Episode Focus: Getting stuck in to a creative project
Productivity: What are the characteristics of a creative project?
Creativity: Intuitive creativity and warm-up exercises
Podcast chat: life and business coach Amy Cook
Creativity: I’m talking about some of the ideas behind the book that I’m creating illustrations for
Click play below to listen
Podcast chat with Amy Cook
Amy is a life and business coach. She helps others (particularly women) to get their mindset and physical environment sorted so that they can move forward and reach their goals.
In my chat Amy and I are talking about whether our collective drive to be busy is helping or harming us, and how Amy works with clients to get their business brain sorted. She’s included some helpful tips for creative folk also!
We also talk about why decluttering so important – not just making physical space, but mental and emotional space in our lives.
Jordan: Amy, welcome to the podcast. You’re a life coach and you’re an expert in helping people deal with overwhelm. Does that sound about, right?
Amy: Absolutely. Yeah. I support people as they work through the things that really light them up and identify those and then clear away the things that don’t, so that they can have more of the stuff that they want.
Jordan: Wow. So how did you get to this point in your life? What was your journey in taking control yourself?
Amy: Mmm – it was a messy one! I have three young children and my youngest has just turned five and it was Christmas 2018, actually. Seriously, we were just snowed under. I have a child care centre, so I had 15 staff and that was my business that I was running. I had my three young kids. My husband was a self-employed builder. And we were just doing everything for everyone else and nothing for ourselves.
And that Christmas, my sister and my sister in law, bless them, so well-intentioned. But they both wanted to host Christmas. And so we were stretched all over the place pleasing everyone. And we already knew it was going to be like that. And then my husband got a splinter in his eye on Christmas Eve. And he was still working. And then he called and he’s like, “I’ve just got some wood in my eye”.
And so I loaded the kids in the car, all the presents and all the cooking I’d done and dropped him off at the emergency room, down at Keneperu and he got dealt with by the doctors. I went and got the kids settled at his sister’s house then I went back and got him and they were sleeping over in their rumpus room.
Then next morning at five o’clock in the morning, Christmas Day, I had a phone call from the alarm company at the childcare centre. And I was just like, “I just don’t even know what to do”. I can’t get up and leave the house at 5:00 in the morning, that my kids are going to wake up. And it’s late enough in the night to be morning to kids. And I was just like frozen, literally frozen. And I was just like. ‘Fuck! how did this become my life?
Thank goodness we have an amazing centre manager that does the day to day operations there and she called me and the alarm company had called her, too. And she called and she’s like, “I’ll go. You stay with your kids. I’ll go”. I thought “Oh, thank you so much”.
But those moments like that moment are frozen was just like – without her I would have been walking out of my out of my kids on Christmas morning to go and deal with who knew what. Nothing had happened. We still don’t know why the alarm went off. I swear it was a message from the angels to me to just be like, this is what your life is. It’s like you need to make some changes.
Jordan: So many people must have those frozen moments. I’m sure I’ve had a thousand of them. But just that inability to just kind of think past the immediate moment. .
Amy: Yeah. And I think when you’re in that, you just don’t actually have the space to comprehend how to get out of it. And yeah, I just I mean, it was nice that it was Christmas. So we both had a couple of days off after that and we had some friends coming over from Australia for a couple of days, some good old friends that you talk about everything with and I was having a cry to her. Her children are older and I said “when does it get better?” And she’s like, “It is what you make it”.
And so we just made up this activity. For the next week, my husband and I both sat on our bed each night individually with a separate bit of paper, and he’s dyslexic. So this is quite challenging for him. And I said “it doesn’t matter what your spelling or your writing looks like, but I just want you to write the five things about today that you wouldn’t change”. Because we were at the point where we just wanted to change everything.
After a week we looked at them and we looked at what things had come up repeatedly. We wouldn’t change our kids. Our kids are really like are really lovely compliant, exciting, fun kids. We wouldn’t change anything about them. We didn’t want to change each other and we didn’t want to change our neighbourhood. We wanted to change our house, but not our neighbourhood. And then other things came up like, oh, I wouldn’t have changed that tasty lasagne we had for dinner tonight. But basically, it was like, these are the only things that we want. We want each other. We want our kids and we want our neighbourhood and other than that, everything else could change.
So that was really cool. The first thing we decided to do was we actually subscribe to a meal subscription service to start with, because we had fallen into a trap of eating a lot of not good food. And we need to get rid of some of this junk in our house.
And so the kids went and stayed with the grandparents for a weekend and we hired a skip and we filled up a whole skip, which environmentally felt really bad because we weren’t recycling. And we did do a couple of loads to the charity store to donate. But it was really just a survival mode thing. You know, we just actually had to not worry too much about that at that time. And we put in better boundaries with our workplaces as well.
