Therapy...

… there’s so much to say about THERAPY. Having worked with multiple therapeutic professionals (from various disciplines) between the ages of 18 and 38 (now 41) and quite honestly, working with clients in a therapeutic way, I really am a fan of it.

Extracting the underlying stories and core ideas of a brand, startup, entrepreneur, and creative is never work for me. The process just unfolds and I find it to be a session where I’m truly present, occupying a present space with another, in an almost sacred way.

Hearing a creative share their fears, ideas, dreams, desires, and challenges feels like such an honour. Especially considering that I know exactly how it feels to be creating and producing solo without team members, only having yourself as a sounding board.

Over the years of consulting, podcasting, teaching, and producing, I’ve experienced so much time being way too much in my head and have been so grateful for the sounding boards I’ve had throughout the years.

More than coaching, having someone truly get your creativity - rather than just a life angle - has been like finding a unicorn you hope sticks around in your life forever.

Which is why my one-to-one creative surgery is so I can be that unicorn for creatives like you. One-to-one sessions in person or on a call, I want to be YOUR unicorn! To find out more about how a call would work drop me an email and we can take it from there or book your spot now.

Can't ignore the ca-ching

There’s this idea that being a ‘creative’ means that you are not money minded. That you’re not strategic. That you’re not aware of the consumer market. Or at least, you are not allowing the market to dictate your output. I call BS on this. And here is why …

Being a creative for me is about reaching people with ideas and content in a multitude of ways. If my mission is to incite insight then I’m not about to only produce what I want in my silo. Knowing what’s happening around me and what the market wants plays a crucial part in my content planning.

The danger of creating without awareness of your ‘market’ is missing opportunities to find more of your audience. Banksy’s recent installation in Croydon is a powerful commentary on the status quo. Paying attention to consumer behaviour and current click-trends is not only helpful to learn what works in terms of marketing, but what you could possibly socially challenge creatively and thereby more meaningfully connect with your audience.

Creating alone - almost disconnected - from the workings of the world, even if we don’t agree with the latter, does not help the mission. More resources and reaching a wider audience will only help the mission. Denying this almost speaks to an unconscious or conscious choice to live and create small.

Choosing to play small and justifying it with some ‘artist argument’ can encourage an indulgent creative-victim mindset where you expect your audience to just come find you - convincing yourself that if people love your stuff they’ll just come. This strategy won’t help your mission to reach more of YOUR people.

Thanks for reading. A little about my mission… I’m here to not only produce content that resonates with an independent critical thinking mindset, but to support creatives with their brand development. Contact me if you want to learn more about my one-to-one process. Peace.

Being solo

I recently shared a post on IG saying “Go it alone but don’t be resentful about it. Relish the journey and the learning”. I added to the caption that this has probably been my biggest lesson. We all have struggles and challenges.

Comparing our joy or even our pain with others is the thief to our creativity. It’s the last thing we need to be doing.

For a while back in 2017 I would get really frustrated with how many hours I was putting into my platform, the site as it was then, and my podcast. Not frustrated with the nature of the work but the fact that I was doing it all myself (and still am) without cheerleaders and support.

Why don’t I feel this way now? Because I relish the fact that I get to be solo and create and produce on my own. I’ll have a whole host of conversations with others about all kinds of things - things to reflect on - and it all helps inform my process. - so I’m not isolated.

There’s a whole world of inspiration around us so being solo doesn’t have to feel negative.

What was absent was self belief. A recent convo I had with a brilliant musician who visited my studio the other day was that you have to have self belief x1000 (way more than you currently have). And that’s what I definitely was missing back in 2017 when I was dragging my tired self around London and creating SMALLNESS rather than creating in an expansive way.

Being solo + self belief will allow you to expand in ways you have never imagined. There’s no one you have to check in with and you are accountable only to yourself.

Lacking self belief? I would do what’s required to build that up. Put daily practices in place to build up that belief and trust in yourself. Doesn’t have to be creative but should be a disciplined practice. Something that makes you feel more like yourself and less like any of the frustrated negative mind talk.

