Why I’m Ready to Be Braver This Year

We’re already 14 days into the new year – are you on track? I AM! Know my secret? I didn’t make any resolutions. (I never do.)  So thus far I’m 100% on track, haha. 🙂 No, I don’t have resolutions but I do have some big goals. And they feel so aspirational that they are scary.

This is an unusual post for me. Against many wise friends’ advice, I still feel compelled to share it with you. I have tried to understand why. The best sense I can make of this compulsion is that I have no idea if I can actually do any of these goals. This might be the last I see of them! So in case they are fleeting, I want to mark the occasion and enjoy the optimism while it lasts.

Also I feel I need to own these goals in order to achieve them, even though I might fail. This level of thinking and risk feels like shift in me, and that shift is one I’ve witnessed, wistfully, in a lot of friends before me. I’d always crazy admired their bravery for trying things they might fail at, but I never thought I’d experience the courage to attempt it myself. Still don’t know if I have the courage to follow through but at least today I have the courage to admit that I’m thinking about it.

Now: merely talking about doing something means very little, we all know that. Action is all that matters. But like an addict must admit they have a problem, admitting you have a goal seems like a necessary first step in recovery. For me, this is the first step in many towards the recovery of being true to myself, as an artist.

For me 2015 was a year of huge progress. My husband Roy, 3 year old son Soren and I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles just in time to have our second child. We moved to be closer to family primarily – this was a move I’d wanted to make for a long time. But it brought with it a lot of changes, some of which I hadn’t foreseen. For example, our part of the Los Angeles sprawl, while gorgeous and beachy and idyllic, feels *really far* from everything. Then again everything in LA is really far from everything. San Francisco is a tight, compact city in comparison. I wasn’t used to commuting or what it would mean for our daily life as working parents.   

To cut to the chase, the result of all of this was that I had no choice but to remove a lot of stupid competitive ego driven stuff from my life. I felt at first lonely and lost in this new situation. Add the exhaustion of new motherhood (again) and what you get is late night breastfeeding sessions that have me wondering about the meaning of life, followed by a huge breakthrough in my creativity. 

Where did the breakthrough come from? I am starting to recognize that none of the busyness and vanity metrics and accomplishments I used to concern myself with as part of the “Bay Area ether” are actually what make up the real ME. They are not my identity and they are not my friends. Instead, those crutches have left me wondering who I am and what I am adding to this planet during my brief residence here. (Yes friends, this may be the beginning of a lengthy midlife crisis but I’m at least trying to be productive about it!)

Time seems to be flying, especially since Arrow was born. With this new terrifying and awesome awareness of my own brevity, I am more focused than before on the long term: it’s time to get strategic about living my soul’s bliss and contributing what I can to the world. It’s time to recognize plainly and without fear the devilish sucking of time and soul power created by the rat race and social media complex. Which for me means it’s time to start making things more. Creating. Sharing. Risking. Giving. Daring to Fail. Failing daily. Life is gloriously messy and it’s time for me to jump into that more fully.  To be brave.

I’m sharing these goals with you to gather some support, spark some conversation and connection, and find co-conspirators. Personally, I hope this year is about:

  1. Sharing my ideas in a form that can make a lasting contribution.
    • Writing a book is the best way I can personally think of to do this. (Thank you dear husband Roy for urging me to connect how I spend this year with this 5 year goal! Thank you for daring me and for loving and supporting and believing in me.)
    • Blogging as I write. To gather ideas, find people who are also interested in these ideas, to get feedback, to build community, and to give me a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. Writing can be depressing but pressing “publish” in WordPress and seeing the comments fly in is ALWAYS exhilarating.  
    • Podcasting. (Working on this with a friend and co-conspirator… it’s about women and work and life…. More on this when we have our first episode ready to share.)
  2. Being creative with my kids and husband, my friends, and my parents and brother and sisters (in laws too).
    • I long for more creative time, which has been super pinched since I had kids. SUPER PINCHED. I’m just not willing to say goodbye to my family all day Saturday to pursue some lonely solo art project. Solution: find things we can do together. Plus, I love co-creation and collaboration much more than independent work!
  3. Tackle the puzzle of self care as a mother.
    • This one is hard for me for same reasons finding time for creative work is hard. But so far (and I’ve been a mom now for 4 1/2 years) I’ve learned that doing activity together is a good way to fit in exercise. Now I need to find the space to give myself permission for a little solo self care. I think writing has always been a big piece of self care for me so already I’m feeling better as I write…
  4. Continuing to fall more and more deeply in love with my husband.
    • What could be more important?!
    • A huge part of our relationship has been adventure. Living abroad three times, etc etc. Last year’s adventure was actually settling down: moving and buying a house and having a baby. Now for the first time in 18 years we haven’t been moving almost every year…. this is the first year where self-imposed transitions (though we love them) are pretty much done: time to build! I’m excited to see what we build together.
  5. Give more energy, love, and attention to my friendships, new and old.
    • Allow friendships to evolve, show myself more fully, and offer more of myself, more proactively. Be open to attracting new and unfamiliar types of people into my heart.
  6. Create a community of great people (and most importantly, GOOD people) around myself, my work, and my family.
    • Time is limited. So quality is key. Quality is created through quantity of time together and quality of attention and love given.
    • Bring people together in person and through technology.
  7. Eschew the snark factor.
    • Be aware of speech, tone, and patterns of thought. Speak positively.
    • Reward uttering appreciation and gratitude in myself, my family, and my work.
    • Fill my home and community with positive messages and clear, constructive, celebratory energy.
    • Snark no more!

