New Workshops (& a confession)

So it turns out I'm headed to Ireland in May to teach A WHOLE WEEKEND OF WORKSHOPS. 

*breathes into a paper bag*

First up, let me share those details before I clean pass out and then I'm going to reassure you all why it's going to be ok. There will be 3 workshops for anyone looking to improve their writing, photography and social media skills. The dates are 13th-14th May and tickets are selling, now. This is a weekend focusing on making the best of what you put out there in the world whether you're a blogger who really wants to take better photos or a business owner determined that you're going to nail online marketing. I'll be hosted by the good folks at This Is Knit, based in Dublin. I hear there will also be some sort of partying and such. This pleases me enormously. 

Feeling vulnerable online

So now you know the details, let's get back to that paper bag moment. Putting yourself out there, whether it's online or in real life, can be pretty scary. You tell yourself all kinds of lies that one day, it will be easier. You tell yourself a magic number of Instagram followers that will mean you've made it. You tell yourself that when that blogger snaps herself clutching your product, you'll find marketing a complete breeze. Landing a feature article in that magazine you love so much? Oh it will all be so, so much easier to be out there because by then, you will be A Thing. 

I hate to break it to you but that's not a thing really. Some of the most insecure people I've worked with are some of the most prolific, talented, well known and respected people. We are all still working at it and trying to make it through the day without digitally falling flat on our face. Heck, I'd settle for just not spilling coffee down my front most days. 

Coffee

So you know what? I'm saying I'm going to be in a room full of people who feel just like me and my paper bag and that's going to be great for all of us. I'm going to be listening to what really makes people tick and what makes them feel they can't ramp up. In return for that, I'm going to be sharing all my experiences as a blogger but also as a brand manager and freelance journalist. It is hard. We can make it easier to feel less vulnerable when we share online and I'd even say, feel good when we do.  

Just know I'm right there, still working at it too. 

(Then come book those tickets because that helps immensely in getting this feel good out there. Here's those workshops again: Discover Your Writing Style; Telling Your Story Online & Getting to Grips with Visual Storytelling). 

 

Make a Little, Every Day

My creativity is such a barometer to my mood. When I make, I feel good. There was once a time when you would never see me without a pair of knitting needles in my hand. I started learning to sew clothes for my daughter and a few months ago, got a loom. I have hand embroidery half finished, shoved on a shelf somewhere and there's a book about screen printing I keep meaning to find time to read. The fact these projects have been pushed aside to gather dust over the last month or two is a little troubling.

#MakegoodFeelGood - something I return to whenever I can

#MakegoodFeelGood- something I return to whenever I can

The news over the past few days has left me feeling lost and confused. Normally, withdrawing into a little making would be the best way to help me find my feet again. A little time reflecting, thinking about how I can greet hate with love and what this means for me and my community seems much easier when my hands are busy. My hands have not been busy though. In fact, they've been worryingly empty of tools for making and creating. 

It's safe to say I've been busy. A quick check in my dairy confirmed that I have stumbled my way through 19 deadlines in the last 3 weeks alone. I've been preparing to move (t minus 10 days) and there's boxes everywhere. None of them are filled yet. 


So I just did a little stock check. Have I really created nothing?

The APD Seasonal Monthly Recipe- part of the  Patreon  rewards for the podcast. 

The APD Seasonal Monthly Recipe- part of the Patreon rewards for the podcast. 

Well it's not technically true. I've developed a few new recipes thanks to the monthly recipe I share with Patreon subscribers. I've always maintained that in order to cook, you need to be pretty creative and prepared to experiment. I'm enjoying this monthly challenge for myself. It's good to be creating recipes again. 

Project Calm Magazine, for Mindful Living

Project Calm Magazine, for Mindful Living


Then there's some of the work I've been completing for those deadlines. One project was a little story chasing and photography for a new magazine launch. Project Calm is the new sister magazine to Mollie Makes and I was lucky enough to curate some of their pages. I spoke to some amazing people and spent a couple of weeks balancing stories and images of mindful travel, craft projects and a slower living focus each day. You can find out more about the magazine on the Mollie Makes site, here


I also spent a few days creating video and studio images for a beautiful new knitwear collection designed by Renée Callahan for The Fibre Co. The collection is called The Zen Variations and features beautiful sweaters that really showcase Renee's trademark attention to detail. I love Renée's work and had the pleasure of working with items from The Future Kept too when creating supporting images for this inspiring collection. I spent a day shooting, humming happily to myself and thinking about light, mood and tone. I patted skeins happily and indulged in some imaginary knitting in my head as I worked. 

