Creativity Goals Check-In September 13, 2020

window sept 13Goals from Last Week – How Did it Go?


  • work on Moonchild all seven days – only five
  • work on blog at least five days – DONE.
  • five digitizing sessions – DONE and then some; I did seven – nothing like the threat of wildfires to light a fire under your ass.


  • seven guitar practice sessions – DONE and then some – I did ten to get caught up back on track from previous missed sessions.
  • get up through song 97 of Book One of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book – the new songs focus on the A7 chord – DONE.
  • seven keyboard practice sessions – DONE.
  • Finish Unit 7 in my Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner book, and then go back and do the Technic and Composition part of Unit 1, and the Technic of Unit 2 – DONE.


  • sleep without the phone (a struggle you can read about here) – this will put me at 175 nights (25 weeks) in a row – DONE, but it was really, really, really hard this week.
  • write Morning Pages every day – yeah no, I did three.
  • don’t pick up the phone until after Morning Pages – of the three pages I did MPs at all, I think I resisted picking up the phone till after on one of them, which was Monday, before the fires.
  • get up through at least page 210 in The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd (and I wouldn’t be surprised if I get further) – close, I got to page 198.
  • do an Artist Date – DONE. Once again, I took time out and watched a movie.

Reflections on the Week


Last week, I wrote that it had been a week. I had no idea what I was even talking about. Last week seems like a faraway dream in comparison to this one. I don’t even remember why I wrote that it had been a week, I think because of the whole leaving med school thing?

It started off okay. On a whim, my friend Sarah and I went shopping on Monday. We went to an outdoor shopping center. It was the first time we’d been out like that since covid started, and for me it’d been even longer because of medical school; I hadn’t been shopping since a weekend of some retail therapy at the beginning of school. We wore masks, and stores had limits on how many could go in at a time, and hand sanitizer was everywhere. It was hard not to touch everything. It was the longest amount of time I’d spent away from my apartment since I took Step 1 in May.

On our way out, the air was thick and hazy. It reminded me immediately of the summer of 2017 (pretty sure) when Portland was bathed in smoke and raining ash for what felt like forever. By a few hours after we got home, the wind was raging, people were losing power and posting pictures of trees felled by the windstorm, and we were all starting to worry about evacuation.

The rest of the week, especially Tuesday, was consumed by constantly checking on updates on the fires and trying to solidify an evacuation plan, and I have to say it’s a huge problem that while there are all kinds of ways to make sure people with disabilities have access to alerts of all forms, myself and several friends could find no resources about helping disabled people evacuate, which depends on driving, which I can’t do. So yeah, a lot of fear and frantic thinking. And a lot of devastation to the forests and to people who live closer to the fires.

The air went a bit in and out. Just Wednesday, I had lunch with a med school friend outdoors, but by Thursday when I went to the Farmer’s Market for my weekly produce pickup, the air was thick, the AQI was in the high 100s, which seemed so terrible. I was glad to be wearing a mask to the Farmer’s Market just a few blocks away and was surprised to see some people still biking in the thick air.

But since Thursday, the AQI has been in the 400s and 500s (currently 457) so there’s no going outside at all. Even short excursions could be dangerous. On the plus side, it does seem like the current winds are helping the firefighters and they may have turned a corner on that front. Still, the air is thicker than I’ve ever seen it and everything smells like smoke, even inside.

So yeah, on one hand, it’s been hard to focus on anything other than obsessively checking updates, including reading posts from a friend who lost her house in southern Oregon. And on the other hand, more cooped indoors than ever, there were days I got so much done just to distract myself. But probably the quality of anything this week was at best distracted.

In cataloguing progress on last week’s goals, I noticed that the ones most affected were those adjacent to sleep. It’s been hard to sleep. I’m not sleeping with the phone, but it’s been the hardest it’s been in months to resist the temptation. And I’m leaving the sound on at night, which I don’t normally do, in case of emergency alerts, and mostly I just get alerts about dense fog and smoke advisories waking me up.

So yeah, things associated with sleep–Morning Pages I write when I first wake up, reading I do before bed, even working on Moonchild, which is usually my first order of business in the morning after Morning Pages–fell by the wayside a bit. As I think might be expected.


I’m all caught up now from missed practice sessions. It’s now been five months that I’ve been playing both guitar and keyboard. I’m getting close to the end of Book One in my guitar book, and will probably cross into Book Two by the end of the month.

My strumming and chord transitions are feeling like they’re inching ever so slowly towards being smoother and less choppy. I’ve been thinking maybe I should record myself every now and then, because hearing the difference might help me feel more like I’m making progress.

