Archives for posts with tag: inspiration

2020 began as very ordinary, which is fine. I worked on New Year’s Eve and didn’t take any days off. I began the day by leaving home early. Destination: Target. I had a gift card and wanted to see if I could use it. It was the third or fourth time within the past few weeks that I would find myself looking at food processors. Did I really need one? If I do buy this, how often will I realistically use it? Which one? This one gets mediocre reviews. That one feels cheaply made. And on and on I went. I left the store without a food processor.

Generally, I feel that I am a spiritual person and that I have intention on a daily basis; however, lately, more so than usual, I am feeling more and more drawn toward scripture and Eastern wisdom, and any other traditions that speak to me through the fiction that I read or movies that I watch. It’s possible that this resurgence in me is a result of the continuous negativity in the world. I know that the news usually has some tragedy to report, but it just seems like it’s becoming more brutal, more often. It could be the aging process, within myself (although, technically, I’m not at the high yet), and my in-laws.

I suppose as I journey along and keep glancing back, wondering–as I know many do, where the heck did all the time go. How did life start going so fast. Just yesterday, I was a small child, wanting so much to grow up–to be an adult, to do grown up things. And now here I am, almost at the half-way point–If we use 100 as the full measure.

Here I am at the library–my sanctuary. I always find myself here when I need to take a break, be present, search the shelves for some inspiration and/or guidance. Today, I held back a little. I always like to scan the new arrivals shelf and that’s where I found, Eating the Sun: small musings on a vast universe and Bathed in Prayer: Father Tim’s Prayers, Sermons, and Reflections from the Mitford Series. On the books for sale shelf, I selected Zen Keys.

A nice group of books to take home, get cozy, and settle in with.

So far the one-word, five minute writing prompts are working for me. Sometimes I don’t have a lot to write in my notebook with this one word, but always it brings me somewhere-eventually; sometimes, I write past the five minute mark. I’ve always appreciated Julia Cameron’s insistence on writing “morning pages.” I can’t say that I’ve been diligent in following through, but I do realize their place and importance in keeping the writing hand and creative mind moving. I like to think of these one word daily prompts as an alternative. It’s a bite size that fits perfectly and is a nice way to get the day started if you need a gentle nudge. 

Magnetic poetry words have also been helpful and I keep keep them tucked away in case I’m in need of further nudging. 

I settled on using Google Docs to record my daily prompts. It’s great that I can login from anywhere and also use the App across my devices. Then I don’t have to worry about collecting yet another paper journal! And there’s consistency in knowing where to go and not trying to remember which journal had what. 

Before I know it, five minutes, turned to, ten; once it reached my journal blog, an hour has passed…a quick, enjoyable hour that really does feel like five minutes. 

Smudged: Today’s word is from the writing prompt book I mentioned in a previous post. Below is the direction that my fingers tapped it out.


She erased the drawing but in her haste, she left a giant smudge on the page. The more she looked at it, she thought she heard a faint voice coming from the page, from the smudge itself. She put her ear down toward the smudge; the voice was clearly talking to her.

“Why did it take you so long?”

She brought her head back up to see if the smudge had taken shape. She heard it. Or was she mad? Had she been sitting with her pencils and erasers far too long?

She decided to respond to the smudge but instead of talking aloud, she started to write words at the bottom of her drawing, and then she began drawing ferociously; she didn’t think about it any longer, she was becoming at one with the drawing before her.

As the drawing began to take shape, the smudge had become a beautiful table outside a cafe somewhere far away along cobblestoned streets, a day filled with sun and people zigging and zagging through the market admiring the handcrafted goods.

The artist sat with her sketchbook at the table, recording the happenings, soaking in the sights, happy to be alive.

“I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure.”
–Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I listened to the audio version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. It’s always a treat when a book is read by the author and it works, which is not always the case–as odd as that sounds.

Not only did I feel inspired by her book, I soaked up her anecdotes, and felt so excited to keep listening and learning about her experiences and synchronistic associations in navigating her writing life.

