Posts tagged creativity
Ep. 3 : "Too Much"

“I’ve set myself on sprinkle mode, but i’m not a hosepipe. I want to unleash the full flow of who I am. Can you handle that?” - Jo Hodson

Today's podcast thought-stream is a pretty deep one, even for me.

It digs into some of the stories I have taught myself through my childhood years and that still live with me into my adult years. The stories I'm still in the process of rewriting.

Throughout my life, I always considered I was 'too much'. Only now do I realise that by repressing those sides of me, I was repressing the fullest expression of who I am.

I was repressing my creativity. Repressing the essence of what it means to be Jo.

And so I wonder if there's any aspect of your nature you're pushing away. That you're holding back through fear of being too much?

I'd love to hear what comes up to you as you listen.

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Listen below or via your favourite podcast platform…


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What could you commit to create for 100 days?

I realised recently that I am a bit of a 'commitment-phobe'. Interestingly this didn't used to be the case, but over the last few years as I have been deigning life on my own terms and turning away from comformity and expectation, commitment has subtly become more of a struggle. 

My guess is that in desiring the 'freedom' to create whatever I want in this life, I end up sabotaging my own planning, structure and goals in the process. This is an interesting yet annoying observation for me (but with awareness comes the power to change!), and I can see that it really does not serve me in growing my business.

So that needs to change, and what better way that with a game or challenge, something that has a finite end point (less overwhelming than the idea of infinity!)

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What could you commit to create for 100 days?

For the last couple of years I have watched #the100dayproject from the sidelines... overthinking and procrastinating on what I might do for 100 days. I never took the leap and actually took part.

Fear of commitment? Of failure? Of changing my mind half way through? Of not-good-enoughness... probably all of the above and more (see above!!)

That noise is still there BUT that’s all it is- just noise, the inner voice of fear, the head not the heart.

The way forward is strength of curiosity to simply begin, to celebrate the process, to embrace imperfection along the way, one day at a time...

I signed up to their newsletter and have been receiving updates over the last few weeks, and today as I lie here in the early hours in my hotel room in Vietnam mid way through my trip in a foreign land... I committed. Just like that!

What will I commit to do for 100 days?

I’m going to write an article every day for 100 days! The biggest thing for me will be giving myself permission for it not to be perfect, some articles may well be downright rubbish, or very short... some will never get used, but that doesn’t matter, I just have to consciously write words into the words every day.

So many of my goals this year are centred around writing- a book, articles for a number of magazines I am passionate about, my newsletter and regular blogging.

Thinking, researching and sporadically writing ‘when I feel like it’ is not the answer. It’s time to do the work consistently and find flow.

Who else is intrigued to take part in #the100dayproject? The perfect way to kick off the second quarter of the year!

Please reach out and let me know, I'd love to support you as we embark on this journey together.

Check out the website below for more info, and find all the interviews and inspiration shared so far. Also follow @elleluna and @lindsayjeantomson on Instagram- the founders of this wonderful movement.

WHEN?
Here's the kicker- 'tehnically' the challenge is already a few days in (started April 3rd), but because I was away in Vietnam and have only just been able to get back into my work mode, I'll be kicking off properly tomorrow (Monday 9th). Yes, it might not be ideal, it might not be perfect... BUT it doesn't matter. ;-)

FULL DETAILS HERE: >>> www.the100dayproject.org/ (p.s I am in no way affiliated with this movement, I just love their philosophy)

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Does a plant-based diet increase creativity?

I've been a contributor to The Hectic Vegan Magazine ever since it's launch a year (or two?) ago. There is another issue due out early Spring and I realised I hadn't yet filled you in on the December release!

As per the previous issues, I had a number of recipes featured - these ones were mostly pumpkin focussed ;-)  There was also a special 50% discount on my Not Just For Goldilocks  porridge recipe book!

You can download your digital copy of the magazine (and previous issues) for FREE here! 

But... I am also excited to share another feature that I am so passionate about, that is exploring the link between creativity and a plant-based diet.

