For the Struggling Creative

Any time I post a blog I will undoubtedly get someone misinterpreting what I am saying, because well, that’s what people do. We interpret what we think someone is saying and we put our own lens over it. It’s not bad, it just happens and is inevitable if you are going to share your creations with the world. I know all of this yet I’ll be honest, there is still always a moment right before or after I post a blog when I hesitate and wonder if maybe I should just stop doing this thing. There are two questions I have around blogging – should I create anything at all and is it worth being vulnerable to do it?I know that being creative takes courage. It takes courage to share what’s in your heart without being able to control the outcome or manage the misunderstandings that will inevitably occur. I look at artists, designers, songwriters, dancers, writers, chefs, musicians (anyone in the creative industries really) and I take my hat off to them and say thank you. Thank you for sharing yourself with the world. Some of you bring me so much joy as I experience what you have created and I’m grateful you pushed through your fears to share what you have with your fellow humans. I may not always like your expression or agree with every message, but I acknowledge your courage and say well done.

“There is no creativity without vulnerability”
– Brene Brown

If I am going to be misunderstood and perhaps ‘take a personal hit’ for something I have written, why on earth would I keep doing it? It’s because for every person who misinterprets what I’m saying, I get another who tells me “that’s just what I needed to hear today” or “Far out, I never knew that was happening in the world”. It’s for those people that I keep sharing my thoughts. There are many times when I think to myself… “Nah, don’t write any more Jess, honestly who really cares what you are thinking”. And then for some reason I just keep doing it anyway. As I said before, there is always a moment when I put myself out there and I question if it’s worth sharing. If no one likes this, is it still worth creating? For me, the answer is yes. I create for the fun of it. If I can, you can too. Create because you can. Dream it. Do it. Work at it. Create something uniquely you. You can do it. You should do it.What started out as a blog to update people on our travels has morphed into an avenue for me to share my thoughts. My short unedited writings are unlikely to make it into main-stream media, so I continually check in with my heart to see if it’s worth doing. Does it still provide me with a creative outlet? Yes. Do I enjoy putting words and thoughts together even if I struggle in the process? Yes. Although I only write about things I have already processed, many people don’t know that I’ve already moved on. How could they, unless I told them. So sometimes I get a message from someone asking me if I’m ok, or perhaps someone (*cough* my husband) looks at me sideways for a few days, wondering if I’m ok (love you Babe). It is the price I am willing to pay by sharing honestly with others.

What price are you willing to pay to be creative? If you are willing to be misunderstood, misinterpreted (which you will), then keep going for it. I would encourage you to create and share it with the world. The ‘world’ may end up being your five friends on TikTok or your Nan the next time you see her, but I would remind you that the people you impact need to see your creativity.  I have heard many amazing original songs that I wish everyone knew the lyrics to. I have viewed some breathtaking photos which will never be in a gallery and I have tasted some amazing meals by home chefs that will never feature on cooking shows. However, it is the exchange of other peoples ideas in those moments that enriches my own life; I am aware of the impact. One of my Pinterest boards is full of other people’s creativity that in turn inspires my own. I am so grateful for my fellow creatives and I need you to keep it up.

Those moments in time when others have shared their giftings with me have added delightful wonder to my life. I am a better person because of the things others create and my life is richer for all their hard work. But let’s be real, not everything everyone dreams up can be a masterpiece and some people excel because they have trained hard for many years. With all this in mind, even if your creative expression doesn’t get the recognition you think it should or you lack the resources/time/energy to develop your craft, it may still be worth it – simply for the joy of creating. Create simply for the joy of creating.

This leads me back to my original questions – should I create anything at all and is it worth being vulnerable to do it? Yes and yes. Let’s keep creating for the fun of it. Let’s keep being vulnerable and push past our fears by sharing our ideas with those around us. Please, please dear reader keep on creating and I will too. Let’s do it together.

Love Jess xxoo

PS – Those who know me well are aware of my love of the music group BTS, and will probably have a little smile as they read this. 😉 If you like dance you’ll appreciate this gem – the choreographer and dancers in this video just blow me away.