This was a gem of a book, by someone that seems humbled by her experiences. And she is funny! She had me smiling my way through her book. I enjoyed it so much that I began listening to it again about two weeks after my first listen and will probably read bits and pieces on the page for a different layer of appreciation.

It’s not often I’m up this late. In my mind it’s still yesterday and not already today. I have felt hungry most of the day, and I could not stand it any longer, I gave into the pancake craving and whipped some up. I use the boxed mix: just add water and a little love, a pat of butter, syrup–a perfect way to find comfort and satisfy the craving for something warm and sweet. I finally realized the trick to a perfect first pancake a few weeks ago. Very little oil on the pan, barley there.

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This morning, when I was down near the lower shelf where the books are, I saw the book that always makes me smile: Never Bite When a Growl Will Do, Photographs by Michael Nastasi. I thought, I should take this into my co-worker and show him since he’s a dog lover. I packed the book into my bag and set off to start the day.

Once settled in, I went into his office and told him that I had something to show him that would surely bring smiles. He sounded less chipper than usual and said he was having a bad day with bad news. “What happened?” I asked. He went on to tell me of some things that were going on. When he was done, he asked what it was I had. I showed him the book and said I thought he’d enjoy it and to take his time, no rush.

At first he was just looking at the pictures of the dogs. “Are you not reading the quotes?”

“No, I guess I’m not.”

“Be sure you do. They go together with the photos.”

**

As small as this gesture was, I was happy to bring a little brightness to the day by sharing. He ended up ordering his own copy on Amazon.

Never Bite When a Growl Will Do will especially be appreciated by anyone that had or has a canine in their life. The quotes that accompany the wonderfully captured photos are a perfect compliment.

For my lunch break I went to the library where I knew there were several books waiting for me on the hold shelf. Many arrived all at once–a total of nine books. After checking them out, I walked carefully out of the library, steadying the books as I walked so none would fall from my arms.

I entered the Mediterranean restaurant, books in hand, where I craved a bowl of their chicken lemon soup and an iced tea. “Anywhere you’d like,” the gentlemen behind the bar said. I chose a table for two near a window facing the circular bar and dining area. Instead of placing the stack of books on the table, I sat down and held them in my lap. The same gentlemen came over and asked if I’d like anything to drink to start with and if I’d also like a to-go bag for my books to make it easier for me. I paused, then thanked him and said that, yes, that would be great. He returned with a large paper bag with handles followed by my iced tea and water. I thanked him again as I took the bag and tenderly placed the books into the bag.

One book stayed with me, so that I could look through it and begin reading it. Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books edited by Leah Price. A gem of a book loaded with photos from just over a dozen writers, their bookshelves, and the covers of their 10 favorite books, accompanied by a brief interview for each. I love looking through people’s bookshelves and knowing and hearing what others are reading. If I’m anywhere and I see someone reading a book, I try to peek at what book they have between their hands.

I relaxed into my small cocoon of space–always finding peace between the pages, between the words. And this book and the moment had placed a smile on my face that I could feel inside my soul as I was both in my cocoon and aware of the chatter filled restaurant, Mediterranean music–accordions streaming through the speakers, plates clinking, voices vibrating.

A smile was fixed on my face and carried through the day.

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Most of the books on the hold shelf were food related, specifically for the slow cooker. We recently purchased a slow cooker–our first ever. I have only used it twice, so many of the holds waiting for me were cookbooks for slow cooking. I needed inspiration!

The Mexican, Mediterranean, and Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker

Slow Cooking: 100 Recipes for the Slow Cooker, the Oven, and the Stove Top

I also needed inspiration for lunch ideas: Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

Two books I found while taking a quick browse at the library shelves where they put out new and themed books:

Cirque Du Soleil – The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives within us all Created by Lyn Heward and Written by John U. Bacon

Every Idea is a Good Idea: Be Creative anytime, anywhere: How Songwriters and other Working Artists Get it Done by Tom Sturges

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“Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you’ve been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you wanted to be, the person you are.”

