Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Kira Elliott and Riggins

The sun is shining today and yet is it is still bitter cold. The cold came too early this year as evidenced by my heating bill that came in the mail yesterday. It was over a hundred dollars and we are not even in January yet. Not sure if I am ready for this winter.

This past week was over taken with work. Tis the season for after work open houses and parties with funders, partners and vendors. I am still recovering from the 14 plus hour days last week. I am too old and don’t drink coffee like I used to be able to manage a schedule like that for any amount of time anymore.

That said, I am going to combine todays Inspiration to Open Your Heart with a little Reverb14.

Reverb14 is Kat McNally’s end of year reflection blog challenge. While I am not posting each prompt, I am writing about these in my journal each morning and I am learning a lot. It is not too late to join and link up.

So the prompt, I think yesterday, was to post a selfie. As luck would have it I am also participating in Catherine Just’s In Plain Sight and I have, for better or worse, chosen self-portraits as my subject for the month. Taking a daily self-portrait is proving to be uncomfortable at best. It is making me aware and confront the nasty little voices that criticize my body and appearance. A little habitual voice that is the background sound track to most of my days. Seeing myself in the frame day after day is helping to soften and question that horrible little voice.

And here are links for this weeks Inspiration to Open Your Heart.

Finding Space in the Corners by SarahWinfrey-  On Facebook last week, a young woman with a small child asked how to maintain connection to her creative work and still provide for her young son. Someone posted this blog post. It is hard to find time for our creative work no matter if you still have young children at home, work full-time or have other life obligations. I remind myself it is living a full life that fuels my work when I am pulled away from the work (like last week). Yes, I still need make time for it, and I love the idea of finding space in the corners, but I also need to be out there living and interacting with my life.

Poverty is Not Without Fierce Pride by Linda Tirado- I am on fire about Linda Tirado right now. I heard her speak on On Point and I swear she could take on Ted Cruz. Her book, Hand to Mouth: Living Bootstrap in America was just released. I think it needs to be required reading for anyone working in human services, homeless services or other helping fields. She writes an insider look at living poor. Or anyone who cares about 1/3 of the population of United States. As someone who has lived most of my life grappling with poverty, I could relate to her words. Her voice is strong and she hits the nail on the head. All I can say is read it now. She is the real deal.

How to Make Your Home a Paradise with Spending a Dime- Here are some quick easy ways to transform your home. Ever since my son moved out a few years ago cleaning my home is at the very bottom of my to do list. So yes, many of the ideas in this post require you to sort, clean and get rid of, and for me the time that requires is just as precious, if not more so, than money. That said, I do like the idea of not thinking of it as cleaning but rather transforming.

On Writing Young by Lucas Mann- How much perspective and distance do you need to write a personal essay well? Mr. Mann argues against the age old dictum that older authors have an advantage to writing better personal essays. I remember these ideas coming up at every critique in art school, almost dismissing my work because I really couldn’t know much about hurt, loss and life in my late 20’s.

Anne Lamott on Forgiveness  Need I say more, I have always enjoyed Anne’s writing and her ability to dig around inside and bring up the truth.

May you have a week filled with moments to see your own beauty and stop any nasty little voices. ~Kira

Writing to Open Your Heart starts January 31, 2015. Writing to Open Your Heart is an online weekly creative writing workshop where you will learn to trust your voice and share your writing with other writers. More information HERE.
Parts of this post is a response to Kat Mcnally’s Reverb14

Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Summer Shadows

“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.” -Lao Tzu

The air is thick and steamy today, it is finally hot again. It feels like rain is gathering, out the window the sky is solid gray. I sit in my little office, in the dimming evening light, the fan blowing cool air, rustling the curtains. I hear the muffled low thump thump bass of music from across the street. This is summertime and I am hiding out in my office, wandering around on the internet, taking naps, reading books and trying to stay on task. I have not been too successful today. At least not to my standards.

I pile high productivity expectations onto my weekends. I internalize a self-imposed pressure because I sign up for too many classes, I have too many projects and deadlines roaming around. I consistently over extend myself. I want to be fabulous, I want to learn and create, be witty, be smart. I want to move the needle on my creative work, put more work out into the world. I find myself trying to manage my time, plan wisely, make every moment count. The more I do this, the more unfocused I become, the more fatigue sets in. I become a bumbling mess, overflowing with anxiety.

I always hope I can do more than I can, but reality slaps me up on the weekends. I am human and I have limitations. I know I need to pull back on a few of my projects. I need to create more breathing room. To be honest, it kind of sucks to realize I am causing my anxiety. My intentions are good, I want to create ways to share my heart with others. I want to help others open their heart. But does that work if I can just half start so many projects?

So I think I need to take inventory of what I have in process right now. I need to prioritize and make some hard choices. I need to honor my limitations.

How hard is that? I am finding super hard.

