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Surviving February: 6 Actions to Take When You’re Ready to Make a Change

Surviving February: 6 Actions to Take When You’re Ready to Make a Change

Hello friends. It’s been two weeks too long since I’ve visited this wee corner of my life and while it wasn’t something I had intended on doing, it just felt right to ease myself in to 2018 rather than going in guns blazing. I feel like January is the month for ideas but February is the month to start actioning them. January is a time to give our dreams the wiggle room to grow, to ruminate on those thoughts that have been niggling in the back of our minds, slowly pushing to the forefront so we can give them our full attention. It’s a time for reflection, reflecting on where we are and where we want to be. Mostly, it’s a time to spend dark evenings curled up by the fire with empty pages spread out before us to capture all the wild and messy daydreams that tumble from our sleepy brains. Those blank spaces can provide us with more energy during the winter months than any fire can.

Most of our fantasies may be fantastical in the darkness of winter, most may never see the light of Spring but there might be just one that could slip through the cracks. One good idea is enough to eclipse all others and while it might take a little longer to see the idea become more than just that, there is nothing quite like the feeling of that lightbulb moment. So while I might have been a little absent on the blog, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about the words I write here and the content that I share. I’ve been mulling and mulling about where I would like to see this space go, how I can push myself further creatively and go beyond writing as a hobby. The winter nights are for nothing but for imagining a fresh start in the Spring, am I right?

Now that we’re in February we would be forgiven for thinking that Spring is on our doorstep but sometimes the shortest month can feel like the longest. What’s good is that we still have time to plan ahead and start making sense of the scattering of possibilities that have been swimming in our head all winter. There is still a whole month of stillness left before Spring arrives and our bodies bend towards the sun and in to distraction. So I’m telling you to utilise these last dark hours and use the opportunity to focus on what you truly want for the rest of your year because you’re capable of anything and now is the moment to push yourself further.

Is there an idea that you have been secretly coveting? Do you get butterflies when you think about it but quickly convince yourself that it’s not possible before getting too carried away? Let February be the month of shutting the fearful voices out and embracing the butterflies. Let it be the month for ACTION. The best ideas are those that make you feel sick to your stomach and if it’s all you can think about then the scariest possibility would be to deny yourself the chance to step in to the light of a new opportunity.

Of course this is all easier said than done and it you would be perfectly understood for crawling under the covers until the bluebells start showing their wee heads but you would only be doing your dreams a disservice. Choose to surround yourself with positive reinforcements that will only encourage you further. In case you’re in need of a little inspiration, I’ve listed some of the actions I take when I need help in making a step towards a change. Right now I have a notebook of scribbles that might turn in to something and that in itself is pretty exciting. Let’s go February.

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6 Actions To Take When You’re Read to Make a Change

Listen

Podcasts are all the rage right now of course and one that I keep going back to for guidance when I need it most is Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker. It’s a podcast mainly aimed at creatives but there is a huge range of topics that are incredibly useful depending on where you feel you need the most direction. Another great one is Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert (she of Eat, Pray, Love fame) which is a friggin’ joy to listen to in a bath on a winter’s night. I find myself just roaring out in unison with Elizabeth and her guests and feel ready to take on the world after an episode. Right after I dry my hair and moisturise of course.

Watch

‘In to the Wild’ is a movie I re-watch during the moments when I’m in need of a good kick up the ass. It never fails to bring a bit more perspective to any tough choice I’m currently having to make. Also the soundtrack is off the charts (Eddie Vedder you absolute LEGEND).

Read

There are enough motivational books out there to shake an insecure stick at but you don’t always have to stroll to the self-help aisle in order to feel inspired. One of my favourite books that I can rely on for some self-reflection is Walden by Henry Thoreau which I first read while I was in Africa for the first time. It was the reason why I fell in love with the natural world (second was David Attenborough) but mostly it engrained in me a sense that we have more power over our choices in life than we give ourselves credit for, one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. If you’ve already read Walden then anything written by Brené Brown is sheer inspirational gold dust. The woman is a motivational wizard. 

