Your precious idea

The idea in your head. The precious one. “It’s big. World-changing. It means something.”

“At least it’s going to be life-changing for me.”

Yes, that’s the one.

But it’s so precious so you have to be cautious. Put it in a beautiful box and lock it in your drawer.

Don’t disturb it. Don’t expose it to the air, or the sunlight, otherwise it’s going to deteriorate.

But, wait. Is it the idea that we are protecting? Or our ego?

Since I was a kid, I loved writing. My essays were often praised by teachers. But I never sent anything to the local newspaper or any children’s magazine to get it published.

Because I was afraid of rejections. Because I was so used to be praised, be “the best” in a place where I was already the best. Because I knew in my heart, that there’s a chance I wouldn’t be “the best” to get picked.

And it’s the same today.

The internet saved my artistic life. I can write here, in a blog with almost no traffic, at a small corner of the sea of words and characters. I feel safe here. Safe to write, to express. But after a while, I’m tired of singing to the vast of emptiness, and nothing comes back.

I have to choose, between showing real people “I have something to say that’s worth hearing & I can write”, and protecting my ego from ridicule, rejection, and indifference.

And silently blogging might just be another way of protecting the precious idea, protecting my ego.

So where do I turn up the microphone?


This is the first time when I was in the FLOW

Being in the middle of creativity means being in the flow.
And I was never so often in the flow like when I was in junior high.

In my junior high, we had a weekly writing class. The writing class was two 45-minute classes combined together with a 10-minute break.The teacher would use the first 15 minutes to talk about the composition we wrote in the previous week’s session. Usually the best work would be picked out and also read out loud by the teacher to the whole class. Then we would get a new topic, and use the rest of the time to write a new piece.

I normally took about 5 minutes to think about what I would write. And then there went my pen, on my notebook.

The words started coming out and then they were pouring down from the tip of my pen. I had no need to pause. I didn’t need to think. I guess the magic was somehow that I wasn’t thinking so that the words could come out by themselves.

I wrote fast when the scene I was writing got intense; I slowed down when everything in my character calmed down. I couldn’t hear anything happening around me. I remember once my deskmate asked me whether I was writing about boys.

“Why?” I asked.
“Your face is all read,” He grinned. “and your ears too!”

I felt drunk. Now if I look back, I think how I felt was similar to a light drunkenness. It’s like he just woke me up from a dream. I felt warm in my body, the world around me felt blurry.

I never used the 10-minute break to go to the bathroom or drink water. I just kept writing. There’s no decision needed to be made. It’s just flowing.

The worst of the worst at this moment was my pen dried up. But my pencil was there ready to fulfil its duty for my creativity.

I used up the whole 70 minutes and finished the composition just on time. I had to, because we had to hand our work in right after the session.

The writing class was definitely one of my favourite classes. Not just because my works were very often read out loud and praised by the teacher. Nothing else – NOTHING – has been more enjoyable than being in the flow like that.

And every week. Same time. I was in there.

Like I was “possessed”, taken over by something.

Like for a short moment, I didn’t exist anymore. There was just words flowing out. And maybe I was in the words.

Don’t bother going back (because you can’t)

Ok, in this post I’m going to sound like a really old person:

I don’t want to say “my best time has passed” (even though by saying so I’m actually saying it). But I do miss how I used to feel when I was younger.

By younger, I mean, when I was in junior high, primary school, even kindergarten.

Not even high school. I already got too “grownup” when I was in high school. I was scared of how other people might think of me. I was timid; I hid so that people wouldn’t know how awesome I could be so that I could judge or admire those who didn’t hide.

I wouldn’t say I was fearless when I was young. 16 years old was a curse to me in that sense. What I want to find back is the version of me that was not yet ruined by the growing-up hormones.

I didn’t care what others thought of me. The less I care, the better results I got.

But I was a believer until I got disappointed.

Things were easier to accomplish when I was a believer.

Writing was easier to enjoy if it’s just about writing and building up stories in my head. No consequences. No time being wasted.

It’s a luxury to enjoy things as how it is. As doing, no thinking. As being, no trying to be.

My point being…

Is there anything I can do, anything at all, to get back those qualities of mine when I was a kid, but still be an adult, grownup woman, wife, and mother?

“Wanting to go back is resulted from not being ok with who you are. That’s why I never want to go back.” I used to say this in my early 20s.