A different plant

I was out in my backyard this week, spending some time in nature and being mindful of the beauty around me. I saw these two plants and they captured my attention. Some of you may have seen my post on Facebook:

Both of these plants are in the same season (winter), but they are at different stages of growth and development. One is blooming, so vibrant and fertile. The other is shedding its leaves to conserve water and energy, eventually building cells to protect the exposed areas until the season changes. Both are beautiful for their own reasons.

What these little plants reminded me of was that different plants flourish in different seasons. It’s winter in Australia right now, but when summer comes, these plants will look very different. Instead of the picture looking like above, the plant on the left will be blooming while the other will be protecting itself from the heat. Growth for each plant will accelerate at different times of the year, but regardless of which season I see flowers, neither is better than the other. These plants are just totally different and thrive in different seasons. In their very DNA they were designed to bloom at different times, because quite simply, they are different plants.

The lesson I take away from this is that people (*cough* Spiritual people) are great at talking about ‘knowing your season’, myself included, but we can get tripped up when we see others in the same season as us. We compare ourselves to others who are our same age or life-stage or working in a similar role. When we feel we are conserving or withering while someone else is thriving or blooming, it’s important for us to be mindful of how we view ourselves. Essentially, you are a different kind of plant to me and I to you. I would not expect my Crepe Myrtle to bloom in winter, what a ridiculous notion, but goodness I can catch myself expecting to see blooms in every season of life. It sounds like this:

The simple take away is yes, you are different plant and therefore you bloom at a different time to someone else and that is ok. Perhaps you beauty is in looking after yourself. If you try to force yourself to bloom in the wrong timing, you’ll be too exhausted for the growth that could be coming your way.

Having simple one-liner to hold onto, like “I am a different plant” and speaking it to yourself, is incredibly powerful. It is a useful tool to cut through the lies we sometimes tell ourselves.  This one is helpful for me, maybe it will be helpful for you too. So, my friends next time you look at a fellow stay-at-home parent, or the colleague who is excelling in the same work industry as you, stop that poisonous comparative thought in its tracks and say it with me “I am a different plant.”

Love Jess xxoo

PS – For those concerned or bursting to encourage me, I don’t feel as though I am in a hibernating winter or sweltering summer. In case you are wondering, that was last year 🙂 But I know there will be winters and summers all throughout my life, so it’s good for me to keep being reminded of these lessons regardless of where I am in that cycle and whoever else I see alongside me.

A confession: Playing small

I have a confession to make, I have been playing it small. Ever since my son has come along, I have been a slightly lesser version of myself. I have been holding back, uncertain of my capacity and locking away parts of myself and my giftings, less I should fail. I think many people (especially Mums) feel this way, especially when re-entering the workforce or trying something new. We can feel insecure, don’t see what we have to offer and feel conflicted about where our loyalties lie. For me, I have returned to work and joined the creative team at my local church, you know, just two big commitments at once, nothing major haha.

The last seven months have been interesting for me as I have observed myself react to situations and people that I previously would not have struggled with. I have been my own worst enemy, continually undermining myself: Don’t make suggestions, don’t disagree, keep your head down, keep your eyes down, don’t rock the boat, be easy going, stay in the background, keep out of people’s way, don’t be ambitious, don’t have dreams. Be small.

But, I am not small. It’s just taken me a little while (with a few bumps and false starts) to rediscover that fact. I have gifts, talents and skills that should not be hidden. I have something to offer. I was created to shine in my own particular way and I do no-one a service by making myself less to accommodate others. Others don’t shine brighter because I stop shining. It doesn’t work like that; we shine brighter together. I didn’t even realise I was turning down the dimmer switch, but apparently, I was. Good to know. Good to finally recognise. Good to stop.

So looking forward, what does this re-discovery of identity mean for me? Externally, not much. I know the season I am in and I know my capacity and current commitments. I’m aware of my energy levels and honestly, at the moment I like going with the flow and doing my part for another person’s vision. Internally, I feel I am waking up. I am allowing myself to dream a little about what is stirring in my heart. I am curious about the things that I struggle with and wonder what is hiding underneath. If I don’t re-check what my passions are and look for opportunities to develop and learn, I will keep being small. I could easily get stuck in this place, not moving forward. Nothing has to change in this moment, it’s my own heart that’s changing. Instead of unrest, I am at peace on the inside.

