Inspiration as a Way of Being: Guest Post by Jessie Marianiello, Stray Dog Arts

September 15th, 2009


Inspiration: it comes in the form of Endless. It is a sidewalk, an interaction, the color fuscia or turquoise or rusty metal. It's an old truck, a vintage sign, an intelligent dog. Inspiration is the bends and fold of fabric. It is the potential. It is life in action. Inspiration is the way the morning light lands on a jar full of paint brushes or a pear or even just the air. It swallows me whole on a daily basis. It's a double espresso, a long hot shower, a shifting of the heart. It is molecular. And, in each instance, I am changed.

Inspiration is liquid. How else to describe the feeling that sparks somewhere behind my eyeballs, then flashes and flows like a brilliant river towards my lungs and gut and then to my brain. Inspiration is light. It breaks me open. Sometimes I get so inspired that I fear I will fall apart.

OK, but let me reign myself in just a little bit. How to talk about inspiration in a rational way? Rational-smational. Never mind. It doesn't have to be rational! It doesn't need to make sense! Inspiration doesn't need to be anything more than it is, which is what makes it Everything. It is the bursts that propels us forward on our strange journeys--and the more open we are to these journeys, the more profound and frequent these bursts can be. Inspiration is our guide. It leads us to the succulent, good, passionate stuff. It invites an entire gamut of emotions, and then some. It leads us to an authentic life.

Inspiration can be tiring and energizing all at once. It causes our skin to become thin and our hair to grow quickly. We begin to experience life more fully. It causes us to become strong and determined in places where we didn't know we had it. We transform into a conduit for the world around us--sometimes causing surprising amounts of tears and laughter, all in one gulp. Inspiration makes us feel alive. It removes the veil between our highest self and what surrounds us. It puts us in direct contact with an energy so raw and pure that it's a miracle we don't simply burst into light.

To me, inspiration has the physical sensation of my heart expanding. It expands to the point of feeling squeezed. Overflowing. Most often, I feel inspiration in the form of an overwhelming sense of love or connection. It makes my heart feel like a balloon that might pop. When I am feeling most inspired, tears will spring to my eyes or my entire chest region will freeze and rise up with a feeling of giddiness or excitement. I'm starting to get used to this odd reaction. I'm even staring to appreciate it. In the past couple years, I have learned a lot about listening to these feelings. If I don't feel like I might jump out of my skin with delight, then something is off. I need to listen to that, no matter how good an opportunity or "idea" might be. Leave the head. Enter the heart. Listen to your body. I've learned to become more sensitive to these reactions or lack of reactions--and I am learning to make decisions that effect my life and livelihood on these feelings alone. It took me awhile to finally figure out that the more engaged, stimulated, and inspired I feel, the more successful my endeavors become. Quite frankly, it is exhilarating.

But wait. Wanna know a secret?

Inspiration isn't something reserved for only the lucky few. Just like anything else, it can be learned. What? Did I just say learned? Yes, I did! But not from a book and not necessarily even from someone else. We are each our own most qualified Professor of Inspiration, we are each our own best teacher.

Remember that.

And trust yourself.

You are, after all, your own greatest expert when it comes to knowing what inspires YOU the most!

Inspiration is often an unexpected surprise. Amazingly, it's also a habit, a pattern, a lifestyle. It is a way of working, a way of seeing. It is a way of saying yes or no to the things that matter the most. It is a way of making room for the flow of energy. Inspiration is a way of thinking and being. Like any habit, it is a mental groove in our brain patterns. Believe it or not, we all have the capacity and ability to get really good at getting inspired. The trick?


Listen carefully to those glimmers and sparks. Don't question them. Instead, move in their direction. Over and over. Just keep doing it. Feel a spark? Follow it. Another spark? Act on it. Feeling a glimmer? Go for it! Let me say this again: Inspiration is a feeling and every time we learn to walk towards it, rather than away from it, we get better at figuring out how to find more of it.

So here's the deal...

* Don't get stuck in your head.
* Surround yourself with people who inspire you.
* Give yourself time to breathe.
* Eat beautifully. Vibrant foods create vibrant cells create vibrant living create vibrant insights.
* Follow your sparks.
* Don't get bogged down by activities and projects that lack the almighty spark.
* Give priority to INSPIRATION!
* Explore new roads--literally and metaphorically.
* Stand on your head. (ie. Look at the world in new ways.)
* Nudge yourself beyond limitations. Despite what we might tell ourselves, they are usually self-imposed anyway.
* Permit failure. After all, failure is what shows us the way towards something even better.
* Pay attention to what makes you smile.
* And laugh.
* And cry.
* Look underneath things.
* Climb to the tops of buildings and trees and mountians.
* Paint.
* Doodle.
* Dance.
* Do things you've never done before.
* Be bold.
* Be brave.
* Sometimes, just be quiet.
* And never-EVER underestimate your power.

Trust the sparks. Trust yourSelf. Trust the process. Inspiration has the power to change EVERTYHING. Just remember: We are magnificent beings--especially when we give ourselves permission to shine.

Inspiration is contagious.

Shine on, my creative friends!
Be Brave.
Be Inspired.

jessie StrayDogArts collage


Jessie Marianiello is a full-time artist who lives and works on a vineyard in southern Minnesota with her three dogs, two cats, and one husband. She loves strong coffee, is the creator of the Be Brave Project, and believes in creating a life that fills you from the inside out.

Jessie specializes in urban contemporary pet portraiture. Her goal as an artist and animal lover is to create artwork that honors the unique life force within each of us. She paints to tell a story. But, even more so, she paints because it causes her to experience more love than she often knows what to do with.

You can visit Jessie on her website at Stray Dog Arts or her personal blog at Diary of a Self Portrait.

10 Responses

I believe it Jessie! The best part of inspiration is, I think, when you start to make inspiration a habit. It is within our control. The outcome may not be as much in our control, but finding, following and grabbing that inspiration, we can all do it.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rebecca Steelman. Rebecca Steelman said: RT @leah_art Inspiration as a Way of Being: Guest post by the uber talented, @StrayDogArts: [...]

Thank you for inviting me to post on your ever INSPIRING blog, Leah!

And, Rowena, it’s interesting because I’ve actually been WITNESSING you come into your artistic habit these past many months…and it is mind-blowing! :)

Great post! This is going up on my studio “inspiration” board. How perfect is that??

Thank you, Jessie, for your wonderful post. I love your writing! What you wrote made so much sense to me. It really makes me realize how close to inspiration I am so much of the time without even realizing it at times. From now on, when that feeling happens, I will remember that that all I have to do is expand on that, move forward into it, and my creative expression will take on new meaning and dimensions. Thanks for that new insight!

this is such a beautiful post. i love your words and ideas and can relate to so much of what you have shared here… feels like a big warm hug of understanding :) thank you. xo

That first paragraph really spoke to me! I just posted about being inspired by rusty metal and my cuffs have the feeling of fabric folds sometimes. This is just what I needed on a grey, dull day to inspire my studio time tomorrow!

How wonderful all these post have been! All have shared great inpiration to my soul! Thank you.

I love this post and totally agree. If you trust and listen the energy of inspiration will take you where you want to go.

I completely agree that inspiration is something that is learned. I am forever training myself to stay alert for that “nudge” that comes from within. I anticipate its visits!

Jessie, I laughed when you suggested we stand on our heads to view the world differently. The first thing I thought was “I wonder if I can still do that?” If I can’t, that’s ok, I got to laugh about it. I love laughter, it’s my priority.

You’ll know I succeeded to stand on my head if my next post is upside-down!

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