Photo taken by Michelle Fairchild ~ Art in Nature taken on 12.26.18
|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.
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.
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 History. The 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.
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 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.”
|The cover of my PaPaYa! “Voyage” journal|
The past month had felt funky with a capital “F.” One daughter came down with a really bad flu that had her down for a week. Then her twin sister came down with the same flu and was also sick for a week. I ran out of sick time and had to start chipping away at vacation time which is near and dear to my heart. Wah! My hubby had a short out of town trip camping with his students. My 6 year old daughters had their 6th birthday and there was the party to plan for and a house and yard to prepare for guests. The day after their successful party was Mother’s Day, but my hubby pinched a nerve in his back and a build up of stress found my own neck tweaked with strain and pain and a severe lack of energy. My day job that I have been with for 8 years has grown more boring and unfulfilling, and while I still love the purpose of the work, I am weary of working in a cavernous lobby with no windows. In the midst of all of this I had bone weary days. Days where I felt so completely physically exhausted. I also found myself not interested in writing or painting and when I arrived home all I wanted to do was veg out. Then there were the old photos of myself and friends through the years I found myself flipping through the evening before the solar solstice, and I became sad and wistful when I viewed them because they seemed like they were from another lifetime. I have been blessed in this life with an inordinate amount of vitality and energy, so it was the feeling so tired though that truly led me to realize that something had to change. It all began by writing these words in my journal:
Changes need to take place.
Out of shape.
Not often happy.
43 years old.
Looked through old photos last night and saw a version of myself that was smiling a lot more. Saw a happier version of me.
Brainstorm – what do I really want? What do I want to do?
The goal is more positive physical energy. Basically more “get up and go!” This piece of the puzzle became more clear as I wrote these words about my new goals:
For over a week now I have been feeding myself nutritious packed meals called The Detox Salad, The Lightened Up Protein Goddess Bowl, The Back On Track Wheat Berry and Bean Salad, The High Protein Quinoa Almond Berry Salad, The Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Warm Salad, The Spring Detox Smoothie and a few other smoothie concoctions that utilize frozen fruit, soy vanilla protein powder and kale or spinach. We have an amazing library of vegan cookbooks yet I did find many of these new and fabulous recipes on a web site called Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon.
As my lists for increased vitality included kicking up the physical movement up a few notches I have successfully been doing more stretching and have added in simple weight lifting and then some pilates videos. I’ll also be adding in some “turbo jam” workouts for fun. For a number of years I was a serious gym rat and worked out six to seven days a week with my daily workouts sometimes lasting two to three hours doing a combo cardio/weight lifting regime. I remember everything I learned from the various trainers who coached me over years. I just haven’t been putting my knowledge into practice for a great while.
For many years now I have found myself entering into a peaceful zone when I garden and work outside in the yard. When I was single I spent many hours in my yards and I filled them with flowers and colorful garden art. My yards in the past were small to modest in size, yet I still managed to spend hours and hours wiling away the time and enjoying digging in the dirt. When my husband and I bought our first home together we were fortunate to find an older home, built in the 50’s, in a neighborhood where most homes have very generous yards and with existing trees and plants. Our back yard, sometimes referred to as the Fairchild Park by some family and friends, is home to a majestic oak, a giant redwood, a cherry tree, a plum tree, a pear tree and a pomegranate tree. We have also added a dogwood, a miniature Japanese maple, a red bud and other various plants and a stone patio.
This past week our neck of the woods saw rainy day after rainy day. I don’t normally complain about the weather and I usually appreciate each season for its own unique beauty and the gifts it brings with it for our natural world. However I was beginning to long for some sunshine. Saturday morning arrived sunny and gorgeous after a long rain all night. My morning began with taking care of some overdue chores like cleaning bathrooms, cleaning a cat box, getting some laundry going and cleaning the kitchen. After several hours of chores I began to feel grumpy and irritable and I looking longingly out the window. When I finally headed to our backyard to do some yard work there were still vestiges of the doldrums hanging on. As I began to plant some new flowers I’d been given for my recent birthday, and as our whole family worked together to finish clearing up some downed limbs into the green waste can or our wood pile, all the gray feelings dissipated and my disposition grew as sunny as the day.