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear if we share any intentions about the new year and how we can work together to make 2016 kick some serious ass. Leave a quick reply below about what you’re working on, and I’ll reply… let’s be each others’ team. How can we support each other in making our ideas concrete and real this year? I’d love to work with you on bringing things to life. You never know where working together may lead.

P.S. Thank you to the South Bay Creative Writers Workshop for your helpful comments on this post. I revised it the night of Jan 16 2016, two days after it’s initial publication date, based on your feedback.

18 Replies to “Why I’m Ready to Be Braver This Year”

  1. Just came across this, and I love it.

    I’ve taken my own step into adventure this year (marriage) and I’m looking for the next one. Looking ahead to the rest of our lives together, I can see the end (the “til death do us part” bit. This post has given me some extra perspective to make the best of the time in between and the courage to be brave with it.

    Looking forward to seeing you again someday and looking forward to what exciting ways the universe might unfold.

  2. Hi Caneel,

    I found you this morning while investigating who could possibly be the most open hearted and like minded supporter to launching my start up. This led me to your company “Kick Ass” and what it does for start ups, and then more on your background. I love the name of your company, it is bad-ass. I left you this recent article written by the editor of 3D Printing Industry journal on my ideas and startup. I am looking forward to talking to you, I left my information in the emails. Please PM me. Thanks for focusing on bravery for 2016, I am with you there. all the best, Angel

  3. Hi Caneel! I just stumbled upon your blog from the d.school site and a few more clicks. Just reading this blog post is super inspiring! As a new mom myself navigating the Silicon Valley/techie world your projects seem relevant to me, especially the podcast. I’m also using this year to be more about being authentic, exploring my creativity some more, and somehow making that all work while keeping family a priority (while balancing a full-time UX design job that I love). Specifically, I want to create an immersive, interactive experience based on an ebook I wrote a couple of years ago…but am still figuring out how to make that happen.

    Anyway, cheers! And know you have another fan here.


    1. Lia congrats on becoming a mom!! I just checked out your website, your etsy shop and your ebook, and I am impressed and inspired!! I’d love to get to know you better. Email me if you want to set up a time to talk and see how we can support each other creatively! Caneel@kickassenterprises

  4. Yooo loved this post Caneel! I’ll be rooting for you on the sidelines while you write your book/podcasts and I promote my album! I can’t wait to hear about your new challenges- Love you sis. Bring in that big 2016!

    1. You inspire me always to make my work real, Devon! Excited for you and the year you have ahead. So glad you are enjoying The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Let’s battle the Resistance together!

  5. I miss you!!! Love all of this. And I hear you, mama. #7 is the most inspiring and good reminder for me too. Hope we can connect somewhere at some time this year. xoxo

    1. Would love to connect Carlie! I hear you’re doing some pretty inspiring stuff through the grapevine. Let’s set up a time to talk!

  6. Beautiful and invigorating post, Caneel! I can see you fulfilling all your goals. And I’ll be subscribing to your podcast.

    As for me, I’ve been babysitting my niece and working on my business, a ton. I love doing both, SO MUCH, to the point of becoming a recluse. So I’m also looking to reconnect and grow in community. Let’s co-create and collaborate!

    1. Thanks Amy! I’ve been following your incredible knitting (?) creations on Facebook… so inspired! Would love to co-create with you.

  7. Good stuff, sis! I like the part about getting more connected to the in laws, wink wink. I think 2016 is setting out to be a year of courage for a LOT of people, and you make a lot of good points. I too have resolved to do things once and for all and yes, to be brave. I am focused on raising kids, growing my business (too bad I didn’t win that Powerball! – and we tried!) and laser focus on my health…even started a food blog as kind of a side bar since I was obsessed with talking about it anyway. Please stay connected to us down here too. We would love for A to see her cousins more! Love and prosperity to you all!

    1. Thanks Sara! That’s awesome that you started a food blog – share the link here so people can see it! You have always been brave. Looking forward to a great 2016 together.

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