Inspiration (Links I Love)

This is where I will share my sources of inspiration from the past week: it could be from books, podcasts, blogs, films, artwork, food/recipes, etc. I hope you find some encouragement here as well!

Trees

Yes, you read that right! Trees. There is research to support what we know–that being outside does a body good. They help us de-stress, benefit our overall health, and even help us socially. Read this article!

Podcasts

This week I listened to some notable podcasts! How I Built This with Guy Raz is a podcast featuring owners/founders of successful companies like Burt’s Bees, Lyft, and Zappos. I am usually inspired by their stories of starting small and building something big and all the obstacles and struggles they had to overcome along the way.

My recent favorite is the episode with farm-to-table movement founder Alice Waters, who’s been cooking at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA since 1971. What a lovely woman with such a lovely vision for local, sustainable, ethical food. Listen here!

This What Should I Read Next episode featured Michele Cobb, publisher of AudioFile Magazine talking all things audiobooks with Anne. She gave some great recommendations and also talked about the free summer audiobook program for teens called SYNC. This is fourteen weeks of free audiobook downloads: two each week! If you have teens at home, see if they know about it.

Seth Godin’s podcast, Akimbo, had an episode that I wish every person would listen to, but especially entrepreneurs, small business owners, and thoughtful people everywhere. In the episode BREATHE, Seth talks about the status quo and the environmental crisis the world is facing as a result of marketing gone bad. Please listen to this one, think about it, and have conversations with friends and family. The planet’s future is up to us.

Books

I just finished On The Come Up by Angie Thomas. I listened to it on audio and the main character, Bri, a teen who has a gift for rapping, definitely grew on me as the book progressed. The narrator does a fantastic job of bringing all the characters’ personalities to life. The parts about her church experiences are very entertaining and I could definitely relate to some of it-especially the length of the services! Highly recommended–especially in audio. I listened to The Hate U Give also by Angie Thomas last summer and it opened my eyes to experiences that are part of everyday life for some people that are very different from mine. Also recommended on audio!

As far as poetry goes, I finished Otherwise by Jane Kenyon. I’ve been featuring plenty of her poems in Evening Poetry probably because the subjects she writes about: living in the country, her family, her religious upbringing, her mental illness, and her everyday experiences hit home. When poetry “gets you in the gut”, as my friend Britt wrote to me a few weeks ago, then you know it is speaking your language.

Music

English folk singer/songwriter/musician Kate Rusby’s album just came out!!! It’s called Philosphers, Poets and Kings and it is just the sort of beautiful, original music fans that like me love her for. This is a must listen!

Alright, that’s all for this week! I’d love to hear about what’s been inspiring you lately in the comments.

5 Things I Learned In March

I am a wimp when it comes to books about tragedies and the strain they create on relationships. I really wanted to read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey–the writing is so beautifully stunning I was re-reading passages by the second page. And the atmosphere is instantly palpable, but the depth of desolation and the emotional distance of the two characters was overwhelming. I’ve read a couple of sad books in a row lately and knew my sensitive heart was not going to be able to handle this tale. At least for now! (But if you are made of stronger stuff, please read it!)

Deadlines make me move forward. I knew I needed to put my aromatherapy certification to good use, so I scheduled aromatherapy events on Facebook and began inviting my friends, emailing folks on my list, and getting the word out. Terrifying, yes, but I’m such a perfectionist I would wait forever if I didn’t take Seth Godin’s advice and just “ship it”! And both my aromatherapy classes were so much fun–I am going to keep creating deadlines to challenge myself toward constant learning and growth, both personally and with my business.

The women in my second aromatherapy class.

I really can avoid a cold. All my life, I thought there was nothing I could do once that scratchy, sore throat started. But now I pull out my arsenal and fight back. My weapons of cold virus destruction? Essential oils such as Lemon, Tulsi, Black Spruce, Niaouli, Cypress, Frankincense, and Helichrysum gymnocephalum. All of them are immune strengthening, decongestant, anti-inflammatory, a lot of them are anti-viral, anti-microbial, analgesic, help with energy levels, etc. This last weekend, I diffused for several hours a day, made myself a personal inhaler, put some on my throat area (diluted, of course), and did self-massage. I also ate plenty of dark, green vegetables, stayed away from sugar (I usually do anyway), and drank tea (Tulsi, Throat Coat, Green). By the second day my sore throat was gone and by the third day, my energy levels rose. Because I want to be sure, I’ll continue to diffuse daily. Click here to read my post on Black Spruce and get some diffuser blends.

I actually like herbal teas. I used to just drink tea for medicinal purposes, but now I’m finding the taste is pleasant. This month I began drinking Lemon Balm when I’m feeling anxious or stressed. I definitely feel calmer. Tulsi tea is another favorite–it’s immune strengthening and it is an adaptogen, which means it should calm me when I’m anxious, boost me when my energy has slumped. I’ve only had a few cups so far, but it seems to have more of an energizing effect. Every body is different, though, so you’ll have to try it for yourself.

