Creating My Odyssey

Quirky artist / writer / explorer / wild west, steampunk & ghost nut /renaissance soul / mental health & lifestyle blogger

Wednesday, 27 February 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : MY INTROVERT EPIPHANY: Welcome to Cat, my latest guest blogger... I remember clearly being called ‘shy’ as a child. Sometimes ‘quiet.’ I despised the l...


Welcome to Cat, my latest guest blogger...

The Creative Introvert

I remember clearly being called ‘shy’ as a child. Sometimes ‘quiet.’ I despised the latter more. At least with ‘shy’ it felt like a virus I had caught. Being called ‘quiet’ suggested I had nothing to say. But I had lots to say, just not out loud.

Either way, I knew that they weren’t terms of endearment.

Slowly but surely, I learned ways to cover up my shyness, and pipe up. I surrounded myself with gregarious characters, in the hope it might rub off on me. At times, it did - especially with the help of alcohol.

It wasn’t until I found myself in the real world of work; commutes, meetings and beer o’clock on Fridays that my personality and preferences for quiet and solitude became a real issue. My life force would flatline by 2 pm. I was cranky, uninspired and prone to bursts of tears on public transport.

I wasn’t sure what the problem was. I knew it had something to do with me, because other people seemed just fine with a busy commute on public transport, spending all day in an open-plan office with the radio blaring and small talk by the water cooler and ending the day at a pub in Soho, spilling out onto the streets.

I figured I was broken.

A few years into pushing through, feeling like I was walking on broken feet, I finally left my job at the digital agency to try my luck freelancing. You can work from home, they said. You can work your own hours, they said. Pants are optional, they said.

I was sold.

For a time, the freelance life suited me.

I took advantage of my newfound freedom, relished in the comfort of my own space and experimented with obscure working hours and my personal hygiene.

After a few months of fun, I realised two things. One, that showering daily was probably a good idea after all and two, that clients don’t just stumble across your website automatically and give you money.

That’s when I started to learn about marketing, sales, networking, public relations… and realised I may have made a very big mistake in leaving the agency job, which in hindsight looked positively heavenly.

The advice I’d read online and in books about networking made my skin crawl. These people clearly were nothing like me. I wasn’t interested in learning how to ‘mirror’ someone, or smile in a way that shows at least 26 teeth. No thank you.

The online stuff wasn’t much better: I watched formulaic webinars teaching me how to teach people how to teach people marketing. If that’s how they got their Ferrari, I’ll continue to take the bus.

Surely, I thought, there must be a way to get my work seen by my dream clients, without selling my soul to the Dark Lord of Sleaze?

Moaning to a friend about my dilemma, I finally got my diagnosis.

He said, ’You’re an introvert. Of course you find it hard.'

I scoffed, ‘You’re wrong! I’m not shy!'

My friend went onto tell me about the original definition of introvert, the one Swiss psychoanalyst extraordinaire, Carl G.Jung coined.

An introvert is someone who gets their energy from spending time alone. They enjoy their own company and deep, one to one conversations. They process information more slowly than extroverts and in greater depth. This explained my trouble at networking events, my aversion to small talk and why most people made their way to the canapรฉs when I started talking about the nature of consciousness.

In addition, introverts are NOT necessarily shy or quiet, though can come across that way, especially in large groups. They’re often easily over-stimulated, which would explain my trouble in the open-plan office and the busy London lifestyle.

This knowledge came as a giant relief to me. An epiphany, really.

It meant I wasn’t broken. It meant that there were others like me. It meant I could start to manage my energy more effectively and actually use my introversion to my advantage.

From here, my business picked up. I started to approach marketing and pitching clients in a way that suited my personality type and preferences.

When it came to networking, I took my time. I played by my rules. I would go to events that had speakers - something to focus on and give me something to make conversation about that wasn’t too big or too small. I wouldn’t pressure myself to pitch my services right then and there; I’d use my introvert superpower of listening, and follow up the next day with a well crafted email. It worked remarkably well.

Email became my biggest ally. I learned how much I loved to write - introverts usually express themselves better through writing, because it gives us time to think and process our thoughts. I made it a habit, most days, to send just one email to a potential client or collaborator or mentor. Over time, I’ve built up a solid network, in a way that suits my skills and preferences.

Most challenging was to learn to balance my time alone and my time spent with people. Too far in the hermit direction, and I become anxious and life loses it’s colour. Too much time socialising, and I become cranky and critical. It’s a delicate balance that needs daily recalibration. For introverts, it’s worth becoming a real Goldilocks when it comes to energy management.

What surprised me most of all in the years following my introvert epiphany is learning about the value I get in community. Specifically, communities of people (usually creatives and introverts, like myself) who have similar problems as well as similar values as me. I thought I was immune from needing others in this way, until I accidentally found a Facebook group I liked. I started my own, which grew into the League of Creative Introverts. Since then, I’ve witnessed the difference accountability, support, shared skills and shared laughs make in both my life and the lives of my fellow creative introverts.

