Collaboration Inspiration – when passion and purpose collide

Hi Everyone, how are you doing this week?

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve returned to firing on all cylinders, for now, and that’s largely down to working with some great people last week and so today I wanted to talk to you about working in collaboration to spark new inspiration, confidence and deeper connections.

It’s very tempting to stay holed up in the Cabin, but getting out and discussing actual ideas with real people is so beneficial to us as humans!

As creatives, and especially the introvert kind, most of our work I’d say and particularly during lock down, is done by ourselves, on our own at the kitchen table, in our offices or studios or on the sofa whilst half tuning into the TV and the dog nudging your laptop to get your attention.

And whilst that works to a point, in terms of less interruption of creative thought (apart from dog and TV and requests for coffee from you know who), answering just to ourselves and allowing us to go with the flow in terms of timings, there’s a lot to be said for working with others to push our comfort zone and open ourselves up to further opportunities.

So, what are the benefits of stepping out of our caves for a while in the search of fellow creatives, aka our tribe and discovering who’s out there in the big wide world?

  1. Increased connection – working alone can be lonely, and it’s easy to slip into unhelpful habits and become out of practice communicating with people on a regular basis, which we know deep down is good for us, particularly in a world that has lessened our physical connections with humans right now.

It’s about making the effort for our own mental health and that of others, and if you need any more convincing on this, just read my friend @wendyshowellnicholas insightful and poignant blog on the subject of loneliness to realise just how important it is that we connect on a human level.

  • Sharing of ideas – following on from above, what you specialise in may be just the thing that a friend of a friend is looking for or that new member on the business Facebook group you belong to that is just starting out and has a query that you know the answer to – well you may just be able to solve their problem and one day they will return the favour or refer you to a friend.

Trust me from experience, this happens more than you realise and can lead to great friendships as well as expanding your learning.

  • More opportunities – similar to the above but once you start collaborating with people and the project is a success, it builds awareness that you are a good person to work with and who knows it may lead down a completely different direction that you expected, but an exciting one that switches things up a bit and reignites that passion for what you do.
The sessions with Psychologies Magazine would never have happened without the initial opportunity to be interviewed for a Facebook live with Editor-in-Chief,
Suzy Walker
  • Builds confidence – working solely on your own can lead to that inner critic voice, that all creatives are so susceptible to, to becoming quite loud. However, that recognition of someone else saying you are good at what you do, slowly silences those misgivings and beliefs, giving you the confidence to keep going or try different things, and that sometimes is worth its weight in gold.
  • Help and support – When you are working on your own, the buck stops with you, how something pans out or grows, is all down to you and your sheer hard work. Working closely with someone else shares that burden, and you can support each other all the way. The key to this is being clear from the beginning on who is responsible for the different roles of a project and committing to being honest with each other on any issues that come up.
  • Increased awareness of your own skills – Collaborating with people can be a real-life lesson and bring greater awareness of what you are good at, but also where your skills do not lie! This is nothing to be worried about, it would be impossible for us all to be amazing at everything, but it’s something to bear in mind when choosing who to work with – it would be good to pick someone whose skills compliment yours to create a great partnership in which you value each other’s specialist qualities.

So, what are some creative examples of this?

  1. Well, you could be an illustrator and a friend has just finished writing their children’s book and are looking for someone to illustrate it. What you need here is a strong brief and an honest relationship, be as clear as possible what you friend is looking for, the timescales involved, whether this would be a paid upfront or commission project,  how feedback will be given and whether you have any other competition, before taking on this collaboration project.
  2. A friend works for a mental health charity and is looking for a speaker at a local event for young people. You are a trained creativity mentor and have spoken at large corporate events before and would love to help, for free. Whilst your friend may bite your hand off so to speak, there are some questions to ask to check whether this would be a good fit for both of you, such as would the material spoken about be tailored to this very different audience and do you have the time to prepare that? What follow-up options are available if a young person seeks further help after the event? Does the charity have a strong ethics and values profile that you are happy to be associated with, not just because it’s your friend?

And what’s the best way to seek collaboration in the first place? This is where it requires you to think a little out of the box and getting curious about collaboration opportunities that may not be blindingly obvious at first. It’s about using the power of your creative brain and mind-mapping out some ideas and asking what ‘could’ you do, rather than only trusting in what you do now.

Groups like our WOW Wednesdays bring together like-minded people and you soon learn what you have in common including similar directions you want to head in

But at the heart of it is connection – people will want to work with you based on a feeling and how well they know you and what you are about, which requires putting that knowledge out there, whether to friends, family, colleagues or people you connect with online.

This is about being consistent with your brand messaging and purpose, the more people who understand what drives you and what you are passionate about, the more you will come to mind when working on projects that match these topics, vision and values – you want to be the first person people think of as a spokesperson / creator on/of X.

And it’s about ensuring all that is either visible via the likes of your work being distributed or shown at things like exhibitions, through books or workshops, on your website or Blog or using social media, marketing, and PR.

OR the alternative or addition to this is to become ‘famous’ by word of mouth, by sheer fantastic reputation and recommendation by your customers – now we’d all like a bucket full of that please!

To give you some more examples of this, I want to share 3 collaboration projects I worked on last week…all interestingly stemming from our Accountability Group – WOW Wednesdays.

  1. Firstly, was working with Clair, of @asocialnature, my accountability partner and co-founder of WOW Wednesdays. Working with Clair goes a little against the advice of what I shared above in that I’d say 80% of our skills and personality, are very similar, in fact we are exactly the same personality type on the Myers Briggs scale, both INFP-A Mediators.  We also both have children the same age, with similar hobbies and we are both Aquarians!

Our central skill, training and passion is writing and it features heavily in both our work, as well as our love for social media. For Clair that is central to her business as a Social Media Manager.

