Late last night, I returned home after traveling north with my family in hopes of seeing snow. Unfortunately, we were unable to track down any icy, white fluff. However, we did stumble upon a beautiful state park. Thought I’d share a few scenes from our trek through the woods…
So gorgeous... So peaceful. The perfect place to reflect upon the last year and dream of all that 2012 will bring. Happy New Year, my dear readers.
I am a firm believer that a little bit of magic goes into the making of each and every day. Little miracles happen all the time… Waking up. A flower blooming through a crack in the sidewalk. A glowing sunset after a dreary storm. A soft breeze to relieve the suffocating heat of summer. Making a new friend when you feel the loneliest of all. If you take the time to notice how extraordinary all of these ordinary events are, the world can be a mesmerizing place. It seems to me, though, that the world becomes even more enchanting during December.
Only in December are twinkle lights strung through tree branches and carefully placed to outline rooftops, their radiance glimmering and reflecting off of glass ornaments, glittery packages, and shiny tinsel. Only in December can you experience the unbridled joy of singing Christmas carols and holiday songs out loud with the possibility of a complete stranger joining in… Or at least smiling. Only in December is it totally acceptable, and even expected, to decorate a tree in the middle of your living room or hang embellished socks from your mantle.
Sounds almost like an alternate universe, but that’s December. It’s a time when these rarities become customary and the simple joys of getting cozy by the fireplace, wrapping gifts, sending and receiving greeting cards, watching cheesy movies and TV classics, and baking cookies become treasured traditions. It’s a time when the spirit of giving abounds and the warmest of memories are made to last through the coldest of winters. December is simply delightful.
So go and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate. Take a minute to count your blessings and to delight in the magic of December. Then, go out and enjoy it... every little piece.
When you think about it, inspiration is what keeps us going. It’s what fuels a teachers best lesson plans and keeps a caregiver going when she feels she has nothing left to give. It’s what allows artists to create and engineers to innovate. Inspiration is what keeps us dreaming even when we’ve been kicked down for the millionth time and it’s what keeps us believing that we can when the world tells us that we can’t.
Sometimes, though, we get so caught up in our tedious daily routines that we lose our inspiration. Sometimes it seems that the more desperately we seek to find it, inspiration runs farther and farther into the darkest corners of our minds. And there it remains until it chooses to come out.
Inspiration can’t be forced. Like love (and anything magical in the universe), you just have to believe that it exists and have faith that it will come your way when the time is right. Inspiration is a gift that no one should feel entitled to, but rather blessed to receive.
Inspiration is something that I typically find myself lacking near the end of each semester. Somewhere between midterms and finals I seem to lose what sparks my mind and ignites my spirit. While I cannot force inspiration to present itself, I have learned how to coax it out. I’ve learned that being spontaneous and indulging in beauty reminds me to appreciate the magic and joy in the world. So, I urge you to shake up your routine try something new or go somewhere you love but you rarely get to visit. Surround yourself in beauty… Beautiful sights… Beautiful people… Beautiful food… And beautiful sounds.
You’re probably thinking, “I don’t have time for this.” I still say that to myself every now and then, too. But inspiration is something that you have to make time for. You’ll thank yourself… Trust me! I just had to make some time for my own quest for inspiration a couple of weekends ago. Here’s a few scenes from what I found…
Some sidewalk masterpieces at Downtown Disney's Festival of the Masters...
Taylor Swift live...
And a little Lionel Richie for the road... I know he's old school, but I still love it.
Like many people, I made myself a bucket list. Anything and everything I have ever said that I would love to do someday… Every place I’ve ever thought would be exciting to explore someday… People that I would like to meet and the life that I hope to have someday. I listed them one by one, in no particular order. When I took a minute to look over my list, I was not satisfied. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly was wrong with it until a few days ago.
I finally came to the realization that the problem was that it was a list. Don’t get me wrong--- I love a good list! It’s a great way to stay organized and I keep a to do list of things that I HAVE to do on my desk at all times. This list is only for things that have a deadline though. My bucket list reminded me of a dreaded to-do list, something that is dictated by obligations, not my own wishes.
So I wrote each item on my list onto its own strip of pastel paper, rolled it up, and secured it with one of the silver wedding rings you can find in bags available in craft stores. Then I filled two mason jars with all of my hopes and dreams and sat them on one of my bookshelves so that I can look at them everyday.
