Summer Wellbeing Challenge 2016

The Summer Wellbeing Challenge is an online engagement activity run by Creativity Works, to encourage a month of creativity and to champion the arts as a means of staying mentally healthy.

Each week in August had a different theme and a list of suggested activities.  You could choose one (or more) of the activities to engage with or come up with some ideas of your own linked to the theme.

Week 1 – Connect

The focus of the first week was to connect with people.  As I’m from New Zealand and live in the UK, I took this opportunity to re-connect with friends at home by sending a selection of postcards.

Selection of postcards from the V&A and Churchill's War Rooms

Selection of postcards from the V&A and Churchill’s War Rooms

Week 2 – Be Active

Small amounts of exercise have a great impact on your mood, and enhance mental wellbeing as well as the more obvious physical benefits.  I know this from first hand experience when a friend introduced me to running as a recent young widow in 2008.  Since then I’ve run many half marathons and still benefit from the meditative and mind calming effects of running.

Entrance to Ashton Court, photo taken while out running

Entrance to Ashton Court, photo taken while out running

Week 3 – Take Notice

The theme this week was all about slowing down and noticing things around you.  I ventured into Leigh Woods for a couple of hours and definitely enjoyed taking time to notice my surroundings.

Week 4 – Keep Learning

The Week 4 theme focussed on the benefits of continual learning, and how this can lead to increases in confidence, resilience, self-esteem and satisfaction.  I’d read about the new exhibition, Red, at the Museum of East Asian Art so headed out one lunch time to see what I could learn.


Week 5 – Give

The final summer wellbeing challenge was to give, mainly time and attention although other ways of giving also make us feel good.  As I was getting ready to jet off on holiday, I cheated a wee bit on this one and quickly got together a few things and dropped them off at a local charity store.

round up

I enjoyed the challenge and, admittedly, most of the tasks I picked are things I do or aim to do regularly anyway.  Participating in the #summerwellbeing challenge was a good reminder about why these activities are important and why I should continue to make time for them day to day.


New Year, Fresh Start


I hope you’re all well and enjoyed time with family and friends over the Christmas break. For me, the start of the year is always a bit of a new beginning, probably because it was also the start of a new school year growing up in New Zealand. I like to think about the things I’ve achieved over the last 12 months and look ahead to what I’d like to do in the coming months. I’ve been doing this since I was about 15, and still record my goals for the coming year in a little grey notebook (and tick them off later once complete). It’s great to have this record of the things I’ve aspired to do, and achieved, and to see how the goals have evolved over time (it’s also interesting to see consistent themes emerge, although the individual goals change over time).

In my corporate life people view me as a “completer-finisher”; someone who starts something, finishes it, then moves onto the next thing. Perhaps because it’s expected of me and I’m being paid for it, that’s what I do. However, at home with my own projects there is a different reality. I’m more of a “starter-ooh look at that-get distracted-may or may not ever come back to said project” type of person. I often need external deadlines to help motivate me.

So, 2016 is going to be my year of finishing projects! I am going to attempt to complete at least one project a month from the stash I have in my studio. Some projects have been started, some are nearly finished, and some are just materials still in the bag from the shop I bought them from.

Having recently taken off my corporate heels and traded in my trouser suit for more relaxed and creative endeavours, my year of finishing projects also ties in nicely with this (and the reduced budget I’m trying to stick to!)

I want this to be a fun and enjoyable experience, although have set myself a couple of guidelines:

  • To finish at least one project each month
  • To go shopping in my studio for materials if I do have a sudden urge to create something completely new (I think this is the one I’ll struggle with the most!)
  • To work on the projects during evenings and weekends, in an attempt to reduce the amount of screen time I’m exposed to

These items are my personal craft projects rather than my own designs, although there may be ideas that crossover between the two.

Now that I’ve shared the goals for my year of finishing projects with you, I have an external deadline too. I’m very much looking forward to working on the individual pieces and seeing what this produces! Let’s get started…

Do let me know if you have a New Year ritual of goal setting too!


For the last 100 days I’ve been participating in the #100happydays challenge on Twitter.

The aim of the challenge was to focus on “the ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it”, and it’s been an interesting experience trying to find a happy thing to photograph and post about each day.  Apparently 71% of people who start the challenge do not complete it, so I also feel a sense of achievement from finishing it.


Looking back over the 100 posts, there are a few themes that emerge…

  • I go out for dinner and drinks a lot.  I do enjoy good food and NZ wine, so this is no surprise and is definitely something that makes me smile.
  • I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, and this often goes hand in hand with the point above.
  • I go on short breaks and holidays quite often.  It’s no secret that I love to travel, and exploring new places has featured regularly within my 100 posts.
  • I enjoy making things.  There were many posts about knitting, sewing, baking and cooking.  There were also quite a few posts about textiles discussions and exhibitions.

This last point brings me to what is going to be my next challenge… my year of making.

This is a similar challenge in that you post a photo a day with the hashtag #yearofmaking.  I came across the concept on Kim Werker’s blog, and the simplicity of the idea is that you can make anything.  You don’t even need to finish making something, you just need to work on something that you’re creating.

Some of you may remember that I endeavoured to make something everyday for 365 days following the completion of my MA, and I struggled with this.  Knitting a unique 12cm square each day was more time consuming than I expected, and the blog posts also took up more time than I anticipated.  I have great aspirations to complete this in the future though.

So, if you’re interested in seeing what I’ll be making over the next year, follow me on Twitter and have a look!

My posts from the last 100 days can be viewed on my Twitter profile and if you’d like to find out more about the #100happydays challenge, please visit their website.