Seeking Inspiration

I am trying to write. Something funny, something creative, something inspiring. but my mind is overworked, active day and night as it deals with life and loss and moving forward. I am looking for inspiration and something to sink my words into. And then there was this:

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Hardly an invitation to creativity.

This book appears to be as uninspiring as any book I have seen, despite the claim on its cover. I am wondering about the conversation in the design room the day this book was being completed. “Hey Boss, I need a cover for this textbook on creativity….”

“Yeah. It’s a textbook. Make it look like one.”

“But Boss, it’s a handbook. Of creativity. Shouldn’t it be fun? Creative, maybe?”

“Nah. It’s a textbook. Make it look like a textbook. Throw some color on it if you want.”

Hmm.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen some much more appealing textbooks. I’ve seen some downright fun textbooks. Most even have pictures or designs on the front cover. Just because a book is designed for learning doesn’t mean it has to be boring. In fact, a splash of color on the cover might make the reader more excited to read this book. I know that for me, the appeal of the cover definitely affects my interest in a book, but apparently, this is a centuries old debate, as indicated by the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” You know, the whole first impression thing….

But then I have to wonder why it is that we are so quick to judge based on what’s on the outside. There is much information held within the pages of this book. The fact that the cover is dry and stilted and downright uncreative is of little import to the material contained within the book. It just seems to me that a handbook on creativity should be… well… CREATIVE.

But I am trying to creative-ize my mind and clear the fog that has been hovering there. Perhaps the words of this book might inspire me. Or maybe they’ll serve to distract me just enough that creativity can slip back in.

Grief

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As the year began, it was my goal to blog more than last year, and I started out well. But the roller coaster of life took over. Suddenly, like so many friends and acquaintances my age, I experienced the unexpected loss of my father, and I am now navigating the uneven waters of grief.

These waters are thick and heavy, fighting against me as I press forward, day by day, moving ahead with life. I cling to the things I recognize in a life that will now and forever be different.

My journey through these waters is slow and difficult. The current is unpredictable, and the undertow often grabs me and pulls me under when I least expect it, waiting for me to thrash and fight.

Then, just as suddenly, it lets go, and I float to the surface, able to catch my breath—at least for a moment. But by the end of the day, I am exhausted from battling these waves as they come and go only to come again.

Some days, I feel as though I will never write again, and other days, I feel as if I start writing, I will never stop. Writing for me is a necessity—a place to find sense and peace and light.

Grief is where I’ve been hiding, but in time, I am hoping to blog more this year….

Christmas Lights

img_2667It’s nearly winter where I live. The shortest day of the year is less than three weeks away, and the past few days have been particularly dark and dreary with heavy clouds, drenching rain, and murky fog. The rain has offered some needed relief from the months’ long drought, and while it may seem as though I am complaining, I am not. In fact, I find rainy days offer an opportunity for introspection.

But sometimes dreariness lingers, as it has recently. So with the shorter days, I am doubly glad I put up my Christmas tree this week. I am a huge fan of LOTS of lights One small tree (well, it’s a bit taller than I am…), 520 colored lights. (Yep, I like the colored ones). It bathes my living room in a pinkish glow of cozy warmth.

I am intrigued by the fact that so many winter traditions include festivals of lights. Even the early people knew that lighting the deepening darkness was a good thing that might make them happy. As I sit beside my tree in my living room, I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of their traditions.

For the past couple days, I have been seeking refuge in this welcoming light—both early in the morning, as I drink my coffee, and late in the day, when the daily activity of my house is winding down. Over the next month, I will continue to find moments and create excuses to sit by the tree and think and hopefully, write. My blog challenge in November didn’t go as well as I would have liked, so I have downloaded two lists of prompts for December. If my creativity is not sparked by one list, perhaps it will be sparked by the other. And perhaps I will produce extra blog posts this month.

Because … hope. It “springs eternal,” whatever that means. And for this month, at least, I will sit in the light of my Christmas tree as if I am soaking up the vitamin D infused rays of the sun. And I will quietly wait for inspiration to land here with me in this space.

Brain transplant

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Sometimes (actually, often), we have some unusual conversations in our family. The other day, I got in the car with W, and as I settled in to drive, I felt a twinge in my knee. “Ooo, my knee hurts,” I commented, mostly to myself.

“Is that from when you fell?” he asked, and I nodded. Back in January, I was pumping gas, and I attempted to step over the loop of hose between my car and the gas pump. Bad idea. The hose tripped me up, and I fell, my left knee taking the brunt of the landing. Let’s just say after the embarrassment, the tears, and the initial pain, I had recovered, but my knee… it was slow to heal.

“You should probably get that checked before you have to get it replaced,” he said in his fifteen-year-old matter-of-fact way. “I know someone who had one replaced.”

“I know someone who had two replaced,” I bested.

“You know those cars that have so many parts replaced they are practically brand new?” he asked, taking the conversation in a related-unrelated direction.

“Yeah. Can you do that with a human? Replace so many parts and organs they become a ‘new’ person?” I chuckled at the thought.

“That would be weird.” He looked out the window, and that was probably my cue to stop the conversation. But I didn’t.

“What about a brain transplant?” I ventured. “That might make someone a new person.”

“They can’t do that.” He went for the logical, but I wasn’t having it.

“But what if they could?” I pressed. “You would be a new person. You might not even remember who you were; you wouldn’t recognize your family or your friends….” I tried to think about the multitude of dilemmas presented by this type of major operating system transplant.

