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The wounds within us

cracked

 

I made this platter the other week as a gift for a friend who is getting married. After firing it, I found that it cracked in the kiln. This happens sometimes, if there is an air bubble or a small hairline crack. It comes with the territory.

I thought it was a beautiful reminder to reflect on my relationship with the wounds and cracks within.

Rumi said “the wound is the place where Light enters you”. The wound. The cracks. The very places we often try the hardest to avoid or push away. Those very places are where Light enters you. They are the key to our healing, transformation, and freedom.

The Light is drawn to the places that hurt the most. The Light uses our wounds, cracks, pain, and imperfections to pour itself into. Our healing begins at the exact spot where the pain began and continues to reside. It is by leaning into the pain that we begin to allow ourselves to be transformed.

Our wounds and cracks are the portal for Light to create wholeness of body, mind, and Spirit, which is our birthright to receive. From here, like the dawn breaking over the horizon, golden rays of brilliant hope can fill each cracked, empty, and confused place within us. It was meant for us today. In this very moment to receive and to use to create transformation in ourselves that will radiate out to transform the world.

I wish you peace, ease, and courage to lean into the places within that are calling for Light and transformation. And with this, may you know love, peace, and Light. May you know God.

 

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A return…of sorts….

It’s been some time since I last posted. 2017-2018 was some kind of roller coaster ride. There were alot of ups and downs and I decided to take a hiatus  after the death of my sister-in-law. If you want to know more, ask me about it. All I will say here, now, is that she was (and IS) a beautiful woman who taught me to be true to myself and whose legacy I strive to carry forward daily.

I see that some of you still check this frequently, so I thank you for that. It’s been a little more than a year and I am ready to return…..

SO MUCH has happened.  I had personal experiences (yes, that is written in the plural on purpose) with loss and grief much sooner than I ever hoped. I learned that navigating these experiences with a partner is a journey. I also learned that committing to this journey is the best decision I have ever made and I remain eternally grateful and in awe of the compassionate and kind man I am lucky to call my best friend and life partner.

I also successfully proposed my dissertation, applied to residency, matched at hospital training site where I could pursue a potential clinical calling, practiced a whole lot of yoga, moved away from Charlotte to a cute little town in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, learned I love small town life, read a ton, rediscovered painting, found my calling to be true…and so on… and so on.

I am living in Hickory, NC and adore small-town life. I am working in Asheville, NC and in it have found my career calling and soul-city.

I want to stay here forever but have a feeling my adventures are not finished yet. I am applying for postdoctoral fellowships and jobs and have no idea where I will end up.

I am so excited to start this blog back up and I am so thankful you are here to join me on this ride…..

With gratitude,

Cara

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Tapestry Weaving with SkillPop Charlotte

I love living in Charlotte. It is a really unique city that has a small-town community vibe which I have really come to appreciate. On any given day there is some sort of festival, food or yoga event, demonstration, etc. and there is huge local scene here. I hail from Washington DC which definitely has its pockets, but as a whole, the people that live in Charlotte are really into supporting their local farmers, business owners, artisans, and crafters.

Enter SkillPop, a local company that offers in-person classes on things like watercolor, social media, icing cookies, and other crafty things. The idea is simple-take local professionals with skills to share, give them a pop-up classroom in interesting areas of the community, and let community members come and learn a new skill or craft. I had been itching to see what the hype was about so I signed up for a Wednesday night Tapestry Weaving class and had a blast!

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The class was held in the Hygge (hoo-ga) Coworking Space west of Uptown. There were about 15 others taking the class with me, several of whom were teachers of other SkillPop courses. The class was taught by Missy Rich, a local art teacher, who was patient and thorough.

We were each given little cardboard looms pre-whefted (aka. with a pre-strung loom) and a sheet with pictures of different stitches. We were also given some designs which we could use to guide or weaving (though many people just free-handed their designs). 2017-05-04 19.26.47

This is the design I chose and some of the yarn I was working with. It was super relaxing a easy to pick up.

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One of the things I really like about tapestry weaving is that it is a very forgiving craft. While some of my stitches were intentional, many were an experimentation. But I think they all turned out looking good.

