Get your creativity a friend

An interesting friend.

You know how we all need interesting friend who can inspire us, instead of dragging us down?

“You can do it! You are doing it and you are improving. I’m proud of you!”

“You know this is what I do. This might be interesting to you.”

“Let’s talk about this concept that you are working on. I have a different approach…”

You want people who say this in your life.

What if I tell you that you need to give your creativity also a friend? A companion.

A companion that inspires your work.

Albert Einstein plays the piano and violin. He likes to sail, too.

Silvia Plath keeps bees.

Emily Dickinson likes to bake.

The companions they found for their own creativities relax them, diverse their attention when stress accumulates in their “serious work”, and inspire their creativities from another realm of consciousness and reality (because how mindful they have to be when they create. So are you.)

Find your creativity its own companion.

What you enjoy but in another field.

What gives you sparks of inspiration, pleasure, and relaxation or stimulation.

Your creativity will benefit from it. So will you.


Back to simplicity

What to do when you feel stuck and overwhelmed?

Pick up a pen and a paper. They always do the trick for me.

Think about this: feeling stuck and overwhelmed is mostly resulted from overload. It can be information overload, emotion overload, choices overload, etc.

Life is complex. You don’t need me to tell you that.

Let’s face it, even when you feel like you don’t have anything for that blank page, the truth is that you have too much to say to pick anything to say.

So the trick here is simple (pun) — keep it simple.

Go back to the basics.

The most basic form, the most basic exercise, the most basic system.

Go back to the math, the simple dance steps, moves, music notes, concepts and ideas.

Go back to using nothing but a yoga matte, to drawing with one pencil, and one colour.

Go back to practicing the Hanon Exercises.

Go back to writing in pen and paper.

Go back to everything’s original point, point zero.

To where everything began. So that the fog can be dispersed, and eventually disappear.

Inspired by the simplicity, the core structure, the most basic of the basics. That’s what we can do when we cannot move forward.

A bird and a dandelion

“Let the wind take me wherever”.

It is a kind of life philosophy. Free-spirited. Chilled. No root. Flexible. “Go with the flow”.

The only commitment you will take is “No commitment, thanks”.

But there are still two types of people who own this motto.

A bird. Or a dandelion.

They can both fly with the wind. But the difference is vast:

A dandelion has to fly. But she doesn’t get to decide where she’s going, or where she’s landing. The wind decides her fate. She can’t stop, can’t choose to change the route.

She needs to get away from where she was to survive, to have a chance of growing into something herself. The wind is her only chance. So she lets the wind take her, knowing the risk ahead that she might not land at an ideal place to grow.

A bird also uses the wind. Yet she doesn’t depend on it completely.

The wind helps her fly higher, faster, better.

She’s her own captain; she can fly against the wind if she must.

But she can stop when she’s tired.

So before jumping into the wind and let it take you “wherever”, think about whether you are a bird or a dandelion.

Journaling was not good self-therapy

Not for me.

It worked for a while. I’d get up early in the morning or staying up late at night. That was my time alone. And when I’m alone, the voices in my head get stronger.

So I journaled.

I wrote down what I dreamt of last night, what I thought about today, how the things were not going my way, and how I blamed myself for everything that happened and didn’t happen.

I wrote down the solution, the resolution, how I’m going to improve myself, building up a system and sticking to it. And I also wrote that I should stop being lazy and a disappointment.

Because EVERYONE can do it. Whatever that “it” means.

If I CAN’T do it, it’s my fault and my fault alone.

That was what I journaled, every day, for a year.

Then I got depressed. Who wouldn’t?

Journaling serves as a way of looking internally, of saying the truth, of self-reflection.

But when things — those negative things — started to repeat, I should have stopped writing and notice that pattern.

I was so busy with self-reflecting, I didn’t see that I was trapped in that negative, self-blaming circle.

Journaling not only let you express yourself, it also helps you discover the truth that’s hidden behind your consciousness.

But there’s a vital step to do beside only writing, writing, and writing — you have to actually read what you wrote, in order to see much about yourself that you didn’t know.

And this if step is missing, journaling is not helping you as the way it should be.

The name

Give it a name so that it can be seen.

Give it a name so that it can have a voice, can be heard.

Give it a name so that it can be understood.

Strip away the name so that it can stay how it is since the beginning.

Strip away the name so that it can go anywhere.

Strip away the name so that it can be anything.

Strip away the name so that it can be free.

Want to achieve something in 2022? Read this. (a letter to myself)

Dear 2022 Clear,

It’s been an exciting year for us. A lot of new things happened that opened our eyes to the world of pregnancy, mothers and parenthood. We have grown so much in terms of creative skills and even expanded our interest to the graphic designing world. 

