Why creativity is good for us

#2 in my Tonics of Your Creative Spirit email series: Julia Cameron

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This is a quote I scribbled down whilst on holiday in beautiful Norfolk, 
where I was listening to the audiobook version of Julia’s:
Walking In This World practical strategies for creativity book by Julia CameronWalking in this world 
Spiritual strategies for forging your creative trail
It’s such an inspiring and thought-provoking book.
It took me all week to listen to it, as I had to pause virtually every other minute to write down all the genius insights. 
So I heartily recommend it, if you could use some inspiration and encouragement. 
Have a creative and expressive week!

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Soul-soothing doses of encouragement and inspiration to support you along the bumpy creative path.

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You’ll also receive occasional news and updates, designed to uplift and inspire creative spirits.

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An interruption to our usual (housework avoidance) schedule….

Clear your clutter with feng shui Karen Kingston Just Good Reads

Well, it’s certainly spring. In fact, judging by my sunburn, it may even be summer. Anyway, you’ll probably be very surprised to learn that this weekend I have been…..spring cleaning!

Now, don’t be too shocked. I still managed to spend a good deal of time lazing in the garden with a book. (My preferred mode of housework avoidance.) But it is the particular book in question that’s responsible for my uncharacteristic domestic spree. And the book is (as you’ve probably guessed by the large book cover <<<…) Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston.

This book is an absolute gem. I love it because it delves into the psychology of clutter and how clutter affects us on all levels; mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually. Karen links these effects with the traditional feng shui tool – The Bagua, to illustrate precisely which area of your life that ‘harmless’ pile of magazines is infiltrating. This alone is quite a powerful motivator to get busy.

Yet, the book contains a good deal more advice beyond the influence of feng shui. In fact, it could be one of the most comprehensive self-help books I’ve ever come across. Karen covers the whole gamut of human issues; health, happiness, potential, relationships, spirituality, forgiveness, life priorities and body clutter.  (The colon-cleansing section was particularly eye-opening and prompted a considerable spending spree at my favourite organic apothecary).

All this information makes for a really motivating read. I found that I couldn’t read more than a couple of pages at a time without feeling an urge to go and sort or tidy somewhere. Powerful stuff! This weekend has seen several bags of superfluous ‘stuff’ leave the premises and I’m becoming very popular over on freecycle.org. (One woman’s junk….)

I’ll be doing a full review soon (children willing…) but in the meantime, let me share with you some of my favourite nuggets from the book. I challenge you to read the following without being inspired to bust some clutter!

Each small area you clear releases energy for you to do more.

The speed at which the positive changes will appear in your life is relative to the gusto and decisiveness with which your clutter is cleared.

Most people carry some form of emotional baggage. It prematurely ages us and gets in the way of everything we want to do.

An ordered home means an ordered mind. Whatever your personal situation, it is important to get organised so that the mundane level of your life supports you.

In lab experiments, animals given control over their environment live longer, have higher antibody counts and less ulcers. Your choice.

It is safe to let go.




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Enjoy more housework-avoidance great book reviews over in Readers Corner








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Gifts for the (Un) Domestic Goddess

Working with CafePress.com, I’ve created a range of cards and gifts with a home and housework theme.

{ Because not all us goddesses are domestic... 😉 }

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> > > CLICK HERE to browse the range.

Your inspiration as compass

#1 in my Tonics For Your Creative Spirit email series: Tama J Kieves

Welcome to the first in my series of weekly tonics for your creative spirit.

I’m so happy to share these and I hope they serve you well in keeping your creative spirits up.

Each week I’ll post an inspiring (and Pinnable!) creativity quote – wise words to help you along the bumpy creative path.

And I’ll include details of the books or resources where I found the quotes and ideas, so you can dive deeper with any that strike a chord with you.

I’ll also share my latest learnings on how to make the creative process easier and more enjoyable, to help you find more fun and flow in your creative life. (Why do it that hard way?)

So, let’s start as we mean to go on, and begin to get better acquainted with that elusive muse…


• • •

this time I dance by tama j kievesThis is a phrase I excitedly underlined in Tama J Kieves inspiring book; 
I highly recommend it if you’re wondering whether to go for your creative dream. 
(Hint: Go for it!)
I’m also a big fan of tuning in whenever we feel lost, confused or stuck in a dilemma.

I believe that we always know, on some level, what to do – and being able to access that knowing is a skill we can all learn.

We’ll be exploring much more about ‘the muse as a compass’ throughout this series. (If you’d like to get a head start on wooing your muse, I have some Daily Prompts that can help you.)

In the meantime, start to listen out for those promises and promptings, aka; what lights you up!