The course was about 2 hours long, so I did not have time to finish. But we were able to take home our looms and as much yarn as we wanted to continue working on our own. I spent a few more hours weaving at home and ended up with a beautiful finished product which is currently hanging in my bedroom 🙂

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I had such a good time, I went ahead a purchased a larger loom to work with at home and am currently working on my second tapestry.

I had such a good time at SkillPop and look forward to trying out another class. FYI- new classes are posted every Tuesday morning and they sell out fast! SkillPop is also in Raleigh, so if you are in the Triangle area, check them out.

Until next time, happy crafting!

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Some things I believe right now…

mom and dad tree

Right now, I believe….

that we are all exactly where we need to be and doing what we are supposed to do for this unique and special time in our development.

that everything is going to work out completely and fully.

that we are truly and inherently connected to one another, to all who came before, and all who will come after and therefore, no matter what happens it is the right thing for this moment in time.

that we need to take risks, get dirty, go into the weeds and the muck to learn, grow, and transform.

that the greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of absolute presence and authenticity.

that trusting ourselves– and trusting the process– is what it is all about.

that I am truly blessed, honored, and privileged to have the opportunity to inhabit this body, at this time, and in this moment.  An infinitesimal amount of factors had to line up for me to even have the opportunity to be here and write this sentence. What a gift this life is!

 

 

Recipes, vegan, vegetarian

Vegetable “Zoodle” Ragout

 

 

zoodle

This recipe is going to expand your foodie knowledge and please your taste buds in a major way.

Allow me to introduce you to ragout. Pronounced the same as ragù (rag-goo), and similarly saucy and hearty, ragout is different from ragù in a few ways.

According to Food and Wine, ragù is a class of Italian pasta sauces made with ground or minced meat, vegetables and, occasionally, tomatoes. Bolognese, for example, falls under the ragù umbrella. Ragout, on the other hand, is a slow-cooked French-style stew that can be made with meat or fish and vegetables—or even just vegetables. You can eat it on its own, or with a starch like polenta or couscous or pasta.

I recently discovered ragout and let me just say, it is so perfect when combined with zoodles!

Have you heard of zoodles?  Zoodles are just a fun way to say zucchini noodles, and are a fresh, healthy, and low-carb alternative to pasta. I had seen zoodles on TV and had been to a few white elephant parties where a veggie spiralizer was given as a gift, but only recently tried it out myself. It is easy and fun. If you want to purchase your own, you can go HERE  or HERE [affiliate links].

This recipe is seriously delicious and very easy to make. It takes only about 30 min to make (15 min prep, 15 min cooking) and serves 4 people.

 

Here is how it goes…..

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Vegetable “Zoodle” Ragout

 

Ingredients

  • 2 T. + 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. bell pepper (red, yellow or orange), small dice
  • 1/2 c. yellow onion, small dice
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (separated – 6 cloves, 2 cloves)
  • 1 c. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 c. eggplant, large dice
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 c. chickpeas, canned
  • 1/2 c. basil, roughly chop (or torn)
  • 3 large zucchini, spiralized or julienned
  • 2 c. fresh spinach, raw
  • 2 t. + 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t + 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flake
  • nutritional yeast or parmesan

Instructions

  1. Heat 2T oil in medium sauté pan over med-high heat.
  2. Add bell peppers, onions cook until soft.
  3. Add 6 cloves garlic, cook for 1 min.
  4. Add mushrooms and eggplant, cook until eggplant starts to soften.
  5. Add cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, and basil.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and chili flake.
  7. Let vegetables continue to cook over low heat.
  8. Meanwhile, spiralize 3 zucchini.
  9. In a separate large sauté pan, heat remaining oil over medium high heat.
  10. Add remaining garlic, cook until golden.
  11. Add zucchini noodles and spinach.
  12. Season with salt and pepper.
  13. Cook until noodles are al dente.

To serve:

  1. Combine noodles with sauce.
  2. Divide between 4 pasta bowls.
  3. Garnish with nutritional yeast (vegan) or fresh grated Parmesan (vegetarian).

