Finding your passion- you actually don’t have to find it, it will seek you out!

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What a year it has been… and it is only February! Right now the sun is streaming through the windows, the sky is blue and it is a heavenly day!

As you know I’ve been reading ‘Romancing the Ordinary’ – (it is a year long book, so I might be mentioning it a lot!) Of course when we get to February it is only right that we talk about Passion – but  it is not about the romantic Mills and Boon Passion – no, it is about the deep passion that reaches right down to the soul.

Now, if any of you are the soul searching types, one refrain of this ‘self empowerment movement’ is the concept of your soul’s purpose. Now, my soul’s purpose has bothered me for many, many of the years I’ve been reading self improvement books – because I had no idea what on earth I was supposed to do. It actually frustrated me – call me ‘special’ but I was ignoring every single clue!

Well, now, I will let you into the secret of finding your passion, if you want to know where your passion lies, it is in the question nearly every adult asks a child… what do you want to be when you grow up?

Now, if you had asked me what I wanted to be aged 12 – 16, I would tell you that I wanted with every fibre of my being, to be a writer.

 

This beautiful quote is from Happy Tech – click here.

 

Well, even though I knew what I wanted to do – I somehow got lost along the way, it was always my dream.. but somewhere between the age of 12 and 50, the whole idea has been shelved, all for good logical reasons.

1 – When my English teacher pleaded, unsuccessfully, for my parents to send me to university because he believed in my talent as a writer. I decided that I needed to go to university to be a writer. I thought I had a great excuse, until a work place offered to send me to university as part of my job – so I could earn and study at the same time.

I’ would like to say, that as soon as I finished my course I started writing… but no – I came up with another excuse.

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Image from I can read – click on link for more!

2- I attended a writer’s conference, where a publishing agent told the assembled crowd of hopeful writers – that it is impossible to get your book published. The world of publishing was in decline, every day, twenty or thirty unsolicited scripts landed on her desk, most of which would not even be read. Poor woman, she was embittered by her industry and she made sure that our dreams were well and truly squashed in the 20 minute talk.

Fifteen years later – we can publish an ebook without having to go through the eye of the needle that was literary agents or publishers. Love her or hate her, Shades of Grey began life as a blog – if she can do it, then anyone can. Just like a poet can put out their poetry you tube or a singer can sing their song, there are no gatekeepers any more.

3 -I don’t have the time.. I used to have a lovely job driving round the New Forest in my open topped sports car visiting people in outlying chocolate box villages.. where I would find myself passing the time as stories and ideas came in every direction. I never wrote a single one of them down.

The frightening thing about not following your passion, and you may have justifiable reasons is that in the end you will have to surrender…

I changed my job, to a busier one, Managing a large team- that took all my energy and had me working 12 hour days… I burnt out, very quickly – ending up unable to stop crying in the Christmas Decorations Isle in Tesco of all places.

3 – so Six years, Yes, Six years ago, I took a less demanding job, one that offers again, time and space for writing. Despite my best efforts to make my job more demanding – it all fell pretty flat- in fact every time I have pushed to expand my role, it has been well and truly crushed, until in the end I have to accept the work for what it was and put my energy into something else.

I’ve had readings, quotes that have dropped into my Pinterest feed, my Facebook feed, my Instagram feed. twitter.. that is a lot of feeding. (I did say I was ‘special’)

So, now we come to what happened to me this week! I had an email on Tuesday from an awesome lady I am delighted to call a friend, inviting me to attend a workshop with her entitled ‘finding your voice’.

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You can find this lovely quote on this website.. interestingly entitled procrastination!

Now, the twelve year old writer would have jumped up in delight, but the 50 year old practical woman responded that she had to work that day.

Well,  here is the warning in this cautionary tale, dear reader, by 4pm I was feeling exhausted, so much so that I went to bed and slept for two hours. The following morning, every muscle ached, I was in terrible pain throughout my body, tiny darts of pain and throbbing shot through my calves, my hips and my arms. I had to call in sick and go back to bed and sleep. I slept until 2pm and then woke up groggy.

