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.