We both love the outdoors and nature and enjoy photography. I’d say the only slight difference is that Clair is more comfortable technology wise although she swears only when she’s done it once, and maybe I’m more arty and visual, e.g. love playing with Canva and logos. She has more ‘business’ skills being further on in her journey than me, and I’m still at the many 4am ideas stage.

Last year Clair and I attended this vision board workshop together, a fab day and the ideas were flowing!

When we get together, particularly on our passion project of WOW Wednesdays, the ideas start flowing and we spur each other on and create a lot of excitement! So much so we’re now going to make sure we book in a day a month at the co-working space @theflexcollective for this purpose. There’s often been talk of us creating a podcast together, and I can see that happening if we can ever carve out some more time…(it’s on the list!).

But last week, it was all about creating a new Facebook Group for WOW Wednesdays and we had a great few hours working our way through it, setting up the group, adding all the content and creating the logo. All of this we are sharing in our first physical meeting since lockdown in the very Covid-safe facilities in its new home of The Flex Collective and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to.

This partnership works so well due to our shared ethos of what the group should be, we’ve been clear and in agreement all along about this and how it is evolving is no different.

  • Next up was the podcast interview I recorded with the Two Northern Lasses, aka Michelle and Jayne who are also WOW Wednesday members. They set up the podcast last year and although they’re now having to record interviews via Zoom, it is growing from strength to strength as a time where the world-wide podcast audience has grown massively during the pandemic.

Little did I know when we recorded it was actually World Podcast Day, and they were close to hitting their big number of 5000 listens, which made it extra exciting (They’ve hit that and some now by the way!).

We’d been trying to get this recorded for some time so it was great to finally manage it and we had a really fun conversation talking about my previous career, moving from corporate life to what I do now, our shared love of nature and dogs, my relationship with @psychologiesmagazine (another huge collaboration!), and my journey with creativity, that also helped me through my chemo treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Key to doing an interview like this, is feeling comfortable with the hosts and I like their very natural, down-to-earth style and banter with one another and so it was such an easy and enjoyable thing to do and we all had a much needed laugh in relation to a tough few weeks for small businesses and child-care issues due to Covid track and trace in schools!

And again, it’s about ensuring your values match – The Two Northern Lasses podcast is all about sharing inspiring local business and career stories, and I’m all for that and celebrating what people can achieve.

This is a good example too of sharing your story in interviews such as this, becoming more visible to allow a wider audience to get to know you and what you are about.

I know that people find how I dealt with the whole diagnosis and treatment of Hodgkin’s inspiring through the many messages I’ve received, and Michelle and Jayne touched on this and whilst that was lovely and appreciated, and I do hope it inspires people in similar positions, I am always keen to reiterate that it’s having a purpose and my creative projects that got me through and for me there was no other way, which I hope then strengthens the message of what I’m all about – i.e. that creativity for well-being, health and contentment works!

For anyone wanting to catch up on the interview, you can find it here.

  • And finally, I had another practice coaching session with Wendy (another WOW member – see the theme here? if in doubt set up your own group of people who you know you will connect with!).

A few months ago, we both contacted each other on the same day in some serendipitous moment that was clearly meant to be!

Wendy needed some help with some new directions she wanted to take her business in and I was desperate to go down the new channel of coaching to help people on a more one to one basis (Wendy is a highly trained Counsellor, psychotherapist, NLP master practitioner, coach, independent social worker, author, mindfulness teacher and passionate speaker and educator on many areas of wellbeing). Following an hour and half chat, we knew we could work together and support each other!

Wendy has helped me so much with techniques, suggestions, and feedback and although initially slightly nerve-wracking (for me!) we are both really enjoying the sessions, in particular the creative tasks I’ve been setting to help with mindset and direction and bring out the creative side that she didn’t fully know existed – you see it’s always in there and I love discovering it in people!

I feel like we both view the world in very similar ways and once again this has led to another idea coming up that I have always had on the back-burner, and psychic Wendy (as I’m now calling her as this keeps happening!) has contacted me with this very similar idea to work on in collaboration!

It’s top-secret, for now, but of course it ensured a 4am wake up call with a billion ideas for the title over the weekend! Will I ever sleep properly again is the question I’d love to know?!

Safe to say this new project has got me very excited as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do – which just goes to show, finding and connecting with ‘your people’ is sometimes all that’s needed to set the collaborative wheels in motion and maybe I was never meant to do it alone anyway?

So, that’s how the collaboration magic has worked for me this week and it truly does feel very special when it happens. If this is something that appeals to you or that you have experienced too, I’d love to hear all about it below in the comments, or via DM on my Instagram @thecuriouscreativeclub.

Until next week, keep safe

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps eagle eyed readers may have noticed that I’ve played around a little with the header and fonts, this is following what we’ve done with the FB Group we’ve been creating as I love that! So, I decided to make this one cleaner and easier to read the titles with a new font and background (still one of my photos though, above, blurred into the background!), I hope you like!

Inspiration Corner – What I’ve been up to this week

Reading

Writing Magazine

The November Issue and in particular the article by Helen Stockton on creative none-fiction was really interesting as I learned what classifies as this specific genre and the increased audience for it – basically this Blog and the book that I’m writing!

Listening

Make a plan, make it happen Podcast – Josephine Brooks

On the same topic as above, Josephine Brooks interviewed Emma Block, author of The Joy of Watercolour, this week for her podcast, on how to tap into the none-fiction market and how she became published, a really interesting discussion with plenty of tips for anybody interested in publishing a none-fiction book.   

Happy Place Podcast – Fearne Cotton

Last week Fearne interviewed Jay Shetty, a best-selling author and podcaster who at just 21 years old became a monk for 3 years, he talked about finding your purpose and my key take away was this:

“Purpose = passion + strength + compassion” – high five to that!

Watching

‘Life’ on BBC 1 / Streaming on iPlayer

I love it when I find a series, I become hooked on and I end up binge watching it I like a book I can’t put down! This is one of those series! 4 different families whose stories interlink and leave you thirsty for more! I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t like it!

