Hi everyone, how are you doing?
It’s been a funny old week, work interspersed with pet vaccinations, dentists and eye tests, trips out with the kids and friends – my first in a long while as I come out of shielding, only then for my husband to be poorly again with a high temp and shipped off for another Covid Test (don’t worry it’s negative) and then for more restrictions to come in to play as we are one of those identified areas – just when I was liking visiting people in real life again!
And the weather has been all over the place, from pouring down to baking hot on Friday, it seems even the weather gods are perplexed with life right now!
As we get deeper into the School Summer holidays it’s getting more and more difficult to have some separate ‘work’ focused time and I’m trying not to stress about it but it’s not easy.
There have been some enlightening moments thoughout this week though and this is what I wanted to speak to you about… listening to some fabulous podcasts has been one of them. Let’s start with Michelle Obama’s new podcast where she interviews her husband and says this quote below, which makes me feel like just shouting hallelujah to be honest.
Could not agree more Mrs Obama, and thanks for sharing @hollytucker! Swiftly adds to podcast list!
After watching her documentary ‘Becoming’ a few months back it gives me a huge amount of faith that there are people in the world that know what they are doing and understand what their purpose is in life.
Add in another one of my hero’s, Oprah, and I’m not necessarily a big religious follower but all I can say is when I listen to her podcast, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation’s I feel like I’ve been to church and come away with a book full of wisdom and knowledge, not least her episode this week on listening to the whispers (Life first speaks to you in a whisper’ 22nd July episode.)
She talks about examples where she’s done this, and has people on the show who have experienced it too, like the women who listened to their instincts in America, that something was just not right when they met Phillip Garrido and his two daughters, which then lead to Jaycee Lee Duggard finally being found after 18 years of being held captive.
I can really identify with this in both big ways and small and have always looked for and listened to the signs that are out there in the Universe. Oprah talks about the messages first being a whisper and if you don’t listen then it becomes more like pebbles being thrown at your window, the longer you don’t listen, the harder and more forceful the message.
This feels especially true last Summer when I first discovered the small lump on my collarbone towards the end of May and mentioned it to a physio I was seeing at the time, as I thought it was something muscle related. He said that no it wasn’t anything like that and to keep an eye on it.
As you know I then promptly forgot, which is unlike me and kind of unbelievable given I was putting sun cream on throughout that Summer and especially when we were away in Majorca at the end of August.
Finally when the kids returned to school, I woke up one Monday morning with a start and a voice literally shouting in my head, ‘Check on the lump’ which I did immediately and it had at least doubled in size and that’s when the 7 weeks of investigations began which lead to the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and subsequent treatment.
That may sound far-fetched, but it was more than a whisper, it was an urgent command, because I hadn’t listened to that first internal whisper.
The more in tune we become with our gut, or that feeling of hairs standing up on the back of your neck, and senses heightened, the more protected we’ll be and have more trust in our decisions, that they are the right ones.
Since making the huge decision to leave a safe corporate life 4 years ago, I’ve grown to trust my intuition more and more and that ‘sixth sense’ is proving so useful as I go down new roads building this creative venture.
Since being young, I’ve always believed that I have a purpose in life, that I am meant to help people and create connections, I can’t even explain it, it’s just always been there. We all have superpowers, every one of us and I consider being observant, being able to easily connect and using that instinctive desire to help, to be mine, to be my purpose.
Now that I’m learning, slowly, how to become a coach, I’m trying even more so to tune into my instincts, understanding when to pause and listen at a deeper level, it’s all fascinating stuff and I’m enjoying developing these skills.
You can use this too in your direction, which way do you want to go creatively for example? Not so long ago I had a great strategy session, with Business growth expert, Michelle, from our Wow Wednesday group..
She easily streamlined all my work into 4 key areas: Writing and writing related work, Coaching, (which I’m newly developing), Wow Wednesday further development and Art, all in this priority order in terms of amount of effort and work required to get them all really going and with a clear vision and lots of key measurables.
I recently enjoyed creating this local grasses print and 3D picture, it’s now hung in my living room!
