Dear Creative #2

How much we value something corresponds to how much energy we give out. If we value our job, because it pays for the necessities in life we give it our energy. If we value a friend or family member we give energy to those people.

Right?

So, does that mean when we have been at work all day, and connected with the people in our lives the rest of our energy is put into scrolling, eating badly, binge watching Netflix… and so on.

What is happening?

We know we value aspects of our lives. For example, if I asked you to create a list of the most valuable parts of your life you would probably start with people you love and then move onto passions and pastimes that bring you joy.

Raglan, New Zealand

What’s never on the list, but in my mind should be at the top, is YOU. Not what you like to ‘do’, just YOU. So, my list, for example, of aspects in my life that I most value should look something like:

  • Julia
  • People in my life I care for
  • Creativity
  • Spending time in nature
  • Work

Just an example, but I’ve never written a list that starts with ‘me’ and I can confidently assume you don’t normally think of valuing yourself first in this way either. I mean we all know the metaphor about putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we help others. And, most of us acknowledge that we are important- but have we ever committed to actually prioritising ourselves in a way that firmly places us first.

It seems selfish. Maybe if we did that we won’t be able to serve others. Maybe we will end up completely narcissistic???

I don’t think so. Actually the opposite will happen. I dare you to add up all the scrolling time you engage in within a week and spend half of that time on you. Meditating, eating well, reading… whatever it is that creates a connection with yourself.

Value yourself. Make yourself top priority. See what happens.

Catch you next time xx

Dear Creative #1

Dear Creative, what if I asked the question, How are you? What would be your reply? Would you say something like, “fine” or “all good” or “not bad’” a standard socially acceptable reply where both parties welcome an exchange that doesn’t expect connection.

So, I’m going to ask the question:

How are you? No, really. How are you?

Yes, I understand that sometimes you need to say, “I’m fine,” and move on, we all do that. But also allow yourself to connect occasionally. We need to connect, you need connection.

I was watching Queer Eye on Netflix the other day, and a person on the show said, “it’s easier to exist than live.” It struck me. Sometimes I admit I do just exist. I go through the motions, I don’t look up at people and smile when passing, I don’t give the supermarket checkout person eye contact. I just go through my day unconnected, distracted, caught up in the past and worried about the future.

Sound familiar?

But it’s OK. Just stop for a moment. Take a breathe. Feel your feet on the ground, just be present for this moment.

Taken on a early morning walk

What are you going through right now? Sickness? Busy with work and family? Mental health? Financial difficulties? A feeling of isolation? Maybe you haven’t had anytime to be creative? Maybe being creative is just so off your radar right now.

And that’s OK. Just stop. Take a breathe.

Standing in ourselves is difficult to do. being aware of our surroundings, connecting with people we love and with strangers takes effort. But it’s worth it.

If you haven’t been able to connect, try to challenge yourself today. Send a text to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. If you are feeling more brave, make time to visit or meet up. And, when they ask you that… question. “How are you?” Dig a little deeper. Make a connection.

Let me know in the comments below how you enjoy connecting with others.

Catch you next time xx

Reflection Matters

January is a great month to start reflecting on the year that has been and planning the year ahead. December, in my experience, an extremely busy month, with more pressures on us than usual. There are often a lot of events to attend, work parties, and other end of year activities, plus any holidays or celebrations to participate in. So, January can be the perfect time for reflection.

So taking stock of what has bee and what is before us is actually very beneficial. For me, it is easy to become very passive in my life, to let the day to day activities drive my life rather than working to have control; this often looks like indecision. But it can often be due to decision fatigue and a lack of commitment to my own goals.

I started this blog to use creativity and creative processes as a way to engage and fight against consumption. To spend time using creativity instead of filling up hours with consumerism or buffering on social media platforms. Being involved in creativity certainly makes me present in that moment, relieves the constant anxiety to have the same things or compare myself to my peers. To me it is a personal protest against consumerism, with the added bonus of enriching rather than taking (time/money). Even though I’m discussing not purchasing unneeded ‘stuff’ – 2 books, which I have shared before I think are a good purchase, and help – with less purchasing… does that even make sense? These are The Bullet Journal Method, and La’rt de la Liste: Simplify, Organise, Enrich your life.

So coming back to my first point; January is a great time to take stock, reflect on the year that has been and put some new processes in place for the new season. To do this I want to discuss ‘lists’. YES, you read it correctly… lists. One of my current finds is La’rt de la Liste: Simplify, Organise, Enrich your life, it is a beautiful book on lists and the art of list making by Dominique Loreau. When I first picked it up I thought, “Oh No, another book to organise my messy life”, and in a way it is, but it is done with creativity, inspiration and flair.

“Writing, correcting, editing, clarifying, refining… the work of deleting, of filtering, of gradually trimming back the superfluous as we aspire towards the essential. It is always possible to express truths, personal convictions or powerful, fleeting pleasures in a more succinct way. Just like the haiku, the list can represent a way of turning a selection of words and sensations into a mini work of art.”

There is delightful Japanese approach to the book, the way Japanese approach lists and the fine art and execution of them. If you love lists – then you will find this book a treasure. Link here to review.

