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Inspiration

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On Feeling Uninspired

On Feeling Uninspired

Here's the thing about doing what you love, following your passion or chasing your dreams: sometimes it stinks.

There. I said it. 

Sometimes in an uninspired moment, you end up on a job search site where you find a stellar job listing—one that includes a 50-hour work week, stability, a regular paycheck, a team of people and a pension (yes, a pension) and you think, "Hmmmm... that sounds pretty damn appealing." 

I tend to hit that particular wall every time I'm faced with something that seems like a huge hurdle. Perhaps it's something I've never done before or a step that could lead to either great success or spectacular failure.

Over the last week or so, I've found myself in a tiny funk—one that I'm sure has something to do with all of the big things I've got planned in the next few months. It's terrifying to take strides or pick a path I've never walked before and that funk has me feeling a little less inspired by what I'm trying to accomplish.

That's not to say I won't feel inspired again tomorrow. It's just that I'm trying to be okay with feeling less than inspired at all times. These days, life can appear to be one big bucket of rainbows with a few unicorns thrown in for good measure, but I'm here to tell you that it's okay to take a step back, read a book, watch a movie or stare off into space when you're just not feeling it. It's okay to sit with your funk and then move through it when you're ready.

So, if you're feeling uninspired at the moment, not to worry. I think we've all probably been there a time or two (or ten). Here's to keeping our collective chins up, friends!


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A Few Favorite TED Talks

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While I'm always looking for ways to learn and be inspired, it seems as though we've hit a saturation point of sorts. There is such an incredible level of content availability thanks to the web and I'll be the first to admit, it can be tough to sift through. We all have favorite buckets of content that keep us thinking and moving forward—from books, magazines and television to websites, radio and apps—but none of it matters unless we do something with that information, right?

So, I've compiled a few TED Talks that have made me stop, think and take action in my everyday life:


Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds (Watch on TED.com)

This brilliant talk about the way people learn and see the world is fascinating. If you want to expand your own mind a bit, watch this video. It's made me really appreciate the way others learn, conduct themselves in business and view everyday circumstances. Bottom line? Our differences are a GOOD THING.


Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership (Watch on TED.com)

I absolutely love the ideas discussed in this TED talk. The concept that we all lead and make a difference every single day is incredibly refreshing. It certainly has me adjusting my thoughts about leadership and the ways in which I can be an agent for change.


Ben Saunders: Why bother leaving the house? (Watch on TED.com)

While Ben Saunders has taken the term "adventure" to the extreme (he walked alone—and unsupported—across the Arctic Ocean in 2004), you can't miss the message in this video: whether your adventure brings you to the edge or just outside your front door, why wouldn't you step out and experience life?


Curating a list of inspirational finds is easy, my friends. Doing something with the information you've gleaned and lessons you've learned is another. Even if the action is small, I figure it's a step in the right direction. Don't you think? 

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So tell me: what inspires you to take action of even the smallest kind? 


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An Exercise in Downsizing, Minimalism and Mindfulness

So here's the thing: I love things.Pretty things, useful things, things that hold sentimental value... I have always been a bit of a collector, staging my little treasures on shelves in rooms since I was a wee one.

Here's the other thing: sometimes the sheer number of things in life can start to weigh one down.

And that, my friends, is where the journey to be a bit more mindful begins.

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You see, my family has always placed a lot of value on things -- not in a greedy way -- but in a 'these are the things you need to live a full life, so you should probably have them' sort of way. Much of my family (myself included) also places an incredible amount of value on sentiment.

I'm a huge sap when it comes to the belongings of relatives. While this has always been the case, it was never more evident than when we were going through the events of a few years ago. That X-acto knife belonged to Papa? I'll take it. Nana's Pyrex bakeware? Sure. They're total duplicates of what I already have, but you can never have too much Pyrex, right? While the X-acto knife is of use to me, it turns out you can, in fact, have too much Pyrex.

And that's just one example. Throughout my 30 (okay, okay... 30 1/2) years on this planet, I have gone though so many stages of accumulation and simplification: going off to college, moving into my first apartment, inheriting things from relatives, buying a house, getting married, etc. The list goes on and on. I also know that those stages only continue as we move through life.

How do I know this? Well, my mom and I are going through this exercise together. That's right: my mom, who has been living in her childhood home amongst many of her childhood things, is downsizing her life. She, too, is attempting to remember the sentiment while letting go of the things.

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We've already begun the process. My mom has started selling things that no longer bring her joy on sites like ebay and craigslist. We've been cleaning out closets and cupboards in both of our houses and donating items to worthy causes, we've been prepping for a pretty substantial yard sale next month and I've even started selling items from my closet on Poshmark (you can sign up with the invite code HMJJH and earn a $5 credit, if you're interested).

That said, this isn't necessarily about having the fewest items possible either. I will probably never be the girl who can fit all of her belongings into one suitcase. I enjoy having a carefully curated place to live and work and my mom likes being surrounded by pretty and useful things that make her feel good.

No, this is about letting go of material things that we've been holding onto for the wrong reasons with the hope that they will end up in the hands of people who will use and cherish them.

Let me be clear: some of the items my mom is letting go of will end up with me because I find joy in them. Grandma and grandpa's wedding cake topper? So sweet! I'm sure I have room for that. My great grandmother's vintage salt and pepper shaker collection? Of course I want those!