Art, I had put last on the list, not because I don’t enjoy it, I probably enjoy it the most in fact, but the effort required to make it feasible income-wise is quite a lot, unless you are at that point of being a solely professional artist, which I’m not.
But guess what, since I sorted all that out and felt comfortable with where my focus needs to be, what have I been drawn (literally) to most over the past few weeks? You guessed it, the Art stream of work!
Since that strategy work, I’m now selling my cards at my favourite local bookshop Read, will soon be selling through Bloomindales florist online and I’m meeting with The Flex Collective this week in the hope they may consider selling some of my framed needle felt work so I’ve also been busy creating more pieces to show, it’s just such a gratifying thing to do, creating little landscapes of wool!
Needle felting, it’s so satisfying to do!
Then, yesterday after picking up some new card samples in Holmfirth, I popped into Ribbles café, and was looking at my samples when Sarah, one of the owners came over. She looked at the cards (all needle felt designs, see below) and loved them, and asked if I could provide the original in a frame, for her to buy!
The sample cards I picked up, I love how they look so 3D!
We then got talking, shared a love of certain podcasts, talked about the craft fairs they’ve got coming up towards Christmas, how business is returning to the café and also that they hire out upstairs for workshops (which could be perfect for my writing ones!).
I’d been in the café a few weeks before with a friend and had a good feeling about it, as well as enjoying their delicious dandelion and burdock cake. When I returned to pick up those cards, all the other cafes in Holmfirth were closed, including Bloc, which I normally visit as it’s right opposite the print shop but now I can’t help thinking it was my subconscious sending me back there, to connect with the ladies that owned the shop!
So to me, listening to the whispers can be a powerful thing, it can send you in all kinds of directions and can also warn you of the wrong path to take or to take note of important things such as health issues or big life questions.
Suzy Walker, Editor in Chief at Psychologies magazine wrote about this too in this month’s edition. She has been taking evening walks in London during lock-down, and actively asking questions in her own mind as she does so, and the street has given her answers, genuinely! Check out her article, it’s a great read!
But how do you do it? Here are a few tips
So, my message today is simple, listen to that inner voice because it is your best guide. All humans talk about a sixth sense and it’s well documented in the animal world too, part of the historic sense and understanding of fear, when enemies or predators are close by, that has kept us safe all those years back and still does now, but these days we are more easily distracted from it’s messages.
Sixth sense is described in the dictionary as:
‘a supposed intuitive faculty giving awareness not explicable in terms of normal perception’
Like I say it’s a powerful, intuitive force and we’d be daft to ignore it, we are lucky to have it and it can help us in all areas of our lives, so listen to those whispers and see where it takes you, you may be surprised…and never ignore them when they shout!
Finally speaking of instincts, at the beginning of lock-down, when I knew I could no longer get into the office as often as I’d like as the husband is working from home, we took the decision to get a log cabin for me to use as my little ‘Curious Creative Club’ space (kind of my treat present for getting through chemo).
An example picture of the log cabin coming, my soon-to-be little piece of paradise!
Now in terms of size it is tiny, just 2.5 x 3 metres as it can only fit in a certain place in the garden, BUT I can’t wait for it to arrive, hopefully mid-end of August. I lived in dens in the woods as a child, so this little space will be no problem and will be decorated with all the things I love; art, plants, books, cushions, signs, candles, blankets, etc, I CANNOT WAIT, so I’m just warning you in advance of log cabin spam coming your way, can you tell I’m a bit giddy?
Until next time, hope you’re all enjoying Summer, in between the rain!
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
P.s Don’t forget Session 6 of ‘Gain Creative Confidence’ on @psychologiesmagazine Instagram tomorrow, LIVE at 1.30pm, I’m talking all things perfectionism with a task as usual for you too, hope to see you there!
Hi everyone, this is a short one, I’m gonna be honest, today I’m tired, it doesn’t happen often, but last night I forgot that it was my turn to post this morning on the Yorkshire Writer’s Lunch Blog, at 10pm no less, so it was a late one, after 12, before I got to bed. Note to self – read the daily planner where you actually put your plans and deadlines in, on a daily basis!