I sat up in bed and drank some tea, and picked up a book from a pile next to the bed, it was all I had the energy for and read the following:

There are so may insidious ways that we betray ourselves Self sacrifice is one of the more popular for women because it is condoned by society. Do we get extra points for suffering? I don’t think so. Did you know that both the Koran and the Talmud teach that we will be called to account for every permissible pleasure life has offered us and that we have refused to enjoy while on Earth. I don’t know about you but I shudder to think about that reckoning.

Is devotion to the needs of others a cover for the hungers and the needs of the self, of which one is ashamed?  Anais Nin asks. ‘I was always ashamed to take. So I gave. It was not a virtue. It was a disguise.

Something More, excavating your authentic self, Sarah Ban Breathnach

What words! – it took me about half an hour to wrestle with the guilt I’ve carried since my first child was born, (where all this ‘self sacrifice’ began).  I first emailled the course co-ordinator certain that the course would be full. I had an email back saying they had booked me in… (I was only enquiring if they had space.. another excuse blown) Within an hour I was feeling well, the pain subsided and I was well enough to work the next day and book the leave. No-one batted an eyelid, at the late notice – the sky wasn’t about to fall in because I had booked some time for me.

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I think God, the universe or what ever you like to call destiny has a sense of humour! The course was run by the ‘Choose  to Work’ team run by the local City Council.

The course invitation included these words…

Trying something new often requires courage

Finding the strength to summon up courage is itself a benefit. Once released, your courage grows and swells. How wonderful to open up to a flood of courage and be carried on its waves to unknown, exciting destinations.

Trying something new opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new

How often are you faced with an opportunity to try something totally new? We want you to come and enjoy an experience that you would not ordinarily have exposed yourself to and who knows, you may discover a love for something you had no idea would capture your imagination.

Trying something new keeps you from becoming bored

We all need to be challenged from time to time – personal growth does not happen by doing the same thing day after day after day.

I wish I could remember the Tutor’s name, she was a successful writer who wrote song lyrics for operas and plays for Radio (a medium that had fuelled my love of writing in the first place).

We started the day, a motley crew of women – not really sure why we were there and what finding your voice really meant – is it assertiveness or something? After the first exercise – forming an acrostic with our names, we were inspired. We all read ours aloud and it was amazing that in a few short words, so much of our story came spilling out. One lady, Sally, moved us all – she spontaneously produced, simply beautiful poetry that moved us all.

The tutor was skilful, we wrote from the heart and then she picked out every gramma rule that we had used, without realising it. Enjambment, alliteration, repetition, structure, plotting – we all did it! Grammar without fear!

By the end of the day, we were all excited and full of fire – exchanging numbers and deciding to meet up regularly to write.

I nearly missed it all.

Thankfully, fate has a way of treading on our toes – and thank goodness it does.

I am sharing this, dear reader, not because I imagine my life is that interesting, but with a hope and desire, that you, too, will untie the apron strings of our own procrastination and choose to live, deeply and passionately.

So, tell me, what do you want to be when you grow up? 

 

Liebster Award – Thank You!

I am so thrilled to steer to a more positive direction and want to say a huge thank you to Bekki at The Creativity Cauldron for nominating me for this great award – what a wonderful way to encourage new bloggers!

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I nominate:

Sunshine and Celandines 

Facetfully 

The Stitch Sharer 

The Prolific Project Starter

Ana’s Lair

Plastic Rubbish

Life in thrift lane 

Beccas fabric larder

Ginger pictures

Domestic Philosopher

Book write her

I have to admit I am not entirely sure if the blogs above have already had nominations, and the last two were an exercise in discovery and what great finds they were too!

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My answers to Bekki’s great questions! 

What’s your earliest memory of being creative?

