Mojo Monday ~ What and Who Inspires You?

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.

Mojo Monday ~ When I Loved Myself Enough

 When I Loved Myself Enough began as one woman’s gift to the world, hand made by Kim McMillen and given to her friends.  As word spread, its heartfelt honesty won it a growing following.

The introduction to When I Loved Myself Enough by Kim McMillen begins this way:

For many years I lived with a guarded heart.  I did not know how to extend love and compassion to myself.  In my fortieth year that began changing.

In April of 2009 I had turned forty.  There were events going on in my life at that particular time that were very difficult.  In May, just weeks after my birthday, I won this book from a web site called Intrinsic. It was mailed to me all the way from Australia, yet in some ways it seemed more like a gift from the Universe, as it contained a message I so desperately needed to hear. 


The author’s introduction continues:
As I grew to love all of who I am, life started changing in beautiful and mysterious ways.  My heart softened and I began to see through very different eyes.  

My commitment to follow this calling grew strong and in the process a divine intelligence came to guide my life.  I believe this ever-present resource is grace, and is available to us all.

For the past twelve years I have been learning to recognize and accept this gift.  Cultivating love and compassion for myself made it possible.

The following steps are uniquely mine.  Yours will look different.  But I do hope mine give voice to a hunger you may share.

I ended up gifting this book to about fifteen women the summer of 2009.  I wanted to share the profoundly simple message it contained within with both friends and family.  

And so it begins…

When I loved myself enough
I quit settling for too little.

And so it continues…

When I loved myself enough
I came to know my own goodness.

When I loved myself enough
I began taking the gift of life seriously and gratefully.

When I loved myself enough
I began to know I was in the right place at the right time and I could relax.

When I loved myself enough
I felt compelled to slow down – way down.  And that has made all the difference.

When I loved myself enough

I bought a feather bed.

When I loved myself enough
I came to love being alone, surrounded by silence, awed by its spell, listening to inner space.

When I loved myself enough
I came to see I am not special but I am unique.

When I loved myself enough
I redefined success and life became simple.  Oh, the pleasure of that.

When I loved myself enough
I came to know I am worthy of knowing God directly.
When I loved myself enough
I gave up the belief that life is hard.

When I loved myself enough
I came to see emotional pain is a signal I am operating outside truth.

When I loved myself enough
I learned to meet my own needs and not call it selfish.

When I loved myself enough
The parts of me long-ignored, the orphans of my soul, quit vying for attention.  That was the beginning of inner peace.  Then I began seeing clearly.

When I loved myself enough 
I quit ignoring or tolerating my pain.

When I loved myself enough
I started feeling all my feelings, not analyzing them — really feeling them.  When I do, something amazing happens.  Try it.  You will see.

When I loved myself enough
My hear became so tender it could welcome joy and sorrow equally.

When I loved myself enough 
I came to feel like a gift to the world and I collected beautiful ribbons and bows.  They still hang on my wall to remind me.
Self Love by Rhonda Gray

When I loved myself enough

I learned to ask ‘Who in me is feeling this way?’ when I feel anxious, angry, restless or sad.  If I listen patiently I discover who needs my love.

When I loved myself enough
I no longer needed things or people to make me feel safe.

When I loved myself enough
I quite wishing my life looked some other way and began to see that as it is, my life serves my evolution.

When I loved myself enough

I began to feel a divine presence in me and hear its guidance.  I am learning to trust this and live from it.

 When I loved myself enough

I quit exhausting myself by trying so hard.

When I loved myself enough 
I began to feel a community within.  This inner team with diverse talents and idiosyncrasies is my strength and my potential.  We hold team meetings.

When I loved myself enough
I began walking and taking the stairs every chance I got, and choosing the scenic route.

When I loved myself enough
I became my own authority by listening to the wisdom of my heart.  This is how God speaks to me.  This is intuition.

When I loved myself enough
I began feeling such relief.

When I loved myself enough
The impulsive part of me learned to wait for the right time.  Then I became clear and unafraid.