Then add in the prep for the Psychologies live Insta today, juggling some plans for the week (trying to keep the kids entertained), cooking dinner and a trigger pilates session, where you do lots of lovely stretching and I’m suddenly very sleepy and the hours have run away with me…so instead of trying to concentrate and probably not writing very well, I’m going to go off plan, and instead post this link to my video today, all about planning funnily enough (can you believe it?) and a nice little creative task too, and the quickly drafted poem from the YWL Blog today (see below) to basically get across 4 lessons:
I’ve had some lovely feedback from the poem, so even if this post does nothing else, it may transport you up a country lane to watch a sunset and revel in what I see along the way, here’s hoping!
Discoveries at Dusk – By Juliet Thomas
Tall grasses glow in golden light
Nodding their allegiance to the sun,
A harmony of hues, brown sugar to pistachio
Dancing together as one,
Cheeks painted with soft breezes,
Breath slows, heartbeat eases
Overhead, the silent shadow of the last hunt
Flickering feathers in perfect hover
Below unseen, a field mouse freezes, then
Makes a last-dash for cover
‘Too late’, I whisper and sigh
Kez dives, slicing the sky
Urgent bleating raises my gaze
To the nursery on the hill
Weary mothers scold scamps to come closer
Still frolicking, despite the evening chill
I stroll on, eyes drawn to the sinking light
To secret stories of an early Summer’s night
As I head further up, curious cows say ‘Hello’
Calves are skittish, mothers stood firm
Or bowed, chewing sweet long grass
The little ones look on and learn
I talk to them softly, not wanting to scare
Yet the mothers still fix me, with a protective glare
Minute by minute, sky gods design
A prestigious work of art
Strokes of lemon, paprika, aubergine and olive
Stretching like dough pulled apart
I refuse to blink, transfixed I stare
Breath held, in the heady dusk air
At the end of the lane, I steal one last look
To the field on the right, at the top
Searching to confirm my friends are there,
I spot the hares’ form when they halt to a stop
Smiling, satisfied, I nod, the fabric of my walk complete
I turn, feet firm, revived by nature’s daily retreat
Until next time, when I write this on a Sunday as normal (because habits work, another lesson!)
Take care and if you’re feeling tired too, let it go and cut yourself some slack, we’re all juggling pretty hard right now!
Juliet, The Curious and sleepy Creative… x
Ps I’ve been releasing the slight- Sinead look into the outside world, hence the main image as my hair is now growing! Still feels pretty chilly in not so sunny Yorkshire right now though!
For all newbies reading this, check out my older posts for the story of last years challenge of Hodgkins Lymphoma and chemo…
Hi everyone, how are you doing? It’s the Summer holidays yeah!
As we are at the start of the longest Summer holidays in history….almost 8 whole weeks no less, I thought it might be good to take a look at how your childhood experiences can potentially shape your future creative self.
At the moment I’m writing a new none-fiction book, all about my personal creative journey, how it’s helped me throughout my life and combining everything I‘ve learned though the Blog and from others to pass on that knowledge and inspire others to begin theirs.
For the beginning part of this, I’ve looked back on my childhood and examined what elements of that may have directed me down a creative path, both then and now and it’s been really interesting to look closer at this.
For the most part, it began with a love of exploring and being surrounded by nature, inherited from my Dad who was a keen birdwatcher and we had yearly trips to Scotland to seek out golden eagles, capercaillies, peregrine falcon’s and puffins to name but a few!
I was also a tomboy, thanks to the large proportion of boys on my street, and it was a case of play army in the woods, or have no friends! I’d disappear in the morning and not come home until tea, usually muddy or drenched from falling in the river, much to my Mum’s despair!
This was my grounding in creativity without me even realising; building dens, making up games, navigating the woods, setting up rope swings, children know how to just play and have fun, without fear of judgment or perfection analysis.