And when possible – follow them. See where they lead.

Because it’s amazing how the muse responds when we let her have her fun…

(Hint: she will guide you to where you really want to go. 😉 )

See you next week!



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FREE weekly boosters for creative spirits

Get the full blog series


from 30 creative minds

delivered weekly to your inbox.

Soul-soothing doses of encouragement and inspiration to support you along the bumpy creative path.

• • •

You’ll also receive occasional news and updates, designed to uplift and inspire creative spirits.

• • •

(Rest assured, your personal information will never be sold and you can unsubscribe anytime using a link in the emails.

Writer’s Corner: One way to write a book

As part of my How To Write A Book series, I thought it would be helpful to share the story of how I wrote my first book, Housework Blues.

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So here’s The Story of a Book – just one of the many ways books can evolve.

• • •


The Story of Housework Blues

(Extract from From Wannabe to Writer)

Around 2008, I began searching for a book that would help me with my domestic woes.

I tend to turn to books for help with my challenges and problems, and so I was seeking literary solace for my severe housework blues.

At the time, I was working from home, as well as being a full time mum to two small children. I was drowning in laundry and mess and disorganised chaos.

I needed help.

I’d tried to find a book that addressed what I was going through, but all I could find were collections of cleaning tips or time management systems.

I wanted a book that dealt with the aspect I struggled with; the emotional and psychological challenge.

(Housework was ‘doing my head in’.)

Then one day – ironically, as I was scrubbing the kitchen floor – I had an epiphany.

I realised…

…there should be a guide for women like me.

There should be a housework manual for women who just don’t want to do this stuff!


So I threw the scrubbing brush back into the soapy bucket. (Yes, I was actually scrubbing ‘scrubber-style’.)

Then I went and vented my spleen onto my computer.

I still have the document. It’s essentially just a list of my struggles, peppered with considerable frustration and angst.

I gave it the working title: A Feminist Guide to Cooking and Cleaning; A mental approach to housework – for women who don’t.

I’d heard the advice – if you can’t find the book you need, write it.

So I thought this could be my chance to finally put my writing aspirations into a concrete form – that someone may actually want to read.

(I suspected I wasn’t the only female who didn’t want to spend her life, as Rudyard Kipling said, ‘threshing herself to pieces over the mean worry of housekeeping’.)

I soon dropped the feminist tag, though. I am possibly the least political person you’ll ever meet, and this was stirring up all kinds of negative responses.

My project was simply a quest for a happier domestic balance.

I was aware of the cultural issues, (ie, more being expected of female than males) but I wanted to increase the harmony in my home, not start a war.

I was more interested in the psychological and emotional stuff behind the angst/resentment.

I suspected that the real issue, for me, lay deeper than not knowing how to shine my sink.

This was the angle that I felt hadn’t really been addressed before.

So I created a list of all the reasons why I felt I was struggling, and all the thoughts I had about what I could do about it.

From that A4 Word document of frustrated ramblings, a book was born.

Once I’d had the idea, potential chapters and snippets of text began occurring to me more frequently, (ironically, usually during housework.)

In my mission to conquer my housework overload, I’d already come up with a few strategies of my own.

With a bit of thought and attention, I was able to come up with a few more. So I wrote those down too.

Over the next few months, I added more notes and ideas, more solutions and remedies.

And I felt duty bound to share them.

I’d discovered (to my relief) that not all females are born homemakers. I wanted to share my tips and tricks with any like-minded non-domestics.

And so, out of the desire to create calm out of the chaos of my home life, along with an urge to write and share, I’d embarked upon my first book.

But at that point I didn’t know it was a book. It would change shape and structure a dozen times before it came to rest in its current format.

Some ideas evolved from a snippet into a whole section (Delegation). Other ideas were swallowed up elsewhere or ditched completely. (Possibly for the best in the case of The Loo.)

The more I added to my musings and ideas, the more the material began to naturally fall into complete sections.

I wondered whether I might actually have enough material for a series of ebooks…?

Each of these could relate to the problem of housework OD, but tackling a particular bugbear, ie Lack of Motivation, Lack of Energy etc…

This series began life entitled Make Peace with Housework. And, in anticipation of my Big Launch, I also began a blog of the same name.

But I wasn’t happy with my ‘mini-ebooks’. They were quite small as standalone pieces, and I felt they weren’t substantial enough to be sold as a complete solution.

Besides, I was hearing from readers that they suffered from most, if not all, of the 8 ‘housework blues’ that I’d identified.

So, I decided to wrap them all together into one volume.