Saturday afternoons were relaxing affairs with my Nana, I loved the cosy familiarity of her weekend routines, a sharp contrast to my chaotic home life. She sat in her rocking chair, the big basket of wool beside her while she crocheted blankets that covered her knees.  The colours were completely random, based around generous donations of odds and ends from her numerous friends. We would watch old movies on her black and white tv, while I pulled out my favourite colours knitting them into complicated fair isle patterns for my dolls. At home in the darkness, fingering those stitches in the crochet blanket, imbibed with her love made me feel safe and warm.

Who are your ideal dinner guests?

Confident enough to act, I have hosted several murder mystery dinners and have had some fantastic fun along the way. A friend was dressed as a vicar once in full robes enjoyed the odd looks he had at the petrol station on the way over! I have been the murder once, but I am a reformed character now honestly!

Do you have a secret talent or party trick?

It’s weird, but I sense how people are feeling.

Are you tidy or untidy?

Well, I have a place for everything but it doesn’t always get put there immediately! Naturally I think I would slip into chaos quite easily, but I hate losing things so have recognised that I need certain level of order – I have a system that compensates for my laziness, for example I have boxes for shoes in the hallway so I can put them away without too much effort.

What is your drink of choice?

I don’t think you can beat a good cup of tea. Even when I am on my own I will make up a tea tray. Loose leaf tea in a pot, bone china tea cups and saucers and a cow creamer where the milk pours from his mouth – it always makes me smile. It feels indulgent and totally wonderful.

Who inspires you?

That depends on the subject..

I remember the first time I glimpsed a Jack Vettriano painting I stood gazing at the shop window for ages getting wet in the rain – completely lost. I love the way his paintings tell a story and he is so humble as an artist.

Maeve Binchy was such a brilliant writer – her characters were so real to me that when I finished a book I felt as if I had lost very dear friends. Liane Morriarty is as talented – I still miss the characters in Little Lies and its been a few months.

My good friend N has the best sense of humour ever! She juggles three children, three horses, two dogs and numerous pets, as well  her own business – I wish I had half her resilience.

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were younger?

No, but I was prolific reader – my journey home from school included a three mile walk from the station, I used to walk and read!

Do you procrastinate or get on with it.

It depends – I think creativity needs an element of procrastination – I can mull over something for ages then complete the process in a few hours. I need targets though, otherwise I just drift. I need time to do something properly, the idea of being in the sewing bee fills me with dread, it needs to be achievable.

Have you ever seen a ghost?

No – thankfully, I think I would be terrified perhaps they know that and stay away! I do believe that I there is far more things in this world that we can see.

In your opinion what is the best blog post you have written.

I think this one where I talk about my up and down relationship with blogging. I was writing from the heart and I feel that I am finding my writing ‘voice’.

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11 Random facts about me

Dancing is an enduring love – jive, swing, tango – I can’t listen to music and sit still.

I have a rescue staffie dog called Gus

My favourite teas in order are: Darjeeling, Ceylon, Peppermint and Jasmine

I love baking cakes and miss having children to make them with

I once slipped on a gherkin – my children love telling this tale

I love creative writing but rarely do it

I love painting but rarely do it because I loose myself, my family missed me, now I live on my own I would starve!

I am on a strict Pinterest diet – too much stimulation makes me less productive.

I love hats, wear them all the time.. ok not while taking a bath, or maybe bed, or maybe indoors

I started making my own clothes because my shape is really curvy – I went on a bra course and they asked me to check my measurements twice before the course and then checked them again when I arrived.

I adore cafes especially when they are in bookshops

The best Sunday afternoons are reading books with a tea tray nearby and home made cake.

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My Questions for Nominees: (And you dear readers! comment below!) 

If you could have a cup of tea with anyone who would it be and what would you ask them?

What is the last book you read?

You open a box of chocolates – do you eat them all at once?

If you could be any age, what would it be? (you can take your wisdom with you!)

What activity do you do where time flies?

Would you enjoy a warm deep bubble bath or a hot invigorating shower?

Choose a holiday: City break, A warm beach or a Course on a subject that interests you?

What was your proudest achievement?

If you could change something what would it be?

What is your favourite room in your home and why?

