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When did you stop being creative?

The Other Side of forty creativity

If you’re alive, you’re a creative person ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

There is a faded water stained picture I have in my possession that I drew in 1978 (and yes I feel old when I realise that was 37 years ago!) It is of a group of women at the hairdresser…and I love it.  I love the the smiles on their faces, the detail of the salon, including some spiffy wigs for sale…just looking at it transports me back to being 8 years old and the feeling of joy and quiet satisfaction I felt when engaged in doing something I loved.

Now, I am under no illusions about my talents for drawing, and my woeful colouring in in this picture confirms my distinct lack of skills in this area. However, I love this drawing because it was probably the last time I created a piece of art and felt it was good enough. You see in my family (for better or worse), my younger sister was known as the ‘arty’ one, and I was considered the ‘brainy’ one. This may have been purely because I wore chunky tortoiseshell rimmed glasses as a kid in the seventies (before hipsters made them cool may I add) but regardless, these labels stuck for us both. I started to value my worth around being good academically at school, and viewed creativity and art as something my sister was good at and I was hopeless at.

And guess what? These self imposed labels stuck for YEARS. I completely stopped drawing (even though I used to love it) because I felt I was no good at it.

The amazing Elizabeth Gilbert (my literary girl crush) spoke about this recently, and shared the following, “All children naturally love to draw, but as time goes by, the talented and the gifted are singled out for specialness, and the rest of us put down our pencils, watercolors, and crayons forever — thereby losing a vital and exciting part of our creative interior lives.”

In other words, most of us stop drawing at a very specific point in our lives: the moment we were told (or decided for ourselves) that we weren’t good at it.

This was certainly true for me, and I can honestly say that I never attempted to draw again until a couple of years ago, when on the other side of forty, I started tentatively looking for the creative being I knew lurked deep within me. On a whim, I decided to enter an art supplies store (all the while feeling like a complete fraud) and hastily bought a sketchbook and drawing pencils. I left feeling strangely exhilarated, and as I hesitantly put my pencil to paper for the first time in so many years, I felt time stand still and once again entered that magical state known as creative flow.

Now, I’d love to say that I immediately created some amazing art (it was pretty crap actually!) but I didn’t care, I felt a long stifled feeling of creative life-force reappear, much like when I started writing again, or when I dance without abandon around my living room. These are feelings we must treasure throughout our lives, and not abandon to our long ago youth.

For as Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently says in her latest book ‘Big Magic’, “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner-continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you-is a fine art, in and of itself.”

I for one want to live my life like this, how about you?

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bigmagic_gilbertI loved the book Big Magic so much, that I would love to GIVEAWAY a copy as it is truly a life changing read. Simply make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter (sign up in the green box above if you have not already), and comment below about your creative journey: Do you see yourself as creative? Did you give up being creative as a kid? How do you express yourself creatively? 

I will randomly choose a winner and announce on Facebook, Instagram, and my newsletter by Wednesday 18 November. GOOD LUCK!

Fabulous Women on the Other Side of Forty: Rachel Devine

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Rachel Devine is an acclaimed photographer, photo blogger at Sesame Ellis, mom of 3 and a fabulous woman on the other side of forty of course!

HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED FOR YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FORTY?

I moved to Australia when I was turning 38 and pregnant with twins. It was a crazy time and really only after I turned 40 did things start to settle into the new normal of life with three kids in a new country! I became a citizen last year and am loving life here. I get more tired now that I am over that 40 line, but I have never been a night owl so early to bed and early to rise is working well for me. I am seeing my mother in myself a lot these days. She was 44 when I was born so I guess I am just starting to recognise the characteristics of the age I remember her being. She is still a spark nearing her 90th now so I guess I have a lot to look forward to. The main thing I have noticed is that I am calmer and more happy than I remember ever being. Oh, there were thrilling and exciting times in my youth, but I have learned to appreciate the simple day to day joys now. And I am confident in what I like and who I am.

IN YOUR PHOTOS YOU OFTEN CAPTURE THE BEAUTY OF THE LITTLE MOMENTS OF FAMILY LIFE. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TAKE BETTER PHOTOS OF THEIR FAMILIES/CHILDREN?

Never put the camera away. Really. I see so many people buy huge DSLR cameras when their kids are born with the intent to take beautiful pictures of their family only to find they are worried that they will break it or it is just too heavy and cumbersome to carry around. Get a great small camera like the new mirrorless ranges and take it with you. Use your phone if you must. Just have a camera and take pictures of your everyday. I think the very act of making photographs in a moment shared with my kids helps me remember that experience. And let the kids take pictures too. Not only will you actually be IN some of your family’s photographic history, you can really learn to love yourself by seeing you the way your kids see you.

