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A song I’ve been enjoying:
I’m in my office this morning, early birds chirping as the sun comes up and illuminates the trees. When I walked out here (my office is in our backyard), I had no idea what I was going to write about for this week’s newsletter. As I walked across the yard, I started thinking about the concept of needing everything we do, share, and create to be incredible in order to be worthy of being shared — this idea that we’re supposed to be one-upping ourselves with all we do, always, forever.
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent questioning if anything I have to say is worthy of being shared — questioning my own creativity, my own ideas, my own experiences put into words, my own writing and art. I’ve questioned if it matters at all since there are a million other people doing the same thing. I’ve questioned if it’s just adding more noise and consumption in a world over-stuffed with exactly that. I’ve questioned if it should even be worked on if it isn’t going to be the best. I’ve questioned my own enoughness in relation to what I create, what I put into the world, what I choose to say out loud and how I say it. I’ve questioned this newsletter, these words, this exact moment.
And the reality is that sometimes, what we have to say will be boring and basic. What we have to share will be shared by seven thousand other people, many who are sharing it “better”. What we have to offer will be the same offer as the other people writing on Substack, or selling their art on Etsy, or coding, or teaching, or uploading their photography to Instagram. Sometimes, what we have to offer won’t be unique at all, won’t be our best (or the best), won’t be extraordinary. What we have to offer to the world, to each other, and to ourselves isn’t always special. It isn’t always deep and profound. It won’t always be what others want or need. It won’t always be ignited by some mythical spark of creative flow. It won’t always feel natural or even good, and we might not always believe it’s worthy of being shared.
Yet my questioning of my work bypasses an important truth: no one else can do my work because no one else is me. And no one else can do your work because no one else is you. When I write, I write with my entire being: my lived experience and history, my genes and blood, my vision and longing, my grief and hope, my path and where I come from, my vantage point and opinion, my heart and soul — things only I have that cannot be replicated. Similarly, only you can do the work you do — whether it’s parenting or creating art, working on cars or computers, gardening or running, performing or teaching — only you can do what you do in the exact way you do it.
If being the best, being unique, and being ranked as superior are the only things that make creating worth our time, we’re putting ourselves in quite a bleak bind, because those things often won’t be the case. Yet when we choose to show up for our work, our art, our callings, our passions, our creations, and our gifts anyway, we put more goodness in the world. We put more beauty in the world. We put more meaning in the world. We put more connection in the world. We put more hope in the world. We put more humanity in the world. And that matters, whether or not it’s one of a kind. That matters, whether or not it’s the best. That matters, whether or not it fits into some hierarchy we never even opted into.
We’ve been so conditioned to view what we do in comparison to others, to rank it and place it into a better or worse category, to find its value not in how it makes us and others feel, but in how individually unique and superior it is. We’ve been conditioned to think there’s only room for a select few so we must be the best — to see others as competition instead of companions — to dismiss our gifts if they don’t meet some externally-based standard — to view outcome as more important than the process of creating itself. We’ve been conditioned to think in terms of productivity and winning, of constant growth and surpassing, of individual success and social status. It’s no wonder we constantly question what we’re creating, sharing, and doing.
We easily forget that what we create is part of a web — part of something bigger — part of a huge tapestry of others sharing themselves and their work in the ways only they can, right alongside us. And when we choose to show up for our work, we add to the web in a way that makes life more full, more rich, more beautiful. We place our piece in the tapestry in a way only we can, which enhances the whole of it. We add our voice to a collective choir who may all be saying the same thing, but how much sweeter is it when there’s a whole room of it, a whole stadium, a whole world?
Since starting this newsletter, I’ve been focusing less on trying to make it something totally unique and amazing, and instead on making it something heartfelt and true, real and honest, aligned and fully me. I’ve been focused on making it a spiritual practice, a way of showing up for my writing consistently with devotion, and a way of honoring what I have to say. And only I can do that, so it is inherently enough — even when it isn’t for everyone. Even when it isn’t perfect. Even when it isn’t one of a kind, or the best. It matters. It is important. And it is worth sharing. I may forget this sometimes because hello, I am only human — yet orienting toward my work in this way has been a gift.
Some reminders for your creative heart:
What you make, share, create, and do doesn’t need to be extraordinary for it to matter.
What you have to say doesn’t need to be mind-blowing for it to be needed.
What you want to offer the world doesn’t need to be original or the first of its kind.
What you create doesn’t need to be the best.
What you have to put out into the world doesn’t always need to be profound.
You infusing yourself into whatever you do is enough.
You choosing to show up to the work you’re called to create is enough.
You being willing to put yourself out there without knowing the outcome is enough.
Your desire and longing to do it is enough.
Your own pleasure, fulfillment, and joy from doing it is enough.
Your inner nudge to do it is enough.
You don’t need to be the best at anything for the thing to matter, to be needed and desired and enough. You don’t need to get first place or win an award or be publicly recognized for it to count. You don’t need to become famous or gain a following or get your name on some list in order for what you create to be complete magic, for no other reason than it coming from you. You don’t need to make a huge impact or touch millions of lives for whatever you put in the world to be enough. You don’t need to reach any goals or finish lines, make it big or make the most money, have the grandest life or the widest reach for anything you do to be so undeniably worth doing.
May we let our creations, our work, and ourselves be the gift.
May we trust what we have to say matters.
May we let a desire to do what we do be proof of its belonging.
May we listen to our inner nudges and allow them to point us toward our next creations, our next shares, our next experiences.
And may we know there is room for all of us to share ourselves in the ways only we can, in the form only our souls can shape, in all the ways we seek to.
△ My daughter’s curl:
△ Holly’s powerful reflection on Instagram (but also not):
△ The joy of getting familiar with farmers at our weekly Farmer’s Market trip
△ This sweet new song from Plains, (the video features everyone’s fave yoga teacher)
△ Very much looking forward to David Whyte’s next live series this month
△ I cried through this entire performance (the whole thing has been removed from the internet for copyright but here’s a clip). Whether or not you are a Foo Fighters fan, this video of Shane Hawkins, son of the late Taylor Hawkins, drumming during the tribute concert for his father is deeply touching, cathartic, and a powerful reminder of what can move through us somatically. The emotion, grief, and heart he released in his drumming to honor his father struck me to my core.
△ The unexpected power of random acts of kindness
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"...and instead on making it something heartfelt and true, real and honest, aligned and fully me." And that IS what makes your writing so powerful, so special, and absolutely incredible. I don't consider myself a creative, and so I don't fully understand the desire to be unique with my creativity (because I just assume anything I create is subpar and generic lol) but please keep showing up the way that you are. As always, I feel so honored to be able to read what you have to write and share. Thank you for being you.
Thank you for these words, Lisa. I've been struggling for a little while with having to shelve a passion of mine, and this post of yours has reminded me - and made it okay - that I (and my work, my passion, whatever that may be) am unique because I am me and that is mine.