The Art of Inspiration

Inspiration comes in many different forms. Sometimes it’s the fog that rides in on a cool morning and then dissipates as the sun rises high into the sky. Sometimes it’s a piece of classical music that whisks you away on the wings of your imagination. Sometimes it’s seeing someone kind and caring step out and do something daring.

Over the years I’ve found many ways to be inspired and inspiration generally comes quite easily to me. A passion for life fuels me and makes me dance barefoot down gravel roads on cold autumn days, sing offkey with great abandon (thankfully not in public), and strike up random conversations with utter strangers. All these things fire up my imagination and inspire me. They inspire me to write. To create. To blog. To try new things. To live life fully.

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But other times? Well, inspiration feels far away and the idea of creating, writing, and doing anything out of the ordinary doesn’t sound like fun – instead, it sounds like a chore.

During those moments I’ve discovered that I have three choices: Either I can stop. Rest. Take a break. Or I can just give up. Let go. Decide that inspiration comes as a whim and leaves just as easily. Or I can purposely create, art, and force myself out of my comfort zone and go out searching for the seemingly allusive world of inspiration.

Sometimes resting is needed – I sit back and take a break while waiting for inspiration to strike again. Yet most of the time what I need to do is strike out and go on a search for the life-enhancing substance. To search for inspiration as I go about my everyday life, and purposely put myself in the path of people, situations, and activities that will host a creative and inspiring mindset.

Today, I choose to be inspired. By the big things. By the little things. By the nothings.

Beta Reading…For Myself?

I’ve discovered something that’s rather amazing: Beta reading can be really fun.

It’s incredible to me how I can spot typos, see where changes are needed, and come up with solutions to issues. I’ve spent years learning the craft, reading books, blogs, watching vlogs, and discovering all I can about writing.

There’s nothing like watching someone’s writing improve – or beta reading for a favorite childhood author – to make me feel like I’m really doing something with my extensive knowledge. I know a lot about writing, folks. I’ve poured so many years of my life into honing my skills and becoming the best I can be.

And goodness, am I ever good… In theory.

But, um, there’s this slight (wee, little, minuscule) problem. When it comes to my own work? To actually writing (huh! who would have thought that was such an important part of the process?), I have so, so far to go. And it gets rather disheartening.

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Since May I’ve not done hardly any writing. Life took off and between my other jobs, weddings, and more emotions then I knew what to do with (sisters getting married, y’all),  writing sort of fell by the wayside.

In the midst of the craziness though, I did do some hard-core beta reading. Then some final-look proofreading. Then some more beta reading. And do you know what? It was downright fun.

Folks: A year and a half ago my computer was stolen while I was in Mexico. That meant I lost some non-backed up files. And, the only current version of my most worked-on book was in an email I’d sent to a friend. When I tried to download said story from Gmail onto my new computer the formatting was all messed up and I couldn’t figure it out. I was already so done with the book (for the time being, that is), so I just decided to forget about it for a while. The only solution I could think of was to retype the entire thing, so I shelved it and moved on.

I haven’t even looked at the book this year. And considering I was thousands of hours and 23 drafts into the story, that’s kinda a big deal.

This weekend I randomly mentioned the issue to a techy friend, and he promptly offered to help. I pulled out my computer and whala! a few minutes later I was looking at my perfectly formatted book.

It was delightful and encouraging and amazing all at once, and also reminded me that I now have nothing to hide behind – no reason not to start on draft 24. But really, let’s be honest: Where’s the fun of slogging through another draft when there are so many new, shiny projects that are asking for my attention?

Then today I was beta reading for someone. I sat down with my computer and her Google Doc, and next thing I knew an hour had passed and I’d been having fun.

And that’s when it hit me: I need to beta read my own book.

Enough time has passed since I’ve been through it, that I should be able to set aside my confusion emotions where I feel attached to certain scenes and lines. I should be able to see it with new eyes. I should be able to listen to my own, true critique and make this draft the best one yet. I should be able to trick myself into going through the story like I’d go through a friend’s story.

And ya know what? It’s an exciting thought.

And, I’m Back {Aka, Finding My New Normal}

Y’all. Today. Today is the most perfect of all perfect autumn days. And I might gush about that a little in the video before I get down to business which is: reviewing one of the coolest books ever.

Do you see a trend of amazingness here? Yeah, life is pretty good. 😉

The last six months have been some of the craziest I’ve ever seen, and my delightful little sphere here on the internet has suffered as a result. But guess what? The craziness has abated, at least for a bit, and I’m so excited about jumping back into writing and blogging and finding a new normal.

Autumn has this fantastic way of making me feel more alive and ready to embrace life than any other season, and autumn is currently in full swing over here. This morning I’m sitting by my open window wrapped up in a cozy sweater with hedgehog socks on, drinking deliciously strong coffee from a “My Weekend is All Booked” mug while listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack. (Yeah, as I said, life is pretty amazing.)

What have you been up to recently? I’d be delighted to connect with y’all again. ❤

Maid of Honor Speech

A lot of little kids think their parents know everything. I grew up thinking you knew everything. You were the person I looked up to and tried to emulate the most – I wanted to be just like you.

For years we shared a bedroom and I didn’t like sleeping by myself, so I’d beg for you to let me sleep in your bed. You’d refuse so I would start bargaining. First I’d offer ten cents, then fifteen, and finally, in tears, I’d kneel on my bed offering you my entire life savings: a whole fifty cents. Around that time you’d dramatically sigh and allow me to climb into bed with you saying I didn’t really have to pay you after all. So sweet.

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Some kids don’t like hand-me-downs, but I always thought they were the best. Nothing made me happier than getting to wear the clothes you had looked so stylish and grown up in. As we got older you began buying your own clothes, but me? Well, I figured why waste the money? I’d just wait and every few years you’d give me all the clothes you didn’t need or want anymore. It’s a pretty great win-win situation. And yeah, I’m still inheriting clothes from you. (Aka, the entire outfit I wore to your wedding.)

Over the years we’ve had lots of adventures together:
We roasted marshmallows over candles in South America,
Acted as photographers for a wedding in Ghana, West Africa,
Took a road trip across Europe,
And went for a midnight swim in the ocean in Aruba.
But, I’m pretty confident I can say that the adventure you’re most excited about in life is the one you’re about to start.

I’m so thankful for the two of you and the amazing things you’re going to do together. May God bless this new phase of your life.
I love you!

This Year: Expectations Vs. Reality

If you would have told me at the beginning of this year what 2018 would look like, I probably would have laughed. If you would have told me how much my regular schedule would be thrown off and how behind I would get with everything, I would have raised my eyebrows and carefully refused to argue. Because, ya know, I’m all nice and humble like that.

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But being off schedule? Blogging only once a week? Forgoing goals? Deciding not to run the half marathon? Goodness people, do you even know who you’re talking to? I am the queen of being on top of things – of setting goals and sticking to them. Of deciding what needs to be done and then doing just that. We can pretty much just say I’m used to having things under control.

Until I don’t.

This year has been wonderful, but it’s also been one of the most challenging of my life. This year has been memory-filled, but it’s also been a struggling-to-stay-on-top-of-anything (notice, I didn’t say everything), kind of year. This year I’m getting the delightful privilege of getting two new brothers-in-law within five weeks of each other, and I’m also getting that “this helps me to stay humble” perspective of having to let go of my expectations.

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This year is the one I dreamed about as a child, but now that reality has hit, I’ve realized how woefully unprepared I actually was for it. But do you know what? This year has still been epic. It’s been beautiful. It’s been full of growth. This year has been amazing, and I’m excited to think that it’s only going to get better.