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

Start now

How often have you held back?

Oh, I dare not count the times that procrastination has won over taking action. I learn my lesson each time I begin and the energy starts to flow and I wonder what took me so long and how much further forward I would be had I only started earlier.
But I am not one for regrets.
I am one for lessons and learning and one foot in front of the next.
So if you didn’t do it yesterday, then when? Go on…

Start now
Take that first leap
Energy will flow when you begin.

Sending love and hoping you will share with me your outcome.
Julia x

Create JOY!

Joy does not simply happen to us.
We have to choose Joy,
and keep choosing it every day.

Henri Nouwen (Author)

The above quote was brought to my attention this weekend, just as I was uploading the images of my days away at the sea. It puts perfectly into words what I was trying to express in the above image which I had created only days early on the beach near where I had been staying. Yes, it is words too, but sometimes, in my art, what I wish to express is so much more than words alone can say. There, in that very moment, I was choosing Joy. I was creating my own Joy with each shell I picked up; every pebble I selected; every little scrap of driftwood or piece of seaglass I held in my hand and placed on the sand.

How do you create joy in your life? What is it about those moments when your heart is full that makes you feel so joyful? What are you doing? How can you create more of that joy in your life?

For me, the answer lies in my creativity. I feel happy and at one with the world when I can create freely. The world feels right when I have materials close at hand and I can express what is in my head, letting it spill out in shapes and colours and images. A camera in hand can allow me to do it as well… let me capture and connect with a feeling, a place or just a moment in some way and I am happy. In doing so, I connect with myself.

Why then, did I neglect my creativity for so long?
Other things took over… work; life; family; Fear. I chose other priorities… I told myself I didn’t have time. I lost my inspiration. I allowed my creativity to take a back seat and in doing so lost that vital connection to my authentic self… the one who was always creating… always processing the world in words and images.

I am glad to say that soon after inviting creativity back in, it began to be a habit again. When I committed to my creative self and made art a priority in my life, it was like meeting with an old dear friend… we had lots to say to each other and it was as though we had never lost touch. Now, I create joy on a regular basis by fitting art into my life whenever I can.

If you are at that in-between place… stuck between feeling creative and being creative, may I suggest that you just begin? Now! Start small. Don’t plan anything wild or elaborate just yet… pick up a pen or a pencil, start putting some marks down and see where they go. How does it feel? Really let go!

If you were able to do that every day, even for just ten minutes, how would that feel for you? It may lead you somewhere exciting! Creative freedom can be yours… you just have to let go of outcome, choose to create Joy, commit and begin.

If you are ready to commit to creativity and the joy it brings, I have created an online course especially for you… 21 Days of Creative Freedom begins April 28. Don’t delay your Creative Freedom a moment longer. Create Joy now!

What is creative freedom?

What is creative freedom?
What does it feel like?
How do you achieve it?

If you had a light and airy studio, a limitless variety of materials available to you and all the time in the world, where would you begin? This is the kind of freedom many people think of as they indulge in the dream of being an artist, but in reality, such freedom can be overwhelming.

There is freedom in limitations and right here, right now, you have all that you need available to you in order to begin your artist’s journey.

On May 1, 21012, after many years of neglecting my creativity, I committed to just ten minutes of conscious creative activity each day for 30 days. I committed to my dream of being an artist. A single Mum with two young boys, doing part time work, I did not have a studio, had what felt like no free time and a collection of art materials I had built up over a period of several years when something I thought would help me be an artist caught my eye in the art shop and I couldn’t resist. At first, I set myself little challenges, then, as the days went by, I found that I was no longer making excuses and finding reasons not to start, but I was looking for a way to keep going. Ten minutes turned into thirty which often became a couple of hours without me even noticing. When the month was up and the odd day passed by when I did not make art, I found myself missing it. What I soon realised was that I did not need a studio to make art, I did not even need more time and I certainly did not need specific materials, all that I needed was commitment. A simple commitment to making art in the time and space I already had with materials readily available to me was so liberating. It took less than two weeks before I felt like an artist again. I made myself a little badge and wore it with pride. I had not yet found my voice or made money from my art, it none of this mattered. What I had gained was my sense of self… I had re-connected with my passionate creative heart again… the liberated, creative me that I lost when I stopped making art and expressing myself freely.

