In the Great Christmas Miracle of 2022, my husband Michael and I got a sitter so we could leave the house — simultaneously! at night! — to go to a Holiday party in NYC.
Below are some of my learnings from 2022, and this one — don’t wait to thank people — is at the top of the list.
One of my favorite Peloton instructors also happened to be in attendance.
Though I tried to hold myself back, I couldn’t help but
walk rapidly jog over to her to tell her how much her classes meant to me. I did not mean to be that person who starts gush-crying to a Peloton celebrity at a Christmas party. But I was. That person.
She was so patient and waited for me to get to the end of my extremely long and convoluted sentence about the impact of her work on my bewildered postpartum self. Then she told me it was a hard week and she needed to hear that today. I had assumed since she is also a million other people’s favorite instructor that she didn’t need reminders of how great she was.
2022 was one of the most beautiful and hard years of my life — becoming a parent of two while navigating the wild ride of toddlerhood, starting a new segment of my business, welcoming new clients and team members, supporting my husband through the opening of several new Broadway shows, all while moving through my second (much more challenging) postpartum process, stealing a few minutes to write, and trying to make some space for the transitions of selfhood and womanhood in the midst of it all.
I feel extremely humbled thinking of all of the people I have to thank — including you — who supported and touched my life this year.
I do these annual reflections so I can remember my work, my life, my relationships, and myself as time passes.
Sometimes we are so IN our journey that we cannot SEE it,
and that has never felt more true than during the early stages of parenthood when sometimes it feels like I wake up each morning with amnesia from the day before. Looking back at these lists over the years allows me to see patterns and gain perspective — and, hopefully, what I’m working on most these days — a bit of compassion for all the former me’s.
Also, digesting and integrating our experiences is an essential part of the creative process that we aren’t always in the habit of observing, but as it’s become increasingly core to all aspects of my work, I’m learning how powerfully it fertilizes future processes.
Many of us are conditioned to feel like we are never doing enough, never accomplishing enough, and never being enough. Focusing on learning helps us get a little distance from the not enoughness narrative and center the abundance of wisdom instead.
These learnings are all in process — it’s not like I’ve nailed them! But they are forming the texture of the next chapter, and helping me to get clear as begin to create intentions for the next chapter.
Okay! Here we go— 22 Learnings from 2022:
1. Don’t wait to thank people
We are all human. All of us have days when we need to be reminded that we matter. We never know when someone needs to hear a kind word. No one ever gets mad about being genuinely thanked.
2. Excellence and Perfectionism are opposites
(Not identical twins, like perfectionism would like us to believe). Striving for excellence revels more of who we are, being yoked to the endless quest for perfection moves us away from our true selves.
I feel like my challenges with perfectionism were at an all time high this year, so unpacking the difference between our value of excellence and our patterns of perfectionism — both in our processes and in our bodies is going to be a core theme moving forward.
3. We can only create and expand (sustainably) to the degree that we feel safe
So many creative and entrepreneurial disciplines collapse the value of risk-taking with the feeling of safety. We’re told to stop playing it safe in our work and we confuse that with a directive to deny ourselves safety in our creative rooms. Trauma research reveals that we can’t feel curious until we feel safe — so authentic safety empowers creative risk-taking, not the other way around.
4. Taking good care of your marriage means avoiding conversations when one spouse is caffeinated and the other isn’t
We spent most of our year awake at 5am, and so we try to take turns letting each other sleep when we can. Turns out that when I’ve had two cups of coffee and Michael is just waking up is actually NOT the best time to dive into our five year plan!
But honestly, this was the best year of my marriage, despite how little time we had for each other. And this learning feels like it’s really about how our communication is only as good as our ability to be kind to each other while doing so.
5. Move at the speed of your future self
Systems of supremacy teach us that the only acceptable speed is urgency. But if we want to build a new world, we have to listen to our future selves, not the dying culture. I have probably met over a thousand future selves in my coaching career, and I have NEVER met a future self who is in a rush.
6. A creative life does not mean the avoidance of faithlessness. It means that you can be a best friend to yourself when the inevitable doubt comes
Your best friend does not abandon you when you doubt yourself. Your best friend sends you encouraging giphs and brings you over your favorite snacks and reminds you that this is just part of your process. Being a creative best friend to ourselves is how we stay in the game.
7. It’s okay to take the easy route
SAYING IT LOUDER FOR MYSELF IN THE BACK.
8. Who we are in transitions is who we really are
The world values products over process, so it can feel like we want to just get to the other side so we can become worthy and lovable. But who we are inside of the mess is who we really are. And transitions are portals to some of our greatest wisdom, if we have the courage to listen.
9. We have to give ourselves permission to change
I know this is obvious. But also — this is hard.
10. Grief is part of growth
When we’re leveling up, grief doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong, it means we’re doing it right. Grief isn’t a sign we made the wrong decision, it’s a reminder that we are a human being experiencing a transformational process.
