My top 20 0f 2020-focussing on the good stuff

Hi everyone, how are you doing? After another doom and gloom announcement from the powers that be, I think we are all doing a lot of reflecting on 2020, and hoping that better times are ahead in 2021. With yesterday being the shortest, darkest day of the year in the UK, I am praying that the light will soon return, slowly but surely, from now on.

But, until we are further down the vaccination process, it’s going to be a while before full confidence is restored, so once again it’s about digging in with our new-found confidant, resilience and hanging on in there by focussing as much as possible on the positives and building in consistent gratitude practice.

And it seems there are a lot of people out there doing the same! There are many resources available to help you with this, some of which I’ve newly discovered, and I’ve found them useful when reflecting on my year too, so I’m just going to list them here, so you can dip into them, as and when you wish:

Gabrielle Treanor’s Podcast ‘Pressing Pause’ – Episode 75 – How to find the gold dust in the mud pit that was 2020 – (I mean great title right?!)

Gabrielle goes through 15 reflective questions, to help you locate the golden nuggets, and it helps to just journal your responses out, many of these are similar to the questions I asked in the last BLOG I did which you can find here.

Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft – Happier Podcast – Find a ritual to Exorcise 2020

Exactly what it says above, ideas from Gretchen, Elizabeth and their listeners on how to bid farewell to 2020 in a symbolic way.

Black Bee Creative Business Page on Facebook – Steph Cronin’s interview with Lisa Walker of White Apple Thinking

Great interview and lots of tips on how to set intentions for the New year.

Katy Murray – Coach on Instagram – @katycatalyst

Katy provides a few New Year reset audio, just sign up with email and she provides regular prompts on her Instagram page and stories too.

Susannah Conway – Unravel your year 2021 – @susannahconway

The queen of reflection, Susannah has been way ahead of the curve for years on reflection practice. This is for people who really want to put the effort in and learn the lessons, it’s a free download, but takes some energy and commitment to complete, but it is worth it, especially for those wanting to make some big changes, it helps you to get to the root of why and helps you move forward.

So now you’ve got an array of resources to help you, but what’s the benefit? What’s the point I hear you ask, especially after the incredibly hard and awful year we’ve had?

Because once again it’s all about mindset, and channelling any extra gifts to ourselves we can find right now to get us through these dark winter months and emerge into the Spring light with purpose and hope, knowing that we have proved we can all get through just about anything.

I suppose it’s about re-looking at that evidence, in all it’s entirety so that it builds the value in your own mind and your personal belief, that yes, you can do this, despite every amount of crap that can be thrown at you.

It’s very easy to forget the little wins, or even some of the bigger ones, when we are dealing with challenges we’ve never experienced before.

Our focus at that time, when we are in the thick of it, is not on how well we are doing, quite often it’s on the opposite, how scared of failure we are, or that we are no good enough or ‘coping’ well enough.

We can be in pure fear of what’s to come, that it’s out of our control or our heads are in a spin with all the changes. Quite frankly during the storm, we are in survival mode, there’s no room for inner acknowledgement or pats on the back.

It’s not our priority at that moment, to sit down and figure out how great we are, our energy is taken up just getting through it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an important element of life in general or working on our businesses.

How else can we process what we’ve learned or work out which direction we want to take next? It’s an essential part of the process, for building confidence and self-belief, because looking back on our achievements, the proof is in the pudding, right there in all its shining glory.

Plus, this year is one for the history books, yes? How amazing will it be to look back on this in years to come and remember how we got through this pandemic, the craziest year that was 2020, one for future generations to hear about, that’s for sure.

So, on that note, here is my TOP 20 achievements of 2020, some real wow moments, some tiny but important steps forward for me personally, based on my work and creative projects mainly. These are to not only record them for myself, but to give you an idea of what I mean if you’d like a little guidance.

