Creativity sent me on a scavenger hunt

Plus: "Trick or treat!"

Creativity sent me on a scavenger hunt
Photo by Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

Hello Dear Ones,

Yep. I got quiet here for a bit. I needed to sort some things out about how I’m using this space and which direction I’m walking in. And I went on quite a little scavenger hunt to find some answers.

But before I get into that…

Happy Halloween!

I live in a “destination” trick-or-treating neighborhood, so this is now my faaaavorite holiday. Families make their way here from nearby areas, and some of these streets go all out with haunted houses and elaborate animatronic front yards. We sit out on our front porch, play music, and burn through about 10 Costco-sized bags of candy. (To be fair, though, we’re also a “take 3” household.)

The first time we did this, I noticed that a handful of kids were showing up with thin plastic grocery bags that might not survive the night, so I started slipping them reusable shopping bags. Now my practice is to order a few dozen pillowcases each year (tip: the best bulk price I’ve found is at and hand them out to anyone who looks like they could use an upgrade. I love the delighted faces from people who aren't expecting it, and I run out every year.

This year, my new experiment is to mix some small toys into the candy bowl. I’m curious to see how a light-up rings and fake claws will rate for popularity against Sour Patch Kids and Snickers.

My partner, on the other hand, has taken things wayyyy further, and has been building a spooky fence with programmable LED lights, a fog machine with lasers, and a mysterious ghost in the window. Some friends are helping us, and it’s become a Whole Thing.

When I was deep in burnout pain a year ago, Halloween was by far the happiest anyone saw me for months. This is the night that I feel the most connected to my home and neighborhood, and the production of it all brings me Pure Jumpy-Clappy Autistic Joy.

But back to the journey...

What have I been up to for the last month?

Great question.

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I was picking up on the fact that I had wandered Off Track in my relationship to creativity. Too much struggle, not enough joy. I needed to step back and find a new strategy.

So I went on a little scavenger hunt...

  • I attended the Berkeley Poetry Slam, which btw is pretty much the same as it’s been since 1998. (I used to dabble in slam poetry, and I hosted Queer Open Mic in San Francisco for four years in my twenties. Live art is magic.)
  • I wrote a few new spoken word poems and recorded myself performing them to hear the current state of my own voice. (I’m not sharing them yet, but we’re getting closer.)
  • I explored the poetry section of the San Francisco Library’s main branch, and then suddenly realized that audiobooks of spoken word poetry are recorded performances, and this changed how I use Audible.
  • I explored the tricky psychological moves of externalizing my creative voice so I can ask it what it needs to collaborate with me. (Thank you to therapy, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Coven of Creativity.)
  • I built a personal database of internet meme language patterns that delight me (e.g., “I don’t make the rules”; “Not with that attitude”; “Happy __ to all who celebrate”; “Sure, __ is great, but have you ever __”; and so on. This is 100% my equivalent of collecting shark facts.)
  • I watched RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Voice semi-obsessively, trying to absorb the inspiring mix of creativity, confidence, and humility that comes from talented people working hard to follow their dreams, while also knowing that a major portion of their success relies on luck, timing, and context.
  • I took myself on a solo creative retreat at an AirBnB in the rocky mountains, and sat in a hot tub in below-freezing weather to witness the first snow of the season.
  • I did a bunch of work with my new coach around why I want to create, who I want to create for, what I want to say, how I want to say it, and what’s in the way of all that. (A nice reminder that coaches are super helpful, even when I know the answers are already in me.)
  • I saw P!nk in concert on her TRUSTFALL tour (and holy hell does that woman work hard).
  • I ran some experiments on how to make skit-style social media videos, and got really excited about the results. (I think this might be coming soon!)
This Californian got to see snow in October!

One of the more difficult moments of this scavenger hunt was realizing how much I’m still punishing myself for last year’s business failure. I haven’t been trusting myself to take on new responsibilities or to step back into a public voice. I’ve also been finding safety in emphasizing How Hard I’ve Had It – like it will help justify my mistakes and prove that I’ve been sufficiently punished for them with my own consequences.

(Ohhhh my sweet brain, I see how you got here, but this isn’t helping anyone now.)

I’m working to replace this with a conscious audit of my lessons and growth. I feel confident that I will never make some of those mistakes again... but I'm less confident about the rest of them, and maybe that's okay. I can stay aware of the risks and make plans for managing them.

I also know for a fact that I’ll make new mistakes. And it's safe to assume that some of my future lessons will be brutally painful.

I'd like to keep moving forward anyway.

The skills we need are not about the perfect avoidance of mistakes. They are about accountability and an openness to growth. My queer and neurodivergent communities have been teaching me what this can look like, and it's helping me find ways to forgive myself.

So what’s ahead?

As with pretty much every other moment in my life, what I want most is to turn around and offer a hand to the people behind me.

The journey feels lonely. The internet reminds us that it is not.

I want to take the insights I’ve picked up — the ones that I so desperately wish I could have found sooner — and share them using the skills and strengths I’ve been developing along the way.

But now there’s a twist:

The lessons I need to share include rest, spaciousness, and joy. And I can’t share those with the strategies I developed before I found them. They change the conversation too deeply.

I'm also still trying to learn a very big new lesson: that when there is room to raise our standards for enjoyment in our lives, our job is to do that. To accept it, explore it, and allow it.

Our responsibility is not to apologize for our joy—it's to share it.

I won’t say I’ve sorted this all out, but new doors are opening. Perspectives are shifting.

And most excitingly: I think creative video projects are coming. 😏

I also think I'll be able to write a bit more often now. But as always: we'll see.

Wishing you a halloween of spooky flappy joy,