I had to rework the intro and then go through the sections to make sure they worked together as an integral whole, rather than disparate sections bundled together.

But it was enjoyable work and I knew as I was doing it that it flowed much better.

Plus, there was the added bonus of having accidentally produced a ‘real book’.

This was very satisfying – to find myself at the end of the process, without knowing what was happening until the majority of the work had been done. (I’ve written more about my ‘accidental’ method here.)

By the end, though, I knew I had a book.

I can remember vividly writing the closing paragraph. It felt both moving and surreal – a huge accomplishment, but also strangely calm and inevitable.

Of course, there was still much editing and polishing to be done but the main composition, the full first draft, was finished.

And as I sat in the brick outbuilding in my garden (the only place I could escape the noise of family life), with the early summer sunshine streaming through the cobwebbed windows, tears rolled down my cheeks as I wrote the final words.

That last chapter was about the role our homes play in our lives – a topic I was passionate about.

In fact, this had been the spur at the heart of my mission – to find more peace in the home.

So, it was a heartfelt finale, the culmination of a labour of love.

But also, I knew I had achieved something: this was the end of my book.

My first book.

I had written a book.


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This is an extract from my ebook, From Wannabe To Writer,

a compilation of tips and tales from my writing and self-publsihing adventures.

• • •

It was launched on World Book Day

– to help Wannabe writers everywhere to get their books out there.

Details below!

And you can find out more about Housework Blues HERE.

Out now:

Wannabe writer ipad

My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer.

The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.  

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book….

If you’d like to shortcut your learning curve….

If you want to truly believe that it’s possible to go from wannabe to successful writer…

This is for you. 

• • • 




” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull



Book Review: Charles Dickens – A Life by Claire Tomalin

Following the recent demise of my beloved Mini*, I found myself housebound during the school holidays.

Happily though, this coincided with my children discovering the joys of audiobooks and lego, which meant that I was able to spend a blissful week curled up with Charles Dickens – A Life by Claire Tomalin.

Charles Dickens Claire Tomalin

Though I am a big fan of biographies, I have to confess that I had never been the greatest admirer of Dickens’ work.

(My only previous encounter was being forced to read A Tale of Two Cities in Miss Taylor’s English class about twenty years ago – not exactly top of my teenage To Do list…)

In fact, I hadn’t even planned to buy this book but found myself in an ‘I urgently need something to read!’ situation (bookless in Starbucks) and this was the book that found its way into my hands.

And though I’d heard good reviews of it, I didn’t have any great expectations. (Sorry, couldn’t resist….).

But….. (more…)

Book Review: The Paris Wife

I really enjoyed this.

I’ve only just started reading fiction again after about 5 years away, so this blend of imagined private lives based on actual facts was a perfect re-introduction.

A Paris Wife is a fictional account of the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson.

Told in the first person by Hadley, it’s a convincing and intimate portrayal of their intense love affair and short marriage.

Set mostly in Paris in the 1920s, McLain has created a totally absorbing world of the turn-of-the-century literati, including guest appearances from such luminaries as Gertrude Stein, F Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound.

Theirs was a time of street cafes, absinthe and tortured memories of the First World War.

Hemingway’s early writing and career are explored in depth but these are seen through the eyes of his wife, and though she offers tireless support for his art, her main focus is the man behind the words, the husband she adores.

The novel is exquisitely written – some of the prose actually took my breath away – though it’s still an effortless read.

I could easily have devoured this in one sitting, but given my current workload, I rationed myself to bedtime reading only. (Which made me look forward to bedtime even more than I normally do. I couldn’t wait to get back to Tatie and Cat and their latest Parisian adventures.)

Whether or not you are interested in Hemingway or the writerly life, this is a captivating portrait of an unusual love affair and the complexities of marriage.

Poignant and engaging, I was sad to finish it.

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Book review: Yoga for Real Life – Maya Fiennes

About the book

This beautiful full-colour book is Maya Fiennes’ guide to a healthy, happy life – Kundalini style.

The sections are loosely based on the body’s seven main energy centres (chakras). They are:

• Be Here, Now (Root chakra)

• Detox & De-Stress (Sacral chakra)

• Yes, I can! (Navel chakra)

• Love & Relationships (Heart chakra)

• Staying Youthful (Throat chakra)

• Children (Third Eye chakra)

• Finding Joy (Crown chakra)

Each section features the relevant yoga poses, breathing techniques, Sanskrit chants and meditation. Maya explains how the body is designed to heal many of our modern ailments and includes remedies for issues such as panic, stress, insomnia, heartache, unlocking creativity, coping with children, family harmony, deeper relationships, energy and vitality, anti-ageing , time management, inner peace and more fun!

