The Story of Inspiration

The Story of Inspiration – April’s Essay

It only takes a moment. Or a lifetime. To get inspired is what we all crave and to find meaning is what we’re all struggling with. Inspiration hits when we least expect it and it may hit hard without consideration. It may come when cleaning the house and we find ourselves in a pile of clothes searching for NASA pictures to print for the new office. Or when driving far away on an orange code for storms and we end up in a coffee shop surrounded by drenched strangers sharing a cinnamon bottle. Or when we’re reading. Oh, I love that one. Reading is the best way to get inspired. We just witnessed someone else’s inspiration. And then there are times when one has to write 1000 words essays, and gets to 122 and is just stuck. Uninspired.

The advice I have received and follow (or try to) is that inspiration comes when we’re actually doing the work. Then inspiration will come. One way or the other. The magical thing is that we cannot plan it, change it, store it or manoeuvre it as we wish.

People are a constant source of inspiration. People-watching is a well-known activity for creatives. We just spend hours watching people, on the streets, in coffee-houses, buses, in museums, wherever and whenever possible. Not in a creepy way, but in a way that will inspire Art. People equal Art. The purest form of art is humankind. One would argue that nature is, but hear me out. Humanity in itself is magical. We live and breathe and create and destroy, love and struggle with the same passion. And this passion is the fuel for inspiration.

There is something extraordinary in the way people live their lives, and there are stories everywhere we look. As long as we keep our eyes open and soul open, it is impossible not to get inspired.

But, hey, let’s assume we’re stuck, uninspired and we know not where to look. What do we do when we’re in the middle of a project and there’s nowhere to go anymore? I have listened to Neil Gaiman’s inspiring words on writer’s block. And he talks about two steps. One is to take a breather. And the second one is to retrace our steps and, by doing that, we will find where the story went off course.

Long walks help. This is my go-to breather. Regardless of where my steps may take me, different city, different country, a park, a library, a bookstore, a church, a forest, a coffee house, the simple act of getting out of my head is, most of the times, enough to get me back to the writing table. Not necessarily cured, but willing to try again. And to tell the story.

The weeks I spend most inside are the weeks where I feel most uninspired. Stuck. Truly empty. And so I grab my coat, my shoes, and my bag and get out. Some days I have to force myself to get out. Some days it works, some others it doesn’t. Some days are harder than others. And we all know them. The days when we’re too drained to even move from the bed, desk, sofa. The days when the gloom is clouding all our thoughts and slithering deep in our bones, leaving us fatigued, breathless, and weary. I do not use lightly the word “depressed”, as it is too close to home, but we all know this kind of days.  When we’re unable to move. And then sleep helps. A long shower helps. A decent cup of green tea helps. A good old book helps. A conversation with a friend helps. Journaling helps. Music helps. Gardening helps. Ironing, dusting, cleaning the house, rearranging the shelves, the sock drawer, repotting some plants, lighting a candle. It all helps. Action beats inaction at any time. Action is the only answer. Even, or perhaps, especially when it is so damn hard.

Another place I find myself wandering when things get tough is a museum. I can go alone, not talk to anyone, marvel at the art, get inspired, drink a good cup of coffee, buy some flowers and some fresh bread and some fruits for home afterwards. They’re usually not crowded (do not think at the Mona Lisa room now), extremely airy and with great lighting, very well curated and truly truly inspiring. Best part of it, we can take your time with ourselves. With art and with our thoughts. All in one room. Boom, inspiration comes!

One of my dreams is to write a road-trip book. Adventures, friendship, love, heartbreak, discoveries, coffee shops, and the long road in front of you. Have been gathering material for some time now, took some epic road-trips in the past and day-dreaming about a longer one across America, from one National Park to another, with a bunch of good old friends, just wandering the world and seeing the majestic beauties of the giant sequoias, the Joshua trees, the Grand Canyon, Glacier Bay, Yosemite, Zion… even the names sound fabulous. There’s so much beauty in this world and there’s so much to explore, and to see to get inspired, that even keeping a Pinterest board with these wonders will do the work for the moment. And then, there’s Japan. Calling me louder and louder. And Iceland. And the Himalayas. And Africa and India, and Peru and Brazil… There’s no place in this world where I wouldn’t want to go. Last month I wrote an Essay on Travelling.

This month’s essay is a mess. Ideas came at me all at once and none, in particular, stayed long enough to actually develop it. That only proves the above idea that inspiration hits in mysterious ways. Chaotic ways and we should grab it while we can. When I started these essays, I promised myself they will be raw, no rewriting. Just thoughts on paper on some topics I care deeply about.