“You’d have someone else’s memories and thoughts,” W started to engage, but then stopped. “But they don’t do that.”

“Maybe it wouldn’t really be a brain transplant.” My mind was working overtime as I tried to wrap my head around this concept. “Maybe you’d wake up and say, ‘Oh look! I got a new body!’ For the person whose brain it was, it would be a body transplant.”

Oh my! I believe I’m thankful they haven’t figured out how to do this type of surgery. At least they haven’t figured it out yet….

 

 

Anomalies

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Yesterday’s November blog challenge prompt was supposed to be “20 facts about me,” but I wrote something different. Today, I give you Fact #1:

When I was growing up, my father owned a business that was housed in what was once the town fire house and opera house. It was an interesting combination, to say the least, and I’m not exactly sure how that worked. If there was a fire in town, did the show stop while the firemen and trucks clanked out of the building, sirens screaming? I really have no idea, and that is not really the point of this story.

The point is that the building had a working fire pole from the second floor to the first. By “working,” I mean that it was still standing and connected on both ends. And it was sturdy. And since I was a regular visitor to this defunct firehouse, I was presented with the opportunity to take up a career in pole dancing… way before pole dancing became vogue.

However, the phrase “Do not play on the pole” was part of the vernacular of my house. But I have to say, it was sooooo tempting! What kid wouldn’t want to slide down a fire pole? Every time I went down the front stairs (which wasn’t often because the stairs by the stage were the ones we typically used), my eyes would lock on the pole, and I would long to slide down it. Or try to climb up it. Just once.

But I didn’t. The words, “Do not play on the pole,” rang in my head every time I reached my arm out, brushing the cool metal with my fingertips as I walked by. And I know it really wasn’t because they thought I might become an exotic dancer.

Looking back, I realize that this was one of the anomalies of my childhood narrative. Not many people can say that their parents regularly warned them about a fire pole. So I got to wondering… what are some of the anomalies from your childhood narrative?

Enough

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Some days (many lately), I am overcome by the pressures of life and the expectations put on me by so many people. I struggle with the need to be all things to all people. I think some people are more prone to this fight than others in our way too high-pressure, you-must-do-it-all society. I believe single parents have an extra tough challenge as they not only have to be all things to their children, they sometimes succumb to a need to make up for what is lacking in their children’s lives.

I am no stranger to the pressure to measure up and fit in with outside expectations. I grew up in a small town—the type of place that most people would see as idyllic. But if you have experience with small town life, you know that there is just as much drama in a small town as there is in a large one. There are just fewer people to carry the weight.

Growing up, I fell victim to the playground girl-drama. Nothing about me was ever quite right, and after awhile, I knew I was never going to be enough. My clothes were wrong. I was not pretty enough. My hair never fell flat and straight and perfect. I was not tall enough or talented enough. I was not athletic (…at all, never mind enough). I was not social enough. And despite graduating near the top of my class, I never seemed to be smart enough. There were always people around who were willing to make me feel inadequate because somehow, they were more than enough. Looking back, I thank God I did not grow up in the days of social media.

In an attempt to run away, to escape from the drama, I threw myself into solitary activities in which I could be myself without the pressure from others. I took up the clarinet and later added the flute, the oboe, the piano, and the guitar. From my earliest days, I spent hours lost in the worlds hidden in the pages of the books that lined the shelves of the local library and bookstore. I would become so lost that when I had to stop reading for dinner… or homework… or because the book ended, I would be slightly disoriented as the real world of my home came rushing back into my consciousness. Hadn’t I just been on a grand adventure with Laura or Pippi or Pollyanna? Certainly, here—in the pages of a book—was a place where I never felt the pressure to measure up.

As I grew older, I delved into art and writing. I began to run—initially because I was preparing to coach a high school cross-country team. But the more I ran, the more meaning I found in the rhythm of my steps and the wanderings of my mind. I was soothed and inspired as my muse would often come to play while I was pounding out the miles on the road. It seemed my interests were beginning to blend in ways I hadn’t known they might. And so, the solitary pursuits continued.

Through losing myself in solitude, I found myself in truth. My state of mind began to shift to encompass and accept my enoughness. I became an artist, a writer, a runner. I discovered that even though I might not live up to other people’s standards, I was enough. I had always been enough. The best of me, the me I put out in the world every day, would always be enough. And being enough is a powerful place to be.

But when life gets busy and hectic, I sometimes slip into old patterns of thought. When things aren’t coming together and I can’t please everyone and the people around me are letting me know I am not meeting their needs, my enoughness begins to fade. With a lot of work, a little struggle, and a push to refocus on my needs, I can usually return to enough.

And being enough is important. For all of us. We are all enough.

November

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Tomorrow is November 1st, and several of my friends will be taking on the challenge of NaNoWriMo, a month in which the goal is to write an entire novel or 50,000 words. While I have always thought this would be a great contest to participate in, I am realistic, and I know I wouldn’t get beyond day two.

However, in support of those of you who are gearing up to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge, I have decided to ramp up my blogging for the month of November. There are two reasons for this. First, I need to write more often, and second, my blog is feeling neglected.

I have downloaded a November blogging challenge from 2014, and I will use the prompts to fuel my writing of daily (or nearly) blog posts. The first day’s challenge: 20 facts about me. In my mind, I figure that’s 20 days of material right there!

Stay tuned, Friends. November will be a great month for us. You’re going to learn some things you might wish you didn’t know….