Tag Archives: Inspiration

Mojo Monday ~ Inspirational Odds & Ends

Standard

Breath of Fresh Air

Where do you look to for inspiration?  

Even if you are feeling blue or overwhelmed have you
identified beacons of light that can
brighten up your day or offer a breath of fresh air?  

Do you turn to nature, art, uplifting quotes and words,
music, writers, websites, or perhaps a combination of all of the above?  

Do you subscribe to any inspirational magazines, newsletters or video feeds?  

Share in the comments some of your inspirational touchstones.

Here is a list with links and notes
of those things that have inspired me or
perhaps provoked feelings and thoughts recently.

classroompeek

The course Hello Soul Hello Mantras by Kelly Rae Roberts.

Kelly Rae is an artist I have written about before
or mentioned in posts hereherehere, here and also here

because I have felt a kinship with her social worker soul
and her creative mixed media artistry.  Her class was something
I decided to treat myself too after simmering in the blues.
The on-line course kicked off on September 8th and I am feeling very inspired.

Are there any courses you are taking that you would recommend?

Love feather anahata katkin

The art and designs of PAPAYA! which predominantly
features the art of Anahata Katkin.  

I visited the flagship store in
Ashland, Oregon in July and again at the end of August. 
The store fills the senses with scents, colors, texture,
deep dark chocolate and so much beauty.
While one won’t get to taste the chocolate, feel the fabrics 
or smell the perfumes and lotions one can visit their
website to explore the hundreds of inspirational images.

Are there any particular artists that inspire you?

artist room

My own Artist Room

I recently did some late summer cleaning in my artist room.  
Partly in preparation for the Hello Soul Hello Mantras course.  
It felt good to dust and do a little rearranging and clearing out.
Having a beautiful-to-me inspirational sacred space is important to me.

Have you created or found an inspirational space for yourself?

bg_header2

I receive via email every single day an uplifting and positive article
from the good folk at Daily Good ~ News that Inspires

Some articles I read that very day.  Others I read at a later time.  
The team that gathers the articles from near and far, 
as well as research and writes about the
wide variety of topics and people, do an amazing job.  
I am impressed that it all began with a single person.

“DailyGood was born in 1998, when one college student
started sharing inspiration with a half a dozen of his friends
by sending them an enriching quote every day.

Today, DailyGood leverages the internet to promote
positive and uplifting news around the world to more than
100,000 subscribers through the daily and weekly newsletters.
Readers receive a news story, an inspiring quote, and a suggested action
that each person can take to make a difference
in their own lives and the world around them.”

Do you subscribe to a regular newsletter
or email subscription that inspires you?

TED3

If you have yet to check out TED Talks
I encourage you to do so.

I receive regular email updates for their latest videos.
This week I was particularly moved
by the video by Zak Ebrahim entitled
I am the son of a terrorist. Here’s how I chose peace.

Are you already familiar with TED Talks?
If yes, do you have any favorites to recommend?

Listen_to_Your_Heart

The last topic that has been on my mind has to do with the heart.

On Thursday I learned that one of my aunts was
to undergo heart surgery on Friday.
The good news is that the surgery appears to have been very successful
and she is recovering very well.
Then on Saturday I learned that a matriarch in my creative community
is also very unexpectedly scheduled to
undergo open heart surgery this week.

I have been sending prayers for healed hearts
and my inquisitive nature had me reading about the heart.

Did you know these very interesting facts about the heart?

DidYouKnow

Herat and Brain I and A

Inspiration is swirling all around us.  
Sometimes when I am blue I can get tunnel vision.
Reminding myself of all the beauty and wonder 
in our world brings me back into the light.

39266-Take-A-Deep-Breath-And-Follow-Your-Heart

Mojo Monday ~ Love Letters

Standard

roses_love_letter-1600x1200

Love letters.  I have written my fair share.  As a long time lover of snail mail and years of living long distance from a few of my beaus I have spritzed letters with perfume and imprinted them with ruby red lipstick.  Yet not all love letters need be of the traditional romantic genre. Throughout the years I have also sent hundreds (maybe thousands) of letters and cards to family and friends that were infused with my love.  While living overseas in France for a year and a half, prior to having access to email and phone calls being prohibitively expensive, I wrote many long letters to family members and college friends back home.  I would even find amusing images in magazines and tear them out and make my own envelopes.  Right now just thinking about it makes me want to make some again.  I have not forsaken snail mail as I still adore it as much as I always have, but I do know that the long letters I used to write are more abbreviated notes added to sweet cards I buy from local stores or artists I admire.  

How long has it been since you sent a “love letter” to a family member or friend?  