This is the result.

Roxana

The Story of Travelling

The Story of Travelling – March’s Essay

Well, you see, when you ask someone what would they do if they had money, most people would say, without even thinking- Travel.
We, as humans are born with such a desire to know, to see, to explore, that had us climb mountains, cross seas and oceans, dive deep and fly high in search of something to soothe our souls. In this search of ours to know, we have encountered billions of stories and seen millions of people living their lives and sometimes, we had even imagined ourselves to be a part of that local universe.

We travel to belong. To find our place in this (still) undiscovered world, and think of the different lives we would have lived if we were just been born someplace else. People from the valleys imagine living on top of the mountains. People from the mountains daydream of the sea and people from the tiny and remote villages wish to be in a bustling and vibrant metropolis.

It is perhaps that we are born on this planet, but we don’t quite belong here? Have you ever wondered why are you here? Well, that is a really good question.

Setting aside the travelling to say we’ve been there and saw that and taking pictures to prove it to our friends, there is the other kind of travelling, when we just go in search of ourselves.

And when during those quiet moments on a plane, train, car, boat, whatever means of transportation is available, including one’s own feet, you space out and imagine you are not a traveller, but a local.

Travelling means being part of the everyday lives of other people. We catch a glimpse on how other people live, how their lives are, what their normal looks like. And we marvel at it while sitting in a local pub and eat hot sweet potato chilly soup with warm bread and butter and sip a glass of white wine, listening to the locals’ chatter and their laughter. And our lives get richer, our imagination awakens and we find ourselves believing for a moment we are also one of them. That is the magic of travel. That fleeting moment of belonging.

We lose ourselves in forests, foreign alleys, take the less beaten path and see the new world with wonder eyes. We see new faces, new customs, we taste new dishes, new wines, we hear different languages and even different realities than ours, and we marvel some more. How is it that people are so different?

And then, you find yourself in a book shop reaching for the same dear-old-book as a stranger, and you both smile. Or you take the wrong coffee cup at the local brewery and after taking the first sip, you realize it is the same as you have ordered. Perhaps sweeter than you would have liked, but it is the same, universal latte. And you and the real owner, both smile, like before, sharing something. Or when the friendly dog of a local comes to you with the ball, pleading eyes and wiggling tail to invite you to play with him. And you throw the dirty ball a couple of times, while the owner of the dog watches you amused and bursts into laughter when the dog – at some point – seems confused. Or that moment when you are so caught up in your writing that you do not hear the stranger asking to share your table, but he sits down anyway, while you scribble furiously an idea that just came to you in your rugged notebook. And when you finally get out of your head you see the stranger next to you drawing with a passion in his own tiny notebook filled with colours and stains, always on the rush, always with a fear of not being able to capture the entire feeling. And you smile. Or when you go to a church to clear your head and rest your tired body, and the person greeting you says they’re having an organ concert that evening, would you be staying? It seems that there is an emeritus organ teacher playing, such an amazing feat for that small village of theirs. And you start nodding so furiously that they smile. And you listen to the wordless emotions, the grave and vibrant tones of the instrument, and you get transposed into another realm, without borders, without another language than the universal one of emotion. And at the end of it, you turn to leave and you see an old man coming down from the choir helped by a younger boy, and you get introduced to the emeritus professor, who moved out there from the big city after his retirement, bought an organ, repaired it and now is teaching the village children music, including his own nephew. And you know you still have tears in your eyes, and the old man puts his thin and parchment white fingers on your forearm and thanks you. And you think to yourself- shouldn’t be the other way around? Or when you find yourself giving directions to others, because they took you for a local, and you just happen to know the way as you just came from that place. And they thank you, smiling and pocketing their maps, and follow your instructions. Or when you are staying in line to get some ice cream and one local comes to ask the ice cream lady if they have brought some pear and rosemary or mulberry and thyme to take home, and you end up thanking him for the recommendation afterwards.

These are just tiny bits of things that may happen when one travels. Near or far.

Travelling does not need to be thousands of miles away, on the other side of the globe, in order to be called travel. The simple idea of removing yourself from the usual known and extremely beaten path is travel.

And then you may find tiny stories like the ones above.

Much love,
Roxana

The Story of Building Bridges

The Story of Building Bridges – February’s Essay

Everyone at some point in their lives feels disconnected. Isolated and even lonely without trying. And this solitude – not the creative one, or the one from which we build something, but the debilitating one, has only one known cure.

Meaningful connections.

Question: how?

Answer: Building bridges. If sometimes burning bridges to hurtful connections and bad places could be the answer, other times, building them is the only answer.

