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Inspiring Tidbits

Inspiring Tidbits, Monday Muse

Eyes Off You

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

I was not a fan of Maya Angelou when I first read her work as a persnickety pre-teen who had an inexplicable distaste for memoirs, but in the years since her words have often touched me in moments when I’ve been in need of inspiration and reassurance. Upon second reading, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings became one of my favorite books, and what woman amongst us has not somehow been moved by her poem Phenomenal Woman? Of the many Maya Angelou quotes filling the interwebs today, the one I find most moving right now is…

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

-Maya Angelou

In fond (albeit sometimes fickle) remembrance, I am feeling very grateful for Maya Angelou’s turns of phrase on this day. I hope she inspires you in a similar way as well.

Image source: Pinterest.

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Inspiring Tidbits

Silence

"Shhh," says the ballerina.

“Shhh,” says the ballerina, “now get to work.”

Sorry for all the silence this past week, darlin’s! I’ve been up against a lot of deadlines, and apparently am nowhere near as good at budgeting my time as I like to think I am. After working rather long days, I’ve been unwinding by watching an episode of City Ballet every night before bed. Have you seen it? It is narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker and is really quite charming. Ever since watching the documentary “First Position” by Bess Kargman, I’ve felt a strong kinship with ballerinas and the level of dedication they pour into their craft. There was something about that documentary that quite simply touched me and made me feel inspired to try and emulate the work ethic/practice-makes-perfect mentality of a ballerina in my life as a writer. And so, as I burn the candle on both ends, I love being comforted and kept company by the aspiring dancers of New York City Ballet. These tutu-and-tights-clad companions are no substitute for you, however, dear readers… I so very much look forward to chatting with you on the flip side of all these due dates! Leave a comment.

Photo from Girl In A Tutu via Pinterest.

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Inspiring Tidbits

Thankfulness Phases

Count your blessings and accomplishments, and wear warm socks

Count your blessings and accomplishments, and wear warm socks.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself thinking about the different kinds of thankfulness I’ve experienced throughout my life, and, as it turns out, it has really gone in phases. When I was a teenager, I engaged in a whole lot of “why me?” thinking, and as a result I had to look to my accomplishments and my hard work whenever I wanted to feel a sense of true gratitude. This is to say, my life felt like way too much of a mess for me to count my blessings, so I counted my persistence, lofty goals, and other traits within me as things I was thankful for instead of counting things in my external world…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Two Feet

Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966

Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966

Forty seven years ago, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon. By taking those figurative and literal strides in a time when females were not yet allowed to officially race, Gibb not only helped change the rules of this famous sporting event, but she changed public perception about what women were capable of accomplishing with both their bodies and minds. She did this simply with her own two feet and a whole lot of determination, and she continued running even when marathon officials and protesters tried to stop her.

Growing up in Boston, it was this kind of story that always struck me with awe whenever the marathon rolled around each year. After all, the race has come to symbolize the fact that –no matter our skin color, nationality, gender, or religion– as humans, we have the power to go great distances by merely using our own two feet. Furthermore, the marathon shows us that if we don’t have the use of our own two feet we can cover great distances by using our arms to propel a wheelchair, and if we don’t have use of our arms the human spirit can propel us along in the form of a loved one running behind us and pushing our chairs…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Coffee Black, Paperwhite

Paperwhites in full bloom, which now fill our kitchen

Paperwhites in full bloom, which now fill our kitchen

Whenever I set goals or try to gain a fresh perspective on life, I find myself torn between comfortable routines and an itching desire to push myself outside this safe zone of “knowns.” I guess the key is simply finding a balance between the familiar and the foreign — establishing just enough creature comforts and stability in our lives to give us the strength we need to try new things and challenge ourselves. It is so hard to remember this, though, since I am someone who admittedly lives for extremes and absolutes, but it’s funny how much I notice the validity of this whole balance thang as my husband and I turn our house into a home. The more sweat-producing chores we tackle and the more I get into routines in my personal life, the better equipped I feel to face unpredictable work weeks or venture into horrifying traffic in unfamiliar parts of our new city. Perhaps our homes, routines and creature comforts are merely a foundation for the bold adventures we’re all destined for as humans, but one thing is certain: both the familiar and the foreign are very necessary parts of a fulfilled life…

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Inspiring Tidbits, Movies and TV

Kubrick and the Craft

Stanley Kubrick's camera on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Stanley Kubrick’s camera on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Last week my husband arrived home from a lengthy Taiwan trip just in time for my birthday. We celebrated by playing hooky, eating ice cream along with all three meals, and attending the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibit was beautifully curated (complete with red-carpeted floors in the gallery room that was devoted to “The Shining”), and my favorite part was getting to glimpse some of Kubrick’s earliest works and influences. It was particularly inspiring to me to see snapshots from his early career as a photojournalist, and to learn about how admittedly embarrassed he was of his first films…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Stay Tremendous, Little Passionate One

“Find Something You’re Passionate About” print by Lisa Congdon

Days and weeks keep skipping by, and I’ve been finding it increasingly challenging to steal away hours in which I can whisper little stories to you. Ah well, life and workflows come in cycles, and we’re just going to have to be content with sharing this small slice of our Friday morning together…In fact, I can think of no better company for a morning than you, darling readers, and the words of Julia Child. I came across this print last week (which would have been Julia’s 100th birthday), and I’ve been itching to share it with you ever since. The sentiment is simple and I know it’s something we’ve heard said a dozen times in a dozen different ways, but Julia’s turn of phrase really resonates with me: “Find something you’re passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it.” Seeking out new ways to stay interested in our passion projects truly is such a cool approach to keeping our work lives (and, heck, even our love lives) fresh. Can any of you dear, kindred spirits relate to this? Do you think staying “interested” is just as important as staying “passionate” when it comes to work and play? Leave a comment.

Print by Lisa Congdon via A Beautiful Mess.

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Inspiring Tidbits

Languid Language Loveliness

On a good day, writing feels as magical as screaming into a blasting fan on a sticky linoleum floor in the dead of summer

As I wade through a sea of deadlines, very little pay, and the labyrinthine bank of escalators that may or may not one day lead me to a successful career as a writer, I find it’s vital to take a step back every now and then to remind myself why it is I do what I do in the first place. It can be so easy to forget and to get caught up in the stresses (and, heck, even to toy with quitting because of those stresses), but when I give myself a moment’s pause I’m always reminded it’s love, innocence, and dreams that are at the core of what I do, not what’s waiting at the top of this pesky elevator bank. Since it’s such a good exercise to think about this kind of stuff, I figured I’d share just a few more of the reasons why I write…

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Art and Architecture, Inspiring Tidbits

Detailed by Design

Paint-splattered Eames chairs at Metropolis Nick in Los Angeles, CA

“The details are not the details. They make the design.”

– Charles Eames

Since almost all my free hours have been spent working on house renovations of late, it should come as no shocker that I’ve had design on the brain. As such, I had the delightful experience of meandering across this Charles Eames quote a few days ago and the sentiment really stuck with me. I feel like this mid-century-modern furniture designer’s insight actually applies to any kind of creative endeavor: “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Perhaps I’m a tad biased because I’m such a detail-oriented person by nature, but I truly think the strength of any project (be it a house, a book, or a Power Point presentation) rests in the details. What details have been on your mind or made a difference in your life lately? Leave a comment.

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