On commitment

30dcThere is a quote I use in almost all of my online courses and I will share it with you here. You may have read or heard it before, and I may even have already shared it somewhere on this blog, but it contains the kind of information that should not be overlooked or forgotten. So, I am sharing it here, confident in my belief that these words of wisdom will touch someone who has read it before a little more deeply this time, or nudge someone who has not in the direction of their dreams.

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.'”

W. H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

These words move me each time I read them. They speak of fear and how holding back on our dreams does not serve us. They remind us not to extinguish the the fire of those dreams before the spark is even truly lit.

I know that feeling of anxiety… the feeling that means we don’t take that first vital step. I understand the feeling of anticipation when you do step forward, with no idea where the path will lead you. It takes courage to commit.

I have experienced first hand and also witnessed time after time how when we do take the leap of faith and commit to our dreams, let go of outcome and trust that everything will unfold as it is meant to that magic really does start happening. People appear; opportunities arise; things start changing… and not always in the ways you would ever have imagined.

The image above was created on the very first day I committed to my own creativity. The date was May 1, 2012 and after almost 20 years admiring and documenting the art of others as a hobby and in my work at an international art magazine, as well as curating exhibitions of other people’s work, I decided it was time to explore my own creativity. This was an expression of how it felt to embrace the unknown… to commit to my dream and see where it would take me.

This commitment was part of a 30 Day Challenge, the brainchild of bestselling author John Williams. I really had no idea where it would lead me. Now, two and a half years on, I have my own business, teaching art, running workshops and online courses and one of the most unexpected outcomes was that I now help other people follow their dreams. As a Genie on the 30 Day Challenge, it is my role and my pleasure to be present at that decisive moment on day one of the challenge when you truly commit. It is at this moment when your genius is let loose and the magic starts happening… though it may not become apparent for a little while longer, something most definitely shifts. If you have never before dared to voice your dream, let alone pursue it, now is the time. Summon up the courage to share it. Within the community of the 30 Day Challenge, people quickly make connections with fellow challengers who understand how it feels to take that first step and support them wholeheartedly. You find your voice and your tribe.

People in jobs they hate find or create a role they love in the same company. A play project that was meant to be ‘just’ a hobby catches the attention of the media and ends up on TV. Somebody starts the project they have always dreamed of and half way through finds out it is not all it was cracked up to be, but having tried it and let go of it, an even more amazing opportunity opens up in that space. Each of these things has happened on the 30 Day Challenge.

I was there… aged 41, having made very little of my own art in years, but knowing for sure that a commitment to my art was a commitment to myself and that if I didn’t do it then, I would regret it.

I will be there again on November 1, this time on the other side of the fence. Should you choose to take up the challenge, I will be there as you check in, wanting to know all about your passion and your project. I will be cheering you on with each forward step. And if you feel like you are falling or failing, come find me. I have been there, I get it.

What have you always wanted to do?
What’s holding you back?
No more excuses… it’s time for commitment.
Begin it… the rest will fall into place.

dream it

Kickstart Your Creativity

Collaborative artwork

Fresh wonders have been unfolding over here at Be Creative Daily as I started running a new course at home last Wednesday evening, called Kickstart Your Creativity. For one month, six courageous women have committed to spending two hours here each week, to embark on a creative journey. Art is being made, connections are being forged, dreams are being shared and I am filled with an enormous feeling of excitement and possibility.

At the moment, things are still in the early stages. The course has been (loosely) written and I am playing it out for the very first time with a group of local Mums, connected by a desire to welcome more creativity into their lives, as well as a need for connection and a wish for a feeling of community. My aim is to provide a space within which everyone can safely share, create and let go…
Let go of the desire for perfection
Let go of unrealistic expecations (that we often put upon ourselves)
Let go of shoulds and coulds and just play, like our children play, just as we did before we got caught up in our assumptions and became frozen by our fears.

How often do we have the chance in our busy lives to really let go…?
When do we have the opportunity to share our desires…?
How often to we get to explore what we really want for our lives and think about how we can take positive action to effect such change…?
How often are we even really listened to…?
But isn’t that exactly what we want for our children…? That they should play and explore the world without pressure and fears and that they should have the freedom to express themselves and their wishes without judgement or concern. Why then, would we not give that gift to ourselves? How can we lead by example?

These are some of the questions I seek to address as I use art-making exercises to explore each of these things. Last week, beautiful vision boards were created and tiny steps were taken towards living that fulfilling life. This week, we took pleasure in making imperfect pictures. We shared stories, made collaborative art, talked about the beauty of sharing and the power of asking for help. And next week another layer will be peeled… more fears will be faced, more experiences shared.

Travelling home, a little late yesterday, I waited alone at the station for my train. I watched carriage after carriage pull in and pass on. What struck me was the lack of interaction. What frightened me was the solitariness of each individual; the blank expressions; the empty stares and what I thought was how, in each moment on of our day, we pass up on the possibility of connection, be it as simple as eye contact with a stranger or a smile exchanged.

These strangers will be the ones I invite next… they will be the ones I welcome, should they accept the challenge, to kickstart their creativity. There is so much possibility and potential right there on one single busy commuter train. I will be delivering those invitations by hand, with a look in the eye and a smile.