Books

I’ve paused the Clare Mackintosh’s book club read, Blurred Lines as it’s just not pulling me in, yet, although the reviews are good, so I might persevere in a while. In the meantime, I’m trying ‘Ghosts’ by Dolly Alderton and I’ve got several new releases stacking up on my Kindle, I especially can’t wait for Jodi Picoult’s new book, ‘The Book of Two Ways’.

Gain Creative Confidence – Session 8 with Psychologies Magazine

Hello again, 2 Blogs in one day, that is a first!

It was great to do the 8th ‘Gain Creative Confidence’ session today with @psychologiesmagazine, I really enjoy doing these sessions, connecting with fellow curious creatives!

Here is the link if you’d like to catch up on it.

As you know it was all about finding some self-care solutions to all the uncertainty around at the moment, sharing my discovered techniques to get moving again and not feel stuck in the current eye of the storm! For more on this click here, where you can read all about it on this morning’s Blog.

Also, as I always do in these sessions, I set another chunky creative challenge, and this week was about creating a ‘seeking sparkles of joy’ list, and then using that to either share images on Instagram as your own personal # challenge (and with your followers) or to create a scrapbook with, for yourself and family members to look back on.

So, what constitutes this kind of personal ‘joy’ list? Well literally anything, but mainly focussing on the small, simple moments and things in life, rather than anything grandiose.

How you categorise this list may give you a better idea of how to do this, you could do this using the following prompts:

  1. Lists by seasons, or holidays / special days / night or day?
  2. List by senses, what do you love to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste?
  3. List by specific events such as ‘What I loved about lock-down’ – I realise the irony here but there are some positives to take from it.
  4. List by specific topics, e.g. nature, food, home comforts
  5. Or it can just be random, everything and anything

Try to describe your ‘moments’ in the most honest and descriptive way possible, to connect on a deeper level about how they make you feel when you look back on them.

Here are some examples I listed on the call, so you know the kind of thing I mean, based on what I love about Autumn using different sensorial experiences:

  1. The satisfying snap of twigs and squelchy soggy leaves underfoot (feel)
  2. The sweet tang of freshly picked blackberries, bubbling, and spitting on the Aga hot plate to make filling for pie (smell, sight, and sound)
  3. The howl of the wind as it picks up and whistles, rushing down the path (sound)
  4. The soft buttery mash, melting on my tongue, the perfect companion for hearty sausage casserole (taste)
  5. The intense heat of the stove, reignited and brought to life with fierce flames crackling and the cosy aroma of curling smoke (sight, smell, sound and feel)
  6. Piles of books to read on a promise, an excuse to be still under the comfort of fleecy blankets (sight and touch).

To extend this further, you can then turn your list into a scrapbook or a treasure box (with a notebook to put your sentences in), writing in your sentences, collecting things that link with the memories, e.g. a sweet wrapper, sketches, a photograph, a feather, a piece of knitting etc – whatever will help with the memory association.

This can be an ongoing project, where every few months you add more joyful experiences to it and it is definitely something you could do with children too, perhaps at half-term?

Remember to add an introduction to the book / into the treasure box / or an introduction post on Instagram, explaining when it started, how old you were, a picture of yourself and what was going on in life, to give historical context.

And that’s it, all remarkably simple but hopefully fun and something to help us focus on the simple joys in life, rather than the endless depressing news we are exposed to these days.

I hope you enjoy having a go, and please do share with us if you feel comfortable doing so, via either:

On Instagram @thecuriouscreativeclub – DM me, or on Facebook via The Curious Creative Club page, or on Psychologies Connected Community Facebook Group either.

The next session will run on October the 26th at 1.30pm, I look forward to seeing you then.

Have a great combobulated (I know that’s not a real word, but you know what I mean!) week,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps If you’d like to catch up with the previous 7 sessions, you can find them here on Psychologies TV – Better You section

Practicing what I preach – self-care solutions to uncertainty

Hi everyone, how’s it going this week? Good, or are you feeling like you’re in the middle of a tornado and you don’t know which way to go so you are frozen to the spot with indecision?

Well that was me last week! It started off well, with a glorious walk at a nearby reservoir in the bright sunshine that gave me lots of opportunities to add some more autumnal light pictures to my @soothedbynature collection.

And then the weather changed the next day to a whole tipping down of Yorkshire rain, grey, miserable, and cold – and then Boris spoke to the nation. I think it was the two combined that sent me down a less optimistic track.

I think for most people, we like a bit of a frame-work to live within, to understand what the societal rules are, so that we can then either live in relative harmony or challenge them if there’s something we disagree with AND this is where I’ve struggled this week, because when things go a little off plan, or I really don’t understand something, my natural reaction is to research, investigate and problem solve.

I’ve realised these are some of my key skills when the shizzle hits the fan, partly due to my natural curiosity, to want to understand the big picture, all the options and a strong desire to help solve issues for people, be the fixer, get the job done and I genuinely get a buzz out of it.

Even when I was waiting for the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis, despite being told to avoid Dr Google, this approach served me well and I felt fully prepared and more robust to the news.

Let me give you an example of this problem solving and wanting to help in practice. My childhood included lots of animals as we had a pet shop, so our house was known in the village as Dr Doolittle’s house – if any wildlife was injured, it promptly got delivered to our house. For more stories about this, and some dodgy photos of when I was little, click here!

So, because of this, the ‘rescuing of animals’ has followed me deep into adult life. Where we live we are surrounded by farms and fields, and during the time we have lived here, it has involved many an animal rescue situation that has created a whole series of comical tales (literally enough for a book),

Some examples of wildlife rescues are: an injured woodpigeon, a huge Canada goose that literally fell out of the sky, a lost baby hare, a bullied just-born calf, a starling in our chimney, an escaped flock of sheep, a mamma hedgehog and her 4 babies disturbed by storms, many baby birds being protected by me upon fledging from my evil, sister cats (they are nice when not hunting) and in the last 2 weeks, a goldcrest and some cows…

This beautiful goldcrest flew into our patio windows and fell to the bench and sat there looking very stunned. So, in it came and I gave it sugared water and left it alone for 3 hrs to sleep, as advised by the 3 Owls Bird Sanctuary. That afternoon I put the box in the garden and after a cautious 10 minutes, it eventually flew off, result, another one of god’s creatures back to its natural habitat!

