Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Does it come from the moon? In dreams? In the reflection of dewdrops?

Yes it’s a child’s answer. But who knows really?

Sometimes I wake up from a luscious sleep with an idea for a poem. Or on a walk while gazing deep into the eye of a flower, I am suddenly touched by an answer to solve an issue that’s been haunting me. But I also find it in less inspiring places like in the john or after visiting my grandmother at the old folk’s home. It all seems mysterious where inspiration comes from. Although I may never uncover that answer, I have discovered ways to curate it. This is especially helpful when my own rivers have gone dry and I’m fresh out of new material to quench that drought.

I walk in stillness…

A wise man told me once that putting your feet on the bare earth is food for your soul. And he was right. I am lucky that I’ve been able to put my feet to the sand lately and the results have not only been physically healing, but it has replenished my spirt as well. Whether I am walking on soil, sand or even concrete, when I do so in silence I give my brain space to breathe.

I let myself be a kid again…

The older we get, the more scared we are to try new things. We don’t want to feel embarrassed by our inabilities or feel uncomfortable by our clumsiness. But turning down that opportunity is at a detriment to our self-growth. We must all be a kid again to continue to learn, to prevent ourselves from being “too big for our britches,” and to invite inspiration in. When we tackle something like watercolor painting, for example, or surfing or dancing for the first time, there is something within us that says, “Yes! I’m still young, fresh and alive! And if I can do this, I can do anything.”

I make time to waste it…

My dad’s always talking about wasting time as a bad thing. But I think there is something truly valuable about reveling in it. Lounging around, tossing in bed, moving slowly all feel like a time waster, but insight and inspiration come when we think we’re being lazy. When we’re staring out a window, meditating, window shopping, when we’re not so busy doing other things, that’s when our muse says, “Okay, now you’re ready!”

Where do you think inspiration comes from? How do you cultivate it in your own life? 

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When Creativity Stops

{by The Inspiring Bee}

You might have experienced a flow of creativity in the past. Ideas were popping. Creativity was flowing. And then zilch. Just like that the river’s run dry. Does this mean you pack your bags and fly toward a new career?

Nope. Not quite.

Like anything else, creativity has its ups and downs. Just because you’re soaring on creativity Cloud Nine doesn’t mean you won’t end up in a valley somewhere. Similarly if you’re stuck in a creative rut, don’t give up just yet. You’ll eventually get back to the mountains.

The thing is we only ever hear about the triumph, the success stories, the grand accomplishments. We rarely hear about the failure, the surmounting challenges, being in the midst of defeat.

Most people want to glorify the former and forget about the latter. Either that or like labor, we forget about the pain it took to birth that beautiful baby.

In Jonah Lehrer’s new book Imagine: How Creativity Works he magically says the following. Yes I said magically. More on that later.

“Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we’ve hit the wall…”

It’s a normal part of the journey. But as Lehrer points out. Here’s where the magic comes in.

“When we tell one another stories about creativity, we tend to leave out this phase of the creative process. We neglect to mention those days when we wanted to quit, when we believed that our problems were impossible to solve. Because such failures contradict the romantic version of events-there is nothing triumphant about a false start-we forget about them…Instead, we skip straight to the breakthroughs.”

The magical part is two-fold: 1) He reveals the truth no one likes to talk about-that all creative success involves failure. 2) It’s a natural step in the course of creativity.

The answer lies not in doing more work, forcing yourself to become creative or even giving up completely.

It’s in taking a break from finding out what’s next. It’s the unknown that holds your answer.

So the next time you feel frustrated and catch yourself in the midst of a difficult problem, don’t sweat it. The answers will come. Creativity will flow again.

Your biggest enemy toward your creativity isn’t outside yourself. It’s your own negative, critical thoughts and fears that hold you back.

When creativity stops, rest. And rest assure, the floodgates will eventually open again.

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What to Do If You’re Feeling Burnt Out

I’ve been feeling burnt out lately. Actually, I didn’t even know that’s what it was until I read Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive by Joan Borysenko. All I know was that it was getting hard and harder to blog lately. And I was also losing my creative drive. Hence, the lack of Creative Friday posts lately.

