10 Learnings from a Wild-ish Summer
1. It takes the time it takes
When it comes to creative projects, kid milestones, actualizing our dreams, healing. Deadlines are only helpful if they create heat and not pressure. Too much pressure can kill the aliveness in any creative process. We can notice how much of our suffering comes from an expectation that something was supposed to happen sooner or be done faster than it naturally wants to take, and we can wonder what that pressure might be costing our relationships with ourselves over time.
As I approach my next decade, I feel I’ve learned everything I need to learn about time pressure. What I’m much more curious about is time courage — unhooking from the cycle of urgency and my pattern of A.B.O. (always be optimizing) and to test the theory that my soul thrives and my creativity expands when I focus more on unfolding my life than extracting from it.
My husband would probably want me to remind you that time courage is not applicable to everything and specifically not when you are trying to get to the airport on time.
2. Joy and Sorrow are Sisters
Joy is the extrovert and Sorrow is the introvert, but they make each other possible. As Khalil Gibran writes, “the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
3. Doing the creative work you love is a blessing. But it’s not the same thing as true rest
In a culture that generally undervalues the contributions of creative life, we can understandably mistake time doing our creative endeavors with time to let ourselves rest and restore.
If you are like me and so many of my clients, it often feels like as you are navigating all of your different multitudes and responsibilities, there is rarely additional time and space for you to experience true rest. Or if you do the hard work of creating that space for yourself, it’s hard to let yourself receive or feel worthy of it.
And yet, in The Creative Cycle, the rest and recovery phase (I call this Integration) is an essential phase of the cycle as opposed to something that needs to be earned through achievement or measured output. We need space to restore, integrate, receive, dream, imagine, and replenish without pressure in order to access more flow, new ideas, and energy for evolution. For many of us, this requires a major paradigm shift.
Author and leader Tricia Hersey is igniting the conversation around rest and unhooking from grind culture and its roots in the oppressive systems of white supremacy and capitalism. Her bestselling manifesto Rest is Resistance is on my reading list this fall.
4. Sometimes you need to learn the lesson 1000 times (and that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong)
Consider for a moment, that whatever the lesson you feel you keep having to learn repeatedly (we all have one!) is actually revealing an essential and sacred piece of your life story and purpose. Your life is a creative act. Each time we learn the lesson, however painful or maddening or even shameful it may feel, we are uncovering a deeper layer of the unique gift we are here to offer the world.
5. Our not-enoughness belongs not to us, but to the culture that made us. The most revolutionary thing we can say to ourselves and our children is: you are enough
In her enlightening book, The Awakened Brain, psychologist and researcher Dr. Lisa Miller distinguishes between having an Achievement Orientation versus an Awakening Orientation.
This blew me away because I feel like our souls only care about awakening, but we’re conditioned to organize our worth around achievement and appearance. And yet, we can’t be truly creative from a state of not-enoughess. Enoughness is the foundation for a life oriented toward awakening — and any truly sustainable spiritual or creative journey — the inherent given that is always with us, instead of the thing we are endlessly striving for.
We can put this into practice by doing a radical experiment called a Day of Enoughness. We can go through our entire selves and lives and relationships and make the intention to establish worth as the given before we engage in our doings, not the carrot at the end of the stick. We can clear any not-enoughness that has crept into our process like a feng-shui offering for our creative soul. We can notice the space that is created for awakening.
6. The brave thing is rarely convenient and usually uncomfortable but it always takes you home
Whenever I’m staring at a brave thing I’m called to do and simultaneously don’t want to do, I overfocus on how sweaty and uncomfortable it will be. I too often forget that courage is the pathway of evolution, and less important than the result of the brave act is becoming more of myself through the act. The root of the word ‘courage’ comes from the Latin ‘cor’, meaning heart. The brave thing helps us come home to our heart — and to our truest selves. If you want to go deeper on this, here are 12 types of courage in creative life.
7. It’s okay to go dark for a bit
“In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”— Michaela Coel, 2021 Emmy Acceptance Speech:
In case there is any area of your life where you, like me and so many others I know, may be feeling guilt, anxiety, or a sense of feeling behind that you haven’t been visible enough — everything beautiful was birthed in darkness (including the universe).