Offering a total workout for mind, body and spirit, Yoga for Real Life provides a route to a more flexible body and a more flexible attitude to life. This is a holistic handbook for building the physical and mental strength required to live life to the fullest.

Why I loved it

I love this book. But then, I’m a big fan of all things Maya Fiennes. And I’m not alone: Deepak Chopra calls her ‘one of the true pioneers of yoga’. Whilst Elle McPherson says, “Doing yoga with Maya is inspirational, energising, sexy and it gives me joy.”


Book Review: Storage – Get Organized by Terence Conran

Book summary

In Storage: Get Organized, Terence Conran helps us tackle the two demons of the disorganised home: clutter and poor storage*. Section One is a thorough education in assessing our belongings, our space and our personal requirements. We are walked through this essential first step, laying the foundation for improved organisation within the home. Section Two is a comprehensive analysis of storage problems and solutions in the different parts of the home, area-by-area. Throughout the book, we’re offered both practical information and creative inspiration, to help us simplify our homes and streamline our lives. Considerations include; ergonomics, life stages, storage conditions, hoarding-habits, efficiency, hobbies, family, aesthetics and productivity. With over 200 pages of beautiful interiors, combined with sound, practical and inspiring advice, Storage is an informative read and suitably well-organised book.


* For any of you who are also vexed by that devilish third offender – the messy housemate – you can get my take on the matter here.


Why I liked it

This book is a visual treat. If you were to merely flick through the pictures, you would still find much to motivate you to bust your clutter or get to grips with your home organisation. (more…)

Book Review: Coco Chanel – The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

Coco Chanel The Legend & The Life by Justine Picardie book review pin

Coco Chanel The legend & The Life Justine Picardie book reviewABOUT THE BOOK:

In Coco Chanel – The Legend and the Life, Justine Picardie attempts to unravel the true history of one of fashion’s most intriguing icons.

The book chronicles Chanel’s eventful life, beginning with a childhood of poverty and abandonment in rural France.

The tale weaves through Chanel’s various metamorphoses; seamstress, singer, rich man’s plaything, to her burgeoning career making hats, and later clothes, for the darlings of French high society.

As well as documenting the birth and rise of the House of Chanel, Picardie also explores the stories behind the infamous perfume, diamonds, handbags and, of course, trademark jersey suits, with insights into how these designs were born and the influences that lead to Chanel’s inspired vision for women’s clothing.

Beyond the world of haute couture, the book also examines the many facets of Chanel’s life and personality; her friendships and alliances, her business acumen, her politics, her various homes, her passionate love affairs and heartbreaking tragedy.

Throughout the book, Picardie attempts to tease out the facts from the many myths and Chanel’s own embellishments (or, on occasion, absolute lies).

The result is a reverent but realistic portrait, which includes some honest insights into Chanel’s darker side.

The story of Coco ends with her death in Paris aged 87, in the Ritz hotel where she had lived for over thirty years.

Her legend, and her legacy, live on.

“Legend is the consecration of fame.”

~Coco Chanel 1935

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Why I loved it

Chanel’s life, loves, work and adventures really come alive in this spellbinding biography.

Justine Picardie has done a thorough and successful job in documenting the life of Coco Chanel – when I finished the book, I really felt as though I knew Mademoiselle Chanel and her glamourous world of Paris and Le Beau Monde.

The pictures in the hardback edition provide an engaging complement, and relevant, too – given the visual nature of a designer and her influences.

They also provide the vicarious thrill of peeking into Chanel’s real life.

I loved seeing where she lived, what she wore, where she went on holiday and the exotic or stately homes belonging to her circle of friends.

The snapshots were also useful for putting faces to the many names that appear throughout the pages.

(Although given Chanel’s celebrity and well-connected friends and lovers, the supporting cast features some of the 20th century’s most recognisable names.)

Many of the early photos are black and white, given the era, but they still give a captivating insight into the life behind the legend.

Although meticulous in its detail, the narrative is totally absorbing.

It took me two days to devour this sumptuous, sweeping chronicle of the life of Coco Chanel – I couldn’t put it down.

In fact, as I flick back through the pages whilst writing this review, I wish I could hide from the modern world again and curl up with Justine Picardie’s beautifully crafted world of Coco and friends.