If you could have a magic power what would it be?

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Calm down and get crafting

 

 

Do you spend most of your time having ideas but not following through?

Is there a dark corner of your home that has a mountain of unfinished projects?

Do you find you are so full of ideas that you cannot focus or sleep?

You aren’t alone

To be honest most of the time I find my creativity overwhelming; last week for example, I visited the library to return one book, I came home with several books; subjects were varied from hat making, dog training and gardening. I spent most of this week researching hats and gardening websites, leaving projects unfinished because the excitement for them has waned.

The biggest problem I face is maintaining enthusiasm for a project until its completed without being de-railled by the next idea.

Ideas and inspiration are everywhere, for example I was walking my dog and I came across some variegated ivy, by the time we made it home the idea developed and I taught a Christmas Wreath workshop out of it. I had to go through a process of trial and error (or playing as I prefer to call it) before I could take that idea forward into a course.

I thought I would share simple steps to ride that wave of enthusiasm, enjoy the making process right through to success! 

1 KEEP A NOTEBOOK

Writing down an idea means that I don’t lose it;

instead I can keep it on record until I have the time to pursue it.

Some of my best ideas come usually when I am in the middle of doing something else or on a long car journey. I take a notebook with me wherever I go.

Some projects never get beyond this stage, but others develop in time – I might change the method or the materials or  from a cushion to a wall hanging. Keeping a log of ideas also reduces the fear that one day my creativity cease at the moment I will need to come up with something.

The important thing is that my ‘new’ idea doesn’t derail my project.

2 LIMIT RESEARCH-2

Trying to create my idea while surfing the net – is like trying to be heard at a loud party! 

Learn to search with a purpose and tune out distractions

The process starts with a Pinterest board or  Flickr for inspiration but I narrow my search just on the object I am making. It doesn’t mean that I can’t ever spend time browsing and meandering around the internet, just not while I am trying to do a project.

A while ago I decided to make a vintage apron after a little research I decided on the design I liked most and I had incorporated elements of other aprons I had seen. I did not stray from aprons, even though my Pinterest feed was full of lovely things – I knew if I wandered off the path I would end up wanting to make a host of other things but essentially be too scattered to do anything.

I look at youtube tutorials, see how others have made them and incorporate their methods and ideas. I revise techniques I haven’t used for a while; there is no right or wrong way to make something, but there are a host of tips and tricks there.

Know when to STOP

Its important to decide when I have researched enough – I usually draw or sketch out what I am making, so that I have a fixed idea and then I stop looking. It is essential: otherwise I will find my ideas get muddled or I can get stuck  looking for the ‘next’ apron that might be better and my creative time slot has gone.

From that point on It is vital to stay away from the web until I have finished my project – it calms down the chatter in my head I find I am more focussed on my project idea. It is a relaxing place to be: allowing my mind to focus on just one thing for a while.

“Ignore the helpful voice suggesting I might miss something ..”

I have discovered that there will still be lots on the web waiting for me when my project is complete. It has always surprised me that after a few weeks away from FB it takes me only ten minutes to catch up!

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Taking a break helps you to be productive.

There is a theory that your creative mind is often drowned out by your problem solving logical mind, repetitive tasks such as walking or housework occupy the logical mind enough to allow the creative mind to come forward. That is why some the most creative ideas come while you are mopping the floor or in a supermarket queue. 

Walking the dog is good for creativity, I need time for my imagination to process my research, sift through the ideas and come up with a practical way to bring my idea into being. Walking is meditative and the physical movement oxygenates the blood helping the brain to function – I let my imagination take flight.

If you feel blocked or over stimulated it is really one of the best cures – right now its a real delight to see a snowdrop with its head bent in the frost, or the daffodil buds forcing their way through.

The internet works at a frenetic pace, connecting with nature and the slow rhythms of the seasons helps to slow down over stimulated minds. 

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At this point you may want to simply jump in, but you are missing the fun of developing your originality – take time to explore your project.

