Category Archives: Inspiration

The Circle of Life

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Circle of LifeThe phrase “circle of life” seems like a misnomer. I saw The Lion King on Broadway last weekend where to the phrase was transformed into melodic triumph and celebration. The hunter and the hunted stood side by side and recognized their place in the continuity of the savanna and the world.  Although sad in parts, it elevated the passing of life and miracle birth to showstopping grandeur. Yet, circle doesn’t aptly describe the transition.

Last night, I joined my friend and his family at his parent’s house. His dad is dying. Sent home with Hospice a few days ago, the 89 year old laid in a hospital bed in the living room surrounded by his family and friends. His life is truly a celebration of joy and love. That feeling, along with lots of singing and laughter, filled the room. His ultimate passing will no doubt be sad for all of us who knew him. However, he has left so much of himself behind. It’s hard to count the total of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that bear his name, embody his joy for life and will carry his memory in their hearts.

Just as Simba took his place as king of the savanna after the passing of his father, there is the next generation waiting to take their place as the matriarch and patriarch of the Sullivan clan. As Sully passes, there are new Sullivans waiting to be born, too. Still, “circle” doesn’t seem to hit the mark.

Life’s journey is more like a spiral – constantly spinning, imitating the last loop, but never really being the same. Each of us add our own contributions and our own memories to build upon the loop of the past generations. Even if we spin our life in a similar orbit as those that come before us, it is never really the same. What we do and think and say makes a difference to the upward spiral of life.

It’s a shame that it often takes death to remind us what life is all about. Hug your family. Help someone across the street. Write. Create. Share your talents with the world. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and in turn, you inspire others. Celebrate life.

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Pardon Me While I Hyperventilate

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We all know that dirty little 6-letter word…change.  Whether it occurs through our own conscious decision or is thrust harshly upon us, change carries with it varying amounts of anticipation and consternation. Often, we have to endure the hard part before we get to the reason we get out of bed every morning.

In the past 2 weeks, my son turned 18 and graduated from high school.  It’s truly a celebratory time in our family, but also a time of reflection.  He’ll be off to the College of William and Mary in the fall leaving his childhood behind him. More importantly, he’s leaving us behind him. It’s everything that I could have ever dreamed for him yet it may take a crane to dislodge that lump in my throat.  There it is. Change.

This post isn’t really about him or me (although I could go on).  It’s more about using change as an opportunity.  The Comic Toolbox equates comedy with pain. The emotional upheaval that comes with change is an opportunity to make your writing deeper, richer and perhaps funnier.  Your characters will come alive with real emotions once you have experienced them for yourself. The results of change may not only shake you out of your box, but send you into a different orbit altogether.  You may be seated behind your keyboard with from a totally different perspective.

Of course, the changes may be more subtle.  For me, after the initial sadness (and subsequent bottle(s) of Chardonnay) with sending my eldest off to college, there will be a time of joy and pride for a job well done. The long term difference will be the time I have that used to be used for soccer games, band concerts, and the art of constantly feeding a hungry teenager. So, what do you do if you have more time?

Maybe that time is best used writing your manuscript or blog or a letter to your mother.  Maybe it is taking the time to get inspired. Take a walk in nature. Take a few pictures. Take yourself to a museum.  Maybe it is spending some time with those you love and meeting some people you don’t yet know.  The one thing that you can control in an uncertain time of change is you.  You will change, too.  How and how much is up to you.

What changes have occurred in your life that have affected your writing or writing life?

Recommended Reading:  Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson

Using Pinterest for Inspiration

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Just a week into using Pinterest, I’ve found it to be not only another way to suck time from busy day, but also to be a great source of inspiration for writing. Considering I’m a very visual thinker, Pinterest’s visual format is like coming home. Each picture has a story to tell. Listen closely and you’ll hear it, too.

Inspiration for Characters

Main Character

From Leotine de Hollander

Inspiration for Scenes

Setting or scene

From Nikoletaa Argirova

Obstacles for Characters

Obstacles for main character

From Umah

Inspiration for Villains

Villains

From Marlene

Have you found inspiration using Pinterest? I love hearing comments.

I Guess I Always Knew

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Yesterday, I read a great post on Freshly Pressed by Susan on her blog Three Cats on a Sofa.  It is called Letter to My Past Self.  I contemplated her idea.  What would I write to give the younger me more insight and more direction?