So perhaps the making has been a little on the periphery but it's there if I let myself look at little closer. Sometimes life just doesn't let you indulge it in quite the way you're used to. I'll get right on that. After I move.....

Renée has very kindly offered readers of A Playful Day a discount code if you need to indulge in some knitting time. You can purchase The Zen Variations at 20% off through her Ravelry store by using the code, playfulELK. Offer ends 27th June 2016. 

Fixing Creative Block

Sometimes you just hit a wall and *nothing* happens for you creatively. I'm not making. I'm not writing and every picture I take feels a bit.... meh. 

So I went hunting for inspiration this week and thought I would share some of the goodies I have found because sometimes, we need a creative adrenaline shot. 

1. Podcasts:

I fell out of love with podcast listening as my daily routines changed a few months ago and I didn't have the same space to listen anymore. I've carved out some time lately and went hunting for something new and vibrant. The Slow Home and Blogtacular didn't disappoint.

Blogtacular's podcast is still a baby but they've launched with an interview with Marte Marie Forsberg so expect something that will make your toes tingle and your soul yearn for big adventures with a camera. 

As for The Slow Home, I jumped in with Zero Waste with Bea Johnson and have been hyper aware of my habits at home ever since. It touched me deeply and profoundly and her call to arms that involves " a life of experiences not denial" was just awe inspiring. 

2. Steller

A (new to me) story telling platform that lets you upload images, video and text. The thing I like the most about this platform is you can harvest old content in new ways so all that hard work across a year finds new life again. I'm a teensy tiny bit in love already and have drafted about a million stories that I would love to share. In the meantime, this one helped me find a story when I thought I'd never be creative again. 

3. Mamas who roar 

My lovely friend Jen of Make Do and Mend was recently interviewed by national press and film crews, eager to make a story out of her choices around a more sustainable family life. In a recent Skype call she told me she sat her children down for a chat about what this all meant and I urged her to share that story. She did (read it here) and it's pretty humbling how a mother in the public eye has to answer to the many voices asking if she's making her children weird. She's not. She's really, really not and we need to stop making this a question when women do brilliant and brave things. 

 

"I just ever seemed to quite feel that glowing period that everybody talks about"

Another mother who made my heart swell with pride is Emily at MummyLimited. Emily was brave enough to be part of a campaign in which she was featured in a video telling all about her experiences of miscarriage, anxiety and depression and is now nominated for a Tommy's Voice Award. This award celebrates a mum who has spoken out about her own experience and given hope to others so I sent my vote in immediately. Some of you might remember that Emily held my hand online a few months ago when I told the world I was a regular single mum struggling to make sense of it all. Emily's ability to make us feel better as mothers is uncanny and having her hand to hold made 2015 a much better year for me. If you are moved by Emily's video like I was, please vote. You can find details here

4. Going on a knitting adventure

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with Clara Parkes and she slipped an early copy of her forthcoming book 'Knitlandia' into my eager hands. I sunk happily into this ode to the fibre community this week and smiled throughout. Clara has a wonderful ability of describing people I have come to know and love in a way that is honest but also a magical version of them where our knitting is appreciated and our efforts celebrated worldwide. If the world saw people through the same eyes as Clara, we would all be better for it. Her starting point is that we are pioneers, explorers and leaders and it is, of course, as it should be. It's out in February and you can find out more here

5. Speakers who awaken my creativity

I was honoured to be a speaker at the annual winter workshop event held by Nuffnang last weekend. While my own contribution left me a little weak at the knees, hearing fellow speakers Sara (of Me an Orla) and Jess (of Love and London) made it all worthwhile. The take home lesson for me was know your platform, love it, nurture it and form a community around it. Watching these two women speak with such passion about what they have grown and love was truly incredible. They've created a world that allows them to earn a living and be creative and it made me hungry for 2016. It reminded me also that there is no greater adrenaline shot of inspiration than being in a room full of dynamic and fascinating people. 