–H.G. Wells, British author

Yesterday this quote was at the bottom of the free accounting related newsletter that I subscribe to. There’s a quote each day, some resonate with me more than others. This one was just what I needed at this particular time. Those words reaffirmed a few unanswered questions that I had within myself. It was like a quick snap of the fingers to get my attention and to get my thoughts flowing in the right direction.

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Crow

I was lucky to get a picture of this crow. By the time I usually get my iPhone out, my subject is gone, flown away or scurried for cover, but not this day. I was in the grocery store parking lot. I heard him first, and I always turn when I hear Crow…he looked so beautiful there with the bright sun in the background.

A few months back, I watched a two-part documentary on Woody Allen. I feel like watching it again because I know there are bits that I missed–what can I say, I like Woody, he’s a highly talented and prolific writer, and he makes me laugh. The part in the movie that plays over and over in my head, though, is when he’s sitting on his bed, going through a box of his writing snippets, just pieces of paper, maybe a napkin or two, and as he goes through his box of collected ideas, he remembers and tells us about them and which one’s eventually grew from those snippets into something bigger. What also stuck out is that everyone loved working with him. And he seemed to have an instinct for how to bring out the best in the actors working for him, which translated onto camera.

Woody’s box of ideas reminded me of how important it is for creative’s, no matter what medium they work in, to write their ideas down. But not just to write them down, to go back, to flip through, thumb through–to sift out the ideas that can be worked on and brought to life.

I have snippets, collected ideas scribbled in many notebooks, half-thoughts jotted on several devices in the notes App, full drafts that need attention before bringing to the page.

Now, the sifting must begin.

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My second-favorite quote of the year speaks to that feeling inside of us that stops us from being who we are or doing what we love:

“It’s never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise.”
–Nancy Thayer

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On Sunday I had a patch of time to myself, about an hour and a half before hubby returned from his errand, and we went out and about together. I could have studied, could have read, cleaned. Instead, I felt a pull to the garage to organize boxes of books. There were many empty boxes that were scattered, that made it look as though there was more clutter than there actually was.

I started breaking down the empty boxes, then I began looking through the boxes of books, tying again to find more books to let go of. I was able to find two small boxes full of books that I felt it was time to part with, books that I knew I wasn’t going to read, that had a time and place in my life, and I would only keep transporting them from home to home, possibly not giving them a proper home for themselves, confining my dear books to these lifeless boxes. It was time for these books to find new homes.

I was also able to consolidate some books to other boxes, marking them so that I would easily be able to find what I was looking for if the urge arose. Also, to hubby’s dismay, because I would only be brining more clutter into the house, I brought two boxes of books inside. I put them in the living room and waiting for him to scold me. I told him I would find a place for them. The living room was off limits. I know how I can be, so the next morning I unpacked the boxes, stacked the books on my side of the bed to deal with later that day. I don’t have any more shelf space, so I added to the stack in the corner on top of the small desk that I don’t’ actually use, and the rest are stacked in front of that stack. I really didn’t bring all that many books back into the house. I don’t like packing the boxes too heavy. In fact, I’ve let go of a lot of books. It’s bitter sweet; at the same time it feels good to let go of these books that have been there for me, that have brought me joy–even the books that I never got around to reading all the way through. Now, they can bring someone else happiness when they’re browsing the shelves of the local thrift store.

Each time I’m ready, I will continue looking through my boxes of books, tying to let go of more. Eventually, I will be left with only a few that I cannot part with–at least, not until I’m ready.

Yesterday before work, I went to the top section of a long shelf that shares books with clothes. It’s where I keep some of my inspirational writing books. I pulled from the shelf: One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers by Gail Sher. Then I went to the bottom section of the shelf where I keep the few books I have on poetry. I pulled Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems: Volume One. With these in hand, I read a few pages from each to start my day. I love how Gail Sher describes writing. She says, “Writing is infinite, ever elusive, and ungraspable. We can never know what writing is. We can only know our experience minute to minute, as we write” (pg. 6). I nodded my head with a big smile as I read over her words again. She sums it up perfectly, and that’s one of the many reasons I love writing for the constant discovery that writing offers, as long as we keep our pens moving and our minds free.