Do

While February can still invoke the temptation to hibernate and stay under the covers, the ever-so-slightly brighter mornings and evenings are the perfect encouragement to brave the fresh air and start wakening yourself up again. At some point this month try and take yourself on one of your favourite walks alone, preferably somewhere that’s close to any water source be it a river, lake, sea or puddle (NB: puddles may not encourage that much inspiration). Leave the headphones behind so you’re not creating a barrier between yourself and the world around you. Walk at your own pace, listen out for new sounds that you would normally ignore and look for signs of Spring. While focusing on your surroundings you’ll be surprised at the amount of new ideas that will pop in to your head and those moments of clarity will embolden you further when making decisions that might have seemed scarier while sitting at home.

Write/Draw

Some people are good with their words and others need the visuals in order to map out their plans. I’m a bit of both so when it comes to the blog, I have a notebook full of potential blog posts, ideal locations for photos, people who I would love to interview. These notes could be a list broken down in to categories (just call me Monica Gellar) and others are mapped as a brain storm with offshoots when my head is buzzing with too many thoughts that I need to see the bigger picture. These notes can sometimes be a load of nonsense but it is such a good feeling to see my ideas streaming from my pen and trying to put them all together.

Attend

If you’re planning on making a leap or big decision then you need all the encouragement you can get from peers who have made the jump before you. Networking is a Generation Z term that has been beaten to death but making connections with people who are in your field or are related to the choice you’re about to making is more rewarding than any other action I’ve listed above. Finding your tribe (that’s right, I said it) can be tricky but there are resources out there to help you find it. I’ve found Instagram to be a huge source of inspiration and I have created friendships (both online and offline) that have helped made this blog what it is. It’s how I found out about the Assembly Gatherings, a seasonal event run by Mel Wiggins that acts as a haven for creative women seeking inspiration. It’s where I found my tribe (said it again) and it’s an environment in which I can connect with like-minded women, bounce ideas off them and bask in encouraging words. By immersing ourselves in knowledge through gatherings, workshops or classes we are dipping our toes further in to our own potential. Want to start a blog? Connect with other bloggers. Want to start your own business? Search for similar local small businesses and find out how they did it. Allow yourself to be guided by those who you believe are on the path you want to be on and get climbing.

What Not To Worry about #38

What Not To Worry about #38

And so it was October. A month that feels a little bittersweet as nature puts on a final show of colour and magic before the sedentary months of winter roll in. Despite it being a month that sees the temperatures fall and the trees baring themselves to the world, October is when I find myself reawakening and finding the motivation that disappeared in the haze of summer.

It’s as if a light switch goes off as the world outside darkens, I suddenly remember the tasks and creative projects I had set aside months ago and immerse myself in books and articles that I know will inspire me. I spoke of the blogging event I attended in last week’s post which is one of the ways in which I am trying to push myself back to where I want to be again, surrounded by people who lift me up and encourage me to create.

I am also attending the TBEX conference in Kerry next week which I am so so excited about (and a wee bit nervous if I’m completely honest). My friend Rebecca had asked me to go with her earlier this year and I jumped at the opportunity to speak and listen to photographers and bloggers who have travelled the world while making a living. I have had to use up the rest of my annual leave (it’s going to feel like a long time until the Christmas break!) but I reckon it will all be worth it, even just to have the opportunity to leap about the fields of Kerry.

I hope you’re feeling just as motivated these few weeks as we say goodbye to the summer that never was but if you are lacking a little and are in need of a gentle push, have a gander at the worries I am letting go of this week. I have linked some articles which have inspired me too so please read them to enlighten you or even just made you chuckle because a wee giggle can be enough to lift us 🙂

Here goes…

Listening to bullshit – we don’t have to put up with it and we’re actually doing ourselves a disservice by participating in even listening to it. Read this article which is an excerpt from Brené Brown’s new book to help convince you!

Not being able to write – working a full time job and then coming home to write a post from scratch can feel almost impossible which is why I need to have a wee space at home to wind down. I loved reading this piece where writers spoke of how they get their creative juices flowing, where they can create best and even what they choose to wear!

Getting major wedding envy – I trawled through the photos from Sara Tasker’s wedding (who is the genius behind Me & Orla) and heard a little whimper escape because it was all so beautiful. If I ever get married it will be in a barn I am almost certain with ferns in my hair OR I might just wear ferns in my hair at the weekend for kicks.