But you know what you want the most is what you haven’t achieved yet. 

You know that you can experience all the love and peace the world has to offer, but still feeling less fulfilled. You know what’s missing and you are ready to get it in the upcoming year.

These are the things I want to remind you, if you want to finally achieving those professional and personal goals in 2022:

1. Think from your gut. Sounds strange?  This is what I meant: Listen to your gut, but don’t let your emotion override everything.

Keep cool so that you can use your “thinking” to make out a good plan. A plan to achieve your goal, to make yourself feel fulfilled. You can do that. Because you have everything you need in your hands. Just need to make a plan and carry it out.

2. Write, just write. Don’t care about the likes and claps, subscriptions mean nothing to you. If you want to keep writing, forget about checking other people’s reaction to it. What others think is irrelevant to what you write. At least for now. 

3. Keep the setup simple. Use a pen and notebook to write. Or one app. Or one platform. Minimise the distraction of fancy tools and software. Use only everything essential.

3. Don’t be a road block to yourself. You’ve got enough other stuff standing your way. Self-doubt, perfectionism,  big ego and low self-esteem are powerful reasons why you won’t achieve anything you want in life.

4. Stop overthinking and do it already. Take the first step forward and you will know where your second step should be. Small steps, small achievements, lead to bigger things.

5. Tweak your plan, don’t start a new one. If you absolutely need a new plan to reach one goal, your goal might be the wrong one.

6. Write down your goal and plan, even execution calendar on a piece of paper. Read it everyday in the morning to remind yourself of them. 

I know you tend to forget your goal and your plans. They are important to you but you still forget about them. If you have them on a piece of paper, you will remind yourself every morning in the simplest and most direct way possible. 

Don’t put it in an app where you can snooze it away. Don’t write it in a notebook that you can put away.

Stick the paper on the ceiling above your bed, on your fridge, next to your workstation or your TV. Make a poster of it and hang the poster in your living room… Stick your goal and your plan even your schedule in front of your nose. Because you know how likely you will forget about them and then hate yourself for it.

7. Use the power of peers. Find a circle of people who can support you professionally AND emotionally. Find your accountability group. You won’t easily give up if you are watched. Or even better: supported.

8. Help others however you can, as often as you can. Helping others without expecting rewards will help with your own depressive thoughts, anxieties, loneliness… This is how you can truly feel fulfilled. You know that. Helping others is loving yourself.

These are all the advice I want to give you for now. You know your worst enemy is yourself. You know exactly why you’ve given up so often and what really stands between you and what you want to be. 

So tomorrow is a brand new day. The first day of a brand new year. You are on the right track. Just keep going. And don’t forget about enjoy the ride.

2021 Clear

Mothers in a box

I want to say this: “I gave birth to my baby a few months ago. But somehow, I don’t see myself as a mother.”

A strange thing to say.

Let me try again.

“I don’t feel like I am a mother…”

Still strange.

If I describe this feeling very literately, it’s like the following:

There’s a certain way I thought all the mothers are supposed to behave and “be”. I believe, subconsciously I used my own mother as a prototype for the content of this box. And all the other mothers, more or less, fit into this category.

They are loving, strong, fearless, sometimes unreasonable, sometimes simple but wise, gentle, strict, controlling, protective…

I know what you are going to say. “But these are just adjectives to describe people. Anyone can be described with one or more of these words.”

But come on, you know what I mean.

They are not just like one or all of the above adjectives.

They are… mothers.

“Mother” is not a cluster of adjectives. It feels like a huge box that contains much more.

But I don’t think I fit into this category. Maybe it’s just how I see myself. Maybe for others, I am already a mother. And I’m right there in that category box with all the other mothers in this world, including my girlfriends whom I’ve known since we were kindergarteners, and the cat I know who just got kittens.

But what if I’m wrong?

What if there’s no such category? Maybe there are just human beings being motherly loving to their children. Yes, they are mothers. But they are still humans. They are humans before the birth of their children, and afterwards they are still the humans as they were before.

What’s added is just their love for their children.

I expected myself now to be more different than before. To my surprise, I haven’t changed much in the last two months.

I still love food, Pablo Naruda and Viola Davis.

I still like to watch people putting on makeups and outfits but not to do that myself.

I still love torturing myself with philosophical questions, self-doubts, and self-induced existential anxieties…

I’m still me.

I have another person in my life for whom I’m responsible for the next 18 years. I have experienced enormous, surreal love for life and this world. I have encountered the version of myself that is extremely brave and strong.

I’ve evolved in some ways. But I am still a human.

I am a mother now.

But I am still me.

And I don’t want to try to fit in a box.