Learning about a project called More Love Letters that was created by Hannah Brencher has me contemplating again the power of a longer letter to connect, express thoughts and feelings, tell a story, inspire and spread loving energy around the world.  I first learned about Hannah Brencher through her TED talk.  Here is the video where she shares how already being a huge fan of love letters, as this was her own mother’s way of communicating with her long distance, that upon bottoming into depression after college she began writing love letters and leaving them around the city for strangers to find.  

After watching Hannah’s introduction to More Love Letters in her own words I encourage you to visit the web page for this movement.  It has been beautifully created and executed.  

The world doesn’t need another website. It doesn’t need another app or a network.

What it needs is really basic. Simple. Bare-boned.& often forgotten in the race to get followers, likes & status.

LOVE. Pure, old-fashioned, never goes out of style Love. Ridiculous, oozing, cannot pack this thang into 140-characters kind of love. Fearless, bold, unstoppable love.

And that’s where we come in… We’re going to tell you that we leave love letters all over the world for others to be blessed by. We’re going to ask you to write letters for Love Letter Bundles for people you’ll probably never meet.  We’re going to invite you to nominate someone you know for a Love Letter Bundle. You are going to think we are a bit crazy. A tad loopy… But let’s be honest,  you’ve been looking for a website that leaks love all this time.

Fair warning, we could really care less about love letters.

We’re only interested in you. The cracked parts of your own story & how you can use them to lift someone else. It’s about how each of us can morph our lives into love letters… lamps… lanterns… to light the paths of others who needs kindness and love today.

It’s official. Now, more than ever, the world needs more love letters. So get involved. Check out the current letter requests. Join our subscriber list to never miss a beat.

Your cursive means the world to us.

I read through some of the Requests for Letters.  One in particular moved me deeply.  Here is the description taken from the site:

R E N E E

please mail all love letters by July 15, 2014

A loving daughter wrote into us requesting letters for her mother. She wrote “My mother is undergoing an enormous transition period. At the age of 32 and happily married, her husband and my father, passed away in a tragic car accident on Valentine’s day that year. She was left with 5 kids under the age of 7 to raise on her own. My twin brother and I were just 8 months old. My mom just turned 60 and finally retired after 28 years of bouncing around jobs to provide for her family. The first time in her life she has no kids to take care of, no job to report to, and she is finally free. And she is scared. No one needs her, which is what most of her identity has been defined by. My mom needs a love letter that will inspire her to live again and finally, learn to take care of and love herself.” Join us in writing a letter of love & encouragement to this awesome mother.

 

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS TO:

Renee’s bundle

c/ o Hilary C.

4505 Avenue A

Austin, TX 78751

Whether or not you feel inclined or inspired to join the More Love Letters official movement, consider right now making a commitment to send some love letters.  How about you send one today or this week?  How about a commitment to sending one or more a month?  Will you send it to someone you know or will you leave it on a chair in a cafe, on a shelf at a store, in a dressing room, or on a park bench?  The ripple effects of sending out love on a physical piece of paper can have more impact and power than you can fully grasp.  

If you do send out a letter (or two or three or four…) consider sharing about how taking such action impacted you.  What feelings did it invoke?  What stories unfolded?  What did you find yourself sharing?  Where did you leave it or send it?  Did you send it to someone you know or did you prefer to leave it for a stranger?

notecards

Visionary Dreaming

Standard

Crystal Charlotte Easton is a Metis Artist born and raised
in Fort St James BC, in Carrier Territory-Northern BC (Canada)
and she is currently living & raising her family (6 children)
on a farm on Vancouver Island.

She has the opportunity to attend a month long course in Italy 
in July at the Vienna Academy of Visionary Art.
She is very close to achieving her fundraising goal
and has 11 days remaining.
Charlotte is offering beautiful gifts in return for 
every single donation.

Come visit her fundraising site by clicking here.

Crystal painting

Crystal painting

 

We All Have A Role to Play by Crystal Charlotte Easton

We All Have A Role to Play by Crystal Charlotte Easton

Mojo Monday ~ Scheduling Joy and Growing Your Soul

Standard

Find Happiness NowIs your calendar full?  Do you wake up thinking about the things that have to get done?  Does your chore list seem a mile long?  In the midst of the laundry, taking the kids to softball practices, doing your time in the 8 to 5, feeding the pets and making meals, have you scheduled joy into your day? Jonathan Robinson, author of Finding Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance and Joy Into Your Life has some ideas and recommendations for getting happier and one involves actually scheduling joy into your life just as you would a doctors appointment or a meeting at work.

