Mojo Monday ~ What and Who Inspires You?

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Art by Donald Crew from the book Freight Train

If I ask you what or who inspires you, do answers immediately come streaming forth or does it make you sit and ponder?  Just last night and this morning I felt like I was on the freight train of inspiration.  Even just now as the words “freight train of inspiration” appeared in my mind and then on the page I thought hmmmm…I should go google that term and see what images pop up.  Well it appears that no one has quite coined that term yet, at least according to google, but I did find this wonderful rainbow image from a children’s book called Freight Train by Donald Crew.  Needless to say I am feeling a bit inspired by Donald Crew this very moment.  Yet, before I get completely off track (no train pun intended) let us return to the topic of inspiration.  

Here is one example of how Inspire is defined:  to have an animating effect upon one’s mind or emotions; to stimulate to some creative or effective effort; to elicit or create. 

Considering this definition of the inspire what or who has an animating effect upon your mind or emotions? What or who stimulates or elicits your creativity? 

It will be a challenge for me to limit myself, because there are so many things that are inspiring me every day, but I’ll try to share a just a few on my list today and will provide links so you can explore more on your own.  

I just stumbled upon a very inspirational couple just last night via the posting of an artist friend.  The history geek in me is absolutely excited about the work of Maya and Matthew Smith-Gonzalez, who are the co-founders of the Reflection Press and School of the Free Mind.  


Matthew is a videographer, webmaster, designer, accountant, manager, builder, architect, editor, publisher, and just about anything else needed to keep the Press running.  Matthew came from Philly to San Francisco to intern with COLAGE, a non-profit organization for children with one or more LGBT parents. Growing up with a gay father, isolated in the midst of homophobia, taught Matthew the importance of working to include everyone and inspired his activist spirit to take root.  

Maya is an artist, author, educator,  publisher, maker, freeek, spirit, big thinker, blissfully devoted spouse and parent who thinks kids and anything creative are awesome. She has illustrated over 20 award-winning, multicultural children’s book and written three. She has written three books for their press, including Claiming Face, Gender Now and I See Peace.  

They are currently raising funds for their latest project called Everybody’s HistoryThe overall goal for Everybody’s History is for this to be a large collection of chapter books. Each book telling the story of one hero who has impacted our world, despite the fact that they may at times not have fit into what was socially acceptable at the time. The series will include heroes from the United States, and eventually, the world.


Everybody’s History
 comes in 3 book groupings. The series begins with the heroes, Harriet Tubman, We’Wha and Charley Parkhurst. The main themes in the first set are the Civil War era, gender expression and race. Other unifying themes include Night, Secrecy, Disability, A Time of Transformation and Social Agreements. Each paperback book will be 48 pages with full color illustrations. Between the covers kids can explore the life and times of the characters through story, anecdotes, quirky facts and unique activities. Be sure to visit their web site Reflection Press and if you feel inspired to contribute to their fundraising efforts for Everybody’s History click here to pop over to their fundraising site on Kickstarter.
Next on my most inspirational list this week is artist Rita Loyd.  I had been looking for an image that might go well with an article I was working on for my column in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine.  I came across this stunning image called Expansion of Love and this beautiful affirmation that accompanies the painting:
“Expansion of Love”
The expansion of love begins 
as a small seed from within.
irst I learn to love and nurture myself.
And then as my spirit awakens
I find that when I help others, 
I help myself.
And from that awareness
my love expands and overflows 
out into the universe.
I wrote to Rita about including the painting and affirmation as part of the article and she agreed.  We communicated back and forth several times and I even placed a purchase for a couple decks of her Unconditional Self Love Message Cards and several greeting cards.  I am so inspired by Rita and her art and writing.  This is what she shares about herself on her web site:  

“I am a watercolor artist and writer.  The theme of my work is about unconditional self-love.  The reason I write and paint about self-love is because unconditional self-love has the ability to heal and transform our lives.  I also believe that when we can love ourselves unconditionally that we create the internal support system that is needed to reach our greatest potential and to live our best life.”
Be sure to visit Rita’s web site for a lot more inspiration by clicking here
The last inspirational person I would like to share about is Henriette Simon Picker.  Henriette was born in 1917 and is a lifetime painter.  Henriette had her first solo exhibit in 2012 at the age of 95 years old and that was followed up by a retrospective exhibition in March of this year.   Her work has begun to enter distinguished private collections.   
Henriette studied drawing and painting at the Art Student’s League of New York from 1939 to 1941, while pursuing a successful career as a shoe designer.  She was hired by world famous I. Miller Shoes of New York at the age of 16 and for the next 45 years designed women’s high fashion shoes full time there and for many other major companies throughout the U.S.  During the 1950’s and 60’s she ran her own shoe companies and her designs were illustrated by many well known artists, including Andy Warhol.
I so appreciated this video featuring Henriette and her son as they speak about her painting and her first gallery showing.  It is also fascinating to visit her web site to view how her art changed and evolved throughout the many years she has been painting and it is wonderful that she is still going strong.  

I would love to hear from you now about who and what is inspiring you these days!  
Do share.  Inquiring minds want to know! 
Other people high on my inspiration list are:
Effy Wild ~ Fling some glitter in the air and then pay her a visit at The Glitterhood
Jenafer Joy Owen ~ Her art and musings make me hand-clapping happy! Visit her over that Jenafer Joy ~ Art & Musings
Allison Kenny ~ In March of this year she published her first chapter book for girls with Glitter & Razz.  The book called Starring Celia is the story of a 4th grade girls who goes from being bullied to becoming a ‘Go Girl!’  With her best friend Jazzy, her puppy Rootbeer, and her new summer camp, nothing can stop her from taking center stage.

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