How many of us have had a tough time getting back into our creative zones after the holidays? I hope this post inspires you to get back in your own creative flow. 💕
My calendar was quite a mess after the holidays so I decided there’s no better time than the beginning of the year to revisit, cross-out, and rewrite my goals.
On this post, I’m going to talk about why I lost my inspired bubble and how I got it back. As you read along, you will find that I struggled before realizing that my initial goals for this blog turned out to be hindrances to its sole intention, caught it before I start resenting myself for it, and finally, made some changes as I begin with a new post for the New Year.
It’s been a few months since my last post—I’ve shared some things about San Francisco; last year’s Labor Day 5-day itinerary in the city, and my intro to apartment renting. So far, I’ve only had a total of 3 blog posts since launching emmehope.co.
I had planned on posting more than that at first. I had things down on my calendar through Spring 2018—when to visit places, write, publish, and share on Instagram and Facebook. I visualized myself completing tasks on my calendar week per week. My eagerness to start this new passion project resulted in a sort of mandatory to-do list I didn’t intend on having.
Soon after, I realized it was such a challenge to stay on track and accomplish them all. The thought of having all my days, weeks, and months planned two seasons in advance seemed like a smart idea until it wasn’t actually doing me any good.
Rather than dwell on the mess, I thought it was best to take a pause, move on, and come back with a newfound intention.
♡ Let life happen. Let IT inspire me. ♡
During the holidays, I set aside most of my plans for the blog. I was miles away from my creative zone; spent 2 frigidly cold weeks in the NW suburb of Chicago and prioritized the short but sweet time with family and friends.
Oh, the glistening white Christmas-feels, a girlfriend’s pre-NYE birthday in downtown Chicago, and enjoying some home-cooked meals alongside my box of goodies I brought from San Francisco’s beloved Neighbor Bakehouse and b.patisserie—and some more from my, S.O., John, who flew in after Christmas to join us for the New Year.
Though before the holidays, I may have had more chances to check some blogging goals off of my calendar. However, in the midst of the usual frenzy of pre-holiday gatherings, I reflected on my own kind of holiday essentials:
- TO BE LESS OCCUPIED AND BE FULLY PRESENT.
I set aside the pressures of my calendar and let myself feel the fa-la-la-la-la’s of the Christmas season.
- GIFTING: LESS STRESS, MORE CREATIVITY.
We often put so much time and effort in looking for presents that match the personality and lifestyle of the recipient—though it’s what makes gifting special, it’s time consuming and stressful sometimes. This year, I gave gifts of experience (which narrows down my search); I chose dining gift cards but not just any random kind of dining. I found local places offering cuisines of their preferences that will bring back special memories (like the Yucatan place for our friends who spent their honeymoon in Cancun) or create new ones. I print them at home and insert them inside personal, hand-written Christmas letters. I didn’t participate in the annual holiday shopping ordeal—it’s Christmas season after all. The season for peace and joy.
- REMEMBER LONG DISTANCE FRIENDS.
I have great appreciation for epistolary so I wrote Christmas letters to friends who are miles/oceans away. Letter-writing is a lost art form nowadays but I still practice it every once in a while. I also find it somewhat therapeutic. Sometimes, I even include a printed photo I took of what I write about or a photo of our past get-together which I think makes it more endearing.
In the world of blogging, I was introduced to the concept of constantly posting and engaging, especially in social media, and the importance of numbers. What I really love about this platform is that we are able to connect with a lot of like-minded, creative, and passionate souls. There’s a lot of you out there who are genuinely inspiring. It’s a great platform but it wasn’t easy for me to keep up with the pace and pressure.
Some aspects I’ve learned, such as time blocking, pre-scheduling blog posts, and the constantly-engaged concept, were helpful but in most ways they gave me a bit of anxiety over something that’s supposedly inspiring.
That was kind of a bummer, right? Until this light bulb moment: We shouldn’t focus on the things we couldn’t acquire nor the reasons why we couldn’t. That way, we could shift our focus on what we can do, what we chose to do, and why we started our passion projects.
I decided to keep going, stay on track with my goals for my passion project, but most importantly, not lose who I am in the process. I had to remind myself of my sole intention: continue to enjoy having a creative outlet which enables me to spread joy, optimism, and inspiration. Because of this platform, I am able to share things I’m passionate about and it allows me to connect with you and be inspired, too, along the way.
