Everyone has one cup

My mother told me that cryptically one day; I'd just turned 19 and was railing bitterly against the latest perceived injustice. "This doesn't happen to other people, only me!" I cried.

"You may think others have so much more, but everyone has one cup of blessings."

"Wealthy people? They might lack true love or health.

Beautiful people? They might not have a lot of deep friendships or grit.

Stable people? They might lead less textured, rich lives, as a result of avoiding risks.

Wise people? They don't have their youth or innocence anymore.

Young people like you? They lack perspective," she explained, smiling.

Your cup is just as full as anyone else's. I want to layer onto my mother's wisdom, years later, with this added nuance:

Everyone has one cup. With gratitude, a growth mindset, and consistent showing up for yourself and your craft, the capacity of that cup grows without limit.

Loosen your grip

"I know."

"I don't know."

Clench one fist for "I know", then clench the other for "I don't know". They're two versions of the same emotion: fear. One is borne out of fear of being wrong, the other fear of not being enough.

"I know" and "I don't know" both make the mind clench up.

They're complete opposite thoughts that yield the same detrimental result: your growth stops.

They're complete opposite thoughts with the same prescription: open your fists, let go, and choose curiosity over fear.

Time to update your belief system

You have in your bag or pocket... the internet. It gets beamed into a device the size of your hand - your smartphone.

Your smartphone has an operating system (OS). It is continuously, obsessively checking for errors, which are then fixed by handsomely paid engineers.

Your phone regularly prompts you to update your OS, but how often do we update our belief systems? Every day, we make statements and decisions based on beliefs that are either beneficial or detrimental to us. Some of these beliefs might be 5, 10, 20 years old -- simply put: outdated OS.

You have to be your own engineer, manually and regularly update your own OS. 

This can look like:

  1. Set aside time to regularly observe your current belief system.
  2. Test beliefs to see if they still ring true and are beneficial to your life.
  3. Find and flag beliefs that are detrimental and no longer serve you.
  4. Dig deep in the "coding" of detrimental beliefs and analyze.
  5. Re-write them as new, beneficial beliefs that move your life forward.

Your inner critic can keep its "gifts"

buddha return gift.jpg

My friend and soul sister Allison recently shared with me this story:

When Buddha's teachings were starting to gain traction in different lands, religious leaders began to get angry. One day, the Buddha visited a small village. A priest came running toward him, spewing insults and vitriol.
The Buddha looked at him calmly and kindly and said, "You're a priest. You must receive many visitors to your home."
"Yes, of course," said the priest.
"Do they also come bearing gifts?" the Buddha continued.
"Yes, of course. Every week," said the priest.
"What do you say to them when you do not want the gift?" Buddha asked.
"That has never happened, but if it did, I would just tell them to take it back," said the priest.
"I see. Just now, you were giving me a lot of gifts that I do not want. Please keep them," replied Buddha.

When your inner critic is making a ruckus and pitching insults at you and your work, wouldn't we all be better off telling it to keep its unwanted gifts?

Be a hollow bone

In Native American culture, there's a concept called "the hollow bone".

After the invention of cooking, our ancestors had way more time on their hands. Time to make fun stuff like musical instruments. They started making flutes out of bones.

When the bone was hollow, clean, and dry, the sound emitted was beautiful.

On a practical level, what does this mean for your creativity?

Working feels better when you're emptied out of anxiety, self-loathing, fear, and willfulness.


Ugh, "personal branding"

"My name is Oprah. I built a crazy powerful empire around female empowerment. I do it every day. You can count on it."

"My name is Oprah. I built a crazy powerful empire around female empowerment. I do it every day. You can count on it."

Most people don't like that phrase. I want nothing to do with it. The ideas "branding" and "marketing" can be hard to stomach when it comes to one's self. We're also barraged with branding and marketing for objects all day long. "Personal branding" pointedly hints at the idea of objectifying one's self.

It's dangerous that we're using this phrase; the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.

It should be called "consistent creativity".

If you're reading this blog, you're probably inundated and overloaded with information on a daily basis, online and IRL. It's a lot for our brains to process, much less store properly and recall when needed.

On a basic level, humans want to be remembered. Refer to tombstones, having children, andmemento mori for further proof.

We also want to remember as much as possible. Refer to written language, the invention of photography, and archives for further proof.

The average person is experiencing major information overload. Being memorable and remarkable is more critical than ever. Luckily, there's a simple, sure-fire way to get people to remember your work and what you do:

  1. Be consistent: Work hard to be able to say this "My name is __. I do ___. I do it every day. You can count on it. You can find me here, here, and here."
  2. Be concise: Ain't nobody got time for watered-down, verbose excess.
  3. Be confident: Confidence comes from time spent doing what you do and getting intimate with it, to the point where you can point out colors and textures of truth in your field that few people can see.


Wanting help isn't enough

"I want to do it all by myself!"

A common cry from a child. Children from age 2 onward are rapidly realizing they are separate from their parents, and usually waste no time developing, exercising, and pushing for however much autonomy as they feel comfortable with.

Some of us still hold fast to this urge — I certainly did for too long. Trouble is, none of us can afford to stubbornly refuse help or guidance. It comes at too high a cost. No (wo)man is an island, and peerpower is stronger than willpower.

We live in the connection economy — there's no one right recipe for success, but chances are it involves:

  1. Connecting to people
  2. Making something that connects with people's hearts or brains.

In most cases, both. In other words: time, effort, dedication, consistency.

Whatever you're struggling with, ask for help. People want to help you and you'll get clarity faster. #adulting

You're in the catharsis business

One of the best drama critics of all time wrote:

Catharsis is the ability to bring intellectual clarity to emotional chaos.

Say emotions are running high and things are fraught in a TV show, play, or movie. When a character or event brings that chaos to a point where things can move forward, we all feel catharsis. 

Sought-after creatives are in the catharsis business.

Ask yourself: Why are they hiring me? The simple answer is because they like your work and want you to do that for them.

But why are they really hiring you? They feel a pain point. They want you to bring clarity to their purpose, the way they operate, the way their customers experience their brand, product, service.

There's a big difference between "what" they're hiring you to do, "why" they picked you, and "how" they want the partnership to go.

I work for texts like this

Woke up this morning to two texts from clients:

[I'm finished with it!] Now I don't know what to do with myself... regardless of what happens this year, thank you SO MUCH for all of your support, encouragement and help. I couldn't have done this without you, and I am incredibly grateful to have had you by my side as I made this big decision and went through with it 💛💛💛 Much love!  

Good morning. Very happy to let you know today I wrote my 100th morning page entry. Wow! Bowing to you with gratitude.

Feeling especially grateful today to my kickass clients, the giants whose shoulders we stand on, and those who fought and died so we can pursue fulfilling lives.