Opening Doors to Creativity

A 100 Day Project

Searching for Creativity in San Francisco

Message to the Reader:

In a couple of days, I turn 26 and will officially be in my “late twenties.” Commence eye roll now.

Yes, I am another middle-class girl “in my twenties,” dancing around a possible quarter life crisis. However, my intention for writing this is not to process my emotions into a twenty step list on “How to Survive 26” or “How to Get Through a Quarter Life Crisis,” because not only do I not have these answers, but life is freaking messy and cannot be shoved into a template (or a Trello board).

Instead, what I am really trying to do here is use you as a free therapist. By sharing with you what I have learned this past year, I hope to achieve better clarity. If you find yourself inspired at the end of this reading to reflect and look inward, then as the old saying goes, “the student has become the master.”

How I Got Here:

There are two events from the past year that have sparked my brain to tinker.

Event One:
The first was a trip to Chicago I took with five friends from high school (plus a fiancé, one brought along to chaperone us). Our goals for the trip were to visit another friend in Chicago who had moved there to pursue her dreams in stand-up comedy, turn up for the birthday of a lovely lady in our group and celebrate the engagement of said lovely lady to the chaperone. Talk about efficiency! We rented a beautiful Airbnb and spent our days cooking breakfast together, snooping through our host’s marked up copy of 50 Shades of Grey and opting to stay in versus going out. As we sipped whiskey by a fireplace and reminisced over high school, I asked myself, “How did we all grow up so fast?” In just a blink, we went from talking about our summer plans after graduation to talking about our life plans.

I spent the post-vacation week circling back to this question and backtracking through the major events that had happened to me the past eight years since high school. There were many happy moments separated by some sad ones, but what stuck out to me the most was that for a majority of these events, especially the negative ones, I was reacting to unexpected things that were thrown at me rather than planning for events that would help me achieve my goals.

I realized that if I continued to take this passive approach I would end up with an unfulfilling story, and by then it would be too late to rewrite a new one.

I spent the next few weeks stressed out and confused as I made sense of my revelation. I started ten different notes on my iPhone as I tried to define what my goals were and develop complex plans to achieve them.

One night, while sitting in a bar until last call came around, I scribbled on a napkin: What’s worth thinking about? In no particular order, I wrote the following: creating, happiness, relationships and health.

Doing this simple exercise helped me to initiate a focused and clear internal dialogue in order to define my goals. These goals are still and will always be a work in progress.

These words are written on a whiteboard hanging above my desk. I read them every day.

Event Two:
Soon after, a friend shared with me his collection of 100 disco themed designs he painstakingly created as a part of a self-imposed 100-day challenge (check out Wallpaper Disco STAT). The rules to this popular, possibly masochistic, challenge are simple: do something every day for one hundred days. In his case, the “doing” was creating illustrations on a topic he held close to his heart in order to improve his design skills. While I looked through his work with admiration, he had flashbacks of the struggles he went through to staying motivated to show up every day for the challenge.

I was impressed by his discipline and I was also a bit envious that he could visually see his own growth through his illustrations.

“I want to make stuff too,” I told myself.

In ten years, I want to be able to look back at my work and reminisce over how much I have grown. Although I once considered myself as a creative type (i.e. when I was six years old, I won a coloring contest for Mother’s Day at Pizzeria Uno and my family’s meal was on the house), I gave up this creativity for more “practical skills.” A peak into my friend’s work piqued my interest and further cemented the importance of creating in my life.

What Now?

Since these events, I left my comfortable career in NYC, moved across the country to San Francisco and enrolled in a coding boot camp. With all of these changes, I have decided to initiate a 100-day challenge to find my creativity groove.

My 100-day challenge:

Take a photograph of a different door in San Francisco and write a Haiku to juxtapose against the photograph every day, for one hundred days. The Haiku can be inspired by the door or by a separate interaction/observation I have that day.

Day 1 Haiku: Hello my old friend. Don’t be afraid to come in. We’ve been waiting here

Why on Earth am I doing this?

Below are my goals along with some self-directed words of motivation:

  1. Encourage me to explore a new city
    Note to Self: Get off of your butt and get out there!
  2. Improve my writing
    Note to Self: Haikus are only 17 syllables. Don’t overthink it!
  3. Add some discipline into my life
    Note to Self: It’s only 100 days!
  4. Battle some of my insecurities
    Note to Self: Your work will always be a draft. The only way to know if what you’re doing is any good, is to put it out there.
  5. Refine my observation skills
    Note to Self: If you keep blinking, life will pass you by. Live with eyes wide open.

To track my challenge and my door Haikus, follow me on Instagram @cinnedt

#100DaysofSFDoors #100DaysofDoorHaikus

What will you create with 100 days of making?


A special thanks to Semira, Tom, Jennifer, Carmen, my family and friends.