It's an absolutely fascinating topic that I am currently delving into more deeply (with a book in mind), a connection that I have experienced deeply in my own life.  This blog was also triggered by a post that caught my eye on the Veganuary Instagram page...

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I have often talked about my philosophy that a plant-based diet goes way beyond the food itself. Once we begin to question one aspect of our lives, our minds open up to explore so much more in terms of how we relate to the world around us.

@@>>>Once we think outside the box, once we shift our perspective, life literally becomes limitless!@@ 

Here is that article, you can click to zoom in (or download the magazine to read it properly!), I love how the designers have illustrated the quotes I gathered from some Facebook research in little speech bubbles (I am a sucker for quirky details!) ;-)

I also see a huge link between the concepts of 'creativity' and 'spirituality' in terms of our connection with our innate sense of self and the bigger picture beyond.. maybe that's a topic for another post, ha ha)

Feel free to chime in with your experiences too - have you noticed an increase in your creativity or spirituality since going plant-based?

I am very keen to hear from those that feel strongly about the subject... and you may well feature in my new book, planning is currently underway and I am aiming to publish it before the summer! Please drop me a note if you'd like to share your thoughts and would be open to having a chat!


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'Friluftsliv' ...ever heard of it? (clue: the connection between mindset and nature)

'Friluftsliv' ...I'd not heard of it either until I began doing a tonne of research on the relationship between our natural world and the impact on our health and mindset.

Friluftsliv, a word coined by Norwegian poet Henrik Ibsen, literally translating to ‘free air life’ is the word used to broadly describe the connection to nature that is so strong in Norway. The word first appeared in Ibsen’s poem, ‘On The Heights’ which describes a man who ventures out into the wilderness in search of solitude as to clear his mind and plan for the future.

The essence of 'Frilufstliv' is the simplicity with which people can engage with nature in a meaningful way,” says Børge Dahle. This philosophy embodies the idea that returning to nature, is returning home.

This is something I have been drawn to more and more over the last few years. I know the power it has on my own mindset and ability to dramatically expand my way of interacting with the world. It literally helps cut through the 'noise' in my mind and brings me down from the head to the heart.

This is one of the ways I'll be shifting my coaching practice.

I know it's not just me who benefits from the power of 'nature therapy' and so it will become an integral part of my work with clients to intensify the experience and the results that can be achieved.

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By living in a world of vast urbanisation, straight lines and electric lighting, we create a disharmony (or more correctly, discord) between natures rhythms and our own natural rhythms. We evolved in a world of 'fractal' structures: waves, mountains, fire, alongside seasonal rhythms, daily rhythms and different kinds of biological rhythms. These structures and rhythms are ingrained in us as we have evolved.

Now we live in a technologically advanced society, we don't rely on these natural rhythms anymore, or not nearly to the extent we did. So we are causing a disharmony with these rhythms which leads to stress, fatigue and low self-esteem.

'Friluftsliv' is about returning to nature and those rhythms and synchronising your body clock back to natures. We have a limbic system that takes in the senses and where we also have our memory. By opening these senses to nature, Dr Hans Gelter describes it as becoming "inter-connected" with nature.

Whatever the weather... Scandinavians don't run for cover on rainy days. This is about embracing the elements, throwing on a duvet coat and finding joy in even the gloomiest of forecasts - it's about changing your mindset.

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"Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost." That's the dramatic opening to a 2008 paper describing the promise of so-called "nature therapy" — or, as a non-academic might call it, "time outside.

Nature relieves attention fatigue and increases creativity.

Today, we live with ubiquitous technology designed to constantly pull for our attention. But many scientists believe our brains were not made for this kind of information bombardment, and that it can lead to mental fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout, requiring “attention restoration” to get back to a normal, healthy state. Researchers believe that being in nature restores depleted attention circuits, which can then help us be more open to creativity and problem-solving.

Go to a Forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses.

This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest.

