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Be Inspired Has Moved

January 19, 2011

Change is the one constant in life!

I am in the process of combining the Be Inspired blog and my photography website under the name – 365 Days of Inspiration. If you have subscribed or bookmarked this blog, please click through to the new location and re-subscribe there.

I appreciate your support and inspiration!

What Questions are you Afraid to Ask or Answer?

January 12, 2011

Question mark in Esbjerg

This post is about questions, but it’s really about dealing with fear and criticism.

Last week, two phrases came up separately that had to do with questions. In a way, these phrases are like zen koans – little mysteries that need to sit with you for awhile before they can be figured out.

The first came from my reading of Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk; I am studying his work all this year. In the prologue for his book, No Man is an Island, he begins by saying,

Anxiety (or fear) is really  “the fruit of unanswered questions.

Since my theme for this year is to be fearless, this really struck  me. Whenever I feel anxiety or fear, what questions I am not answering?

For example, if I am afraid to make a career move, usually the basic fear is one of failure; the question is, “What if I fail?” Maybe the real unanswered question is, “What if I succeed?”

If you try to answer the first as in what is the worst that could happen, it doesn’t compare to what would happen if you actually succeeded. And failure is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives valuable information that can be used in taking your next step. So, looking at these questions realistically helps you get past the fear. Danielle Laporte speaks the white hot truth in tackling this exact example in her article, Fear Management vs. Fear Leadership.

The second phrase came while watching an interview with journalist Diane Sawyer. Someone else said to her in an interview,

Criticism is really just a request, so why not just ask?

To me, this sounds like the secret to a good marriage, or any relationship for that matter. When you feel like criticizing or are being criticized, what question is not being asked?

For example, if I criticize my husband for watching yet another hockey game, what question am I really asking?

When are you going to spend time with me?

Now, this is true that my husband likes to watch hockey, and he works really hard so this is relaxing down time for him. But I have a valid question too, so why not just ask for what I need? And, by the way, he’s pretty good at making time for me too. But, as Oprah told one husband who watched an extraordinary amount of football, “Pretty soon she’s not going to care anymore. Is that what you really want?”

The second phrase is like the flip side of the first. The first has to do with answers and the second with the questions.

Interesting, don’t you think?

Try paying attention this week to these two instances of fear and criticism and ask yourself what questions you haven’t answered or what questions you need to ask. What happens?

Related Reading

The Inspirational Thomas Merton

No Man is an Island (Amazon)

The Inspiring Music of Tierney Sutton

January 10, 2011

If you are a jazz lover, you probably already know about Tierney Sutton. If not, she may just convert you.

As a big fan of Frank Sinatra, I have heard Tierney Sutton’s music regularly on Siriusly Sinatra at XM73. Her unique voice and song interpretation always makes me take notice. Sutton is based in L.A. and I never thought that I would get a chance to hear her in person. Until last week, that is. On Tuesday, my Indianapolis Arts and Entertainment email showed that she would be appearing Friday and Saturday at The Cabaret at the Columbia Club. I immediately bought tickets for Friday night.

To say that she exceeded my expectations is an understatement. Jazz is best heard live, not on radio. With three of the finest musicians in the world, Christian Jacobs on piano, Trey Henry and Kevin Axt on bass and Ray Brinker on drums, and Tierney Sutton on vocals, this band weaves a tapestry of harmony in song.

Sutton related that, over the 17 years they have been together, they have compiled more than 150 arrangements uniquely their own. You will never hear the same set list twice. When they arrive at a venue, they get a feel for the place and then decide what they will play.

Their latest album, Desire, is up for a Grammy – best vocal jazz album – and it is the third year in a row they have been nominated in this category.

There is a spiritual aspect to Sutton’s singing that is felt. As she says in the article highlighted at the end of this post,

“When we take to the stage, we’re basically engaging in a spiritual process. We’re meditating. Sometimes at the end of a set we can’t remember consciously what happened. And the goal of any performance that we do, or any time we play together, is basically to have a transcendent experience.”

Transcendent is a great word to describe their music. It is amazing the freshness they bring to songs written decades ago and recorded many, many times. It is a true example of creative collaboration. Hear for yourself.

Related Reading

Tierney Sutton: Not a Material Girl

Tierney Sutton Official Website

Friday Photo – Breathe

January 7, 2011

My friend Carol is doing a weekly creative project based on one word. She is choosing the words by going through the alphabet. So, the first week in January the word was alien and this week it is breathe (will be posted Sunday, Jan. 9). When I think of the word breathe, I think of calming myself and what is more calming than morning on a lake.

For a daily word to inspire creativity, follow flying_spark on Twitter or visit Gumnut Inspirations for fantastic drawing and painting challenges.

Why To See “The King’s Speech”

January 5, 2011

The movie, The King’s Speech, has everything a good movie should have – a compelling story, incredible acting, and an underlying message.

The Story

Many people I talked to after seeing this movie had never heard of it, despite the fact that it is pretty universally rated with four stars.

The story is a piece of history. It is about King George VI (of England), father of the current Queen Elizabeth. His name was Albert and he was the second son of King George V and was not expected to be king. The story most of us have heard is of his older brother, who became King Edward VIII, in 1936 and abdicated the same year to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorcee. This made Albert king leading up to World War II. But the new king had a lifelong problem with stammering and was suddenly in a position where he had to speak to millions of people.

