12 Reminders for the Creative Life

The brain learns by repetition, repeat exposure, reminders. Often I’ve had insights arrive in my gray matter—sweet aha moments that soothe my worries and send waves of relief over my weary soul—only to just as soon forget those insights and find myself back in the mire of suffering, straining to recapture the relieving thoughts I once held firmly in my grasp. Thankfully over time I have learned to keep note of my insights (and others’) to revisit them as often as needed. This gives my brain opportunities to review and marinade in the sweet, sweet wisdoms of life.

A dozen or more scraps of paper with scribbled notes had been strewn about my apartment this past week. Recent unemployment has freed a lot of my energetic bandwidth and pondering capacity. As I began to collect the scraps of paper and organize the insights, listing them out for later use, I realized how these reminders—plain and common as they are—may serve as useful reminders to others, as well. Just know these are for me as much as they are for you.

  1. Each day is a flower that unfolds for you. The consistent niceness of daily weather in San Diego is almost obscene. Every damn day is sunny. Sure, there are marine layers and overcast skies for spells, but the warm desert sun breaks through for several hours each day. Along with the near-constant, warm hug of the sun are birds that chirp and tweet every morning in the canyon down my street. Talk about a privileged problem, but sometimes the incessant beauty of the immediate environment robs you of anything to be in a bad mood about. LOL. Move to London if you want to brood, not San Diego.

    The beautiful weather is a constant reminder of the cliché concept: each day is a gift, an extremely precious gift to be celebrated and utilized, not taken for granted. 

    I have spent so many days these past couple years not greeting or looking at the proverbial flower. I have dragged my body out of bed after hitting snooze too many times to admit, then put myself together and rushed out the door to get to work at an acceptable time. 

    In contrast, the other day—one of my first of unemployment—I laid on my sofa and rested my eyes on the bouquet of flowers given to me by a former coworker as a goodbye gift. Beyond admiring the bouquet’s appearance, I tugged off one of the rose heads and began to pull it apart, petal by petal. Sounds strange, I know. But the bouquet was beginning to droop, and I knew it had only a day or so left, so I gave myself permission to play with it. What I found, not surprisingly, is that rose petals feel like silk against human skin, and there are dozens of these petals in just one rose! I gave myself a fragrant facial right then and there.

    Each day is a gift. Make time to stop and smell the roses. Now I am coming up with some really original material, aren’t I.

  2. Filter out distractions, fast. Marketing is so savvy these days. I don’t need to tell myself or anyone how much information and sensation is competing for our attention in the year 2021. Just stop entering your email address in pretty little marketing funnels. What it leads to is the need to unsubscribe six days later. Stop shooting the breeze with your neighbor about her landscaping if you’re dying to get inside to explore a hot creative urge. Stop aimlessly scrolling social media. Say no to distractions. Just say no. Time and energy are your only real currencies in this life. Spend frugally.

  3. “Now is the whole enchilada.” Words of Abraham Hicks, one of my beloved teachers. What she means is that how you feel right now is everything. Regarding your experience as a human being living a human life, how you feel right now is all there ever is. But here’s the deal. Even when the now is raw, challenging, painful, or depressing, you still have a choice in each moment to be either present for your life or not. You have a choice to acknowledge what you’re experiencing and to set out to engineer a different experience, if desired. You have a choice to inhale deeply and speak soothing affirmations to yourself or to hold your breath and freeze your sensate body into unforgiving rigidity. Let things be raw if they need to be raw. You didn’t come to Earth to experience constant comfort. You didn’t come here to never be challenged. You didn’t come to float around in a velvet cloud carriage and eat cheesecake all day. Nah, you came to get raw and messy and shake things up. You came to be the engineer. 

  4. Be mutable and move like water. Don’t become attached to one idea of yourself and thereby catch a craig. Your life is flowing downstream, beckoning you to let go of the oars and ride the flow. As you flow, embrace your mutability. Just as the scenery around you is in constant flux, allow yourself to change, adapt, and transform as often as needed. Follow illogical urges. Make random turns and inspired moves that only later reflect the overarching symmetry of your life. Lean in. Listen. Follow the flow. As Franz Kafka wrote, “Don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” Our obsessions are the closest thing we have to a playbook from source energy. Follow the flow of source and stop trying to make so much sense of it all.

  5. Just apply yourself and make a mighty mess. Jump into the chaos of creation. Abandon yourself to the unknown. No, I don’t mean abandon your health or necessary obligations. I mean abandon your ego. Let go of preconceived notions about yourself. See number 4. What if the self-image you’re trying to preserve and protect is completely misaligned with the soul that’s trying to emerge from behind the mirage? I have been thankful to know a few influences in my adult life who have demonstrated this capacity to dive in and embrace the mess of creation, enough so that I have taken to it myself, because I have seen the positive effects of creative chaos. Yeah, it’s scary and nerve wracking to sit down at the piano and apply yourself to the A♭ minor scale, which has seven flats and kicks your ass every time, but one day you’ll be flying through that scale with your eyes closed like an old pro. Ok, I’m not actually sure why I’d ever want to chill with the A♭ minor scale. It sounds kind of like scary-movie music. But you get the idea! As Georgia O’Keeffe said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Approach your goals with fear. Just show up and make a mess. The results will come.