I share this with you dear reader, because I feel like someone else needs to hear these words. Have you turned down the ‘dimmer’ in a certain area of your life? Let me challenge you to see where you might be playing small? You were not created to be small; you have something to offer this world in your own special way. Your offering, will look different to mine and woohoo for that. If you too feel you have been stuck, come on sweetheart, let’s take a moment to dream together. It’s time to stop playing small, even if it’s only evident in our hearts.

Love Jess xxoo

Meet Greta

Hi everyone, I would like you to meet Greta. Some of my girlfriends have suggested this might be a bit of a laugh to share with you all. Here is our story…

Jess’ Story:

Last night Tim got home from work at about 5pm and I was starting my overnight shift at 7:30pm. I immediately went to have a shower and was looking forward to having some alone time to wash off the day.

As the water was running I saw a reasonable sized Daddy-long-legs spider in the corner of the shower, and realised that it was too late to remove her. So I had two options:

  1. Flush her down the drain (which I didn’t really want to do)
  2. Leave her be.

Now is that point I made the mistake of calling her Greta. I spent the rest of the shower slightly tense that either she would fall, drown and float down the drain, or crawl over my back while I was shaving my legs.

At one point, she did make an attempt to crawl up the wall and fell. Time seemed to slow as I watched her bungee down towards the wet floor! I embarrassingly let out a squeal as I was now slightly attached to Greta and didn’t want to see her life cut short.

I’m happy to report that we both survived the shower, but needless to say, I will probably look for her next time I hop in. As this whole saga was happening, I did think that a male would probably never have this problem. He would probably just squish the spider and go on with his life, whereas I named her and got invested as to whether or not she survived my shower.

And that is my story. I hope you enjoyed it and don’t think I’m a crazy person.

Tim’s story:

This morning I got in the shower.
Saw a Daddy-long-legs spider on the wall.
Knocked spider onto the floor, flushed it down the drain.
Had shower.
The end.

Love Jess xxoo

 

A dreamy reminder

Hello dear friend, recently I’ve been talking with people about having personal dreams that are outside of our jobs and family life. One day the kids will leave home and employment doesn’t last forever, so what else are you working towards? Particularly for mothers, many of our dreams can be based upon our kids, but you are more than a Mum. What do you want to do for you? For our workaholics, you are more than your title within your vocation. If your position were taken away, what would you do with your passion and drive that was just for you? Stick it up somewhere you can see daily as a reminder to pursue what brings you joy.

Here are some of mine…

  1. Be in a financial position where I can bless anyone whenever the opportunity arises.
  2. Have a house in which others feel instantly at home in. A peaceful and relaxing, creative space with plants, arts and soothing textures. That people would feel they are being hugged as soon as they step through the door.
  3. Grow lots of my own fruit and vegetables.
  4. Cultivate more space for creative expression – writing, gardening, cooking/baking etc. Maybe 1-2 hours a week.
  5. Go away by myself for at least once a night every year.

As you can see, these are not my usual ‘buy ethical and sustainable products’; they are more about joy and delight. Some will require a lot of planning, research and discipline while others will be easier, more of a gradual unfolding in my every day.

I hope this little blog inspires you to spend at least 20 minutes this week writing out a dreams list for yourself; a list of dreams for this season and life stage. Then, share it with someone, stick it on your fridge, comment below whatever you want. Let’s do this, let’s dream a little together.

Love Jess xxoo

Enjoier (to give joy to)

When was the last time you deliberately did something you enjoyed? It doesn’t matter if it’s cliché or something entirely unique, as long as it fills up your joy tank, it’s valid. Is it having a large group of people over for lunch? Could it be reading a new book on your bed? Would it involve lots of people and noise and energy or quiet and stillness and peace?

Enjoy (a verb).