 

What's been keeping your creative this week?

An Invitation on a Knitting Adventure

Sometimes the best feedback we receive is when it comes from people we truly admire.

(c) 6 Bits Storybooks

(c) 6 Bits Storybooks

This happened a couple of months ago when Mel invited me to be a creative part of 6 Bits Storybooks. I've long admired the positive energy that Mel puts out into the world and I've shared a few of her designs here with you all before. She has a mindfulness that I find really inspiring and have been trying to include into my own daily routine. When she asked if I would be a regular story teller, I was nervous and unsure. With a little hand holding though I have stepped forward and now the words are pouring out thick and fast. 

I can't wait to share them with you.

(c) 6 Bits Storybooks

(c) 6 Bits Storybooks

6 Bits is an exciting innovation in knitting publications from the journey of story tellers: knitters, photographers, writers, designers, friends and nature. 6 Bits is a digital quarterly for knitters who love to immerse themselves deeply in their knitting experience, inviting both readers and contributors to make new discoveries and meaningful connections with yarn providers, designers, writers and the creative community around them, paying close attention to the origin of all the elements that are integral parts.

If you visit 6 Bits Storybooks today, you will be able to read a little insight into how my love for storytelling first began. I'm so honoured to be a part of this gathering of women who want to open up and share their individual knit journeys with you. 

I hope you will join us. Subscriptions are already available and the first issue, Unearth, is released on 15th October 2015. 

My Creative Identity

This July I will have been writing a blog for over 5 years and during that time there's been a fair amount of  unpublished blog posts: posts that I didn't publish in time to remain relevant, things I didn't love once written down or some that just felt too raw. I've always been pretty protective of what personal information is shared about myself and my family and have worked hard to shape 'A Playful Day' into a space in which I can feel good each time I log back in. A post that felt difficult to write sits on the page, waiting to greet me when I return here and that changes my safe space, making it feel less fun to be around. 

It happened that a few weeks ago I wrote something that felt really good to pour my heart and soul into. Writing is such a strong release for me and there it was, black and white, punctuated (some of which was correct) and ready to share. 

I chose not to hit publish. 

It was about when my page views hit the upper 20 thousands per week that I noticed I stopped writing personal blog posts. If I'd been reluctant to use this space in that way before, I was more so with a sense of audience watching. I had created A Playful Day to remind me to find a playful moment in every day and that was my mission. I felt like I needed to focus there and avoid too much mess with an audience that continued to grow each day.

I noticed it spilling over into social media too. There were conversations I read but rarely commented on. I sat in a neutral zone, determined to only encourage positive conversations and to continue to support women in their making and business. I say women because this is predominantly the audience and people I work with but of course, not exclusively. I also feel very committed to women creating and defining their own terms either in business or their creative expression. It has always been the undercurrent of what I do. 

 

That unpublished post irked me though. I started to feel as if the words in this blog are no longer my own. The whole point was for this to be a place I entirely owned and shaped for no one else but me. 

So I'm returning home again with this one.

There is always a story behind every post. Sometimes it's as simple as 'my camera is at this angle to hide the mess in the corner that I didn't tidy'. Other times, like today, it's a deliberate refocusing on my original purpose of creating this website: to find a playful moment in every day. Just like 5 years ago, I have found myself in great need of something playful recently and so here I am once more, putting the playful before the storm. 

What does Creative Identity mean to you?

What does Creative Identity mean to you?

So this month I will be really pushing myself to make and really show what creativity means to me. I would love to hear from you all as I look inside of myself and attempt to answer the question 'What does a Creative Identity feel like to me?'

My creative identity is entwined in the sessions I lead with other business women. We create together, pondering the best way to convey how a yarn creates the most enticing texture when knitted into a fabric. We play with words and images to best share that with an audience in a way that is loving, intelligent and appealing. I talk with them about their passions and dreams and we help shape goals that allow them to keep developing their own Creative Identity. 

My Creative Identity is also joining up with others to bring a beautiful project to life (stay tuned for some news, there's some magical things ahead I can assure you) in way that I can feel proud of when people ask me what I do for a living. 