Live Streaming on Social Media is fun the second time around. I’ve set up a schedule for Facebook and Instagram Live for my business, Delicata House, and for our musical duo, The Inner Crazy. Since I’ve only done it a few times, I’ve felt unprepared, nervous, and breathless when I go Live on Facebook. Then when I head over to Instagram right afterward and go Live, I feel warmed up and more relaxed. (I know it’s possible to go live on both platforms at once, but I don’t have another spare device to do that right now.) Each week, it gets slightly better as I think about what went well, what didn’t, and how I can improve.

If you want to check it out, my Delicata House schedule is every Tuesday Facebook Live 12pm ET, Instagram Live 12:15 ET. I’m doing a series called “What Should I Do With My Oils?”. Our duo The Inner Crazy does a Facebook Live at 8pm ET and Instagram Live at 8:15pm ET every other Tuesday where we perform a couple of songs and talk all things music-related. Follow Delicata House on Facebook and Instagram and The Inner Crazy on Facebook and Instagram to stay informed of our Live events!

Alright, now it’s your turn! What have YOU learned this month?


Day 18: Things I Love

Here is a list of things that either foster a creative environment, help me do my work or are a great source of recreation when I step away from making.

  1. Fairy Lights. I have them in the bedroom, library, kitchen, side room I just cleaned out and solar powered ones in the gazebo. They give a magical glow to any room.

2. Canasta Card Game. I learned how to play in early September when Alan’s parents came to visit. The past few weeks we’ve been teaching my son to play and he’s caught on so fast he’s beating me already!

3. My sewing machine. This one was a piece of cake to thread up and start using right out of the box.

4. OnBeing.org has conversations the like of which you won’t hear anywhere else. As I was sewing this afternoon, I listened to part of Krista’s interview with Ruby Sales. Deeply spiritual, intellectual without ever being stuffy, and so human you will find commonality with just about every person she converses with. This is a website and podcast for everyone, but I like to listen while I’m working.

5. Jen Hatmaker’s podcast For the Love was shared with me recently by my friend who told me about the episode with Dr. Brené Brown. I think Jen is fantastic and she earned even more respect for this episode. Go to jenhatmaker.com to find all things Jen and to subscribe to her podcast.

6. Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water is what I use on my sensitive face instead of toner. It’s refreshing and gentle and the large spray bottle lasts me nearly a year.

7. Do you ever get restless legs or just have trouble settling down at night? Magnesium lotion might work for you like it does for me. It calms me down and takes away that jumpy crawly feeling in my legs. Check it out!

8. If you bullet journal, this is the journal I recommend. It’s a part of my everyday life.

9. My diffuser. When I’ve had trouble with anxiety the past year and a half, the diffuser helped. Just add some distilled water and few drops of essential oils or a blend. It changes the atmosphere and can help relieve tension. I put it on for a pleasant vibe while I work.

10. My hammock swing. I have one in the corner of the library. I just climb in and chill whenever I want to. Sometimes I practice ukulele or write in it. Yesterday I climbed in, stretched out and took a nap while Judah was practicing his bass.

Day 17: Priorities

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Today I spent time cooking, baking and being with my son. My goal-setting nature wanted me to put everything aside except my preparations for the craft show on Saturday. That part of me reminded me of the number of days until the show and how much I need to accomplish, but my heart told me otherwise.

I needed to spend time with my son. I needed to see his face, hear his voice, listen to how he’s been, watch him practice his bass, just catch up with him and what’s happening in his world. It’s been a while since I gave him a ride anywhere, but his own car needs brakes and he’s driving it as little as possible.

So I picked him up, drove him to my house and he helped me bake chocolate chip cookies–his favorite. Then we ate dinner together with Alan. They ate slow cooker chicken pot pie and I ate a vegetarian, gluten free version. After we cleaned up dinner, we picked up our Canasta game where we left it last week. We played for an hour, with Judah winding up in the lead. Hopefully, next week we can finish it.

On the way home, we talked about relationships in an honest, grown-up way and I was amazed and proud of this young man sharing his heart and being so full of understanding and love. After I said goodnight, I drove home without the sad emptiness that usually accompanies parting from my kids. It was the kind of day that held beauty and grace in it and I am thankful for the opportunity to live it.

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Day 13: Behind the Scenes

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It’s nearly noon and I’m still in my pajamas. The gym is calling me and I hope I’ll be able to go, or at least do some yoga and Pilates here at home. This morning has been full of preparation and planning. I feel like I’ve been unproductive because I have so much on my To-Do List, but all I’ve done has been necessary.

