Searching for Inspiration

Inspiration is one of the most exhilarating, yet fleeting conditions of the human experience. When inspiration hits, it is hot and passionate and invigorating. It can make you mad with thoughts and feelings and determination. Everything becomes sharp, well-formed, musical. You are focused, able, confident.

Your heart beats in your chest as you relish the high that only inspiration can give you. The excitement is nothing short of dangerous. A wild look comes into your eyes and you feel the intensity in every inch of your soul.

And then it is gone.

You spend time searching for it. Blaming the lack of it for your reluctance to do what it is you do- paint, play, write. Seeking to regenerate the spark.

Because, indeed, it is a spark.

And it can be done. It took twenty days of writing before I really wrote, before some came from my fingertips that was art, even it is was sloppy and childish and undeveloped. Twenty days of writing, of inviting the spark, of coaching inspiration back into existence.

For twenty days, I wrote for 30 minutes. It often felt like a chore. I committed to writing and my partner in crime would remind me to do it. Sometimes, I would blow it off, surf Facebook, house hunt or check my bank statements. Sometimes, I spent the time and wrote down feelings, emotions, dictated the scene around me. Nothing generated. Nothing organically creative.

For me, I felt like a failure. I wondered if I had allowed something so core to my identity that I dread sharing too much of it with others to fade away. I wondered if I let “the real world” rob me of my essence, the softness of my cold New England heart that bleeds for Frost, Dickinson, Lowell and many more. I feared that I had made a mistake and allowed the drive for financial stability and the naysayers of creative ventures to sway my unsteady commitment to writing. I feared that my bed was made.

And then, in a moment of brief clarity, it was there. I felt it as I broke lines to create choppy phrases in a rough poem. I felt it as I exploited repetition to emphasize my opinion of the piece. I felt it wind down as real life started to call me back and self-doubt set in.

To feel inspired is to feel fearless. I share this story often with students before they are about to take an exam: When I was preparing for a solo performance, by instructor told me to feel inspired because the chakra that houses fear also houses inspiration and if I felt inspired than I would not feel fear as I stood before the audience.

And it worked.

Our lives are filled with excuses to fall into fear. Fear of failure. Fear of mockery, of wasting time, money. Fear of not being good enough. Even, fear of success.

It is not easy to replace fear or reluctance or indifference and acceptance with inspiration and motivation and determination. It took twenty days of determination before I felt a glimmer of inspiration.

To be inspired is to be fearless.

Hello Again Writing World: Or The Plan to Reignite My Writing Flame

Notebook and pen

It has been a long time since I’ve written anything worth sharing (and I’m not sure if this really counts). But I’m here to share some news and a scheme that, I hope, will keep me honest. I’ve recently been selected to participate in a writing conference (which I am absolutely excited about). However, I want to bring something more to my discussions than last year and want to conduct a little experiment.

I will write. Every. Day.

So in addition to working full-time, taking courses towards my master’s degree, playing with my now 19 month old daughter, house-searching and generally trying to lose weight, I will write every day for 30 minutes.

My current scheme is to take time to write first thing in the morning. I am a morning person, so I think a 30-minute writing session could be manageable as I drink my coffee.

I’ll start June 1 and post weekly updates on my honest progress.

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Lessons from My Daughter: The Honesty of Baby Speak

My little girl turned three months old today.

She is smiling and laughing and cooing at everything and everyone. (I was especially pleased when I brought her into the office and she smiled at my boss. Brownie Points! )

Her babbles, grunts and coos are filled with more emotion than I ever thought possible. She delights in our “conversations” as she tells me her story. And, of course her laughs are full of genuine happiness.

And just as she is discovering happiness and delight, she is also discovering frustration. Her eyes are now beginning to form tears that pool in her big blue eyes. Her mouth pouts in the most heartbreakingly comical way. Her cries, now much louder, are becoming more dynamic in tone and pitch.

Perhaps I can credit my fascination with her developing personality as a symptom of new parenthood, and I will admit that I often image the conversations we will have in the not too distant further.However, tonight I found myself amazed by the genuineness, the authenticity of her young self. She wears her emotions for all to see and she is not afraid to let anyone see her frustrations in not wanting to fall asleep or her happiness of a new smiling.

In my own life, I have often remained very guarded as I weigh the repercussions of honesty. The intimacy of anger, the fear of happiness, the awkwardness of frustration keeps me from sharing those soft personal emotions.

It is with her that I share the goofiness of love and laughter. It is because of her that I am more comfortable with those awkward emotions. Her innocence has taught me to be more honest.

Imagine if we all gave in to baby speak?

Detoxing: Removing the “Busy” From My Life

It took me eight weeks to truly embrace being a stay-at-home mom. To be honest, I’m not sure if I can completely embraced the idea yet, but I am miles beyond where I was two months ago.

Like I’ve indicated within some of my posts, I was a bit of a workaholic. Not only did I enjoy working for pay, but I also enjoyed volunteering in my community. I looked for opportunities where I could positively impact the world around me and dedicated hours that could go to sleeping, relaxing, dreaming, to that cause. I loved projects. I loved late nights and early mornings. I loved to be busy.

In American culture, we often discuss the glorification of “busy.” How many activities can we add to our week? How many hours can we squeeze into our already work-driven lives? What is the impact of this “busy”-ness on our psyche, our health, our relationships?

I’ve always imagined myself to be a writer. As a child, I enjoyed writing short stories that featured my favorite Barbie doll, created an imaginary situation or emulated a recent movie, book or TV show. However, as an adult, I found that I had less and less energy and focus to write. Beyond some scribes in a notebook or a haphazard thought before I fell asleep, all aspirations of “becoming” a writer fell to the wayside. My hourly wage was more than I could make as a young writer.

Before I knew it, I fell into the “busy” lifestyle.

It took my pregnancy for me to realize that I was running at an unsustainable level. I worked two jobs, applied to graduate programs, developed a community band for my hometown’s anniversary celebration. Forget writing. I could barely stay awake to play a video game or watch TV with my boyfriend.

It became my intention to “detox” the “busy” from my life. I completed my projects, reduced my workload and tried to ease into stay-at-home motherhood. I still had great aspirations for my time at home. I planned to clean, remove the clutter that had accumulated, finish some projects, sell old textbooks online, etc. I planned to write and I enrolled in an online master’s program.

After my daughter was born, I quickly realized that it would be much more difficult to complete whatever tasks I thought I would be accomplish while being constantly distracted by the adorable changes in my growing little girl. The clutter remains. Laundry is only done when absolutely necessary. Books remain on the bookshelf and I have finally started writing again.

Despite the fact that I am still enrolled and currently excelling in the one class I am taking, I’ve realized that I did glorify the “busy” lifestyle. I now tell people who ask me when I will complete my program that I am in no rush to finish it early. Again, to be honest, taking a master’s level online course is much more difficult with a little baby than I had anticipated.

I look back on these last eight weeks and I realized that I removed a substantial stress from my life. I move a lot slower now and take real care for my family’s well-being. I find myself embracing the new moment to moment movement of my life. My life now has a sense of fluidity that I have never adopted so eagerly before now.

*These are just my thoughts on my experiences. I know that many parents need to balance work and family. Props to those to do it and do it well.