Creativity Lessons from Life : The Power of Whim & Fancy

This week, I’d like to share with you a lesson I learned from my recent month of non-stop decorating. 

(We’re finally selling our house, after buying it as a 2-year renovation project. In 2002. So much for the best laid plans…)

Although I had a huge amount of work to do over the last month, I was actually a very happy bunny because I had complete and utter freedom with my timetable. 

This really suits how I love to work; Planning, organising and creating a comprehensive To Do list – then doing whatever I feel like, without pressure or urgency. 

And boy, did I get stuff done!

(Here’s a little evidence of my labours….

Dining room

I was a Decorating Dynamo! 

Armed with my vision of the end result, I harnessed what I’ve come to call; 

The Power of Whim & Fancy.

I noticed that I was far more productive, efficient and happy, when I did whichever tasks felt the most appealing or inspiring.

The work just flowed. Things went my way. People and events ‘mysteriously’ lined up to meet my plans. 

Even though I was busy, the work felt effortless. So I was able to do far more than if I’d forced myself to stick to an uninspiring schedule, which can be so draining and depressing.  

 

So, here’s my tip for happier productivity; 

If you have a major project that you’d like to get moving on, and you also want to actually enjoy the process: 

Can you harness The Power of Whim & Fancy? 

Can you create a degree of freedom to do whichever tasks appeal the most? 

Can you spend some time on general planning and organising and envisioning, but without setting concrete deadlines and schedules? 

This leaves room for you to tune into whatever you feel inspired to do, helping you enjoy the work and build momentum, making you far more likely to complete more and more of the required tasks. 

There’s less need for discipline and will power when you feel naturally inspired to do a task.Twitter icon

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(I believe the carrot is far more powerful than the stick. 😉 )

So, if you have a project in mind that you long to do but can’t seem to get moving with, I invite you to play with the fun and freedom of just going with the flow, indulging in whims and following whatever task takes your fancy. 

I realise this kind of freedom is not always an option. But the more you explore this approach, the more you’ll see areas where you are free to tap into your natural tendencies – which makes any task so much more enjoyable. 

 

So there you have it – my tip from the decorating trenches. 

I hope you find this helpful, and if you’re tempted to try it, I’d love to hear your results. 

Wishing you a lovely week of whatever takes your whim and fancy. 

Danielle

• • •

PS Speaking of fanciful whims, I’m planning another writing retreat to work on my next book. (Bliss!) 

But if you’d like some help in finding your own creative bliss, my Creative Thriving programme is still available for a short time, before I disappear to my creative cave. 

I’d love to support you in finding more flow and fulfilment in the creative projects that are close to your heart. 

Because life gets really magical when you do. 😉

• • •

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It’s only Christmas.

Keep-calm Christmas.png

It’s Christmas. Again. 

Do you remember when you were little, and it used to feel like an absolute age before Christmas came round again?

Now, though, the years tend to fly by a little quicker.

Christmas seems to reappear ever faster. But then, it is a yearly event and a year is not that long a time, really. 

Plus, by the time we are grown-ups with homes to keep and maybe families, too – we will have clocked up a fair few Christmases. And hopefully, we will have many, many more to come. 

During this frenzied time of year, it’s possible to get overwhelmed with the practicalities of creating The Perfect Christmas.

So, it can be helpful to remember that, in a lifetime, this festive season is just one of many.

This perspective can take the pressure off any stress-inducing To Do Lists or it’s-got-to-be-perfect tendencies.

It can be calming to think that, as wonderful and fleeting as Christmas may be, it will be back next year. 

So, relax. It’s only Christmas.

 


Twitter icon And the only real essentials on the list are:

1. Peace.

2. Joy. 

Everything else is just trimmings.  

 

 

Wishing you much merry – this, and every Christmas,

Danielle

 

 

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Up. The antidote to down.

RePost from my first blog: Make Peace with Housework

– for any creatives with a house to keep…

• • •

Up antidote to down

With apologies to Shakespeare:

Housework is neither good nor bad,
but feeling makes it so. 

When housework blues are a problem, the source of our angst is not the work, as such – it’s how we feel about it. There are people who aren’t troubled by their domestic workload. (It’s true!) Some even enjoy it – and there is certainly something soothing and comforting about restoring order or bringing back the shine.

But if housework is not your thing, yet it’s very firmly on your plate – it can get you down.

So, until we can reduce or delegate the drudgework, there’s one type of essential maintenance work that we can’t afford to neglect… (more…)

When procrastination is good.

I was recently listening to the brilliant Danielle LaPorte talking about how you need to scale back your life when in the middle of an intense creative project (writing a book, starting a business etc….). She suggested creating a list of things you could – temporarily – stop doing. These include the usual day-to-day trivia, things that could be postponed without too much harm. 

 
This makes perfect sense – if you’re adding something time-consuming to your life, something, somewhere will have to give.
 

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Then it occurred to me that raising a family and keeping a home could also be described as intense creative projects.
 