  1. First up, this is my 89th Blog from when I started in January 2019 and I’m on track to get to 90, my target by the end of the year, the number of visitors and views have both grown, so a big thank you to you the readers, for continuing to come back here, and hopefully enjoy what I do, I whole-heartedly appreciate it
  2. In lockdown I started my none-fiction book, working title ‘Creative by Nature’ as a nod to my first creative Instagram account @soothedbynature and also because this is what I preach to everyone – that everyone has at least one creative bone in their body!
  3. I’ve been lucky enough to be interviewed for 3 podcasts this year, on all kinds of subjects from childhood resilience to creativity to connection to my career, all incredible interesting chats with great hosts, you can find the links to those episodes, here
  4. I‘ve been curious in my artistic style and it’s paid off, needlefelt pictures and my new ‘grasses’ designs have started to sell, yeah!
  5. Created partnerships with 3 new local retailers to sell my art cards, people who respect and felt a synergy with and also some framed pieces at a new local pop-up shop that may become more permanent
  6. Technical knowledge (my nemesis) has increased thanks to me taking some time to figure it out via a WordPress Workshop and therefore improving my website, still no perfect, but big strides forward!
  7. I’ve been an eco-panel member for Psychologies Magazine, testing eco products and feeding back via video, which in turn prepared me for the next adventure….
  8. Where I was interviewed by a total hero of mine, Suzy Walker, Editor-in-chief at Psychologies magazine live on Facebook with only 2 days to get my head around it! Pretty terrifying but also a real wow moment, that then lead to…
  9. Doing 10 Instagram Lives via Psychologies Magazine platform, all about Creativity and setting challenges, which again was a completely new thing for me, but I loved having to think on my feet and adapt and that I inspired readers to have a go at creative projects and that has led to….
  10. A larger following on Instagram and the Blog, not huge, but more inline with the target I set myself at the beginning of the year and with quality followers who have a passion for creativity too.
  11. Had a poem I wrote featured in a local pandemic project that will go into the Council’s archive for future generations to learn about what people did at that time!
  12. Had a letter featured in Writing Magazine’s letters page, a secret mini ambition for a while
  13. I’ve continued to support small businesses and champion everything they do, because it’s a passion of mine and links to the work that I do with our accountability group – WOW Wednesdays (WWs)
  14. We’ve continued WWs, throughout lockdown and it’s been a godsend for us all, to stay social and supportive over zoom calls and we even had a socially distanced walk at Yorkshire Sculpture Park! I also had a strategy session with fellow WOW member Michelle, it felt great to get all my ideas down onto one single strategy doc that will be eternally useful!
  15. Due to Covid we’ve had to move the premises for WOW physical meetings, settled into our new home @theflexcollective and sorted out all the plans and launch to make it into a paid membership going forwards, to keep it sustainable and valuable for members
  16. Together with my husband, we built the smallest, but best little creative cabin in town! I absolutely loved making it my own creative space and whenever I go in it just makes me so happy!
  17. I’ve spent a lot of time learning and absorbing! From all the brilliant podcasts and coaches that give their time freely, and small courses or memberships here and there, it blows my mind the knowledge you can gain. I find wellbeing and mindset topics fascinating, as you can imagine, so all of this has really helped me, and therefore you, in getting those words of wisdom across, so that we can all benefit
  18. I’ve started to learn to coach, with some friends of mine and I love helping people on a more one to one level. It’s taught me to trust my instincts, and listen to the whispers and signs out there, it’s made me feel much surer of myself
  19. I’ve dealt with severe distractions, from the kids being home in full lock-down and being together in the house for 18 months now with my husband, and we haven’t killed each other yet, that in itself is a big achievement! For an amusing take on that, that I’m sure many will relate to, check out my previous blog here from the Summer
  20. And finally I’ve survived everything life has thrown at me, and us, this year, and still managed to be productive, from my Uncles sad passing, to chemo treatment throughout Covid and all that entails, including losing my hair and feeling horrendous, recovering from Sepsis, on my birthday no less!, my sister working all hours on the frontline at our local hospital, radiotherapy, my husband being out of work, both my Mum and Step-dad having Covid and him being hospitalised, the dog getting Sepsis too, and that’s before all the other challenges family and friends have had where we’ve supported them, it has been a hell of a year, but we are here, still smiling and very, very grateful for (touch-wood) current good health.