So it is true after all, what works for some doesn’t necessarily entirely work for me and vice-versa. What matters is that you find what truly works for you and once you allow yourself to feel joy and believe in your own ways, everything else will follow.
The recipe needed a little bit of changing. It needed a bit more of me.
In person, I’m someone who could chat with a friend all day because I find great value in the time we give each other.
I’m someone who gets happy and easily enlivened, and who could do things both spontaneously and instantaneously because I find value in being able to feel and act that way.
But I am also someone who would stop and drop everything if it felt too much and too fast. Perhaps some of you also feel this way sometimes. By slowing down and stopping to take a break, it allows me to see and feel those things that I value most.
I love the hustle and bustle of the city life but what I enjoy most is being surrounded by it—not necessarily fully participating in the hustling and bustling. Constantly appreciating life happening around me—taking notice, while I live mine in a slower pace with the intent to have respect and gratitude for everything even as ordinary as saying hello to my elderly neighbor in the elevator, or the rituals of slow-brewed coffee at my neighborhood coffeeshop or at home, or the connection I feel from tunes I hear from my tired playlist, music blasting from cars passing by, or the random fellows walking down the street playing a trumpet or harmonica.
When I got back from the holidays, getting right back in my creative bubble wasn’t easy. What did I do? How did I get my groove back?
- FOUND INSPIRATION IN THE ORDINARY.
On one January evening, I had a text conversation with a friend (and fellow blogger @The Graceful Charity) about this post’s subject and it may seem like just an ordinary conversation but our exchanges inspired me.
She lives in Chicago and we were able to spend some time together when I came over for the holidays. Sometime before the New Year, we went on a brunch date at Blue Door Kitchen & Garden in the Gold Coast of Chicago. I’m so glad I discovered this place, I have nothing but high praises for this little farm-to-table dining in a lovely white-and-blue-house setting. It was totally what I had expected and more. The staff whom we encountered were all very nice and warm (who cares if it was brutally cold that day!).
The ambiance and decor have feels of a graceful farmhouse dining, with muted colors of yellows, lovely blue and white motif dinnerware, round back and tufted French dining chairs, charming burlap covered lamps, ornate and embossed ceiling, and vertical shiplap walls. It couldn’t be more fitting with the slow-food quality they brought to our table. Along with our latte and cappuccino from Metric, we had the Apple and Brie, and Croque Monsieur which were both really good. As I’ve mentioned, the staff were very nice and accommodating—we did not feel rushed at all; a perfect complement to our calming hibiscus berry teas as we ended our delicious meals.
It definitely is the kind of place you can have a great time catching up with friends while enjoying good locally and sustainably-made food. I can’t wait for my next visit, hopefully during the Summer so we can experience dining in their patio!
It hasn’t even been that long ago since we saw each other and we were already reminiscing on how much fun we had and that reminded me of how grateful I am for our friendship. So inspiring!
- LIFE IS BLOOMING.
Literally. This time around Winter, the magnificent magnolias in the San Francisco Botanical Garden are in full bloom along with other beautiful blossoms. Being surrounded with the city’s hectic vibe, John and I took the opportunity to visit this lovely and serene place. It’s just gorgeous; so inspiring. (More: Serenity and Blooms at the Golden Gate Park)
- I PAUSED AND LET GO.
On one Sunday afternoon, I sat in my favorite corner of our small apartment and put my current go-to playlist ( Lights & Motion, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds, and the like ) for when I’m feeling either uninspired or inspired, and for moments when I just feel like staring out the window at the beautiful colors of the midday sky. I just let myself feel free and declutter my mind. I get more inspired, thankful, and free of pressures—surrounded with the interior elements of my apartment that bring back those inspired moments of decorating, as if my small Auvers print has come to life, and the sounds of Sunday vibes when the city is a little quieter and you could hear birds chirping outside.
As I continue to rewrite my calendar, it’s no longer going to be filled up to a T; it’s now going to be more fulfilling.
Thank you for reading through. I hope my stories serve as inspiration for you if you’re going through a similar bump. Hopefully this post motivates you to pause for a moment when things aren’t going how you envisioned, take a step back to re-assess your goals (that spark will always find its way to you) and take a new step forward— shining, like only yourself can.