While I like the idea, it struck me that the younger me didn’t want to hear it.  As a young adult, a time for me of selfish indulgence, I needed to break free and make it in the world…or not.  I needed to fall flat, make mistakes, and get dirty.  I needed to be inefficient and poor, impulsive and stupid.  There wasn’t anything a “real” adult could have said to make me a better decision maker.  I just needed time to grow up.

Ironically, I grew up when I listened to me, the child. The youngest me remembers skipping to Kindergarten on a beautiful sunny spring day wearing the dress covered with lavender flowers and pale green leaves that my mom made for me.  I remember the unmasked and unfiltered joy that I felt just being in that moment.

When I was about 10 years old, my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I said, “I don’t know.  I just want to make people happy.”

He said, “Awww, that’s no kind of job.”

Little did either he or I know at the time, but I grew up to be a professional juggler and children’s entertainer. My career is to make people happy.

And now, I write.  I write for the joy of expressing what I see and hear and feel.  And I write children’s stories to share that joy.  I not only get to tell a story that I hope will be fabled or funny, inspiring or adventurous, but to facilitate a relationship between a child and a someone who loves them enough to share that moment.  How cool is that?

So what will you do?  Write a letter to your younger self or let your younger self write to you?

I’m not dead yet! My world without regret.

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I’m lying in bed beating back a cold I’ve had for days.  Being somewhat of an optimist, I think of the luxury that affords me.  Who is going to ask me to cook dinner or come to work and share all the joy I’m experiencing?  That’s right, no one.

Then it’s just me, alone with my mountain of tissues and gallon of orange juice.  What to do, what to do?

This week, I watched the movies Good Will Hunting and Field of Dreams, both real classics.  Since I never get to the movies, they could have come out last month for all I know.  Combine that with a memory as keen as my grandmother’s and even a movie I’ve seen before premiers each time I click the play button.

Both movies touch on the idea of following your dreams, your passion and not having any regrets.   No regrets.  It’s a worthy ideal.

Along those lines, I read a blog by Tribal Writer, Justine Musk about pushing yourself through to the other side of finding out who you are. Doing stuff you dream about can try a man’s (or woman’s) soul . If you dream about running a marathon but need a rest after walking from the parking lot to the front door of iHop, you may need Oprah and her cadre of trainers to get you there. But, you can get there.  Nobody said having no regrets was going to be easy.  Otherwise you would have done it already, right?

If I die tomorrow, I’ll only have one regret. Fortunately, I just have a cold.  I think I’ll have a few more days to work on that dream.  I’ll forge ahead and when I get there, I’ll let you know.  Until then, I’ll just enjoy the journey.

Speaking of not being dead yet, I’ll leave you with this….maybe it’s the next movie on my list.  At least I won’t regret not having laughed enough.

Daily Ray of Hope

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I’m a sucker for quotes.  I love to read funny or quirky or inspirational sayings from people far more insightful than I.  When a joined the Sierra Club a few years back, I was invited to sign up for the Daily Ray of Hope.  Being as curious as I am, I signed up.

The daily (or nearly daily) e-mails are a little sparkle of sunshine in my spam-filled, mundane and overflowing inbox.  Unlike a lot of e-mail that I have signed up to receive, I faithfully open this one.  No matter how busy I am, I am never to busy for a ray of hope.  Who could be?

Each one contains a beautiful photograph of a slice of nature paired with a quote.  Especially in the dead a winter, a picture of a desert flower, a tropical sunset, or a dew sprinkled forest brings life into my otherwise suffocating, recycled air dwelling.  The quotes are mostly from famous people and all worth the 10 seconds it takes to read.  Here are some of my favorites:

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
~EE Cummings

It’s actually a rare and precious thing to discover what it is you love to do, and I encourage you to remain unapologetically consumed by it. Be faithful to your gift and very confident in its value.
~Jonathan Ive

Then, there is one that I’ve taped next to my bed.  When I open my eyes in the morning it’s the first thing I see.

My future starts when I wake up every morning.  Every day I find something creative to do with my life.
~Miles Davis

As a writer and a performer, I let these sayings guide me through the day.  If you would like to add a little zippity-do-da to your day, check out Sierra Club’s Daily Ray of Hope sign up page.