What if you aren’t clear on what brings you joy?  Jonathan Robinson recommends writing out a Pain and Pleasure List (PPL).  The PPL is a list of at least 10 things that you enjoy doing and and a list of 10 things you don’t particularly care for.  He states the point is to clarify what really turns you on in life and what you do only because you have to  — or think you should.

As an example he shares a list that a client completed when given this assignment.  Here is the clients lists:

Ten Things I Don’t Like To Do

Go to work
Market myself or my products
Clean the house
Cook
Be around disagreeable people
Spend time with my parents
Taxes and paying the bills
Give my wife a massage
Go shopping for clothes or gifts
Argue with my wife

Ten Things I Love To Do

Ride my bike
Be by myself, reading a good book
Play with the dog
Eat good food
Travel
Get a massage
Spend time in nature
Make love with my wife
Drive & listen to music
Watch a good football game

more joy and laughterThe author then shared that after his client completed his list he asked him to estimate the number of hours every month he spent doing each activity.  Jonathan writes “When he finished this part of the exercise, it was brutally clear why he was depressed, stressed and messed-up with his wife.  The total number of hours on the ‘pain’ side of the list was a whopping 215 hours per month.  The total number of hours on the pleasure side of the list was a meager thirty-two hours a month.  That’s almost a seven-to-one ratio of pain to pleasure.  I’ve found that when the degree of pain compared to pleasure rises above a five-to-one ratio people dislike their life.  In order to feel good again, such people need to spend less time doing ‘painful’ activities and more time doing what they enjoy.”

The author then adds for his readers “The first key to changing your life and behaviors is to be aware of whats currently not working.  If after completing your own PPL, you see a similar pattern to James’ then you’ll now you’ve been denying yourself too much.  You need to put pleasurable activities at a greater level of importance in your life.”

Take some time right now to complete your own PPL List.  I’ll complete one too.

Ten Things I Love To Do

Read (extra bonus points if it is in a hot bath)
Be in nature and soak in the beauty
Take photos of things that make me happy
Laugh
Listen to music with positive lyrics
Play/do something fun with the family
Create (paint, draw, make collages)
Share juicy and uplifting conversations
Feel connected to others/nurture relationships
Eat/drink something delicious that also enhance my health & vitality
Ten Things I Don’t Like To Do

Clean the cat box
Be in a cluttered and messy living space
Cook after a long day at work
Have too much work to complete in a day
Deal with technical difficulties
Be overbooked
Fall behind on writing deadlines
Listen to complaining
Experience conflict or be around conflict
Take care of sick people

Add some of the things on your Things I Love To Do list to your calendar, be it techy style in Outlook or iCalendar or the old fashioned paper one hanging on your well.  How did it feel to add these onto your calendar?  Does becoming more conscious of making time for joy shift anything?

How about growing your soul while also making time for more joy?  Does the concept of growing your soul sound daunting, challenging or even painful?  I have some good news.  According to Kurt Vonnegut growing your soul can be both simple and fun.

Kurt Vonnegut quote

In 2006 Ms. Lockwood, an English teacher at Xavier High School, asked her students to write a letter to a famous author. She wanted them to discuss the author’s work and ask for advice.  Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) was the only one to write back.  He even signed off with a drawing.

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

kurt-vonneguts-signature

Right now let’s do Kurt Vonnegut’s assignment and write a six line poem.  Keep it simple and easy and just see what flows out.

Did you learn anything new about yourself after completing your poem?  Was there a message from your soul?

Mojo Monday ~ Courageous Acts of Art

Standard

Art is a personal act of courage,
something one human does
that creates change in another.
– Seth Godin –

In the past couple of days there were two stories I came across that are completely unrelated, except for an invisible red thread that I saw connecting them.   I recognized in both stories some common messages about the power of art.  Both are also stories about courage and how art can save lives and transform challenge and hardship into beauty and creativity.

AliceHerzSommerTheTimes

Alice Herz Sommer photograph from The Times

Let me introduce you first to Alice Herz Sommer, who just turned 110 years old in November and is the world’s oldest pianist and holocaust survivor.  In July 1943, Alice, her husband, and their six-year-old son Raphael were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp.  Theresienstadt was originally designated as a model community for middle-class Jews from Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria.  Many educated Jews were inmates of Theresienstadt.  In a propaganda effort designed to fool the Western allies, the Nazis publicized the camp for its rich cultural life.  Alice played more than 100 concerts in the camp along with other musicians.  Her young son Raphael remained in the camp with her, performing in a children’s  chorus at the camp.  Unfortunately her husband, Leopold Sommer, was later sent to Auschwitz and although he survived the camp, he died at Dachau  in 1944.

