The True Sea

Slow Living, Inner Peace and Self Love


20 Questions That Will Change Your Life

20 Questions That Will Change Your Life | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comI’m a firm believer in self empowerment. All too often, we disempower ourselves when in reality, we have a lot more control over our lives and our feelings than we think. The way you’re feeling about your life right now, you at some point chose to feel. We have a choice. Perception is not a passive process. When our circumstances aren’t ideal, we can intentionally change how we perceive the world. Asking yourself the right things is a great place to start. It may be a bold claim to say that these questions will change your life, but I promise you that they will if you ask them often and answer them honestly.

1. What can you do today to make yourself feel better about your life?

2. What can you do to make today an amazing day?

3. What are your top 10 life goals and what can you do today to work towards them?

4. What’s preventing you from being happy with your life?

5. How can you put your life in perspective?

6. What can you do to have a good laugh today?

7. What can you do to take better care of yourself?

8. Who in your life deserve a big heartfelt thank you?

9. What in your life is draining you of energy and what can you do to fix it?

10. What are 10 things that you are thankful for today?

11. What makes you happy and how can you have more of that on a daily basis?

12. What can you do to push yourself out of your comfort zone today?

13. What can you do to support and encourage the people you love?

14. What are your top 5 values and are you living your life according to them?

15. What can you do to relax today?

16. What can you do to live more in the moment?

17. What can you read, watch and listen to that will inspire you today?

18. How can you become more connected with yourself?

19. What can you do to nurture your important relationships?

20. What would make you feel fulfilled and how can you work towards that today?


Self Love Exercise: 15 Things I Love About Myself

Self Love Exercise: 15 Things I Love About Myself | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comHere’s a wonderful little self love exercise for you. Write down 15 things that you love about yourself. I thought I’d find it easy but it’s surprisingly hard because you really have to look at yourself. You don’t have to share the list with anyone but you get bonus points if you do! Here’s my list.

1. I love that I’m well-read.

2. I love that I know how to be alone without having to be defined by another person.

3. I love that I know what’s important in life.

4. I love that my heart is full of love.

5. I love my flaws, my scars and my complex personality because they make me unique.

6. I love my hourglass figure.

7. I love that I never give up no matter how hard life gets.

8. I love that I go after what I want.

9. I love that I’m constantly learning and evolving.

10. I love my skinny legs and arms.

11. I love that I’m empathic and caring.

12. I love that I’m independent and capable of sorting most things out on my own.

13. I love my green-yellow eyes.

14. I love that I’m creative and can find beauty in most things.

15. I love that I’m able to recognise when a situation isn’t healthy.

Now it’s your turn to write your list. What are 15 things that you love about yourself?


How to beat depression and get back on track

Chiaki Creates - How To Beat Depression and Get Back on Track chiakicreates.comYou probably know by now that I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety and panic attacks my whole life. After all these years, the most crucial thing that I’ve learnt when it comes to depression is that only you can make yourself better. I’ve worked incredibly hard for a very long time to be able to say that my life is really rather wonderful right now. I’ve also learnt the importance of staying vigilant and to not let your guard down under any circumstances.

At the end of November last year I was at the bottom of a dark well (metaphorically of course) when all of a sudden, everything fell apart. I found myself with no job, no money, no partner, not as many friends as I thought I had, and also eventually with no home. Yet, despite being completely broken and absolutely terrified, I managed to put my life back together again. With the support of my wonderful family and fantastic friends, who I can’t thank enough, I got through it. And that’s what’s been going on behind the scenes.

Once again, depression is in the news. We can never educate people enough about mental health and my hope is that reading this will help someone find the strength to carry on. Depression isn’t something that you can just ”snap out of”. It’s a very serious, very frightening illness. It becomes a part of you. Beating it requires extremely hard work but it’s so worth it in the end. Here are the things that I did that got me back on track.

