I’m writing to you from Notting Hill, London, where our family is living for the next three months while my husband puts up a musical in the West End.
It was a wild adventure getting our family here and situated but experiencing the aliveness that life in a new country brings turned out to be the gift we didn’t know we needed. I’m utterly enchanted by this city!
Today’s letter has 24 gifts to nourish your creative self, creative health, and creative projects. Each gift is dedicated to you feeling fully expressed in your creative life this year, and is intended to meet you wherever you are in your creative cycle right now — whether you are immersed in a big project, in the liminal space of the in-between, approaching the dawn of a new chapter, or just trying to catch your breath while life has been LIFE-ing.
You won’t need all of these. But you probably need one. Notice what gives you tingles, goosebumps, a flutter in your chest, or a feeling of urgency in your soul.
Then before you can talk yourself out of it, decide that you will give it to yourself, and then email me so I can celebrate you.
24 Gifts to Give Your Creative Self This Year
1. Practice Unconditional Mattering
Our inner critics tell us that feeling worthy because we are born and not because we produce creatively great things will keep us lazy and undriven, but the remarkable paradox here is that when you courageously decide that your results do not affect your inherent worth — BEFORE showing up at a pitch meeting, writing your newsletter, going onstage, a day of parenting — you actually free your bravest, most alive creative work.
When you stop making your creative work responsible for proving that you are worthy of love and belonging, you allow it to do the things it’s really here to do — help you give your unrepeatable gift, and come home to yourself in the process.
2. Have More Meltdowns
The reason I believe meltdowns are a spiritual practice is because they take us straight to the truth, which is where all creative progress begins. We are so wired to keep it together and please everyone that sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to totally break down to understand how we’re really feeling (I’m an expert on meltdowns since my toddlers model this for me like 10 times an hour).
My 3 most recent breakthroughs came from epic meltdowns — one was about the paradox of time and parenting, one was about being a creativity coach with creative block, and one was about my marriage. All three were unpleasant and vulnerable, and all three catalyzed major positive shifts.
First the meltdown, then the breakthrough.
3. Commit to Your Multipliers
Last year was a wonderfully victorious year for so many of my clients (yay. wow. YAY) and one of the attributing factors in this abundance was a remarkable awareness of and commitment to their Multipliers.
A Multiplier is any practice, ritual, behavior pattern, mindset, or action that you’ve observed is helping you get more of whatever it is that you want — flow, miracles, creativity, abundance — and the gift here is once you identify your multipliers to integrate them into your daily flow so they become non-negotiable. Multipliers are often obvious and simple (daily walks, contemplative practice, brave emails, naps, affirmations) and sometimes they feel boring. But they compound, and require a kind of devotional courage.
Helping you identify your Multipliers is a deep joy for me, because they have a secret, subtle, unique magic that catalyzes transformative results over time.
Committing to your multipliers also means that you are ready to receive more, and are willing to expand. This, too, requires a daring commitment.
4. Schedule a Creation Space Day
A Creation Space Day is a day where you allow yourself to wander, dream, think, replenish and imagine. It’s not about meeting a deadline or demanding creative output. In fact, it’s about learning what happens when you take the pressure off of results and treat yourself and your creativity by following your curiosity and pleasure. IDEALLY FOR AN ENTIRE DAY.
As a mom of small children, I am basically offended by my own advice here. There is literally no time for me to go to the bathroom, let alone have a full day of space. But as your Creativity Catalyst, I am daring both you and me to schedule more time for Creation Space in whatever way you can make it work. In the same way that the best athletic coaches focus on an athlete’s recovery when they want to level up, Creation Space fertilizes your creative power. And it also interrupts the disregulating effects hustle culture has on our spirits. Maybe it’s just 5 minutes today. This year, I’m experimenting with blocking off a week of Creation Space every quarter.
Creation Space is a multiplier for everyone I work with. This will work for you, if you dare.
5. Design an Expansion Experiment
I’ve spent the last 12 months guiding a group of remarkable women through a series of Expansion Experiments — and I’m now convinced that there is a direct correlation between our ability to expand and our willingness to approach that expansion with a quality of experimentation and play.
To give yourself this gift, take an ultimatum your inner critic has demanded of you and turn it into an experiment. Notice how that changes your breath, your spine, your nervous system, and your creative ideas. Notice the pressure that releases and the courage that is liberated.
6. Immerse Yourself in Beauty and Art
This gift is especially for you if you’ve been feeling overburdened and under-inspired.
We don’t talk enough about our creative diets, and how our inputs affect our aliveness and creative energy. In your future vision, what beauty and loveliness surrounds you? Beauty, art, and inspiring wisdom are not treats you get to reward yourself with after you do the hard work. They are essential ingredients for you to be fully expressed.