What can I say? I may not be the best at living a truly minimalistic life, but I'm trying really hard to be mindful about what I keep. As more family heirlooms end up in my possession, I'll be letting go of items I no longer have use for or accumulated unnecessarily. I will also say "no, thank you" to items I may have said "yes, please" to in the past.

The goal is to let go of more than we hold onto. I'll keep you posted on how that all turns out, my friends.

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What has made this exercise easier (and even enjoyable) is knowing we're not alone. I have been completely inspired by people like Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (aka: The Minimalists), people who live in Airstream trailers full-time (and spend more time experiencing than consuming) and local gal Ashlee Gadd of Where My Heart Resides who has documented some of her journey here, here and here. They have all made a conscious decision to let go of the excess, separate the memories of loved ones from material things and put more emphasis on living than collecting.

I hope you'll find their stories to be as motivating as I do!

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Your turn: Have any of you been down this road before? Maybe on more than one occasion? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

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A Look Back: 10 Years Ago

So much can happen in a decade. People grow. Interests fade. And yet, we march on. We connect with communities, nurture relationships and seek inspiration. In the spirit of the upcoming "holiday" associated with love, I'd like to remember a few events from 10 years ago that will forever inspire me to appreciate the people, places and things I love most.


In February of 2003, I went to England.

In fact, 10 years ago today I was waking up in another country for the first time.

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I had decided to take a semester off between junior college and university and, if I'm being honest, the opportunity to visit England with my aunt and nana was a big reason for that break. We were only going to be there 12 days, but I didn't want to lessen the excitement of travel by lugging along giant text books and prepping for make-up exams.

We visited every tourist spot we could find: Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare's Globe, Harrod's, you name it. We also had a chance to visit family. My napa, papa, dad, aunt and uncle came to America by ship in the 1950's, but we still have family across the pond. Meeting some of them for the first time was definitely a highlight.

I'm sad to say that I haven't traveled outside of the United States since then -- not even to Canada or Mexico! We've had such a great time visiting places here in the U.S. and haven't really felt the pull from far away places -- yet. That said, we're in the process renewing our passports. We're always watching the travel deals and you never know when an overseas travel opportunity might present itself, right? Right.


I opened my first email from my husband 10 years ago.

This guy. I'm not sure that I've really written about it here, but my husband and I met online 10 years ago. Mmmmhmmm... that's back when we had dial-up, ya'll.

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I specifically remember heading to the lobby of our London hotel to check my email because I only checked it once the entire trip. I paid the nominal fee to use the computer, logged on and there it was: a match.com email from the man I would marry. A few short weeks after my return, we went on our first date and the rest, as they say, is history! We got married in 2008 (photo above) and have been attempting to live life to the fullest ever since. It's hard to believe that we met nearly 10 years ago, but I'm so glad we did.

Can we take a moment and raise a glass to the internet? People thought we were nuts to be searching online for love. Yes, we were young and everyone else was meeting in bars (I'm not even going to begin discussing the success rate of those encounters), but we gave it a shot... and it worked.


10 years ago, I had no clue how studying literary greats would shape my future.

If you told me 10 years ago that I would be reading and understanding Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales in Old English or delving into the authorial intent behind the works in Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem, I would have called you crazy.

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While I was taking a semester off from school 10 years ago, I was also preparing to finish up my English degree at California State University, Sacramento.

You must know this: I have terrible handwriting, I can't speak in public to save my life and I produce fairly crappy first drafts. However, I have read great works.

I learned more about Native American history through literature than I would have ever learned from a textbook. I had time to absorb both the classics and contemporary works. I studied authors who dedicated their lives to the appreciation of nature (they've had a profound influence, if you hadn't noticed).

I was also a writer 10 years ago. I wasn't paid for my work and the results of my efforts were often questionable, but I wrote everyday -- in notebooks, on the old Compaq, in the margins -- and I loved it.


It's amazing how much can change in 10 years, but what really strikes me is just how much remains the same. While there have been bumpy roads and uninspiring moments, I'm still exploring a love of travel, building a true partnership with the man I love and aiming to read and write as much as possible.

Here's to discovering what makes us happy and sticking with it!

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Your turn: How have you all changed in the last 10 years? How have you remained the same? What "loves" have you found that stand the proverbial test of time?


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Introducing: Debi's Thread Tales

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Remember a few days ago when I mentioned being surrounded by creative individuals? Well, it's true. One of the many people who inspire me on a regular basis happens to be my step-mom! She is the owner, operator and quilter extraordinaire behind Debi's Thread Tales and I've been excitedly building her a new website on the handy WordPress platform.

The site features a nice, basic design with the simple goal of getting her wonderful work out there on the internet! You can check out the full website right here.

After retirement, Debi knew she wanted to tap into her creative side more and finally fulfilled her dream of running a longarm quilting business. Her longarm quilting machine isn't just any machine, however. It's computerized, which means the quilt pattern options are practically endless.

I've seen it in action and can tell you first hand that the final product is stunning. Just take a look at a few quilts she created from start to finish. Aren't they beautiful?

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{Both photos above are courtesy of my dad. He takes photos of every quilt and can usually be found behind his camera at family functions. We like to call him the papa-razzi. :)}

If you have a moment, please take a look at her site and the amazing work she produces!

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