Being solo is such an incredible growth experience. I am so grateful for having the guts, my voice, and all my skills to do it. I look back to 2016 when I first started Life Vocabulary (in fact a decade of being solo since 2006) and appreciate the growth and journey. It’s been really really insightful.

Going solo isn’t for the faint hearted. But why would you want to create faintly anyway? Go hard.

SHAME

This has been an unscripted and unplanned topic for me to cover. It literally ‘came up for me’ and I jumped on the mic.

I revelled a little in my misery and pain and then was reminded that regardless of the censure coming my way - according to the great Brené Brown - 99% of the censure is/was coming from me. My head. My mind. My mind chatter. Now my recent posts on IG would have you believe that it’s only others that SHAME us. Whilst their language and energy can embed itself in us, it’s up to us if we choose to be paralysed by it. This is an empowering step in seeing shame, being vulnerable, and then (as Brené says) choosing to show up anyway and be in the arena.

No coincidences right but it just so happens that a poetry and spoken word organisation I love and work with has a monthly London night and the subject for this month is SHAME (8th October 2019).

One of the poets I know well - Fisky … whom I’m sure I’ll be grabbing a Nando’s with before - will be performing.

So so so interested in learning about how you overcome moments/phases of shame and if I’m fact you are able to recognise it for what it is (when it occurs).

Determination

What did Nipsey say? “How long till opportunity meets preparation?” (dedication). Well it’s all within the same family of qualities required to succeed. I determine success to be having professional/creative excellence. Doing what you do in the best way. And there’s no other way around it. That’s determination. To be so focused that you won’t even compare yourself to others because you know it’s a losing game. Comparison is a thief. Yes indeed it is. It’s the worst distraction because it dilutes and disturbs our creative offering. So don’t do it. Skim others content unless you know for sure it’s going to fuel you and not fool you. Use social media but don’t let it disrupt your essence. New moon is here so use this time wisely.

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How challenges can present opportunities

When I’ve struggled with not having enough time and attention for what I love I for sure tantrum (see earlier creative tantrum post). I can also get into a creative paralysis. That’s the worst!

But what I have found to be even more challenging is to find the opportunity within the problem. As a creative this is usually a bit of a head-f. I’d much rather just flow into creating and have all the time in the world for it all.

The reality is that even when I own all my time for my my creative life, there are outputs that require planning and client deadlines. So the ‘ideal’ is probably a nostalgia for student life when I had way more time on my hands than I realised and I should’ve and could’ve done way more with it!

Running your own agency, freelance career, juggling a 9-5 and/or multiple hustles takes up attention and time. Finding opportunities and running with them is vital.

I have found my production and planning has gone up levels since I had to work with time constraints. Trello , Hootsuite, and Squarespace have been the tools that help me to plan out all production and content - and that last bit… promotion.

These planning tools have also proven to be mechanisms that soothe my creative beast! Let me explain. Knowing that I have all my creativity planned and plotted and even scheduled and promoted whilst I am detained with ‘other stuff’ comforts my inner creative beast so much so that I tantrum less. Feel me?

When I had all the time in the world - before - I would create and publish on the fly. Probably only ever do things a day or two in advance. Now planning ideas, production, the podcast, and all my content weeks in advance removes some of the creative hysteria that accompanies life. What I’ve learnt? Regardless of how much time you have on your hands … planning and prep is essential if you’re in a creative career.

DM me to continue the convo is you like.

Dealing with creative tantrums

I throw these often. When the days start to resemble each other all I really want is to have some variety. Work is work (the J-O-B). And parenting is what it is. For my kid in particular, a repetitive routine is crucial. So how do I get around the monotony of it all?

Disciplined flow

I don’t. I suck it up! Fine, it’s possible to inject some variety into the week but in all honesty? The moments I start to feel a tantrum coming on, I need to act. Work-out, read, research, edit, clear up, cleanse ... all of the above. 

Getting fed up with the status quo is such a total waste of energy and time (even though time is just a concept... ahem). 

So! How to get around a creative tantrum? Don’t have them. It’s about discipline and telling yourself not everything is gonna feel like a HIGH. Get into a disciplined flow.

