Entries from: September 2009

What’s Inspiring You Lately?

September 3rd, 2009, Comments (15)

Yes, I'm curious. What's inspiring you at the moment? Are there any books or tunes or artists that are lighting your inner fire?

I'm constantly adding to the list of what juices me up and I plan on sharing some of those things throughout the month. I'm super excited about and inspired by the wonderful guest posters who will be sharing stories of inspiration here throughout the month. Jen's post yesterday was fabulous!

I've had a fairly quiet day today for the first time in a solid week and so I thought it'd be a great moment to share a few things that are inspiring me and ask you about your current inspiration!

Nature: I'm feeling inspired by and grateful for the gorgeous weather. I took a walk down to a nearby river where I ate my lunch and wrote for an hour. It was lovely. I'm always inspired by sitting in nature and near moving water.

Books: I'm currently reading: The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My Soul A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire by Noelle Oxenhandler and absolutely loving it.

Music: Somehow I missed out on the music of Arcade Fire, but the song "Wake Up" in the trailer of Where the Wild Things Are (also very inspiring, check it out below) was haunting me, so I got the album the song came from and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

Inspiration Journal: I keep a nifty inspiration journal by my bed. It's one of those thick, red, canvas-covered, blank journals you can get in book stores. I keep it to do very light, low-pressure, playful collages and doodles in whenever I feel like it. It's fun sometimes to tear through catalogs and magazines, ripping out images of whatever catches my eye. I glue them in in a pleasing fashion and sometimes write words alongside them. Looking back through it today, it felt like I had been writing a visual love letter to our first home. Sadie helped me flip to this page today. I like all the muted colors and textures here.

inspiration journal sadie

Interview: I loved this video interview of Dirty Footprints Studio's Connie on Darrah's blog, artcetera. Connie is too cute! I loved when she said, searching for your artistic voice is like searching for your own nose, it's already there, you don't need to find it!! Ok, she said it better than that, so go over and listen for yourself. And if you'd like to hear more of Connie (and me!), tune into Connie's blogtalk radio show this Sunday, September 6th at 6pm EST when she'll be interviewing Jennifer Lee and I about our Creative Play workshop in Boston this month and lots of ways to add creative play to your everyday life. You can even call in and say hello!

Writing: I love Eileen's writing. This post about the times between our creative pushing and the meanings behind our obsession with Buffy (or whatever it is you're obsessed with) is saying about you, is a great example!

Podcasts: I love to listen to podcasts, so I'm super excited that the fabulous Jamie Ridler has started her own all about creative living! Check out her very first podcast here.

And the list could go on and on and on...But for now, I bid you adieu.

p.s. Please send some good kitty vibes to my kitty Sadie who is having an itty bitty lump removed tomorrow. Thank you!!

Finding a balance between push and release
Guest Post by Jennifer Hofmann, Inspired Home Office

September 2nd, 2009, Comments (14)

In order to drive a nail into a board, there's the obvious downswing that pushes in the nail. Equally important is the back swing in which you prepare for the next push.

If you're driving a car, pressing the accelerator is only half of the "getting there" equation. You also have to decelerate at the appropriate time, or your car will be in a world of hurt.

To accomplish just about anything, what's needed is a balance between push and release.

Like most of the creative people I know, I have a frustrating tendency to focus on the push. In fact, as I write this, I'm in the process of trying to convince myself that I don't want release at all (even though I need it). Instead, I should actually be pushing harder. Frustrating.

Push is not a resting state

When you're in a period of intense creating, you lose the ability to contrast it with your resting state. The creative state begins to feel like normal, the baseline, when it isn't.

The trouble is, that pushing harder and forcing work out of ourselves turns off the creative flow. Inspiration goes from a gushing torrent - to a trickle - to a dry river bed.

Pausing is vital to the creative process. Taking a break, releasing the pressure, is what fills us back up again. Once we're replenished, you can create again without struggle.

But it's hard.

If you live in the States, you're probably unaware of how much drive is a part of our culture. Productivity. Proving our worth. It's a silent message, but ingrained and ever-present.

Because of this, slowing down to replenish is counter-culture. Pausing is like swimming against a powerful stream. I often find myself feeling guilty and apologizing for taking time to nourish my spirit. Sometimes I just ignore my need to stop because it's so hard to claim it.

Lately, I've been on an earnest search to discover what replenishes me. Recently, I was surprised to find that I was trying to concoct an "inspiration pill" which would allow me to quickly find my center and begin working again.

It's laughable, isn't it? Hurry up and slow down! In truth, pausing takes as long as it needs to and, by nature, can't be hurried.

What I do to find inspiration

Interestingly, the word "inspire" means to breathe in. So oxygen is a good start. I also like to breathe in quiet - whether that comes from actual silence or my noise-canceling headphones. Removing sound helps me hear the important messages that come from inside.

In my heart of hearts, the thing that nourishes me most is singing old hymns from my days as a music minister. It's been years since I sang at Mass on Sundays, but I get out my guitar and a big binder of sheet music and play until my fingertips are throbbing.

Something about the lyrics reminds me that I'm just a tiny star in the human constellation... and this is a good thing. These hymns remind me that it's God/Universe who's making the stars turn, not me. That it's safe to let go and trust. I don't have to control everything (even though my ego wants to).

After a session like this, I have happy tears and a deep feeling of release. Suddenly there's room in my life again for all the things I love. Things come back into balance again.

It took me a long time to figure out that this is what works for me. And it will probably take the rest of my life to find ways to not resist doing it. I'm okay with that. Like everything in life, it's a process, not a destination.

What works for you? How do you pause and replenish?

Bio: Jennifer Hofmann was not born organized. In fact, her creativity and ADD meant she started projects she never finished, was surrounded by clutter, and struggled to keep up with everyday tasks. Today, Jennifer still isn't the poster child for House Beautiful, but she understands people who struggle with clutter and overwhelm and offers unique solutions that help small businesses grow and thrive.

If you've tried to get organized in the past and failed, you're not alone. Jennifer's approach helps small business owners discover their natural strengths and how to integrate them so that organizing becomes easy and enjoyable. Based in Salem, Oregon, Jennifer teaches teleclasses and coaches entrepreneurs – please visit her at www.inspiredhomeoffice.com.