Friday, February 27, 2015

The Guts of Inspiration

For the past month, I've had a stack of magazines by my bed that I was too busy to read. I was busy writing, busy bleaching the whites, busy charring tortillas over an open flame. I was mediating sibling wars and cleaning cleaner off all the mirrors (long story). I was in meetings and in my van and wasting time on things that were more mindless than inspiring.

I was even busy exercising, but only a little.

Life felt like a long string of tasks, even the parts I was used to loving.

I watched some TV, because it was time spent with Cory, or the kids. I picked up a book and read now and then, but that's a worthy cause, and I like watching my Reads list grow.

But those magazines collected dust for two reasons; 1) In such a busy season, it never seemed like a "good enough" use of my time and 2) I liked knowing they were there waiting for me, an eventual reward for all my effort.

Earlier this week, after the left-overs were packed away and the kids were tucked into their beds, I grabbed them. Enough was enough. If I waited much longer, new issues would arrive, but more than that, the longer I ignored them the less I began to care about them at all.

Since middle school, magazines have been one of my happy places. Equal parts color/information/quiet, they speak straight to the heart of me.

So I got to work.

Four issues and thirty-some dog-ears later, I couldn't begin to tame the creative beast. I didn't want to.

In just two still hours, I tracked down the part of me that had gotten sidetracked by my schedule and agenda. I came back to life in those pages, reimagining the green entry table and considering the neglected downstairs bathroom.

I made plans to make lemony chicken and dill soup and serve it up with yellow cake with salted chocolate ganache.

I vowed to stop the world this weekend for a batch of homemade spaghetti and meatballs - I could already hear the oil hissing in the pan.

In no time flat, I was daydreaming about a family trip to the Lake Michigan Shipwreck Museum, plotting hellebores for the garden, and making a mental note to find The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (Calvin) and Remember Me Like This (moi).

The funniest thing happened when I woke up the next morning - I couldn't wait to dig into my "real" work. Maybe the line between work and rest isn't as stark as I thought. Maybe sitting under an afghan and thumbing around for more projects actually counts as billable hours. It helped me remember who I am.

My art is "official" writing, but it's also cooking and learning and playing house with my home, to name a few. They feed one other.

In this life that I find so rad, an organized mud room happens to be the catalyst for an enjoyable 3,000-word-count day at the "office".

So, it's Friday. The perfect day to try something new.
What are you going to do about it?

My advice? Find that "other" part of you that's been hiding somewhere in the corner of your day jobs.

Dust it off.

What are you waiting for?

*amazon links


  1. LOVE THIS! Inspiration at its best in the pages of a magazine, I totally agree. Seems like a selfish "me" thing to do, but we all need that time to recharge our batteries and our creative spirit!! ~Kim

  2. Love this! What were the magazines? I especially love British Edition of Country Living!

  3. Oh my gosh!! This is so funny to me! I have been doing (ignoring bc I'm too busy) and did (read them last night!) the same thing! Did you read Cooking Light, by any chance? Because I totally dog-eared those meatballs too! I tell you, I feel myself coming alive a lot more over the last few months after years (*sigh*) of not feeling this inspired, and for me it's been because I started making art again - even if it's just doodling. My mind is everywhere, and I'm so excited to dive into the next thing. And yes - it brings me back down to earth too - because I find it easier to make it through the mundane when I know a new little project is waiting for me or I feel the satisfaction of being able to look at what I created. I love this quote from Michael Yankowski's, The Sacred Year, "Have you ever stopped for a moment to think how incredible it is that we can bestow the gift of being, that we can call into existence things that once weren't? Of course the raw material is already there for us (only God creates ex nihilo, 'out of nothing'), but whether it's a bridge, a building, a bowl, or a baby, the power to create is incredibly godlike. In a divinely imaged triad we unite our will, our imagination, and our body, and -- echoing the Creator God --cry Let There Be! and -- WHAMO! -- what was once not now. . . is".
    What an awesome gift from God - our creativity, whether it's a new version of your green table, or a silly little doodle I do tonight while I watch TV with my husband. So cool.

  4. Oh HGTV magazine is my guilty pleasure. I love the colorful images and inspiration. But, in the busyness of life, it often gets neglected. I feel refreshed ad new after making time for the magazines and me.

  5. I feel the exact same way!! Magazines are like the frosting of life.

  6. I have not bought bleach in years. Maybe I should. Maybe I should actually separate my whites from my darks. I love magazines.

  7. I love and appreciate this! We've been so caught up in the necessities that February brings our family. I can't seem to keep my house clean from "occasion" to "occasion", I've been working (for money) lots, we've had lots of "occasions"......and I haven't done those things that MAKE me. I know how therapeutic it is for me when I do. For me - reading fiction, cross stitching, photography and, once in a blue moon, blogging. Thanks for the friendly reminder. And I love your blog. All the time.

  8. I am so behind! I am catching up on posts now AND I seriously laughed out loud at your thrift store total. I am currently making my husband grab the camera because my entire outfit (shoes included) is thrifted and I am so stinking excited!

    Also, I cannot even think straight because YOU ARE SPEAKING AT ALLUME and I am 45 minutes away and I wasn't planning to go until now. I'll be on the front row of your session stalking you.

  9. Peter Sis wrote the book, The Wall. It's great as are his Madlenka books and I love the author's note on his Christopher Columbus book, even though the book may be historically inaccurate:)

  10. Alright, I'm encouraged to get off my duff and do something besides watch back to back episodes of Gilmore Girls.

  11. Magazines are my happy place too! Gary always says he gets concerned by the amount of notes I take while reading. Thank God for post it's! Now, sadly, I never do anything with those post it's, but gosh darn it, it makes me feel better to take notes and dream of lemon ganache on my raspberry cake!

  12. Good advice! I am the same way about knowing I have a stack of magazines waiting for me. They always feel like a hard to justify treat.