How to exit (a relationship)

Whether it’s a work relationship or a personal one.  This is how best to get out of a situation that is truly toxic for you and your creativity. 

I’ve learnt from experience that without our creativity we are nothing. Being creative is the antidote for everything. 

When a relationship starts to suppress us it’s tempting to leap into the next thing or just CUT IT and leap into a void which at first presents relief, but then panic and overwhelm can set in. This can have quite the negative impact. Not always a good thing despite the popular personal development coaching opinions out there telling us to ‘take the leap’. 

Actually, a leap should be carefully and mindfully crafted. 

Having a plan is important. Recognising what isn’t and is working for you whilst you’re still in it is even more powerful and can help you plan your exit perfectly. Provided your ‘toxic situation’ isn’t abusive (and if so then immediately stop reading and reach out to someone you trust to get solid support) it can actually be just the right fuel you need to keep you focused on an exit strategy. 

My ‘exit experience’:

Personally... I exited a long marriage without any planning or concrete actionable steps. That first year with my child was probably the most painful of my life. Being alone and isolated with my then 4yr old child day in and day out with only an hour here or there for time to think myself out of the pain and pressure wasn’t great. In fact it continued like this until I finally moved closer to my family - but it took me 3 years to get settled and stable before I could start mapping my future again. If I could go back I would’ve mapped what I really needed and spoken to a number of individuals in my circle to solidly support me on my exit strategy. 

Creatively? I was trying anything and everything to claw my creativity back. The sudden exit threw everything up in the air and ‘feeling’ more like my creative self was coming in short glimpses. But at least they were coming!

Support from loved ones that helps you with a birds eye perspective is the game changer.   

Professionally speaking - in the past 20 years I have found myself in hugely suppressive J-O-Bs. Some I had high hopes for where I have given more than 100% effort but only 1% of my creativity (because there’s been absolutely no space for it). Especially roles and environments where the culture isn’t supportive of professional growth tailored to the individual. 

Time to exit! 

(Gosh… feels like I’m writing about Brexit). 

YOUR EXIT STRATEGY ... steps to transition:

  1. What do you need? Be really liberal with this. Write it all down. 

  2. Which daily activity/output will make you feel more whole? More agile, adaptable? What will make you better able to face change?

  3. What are the things that are currently in your way? (Continue writing this all down). 

  4. Keeping these in mind, what do you need to have the space to be more of you? Is this physical, emotional or both?

  5. What’s the first most important support you need in place to exit? (Personally it would’ve been childcare for me ... I didn’t have it back then). Resources? Assistance? 

  6. What is the ideal ‘end point’ and what are the steps to get there? Are we talking about an ideal job? Career? Or an established creative outlet? Are we talking about a feeling? Feeling more like YOU?

  7. Can you measure the time it’ll take to take each step? (Be kind and don’t give yourself a tight timescale. You need space to breathe which is why identifying the support required is really important). 

  8. Based on your roadmap ... can you communicate your plan and the timescale you want to exit to? Do you need to complete steps before you’re ready to exit? Or even communicate the fact that you need to change? Often telling people about the change before you’ve gotten comfortable with it can actually reverse the courage it took to get to that point in the first place. So take your time before you share … 

  9. Are you breathing easier? If not ... what more can you plot into your exit strategy to help you breathe easier? Unfortunately the nature of a toxic situation is that we put our needs last. This is your reminder to want more and articulate these wants.

  10. Now pause on this process and return to it with a fresh heart and mind. Why? When planning to leave something truly stressful and unhealthy it requires careful planning. Not knee-jerk planning. Return to your roadmap and refine. You’ll know when it’s ready. If not ... 3 revisits should be enough for you to put yourself in motion for the FIRST STEP to exit. 

Taking a beat is important. We know that lessons missed are revisited upon us. So… pause and make sure you’re present with this change.

Leaving something toxic is of course positive, but involves a fair bit of pain and instability. Make sure you reassure your creative-self that expression and a home for your creativity is on its’ way. The stifled and suppressed part of ourselves will be itching and possibly roaring for release.

