“cut out the dead wood” is one of the best poetry lessons i’ve learned from a past professor and poet, mary margaret sloan.
removing unnecessary words that clutter the message is a great strategy in composition and in life.
this can go against our desire for more.
more activities, more achievement, more acquisition.
recently when i was feeling guilty about wanting to cross something uncompleted off my to-do list, i asked friends when they give themselves permission to quit. responses were liberating.
sometimes one of the biggest lessons we can take away from a class or activity is that it isn’t for us. or that it isn’t for right now.
not everything will resonate with our preferences, personality, and purpose.
releasing what doesn’t work relieves pressure and promotes internal peace. quitting provides space for what does feel important and energizing.
quitting allows us to say yes.
yes to the ideas that are inspiring. yes to the practices that support creativity and personal development. yes to finding out more about ourselves. yes to the life we do want to live. yes to possibilities.
i’ve taken to a semi-haphazard execution of marie kondo’s rigorous zen approach toward organization and housekeeping. i’ve higher hopes and all but i’m just a little too comfortable with chilling in the middle of home chaos.
it occurs to me though that kondo’s approach is also an effective approach to how we live our lives and how we spend our time.
“keep only those things that speak to your heart. then take the plunge and discard all the rest.”
kondo’s approach echoes the inspiring ethos of the 19th century poet and designer william morris:“have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
by applying these guiding principles to how i spend my time, i find it’s much easier to give myself permission to let go and concentrate my energy on what matters.
try it, see what works. let go what doesn’t.
in terms of projects old and new, i’m making these centering considerations:
- is it useful?
- is it beautiful?
- does it speak to my heart?
whatever doesn’t answer YES, is thanked and released. cut the dead wood. let what lives breathe.
the creative life is the one we are living.
we channel and express creativity with our love, how we nourish our bodies and children, and the passionate way we pour our souls into our words, music, and dance. we are creative every day we take a deep breath and improvise our way into the future.
we may feel we are lucky on the rare occasions that creativity and inspiration both show up at the same time. but eventually we find our luck increases the more we give our gifts attention and practice.
“inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” ~pablo picasso
i’m learning about inspiration and my creative expression through play, experiment, research, and ritual.
inspiration supports creative achievement, self improvement, and bliss.
this year is already flying by. here are the practices i’m trying on.
1. drinking 96 oz of water a day
this resolution was inspired by seeing pictures of a woman’s transformation after drinking 3 liters of water a day. i tried to drink a gallon of water a day for about three months, but i could only get it done if i stayed up late to drink water. so my new and attainable goal is 96 oz per day.
2. writing one hour a day
made this commitment after reading assertiveness for earth angels: how to be loving instead of “too nice” by doreen virtue.
“[…] just one hour per day, devoted completely to your dream, will be the genie in the magic lamp that grants your wishes.” (p. 169)
3. go to the gym once a week
i have to justify the gym dues somehow and because i’m almost finished with my c25k program i started a year ago. (i’m more of a tortoise than a hare.)
4. keeping a daily logbook
i’m trying this logbook concept based on austin kleon’s book steal like an artist. it took a long time to get my proper moleskin diary (backorders) but i’m a few weeks into my logbook practice and i’m loving it. also, i’m getting more comfortable with little doodles and drawings – which is entirely wild to me.
5. writing morning pages
i’ve kept a fairly diligent artist way morning pages practice, though the number of pages i write in the morning depends on how early i need to be at work. weekends are always three page days.
6. taking myself on 1 artist date a week
been trying to revive this other really important artist way practice this month. so far i’ve taken myself to a couple of poetry readings.
what are some of the rituals, routines, and practices of artists, prophets, and scientists that you admire? what work are you doing when inspiration shows up? (hint: this work may look or feel like play.)
bonus inspire read:
women who run with the wolves: myths and stories of the wild woman archetype by clarissa pinkola estés, ph.d.
it’s so easy to get pulled into a timeline outside of ourselves.
we do all the time.
beyond the basics of our day to day regimes and rituals, it’s so easy to project this same timeline shaming onto our own art. i should be writing, i should be drawing, i should be painting, i should be dancing, i should be making. this is an extension of our logical and output-oriented brain reprimanding the creative. how dare you not clock in for the requisite amount of play? what do you have to show for yourself?
creating space for process over product can be very enriching. especially now when our creative outlets have become even more and more public. we might feel like we need to post on social media about our latest and greatest, or our hilarious mistake. sharing is cathartic and we learn from each other but sometimes we are too plugged in.
unplugging and being quiet have never been more rebellious. cultivate silence in your life, and the mind quiets and sees that the mundane is really mundane – but beautiful. and its beauty doesn’t always require a twitter update.
choosing to write in a word processing program, or on paper – these platforms of expression remind me that ultimately, this creation is for the self, for the soul. some of these things are meant to be shared, but some of them must be kept sacred for the seeds to really grow. taking space is more and more important as we are inundated and affected by our outside environments.
i don’t devalue social media. i think there are many benefits of connection, creation, as well as revolutionary opportunities to make change. but i do believe it is more and more important to be strategic about our communication and to be strategic about our mental and emotional inputs and expression so that we can cultivate the stimuli in our lives. or maybe it’s just that i’m a sensitive person, an only child, and an introvert. no matter our locus of being though, i think it’s just good to check in with the self, and follow our natural tendencies to reach out and to reach in.
by tuning into the self, you will find your own rhythm. when you do, respect it. this is a part of embracing who you are and who you are creatively. and knowing the self, now, that’s art.
to inspire is active. it is breathing in and inhaling life. it is stirring urgent emotion that compels a person to create. it is a pursuit, play, and practice.
we read, watch, and observe. we integrate. we steal like artists. sometimes we do this consciously.
my inspiration collective is made up of mystics, researchers, poets, and painters. it grows all the time.
what’s inspiring right now:
- julia cameron’s the artist’s way: a spiritual path to higher creativity
- brené brown’s daring greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead
- gretchen rubin’s the happiness project
- austin kleon’s steal like an artist and show your work! and his instagram
what’s inspiring right now? who makes up your inspiration collective? who are your muses? the people, ideas, and themes inspiring you the most are linked to your life purpose. dig deeper.
inspiration is creative, positive, and accessible to everyone.
theinspireproject is about creative ritual, spiritual life fuel, poetry, and (inter)personal evolution. this is a playful project for exploring possibility, sharing art, and for connecting people to their path, their personal legend.
this is inspiration as a practice. as meditation. this is a call to live in the totality of possibilities, to start before you’re ready, and to confidently express your art/dreams/truth. your yearnings are divine messages urging you along your way.