**You can add shrimp, chicken or tofu for additional protein (although this dish is delicious, filling, and full of protein as is).

Enjoy!

 

 

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Weekend Watchlist

august1

Happy Friday! The weather in Charlotte has been crazy this week–we went from single digit weather on Monday to 75 degrees yesterday and today. We will be back to a high of 40 tomorrow and up to 65 Sunday. That said, I hope you are able to find some time to get outdoors today and Sunday and soak up some sweet Vitamin D. In other news, here are a few things I enjoyed this week from around the internet.

  1.  CharlotteFive released their 2016 best of Charlotte Award winners. I was excited to see that Actor’s Theater took the prize for best local theater group. I can’t wait to try some of the places on this list.
  2.  Six great podcasts. Have any of you listed to these? My favorite podcast is not on the list, but I strongly feel it should be 🙂
  3.  30 stunning cards for valentines. 
  4.  Using Dostoyevsky to understand Putin’s aggression. Have you ever read The Brothers Karamazov? Kurt Vonnegut was once quoted as saying “There is one book, that can teach you everything you need to know about life…it’s The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.” It took me over a year to complete, but was well worth it.
  5.  A new year calls for a new planner. I recently purchased this planner from my favorite artist, Anahata Katkin.  I also really love her lunchboxes and wall calendars (1, 2). Is the line a little too whimsical for you? I used this Day Designer planner last year and this Lily planner the year before. Both are excellent options.
  6.  This upcoming exhibit at this Hirshhorn in DC looks amazing.
  7.  Best brunch spots in America.
  8.  10 books to read before seeing in theaters.
  9.  Obama surprises Biden at tribute by awarding him Presidential Medal of Freedom. #allthefeels #getthetissues
  10.  The Minimalist Baker. How am I just learning about her now?!  The recipes on this blog look fantastic. I am looking forward to trying these cookies, these “wings”, chocolate and golden milk ice cream (for which I might need this ice cream maker), and this chana masala recipe. Or lets get real, I really want to try everything on her site.
  11.  This woman is amazing. Hope you find some inspiration in her to get up and move this weekend.

(Photo taken at Stout Street Social in Denver, CO this past summer by my friend Alyssa, author of The Mexitalian food blog).

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2016-A Year in Review

I’m Back!!

I ended up taking a much longer hiatus than anticipated in order to finish my thesis, but now the project is successfully completed (yes, you can call me a Master now), I have decided to reinvigorate my posts here.

2016 was much akin to a roller coaster ride. There were some serious ups and some serious downs. The year seemed to get off it a slow start but rapidly sped up, the ride was crazy with twists and turns and peaks and valleys, and it came to a somewhat screeching halt. Below are some of the highlights for us. I look forward to posting on a more regular basis. Be on the look out for more recipes this year! I have stepped up my cooking game and cant wait to share 🙂

2016- Our Year in Review

January – January was mellow and filled with work at the Cancer Center (my practicum) and getting back into the swing of school. We tried making fondue at home, successfully, for the first time.

january

February – We celebrated Drew’s 32nd birthday by  dancing to Dark Star Orchestra at the Charlotte Fillmore. I also completed data collection for my thesis!

february

March – Drew spent a week in Florida with his Dad fishing and watching baseball for Spring training. I hung out at home, enjoyed some nice R&R and beautiful spring weather, and visited with a friend in Colombia, SC.

April – April was a very busy school month. Not to many “exciting” things happened, but I really enjoyed learning how to work in a wet lab and assay biospecimens for my thesis.

May – May was a month for educational celebrations. My doctoral program hosted it’s 10 year celebration. I taught myself how to use photoshop and designed a logo for our program which I am quite proud of. My sisters graduated- one from community college and one from high school- and we enjoyed celebrating with our family.I was a guest on my brother’s comedy podcast- Sasquatch Armada, which you can check out at http://sasquatcharmaga.com or on iTunes. It is episode 13. Note that adult language and content matter will be present.