The latest event was hilarious. Picture the scene; us happily watching Britain’s Got Talent this Saturday night, when we hear a noise, like kids on scooters whizzing passed our house. Hubs and I look at each other quizzically, our kids are in the house, it’s 8pm and dark and as far as we know the neighbour’s kids aren’t outside either.

He gets up to investigate and peeks around the curtain, and then declares, ‘There’s a cow in the courtyard!’ not what you expect to hear, I dive up to look and sure enough, there it is, a big brown cow looking back at us!

As we go to get our shoes on, we hear the noise again, which we now recognise as more of a cow stampede, and there is more than one of them, they have run back passed out house and are now either heading up the lane where we suspect they came from, or out onto the main road.

In the end, hubs ran out after them, whilst I text a local policewoman and called the farmer up the lane. Half an hour later, hubs had slowed down the traffic before they went off down a steep bank, the policewoman had called me back and was on it, and the farmers truck was out on a mission to get them back in. Job done, problem solved, happy days.

My point is, these events albeit bizarre, are easy-ish things to fix, common sense prevails – cows in road would be a dangerous nightmare = don’t just sit there thinking it will be ok.

I am going somewhere with this honestly, but I thought I’d start off by telling this story as it was too funny not to.

My problem is when you are dealing with information that is so confusing, with so many blurred lines, searching for the solutions, to understand what the rules are, it becomes nigh impossible to work out what you should and shouldn’t be doing and if I’m struggling to figure it out, then I know I can’t be the only one. I do not like not being able to work this out, to not find the answers and solve the problem!

Let me just point out at this stage we are in one of the local lock-down areas in the UK which is subject to extra restrictions on top of the list of national ones, hence the deeper perplexity!

And so this bewilderment, after endless researching trying to find out what is really allowed, what is advised not to do and what is actually the law, is what has lead me to paralysis, a kind of floating around, wondering what to do with myself and drinking lots of tea, because that’s what us Brits do in a crisis.

Added to this has been the daily emails from school of new cases and wondering when, not if, our children will be sent home to isolate. I then got crosser and crosser with myself, telling myself to ‘snap out of it, get focussed, why are you wasting time, come on!’ until I realised what I was doing, that the self-critic was in serious over-drive and sought other ways to help myself, rather than the unforthcoming, none-sensical government clarity.

So, what did I do?

  • Firstly, I just walked, moved, got out with the dog after some soggy days and a good podcast in my ears to try and make some sense of what was happening in my head.

Thankfully I picked the perfect podcast – Emma Gannon’s ‘Ctrl, Alt, Delete’, episode 286 with Dr Soph, on ‘Self-sabotage and seeking safety’ and the lightbulb moments were blinding me left, right and centre – ‘Ah so this is what I’m doing, I get it now and what a relief it is to find I am, in-fact, completely normal! (well to a point anyway!).

If you are feeling any of the fight / flight / frozen still, physical responses to this crazy situation right now, I highly recommend you listen to this podcast episode, it is simply brilliant and very reassuring that we are not all going mad.

  • Next I had an accountability meeting with myself – focussed on what I had actually achieved and not what I hadn’t and although it felt piece-meal at the time, it added up to quite a lot – phew I’m not completely useless after all!
  • I re-connected – when we feel weird, it’s so easy to go inwards and feel like we don’t want to show this part of ourselves to the world, when in fact often the opposite is better. Have those deeper conversations and you will find that 9/10 people are feeling exactly the same as you. Deep-down we know this; we just get a little stuck.
I shared this pic on Instagram as it kind of summed up how I was feeling, imperfect hair and windswept!

And so I followed the direction of my friend Jayne, @theflexcollective , threw in a ‘truth-bomb’ as she calls it and kept it real on Instagram– we are all just humans after all dealing with something we have never had experience of before, we are all just winging it as best we can, and getting vulnerable and real ALWAYS encourages others to do the same, allowing us to connect on a deeper level and understand better how humans operate.

  • I got out of the house, down to The Flex Collective to have a meeting with my ‘WOW Wednesday’ partner Clair, and TFC owner Jayne. We discussed how we were going to re-start the face to face meetings, at her lovely co-working space, which is beautifully done and Covid-safe – it felt good to be moving forwards with WOW plans AND to be supporting WOW member Jayne in her new business, at such a tough time for small businesses.
Meeting Jayne @theflexcollective to discuss all things ‘Wow’ in her beautiful, spacious meeting room
  • I read other accounts and articles explaining that lots of us feel like we are heading into a bigger slump than the initial shock of the first time around, BECAUSE we thought we’d done what was asked of us and now everything should be ok. We’d trusted and followed the government’s plan and now we are being asked to again, when we aren’t entirely sure they got it right in the first place.

That’s a big ask, and it is something that resonates with me and the cancer journey; I had to just trust the doctors knew what they were doing and go with it, I had no choice, and it’s that lack of control that makes us all feel edgy.

  • And finally, I did what I do best, got creative at 4am! Thankfully my conscious confusion dissipates when I sleep, (although I do have some seriously whacky dreams) and twice this week I have had the early morning, creative download of ideas, firing in out of the blue, just like my heroine Elizabeth Gilbert explains in her infamous book, Big Magic.

In my head I planned out a ‘How to create and write a Blog’ workshop, which thankfully I remembered in the morning and quickly scribbled down and later in the week I came up with the idea for my next @psychologiesmagazine Live on Instagram, ‘Gain Creative Confidence’ Session (no 8!) which is at 1,30pm today, Monday 28th September.