At breakfast, I sat at the kitchen table and caught up in my Bullet Journal. Honestly, after using it the past year and a half, I feel quite lost when a few days have gone by without me opening it up. It’s a great way for me to connect with all the pieces of my life, to review what I’ve set out to accomplish, my ideas, little incidentals from my days and where I’ve wandered and what I’ve forgotten. I felt very centered when I went through the past few weeks, made a list of upcoming tasks I need to complete and crossed off what I have completed already. That boosted my outlook. If you’d like to learn more about Bullet Journaling, here is a link to The Lazy Genius Collective’s in-depth blog post about it.

I went on to my Morning Pages and let my thoughts scrawl through my three pages.

An then it was time to do social media posts for Alan and me because we have a gig tonight at Ithaca Bakery between 6-8pm. Plus, I updated The Inner Crazy website with some of our upcoming shows and I printed out the song list for tonight.

Does all of this make a difference? I believe so. If I don’t stay current, I’ll lose what ground we’ve gained. I have a goal of two gigs a week eventually. To get there will take many hours of posting, updating, photos, songwriting, recording, and doing it over and over again. I willingly accept the challenge and will work toward my goal.

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What behind the scenes preparation have you worked at this week?

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Day 11: Daily Rituals and Songwriting Goals

I’ve read Daily Rituals: How Artists Work , or at least a good chunk of it. I was fascinated to find out how famous creative people ordered their lives. They seemed more human, more accessible and less god-like.

I am currently re-ordering my life, finding my balance and figuring out how to be a thriving creative. My current set of habits or rituals upon rising are: coffee, gym and writing, crafting or practicing music throughout the day.  This is all in-between chores and errands and caring for my kids.

Because I’m taking part in this month-long Write 31 Days project, I am blogging at night. This feels last minute. I’d like to change that and begin blogging mid-morning. And as far as music goes, when Alan and I have a gig, we always practice at least once the week of. So we need to this week (AKA tomorrow).

In addition to practicing our covers, I know we need to write music. It’s been looming on the horizon for a while, but the reality has landed. We need to do it NOW. There are several venues we would like to play in that will only allow originals performed. So I’m wondering if we can come up with 28 songs for a two-hour show. We currently have two written.

If we aim for January, that’s approximately nine songs a month, or about two per week. No pressure! No problem! Needless to say, I am brainstorming and writing down phrases, titles and recording snippets of melody. It’s time to make this happen.

What are your daily rituals and goals?

Day 10: Good Friends and Sushi Dates

9F3F83E8-76E3-4054-A04B-5ADF8994DD4FI needed today to be the Tuesday it turned out to be. The pressure to make, create, be brilliant, to learn new skills was weighing on me.

The “Not Enough” and “Too” gremlins were barking loud, “Not enough–not enough creativity, not enough skill, not enough ability, not enough time, etc.” “Too–Too fat, too dumb, too stupid, too slow, too untalented, too late, too old, etc. ” After working out and cleaning the house this morning, I just wanted to go back underneath the covers and hide from them.

But my friend was coming over for lunch, so I chopped fennel, carrots and leeks and sautéed them in olive oil, added white wine, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, white beans, salt, pepper and oregano and brought it to a simmer in my Le Creuset French Oven.

(I adore that piece of cookware. It’s purple, it cooks like a dream, cleans up easily and I’ve wanted one for twenty years. Actually, I adore French cookware and bakeware in general.)

We had roasted beets and butternut squash earlier to add to the salad. So there was the roasted vegetables and homemade vinaigrette. And of course the gluten free vegan carrot cake I made yesterday for dessert.

I’m so glad my friend came. My spirit was lifted, I calmed down, the gremlins’ barking faded away and we had a lovely afternoon catching up. We ate lunch unhurriedly, then took our cake and coffee to the gazebo.

What a relaxing time with the view of lake and now-harvested cornfields surrounding us. We drank in the natural beauty and nourished our souls with real conversation.

When she left, I took a nap and then tried to drum up enthusiasm and an idea for dinner. As I sat in the darkening bedroom practicing my ukulele, Alan came in and asked if I’d like to go to Capital Corner, the sushi restaurant we love in Ithaca. YES! Of course, I did.

So off to Ithaca we went and had a quiet and delicious sushi dinner. Miso soup for me first, of course. It’s so simple yet always richly comforting. If you live around here, you ought to try Capital Corner if you haven’t. They never disappoint.

When we finished, Alan said, “I want Starbucks.” I did too. Since we had to go up to the mall, we stopped at the Starbucks in Target where he got a Pumpkin Spice Latte and I got a Coffee Frappuccino with almond milk, no whipped cream or dairy and an extra shot of espresso.

We searched for a Halloween store, but the mall had none, so we went to Party City. That store had more Halloween items than last year. We tried on hats and masks and noted prices on pieces we need for our costumes. I got a couple of things for my costume. Then we headed to Wegmans and came home.