If you have put yourself in that box. Well, get rid of the box.

Turn something you “like” into “love”

Imagine something you like to do and wish you can say that you love doing it.

Because we all know (I hope) that love is heavier than like. It requires more responsibility and commitment. You will need more courage to even admit love’s existence.

But love can work miracles.

Its passion fuels up your actions.

It makes you feel alive and keeps you going.

So when you see something you like, and maybe “can even love it”, you might wonder how to make that transition happen?

Why else would you want to turn something you like into something you love?

It’s good if you like the things you do.

But you will live happier if you love the things you do.

Simple, but true.

This method applies to things you use in this sentence: “I wish I could do XXX better and want to keep doing it. I feel fulfilled and happy.”

For me, this “thing” is writing.

I’ve always been a keen journal-keeper. What I used to write was almost all self-therapeutical. To call myself a writer, I will have to write something with a reader in mind.

I will be creating something, consistently and constantly, so that I can call myself a real writer and content creator.

That, I like to do, but I wish I could do it better. Because I feel happy and fulfilled while doing it. I want to love it. I want to commit to it.

I want it to become part of me.

So this is what I do.

  1. Love makes us naked, physically and spiritually, so that it shows us the purest and most honest self.
    • Aka: I keep the setting simple. I don’t expect myself to write with fancy writing apps, on different platforms, or using the latest laptop. I have one place to write everyday.
  2. Love is consistent, even when it starts to get dull. And even when the dullness is apparently killing love. Sometimes it’s not dull but frustrating. Frustration is part of consistency. Frustration is because of wanting, expecting to be more.
    • Aka: I write every day. Plain and simple. It gets challenging with coming up with new ideas. It’s sometimes like roller-coaster ride. The excitement from “writing high” comes one day; the next day my brain was as dry as the Gobi dessert. But I just keep going. Writing trash. Every day. Nonsense? Maybe. But I’m still doing it.
  3. Love makes you want to stick to it forever, even if there are unpleasant things about it.
    • Aka: I don’t have time to do my writing during the day. Late night writing means not enough sleep at night. If I hit an idea-drained day, I would not only hate writing in my head. I’d also hate myself for making this stupid decision to stick to such a stupid plan… I let myself complain, while typing on my keyboard — there are unpleasant things. But love means I will keep doing it while bitching about it.
  4. Love is pure. It’s about enjoyment. It’s about being alive. So don’t do it with the “end outcome” in mind.
    • Aka: I write, no matter how many likes I have, and how many followers I get. I’m happy if my words get positive responses. But I don’t write for those responses. I write for the feeling of writing; what’s more, I write for making sound for my soul. Maybe, only maybe, there will be echo from some others come back to me. That’s hope. Not about profit or money.
  5. The sign of mature love is when something you love becomes part of you.
    • I’m not there yet. But this is my goal. And implementing the above three points, I’m going to get there at one point. Love takes time. If I want it, I will have patience.

I’m happy and fulfilled when I keep writing every day. I wish I could write better. I wish to have this feeling in my life, forever.

What’s your thing that you want to turn the like into love?

How to make a plan (a Dreamer’s edition)

Photo by Ike louie Natividad on

If you are a dreamer, you might easily get stuck in your head.

Your brilliant ideas never get to become reality.

You start to work on building your dream, but always get distracted by some new idea, or stop working on it because it gets dull.

As a dreamer, you need another way to make plans.

You will have to plan according to your sparks and flaws. If you do what others do, with the tight schedules and willpower draining, you will keep beating yourself up with frequent quitting or simply forgetting about what you wanted to do in the first place.

Here is what I did (and am doing). Hope it’s helpful to you too.

First, we need to distinguish what’s the difference between our superpower (dreaming great ideas) and what it needs to make anything into reality (a plan).

A dream vs. a plan

A dream can be idealistic — a castle in the clouds; whereas a plan is structured, specific, and actionable.

A dream is self-entertaining. You need dreams to release endorphins into your brain to feel hope and joy. I used to dream of living somewhere on the beach, working from anywhere on my laptop, drinking pina colada in the morning, or whenever I want.

I had that dream when I was mentally drained by my 9 to 5, repetitive, dead-end office job. How I was living induced pain. Dreaming rewards you with joy now. Therefore, dreaming was my painkiller at hand. I needed it to survive the everyday pain that came like waves in the sea. But the worst was when the painkiller wore off, the next pain waves became even less bearable. What came next was self-loathing because I felt helpless. Because I didn’t take action to achieve that dream.

Because I didn’t make a plan. A dream can inspire a great plan.

A dreamer’s plan

A plan is a self-discipline. You want to keep yourself on track with every step according to plan, even if it’s painful, dull, and difficult.