You’ll love this book if you;

• would like to discover the background to Chanel’s life, her childhood and influences, her loves and losses

• are interested in fashion design and haute couture

• enjoy the life stories of strong, determined, pioneering women

• would like an insight into the social lives of royalty, world leaders and the aristocracy during the last century

• • • 

You may also like…


z zelda fitzgerald therese anne fowlerthe paris wife by paula mclain wait for me mitford sister deborah devonshire



The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau


Book summary

The Art of Non-Conformity is the culmination of Chris Guillebeau’s ideas and writings on his popular blog of the same name. In it the explores the ways and means of living a unconventional life, which for him involves extensive world travel, professional blogging, humanitarian adventures and a healthy disrespect for the accepted rules of society.

The book includes sections on: dangerous ideas, contrarian travel, setting your own rules vs the norm, traditional education vs on online writing career, how (and why) to build your own small army, personal finance journeys, challenging authority and deriving security from your own competence rather than a full-time job.



Why I liked it

This is the perfect read for anyone who suspects there’s more to life than the daily grind of joyless conformity. (more…)

Book review: Wait for me! by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire

wait for me mitford sister deborah devonshire 

About the book

The blurb on the front jacket of Wait for Me, states that Debo (as the Duchess of Devonshire is fondly known) ‘looks back on a life lived at at a cracking pace’. And indeed she does.

The book is a substantial read but not only are there nine decades to get through, most of those include some of the most momentous events of the last century – for which Debo often had a ringside seat. (Quite literally, in some cases – Debo was an esteemed guest of the Kennedy family for both JFK’s inauguration and his funeral.)

The book is a fun voyage though the Duchess’s fascinating life, including insights into her notorious family. It’s full of interesting tales and anecdotes, written in a very readable style and the detail is amazing – especially given Debo’s advancing years (no offence, Your Grace!) – though keeping diaries throughout her life must have made recollection easier.

From ‘coming out’ as a debutante before the King & Queen of England, to tea parties with Hitler, to dancing with JFK, to travelling the world as the wife of a minister, the Duchess of Devonshire has had her share of excitement and adventure. In Wait For Me, we get to go along for the ride. 


Why I loved it

The antics of the Mitford family have been well documented and this is not the first book I’ve read about this extraordinary family (I read The Mitford Girls about 10 years ago.) However, it’s always interesting to get another viewpoint from such a rare position within the family, and the youngest of 7 siblings is always going to their own take on things.

But Wait for Me is much more than an account of life within the Mitford family (though that aspect is certainly entertaining).

Throughout her life, Debo had a privileged access to the higher echelons of society, both in her home country and, (as the wife of a government minister and close friend of Presidents), across the world.

Although she was not born a Duchess, Debo did come from a very well connected aristocratic family. Despite this, she retained a down-to-earth personality – as happy on a haybale with horses and a sister as when seated next to the reigning monarch for dinner. This comes through quite clearly in her informal and friendly narration.

What I found engaging was how Debo’s life , her worries and problems, were so much like the rest of us ‘normal’ folk.

From her portrayal of the social conventions of life in the early twentieth century, (the ‘unwritten rules and nuances’), it seems money, class and breeding is no protection from the usual insecurities, shyness, even terrors of certain social events.

And the extent to which fortunes fluctuate within a so-called ‘wealthy’ family was a real eye-opener. For example, being forced to move from a beloved childhood home for economic reasons is still heart-wrenching, even if the homes in question are larger and grander than your average National Trust property.

Also, being familiar with the domestic challenge (on a smaller scale), it was interesting to see that owners of large houses still have a great deal of work to do, despite their many staff.

Aside from the accounts of places and events, I also enjoyed the tales of the characters from Debo’s life, whose names would linger long after I stopped reading. (I can just picture the long-suffering Muv tolerating yet another Debutante Ball, longing for her bed.)

There is a moving section toward the end of the book, where Debo documents the demise of family members (she appears to have outlived almost everyone mentioned in the book) and it is testament to her colourful and vivid portraits of friends and family, that I felt some empathy for her loss.

For me, the sign of a good read is turning the last page with a mix of satisfaction and reluctance – having thoroughly enjoyed the book and feeling slightly sad that it’s finished. Wait For Me fits that bill.

I relished my week or two spent in Debo’s world and will miss her cast of colourful characters and her down-to-earth take on life. I loved the glimpses into her life and her history – the country houses, the trips and travels, the trials of maintaining a stately home and, of course, her remarkable family.

Still, my piqued interest had plenty of avenues to explore. I have added Debo’s other books (and those of her intriguing sisters) to my ever-growing wishlist. I’m also planning a trip to Chatsworth later in the year. If I bump into the lively lady herself – I’ll let you know!


You’ll love this book if you;

• are interested the lives of the famous Mitford sisters

• want an insider guide to life of a debutant

• would like insights into the running of a stately home

• are intrigued by the social lives of royalty, world leaders and the aristocracy during the last century


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