So back to January. It is here and I have a need to reflect. What have I done in 2021 that has helped me to organise my life and in turn given me freedom for creativity? The biggest change I have made is incorporating bullet journaling into my life (BuJo for those in the know). I actually did this a couple of years ago – BUT – it is still changing the way a ride the wave of time and motivation. Ryder Carroll wrote a book titled The Bullet Journal Method, which outlines a style of journal/diary, he states:

“The Bullet Journal method will help you accomplish more by working on less. It helps you identify and focus on what is meaningful by stripping away what is meaningless.”

Without reading the book, it’s quite difficult to explain the elements of the BuJo that make it so successful. What I like most about it is its ability to put everything in one place. I’ve always had a diary, but then hated the waste of paper, I use lists all the time, and then I write little quotes to myself, or draw, or write down goals in another book – the BuJo method puts it all together using an index system, which is easy and quick to learn.

I recommend the Matter Bullet Dotted Journal it comes in a variety of colours and is simple to use, this is the Lavender one – my favourite. You will see from the pic below – this is not one of those journals – but mine is on order….

This method of organising, has probably been the biggest change I have made and stuck to this year. And, I will definitely keep practicing the BuJo method next year. I absolutely recommend this book. There is also a website to visit, which is linked here.

Thinking about 2022 commitments and goals: I have a selection of ‘list’ activities (below), which I will work through to come to a decision… and stick to it. These activities can be used in all manner of ways, for small aspects of your life, or larger projects you may be working on. I will link the different websites or references for each.

List Activities

Negative Selection

This is a great way of making lists smaller at the beginning stages. If your possible lists for an idea or project has become too large, and you’re confused as to which one to start, you can use the negative selection. We have a great ability to see the negative in something, more than the positive. Go through the list and write down, NO or MAYBE beside each as you think about the possibilities.

Attribute Listing

  • List all the attributes of the object, or process in question
  • Consider the value of the attributes
  • Do the attributes have a positive or negative value
  • Modify the attributes
  • Look for ways you can modify the attributes, so you can increase value

Challenge Assumptions List

  • When having an block, or trying to solve an issue, you can write a challenge assumptions list
  • Start by listing the assumptions you have of the problem
  • Then ask, “What if…… was not true?”
  • This type of listing and thinking will help you to see the issue from different perspectives.

Osborn Checklist

Alex Osborn, who developed the brainstorm technique, also advanced other thinking strategies, and one of these is the Osborn Checklist.

  • Adapt? What’s similar, what are parallels, what can you imitate?
  • Modify? Can you change colour, moving, size, shape, tone, smell, etc.?
  • Substitute? Different process, positions, music, elements from other countries, etc.?
  • Magnify/Maximise?  Increasing frequency, size, height, length, distance, etc.?
  • Minimise/Eliminate? Lighter, smarter, etc.?
  • Rearrange?                
  • Different sequence, etc.?
  • Reversal? How to mirror the ideas, etc.?
  • Combine? Is it part of a bigger picture, etc.?
  • Other use? Is another use possible, etc.?

The Wish List

Wishing helps to expand our thinking, it is playful and without boundaries. You can wish for anything. Making a wish list helps you understand yourself and you can consider ‘what ifs’ without limiting your choices to practical solutions.


So these are some of the activities I will use over the next week to reflect on my commute. Hopefully it may be useful to you as well to think about how you can make some positive changes in your routines for next year.

December Diary: Final day of 2021

I have not been blogging these last few days, I have been soaking up time with family. So nice to be with people I love, that I haven’t been able to see since August due to our lockdowns. It reminds me how precious time is and how we need to spend it with care and consideration. The last few weeks of December are a bit of a whirlwind, with the end of work for the year, the preparation for holidays and Christmas (if that is what you celebrate 🎉 ), so, the end of the year seems to zoom in view.

This is the last of the December Diary entrees for 2021, and of course, the last day of the year. I have enjoyed sharing parts of my life during this December, it has been so nice reading back – a lot can happen in a month, however, in January I go back to blogging once a week. My plan is to dig back into creativity, what it is, different modes of creativity, how to stay motivated, as well as other topics. Please comment on anything you would like me to dig into over the next few months, I do have some ideas, but of course I’d like to hear from you.

I wrote these little thoughts in my morning pages thinking about the end of 2021, so I thought I’d share:

Today is a good day. A day with sunshine and a walk around the marina. A day to finish things off and start a-new. A day to connect. A day to practice what is essential in life. A day to breathe and feel the wind on my face. A day to think about family and friends and make plans to spend time together. Today, the last day of something, the end of something, but also a connection to what is ahead. There is a pause, a moment to glance back, but not to stay in that glance too long, only allowing the glance back to strengthen the way forward. Today, like any day, is one moment of a precious life. 

I hope you are all well. I hope 2022 brings you joy.

Catch you next time.

December Diary: 2021 Day 27

We are leaving Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland for a few days, but it seems as though every other Aucklander is doing the same. In the traffic I notice a young girl in the back of her parents SUV making wave motions with her hand out of the window. It’s a relaxing sight. Kids don’t really understand the stresses of traffic, they are engaged fully in their own experience. I remind myself of being in the moment, no matter what. It is what it is.