Today has been a rather gloomy day. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that I must have woken up in Seattle. However, I’m still in the Sunshine State, even though that nickname seems highly ironic as the rain continues to stream off of the eave outside. In honor of being stuck inside, I made a list of things to do when you’re rained in.
1. Put on a cozy sweater. It's always a little chillier on a dark and rainy day. I much prefer to be warm and comfy.
2. Read a book. If you're like me, you probably don't have much time to read anything that you actually want to other than a quick magazine article or blog once in a while. Take advantage of time stuck at home, and use it as an excuse to read for pleasure.
3. Watch a favorite movie or a marathon of your favorite TV show. Personally, my favorite movies to watch on a rainy afternoon are Disney classics, like Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid, and romantic comedies that I've already seen about a million times but still manage to make me laugh, like 27 Dresses, When Harry Met Sally, and You've Got Mail (to name a few). If I were to sit down for a marathon, I'd probably opt for The Office, Grey's Anatomy, or Pretty Little Liars.
4. Try a DIY project. I love being creative and artsy, but again I rarely have time for that anymore. Rainy days are the perfect opportunity to push aside the to-do list and try something new just for you.
5. Make hot chocolate. When poured into your favorite mug, it's like a cup of heaven. Need I say more?
6. Wrap yourself up in a soft blanket and watch the rain. It sounds boring, but trust me, it's probably the best therapy you can ask for if you're constantly on the go.
7. Throw on some rain boots and splash around in the puddles outside. I have multicolored polka-dot rain boots and a hot pink umbrella. They instantly brighten up gloomy days like this, and nothing makes you feel more like a 5-year-old than jumping into a puddle.
8. Catch up on some sleep. Just thinking about the soothing sounds of a storm makes me yawn. I'm pretty sure I get my deepest sleep when it's raining.
9. Try a new recipe. I really love baking and cooking, but I never seem to have time to. Take this opportunity to experiment in the kitchen, or at least whip up some Pillsbury brownies.
10. Write in a journal or catch up on your blog. Writing is a great way to clear your head, but let's be honest... How often do we actually have time to write? Go ahead, vent, weave beautiful poetry, write a song, doodle, or just put your musings to paper.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl with hair the color of honey and the spirit of a songbird. She lived in the land of sunshine and spent her days dancing amid orange blossoms and oak trees. She believed in fairytales and wished on stars. She chased butterflies and collected lady bugs in a mason jar. Letting the tide wash over her feet as she watched the sky change to the most beautiful shades of violet and tangerine, she knew that magic surrounded her. She loved and laughed with everything she had, never holding back. And she dreamt of exploring far away places, finding her prince charming, and living happily ever after.
Seasons changed and years drifted away like a dandelion in the wind. That little girl grew up and the world began to change. There were days when she felt she was being followed by a dark cloud, tormented by endless falling rain. She ran and ran for cover, but the storm raged on. Until one day she stopped, turned her face up to the clouds, and remembered how to dance in the rain. She twirled and splashed and gave in to what life had dealt her. In that moment, the sun began to peek out and the clouds subsided. She had found all the protection from the rain that she needed in her own spirit.
Now, I am an older and wiser young woman. But inside, I’m still that little girl who is in awe of the world. I still find magic washing up along the coast and a songbird still lives in my heart. I still wish on stars and dream of venturing out into the great unknown and finding my prince. I know that every once in a while, the rain is going to pour and that’s okay because I know how to create my own sunshine. I also know that whatever comes, I’ll live happily ever after. The end.
As corny as that sounds, it’s completely true. We each have our own story, and in the beginning it was written entirely by our parents. They controlled the setting, the characters, and the plot. As we grew, they began to share writing privileges with our teachers and peers. While they were willing to share their golden pen, our parents still retained their positions as executive editors, making any revisions they felt were necessary. I didn’t feel like I had much of a hand in the writing process until high school. This is when I got to make more decisions regarding characters that I allowed into my story and what goals I wanted to work toward. Still, this did not mean that I had the absolute final say. But it was something. And I have to say, I had very cooperative executive editors in my life.
Now, I am the sole author and editor of the story of my life. While I cannot control what characters enter my life, I can control who I allow to stay and how I allow them to affect me. While I cannot control everything that happens to me, I can control how I react to situations. I control my character; my happiness, my determination, my confidence. At this point in my story, I am proud to say that I am nearing the end of my college years and am preparing to start a career as an elementary school teacher. I have a great relationship with my family, good friends, and an assurance in who I am and what I believe in. Not to mention the fact that I have so much to look forward to that’s still unwritten. So here’s to writing!