11. Our calendars reveal our true values
I failed to show up in the way I wanted to for many activist efforts I care deeply about. Living our values does not mean only caring about something. It’s means scheduling time to show up. And then following through. Again and again.
As the demands on my time continue to increase, I am realizing that if my values are not scheduled, they are not real.
12. Most creative block happens because we’re trying to be in a different stage of the process than the one we’re in
Like trying to edit while we generate. Or create a marketing plan for something that is just being born. Refining a 50th draft when it’s time to send our work out into the world. Or trying to nail down a perfect new project idea when our body is calling for resting and digesting.
Be where you are. This is what creativity needs from us.
13. Sometimes the best advice is no advice
I learned this from a stranger on fb who was the one parent who said me too instead of giving me a million strategies.
Well-timed, contextual advice can be a life-saver, but underneath our advice requests is often a quiet voice wondering: Am I doing it right? Am I okay? What’s wrong with me that I can’t figure this out?
Advice culture trains us to seek advice when what we often really need is to trust the validity of our own voices and experiences — to remember that there is nothing wrong with us.
Also — over-stuffing with advice can also prevent us from realizing that we are not alone, which is often the first step in understanding that our issue is systemic, rather than a personal failure.
14. Don’t make what the market is asking for, make the most beautiful thing you can imagine
I think of our job as creators is to thoroughly SEE the world, ask the questions that will help it grow, and then imagine how that could happen.
Sometimes this means listening to your imagination first, even if it’s not what you were taught to do.
15. We can’t control results. We can control the container inside of which a result may happen.
We spend too much time obsessing about whether our work will be good or successful (out of our control), and not enough time obsessing about designing an effective and aligned container in which those results will occur (within our control).
Well-designed containers are creativity multipliers. To do better creative work, we can make better containers.
16. Subtraction is a creative act
The rule I’m trying to implement is that when I think whatever I’m working on is done, it gets one more haircut — because what we take out is a as important as what we leave in.
(In case you’re wondering if I know how to take my own advice, this list was originally 50 THINGS. Subtraction is hard!)
17. Your body of work is a story
Sometimes it seems like we’re endlessly churning out creative projects to the point that it starts to feel extractive. It’s really helped me as I view both my own and my clients’ work to keep looking for the bigger story of the larger body of work — and to respect it, stay committed to it, and to let it be a compass for ecosystem expansion.
We are all here to tell a unique story through our creative work, and our job is to listen for it as we keep exploring new disciplines, mediums, channels, and aspects of ourselves.
18. Run. Toward. Enthusiasm.
Which is hard! Because I have a 17-year-old in my heart whose greatest goal is to be cool. But the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek root — entheos – which means inspired by a God-like essence. Whatever you believe in, following our genuine enthusiasm reunites us with our original spark. I want to devote the rest of my life to running full speed toward my enthusiasm and helping others run toward theirs.
19. Keep it simple
Unlearning my obedience to complexity is a big goal of mine for 2023 and until the end of time. Simplicity (and brevity) is a gift to each other’s nervous systems in the digital age.
20. When our enoughness is a given and not what’s at stake, we can actually do what we’re here to do.
Not-enoughness belongs to the culture that made us, not us.
21. When you trust yourself and your creativity, sometimes missing a deadline is the next right step
Creativity knows exactly what she’s doing, but you have to trust her. Sometimes the creative soup needs longer to cook. This doesn’t mean the soup is a failure. This means the soup is about to get really good. So don’t blame the soup! Or yourself. But whatever you do — don’t turn off the stove.
22. It is impossible to follow the world’s rules and write your own at the same time
Believe me — I. Have. Tried.
I’m like — can’t I be very extremely innovative and eat my people-pleasing cake too? But there is only one option and it is to burn ye old rule book and take one very big sweaty scary beautiful giant leap into the life that only you can imagine.
Now over to you —
Does anything here intersect with your journey? I’ve love to know about your learnings this year. Hit reply and let me know what resonates.
And in case no one has said this to you recently — the story of you and your journey this year — is beautiful, worthy, and enough.
I am signing off with big love and gratitude for you.
if you are new here — welcome to, in my humble opinion, the most magical newsletter community in all the land. I’m so incredibly glad you are here. And if you have been here a while — thank you for welcoming me back in your inbox, for reading, sharing, writing me letters, asking good and hard questions.
Most importantly, thank you for showing up for your own creative and courageous life.
The world needs more people like you.
Happy new year, wherever you are.
PS: There is a Japanese ritual called Senbazaru — which involves a gift of one thousand paper cranes symbolizing good health and good luck. I wish I could fold 1000 cranes for you and hand-deliver this gift to your door right now to thank you for being on the other side of this email. In the meantime, wishing you the most creative and abundant year yet.