After hours of hard work I grabbed a refreshing beverage, a magazine to peruse and I went and lounged on a patio chair. Ahhh, “Now this is the life!” I thought to myself. I also ticked off in my head the many of the ways I am so incredibly blessed in this life.
Now before life in the Fairchild household begins to sound unbelievably idyllic and peaceful I feel it only fair to share that there are times when I am in the “zone” of gardening and my twin daughters will scream, cry or begin to fight over some game they are playing. Shrieking children do not really fit into my peaceful garden world and this can be a struggle for me. Whining and shrieking children have the same affect on me inside the house too. In my perfect world I would be grooving to good tunes, painting, writing, gardening, dancing, swimming (let’s ignore the fact we don’t have a pool) and enjoying a peaceful environment. We can’t always have that perfect peaceful world, especially when we share our space with significant others, children and pets.
When I really begin to struggle with a chaotic (and messy) living space that sets my nerves on edge I try to take deep breaths, remind myself of what is really important, remind myself that this particularly annoying situation won’t last forever and if all else fails I can choose to do one of several things. 1) Engage the children in laughter, dance or some such fun to change the energy and mind set in the room. 2) Go outside to soak in the natural world or at the very least look outside. 3) Take a brief time out in my bedroom or my art room. 4) Retreat to the bathroom and hide for 5 minutes. 5) Grab a book, run a hot bubble bath and have quiet time reading for an hour.
I have also contemplated for many years the following quote: “peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
When I consider this quote I know that I have a ways to go in being able to remain in the peaceful mind set no matter what is thrown at me.
Do you have a peaceful place?
Is it a place that you can count on to help you relax and/or feel rejuvenated?
If you are feeling anxious, stressed or unsettled are there things you do that help you to relax, unwind, or feel better?
What if you are in a funk or feeling grumpy? Are there things that lift your spirit and help to center you again?
A melancholy feeling had overtaken me. My most recent music mix even took on a slightly gray hue of sadness. I knew it was bad when spending some time in my artist room playing with paints and glue and glitter could not pull me out of my funk. In fact the funk grew deeper as the art piece I had envisioned and was attempting to create would not come together. Instead of feeling pleased with the creative process I grew more frustrated because what I was seeing on the canvas was making me feel more mediocre than ever. My woe-is-me attitude began to spiral into questioning my purpose and bemoaning that I don’t have a local women’s circle. One way for me to try and short circuit the negative thought patterns is to pick a favorite book to read or take a bath. Even better yet is to combine the two. So that is exactly what I did.
As soon as I was immersed in the hot comforting water I began to read from a well-read copy of Finding Joy: 101 Ways to Free Your Spirit and Dance with Life by Charlotte Davis Kasl, PhD. My spirit chose well that evening because the short excerpts in this particular book were so perfect for what ailed me.
- Discover the Power of Joy
- Loving Yourself, No Matter What
- Tapping the Power of Your Mind: A Training Manual for the Brain
- Lighten Up: Finding Balance in a Crazy World
- Marvel At Your Amazing Body
- Reaching Out, Breaking the Rules: Tips for Making Life Easier
- When You’re Sinking Grab a Life Line
- Loving Your Body In Spite of It All
- Loving Children, Discovering Ourselves
- More years, More Wisdom
- Dancing with Life
- Joy to the World
Author Charlotte Kasl describer herself this way on her web site:
“I wear the hat of psychotherapist, author, and teacher, but at my core, I am a peace and social justice activist. I believe the starting place for healing the planet is in our hearts and in the ways we practice respect, empathy, understanding and equality in all human relationships, including our relationship to ourselves.” ~ Charlotte Kasl
Charlotte has written a number of books. One I have already read is called If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on A Spiritual Path. Her newest book that has yet to be released is called If the Buddha Had Kids: Raising Children to Create a More Peaceful World. It is one I will read once it is released.
Have you read any of Charlotte‘s books? If yes, do you recommend any?
I am so thrilled to feature Libbie McIntosh in my column in the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine. She is an inspiring woman who teaches us all that we can make a difference. Just click the link to read the article that details her experience as a volunteer in Cambodia and beyond. Please click here to go to the article.