The final lesson my introvert epiphany gave me is the importance of not using our personality traits as an excuse. Hiding behind the label of introvert to excuse ourselves and remain only in our comfort zones is a big mistake. Like being given fire from the gods, only to use it to burn our house down; learning about your personality type only to shut yourself away is a major opportunity and potentially a life wasted.

Getting our work out into the world, serving the people we want to help, and fulfilling whatever purpose we’re here for means acknowledging our needs, playing to our strengths and mitigating our weaknesses. It means finding creative ways to overcome our perceived boundaries, and gently, stretching our comfort zone, whether that means posting our latest piece of art on Instagram or plucking up the courage to go to a local meet up of fellow creatives, even if it’s for 45 minutes.

My introvert epiphany is one of many. I’d love to hear (or read) others. If you know you’re an introvert, how did you find out? What have you learned since then? How have you put your introvert superpowers to use?

Get in touch: and send me your introvert epiphany. You can write it, paint it, draw it, sing it - up to you. You can also tag me on Instagram@creativeintro


Sunday, 24 February 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : I'M HOSTING A CREATIVE GROUP IN MY OWN HOME! ��: You might be thinking: 'Bully for you. So what??' Or not, because you're a nice lot. Fact is, this is a triumph. I held on...


You might be thinking: 'Bully for you. So what??' Or not, because you're a nice lot. Fact is, this is a triumph. I held one or two last year, but never quite got into the habit. The group consists of our lady buddies from our writing group plus one or two others. I'd always said I'd do this to encourage my own art making, after Jane, the tutor of the art group we attended regularly some years ago, left. We liked her tremendously. She was a good artist - she loved her fantasy landscapes and wolves. She loved her wolves! She had many commissions to paint wolves and got a teeny bit weary of painting them, but at least they kept the wolf from her door. (See what I did there?!). But she really wanted to paint her fantasies - castles and characters.    

Jane was slightly hippyish. Good fun. Lots of  spark, and she liked my debates with her! 'I'm going to miss our debates!' She said. Whether using black in any artwork was permissible (I maintain that using black is permissible in stylized and decorative artwork). Never copy other people's art - you'll replicate their mistakes. (Not if they're known artists, or on the up. You can usually tell.) Do jump in here if you have any thoughts on either of these. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

The group changed dynamics after Jane left, so that was that. Unfortunately it meant that I rarely did any artwork, because these were the days before my depression cure came into effect. I tried renting a room at our local community centre where the art classes were held, but when certain creatives turned up at my invitation, and they turned out to be less than amiable, I decided this biz wasn't for me. 

Jump forward a year or two, my medication crisis followed by my miraculous  cure...

About four years (I've lost track) after my medication crisis and cure, I really, really wanted to return properly to art. I found the sculpture course in Farnham, Surrey, that I thoroughly enjoyed, and in so doing met the lovely tutor who has become my good friend. Unfortunately the course seems to have been discontinued because of lack of student numbers. (I must continue looking for courses). In the meantime I made the surprising decision to start an art group at home consisting of our writing group members who were also artistic. Shock! I used to hate being at home for any length of time. I'd grow depressed and 'cabin fever' would descend. I'm guessing that there were historic psychosomatic reasons for this - feeling trapped in the home rearing small children. Maybe.

But as time has passed, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy played its part and the consistent absence of negative vibes from my siblings and their wives has resulted, at last, in me being mostly happy at home. Wow! I now feel good at home, mostly, although cabin fever can set in, but that's a fairly normal thing for many people.

 So I ran an event yesterday (Friday) afternoon. I run it the week after our monthly writing group, complete with drink and biscuits. Six of us. It was good fun and we were all creative. Even my writing/musician friend who claims she isn't artistic came with her laptop and did her writing. That's why I call my session a 'creative' rather than an 'art' group. 

I was delighted with the result, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They'll definitely be back!

This was my piece of art. I took the photograph 
some time ago. One of several of this pure white 
cat. So I did a felt tip sketch of him/her, and I'm
quite pleased with it.


Wednesday, 20 February 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : GETTING STUFF DONE - OH, YEAH! ��: As we speak I'm trawling the internet for ideas on how to finish multiple projects, creative or otherwise. What I'm seeing is the fa...


As we speak I'm trawling the internet for ideas on how to finish multiple projects, creative or otherwise. What I'm seeing is the fact that I don't give myself enough time when it comes to mental health blog posts for other people, bearing in mind that all this is voluntary. I've reached the conclusion that giving myself perhaps a week or a month to finish these is a good strategy, depending on what it is.

Ever since I recovered from depression and anxiety, I went full out/hell for leather (all those cliches) wanting/needing to tell people - mental health sufferers and those connected to mental health in any way - about what happened five/six years ago, so that I could share the knowledge that depression is curable.

That's when I decided to start this blog. I sent this introduction message - still doing that - to any number of creatives, renaissance souls, mental health charities, and people in that industry.

I'm Jo – quirky artist, writer, garden lover, mental health advocate, traveller, wild west and ghost nut intrigued by science, medical matters and space research. A renaissance soul with a potty sense of humour!