A golden eagle drawn by my Dad
As well as watching birds and being an animal fanatic, my Dad also photographed and drew them and he encouraged my artistic experiments too, the thrill of getting a new set of pencils, pens and a fresh clean sketchpad as a child has never left me.
Me with my first rabbit’s babies and holding a big toad in the middle of building our pond! Nice tash eh?
Being an animal mad family, the next step was to get a pet shop, which we did, and more adventures began as we had numerous animals at home, breeding them to sell at the shop; rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, budgies, cockatiels and zebra finches were all suddenly my friends too, and I absolutely loved it.
Because we were known for the shop, anything that was injured or rescued, also turned up on our doorstep: a seagull, hedgehogs, a mole, a lost rabbit and a kestrel were just some of the ones I remember. We also rescued a baby rook that became tame, and we called it Rollo.
All of these animals were characters that fed my imagination, creating a wealth of stories and experiences, not many children get to have a pet rook at age 11 that would fly land on your arm when called from the bottom of the street – I gained quite a few cool points for that one!
I remember feeding lambs on Scottish holidays as a kid and last year I got to do it again with one of my friend’s flocks, I loved it! Plus, my first ride on a donkey, think I must have been about 1 and a half here!
As well as these obvious creative teachings, there were other things more subtle such as my Dad would also make up stories for me at bedtime, about a boy called Ragabobbin who lived in the woods and had great adventures.
I’d actually forgotten about this until I realised I did the same for Jake, my son whose initials are J.E.T, so I used to make up stories about a boy called Jet, the super-fast boy who would get into scrapes because of his speed.
My Mum was less obvious in her creativity, but she was an expert knitter and mender, I had many an Aran jumper as a kid! I did inherit her talent for creating a meal out of anything though, the concoctions she made for me as a child are still some of my favourites, corned beef hash and pancakes is still top of the list!
What I’ve loved about this lock-down situation is that we have almost returned to these days of creating ways to pass the time and keep the children entertained in the process. There have been so many stories of cooking together, trying new dishes and creating art just for the fun of it, for the feel good factor, to get us through this strangest of time, I’ve found it really inspiring and heart-warming.
My daughter’s spicy chicken wings and my chocolate trifle in early lock down when we did family ‘come dine with me!’
I think this will continue during these Summer holidays as we are no where near back to ‘normal’. I went into town yesterday for the first time in about 6 months and it was the most bizarre experience, you spend more time being reminded of the virus in these places than at home with barriers into the road to make the paths wider, floors marked out everywhere you go, hundreds of notices and giant posters, people wearing face-masks, it’s just not a fun experience.
So, I can imagine that home and natural outdoor spaces are still going to be our safe and most enjoyable experiences for the time being, thank goodness for our gorgeous British countryside eh?
I know that many of us parents have either had children only back to school for a month or so OR they haven’t gone back at all like mine. If you / they have been home-schooling, they are now desperate for some fun and escape and so whilst I know partly it’s continuing to be mentally exhausting, I also urge you to take sometime out and have fun with them.
Exploring and den building, it’s what childhood should be all about!
Use it as a way to extend their creative skills, it will stand them in good stead for the future. LinkedIn now rate creative skills as the most desired by businesses out there because they want problem solvers and those that think outside the box.
My latest vase to get hydro-dipped!
As I mentioned in my last Blog, Jake has recently got into hydro dipping and has set up his own little business, creating pieces for friends and family and I feel much better that he’s excited about this and not spending 100% of his time on Xbox.
Holly Tucker, founder of Not on the High Street and Holly & Co has also been championing this when doing her Insta Lives, talking to children as well as adults about the advantages of working for yourself and creating a working life that you love. Like her, I’d love to see this in the curriculum as a career option and more business skills being taught as the launch of more and more small businesses continues.
It’s also time for us to get children back together with their friends and get used to being social again and thinking of games to play, just like we used to do as kids when we had no other entertainment. These are essential life skills and key to good mental health.
So whilst it’s partly frustrating that I won’t be able to carry on and work as hard as I have over the last few months now that it is Summer holidays, my children will always be my greatest creation and so supporting them and giving them enriching life experiences is equally important to give them the best chance of developing their creative skills too.