If you feel that you are in a creative slumber from which you wish to awaken, this is your invitation, right here

Whilst on the subject of inspiration and positive change, I have something else I wish to share. Be Creative Daily began on May 1, 2012 with a simple commitment to a 30 Day Challenge. My personal challenge was to do something creative every day for 30 days and share it. So many things have resulted from that simple commitment… everything you see here in fact! Each art class and workshop, every group and creative connection is the result of making a commitment to my art. If you have something you have always wanted to do, a business you have been thinking of, an event you would like to run, there are few things you could do that would make more of an immediate impact than joining me and 200 other people all around the world as we commit to another 30 Day Challenge. Are you in? It can be life-changing.

With love,
Julia x

It’s launch day!

For the past 30 days, I have been part of a closed community of 200 people, each working away on a personal passion or goal. The 30 Day Challenge is an online programme, run by John Williams, author of Screw Work Let’s Play and coach extraordinaire Selina Barker.

This was my third 30 Day Challenge.

I return year after year as the format, of the programme, the support on offer and the results I achieve always make me feel good. This year, I set out on a mission to Share JOY through ART. My original idea for doing this was through an e-course. It soon became clear that this was not going to happen within the 30 days as I went off on a deep journey of self-discovery, pushing personal boundaries to express myself more fully and gaining a wonderful sense of clarity in so many areas of my life.

Through face to face workshops, I was able to share my own joy in the process of art-making and I am now pleased to offer both group workshops and one to one sessions for anyone keen to explore their creative side. Would you like to join me?

I continued to push forward with my own creative practice and after years of promoting the work of other artists, I am finally offering my own art through an Etsy shop.

Keen for everyone to benefit from the delights of living a creative life, I am now offering a free downloadable PDF of simple ways to invite creativity into your everyday life to everyone who subscribes to the Be Creative Daily mailing list. If you are already a subscriber, yours will soon be arriving by e-mail. If you would like to sign up, just click here and you will soon be a step closer to welcoming more joy and creativity into your daily life.

Right, I am off to launch my project over on the 30 Day Challenge and then it’s time to put my feet up.
Much love,
Julia x

Share JOY through ART

Share JOY through ART

Everybody needs Creative Space

Leading my Creative Space art workshop

Leading my Creative Space art workshop, photo: Karen Mercer

On Monday evening, I ran my first Creative Space art workshop at My Coffee Stop, a cosy, jam-packed spot on the station platform at Enfield Chase. The plan was to offer busy women the opportunity to explore art-making in a friendly, supportive environment, with guided activities as well as freestyle creation. It was thanks to the generosity of spirit and community consciousness of Karen Mercer (our wonderful, welcoming hostess… maker of great coffee, baker of delicious cakes) that the workshop came about. I had spent several months with the idea of such a creative art workshop floating in my head, but a suitable venue which enabled me to work with a small group of women at an affordable price had not proved easy to find. So, when someone recommended I go see Karen, and she offered me the use of the space, I jumped at the chance.

Walls decked with art, shelves stacked with Fair Trade goodies, music pumping, this was a space in which I felt comfortably at home. And so, with Karen, two friends and two strangers (who have since become friends) being brave enough to step into the unknown and embark upon an evening of playful creativity with me, the adventure began.

When embarking on something new, I often feel a sense of apprehension, as most of us probably do. Stepping into the unkown, no matter how well-prepared we are, can feel scary at best, but this just felt exciting! There were no butterflies, no last minute nerves, no what if’s… this felt different: natural, right. I had a real sense of adventure. I knew, from the moment these ladies arrived, that this was going to be fun. Their warmth, energy and willingness to open their hearts and explore their creativity put me at ease and I felt that I was doing what comes naturally… I was in flow.

I led the group through a number of playful drawing activities, designed to free the creative spirit through trying new ideas with unexpected outcomes. We explored new ways of working/looking/seeing. We laughed, smiled, sighed. One of my goals with this, and indeed with all of my classes, is to lead people away from any ideas of perfection and towards a free-flowing form of self-expression with engagement and enjoyment in the process of making art, rather than getting hung up on the end result. When the fear and the expectation is removed, the natural outcome, more often that not, is that great art is made, and this was no exception.

I loved that when the ladies were left to their own devices – with canvas, paint, glue, glitter, sequins, etc. on offer to be used in any way they wished – so many different things came out. Each person worked in their own individual style. The pieces that were created were very personal in that each one portrayed something of significance to them and it was a pleasure to hear the stories behind the art… it is this kind of sharing that bonds a group, helps them understand each other a little better, leads to deeper friendships. And there was a real sense of community I felt. A bonding over a shared creative practice… something so rare these days which brings such joy when experienced.

Everybody needs creative space in their lives… we should all take the time to explore our own personal form of self-expression, whatever that may be. This should not be a luxury, it should be a necessity. Perhaps if more people tried it, the benefits would be felt.

I felt deeply energised by the experience that night and woke in the morning feeling optimistic about what’s to come.

I have no idea what is coming next (so many ideas, it can be hard to choose), but I have a feeling it’s going to be great!

If you would like to take part in the next workshop or if you are interested in hosting a workshop in your own home, please do get in touch… I would love to hear from you!

Warmest wishes from a very chilly North London,
Julia x