At any rate, here are links I found this week as Inspiration to Open Your Heart:

Virginia Woolf’s Idea of Privacy

2014 iPhone Photography Awards

Busy Means You’re Not Focused

I Believe In Stories by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

How to Reduce Stress by Doing Less and Doing it Slowly by Toni Bernhard

May you find space to breathe and open your heart in the coming week. ~Kira

Inspiration to Open Your Heart—Regeneration

 Evening in the Woods“It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.”― Bill Bryson

Last night the sweetness of honey suckle in full bloom filled the air as I rode my bike down a wooded trail with Jay. As the sun set, it casted long slanted shadows and streams of golden light across the winding paths. The evening air was filled with birdsong and my breath as pedaled harder up a hill. The park was empty that late on a Saturday evening. The dog walkers, joggers and other cyclists, I assumed were out doing Saturday night types of things. Dinner with friends, perhaps an early summer concert or a birthday party at the pub down the street. I love the silence and space of the woods alone with Jay, our bikes gliding through the sweet air. This is regenerative.

All week I have felt this need to draw in and regenerate. Separate myself from the world, lay low, disconnect. I think I used up all of my courage reserves last weekend at the Creative Nonfiction Writers conference in Pittsburgh. I am processing the experience and allowing myself downtime to absorb what was an intense few days.

In so many ways, the experience was affirming, I am on the right track, a newbie but on the right track. My work was validated in workshop and I received valuable feedback to help me take it the next level. I also got home feeling overwhelmed, there is so much to learn, so many new authors to read, so many ideas of pieces to start. Let alone continue to work on the memoir project.

I want to say I have not been writing, but I am writing and writing a lot. Just in my journal, the place where my words are safe from my expectations and perfectionism. Safe from censorship and my inner critic. Safe from the thick not good enough feelings that are rooted deep in my cells. My journal is my safe place where words are like the woods where I ride my bike at dusk and let the sweet late spring air clear away doubt and confusion. My journal is a pause—a regeneration.

This week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart is about regeneration of creative space  within. These are soft, gentle entry points to begin working again, to begin letting your heart speak again.

The Science Behind Why Walking Can Make You More Creative– Yes, get out for a walk. It does help and it is not just in your mind.

Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies– Jay first told me about these years ago, a system to help you keep your creativity going based off of the I Ching. I have never seen the originals as shown here, they are so lovely. Here is an online version you can use next time you are stuck in a project. Oblique Strategies Online 

Today by Billy Collins- Some poetry to get the words and images moving.

For What Binds Us by Jane Hirshfield- More magical words to inspire

Through the Viewfinder (TtV) Photography– When I get thrown off track with my writing work, I look to visual creative projects to help me find the backdoor to my courage. Photography is always works. Here are some examples of TtV Photography to inspire you.

May you find a soft safe space to regenerate this week. ~ Kira


Inspiration To Open Your Heart

Red Maple with BirchI feel like my days are all mixed up and I am upside down. I normally write my weekly Inspiration to Open Your Heart post first thing Sunday mornings while sitting at the kitchen table drinking hot black coffee with Jay. We will sit together, he reading the news or working on his studies and me working on my blog or other work, every once in while telling each other some interesting fact or story we have read. It is peaceful and slow. Later in the morning we will go meditate together and then begin our day, normally around eleven AM.

Now it dark and it is only five thirty PM. The trees are all finally bare on our block. The roar of a leaf blower is carrying across the street as neighbors continue with what seems like a relentless fall clean up. Snow has coated the lawns and branches already but has melted in what may be the last burst of warm weather for a while. The rush is on to get the leaves up before the heavy snow comes to stay.

So because of the long holiday weekend the pattern to my days are turned around a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I simply relished the four yummy days to focus and work on my writing and other creative work. The time has infused me with sparkle and hope for the coming year. I spent much of my time planning how I can expand my work on Web and create more content that may be useful to my readers. More content that can help others to cultivate an open heart.

Needless to say, I feel I am bit late with this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart. The links this week are a mix of different ideas and concepts that help me open my heart, or when I read the post I melted a little bit.

Things I Need to Remember to Keep My Heart Working by Elan Morgan- I love that I can get 30 extra hours of joy a year. Read and find out how.

Gratitude and Gluttony by Jasmin Cori- At this time of year it is wise to stop and ask, “When is enough, enough?”

The True Meaning of Non-Attachment and How it Sets You Free by Sandra Pawula- Sandra describes concisely healthy non-attachment so well in this post. A particularly hard concept for me to grasp at times. Worth the read.

Why There is Value in Something You Love by Michaela Chistallo- On the value of creating for no goal but rather because you simply enjoy it. A must read for any creative.

Dan Philip’s Creative Houses (Video)– Love, love, love this one. A thought-provoking talk about excess, being human and creative building processes. I so would love to live in one of his houses.

May your coming week be filled with enough and may you find your five minutes to experience joy each day. ~ Kira