Creation, Not Devastation

At the end of 2014, I made a vow to myself- regardless of my social calendar, I would dedicate more time to the act of creativity in 2015. The latter part of last year was so chaotic with thirtieth birthday celebrations, including an amazing Narnia party with two of my best friends, and festive preparations, not to mention the completion of my 30 Before 30 challenge (yes, I did it…in a fashion!), that I was always too tired to summon up the energy necessary to maintain my blog and, consequently, lapsed into a creative rut.

1743716_10100993691272132_4553144589380180656_n

Of course, we all have good intentions for the year ahead- the desire to change ourselves for the better is just part of human nature-, but they often become lost somewhere in between theory and practice because, let’s be honest, life has a horrible tendency of getting in the way. Following the abysmal attacks in Paris, however, my desire to be creative has intensified. Like so many others around the globe, I often forget to appreciate how lucky I am to live in a society that allows and openly advocates freedom of expression. Though some will be scaremongered into submission by the atrocious acts committed by terrorists, the majority understand that to stop expressing their opinions through an artistic medium is to relinquish their freedom, their identity, and even, figuratively speaking, their existence. After all, the act of creation is synonymous with life – when we stop creating, we stop living.

This year, therefore, I intend to be as creative as I possibly can. Although I normally commit myself to some sort of literature related challenge, my only objectives this year are to increase my poetic and blogging output, writing more about the things that I feel passionate about, and to gain some new skills in the creative arena. After receiving a copy of my most recently published poem on my thirtieth birthday, I would really like to capitalise on last year’s successes by getting more of my work into the public sphere, but I also want to develop skills in other areas too- such as learning a particular form of dance and enhancing my sewing skills.

10675761_10153289701121102_6685648170567558928_n10685576_10153289701026102_3976454297298750582_n

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope that the New Year has brought you happiness and prosperity. Although 2015 may not have started well in the context of world events, let’s summon up some positivity and begin our year as we mean to go on: by embracing the act of imaginative creation, not destruction or devastation.

Advertisements

Banishing the Blues

Last week, I felt as if the dark days of winter had manifested themselves across my face.

Besides having dry skin, an eruption of spots, and dark circles under my eyes, a glance in the mirror at work one day revealed what I had already suspected- that I was wearing a perpetual grimace. Despite all my best intentions, I’d once again succumbed to the dreariness of January and allowed myself to feel as if the apocalypse was imminent. Like so many people throughout the northern hemisphere, I was experiencing a serious case of the January blues.

After a few days in hibernation mode, I felt that it was time to force myself into some action. Although getting plenty of rest can be a good thing, I’m the type of person who thrives on positivity, creativity…and a project. So, in addition to my 30 Before 30 reading challenge, I decided to start a Positivity Project. To be honest, it’s not so much a project- rather a short list of things to do in an effort to help me maintain my sanity until winter is over, and endeavour to embrace some metaphorical sunshine. It’s all quite obvious, but as it seems to be working, I thought I’d share it…

           The Positivity Project

           1. Visit a new place

January can be a difficult month to visit somewhere new; generally it’s the time when we have the least amount of money, and are most reluctant to enter the outside world due to our tendency to slip into ‘snuggle’ mode.

Travelling to a previously unexplored place really lifts my spirits though; it reminds me that there’s an exciting world outside of my mundane existence, and the change in scenery energises me in a way that nothing much else can. Last weekend, I visited two new places: Lincoln, a quaint city with an amazing cathedral and castle, and Penistone, a lovely little town in Yorkshire with some cute cafes and plenty of countryside. Though they were very different experiences, both contributed to a much more positive mood; clearly I just needed to escape!

Lincoln Cathedral Lincoln Castle

            2. Plan things to look forward to

Generally, nothing much happens in January- everyone’s waiting for their bank balance to recover from Christmas and/or for spring to blossom. Planning things to look forward to is, therefore, a necessary way of ensuring you don’t descend into craziness. Without the prospect of future fun, how are you supposed to endure the seemingly endless bleakness?

Focusing on the fact that I have numerous 30th birthdays, a hen do, a wedding, and some potential trips away on the horizon has definitely made me feel much brighter. It may be a bit monotonous at the moment, but it’s definitely going to be an eventful year overall.

     3. Spend time with people who make you happy

It’s pretty obvious, but sometimes we become so immersed in our own misery that we forget that the simple answers are often the best.

Catching up with the people who make me smile, including some friends that I haven’t seen for months, has been conducive to a much happier state of mind over the last week. Though it’s easy just to cancel in favour of an early night/a day at home at this time of year, we can’t allow SAD to win!

4. Get creative

What works for me is not necessarily always going to be effective for others, but as a creative type, I find that a session of focused creativity every once in a while really enhances my spirits. Last year, I started a Craft Club with a friend in a conscious attempt to be creative more regularly and try to develop new skills. Whilst I’m definitely not the world’s best seamstress (and believe me, there have been some disasters!), getting creative with my sewing machine allows me to indulge a passion and feel like I’ve achieved something (providing it goes to plan!). To banish the January blues this week, I customised a bag. It was a simple task, but it instantly brightened my mood.

Customised bagCustomised Bag 2

5. Be positive!

So many people don’t actually realise that the language they use is really negative. Until I had some professional coaching, I’d never noticed that I was constantly saying things like ‘no’, ‘don’t’, ‘won’t’ and ‘shouldn’t’- words that, ultimately, have a detrimental impact on our state of mind.

Anyone who’s ever read Danny Wallace’s Yes Man (one of the funniest things I’ve ever read) will understand the power of ‘yes’. Being positive opens your eyes to new experiences and can have a magnetic effect on the people you meet. I appreciate that many people don’t believe in the effects of positive thinking (and even find it annoying), but relatively new research does show that happiness and health are linked, therefore the more positive you are, the more likely it is that you’ll live through many more days of January…oh joy of joys!

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re enjoying a positive January!