After digging into that book, I learned that being burnt out affects each of us in different ways. We become emotionally exhaustive, disengaged, cynical, feel diminished, isolate and lose sight of why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place.

While I hadn’t experienced the full total experience of burning out, I definitely was creeping up to the edge. This Easter weekend, I vowed things had to change and fast!

In Julia Cameron’s infamous book, The Artist’s Way, Cameron says:

“Our artist child can best be enticed to work by treating work as play.”

Insert light bulb here. All work and no play was draining my creative fountain and I needed a break ASAP. Oh boy did I wish I had taken my own advice sooner. But better late than never right?

This weekend on an impulse, my husband and I took a much needed one day trip to Monterey.

Inspiring sunset

It was an important reminder that in order to meld meaning into our ordinary day-to-day lives we need to take a break, play and open our eyes to the possibility and magic taking place all around us each and every day.

Spring blossoms

{photos by The Inspiring Bee}

What’s inspiring you lately?

It’s hard not to feel grateful when you see a mommy seal with her new pup.

*The labels people give us can define who we are, if we’re not aware of it. Find out how what others tell you can have a negative impact on your life over on my new Beliefnet Health blog, Happy Haven.

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5 Creative Ways to Get Inspired

{via pinterest. From ffffound.com.}

Feeling uninspired?

Inspiration doesn’t always come easy. A vacation may give you a temporary bout of energy and ideas. But long before your clothes are put away, your mind drifts to that never-ending to-do list and you’re back exactly where you started from-burned out and feeling low.

But you can sit there pushing yourself to another breakdown {a.k.a. must take vacation} or you can do something about it now. Here I’ve compiled a list to help you cultivate more wonder, creativity and inspiration in your life.

 

1. Visualize

When I’m really stressed out or feeling anxious about the unknown, I spend a few minutes visualizing the best outcome of any situation. Afraid of taking the leap by quitting your stable full-time job? Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like if you started working on your dreams. What does your work space look like? What type of projects are you working on? Who are you working with? How do you feel? It’s an instant way to calm your fears and allow in a breath of fresh inspiration.

 

2. Exercise With Purpose

Exercising is a great technique to spur ideas and get inspiration if you do it the “right” way. I read actress and singer Zooey Deschanel said that working out to be skinny was so “boring.” I loved that! And I wholeheartedly agree. If you can find ways to exercise your body that’s fun, not torturous or purely for the purpose of losing weight, you’ll create space to allow more ideas to flow into your mind. Extra credit: Try listening to a spiritual tape or one from an inspiring author while walking. It’ll bring your workout to a whole other level.

 

 3. Take it Outside

We all spend way too much time on our computer indoors. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably a sign you need to take your problem outside. When I’m feeling particularly low, a quick trip to the mountains immediately does it for me. Maybe it’s the wind on my face, the feel of the dirt beneath the feet, the sound of the birds overhead or the belief that I am, but a tiny speckle in this place called earth.  But whatever it is, one thing’s for sure being in nature is the most natural way for me to be inspired.

 

4. Declutter Your Mind

You know how too much physical clutter can stifle your creativity? Well it can do the same when you’re holding on to too many emotional stuff. Maybe it’s a relationship that’s not working or a job that’s stealing your energy and your soul. Sometimes our fear of change can paralyze us, wear us down and make us numb over a period of time. When we let go of the things that are not serving us, we open the door to a more inspiring life. I think this quote is fitting via beliefnet.com.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another.”

– Anatole France

 

5. Immerse yourself in inspiration.

Surround yourself with inspiring people (dead or alive), things and events. Find positive people. Read biographies of people who overcame challenges and inconceivable obstacles. Visit museums (Art, History, Science). Go on a field trip for your mind. Do you remember the awe you felt as a child when you went on a field trip? That feeling of newness can give you a different perspective, providing new insight into old problems. Also being in the presence of great people doing inspiring things can fuel your own creative pursuits. Immersing yourself in the lives and creations of other people will inevitably rub off on you.

What do you do to get yourself inspired?

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