Prepping for today’s live with my trusty new highlighters!!

I’ll be posting more about what that entailed and the tasks too, later today, so people can come back here and get the full details to join in.

So overall, these are the steps I took, to change my mindset, be kind to myself and become productive and more content again, basically practicing what I preach to others and yet it’s much harder to take care of ourselves isn’t it?

In summary, this is my advice:

  1. Physically move – get the blood flowing, release the endorphins, and breathe!
  2. Have a reality check on what you’ve actually achieved, rather than focussing on what you haven’t and then celebrate that!
  3. Re-connect, tell people how you feel, allow yourself to be vulnerable and let those connections become deeper, without the fear of judgement
  4. Get out of the house and visit somewhere inspiring (for example Jayne does taster days for anyone local)
  5. Educate yourself, research what is going on, unless that triggers further anxiety, and then take each day at a time
  6. Trust in your talent, your brain has ways of slowing you down, in order for the creativity to come back. Trust that this will happen, usually when your brain is switched-off from all the noise
  7. And finally as the great Julia Samuel says, ‘This too shall pass’, change happens, all the time, it’s rare we will ever remain stuck in this uncomfortable state, but it is really useful to recognise and acknowledge what is happening and then use these techniques and many other self-care solutions out there to improve how you feel and be more prepared next time.

So, I hope this helps a little if you find yourself stuck as I did this week, I’d love to know if it resonates?

Can you believe this is my 80th Blog post? I can’t believe I’ve written 80 so far but I’m really happy with the direction the Blog has taken me, with creativity at it’s heart, always, but also sharing the well-being lessons I’ve also learned along the way through the constant, curious learning I do and from the people I meet and the creative community I connect with. I feel incredibly lucky to have some very wise and inspiring people around me who are now good friends.

So I hope you like what I do and find it useful, in October I’m hoping to do some new ‘Creative Community’ interviews because I love learning from people who I respect and admire and I hope you will too.

Until next time, take care everyone and like the main image for this post, keep on swimming!

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps Don’t forget you can connect with me on Instagram too @thecuriouscreativeclub, for regular extra bits to what I do here.

Inspiration Corner – What I’ve been up to this week

Podcasts

As well as Emma Gannon’s podcast I mentioned above, I’ve listened to some other great podcasts this week:

Dr Chatterjee – Feel Better, Live More

Dr Chatterjee is back with a new season of his brilliant podcast. His episode with Julia Samuel, who I mentioned above, talks about embracing change and learning strategies to cope with it including using pain or loss as an agent for change, another must listen for these times.

Holly Tucker MBE – SME SOS

Holly launched her podcast SME SOS, 48 hrs after lockdown began back in March to support small businesses throughout this unchartered time. Last week’s episode interviewed June Sarpong OBE who has some excellent life tips, including trying to do just 10% better in all areas of your life and what that could mean, an inspiring listen as always.

Courses

I’ve done lots of researching and learning this week, trying to pinpoint what I need support with the most to upskill and make things easier in the work that I do and want to do.

Nicky Raby, (@nickyraby) is a coach (and many other things) who I really admire, and I’ve followed her work for some time. This week she’s been doing some free ‘Lets get visible’ sessions on Instagram, which are kind of taster sessions to her bigger programme called ‘Speak Up’ which I’m considering investing in as it looks a great course.

I also want to train up on WordPress as I developed this website and Blog very quickly back in 2018 without entirely knowing what I was doing! I want to be able to use it to its full capacity so will be doing a local workshop to help with that @theflexcollective.

Keeping Connected in tough times

Hey everyone, how are you doing, on what it feels like is going to be a difficult week, here in the UK.

Blimey it’s so tricky at the moment isn’t it? Just as we were all starting to have some small bits of normal, bang, here we go again, back in lock-down (in West Yorkshire and lots of other counties here).

It feels like an endless roller coaster, that we are tethered to and have no choice but to ride – you may be physically locked into this war, but our mental strength and resilience is what will bring the freedom for us to rise higher and get through this.

The phrase ‘what doesn’t break you makes you stronger.’ is more valid now than I’ve ever known it, but this situation I can see is now starting to take its toll on so many people, even the strongest ones I know. Because it’s just not normal is it for us humans to have to relinquish control to the powers that be for THIS long.

And no-one wants to feel like they are being controlled, or watched constantly, not trusted to do the right thing, and I know there are people out there that take advantage and don’t follow ‘the rules’ but for the most part, decent people are, and they just want to live their life.  

Lord knows most people understand the value of it, if not before, they certainly do now. Lock-down has made us appreciate our freedom, our ability to make decisions and to value the small things in life more than we ever have before.

Personally I’ve always been someone that wants to live life to the full, even before the cancer journey, I‘ve watched too many decent, lovely people have horrible things happen to them when they least expect it and they’ve not been able to enjoy life fully for various reasons such as ill health or I’ve seen people without purpose or passion that have just kind of drifted through life or focused on the wrong things and before they know it, it’s too late.

It’s frustrating to see time wasted like this, it’s a precious commodity and one that we should be very thankful for and be making the most of our time here.

This is why I promote well-being and creativity so much because, this is where passion, purpose, and looking after yourself all come into play, so you not only have a life that you love but there is a depth and quality to it – we only get one after all, as they say, it’s not a rehearsal.

The added benefit is that many creative hobbies also bring you together with others, it connects you to your tribe and like-minded people, and in turn helps to prevent certain types of loneliness, which I’ve learned so much about from my friend, Wendy’s blog about it (pls see Wendy’s insta for more details of her great blogs where she even reads them out so you can listen to them like a podcast which I think is a great idea!).

In it she states there are 3 different kinds of loneliness which I‘d never heard of before, these are intimate, relational and collective and it’s the collective part that links to making connections with other that share the same interests. I can fully relate to this, because although I’m physically missing going to my art, and writing groups, I am still connected to them via zoom meetings and happily catch up with them regularly.

