Fresh and Inspired

Five encouragements to stay curious and pursue your passion

Anything one does everyday is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.” (Gertrude Stein)


By happenstance, I discovered The Country Diary of an Edwardian Woman by Edith Holden at the library last fall. Written in 1905-06 and discovered and published in 1977, the book itself as well as the story of its discovery are both incredibly beautiful and inspiring. Edith wrote and illustrated the whole document without showing it to anyone during her life. She illustrated and documented a whole year of plants and animals around her home. Each month includes beautiful drawings, quotes, and informative details specific to that month. It’s amazing to think about the time and energy she invested into a project for no one but herself. She saw the beauty of her environment and valued her own passions enough to call them important even if no one else did.

In a world of instant feedback, affirmation, and connection, this story provides a powerful counter-narrative to our contemporary culture. What does it look like to do something for the sole purpose of fulfilling your own internal desire without seeking fame or approval? How secure must we be to pursue something without any encouragement but our own?

I adore social media and the ability to share and connect. It’s powerful and beautiful when used well. Creative expression and important messages have instant audiences.

Perhaps the most important thing that has come out of my life is the discovery that if you prepare yourself at every point as well as you can, with whatever means you may have, however meager they may seem, you will be able to grasp opportunity for broader experience when it appears. Without preparation you cannot do it. The fatal thing is the rejection. Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

It’s easy to stifle our passions because they are daunting or seem unimportant compared to everything immediately in front of us needing our attention. Regardless of what other people see, we always have the opportunity to prepare ourselves by staying curious and pursuing the desires in our hearts. Like Edith Holden we can produce something for the pure purpose of fulfilling a deep desire within without having anyone else see. 

Whether you decide to share your pursuit with others or keep it to yourself, here are five encouragements to stay curious and pursue your passion:

  1. Choose something specific: it’s really helpful to go narrow and deep rather than broad and wide. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, unless that’s something you’re really passionate about, but we can focus in on one niche aspect and specialize on it.
  2. Write it down: put that one thing or those ten things that you would do if you only had a year to live on paper and start putting a little time aside each week to work on it.
  3. Remove perfection from the equation: this is a tall order for most of us, but it’s so important to do something that’s “good enough” and be content with that.
  4. Make it a habit: it doesn’t have to happen daily, but adding this to the rhythm of life means it will get the attention it deserves. It also means something else may get less attention because if you say “yes” to this something else will get a “no.”
  5. Stay inspired: focus on and search out inspiration. Sometimes inspiration turns into competition because we see the amazing work done by others and feel defeated, but it’s vital to our soul to nourish it with those things that speak deeply to our hearts.

Happy passion pursuing, friends!

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A Year of Spring

#11. Create something visually beautiful

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The only unique contribution that we will make in this world will be born of creativity. (Brené Brown)

Making moments to do something creative is the most restorative thing to the soul. Painting, playing music, building, gardening, drawing, dancing, writing, creating something from an idea whether anyone else sees it or not produces such joy and peace in life.

We were born to create. We were born to make and produce and do something to turn something intangible from our heart and soul into something tangible. Doing something creative is terrifying. It’s scary because it makes us feel vulnerable and the idea we had is suddenly out in the world for all to see, and perhaps criticize.

For the longest time, I genuinely believed there were two camps of people: creative and noncreative. I was in the latter group, a noncreative who loved art, music, literature, and all things beautiful. Over the past few years a slow paradigm shift occurred leaving me with the belief that every person has creative potential and expressing it produces peace and rest in our souls.

In This Is Where You Belong, Melody Warnick interviewed Nancy Barton, an artist from Plattsville New York. Barton makes this startling statement, “to categorize people as creative or noncreative is flawed from the beginning, whether it’s repairing a tractor or making it part of a sculpture. It’s the same thing.”

Creative work is so much bigger than the arts. And that shift in thinking is so freeing.

Today, make space for some creative expression. It will be a breath of fresh air that will energize your soul in a new way. Put some music on and lean into the fear that so often stifles our creative expression; you won’t regret it.

Having an imaginative, creative kid forces me to do art and think artistically in ways I never thought I would. Instead of shying away from it due to lack of ability, I decided to dive in fully without the pressure of perfection or talent or validation.

Here’s an hour’s worth of painting. Both kids painted their own visually beautiful creations. And I, being a novice painter, dipped my paintbrush into my coffee once instead of water. Every amateur makes her mistakes. The fear of failure was real for the first 5 minutes, but I just went for it and just painted for fun with colors I love.

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I think the pan holding the paints was the prettiest thing produced at the end of the hour.

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Taking an hour to do something creative with music on in the background was the best use of an hour all week. I didn’t produce a masterpiece. I did drank a sip of coffee with a few drips of watercolor paint in it. Doing this created space for my soul to breathe and it was worth every moment despite all the busyness of doing it with two kids.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give what you’ve got. (Steven Pressfield)

Thrifty and Practical

Crash course in hospitality

If you desire or think you have the gift of hospitality, you will notice and discover some people who are amazing at it. 

The coziest bed ever. Fresh, crisp linens and fluffy pillows.

My mother-in-love (because law just sounds bad) is one of the best hostesses I have ever met. From the moment you walk in the door until the moment you leave, you are fed, cared for, and pampered. And it’s not just any food, it’s the best meal you’ll have eaten in months. It’s not simply that your basic needs are met, it’s all of those things that you need with an extra dose of flair and love. You lack for nothing and her couches, chairs, and beds feel like home (but way better than your own home)!

 

The entryway when we arrived. Candle, fresh flowers, and a birch branch found fallen in the woods.
 
She’s a genius at creating an atmosphere of beauty, peace, and relaxation. I think it’s because every corner of the house is its own little vignette. For example, the bathroom downstairs has this little chair with a tiny homemade pillow on the counter. Tiny things are so cute!  

 
Her bottle collection and button collection are stunning in both size and diversity. 

 

This is just one grouping of her gorgeous, colorful collection.

  
A taste of her lush button collection – jars upon jars of beautiful buttons.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a collector or maybe it’s because I don’t have the knack for thrifting that she does, but I’m always impressed with her ability to mix and match styles, play with color, and bring life to fabric, china, and anything else she discovers. 
 
One of the cutest outdoor spaces complete with lanterns and cosmos.

There are certain individuals whose eye and appreciation for beauty are beyond good. I’m constantly impressed because their home is an ever changing, ever beautiful palette. Some people are so creative in their use of objects, color, and space it astounds me. To those individuals like my mother-in-love, keep it up! The world needs more spaces in which to feel at home and at rest. 
 
Garden perfection.