When I was finally free I experienced such a long period of joy and creative expression - but without a plan. I burnt out! (That’s another post)

I really want to know how this helps you to exit. Contact me here or jump in my IG DMs! 

Is everything figure-outable?

There’s a YouTube and a real-life motivational speaker, author and life coach called Marie Forleo whose saying “everything is figure-outable” is now the title of her new book. Is it though? Figure-outable? Is everything figure-outable?

I’m going to be exploring this in an upcoming episode about overcoming hardship.

I used to be a real fan of Marie Forleo. I loved her YouTube content back in 2014 when I was getting motivated to create my own and also charge up my brand consultancy. At some point though, advice and motivation falls short of something.

This isn’t an issue related to Marie only. It’s the entire well-meaning industry of life coaching and motivational content. (Is it well-meaning though?).

For a while I’ve yo-yo’d between Gary-V’ing my content and then collapsing in bed night after night wondering what happened to me and my hustle. Life and its’ challenges don’t seem to respond to generic motivational tips. Not my life anyway. Balancing single-parenthood (add adoptive parenting and special needs) plus a full time job AND an inner hustle and passion that just won’t quit … generic advice just doesn’t seem to cut it. The problem solver would say … then write your own motivational content for people like you. This doesn’t make sense because challenges are relative and depends on how we are physically and mentally to cope with them.

There are periods of time I have all the patience and inner resolve in the world to get through it. During those times I could easily apply all strategic how-to’s and WIN. But when I’m stretched … something else entirely has to be applied to overcome or just manage ‘life’. The “everything is figure-outable” approach then just doesn’t cut it. But hang on …

Forleo has addressed this to a degree. Yes there are some who struggle more than others. But there’s a frame of mind we can all adopt to switch our mindset. I totally get that. It’s just getting to that point. When you’re deeeeeeep in the shit. And that’s where I think something else is required as a pre-cursor to that mindset.

That thing is … something i’ll share in the next episode. I’m journaling and researching about this and want your ideas and insight too. What helps prepare us for this state and mindset?

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Creative Sabotage

We’ve all been there right? Perhaps you’re there right now. Regardless of how long I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, or how ‘woke’ I get to myself and the creative process, I STILL SABOTAGE! But thankfully there are degrees of it.

How does creative self sabotage show up for you? For me:

  • I become more reclusive than normal and whilst I do love my own company, I absolutely require social intimacy. If I cut myself off from the latter… something is up;

  • I doubt and distract myself. Being solo, I don’t have a team to help break me out of it so a considerable amount of time can go by until I realise I’ve had to crawl myself out of a pity-pit I dug for myself; Possibly with the help of some unwelcome criticism or hate from another, I’ve been triggered and diverted without realising until perhaps a month or so later when I realise just how unhappy and uninspired I’m feeling. (Which is why a plan is so helpful as a solo-creative, which I talk about here);

  • Lastly, I find really strong justification for not exploring growth opportunities. Dammit. This is honestly the worst. I’ll tell myself: “you’re not being responsible… you’re a single parent… cub needs you to be more present…” when in fact evidence shows that the more creatively satisfied I am the more loving and nurturing I’m able to be. But the reasoning to not create or develop and instead stay stuck in doubt and stagnation is another self sabotage that the creative self drowns in.

Most interestingly, a really viable path that can produce a host of benefits can also be part of creative sabotage. My work with independent creatives has me nurturing their creativity - which I find so satisfying - but actually if weighed too heavily in that corner means I’m not nurturing my own creativity. A balance is necessary - sure, but more than that, I’m not embodying the creative as well as the strategist in me.

Embodying means living it. Whilst we can create to-do lists, Miss Yankey recently told me about to-be lists. Being your true potential rather thank ticking off to-do’s is far more impactful in ensuring you don’t sabotage or at least not sabotage for a great length of time.

Having sabotaged myself creatively in the past for the best part of a decade, I’m grateful now when I can catch myself after a week or so. Whilst a lost month is horrendous, it’s more easily recoverable than years of your life not being who you are meant to be. Find a way to just BE and the to-do’s will follow.

Do share your stories with me. Here or on IG.