When I loved myself enough
I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy.  This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits — anything that kept me small.  My judgement called it disloyal.  Now I see it as self-loving.

When I loved myself enough
I gave up perfectionism – that killer of joy.

When I loved myself enough
Forgiving others became irrelevant.
When I loved myself enough 
I started writing about my life and views because I knew this was my right and my responsibility.

When I loved myself enough
I began to see my purpose and gently wean myself from distractions.

When I loved myself enough
I learned to say no when I want to and yes when I want to.

When I loved myself enough
I could see how funny life is, how funny I am and how funny you are.

I recognized my courage and fear, my naivety and wisdom, and I make a place for each at my table.

When I loved myself enough
I started treating myself to a massage at least once a month.

When I loved myself enough
I realized I am never alone.

When I loved myself enough
I stopped fearing empty time and quit making plans.  Now I do what feels right and am in step with my own rhythms.  Delicious!

When I loved myself enough
I quit trying to be a savior for others.

When I loved myself enough
I lost my fear of speaking my truth for I have come to see how good it is.

When I loved myself enough 
I began pouring my feeling into my journals.  These loving companions speak my language.  No translation needed.

When I loved myself enough
I stopped seeking ‘experts’ and started living my life.

When I loved myself enough

I could be at ease with the comings and goings of judgment and despair.

When I loved myself enough
I quit having to be right which makes being wrong meaningless.

When I loved myself enough 
I learned to grieve for the hurts in life when they happen instead of making my heart heavy from lugging them around.

When I loved myself enough
I forgave myself for all the times I thought I wasn’t good enough.

When I loved myself enough
I began listening to the wisdom of my body.  It speaks so clearly through its fatigue, sensitivities, aversions and hungers.

When I loved myself
I quit fearing my fear.

When I loved myself enough 
I quit rehashing the past and worrying about the future which keeps me in the present where aliveness lives.

When I loved myself enough
I began to taste freedom.


And so it ends…
When I loved myself enough
I found my voice and wrote this little book.


Expressions of Self Love by Rita Loyd

I have included much of the book in this post, but not all.  There are more nuggets of wisdom in the book that you may wish to explore on your own.

Do you find yourself connecting with some of the author’s statements?  Which ones?

Try writing some of your own declarations by starting with When I loved myself enough…

The author shares at the very end when she loved herself enough she found her voice and wrote this little book. What would you do if you loved yourself enough?


If you were going to write a book what would you call it?



A message from the author’s daughter Alison McMillen ~ January 2001:


My mother died in September of 1996, at he age of 52, only a few short months after writing this book.  She was not ill and did not know that she was going to die.  Her death was sudden and it deeply shocked everyone who knew her.  It has been very difficult for me, as well as her friends and family, to cope with life without her.  She died too young, and I am aware of her absence every waking moment.

One thing that has made grieving for her more tolerable has been this book.  Following her lead, I continued to publish it out of my home.  It has been extremely rewarding work.  I have received countless letters and phone calls from people all over the world who have been touched by the wisdom of my mom’s words.  They tell me that they feel as though, through the book, they have come to know Kim McMillen.  I could not agree more.

This book is my mother.  It’s message is what she spent years meditating on, reading and writing about, and experiencing.  It is everything she believed in, and everything she brought me up to believe in.  It is her autobiography, her declaration, her soul.

Even though she didn’t know she was nearing the end of her life, she knew on some level that she had to express the things that she had learned to be true.  After many years filled with self-doubt and self-criticism, she decided to devote herself to finding self-compassion.  When she did, and was able to write her findings down for others to read, her life was complete, and sadly came to an end.  

I have a constant ache in my heart, a longing to see her again in this world.  She was an amazing mother, friend, writer, business consultant, chaplain, river runner, dog lover, neighbor and woman.  Although I miss her terribly, I am comforted by the knowledge that, as this book is the truest expression of who my mom was, in its continued existence what she had to offer to the world will live on.