But do we create space in our lives to give them the attention they require? Or do we just try to squeeze in the extra commitments, on top of everything else (and then get downhearted when we fail to do everything). 

Easy is good.

Victoria plums fruit tree

 

Or Life Lessons From My Garden.

After a few weeks of admiring the fruitful bounty of my plum tree, I decided that today was harvest time. (Much to the dismay of the slugs who have been gorging themselves silly with the dropping fruit…).

So, armed with my biggest bowl, I began tentatively, ever-so-gently squeezing each fruit to identify the ripe ones. However, after the first flushes of homegrown pride and joy, I began to get a bit fed up. Especially since my beloved Victoria Plum has produced a bumper crop this year. This was going to take a while.

So, I added a little haste to the proceedings. Big mistake. One particularly over-eager grab resulted in completely squashing the fruit. Which would have been bad enough, but this particular plum had also been the home to a not-so-friendly wasp. And judging by the look on his face, he was even less pleased than me to find himself on the end of my finger. Luckily my Dance of Horror & Disgust (complete with shrieking) managed to dispatch said wasp without any stinging rebukes.

Then – as so often happens during monotonous tasks in the garden – inspiration struck. (more…)

Life & Death, Love & Loss; Lessons from a friend.

Mojo and me.jpg

“You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone.”

~ Joni Mitchell

 

 

Warning: This post may seem a little over-emotional. Unless you have ever loved and lost a pet.

 

My cat, Mojo, died this week.

My quirky, handsome, wonky-eared, wild-whiskered, crazy and curious little tiger has gone, leaving a huge, cat-shaped hole in our family.

We’re all utterly heartbroken but it was time for him to go. We had to make the reluctant, painful decision that the kindest thing we could do for him was put him to sleep. How my brave-hearted husband found the strength to take Mojo on his final journey to the vet’s, I will never know.

The children were distraught – they have only ever known life with Mojo in it. But with their healthy take on the whole mortality business, they are slowly turning  their attention towards the prospect of new kittens. Their bereft parents, however, are still recovering. We had Mojo in our lives long before the children arrived, almost as long as we’ve had each other. It feels strange and wrong to not have him around, taking his rightful seat at family mealtimes or shadowing us up and down the garden path.

Amid the many fond memories, though, I feel bad about the days when the upkeep and maintenance of my human family felt like too much, and I’d grumble about the extra mess and work that comes with caring for an elderly cat. Now we are catless, and smelly puddles and extra laundry are no longer a feature on my never-ending list of chores. Yet I wish with all my broken heart that they were.

Kind of puts things into perspective.

Goodbye and God bless, beautiful Mojo. An unforgettable, irreplaceable friend.

 

• • •

 

 

Have you ever thought about modeling…?

Domestic goddess in training apron

 
As an eternal Life Troubleshooter, I am on a constant mission to improve things. So I like to learn from people who have mastered whatever I am trying to achieve. I regularly consult experts in subjects ranging from health, business, relationships and, of course, the state of my home. I’ve noticed that there is one common idea in many of these varied realms which seems to make total sense. It goes like this:
 
If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. 
 
It seems obvious – if you want things to change, then things will have to, well…change. This is the difficult bit, and understandably so – there are reasons why we do things the way we do. I’m currently reading the fascinating Quiet (by Susan Cain) and it is just bursting with revelations about why I operate the way I do. (It appears I am something of an introvert. My family are not exactly shocked…) I find it enormously comforting to learn the causes behind my seemingly random or inexplicable actions. I was moved to tears when I discovered my Myers-Briggs profile. (INFJ, in case you’re wondering.) These eye-opening explanations can be really helpful in making sense of who we are. 
 
But knowing why we do things our way doesn’t automatically change things. For that, we need to: do things differently. As Einstein famously quipped,
 
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing
over and over again and expecting different results.”
 
Now I can totally understand if you have been driven to insanity by Housewoek Overload (I have also visited that particular brink), but it’s probably not your ideal destination. So, in the hope of reaching a happier, healthier, more harmonious state, it may be time to shake things up a bit. Embrace the prospect of doing it differently. If the old way ain’t working, try a new way. Change what you normally do. If your current habits and responses aren’t taking you where you want to be, it’s time to reroute. 
 
But how?  (more…)

Success is messy.

success is messy blog post

 

Ah, success. That elusive, mysterious magic that blesses the lucky ones. It’s what we’re all after, in one way or another. 

I love success. I’m sure everyone does, I can’t imagine anyone would ever prefer failure – but I what I mean is, I love the topic of success; what works, what doesn’t, and why some things work for some but not others. Much of my writing so far has been devoted to discovering the path to success in the domestic realm (for those of us who were not born with that knowledge). 

But regardless of the specific topic, success seems to follow a pattern, and it’s a pattern of…. mess and failure.

