The new year, for most of us, is  a time of reflection and reordering of life, priorities, and focus. (I often wonder if it’s different in the southern hemisphere where the New Year comes in the summer.  Does it change that dynamic of newness?)  This blog has been the subject of some of that reflection and as a result will have more  varied posts for you to enjoy. Mandalas will still come one Monday of the month, but other Mondays will hold different themes.  A new theme, “Filling the Well”, shares what’s been inspiring me lately.

The term “filling the well” is used in many places but how it came most recently to me was through reading, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (a book that I’ve been repeatedly told to read for the past 20 years and am finally doing). “As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing.  We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them-to restock the trout pond, so to speak.  I call this process filling the well. …In filling the well, think magic.  Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty….Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery.”

I am a gatherer.  I gather bits of information and inspiration constantly.  In one of my past lives/jobs, I was known as the “research queen” for my love of ferreting out all possible information and ideas around a project.  My kids always teased me about all the brochures that I would collect when we traveled and then keep in a special drawer where they waited to inspire a new adventure.  And that was pre-internet!

I am also a sharer. For me, ideas and inspiration are fully meant to be shared.  Putting all that gathering and sharing together is the inspiration for Filling the Well. I will share some of the ideas, images, books, blogs, experiences that have served to  fill my well recently.  If some of those are of interest to you, perhaps they will add to your well also.

Inspiration from books: 

Just a few of the ideas that have stood out to me from books, in addition to The Artist’s Way, that have been traveling with me lately:

 “To me, chance isn’t random. The universe is bound by unseen threads. We have only to untangle them a little to see the pattern unfold”   The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro, a rich novel that takes place mostly in Paris in both the 1920’s and 50’s.

 “To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  by Betty Smith, a classic coming of age story that I can’t believe I never read until now.

“the biggest problem we face today is a “reactionary workflow”…through our constant connectivity to each other, we have become increasingly reactive to what comes to us rather than being proactive about what matters most to us. …”it’s tempting to “clear the decks” before starting your own work.  When you’re up-to-date, you tell yourself, it will be easier to focus.  The trouble with this approach is it means spending the best part of the day on other people’s priorities.  By the time you settle down to your own work, it could be mid-afternoon, when your energy dips and your brain slows. “Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be better,” you tell yourself.  But tomorrow brings another pile of emails,  phone messages and to do list items.  If you carry on like this, you will spend most of your time on reactive work, responding to incoming demands and answering questions framed by other people.  And you will never create anything truly worthwhile. The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second.  This means blocking off a large chunk of time every day for creative work on your own priorities.  Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series) by Jocelyn K. Glei  These words, however obvious they may sound, have had a huge impact on me and I have taken them as a challenge to change the way I work.

Inspiration from other blogs:

I’ve been following Aesthetics of Joy for some time, and am always inspired by Ingrid Fetell’s writing and ideas related to how design creates or effects joy. She can be more serious as in Joy as Ideaology. Or more prosaic with this post about the joy of clotheslines, “What are your “clotheslines?” What are your favorite examples of everyday things that become joyful when you really look at them?” The notion of exploring joy and it’s sources is a most interesting and, yes, joy-full project.

Inspiration from other artists:  

Bob Carey, the Tutu Project: Photographer, Bob Carey, in an effort to support his wife’s journey with breast cancer, created “selfies” while clad in only a pink tutu in incongruous locations. (I bet that created an interesting vision in your mind. )  The imagination, the humor, the use of his art to benefit others, is still lighting sparks of inspiration in my mind. Do take a look at the Ballerina gallery on Bob’s website or the official site of the Tutu project.

Kathleen Clemons:  I’m always a huge fan of flowers; growing them, photographing them, admiring them.  Flower photography is rather ubiquitous, however, so to find an artist who causes me to see them as if for the first time is a real gift and most assuredly an inspiration.

Inspiration from outings:

For many many years, each February, we have talked about going to the annual Miller’s Mills Ice Harvest but there was always some reason we couldn’t or didn’t go. Finally, yesterday, we made it to this 2 century old tradition. In doing so, I did some things that I don’t normally do, or at least hadn’t done in a while, something my friend, Mary, discusses in her Strategies of the Spirit blog as “dishabituation”, AKA getting out of my rut.  I willingly went out in temperatures below 20 degrees, for a good part of the day.  And I photographed just for the pure joy of  photographing.  I didn’t try to make great art, or any great statement, or think how I might use that particular image.   I just played and took whatever caught my attention.  And lastly, I let someone take my picture!  Well, sort of.  🙂  And doing all that, I felt more energized, more inspired, and just plain happy.

Enjoy this small sampling of the 250+ pictures that I took at the Ice Harvest.

 What has brought you inspiration lately?  How do you fill your well?

If you know of someone that would enjoy this blog and my work, I’d be happy if you would do some sharing!

PS…For those reading this in email, if you want to see the picture that was taken of me at the ice harvest, you have to read the blog via my website.  I’m working on an email version that looks more like what you see on the site, but today, you’ll have to go to the site. 🙂