So that’s the ‘creative business / project’ stuff that’s kept me ging throughout treatment and lockdown, but what else? Well of course it’s the simple things isn’t it. Because in the end that’s what’s important, so here’s a little selection of that too:

  • Walks with family and friends, especially when I was finally out of ‘prison / shielding’!
  • Spending time in the garden, under the new pergola eating dinner, or toasting marshmallows over a firepit in the evening and watching the stars
  • Finally getting to go away in the Summer for a family holiday in Cornwall and just drink in those sea views and feel the sunshine
  • Being ‘allowed’ to sit back in friend’s gardens, bliss!
  • Family ‘Come-dine with me’ competitions!
  • My daughter spending days on a ‘friends’ type quiz for the husbands’ birthday
  • Baking and consuming, so much cake, especially banana loaf!
  • Cuddles and walks with the dog
  • Warm Summer night sunset walks up the lane (the only place I was allowed by my doctors when shielding)
  • Clapping for the NHS on a Thursday night
  • My hair growing back and no longer looking like a fluffy chicken
  • Re-joining writing group
  • Sketching in those sunny spring months outside
  • Good TV series binging, ‘Normal People, The Fall, This is us’ to name just a few
  • The Meerkat Movies virtual Take That concert!
  • My own bed after 5 days in hospital
  • Painting the cabin whilst listening to podcasts
  • My first G&T after 6 months of treatment!
  • Having the picc line taken out of my arm and finishing chemo
  • My friend Nigel doing fabulous portrait of my sister and another artist friend Linda drawing my chemo nurse, as part of the NHS portraits project
  • The kids working hard, virtually throughout lockdown, whilst missing their friends
  • Creating lots of little surprises for my daughter’s 15th birthday last week, including a surprise zoom with her mates, she was expecting a quiz with the grandparents!

So that’s the good stuff that happened in my 2020, but the next important part are the lessons we learn from this year, the whole shebang, caboodle; good, bad, indifferent, boring, inspiring, exciting, frustrating, upsetting, amusing, heart-warming…. that will help guide us going forwards…so the next blog will be all about that!

Until then, have the best Christmas possible in the circumstances, yes, it’s not the same, but there is also always someone worse off than us, let’s count our lucky stars, and enjoy the special moments, because this Christmas will be one we remember for a long, long time, so make it memorable for good reasons, not just what we are all missing,

Take Care, stay safe,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

P.s For those thinking about joining our local accountability group, WOW Wednesdays, the special offer of the founding membership price is still on until the 31st of December, find out more all about it here.

To infinity and beyond, manifesting hope and opportunity in 2021

Hi everyone, how are you all doing?

Excited for Christmas with a relaxation on the rules? Or on a tailspin trying to work out your 3 families bubble? Well whilst you try and figure that all out, after the year we’ve had I want to talk about hope for the future, and what guises determine how that may pan out.

This is a last-minute decision, after various ponderings but then I noticed this was Blog post 88 and that sealed it for me. You see 8 is my lucky number; my anniversary is on the 8th, my little sister was born on the 8th, and the number 8 seems to follow me around a lot. Plus, I like the symmetry and infinity design of it, you could put a pencil on it and have hours of fun going round and round!

I’ve long been a believer of not only lucky numbers but also signs out there that the universe is watching and ready to hint when you least expect it. I know this sounds very ‘woo woo’ but from a young age I’ve had a strong sixth sense, and vivid dreams that have turned out to be true. And recently this has been playing out more in every-day situations, I’ll give you an example a few weeks ago, so you don’t think I’m going mad:

After a busy, stressful few weeks I talked about in my Blog 2 weeks ago, I was on my usual dog walk and selected a podcast to listen to at random from my library. It turned out to be Brene’ Browns ‘Unlocking Us’, the latest edition.

As I stomped about in the woods in my wellies, I was aware of feeling heavy and a bit rubbish. I’d started with some sinus pain that morning, and put it down to the previous horrible few weeks eventually catching up with me, as often does when you’re not longer in that, ‘Lets just get through this’, survival phase.

My mind was racing and running over the last few weeks, until I finally tuned into the seductive calming, authoratitive voice of the infamous Brene. She was interviewing Gabby Rivera, an Author, about many things, but a huge part of it was about her debut novel; ‘Juliet Takes A Breath’. When I heard the title, I literally took a sharp intake of breath.

Unlocking Us Brené with Gabby Rivera on Superheroes, Storytelling and Joy as Resistance

Now the focus of the novel was not in anyway related to anything I was going through, but those words: ‘Juliet Takes A Breath’ were repeated over and over by both women throughout the interview. And it felt like a huge message. I sat on the bench in the woods and did just that, took a deep breath, feeling quite emotional if I’m honest, because I’d been so caught up in survival mode, yet again (i.e a fairly permanent state this year!), that it felt like a huge release, like I was now allowed to stop and take a breather, put the crap month behind me, and start again. Completely surreal, yet highly effective to say the least!