Now I’m in my early 30s. What changed? Why suddenly being me as how I am is not good enough, and I want to travel back to my childhood to feel something good about myself?

What changed?

If I’m not able to travel back in time, I want to be ok with who I am now.

The “peak time” I felt when I was younger was not because I was really at the peak. There’s no peak in life.

There’s only the peak of feeling. And feelings you can get back.

I don’t want to bother doing something that’s impossible to do — going back to be a kid, enjoying the luxury of not caring and not taking the weight of life on my shoulders.

I want to get back that feeling from not caring, just doing and enjoying, out of love and curiosity.

Find a job that doesn’t kill me. Or do my own thing that I enjoy and doesn’t starve me.

Life is so short. It might be even shorter than I expect. Don’t bother wanting to go back. The current me is worth loving too.

Never forget your “why”

“We’ve come so far, that we forgot why we started in the first place.”

We have limited attention every day. People get easily distracted these days, but we are still good at getting fixated on something and forgetting everything else at the same time. Especially when we are frustrated if things in front of our eyes are not going our way.

But why we started is far more important than why is the bike not working properly. I mean, if you want to get somewhere, you can ride a bike, walk, drive a car, take a bus, train, plane… just get there. The more time you spend being frustrated about something that doesn’t really matter (because there’s another way to do it), the longer it’s going to take you back to your journey.

That’s why it’s always important to revisit your “why”.

My suggestion: setting a reoccurring event to revisit your why in your calendar. And set the reminder of the event as via email. You can do it how often you need it. I’m setting it every two weeks for now. And it works very well. I’m always reminded of my big why and it motivates me every time when I look at it.

The Choice

When I first realised I was going to be a mother, the question with which I struggled the most was “how do I be a good mother and at the same time be myself and have freedom?”

Yes, Freedom.
The thing that drove me 7500km away from my parents and my home.
I guess freedom is not a thing; it’s a feeling. When I can decide where I want to go and what I want to do, the feeling I have filling up my chest and makes me feel brave, excited and invincible.
That feeling.

“I don’t want to lose my freedom.” I wrote in my diary, “Would i still be free when I have a child? I want to love it, protect it, be there for it. But if I’m there for my child, I won’t be able to be wherever I want to be. A friend told me that she was never able to completely focus on other things again after becoming the mother to her son. She said there was always a part of her that’s with her son, thinking about him, caring for him, and loving him. Like her soul was split into two… I’m not sure if I’m ready to give myself up like that… Will I still have that feeling of courage and excitement for the next destination in my chest again? Or is there only going to be breast milk in there…”

I thought I had to make a choice between being a mother to her and myself. I guess most girls who consider themselves independent and free-spirited think so too. That’s why we think that being a mother will be a burden to “us”, or change who we are.

But we are changing all the time. Nobody changes us. We change ourselves, or let change happen to us.

What’s more, by the time I was pregnant, I hadn’t been able to travel alone anywhere for three years. This so-called “freedom” that I was after is not a feeling anymore. It’s just a possibility of a feeling – its the ghost of the feeling that I had many years ago.

I can’t speak for every person who became a parent. But I didn’t have to choose from “myself” and “being a mother”. Because I became a mother. I’m still me. And I just have a person more in my life that I can love with all my heart and soul. That seemed to be a good deal for me.

I can still create, speak up my mind, stand up for others, care for the ones I love, see the world, listen to stories. I can still be me.

And the good way to be a mom, as I concluded in my diary, is being myself, to show my child that being oneself is the only way to love oneself; and loving oneself is the only way to love anyone and anything in this world.

Now my daughter is here. I feel that feeling again inside of me: I want to show her the world. My world. So that one day she can discover and explore her own.

Breaking creative blocks

First, we need to define “creative block” here, so to make sure that we are talking about the same thing.

A creative block is the feeling you have in your gut when facing a blank page.

A creative block is the chaos in your head when you can’t move forward with your project and you are not sure why.

A creative block the tiredness you experience at any point of your work, because it’s just too taking too long, carrying too much, resonating too little.

A creative block is where you are ready to give up, because it’s too hard, too draining, too expensive, and too lonely.

There are several things I do when I hit a creative block.