Focus on looking after yourself
Don’t beat yourself up about not doing what you ”should” be doing. It can wait. You need to focus on caring for yourself right now. Let’s cover the basics first because you need to stay alive. Eat healthy food. Make sure you eat even if you can only stomach a little or certain types of food. Drink plenty of fluids. Drink green tea as it’s full of antioxidants. Take multivitamins. Go for long walks. Practise mindfulness. Do yoga. Make sure you go outside every day. Get as much sleep as possible. Your body and mind need it to be able to recover. Only take sleeping tablets if you really have to and only for a very short period of time as they are highly addictive.

Get it out of your system
Talk to your friends and family, your GP, a counsellor, online friends, strangers, Samaritans, cats, anyone. Talk until you’re tired of talking about it. Cry as much as you need to. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Expressing yourself will help you heal.

Write lists
Start a new notebook. This will be your ‘sorting out notebook’. Start by writing a list of what you want out of life, however outrageous. Then write a list of the steps you need to take to get there. Break them down into smaller steps and do one little thing each day until you feel well enough to do two, then three, then four and so on. Stop making excuses; do all those things that you’ve always wanted to do but never get round to. Write a list of all the good things in your life and highlight the good things about the situation you’re in. This is also where you write your emergency lists such as a list of all the people you can contact if you’re having a particularly bad day.

Do loads of fun things, laugh and celebrate
Watch and listen to loads of comedy. Go to stand-up gigs. Listen to music every day. Dance the Charleston and the Twist. Sing loudly. Read P.G. Wodehouse. Say yes. Try new things. Keep a ‘good things’ jar. Throw a dinner party. Go see some art. Eat out. Go to the pictures. Celebrate every little achievement. Celebrate being alive. For more ideas read 50 things to do when you need cheering up.

Get some perspective
If you’re able to, go away for a while. It will do you the world of good. You can’t get away from your inner struggles and worries, but you can get some perspective and figure out where to go from here. Distance can be a marvellous thing.

Surround yourself with supportive, loving people
Reach out to people and ask for help when you’re struggling. It can be extremely difficult but remember that asking for help does not mean that you’re a weak person. Some people will not be there for you when you need help but that’s okay. When you’re in pain, you will find out who your real friends are and that’s a very good thing. Keep in touch with people. Get out and see people as much as possible. Make new friends. Join a book club or a craft group. Make plans and look forward to things. Also, be kind to everyone. You never know who might end up becoming a vital part of your life.

Change things
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” I’m with Andy Warhol on this one. Sitting around doing nothing doesn’t change a thing. Time passing is only time passing. Sometimes bad things happen to make room for better things but if you don’t like something, you need to change it. If you can’t, accept that you can’t change it and instead change your attitude towards it. It’s difficult but it can be done.

Treat yourself lots
You need to be super kind to yourself right now. Do relaxing things and treat yourself as much as possible. Buy yourself a box of expensive chocolates. Make pancakes for breakfast. Take a bubble bath in candlelight. Share a drink or a cuppa and a laugh with a friend. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers. Wear your prettiest clothes. Change your hair. Buy some new art and crafts supplies. Use the nice china every day. Watch feel-good films. Have a large piece of chocolate cake in a pâtisserie. Soak up the sunshine. Fall in love with your city/town all over again. Go see a play or a musical in the theatre. Read books that make you smile. Cook your favourite dishes.

Seek inspiration
Literature, blogs, music, films, art, nature, people, animals. Inspiration is everywhere. Be open to everything that comes your way and actively seek out things that will stimulate your mind and get your imagination going. Variation is key to creativity and exposing yourself to new things will get your creative juices flowing.

Create stuff
Art is therapeutic. It makes you grow as a human being and it can even help you understand yourself better. Try a new medium and learn a new skill. Channelling your feelings and what is happening to you into making stuff will have a purifying effect and help you move forward.


How to write the perfect to-do list

Chiaki Creates - How To Write The Perfect To-Do List chiakicreates.comLet’s start with a couple of reasons why you should write to-do lists in the first place. When we write something down, we send a signal to our brain that it no longer has to remember the thing that we wrote down. This means that we’re free to focus on more productive things than ‘remembering to pick up a loaf of bread from the shops’. Crossing things off a list makes us feel good and our mind loves the rush of completing all our tasks.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that I have very strict rules when it comes to my daily to-do lists. The reason I’m strict is that I want to eliminate as much stress as possible from my daily life. I’m a very organised woman but I’m also emotionally driven so if I don’t fancy doing something, it just won’t get done. Even though I know that things one dread are rarely as bad as one imagines that they will be, sometimes I still can’t bring myself to do something that I really don’t want to do. I tend to give myself a treat, e.g. a matinée screening or a new book when I’ve done something that I was particularly dreading. I highly recommend it.

