives to show future generations how we responded to the pandemic.
Nicola chose a poem that I wrote after finishing treatment in May, to include in the project and you can see a wide variety of contributions here.
Nicola is still also seeking work to add to the project so if you live in the Kirklees area, contact her via Instagram above.
Hi everyone, how are you all doing?
This week I’m going to talk about something that is a big fear and I don’t think I’m alone amongst the creative community in this, or at least I hope not!
I set up this website and Blog up almost 2 years ago now, and I completely winged my way through it, building the site over 3 days and kind of hoping for the best. I’ve since wanted to do some proper training on WordPress because I knew I was probably missing some key elements to make it more effective and better design-wise.
But I am immensely fearful of anything either technology related or paperwork, it’s always been kind of a standing joke that I don’t like doing this stuff, but actually when I really think about it, it’s based in fear. It’s like that fear of pressing the BIG RED BUTTON, when there’s a notice right next to it saying, ‘Don’t Press this Button!’
I think I always believe there is a substantial possibility that if I press the wrong thing, everything will disappear into the ether and I’ll be filled with dread that it is lost forever, all my hard work, effectively down the drain.
With creative pieces, there are many fall back options, although of course it is possible to create a disaster, there is usually a way to ‘fix’ any mistakes, apart from if you work in permanent ink, but even then there are ways around it.
Writing is even easier, satisfyingly hitting delete to any sentence that doesn’t fill you with joy and even in photography there are ways of editing to instantly improve an image.
An opportunity then came up last week, via a WordPress workshop @theflexcollective with Andrew Baker of Picture Engine, to finally ask the many annoying questions niggling away connected to glitches with my website that leave me growling at it on a regular basis, particularly since the new Block Editor came into play a few weeks ago!
The pink (like pink is a less scary colour than red?!) striped error message, when trying to publish Blogs or new pages was literally like a red-rag to a bull at one point, and as a person who likes to problem solve, it became a real thorn in my side!
Anyway, I digress but let’s just say I relished the opportunity to iron out all these little nightmares to have a sleek, smooth-working website that was easy to navigate and add to.
The same applies for me with paperwork and anything financial. When discussing how we were going to take forwards the WOW Wednesday group with a new membership structure that will probably require a bank account, I once again instantly felt my heckles rise, whilst the more business savvy members of the group find these an easy and simple thing to do, it makes me want to run for the hills. ‘What if I don’t get it right?’ What if I fill in something wrong? What if I miss something? What does it make me responsible for?’ – are just some of thoughts that circle like a swarm of angry, frustrated bees in my head.
And I genuinely don’t know where this comes from, other than maybe it’s just the antithesis to my creative brain. But then when I finally make myself face what needs to be done, once I’ve put aside the fear, I genuinely like the satisfaction of rising to the challenge and fixing the problem!
So, following the workshop, I quickly set about tackling some key tweaks to my website whilst I still had the gusto and a little more confidence, only to still be getting the blumming pink message! With a headache starting but not to be deterred, I contact team WordPress via the chat button.
I won’t bore you with the details but it took a good hour or so, flicking between chrome and incognito (which I didn’t even know existed!), emptying the browser cache which really did fill me with fear until I worked out my WP password (I’d not logged out since I’d started it, I can see Techies shaking their heads in despair at this as we speak!).
It was even harder doing all this via text chat, I think the person could sense my stress via the exclamation marks and I got the, ‘It’s ok we are in this together!’ message. We finally got there, and things are running smoother, thank goodness!
Thinking about it this also applies to the house, in terms of organising and sorting, sometimes it just feels too overwhelming and I’d much rather escape to my beautiful, clean, fresh creative cabin and shut the door to the house where there’s an endless list of jobs to be done!
And it’s not at surface level, I keep it relatively tidy, it’s the bigger ‘sorting’ jobs and re-organising of cupboards that just feels too much, like it’s at least a half-day task when I have lots of creative work to be done, sitting patiently in my planner – who wouldn’t rather work on that and all the shiny new possibilities rather than the boring bits of life?!
So, this extra ‘housework’ and organising tends to get done on a weekend, when I can’t fully focus on my work anyway when there’s mum taxi trips to be done and the constant feeding breaks me away anyway. I try to get as much done as possible so it frees me up both physically and mentally to ‘create’ and work the following week.
However there is one job I quite like when I get into it and that’s the big clothes switch around, from Summer to Autumn season, pulling all the jumpers out of storage and the summer tops and dresses are retired until Spring. I think it appeals to the ‘shopping’ addiction section of my brain, it’s like shopping again, realising you actually have about 101 jumpers, but thankfully without spending any money. I find myself even talking to myself – ‘Oooo I forgot I had this!’ much to my daughter’s amusement!
As I spent half the day swapping around, I then arranged them in colour-coordinated order to look like an enticing new rainbow in my wardrobe – immensely satisfying to the creative mind and so much easier to find stuff!
So my advice this week is that old adage of if something is wrong that needs fixing for you to move on more effectively, but you have a fear around doing it, then ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.’
Easier said than done right? Ok let’s break this down a bit from what I’ve learned this last week:
I can’t tell you how good it feels to have now got my website up to date and looking better, I still have one thing left to work out (WP Chat may hear from me again – poor them!), and some future things I want to do, but it’s a strong update and I know I won’t leave it so long this time, it will become part of my regular planning!
That being said, if you’ve not been over to my website for a while, you can check it out here. As well as this Blog, there are lots of other things on there, regarding my journey with creativity via art, writing and photography.
There’s also information about our brilliant local accountability group WOW Wednesdays on the home page (or under Meetings & Events) and the free resource section – The Curious Cave where I keep an ongoing list of all the things that inspire me and help me learn and finally you can check out my lives with @psychologiesmagazine if you fancy some creative chat and challenges and some podcast interviews I‘ve had the pleasure of doing too , via the new Lives & Interviews section.
I’m playing about with fonts and colours too, so please do let me know what you think, I want it to be easier to navigate so you can easily get to the support and resources you’re interested in.
If this post has made you think and you’re now heading to tackle those tricky things, please let me know what you’re up to and how you get on, and good luck!
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Country Living Magazine,
Nothing makes me feel cosier than curling up with this magazine during Autumn with a fire roaring and a glass of wine! This stylish, beautiful magazine really comes into its own at this time of year and I’ve been a long-time subscriber!
I love following the artisan’s stories, I mean how amazing is this wicker work with willow from Anna and the Willow? And also, Emma Mitchell’s pieces showing us how to create magical things from the treasures around us, I’m now on the hunt for gorgeous antique bottles to display my wood collections in like above.
Conversations of Inspiration with Holly Tucker – Interview with Annie Sloane
I listened to this just this morning and it’s a fascinating conversation learning about how Annie started out, her thoughts on creativity – she believes all people are creative, it’s about thinking out of the box (woman after my own heart!), colour and how paint is made – as an artist this fascinates me!
In the woods, Autumn is my favourite time of year and I love all the new colours to take photos of, here’s a selection from last week. And if you love nature as much as me, you can always find more posts like these on my @soothedbynature Instagram account.