I’ve only dipped sparingly into Mary Oliver’s poetry. I’ve had her book for several years, but as with certain books, I go at them at different paces. I’m ready to visit longer. What little of her poetry I have read, it is so incredibly beautiful and touches my soul.

During a break at work I wrote and posted “Small Slice of Solace.”

Writing and books are often on my mind throughout the day, sometimes they slip away, but yesterday, it seemed there was a constant stream.

After work, I was ready to visit Barnes & Noble and use my gift card that I’ve been hanging on to for the right moment. I was pretty confident that I would be walking out of there with a cookbook, but I didn’t even feel pulled to that section. I almost purchased a small light that is supposed to create calm. Where I really wanted to go was to the writing section. There’s just something about writing books that I adore. I love hearing inspirational stories and words of wisdom from writing books. I wasn’t looking for any one book. I sat on the floor and started looking through the possibilities. I saw a book that I had checked out of the library that I never finished before returning it: Several Short Sentences about Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. I remember it being a fun book with a unique approach and it really is as the title suggests. Next I saw a book that I hadn’t seen before or maybe I had and wasn’t interested at the time: Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance*

*Including Writer’s Block, Procrastination, Paralysis, Perfectionism, Postponing, Distractions, Self-Sabotage, Excessive Criticism, Overscheduling, and Endlessly Delaying Your Writing

by Rosanne Bane.

Now how could I resist a title like that!

I think I’m really going to like this one. I’ve only just begun and I feel ignited.

And so, these were the two books that I chose.

Yesterday was a full course of reading, writing, books, and nature. I felt refreshed, inspired, rejuvenated.

I’m being drawn back to Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing. It’s like visiting with an old friend. Uplifting and inspiring.

Yesterday was a good day. I felt that I had a lot of energy and I was especially chatty at work and had so much spinning around in my mind. I kept going back to my co-worker’s office to let him know just one more thing…usually it pertained to work in some roundabout way. From our last team meeting, we learned through a sharing that our boss used to eat up Ian Fleming’s books when he was in fifth grade. He was devouring them so quickly and steadily that his mother became concerned and asked the teacher to see if she could get her son to add something else to his reading mix. I’ve only seen the movies, but now I’m curious to read something, anything by Ian Fleming, so through Kindle Unlimited, which I’ve given a try for 30 days, I’m going begin reading one of his books. The book I chose is Thrilling Cities, which is a travelogue covering 13 cities that he visited between 1959-1960. It began as a series or articles and then turned into a book.

Kindle Unlimited. $9.99 each month. 10 books at a time. First time users get a 30 day free trial to read or peek through 10 books at a time. The Kindle Unlimited library is supposed to have over 500,000 books to choose from. I like going page by page and I couldn’t possibly keep clicking through that many pages, so I clicked as far as I could, noticing that many of the titles are parts of series and romance novels, neither of which I like reading. I also don’t particularly enjoy mysteries, unless books are involved.

The interesting thing is that most of the books that I would want to read are also available as e-books in the public library system. My problem is that I get impatient waiting for popular or new titles that have long waiting lists. What made me finally decide to give Kindle Unlimited a try was that they had The Storied Life of A. J. Fickry available. I had been waiting to check it out from the library for weeks. I had nothing to lose. 30 days for free and I would get to finally read this book. I downloaded it and finished it in a couple of days. It turned out to be such a satisfying read. I must admit that after a particular scene, I wasn’t sure if I was believing it, but I kept going and went with it. I’m so glad I did. It was really a heartwarming book about love, life, second chances, and of course the power of story and books.