Going dark is a necessary part of the creative process, but there is literally zero space or encouragement for us to see what comes to us in the silence in our digital, always-on social media culture that completely disregards the cyclical quality of being human.
We need to normalize going dark for a bit. Are you with me on this? I think the more permission we can give to each other around this the more we can make it part of a new and more supportive creative culture that can actually sustain instead of drain us. Which is related to:
8. When you are in a transition, the culture regards you as invisible, when actually, you are alchemical
I’ve been helping both of my kids transition to new schools this month and after the (first!) day I caught myself hoping they would both come home and say — “School was amazing, Mom! I’m so happy and totally great and extremely well-adjusted in every moment!”
Of course one of my children doesn’t talk yet and also their job during this transition is not to take care of my feelings about the transition! Their job is to be in their sacred process of becoming. Inside of transitions, we become who we need to be in the next chapter — like a portal where we are tapped into extra aliveness and magic but not necessarily a lot of comfort or contentment. Instant transformation does not exist in humans or nature, but worth noticing how much our before/after obsessed culture expects it of ourselves and others.
I’ve been feeling this pressure deeply throughout motherhood so far and I’ve decided that butterflies are overrated. In case anyone needs me I will be in some kind of transition for the rest of my life. As the great Octavia Butler says “the only lasting truth is change.”
If you are inside of any kind of transition or change process right now, notice if you’ve been absorbing the cultural idea that your significance is diminished because you haven’t arrived yet and can I please remind you today how powerful and beautiful and breathtaking you are right now in this very moment?
9. Sometimes confusion is the process of all of the people inside of you getting on board with what your soul already knows
For anyone on a path of awakening, a specific and strange kind of shame can emerge when we hear an intuition that we don’t immediately act on.
Compound this with a cultural bias toward fast decision-making, us deep-thinking, unhurried decision-makers can be made to feel like we’re doing it wrong. If this relates, consider that part of what is happening for you inside of decisions is all of your inner parts are acclimating to your inner truth.
The feeling of confusion can act as an adjustment period where our nervous system and all of the people inside of us have to prepare for the fact that our story just got more beautiful, expansive, and true. This feels like a form of self-care, actually. There is no rush. You’re in your process.
10. Two teachers we most regularly forget to listen to are nature and ourselves
Remembering. Forgetting. Remembering. Forgetting. Remembering…
5 creative promises I’m making this fall
This fall is the first time in four years I am not either pregnant or breast-feeding. There is both awe and grief in crossing this threshold, which feels simultaneously like some kind of strange homecoming and also a rebirth. Everything about motherhood reminds me of Carl Jung’s idea that only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life.
Anyway I’m feeling renewed creative energy which is a blessing. I’m returning to a now annual theme of finishing the year creatively. I’d love for you to join me if this idea moves you.
Here are some promises and notes I’m making to myself and my creativity right now:
- Create one thing at a time (choose the energy of completing one sprint over the energetic drain of many unfinished marathons — it’s okay to have other projects in incubation or visibility phases).
- True is better than perfect (give yourself something to edit but don’t edit while you create).
- “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” — Mary Oliver
- 15 minutes a day
- Replace pressure with radical love
I’m working on some new projects, and they’ll take the time they take of course ????, but I can’t wait to share more with you soon.
23 Prompts for your expansion
Here are 23 prompts to open up creative expansion this fall and beyond.
These are part of a reflection process I regularly invite my clients to, especially at the change of seasons.
These are not meant to be answered quickly, or with exactitude. You could work with them in a journaling or creative practice, take them on a walk, or share an exchange with a trusted friend. Take them into your inner world and then notice (without pressure) what arises.
It’s normal if they bring up a bit of nervousness or fear — those are always signs that we are in spaces of expansion. They are meant to open up your creative world — to shift your thinking, spark deep inner wisdom, and inspire new parts of yourself to come forth.
What have these last few months been like for you? What learnings have been meaningful? Have you been acknowledging your progress and celebrating the small wins?
Actually, there are no sizes. You are doing it. We tend to be overly hard on ourselves. I encourage you to celebrate everything.
I believe in you, and the beautiful creative path you are unfolding.