As well as listening to these external signs, over the last 4 years of practicing and doing the internal work I increasingly listen to my intuition more and more because there is proof in the pudding that it’s serving me well.

Take my latest collaboration for example, working with Keeley from Bloomindales, my local florist who’s become a customer of mine in terms of my art-cards and a community spirited friend who I respect and feel genuinely in tune and connected with when it comes to not only business values, but just generally on what life’s all about.

I love it when this happens, it feels truly magical when you’re on the same page as someone and this year more than any other, it has happened alot.

And I do believe there is some manifestation and higher frequency energy at play here when this happens. Like the stars are moving into their correct and rightful place because the passion you have is so powerful, it’s nudging you along. And when that energy is doubled, it’s like a magnet – like attracts like.

It’s this magical aligning that has brought me many exciting and challenging (in a good way) opportunities this year.  But like Santa, you have to BELIEVE that it can happen, or those opportunities will seek someone else, more willing to take a chance and put them into action, a bit like what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her iconic book, ‘Big Magic’ – that ideas are their own entity and seek the appropriate people to action them and bring them alive.

There have been two stand-out occasions this year where this has happened to life-changing effect, and bizarrely both situations were pinned on my vision board from the year before.

So firstly, I got to work closely with Psychologies Magazine, an absolute dream after being a subscriber for many years, it may even be decades by now! It did require some initial action on my part, I kept showing up, posting my Blogs on their Psychologies Connected Community FB page, but then much to my surprise and delight, Suzy Walker, the Editor-in-Chief read it, and then asked me to do a Live interview on Facebook (which received 6.7k views!).

I could have panicked and said no, that I wasn’t ready, but one thing cancer teaches you is to be ready for anything, and just do it, whilst you’re healthy and fit enough to! And Suzy was lovely, I was a bit star-struck to be honest, but she was so warm and down to earth, she put me at ease straight away. That then lead to me doing the ten, ‘Gain Creative Confidence’ Live sessions on @psychologiesmagazine Instagram, which have been watched by over 12k viewers now – both nerve-wracking and an enjoyable thrill!

Next up has been working with the wise, inspiring wonder that is Wendy Showell Nicholas, one of our WOW members who has many strings and skills to her bow; she is a registered counsellor and psychotherapist, NLP master practitioner, coach, independent social worker, author, mindfulness teacher, educator and finally a speaker in workplace wellbeing, phew!!

Again this was a very serendipitous moment, I’d written an email to her to get her advice on me taking up coaching and would she be able to teach me a thing or too, that I then saved as a draft because I hadn’t got my scan results and so I thought it was too early!

Meanwhile just 2 hours later, Wendy sent me a text requesting my help on a business project, we immediately set up a call and the rest is history! We’ve been working together ever since, me practicing ‘coaching’ her on her business ambitions, and Wendy providing insightful feedback to help me progress, whilst also striding forward in what she wants to do, supported by myself and some coaching tasks to challenge her. And I find this work sooooo interesting! It’s reaffirmed that this is another direction I want to go in, to become a creative coach.

These consistent co-incidences have continued between Wendy and myself, which only boosts my belief that this partnership was meant to be.

It’s also very much about finding your people, and I’m extremely lucky (although we did create it!) that I have the wonderful WOW Wednesday group, the local accountability group that myself and Clair @asocialnature created to support people with a dream.

My WOW partner in crime, Clair and me working on lots of exciting WOW plans

My partnership and friendship with Clair was yet another moment destined to happen, a long story but basically we followed each other on Instagram for a while and finally realised we lived near to each other and then a mutual friend introduced us!

Since then, working with Clair is like looking in a mirror to a large extent, we are VERY similar, have the same INFP personality and born 4 days apart and it makes working together extremely easy, because we know what each other is thinking.

So, when it came to setting up the WOW Wednesday group, it was a no-brainer and we excitedly gathered like-minded people, drawing them in, ready and willing for deeper conversations, connection, support and to share ideas.

The people that make up the membership of this group are our people, a whole tribe of interesting, unique, passionate humans that we enjoy spending time with and learning from their vast experience, soaking their insight and enthusiasm up like sponges.

Having a great team around you makes a massive difference in terms of accountability, your terms of success and gives you the hugely satisfying feeling of giving something back and making a difference.

‘I love having my little WOW community. It really helps to stay connected with others when you work for yourself and don’t have people in an office to build working relationships with. I love that I now have a network of people who work in different areas to me, and have learned so much because they are generous with their skills, knowledge and talents.’