One great thing about Kindle Unlimited for me is that it has gotten me to read a couple of books that I might not have. I had been curious about Water for Elephants when it came out, but I didn’t have it high on my radar. Scanning through the popular titles on KU, I saw it there and gave it a try, all the while in my head I’m thinking it’s free. 30 days. See what you can find. I had vaguely recalled reading the first few pages some time ago and felt pulled in, but not ready to commit. When I started reading it this time, I was in for a great surprise. I had no idea that I would enjoy the book as much as I did. The storytelling, the characters, the tension. The circus completely came alive for me and the interesting historical background and tidbits rounded out the story. I felt that I wanted to be there, but I didn’t need to go, because through this book, I was there.

I also read Without Reservations by Anthony Bourdain. I didn’t plan on ever reading his book because, although I enjoyed his culinary adventures on the travel channel, I didn’t know if I could handle his cockiness on the page. I loved it. It was yet another glimpse into the the world of being a chef and he laid it all out there. I have begun reading his follow up that he wrote 10 years after this one: Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People who Cook.
And because of his book, it led me to George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. And it’s available as part of Kindle Unlimited!

I have several other Kindle Unlimited books that I’m dipping in and out of. Each time I find another title, if I already have 10, I have to return one.

My 30-day free trial has expired and for now I’ve decided to pay the $9.99 because I have 10 books downloaded and I like the ease of being able to read them without worrying about a time limit, and also because I don’t necessarily want to own the e-books. At some point, I’ll cancel my subscription. For now, I’m enjoying the convenience, and hope to find a less cumbersome way of exploring the library.

And of course, a few of Natalie Goldberg’s books are part of the Unlimited library, so instead of fishing my books out of the boxes in my garage, they are part of my 10.

Love this quote from an accounting e-newsletter:

“I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door, or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”

–Rabindranath Tagore, Indian writer

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One never knows where they will find gems. : )

Being in the kitchen doesn’t always energize me, but yesterday it did. We had planned to go to the local food trucks and have dinner there in the park. It’s a nice setup with music. You can bring a blanket, chairs; or just sit directly on the lawn, throw your shoes off and relax. The food trucks draw a good sized crowd crowd, and by looking at all the people and families, you can see their having a nice time and are willing to wait in long lines for their favorite food.

Since I knew I had some time before I left the house to meet hubby at the food trucks, I tried to get a little nap in. Just as I started to nod off, the sound of an incoming text roused me from my slumber. Change of plans: No food trucks, and it sounded like hubby would take care of himself for dinner because he was going to be late; and I would take care of myself.

I wanted so much to just go back to my nap. It was a hot day and my body felt heavy. Instead, I felt inspired to prepare a Peruvian dish that we recently enjoyed at a barbecue. It’s a simple, but satisfying dish that was served as an appetizer by my hubby’s cousin’s cousin’s husband: Yukon gold potatoes boiled then cut into thick lengthwise slices that were spread with freshly made jalapeño chile on top.

So I woke myself up and went to the grocery store. I decided I would get a frozen dinner (bad, I know) for myself and hubby could have leftover pasta if he didn’t eat dinner out. He could also munch on potatoes and chile.

When I was done grocery shopping, I went home feeling a spark in my step. First, I needed to get that frozen dinner into the microwave because I was very hungry. Next I needed to wash the dishes in the sink. Not my favorite activity, but I kind-of enjoyed the zen-ness of it yesterday.

Everything was in order. I was ready to be happy in the kitchen, replicating this tasty dish. I got the potatoes peeled and into the pot with water.

I love potatoes as it is. With the chile slathered on top, I love them that much more, and they’ve shown me a new aspect of their personality. I’m excited to look at a couple of books on Peruvian cooking that were available at the library. Something so simple was able to provide the needed spark that I needed and pique my curiosity to explore a new cuisine.

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To make the chile, place 10 jalapeño chiles, 2 Serrano chiles , salt to taste, and enough oil to get the ingredients to move in the blender. Puree until smooth, but not liquid. It will have some body. That’s it. Simple, fresh, tasty. Serve with cold sliced potatoes or anything else you’d like to top it with. You can also heat the potatoes back up. Either way.

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There is also another recipe that he told us about that involves cheese. He didn’t prepare that one, so we didn’t try it. Different variations can be found on the web.

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