May you go out of your way to seek an abundance of beauty, poetry, and awe this year. As a creator, this is your oxygen.
7. Make it a Love Story
One of the most beautiful gifts that you, dear creator, give to our world is that you teach us how to love. Your unique ability to fall in love with the world, repeatedly, courageously, and without any guarantees is one of your greatest superpowers.
The first part of giving yourself this gift is remembering and owning that this is your superpower. Here’s the second part: consider one of the relationships in your creative ecology that is feeling stuck or stagnant. Maybe it’s a relationship with a collaborator, with your creative voice, with your resources, or with your industry. Giving yourself this gift means instead of trying to solve the problem of this relationship, ask: How is this a love story?
If love is a practice, how does this relationship need you to show up for it?
8. Create the Boundaries of Your Future Self
I love your Future Self and I love her boundaries. Does your Future Self wait to check her phone in the morning until after she has checked in with herself? Does she give herself 30 minutes to decompress and reflect after big meetings before checking email and DMs? Does she have someone else filter the insane comments on her videos?
And then — because of these beautiful boundaries, what is she free to give her energy to?
Your Future Self has given themself permission for something you haven’t given yourself permission for yet. This gift is about asking your Future Self what this is, writing yourself a permission slip, and then integrating these behaviors and rituals now. Even if you don’t feel ready yet.
9. Get it Sorted
This expression is very popular here in the UK and I love it. Getting it sorted makes me feel calm and shame-free and like no one is at fault but we will 100% get it taken care of in some kind of happy collaboration.
Sometimes we are avoiding a meaningful intention or project because some small, usually logistically annoying thing that needs to be sorted is in the way. Maybe it’s an email that needs to be responded to, a set of notes that need to be organized, or a technical thing that you don’t want to figure out. What needs a little attention? Who can help you? May you give yourself the gift of getting it sorted so you can live your beautiful, unapologetic creative life.
10. Find a Community Where You Can Be Whole
After 20+ years of participating in and guiding creative communities, I’ve learned that two of the essential conditions for true transformation in a group environment are:
1. That you feel you can be received and loved as your whole self and
2. That you feel inspired to summon your creative courage.
It’s really hard to find this. And it can change everything when you do.
11. Nurture a Wild Dream
3 questions here: What is calling to you? Who do you really want to be? What can’t wait another year?
A wild dream is not linear and rarely makes logical sense. A wild dream feels thrilling in the present moment because it belongs to you, not someone you’re trying to please. A wild dream is a container for who you most want to become, never works out exactly the way you planned, but always takes you to a more fully expressed version of yourself.
The keeper of your Wild Dream is your Wildest Self. Sometimes we can’t hear the wild dream because we are busy nurturing the logical dream, the borrowed dream, or the dream that has grown too small for us. As we approach the Lunar New Year, we can use the art of Feng Shui as we consider our dreams and projects. What wild dream wants to be centered? What outgrown dreams need to be released?
And this is important: Your Wild Self is not perfectionist about your progress, and does not care how long this dream may be taking to actualize, but only that you nurture it.
12. Do Less
This feels like it should be simple but is actually deeply challenging for recovering over-achievers like me.
If you, like nearly everyone I know, is overwhelmed by all of the things you have committed to, I invite you to utilize the life-changing magic of underwhelming commitments. If you want a daily 1-hour writing practice, commit to 15 minutes. If you want to stop feeling relentlessly behind, put 1-3 things in your daily plan instead of 10. Commit to less. If the cultural conditioning tells you you’re not doing enough, you’re on the right track. And your Wild Dreams will thank you.
13. Ritualize Reflection and Celebration
This gift is about building daily, weekly, and monthly reflection (what did I learn?) and celebration (what was the gold?), especially if you tend to underappreciate your efforts, constantly be disappointed with your results, or have a hard time owning your magnificence and good work. This also helps if you are a creative visionary who is wired to create new visions and frontiers every time you reach a milestone. These rituals don’t always feel urgent and they are not the sexiest. But they train you to grow your receiving muscles, strengthen your relationship with your wisdom, and build self-trust.
14. Welcome the Shadows
I’ve recently navigated one of the hardest seasons of my life, due to some extremely challenging and unexpected events in my personal life. Thankfully, I also began EMDR therapy for early childhood trauma that I had previously been unable to heal. EMDR made me look at every shadow I was trying to pretend didn’t exist, and felt like getting a weekly root canal for my soul, but has (not hyperbole), fundamentally reorganized my entire relationship with myself. I had no idea that this trauma healing would also clear so many of the blocks I was experiencing creatively. But. Wow. Healing and creativity are inextricably tied (not contradictions) and welcoming the shadow inevitably means welcoming the next chapter of your creative freedom.