YOU’VE HAD A PRESENCE ON THE INTERNET FOR MANY YEARS WITH YOUR BLOG SESAME ELLIS. HOW HAS IT CHANGED OVER TIME, AND WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THINKING OF STARTING A BLOG?

I consider myself an accidental blogger. I started out by sharing images and little story snippets on Flickr in 2004. I migrated to my own blog a few years later as that became a thing. It was just nice to know that I owned the little spot of digital real estate where I housed my memories. That is why I continue to blog. Social media sites can come and go without your input and then all your handwork at documenting life is gone with the site. My blog is self-hosted and backed up regularly so that I have my virtual copy. As far as advice for someone thinking of starting a blog… That is a big question. I guess my main bit of advice is to blog for yourself first and stay true to that mission. The readers will come for that and stay because they trust what they will get it real.

WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE THINGS THAT YOU DO FOR SELF CARE?

I make sure I read books for fun and not just work related stuff. I get outside and go for runs. I laugh often and often at myself.

I AM BIG BELIEVER IN FINDING THE FUN AND JOY IN EVERYDAY LIFE. HOW DO YOU HAVE FUN?

It is funny, I don’t really have any hobbies besides photography. I find taking pictures and looking at great photography to be such fun. I guess it is great that I get paid to do what I love! Running is fun for me as well because I do it for myself and not to win races. I pay for Apple music monthly so that I can listen to whatever I want when the urge strikes and that is often only when I am running. In the car, the kids have too much say over what we listen to! Also when I run, I get to see the sea. Being by the water is pure joy for me any day. I could never live far from the ocean.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

Settle petal…it will all be fine. I was just so anxious to get somewhere in life (not even sure where, just SOMEWHERE) that I think I forgot to even enjoy the daily things for the longest time. I was rushing to be a wife and mother and all that time I spent worrying that it would never happen, well, it turned out to happen perfectly in its own time. If it had happened with anyone other than my Alec, I would not have the lovely life I have now. So while I would tell myself to relax a bit, I wouldn’t change a thing because all that I have done and seen and even the mistakes make me who I am today and I am pretty happy with that.

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Unknown-1Thanks so much Rachel, I love your advice about getting the kids involved in taking pictures with you in them. I think most mum’s are guilty of always being behind the lens!

You can connect with Rachel via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and don’t forget to check out her blog Sesame Ellis

Getting back to Nature

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“You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day. Unless you are busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” old Zen saying

Ever since my children were little, we have been taking ourselves to a wonderful part of the world called Wilson’s Prom once a year. As soon as we drive over the cattle grid and into the national park, I feel my shoulders start to loosen and my mind start to wind down. I consider it a well needed chance to stop, pause and reflect on what has been, before marching headlong towards the inevitably busy remainder of the year.

Now if you know me personally, you will also know that I am not a ‘roughing it’ type of gal, so even though I have camped in the past and will probably (if I’m made to) do it again, it is not my ideal way of getting back to nature. At Wilsons Prom they have some great little cabins you can rent, so I can immerse myself in nature all day, and then retreat to a comfy bed (and a bottle of chilled Pinot Gris) at the end of the day #glampingforthewin

There are many reasons we keep coming back here year after year, and they can easily be applied to any beautiful natural setting that you spend time in. So without further ado, here are my top 4 reasons for getting back to nature with your loved ones:

  • Connectedness. It is an ironic fact that in this day and age you have to disconnect to reconnect. Devices are not an option on this holiday (well except for the odd sneaky Instagram photo by moi) and this certainly makes a big difference to my families level of interactiveness. We play cards, we hike, we go on night walks, and the bonus of this is that you actually converse with each other, in that old school IRL F2F way. #foreal
  • Mindfulness. A holiday in nature means slowing down and noticing what it is that you are doing. Whether it was sharing a drink with my husband at the end of the day while the kids played outside, or colouring in mandalas with my daughters (even my husband and teenage son joined in for half an hour: I consider that a win for the ages!) We were in the moment, living and appreciating the here and now, which is what life is all about really.
  • Pushing yourself physically. I push myself out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways on the other side of forty, but not so much in a physical sense. Spending days hiking up mountains (well, small ones anyway) and following my mad rock hopping husband and son around, not only made me hope we had good ambulance cover, but also made me challenge and surprise myself with what I could do. I know my less physical middle child felt the same way. A feeling of pride in achieving what you thought you couldn’t do: a great lesson, whether you are young or old.
  • Appreciation. Noticing the small details around you and really appreciating them, is something we don’t often do in our busy day to day lives. Yet when you spend some time in nature, you notice the most wondrous things. We listened to the screeching sounds of a flock of cockatoos as they danced around the sky, saw  tiny blue fairy wrens hopping from branch to branch, and even a few lumbering wombats wandering around impervious to our delight. Truly wonderful memories to keep forever.