Oh, and the gremlins are gone. At least for today.

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Day 8: Sunday at Bandwagon

Today we performed at Bandwagon Brewery in Interlaken. As it was a Sunday and the Bills were playing, it was a pretty quiet afternoon.

However, four people from Ithaca came out and stayed for two-thirds of the show. They were so supportive and fun and said they’re our new groupies.

Then EJ and her husband came and cheered for us. She was a trip, jumping up and clapping after every song. The high point of the afternoon was that my son and daughter came to hear us play for a few songs. I proudly introduced them to people, thrilled they showed up. Will gave them ginger beer and EJ chatted to them. It felt like a small family affair. And right before close, we had a surprise visit from Jason and Rose Hazlitt.

When we got back home and unpacked the car, we discovered that Judah had the pizzas started. We ate, talked and played Canasta. All in all, it was a happy, satisfying day.

Day 5: One of Those Days

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You know the days when you plan out your schedule in your head, with appointments and errands all neatly arranged and completed at the right time? No traffic jams, no appointments in which you are shown to the room and then wait, wait and wait some more? Just everything going like clockwork and you arrive back home with plenty of energy to put away groceries, make dinner and clean it up and attend to your creative work. Yeah, wouldn’t we all like several of those days each week?

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As much as I dreamed of that kind of day, instead, the other kind was doled out to me. My daughter needed me to drive her to the orthodontist and we waited and waited. She forgot to bring her lunch to school today and was hungry, so we stopped at Ithaca Bakery and I bought her a mid-afternoon meal. We sat together and chatted. Then the bank transaction took longer than expected as did traffic. And then there was Wegmans. Wegmans at 5pm is never a good idea, but this was when I was in town, so I had to get groceries. Driving home was slow and long. By the time we reached home, Ella and I were both done in. Thankfully, Alan came out and helped us carry in all the bags. After we put away the contents of said bags and prepared, ate and cleaned up dinner, it was 8:30. We still needed to put in an hour and a half of practice for Sunday’s gig.

Things continued to be a struggle. Alan couldn’t (and still cannot) find his music stand. So after a fruitless search of house and car, we decided we could practice without it. He will have to look in his car again in the morning and if it’s not there, then call Ithaca Bakery on Meadow Street to see if we left it there last month when we played. So we sang two songs thinking everything was golden. And then his capo broke. His capo that he’s had for thirteen years. Well, that limited us to practicing three songs and means tomorrow morning he is heading to Ithaca to purchase a new capo and possibly a new stand if he can’t find his old one. We will get our songs practiced because we must.

The redemptive thread in this story is that Alan is able to spend time outside tonight with the moon–one of his favorite monthly activities when the moon is full and the sky clear. And I can write and read, which I’ve wanted to do all day. Those days can hold a sliver of happiness if we stay positive and look for the good.

I’d love to hear how you get through “those days” when plans are interrupted or things don’t turn out as expected. Do you make time for creativity and relaxation in the middle of chaos?

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Day 2: Ukulele and Me

The ukulele is a pop thing over the past few years. Since I don’t listen to enough pop to know if one particular song or star launched the current craze, I will just talk about the ones I am aware of. Twenty One Pilots has a cute little ukulele video of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You“, plus they feature ukulele in several of their own songs, like “House of Gold” and “Judge“. Meghan Trainor sang “Better When I’m Dancing” and “Just a Friend to You” and most recently she teamed up with Michael Buble to sing “Someday“. All include ukulele. My favorite is probably the late Brother Iz singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow“. That’s what really decided me on learning to play uke myself.

Last Christmas, Alan surprised me with my very own. I was thrilled but scared at the same time. What if I couldn’t actually play? As I do often when I’m afraid or intimidated, I procrastinated. Anyone else? But by July I knew I needed to open the case and begin learning the chords. I shut my library door not wanting Alan to overhear and laugh at my pathetic attempts at strumming and forming chords. When he did hear me, he was super encouraging and said he couldn’t believe how quickly I was catching on. He found me a few tutorials on youtube and that helped me learn better than simply going through a list of chords. I practiced “Just a Friend to You”, “House of Gold”, “Someday” and it felt great, even with mistakes. Then I decided to use the chords I could play to write a little love song, which we will eventually record and release. And now I’m learning “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and getting ready to take on more challenging chords. Being able to strum with Alan is lots of fun. I had to purchase another ukulele with a pickup so that I can plug into our sound system. And now we are getting ready to debut these ukulele songs at our next performances.

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We’ll be at:

Bandwagon Brewery (Interlaken) on Sunday October 8 from 2-5pm and

Ithaca Bakery on Friday October 13 from 6-8pm.

Are you learning to play a new instrument this year? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.

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