Wendy

That might be specific skills, or may involve mindset and how you approach your work both normally and throughout challenges. I like to think that this is mainly where I offer most value, as well as problem solving, ideas and suggestions, given the amount of extra research I do each week via podcasts, reading and belonging to several Facebook groups! I can then pass on what I’ve learned if relevant to benefit the WOW Wednesday team.

And I’m well known for my positive outlook, but that’s because I’ve been through many challenges, especially this last year with the cancer treatment journey, and I refuse to let it beat me, sometimes it takes just sheer bloody-mindedness to get through stuff and to find your fighting spirit!

That said, you can be the most positive person ever, but you still need to do the work, put in the hours and energy to get to where you want to go, it’s not just going to magically appear by clicking your fingers.

I have big plans for 2021, and it seems the stars are aligning to help me, I’m very much a typical Aquarian and according to Red Magazine, it’s our year, yep I’ll take that thank you very much!

In essence what I’m trying to say is just go for it, in whatever you want to do in life. I read a great Quote in Psychologies Magazine this month that said:

‘When everything is uncertain, anything is possible’

Which basically means why wait until the ‘right, most perfect’ time, because if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t predict life, in some ways the only thing you can expect, is the unexpected BUT you can build the resilience and awareness of how to react to challenges and take action, so that you are able to cope better and aren’t thrown you completely off track.

So how can you start the New Year off on the right footing? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get you thinking:

  1. What have been my greatest wins / achievements this year? They can be big or small, so long as they matter to you
  2. What challenges have I faced and overcome? How did I do that, what helped me?
  3. What have I learned about myself during this unprecedented time?
  4. What has surprised me, in a good way, about this year?
  5. What changes can I make next year that will serve how I want to work / live?
  6. What support will help me to move forwards?
  7. How can I make good connections to learn and grow?
  8. How could I share some of my skills, for the benefit of other people?
  9. How can I plan well this year, what key events have we got coming up as a family that will impact this? E.g. Exams, job changes etc
  10. How do I want to feel by the end of 2021, what will help me to get to this feeling?

The first question is so important, to reflect on what you have achieved, because it’s proof right there that you can get the things done that you want to. Reflection is a vital part of the often ‘unconfident creative’.

It’s hard to silence the inner critic, it can sometimes require daily practice, but having that list visibly in front of you can lead you back to the positive, kinder voice that we all need to tune in to, and banish the destructive annoying rant in our heads that we all know deep down is not reality.

It’s a self-taught, learned behaviour that as humans we naturally hear the negative chatter louder and pay more attention to than the positive cheerleader in us, but that doesn’t mean we are doomed to listen to it for the rest of our lives.

It takes hard work, but it can be achieved, not only for yourself, but also for the benefit of others around you – you have to demonstrate that you believe in yourself, if you want others to believe in you too, and that means telling the inner critic to shut the hell up!

It’s not easy, but so worth it when it becomes more consistent, so why don’t you try asking yourself,

‘What if I believe I can do anything I put my mind to today?’

It may seem crazy, but by thinking and asking yourselves these questions, it’s switching your mindset into that one of ‘growth’ which is what teachers, and parents, try to teach our children all the time, so why not employ that advice with yourself and try it on for size?

I want 2021 to be the year we take back control of our own destiny, not necessarily of external situations, because that’s impossible, but we can control how we respond to external influences – like the main image says, you grow through what you go through!

So, with increased resilience and new hope, especially now we have a vaccine (thank you awesome scientists and NHS who are currently planning the logistics!), I am looking forward to 2021, and all the opportunities it may bring – like a fresh new notebook ready to hold your new wishes and dreams.

I hope this blog has inspired you to do the same, please let me know if it’s struck a chord via the comments box below, because essentially, these blogs, my musings, tips and everything I share here, are to help and encourage you to pick up those creative dreams and run like the wind with them!

And if you need extra help with that, you could always join our WOW Wednesday group. We have a special ‘Founding Membership’ offer on throughout December only, see link for details, and if you’d like to try us out first and see what all the excitement is about, then get in touch via my Instagram DM or the contact form on my About Me page and you can join a meeting session via Zoom, for free, as a taster introduction, over the next few weeks.

Until next time, I hope the festive spirit is bringing you joy and you’re looking forward to a cosy Christmas with your loved ones.

