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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.
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.
This evening I found in my daughter’s backpacks little books and bracelets they had made for me for Mother’s Day at school in their first grade class. The little books had prompts throughout for them to answer questions about me. I giggled and felt my heart melt as I read through both of them. How lucky for me that I have twins and get two I thought. It was also quite eye opening to know how much they observe and know about me. Aubrey shared that I like to paint and go with the cowgirls. That last comment about “go with the cowgirls” made me laugh out loud. Maya also wrote that I like to paint and draw. Both got it right when they stated in their own way that I don’t like to clean up their messes, and that I do like it when they don’t whine. It was sweet to read the things they like me to do for them, as Maya likes it when I read and play with her and Aubrey likes it when I clean up for her and when I brush her hair. Their ending remarks were about why I was special and Aubrey shared it is because I help her and Maya wrote it is because I love her. It just makes your heart melt to be a mama sometimes.
Being a mama can also keep you on your toes and keep your schedule extra full, if you let it. This last weekend happened to be a very full one. It began with me taking Friday off to run a bunch of errands, get the yard in shape and do a few other chores. On the agenda this weekend was my daughters 7th birthday, Mother’s Day and then my hubby’s birthday following up close on this next Tuesday. My twin daughters Aubrey and Maya had requested that in lieu of birthday cakes they wanted pumpkin pies and I had hoped to get those made Friday too. In the end my list ran too long and my husband saved the day and made the pies.
Our weekend festivities began with my sister Wendy arriving early on Saturday, as well as my parents, both in their 70’s with three of their great-grandchildren ages 5, 4 and 1 in tow. How they find the energy amazes me. We let the kids play in the backyard in a sprinkler to stay cool and entertained until it was time to head over to a gymnastic center where our daughters were joined by school friends and they celebrated their 7th birthday very energetically with trampolines, a foam pit, a bounce house, balls and climbing ropes. The pumpkin pies were eventually set aglow with candles as we all sang the birthday song and amazingly many of the children requested pie instead of the more traditional cupcakes we had also brought along.
Our busy weekend continued into Sunday with the hubby hopping out of bed extra early to make our daughters, my visiting sister and me special vegan crepes. Nathan surprised me later that morning, after departing on a secret mission, with supplies to add two new raised garden beds to our back yard. I had been talking about it for quite awhile. He built them and as we finally mixed the different soils and such together, I commented laughingly that it was also a gift to our family and the mother of all mothers, our planet, Mother Earth. Gardening always feels to me like a way of nurturing our planet, giving back and being in greater connection with her. We have a huge yard and we are already so grateful to have a variety fruit trees, including a cherry, pear, plum and pomegranate. I have tried to grow veggies in smaller containers, but I have never been all that successful at it. I am excited for us to grow more food on our very own plot of land.
Motherhood can be incredibly exhausting. So can fatherhood. Yet the lessons it can teach us, the growth it can inspire and the joys and gifts it bestows upon us are remarkable and life changing.
What are your experiences with motherhood?
We all have a mom, though our life experiences with a mom of origin can vary dramatically. What was your experience like with your birth mom?
Sometimes other people come into our life to mother us, nurture us and love us unconditionally. Have you felt mothered and nurtured by other people in your life?
If you are a mother consider how that experience shaped and/or continues to shape your life. What are some of the things motherhood taught you about life and yourself?
Consider writing a letter to your mom or about your mom that could be sent or saved or even burned afterwards. What would you most want to tell her?
Two years ago I helped to plan a party for my mom’s 70th birthday. I created a book for her and a slideshow. The book also included letters, memories and quotes from family and friends. Below was a letter I wrote for her and a page I designed to share my thoughts, feeling and memories. If you were to do something similar for someone or something that mothered and nurtured you what would you write, how would it look and what adjectives might highlight the person, thing or experience?
|Painting by Shiloh Sophia|
|The past can be an anchor holding you back.|
|Painting by Shiloh Sophia McCloud|
Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
There is an author named Gary Chapman who has written a number of books about love. A few of the titles are: The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts and The Five Love Languages of Children.
Gary Chapman worked as a marriage counselor for more than 30 years and during the course of his work he identified five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
Whether or not you are in a relationship or are a parent it can be interesting to explore and discover your own love language. Do words of affirmation from a friend or loved one make you feel loved? Perhaps someone spending time with you is how you prefer him or her to show their love. It could be that flowers or a thoughtful gift mean a lot or someone doing a kind act and helping you with something touches your heart. You could also be a person who needs hugs and kisses to know that someone loves you. Quite often most people are a combination of two, three or more. Learning the love language of those around you can be very helpful in understanding what others need in order to feel loved.
I leave you with two final thoughts.
One is a beautiful quote by Shiloh Sophia McCloud and it graces many of her works of art and publications ~ “May love be at the center of all our choices.”
And the last is my belief that there is something greater than us all in this world. There is some spirit, magic, energy, what have you, that connects us, that links us, it is that Red Thread that is woven through the Universe, it is that which links us to one another, and when we are connecting to that higher place of consciousness, permeating throughout that magical woven web of spirit, is LOVE.
Remember always that…
by Shiloh Sophia McCloud
What if we woke up today
And the old stories didn’t have their sting?
What if we didn’t resist what there is to do?
And set about our tasks, whether grand or mundane
As if we were serving the world through our tending.
What if we gave ourselves permission to love,
those who previously, we framed with our thoughts
as if we always know how they will be,
What if we treated them differently? Made ourselves.
What if we did a simultaneous cleansing,
a right of forgiveness…
If we took responsibility for what has gone before
and then choose to move forward powerfully
Instead of guiltily.
We know, how guilt does not inspire
but condemns us to hidden silences.
Let us be honest with ourselves
If things have not turned out as we hoped for.
If our dreams feel dashed or doomed.
Just say it.
Are there ties that need cutting?
Are there others that need re-tieing? Mending?
Heal it, Mourn it.
But only for less than a day or two
Then it is time to move forward.
Slowly, surely we move toward hope again.
So – it is foolish to love again, try again, risk again.
But what else is there to do?
We are living in a broken hearted world.
Because some of us are hungry.
Some of us are hurting.
Some damage is too far done.
To admit what is, is not to enforce a negative reality.
We have what we have and words and thoughts
do not change what we have.
But we can change our futures.
We can love beyond reason.
We can choose to move ahead with as much joy as we can find.
Some of us are happy – some of us have enough.
We can rejoice in what we have,
Guilt is not the bedfellow of true joy.
Let us be truly truly thankful for what we have.
And when we are, what we no longer need
Comes into clear view. And we can make changes.
We see how we can give, and serve.
Finding freedom comes from telling ourselves the truth
Finding freedom comes from admitting and releasing.
Finding freedom comes after a lifetime of pain or pleasure.
When we allow ourselves to see what is truly here.
In our lives in the world.
A space is opened up in us when we are no longer
hiding from our conscience, our soul, our heart.
Finding freedom comes after grieving.
Freedom is not free, or easy, or even likely.
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