What can you create right now, in the time you have with the materials to hand?
I dare you to check back with me in 10 minutes.

If you had time to read this, you have time to make art… now… GO!

If you would like my support on your artistic journey, 21 Days of Creative Freedom could be just what you need! No experience necessary, just a desire to be creative.

Inspiration and time

Last night's drawings on brown paper

Last night, whilst enjoying a 3-hour burst of creativity, something struck me… and I felt instantly grateful for inspiration and the time to create.

For years I battled with the fact that one always came without the other, but last night, fingers stained with oil pastels, pen in hand, it struck me that for some time now, they have arrived in unison and that my creativity has been flowing freely without me even noticing.

Is this luck, or something else? I feel lucky, yes, but I believe this current combination of the two essential ingredients to my creativity comes down to one thing: commitment to my art. I acknowledge that art is one of the most important aspects of my life and my art deserves as prominent a place in my day as it has in my heart.

Is there something you have been putting off doing because you feel you cannot justify it?
Is there something you would love to be doing if you only had the inspiration or the time?
If so, just for one week, try this: commit to it and make time (even if it’s only 10 mins).

Acknowledge your commitment to your art (or dancing or photography or writing, be it music or another passion) in the comments right here, then check back in a week and let me know how you feel.

Making time for art can be justified purely by the pleasure it gives me. In making my art and engaging in my passion, I am happier person, doing what I love and sharing the joy I feel through following my heart.

May you be blessed with the same and long may it last.

My June art adventures


June 1, when I committed to:
Doing something creative every day for the next 30 days
Sharing on the blog at least once a week
Being open to any direction my creativity may take me
Being open to any outcome
Sharing my feelings, learnings and realisations as I go through the process
seems like a lifetime away.

How is it possible for time to go so fast, yet for a mere month to feel like so long ago?
At the moment, I feel this way because I did so much more than I expected in the month just gone and in the doing, the time has flown. It has truly been a joyful, art-filled month of exciting discoveries, allowing myself to be free and get in flow.

I started the month sharing videos of my progress, but as June went on and paid work rolled in, there was less time to sit in front of the webcam and the journey became more of an action-based learning than the sharing I had initially intended. In writing this now though, I feel compelled to make a video of my learnings this month, as I realise that I am sharing very few of the details. To do so in a written blog post feels impossible right now, so… watch this space!

I made art almost every day. Some days a simple doodle or sketch; others a finished, framed piece. One of my simplest pieces was an emptying of my head before bed (above). It was a lipstick print of my mouth (representing me talking about what I love) enclosed in a heart (all the things I love) and a tracing around my hand (representing me making my art). The following morning, one of the simplest and most important pieces of advice from my coach summed up my previous night’s art-making in one sentence: “You’ve got to get out there and talk to people about doing what you love”. Yes!

And this is how the month has been.

June was truly a month of getting back to the heart of why I am here; delving deeply into my art and allowing it to flow in all areas of my life. The subtle shifts that have happened; the discoveries and realisations; all of these things, are becoming regular occurrences as I allow myself to do what I love; allow myself to be the artist I want to be; create and live the artist’s life I have longed for. It may seem, to my impatient self, like slow progress in terms of making a sustainable living from this artist’s life, but I feel optimistic that I am on the right path…

This week I created my first Birthday Art Experience for a friend’s 9 year old son. He made a beautiful work of art, way beyond his expectations. His Mum, a designer, is currently working on Art Experience Gift Vouchers for me to offer out to the world – the perfect solution for anyone wishing to give their loved ones the Gift of Art. Last week, I checked out the spaces to hire at Jacksons Lane and am working towards offering a workshop in one of their studios in September (if not before). I know now, that I want to help women connect with their true selves through the creative process.

In terms of personal satisfaction; in filling my daily life with more of what I love; in feeling closer to my true self and living the life of the Play Map in my previous post, this is fast progress indeed. I have spent a day at the coast with the kids, enjoyed other people’s workshops and spent a whole weekend immersing myself in art on a last-minute adventure. I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact that much of my art this month has involved body mapping (above), putting more of myself into my work and exploring my emotions through art. Perhaps the natural outcome is that I step closer to what matters to me. More of that in my next post… I have some wonderful images to share of my indulgent, art-filled weekend away, but for now, I just wanted to let you know that I am still here, working away on my art, finding new ways of sharing.

With love,
Julia x