A University in Japan found that Shinrin-Yoku (translated as forest bathing in English) had a huge impact on our mental and physical health too. They believe that because humans evolved to be in nature that actually this is where we flourish best. F orest bathing literally means being in nature, sitting, walking and just being in forests. Throughout Japan they have different walks and trails that have equipment within it that can measure blood pressure and monitor heart rates as people are in the forest giving concrete evidence as to how nature is actually physically affecting them.

We can also consider the mindfulness perspective. Being in nature helps us to become present. Forest bathing refers to being in an environment where all your senses are engaged. Our sensory system evolved in the natural world and when we’re in those spaces, our brains become relaxed because these are things that we were designed to look at, hear and to smell.

Neuroscientists, especially in the U.K. and U.S., are starting to look at how people’s brains respond to different environments. What they’re seeing is that if their volunteers are walking through a city or noisy area, their brains are doing different things than if they are walking in a park. The frontal lobe, the part of our brain that’s hyper-engaged in modern life, deactivates a little when you are outside. Alpha waves, which indicate a calm but alert state, grow stronger. When psychologists talk about flow there seems to be a lot of alpha engagement there. Buddhist monks, meditators, are also great at engaging alpha waves.

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Ecotherapy, also known as nature therapy or green therapy, is the applied practice of the emergent field of ecopsychology, which was developed by Theodore Roszak. Ecotherapy, in many cases, stems from the belief that people are part of the web of life and that our psyches are not isolated or separate from our environment.

Scientists continue to debate the evidence around ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’. They ask could it be that, instead of being sensitive to changes in the seasons, we’re actually suffering from a disconnection with nature?

Psychiatrist Dr Norman Rosenthal, who first described SAD, attributes these positive feelings to sunlight. “When we’re outside, bright light coming through the eyes boosts the secretion of serotonin, while UV rays on the skin stimulates endorphins. All of this contributes to an improvement in mood.”

Dr Rosenthal also recognises the specific and significant role that nature can play in our emotional wellbeing. “Being indoors creates a world that’s compartmentalised from the changing weather, landscapes and feelings. In contrast, being outside enriches our lives. Experiencing the unpredictability of the weather – a breeze over your face or an unexpected rainfall – adds variety to our lives. Smells evoke memories and thoughts and connecting with nature allows us to escape monotony,” he says.

But as well as helping us to heal our minds, contact with nature can transform us. For several years, Steve Taylor (a psychology lecturer and the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality) has been researching into what he calls ‘awakening experiences’ – moments when our vision of our surroundings becomes more intense (so that they become more beautiful and meaningful than normal), and we feel a sense of connectedness to them, and towards other people. The world may somehow seem harmonious and meaningful, as a strong feeling of well-being fills us

Of course, countless poets have written of the states of awe and ecstasy they've experienced whilst alone with nature too. This is what William Wordsworth's poetry is most famous for: his sense that nature is pervaded with what he called ‘a motion and a spirit which rolls through all thinking things, and all objects of thought.' 

But the main reason why nature can heal and transform us, I believe, is because of its calming and mind-quietening effect.

In nature, our minds process a lot less information than normal, and they don't wear themselves out by concentrating. And most importantly, the beauty and majesty of nature acts a little like a mantra in meditation, slowing down the normal ‘thought-chatter’ which runs chaotically through our minds.

As a result, an inner stillness and energy fills us, generating a glow of being and intensifying our perceptions. 

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Main sources of reference:

  • Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1995; Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2005; Psychological Science, 2012

  • Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 2012; Journal of Cardiology, 2012

  • http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/nature-fix-brain-happy-florence-williams/

  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/have-got-nature-deficit-disorder-ditch-gym-time-get-outdoors/

  • http://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/uploads/8/1/4/4/8144400/friluftsliv_scandanavian_philosophy_of_outdoor_life.pdf

  • http://www.macsadventure.com/walking-holidays/friluftsliv-a-norwegian-philosophy/

  • http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html

  • https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/econature-therapy

  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201204/the-power-nature-ecotherapy-and-awakening


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The power of creativity... way beyond the artists canvas!

