Prime Your Creativity by Reclaiming Your Essence

Michelle Mains
3 min readJun 6, 2021


The Summer Solstice may be a few weeks away, but in the Pacific Northwest, it feels like we’ve turned the corner. Likewise, it seems like the pandemic has finally hit a tipping point. Do you find yourself asking the question, “Do I want to pick up exactly where I left off?” The survey answer I’m getting from friends and colleagues is: “Not really!”

Going back to 10 hours a day in an office in front of a monitor feels like a dated black-and-white nightmare. But having the ability to get out and about and back to a routine of seeing loved ones feels like stepping into technicolor — a world free of fear and filled with joy. The big question is how to bridge the gap between the old structure and newfound freedom, and there’s a simple answer: Turn to the soft skill of creativity.

We can learn a lot from the creative process because creatives are constantly challenged to reinvent, relearn, and renew — all qualities everyone will have to use in post-pandemic life. So, in the June series, Five Lessons to Prime Your Creativity, you’ll meet five different artists and learn how to make their creative experience personal.

The first lesson is to reclaim your essence, which you may feel has been lost in the mix as you tried to make it day to day in the pandemic. And there’s no better teacher for that lesson than painter David Chethlahe Paladin.

Chethlahe Revives His Spirit

David Chethlahe Paladin’s creative journey had a rough start: He was bed-bound recovering from injuries sustained from the Nazis while serving in World War II. He made it back home to the reservation, but surviving imprisonment and torture had taken most of Chetlahe’s creative capital. Severe depression and suicidal thoughts compounded his physical injuries.

The Navajo elders held council and decided to test his resolve. They took Chetlahe to a local lake, tied a rope around his waist as a safeguard, and threw him in. As David struggled for air, the elders stood on the shoreline urging him to live, shouting, “Call your Spirit back. Call your Spirit back.”

You would think commanding his battered body to respond would have been Chetlahe’s biggest problem. But reminiscing after decades of success, he said, “Calling my Spirit back was so hard. It took more effort to call my Spirit back than it did to survive what the Nazis did to me.”

How to Apply the Soft Skill of Creativity

When you listen to Chethlahe’s story, do you think I kind of feel like I’ve been through a war, too. I’m so worn out and distracted that I can’t even tell you what post-pandemic life will look like! Fair enough.

So, how about slowing your roll instead of trying to flip the switch and leap into your Best Life Ever? Turn on your creative mind and get back to basics. Mull over what is or isn’t you anymore — the answers might surprise you. Having your new essentials in mind will make your future yes and no decisions quick and easy!

Here are three ways for you to prime your creativity and practice reclaiming your essence:

1. Make it fast by affirming, “I throw my arms wide open to inspiration!”

2. Make it deep by taking 30 minutes to complete the sentence, “I’d love my post-pandemic life to have qualities like ____.” Take inspiration from your favorite music, art, or a line from a movie. Then embody those feelings.

3. Make it real by choosing something from your list as your Next Big Thing. What is right for you will be fun, adventurous, nurturing, and satisfying.

You’ve spent the last 18 months facing harsh realities. You’ve been through a lot. So, give yourself plenty of time to sit back with your favorite beverage, relax, and dream. It’s time to get excited about the possibilities and revive and reclaim the hopeful, creative you.



Michelle Mains

Soul Boss creator. Learn how soft skills solve hard problems at