As for keyboard, last week I said I’d work on composing, using the Unit 1 exercise in my book. And I did. The unit was about the interval of a second, and so the composition exercise was to improvise based off of that. And in a move, I may regret later, I’m going to post what I came up with. It’s just two short little songs.

What I like is that I’m learning enough about music that I can picture these written as music and I know what keys they’re both in (the first is in D minor, the second in C major). Five months ago, I’m not sure I would have believed that was possible.


So, I finally got an insta. I figured I’d probably need it to stay up with the times. I’m struggling with learning the new platform but working on it. You can find me there at apriljulia13, the same handle as twitter, FB, tumblr, and all of that.

Also, if anyone’s good at insta, I could use some help. I imported my contacts from my phone and FB, but can’t find them anywhere after doing that. I’m also planning on doing some YouTube tutorials. It makes me feel so old to be so bad at this.

Goals for this Coming Week


  • work on Moonchild all seven days
  • work on blog at least five days
  • at least seven digitizing sessions
  • craft and send an important tweet


  • seven guitar practice sessions
  • get up through song 98 of Book One of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book – just one new song this week, it has melody, harmony and rhythm parts and it’s long so it’ll be plenty to keep me busy
  • seven piano practice sessions
  • Continuing on my quest to catch up on Technic and Composition sections previously skipped in Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner book, I will do the composing for Unit 2, Technic and Composing for Unit 3, and Technic for Unit 4


All right, I’m off to make dinner and then read Week Three of The Artist’s Way. Have a great week everyone! If you have any goals you want to share in the comments, please do!


PD: The picture for this post is the view outside my window, which doesn’t do justice to the thick smoke.


  • Morning Pages, referred to in the lifestyle section of these goals, is the practice of writing three long-hand pages right after waking up in the morning.
  • You can read about them in this post where I introduce what they are and my history with them, and you can find all posts that mention Morning Pages here.
  • The practice comes from The Artist’s Way, the seminal creativity book by Julia Cameron. I’m doing a weekly column called The Artist’s Way Reflections, which was introduced here in my blog re-entry post.
  • Artist Dates, the practice of doing a solo activity to take time out and connect to your creativity, also comes from The Artist’s Way.
  • Moonchild is the name of my memoir project, which you can read about in more detail on my Memoir page or on this old post with a rough sketch. You can also find LOTS of other posts about it here.
  • You can check out other posts about goals (goalposts?) here.

3 thoughts on “Creativity Goals Check-In September 13, 2020

  1. Kicking butt with these goals as usual, even in the middle of yet another crisis! Mad props to you.

    Yay, you posted your compositions!!! Thank you for sharing them! I was so happy to hear them and appreciated the contemplative feel they both have. And I didn’t hear any mistakes in the recording either, which is impressive because one of the hardest things for me ages ago when playing keyboard or piano was constantly muffing the notes…I have such clumsy fingers that I’m not sure it would have been possible for me to make an error-free recording without the aid of a sound-editing program to splice in corrections. It was also great to hear your speaking voice as an extra bonus!! Getting warmed up for your podcasting adventure, I see. :-)

    Your comments about joining Insta made me laugh because I’m an Insta n00b too and can totally relate to feeling old and clueless with that learning curve. There’s still a lot I’m figuring out as I go.

    I was actually wondering if you had broken your no-sleeping with-the-phone streak because of having to leave the sound on at night, and am AMAZED that you did not. Way to go!!! That took an extraordinary amount of restraint. I can easily see how the temptation would feel almost insurmountable under the circumstances. Keep up the great work!!

    And good luck with that important tweet. ;-)

    • Wow, thanks Claire! Your comments are always so positive and thoughtful :)

      I’ve come pretty damn close to breaking the sleeping without the phone trend. The stress of the wildfires and the smoke and worrying about evacuation makes me reeeeeally want it for comfort, but I’m almost at six months and can’t bear the thought of starting over.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds insta confusing. I’m hoping to have the hang of it soon (and it certainly looks like you do from your feeds) but right now it’s confusing. Sometimes I wish I could just hire someone for a few hours to help me with social media because there are things I continually struggle with over and over, and life would probably be a little easier if I could get those things sorted out. Sometimes just googling stuff doesn’t lead to anywhere fruitful.

      And thanks for your kind words on the composition! For whatever reason, keyboard feels somewhat natural to me, like similar to typing. Guitar feels more challenging because the hand shapes and what you’re doing with each and trying to coordinate them together feels unnatural, not similar to any other activity. But then, piano music is harder to read (bass clef) so I guess they each have their own challenges.

  2. I’m editing this post to take off the goal of not looking at my phone until after Morning Pages. I meant to take it off yesterday and forgot. It’s just not realistic, in a city that’s in a state of emergency, to not look at my phone first thing. I can work on that again when we’re out of the woods on the fire and smoke.

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