Being a very lazy baker – I have hardly baked all summer and feel guilty that my cake mixer has been sitting in the corner abandoned and unused. With the apple season rounding out I decided to pop down to Armagh to bake some apples and either re-try this recipe or give Rebecca’s mum-in-law’s recipe a go.

Missing someone – Autumn brings with it moments of contemplation and this can sometimes lead to pangs for the people we wish were by our side. Read this poem if you’re feeling the same. It made me ache in the most beautiful way.

 

Have a lovely week folks and if you have any tips for Kerry, help a sister out and leave a comment!

20 Ways To Be Creative

20 Ways To Be Creative

I have never thought of myself as a creative person because I have always associated creative people with having masses of talent, high above the consistently mediocre folk like myself. Growing up I was average at most things but never outstanding and felt inferior when it came to any occasion where real talent was required. I can’t sing (although give me a few glasses of wine and I’ll crow my heart out), play an instrument, speak a second language (I can ask to go to the bathroom in Gaelic and little more) and I am definitely not an athlete by any means. What I have realised as I have gotten older though is that most people who can do all these things have had to hone this talent over years and practice over and over again. No one is born with these skills and so why should I rule myself out from learning them?

 

Over the last few years I have slowly allowed myself to unleash whatever creativity I have within me and appreciate that some things take longer to learn than others. While I find making my own products very easy, knitting on the other hand I have found a little trickier. The beauty about being creative is that you can take as much time as you need with it because it’s the enjoyment that you’re doing it for. Those quiet moments that we so rarely get to ourselves are some of the most important of the day and by flexing our creative muscles we are making that crucial time a priority.

 

Everyone can be creative – you don’t have to Van Gogh or Laura Marling to make or create things of your own. All it takes is a little time and patience, to live in the moment and enjoy every second of doing something just for you. Here are a few ideas to inspire you…

 

1 Try a New Recipe

I know I rotate a lot of the same meals now and then which can zap me of all inspiration but I get the most enjoyment out of cooking when I’m trying something new. How about dusting off those cookbooks that sit unused on your shelf and challenging yourself one evening in the week? Make sure you have all the ingredients you need and enjoy making a mess for once!

 

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2 Make a Playlist

When you have a little time one evening how about making a playlist of all the songs you used to listen to as a teenager? I recently did this for a friend’s hen party and laughed so much as I kept finding more and more terrible/amazing songs from my younger years. This is the perfect playlist for a day when you feel a little low and need some cheering up – if R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition’ doesn’t have you beaming from ear to ear then there is something truly wrong.

 

3 Learn to knit

Or sew! I bought a knitting kit last week and have been trying my hand to make some booties. Turns out my Granny made it look easy and I have the coordination of a T. Rex. I’m trying not to rush it though and enjoy the process even though I have images of jamming the needles in my eyes. Those moments pass though and I’m sure I’ll make a lovely pair of booties in the next few years.

 

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4 Write a Letter

Receiving mail other than bills has to be one of the nicest surprises. I wrote a post about how we should all write more and to be honest I need to start taking my own advice. Taking the time to sit down and write down words you know might make someone smile is such a rewarding thing and so much better than sending a meme.

 

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5 Start a Garden

It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular but even growing a few pots of herbs on the windowsill can plant a seed (GET IT?!) of creativity. Start with something non-threatening like basil or rosemary and go from there.

 

6 Take a Class

This takes a little more effort but the impact could be even greater. There must be something that you have been hoping to learn more about but never have had the courage to just get up and do it so you know what – do that shit. There’s no time like the present so start that pottery/acting/clown class, leave all your insecurities at the door and expose yourself to not just a new skill but some new friends too.

 

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7 Move 

You might not think of yoga or exercise as creative but you can inject a little creativity in to your normal routine. Take your yoga mat somewhere different or plan a new route to jog. Make it your own and fun.

 

8 Start a Blog!

Hey, if I can do it anyone can. If you feel you have stories or ideas that you’d like to share, then bite the bullet and create your own space to do this. The hardest thing is to share the first post for fear of what people might think but people can actually be lovely and it could be one of the greatest things you do.