From feeding camels in Fuerteventura to releasing baby turtles in Mexico, I think the kids have inherited my love of animals and really enjoy these experiences.
Don’t get me wrong there will be days where my head is on the kitchen table and I’m despairing at the trail of destruction and empty food shelves but we don’t have them here for long in the grand scheme of things, so I’m choosing to turn a blind eye, stay calm and go on some adventures together, at least to the Sea, I’ve so missed the sea, and try and bribe them to let me take pictures!
So have a fun Summer together, make some new good memories (not related to Covid-19!), explore new places, preferably outdoor and you know what, all these new experiences will fire up your creativity too.
For those who may want to do some family creative challenges, you can always look back on the lives I have done with @psychologiesmagazine via their TV Channel (just scroll down to find the sessions) over the last month which are suitable for everyone.
Today’s (find it here on my FB page) was all about connections with pets or animals and the challenge is to write a small descriptive memory piece about that.
Here are some examples to try:
One of the animal programmes I’ve been hooked to is the live streaming from Cannon Hall Farm which is also a weekly TV show called ‘This week on the farm’ on Channel 5 on a Tuesday night, it’s been brilliant watching all the new arrivals, including this little pygmy kid!
These are just a few, I’m sure you’ll have many more, I could literally write a book on just animal stories! I’d love to hear yours so please share on The Curious Creative Club Facebook Page or DM me on Instagram either.
So, I hope this inspires you, have a fabulous Summer with the kids, and remember to breathe / get the gin in!
Take care now, until next time
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Hi everybody, how are you doing this week? Did any of you dare venture out more at the weekend? I haven’t yet, as I’m not allowed back in shops until 1st August, but also I don’t think it’s going to be the joyful experience I usually associate with my slight addiction to shopping so I think I‘d rather wait until it feels a bit more normal.
So, this week, I purposely waited to see how my second Live session on ‘Gaining Creative Confidence’ for @psychologiesmagazine went today to see what was coming up for people and also to talk a little about new guiding words for the rest of the year, and strangely they very much link together…let me explain.
As you know every year I talk about setting a guiding word in January to help you focus every now and again on areas where you may want to make a difference in your life, whether that’s linked to creative projects, your work or simply family life.
A few posts back I talked about having a celebration meeting with yourself, all about how far you’ve come in the first half of the year and within that asking if the word you may have chosen at the beginning of the year was still serving you, considering all what has gone on in what has been a momentous year.
I’ve decided my words (naughty I chose 3), Rise, Re-energise and Surprise, have been really useful so far, especially ‘Surprise’ in regard to the new things I’ve tried and where I am heading, but now I’m ready for a new, harder-working one.
The word I’ve chosen is TRUST, and this is coming up for me in a number of ways but what really sold it to me was an email that Suzy Walker, Editor-in-Chief at Psychologies sent to me. I’d sent her an email prior to hers, explaining when I could start doing the Instagram lives after I got my latest scan results and finished it by saying ‘would you like me to send you a rough draft of the things I’ll be talking about in the Insta Lives each week?’
Given that we’d only spoken twice verbally before this, I thought it was only polite as I would be transmitting from their brand but also I realise in hindsight it was also because I always feel eternally grateful for these opportunities and if I’m honest, a little like I am not worthy.
I’ve been a subscriber of Psychologies magazine for years, maybe this is why I’m a little in awe and very happy to be working with them!
This is partly because the others who have done lives on there are what I call ‘genuine experts’, Lucy Atkins for example who has done the same as me with tips and guidance around writing a novel on a Friday live, is a best-selling Author, speaks eloquently and teaches an MA in Writing at Oxford University….so you see what I mean?! Huge comparisonitis right there!
So, what did Suzy send me back? She said, ‘I don’t need to know your plan – I trust you completely!’
I can’t tell you what that sentence meant to me, to have someone of her stature and experience, who I respect immensely, saying that to me was worth it’s weight in gold and a massive boost to my self-belief.