June – My time at the Cancer Center came to an end. I will miss the work there but am grateful for all I learned and look forward to continuing psychooncology work in the future. My parents came into town on a spontaneous road trip and we celebrated my birthday early at Cowfish, a really cool Charlotte restaurant where you can have burgerushi—sushi and burger fusion food. It was really good and it was so great to spend time with them. We celebrated my actual birthday at a waterpark,beating the heat by sliding down slides and chilling in the lazy river (my personal favorite). I also was fortunate to attend the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute for the second year in a row. This conference/retreat has come to be one of my favorites, and I enjoyed a transformative week in Garrison, NY surrounded by inspiring scientists and clinicians dedicated to the science and application of contemplative practice.

July – My sisters came into town at the end of June/beginning of July for the annual “Camp Cara”. We had an absolute blast hiking in Tennessee, riding coasters at Dollywood, whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River, soaking in Hot Springs, NC, and more. We received some sad news about a dear friend passing away and had a really nice memorial service here in his honor. Matt, you are missed.

August – I traveled to Denver, CO for the annual APA conference where I gave my first academic talk at a professional conference.I loved Denver and was happy to reconnect with a few friends and enjoy some of the amazing food the city has to offer. From Denver, I flew to Tucson, AZ for a whirlwind weekend reunion with one of my dear friends. We had an amazing time dancing at a country-western saloon, enjoying Prickly Pear margaritas, and eating cookies in a cabin at the top of a mountain. From Tucson, I flew back to Charlotte and headed to Holden Beach where Drew and I enjoyed a lovely mini-vacation with his family. We ate alot of seafood and did alot of swimming and I found my first full sand dollar during a long walk. It was a great way to end summer vacation. I also started my new practicum at the Salisbury VA, which I am loving.

September – We celebrated Labor Day at the Whitewater Center dancing to Robert Randolph and the Family Band. They were SO much fun and I got to dance on stage! The following weekend, we enjoyed an amazing visit from one of my best friends, ate yummy Indian food at Copper, and danced in circles at the Charlotte, NC Greek Festival. We also successfully completed our first escape room at Codescape Charlotte with some great friends.

October – My mother, sister, aunt, and two cousins came down to NC for a weekend and we had a blast exploring the Carolina Renaissance Festival. We headed to DC for my cousin’s beautiful wedding in early October and enjoyed a lovely afternoon at Windy Hill Orchard tasting cider and eating donuts with some of our best friends from Charlotte. We spent Halloween weekend in Colonial Williamsburg, taking in the sights and sounds and riding coasters at Busch Gardens. I was completely charmed by Williamsburg and never wanted to leave.

November – I successfully defended my thesis and became a Master. Drew and I celebrated by feasting on Hot Pot at the Boiling Point. We also enjoyed spending Thanksgiving with our families in Virginia.We were able to reconnect with our DC Grateful Dead family and catch the John K band at Gypsy Sallys, thanks to my dad!

December – I walked in my school’s graduation ceremony and was blessed to have both Drew and my family present to celebrate with us. It was the first time we had all been together since our wedding 6 years ago, and it was an amazing weekend. Christmas was another roller-coaster, we learned of the tragic passing of my cousin, Daniel, who is dearly missed. My father spent some time in the hospital, but is now healthy and well which we are thankful for. We enjoyed an amazing Christmas with my family, had a blast eating Chinese food, opening presents, and beating another escape room. We also had a really lovely Christmas with Drew’s family, playing a white elephant game and Big Bang monolopy. We both developed pretty nasty colds and celerated New Years Eve at home. We had our traditional lobster dinner and watched the Disco Biscuits boogie in the New Year.

 

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Acceptance.

Drew and I lost a dear friend recently to a drug overdose. My husband wrote an amazing eulogy to be read at his memorial service. I am not sharing what he wrote out of respect for him and his friend, but I do want to share some inspirational messages Drew included at the end.

 

“I have compiled some of the inspirational messages that have moved me throughout my troubles and lifted me up when I felt like my burden was too heavy to go on with life. I encourage you to take what you like and leave what you don’t but remember to love yourself and to love each other. Life is precious.”

Inspirational messages

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.”