You may have seen the little cartoon that shows success as an arrow, going from A to B,  with a tangled mess of chaos in the middle. This is a pretty accurate reflection of my successes and it seems to be the norm. I recently heard a successful businesswoman explaining that any successful enterprise is an ongoing project involving much failure/feedback. It doesn’t head straight for success in a linear fashion, and then stop. It’s a continual process, a never-ending cycle of: action – review – course correct. And along the way there is a lot (a lot!) of trial and error.

So how does this translate to the home?  (more…)

(Domestic) Life Lessons from Downton Abbey

Downton abbey  make peace with housework

 

 

Sadly, we once again have to come to terms with the end of another stunning series of the fabulous Downton Abbey. (Did anyone expect what happened to Sybil?)

So, as we eagerly await the Christmas special, I thought I’d share the gems of domestic wisdom that I’ve gleaned from the latest season of antics in the Crawley household  – both above and below stairs…. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Domestic) Life Lessons from Downton Abbey

 
(Applicable to mansions of all shapes and sizes.)
 
  • Having an army of staff is no guarantee of happiness.
    Likewise a beautiful home. 
    And extreme wealth. 
     
  • Taking care of a home can be a full time job.
     
  • Whenever people live together under one roof, there will be drama. 
  • People need to eat on a frequent and regular basis.
    Feeding them is a considerable challenge and an admirable feat.
  •  The higher you climb, the more you delegate. 
  •  Providing hospitality is a generous and noble act. 
  •  Domestic bliss can be hard work.
  •  Money comes, money goes.  
  •  High born doesn’t always mean high standards. And vice versa. 
  •  As long as people are living in the house, their maintenance work will continue, ad infinitum. 
  •  Sometimes the servants have more fun than the aristocrats.  
  •  Life happens, to everyone. 
     
  • Hiring domestic staff creates employment and is good for the local economy.
  • Home matters.
     
  • Wars will be won and lost.
    Empires and dynasties will rise and fall. 
    Friends and foes will come and go. 
    There will always be housework. 

 

 
Till Christmas!
 

Danielle

 
PS. If you have the gifts and talents and ability to create something that could fill the gap for us Downton fans, please please please find a way to conquer/delegate your domestic workload so that you can deliver your masterpiece.
The world is waiting!

 

• • • • • • 

 

NEWS! I am branching out! I am expanding on my success studies and creating a new project  – beyond housework… In an upcoming blog, I’ll be exploring success in the creative arena, in particular – writing and publishing. You might want to take a look if you’re a blogger, author or aspiring writer. I’d love to see you over there, too!

  

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
 

  

 
 
 

Housework? Give me strength.

Strengthsfinder housework blogI recently took the Strengthsfinder test. (I’m planning a little reinvention…. watch this space!) I don’t know if you’ve heard of Strengthsfinder but if you’re at all interested in discovering why you are the way you are and why you do the things you do, I highy recommend it. There is something comforting about seeing all your quirks and foibles so accurately drawn (how do they do that?). It is even more of a delight to see the details of your ‘you-ness’ highlighted as strengths. I’m a huge fan of the Strenghsfinder philosophy, ie working with your natural inclinations, rather than trying to force yourself into a mould that’s not an easy or happy fit.

(Which could explain why I am not, and will never be, a Domestic Goddess…)

 
Anyway, as part of the process, you recieve a personalised report. Maybe it’s an ego thing, or maybe it’s a quest for self-discovery, but I do love anything personalised, just for me. There is so much that is mass produced and meant for a generic audience, that to have something tailor-made, with your name and personality stamped all over it, is quite special.
 
This report is a joy, it is basically a songsheet of your praises – why you are so wonderful and unique and what you do so well that only you can do that way. I welled-up with happy tears of recognition as I read the explanations for my behaviour and preferences, as well as my angst. For example, one ‘strength’ is that I yearn to learn. I thrive on new challenges and discoveries. So, any untaxing or repetitive activities will drain the life-force out of me. Do you think this could possibly explain my ‘issues’ with housework….? 
 
However, understanding why I’m not naturally domestic is all well and good, but that may be of little help if I’m responsible for the care and maintenance of my own home and family (which I am). Although I’m hopeful that one day, I will have so successfully played to my strengths that I am compensated with a small army of domestic helpers, in the meantime the dust/dishes/dirty socks are a-gathering (as is their wont…).
 
Well, happily, the fabulous folk at Strengthsfinder also include in thier report; Ideas For Action. So I have it on good authority that I really ought to try very hard to schedule a) time to learn and b) time to think. Oh, the happy sigh of relief when I read those words! So, I needn’t feel guilty about sneaking off to curl up with my latest book? Or feel like a wierdo because I sometimes like to hide from everybody and just think about stuff? It’s such a pleasure that a professional personality-analyst has instructed me to do these (joyful) things for the good of my health, sanity, wellbeing and achievement – even for the greater good of family, community and the world at large. Happiness is being told that not only is it OK to be the way you are, but also that you might be quite useful/successful/appreciated in doing so. 
 
But how does this marry up with the disappointing reality that my housework schedule won’t go away? (more…)

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