Now when I think of the word ‘Trust’ it reminds me of that sentence and it will remind me to trust in myself, trust that I can do it, even if it’s new and challenging and slightly scary, I will always find a way.
It may not be perfect, I may stumble on my words sometimes, but it will always be authentic and real. That is my USP and I need to trust in that itself!
Trust means other things to me too, which is always a good sign of a chosen guiding word, when you can apply it to multiple aspects of your life. So, these are some other ways in which it links:
And this brings me on to the title of this Blog and what has come up in the lives. That is to trust in your talent or ‘To be’ talents.
When you look up the definition of talent it is this:
However, I am going to be controversial and disagree with this slightly, because if you’ve never tried to do something how do you know if you are innately good at it or not? Yes, you may have some natural ability in there, but it’s no good if it’s never been drawn out or discovered!
I also think you may have some base innate skill, but that’s not to say other elements of that can’t then be taught. For example, you may be good at art generally, in the most basic sense, say drawing, but until you either really experiment yourself, or follow a demo or go to a workshop, how will you know if you are any good at other interpretations of art such as watercolour painting, jewellery making, working with pastels or embroidery, to name just a small few?
I may not be the best photographer in the world, but I have an innate skill of observation, I’ve refined that through photography, noticing the details and the little things, for eg spot the little bug in these pictures, and the spider in the main pic was found once I’d zoomed in and looked closer at the image I’d taken of a patch of flowering mint
So, because of this I want to redefine the word talent, as I think it can be off-putting, being British especially, we rarely shout about our talents, believing that to be too showy, we prefer to be more self-depreciating, maybe saying you are an ‘ok Artist’ or not even daring to call yourself that, maybe saying instead ‘I enjoy doing a bit of art’.
So, how about we acknowledge what our talents are, believe in them and be proud, and for the ones we are practicing and still learning about, call them our ‘to be talents’, understanding that many can be learned and that of course we can improve and grow, and that’s just part of the creative process?
My son’s artwork this week, prompted by his teacher’s challenge and me having a go at my own prompt from this week’s Live challenge, based around my favourite creative quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, below…
This quote means so much me, the courage to take those steps is everything and the reward is a truly enriched life
My point is don’t put a limit on your talents, don’t pigeon-hole yourself into being just one thing, who knows what other talents we may have if we don’t go looking for them?
Yes there will be the odd one we will just never get on with, crocheting is my particular nemesis but I bet there are a whole load more that you can add to your talent list if you give yourself the opportunity to try. That is a valuable gift you can give to yourself.
And now back to the lives, I’m thrilled that people have started to tentatively share their work with me, linked to the challenges. I’ve received some poems and artwork that are amazing and I’m so happy that you are sending them to me.
Some of my viewer’s wonderful work from the prompt of ‘tree stories’ from the 1st session
Interestingly though, sometimes the people sending me their work are a little shy of sharing them themselves but when I’ve asked if I can, they’ve agreed, purely because they have put their trust in me as someone who will encourage them, believe in their work and understand how hard it is when you start out to put your creative baby out there, into the world.
BUT as I always say, everyone starts at the beginning, no-one starts out a Lucy Atkins or Picasso and the beauty of sharing is that then creativity becomes contagious, because if someone sees you having a go, then you might just pass on that curiosity and courage to someone else, who will then have a go too and then the creative baton is passed on and on and on and my work here is done, haha!
No seriously, nothing feels better than seeing this happening before my eyes so please if you would like some creative prompts, come join us on the lives, @psychologiesmagazine, every Monday at 1.30pm, because Trust me (see what I did there!) there are creative skills hiding inside you that you don’t even know you have, yet.
And, if you’re wanting any further inspiration this week, I highly recommend listening to 2 of my favourite inspirational women out there, Fearne Cotton interviewing the other, Holly Tucker, on this week’s Happy Place podcast.
Holly (my idol) always talks about finding that rough diamond within ourselves and polishing it until is shines bright….I couldn’t agree more.
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
P.s Holmfirth Art week is still going on, all be it virtually via an Instagram challenge, see below for details if you’d like to work on some prompts this week.