Five years ago I began a miraculous journey to full recovery from thirty years of depression and anxiety. The catalyst was a medication crisis. A brilliant mental health team prescribed the right treatment, including a medication known as California Rocket Fuel (love it!), as a result of which I'm better than I've ever been! I'm now rebuilding my eclectic, sometimes adventurous creativity and life with the help of my fabulous soulmate Husband, and recording it on my blog, Creating My Odyssey. I'm sharing my mental health experiences and articles to give other sufferers of depression hope, because depression is a mental disorder that can be treated provided the right help can be found, which isn't easy.

I'm also aspiring to be a bit of a role model for my age group - ageism is one of my pet hates - and living a life less ordinary and encouraging those in a similar situation to do this as well. 

Creating My Odyssey is a great vehicle for my creativity, which has been hidden under a bushel throughout my depression - an epic novel I've been working on forever (Alias Jeannie Delaney is the life story of a devastating cowgirl who's the fastest gun in the west and also bisexual) - anecdotal and mental health articles, many of which have been published, and art. I've had exhibitions and sold work over the years, but throughout depression my art fell by the wayside, which I regret. Now I'm returning to it with fresh vigour.

I'm swapping posts and links with creatives, people with similar interests and those with mental health issues or connected to mental health, and possibly collaborating in other ways.

As a result of this, I've had many mental health people ask for blog posts and I'm delighted to do this. I've also exchanged posts and posted blog sites of creatives and renaissance soul folk. Exciting! As a result of which I have a tendency to overload myself ๐Ÿ˜ฎ!

Trouble is, when you're the one who initiated the job in the first place, to tell someone that the task you've promised them will have to wait because you've overloaded yourself is a bit, well, foolish...  See where I'm coming from? ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

So I'm gradually learning to be a bit more disciplined, something I managed when the kids were young, to fit creativity into my day. I was also rather good at packing for holidays, using a packing list.

But now, I want this self-management/discipline to extend further today. I have, like Leonardo Da Vinci (I love comparing myself to him!) many pieces of artwork lying around in our beautiful brand new conservatory/studio gathering dust, and I'm attempting to organise them into an 'artwork to be completed or ditched' area. I have completed artworks that I haven't cared for properly, also gathering dust. They need an allocated place, too.

I have sold artwork in the past, and have had exhibitions at various times, but now I rarely sell anything. I could do, if I put my mind to it, but I've never been good at marketing myself. I look at all this work and think: 'What a waste.' Husband has always said he'd help me with the marketing, so there's always an opportunity there. Every now and then I get a brain spark after seeing artwork on Etsy, and think: 'I could do that!' Well - bloody do it then! I tell myself. Select the artwork, tidy them up and present them properly, then photograph them and upload them to Etsy. Easy peasy. Well, it could be if I tried harder. More dosh, more fun!

Another problem, if you could call it that, is the fact that my artistic style is so varied and eclectic. I love sculpture and 3D work, working with clay and wood - although the end product isn't always saleable! I love collage. I like printing one offs. I like Collagraphy, I love pastels, gouache, pencil, coloured pencil, acrylics, inks. My style varies as much as my mediums. Stylised - think Art Nouveau or Art Deco - I love realism, abstract, Surface Pattern Design and even cartoons. My subject matters are also pretty varied. Still lives, landscape, people, architectural... You name it...

The only problem is that I enjoy all of these styles and methods. How to manage all that and room for other creative endeavours! I do know that to market any of this, I have to divide them all into their categories. Simples.

Apart from all that I have a folder wodge-full of anecdotal articles I've written over the years, plus notes for future articles. I've theorised that I can use my articles and cartoons on this blog, and to an extent that has happened, but my collection of articles is untidy and disorganised. I'm determined to sort them.

Since my recovery from depression my mind is gradually turning to all the possibilities I could have if I choose to do so. So do it! 

                                 CREATING MY ODYSSEY

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Thursday, 14 February 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : A BRAINFUL OF STUFF!: I haven't posted for a while for which I humbly apologise. It's not for the lack of ideas - never short of those! - it's mostly ...

Saturday, 9 February 2019





Image result for glad join us in the world's largest study

Image result for glad join us in the world's largest study

The Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) Study, led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health BioResource and researchers at King’s College London, is a project set up to support studies exploring risk factors for depression and/or anxiety. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health disorders worldwide. 

In the UK, 1 in 3 people will experience symptoms during their lifetime. The GLAD Study aims to better understand depression and anxiety in order to find effective treatments and improve the lives of people experiencing these disorders. We invite you to take part! There are 4 simple steps to signing up to the GLAD Study:

Register for the website and read the information sheet
Provide consent
Complete a 30 minute questionnaire to see if you are eligible
Send a saliva DNA sample through the post

Once you have signed up to the GLAD Study, you will be able to see information on the website about a number of optional questionnaires or other research studies that are being carried out. You will be able to choose to take part in these studies should you wish to.
We would like to emphasise that you can stop taking part in the GLAD Study at any time.

Want to keep up to date with the GLAD Study and the important research being done by our team? Follow us on social media!