If you’re reading this before 1.30pm today (Monday), then I’ll be gearing up with my first Instagram Live for @psychologiesmagazine, the first one in a series to help you ‘Gain Creative Confidence’. I’ll be chatting ‘Live’ about all the things I talk about on here, plus adding in a small creative task each week, as a little prompt to encourage people to have a go.
If you are a new reader that’s come from watching today, then welcome!
Each week I dig into an area of creativity, ranging from procrastination to refining your style, from seasonal prompts to interviewing local creatives. Creativity is a complex subject that still fascinates me 68 blog posts in and I hope it will you too…now on to today’s topic!
Where’s your energy at?
Today’s thoughts, as often is the case, came from one of my photos that I took at the reservoir out with the dog. It’s been a while since I’ve been to this particular one and when this happens, I notice so much more how things have changed since I was last there. All the grasses had grown tall, taking over the path and flowering.
I took this photo, in the breeze and so it captured some movement and some stillness, against the backdrop of a blue sky, reflected in the water.
For some reason I couldn’t get this image out of my head all week and found myself in periods of intense movement, creatively, followed by some stillness in the very hot weather – it was just too hot to do anything!
Now, normally this would really frustrate me and I’d lapse into feeling agitated, feeling like I should be doing something, I should be getting on with things, I have an ever expanding list with lots to do and be ticked off on it. But for once, I actually wrote this in my planner:
‘Go with the flow today’ and it was a good reminder. It’s very easy to get hung up on that ‘list’ when you have lots going on, but I recognised a few things have changed for me lately, and maybe it was starting to pay off? This is what I’ve changed:
As someone who is NOT a morning person, I’ve added a gentle routine to ease me into the day. I’ve always appreciated that first morning cuppa, along with being pounced on by the dog, but now I’ve added in 2 writing practices inspired Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired and the Dream and Do podcast who advises Create before you consume, first thing in the morning.
So now in the morning I do:
And in the evening, a routine also seems to be coming together…
My new essential oils helping me on my night time routine
This week I met this bull and his Mrs up the lane!
I love going out in the ‘golden hour’
The surprising thing that I noticed, was that just by taking the pressure off myself, slowing down and sticking to the above, I was still as productive, just in a less harried, more effective way which I’ve heard spoken about by experts like Dr Chaterjee on the ‘Feel better live more’ podcast but if I’m honest I never actually believed could be true! Shows what I know!
I felt much calmer and recognised that perhaps it was these regular self-care practices that were now working as they become more habitual. By creating the mental space, it gave me clarity on priorities and my direction, and I gained more joy and satisfaction from the ‘work’ (although to me it never is that!).
On the days were I felt less energy, I allowed myself to catch up with friends in the sunshine, do some gardening and sketching but I’ve also had some insightful conversations and planning sessions that I know will have a big impact in taking The Curious Creative Club forward.
It’s made me realise how much I love the planning stage too, working it all out, finding those nuggets that you have an instinct about, that could really work, it’s an exciting time!
And so, the ‘swaying grasses’ photo is becoming one of my favourites, as recognition to go with that breeze of energy and I’m going to use it for my next adventure into exciting territory – Curious Coaching.
I know too that those grasses will inspire me in other ways, I picked a bunch for a vase for example in my kitchen and I know I’ll have a go at drawing them soon, they remind me of @hannahnunnstudio beautiful designs.
If you think this could work for you then ask yourself the following questions, recognising that ebb and flow is actually so important in the creative process and sometimes we have to be more mindful and consciously tap into this.
For example, there could be some short admin tasks that don’t take up a lot of energy but would feel good to get done, or you may be feeling energised with lots of creative ideas – time to use that energy burst and get that story down or paint that commission you’ve been holding back from attempting
For more on this and some great self-care 5 minute activities, check out Dr Chatterjee’s Book – ‘Feel Better in 5’.
I hope this helps you to tune into your energy as you move through the week and remove the guilt from what you think you ‘should’ be doing, and for those eternal ‘should-ers’ replace it with the word ‘could’, I promise it makes all the difference!
Do let me know how you get on; I’d love to know!
Until next time, keep being safe as we head into restrictions being lifted!