 

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As I sat high atop the large rocky outcrop in this photo looking over at my husband and children in this beautiful setting, I gave thanks for the abundance and the wonder of our natural world. I was able to pause and feel true gratitude and deep love for my family. Yes, getting back to nature is so much more than it seems.*

 

 

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*Now I am not naive, some of these feelings tend to dissipate upon our return to civilisation (the three hour car trip with 3 tired cranky children will do that, not to mention the mountainous loads of washing that need to be tackled). But I wouldn’t swap my annual week getting back to nature for the glitziest of 5 star resorts (and trust me I like those too!)

 

 

9 ways to more Joy on the other side of forty

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If you follow me on Facebook or have read my Work With Me page, you would know that I am a big advocate for helping women reconnect with their purpose, passion, and joy for life.

But I don’t just want to talk the talk, I want to help you walk the walk (or even strut the strut), so I have created a 3 part blog series to show you actionable ways to rediscover the joy, the passion, and the purpose that I know is lurking deep within you, ready to break out into the world on the other side of forty (sounds good hey!).

The first part of this is to remember and discover the things that bring you joy in life, so without further ado here are 9 ways to more joy on the other side of forty*

A day without laughter is a day wasted ~ Charlie Chaplin

If you have already signed up for my tip sheet in the green box above, then you already know that consciously inviting fun into your day to day life is a guaranteed way to feel happier. Making time in our busy lives to laugh, play, and having fun is such an important part of living a joyful life.

Creativity is intelligence having fun ~ Albert Einstein

Getting in touch with your creative side doesn’t have to difficult. The trick is to think of  something you used to enjoy in the past (aka before kids), carve out some time, and simply give it a go. This could be as easy as buying a colouring book, playing an instrument, or booking in for a dance class. When you are immersed in a creative pursuit, you enter a state of flow, which in turn leads to increased joy: simple really, with the added bonus that you can say you are following the advice of Einstein!
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy ~ Nhất Hạnh

Smile. Do it right now (please!) How do you feel after a big cheesy grin? A bit happier I’ll guess (unless your currently sitting on a train: then you may feel like a bit of a goose!) Making a conscious effort to change your mindset and just act happy, can actually make you feel happy: how good is that!

To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with ~ Mark Twain

Now I am not saying that you can’t feel joy whilst alone (my spontaneous solo lounge room dancefests are proof of that!) However, there is no doubt that feeling connected, whether to your partner, your children, family or friends can lead to increased feelings of joy.  Take time to connect (in real life) with some of your favourite peeps and grab some of that full value joy today!

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings ~ William Arthur Ward

We all know that feeling grateful for what you have is important, but it is also one of the most significant ways of increasing joy. People who regularly write in a Gratitude Journal, tend to be more positive, enthusiastic, and feel better about their life as a whole. So visit your favourite stationary store, stock up and give this a go: gratitude is the attitude!

The groundwork of all happiness is good health ~ Leigh Hunt

It is no surprise that good health is related to joy. Many studies have shown the benefits of regular exercise as a mood elevator, and a healthy whole food diet makes you feel better inside and out. Get off the computer, and out into the sunshine and just start walking. Add in plenty of quality rest time, and you have laid down the groundwork for joy like a boss.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love ~ Lao Tzu

Being kind is one of those things that takes very little effort for the reward it brings. Studies have shown that random acts of kindness, such as paying for a strangers coffee, or helping someone in need, elevate your own mood as well. Even just a smile as you walk past someone in the street, can brighten both your days: too easy!

Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes ~ Nhat Hanh

You can increase joy by consciously paying attention to little moments of pleasure through out your day. If you’re listening to a favourite song, close your eyes and really pay attention, likewise enjoying your favourite meal (well, maybe open your eyes for that one!) Mindfulness is really a state of consciously enjoying the here and now, so put away that smart phone camera (you’ll never look at the photos anyway) and just enjoy the moment.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there ~ Rumi

inside-out-drawingIt is not always easy to do these things, and change takes time. But trust me, if you continue to look for ways to bring more joy into your life, then more joy is sure to find you!

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*Jumping in the air and doing a backbend in a bikini with a friend is entirely optional to finding joy, you will likely be pleased to note!

What brings you joy in life? Let me know in the comments below and spread the love!

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