This is a strange and scary time, but I’ve been really grateful for the breathing space lockdown has given me.
For as long as I can remember life has been a rush, particularly since having children nearly 12 years ago. Modern life almost expects us to be super busy – the message seems to be if we’re not constantly pinging from one thing to another, we’re just not working hard enough. Parents get guilt arrows fired from all angles – not enough time spent working, not enough time spent with the kids, not enough time spent on housework, not enough time spent looking after ourselves.
I was the consummate ‘jack-of-all-trades, master of none’ – doing two jobs adequately, rather than one job well. As a journalist I’m a naturally creative person, but I never felt able to fulfil that potential. For me, increasing creativity requires enough spare time to reflect and mull things over, sparking inspiration, but this was time I simply didn’t have on a day-to-day basis.
And that’s the surprising upside to lockdown. Finally, for the first time in easily 20 years, I’ve found myself with extra hours on my hands, and the freedom feels amazing.
In the past four weeks, as well as working, homeschooling and lots of unapologetic downtime, I’ve managed to carry out three outstanding painting jobs, repot four desperately root-bound plants, read a book, clean up the back garden and start learning Italian again. I’ve got a planting project lined up for next week and I’m even hoping to brush up on the calligraphy I learned in a workshop a few years ago (and haven’t had time to practise since!).
Lockdown has also given me time to sit and think about where I want to go with my writing. I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads recently; I’ve realised I want to return to freelance feature writing, which is what I did for 20 years before I started my blog (if there’s even an industry left after this dust settles).
The blogging world has changed SO much since I started over a decade ago and I’ve had to reassess the direction I want to go in. The answer is that I also want to keep blogging, but continue to evolve it away from family and more towards the creative things I love, so more interiors, photography, travel and food, plus more about our ongoing renovations.
I’ve been reading this brilliant book, Conscious Creativity, by Philippa Stanton, which encourages you to follow your creative dreams – whether you’re a naturally arty person, or not. I fall into the latter category – my passion isn’t remotely backed up by my skill level, but Philippa has taught me that – as long as I’m enjoying myself and feeling creatively fulfilled – that doesn’t really matter.
She recounts a story in the book that really resonated with me – when she was studying art at school and her teacher straight up said her work wasn’t that great… which only made her more determined to keep going. In fact, she credits those mediocre results as giving her the motivation to continually push her creative boundaries.
Now, a professional artist and photographer, she’s also ‘Insta-famous’, her gorgeous Instagram account bulging with more than 400,000 followers and her wall bursting with colourful, textural, everyday delights. Philippa sees the beauty in the ordinary and brings it to life – rainbow flat lays, moody shadows, colourful clutter and whimsical still-life scenes.
In her book she encourages you to view everything with a fresh eye, gaining a totally new perspective on something you might otherwise have looked straight past. Her words and advice have inspired me to concentrate more on my creative side and also to give it more value: I realise now I’ve been pushing it to the bottom of priority list, labelling it less essential than work and day-to-day chores, but it makes me happy, and that alone makes it important.
One of my main realisations from all of this is that I need to find a better balance between the practical and creative sides of my life – I want to continue to feel inspired and excited, even once lockdown is a distant memory.
Fancy increasing creativity and sparking inspiration in your own life? I’m giving away a copy of Conscious Creativity (RRP: £14.99) to one reader. To enter, follow the Rafflecopter prompts, below. Good luck!
• if you enjoyed this, you might also like to read Mindfully Me // Journalling to Reduce Anxiety
e: 23.59, 3/5/20, UK only, full T&Cs below
T&C’s: Prize is 1 x copy of Conscious Creativity, RRP: £14.99; prize will be fulfilled after completion of the prize promotion; winner will be selected and notified within one month of the end date; promoter’s and winner’s details available on request; your details will not be passed on or used for any other purpose than which is outlined; promoter shall not be held responsible for prizes getting lost or damaged in transit; winner will be selected at random via the Rafflecopter form.