We’ve made sure that our Wow Wednesday meetings have continued on Zoom and our members have appreciated the support in these tough times

Because I’ve gained so much from these groups; friendship, advice, other recommended connections, I understand the deep value of being part of a tribe and that sense of belonging to the cause, to people who think the same as me, have that creative antennae and I am loathe to give all that up just because of a global pandemic!

The same goes for all the Facebook groups I belong to, the one benefit I think from lock-down is that  insightful, interesting face-book groups have sprung up left, right and centre to support one another and have those honest discussions about how people are really feeling, trying to get passed the, ‘I’m fine thanks’, to truly try and help people.

I don’t know if there is a bit of freedom in asking questions via typing or knowing that you are in a safe space to share but these have grown rapidly in lockdown and have been such a great response to these uncertain times. 

Grow Through What You Go Through. Are you complaining — going around… | by  Daza Jewelry | Daza Jewelry | Medium

So, I think this is what we have to do to get through this, and defeat this aspect of potential loneliness, we have to carry on making meaningful connections and have deep conversations – it’s like that phrase isn’t it – ‘You grow through what you go through’ and I think there is a lot in that, if of course that is open to you and you’re not feeling too overwhelmed or stressed.

We have a natural ability as creatives to seek and find solutions to problems, we need to use this superpower to our advantage now more than ever.

If you can turn things on their head and look for the lessons or the positive spin on it, then there are opportunities to learn, grow and find strategies to help you cope when something side-swipes you next time, because we know there’ll always be a next time but doing some self-preparation can soften the blow.

If, like I suggested when we first entered lock-down, you set up that self-care list to keep going back to when times are tough, why not use this second turning point to re-evaluate that list and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the list still working for me?
  2. Have I tried everything on there?
  3. Of the ones I have tried, which have I enjoyed the most?
  4. Which would I like to do again / improve my skills on?
  5. Which do I know I’ll never do? Strike them off!
  6. What am I curious about, should I add some new ideas?
  7. How can I make sure I commit to the list more? Set myself a weekly challenge for example?
  8. How can I connect with others who enjoy doing the same creative things as me?
  9. Who could I buddy I up with on this? Could I join a Facebook group or a creative online zoom session like Shannon from @mockingbirdmakes provides?
  10. Could I start a journal, specifically for how doing these creative activities makes me feel, so I understand and acknowledge the value more AND double the self-care by journaling.

There’s so much support and inspiration out there now to help get your creative game on, the creative and well-being community have stepped up massively during lock-down, and it is a genuine, heartfelt, and caring place to be.

So, if you are a creative, but are perhaps doing your work on your own, there is obviously pleasure in that, but I do think there is an opportunity to extend that to bring even more joy and satisfaction.

By sharing your story in online groups and joining in the conversation, or even if you’re not ready to do that yet, join anyway, discover people you’d like to connect with, and see how other people share and engage and it may give you the courage to have a go too.

Plus, it tests the water to see what others feel about what you’ve created, and most of the time you’ll be pleasantly surprised and encouraged, with people commenting and liking what you’ve done.

This then delivers a huge confidence boost to those that are sometimes unsure of what they create i.e is it any good or good enough, will I get laughed at? The mind chatter goes on!

There is the opportunity to learn too, from people further on in their creative journey who could offer tips, advice or may even run workshops, for example water-colour clouds are my nemesis so I look for artists who do these well so I can pick up new techniques.

For me there’s nothing better than sharing the knowledge you’ve learned, as you’ll see on my Instagram if you’ve not looked already, I regularly share other accounts, wise opinions, inspiring products and events on posts and stories that are relevant to my audience, because I almost see it as selfish if I don’t!

Keeping the knowledge to yourself and not passing it on to the followers I respect and love just doesn’t feel right and it’s why I write this blog and do things like the inspiration corner below, because it feels like the right thing to do. It is my purpose and passion to help people reap the well-being benefits by using the knowledge and skills I’ve gained.

Connecting breeds further connections and opportunities, and so the knock-on effect becomes greater and greater, a bit like that film ‘Pay it forward’.  I sometimes check in and realise how often I do this without even realising, by doing a Q&A with my son on an evening before bed, we’ll ask ourselves these questions:

  1. What did I do for someone today?
  2. What did someone else do for me today?
  3. What 3 things am I grateful for today?

It’s always interesting to recognise what others have done for us and what we have done for others and acknowledge the things we are grateful for.

It’s also why I do the Insta Lives for Psychologies, not because I love seeing myself on screen (because I really don’t!) but because it is another way to reach a wider audience that I could hopefully then help too.

It’s been an exciting thing to do, to use my voice instead of writing and although the nerves were in full force on the first one, I’ve since really enjoyed interacting with Psychologies readers who want to have a go at doing something creative. I’ve received lovely, positive feedback and the icing on the cake is that they’ve also had the courage to share their work with me, which is exactly what I wanted these sessions to achieve.

Speaking of which the next one will be on the 28th of September, at 1.30pm, It would be great to see you there.

I’d love to know how you are looking after yourself in these crazy times, whether creative activities have helped improve your state and well-being and what you might want to try next?

Also, what do you think about getting more involved with the creative community, do you see the benefits or are you a little apprehensive as many creative introverts can be?

Please feel free to comment below, or DM me on Instagram, lets keep talking and connecting so we can all get through this together and share the amazing talents within this community.

Take Care, stay safe, until next time,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Inspiration Corner – what I’ve been up to this week

Podcast

This week I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Day’s, ‘How to fail’ podcast which I love and have binge-listened a few this week, particularly enjoying the one with Ruby Wax – you can’t really get a more honest conversation about mental wellness than with Ruby, she’s such an expert in the field now and it’s well worth a listen. There’s also something very calming about Elizabeth’s voice and interview style, she’s a brilliant host.