15. Assemble an Inner Council
If you crave mentorship that you can’t seem to find, this gift is medicine.
If you could invite anyone into your creative room, who would you invite? Who would you love supporting, advising, and gently guiding your process? Create an imaginary creative board of directors entirely of your choosing. Include anyone who encourages your wild creativity, offers the mentorship you desire, and lovingly inspires you to create in new and daring ways. Turn to this council for guidance and support.
16. Ask a Daily Question
I started a habit of asking a question before I turn off the light each night.
I’ve spent too much of my life giving my Inner Critic way too much air time, and a key priority for me as I enter my next decade is to radically prioritize my value of curiosity, which I find completely disarms the IC. This gift is about receiving answers from source, your subconscious, your intuition, and any other higher forces that want to chime in, which strengthens your ability to listen and receive inner guidance.
(And because I am a real planner nerd ????♀️ I designed my own planner with space for this question, which makes it even more fun).
17. Curate Your Inputs
Go on an inputs cleanse and consider whose voice you are letting into your inner space. Unsubscribe or mute any inputs or voices that constrict your permission, power, or curiosity, diminish your creativity, or feel out of alignment with your vision and values.
18. Play More. Play Bigger
When you’re ready to expand, let yourself play more, not less. We are conditioned to believe that certainty is superior to curiosity, and that imagination is a less valuable or grown-up skill than strategy or solving. When we want to level up we often replay messages inside of our head like quit messing around and get serious.
This gift is about summoning the courage to try stuff and take daring creative risks. Also, when we set aside our judgments about how we should be spending our time, playing feels good.
19. Take Less Responsibility
A habit of overresponsibility in our creative work is sometimes why we don’t spend time on the projects we care about most. When overresponsibility is multiplied by perfectionism, we can get stuck in the mud (Hi. Hello. I am very familiar with this mud). The gift here is to put your focus and responsibility on giving your creative gift, and releasing your perceived control of how it lands on the receiver or your audience.
20. Give your Caregiving the Respect it Deserves
If you are caregiving in any capacity, I wonder if you’ve been fully acknowledging and honoring everything you’re doing.
In a culture that renders caregiving less valuable than nearly every other endeavor, and even invisible at times, it takes epic work to witness yourself and regard this work with full respect. This gift is about seeing yourself like your own best friend and acknowledging the heft and heroism of what you’re doing. This doesn’t solve the complex, cultural challenges of how in the hell you are supposed to find time to create when you are caregiving in a culture that doesn’t support caregivers (it can be so hard), but utilizing the practice of compassionate witnessing to tell a new story about how you are standing in your courage and power as a caregiver AND a creator.
21. Embrace the Space Between
Consider that creativity comes alive in the space between, in the transitional times that we tend to write off or want to just get through. Turn your attention to the space between thoughts, the space between two people, the space between projects, the space between who you are and who you’re becoming, the space between one season of your life and the next, and bring your superpowers of curiosity and presence. Notice what alchemizes.
22. Trust the Whispers
I call these Soul Directions. Unlike shoulds (dreams that don’t belong to us), Soul Directions are a unique set of instructions from our deep selves and contain the blueprint for our aligned next chapter.
Soul Directions are always available to us, but we are conditioned to listen to cultural directions instead, which is why we need to trust the whispers underneath all of the noise. If you give yourself this gift, expect breakthroughs. When you dare to tell yourself the truth, positive change is inevitable.
23. Experience ‘Recontrer’
I recently heard Ester Perel talking about how the power of recontrer — which she defines from the French as “a meeting with the new” — is essential in our long-term romantic relationships. But it’s as important in our relationship with our creativity. I’m thinking of this every day as I notice how I alive I feel here in London, but you don’t have to fly across the Atlantic to experience this. What small thing can you shift or change up so you can experience freshness in your creative life? How can you create a meeting with the new?
24. Ask for A Creative Miracle
I’m currently very into miracles — not only because our family plays Encanto on repeat or because it’s the Spanish translation of my daughter Milagro’s name — but also because I believe most of us are underutilizing the power of miracles in our creative lives, perhaps because they require a level of faith we may not feel comfortable with.
Marianne Williamson talks about a miracle as the shift in perception from fear to love. Where in your creative life are you ready for a miracle? Will you dare to ask for it? Will you shift your perception? Are you willing to receive it when it comes?
I’m curious: Which gift is calling to you? Which gift could nourish your process right now? Comment below. And if there’s something here you want me to write more about, or have questions about — please let me know that too. You are why I write, and your thoughts and shares shape what we talk about here.
And in case no one has reminded you recently —
Your creative voice matters. Your curiosity matters. Your ideas matter. Your courage matters. Your contributions matter. Your aliveness matters. Your wisdom matters. Your love of things matters.
Image credit: Neeqolah Creative Works