Creating routines is important because it makes us feel safe. The first thing on my list is always yoga. I get up around 7.30am every day and do my yoga first thing. Then I write and read for a bit, and have breakfast before I get on with my day. When it comes to writing my to-do list, here are the things that I’ve found work for me.

Write next day’s to-do list in the evening
That way you won’t have all of next day’s tasks in your head, stressing you out when you’re trying to sleep.

Only write things down that have to be done the next day
Don’t write anything down that you ‘should’ be doing but can do another day. This may sound like procrastination but it’s not. You want to be as productive as possible and therefore you want less things on your to-do list so that you will be able to complete all of them.

Highlight things that need to be prioritised
Things that are the most important should be done first with exception of things that fall into the category below.

If something on your list takes less than 10 minutes to do, do it straight away
For example telephone calls and emails. Get them over and done with. Crossing multiple things off the list quickly will motivate you to carry on.

Use specific terms and break tasks down into smaller ones
Again, this motivates you to get things done so don’t be vague.

Never put more than 3 big tasks on your list
You can put smaller parts of a big task on the list if you really need to, but be careful not to put too many big tasks on the list.

Don’t put more than 10 things on your list
A long to-do list overwhelms you and puts you in a state of paralysis. Our mind fixates on the uncompleted tasks and causes us distress. There’s even a name for this; the Zeigarnik effect.

Estimate how long each task will take and make sure to give yourself extra time
It’s far too easy to misjudge time only to end up with loads of things that you didn’t have time to do. Things go wrong, things turn up and things change, so allow extra time.

When possible, delegate
Can someone else do any of the tasks?

If you’re really not in the mood, put the list aside and do something fun for a while
Take a whole day off if you need to.

Focus on doing one thing at a time and take regular breaks
In reality, trying to multitask takes longer than doing one thing at a time. We can’t focus on things for too long and we do really need breaks, and lots of them.

If you still have tasks left on your to-do list by 8pm, scratch it and write next day’s list
Set a time limit that suits you but it shouldn’t be any later than 8pm. Your mind needs rest so you can be productive the next day.


What I see in the mirror

Chiaki Creates - What I See In the Mirror chiakicreates.comThe Guardian does this wonderful series where they ask famous people what they see in the mirror. I find it very interesting to hear how people perceive themselves so I figured I’d write one myself.

When I look in the mirror, I see a woman who simply refuses to give up; a woman who has fought hard for everything she’s got. I never used to think that I look particularly Scandinavian but now I’m embracing my Viking blood.

Like most Swedes my natural hair colour is dark blonde, but I’ve been dyeing it different colours for almost 18 years now. I’ve always wanted naturally red hair.

I get my green eyes from my mum (my brother has them as well) and my pale, transparent skin from my dad. From my dad I also get my long legs and arms. No one in my family knows where my nose comes from and I’ve never met anyone with a nose quite like mine.

I have a bump on my nose from when my first boyfriend broke it when I was 13. It was my first encounter with a psychopath, and having studied psychology I don’t use that term lightly. On my face, I also see scars from a lip piercing and a vertical earl piercing as well as a scar by the corner of my left eye and on the bridge of my nose from two childhood accidents. Mind you, none of these bother me, they remind me of the fact that I’m alive.

I like my crooked smile. I’m always smiling more on one side of my face. I used to avoid smiling when I was younger because I was horrifically self-concious about my less than straight teeth, but with age I’ve found that I care less and less about it. Same thing with wearing makeup. I used to hate what I looked like without makeup to the point where I wouldn’t let people take photos of me au natural, but I just cannot be bothered to put it on every day anymore. I have grown to like my face without makeup.

With age I’ve become quite comfortable in my own skin. I love my hourglass figure; my defined waist. I’m 170 cm (5′ 7″) and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I like my body. It looks good and it works well, especially considering that walking, practising yoga and dancing is the most strenuous exercise that it gets.