To make this dream a reality is going to need a series of well-structured, thorough plans.

To make a plan, I need a goal, a roadmap, and a timeline.

For example, if I want to be able to work from anywhere and at any time, I need to be my own boss. Before starting my business, I can be a freelancer. What does every freelancer need nowadays? A website with a portfolio showcasing what I can do. There I have it. That’s what I want to build. That’s the goal of my first plan.

And how to come to that goal is the roadmap.

A website can be built. It’s the content of that website I need the most.

A website with an empty portfolio is nothing but a bad personal ad. So the most urgent plan is to put together a portfolio.

Don’t forget, I want my roadmap to be specific. So I need to state that I want 5 presentable projects for my portfolio.

Now it’s time to make the timeline.

When do I want to have a finished website so that I can start promoting it on social media and freelancing websites? In 12 weeks.

I know I can make the website quite quickly. So I will get on creating projects first.

For every project, I need 2 weeks, 7 buffer days (for review and adjustment), and another week for the website.

If I need to make specific timelines for every project, I will do it here as well.

After this comes to the most difficult step: execution.

How a dreamer conquers “execution” roadblock

A plan without execution is just another dream. 

Execution is the biggest block for 99 percent of people with great ideas and big dreams.

To be realistic, a plan is to be broken. One helpful tip here is to make your plan specific, but achievable and most importantly, relatively flexible

That’s why I always plan in buffer time.

What’s subjected to change usually doesn’t include the end goal and roadmap. The timeline can be adjusted, as well as the order of certain elements in the roadmap. For example, I can choose to move building a website earlier on the timeline; but I won’t change building a website into building a Youtube channel. 

Making a plan and sticking to it rewards you later.

Sometimes much later, especially when your end goal of the plan involves seeing some kind of “quality leap”, such as from “having zero followers on social media” to “becoming a 10k-follower influencer”.

Another thing that helps is to keep an activity log or progress log

Sounds pretty dull? Well, here is the catch:

Make it public. 

Not necessarily to the people you know, if you don’t feel like sharing your ambition with them.

Make it public to strangers on platforms such as Medium, Youtube, or Twitter. (If nobody knows you have these accounts, of course)

Even if you don’t have an audience there (you might get more and more eyes on your posts with time), publishing something to the internet and making them visible to strangers can give you satisfaction after accomplishing your smallest goals, and keeping yourself on track. 

Or, you can do it like me. Set up a separate blog and write about them every time you did anything towards that goal.

Some more tips:

Making plans gives you a high of endorphins, too. That’s why most of us stop at the point when we finished planning. But be aware. Don’t stop before you can finally start.

If you get stuck during execution, use your buffer time to spot the problem and keep on schedule. But if you fall off the schedule (which might happen) remember to come back as soon as you can. All you need to do is to either speed up from now on. Or the “worst” case: you need to push the whole timeline a bit further into the future. Anything but give up. Always come back to doing the work and back on schedule. Like meditation. 

Be sure about your end goal and roadmap before you even start. It’s very frustrating and discouraging if you keep working on something hard while it’s the wrong thing to work on. Save your most energy on the work that deserves to be done.

I am a dreamer. I have ideas. And I bet you do too.

But a dreamer goes nowhere if she doesn’t make the right move, and keep moving.

Active Waiting

I hate waiting. You know what I mean.

Well, maybe not exactly.

I hate passive waiting.

Passively waiting – especially when you have to – means you are dependent on what’s out of your control. Waiting for your friend on the street to go to a movie together. Waiting for the train to come. Waiting for the end of a deadly boring meeting.

I don’t want to. But I have to. Because I want to get to the end of that waiting, for there’s going to be something else I really want.

Time slows down when you count it, when you watch it.

I can pass through the waiting time somehow, by reading a Blinkist book, listening to Podcasts, or counting red cars/dogs/how many times I think about “OMG”…

These things may make me feel better. But they don’t stop me from hating passive waiting.

I do like active waiting though.

It’s not really “expecting”. That would mean that you know what’s coming.

But actively waiting for something means for me like this:

You prepare for it. You work for it. You are conscious about your choices and steps.

You hope for something good to happen by the end of the waiting time. But you know so well that it might not turn out to be how you want it to be.

The best part?

It’s ok anyway.


Because you enjoy working for it.

Your joy comes from doing, despite the current situation where you are in is not great, you are still full of joy.

Even if you are soaked in difficult things around you, or pain in your heart, you know there’s an end to all of that.

There IS an end on the other side of the tunnel. You KNOW it.

But you actively working on making the light at the end come faster, and shine brighter.

That’s the active waiting I like. And I’m doing it right now.