Challenges

Today marks the start of artist, Susan Yeate’s next sketch book challenge, this time a 7 day one. It’s a great way to commit to some creativity every day for 7 days and get into the habit of just creating something, very simple, following the daily prompts. Here is the link to details of the challenges on her Instagram.

Blogs

Another friend from our Wow Wednesday group, Anna is also now writing a Blog, called Yorkshire Wellies and last week was all about her musings on the new season, a lovely read so check that out too with a hot chocolate and a blanket!

Reading

I’m still reading Caitlin Moran’s – More than a woman (I’m a slow reader!) but it’s making me really chuckle, much needed right now.

However, if you’re looking for some new reading inspiration, sign up to Clare Mackintosh’s Book Club

Watching

We’ve been going over past episodes of ‘Live at the Apollo’ hosted mainly by Michael Macintyre, who I just love and cracks me up and lots of laughter is exactly what we all need right now.

We also watched BBC One’s one off documentary, Extinction: The Facts, which broke my heart to be honest, David Attenborough is a legend in my eyes and this is a much needed important programme to make us humans realise what is going on in the world in terms of environmental devastation – we owe it to the planet to watch, learn and take action.

The Curious Cabin is open!

Hi everyone, how are you doing? It’s been a hot one in Yorkshire today! I’m writing this very excitedly on a gloriously sunny day from the Cabin! Finally, after weeks of work, it is ready, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it has turned out!

But first, I finally got the results of my scan and it’s good news, there is still the little bit of glowy area in my chest but it hasn’t grown so they don’t think it’s active disease, something called thymus hyperplasia (where the thymus gland is inflamed), which is apparently quite common after chemo, so all good, no more treatment, no more waiting for scans and results etc, I can now crack on with the ever growing list of creative work I want to do without the ‘what if’ hanging over my head!

Cabin Fever

And let me tell you, this Cabin has been a big part of that dream, especially now the hubs works more from home and needs the office in the house. It took a while for it to get here thanks to high demand since lock-down, I think everyone has been renovating their gardens and craving some solace in a summerhouse, but it eventually arrived 3 weeks ago and the hubs has done a sterling job building it and painting it outside and then I’ve cracked on with painting and decorating inside.

Plus, of course, I’ve been shopping for the all important, ideal purchases to fill the small space (it’s just 2 m x 2.5m), to make maximum use of every nook and cranny!

Because it is such a small cabin that had to fit a tiny irregular space behind the back of the garage, creating as much light was key to making it a workable place to write and do art in as well as relax,  listen to podcasts or read.

For all these needs, I knew it required a decent desk (obviously), a comfy chair and plenty of storage space. Originally, we were going to build a bespoke bench in the corner, and we might still do that but for now, one we had already will do.

In fact, in order to keep costs low and not waste things, the cabin occupants are a mixture of old and new, and I’ve picked the ‘new’ things purposely to go with these. So, these are the ‘old’ pieces that made the cut:

  1. A beautiful chair gifted from my lovely friend Claire @myhousecandy, that my son nicked on lockdown to play the Xbox on but I’ve swiped it back because as we know teal is my absolute favourite colour and it fits perfectly in here!
  2. My old dressing table chair that is white and rattan from Barker and Stonehouse, small and lightweight so I knew it would fit in here
  3. The storage chest in the corner and the navy blanket, both from Dunelm Mill, which will double as a seat too if need be. This stores most of my art materials for needle-felting, painting, drawing etc
  4. Decorative bits and bobs that have moved in from the house that mean something to me, so The Habbit picture I got from Staithes art festival a few years back that I absolutely love from @daub.jg who combines animals to make a new one – this is his hare cross rabbit, hence the habbit and it’s a reminder to me to get into a more routine habit of writing daily!

Empty Hendricks bottles (my fave gin!) serve as book ends (recycling and all that) and hold together many of my favourite well-being and creative books.

The Mousehole picture from our recent holiday to Cornwall stands proudly on the new shelf along with one of my succulents from @bloomindaleflorist

The aloe vera plant grown from a cutting by my friend, who also brought me this lovely sunflower today! The black and white vase, wooden star, seagull picture and the little blue bird are again all things that I had already and loved!

The ‘J’ used to be in my bedroom and my collection of notebooks and the pencil case are from friends, Staithes art festival and a couple of recent purchases and finally the easel, art box (behind the chair) and magazine rack are all ‘old’ too but have been upgraded to the cabin!.

And so, on to the exciting new stuff, which has caused me many a sleepless night in decisions!  I’ll list them in order of purchase…

First up was the ‘Curious’ sign (pictured further down), I ordered before the Cabin even arrived! I’ve always wanted one of these from @modocreative and so this was the treat-piece of the cabin and I LOVE it! They will create any word for you and have a wide range of colour options and designs and look very cool, even if I do say so myself!

Next was this desk from Soges Home on Amazon (£70), a bargain I think as it’s really solid, a good size for the space and I liked the two-tone effect and the fact it has shelves too.

Now I never do the flat-packed putting-together thing, I get too frustrated normally, but I actually managed it along with the help of my 12 yr old son and was quite proud!

Next came the rope mirror (further down) and the candle lantern, both from local furniture that has designer furniture at discount prices – Cosy Homes, in Scissett, Huddersfield @cosyhomes20182018  – if you ever need a designer sofa at a great price, I can highly recommend going there!

I then spotted a small little plant stand in TK Max that I knew would fit perfectly in-between the windows and I loved the quirky detailing!

Whilst shopping at Sainsburys I spotted a bargain of a clock in the sale, just £10.

The Range was next on my list as I know they do a fabulous ‘range’ of frames and picked up these great black and white dotty /animal print effect styles (see further up) and knew they would go really well in the space in-between the windows too above the snake plant.

Whilst there, I saw this cute fur footstool that could double up as a seat or table too – everything I looked for seemed to be multi-purpose and practical. I also looked for things that were different textures to soften up the space and bought a fur cushion cover from Dunelm Mill too for the corner, a respite from all the wood.

