I seem to have said this on a regular basis over the last few months, but I really can't quite believe that we're now on the final approach to Christmas and the end of this year. I wrote in my newsletter at the beginning of the month that it feels like one of those years where the space-time continuum gets a bit muddled up, with it feeling mere minutes since January, and at the same time being amazed at how much I've packed into these 12 months.
A few weeks ago I launched my creative guidance and mentoring services, and I know it can take a little while for something new to settle in, and it can be tricky to understand or know whether it’s something that could maybe help you. So today I want to share with you a case study of one of my first clients – with her permission, of course – to give you an idea of the kind of things I’m here to work on with you.
It seems to be a recurring theme of the movement around authenticity, embracing our true selves, and casting off the patterns of the old ways. Calls to let go of the expectations and pressures of our elders and wider society, to listen instead to what our heart and soul is telling us about the right path for us as individuals, and to release the need to conform to ways that don’t serve us.
I've been wanting to host another Instagram photo challenge since we did the Creative Focus challenge back in September, but to make it something that is purely fun and without any pressure to follow very specific prompts, or more work for me to create daily email content.
This time of year is really busy for all of us, but I know many of you love having the guidance of a prompt or two to inspire your Instagram posts, so I've come up with what I hope will be four weeks of creative play with no stress.
I always thought designing my own website would be far too complicated to tackle myself, and would require a team of developers and a large budget to get something that looked professional and worked properly. I even worked for a web design company briefly so had a bit of an idea of the work and technical details and money involved.
I had a beautiful message last week from a friend who had joined me for the Creative Focus Challenge a few weeks ago and it really got me thinking. She said that opening up to possibilities and exploring a new creative project, being encouraged to make a start on something she'd wanted to do for a while (being given permission, almost), had been incredibly freeing for her. And that by me holding a safe space and facilitating her experimentation through the ideas and suggestions in the challenge, she's been able to begin a path towards healing things that she'd kept locked up inside, because she now has a new and different outlet for them, a unique and creative way of expressing herself.
This year was my first time visiting The Handmade Fair, and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last because I loved it!
Held over the middle weekend of September on the green opposite the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, The Handmade Fair is the brainchild of Kirstie Allsopp, and is a chance to meet and buy from small craft companies and independent designers and makers, as well as to learn from the experts and try out new crafts.
Did you join my #creativefocuschallenge over the last couple of weeks? I really enjoyed it and want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated and shared their progress with me either on social media or by email.
Yeah, I know, it's not really something we do that often, and it can feel such a personal thing, or maybe a bit triggering - so if anything I write here makes you feel icky, then please don't worry about not reading further, I don't want any of you lovely readers upset.
I've been talking about this on social media for a couple of weeks, and you might have seen the link in my last couple of blog posts already, but in case you haven't - I'm hosting a new creative challenge!
The Creative Focus Challenge is all about taking one creative activity where you feel like you've run out of steam, and trying out a few simple ideas to get some motivation back, seek fresh inspiration, and fall back in love with whatever that creative thing is, whether it's a hobby, part of your work, or something new.
I've left it a few weeks since my last post on Big Magic, to be honest because it made me feel quite vulnerable to share some of the personal worries that I did. But I am so grateful for all your lovely responses and comments, and it's given me plenty to think about over the last few weeks.
Today will be the final part in this mini-series of reflections on the lessons I've found in Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling book - if you've missed the first two posts you can catch up here and here.
I read an article recently - in the August 2017 (issue 62) edition of The Simple Things magazine that really made me smile and nod along in agreement. The piece is entitled 'Mess is More' and talks about "growing evidence that tidying hampers creativity" - something I've believed for a long time.
Every now and then it's good to check in with how things are going, and half way through the year feels like a good point for this reflection. I began 2017 with big intentions, and even bigger dreams, and now that we've suddenly (it certainly feels that way sometimes) reached August I've been taking a bit of time to look back on what I've achieved so far this year, and what more I'd still like to do.
Ask me any day of the week and I'll tell you that one of the biggest things I'd love is to be able to move out. I've been living with my parents for the last decade since I moved back after university, and as incredibly grateful as I am for all their support, let's just say it's not always a smooth ride. Having a space of my own to make my own little home and live the way I want to has been a dream for years but unfortunately financial circumstances have never made it possible.
This summer seems to have given us some of the most prolonged periods of good weather I can remember for years. Days and days of sunshine, high temperatures, warm and humid nights, and then the inevitable thunderstorms that break down and start the cycle over again. But I'm actually quite enjoying it. Not being confined to packed commuter trains or stuffy offices (sorry to those of you who are!) is bliss, and being able to get outside regularly, even just for a few minutes in the garden is wonderful.
Thank you to everyone who read the first part of my reflections on this deeply thought-provoking book, and especially to those of you who shared your own impressions either here or on Instagram - it definitely seems to be writing that has struck deep chords with many of us. Before I get started on the next selection of lessons from Big Magic, if you want to catch up on the first post, you can read it here.
I did my first craft fair last weekend. It's the biggest step I've taken with my business so far, and a scary one, but also so rewarding. I'd been invited to take part in the second Support Local Pop Up in Tunbridge Wells, and we had the most beautiful venue - the Function Room at One Warwick Park Hotel, a gorgeous high-ceilinged wooden-beamed space with big windows and lots of light.
Instagram is driving me a bit crazy lately. Some days I'm glued to my phone screen blissfully catching up with what friends all over the world, and other days I feel like throwing said phone out of the window in frustration.
Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic has been one of the biggest books in the self-help/personal development/creativity scene since it was published a couple of years ago. It seems to be on everyone's recommended reading list, and you can barely scroll through social media without a quote being posted somewhere. Many people claim it has changed their lives, and though I'm not quite that evangelical, I will say that it is definitely a book that has resonated strongly and made me think about my life and my relationship with creativity.
I'm on a bit of a roll with my Etsy shop at the moment! Or at least with the listing new stock part anyway! This is my third week of profiling a new product, and this is perhaps the one I love the most.
All my new products so far - the pin cushions and the bunting - have been about using up scrap fabric from my stash, small pieces that can be turned into something pretty. This is another in the same vein because I've been making lavender bags.
Thank you so much for the positive response to the pin cushions I launched the other week, it was lovely to hear stories of pin cushions being discovered in inherited sewing boxes and now being brought out and used again. Today I'm profiling the next of my new product launches - bunting!
I've been swimming since before I could walk. In fact, pretty much since before I could do anything else - Mum and Dad took me to baby swimming sessions as soon as I was allowed in the water. I don't actually remember learning to swim at all, until I was a little bit older and going to lessons on a Saturday morning to improve my stroke technique, and work through the ASA Rainbow Distance Awards and Personal Survival skills levels. I'm sure I must have all the patches and certificates in a box somewhere.
Something a little bit different this week. I knew I wanted to share with you the walk I took in a woodland full of bluebells near where I live, but in a moment of inspiration the story wanted to be written as fiction, giving a new dimension to my words and a departure from my normal style. So this is a story based on real events - I hope you enjoy it.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the Mental Health Foundation is leading the campaign with the message of cultivating good mental health, developing resilience, and learning to thrive rather than just survive.
During the last week of March I gave myself a few days off from concentrating on work and business stuff to spend some time with my Mum, who was also taking some holiday. We always have a list of loads of places we want to go and things we want to do, and then somehow the time flies by and we haven't done any of it. So this week, we had planned in several things to make sure that we actually got out of the house to enjoy some of the beautiful spring weather!