– From page 417 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

 

50 Lessons I have learned from my life – by Drew (Inspired by the below list)

  1. Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today
  2. Fear = Absence of Faith
  3. Smallest Deed better than greatest intention
  4. What people remember about you is the way you make them feel
  5. Success is knowing God’s will and doing it
  6. Ask self before making decision if would be okay doing this every day for rest of life
  7. “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible”
  8. Where God guides he provides
  9. Attitude is everything
  10. Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today
  11. Be selfless when it comes to family
  12. Attitude and effort is all you have control of in life
  13. Expectation – reality = contentment
  14. Stress is choice of reaction to situation
  15. Treat each day like new day. Compartmentalize. (24 hour rule)
  16. All man created in image of God.
  17. Be self compassionate
  18. “living the dream” – believe
  19. “Every man thinks his burden is the heaviest”
  20. Always be cool. ABC of life
  21. Failure to plan is a plan to fail
  22. Maintain positive attitude with positive thoughts
  23. Nothing ventured, nothing gained
  24. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious
  25. Secret to success is being resilient
  26. Secret to being happy is being happy with what you have
  27. Avoid self-pity
  28. Vision necessary to have success
  29. Bit of evil in all of us so need to ensure it is contained
  30. You make your own reality
  31. Don’t act or think superior. Don’t judge.
  32. Remember history so as not to repeat it
  33. Treat body as a temple
  34. Avoid complacency
  35. Always maintain a healthy sense of humor
  36. The time is now
  37. Never let yourself or someone else tell you you can’t do something
  38. We are all equal and deserve to be loved
  39. Respect people’s differences
  40. We are all works in progress
  41. Today is all we have
  42. Don’t be afraid to be wrong
  43. Maintain an open mind
  44. Having hobbies and other healthy outlets are key in life
  45. It is better to try then to be afraid of failing
  46. Healthy relationships are key to life
  47. Always count your blessings and give thanks
  48. Never give up
  49. Key in life is not let things get stale, to mix things up
  50. Harmony between body, mind, and spirit is key to life

50 Lessons from God Never Blinks by Regina Brett

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  • When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  • Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  • It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
  • Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  • Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
  • Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  • You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
  • A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
  • It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  • When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  • Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  • Overprepare, then go with the flow.
  • Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
  • The most important sex organ is the brain.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  • Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  • Always choose life.
  • Forgive everyone everything.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  • Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  • Believe in miracles.
  • God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
  • Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  • Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.
  • Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  • Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
  • Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  • If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  • Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  • Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • The best is yet to come.
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  • Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift..

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

– by Mary Stevenson

 

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Weekend Watchlist

clt

Happy Friday! My spring break starts today and after looking at the weather forecast for the upcoming week (70 degrees here I come) I am getting pumped! Drew is going to be on a man-trip with his Dad for the week, so its just going to be me and Mila. I am looking forward to catching up on some big projects, visiting friends, painting, and hanging out with my cat. In other news, here are a few things I enjoyed this week from around the internet.

  1. I am obsessed with these skin oils. Obsessed.
  2. Loneliness is a public health issue.
  3. A gift for fellow lovers of science fiction. You are welcome 🙂
  4. Further evidence on the benefits of exercise.
  5. These look tasty.
  6. These are tasty. Delicious actually. And super easy. I made them for Drew and scored a permanent placement in the wife hall of fame.
  7. DIY seedlings with a Spring theme.
  8. A random acts of kindness generator!
  9. Why do we teach girls its cute to be scared?
  10. These yoga pants are awesome.
  11. I hope to visit this Honeybee Sanctuary over my spring break!

(photo by Charlotte’s Got Alot)

Motivation

Inspiration

terrapin

Inspiration has traditionally been discussed as a passive factor beyond our control. Something which comes to us from an otherworldly, external source and settles into us when we are ready. When we are worthy.

In many ways we have been encouraged to stop trying so hard to wrangle it and wrestle it into submission. Inspiration is not ours to own. It is something which a select few are privy to. And these select few are the artists, the thinkers, the philosophers. It is their job to inspire through their work. Should the remaining masses want to inspire, they have been encouraged to do so through their actions/deeds, setting a good example for others to follow (this is often aligned with a particular religious or spiritual dogma).So, a few people can be privy to inspiration. The remaining can act as we have been told in hopes it will “inspire” others to also act in a similar way.