Let’s assume I am making a strawberry pincushion, I can find 100 strawberry pincushions on the web – if I jump in now my pincushion will be like a photo copy of a photo copy or 101st strawberry pincushion –I need to make my own original version. I print out some of my research, (but I don’t go back to the web), play with the templates, mix them up – take the elements I like, piece them together to come up with my own design – original designs are what gets published .

I might look at strawberries, the shape, the colour, study them. Draw them. Get a feel for the strawberry, make it my own. I need to be off grid for this – its about my strawberry not the 100 net versions.

Crayons can be tremendous fun, or cut up magazine pictures, collages. I am not doing a work of art I am exploring the object. Even great artists do this, it should be sketchy, scratchy – definitely not a finished article – more about observation – or grown up play.

I might gather materials I might use, is it red velvet? Felt? Am I going to use embroidery? What shades of green do I have for the leaves?  I rustle through my stash – with a sense of purpose. A bead might be just the right thing for strawberry seeds, or I might find just the right shade of red fabric.

buy only what you need

Its so easy to get lost in buying: fabric stores are full of inspiration -in the past I have gone in for a fat quarter and ended up buying fabric for a dress.

Space is finite: filling a studio up with stuff not only reduces space to be creative the stuff saps energy. 

My first studio became a jumble; at first it was a great space but as time went on it became harder to find things, I had to move things around each time until eventually I would waste hours simply sorting through my stash. I would walk away not feeling uplifted as I did when I first had the studio but stepping away guilty at my lack productivity.

accumulating things was not making me creative it was making me feel guilty.

So now I make a list, stick to it and promise myself I will go back for the dress fabric I spotted that is temptingly more exciting than making strawberries. (I can jot it down in my notebook or take away a sample and tape it on a page) but I don’t buy it.

 I remain focussed but open minded -if I were looking for red velvet and I found some beautiful red wool that sings to me; then I am still creating a strawberry pincushion.

After a trip to a shop if I am wavering, it helps me to look at the collages and sketches once more – my enthusiasm emerges and I usually find the tempting other project fades.

 

Making is a journey not a destination

Collage, drawings and sketching will have helped to remain focussed, its time to  gather everything together to create don’t be surprised if you have a sudden desire to clean the windows, or re-order your stash because..

Making is scary! 

I find my ‘helpful perfection critic’ usually pipes up, listing all the things that could go wrong and why this particular project needs to be ‘PERFECT’.

Its helpful to see the making stage as experimentation

This is the journey – be prepared to have fun its not about getting to the outcome as quickly as possible.

Try different versions, see what works and what doesn’t.

If you are making clothes, do a toile first, if its a painting, use a ‘test’ canvass.

Expect failures, disasters or for things not to do what you expected

Sometimes the most wonderful ‘accidents’ turn into some of the best projects.

Be prepared to problem solve try to enjoy the challenge

If you get stuck then ask a friend or a forum or Facebook group.

You might need to look at youtube tutorials again, but stay on track.

Creating is a process – give yourself lots of time and allow for experimentation

It is easy to lose heart if it isn’t working – it is tempting to put it away…don’t give in!

If you have really hit a block,  take some time out usually a walk is the best exercise

Most artists imaginations are far richer than the reality – I may feel that my project has not come up to my expectations, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good.

Accept that you may never be entirely satisfied with what you have made – it is ok. 

Show a trusted friend – one that is encouraging, they may love it

If they suggest changes try not to take it personally but use it to direct you, see everything you make as learning

Try not to point out mistakes and accept the imperfections; it is hand made not machine bought.

The Japanese believe that imperfections are uniquely beautiful – imperfections make stamps and coins more valuable.

If its a dress,  no-one will notice the wonky seam line until you point it out! 

I like this quote:

Art is a process not an object

if you would like to find out more about avoiding procrastination, Bekki at the Creativity Cauldron has some fantastic advice, books and tips to help you tackle your unfinished objects.

I would be interested to read your tips, strategies or struggles please add them in the comments box.

most of all have fun

ttfn x