However, the Creative Identity that resonates the deepest for me on a daily basis is the side of my crafting that happens in the intimacy of my own home. It binds itself with motherhood, friendships, my home and well being. It's in the moments I withdraw into near silence, the only outward show of my thoughts are as I pause to examine the way a stitch just caught a fleck of colour to stunning effect. I become absorbed, letting hours of stress and to-do lists melt away as I just lose myself in an activity I cherish and adore. 

Wildflowers and season change can spark so much joy

Wildflowers and season change can spark so much joy

It's also watching my daughter as she runs towards me full of exuberance, her little hand clenched around a bunch of new wild flowers. She deposits them happily in front of me and obligingly, I sit naming them all, delighted that she too now celebrates the changing wildlife around us from season to season. Just as I do, she roots herself in the changes mother nature brings, drawing in all that colour and texture into her happy moments each day. She learned that from me and I am so glad to have given it to her.

My creative identity is everything I hoped I could be and more. 

 

 

What does creativity mean to you? If you are making and sharing your creative endeavours this month please do let me know (@aplayfulday on Twitter and Instagram) and as always, it's wonderful to read your blog posts joining in the conversation. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

#creative_identity

Announcing a Collaboration with Chroma Stationery

I have a journal problem. 

I'm fairly sure a lot of you can relate to this addiction. There's something intensely satisfying about a favourite pen, a journal and all your creative ideas, travel notes or garden plans being jotted inside. I must own about 15 journals and 6 are actively in use at any given time. To me, there's nothing better than a stack of magazines, a pen, a journal, my knitting and a long train ride. 

You can imagine my excitement then when a parcel arrived with the tell tale sticker on the front from Chroma Stationery. After the success of the 'Journal along' last year and the theme of travel and Treasured Memories creating lots of journal chatter this year, I just had to see if Chroma Stationery could create the perfect journal. 

You know what?

'An Inspired 2015 journal' with silver embossing

'An Inspired 2015 journal' with silver embossing

They did. 

Gabi, Chroma's founder, created her company after years of trying to find a good quality notebook that won't break the bank and came in the exact colour she wanted. Chroma is all about colour and has 20 different options for your journal, each with its own name and personality. Let me tell you now that choosing just the right one nearly broke me (in the end I opted for 'Meredith' because of my grey love). 

My journal's back cover has a little motto for me 'playful days' to remember while journalling

My journal's back cover has a little motto for me 'playful days' to remember while journalling

Chroma offer a free embossing service where you can choose exactly what to put on your notebook, in your chosen font and size. You can opt for plain, lined or square paper (hello knit designers!) and there's an option for bound or spiral bound. 

Chroma journal, wrapped.jpg

Your order comes beautifully wrapped with the Chroma story and mission tucked inside for you to read once you've torn off the paper and delved gleefully into your bespoke notebook. Cookie while opening is optional of course. 

Hart and Honey magazines, Rooibos and my journal. Perfect. 

Hart and Honey magazines, Rooibos and my journal. Perfect. 

So here it is, my perfect journal, ready to capture all my hopes, dreams, ideas, travels and journeys this year for An Inspired 2015. It gets better though because I've collaborated with Chroma Stationery to create this journal and you can get one too!

Chroma are offering a 20% discount code when you order a Chroma notebook with the A Playful Day embossing design shown above (front: 'An Inspired 2015', back: 'playful days'). To order please visit the Chroma website, choosing your colour notebook and the colour of embossing - your notebook will then feature the A Playful Day design! Remember you can choose whether your book is spiral bound or not and dictate what the paper will be inside. The discount code is - PLYFLDY1. Code will expire 31st March 2015 so grab yours now! 

I hope you join me in this creative mission and grab your journal too. Be sure to let us know on social media by tagging me (@aplayfulday) or Chroma (@chromasationery) and #aninspired2015. I can't wait to see what you choose!

ps I'll be featuring an interview with Chroma Stationery founder Gabi next week so stay tuned for some amazing creative business inspiration!

 

 

 

- this is a non sponsored post. Chroma love is entirely authentic. Get the addiction too ~x