The Acting

The lineup includes Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist, Lionel Logue, and Helena Bonham Carter as Albert’s wife, Queen Elizabeth (known to us as the Queen mother), and the real star, Colin Firth as King George VI. Firth not only portrays a man who stammers, but all that goes along with it – frustration, inner turmoil, and a deep desire to communicate. I have no doubt that Colin Firth will follow up last year’s Oscar nomination with another.

The Message

This is a story about courage, determination, and the power of friendship. Bonham Carter plays a wife who truly loves her husband and sees his potential. She is the one who finds the speech therapist for him and is literally the wind beneath his wings. Rush, who is also the producer, plays the speech therapist who just wants to help people. He uses unconventional methods that really work, but it is the friendship that develops between the two that gives Albert the confidence he needs.

Truly inspiring! Here’s the trailer.

5 Online Sources of Inspiration

January 3, 2011

I am so excited about this new year. How about you?

My theme for the year is to be fearless – recognizing fear when it shows up and blasting right through it. This is the year for me to thrive as an artist, which is why I joined Melissa Dinwiddie’s Thriving Artist Project. We are a group of artists helping each other and discussing the content provided by Melissa.

If you would like to be inspired, to be creative, to follow your passions, to thrive this year, there are all kinds of resources online that can help.

Here are 5 of my favorites.

1. 365 Days of Genius – also by Melissa Dinwiddie, this site just launched on January 1st. Join a community dedicated to discovering the genius in each one of us, with genius resources, a blog, and free e-course on creativity.

2. TED talks – Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. If you have not heard of TED Talks, you are in for a treat. These mostly 20 minute talks are available for free online, and if you ever need a dose of inspiration and have 20 minutes to spare, this is the place to go. May I recommend Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford University, How to Live Before You Die? (15 minutes)

3. On Being, a radio program on NPR – A one hour interview program with host Krista Tippett and some of the most fascinating people in the world. They discuss the big questions in life, the latest in science, and evolving faith.  I have a women’s group that listens to these talks and then discusses them together. I have the podcasts automatically downloaded to iTunes and listen to them on my iPod. Their are also online resources to go with the interviews. I recommend “The Inner Landscape of Beauty” with poet and writer John O’Donohue.

4. Follow any one or all of these inspiring blogs – White Hot Truth with Danielle Laporte, The Art of Nonconformity with Chris Guillebeau, Conversations at the Crossroads of Work, Play, Entrepreneurship and Life with Jonathon Fields, Zen Habits with Leo Babauta.

5. Integral Life – Inspired by the work of philosopher Ken Wilber, Integral Life offers a challenging exploration of the evolution of human consciousness and spirituality. The site says, “Living integrally means a life where things finally make sense through broader and deeper awareness.” There is free content as well as in-depth content with a paid subscription. I do not have the paid subscription but I really get a lot from the free content plus I have purchased some integral life books.

Well, no excuses now. You’ve just been given five options for inspiration online. Do you have favorite sites for inspiration online?

A Year in Pictures

December 31, 2010

If you love photographing like I do, it’s fun to look back at your pictures from the year, and whittle them down to a representative few. Here, I picked one  image from each month. Overall, it gives a pretty good picture of the year.

January – The death of my father-in-law brought an unexpected trip to an icy Niagara Falls, Ontario. This was the most traumatic experience of the year.

February – Highs and lows; the glorious joy of music in New Orleans, combined with an Indianapolis Colts loss to the Saints at the Superbowl.

March – The end of our son’s 13 year hockey career; both a loss and transition to new things. He was going to a College where there is no hockey team.

April – Tapestries in Oregon! We were able to drive from wine and redwoods country in California and through the incredibly beautiful State of Oregon.

May – The unbelievable therapeutic effect of horses on humans; this on a farm in Orillia, Ontario.

June – My dog, Daisy, at 10 years old, still my constant anam cara (soul friend).

July – Folk dancers in the amazing city of Prague in the Czech Republic.

August – Discovering a field of sunflowers on my way home.

September – A wonderful road trip across the U.S. with my daughter, Michelle, culminated in a visit to Frank Sinatra’s grave site in Palm Springs, California.

October – Back to our Canadian roots. The Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, showcased by the colors of autumn.

November – One of the highlights of the year in Indianapolis was the opening of the Art and Nature Park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This photo was taken there.

December – More tapestries in nature. First snow at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.

We get so locked up in what’s going on at the moment that sometimes we forget the fullness of our lives. In looking back at the year, I see that I was very lucky to have had several opportunities to travel. The year began with the death of my husband’s 91 year old father. He was ready to go but it was still a shock and I witnessed much love in that family. Throughout the rest of the year, we were able to experience the beauty of our home in Indianapolis, our roots in Canada, the western United States and European culture.

We saw our kids in transition, each moving on to new stages, and moving out of the house. This meant that we also experienced a transition, as empty nesters and a chance to redefine our relationship.

Life goes on and change is constant.

If you’re not a picture taker, you could look over your journal or your daily calendar and sum up each month that way. What were the major events of the year and how did they affect you and those around you? What were the small moments that stand out for you? What was not so great? Can you let go of that? What did you not do that you’d like to in the coming year?

Here’s to a happy and inspired new year!