There’s a current movement now about finding your tribe and running with it, and I am very fond of the idea. A fit tribe will allow you to grow, heal, create and will accept your need for solitude when necessary, without even trying to understand it. Because we do not need to understand the other in order to accept him/her. Because of love. That pure and genuine love, in all its splendour.

Love one another. So simple, yet so confusing, so hard, so badly understood.

Love one another. 
-John 13:34

But hear me out. This concept of love that generates acceptance and opens the heart towards the goodness in others is what this world is built upon. Free and unaltered love.

Once we open up and start building bridges to connect with our tribe, we’ll feel our hearts starting to fill with love.

Finding our people should not be hard, and yet, most of the times it is a daunting task. A real challenge. However, once we’re opening up we’ll be attracting people with the right kind of vibe and sooner or later we’ll be finding our tribe. That I can promise you, and I do not make promises lightly.

But why this need for connection? People are not made to be alone. Okay, not all of us are made for big groups of people, socializing can be harder than self-imposed solitude. But a well-tailored group, of people with the same vibe, can bring a plus in our lives, a bigger plus than the solitude could ever bring.

In this -let’s call it – tribe, each person has something to offer, something so unique there is none other in the whole world able to even come close, something that would do an amazing job filling out some empty holes in our lives. Each member of the tribe has some lessons to teach, some ideas to spread and a beautiful story to tell. We can learn from every person in our life, that is true… Some are there to teach us hard lessons, heartbreak, sorrow and pain. And then there are those, those precious people ready to teach us about compassion, genuineness, love, growth, faith, surviving, hope, magic, truth, acceptance and little, but important things.

These people will open our eyes to see beyond the veil of the mundane world. With them, we will understand what this world is meant for, what our own paths are and our reasons for living are.

It can start with small things, like a conversation in the attic, tucked away in the Grund of Luxembourg, watching snow covering the houses and churches around us. It can start with a text sent with something inspirational following up an old conversation. It can start in tears and end in laughter, or the other way around. But at the end of it, when we’re all alone with our thoughts, we feel we grew a little. We feel a tiny speck of faith and hope born deep in our souls. A tiny seed growing in our minds.

And after a while, we’ll feel the need to follow that tiny speck of change or to crush it back into non-existence. Resist the urge to silence your conscience! That is a life lesson I have learned the hard way. Our conscience is so in touch with the wonders of this world so in tune with the vibration of energy surrounding us, part of the universal and one true truth, that we should never gag it. Instead, we should listen closely and follow it.

It will eventually lead to the need for meaningful connections. For people with whom we can talk without feeling judged, with whom we can share without feeling unheard. For people who will share their story dead on, without fear, guilt or worry, as they have been there, and, more important, they have passed it.

And then we’ll feel the urge to be better. To do better. To grow and to be happy with our lives.

Last month I wrote about Time. Finding the time, managing it and growing. And I mentioned choosing a word for 2019 and building around it. Have you done that? You so should!

My word for this year is Rebirth. There are many of us out there with the same need. Desire. Intention. And that without even knowing one another. What is even more fascinating is talking to your friends and finding out they somehow chose the same word as you.

Here’s the food for thought for this month.

  1. Allow yourself time to listen to your conscience. Listen hard. Listen without blocking your thoughts. Listen without judging your thoughts.
  2. Open yourself up. Let the light in. Let the good vibes in and breathe deeply. Allow yourself to have good thoughts and good vibes.
  3. Look around. See if there are people out there doing the same. Opening themselves. You’ll see them, you’ll know them.
  4. Reach out. I know it is hard. I know it may lead to another hard lesson. I know it may lead to heartbreak and sorrow. Do it anyway.
  5. Bask in that newly found connection. Test it. Talk about it. See how deep it can go.
  6. Repeat step 4 and 5 until you have a whole tribe vibing the same way.
  7. Bring the people together for tea and discussions. Something sweet will work wonders.
  8. Find discussions, activities, things you can do together and draw up a plan. Not detailed, leave room for that conscience to take the lead.
  9. Enjoy the results coming out of it.

I confirm this post has 1000 word, as WordPress knows how to count, of my own making.

Sending love,

Roxana

The Story of Time

The Story of Time -January’s Essay

Time is a weird concept. It can be measured in seconds, minutes, moments, memories, breaths, feelings, laughter, words, songs and books. The best spent time, however, is that one we do not measure. We do not feel passing.

Time well spent is the one that turns into memories.

Remember that time when…I wish I could turn back the time… Time waits for no man…

But it does exist. As in nature’s course, there is time for different activities. There is a time for everything.