Juliet, the curious creative x
Ps for those wanting to watch the Live from @psychologiesmagazine today just click the link after 2pm.
I’ll also always add the task to Psychologies Connected Community Facebook group, so please have a look if you fancy joining in.
Hi everyone, I’ll be honest this week’s blog is a bit of a mixed bag of thoughts and that’s all because last week was quite extraordinary.
It started with Monday, after I’d posted my last Blog around ‘fear’. Later that afternoon I go a call from my specialist nurse telling my final scan ‘report’ wasn’t totally clear and that it was being sent to their Radiologist who specialises in Lymphoma and then would be discussed at the MDT meeting on Friday (Multi-disciplinary team where they discuss cases and decide the best way forwards).
This, I was completely NOT expecting. All the way through treatment, my team had been saying if you’ve had a clear mid-way scan, which I had, you were pretty much home and dry. Having said that, the week before, a friend from an online support group, who was 3 weeks ahead of me on her treatment plan, also had the same experience, resulting in her now having to have another 5 months’ worth of a stronger chemo and a stem-cell transplant.
My call, combined with this new evidence – i.e. just because you’ve had a clear mid-way scan does not mean it’s all fine, meant that all of a sudden everything was thrown out of my control, once again! Why is nothing ever straight forward?!
As this Blog is live today, I’ll be going to me hospital apt finding out my results.
However, what could have been a disastrous week, in terms of me panicking and fearing the worse, actually turned out to be a pretty good week and so I wanted to share why.
Firstly, I took my own advice of the last Blog and focused on Gratitude and Taking Action, what could I control right then and there in this moment in time? First up, I notified people that I’d made recent commitments with to what was going on to relieve that pressure, and of course they were lovely.
I then carried on doing what I normally would in terms of my weekly creative projects; promoting the Blog, writing my book, Social Media posts, Art and Writing Club homework.
My intuition is to not work with pastels! But our task in art club this week was to work with a material you don’t normally work with! My intuition is right! Just the feel of pastels makes me cringe lol!
I also added in a healthy dose of self-care this week and took the pressure off to be deep in work mode most of the time, I allowed myself some ‘free’ time. This included a few walks with friends, one of which is simply hilarious – she got on the swing in the woods and then slipped as she got off, leaving her dangling over the mill pond, just holding on to the swing for dear life, I was crying with laughter, much needed comedy gold.
I’ve been listening to a new podcast too that I’ve found called ‘shagged, married and annoyed’ by Chris (Comedian and Strictly) and wife Rosie Ramsey. It’s an absolutely hilarious take on their marriage and also listeners questions and has me laughing out loud in the car. You cannot underestimate the power of laughter; it really is the best medicine.
And then something strange happened, a kind of build up from previous weeks, following me talking about visualisation in the last but one Blog, attending the masterclass with Andrea and writing about that and the slow drip feed of people telling me I could / need to be doing this, and I allowed myself to think bigger again.
The reason I’m saying this is strange is because I have no idea what will happen today. I could be told that I’ll be heading down another treatment journey, which would mean physically I’d have to take a back-step again BUT there was also some semblance of ‘F*** it’, I’m not going to let this hang over me, it’s taken up too much of my life already.
Nicola hosts the podcast ‘Dream and Do’ and Instagram @alifemoreinspired
Firstly, I took the decision to contact Nicola Rae Wickham, a creative mentor I really admire who was looking at starting a monthly Club and offering a deal for founding members, I’d missed the deadline for the debut offer but thought what have I got to lose, I can always just ask? The result was she said ‘Yes, of course!’.
I then sent of a text to 2 friends and asked them questions around what I was thinking and also asking them if they’d like to be guinea pig clients.
As I got a little braver, I then wrote half an email to a friend who is in the field of what I want to do, only to scrap it half way through because I thought no, I better not get too ahead of myself and wait until I’m passed Monday. And then guess what happened? The very same friend text me a few hours later, asking for advice on something to do with her business and suggesting a call!
My point to all this is, it’s very easy in tough times to go inwards, hide from the world and just want to battle through the week BUT if you instead listen to your intuition and let it guide you it can lead to some really great things.