Take Care, stay safe, Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Getting into the creative feel-good festive spirit

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!

Got my starry jumper on ready for the Christmas Live! –
p.s ignore the hair, it’s getting out of control!

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)

One of our Zoom Accountability Meetings
this week

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.

So nice to get out of the house and meet ‘in person’!

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:

I launched a competition to win my ‘jazzy birds’ collection as part of the Just A Card Campaign on Instagram this week – head on over to enter!

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.

Looking forward to delving into this!
One for your Christmas list perhaps?

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.

Gabrielle Treanor

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

Madness, Musings and creating a Magical Christmas

Hi everyone, how are you doing? I’m sure you may be wondering where I’ve been the past few weeks, this is the longest break I’ve actually had since starting the Blog in January 2019, and it’s been weird, but at the same time I really needed it, because the s*** really hit the fan, which I didn’t think was possible, given the year we’ve had already, but yup someone decided they needed to raise the game for us!

This one gave us a fright!

So, without going into too much detail, the dog got really ill, with sepsis and was in vet hospital for 5 days, during the half term holidays. Anyone who knows me, knows the dog is like my 3rd child so it was incredibly stressful. To keep busy we did some major decluttering and cooking, just to keep busy in-between regular vet updates!

We’d just got her home and then the following weekend, my Step-dad got symptoms and tested positive for Covid, he gradually got more and more ill, and then went into hospital, has been seriously ill, but finally turned a corner earlier this week and yesterday came home. My Mum also got it, but thankfully, she had it mild, phew.

So as you can imagine it’s been a scary time, all that coupled with a bit of extra treatment for me, has filled my time and head-space and I completely lost my mojo for a while, but I can feel it slowly returning…thank goodness for that!

So, today I want to talk to you about a few things really as I’ve been pondering several elements of creativity and direction in this pretty stressful time, and listening to several great podcasts, that have got me thinking.

Is a tight, specific style important?

Firstly, I listened to one of our lovely WOW Members Yvonne Robinson from @_lovetodesign_ , who was interviewed by Emma Isaacs for her Creative Ways’ podcast. Also, on the podcast was Richard Tillotson from @mungoandshoddy and so the interviews were split over 2 episodes – double the wisdom for me to consume hurrah!

All 3 artists used to work for Tiger Print, years ago that is now part of Hallmark and it was really interesting listening to their individual journeys and similar experiences. They also talked a lot about their own personal artistic style and this got me thinking as they are all successful in what they do, so is this a key element of success – developing a specific style of art that is easily recognised and identifiable to them?  

I wondered this because I really don’t have a specific artistic style yet and could this be something that may hold me back?  Are customers accepting of an artist who is still at the experimental stage, or does it dilute who my typical customer may be? Is my audience too wide or am I overthinking it and its all fine? I don’t know the answer, so I’d be interested in your thoughts!

Plus, if you throw in the fact that I don’t really include any sentiment or words into my cards apart from the odd few, does that also narrow the appeal? Yvonne said that she felt it was the image that draws people to the card, but it’s the sentiment that connects with the customer and encourages them to purchase.

I do think there is a lot in this and this is where their experience and training comes in, which is way more than mine in terms of art at least, and I do want to combine my images with words – especially as you know I love words and am a writer at heart. For me it’s simply not knowing how to use ‘In design’ packages to combine these, but I have started using Canva Pro to have a go at this, which has helped me create some new Wellbeing Wisdom postcards, which was such fun to do, so my plan is to experiment more, and add more words to some designs (I’ll show you soon as would love to know what you think).

I suppose what I do do, is try to create little collections of different styles, based on either subject or the medium I’ve used. And this lends itself to my curious nature that is still very much learning at this point. It keeps me interested, inspired to improve and to try new things without the fear of failure and just play around with new materials. Some work, some don’t and that’s ok, I learn with each experiment.

Do we need to take more breaks from Social Media?

This is another thing I’ve been querying this week, based on both the experience of not having the mental energy for it over the past few weeks with everything going on, and also listening to Ruth Poundwhite’s ‘Creatively Human’ podcast interview with @helenredfernwriter who talked about re-focussing her energy back to her writing and making that the primary focus rather than social media, particularly Instagram, as it was beginning to take over. She’s now created strategies that work to avoid this happening again.

I have to say I’ve been feeling this too, but I think it’s been made more apparent because my time has been squeezed by 2-3hrs a day and so less and less time to get done what I wanted to. Plus, my Instagram is something I’ve been putting a lot of effort into, in a bid to get to the golden 1k followers.

