Most people that know me, know that I love to make soup. I can whip up a soup from what’s in my fridge and/or pantry in a moments notice. It’s a perfectly efficient meal, using what’s on hand, reducing pan usage to one, and often providing for more than one meal. I almost never use a recipe and, at times, much to my husband’s dismay, I couldn’t necessarily repeat what I created no matter how good it was. If there was a particularly good result, I have been known to write down the essence of what I did after the fact so perhaps I could repeat it sometime. Making soup is actually a very creative endeavor when done this way.

Julia Cameron, in her classic book The Artist’s Way,  writes about the importance of “filling the well”, replenishing our creative resources constantly so that we have a large reservoir of inspiration from which to draw. This is true for everyone. We are all creating in one way or another and need to keep our wells filled. 

Instead of a well, though, I like to think of it as a big pot of soup and I thought I would share with you from time to time just a few of the ingredients and flavorings going into my creative soup.

A pot of Stone Soup made with my grandsons, inspired by the traditional folk story of the same name about the power of sharing and cooperation. It was a favorite story of mine as a child and is now a favorite of my grandsons.

In the past year or so I’ve realized that I was starting my day off doing all the trivial things and leaving the most important things until later in the day.   I decided that was doing it in the wrong order.  One of the things I changed was getting up just a bit earlier and spending a half hour or so on what I am calling “analog time”.  No checking my email or social media or diving into photoshop or some other computer based activity is allowed in that time.  I make a cup of tea and sit looking out the window at the start of the day and reading from a couple of different books or perhaps just thinking or writing down some ideas or thoughtfully planning out the rest of my day or week.  It’s a much gentler way to start the day and is adding a lot to my creative soup.  The image above was the view I enjoyed one foggy morning during my analog time.

Here are just a few of the flavorings going into my creative soup lately:

Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life by Beth Kempton

The book title pretty much says it all, but Kempton dives into the rich meaning of wabi sabi and I was intriqued with how much it aligns with my ideas about so much. “[Wabi sabi] conveys the impression you are left with after an encounter with a particular kind of beauty, which may be visual but could be experiential….It varies from person to person, because we are all moved by different things.  But the moment this feeling arises – a knowing, a connection, a reminder of the evanescent and imperfect nature of life iteslef – then wabi sabi is present.”  She explores the effect of wabi sabi on everything from our home to our jobs and relationships, and even the “small” moments of life.

A Beautiful Anarchy podcast

This podcast is created by David DuChemin who describes it as “a heartfelt kick-in-the-pants podcast for everyday creators and anyone who’s ever mud-wrestled with their muse.” DuChemin is a photographer that I have read and followed for quite some time.  I don’t follow him for his technical whiz with a camera but more for his philosophy about what it means to be a photographer.  In the podcast, he applies his experience and philosophy to the creative life in general, not just photography.  His episode “Deeper Work” inspired my “analog time” mentioned above.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s To Do List (Circa 1490) Is Much Cooler Than Yours

My to-do list can be a bit ordinary at times listing things like groceries, laundry, and odd jobs that need to be done.  DaVinci’s, by contrast, is far from mundane and shows an amazing and insatiable curiosity which I think is the foundation of creativity.  Check it out for yourself. 

The Creative Brain

I will definitely rewatch this Netflix documentary by Neuroscientist David Eagleman who explores with a variety of creative people what goes into their process as well as research about the way our brains work.  Fascinating stuff!!

Let me know what’s going into your creative soup lately.  I love hearing from others what’s inspiring them.  I’ll be back next month with what sort of inspirational ingredients filled the soup pot in March.