  1. Spending quality time with my peers. One or two people I trust who are good listeners and good conversing partners. Talk. About anything. Then add my work process. Talk. Let the real problem and the things I really want to talk about emerge by itself.
  2. Spending time with myself, doing things I want to do. Things that either relax me or stimulate me. Like watercoloring or learning Spanish. Give your ideas time. If you are searching for it too desperately, it’s not gonna come to you by itself.
  3. Free writing. From my experience, you don’t have to do it with paper and pen. Typing works too. Just write. Just type. Ramble. Say anything that comes to mind. If anything interesting comes out, mark it. And keep writing or typing. At one point my brain will turn to saying “ok now I’m really excited about the points that came up just now. So let me go and work on them. Will come back for more free style writing! Thank you and bye!”
  4. Doing the things I instantly want to say “no” to. I know myself well enough now, that I know I should do something when I don’t want to do it. I get alerted whenever I want to say “no” to things. And that excites me. So I will have to do it. Such an activity will unblock my creative process. It always has.

So which one would you like to try the next time when you encounter a creative block? And what do you do when you feel stuck in your creative process?

I will be your home

Today I learnt that newborn babies can have “womb-sick” (homesick for womb) for a period of time after they were born.

And I do have homesick. The real one.

Thanks to the pandemic, I can’t fly home. Being away from my family for two years hasn’t been easy.

Home is never just a place. It’s a combination of everything in an experience.

It’s your closest family. It’s the smell of your newly washed clothes. It’s the taste of your breakfast and dinner.

For me, that home is not where I’m living right now. It’s on the other side of this world, literally.

It’s where I grew up, where I learnt what is love, where my dream started.

It’s where I always go back. It’s where my roots are.

It’s where my mother was. It was, and still is, my mother.

Then I realised, I will be home for my daughter.

She will grow up with me, learn what is love, build up her dream.

I want to be her home so she can always come back, where she can sleep well, regain her energy when she’s tired.

I love my home. But I will be hers. I’m building the space, and being the essence of that home, for her.

Because I’m strong enough to be hers, even if I’m not at mine.

Being there, invisible

Being there. The thing that mothers do.

Last night, my baby daughter was crying, because she didn’t want to go to sleep while being extremely tired.

I was there, standing while holding her. I let her look at the kitchen lights the way she likes.

Watching lights always calms her down.

I rocked my body gently left and right, up and down.

I stood there for I don’t know how long.

Then I thought about my own mother.

She must just have been there for me when I needed her. Just like I’m here for my baby, when she needs me.

Through thick and thin. Awake and asleep. All the time. Non-stop.

Maybe that’s why, motherhood can seem to be unspectacular at times.

Because it is essential, sometimes it’s so invisible.

We can’t escape who we are

We cannot escape who we are.

We spend most of our time as creatives to observe. To observe others, how they are, what they are doing, and how they have become who they are today.

We observe to be inspired.

But that’s when we fail to observe or to know who we are.

Our characters.

Our passion, not for others, but for ourselves.

Observing and learning about others, fascinated by others, by the experience of watching.

But the downside is, it’s easy to get lost in the observing. It’s easy to forget ourselves in the process.

Like the ability to love, we can love others better if we love ourselves.

We can tell stories better if we know our own stories.

Find who we are, so that we can then improve ourselves, our craft, in many ways.

Just mind that there is no point to wanting to be someone else.

There’s no point even to trying to escape. Think about Don Draper.

Stop playing a role.

Accept and make the best out of how we really are.

Because that’s who we are. That’s how we can truly be happy as human beings.

A strategy might be unnecessary

Some things you can get by drawing out a plan and work for it. Like to finish running a marathon.

The goal is clear. And what you need to do to reach that goal is clear: systematic training, nutrition, and rest — strategy and execution. Simple but hard.

But there are goals that are much harder to reach.

I’m not saying running a marathon is easy. Gosh no. The longest I’ve ever run was 10k and it was five years ago before I got myself a cozy home. You need great discipline to train yourself and you need strong mind power for it, too.

I’m talking about those goals that are too ambiguous to plan for it.

Like being a creative, a storyteller, or an artist.

What does it mean to be all these things above?

It’s not about what you want to do. It has something to do with what you have done.

But it has the most to do with what you are doing.

Being a creative, a storyteller, or an artist, is not about strategy. There is no concrete plan.

What you need is to keep producing, keep creating, keep shipping.

The process is all that matters to call yourself a creative, a storyteller, or an artist.

Other things are just hypes and distractions.