Continue & keep the faith

Well, after waxing lyrical about different sorts of creativity last week, I’ve not done as much as I’d planned then. Note that I’m NOT saying “I should have…”, because that word’s now considered akin to swearing! Instead, I’m viewing it as a slightly delayed start. This is actually working in my favour because I did different things, and have had other ideas, which I may not have done had I continued with my original plans. Maybe that’s the Universe gently nudging me to take a different tack this week!

It’s taken a while for me to really understand (and believe) that accepting and embracing change is essential, especially as our usual way of life has altered quite radically in the last few months. I’ve got used to these changes, but hadn’t truly accepted them. Instead I’ve been impatient for quite a lot of life to return to “normal”, simply because that state was the one I knew and understood, even if I didn’t really like it; it was comfortable. And there lies the rub: comfortable is all very well, but it’s often only useful when you’re choosing a new bed or pair of jeans. Have you thought about what comfortable can do or, more precisely, stop you from doing? What if scientists, artists, writers, makers, and thinkers since the year dot hadn’t stepped out from behind their comfortable? My husband is re-decorating our daughter’s bedroom and she’s chosen a strong colour for the walls. It’s very different from the pale colours we’ve often used, but a welcome change and it will look fab when it’s done, with new soft furnishings and finishing touches. Our daughter isn’t much into conformity and that’s refreshing!

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In Deborah‘s Impact Club last week, Barbara Nixon spoke about and encouraged us to think about what holds us back or gets in our own way. Although the focus was mainly to someone’s business or job, I feel that you could explore these elements from a creative and whole-life point of view, too. She asked us to consider when we last did something that made us a feel a little scared, and how we could do those things more consciously, more often, in order to stop our brains shoving us back into our comfort zones. What if you decided to paint that vision in your mind, and show someone? Or enter that writing competition when your inner critic keeps telling you it’s totally pointless? When the doubts, fear of failing, or lack of focus sneak out from the caveman bit of your brain, it takes effort (often great big buckets of it!) to persevere, to trust in what you’re doing or trying to achieve. I feel totally hypocritical writing this as I bet I have several PhD’s in those very things myself, BUT I believe I’m a work in progress and I’m feeling much more positive this week!

This leads me to a couple of words I’ve chosen for the rest of this year, part of a challenge set by Juliet in last week’s Psychologies InstaLive: FAITH and CONTINUE. Spookily, I’d just chosen these earlier that day, as I’d not done so in January and it seemed a good idea at that exact moment, so I had one of those goose-walking-over-my-grave moments when she mentioned it; it was like I’d done the challenge before she’d set it!

For me, faith means faith in myself first and foremost, believing in the things I want to do and discrediting my imposter syndrome and self-doubt. It means accepting whatever the universe sends my way, that these happenings aren’t random but meant to be. It’s taking a leap into the creative unknown, which is often terrifying for me, and trusting that it will be exciting and fulfilling. Continue says I’m still here, I have ‘stuff’ to do, that the creative journey I’ve finally begun isn’t a finite one. It also means not going back to the drawing board, not leaving my creations unfinished because I’ve given attention to the negative inner critic, but completing what I start. I see Faith and Continue as two sides of a coin; you can observe them separately but they are part of the same, bigger thing.

Faith and Continue fit very snugly into Juliet‘s creative challenge from yesterday’s live video, which is to look at ‘painting’ using backgrounds, mark-making media, and tools that differ from what you might traditionally use. How about using the inside of a cereal packet as your background, used tea bags as paint, and an old make-up sponge for a paintbrush? Or using a stone (tool) to pound some leaves or grass (paint) onto an old tea towel (background)? It’s about looking differently at what’s around you, being curious about your surroundings and how you could use everyday items in an unusual way. Having Faith in the process and trusting that, as you Continue through your comfort zone and out into your creative zone, what you’re making is valid, worthwhile, and unexpectedly beautiful. If you really don’t like what you’ve made, firstly silence that inner critic (perfectionism is a blooming killer!) and use that piece simply as practice for something new. Then try something different, explore what you think didn’t work so well, use that piece in a different way. Maybe you could cut it up and literally re-use the bits in a collage for instance. The piece below is one I made earlier this year, in response to an art challenge. It’s acrylic paint onto watercolour paper, using found objects from around the house to create different effects. There are prints from pegs, bubble wrap, and a doily, amongst other things. I’m still not keen on it, but I’m being brave and showing you anyway as an example of what you could do. This was the first time in years that I’d done anything like this, so it’s a good exercise in accepting that it’s good enough.

Repurposing things works the creative bones of you and encourages you to look at objects with a different eye. It’s also good for the planet as you’re giving something a new lease of life, and it’s money-saving, too – what’s not to like?! I have some old bedding that I’d like to turn into cushion covers, some new-to-me little side tables and a couple of our bookcases that are crying out for a new paint job, and all the while I have my new vision board in sight. The thing on it I like the best is the quote below, which I feel sums up pretty well what I’ve said this week. Have a bit of a think, and then have a go at something a bit different this week. I’d love to see what you let yourself create!

Trees, Weather, & Creativity

I went for a wander with my hubby and youngest child today for some much-needed fresh air and sunshine (and even the teenager went off to play footie with some friends for an hour!), although we got rather soggy due to some sharp showers near the end. Even managed to persuade the hubby into posing for a bedraggled family selfie!! We felt much better for getting outside and I love it when it’s blustery; it literally blows away the cobwebs and invigorates me.

