Inspiration


A couple nights ago I began reading the book Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier which had been on my shelves for a while waiting for it to be the right time to read it.

As I delved into the novel, the opening paragraph for the third chapter stopped me in my tracks as it seemed to be speaking directly to me. The passage:

“I cannot decide whether it is an illness or a sin, the need to write things down and fix the flowing world in one rigid form. Bear believed that writing dulled the spirit, stilled some holy breath. Smothered it. Words, when they’ve been captured and imprisoned on paper, become a barrier against the world, one best left unerected. Everything that happens is fluid, changeable. After they’ve passed, events are only as your memory makes them, and they shift shape over time. Writing a thing down fixes it in place as surely as a rattlesnake skin stripped from the meat and stretched and tacked to a barn wall. Every bit as stationary, and every bit as false to the original thing. Flat and still and harmless. Bear recognized that all writing memorializes a momentary line of thought as if were final.”

I’ve moved on in the book now, but I’ve come back to that passage several times.

In January when I wrote my last big post, the passage probably would not have registered with me as all that significant, yet now, I find it to be absolutely brilliant. The reason? Everything in the last several months seems to have been as Frazier describes – so fluid and ever changing – that every time I tried to commit my thoughts to keyboard, they seemed irrelevant, old news, no longer applicable before I could hit “publish.”

In the past months I’ve written or thought through dozens of posts that never made it to fruition. Frustration and self-doubt were getting the better of me until finally I realized sometimes you just have to live your life, see where it leads, then talk about it. I’m still on the path to “Better”, but it’s unlike anything I imagined seven months ago.

Friend or Foe?

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference in your day.

This morning I got up only marginally ready to start my week. My mood was not what it should have been and it only got worse as the day progressed. Frustrations and stressors were piling up all around.

Then, a seemingly inconsequential thing happened but it made all the difference.

The FedEx man came in to deliver a package and went on to relay how a rabbit that lives in between my office building and the next always rustles the bushes and startles him when he approaches our door. I’ve been in and out of that same door countless times and have never seen a rabbit much less been startled by one.

The whole scenario had me giggling like a like a five-year-old that can’t stop saying the word “fart.” In an instant my bad mood was gone.

Thank you Mr. Bunny and Mr. FedEx Man, the two of you made my day.

Recently I was thumbing through an issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine and ran across an article where various authors, celebrities, and readers expressed their reasons for gratitude. Some were interesting, some thought provoking, some of the oh, please variety, but one stood out from the rest. It was written by Maya Angelou, and I quote it here in its entirety:

There was a time when I was in a state of utter despair, immersed in guilt over promises made on which I had not delivered. I went to my vocal coach, Fred Wilkerson, weeping copiously. He asked what was the matter. I responded, “I’m going crazy. I am almost at the brink of suicide.” He offered me a legal-size, lined yellow pad and a pen. He said, “Write down your blessings!” Furious that he didn’t understand my condition, I shouted, “Don’t talk nonsense, I’m telling you I am going crazy.” He said, “Write down that you could hear me say ‘write down’ and think of the millions who cannot hear the cries of their babies, or the sweet words of their beloveds, or the alarm that could help them seek safety. Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of the millions on this planet who cannot see the smiles of their growing children or the delight in the faces of their beloveds, or the colors of the sunrise and the softness of the twilight. Write down that you know how to write. Write down that you know how to read.” Wilkie, as he was known, gave me that lesson in 1955. Fifty-five years later, I have written 31 books, essays, plays, and lyrics for songs — all on yellow pads. I remain in an attitude of gratitude.

Maya Angelou performer, poet, and author of Great Food, All Day Long  

Even though I consider myself to be very grateful for my life overall, there are times when I get caught up in busyness, frustrations, and the daily grind, and forgot how to express my gratitude.

I found Ms. Angelou’s quote particularly inspiring because it reminds me that even people as talented as she is have dark days, can admit to them, and sometimes require help to get out of them. It’s a lesson to us all that there is always something to be grateful for even when we feel we – or life – is at its worst. 

Some of the many things I am grateful for today:

My husband, my daughter, and my wonderfully large, extended family

Old friends and new acquaintances

A pleasant conversation when and where you least expect it

Resiliency

Freedom

A curious mind

Warm clothing on a cold day

Access to books, movies, music, magazines, the Internet

Cookies, brownies, chocolate

An abundance of good, healthy food to eat

The ability to cook

The ability to read and write

Glasses and contacts that correct my vision deficit

Modern medicine that saves my life on a daily basis

The sun when it shines bright and warm

Nature’s endless variety

The chance of snow

Tomatoes straight from the vine

Love, smiles, and kisses

Laughter

Clean drinking water

A tiny candy cane

Help from someone just when I needed it most

A message from a loved one that says: “I love you,”  “I miss you,” or  “thank you”

Memories

Yesterday my family came home from vacation. We stayed in a beach house where we lived amongst someone else’s house full of too much stuff, only to return last night to our house full of still (!) too much stuff. The irony did not escape me.

While on vacation I chose to just “chill.” I didn’t take all the projects I had originally intended to take, opting only to work on my genealogy project. I took two books but read only one. I let my mind slowly empty of all the excess stuff. It was refreshing and calming.

I also used the time to reflect on what was clutter in my life (beyond actual belongings), and what was missing. I determined that I was a long way off from where I want to be and that it was time to start editing. Good editing doesn’t just take away, it adds where needed to make the most of what is already there.

Due to a few unforeseen hiccups our vacation “wasn’t the most perfect vacation ever” as my husband so aptly put it, but it was great to get away, and as a bonus, it gave me all the inspiration I needed for the next phase in my life.

Inspiration comes from a variety of different sources – a book, a song, a beautiful vista. This week my inspiration came from my sweet baby girl who reminded me with her effervescent personality, that life should be fun.

Nuggets of wisdom from Little M:

– Just say “Hi!” and people will say it back

– Smile with your whole face

– Anytime is a good time to read a good book

– It’s okay to sing, even if you don’t know all the words

– Water is a toy all by itself

– Sometimes, squealling, being noisy and silly is REALLY fun

– Laughing makes you feel better about everything

– Shoes are not required

– Always say “please” and “thank you”

– Start everyday with hugs and kisses

– End everyday with more hugs and kisses

– Every meal does not have to be fruits, veggies, and protein

– Barney is not such a bad guy after all

Thank you Little M. You are my Sunshine.

Love, Mommy