Originates from Middle English and a stem of Old French > From the Middle English word enjoyen, which means ‘to make joyful’. > Old French ‘enjoier’, meaning ‘to give joy to’.

Low mood can be a sneaky thing and by sneaky I mean it can lead to depression. At the end of last year I had a downer, constantly in Mum-mode and managing the household. Never feeling like ‘me’, but just the mum-version of me. In short, I was no longer having any fun and was starting to lose sight of who I was. Little moments of joy would pass me by without me even noticing and my days were becoming full of to-do-lists and high expectations. And so, after some good self-reflection and advice, I decided it was time for more joy.

One of my top enjoyen tricks at the moment is to blast out some fun music and dance around my house with my little people in tow. Nothing changes the atmosphere like a playlist of songs that have your little people jumping around and giggling with you. A few little spins through the air and some quick leaps around the dinning room table just seem to help me shake off my tendency to be caught up in ‘adulting’.

Adulting (a verb).

To do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.

Coming off the back of a season of low mood, I have been thinking a fair bit about joy and ways to cultivate it. I think one of the best ways, is to be aware of it and make it something you notice within yourself. The little joy moments within your day can make a world of difference, if you embrace them. Often though, I’m too busy adulting (or parenting) to notice and I need to deliberately set time aside every few days and do something I love. Scheduling a weekly ‘joy session’ is a great place to start if you’ve stopped being able to recognise it in your daily life.

From my experience, deliberately making time for joy and silly fun is important in our crazy, over-connected culture. The more I am able to bring joy into my life, the more joy I can see. The more I see, the more I treasure and embrace.

And so, let us embrace the silly, fun, delightful, surprising and awkward moments of life. Let’s take a moment to look at the beautiful flower on the tree you walk past every day. Let’s have a laugh when someone does a fart during dinner – the sound of a trumpet coming out of a bottom, what’s not to laugh at? Let’s run a bath and read a book. Have dinner with a close friend. Have dinner with 20 strangers. Go for a bush walk. Bake something new. Colour in that drawing. Sip that coffee while looking at the view. Paint a fence. Paint your hand. Spend a morning in the garden. Spend a morning in the surf. Go on a date. Watch a movie. Go on a holiday. Laugh at the spilt drink. See that new exhibition. Go to that new shop you saw the other day. Take a language class. Watch a bird play in the bird bath. Giggle at a clever quote. Sing loudly in the car. Start a blog*…

Whatever the things are that bring you joy, join me and deliberately do at least three of them this week. Sure, life can be difficult and boring at times, but if we can cultivate joy while doing it, then we’re onto something.

Love Jess xxoo

*(Oh that was for someone specific, I don’t know who you are, but you do. Now get on it and give it a go! Apparently it’ll bring you a lot of joy)

Inspiration for January

A few pieces from around the place that I’m ‘collecting’

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
– Nora Roberts

This blog post about a different approach to ‘missions’. Some people are on non-traditional missions and I love it.

These beautiful necklaces from Kita Designs.

This stunning dress from Sustainable Fashion

Puzzles… how great are they!

Jack the Cockatiel on Instagram

Love Jess xxoo

An ordinary extraordinary life

I was thinking about the ‘sum’ of my life last night while my cat supervised me washing the dishes. Is there something extraordinary inside of me yet to be revealed or is it just a feeling left over from my youth days when we were constantly told we would do amazing things? Have I lived an extraordinary life? It certainly doesn’t feel like it. Do I really have something remarkable legacy to offer humankind in my future? Not that I can see.

P1070348Here’s a thought… perhaps my extraordinary, dazzling life is already present.

Perhaps it is in buying ethical products?

P1070354Perhaps it is in my heart every time I think and pray for those trapped in slavery?

Could it be in my desire to raise kids who don’t look to others to tell them who they are?

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Perhaps as I continue to live out my ordinary life I will be doing amazing things in secret. What a wonderful idea! A secret extraordinary life would probably suit me perfectly. Doing remarkable things doesn’t have to be loud and bright and seen by all as I thought in my teenaged years. I think of our Aussie farmers, working so hard to make ends meet and in my eyes they are quite frankly awe-inspiring.