The call with my friend lasted 1.5 hrs, was mutually beneficial and we’ve come up with an exciting collaboration plan to move us both forwards, I couldn’t be more thrilled.
This in turn has given me a huge boost to my self-belief, she’s someone I look up to and is incredibly clever, an expert in her field and even she thinks I could go in this direction which kind of blew me away.
Fab lollies, new plants, doodling and Barley cuddles, have all helped this week too!
So, what is the thing? It feels scary at this moment saying it out loud and I don’t want to tempt fate for today but then what if I listen to what I’ve learned, say it out loud and then that somehow goes out into the universe and manifests itself into reality? I’d be stupid not to try right?
Get ready universe here it is – I want to become a creative / personal branding coach/mentor.
It’s something that has been nagging away at me for over 3 years, much like setting up the Blog did before. The block I’ve had around this is that I can’t afford formal training, yet. But as I’ve delivered my own writing workshops, worked with the members of the Wow team over the last year, and with this Blog too, plus of course the 21 years of marketing and PR career I had before all this (which I often forget!), I’ve grown in confidence that I really can help people, and it is definitely the direction I want to take long-term because I get such a buzz out of it!
That night, as is usual in my case, I woke up with all the ideas of how I could help my friend and drafted these out into my notebook the next day, leading to further excitement and planning work which I love doing.
As you probably know, I’m interested in positive psychology and well-being anyway and listen to related podcasts and read up on the subject, but this week felt even more apt as I listened to Dr Chatterjee’s interview with Dr Tara Swart on his ‘Feel better, live more’ podcast, all about how to plan your post-lockdown life, focusing on visualisation, spirituality and Action Boards (her version of Vision Boards). It was a fascinating listen and I’m now reading her book; The Source – Open Your Mind, Change Your Life, which so far, is brilliant.
In addition to the events above, a few other key things have happened this week:
‘It’s never too late to step out of the shadows’
A fitting end and a quote that myself, and my friends listening, could all relate to. I believe, after lock-down, it’s time we all step out of those shadows and really go for creating a life that we truly want, that fills us with passion, enthusiasm and a deep sense of fulfilment.
My point to all this is what I always say; the more opportunities you open yourself up to, the more end up coming your way and this all very much fits in with the law of attraction too. If you then Take Action on top of that openness, the effect is doubled, yourself and the universe, working together to head in the same direction.
It may all sound a bit ‘woo’ but I firmly believe it makes a difference, if you hide in a corner, not connecting or engaging with people, how is that energy every going to encourage opportunities or people to work with you?
I’m someone who has always looked actively for signs and trusted my gut instinct on things and that involves taking a good look at yourself and spending time on self-development. An example of this is finally doing what I tell others to do – journaling.
I often think I don’t have time or have to have the right notebook (I know, it’s an addiction!) and so to encourage me to do it, when I KNOW how good it can be for you, I’ve ordered the same focus journal I got for a friends birthday ‘Five minutes in the morning’ and am working through the self-reflective tasks on a daily basis.
Having said that, it doesn’t allow you to write about how you are feeling that particular day and so upon listening to Julia Cameron’s interview who recommends doing the ‘Morning Pages’ – essentially 3 pages of writing a stream of consciousness first thing in the morning, I remembered a clear, clean notebook I had left that I could use for just that!
I’ve added a little structure though to make it work more intentionally for me. The first 2 pages can be about anything, the last page will be to set out my intentions for that day and will also hold my gratitude list for the previous day – (i.e. Gratitude and Take Action remember) to clear away any anxiety for that day and set myself in a good frame of mind.
I started this yesterday and wrote about a daft habit that I’d gotten into lately that I was going to intentionally try and stop. This may make you laugh but when I get down to ‘work’ I take with me my daily planner, my large notebook, my laptop, and books and magazines as a kind of ‘comfort’ blanket dragging them around the house, I think to make me feel that I can get all this stuff done if I just have it with me!
The reality of course is that I don’t because it is too much for one sitting of work! The comfort then reverses into ‘disappointment’ in myself and an ongoing inner dialogue of, ‘Look what you didn’t get round to today, you’ll have to try harder tomorrow!’ which of course I know when I really think about it, is ridiculous!