As a child (and even a teenager), I loved going to the top of Castle Hill (a local landmark in my home town) and being buffeted about by the wind, even during thunderstorms! It’s my favourite place to be: you feel like you’re on the top of the world, no wonder Bronze-age people settled there. I wonder if any of them took the time to look around and just ‘be’? Was there time for them to wonder about the nature of things, to have a few moments of mindfulness? Were there trees around then, do you think, did Bronze age children climb them or friends arrange to meet under them?

Today I managed to take some good photos of my favourite trees as I love the changes that happen in between each time I see a familiar shape. Got some great ideas brewing for how to use them! Why not do something similar yourself? Maybe you could photograph the same tree once a month for a year, or take some paper and crayons out to do some bark rubbings (carefully!). You could bring home a handful of different leaves, and then draw each one in a few different ways, and try to identify the trees they came from. My friend, Juliet, of The Curious Creative Club did her first Insta live for Psychologies magazine this week, and invited those watching to take part in a mini challenge to do something creative inspired by trees and to share the results. People have written poems and all sorts!

Holmfirth Art Week was due to happen this week, but it’s obviously been postponed, and they’re also doing a virtual art challenge (here) for anyone to join if they wish. So, you see, there are always opportunities to challenge yourself and try something creative: go wherever the feeling takes you, whether it’s a photograph, a doodle, baking biscuits or learning crochet from online tutorials. Which leads nicely into talking about the online coaching/self discovery courses/people I’m currently following (Psychologies, A Life More Inspired, DO Impact Club). They’re all different, but similar in the sense that they encourage you to explore ways in which you could change your approach to life, and maybe do things you’ve been putting off, or feared you couldn’t do for some reason, maybe to provide some accountability to help keep you focussed. It sounds like a lot, but it isn’t really, you can dip in and out of these things, and take from them what works for YOU. If these aren’t for you, how about Open Learn or Future Learn, or ask your local adult education colleges? Even in these strange times, online learning is still happening, and it could spark real life interests and creativity in you!

This coming week brings some family creativity in the form of my hubby decorating our daughter’s bedroom, a much-delayed project that’ll soon be finished; said daughter has chosen the colour for the walls and is on with the grand design for the finishing touches. My son is often less willing to do the sort of creative things that he simply thinks of as drawing or painting, but now he’s showing an interest in how we could change his room around; new colours and furniture, which IS exploring his creativity and it’s good for him. Cue yet another Pinterest board with bedroom ideas; some of these boards are getting out of hand! I read something FrankAndFeel said, about paying attention to what you Pin. She was referring to Pinterest, and what she’d noticed about how/where she saves those beautiful images. Instead of saving something to her home decor board, she saved it to ‘One Day’, which sparked her curiosity about the themes we (as Pinterest users) come back to time and again. What do these images mean to us? How do they resonate? There must be something that pulls us – why else would you find you’ve saved the same image half a dozen times over?! She describes these phenomena as “digital maps of our desires”, and suggests that even if we profess to not know what we want, our sub-conscious certainly does! I believe that this concept feeds back directly into our own perceptions of creativity, so maybe we could sit back and think about this, or go for that walk and really look at our favourite trees, take note of what chords are being struck inside us, and choose to make something of that barely submerged creativity? Go on, give it a go, and let me know what you find out…

Fresh start – hello!

Hello there, how are you?!

Time for a revamp of my blog to reflect the recent, positive changes I’m experiencing. I might still draw on memories of my beautiful little mum for inspiration occasionally, but now is the time for moving forwards and exploring new avenues, hence the new name and image.

Would you care to come with me?

I’ve always denied I’m a creative person, having dreadful perfectionism and imposter syndrome that’s crippling, but thanks to various lovely people I’m slowly getting to grips with those monsters and others. My friend, Juliet, of The Curious Creative Club, has scolded me for months about my use of the word “should”, instead of “could”, and she’s quite right, of course. Sometimes it takes another’s perspective to really wake you up: even knowing how you’ve always done things, and suspect it might not be the healthiest way to think or live, that kick up the bum from a good friend, and constant exposure to kind, generous, creative people is what REALLY helps the scales to fall from your eyes. Last September I joined WOW Wednesday, a local accountability group created by Juliet and her friend Clair (of A Social Nature), and it was the best thing I’ve done in years, if not ever. It’s a really diverse bunch of people who come together every fortnight to share their goals, whether they feel they’re winning at their experience of life, and always with care for one another. We’ve been able to keep things going since lockdown via Zoom, which has been a Godsend; those fortnightly chats have morphed slightly, but there’s still that feeling of community, of belonging, which is the most important thing for me. Can’t wait until we can return to Miriam’s cafĂ© for our meetings, for coffee and delicious food, that would be the icing on the cake so to speak!

This space we’ve had since March has been very curious, space I would never have had otherwise. There have been some quite low times, but mostly it’s been time to explore interests for which I don’t usually give myself permission. I’ve written quite a few things, even had some published on the Yorkshire Writers’ Lunch blog, quite tickled to think of myself as a Writer! I’m investigating other ways of expressing my creativity, some I enjoy and seem to be good at, others I’m too impatient with and find boring or frustrating. Maybe that’s the perfectionism rearing its head, not giving me time to explore more fully?

I’ve done some painting, which I had turned into greetings cards, and intend to try some new media and techniques soon – watch this space! I’ll be sharing my writing and poetry, art and more, do hope you’ll pop back soon!