Now I’m challenging you to do the same. Write down what you see in the mirror. It’s a good exercise. Do let me know if you write one as I would love to read yours!


A list of everything that’s important in life

Chiaki Creates - A List of Everything That's Important in LifeLately I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me happy and what doesn’t. The older I get, the more I feel like I really can’t be bothered with things that are not contributing to my well-being. Thankfully, what we do with our time is our choice. We all have the same amount of time each day but we have different priorities. This list is a celebration of everything that makes me feel good and a reminder to cut everything else out.

Creating beautiful things
Make time for writing, taking photos and creating things with my hands. Always create art.

Finding people I love
Surround myself with loving, supportive people who make me a better person. Keep in touch with my friends and family living in other countries. Meet new people and network.

Getting cultured
Watch old films. Read every day. Go to art exhibitions. Try new restaurants. Go to the pictures and the theatre. Lose hours in a bookshop, a library or a record shop. Travel and see the world.

Being kind and true to myself
Not let anyone else decide what I can and can’t do. Not beat myself up about mistakes. Make time for relaxing. Recharge my batteries by having frequent alone-time and cuddling with cats. Trust my gut feelings. Treat myself lots. Cook and eat good food.

Having fun
Listen to music. Dance and sing. Play card and board games. Solve all kinds of puzzles. Go outside and play. Be silly. Celebrate. Watch and listen to comedy. Go trampolining.

Being fully present in the moment
Practise mindfulness. Focus on the moment and not let random thoughts distract me. Slow down. Do yoga. Not worry about catching up on things all the time. Go for long strolls and notice the beauty around me.

Helping others
Do little acts of kindness. Volunteer and donate. Be there for my friends and family. Support fellow independent creatives and handmade businesses. Buy vintage and second-hand.

Simplifying my life
Keep only possessions that I love and that serves a purpose. De-clutter. Eliminate stress and unnecessary tasks. Do one thing at a time.

Challenging myself
Focus on creating my own reality. Dream big. Face my fears. Get out of my comfort zone. Find a new perspective.

Learning something new every day
Have a sense of wonder. Be curious. Learn new languages. Read about something that I know nothing about. Take creative courses and workshops.

Expressing gratitude
Keep a good things jar. Write gratitude lists. Appreciate life’s simple pleasures and fill my days with them.

What things are important in your life? I would love to read your list.


Words I live by

Chiaki Creates - Happy Crochet CoasterIt’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of cognitive behavioural therapy and positive psychology. Quite recently I also started practising mindfulness and doing yoga, and my mind has never felt so clear. The words I live by are a mixture of all these things as well as many, many quotes. You can read more quotes on my Pinterest board Lovely words.

○ Live in the present, don’t dwell on the past and don’t worry about the future. The only moment that exists is now. Focus on it.

○ The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Sylvia Plath

○ Make the most of what you’ve got. (My mum instilled this in me from a very early age.)

○ What you think decides how you feel and how you feel decides what you think. Notice your negative thought processes and behaviour patterns. Find productive patterns to replace them with.

○ Set goals and work towards them. Don’t dream it, be it.

○ Avoid using self-imposed demanding words such as ‘should’ and ‘must’. Avoid using vague words such as ‘wish’ and ‘hope’.

○ Own your feelings. Don’t let them own you. You are responsible for your (re)actions because no one else can control how you feel or behave.

○ Ask yourself what “problem” you have right now, not next year, tomorrow, or five minutes from now. What is wrong with this moment? You can always cope with the Now, but you can never cope with the future – nor do you have to. The answer, the strength, the right action or the resource will be there when you need it, not before, not after. – Eckhart Tolle

○ They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. – Andy Warhol

○ Don’t play the victim of your circumstances. You are not what has happened to you anymore than you choose to be. Learn from bad experiences, forgive and move on.

○ Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

○ Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art. – Andy Warhol

○ Communication is the key, with yourself and the outside world. Most arguments are just misunderstandings.

○ Be aware of idiosyncratic thinking. People interpret experiences differently.

What words do you live by?