 

9 Make Your Own Products

This is such a simple way to not only save money but also educate yourself on what’s good for your skin. I have been trying to introduce essential oils and natural ingredients in to my skincare routine for a while and the easiest way to do this is to make my own products. If you need inspiration, you can check some of my previous posts here and here.

 

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10 DIY

When Andrew and I first moved in together, I had such a ball restoring and painting our Gumtree furniture. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on new things so we had to make pre-loved pieces our own. I borrowed a sander, took the tables and chairs out in the back garden and spent the best March weekend being a wee DIY-er. Your first project should be something easily achieved in a day so you’re not tempted to stop half-way. How about some new shelves or a spice rack? You’ll be a regular handy-andy in no time.

11 Paint

This is a tough one if art isn’t your thing but there are plenty of Youtube classes where you can learn the basics of watercolour. The kids can even get involved in this one in case you want to make it a family activity with the best pieces getting framed on the wall. Just don’t get angry if your child is more skillful with the paintbrush than you are.

12 Arrange Flowers

Seeing flowers throughout my house can bring my spirits up on the rainiest of days. I like to get a bunch on the weekend and then distribute them in different jars and vases. You can be even more creative by getting lots of individual stems from your local florist and designing your own bouquet as a gift – or for yourself obviously.

 

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13 Colouring In

I got an adult colouring book and I am not ashamed to say that it’s the best thing for winding down after a crappy day at work. It’s the one thing that really switches my brain off yet I’m able to use colour and imagination while doing it. Don’t bag it out as a trend but give it a go and let your inner child chill the feck out.

 

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14 Scrapbooking

I have started scrapbooking all the photos I have taken throughout the year as a way to archive all the memories that can get trapped on social media. It’s a great way to look back on all the happy times and serves as a reminder that things are pretty damn good. When you’re gluing in all your photos, try and write little stories to along with them and any tickets or receipts that you might have kept. It will be a much better way to hang on to the memories.

 

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15 Photography

With everyone having iPhones now there’s no excuse to not take advantage of having a decent camera in your pocket. For those who know me, I am always expected to take a photo at every possible opportunity which I can sometimes be a little conscious of. Having a love of photography means that you are constantly looking for the beautiful things in life, the small things that many take for granted. What I recommend doing is taking a long walk on your own, snapping anything that inspires you and then keeping them for your next scrapbook. Allowing yourself to be inspired is one of the best luxuries.

 

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16 Bake

Baking is a little different to cooking because your creativity is a little more controlled. There’s less opportunity to ‘wing it’ but when it comes to decoration, you can go wild. Next time there’s a birthday or special occasion coming up, how about offering to bake the cake? Spend an afternoon covered in flour and finish it off with a bit of bowl licking. Sure that’s why we bake anyway.

 

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17 Learn an Instrument

Could be something a little tricky like the guitar or go back to your primary school roots and pick up the recorder again. Making music doesn’t have to be intimidating but instead can be the chance to encourage a little confidence. Just don’t play ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ on repeat or your neighbour/housemate/partner may murder you.

18 Start a Journal

Starting a journal can be difficult because it’s hard to know where to start. There’s no point putting a lot of pressure on it but what you can do is carry a notebook in your bag and jot down any thoughts that come in to your head that day. Maybe start with a few lines in the morning describing how you’re feeling, some lyrics you heard on the radio or an idea you had in work. Journals don’t have to be that teenager epic with every emotion painfully analysed but can just be a log of all your wee musings of the day.

19 Bring Nature In

On your next adventure in to the wild/local park how about taking a few things home with you? You could collect some holly to decorate your fireplace, some shells from the beach or some berries for your dining table. Bringing nature inside allows us to appreciate the beauty of each season and all the colours that come with it. I even made myself an autumn wreath which I was really chuffed with which you can see here.

 

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 20 Try a New Hairstyle/Make-Up Routine

We can all get a little repetitive with our hair and make-up but how about spicing it up with something other than a messy bun? I’ve been wanting to learn how to do a proper crown braid for ages so I plan on sitting myself down in front of the mirror and taking the time to finally do it. Surprise your work mates with something new or at least get a laugh out of trying!

 

I hope these tips can encourage your inner creative to come out a little and that there a million ways to do it. Take the time to learn something new and above else, have fun doing it 🙂