I may never write a book or be known Nation-wide as the founder of a life-changing not-for-profit organisation, but I am ok with that. I will keep trying to do awesome things in secret, which at the moment mostly involves changing nappies and finishing the day without having a nervous breakdown. I amaze even myself sometimes 😉 and I am constantly delighted and inspired by most of the people I know. I guess it’s the everyday things that add up to make someone’s life significant.

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Love Jess xxoo

Someone is happier

Contentment is not something we do very well. Are we satisfied with our house, our clothes, our latest holiday, our social photos online? More often than not, the answer is no. Even when we get our latest ‘wish list’ item we then move onto the next thing or bigger and better. If we are buying a new car or house-hold item, do we get what we need or do we go that one step more and get something a bit bigger, a bit more expensive?

Contentment is something I am continuing to learn about. As my inbox fills with emails about the latest sales and season fashions, I have realised I need to be mindful of my thoughts in order to catch out the lie that I need more things to be happy. I also need to avoid the comparison trap when I look at the lives other people lead. Comparison is the enemy of contentment.

“Look at that sea, girls – all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen.
We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of
dollars and ropes of diamonds”
– from Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery

In the end contentment isn’t about what you have or don’t have, it’s a state of being and it is something I am trying to cultivate in my life. It is simply freeing once you get used to it. I am free to have something and free not to have something. ‘Things’ do not impact whether I’m happy or not. Obviously I am still learning and sometimes I look at that new winter coat with longing, but I have to remind myself that it will not make me happy. I choose to be content with the lovely jacket I already own.

Someone is happier with less than what you have
– Anonymous

Let me encourage you to start practicing contentment. It will take time, but it will also allow you to experience a sense of freedom over things and the lives of others around you.

Love Jess xxoo

Not all adventures are glamorous

I have about six-weeks of my pregnancy to go which means I am uncomfortable, sleep badly and still have moments when I think I’m going to vomit everywhere. However life goes on and things still need to be done. This morning I had to take Shadow to the vet for a booster needle…

As I held Amy’s hand, carried the cat box and had my bag over my shoulder, the bottom of the box gave way and Shadow fell out. Luckily we were just at the door of the vet surgery. I shook off Amy’s hand, grabbed the cat and pulled the door open. As I threw the box inside, held the door open with my foot and tried to pass the cat to someone, Amy got hit in the head as she tried to fit through the little gap. So now I had a cat in one arm and a crying Amy half stuck outside, screaming and holding her head. Help did arrive, but honestly the whole thing was slightly hilarious. Plus, with being 34 weeks pregnant it must have been funny and petrifying for the others in the waiting room to watch as everything went wrong.

The vet visit itself wasn’t much better, but we survived.

After I embarrassingly accepted help getting to the car, Amy started yelling that she was hungry, which was when I may or may not have lost the plot and told her off. My previous idea of getting a coffee on the way home went out the window as I now had wicked reflux and no energy left to face anything else.

Half way home Amy started crying because she put her fingers into the cat box and I’m assuming Shadow gave her a nip. The cat then went crazy scratching and carrying on and Amy started laughing as the cat made a jail break and got out of the box. There was nothing I could do but keep driving. After successfully navigating another around-a-bout, I felt something furry on my leg and realise the cat had made his way under my seat and was now setting up shop in front of the break pedal. At this point I was beyond caring if we lived or died, but we ended up back at home without any more drama.

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Unfortunately I told Amy we could do some painting today and we’d go buy some ‘kid friendly’ paint (if there is really such a thing) after we dropped Shadow home. However, I knew I needed a moment to gather whatever energy and happy thoughts I had left. As I sat on the couch relaying these events to my family, Amy started doing my make-up/painting my face with a paintbrush and I decide I may never move again. If I could drink, a small glass of wine would have been perfect right then. Instead I found an old and slightly malformed Freddo Frog in the fridge… that did it.

The truth is that sometimes ‘adventures’ are not so glamorous and involve dropping your cat and yelling at your daughter, but it does make a good story.

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Love Jess xxoo