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

It is important to recognize where we are in every moment while we are alive. And respect it. Perhaps for some is a time of growing or of planting, maybe sowing, for others is a time for dancing, laughing or perhaps breaking down. We must acknowledge that time and honour it.

We must not await time out.

Some of us have been waiting for something all our lives. For a sign, a certain day, a certain season, or even for a certain mood. For something exterior to validate and motivate our internal wishes and desires. Oh, how much time have we wasted waiting for the weekend. Or for money, love, inspiration, summer, a better life, a better exchange rate.

And how frustrated we’ve become with every second waiting and waiting and seeing nothing changes.

Nothing will change, however, with that mindset. Because time is our own commodity of our own making.

Pondering now on how January is almost at the ending and New Year’s Resolutions and wishful thinking started already to dull their light, and we find ourselves again at our old antics, again on the run, again restless, at war with ourselves. Or even worse, stuck, uninspired, unmoved, cold and lifeless. Feeling unworthy of goodness. Undeserving. Fake. Impostors. Not good enough. Simply not enough.

There is a reason for that. And it is simple. The time for resolutions, wishes upon a star, on the New Year’s fireworks, on a birthday cake, on a dandelion, on a shooting star (and so on) is over. All gone!

Some very wise men once said- The time is gone, the song is over. (check it out here). To paraphrase them I would say that the time is gone, the waiting is over!

That time is over.

It is done!

We’ve dreamt it. We’ve wished for it. We’ve longed for it. We’ve even prayed for it and manifested it. That is great, but enough.

Now it is the time to do it.

Good, but…how?

We should start with what we can. Changing that mind frame. Working on an idea, or a seed of an idea. With the first step- be it a word, a flower, a 5 minutes meditation, a 76-form Tai Chi routine, a sequence of Sun Salutation, 10 minutes walk, an apple, a healthy dinner, ironing 1 shirt, 6 cycles of deep breathing, calling 1 person, 10 min hike, writing 2 emails, texting back, throw away just 1 piece of junk, recycle 2 papers, plant a tree, say no to one plastic straw or even just by saying Hi to someone we’ve been meaning to get in touch with again.

Without pressure, without expectations, without analyzing (or overanalyzing- hey, I’m feeling your pain, my friend!), without beating yourself up, without guilt.

Start our first month of this blessed year with a word. Chosen wisely. And enwrap ourselves in it. Build around it, plant around it, dance around it. You get my point.

How can we make the most of this year by reporting all our actions around a word? By calling it a call to action. A hope. A dream. A wish…

Picking our theme for the year and then working towards that goal. With small steps, with big leaps of faith, with both.

As long as at the end of the year we will have something to “quantify” and measure our growth, we’re on the right path.

Food for thought and soul:

  1. Do you feel restless (go to the thesaurus and pick any of the following: antsy, agitated, anxious, fidgety, UNPEACEFUL) or perhaps, au contraire… you are just stuck, uninspired, humdrum, indifferent, desolate, dulled, LIFELESS? Do you want to change that? Then pick your dream word. It can be a word, a phrase, a saying, a chapter, an entire book series if you want. Write it down. (disregard this step if it is an entire fantasy trilogy concerning hobbits or a seven book series with muggles in it)
  2. Do you want more, something else, something different, anything at all? Even if it means to shake yourself a bit. (*the correct answer is YES!) Can you link it somehow to your dream word?
  3. Thinking about what you want to achieve (you know what it is), what would be the first step?
  4. Why aren’t you doing it? (*list your fears, worst-case-scenarios, insufficiencies, motivations or lack of them)
  5. What would it take to convince you to do it? (*insert any type of bribe here- I suggest you think big! I mean, you’re only trying to convince yourself. So you have to be smart and creative and use all the arsenal you have. You know yourselves so it will be easy. I know bribing only goes this far, it is sometimes frowned upon, even considered the bane of our own existence, but- hey, I said no guilt, haven’t I?)
  6. Breathe. Deep, for at least 6 cycles. Repeat if necessary.
  7. Ignoring, or in spite of step # 3, take step #2+ step #4 and START.
  8. Keep going. Until you’re done. Or moved. Or calmer. Or happier. Then, on to the next step. It may (or may not) get easier with every step.
  9. Optional -tell your friends about it. You can start with me. Afterall we’re a part of a small tribe, right? We’re building here a small village fit for a tribe of awesomeness.

Sending my love out there to you, darlings.

Until next time, let’s keep in touch!

Roxana

Post Scriptum: For those counting words, I confirm my essay has now 1000 words as WordPress knows to count.