On our way to Tauranga, which is a 3 hour drive, we stop at the Karangahape Gorge and walk the tunnel track. It’s hot, beautiful and reminds me how much I love our Kiwi summers. People are having picnics, swimming and taking in the sights. Gorgeous!

The Karangahape Tunnel was built over 100 years ago and was part of the main trunk line connecting the Bay of Plenty with Waikato, but is has been disused and now part of the many walking and biking tracks in this area.

Back on the road, we organise our next few days, make more picnic plans and listen to the stereo on loud. Then just for a moment, I too put my hand out the window and make wave motions. I mean, I am just a kid at heart.

Summertime

Another beautiful day. Catch you tomorrow xxx

December Diary: 2021 Day 26

I always find the day after Christmas Day a bit strange. I don’t know how everyone else feels about it but for me it’s a combination of relief and sadness that it is over. When I was younger I loved the anticipation for Christmas, but these days I find it more difficult to get into the vibe. The best thing about Christmas now is family. That’s what matters.

What I am looking forward to, however, is having more time to do craft and art. A lot of my time over the last week has been spent on getting ready for Christmas, so yeah, more time for anything and everything creative related sounds good. I find it such a good way to relax.

For our Christmas get-together we had a picnic at the Hamilton Gardens. There was 10 of us and we found a perfect spot under a tree. It was so nice to be outside and enjoying each other’s company in this way. I would definitely do a picnic again, it was super cute. It was, however, extremely hot and we had to keep moving as the sun moved… haha.

Today, (26 Dec), we are relaxing at home. We got a board game for a gift so may play that later. But really not doing a lot. Resting and relaxing – that’s the call for the day. I’ve been doing little plant sketches from our own pot plants, I think they are really cute and I’d like to try creating them again but in ink and water colour. Anyway that’s my musing for the day.

Hope you are all well. I will catch you tomorrow xxx

December Diary:2021 Day 24

This post is an image essay of our trip to Devonport.

Ferry from downtown Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to Devonport.

Devonport Jetty

Then we took in the cites of this cute area, love the second-hand book shop, just lovely to walk around and take in the vibe.

Tomorrow is Christmas day, which we are spending with family. I will post again on the 26 December. I hope you are all well, catch you then. xxx

December Diary: 2021 Day 23

Christmas Eve’s eve.

Yesterday I took my mum out and met my sister for coffee. It was lovely to spend time with them both, especially as in lockdown I wasn’t able to visit.

Pohutukawa Tree: New Zealand’s native Christmas Tree

Everything is a bit Christmasy, tinsel and trees in most shops. However, not as busy as usual. I think, even though we are not in lockdown now, many people are still keeping away from places where people are.

It’s been a difficult year.

Olivia, my daughter, arrives tonight and will stay for a week. So looking forward to having her stay. Its easy to get stressed out around this time, as commercialism can take over, but if we concentrate on family, friends and relationships it can ease that pressure. That’s my take on it anyway.

Tomorrow Grant, Olivia and I are heading to Devonport, it’s a lovely spot with quant shops and cafes, so looking forward to head out and enjoy the day with them.

That’s it from me.

Catch you tomorrow xx

December Diary: 2021 Day 21

Well, today has been interesting. I’ve been having terrible trouble with my sinus resulting in the most terrible headaches.

About 4 weeks I had a CAT scan and the doctor found some issues on the left side of my head behind my ear. So, today I’ve just seen a specialist and I need surgery. I was really hoping for an outcome today, but I didn’t expect that.

I’ve been on antibiotics since the scan, and apparently I need to stay on them until the surgery, which could be months away. Prebiotics, probiotics…. Yep, that’s me for awhile.

Sorry, hope I’m not over-sharing. This is a creative blog. But the reality is when I’m suffering from severe headaches I’m not actually doing much making.

But I am thinking and planning for creative endeavours 2022. I’ve got something exciting In the works. And, I just can’t wait! Every time I think about it I start to smile. So, good. Isn’t that good? Good to have something that brings hope and joy. I know it will be a ‘shit”’ load of work, but totally believe it will be well worth it.

Didn’t have a picture for today, so here is a pic of our cat.

That’s it for today – Catch you next time xx

December Diary: 2021 Day 20

Did some crafting today. Mainly finishing a hand made journal for my daughter. I sewed together a journal for myself and thought it would be a good present, so made her a more refined version. Click here to read a post on this process. But today I finally had time to finish it.

It was just a lot of cutting and glueing, which I find stress relieving. I also wrapped some presents in plain brown wrapping paper, and put just a small amount of decorations on our tree.

We bought a living tree. A little pine that will grow over time, but at the moment he’s just a little fella. Yes, he’s a boy and I’ve named him Ralph. It’s a good name for a Christmas tree.

I could only put light-weight decorations on him, some home made felt ones and a few other bits and bobs. But Yeah. Ralph the tree. I’m hoping that next year he’ll be able to hold a few more.

That’s it for today. Catch you next time xxx