As a child in Prague, Alice spent weekends and holidays in the company of Uncle Franz (Franz Kafka) and other notable figures like Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke who were friendly with her mother.  When Alice moved to Israel after the war, Golda Meir attended her house concerts, as did Arthur Rubinstein, Leonard Bernstein, and Isaac Stern. Today Alice lives in London, where she still practices piano for hours every day.  Alice has been victorious in her ability to live a life without bitterness and she credits music as the key to her survival, as well as her ability to acknowledge the humanity in each person.  Here is a short featurette from a documentary made about Alice called The Lady In Number 6.

Camille Seaman

The next story is about Camille Seaman who is currently a 2013 TED Senior Fellow and a Stanford Knight Fellow.  I was introduced to Camille by a wonderful syndicated interview by Richard Whittaker called Camille Seaman: We All Belong to Earth.  Camille has many artistic talents, but she has become most well known as a photographer.

Let me share with you first Camille shares about being introduced to photography as a teenager in the interview:

So in high school they recognized that I was at risk of getting into trouble, ending up pregnant, on drugs or whatever. So they put me in this after school program and they gave me a Nikkormat film camera. They took away the manual and said I’d have to figure out how to use it. They taught me how to bulk load black and white film. They taught me how to develop using an enlarger and chemicals, all that. Then they said go out and photograph your experience.  I didn’t realize it, but that probably saved my life because I was given something creative in my hands, so I could express whatever anger, frustration or emotions I was feeling as this teenager. So I did. I photographed everything; all my friends, all of our adventures. I realized having that camera in my hands gave me excuses to be somewhere in a positive way.

Later on in the interview Camille shares about her experience with facing fear while she learns to surf. Let me share an excerpt with you.

     I was like, okay. I started to try to paddle out and my balance was terrible. It felt really awkward. The water was so dark, cold and murky. This was at Bolinas and the Farallons were 29 miles away. And there were all of these great white sharks out there, which meant they could possibly be here. That was all I could think about and I freaked out. I turned to him and was like, “Oliver, I’m scared.” He turned and looked at me and then he paddled away. And I was so mad. I was so angry. I was like, “Oh my god! He was my friend since we were like 16 years old and he just abandoned me.”
I tried for a while and then it was like, forget this. I got out of the water and just waited for him. I was like you’ve got to get out sometime. And when he came out and I asked, “How could you? I told you I was afraid and you just left me.” And he said something that really resonated. It was really a great truth. He said, “No one can teach you to manage your fears, but you.” And he was right.
From that day on, I would go out and I would sit on the board. I got a little better at paddling. I got a little better with the balance. And I still sometimes would freak out. Then I would be like, okay, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, a shark could bite you and kill you. Well, is that happening now? No. Okay. You know, you kind of just work through it. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, I can drown. Is that happening now? No. So I surfed for over a year every day. And then I was hooked.

Camille’s courage, love of adventure and travel and a free plane ticket later lead her to fly to the Arctic Circle.  There is a point where she is fives mile away from the nearest town and all she can see in all directions is just white and she has an epiphany.

 On this extreme part of our planet I was realizing that I was a creature of this planet, that I was literally made of the material of this planet—that we all are. And in those moments, I realized the absurdity of tribe, of border, of culture, of language—because at the bottom of it all, we are all made of this material. We are all earthlings. There is no separation. There is no distinction. None of us were born in outer space. We will all return to the material of this earth.
What was so clear was that I was standing on my rock in space. I understood the immensity, and also the minuscule nature of that. I understood that I meant nothing in the scale of time and space and history of this planet. That it would blow over my cold dead bones without a thought. But the fact that I could stand there on the ice and actually ponder such things was a miracle. That was a self-realization at its finest. It made me realize what my grandfather was trying to show me.
I started to think about that; if my sweat becomes the rain, whose sweat is this ice? How many ancestors ago, what creatures created this? They’re all my relations, all my relatives. And in that, I understood the integral nature of this planet—that we truly are a web of life.

Here are two of her amazing photos.

The Last Iceberg

The Last Iceberg photo by Camille Seaman

 

Photo by Camille Seaman

Photo by Camille Seaman

Here is a TED talk given by Camille about her iceberg photography experiences.


The experiences of these two women inspired me.  What are your thoughts?

Creativity and art (music and photography) play significant roles in Alice and Camille’s lives.  What forms of creativity and art play a role in your life?

This post began with a quote by Seth Godin that reads: Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.  Do you agree with this quote?  Have you ever felt changed by an experience with art?