*Sigh*. If you have read here for even just a short while it should come as no surprise that I really dislike this line of thinking.

To me, this conceptualization of inspiration comes from an allegiance to the notion of scarcity.

It comes from the belief that the world is a place of dearth, that there will never be enough of anything to go around, and that most individuals (save for a privileged few) will never have enough inherent within them to access true inspiration (not dogmatic doctrine masked beneath the guise of inspiration) and share it with others.

I want to debunk this traditionally passive and privileged notion of inspiration. I want to assert that inspiration is intimately connected to creativity. It is an active force accessible to anyone willing put in the work required to attain it.

Yes. You must do the work–when it’s easy, when it’s hard, when it’s a struggle, or is a mess.

If you do this, eventually inspiration will descend, an idea will take root, and the work will take flight. But that ONLY happens when you put your nose to the grindstone. It only happens if you are continually curious and open to the help, advice, and inspiration of others.

Mihaly Csikszentmichalyi, father of the notion of Flow, writes in his book Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention:

“An idea or product that deserves the label “creative” [or “inspired”] arises from the synergy of many sources and not only from the mind of a single person… A genuinely creative accomplishment is almost never the result of a sudden insight, a lightbulb flashing on in the dark, but comes after years of hard work.”

To truly believe that sitting around and hoping that inspiration will descend from the heavens is hopeless; waiting for that good idea will simply leave you waiting a very long time.

Walking toward inspiration can sometimes feel like we are walking through a swamp. It is hard work but it is the only way you’ll get close to the thing. The process is like working a muscle. We have to flex and work our inspiration muscles everyday so that when the right circumstances arise, we are open and ready to grab it and run with it. For me, this means working through the assignments and tasks that I am not as excited about or interested in, but also actively seeking and creating tasks for myself that I am excited about. This helps me to prevent myself from getting stagnant or allowing my energy and excitement ready from waning.

I have found to occasionally stumble upon inspiration, I need to continually challenge myself to find the specific areas of research and study that I am personally interested and pursuing them. This can be hard, especially in grad school or in a hierarchical organization, but it is possible if you are willing to continually ask questions and be curious.

It is possible if we are curious not only about the world around us, but also about our own potential. This means pushing ourselves to new places and trusting in our potential.

We can do whatever it is we set out to do, as long as we approach it with an open mind, with a sense of curiosity, if we are not afraid to ask for help when we need it. It is also vital, in my experience, to strive to eliminate attachment to the outcome and, rather, invest ourselves more in the process.

And to me, this makes the practice and process of inspiration and creativity sustainable. I went into academia because it gave me the opportunity to pursue my interests, and be curious about how things work and operate. How I work and operate. I get to learn and grow on a daily basis and I get to make a career out of this. I am really lucky.

I am finding it is easy to lose sight of this at times. It is easy to get lost in the swamp-land of deadlines and expectations and forget that it is our right to live our lives anyway we want. I have to remind myself sometimes that we have a fundamental right to exercise our curiosity and be open to inspiration in any way which seems authentic to us. It many ways, it is our responsibility.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and to those in the future to be as authentic and curious as we can be.

And this responsibility affords an awesome opportunity to begin to shape our lives, our careers, our professional fields in a way which is aligned with values and interests. So what if no one else approves of what you do? What if no one likes it? If you do the work well, with a sense of integrity, it doesn’t matter because you have done it in a creative and inspired way and this makes it invincible to judgment, by yourself or others. And doing work in this way is exciting because it is from this place which others can be truly inspired.

I am so excited for the next generation of academics because I see us in a unique position to begin to move our fields toward a place where we are encouraged to pursue our passions and interests in a creative way, rather than in a way which simply supports the system that is in place. We have the opportunity to shape our fields and careers in a sustainable way. In a way which we can be excited to go to work on most days. In a way which we can live our careers out in an authentic and inspired way.

So this week, I hope you have the opportunity to work hard, be curious, be creative, and maybe wrap it up with a little inspiration 🙂