This isn’t a large figure I know, but I made it my target a while ago and have made good progress recently but as everyone does, I get frustrated by the follow – unfollow game that some people play. So, I think it’s partly a bit of apathy with it all too.

That’s not to say I’ll be coming off completely, but I am going to schedule some days off, and slow down the input a little, and take heed of Helen’s advice.

Helen’s work on her website is also really interesting, she has lots of avenues where she expels her knowledge on all aspects of writing, including many struggles which is so refreshing to see, rather than just the shiny experiences of ‘Look at me I wrote a book in 3 months in lockdown!’- that just makes any potential novelist / author feel rubbish.

Knowing there are people out there that face the same challenges as us, who are happy to share, really helps, and fills you with that writing community spirit, that we’re all in this together.

My letter this month in Writing Magazine

Also driving this is getting back to the heart of what I do, and that is writing, so it was important for me to get back in the saddle, and write this.  I also re-joined my writing class on zoom last night which felt good, and a letter I wrote to Writing Magazine was published in this month’s edition, in which I talk about the none-fiction book I’m writing – which makes me feel more accountability to crack on with it!

And then there’s Christmas…

I’m not going to lie, this month so far, plus the on / off news about whether we will be in or out of lockdown, has not instilled me with anticipation of Christmas joy.

I’ve been snapping some pictures of holly to get me in the Christmas spirit!

No, it has taken things finally getting better and having to prepare for my next @psychologiesmagazine Insta Live (coming up Monday 23rd November) to kick me into some festive action! It’s not so much the festivities, but more the knowledge of the time it’s going to steal from my work, when I’ve just lost 3 weeks and feel like I’m playing catch up. 

I realise this sounds very bar-humbug and of course there are lots of things I love about it: decorating the tree and the house with as much light and colour as possible, usually creating new xmas designs for my cards (although not this year), drinking mulled wine and amaretto on ice, eating copious slices of Christmas cake (My mum bakes me one every year and I’m the only one who likes it – result!) with wensleydale cheese, after-eights and matchmakers!, the tradition of me giving the kids Xmas pyjamas the night before, big woolly jumpers and slippers, usually sparkly on Christmas day, the kids demanding that we play monopoly, the fire on whilst the wind whistles outside, the dog going nuts with all the Christmas wrapping, and watching my absolute favourite Xmas movie – The Holiday, are just a few of my highlights.

I’m looking forward to researching some
Christmas ideas , this star is gorgeous!

I also find the run up to Xmas a period of reflection, and this year for us and for many it’s felt like 10 years of dramatic events rolled into one and it’s a lot to take in. This year my Uncle won’t be here and I know that will hit our family hard, he was such a jolly character, and loved being around all his family at Christmas time.

But it’s also really important to reflect on what we have all come through, some really huge things, as well as the successes creative-project-wise that I need to acknowledge and be thankful for – make that all important list of what we’ve achieved, because it helps to shape the next plans and direction for 2021. I’ll be doing some more of this in a post in the run up towards the end of the year.

So, this weekend will be Christmas research, to inspire myself, and the listeners of the live on Monday. I want it to be a fun and uplifting experience because who knows what the government will decide next week, so we need all the enthusiasm and creativity we can muster to make this Christmas as magical as possible.

You never know, using our creative skills and thinking outside the box may just make this a unique and special Christmas. It will certainly be one we won’t forget in a hurry that’s for sure and I know that this year we’ll all appreciate our loved ones a little bit more.

As we get into this extra busy period, and I want to re-commit to the book / books (there’s still the never-ending novel too!) I’m going to space out my long blog posts to every 2 weeks and then I’ll pop in in-between with updates like the link to the Live and recommendations of things I’ve been listening to or reading which I hope you will find as useful and inspirational as I do.

So I hope your preparations for Christmas have begun and that you’re not feeling the pressure too much, this year we need to just chill I think, make some good memories with our families and add in some big doses of self-care, we deserve it after surviving 2020!

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps main image taken from one I created in Canva for my wellbeing range and apt for World kindness day last week!

Trusting the creative energy cycle – action to take in the moments you are stuck

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.

The cosy jumpers are out in full force!
Another reason why I love Autumn!

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.

Planning

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

Inspiration Corner

What has been inspiring me this week…

Listening

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?!