And then I saw our New Zealand Life Coaching School was advertising a five day accreditation programme. And so I went up to Auckland which was actually lovely because I had no distractions for five days. I just stayed in the same motel where it was actually being held in the conference room. And it was really nice. It was kind of like the bow that tied my knowledge together. And I just did it for ourselves and I thought it will also help me be a better employer as well to have the skills and to help the families at the day-care Centre too. But then I realised that there’s this industry of life coaches which seemed like a very American thing to me at the time. And so I’ll just make a little website and start doing this, and I can help some people get organised and help with some of the mindset stuff, too. And then it’s just kind of gone from there.
Jordan: What a great journey.
Amy: I love that I’ve been there – like I have massive empathy for my clients and, you know, I feel like when I’m saying to them, just one little step forward is actually going to make the world of difference. It’s just the tiniest step. But you’re just not going to recognise yourself once you take it. I’m the kind of person that remembers those feelings. So, it’s being paid for helping others.
Jordan: So. What do you think about this drive that we all have to be busy? Is it helping us? Is it harming us? Where does it come from? Why do we find it so hard to not be busy all the time?
Amy: Because there are adrenals are fucked! Because we’re busy …some of the chemistry in our body and in our brain is a bit munted. And then because it’s munted, we desire to be busy. So it’s a cyclical thing. And it’s only once you break out of that cycle and you actually calm down, that you see that, which is why it’s so hard to see the shit you’re in, really, because you’re in it.
We’re all so busy and then you see you attract what you put out. And so then you attract a bunch of other busy people into your life and then everyone is so busy. And everyone talks about being so busy. I’ve got a couple of school mum friends; we met for coffee once or twice a week, and we’d get there and they’ll be like, “oh, I’m so busy and I did this and I did that.”
I’d be saying ‘Actually, guys, I’ve got nothing on today. I’m going to have a really chill day. I’m going to read my book. I’m going to make myself a really nice lunch and I’m not busy at all. I’m actually proud of that.’ It was so odd for somebody to say they were proud of being unbusy!
So it’s really damaging to our health. I was just thinking about the example that it set for future generations as well. My daughter’s eleven and twenty years from now I don’t want her coming into little old lady Amy looking like she’s being run ragged because she’s trying to do everything, you know.
And as I was chatting about this actually with an older woman a while ago, and she was like, “oh, you know, when I was out there saying, woman can do anything. You know, in the past, I wasn’t meaning woman can do everything”. I thought ‘thank you’. Just because we can do everything doesn’t mean we should do everything. It’s about choosing your priorities, choosing them wisely. And know what really brings you joy.
Jordan: Now part of your business is helping people get their business brain sorted. Do you have any tips for artists or creative people on this front?
Amy: Yeah, it’s only a little part of my business. But some general advice is to know what your desires are. I’m not an artist, so, you know, but if I was going to do these paintings, it’s like, why am I doing these paintings? Am I selling these paintings? Am I exhibiting with these paintings to draw attention to my work so that I can sell some other stuff? Or am I building a reputation for myself so that I can actually sell spaces on my retreat or spaces on my, you know, online course or whatever. So knowing what your desires are, knowing what what the end goal is, and then breaking that down into steps is really important. Lots of people are just working away, but they don’t actually know what the destination is that they’re working towards. And then secondly, take action.
Amy: There’s a big difference between I want to be a successful business person and I sell things to people so that I am a successful business person. So the actual taking action and not just talking about it.
And get the help that people need.
Jordan: I really like that idea of once you know what you want to put your energy to, you can outsource the rest of it, right.
Amy: Yeah. And having a good go-to people that are actually going to give you the advice that you need at the time, basically filling in the gaps in your own personal knowledge with other people’s gaps. Other than that, I would say setting up great systems because they’re going to save you time in the future.
I always think of setting up good systems as an investment of time. So instead of just having receipts everywhere, pop down to the Warehouse and buy a folder to put them in. It’s going to save you time later.
Jordan: So you’ve gone through your own de-cluttering process. What why is it so important? What does it give people?
Amy: It gives people space. So when I talk about de-cluttering I’m talking about de-cluttering objects, commitments and people, We’re not just talking about getting rid of your shoes you don’t wear. It’s also getting rid of the people in your life that help you feel down, not up. And the commitments that when you look on your calendar that you feel ‘uuhhh’ about.
And so de-cluttering is all those things, but removing the things that you don’t need or love releases a burden on us. And it actually energises us immensely when we get rid of that. Having space in your home, your workplace, you, schedule, your heart, along with some clear intentions of what you want there, enables that space to just be utilised for something better because something better can’t come along while our life is full of the stuff that’s not ideal for us.
Jordan: That’s beautiful, actually. And what about the day-to-day things? Is it a similar reason that you want to get your housework under control just so you’re getting that clarity?
Amy: Generally, yeah. Housework is an interesting one. I don’t like housework Some people do. I think it’s even just that clarity about what housework means to you. So, you know, as long as my kitchen and bathrooms are hygienic and the rest of the house is relatively well presented, I’m happy. I think is really important to just decide how much of a priority is it to you. Actually make a conscious decision about that.
Jordan: That sounds brilliant. Thank you, Amy. It’s been great to chat.
Amy: Thank you for having me.