So, I’m now going to intentionally set just 3 things a day to complete, anything else is a bonus and I’ll only take with me what I am actually going to do, usually planner and laptop.
Larger notebooks will be used just for drafting-out sessions and bigger picture thinking such as mind-maps etc which doesn’t happen on a daily basis. Magazines and books will be used for pure research time, which requires a quiet place for it to sink in properly – i.e. not when I’m in the middle of other work.
So just one day or morning pages has helped me sort out this issue, imagine how doing this every day will help to process my thoughts and behaviours? It’s encouraged me to make this a regular practice because even on day one, I can see the value in it.
This week I want to set you a challenge, ask yourself these 4 questions, I want you to get curious and look inwards. Write your answers down and look again at the end of the week, has it made a difference to how you navigated your week? Have you noticed any specific behaviours? It will be interesting to see:
Do let me know how you get on!
Have a great week and I don’t know if the all the above stretches as far as creating good health, but universe, if you are listening, please let my results be clear, because I have a lot of exciting work to do!
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps We’ve held off promoting Wow Wednesdays for a while because we’ve been doing it all virtually but sometimes we have space to add people in to the zoom calls, so if you are interested, please have a look here for further details of what they are about and DM me via Instagram if you are interested. The next meeting is this coming Wednesday 17th June, and we do calls at 11am and 8pm
Well what a week it has been, I often wonder how so much can happen in just 7 days but so often these days it does.
When the world keeps changing and not in a good way, it can often add to the internal fear we already have as creatives to move forward with our ideas. When our external narrative becomes increasingly shaky too, it suddenly seems less safe to forge ahead and you end up stuck, not sure where to go next.
I can’t say that fear was a big part of my life before last year but 2019 taught me many things, not least because it was the most up and down year as a family we’ve had for a long, long time. Before that when I think about it, I’d been comfortably trotting along and felt very much in control, and this is the key word I think, because it’s when things are taken out of our control that every thing feels so much more heightened and frightening.
Walks and working out in the fresh air are still the best thing for me to process and gain perspective
Last week I took part in the free ‘Time to rise and be seen’ masterclass by Andrea Callanan which looked at fear in one of the sessions. It was a strange experience, as she talked more and more about fear actually being useful and treating it as a friend that is there to protect you, I realised how much I had been holding back from feeling fear, following last year it dawned on me that I’d become terrified of feeling any sense of fear ever again!
This was quite revolutionary and felt like a physical response, I could literally feel my heart rate rising listening to her speak. And I wasn’t alone, for many people on the call, talking about fear really hit a nerve. And when you think about it, given everything that has gone on so far in 2020, it’s no surprise that many of us are feeling all scared- out and just don’t want to be stalled in a constant state of low-level fear anymore.
It’s why many of us have stopped watching the Covid-19 updates and are choosing to protect ourselves in our own safe bubbles of home and inner circle.
But as you can imagine, you can’t push down fear on a constant basis, or it becomes exhausting. It’s about learning to deal with those feelings, understanding what it’s trying to tell you as your protector and then changing your state to get through it.
Andrea’s first day of focus was about Gratitude and Taking Action as the key strategies to adopt when you want to change your state. By this she means if you’ve woken up in a negative or sense of fear frame of mind, that’s leaving you stuck, there are things you can do about it, you don’t have to resign yourself to it being a ‘bad’ day all day long that you just need to battle through.
After the fear session I realised my dramatic response that seemed to come from nowhere, was obviously a more extreme reaction due to it being my final PET scan the following day, where I get to find out for certain if the Hodgkin’s lymphoma is in remission or not. Andrea talked about the acronym for fear:
And that fear is usually based in the past (experience, challenges or trauma) or the future (anxiety) and this certainly hit home for me and explained why it felt like a double whammy. My fear was based on the challenges of cancer over the last 6 months and anxiety of the future – what if it were to come back?
I decided to adapt this theory for myself, replacing Fear with Ear, as a sign to listen to what it was trying to tell me and then re-ground myself in the truth of the present – i.e. right now the evidence is that I had a clear scan in January, and that is the only personal fact I have to base anything on right now. So, carrying on the theory of Gratitude and Taking Action, it would look something like this.