Next came the plants! I knew I wanted some big plants in there to bring the outside in and give a fresh modern feel as well as help oxygenate the cabin in winter. I did check out which ones would survive out here though as my mum was convinced, I would kill them all! I asked at Dobbie’s garden centre (Shelley Huddersfield) and got some great advice so picked this one up (left) and the other from B&Q.

Whilst at B&Q, the next job was a rug and doormat, again looking for maximum opportunity to keep it bright and also add texture, the rug was a bargain at £30 and I love this doormat too.

Then onto Ikea for the final purchases of the shelf which I love because it brings all the different coloured woods together and breaks up the white wall, perfect display my books.

I also picked up this trolley which I’d had my eye on and I know will work well to have by my side when doing art pieces and can double up as storage and a little side-table next to the chair – I envisage it being a little tea-station too in the future!

Now being a flat-pack expert(cough) I attempted to put this together too and I honestly think the desk was easier! But anyway, I eventually got there, huffing and puffing trying to get the tiniest of screws in and the metal mesh, two-toning with the wood looks fab! I can actually pretend to be a trolly dolly with it!

The final bits from Ikea were these; a grey felt storage solution for a blanket and slippers in the winter that works well with the storage box in the corner, another plant and two-tone plant pot in grey and gold (see the theme here?), the desk tidy to hold all my notebooks and pens etc and finally a phone holder as cheap as chips at £2.25!

The cabin was filling up nicely and almost done, but there was one thing missing, doorstops so the doors don’t fly open (it’s very windy up here!) I picked up these gorgeous mustard pompom ones from Next and this beautiful blue patterned glass candle that smells of the sea, called sea-salt, to remind me of that lovely trip to Cornwall we took this Summer.

So, this is how I put it all together, step by step and honestly it is the most calming creative space I thought I could only have dreamed of and now it’s here and real and I feel incredibly lucky to have it and thankful to the hubs for building it, (think I’m in coffee duty debt for a long, long time!).

Oh I almost forgot, in terms of paint I picked Sentosa from the Sandolin range and the white too (used to paint beach-huts so I knew it would be tough for the weather up here!) which is a really rich blue-green (turquoise-teal!) colour, that contrasts lovely with the white and of course fits in with the colour scheme inside.

Inside I used the same white but then kept the frames and beams and floor the natural colour, just treating them with Osmo wood protection oil.

The only things left to add are a beautiful second-hand cardholder which the lovely Liz from @thewateringcanfloristhd8 is giving me as she no longer needs it. The idea it to display all my cards on it and can take pictures for when I get my store on my website (it’s been on the list for some time!).

I also need to get some electricity wired in here, before it gets too cold for a little heater  and a desk lamp and some lights I‘m selecting from @cableandcotton –  where you can pick and choose the colours – this is becoming a bit addictive, there’s so many options to choose from!

And finally, I’m going to order a window film from the lovely @hannahnunn to go on the side window as it currently looks onto the garage wall, so it needs prettying up!

And that’s it that’s a wrap, so I hope this gives you some inspiration to make a creative space in your home. I realise I’m very lucky in having this outdoor space but even if it’s just a corner in your hallway or part of another room, there are ways and means to make it special, to make it ‘your’ place, with your own personal touches and clever ways to add in practical solutions to make sure that the space works for you in what you want to do.

I’d love to see your creative spaces too, so please do share with me! Now, the key thing is to stop staring around the place in awe and get serious about getting productive in here, but at least I’ve started with this Blog! Hope you have a lovely creative week and I’ll share my progress, next week!

Until next time,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Inspiration Corner

Events:

Looking for something to entertain yourself with on Sunday ????
Pop along have a browse maybe buy or just come along and say Hi !!!😊😊😊
#supportlocaltraders
#sundayshopping
#socialdistancing2020 
#freshairandsunshine 
#flowersalwaysmakeyousmile 
#plantzone
#indoorplants 
#yummyyorkshire 
#yorkshireweddingflorist 
#thewateringcanhd8
This market happens every 2 weeks, why not check it out and then have an ice cream at Yummy Yorkshire?

This week has been mainly running around looking for things for the cabin, but there are a couple of things I’ve been inspired by, especially when I went to @yummyyorkshire Market on the Farm this Sunday.

There were lots of lovely local sellers, including Helena, from @theproverbialhare who does amazing artwork which she then prints on to things like notebooks and tea towels as well as art cards.

Attachment_1582554775.jpeg
An example of Helena’s gorgeous work

I’m hoping to also have a table at the market in November and December so we had a good chat about what to expect and of course I could resist a notebook and card to frame for the Cabin!

Podcasts

The Dream and Do Podcast – Nicola Rae Wickham

When I went for my scan last week, there’s always a lot of hanging around and so I listened to the lovely Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired on her Dream and Do podcast to a deep conversation with her friend Nova Reid, @novareidofficial, an anti-racism activist and podcaster and Tamu Thomas, a coach, speaker and writer of @livethreesixty , all about how they felt when the news came out about George Floyd and the huge aftermath afterwards. I listened nodding a lot, the conversation was passionate, honest and indicative of how much work there is to do to start to make significant change, a really thought-provoking episode and a must listen if we are ever to move forwards and make positive change for ours and future generations.

Bravehearts Rising – Lisa Pascoe

I mentioned this one last week but the episode this week is Lisa interviewing the fabulous Eleanor Snare, whose work I also love, so it’s a really inspiring listen, highly recommend catching up with this one – it’s here if you’d like to find out more.

InstagramHolly Tucker Hashtag Challenge

Holly has launched a new hashtag challenge this week for us all to share our working spaces, in particular our desks, which is really apt for today’s Blog! If you’d like to join in and check out other’s working spaces too for more inspiration, the hashtag is #YesThisIsMyDesk