Last weekend I got the urge to paint after watching a wonderful Jim Carrey clip that really spoke to my heart (watch it here). I have always been an artist, through school and college and right through to university where I spent most of my architecture degree in the workshops making models and sketching building concepts rather than learning CAD software ;-)

My creativity typically now manifests itself through food, writing and design. But every now and again you see the 'full-on technicolour Jo' usually at my workshops and retreats.... here there are always three things present:

1) plant-based food

2) deep mindful connections 

3) the space to 'let go' and create

Last weekend I combined paint and hot-melt glue to create some mixed media pieces on some old cork floor tiles I found in my house. I am a bit shy to show you them as its been a long time and I'm a bit rusty...and, well I guess you just know me as a food photographer when it comes to 'art', but here you go, a quick pic I took on my phone!

I am planning on bringing all creative materials to my Raw Retreat in under two weeks time... we may even all have a go at glue art, its so easy and lots of fun! :-)

Crafting is a big part of my Raw Retreat, and it has huge benefits on so many levels (and participant feedback has been great too!)

  • it's a very mindful activity

  • it allows us to use more of our senses, particularly touch and is incredible grounding

  • it instills a childlike sense of curiosity

  • those who think that are not 'creative' find themselves 'letting go' and overcoming their own resistance and mental barriers.

  • you have a physical memento to anchor a positive experience

  • creating things together builds a wonderful group energy, but equally can create a powerful space for solo reflection.

Here are some pics from the Raw Retreat Experience in January this year, and a couple from my dreamcatcher and 'bliss ball' workshops. I didn't take that many- I was too immersed in it all!

 

Now, I would love to hear from you... do you see yourself as 'creative'? 

Think as broadly as possible- way beyond the artists canvas! How you could incorporate a deeper sense of creativity into your everyday life for more powerful results?

I would absolutely love to have a conversation with you to help bring a deeper sense of creativity and curiosity into your view of the world. Ping me an email and let's set up a time to talk!


 

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THE 'REAL' ME… and why I am NOT a ‘health coach’

I woke up this morning (Tuesday 21st February 2017) as if from a dream with the following words on the tip of my tongue. Literally. I was scrabbling in my ‘eyes-half-open-sleepy-state’ for a pencil and notepad (yes, it had to be a pencil I hate writing in pen!) to put them down on paper before they left my mind with the morning light.

“I am a creativity coach. I work with people who have lost their mojo for life and want to access their innate creativity. I believe we were all born to create. I believe the essential ingredients for deep lifelong creativity are exactly the same for everybody: curiosity, courage, commitment, permission and trust - and those elements are universally accessible.

Moving towards a more plant-based wholefood diet is one of the key tools I use to optimise that process and set the body-mind magic in motion…”


Oh my gosh. When I re-read the words back to myself once written down, I felt euphoric. As if my mind and body had truly aligned and for the very first time and I was sharing 100% ME with the wider world. The resistance had gone and it was like my heart was saying ‘finally, you figured it out!’

By mid morning I had already updated my landing page and my social media accounts with this subtle- but oh so significant shift in words. My energy feels entirely different.. a huge lightness and I can’t stop smiling!

I realised I had been holding so much back from you all, because on some deeper level a voice inside still kept telling me that you were only here for the recipes and I shouldn’t stray too far from that as I am ‘health coach’ after all. Of course creating recipes was how Including Cake first began it’s life and indeed it is still a huge part of my world- arguably the biggest catalyst to literally EVERYTHING my life now is.

My biggest drivers in life are creativity and curiosity and that is not limited to recipes and mindset brain dumps. There are so many more things that make me ’come alive’ that I haven’t really dared share so much with you, things such as… making dreamcatchers, pole fitness, graphic design, yoga, sharethelove letters, handstands, dreaming about micro-houses, exploring other cultures, going barefoot, and so much more…

A handstand in wellies during a winter walk whilst volunteering at a Buddhist Meditation Centre.