  6. Learn. Learning uses a lot of brain power, I know. When I finished my undergraduate degree, I was like, Alright, marvelous, now I’ve got that diploma and I can just chill and coast through life. For those of you who know me, you’re thinking, There’s no way Delaney thought that. She’s too smart. She loves school and learning. Classic teacher’s pet. But heeeyyy, surprise, I really did think that. I was so done with cramming information into my brain. I was pretty turned off to learning at that point. 

    Well, it turns out life requires constant learning. The type of learning I dread is like: how to give my wooden cutting board a mineral-oil treatment. I mean come. on. Same goes for my pots and pans. Are you really not supposed to wash them with soap and water? You have to treat cast iron differently? Who knew. And who has time for that kind of maintenance?

    The other jarring thing about learning is that it involves mistakes. The last time I tried repotting a couple of my houseplants, they died. And that hurt. It hurt my self-esteem. But I don’t have to remind anyone that failures inform our next tries. Keep taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Keep learning the boring life stuff and let yourself fail in the process. 

  7. Be bold. Wear the bold colors, the long dresses, the flashy lipstick. The killer hoop earrings that are a bit mismatched to your outfit. Overdress for the occasion. Show up with posture and flair. I just spent the past two years abiding by a strict corporate dress code that cramped me so hard. I wore black slacks, loafers, and conservative tops day in and day out. (Nothing like black slacks and conservative tops to appease the patriarchy.) When I left the job, I wore every dress in my closet for the ensuing days. I gave myself an imperfect bright red manicure. I reintroduced the fun, neglected pieces of jewelry in my collection. I hit those San Diego coffee shops with panache and pride. This is me, bitches. It’s not for your attention; it’s for my satisfaction and self-expression.

  8. Pretend like you are already your ideal self. You know that woman you dream about being? The one with the bohemian-but-collected style and vibes, the one who smiles easily and radiates kindness, who is no longer lost in survival mode and trauma responses, who chooses the food that feels best to her, who lives by the reminders on this list? Who initiates conversations with her lover and loved ones instead of waiting to hear from them first? Be her now. Embrace the imposter syndrome. Fake it. Pretend emotionally that you already have the beachfront property and the $574M in the bank. Make the choice now. Don’t put it off! You are one glorious mothertrucker in this very instant. You are complete. You are her. You don’t need to research it any further before getting started. Just make the recipe that’s beyond your skill level. Just make the call. Put the pen to paper.  

  9. It’s easier to criticize than it is to create. So let the bitches criticize. Let them pick you and your work apart. Let them not understand you. Let them simmer silently in their inactivity or envy or façade of having life figured out. In the meanwhile, just keep being you. Doing you. Creating you. Expressing you. And remember: criticism is easy. Creativity and self-expression are brave.

  10. Compete with yourself. Or look to the woman in number 8. What is she up to? What is she accomplishing? What is she overcoming? And when you catch a glimpse of what other successful people are doing to crush it, let them remind you of what’s possible and inspire you to higher heights, but don’t compete with anyone but yourself. Your circumstances are entirely your own—you don’t know what it took anyone to get to where they are, and they don’t know what it took for you to get to where you are. Focus on you and your own development. Many women in my peer group are birthing and rearing physical children (amen) while I am staying up late trying to paint yet another seahorse that isn’t ugly. To each her own.

  11. God is your friend. What? Who? Yeah, God. Source energy. Whoever or whatever the hell is responsible for your double helix strands. The universe that created you is also in support of you every step of the way. This source energy of yours is in constant appreciation and approval of you. It loves your quirks, your madness, your faults, your unique brilliance, your struggles, your inability to fit in with the crowd, your sameness to other human beings, your tenderness, your beauty. This is a potent reminder for me, as I have had serious trouble developing and maintaining friendships as an adult. I experience many moments of loneliness, many Friday and Saturday nights wishing I had a party or club to go to with my nonexistent, likeminded, dance-monkey friends. Sure, being in a new city during a global pandemic is something of an excuse for a dismal social life, but I’m not about that excuse-making lifestyle. God is my friend; that’s all I know for sure.

  12. Nothing ain’t worth shit if you’re not having fun. Those who know me intimately (which is no one) know that my worldview is basically: hedonism. Since my spiritual awakening around age 25, I have had absolutely zero interest in doing things that suck, except for potentially playing the A♭ minor scale just to say I can. If your ultimate aim isn’t to have fun, then what are you doing it for? Putting in long hours at the office so you can eventually buy the yacht and sneak glances at sexy ladies in pink bikinis behind your Ray Bans with a margarita in hand? Which was the fun part? Was it the 60-hour work weeks or the one-week annual vacation? I say ditch the stressful job and spend more time on your modest sailboat with people you love. One or two of them may be sporting a slinky pink bikini. How exciting! 

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Until next time,

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5 responses to “12 Reminders for the Creative Life”

  1. sujantramckeever Avatar

    I agree with Stuart that number #2 is important, but I’m gonna go with #5…anytime I can a good whooping from an A flat scale I’ll take it! –Sujantra

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Delaney Avatar

      Thanks so much for your comment… You are one of the influences I mention in #5.


  2.  Avatar

    This is wonderful! You’ve inspired ME, the “Mom”. Well done Delaney.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Delaney Avatar

      My #1 fan. Thank you so much, Mom. Glad it inspired you.


  3. Stuart Danker Avatar

    #2 is so important. The distractions of today are limitless, and it’s up to us to minimise the clutter. Anyway, I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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