My lovely nurse and now friend Debbie, and masked up for the scan, I have such a little head it covers most of it!
When I focus on all these elements, just by recognising what I have with gratitude makes me feel calmer and that everything is ok, right now, which then allows me to move on to taking action, which I know for me is the best thing to avoid just ‘waiting’ for the phone to ring and avoid the ‘watched kettle never boils’ situation!
So, the Actions I took looked like this:
Can’t beat some painting time, putting the finishes touches on an earlier piece and making my fave Jamie Oliver’s lasagne!
So, what do you think, could this practice work for you when you are feeling the fear and in the midst of an internal panic? I guess the key thing is to be able to recognise and acknowledge how you are feeling, and I know from above that initially I had not!
I was doing everything I could to avoid it but then when it was triggered by the training, it come over me like a tidal wave, so try to face it head on and as Andrea says, it is there as a human trait to protect you, to help us survive.
And I’ll be using this practice again this week. As well as some big challenges last week, there were also some great successes:
Above, the Wow team on one of our virtual calls in lock-down and below Andrea talks about fear and the words we associate with it
Which brings me to the next slightly scary situation! When I wrote my New Year’s intentions this year, part of that was to become more visible so that I could spread the message of the benefits of creativity to a wider audience. Last year I’d started to do some short product review videos as part of my role as an Eco-panellist member for Psychologies and found doing it surprisingly okay.
Then this year other opportunities have come my way, such as podcasts and the live Facebook interview with Suzy Walker, Editor-in-chief at Psychologies in April, which was scary but it was arranged so quickly I didn’t have too much time to be nervous! Plus, Suzy made me feel very comfortable, so it was more like having a chat with a friend (it’s now had 4.5k views, crazy!).
The video is what’s lead to this upcoming collaboration, and I am beyond excited but also a little nervous because if anything scares me in my work, it’s technicalities! I haven’t done any Instagram lives myself yet, and living out in the sticks in the countryside sometimes makes internet connection an issue! Plus, there’s always that anxiety of no-one coming to watch what I have to say!
So, let’s examine this fear via the practice above;
Following these positives, I’ll then use this to guide my action:
I hope this gives you some idea of how you can use this practice both in your personal life and your work, just typing the above certainly makes me feel a lot more in control, and when we feel in control, fear is lessened.
And finally, just a note on another source of fear for me last week, which I suspect we have all felt recently, following the sickening murder of George Floyd in America.
Like many content creators who are white, I struggled knowing what to do for the best to show my support and to try and be part of the change that desperately needs to happen. As many turned their squares black on Instagram on Tuesday last week, which I understand that people wanted to show their support, it just didn’t feel right for me, and then when Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired, who I already followed on Instagram, spoke out through several ‘Lives’ this week, about how she was fed up of being silenced, it really resonated with how I’d felt.
So my point is, it’s easy to follow a trend that’s out there, but it’s more important to carry on the conversation and keep talking even if you are a little un-confident or scared because it’s far better to speak and make small mistakes and learn, than to say nothing at all, because then we are all part of the problem.
An equal society needs deep conversations from all parties to build those human connections and fight for what is right.
Not all people will do this in the same way, you have to find YOUR way and use your voice but I can highly recommend as a starting point listening to Nicola’s videos, she isn’t an anti-racist educator, she’s an inspiring creative woman who just says wholeheartedly how she feels, and those are the voices we need to listen to and then choose how we respond accordingly.
That being said, I challenged myself to write from a black woman’s point of view for my YWL Blog post this week, it took me ages, I cared about trying my best to get it right and I wanted it to reach a climax of hope (and linked to the main picture of a double rainbow). I’d be really interested to know what you think by either commenting on my writing piece or on here.
I don’t profess that I’ll always get it right, but I do want to try harder.
And on that note, I wish you a week of less fear, more gratitude and action, and certainly more hope…
Until next time…
Juliet, the curious creative x
P.s If you are interested in Nicola’s work, click here for more info
PP.s If you are interested in Andrea’s work, click here for more info