A handstand in wellies during a winter walk whilst volunteering at a Buddhist Meditation Centre.

I realised in hindsight that labelling myself a ‘health coach’ was maybe the most detrimental thing I could have done.

But I had no idea what to call myself back when I began my health coach training with IIN in 2013 (which I totally loved by the way). So when people asked me ‘what do you do?’ (to be honest I still sometimes struggle with this part as my mind floods with all the things I love and I end up rambling like an excitable child) I would simply adopt the answer ‘health coach’ as it felt the most obvious thing to say… but I would cringe inside when I then heard people say to others in the room ‘Ooooh you should speak to Jo, she’s a nutritionalist’. I have nothing against nutritionalists, but I am quite simply not one- I am a full on creative with ADHD tendencies- I barely weigh my ingredients for recipes let alone know the technical stats! I see big picture. I work on intuition. 

I found that people were coming to me for help with their 'nutrition' issues and whilst of course I cared and wanted to help, I had no desire to coach specifically around it, it wasn't my passion. My heart did not reside there.

So I took a back step. I felt overwhelmed and confused. I told myself that maybe I wasn't cut out to be a coach after all. Maybe I should focus on my other endeavours such as Wholeplus and my design business.  I lost confidence as a coach as I couldn't see the bigger picture laid out for me.

The label I had created for myself was now my barrier...

A few weeks ago, early in the New Year, when I was reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (incredible book by the way!), it triggered a huge insight. I resonated so strongly with the message of ‘creativity’ in the broadest sense that I knew this is the direction I needed to actively venture. 

So here I am. A creativity coach… and I can’t wait to explore more deeply with you how that will manifest now that I am allowing myself to ‘own’ that title. Yep I’m owning it. Gonna wear it like a badge. ;-)

So, what does all this have to do with a plant-based wholefood diet…

Aha… sooooo much more than I ever realised, even though it’s directly been my own experience. Yep, another huge moment of realisation that hit me smack in the face!

I put the following question out into a few Facebook groups not knowing what would show up…

“Is anyone else here vegan? (or maybe even vegetarian, or have cut sugar out and switched to a wholefood diet). I'm doing a bit of research and I'm very curious to know- have you felt more creative since making the transition? 

I got so many responses, and to my joy, about 80% said they did indeed feel more creative!  These were some comments:

I went vegetarian the beginning of last year and have gone vegan this month, I have to say my creativity has increased! I am drawing and painting again, something I haven't done in a long time. Also in the way I am being creative in my wardrobe and dressing more how I want too!

Yes! absolutely it has! I have been vegan just over a year and it has had a positive impact on all areas of my life. I think on a deeper level, I am more connected to the earth and I am more peaceful (unless I am poorly!) I have had more creative ideas and energy to make them a reality.

I am much more creative since going vegan. I'm not sure if it has to do with nutrition as much as living a more authentic and value based lifestyle. It has pushed me out of the dissatisfied way I had been living. I'm also more fearless, I try new things all the time.

I'm not vegan, but I feel like a brand new person when I go vegetarian. I am in the process of switching back. I've been eating meat for a couple of months, and I feel icky.

Same..... when I eat REALLY clean and am well hydrated I'm like this AMAZING person, So why oh why do I keep falling off the wagon.

I am much more creative since going vegan. I'm not sure if it has to do with nutrition as much as living a more authentic and value based lifestyle. It has pushed me out of the dissatisfied way I had been living. I'm also more fearless, I try new things all the time.

A vegetarian for 30 years, I then embraced a raw vegan lifestyle about 3 years ago which totally changed me. I suddenly felt connected with the earth, with nature, with life in a way I never had before. Alive, creative, excited.... It was transformative! 3 years down the line I don't eat a wholly raw diet any more, I eat a mostly vegan diet (eggs from my pet ducks when they're laying) but with a high proportion of raw because when you eat raw foods you really feel the life-force, the energy, of those foods going into your body and it's wonderful

I can certainly relate to this. I’ve metamorphosed from a bored meal provider into an enthusiastic, energetic and lovable (well my family believe so) server of wholesome foods. Ones creative energies seem to open up in so many areas of ones life.

Yes, not only in cooking but other ways too. I always have been the type to look outside the box anyway, but this perspective on life has changed the way I look at things even more.

 

It was truly beautiful, and so my understanding shifted more deeply once again... 

I coach creativity in the deepest sense of a life being driven more by curiosity than by fear (to take Liz Gilberts words, thanks Liz!) My primary tool in accessing this innate creativity is moving towards a plant-based wholefoods diet. A total mind body connection that can set the amazing magic in motion. I had been practicing it myself all along along without even realising it.

It’s not just comments on Facebook that align with this way of thinking. I began a little research and found various articles also alluding to this sense of creativity and connectedness... 

Not hard core science? No, maybe not. But in truth I am not looking for science- I am simply focussing on sharing the inspiration that I know in my heart and mind can create the deepest results.

I feel I still have so much more to say, but i’ll wrap this up for now and include my thoughts and inspirations on books, TED talks, quotes and anything else that lights me up as a separate article.

Still with me? Wow… you are super hardcore. So much love winging it’s way to you!

If this resonates with you and you’d like to connect. I am all yours- please reach out and message me with how you want to create your most powerful life and we’ll take it from there. Or if you are still not sure, but you know that your creative energy has been stirred within, I’m all yours too.

 

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I have been an artist my whole life…

Just before Christmas I spontaneously had an urge to craft myself a dreamcatcher over the holiday period. It became my Christmas project.  Dreamcatchers and their folklore is something I was always fascinated by when I was younger and I even made my first huge one for my A-level art exam. 

This time I wanted to do something a bit different and so foraged for a branch, sanded and oiled it with coconut oil and created a series of dreamcatchers each with different web designs, to hang above my bed. It also features a pouch to hold a gemstone and a painted disc featuring a quote around the perimeter. I decided to forego feathers and leather so that this installation is entirely vegan- my own personal twist on tradition.

For those of you who've come to know me only in recent years as I began this blog, you've likely never seen this side of me. Un-bridled, un-suppressed artistic creation simply for the sake of creation and nothing more. 

I would draw, paint, model, saw, solder, collage, print, weave and sculpt pretty much anything and everything I could get my hands on from the tiny delicate collages to huge larger-than-life sculptures. It was the manifestation of my energy within.

Most of that was half my lifetime ago now…  during my school and college years, both in and out of the classroom, when freestyle imagination was encouraged to the absolute max, when nothing needed to have a purpose or a monetary value and I wasn't restrained with the notion of making a living from my creations.

This came to mind last week as I commence a deep clean in my house, sorting through cupboards and shelves that hold many of these treasures and coming to terms with 'letting go'. Many of my pictures and collages are wrapped up to protect them, created then immediately packaged away, which saddens me. Other artworks adorn the walls of my house and those of relatives, this makes me happy as the joy continues to shine it's light every day.

I put my heart and soul into each and every one of my creations, immersing myself in the mind-body connection and allowing my energy to free-flow into physical life.

Today I finally acknowledge that I need to let go. It's been a long time coming. I need to emotionally let go of many of these artworks that are hidden away collecting dust, and the many tools and materials I had stashed away alongside 'just in case' I needed them. 

Most of all, I need to let go of the notion that I am no longer an artist. I AM an artist and will always be so. The artist within me now simply manifests itself in a different form.

To honour this process and as a reminder to myself of where I have come from and of the creative sparks that still live strongly within me, I share a little insight to my past. I don't have photos of some of my best work, but this was my A-level art as a mini montage half my lifetime ago...

I am an artist and will always be an artist. Yet I had to let go in order to fulfil my evolving path of creation.

What do you need to let go of in 2016?

 

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